Why Failure Is Awesome

2016-05-18 happy dance joyHow do you feel about failure?

I grew up believing that failure was not an option. You had to do stuff right the first time, every time, and it was better to do nothing at all, rather than try and fail. An attitude like this is obviously a massive road block for anyone who wants to be an author. There’s a lot to learn–from the actual writing of the books to the marketing that sells them. What to do about failure?

2016-05-18 Why Failure Is Awesome

Embracing Your Mistakes

2016-05-18 happy joy stars successFortunately for me, I didn’t truly believe in my heart of hearts that failure was a bad thing. Honestly, how realistic is it that you’ll be able to do everything perfectly the first time? Everybody does it wrong the first time. Well, nearly everybody. We can’t all be Nancy Drew, after all.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, failure is hard-wired into the success process. We try, we fail, we try again. That’s just how it works! And those who don’t try again are those who don’t reap the top successes.

But most importantly, I saw from my life experiences that I learned more from my mistakes than I did from my triumphs. Once I knew how to do something wrong, it was easier to figure out how to do it right.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Far from it! Read the inspiring stories from these other authors who also embraced the process of failure.

What Author-Publishers Can Learn from Their Mistakes

by Samantha Warren on the Alliance of Independent Authors website

Samantha had unexpected initial success, raking in $12,000 off an ad on Pixel of Ink. But, by her own admission, she took it for granted and didn’t continue her promotion efforts. Was she devastated? No! She picked herself up and tried again. Read more!

The Two BEST Reasons to Fail as a Writer

by Marcy McKay on The Write Practice

The creative process can involve trial-and-error, too, as Marcy McKay says in this post. “My books feel more like I’m assembling a jigsaw puzzle without the box top showing the final photo.” Who else can relate? (Raising hand!)

McKay draws examples from the book Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. Catmull clearly embraces failure, as well. “Stop panicking that you’re doing it all wrong,” McKay says. “You’re not. Keep writing.” She gives two excellent reasons why you should fail. Read more!

Building a Business One F*** Up at a Time

featuring JB Glossinger on the Self Publishing Podcast 

2016-05-18 happy joy laugh smileI’ve included this one for those of you who prefer audio. (Though if you couldn’t tell from the title, I should advise you that there is explicit language!) Glossinger works for an hour every day, then plays golf. How did he get there? One failure at a time. From the show notes: “What’s the ratio of failure to success? 90/10: can you guess which is which?” Listen Now!


Now you tell us: How do you feel about failure? Do you feel any better about it now that you’ve seen a number of authors who actively embrace it?

Releasing Your Potential

2016-05-04 soaring, high, top, mountain, potentialAre you putting unnecessary limits on your own potential? I certainly was.

During second draft of my work-in-progress, I was only editing one scene a day. I felt mentally exhausted after just one scene, but progress seemed too slow. So I asked myself, could I edit two? How was I going to double my output?

2016-05-04 Releasing Your Potential


Parkinson’s Rule

2015-06-17 Clock fleur de lisA book I read recently, Self-Made Success by Shaan Patel, talked about a phenomenon known as Parkinson’s Rule. It basically says that the time it takes you to finish a task morphs to fit the amount of time you give it. Got a week to write a chapter? It’ll take you a week. Got a day? It’ll take you a day.

In wanting to edit two scenes a day instead of one, I was basically working with a variant of Parkinson’s Rule. Got a scene to edit today? It’ll take me a day. Got two scenes to edit today? It’ll still take me just a day.

Creating a Mental Model

2016-05-04 daydream, mountain, challenge, high, top, lake, clouds, man, personBy the end of editing just one scene, I felt mentally drained. I’d invested myself in that scene, and my mind wasn’t ready to move on to a new POV, a new character, a new set of problems. But darn it, I wanted to edit two scenes a day.

So what did I do? I used a tactic I learned about in another book, Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. I created a mental model–a picture in my mind of what was going to happen. I told myself that when I finished the first scene, I was going to allow myself up to a few minutes to simply breathe and detach from that scene. Then, without getting up from my sofa (where I often write), I was going to dive right into the next scene.

