Author Archives: Ruth Ann Nordin

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out http://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.

Overcoming Fear So You Can Finish and Publish Your Books

Today I was thinking of a friend who is a very talented writer but doubts her ability because of things people in her past told her.  I won’t go into specifics, but from time to time, it seems these doubts creep up on her.  I’m sure there are some triggers to it, but I don’t know what those are because I can’t get into her head.

But I was thinking that the reason some writers don’t finish a book or publish it is because they’re letting fear push them down.  They might not be aware of this.  My friend does have published books, but she’d like to write more books in a year, and I can see she’s making an effort at this.  And it takes courage when you are pushing past a barrier of “I’m not good enough” because you’ve been told you weren’t way back in your childhood through high school.

Today, I want to address some strategies to help writers who are procrastinating because of that they’re not good enough.

Fear

 Fear of rejection is a powerful one, and when it’s from someone you know and respect, it’s even more difficult.  I really think people can become paralyzed by fear if they’re not careful.  But think through the worst case scenario.  No one likes your book or no one buys your book.  That is the worst case scenario as a writer.  I don’t know if not selling any books is more of a fear factor than being told your book sucks.  You can’t have anyone hate your book unless someone reads it, which implies someone bought it, which implies you made some sales.  For the sake of this discussion, I’ll say the fear that people don’t like your book is the bigger of the two fears.

Fear of rejection is a tough one, but it is one that you can overcome.  You don’t have to be a prisoner to it.

Procrastination

I think the reason writers procrastinate is because they let fear talk them out of taking the chance.  If you never publish a book, you don’t risk rejection because you can simply say, “Well, I just never got around to finishing it and getting it out there.  That’s why I never made it as a writer.”

By not finishing the book or publishing it, you are buffering yourself from potential rejection.

“I don’t have time” Feeds Procrastination

I can hear someone say, “But I don’t have time.” This is actually a dangerous mindset because you’re setting yourself up not to finish the story.  Books don’t have to be written in one day, one week, or even in one month.  National Novel Writing Month isn’t for everyone.  Just write a little at a time.

Break the word counts up into doable goals.  This way you won’t get overwhelmed.

Strategy Tip #1: Small Steps Lead to Great Rewards

Let’s say you decide to write 200 words three times a day.  That means you will take 10-15 minutes to sit down without anything distracting you, and all you’ll do is write.  I bet you can get 200 words in that small block of time.  Then walk away and do other things.  Come back to the computer in an hour or two and write for another 10-15 minutes.  Then you repeat this one more time in the day.   By writing for no more than 45 minutes a day, you will have 600 words.  At this rate, it will take you 83.3 days to finish a 50,000 word novel.  You could potentially write 4 novels (at 50,000 words) in a year by simply writing 600 words a day.  If you want to take vacations or breaks, then maybe you’ll want to write 3 novels instead of 4.  But the reality is, it’s very doable, even in a hectic schedule to write a full-length novel in one year.

Let’s Further Break the Baby Steps Down

You could write 137 words every day of the year to make a 50,000-word novel, if you wanted to just write one book in a year.  You can write 137 words in 10 minutes or less.  You won’t make a career at this pace, but you can get the book done, and that is the focus of this post.  Overcoming fear and getting a book out because it’s something you really want to do.  Sometimes you will have to fight your fear by going slow, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Baby steps add up.   The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be, and the more confident you’ll become.  And, it’ll get easier to ignore people who don’t like your work.

The fact of the matter is, you will not overcome your fear by doing nothing.  You must write.

Strategy Tip #2: Put Things in Perspective.

Now, here’s how you put fear in perspective.  Read the 1 and 2-star reviews of your favorite books by famous authors.  I guarantee you, there are people who hate those books that you love.  You won’t be the first person whose book has not pleased someone, and you won’t be the last.

If it helps, I come from a family who mocked me for writing romance (aka “trash”).  I also receive comments from time to time from people who don’t like my stories for one reason or another, and if you take a look at my reviews (esp. on the books going back to 2009 – 2010), you’ll see I have a good number of anti-fans out there.

