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Free, Paid, and One on One Resources

**PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION: THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE

Sometimes you don’t need high level support or a proven framework to build your career. Sometimes you’re doing fine, and are happy as can be with where you’re writing and author career is going.

But you know there’s always room for growth, stretching, and improvement and that’s what this space is here for. A collection of hyper specific resources on a multitude of topics that relate to the FOUR PILLARS OF AN AUTHOR CAREER that you can pick from to focus on unleveling one aspect of your writing and publishing game.


Free Resources

Story Roots Idea Tester: Get to the Root of Your Story and Win the Heart of Your Reader

Dreams to Goals Guide: Understanding How to Position Your Fiction to Reach Your Dreams

The Five Genres Quiz: Find out Your Online Platform Persona and Reach Your Ideal Readers


Paid Resources

Find all of our DIY author workbooks here

To Work with us One on One go HERE

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4S Author: Sales

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Get caught up on the 4S series here: 4S | Self | Story | Support | Sales

Selling your books is a process that quickly gets out of control, leading to confusion, indecision, overwhelm, and then shut down.

The cause is too much information, too quickly, and at the wrong time. 

Authors (and everyone else on the planet) are consumers of information, but consumption also requires digestion and integration–the most important part of learning

So all those podcasts you binged about author marketing were a colossal waste of your time if you don’t digest and integrate what you heard. Did you go out and DO the thing you learned about, let it sit for a bit, and then come back to analyze it?

If the answer is no, you just wasted your time. When the time comes for you to do things, you will have to learn it again because the first time you consumed but didn’t allow the information time to stick.

The same rule applies to structures, foundations, frameworks, methods for selling books. What someone else does won’t necessarily be right for you. Just because some guy is famous for marketing books doesn’t mean it will be the magic solution to your sales problems. Or because some Facebook group is obsessed with ad strategy, sharing tips, tricks, and rants about ads all day, doesn’t mean ads are right for you.

The number one thing you need to do when creating your marketing plan is to get curious, get comfortable with risk, and get listening to your intuition.

The most effective way to sell more books is to create a marketing plan that you are excited to implement. The most impressive sales techniques in the world won’t sell you a single book if you don’t show up—or worse, show up half-assed and confuse people.

If your goal is to sell books, what’s the path of least resistance between the book and the reader? This trail will look different for everyone.

Everything you do will fall under one of these four categories, and the goal is streamline, simplify, and eventually automate/outsource.

One of the biggest problems I see with authors in all genres is the slow shift away from being a writer and toward becoming a marketing expert. I’m guessing you didn’t start writing with the goal of accidentally changing careers half way through?

The four tiers of an Author Marketing plan are Vision, Strategy, Tactics, and Gimmicks (not all gimmicks are slimy, I promise).

Vision

Your vision is just for you—the ultimate goal, the dream, the state of being that you’re after in your publishing career. Where do you want this journey to take YOU? If you’re unsure, write your Vision scene.

The typical day scene is a written account of a day-in-the-life of you, the author. There’s a reason it’s a typical day and not a special day too. It’s easy to imagine the day your book comes out, or the premiere of your movie/show, but those dreams are also too specific and not a representation of your inner success and happiness.

Think to the future, if everything went your way and you got all the things you wanted, what would a typical day in your life look like five/ten years from now. I’m guessing it doesn’t involve you obsessing over ad copy? Dig into this scene and write it down as if it were a scene in a novel. When you write down your goals and dreams, they become that much more real—more attainable.

Don’t hold back, but don’t get too carried away either (we all want million-dollar book deals). Stretch your vision of who you want to be (not just what you want to get) and how you want to exist in this world but start today. Start where you are right this second. You don’t need to change your circumstances, core values or personality to become a successful author. And you can’t change the facts of your life/the world right now.

Write the details and experience your success in the way that feels right for you and your life. Grab your Dreams to Goals Guide to dig into this exercise.

Strategy

Your strategy is your big picture view or map of how you’ll make it to your vision by providing your audience with a magical experience. This is where your readers become important in your marketing.

How will you show up? Where will you be? What is the path you’ll take your readers down? What landmarks of your life/writing are essential for your readers to see?

Often the word strategy gets tossed into things like ads, funnels, opt-ins, and the like, but in truth, none of those things is an author strategy by themselves. Your strategy is the engine, how all the bits fit together to make the whole machine work. The purpose of an engine is to drive a car. The goal of your marketing strategy is to sell books.

Your strategy includes your branding, online persona, and presence, all of which can be discovered in this simple FREE five day Author Traction Challenge.

Your strategy also includes your reader journey. You need to understand how readers browse and buy books, move through the process, and build your marketing strategy around their needs while remaining true to you.

Easy, right?

Tactics

A tactic is one small, focused effort to gain a specific result. So the overall goal is to sell books. A tactic is to release a free story to get people on your email list. The free story is the tactic, and the specific result is more people on your list, the big picture is that they’ll eventually buy your book.

There are hundreds of tactics to try and test, to mix and match. Your job while creating your marketing strategy is to fill it with tactics that work for you, your readers, and your time—not with what others tell you to do. I’m not saying ‘don’t trust book marketers’, what I’m saying is they don’t have a magic framework no matter what they might promise you. So don’t try to cram yourself into someone else’s vision.

The only absolute I have when marketing is never lead your reader into a dead end.

This phrase is repeated to my authors over and over again.

The secret to creating effective tactics that support a solid strategy is the LOOP EFFECT. Every call to action should take your reader on a journey back to you.

What does this look like in practice?

The simplest is the end matter of your book (yes, your end matter is a marketing tool not just a thing you need at the end of a book). When someone buys your book and reads it, is that the end of the line? Or do you have a link to sign up for your email list, get another book from the series, or join your discussion group? The link in the back of the book brings them back into your world–it completes the loop.

Every tactic you employ to expand your readership, grow your following, or sell your book should be AFTER you’ve thought through your loop. What are you asking readers to do? And how are they directed back to you after doing it?

Gimmick

A bad reputation follows the gimmick around like a shadow, but gimmicks themselves aren’t gross, the people who misuse them for selfish reasons are.

A gimmick is simply a way to get fast results with minimal effort. Unethical marketers use tricks and bribes to pad numbers and create false promises to get self-serving results but at the core of a well used gimmick is reward.

Giving away a $50 gift card is a gimmick. You’re relying on the basic fact that most people like getting free money. But the reward is so open-ended that the goal isn’t to provide real value to readers, it’s to get as many people to sign up as possible regardless of what they need. Misused gimmicks are selfish marketing because you care more about your numbers, ranking, profit, or status than you do about offering readers something they will need/want.

