Less Information, More Action

Today I want to share with you the end-to-end process I take writers through to develop their author platforms and ensure their books connect with readers.

I’ve been honing it for years, it’s called the Creative Success Pyramid. This is it (click the image to download a full-sized PDF):

It’s comprised of five basic parts, you start at the bottom and work your way to the top:

  1. Get radical clarity on what you create and why.
  2. Build your platform.
  3. Hone your voice.
  4. Conduct audience research.
  5. Launch and market your book.

All of these are in service of the ultimate goals: to continually create, to improve at your craft, to ensure your writing reaches more people, and to connect with others in fulfilling and meaningful ways.

Within it are 30 smaller boxes. Here is a 15+ minute video of me taking you through it:

I have this quote hanging in my studio from Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers fame):

“I am much more concerned that our society is interested in information, instead of wonder.”

For the work I do, I often worry that writers have too much information, but don’t take enough action.

All I do is help writers take their writing from idea to actually reaching readers. To have their voice is heard. To have a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

I’m not talking about a hollow Facebook Like, I mean true connections that matter.

What I find is that many writers get stuck in this journey.

They get mired in too much information, taking course after course, reading blog post after blog post, endless podcasts, forums, and so much else. They are on the constant hunt for the latest tip and trick that will ensure greater success, with less time and potential for failure.

Amidst all of this information, they fail to take action.

A friend shared this image on social media the other day, the books she just purchased:

I asked her about them, and she thoughtfully shared her process of how she will read them all, integrate their knowledge into her creative practice, and so forth. I was impressed with how clear she was about it.

But I find many writers aren’t nearly this clear. They sample knowledge here and there, they accumulate this stockpile of information that they don’t take action on.

What if they just read one of these books, but really followed through on it. They took each action it recommended. What if they approached it carefully and consistently?

The idea of the Creative Success Pyramid is to move through it. To get the foundational elements in place at the bottom, and to work your way up it.

In the process, the writer learns how to better communicate with and earn the trust of their ideal readers. This process takes time. The sooner you begin, the more you focus on the people you connect with in the process, the more successful you will be.

Having the information of the Creative Success Pyramid is not enough. To move through it, you need feedback and collaboration:

  1. Clear simple actions to take.
  2. Brainstorming and feedback.
  3. Connecting 1-on-1 with real people who love the kinds of books you write.

One of my clients just wrapped up the first season of her podcast that I helped her launch. She’s a psychologist who tends to specialize in helping people through trauma, and she is writing a book about how to overcome whatever holds you back. Her work is inspiring.

The first season of her podcast, called Fix Yourself, has more than 30 episodes.

This week she published an episode where she reflected on the lessons she learned learned in the podcasting process, including:

  1. “If you do something new, you will be forced to face your fears. You will need to surrender your fear that people will judge you. They will. Focus on your goals instead and you will be able to take the next step forward.”
  2. “New endeavors mean new skills and learning. I learned how to use a microphone, record interviews, use new software, ask people if I could interview them, and lots of other new things I didn’t know a thing about!”
  3. “I was able to tap into creativity that I never thought I had. Learning I can be creative was an amazing gift. These days when I’m out running, I’m thinking of topics for podcasts or things I can share.”

Over the past year, she has reached out to person after person to interview them and to connect with. The result is not just the podcast, but the relationships that she forged in the process, clarity and confidence in her voice, and her own ability to connect with her ideal audience.

This is the power of taking action. She also shared a powerful story from a podcast episode where she talked about the power of forgiveness. She heard from one listener who told her that for decades, he couldn’t let go of the anger he felt towards his ex-wife. Evidently, their daughter was killed in a car accident, and his ex-wife was driving at the time.

After listening to Shannon’s episode, he said he finally let go of that anger and filled himself with forgiveness. Everything changed in that moment.

Her conclusion: “If I did 30 podcasts this year to help one individual, it was totally worth my time.”

All of this work is aligned to the platform development and launch of her upcoming book. What I see each week is Shannon getting out there and connecting with the people who will not only buy her book, but also become the foundation for word-of-mouth marketing. The people who will leave early reviews, connect her with speaking events, recommend her for interviews, and tell friend after friend that this is a “must buy.”

The Creative Success Pyramid is something Shannon and I have been working through, and the results are not boxes checked off a to-do list, but the dozens and dozens of messages she has received like the one above. The foundation for her book launch is built in one meaningful experience at a time.

I want to end with advice I heard yesterday while watching an interview with former MTV VJ Martha Quinn. She said the best advice she ever received was this:

“Martha, you have got to get in the life. Go where the life is happening that you want to be in.”

Martha wanted to get into radio or journalism, and the result of that advice was that she moved to New York, where she got the gig to launch MTV.

The other piece of advice that Martha shared was, “Get off the bus.” She didn’t explain it, but I interpreted it as “don’t be a tourist, stuck on the bus. Get off. Explore. Get involved.”

When I think of the advice I would give writers, it is similar: be present in the lives of your ideal readers.

I’ll be sharing more specifics of how to move through the Creative Success Pyramid in coming weeks. In the meantime, one way to get my direct assistance to do it for yourself, is to join my Human-Centered Marketing program which begins Monday!