The reality is you will never please everyone.  Taste is subjective.

Strategy Tip #3: Seek Out Trustworthy and Encouraging Writers

Networking isn’t simply about selling books.  It’s also about establishing friendships with other writers who can be a huge support system.  You don’t have to go through this alone.  Local writing groups and meeting writers online can help you overcome fear by sharing common experiences with others who are in your shoes.  Non-writers mean well, but really, they don’t understand why a 1-star review stings or why an email telling you that you’re the worst writer ever hurts.  They don’t understand that our books are more than “books”.  Our books are a part of us because we created them.

Surround yourself by encouraging and supportive writers.

Strategy Tip #4: Join a Good Critique Group

The key here is to join a good one.  A good critique group will be full of writers who are honest but also encouraging.  They should tell you what is good about your story but be brave enough to tell you what isn’t working.  Feedback isn’t always pleasant, but you grow because of it.  If you have a supportive atmosphere, you can really fine tune your writing skills.  And this should help build your confidence as a writer.

Critique groups don’t have to be big.  They’re actually better off being small.  They can be online.  They don’t have to be a formal critique group.  Beta readers who are writers are a form of critiquing, too.  Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to establish this.

Remember, you want to be open to the good and the bad.  No matter how much you’ve written, there is always going to be room for improvement.  Each story you write should be better than your last one.

Strategy Tip #5: Join Workshops, Go to Conferences, and Read Books on Writing

Thanks to the Internet, you can go to conferences and workshops online now.  You don’t have to go to a physical place.   Part of workshops and conferences are networking, especially if you go to them in person, and they are educational.  These have a two-fold blessing built into them.  Not only are you learning ways to improve your writing and learning about the publishing industry, but you’re also meeting people who share your interest for writing.

If you connect with a couple of writers who are encouraging and supportive, you will probably start to feel that way within yourself.  I’m amazed at how surrounding myself with positive people makes me feel more positive, and I, in turn, can pass that on to others.  Like-minded people tend to attract each other.  Stay away from the negative as much as you can and seek out the positive.

And of course, reading books can be another avenue for improvement.  I prefer to do workshops and conferences rather than read books, but I know someone who’d rather read books.

However, I do think if you surround yourself with happy and supportive writers, it will go a long way in helping you to be positive about your writing.  When you’re positive about your writing, you’ll have a better chance of improving your work.

Strategy Tip #6: Do You Love Your Story?

Do you love the story?   At the end of the day, you are stuck with the book.  This is your story.  It’s what you created.  It is a part of you.  As long as you love it, it was worth writing.

Categories: Psychology of Writing & Publishing, Social Networking | Tags: , ,

“Success” Doesn’t Guarantee Happiness…Your State of Mind Does

Success (however you define it) isn’t going to guarantee happiness.

© Icefields | Dreamstime.com - Happiness Formula Photo

© Icefields | Dreamstime.com – Happiness Formula Photo

I understand how lack of sales, lack of positive reviews, not winning an award, hateful email, and other things we deal with as writers can bring us down.  This is normal.  We’re in a roller coaster business.

But the opposite isn’t going to “finally make you happy”… at least not longterm.  You might get a boost from it.  There is a certain high in reaching a goal, especially if you did even better than the goal you set.  But the high doesn’t last.  It peaks and then fizzles.  The high, just like the lows, are like a roller coaster.  Often right after going through a couple days of a “wow, I did it!” high, I find I spend a day or two feeling down in the dumps–and there was nothing bad that happened to make me feel bummed out.  I think this is the body’s way of leveling out our moods.

My point is that there is no external thing in our lives as writers that will truly satisfy us in the long run.  No matter how many books you sell, you can always sell more.  If you made it as a NYT or USA bestselling author with one book, you want to make it there with another one.  If you win one award, you want another one.  If you get one great review, you want another one.  It’s normal.  Once we get a taste of something, we want more.