How I recommend authors use gimmicks is to serve their existing readers by rewarding them for their support.

Let’s say you have 500 people on your email list, and your next book is about to release, but there isn’t a lot of buzz happening even though your launch strategy is in place. You can whip up a quick gimmick that will help boost the buzz plus offer the people who are already supporting you a reward for their efforts.

Send out an email and ask your subscribers to share your release with their followers on social media and send you a link to the post. They’ll be entered into a draw for $50 for each platform they share on up to three platforms.

Important Note: You cannot use this to get reviews, that goes against Amazon’s terms of service. Getting more buzz around your book sure, but you cannot reward readers for reviews.

It’s quick and dirty, but instead of being greedy about it and trying to get numbers through manipulating strangers, be strategic and reward those who already support you.

Your road to selling books to readers will be full of vision, strategy, tactics, and gimmicks. They should work for you and make you excited to show up for your readers.

Each one will inform the other, but if you keep these things centered in your mind, your marketing plan will almost create itself:

  • Start where you ARE, not where you wish you were
  • Fill your strategy with things you’re excited to try
  • Always lead your readers back to you using the LOOP EFFECT
  • Reward the readers you already have with gimmicks, and forget about your vanity metrics
  • Remember that your best marketing strategy is always the ONE YOU’RE ACTUALLY GOING TO SHOW UP FOR

Have no idea where to start? Book a call with me and we’ll set your compass to success…

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4S Author: Support

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

If you haven’t read them get caught up here: 4S Author | Self | Story | Support | Sales

It’s easy to slip into thinking your writing is just you—the author. Your readers and those dreaded gatekeepers are way over there. In essence, it’s you alone and then everyone else you are trying to reach across some great expanse, whether real or imagined.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

It should be you—the author—surrounded by the people who support and uplift your career in different ways.

I want you to start segmenting your support networks into categories and then understanding what each support category does for you. Your support system is not a two faction entity—this or that—it’s multi-faceted.

Let’s start with the obvious.

Your reader

Your readers are people who open your book, read your words, and like them. They will often read more of your books and like those too. They will talk about, review, and recommend your books. The ultimate support a reader can give you is to talk about your book to others. That is reader endgame.

But make sure you know if your readers are also your buyers.

Wait? Aren’t they the same thing?

Nope.

Your buyers are the people who open their wallets and purchase your books. These can be the same person in the case of most adult fiction, but don’t assume it is.

For Middle Grade and Young Adult, the buyers are mostly parents/guardians and librarians. The adults are often the ones with the final say in what kids read. Knowing that is crucial to setting up your marketing plans or structure your story to be sure the people with the money get the message, but the reader gets the experience.

Even if your reader and buyer are the same person nurturing them as a readers and selling the next book to them are two very different things.

Your efforts with your readers should be on nurturing them into advocating for you. Save the hard marketing for your buyers.

Your peers

Your peers are other authors who are in a similar place to you. Not to imply that only debut authors can network with debut authors or that traditional authors must stick together. I mean, people who are struggling with the same things you are, or hitting similar milestones. If you’ve released your first book and are trying to get it into more reviewers’ hands and another author has 12 books out and is working on her first 100K month, the two of you don’t have relevant advice to share back and forth.

The hallmark of a peer relationship is that it’s mutually beneficial. You need to network with authors who have similar struggles because each of you will have different strengths to lend to each other. You will be able to speak the same language, commiserate together, hold each other accountable, and cheerlead each other.

A word of caution here: Beware the Author Whirlpool!

The Author whirlpool is my term for clusters of authors that begin to treat each other as readers. I’m not too fond of newsletter swaps for this reason (and others). I’ll share your book, you share mine. I’ll buy your book, you buy mine. 

Authors all hang out together in big Facebook groups where they inadvertently build a readership of other authors and not readers. They pump money into ads and target authors and wonder why their conversions are low. It becomes a whirlpool and continuously flows in on itself but never expands beyond other authors.

Your peers are not your market.

Mentors

You need to learn. Learning and growing as an author happens through formal or informal education. Finding a mentor, teacher, or coach isn’t mandatory to a successful author career, but it sure does speed things up and make them way less painful. Your agent or editor qualifies a mentor as well. Mentors are always more knowledgeable or more experienced than you, and the flow of help runs from mentor to mentee (even if the author is paying for the help).

The best way to find a mentor is to be active in author circles to respectfully and tactfully conduct yourself within those spaces and hold back your urges to defend yourself when receiving feedback. There’s nothing more off-putting to an established writer than a newbie asking for advice and then proceeding to refute each point. No one wants to waste their time teaching someone who does not want to learn.

Hiring someone if you have the funds is the best way to know you’re getting the support you need from someone who believes in your writing and will show up for you as they promise (because you’re paying them and if they don’t show up you will stop paying them).

Family/friends/community

People who aren’t in the writing community don’t often understand the writing community. If I had a dollar every time, someone asked me a silly question or made a stereotypical assumption about what I do…

But here’s the thing with your home-front support.

You don’t need them to support your writing.

You need them to support your time and energy.

So many authors don’t get the support they need at home, but a lot of authors also don’t articulate their need and desire. You hole away behind a computer screen, and your loved ones become resentful that you are distracted and distant, not that you’re writing. You tried to talk to them about your books, and they were dismissive, so you fell silent and steal bits of time here and there, never telling anyone what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Just because your husband doesn’t like your genre doesn’t mean he won’t support you. It might mean he won’t ever read your books, but is your husband your target audience? Not likely. His opinion on your writing isn’t going to be helpful.

But him taking the kids to the park on Saturday morning so you get some time to write? That is what support of your time and energy means.

The real secret here is honest communication. Talk to your family about how much you love writing and how it makes you a better parent/partner/friend. Set real expectations that they can understand around your time and energy, not your books. Be open to compromise and flexible to changing it up.

“I need an hour to work on a project that makes me happy, when can we fit this into our schedule to work for our family?”

“Writing helps me clear my head, gives me a creative outlet and fills me with purpose. When I feel that sense of purpose, it makes me more confident, fulfilled, and excited about life. That makes me show up better as a parent/partner. I need a space of my own in the house to do this work. How can this work for all of us?”

Once you settle on your time and space, protect it.

Be patient but firm with them if you are safe to do so. It takes time to shift expectations and set the foundations for your boundaries. They aren’t going to get it right, right away. Remind them what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how their support is helping.

I tell my 5-year-old that she’s helping me write my book when she’s coloring/reading next to me—that my words are a direct result of her support. I show her how many words I wrote on the screen, which she finds fascinating and is pretty proud of herself for being a part of it.

