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12 Ways to Fail As An Author, Continued

12 Ways to Fail As An Author

12 ways to fail as an author

by Yvonne DiVita

I'm all about advising people to write a book. I'm like a broken record, forever saying, "Don't you want to be introduced as 'the author of'?"

From Why is it so hard to write a book? to Are you qualified to be an author? to What if you did write that book this year? I've shared dozens of posts full of advice on writing and publishing a book, right on this blog. I forever want to make it easy on you, the 'new,' would-be, aspiring author. I even wrote a tongue-in-cheek book about all the excuses people make, to avoid writing their book. But, today, I'm going to talk about failure. The failures too many people make on their journey to becoming the "author of" - and these 12 are just brushing the surface. 

  1. Not being confident enough.
  2. Being too confident.
  3. Failing to plan ahead.
  4. Planning too far ahead.
  5. Believing all your friends and family.
  6. Not believing all your friends and family.
  7. Deciding to market on your own.
  8. Letting your writing muse get you down.
  9. Not doing research on your publishing options.
  10. Not understanding how powerful your cover is.
  11. Forgetting the spine and back cover.
  12. Writing too much about you, and not enough about your life. 

I certainly can't get into all 12 in one blog post, so let's do four at a time.

First: too many new writers who want to become authors are hiding their talent under a bushel basket.
Women have this problem more than men. Women have for centuries been taught to be quiet and unassuming. We don't brag on ourselves enough. I meet women all the time who have successful small businesses but when I ask if they're planning to write a book, they look at me like I have two heads and murmur, "But what would I write about?"

In further exploration, I discover they don't think of their accomplishments as all that much. They think everyone does what they do - putting their nose to the grindstone and finding successful along the way. I usually have to point out that this is wrong headed thinking. Because, NO, not everyone does what they do. Not everyone makes a success out of old boxes and string, found in the attic behind the kids' broken and forgotten toys. But, I'm betting you can!

Ladies, look carefully at your success and be proud of what you've accomplished. Now, share it.  Because that's what you're doing when you write a book. You're sharing. Everyone knows sharing is caring. By writing your success story down, you inspire so many other women who are struggling, maybe just the way you struggled, way back when. You inspire these women to keep going, because you become an example, a mentor, a vision of the success they could achieve, if they keep moving forward the way you did. 

Old boxes and string

Second: Every now and then I meet a woman, or man, who is overconfident.
I don't fault them for their enthusiasm. I love people who know they have something to say and want, eagerly, to say it. Say it, now! Shout it to the world! Because they are sure, 1000%, that the world is dying to hear from them!

And yes, the world is dying to hear from them. No doubt. But, there is confidence and there is over-confidence. Over-confidence is when you think that you can throw together a few blog posts, or a few articles from publications you contribute to, and make a book. Don't get me wrong. You can do that. But it won't be successful.

Over-confidence can lead to creeping failure. This happens when your new book is well received by a few of your close colleagues and friends, and you begin to plan speaking engagements based on your new book, networking events, and even a book signing, and along the way, the truth creeps in. You rushed into this without thinking. Your book isn't the big success you want it to be because those blog posts or published articles are great as...what they are. They are not great as book chapters. 

Be confident, but pause to consider what you're doing. You're planning to write, or are writing, a book. It needs more thought than just throwing together old content, willy-nilly. (Capability Coaching at Nurturing Big Ideas works through this with you, to prevent the creeping failure.)

Third: Many new writers fail to plan ahead.
They hear people saying, "Write every day!" and they embrace that idea so fully, they write page after page, chapter after chapter, until the book is almost done and they realize - they don't have a cover; they don't know how to do page layout; they don't know what goes on the back cover; they don't know exactly how to market it (who will read it?); and many, many other things they should have been planning for. 

Plus, too often writers fail to account for life's intrusions. One client I have struggles with health issues. I understand this all too well. While people love to 'work through it' or believe 'no pain, no gain', the truth is, sometimes you can't work through it and the pain is too intense to tackle writing right now. I give everyone out there who believes they have to write 1000 words a day (or whatever number you use) permission to not write those words if you're struggling with your health.

I say, take care of yourself and learn to listen to your body. You will write your book. You will achieve your goals. Even if you have to push them back a day or two, now and then. 

Fourth: Planning too far ahead gets you in trouble, too.
This happens when you spend more time envisioning your sold out conference keynotes or your screaming, adoring fans shouting your name as you sprint to your limo, after a fantastic TEDx talk.

This happens when you make concrete plans on the writing and marketing and forget that Life is watching. Yes, Life. Life is known to thrown wrenches into everything we do. It's recommended to create your marketing plan as you write your book, and to be focused on a deadline. But all the people who had big plans for speaking or attending a conference or any other in-person event were sidelined during the Covid-19 pandemic when everything shut down. Many people were so unprepared, they stopped what they were doing and couldn't get started again. 

Don't be like them. Prepare and Plan. But also, be ready to Punt. 

Next week we'll talk about Five, Six, Seven, and Eight. It will be fun. I promise. Come on back, and bring a friend. Smart News image

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Eva Harris

Hi Yvonne! If you start something new, many people pull your leg back, but we have to stay focused on our goal and believe in ourselves and make our weaknesses as strengths.

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