If we don’t get it, we’re disappointed.   Why?  Because these things don’t sustain us.

You could have everything you’ve ever dreamed of as a writer, but that doesn’t mean you will be happy.  Happiness is something that comes from within.  It’s a state of mind.  The good news is, this is one area you have control over.  You decide how to respond to things that happen around you.  The older I get (I’ll be 40 in October), the more I’m convinced that the way you think has a huge impact on how you feel.

A quick disclaimer before I continue: you will not be happy every single day for the rest of your life.  There will be days that suck.  But overall, there could be an underlying sense of joy in your life if you start focusing on the positives.

Okay, now to continue…

You reap what you sow.

Focus on what you can control.

If you focus on things you can do (realistic goals such as improving your writing or getting a little more writing in during the week), you are more likely to find contentment than if you’re running all over Facebook and Twitter to promote the heck out of your book with the hope you’ll hit a certain number of sales.  Why?  Because you can’t control if someone buys or reads your book.  That is out of your control.  And if you’re looking for other people to do something to make you happy, it’s not going to happen.  It might give you a boost (and you should enjoy the boosts when they come), but it won’t sustain you.

Another principle of reaping what you sow…

The way you treat others ends up coming back to you somehow.

I don’t fully understand why this works out the way it does, but time and time again, I’ve seen people get what they’ve given.  Generous people seem to get more than those that are stingy.  People who reach out and help others often end up being liked by a large group of people.  I think it’s because positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative.

In regards to writing, I would say treat your fellow authors and your readers with respect.  That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat.  There are times when you have to say no.  You can’t do it all.  But you can be positive when you engage with others.  Save the “I’m bummed out” for your close friends and family who go through life’s ups and downs with you.  Publicly, be happy.  When you are happy in public, it has a tendency to lift your spirits.

***

If you can get to the place where you’re content with your life, I think it’ll go a long way in being a better writer.  You’ll have more creative energy and enthusiasm for your work.  You’ll be more passionate about it.  You’ll naturally do better without consciously trying to.

And if you do hit an accomplishment you have no control over, like selling X number of copies in a month, you will be grateful for it, but you won’t base your self-worth as an author on it.  You’ll be humble about your accomplishments.  When good and bad times happens, you’ll bounce back a lot quicker, and you’ll level off easier to an overall sense of joy.

Categories: The Writer & Author | Tags:

Are Pre-Orders Right For You?

I’m sure you guys have already gotten the KDP email announcing pre-orders for all indie authors.  If not, it’ll probably be coming in your inbox soon.  Basically, you can do a pre-order up to 90 days before your book’s release.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to do this.  But from my understanding, the pre-orders on Amazon won’t work like they do at Apple.

Apple will let all of your pre-order sales build up.  Then when the book is released, all of the pre-order sales adds to all the sales you make on your first day.  For example, let’s say you sell 20 books in pre-order, and you sell 40 books the day the book is released.  Apple will make it count your ranking as if you sold 60 books that day.  The higher ranking will give you added exposure and possibilities for getting noticed.  That’s the biggest benefit to doing pre-orders from a marketing perspective, in my opinion.

Amazon, however, doesn’t operate the same way with pre-orders.  So you might sell 20 books in pre-order.  Then the day of release, you sell 40.  For ranking purposes, it will look as if you only sold 40 books.  This makes you more vulnerable to a dip in sales.  If all your fans pre-order your books, then those sales won’t boost your ranking on the first day your book is available.  Quick note: You will still show on your dashboard that you sold 60 books.  You just won’t have this reflected on the Amazon ranking on your product page.  (I hope that makes sense.)

After studying up on what other authors are saying, this is my understanding of how the two systems (Apple and Amazon) works when dealing with pre-orders.  If I am wrong, please let me know.

Anyway, the question might be, are pre-orders worth it?  Only you can answer that question.  It might be worth it to you, or it might not.