I report my writing progress to my husband, not as a sarcastic jab or justification, but as if my writing is a job just like his. I ask him how his day was when he gets home and what happened at work. 

I started telling him how my day went too in a casual way. No snark, no passive aggressive nonsense that would only make him shut down. I talked about how many words I got down, if they were a struggle, I complained about characters as if they were co-workers and celebrated milestones which helped him understand the process better. 

After a while of me doing that, he started asking about it. More than that, he began to understand that I was working toward something that mattered to me. My chatting about it normalized it in my family and extinguished any assumptions he had about what I did behind the computer screen.


Next week is the final post in the 4S Author series and it’s often the things authors skip straight to, which is why I strategically left it for last. See you next week for a chat on SALES.

If you need some extra support, reach out to us here and we’ll help you get back on track with your writing.

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4S Author: Story

Photo by Susn Dybvik on Pexels.com

Welcome back to the next S in our 4S author career series!

Get caught up: 4S author career | Self | Story | Support | Sales

Story is arguably the most important part of a writing career. You can be wicked confident and have a ton of money to throw at an in depth marketing plan, but if your story isn’t compelling all the hype will quickly flop.

Now, there’s no possible way to get all the ways to improve your writing skills into a single post. I would never even try.

Instead, I will walk you through how I work with authors to deepen their own stories. Notice I said stories, not writing. Wordsmithing is a skill separate from storytelling in my mind, and the most critical part of writing a page-turner is having a solid story behind your beautiful words.

Great stories are always about compelling character growth. A character starts at point A and ends at point Z, an entirely different person—for better or worse. Humans are drawn to human struggles. We are sucked in by a character in a seemingly impossible situation, and it’s curiosity that drives us to know if they will get through this list of insurmountable obstacles. We absolutely must know what happens next.

As an exercise in character growth we are going to turn to my favourite thing: Trees.

I’m obsessed with trees (I have a giant tree tattooed across my whole back as proof), which I combined with my love of story to create the Character Growth Tree. 

Let’s chronicle the growth of your protagonist through trees…

Stay with me here.

The characters are the trees; the story is the forest; the plot is the elements.

The tree has four parts for the purposes of this character lesson—roots, trunk, branches, and leaves.

The Roots are Character Misbeliefs

The roots are invisible but the most vital bit to the tree’s chance of survival. Without roots, there is no tree. Without understanding and developing solid character’s roots, the book you’re writing will not be able to grow and flourish as spectacularly as it could.

I love to poke at character motivations. It’s my whole editing style. Why did the character do that? Why doesn’t she trust men but still is a serial monogamist? Why did he choose this over that? What happened in their life to foster this train of thought? And on and on I go. I drill my authors with questions about the exact details of why their characters think, act, and speak the way they do. They both love and hate me for it.

Because the series of events that shaped a character’s entire belief system before the story begins culminates with the root scene–or the moment the character chooses to go all-in on their misbelief (or the lie/fatal flaw, as some editors call it). 

The key to a sturdy root structure for your character is choice. The events in your character’s life do not make them, how they choose to react and respond to those events shapes them. Your character must have agency in their own story. Too many times characters just weather storms that come at them with no active participation in them. Take what happens to your character and analyze what they choose to do with their circumstances.

The Trunk is Character Reactions

The trunk of your character is their foundational choices and reactions. Once you understand their roots and how strongly a character holds tight to their misbeliefs, you can bring them out of the ground and expose them to the elements (the plot that will continuously batter the character’s misbeliefs like wind and rain). This trunk will be the protection they use against the plot assault. Think carefully about how your characters protect themselves. Their actions, choices, and reactions will protect the soft core of vulnerable insecurity that lives beneath the bark’s sharp hardened edges.

It’s completely pointless to know things like what kind of coffee they order at Starbucks unless there is a reason that is relevant to the story. Do they order an iced caramel Frappuccino—even though they think cold coffee is blasphemous—because their friends do? Perhaps they’re terrified of not fitting in, so they suffer through gross ice coffee to keep their popular friends thinking they belong with the popular crowd? Because in that case, their Starbucks order is relevant, not because of what they order, but WHY. They choose to silently suffer to protect their belief that popularity is more important than joy. 

Your plot is going to challenge that misbelief. They will grow to realize that their happiness is more important than being popular (if it’s a happy ending), or they will destroy themselves in the effort (if it’s a cautionary ending).

The Branches are Character Behaviours

The branches of your character are their behaviours that result from their misbelief and the protective way they respond to threats against it. Keeping on with the Starbucks analogy, if our character wants to be popular and is willing to drink gross coffee to achieve it, what sort of outward habits would stem from making decisions to follow the crowd? They would be more aware of what others were doing. They’d hesitate before making decisions, ask a lot of questions, or maybe they’re never the first one to speak, instead they wait for their friends to say something first. They lie about having plans and blame it on others, so they don’t have to go to Starbucks and suffer one more sugar cup of yuck but still get to keep their status.

The options are endless, but your character’s behaviours grow directly from their protective reactions to keep their misbelief alive.

The Leaves are Character Mannerisms

The leaves are the outermost layer of your character’s misbelief. The beautiful, colourful distractions from what’s going on beneath the surface. All the ways in which their mannerisms, habits, actions, choices, and misbelief are left to reader interpretation.

Maybe they touch their mouth a lot to stop themselves from talking, or laugh nervously, or stand defensively. They might be twitchy or stutter when asked their opinion. Character mannerisms also grow from environmental circumstances such as sharing a trait with a parent, culture, social group, or geographic location. Still, the core reason the character adopted these habits will always trace back to that character’s root—their misbelief about the world.

What happens next?

Once your characters have all been created, you then have a forest. An interesting tidbit of tree knowledge is that all trees in a forest are interconnected by their root systems. Nutrients are passed back and forth from tree to tree or cut off from the trees that are unlikely to survive, for the greater good of the forest.

In a similar manner all your characters roots, misbeliefs, and mannerisms are going to become intertwined and feed off each other.

This process is how you take your characters and create a story around them that creates a compelling experience for your reader, not just a book to be read.  After your readers take in the characters and understand them, they will begin to see how it’s all interconnected beneath the surface, and they’ll be desperate to see how it ends.


Are you looking for help strengthening your characters to create a truly compelling story for your readers? Check out our Story Chats and we can help you level up your storytelling.

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4S Author: Self

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Starting with SELF is appropriate because it’s often the thing authors abandon first. We spend so much time trying to contort ourselves for agents, editors, and readers we completely forget that we’re a very important piece of our stories.

