Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Do I Get Motivated? (Part 1 of 4)

"How do I stay motivated?" That question comes up regularly on writers loops. When it does, loopers respond with a wide variety of answers. I find few of them satisfying.

Most of them focus on outward activities—doing things such as forcing yourself to write. Set a timer and stay at your computer until you write 300 words. Get an accountability partner to whom you have to confess if you don't meet your goals.

Do they work? Probably. But they don't solve the problem. Lack of motivation is an inside job. You can circumvent the trouble by performing or doing things, but you don't diffuse the problem. It will recur.

I can force myself to write or 
I can look inward for solutions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interview Tips

Don Otis is a well-known media publicist. This is excerpted from his monthly blog, MediaWise. See www.veritasincorporated.com for more info.

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What I share here ought to be common sense but often isn’t. If it is for you, forgive me in advance. We refer to something as prima facie, which means self-evident or apparent. Some of these reminders fit this definition. Others may be fresh or simple reminders about the interview process.
  1. Stay on topic. If an interviewer asks you a question that is off topic, bring the interview back around to the topic. Avoid being pulled into opinion or ideas that are not part of your area of expertise. 
  2. Listen for bumper music. If you hear music playing, this means the host is going to a break. Wrap up your comments as quickly as possible and make a smooth transition. 
  3. Enthusiasm motivates. People are inspired to listen to you or purchase your book if they know you are excited about the topic. Be upbeat. Be engaged. Be inspiring. Over-spiritualizing turns listeners or viewers off. Avoid coming across as preachy. Try to limit how much you quote the Bible. 
  4. Stories matter. Tell them. Keep telling them. Tell on yourself. Use them to accentuate the main points you want to make. 
  5. Humor works. It makes a host and the audiences think you are relaxed even if you don’t feel that way. 
  6. Distractions distract. Trains, planes, and automobiles. Dogs, kids, jack hammers, phones. You get the picture. Eliminate them before you go on an interview. 
  7. Short answers die. If you are doing a ten-minute interview, short answers are fine. If you are thirty minutes or longer, don’t hesitate to talk until a host interjects or you run out of words. 
  8. Be ready. If you were running a 10K race, wouldn’t you do some preparation before you stood at the starting line? Do the same with interviews. Learn about the host, the coverage, the audience, the focus of the show. 
  9. Don’t overthink the interview. This means that when you have done everything you can to be ready, trust God for the results and give the best interview you can. Remember, you are the expert. 
As one radio host said to me, “The idea is to get people to buy your book, and for that to happen, they have to like you.” Be likable.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Ultimate Purpose of a Book Title

The following post was written by Rob Eagar of WildFire Marketing and is used with his permission.
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Below are title options for two different books. Which option do you find the most appealing?

Book 1

Option A: Conscious Couplehood

Option B: Getting the Love You Want

Book 2

Option A: What Happens When a Cheez-Its and Chocolate Girl Gets Healthy

Option B: Made to Crave

The answer is obvious. In both cases, Option B is the more appealing title. In fact, both of those titles wound up becoming runaway New York Times bestsellers. However, in each situation, the authors originally wanted to use Option A. Imagine the apathetic reaction if readers had seen Option A. Neither of those titles make sense.

I've consulted with both of these bestselling authors and heard their stories. They were so close to using a terrible title for their books. Fortunately, they decided to go back to the drawing board and develop new options. Today, they're glad they changed their mind and went with Option B.

But how did these authors make the original mistake of believing Option A was a good idea? Why was their thinking incorrect? The answer is that they didn't know the ultimate purpose for creating a book title:

The ultimate purpose of a book title is to tease, not teach.

I've met too many authors, especially non-fiction writers, who believe their book title is supposed to teach, educate, or inform the reader. This problem typically affects academic, religious, or business authors who get enamored with their methodology or curriculum. They struggle to get out of their own head and view their book from the perspective of an apathetic reader. I've also seen the same problem affect fiction writers who create boring titles for their novels.

Never forget that when people see your book title, they are skeptical, cynical, and distracted. They don't care about your methodology. They don't care about your seven steps for success. They don't care about your proven plan. They don't care about your fiction story. They don't care about your sacred insights. They just want to know if your book is worth reading.

The purpose of a title is to tease the reader to want more, not teach the reader what you know. When you overcome the desire to teach and learn how to tease readers, you just might turn an otherwise boring book into a bestseller.

Did I tease your interest to improve your next book title?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

How Do You Define Success? (Part 3 of 3)

If you read the two previous blog entries, you could scoff, "You've made it, so you can talk that way."

Yes, I am a successful author, and I've now made a living from it for more than thirty years. But that's still not how I define success. To people like my unnamed friend, success shows itself in the external world—accomplishing certain things.

I know several authors who earn a living—and some gross far more than I ever will—but they're no more contented than I am. And some lead miserable lives, constantly trying to bump their sales record or hit the New York Times' best-seller list with each project.

I'd like to sell more books and bring in more money. I see nothing wrong with that. But for me, the sales figures are byproducts of a healthy relationship with myself and my Creator. My contentment rests on my firmly held faith that God is ultimately in control and my role is to be content wherever I find myself.

I'm contented but not lazy. I still work as hard at the craft as I always have, but my emotions aren't fixed to the results.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How Do You Define Success? (Part 2 of 3)

"I'm angry at God," my writer-friend said over lunch. "I want to be a best-selling author and God won't let me."

In shock, I stared at him. "You told me you'd published nine novels and countless articles. How many authors do you know who've sold that many books?"

"But I'm not a best-selling author."

Although that conversation happened several years ago, I think of it often. I told him that many authors would envy his record.

"But I can't make a living from my writing."

Then I understood. He needed to have books on the best-seller lists and earn enough to support himself from book sales. I don't know him that well, but my guess is that even if he achieves his goal, he'd still feel unsuccessful.

His dreams of hitting the top of the charts is a fine idea. And it may happen. But even if he does, will he feel like a winner?

Success is an inside job.
It's who we are and not what we produce.