Here are some things to factor in when looking at pre-orders.

1.  Pre-orders force you into a deadline

Deadlines are an awesome thing.  I love them because they force you to stay on track.  If you know you have to get the book done by a certain date, you’re more likely to do it.  Otherwise, it’s too easy to keep putting it off until sometime later.  To me, this is one of the most compelling reasons to do a pre-order.  I love deadlines and having things ready to go before they’re due.

The drawback, of course, is real life.  Something might pop up that throws you off track, like an illness or job loss.  To rectify this, you could have everything done and ready to go when you put something into pre-order.  But this requires a great deal of patience.

2.  Pre-orders allow you to promote more in advance since you have everything ready advance.

This can free up time working on the pre-release promotion of your book.  What type of promotion you do is up to you.  I mainly blog sample scenes, character interviews, and updates to promote my work before it’s released.  Some people prefer social networking sites to gain excitement for their book.  Some people do blog tours or look at running ads.  There is no right or wrong on this.  You should do what you’re comfortable with and enjoy.

3.  Readers might want to buy a pre-order instead of going back to your blog or social networking site or the bookstore to see if your book is out or not.

The argument can be made that new release emails notifying fans that your book is available will relieve them of the need to keep checking the sites listed above.  I’m on the fence about how effective the new release emails are.  I use MailChimp to send out information on new releases, and it seems that a little over half the recipients open them.  Less than half click on the links.  I don’t know if people are also following my blog and go through those links instead or what.  To me, it seems to be one of those “it doesn’t matter” promotional tools.  Perhaps if I didn’t regularly blog and announce new released on Facebook and Twitter, I’d see more of a benefit from it.  I don’t think it hurts to do it, and it’s not like it takes a lot of time to set up.

Others might have a better experience with new release emails.  Keep in mind that what works great for one person doesn’t always work the same for someone else.

But pre-orders are a way readers can reserve your book then totally forget about it until they get an email from the bookstore telling them the book is now ready for them to read.  If nothing else, having a book in pre-order will answer the question, “When will your next book be out?” that you might get from a reader.

4.  Pre-orders and rankings.

Given, Amazon doesn’t apply pre-order sales to the actual release date when calculating the ranking, and that could hurt your ranking (and potential sales) if you don’t sustain regular sales on day one of the book’s release.  But it’s also possible there might be an awesome rank in other channels on release day because of the pre-orders that built up.  If all your fans pre-ordered the book, you need people who are new to your work or on the fence about it to buy the book to keep your ranking up.

However, if you didn’t have pre-orders, then all of your sales start on the first day of the book’s release.  It might take time for the news of your book’s release to trickle through all the promotional avenues of your choice, and this could buy you a few days to weeks of steady sales, which could help with ranking and exposure.

***

So will pre-orders help or hurt you?  I don’t know.  Sales are like a roller coaster as it is.  Things like time of year, promotions, ads, word of mouth, etc can effect your sales throughout the life of your book.  All I’ve learned from this business is that there are no guarantees.  You might write the book you believe will appeal to a wide audience.  You did your research.  You put in popular character types (ex. alpha hero), popular situations (ex. a scandal), got an attractive cover (one that is way better than your other books), and have a description with popular keywords in it.  But when you publish it, the book sinks…fast, and it never recovers.  Then you write a book you don’t think will appeal to many, and it does better than the one you thought would sell great.  I’ve had that experience several times.

What makes one book sell well and not another is a mystery.  People keep asking me for a magic bullet, and there is no magic bullet.  You write, throw it out there, and see what sticks.

Pre-orders is another promotional tool at your disposal.  You can use it or not.  If it works for you, use it.  If it doesn’t, then don’t.  Just like everything else in this business, tailor your strategy to what you enjoy and what works best.  If someone tells your what you’re doing is wrong, ignore them.  They aren’t in your shoes.

Categories: Book Promotion, Business Plan, Marketing & Promoting | Tags:

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