If you haven’t read the Series Kickoff outlining the 4S’s, do that here.

The self has two sections: your physical self and your higher self.

Your Higher Self

Your higher self is not a spiritual thing (although it can be if that’s important to you) but more a way in which you carry yourself. In regards to writing, it comprises your values, expectations, and boundaries. These three areas must be understood if you are to have a hope of building a sustainable writing career.

Values

Define your beliefs. What is the code of conduct in your life? Identify the force that drives your behavior?

We all love to talk about values in a romantic sense. We want to value family and love and kindness, but in truth, we sometimes choose our values based on how good they make us look.

Behind all the posturing, our real values are there, and they are coming out every day in how we behave. When we act in alignment with our values, we feel refreshed, inspired, motivated. When we are working counter to our values, we feel stuck, hopeless, or agitated. Values often change and morph as we do, and they’re not fixed. You can integrate new values into your life that will serve you and your writing better.

My two highest held values are communication and integrity.

What are yours?

If you need help defining them, join the free Author Traction Challenge or book a Career Chat.

Expectations

This is not what you expect from others; it’s what others expect from you. And you have more control over it than you think.

Again this comes back to behavior. You set expectations in others with the choices you make. Every time you sit down to write and your kids want something from you, do you get up and do it for them? Or do you tell them to wait until after your writing time? Both of those actions are setting an expectation.

If you interrupt your creative time to cater to others, you’re communicating to them that your writing time is optional and non-essential. They will continue to interrupt you because you’ve indicated that it’s okay if they do.

Boundaries

Boundaries are born from expectations. Let’s continue with the interruption example as I’m guessing it’s a common one, and it’s also a smaller, more manageable boundary to set.

Boundaries are the lines that you will not allow others to cross—a time/action/space you protect, literally or figuratively. I often instruct my clients to create a Nope List for their fiction, which is a list of boundaries you’ll set with your family/friends and your readers. Write out a series of ways you refuse to compromise your goals and values to achieve some arbitrary metric—such as I will never add gratuitous sex into my novel to gain more sales.

How could we set a healthy boundary around writing time with our children? Here’s how I do it. See how my values (communication and integrity) play into my boundaries.

I get up early to write as I have a preschool-aged daughter and I’m a morning person as they say.

I sat down with my husband and daughter and talked to them about my writing. I told them why I love to write—that it gave me purpose and joy. I let them in on my process—I’m most productive in the morning and require quiet, uninterrupted time to get into the flow. I asked them how they felt about my writing and if they had questions about how I was spending my time at the screen. Through their answers, I realized that they didn’t understand my writing time and often felt I was neglecting them to scroll social media and avoid them. So I explained further. We talked about online presence, my relationship with my readers, and my marketing efforts. I walked them through my brand and how I use my time to write, edit, publish, and promote. Once they understood better, we set the expectations around my creative time as a family.

Unless there is pain or blood, my time is MY time. I make sure to hold up my end of the bargain by sticking to the arrangement. I use that time to work, not to flitter around on the internet doing unnecessary things. And when 8 am rolls around, I pack it up and turn my attention to the family. If my boundary is crossed, I gently remind them of our agreement. I offer them an option to solve their problems and follow through with a list of consequences that we predetermined, such as if my daughter can’t give me that time, she has to play or read in her room instead of in my office. If I breach my end of the agreement, they remind me of the time and how I’ve gone over.

This example sounds very hippie, but it took a lot of reminders and a lot of putting my foot down. It’s a long and bumpy road. Slowly, my family began to understand that I respect my creative time enough to defend it, and now they respect it too.

Your Physical Self

I have zero interest in using this space to make you feel like you need to be a certain way or size or shape to be healthy. Health looks different for all of us, depending on our genetics and our environmental circumstances. Our bodies communicate with us about what makes it feel better and worse. Being in tune with that can improve your creativity because what you eat and how you move affects your focus and clarity—in helpful ways and harmful ways.

If you love to work out hard and cook elaborate Keto meals, then do that.

But connecting to our bodies could look like drinking a big glass of cold water before you write because it perks you up. Or take a break from writing to do some stretching in your chair. Or save those cookies for after your writing time because you know sugar makes you foggy and grumpy.

Practice listening to your body.

Whether it’s your higher self or your physical self, it’s about alignment. This industry has enough obstacles to navigate; our relationship with writing doesn’t have to be one of them.

If you need help sorting out your priorities and creating a plan to bring your Self back into your writing game, I’ve got you covered. Let’s chat soon.

Chat With Us
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The 4S Author Career

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There are a lot of paths to publishing your novels, and it can become quite overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. But under all the tech and strategies and marketing your success will hinge on only 4 core thing.

Over the coming weeks I’ll dive into each one a bit further.

Note: This series was adapted from a summer series available through the email list only. For more in depth writing advice be sure you’re on the list.

Publishing is not a linear process. You don’t start as an intern, pay your dues, and climb the corporate ladder until you reach management. I am a testament to this idea having had a wildly successful debut book, a flop sophomore book, a popular third book, then I burned out hard and took a year off, which killed my momentum and then had to start all over again.

I sometimes compare writing and selling fiction to one of those Tilt-o-Whirl rides at the fair. It’s not just ups and downs like a roller coaster but also violent jerks side to side and sometimes spinning you right around.

It’s not easy this career you’ve chosen, but it also doesn’t have to be so damn hard.

Let’s get into the 4S Fiction Career and get control of this wild ride, shall we?

THE 4 S’s

To build a fiction career, you need to nurture these four areas: Self, Story, Support, and Sales.

All four of these categories are crucial and require you to be paying attention because, as I said, it’s not a linear process. There are no ABCs or 123s about it. Each category has its time to shine, and each will let you know when it’s neglected, often by negatively affecting the others.

SELF

The self category is two-sided.

First, your values drive your interests, which guide your experiences that ultimately become the themes of your novels. No matter how hard you try, you cannot take yourself out of your stories. So it’s vital that you understand WHY you write in the first place.

Second, your brain and body are essential to your career as an author. Feed your creativity by choosing nutrition that clears your mind, movement that invigorates your body, and the spirit of curiosity to be continuously learning.

STORY

Writing a book is easy. Crafting a story is hard.

All the beautiful language in the world does not equal a compelling story, nor does a kick-ass character, a tightly plotted structure, or any other number of things you can find on Google by searching ‘How to write a novel.’

Crafting a story that is both well written and deeply compelling requires a layering of skills that develop over time. You reach this goal through practice, education (formal or informal), and the willingness to repeat/redo/rewrite until you’ve gone below the words’ surface and created an experience for your reader.

