3 of the biggest challenges writers face

In March I released my first book, and in April, my wife gave birth to a baby boy. Amidst this change, I have been considering if everything I do lives up to my mission of helping writers and creative professionals. So I began working with Teri on my team to analyze why people hire me. In our analysis, we came up with three key areas where people tend to need assistance:

  1. “I need clarity in my creative work to go from a wannabe to a doer who knows exactly how to become the writer I have always dreamed of.”
  2. “I have no idea who my ideal audience is, how to find them, or how to leverage social media to do so.”
  3. “I’m preparing to launch a book, and I’m terrified that I’m not going to get it right. I don’t want to miss my big chance, I have worked so hard for this.”

In response to this, we have been optimizing my consulting process in these three areas. Today I’m launching new packages that addresses each challenge above. If any of this speaks to you, and you have considered working with me to get it done, learn more about my consulting packages here.

I realize that many of you may resonate with the challenges listed above, but are not at the point of wanting to work with me. So I wanted to share some advice for how you can begin moving in the right direction. Let’s dig in:

“Dan, I Need Creative Clarity!”
If you have a lot of creative ideas, but struggle to find the time, energy, or focus to really pursue them, I would recommend you do the following:

  1. Do the Clarity Cards exercise in my book on pages 36-39. In fact, since I want this advice to be free, just email me asking for this, and I will email you a PDF of those pages so that you can do the exercise without even buying the book. The goal here is to make clear choices about what matters most to you. To state it unconditionally and see it in black and white. If you do this, send me a photo of your Clarity Cards.
  2. Then, identify the single habit you need to establish that will lead you to honoring your biggest priorities. Again and again when I speak to a successful writer or creative professional, what I find is that they get the basics right. Meaning: there is no hack for getting your butt in the chair each day to write. Yes, they are inventive as to how they do this while balancing the rest of life, but the core habits you establish are the secret to whether you will succeed or fail. When you identify the linchpin habit, email that to me too.

“Dan, how do I figure out who my audience is? And how do I reach them? How can I finally figure out how to use social media to do so?
The first thing I would encourage here is to not look to social media as some magic pill that is the only way to deliver you an audience. In fact, I would encourage you to begin this process via more traditional channels:

  1. Identify five comparable books, or work that is comparable to yours if you aren’t a writer. They have to be published in the last 3 years, and your book would be shelved next to them in Barnes & Noble, or a librarian would shelve them next to these books. These books should have at least 20 reviews on Amazon.
  2. Now, obsess about the reviews. Read everyone of them, and understand why someone liked that book.
  3. Email the author. Tell them you admire their work, are seeking similar success, and ask if you can talk to them for 15 minutes via phone for advice.
  4. Okay, now we can move over to social media: follow these authors on social media, and pay particular attention to who follows these authors.
  5. See if you can identify one fan of this author that you can talk to; because THIS is an ideal fan for your writing as well. No, don’t pitch them. Instead, be intensely curious about what they read and why.

Here, you are studying the ecosystem that will surround your book. Spend time learning about readers instead of pitching your book.

“Dan, I’m preparing to launch my book. What are three things you would advise me to do?”
Do this:

  1. PANIC! Oh, wait. I mean: don’t panic. This is where I think having colleagues as a writer can really help. When you have friends you can call who have published in the past, you learn what to expect; you learn when to freak out, and when not to; you learn what to not be surprised by; you have someone to call at 3am when you are having a panic attack. I mean… not to make a book launch sound so terrifying, I’m just saying that not being alone will help you manage the many questions and feelings you will have around it. So this advice is: BUILD A TEAM and HAVE COLLEAGUES. Going it alone is a sure path to failure.
  2. Collect your base. Too many writers imagine their “audience” as these distant people who they have never met. Yet, for most successful authors, they begin with the people around them. Sure, at first that is friends and family, but as you gain momentum, what many writers find is that anyone they meet is a potential reader. NO, that doesn’t mean you are pitching people left and right. What I mean is: gather the people who already know and love you and your work so that you can best reach them, and get them to kickstart word of mouth marketing. If you publish with a big publisher, they will send you an author questionnaire that asks you about every club you belonged to, committee you served on, school you attended, company you worked for, and so on. So, give yourself your own author questionnaire. Then create a newsletter or similar mechanism to be able to reach and engage these people.
  3. Get the basics right. I can’t even tell you how many authors sit around wondering why no one is buying there book, and in the meantime, there are egregious errors on their Amazon page, the book is missing from other big retailers, their name and book title are not findable on Google, and their entire marketing plan can be summed up in them quietly waiting for the world to discover them. Instead…. consider the many paths that will lead someone to your book, especially word of mouth marketing. Then, ensure there aren’t roadblocks along that path.

As you navigate all of this for yourself, let me know if you want a partner in the process. Details on my consulting packages can be found here.