How Well This Worked

2016-05-04 bike, bicycle, race, fast, run, challengeOn every day that I edited my work-in-progress, I successfully completed two scenes per day. In fact, on one day, I edited nine.

Nine? How did that happen? Actually, it wasn’t that hard. By the end of a scene, I saw that I still had time available on the clock. I would then visualize my mental model: me taking a breather, then charging into the next scene. And before I knew it, I’d gotten through nine scenes in a single sitting.

Are you bottling up your own potential? Could Parkinson’s Law and mental models help you double your output, or better?

Brew Your Own Success: Aspirations of a Millionaire

2016-02-01 latte coffee laptop computer tableIt’s been a month, folks, since the first installment in the Brew Your Own Success series–documenting my journey toward making a full-time income indie publishing. (I decided to change the name to “Success” instead of “Adventure.”)

Let’s review the goals I set at the beginning of March and see how I did.

2016-04-06 Brew Your Own Success Post 2

Finish Edits on Book One of the Mailboat Series

DSC03349 (640x480)Apparently I’d planned on finishing all edits–second draft through final version–in the month of March. Did I? Nope. However, I did finish second draft and ironed out several plot holes, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself!

What did I learn?  Just like I tend to write one scene a day, I tend to edit just one scene a day. I’d like to see if I can double that number for faster editing as I work on Third Draft.

Invite 50 Bloggers to Read and Review Journaling to Become a Better Writer

Journaling Front Cover lores (432x648)Once again, I set the bar high for myself. I calculated that I should be able to contact five bloggers every day–a goal that doesn’t sound all that hard. How many bloggers did I actually contact? Only 14! That means that out of 23 working days in the month of March, I let 9 slip by without contacting any bloggers at all. Somebody please slap my wrist.

What did I learn?  Lots. I’ll be writing an entire post on this subject. For now I’ll say that reaching out to bloggers is time-consuming, but not at all hard. And while it takes very little time or effort to make the initial contact, your time investment increases as you have return email to respond to!

Mess Around with a Facebook Ad for Signups to my Personal Newsletter

2016-01-06 Facebook Icon (made by me)All I did with this was to think about what I wanted to use as a lead magnet to get people to sign up to my mailing list. I’ve narrowed it down to either the first few chapters of Mailboat or interviews with the four main characters or a combination of both. I just haven’t gotten around to making that magnet! Once I have, I can create a lead generation ad with Facebook to exchange the book for people’s email addresses.

What did I learn?  That if you don’t make something a priority, it will slip through the cracks.

Add Freelancing Back Into the Mix

Fountain pen and spiral journalThis wasn’t originally on my list of things to accomplish in March, but I decided to add it at mid-month. It’s important sometimes to roll with new ideas!

I’ve done various forms of freelance work before, and I decided to add it back in for some extra income. I decided I’ll probably focus on copy editing and proofreading, but I’m willing to take any number of odd jobs.

The hard part is finding clients. I made it my goal to pitch at least one client every day. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to making a spreadsheet, so that was more of a soft goal. For April, I’d like to make this a hard goal, start a spreadsheet, and be able to report back some solid results to you guys.

What I learned:  It takes a lot of pitching before you get a bite, and your first offer may not be your dream job. My initial pitches kept getting turned down in a deluge of competition. I finally landed my first client on the last day of the month! But it was for designing some simple book covers–not editing. However, the client loved my work, so it’s all good. But freelancing is another area where I’ll probably write an entire blog post. Stay tuned!

A Note from My Uncle

2015-02-20 Guy in Coffee Shop (2)I had a great conversation with my uncle over coffee the other day. He’s a businessman, and he’s done very well for himself, and I look up to his example. So I was extremely pleased when he set a bar for me: He told me to become a millionaire.

What did I learn?  I’ve known all along that I have a strong lazy streak. I’ve also known all along that the only person standing between me and success is me. That means that if I want to become a millionaire like my uncle recommended, I need to overcome me and work as hard as he does. I’ve been waking up in the mornings and thinking about the expectation he set for me and imagining that a million dollars will be mine tomorrow if I get through the goals I’ve set for myself today.