SUPPORT

There are many forms of support for a fiction author. The most obvious is your readers.

You need people to read your stories and then talk about them. The talking-about-them part is what gets ignored. It’s not enough to have people on your email list or people that buy your books. You need their support in the form of talking, reviewing, sharing to gain more readers.

The next layer is your peers. You need other authors in your world who love you, your writing, and are happy to help you. Peer relationships are mutually beneficial. They are networks of authors who are in similar places in their careers who help each other. There is a back and forth flow of support. But beware of the Author Whirlpool Effect, which we’ll talk about soon.

The next layer is your mentors. You need people more advanced than you to guide you, help you, and support you because this trip is hard, my friend. Mentors can be generous authors more advanced than you or a coach that you hire to assist you. The mentor relationship is usually only one way. The mentor supports the mentee.

The last level is friends and family. The personal life aspect is tricky, and it’s honestly heartbreaking how many authors I talk to that have ZERO support from their spouses, family, and friends. If you are in a safe space to do so, practicing expectation and boundary setting can be beneficial because a lot of the time, it comes down to not understanding. Your non-writer crew just doesn’t get it. So help them get it.

SALES

Marketing is where so many of us get all topsy turvy on our path to monetize our fiction. The branding, and the websites, and email lists, and social media, and ranking, and ads, and banners, and bylines, and the covers, and the launches, and the fast track to burnout-town!

Your only goal after writing your book is to sell it to someone. Many someones, preferably. In the simplest way possible. This path is called a sales strategy. You need one that fits you, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

It also gets tricky because your support (readers) is sometimes different than your market (buyers). Wait. What? Yup. The people who hand over the dollars may not be the people who are actively reading and supporting you. For example, your author friend from that Facebook group might buy your book to support you (and expect you to buy theirs in return, which means you’re at net-zero dollars, btw), but they might never actually read it.

You need to do some real work to figure out your market, where they are, and how they respond to different strategies. Contrary to what the gurus tell you about their ‘proven methods,’ it’s not just pumping money into ads, following a framework, being in certain places, or hanging out with certain people.

There are so many traps and false promises on the trail to sales. It’s wild. I’m on a one-woman mission to prove that 99% of what you’re doing to market your books is an unnecessary waste of your time. I’ll tell you why soon.

I’ll be back over the coming weeks to go into more detail on each category in turn. 

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6 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Story Before You Sit Down to Write

How do you prepare to write a new book? Many authors have a system they follow to plan, plot, and prepare before they sit down to write–myself included. While there are no real rules for how to write a book, I find that I prefer to have a loosely structured system that works for my storytelling style.

I’ve written a little over 30 novels–maybe around 40. I don’t count. (I don’t count words either, but that’s a post for another day). Now that I have a few stories behind me, I’ve started asking myself the same six questions each time I start a new project. 

Want to know what they are and how they help me prepare to write? Read on. 

1. Where did the seed of this idea come from? What’s at the heart of this story?

Considering the seed and the heart of our story idea helps us to remember the passion we had when the idea first sparked. Write your answer down, because you’re going to want to revisit it from time to time throughout your writing process.

Knowing the heart of a story keeps us going when we’re feeling unmotivated. It helps us fall back in love with our characters when we’ve had enough of dealing with them, or love the story again when we hate the plot. (Because at some point in the process, we WILL hate the story or get sick of our characters.) 

On days when you’re feeling awful about what you’re working on, go back to this answer. Take some time to refocus on the heart, and you’ll be on your way again in no time. 

2. What is the book about? 

Writing up a short pitch of our story, even if it’s just mediocre, can help us keep our story focused as we write. Sketch out your basic characters, a bit of setting and genre, what’s at stake, and an obstacle or two. 

I fall somewhere between a plotter and pantser/discovery writer. I go back to that blurb again and again. This also helps me know if my idea will be easy to sell or pitch, since I know my endgame is to sell the book. This blurb isn’t set in stone, but I’ll often go back to it and tweak as I write. If you want to feel confident in moving forward with your idea, create a pitch that makes your friends/agent/editor say, “I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE.”

3. What is a topic or sensation or feeling I want to explore?

This goes back to the heart of the story, or theme. What do we want to say about the world through our newest project? Are we exploring a particular emotion or sensation? An observation on society or politics? If we had to summarize our WIP in one word, what would that word be? 

All of these details help to keep the EMOTIONAL focus on the book on track. And, the emotions we spark in and through our characters will translate into what you want your readers to feel. 

4. How do I want my reader to feel when they finish the book?

Asking ourselves how we want our readers to feel when they put our book down will help us to know if we’re upholding the promises we made to the reader with the beginning of the novel, as well as the blurb. Knowing how we want our readers to feel ignites our awareness and helps us keep the emotional stakes where they need to be throughout the storytelling journey. 

5. What happened to my protagonist/world before the novel starts, that has shaped who they are?

Our protagonist’s past experiences inform their actions, reactions, and choices throughout the story. The past follows protagonists throughout their arc, and will have varying degrees of influence on everything they do. 

The Hunger Games is a great example. Because it’s a post-apocalyptic story, one might say that the big thing that happened before the novel’s beginning is the revolution that resulted in the forming of the districts, which in turn resulted in the formation of the Hunger Games. After all, the games wouldn’t have happened without the war, right? 

But take a deeper dive and look at Katniss Everdeen’s past. The poor living conditions in District 12 contributed to her father’s death, which then forces her to hunt for food to help her family survive. Her grit, determination, and wilderness survival skills set her up to win the Hunger Games. 

So in this case, both the world’s past and the character’s past shape the story’s events going forward. 

6. What lie does my character believe, and how do the events of the novel play into, or help destroy that lie?

This may take a while to sort out, and that’s okay! But something in your character’s past has led them to believe something about themselves–and/or the world–that is false. Their discovery that this thing they’ve believed to be true, isn’t true, is what drives your story forward.

Your character’s misbelief can be anything, including: 

  • I am the chosen one 
  • I’m not worthy of love
  • I will never be enough
  • I can never go back (to home, an old life, to doing good, etc.)
  • I must do it all alone (everyone is depending on me)

How your character navigates that lie is what keeps the reader turning pages.

Wrapping Up

These questions are the things that I write up longhand before I start my novel. They’re what I talk to my critique partners about, and how I shape my characters and my story. 

If you’re feeling lost, or unsure about how to navigate these questions–either with a new project, or with a novel you’re revising–Allie and I love to talk these details through with writers. Schedule your chat here.

Happy Writing!

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Thanks Tips: Kill Your Darlings

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Welcome to another installment of “Thanks Tips” where Allie or Jo tackles a piece of vague writing advice and unpacks the meaning behind it. Today’s unpacking? KILL YOUR DARLINGS.

