I imagine that the steps to become a popular author isn’t much different for becoming popular in any artistic pursuit. For writing, all you need to do is:

  1. Love writing (see Ken’s goals for writing).
  2. Write, and show your work to your friends until they start avoiding you (see my  Short fiction, please! I don’t have enough money to pay someone to read the millions of words, I’ll need to write before I can become a popular author.)
  3. Find something you love almost as much as writing and write about it (see The Inspiration for Bolas Buys).
  4. Market your book.
Man on a bike
The most import thing to do on a journey is to start

If you just want a best-selling novel, there are short-cuts, such as do something extremely embarrassing with someone extremely famous and write about it, but if you want to be a popular author, these are the steps.

I am working on step four and, I found this step is poorly supported. To remedy this for me and hopefully others, I researched and wrote a book, “Marketing for Writers”.  I wrote this book because my marketing efforts for my first two books were hopeless. Marketing is new and frightening for authors because In the time before Google, getting a publisher could be the beginning and end of our plan to publish and market our books, but now self-publishing is practical and self-marketing is essential. To become popular authors, we’ll have to venture into the enormous massless playground that is the internet. The new marketing opportunities on the internet come with risks because unlike human publishers, the internet does not love writing and has no interest in our creativity. This means we should not self-market without valuing and protecting our creativity in ways such as the ones I have suggested in my book. Writing my book has shown me how I can leap from my writing skills to marketing ones. I want to share this with other writers.

Once I started trying out the skills, my dread for marketing stopped, and my marketing skills improved. I know others can use and expand these skills too because If you’re a writer, you won’t want to leave the power of marketing to those who use it to dismiss, distort, distract, and divide.

It is time to start the human trials of the marketing ideas that I have curated in my book. I have not yet published a version of the book but would be happy to share it with you on epub, if you contact me to request it.

Implementing the ideas in my book.

To launch my book, I intend to follow the recommendations suggested in it.

I need to explain that I couldn’t write this book without joining the dots between writing terms and marketing ones. I am a writer. This is what I do. If you are a writer, I challenge you to write without joining the dots that give us insights with themes such as love conquers all, your misfortunes don’t need to define you and the criticisms from people like Donald Trump say more about them than who they are criticising.

We don’t have to think we’re connecting the dots to be good at it, which is why something that should be precious to us isn’t valued or even thought of much. Many people are better at this writing skill than you or me. Well, certainly me. For instance, I think Jane Harper, is brilliant at joining the dots to give us insights into human nature. For me, this makes her a wonderful writer. These connections in my marketing book, I have called leaps and they have given me insights into marketing. The first leap in my book, I want to now share with you.

You’ll need to stay with me for a bit because the first idea to be implemented in the book is to leap from joining dots in our writing to finding patterns to monitor the progress of our marketing. Most discussions on monitoring will encourage us to set targets for outcomes, which we can fail to achieve. I don’t want us to do that because the most important thing to becoming a popular author is to be persistent, so we shouldn’t set targets that could make us feel like we’ve failed. Just remember we can only really fail if we stop writing and marketing. There is a lot out there that is ready to disillusion us. There is no need for us to do it ourselves.

You should, of course, do what suits your skills. If, for example, you can gain insights into the human condition through statistics, then you hardly need my help to monitor your progress. 

When you first publish a book, you’ll think you will remember everything, but you won’t. I didn’t, but, when I meet with Jean Foster, my writing buddy, she tells me how impressed she is about how I have progressed as an author since we last met. She has joined the dots for me in a way that all writers need. I certainly need it, because it does not feel like I’m making progress. I am very lucky to have a friend like Jean, but all writers can have similar encouragement if they monitor in a positive- way. All we need to do is write down what we are doing now, so we can join the dots with what we will be doing in say six-months’ time.  This comparison will stop us from thinking we are getting nowhere, which can also make us want to give up.

Ignore this paragraph if you don’t like theory – I do not find timelines and deliverables any more useful for marketing my books than for winning a lottery. These things can only help me become average. To be a popular author, I must be as extraordinary as a lottery winner.  To join dots in a positive way I use ideas from chaos theory to identify patterns in my performance, based on what it is that I’m proud of, enjoying or what pleases me. This is similar to the argument for positive psychology in a process called Brain Rewiring (which is a great TED talk).

To join the dots in my performance, On 7 May 2020 I wrote down responses to the suggestions below, and will periodically update them, to monitor how far I’ve come in a way that will encourage me to increase my efforts or just be persistent:

  • Think about your writing and marketing goals and write down what successes you’re pleased with:

I am pleased that I am now being discovered on my Web-page. I am working with  Kelly Boulter, a writing buddy and we have both submitted a story to the Furphy writing competition. My novel, ” Fleeing” is coming to the climax and I am excited to see where it goes. I am having a lot of fun with the villains, but I hope they don’t win.

  • Think about how your plans for publishing, building a brand and promoting your books are going and write down what activity you’re proud of:

I have finished curating the ideas in “Marketing for writers”. I need to find a proofreader and decide how much money I will put into marketing it. I have now sold over one hundred books, which is okay, but a long way from being as extraordinary as I need to be if I want to be a popular author.

  • Think about the people who are helping, or you have helped. Write down what and who you’re grateful for:

Andrew Harvey has as usual been great. I’ll be having our regular Skype on Thursday. Working with Kelly Boulter is improving my writing skills and I’m very pleased to have Richard Regan back in the critiquing group.

  • Think of the ideas for marketing you’ve got from other authors or had yourself and write down the ones you enjoy doing and are going to put energy into:

My intension to use “Marketing for writers” as a marketing device to build my brand for my fiction writing has been turned upside down. A marketing friend called Leonie Anderson has recommended I do it the other way around. Make non-fiction writing and running seminars, commercial and make fiction writing part of my brand (charge little). This seems appealing except for my non-fiction ideas are just ideas and I like them, but I don’t have much experience with implementing them, The second issue is that I don’t like business models that source money from an author’s love of writing rather than from giving readers what they are waiting for.

After answering these questions I found the answers that I’d made on 12 February 2020:

  • Think about your writing and marketing goals and write down what success you’d be pleased with:

Learnt what it is to be a writer
Have people ask for my help
Have people review my book
Increased the subscriptions to my web-site.

  • Think about how your plans for publishing, building a brand and promoting your books are going and write down what are you are proud of:

The workshop’
The website.

  • Think about the people who are helping, or you have helped. Write down what you are grateful for.

Having coffee with Andrew’
Having Jean as a writing buddy.

  • Think of the ideas for marketing you’ve got from other authors or you ‘have had yourself and write done the ones you enjoy doing and are going to put energy into

Increasing my involvement with critiquing’
Researching marketing for the writer.

Well, this works for me. I have made progress in most of the areas I was hoping for in February, except running more workshops, which I can’t do because of the virus. Also, subscriptions for my website still haven’t gone viral. If you try these questions I would love to know how ythey work for you.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Ken.

    I think you missed the importance of self-marketing even for those who have been both good and lucky enough to get accepted by a publisher. Even the largest of publishers expect their authors to self-promote themselves, and their work. And if you’re working with a smaller publisher then it’s vital.

    I love your comment

    “There is a lot out there that is ready to disillusion us. There is no need for us to do it ourselves.”

    I’ve printed it out and stuck it up on my wall above my monitor.

    1. Thanks, Andrew.

      I agree. Self-marketing is now essential for an author.
      I’m glad you liked the quote. You sticking it up makes me feel like a writer.

      Ken

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