Today’s guest, Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the “Inspiration to Creation Coach,” Nina moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. Some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses, and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, has self-published twelve books, and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month (aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge).[pullquote]First, and foremost, I want to help writers succeed—to write books that get read (which means they sell) and to create careers as authors. It’s one thing to have a good idea or to be a good writer. It can be quite another to actually get your good idea and good writing read (sold).[/pullquote]
Nina’s goal: “First, and foremost, I want to help writers succeed—to write books that get read (which means they sell) and to create careers as authors. It’s one thing to have a good idea or to be a good writer. It can be quite another to actually get your good idea and good writing read (sold). Second, I think there are some missing pieces in the information provided both to writers who want to become indie authors and to writers who want to become traditionally published authors. I wanted to fill in those gaps. I’m passionate about this topic because, like every writer or author, I, too, want my writing to have impact. I want my work to be read and to touch and to transform lives. So I set out to figure out how to make that happen. Now I want to share what I learned with others.”
Today’s post is an excerpt from The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014) by Nina Amir.
The Four Characteristics of Author Attitude and Why You Need Them
I have created an acronym to help you remember the four characteristics of Author Attitude. The acronym spells a word that recently has come into common culture: WOOT!
Let’s look at each characteristic of WOOT. Know that—like attitude—each one reflects a choice you can make and you can learn each characteristic if you feel you don’t possess it yet. Indeed, you can make the choice to learn it or adopt it into your way of being as you train to become an author. That’s what the “Author Training Process” is meant to accomplish.
To become a successful author you need a general willingness to change and grow. Your old attitudes, actions, behaviors, thoughts, decisions, beliefs, and habits have only gotten you this far. They helped you achieve your current results. If you want a new level of success as a writer, something has to change. For that to happen, first and foremost, you need to be willing to change. Every one of the following characteristics and each step in the Author Training Process requires that you have some degree of willingness to explore, do, learn, evaluate, try something that may be new or different, or do something you know how to do already but in a different way.
Additionally, you must be willing to change your book idea. The actual story, characters, subject, angle, theme, purpose, audience, or any number of other aspects of your project might need to be altered to make it viable in the marketplace. This may be difficult to swallow at first, but successful authorship relies on your ability to evaluate the marketability of your idea from every angle possible and make the tough calls. Only when you have discovered that you have created a salable idea can you turn to writing the book. When you have completed the manuscript, you must be willing to receive feedback on how your writing and manuscript can be improved to make it successful and to make those changes.
Whether you call it faith, positive thinking, reverse pessimism, Positive Psychology, or learned optimism, to become a successful author you must be willing to see everything that happens to you as pushing you closer to your goal of successful authorship. This means a rejection from an agent presents an opportunity to improve your query letter or your book proposal. A negative review of your manuscript by a book doctor at a conference presents a chance to rethink your plot or your content—or even to hone your craft. A session with a proposal consultant who tells you your platform section needs strengthening offers the opportunity to rethink your pre-promotion activity level.
In case you think I am suggesting you become a Pollyanna, let me share some scientific data with you. In a report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Michael F. Scheier, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, wrote that optimists tend to respond to disappointments, such as being rejected by a literary agent, by formulating a plan of action and asking other people for help and advice. On the other hand, pessimists more often react to the same event by trying to ignore it or assuming they can do nothing to change their results.
In a similar study, Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that pessimists tend to construe bad events, such as low book sales or being told a manuscript doesn’t fit a publisher’s needs, as the result of personal deficits that will plague them forever in every aspect of their personal and professional lives. Optimists see the same events as caused by mistakes they can remedy by making changes, once they discover what changes are necessary.
You will have many reasons for optimism as you move through the Author Training Process and in your career as an author, and this optimistic attitude will help you achieve more positive results.
To become a successful author, you need to see yourself and your work objectively, from a different perspective than your own. Specifically, you need to see through the lens used by publishing professionals, such as literary agents and acquisitions editors. Both view your book idea not only as a creative project but also as a business proposition. They view you as a potential business partner. Even if you don’t plan on seeking a traditional publisher for your book, you must learn to stand back and evaluate yourself and your work objectively from a publishing business perspective. Doing so becomes even more important if you plan to independently publish since you become the publisher of your own work.
The publishing industry is the book production and selling business; if you want to become an author, you must be willing to make this your business as well. You have to be willing to craft your work with an eye to the industry’s needs and standards, which are, more often than not, focused primarily on marketability and sales.
You also must distance yourself from your idea. You must detach from it so you are willing to receive, hear, and act upon criticism—and so you can learn to evaluate your idea and offer constructive criticism of your own. And you must make the necessary changes without cringing as if you are cutting off fingers and toes. You must do this with excitement because you know you are making the end product more salable. In other words, you must act in your book’s best interest—even when it feels hard.
Ultimately, you must see your project from the perspective of consumers as well. Only when you do this can you pinpoint why they might pick up your book, carry it to the register and purchase it, and then tell their friends they must read it, too. That’s when you and your book become successful.
To become an author, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to reach your goal. Determination, persistence, and perseverance carry you through to successful authorship, whether you are rewriting your manuscript, building author platform, submitting to the one hundredth agent, contacting the one thousandth reviewer, or writing the fiftieth blog post or press release about your book. You must have passion for your project and feel a sense of purpose. Every day you must show up eager to move forward, even if it is only by one small step or in spite of the challenges that have presented themselves.
You must love what you do. You must be in love with writing, being an author (or the prospect of becoming one), and your book. For you, authorship must not be about making money or selling books; writing books or this particular book must feel like a passion, a calling, a vocation, or a “soul” purpose. This will keep you doing what must be done to succeed every day.
What are some ways you have “WOOT”? We’d love to hear about some of the Author Attitudes that have made you into a successful writer!