I don’t know quite when this became SUCH A THING but I’m pretty sure we have Stephen King to blame – if not for its origins, then for its popularity.

But what does it MEAN?

It means this: Just because you love it, doesn’t mean it belongs…

Let’s jump in and look at this further.

KILLING A SCENE or even a JUMPING OFF POINT for a story:

The first book I ever wrote, I wrote by accident. I was playing my guitar, my two kids goofing off in their playroom, and this idea of a songwriter, a woman who had just suffered unspeakable loss, had a friend who entered her into a songwriting competition and she won. A few weeks later, she finds herself inside the home studio of a famous man, fresh out of rehab, and unable to write. Of COURSE they had to fall in love. But the first scene I wrote was her learning about her sneaky friend and her being in awe of going to California. The WHOLE premise of the book was this competition, and it didn’t survive edits. Neither did that very first scene, or first few chapters. They didn’t belong in the story. And in the final? She wasn’t in awe of going, she was in dread. Another story I wrote was based on a love triangle, where the young woman doesn’t end up with either of the guys at the end. That’s what I wrote toward the WHOLE time, but that ending didn’t belong once I got there.

Just because a scene is vivid, or the IDEA of your novel came from somewhere specific, doesn’t mean that the spark, or initial scene, will make it into your novel. That, my friend, is one example of KILLING YOUR DARLINGS.

KILLING A CHARACTER:

A good friend of mine sent me a fun romance to do a simple edit on, and we both LOVED her British leading man. The thing is…as charming and witty and FUN as he was…that background didn’t fit the story. Him being from her hometown did fit the story.

Loving a character and/or their backstory, doesn’t mean the particulars of their background is right for the novel you’re writing/editing.

KILLING OUR WITTY, WITTY SELVES

A friend was talking about how sometimes she’ll come across one of her own lines that makes her laugh out loud, or makes her stop and think – holy crap, I wrote that? But more often than not, those small lines either pull the reader from the story, or allow too much of US to print on the pages rather than our characters.

The line has to go.


The main idea behind KILL YOUR DARLINGS is to objectively look at all the pieces of your novel to make SURE they fit with your story. We can’t keep things only because they’re clever or make us laugh or make us smile. We keep what WORKS, what FITS, and what’s NECESSARY to further the protagonist’s journey.

My best advice to know what stays and goes from your own manuscript? TAKE TIME AWAY from your words and try to keep yourself detached when you read again. Still stuck? Allie and I are always happy to give our thoughts.

For details on the types of edits we offer, go HERE, or to schedule a story chat, go HERE.

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Pep Talk: Put a Positive Spin on Rejection

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Rejection is a normal part of life, but as humans, we tend to avoid it at all costs. If you’ve chosen to be an author, though, rejection is part of the journey. (Might as well rip off the band-aid first, right?)

Our instincts tell us that our very existence is threatened if we’re rejected, so we tend to spend a lot of time and energy building safeguards to ensure we’re accepted at all costs. But when you’re pursuing the author life, shielding yourself from being rejected is actually counterproductive.

Intellectually, we know that rejection is just part of being an author. But secretly, we think and hope that we can avoid it. We do this by creating extra likeable characters, a super watered-down plot, and steering clear of controversy.

The problem is, when we do this, rejection becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, you’ve written a boring book, and it’s guaranteed to get rejection…all because you tried to avoid being rejected in the first place.

Cruel irony, huh? The good news is, you can turn rejection into something to celebrate, rather than something to avoid.

For an author, rejection comes in many forms–not just getting your manuscript turned down. Let’s look at a few examples, and how to flip them into positives.

The Dreaded Unsubscribe

Your latest newsletter just went out yesterday, and you’re checking the analytics to see how it did. Unfortunately, you notice that several of your readers unsubscribed. Your mind begins to race: Was it something I said? Why don’t they like me anymore? What did I do to drive them away?

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you struck a nerve with someone who, not long ago, signed up to receive updates from you. Maybe they’ve even bought and reviewed your books. Whatever the case, it stings when readers drop off your list.

Positive spin: Losing newsletter subscribers kinda hurts (like…a lot), but it means you’re actually doing a good job of targeting your ideal readers and filtering out folks who aren’t really “your people”. Rather than fretting over their departure, enjoy culling the list.

Getting a 1-Star Review

It’s devastating to get a 1-star review, period. Most readers attempt to leave better ratings for the author’s sake, even when they don’t particularly enjoy the book. …And then there are the few readers who leave scathing reviews that completely eviscerate your book.

Not gonna lie–reviews like this are never fun to receive. But there is a way to make them feel more positive.

Positive spin: Funny enough, terrible reviews can actually help to attract more attention to your book. They’re controversial and tactless–but they also serve to spark readers’ curiosity. They’ll want to know if your book is as terrible as the reviewer says it is. Allie and I have each read entire series just to see if they justified the complete vitriol spewed by the disgruntled readers who hated them. In the end, the bad reviews of one book can lead to multiple books sales.

A one-star review also means the reader wasn’t your audience, so that gives you a chance to ask some important questions, like:

  • Who are you targeting, really?
  • Does your book blurb reflect what’s really in the story?
  • What were the readers’ expectations vs. what actually happened in the book?
  • Is your book correctly categorized on Amazon, or are you capturing the wrong readers?

Some authors lean on three-star reviews to help them revise their next stories. A three-star review usually contains a mix of solid constructive and positive feedback that you can use to improve your future work.

Not Getting Your Conference Class Picked

Getting your conference class turned down is a tough blow. You’ve likely put a ton of work into creating your concept and materials, but you didn’t quite make the cut. It’s a little too easy to wallow in self-pity when things don’t go our way, but hear me out: you can flip this on its head.

Positive spin: Perhaps your class wasn’t quite the right fit for this event. Maybe you were really looking forward to teaching this class. Getting rejected from a specific conference isn’t the end! You can take the materials you’ve pulled together and create your own mini-course if you want–and maybe even make a little extra money in the process.

Getting Turned Down for a Blurb

Being an author means putting yourself out on a limb, over and over. This includes asking fellow authors for blurbs in your book. And when an author turns you down for a book blurb, this can feel like a slap in the face. I mean, you would write a blurb for them–so why won’t they do it for you?

Positive spin: Take a step back and think objectively about your book and who you pitched for blurbs. Is the author in question a writer in your genre? Do they have different brand values than you? Are the kinds of stories you write wildly different? Is their life simply too chaotic at the moment?

