January 9, 2015

balance

Balance: The Art of Mixing Pleasure with Business

balanceThe start of the new year provides an excellent excuse for life planning and goal prioritization. As Queen of the Epic Spreadsheet Collection, the past couple of weeks I have indulged is a great many flights of fancy, carefully tracked to specific metrics. From my time in the corporate world, I picked such pearls of business wisdom-ish such as what gets measured gets done and if everything is important, nothing is, and 20% of your effort provides 80% of your results, plus many more. The supposed infallibility of data seduces me.

In writing fiction or memoir, I dwell in grey areas, expound on emotion. Aside from word counts and deadlines, there are few definite qualifiers in the artistic world. How glorious to know when you are on track, when you’re doing good. Numbers comfort me. Proof. Evidence of achievement in my creative endeavors, even if qualifiers of quality and value still elude me.

So let’s set our creative goals for 2015 using all our best business practices, shall we?

Metric of success for 2015:

  • Create works that touch the hearts of readers, inspire empathy and increase the amount of love, understanding and pleasure in a meaningful sample of the human population.

No. This is no good. I can hear old boss #23 pushing me to define a “meaningful sample.” Does this mean ten people? One hundred? Ten thousand? How will I create a baseline for empathy and track the change? Try again.

Metrics of success for 2015 – take two:

  • Publish three original blog posts on my site per week.
  • Increase web traffic by 100% each month.
  • Multiply social media following by a factor of .1 each month.
  • Write a minimum of 500 words per day.
  • Write 20,000 words per month.

Clear. Concise. Easily measurable.

Also….

Meaningless.

Worthless.

The gurus tell me to visualize my success. Closing my eyes, I see that backlog of blog posts published on time. I see the little number on my Google analytics dashboard proving my internet popularity. I see all the pings and dings on social media alerting me to new followers.

I see myself pushing back my cramped shoulders and groaning from hours spent in front of the computer. I see my eyes glazing over and my ADD kicking into high gear, the garbage truck out my window suddenly riveting. I see myself jump up at 2:10pm, grateful for the task of picking up kids from school to save me from my drudgery.

When asked, what did you do with your life, I might be able to prattle off a list a metrics such as I increased my unique web visitors by 300% in a two month period, or I published 100 blog posts in the year of 2015, but so what?

Perhaps it’s not what, it’s why. Why did you do with your life.

Aside from grammatical awkwardness, that is harder to answer. Hm. Back to the spreadsheets.

5 Things You Need to Know to Get a Book Deal

5_things_get_a_book_dealGuest post by Jennifer Worick and Kerry Colburn of Business of Books.

During our six years of publishing consulting, we’ve culled some tips that might seem obvious at first blush but are often overlooked in the rush to submit what you are sure is a guaranteed best seller.

Slow down there, boss, and take a breath.

Review our tips and strengthen your submission and chances of a book deal.

1.      Do your homework. 

Research other books that could be considered competition, become an expert in your genre and on your topic, visit bookstores or libraries (yes, in person!), and learn which publishing houses and agents specializing in your particular genre or subject matter.

2.      Do think of publishing as a business. 

Your book is your baby, yes, but it’s also a product to be bought and sold in a marketplace filled not only with books but other forms of entertainment (apps, movies, music, etc.). It’s critical to be business savvy and approach a publisher with a compelling pitch and attitude that conveys that you are ready to partner with them on a lucrative business venture (i.e. your book).

3.      Do have confidence.

You have got to believe in your idea and your vision! Don’t be shy. Sell it. If you are not absolutely committed to your book project, why would anyone else be? But a note of caution: being confident is terrific, being cocky is not. Don’t claim it’s a “guaranteed best-seller that will outsell The Lord of the Rings Trilogy/50 Shades of Grey/The DaVinci Code;” rather, explain with specifics why your book will perform well for a particular publisher. Is it similar to another book on their list that has done well? Will it appeal to a demographic that the publisher already dominates? The more specific you can get about why you are approaching them in particular, the better.

4.      Do persevere! 

Every famous author from Dr. Seuss to J.K. Rowling to F. Scott Fitzgerald has had multiple rejections. Keep going. This is where that confidence and unwavering belief in your project comes into play. We always remind writers that publishers and agents are looking for you, too, and first-time authors get book deals every single day. We have the success stories to prove it—our clients have killer book deals in a variety of genres, ranging from children’s picture books to memoir to fiction to coffee table books to nonfiction.

5.      Do write a killer book proposal. 

Your proposal is your business plan. Creating a great one is vital to selling your book in today’s market. Hopeful authors spend so much time on the craft of writing, but almost zero on the business. That doesn’t work anymore.


masterclass square Did you know that building your author platform in advance can GREATLY improve the possibility of a publisher taking you on? Get expert help growing your audience with the masterclass. Class details here.

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