19 April 2012

Early Stages of Being an Author

by Carrie Bailey

While reading Marcy Kennedy's article revealing the Four Secrets About Writer's Conferences. I was reminded of some advice I've taken to heart recently. She phrased it best:
"If you know what you need my help with, you know your weaknesses. Recognizing them is the first step in fixing them."
This is an important step to becoming a successful writer and it's a stage I've just arrived at. Kennedy's insights bolstered my conviction that writers follow a similar trajectory along a path toward developing not just a book, but a career as an author. As she says, hard work and a willingness to learn is what determines which of us realize our fantasies as time passes. These dreams are necessary.

Stage One: Envision your name...in print. Picture your book on the shelves of every bookstore you visit. Now what are going to do with all that revenue?

As you exit stage one, you might feel foolish. You shouldn't. Anyone can tell a story. Each and everyone of us is capable of tapping out a narrative in a word processor or scrawling it over a napkin, but crafting it so that it moves other people--to buy it--is a learned skill.  

Stage Two: Enroll in Author University. It's a curriculum of your own design based on all the books, magazines, websites, forums, workshops, classes you can find...and you just have to keep cramming.

While there are contradictions on what makes good writing, you don't have to bothered about it. Learn only from the people you want to imitate. Disregard lessons from those who claim to be knowledgeable, but

Stage Three: Prove yourself...to yourself. You need to be convinced that somewhere, anywhere, there are people who will pay you for your work or at least publish and distribute it.

This is a stage many talented writers never venture into, because they fear the inevitable rejection. Other people have negative experiences sharing their work and then retreat into the belief that true artists don't write for compensation. It's a shame, because stage four is not to be missed. 

Stage Four: Party! You're not alone. There's hundreds of thousands of people trying to promote and sell their writing. You're in good company. Enjoy it.

Even if you live in Antarctica, you can connect with other authors through social media. Never underestimate the value of those connections online or in person. Promote everyone who impresses you. Get brave and make contact with people you admire. Make friends.
Stage Five: Know thyself. You've learned everything about famous authors and writers whom you regard as your favorite people; you shouldn't neglect number one.

After you've learned both your weaknesses and your strengths, now is the ideal time to run through all the other stages again. A great author isn't an old person or a young person, but a person who knows how to write well.

When you're ready, when it's time, you can move forward to even greater heights. As Kennedy says in her article on Writer's conferences:
"...even if they seen potential in you, you might not be ready yet. Would you want to eat an unripe banana?"
Socrates was convinced that to "Know Thyself" was highest point in the quest for understanding, but he was an independently wealthy ancient Athenian in an isolated city of 800,000. He knew nothing about buying groceries produced on the other side of the world and trying to stand out among 7 billion or is it 8 billion people in the world now? Probably by the time I finish this post... Other stages of being an author are more about learning to run a business than learning to write. You don't have to be writing best sellers to start earning from your writing and authors often start developing a platform before they're even published.

Don't depend on your writing skill to sell books. As you move through the stages of becoming an author, give yourself an advantage by learning additional skills. Write business plans, marketing plans, study what other writers have done to become successful in selling books as much as in writing books.

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