A book blurb is an author’s endorsement or stamp of approval on your book. They’re likely going to take their books and their audience into account before they agree to a blurb. On the flip side, consider the author you’ve reached out to–are they a good fit for your brand and readers? If not, skipping this particular endorsement actually works out for the best.

Getting Turned Down by a Coach

When you’re seeking a mentor, such as a coach, to help you build your author life, it can be disheartening to get rejected. A good coach will let you know if you’re not a good fit for one another. They don’t want to waste your time or theirs, and your wellbeing is in their best interest.

Still, hearing ‘no’ can hurt. So how do you ease the pain?

Positive spin: There are so many coaches out there, just waiting for the right people to help. If a coach you wanted to work with has decided you’re not a good fit, there’s someone else ready for you. Just take a deep breath and keep making connections–soon, you’ll find the perfect mentor who’s just right for you, your needs, and your goals.

Redefining Rejection

So is rejection a thing to be avoided or something to celebrate? It’s really all in how you think about it.

Your mindset and attitude play a big part in how you handle rejection, too. Let’s look at three common mindsets and how to spin those:

  • If you’re naturally arrogant, leave your assumptions at the door. Yes, rejection hurts, but there might be a good reason for it. Try to take an objective view of the situation instead, and see what comes up for you.
  • If you’re naturally self-shaming, don’t assume you did terrible work and deserve this rejection. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, approach the situation with empathy and think about how you’d speak to a friend if they were in your shoes. This opens the door to real insights and solutions, rather than just folding in on yourself.
  • If you’re naturally defensive, think before you react. Try not to immediately respond in anger and indignation. Give yourself time to process the rejection, and then evaluate the reasons why you or your work might not have made the cut this time.

Need help reframing rejection or understanding it with a new perspective? We’re here to help. Get in touch to schedule your chat today.

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5 Reasons You May Need a Story Chat

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A story chat is a one-hour phone or video chat where we can discuss your fiction project. It doesn’t matter if you’re drafting or editing, if you’re stuck on character or plot, or if you’re traditional or independently published. Story chats are meant to give you the confidence, clarity, and support to keep going.

Here are five reasons you might need a story chat:

  1. YOU HAVE A TON OF IDEAS AND DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH. It’s always a bit of a guessing game as to which story idea will be the most marketable. We can walk you through your ideas, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and help you realize which project has the best chance of success at this moment in both the publishing world, and where you’re at in your writing career.
  2. YOU’RE JUST ABOUT TO START WRITING YOUR NEXT PROJECT. We can help you make sure your story idea, character motivations, and main plot points are all working toward your best advantage. This will save you time, effort, and energy as you move through your draft. It also will give you a stronger finished product.
  3. YOU’VE STARTED A NOVEL YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT, BUT THE PLOT AND THE CHARACTERS JUST AREN’T BEHAVING. We’ve all been there. You have an idea, you’re moving forward, but…the details aren’t falling into place, or maybe you’re struggling to find confidence in the decisions you’ve made in your manuscript.
  4. YOU HAVE A FIRST DRAFT THAT YOU KNOW IS A DISASTER. That’s okay! First drafts are notorious for being unruly and wild creatures. We can help you dissect what you have and create your best revision plan to move forward with confidence and with a mind on YOUR vision for YOUR novel.
  5. YOU’RE RE-VISITING AN OLDER PROJECT. Most writers have projects they wrote in their early writing days that need some love. We’ll work through a series of questions, intentions, and goals. Guide you in how best to take the heart of that story and turn it into something you’re excited to share with the world.

More and more of my regular authors are reaching out for a Story Chat before they start their project, or right about when they reach the quarter or a third mark. This saves them time and uncertainty as they move forward, as well as needing fewer editing rounds after they’ve finished. Being put in the position of talking one-on-one about your project, your desires for that project, and how best to move forward, is invaluable.

Allie and I started Waypoint because we saw far too many authors losing their way in their careers and in their stories. Our passion is to guide you toward telling the best version of your idea in your way.

See details and schedule your STORY CHAT here.

If you’d like this same service, but with a little more detail, we recommend a Story Mapping Call where we’ll ask you some questions or request some information before we chat, and then follow up sometime over the next month. Get more info here.

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8 Ways Self-Sabotage Disguises Itself to Block Your Creativity

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Once you embark on building your author life, you’ll find that self-sabotage is an insidious beast. It disguises itself as a number of different, seemingly innocuous feelings and scenarios that ultimately block your creativity. So what do you do about it?

Obviously, we all want to nip self-sabotage in the bud. Anything that gets between you and your books needs to hit the road–right? But the first step to identifying self-sabotage is understanding that it sneaks up on you in disguise. Let’s look at a few of its most common manifestations.

1.Rewriting over and over (and over)

There’s nothing quite like getting caught up in a rewriting or editing loop…while you’re still drafting. (I should know. This is a problem I have.)

But what’s wrong with editing, you ask? Isn’t that productive? Aren’t you just making your story better…something you’re going to do anyway? Well, no…not when it’s serving as a method of self-sabotage.

Under the right circumstances, rewriting and editing can become tools that actually impede your progress toward completing your book. Rewriting is an easy excuse for missing deadlines with your editor or beta readers. It’s deceptive because it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something, while you’re actually just spinning your wheels.

2. Guilt

Taking time to write can trigger all kinds of guilt, and guilt is directly responsible for self-sabotage.

Without fail, when we try to take time for ourselves–to pursue our own habits and goals–there’s someone else who will need us. It could be a parent, friend, grandparent, spouse, child, boss, or coworker.

When you choose to prioritize your writing, you’re going to feel some guilt for doing that. Writing is, ultimately, for you. If you’re serious about it, you’ll have to push through the guilt that comes with it. Giving in to guilty feelings might feel like the right thing to do in the moment, but I promise, you’ll end up regretting the fact that you didn’t prioritize your writing.

You are allowed hobbies and interests that take up your time. Set the example for yourself and set the example for the people around you.

3. Mistake rehashing

Have you ever found yourself rehashing old conflicts or mistakes and getting caught up in negative thought spirals? …While trying to write? What did you do about it?

The type or nature of the particular mistake really doesn’t matter. But the question is, are you letting it take over your writing time? Are you letting it shut you down?

When mistakes, emotional trauma, and bad memories rear their ugly heads during your writing time, it’s important to learn how to observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Past mistakes and trauma create negative habit loops that are hard to break, so this is a situation where you may not want to go it alone. A therapist, coach, or accountability buddy can help tremendously, depending on the seriousness or depth of the thought spirals you’re experiencing.

Denying yourself time to be creative while you heal will create a pile-on effect of even more trauma, so take every opportunity you can to let yourself work on your book. If you’re working through trauma that’s happening now, all the more reason to make sure you’re giving yourself permission to create.

4. Busyness

Staying too busy to work on your novel is yet another way to sabotage your writing journey. I think we can all agree that everyone tends to juggle many different obligations these days. But, crowding out your schedule to the point that you can’t work on your book is self-sabotage.

Busyness looks like many things, beyond the run-of-the-mill home responsibilities and personal tasks. It can also encompass author-y things, too, like obsessing about Instagram, checking metrics ro running numbers, planning launches, and marketing. They’re all busy tasks that make you feel productive, but aren’t moving you closer to a finished book.

Are there many, many valid reasons it’s hard to find writing time? Yes. But these reasons are universal. It’s all about finding the places in your day when you can fit writing in, and then creating the habit.

5. Failing to make writing a habit

…Which brings us to #5. Writing should not be an item on your to-do list (read more about that here). Instead, it should be a consistent habit.

Rather than thinking of it as just another thing to check off your list, you need to make writing a practice that’s as natural as brushing your teeth. If you treat it as an obligation, you’ll be more likely to push it off until tomorrow…and then tomorrow…and then tomorrow.

6. An incessant need for validation (ahem, permission)

If you’re constantly looking for validation at every turn, that’s going to sabotage your work. Essentially, seeking validation too often is immobilizing. It’s a nice way to say you’re asking for permission to follow through on your ideas.

There’s nothing wrong with validation, in itself. The problem comes in when the need is invasive and keeps us from making progress. It’s totally fine to run your ideas by a friend or an editor, but be self-aware enough to recognize when it’s appropriate, and when it might not be. (If you tend to send your work to ten billion beta readers, this is self-sabotage, too.)

Another facet of the constant need for validation is waiting for your family to tell you it’s okay to write. If you wait for your household to step aside and help you carve out your writing time, you’ll be waiting forever. Honestly? You’re going to have to sidestep that innate need for permission and just do what it takes to fuel your creativity.

7. “Marketing”

When it comes to marketing vs. doing creative work, there’s a fine line to walk. Marketing is necessary. But it shouldn’t take away from your creative work to the point of self-sabotage.

Avoiding your daily writing? Cool, cool–you can just spend that time marketing, and you’ll still be accomplishing something. While that’s true, if you use marketing in order to avoid writing, you’ll torpedo your creativity.

8. Poor self-care

Failing to take care of yourself is a sure way to sabotage both your creativity and your health. If you’re not healthy, you’re not going to feel very creative and it’s going to be hard to work on your book. In fact, you’ll be struggling just to get through the day’s normal routine–not to mention working on your book.

Even if you need to take a small break from your creative work on the front end, make an investment in yourself. A sustainable, long-term author life starts with healthy self-care. So get moving, fuel your body with nutrients, and do whatever it takes to get yourself feeling energetic and inspired.

Are you sabotaging your writing?

If you think you might be self-sabotaging, realize it’s totally normal. Every one of us deals with it from time to time. So avoid piling on extra guilt (and thus, more self-sabotage) by acknowledging what’s happening, and seeking the support you need to keep moving forward.

You’re not alone on this path. Finding other authors, or even a coach, who can cheer you on and walk the path with you is immensely valuable.

Need to talk through self-sabotage issues? Do you know you’re sabotaging yourself, but are unsure exactly how? Working with a coach can help you untangle what’s tripping you up, and give you the tools you need to identify and overcome your own self-sabotage habits. Click here to learn more about how coaching with Allie or Jo can help you strategically build an author life that works for you.

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5 Author Life Accomplishments Worth Celebrating

Author life has its ups and downs, like so many things in life. Let’s face it: writing a book can be a long road, especially if you’re just starting out or don’t write fiction full-time. It’s easy to lose focus on our writing goals, so we need milestones and celebrations to keep our focus and our energy on track.

Sure, there are major milestones worth celebrating, like getting an agent, getting a publishing deal, self-publishing a finished novel, or selling copies of our book. But in reality, it’s the little accomplishments that keep us moving toward those big milestones.

Seemingly small author life accomplishments actually add up to big wins later on, so let’s look at a few that we should all be celebrating.

1. Opening your manuscript document.

Obviously, finishing a manuscript is a major milestone worth celebrating. But sometimes, simply opening your manuscript deserves a celebration, too.

As writers, we get off track for many reasons. Maybe you’re juggling a full-time job, kids, pets, and extended family obligations. You could be going through some health challenges. Or perhaps there are things happening in the world that make it difficult to sit down and get focused on your creative work.

Whatever the case, there will be times when simply sitting at your computer and opening your work-in-progress for 15 minutes deserves a celebration. After all, it’s the little moments like these that add up to a finished book.

2. Being kind to yourself.

How we treat ourselves directly affects our writing, our level of creativity, and our relationships with our readers, editors, and other important people in our lives. If you want to turn out high quality work and have healthy relationships with the people in your circle, start by showing kindness to YOU.

We humans aren’t exactly great at being kind to ourselves. So when you treat yourself kindly–with intention–celebrate that.

3. Thinking (or talking) about your characters, plot, or worldbuilding.

It’s easy to forget that working on your story in your head is part of the writing process. There will be times when it’s hard to carve out time to write, so instead of using those times to beat yourself up, celebrate every effort you take to think through your story.

If you want to take your thought process a bit further, talk about what you’re working on with your reader friends or your editor. See what ideas you can glean from a good plot talk, or a deep dive into your characters or world. Then–you guessed it–celebrate your efforts!

4. Sending an email to your subscriber list.

Hitting send on an email newsletter doesn’t feel like a big deal, but celebrate it anyway. It takes time to pull a newsletter together, and in the process, you’re actively engaging your readers and checking in with them. Nurturing our relationships, whether they’re readers or IRL friends, always deserves a little happy dance.

5. Getting your manuscript back from your editor.

Sure, it’s great to send a manuscript draft off for editing…but what about the joy of getting your edits back? We get it: many writers dread opening that document and seeing all the revision notes. But truly, the editing process is part of an amazing transformation that takes your story from good to amazing.

While editorial feedback may mean a lot of work for you, it also means you’re taking your book to the next level. Putting your best possible story out into the world is worth the effort, though, so let’s say it once again: celebrate.

We all need a reminder to celebrate, once in a while.

If you need regular author life pep talks delivered straight to your inbox, join the Waypoint Weekly. We’re here to answer your questions and cheer you on throughout your writing journey.

As an added bonus, you’ll get our free Fiction Pathfinder to help guide you as you build your author brand. You can get that here.