Because in a sense, that’s true.

April Goals

2015-11-18 target bulls eye darts arrowsThese are mostly variations of my March goals.

  • Finish second and third drafts of Mailboat: Book One
  • Invite 21 bloggers to review Journaling to Become a Better Writer
  • Create a lead magnet to use for my Facebook ads
  • Pitch one freelancing client every day
  • Put in 10 hours a day instead of 8

You’ll note, I expanded my expectations for editing, but cut back on my expectations for reaching out to bloggers. I did well in editing one scene per day with Mailboat, so I’m “rewarding” myself by increasing my expectations. Maybe I can edit two scenes per day?

I did poorly in contacting bloggers, so I’m lowering my expectations to a new goal I think I can reach (just one blogger every single working day). If I succeed, I’ll have done better than I did last month, where I missed 9 days altogether!

Also, I’ve added a whole new task: freelancing. In addition to the list above, I have plenty of smaller responsibilities—like two blogs, various social media accounts, etc.—that eat up a lot of time. I’ve decided to expand the number of hours I work every day to fit it all in. My new goal is to work 10 hours a day.

After all, I have a million dollars to earn.

What are your goals for April? Let us know in the comments! I’ll check back in May and we’ll see how we did.

My Indie Publishing Adventure to Date

2016-02-01 latte coffee laptop computer tableBrew Your Own Adventure: Post 1

We announced in the IPT Newsletter that we were about to start a new thing: Monthly progress reports on my (Danielle’s) indie publishing venture. Carrie’s and my goal is to make a full-time income writing through self-publishing. The Brew Your Own Adventure series will document my progress!

To get you oriented, this first post will summarize my indie publishing life thus far. Then I’ll end with my goals for the coming month. Let’s go!

2016-03-07 My Indie Publishing Adventure to Date

Where It All Began

I first heard about indie publishing in 2013. After some research, I realized this was exactly the thing for me. Why wait for a publisher to give me a nod of approval when I could sell directly to my readers? My research also revealed that a lot of work was involved. I wasn’t daunted. I love a challenge. And I was strongly drawn to the liberty to make my publishing decisions myself – from pricing and promotions to cover art.

My First Book

Journaling Front Cover lores (432x648)My first book happened by accident. It started as a series of blog posts here at IPT that did quite well. I decided to write up a quick booklet based on those posts. Well … it grew and became a full-length creative writing guide: Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Seven Keys to More Authentic Fiction. I self-published it in December 2014 – my first book!

How My First Book Did

I decided to go wide (non-KDP Select) and put up my book on both Amazon and Smashwords. (Smashwords is a company that will automatically publish your book to multiple platforms, like B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc.) Like all authors, my best sales were at Amazon (which dwarfs the other platforms), especially during the first three months.

Then it kinda tanked. The 90-day cliff, as they call it. After three months, Amazon no longer promotes your book as a new release, so you’re on your own.

The old cover for Journaling to Become a Better Writer

The old cover for Journaling to Become a Better Writer

I floundered with marketing for quite a while, primarily because I wasn’t proud of my book cover. It was a home-made cover Carrie and I put together. I eventually realized I wasn’t going to market the poor thing until it sported professional cover art. So I kissed some money good-bye and hired a professional designer through 99Designs. Once I had a better cover, I was absolutely raring to go with my marketing.

One of the first things I’ve tried is Facebook ads. (Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula is the go-to for that info.) I’ve been running ads for a few months now and have been earning back my investment plus a little income over the top. Yay!

I also released a paperback edition of the book in summer 2015. Formatting it for the print-on-demand company CreateSpace – and holding my first book in my hands – were extremely satisfying experiences for me. Can’t wait to create another one!

What’s Next?

My goal is still to make a full-time living writing. I want to clarify that there’s a difference between full time hours and full-time income. I’m very lucky to have the former and still working diligently towards the latter.

DSC03349 (640x480)The more I study up on profitable indie publishing, the more I hear that you can’t expect a full-time living off one book. Having put my first out there, I heartily agree. I’m on the brink of putting out my first published fiction books, The Mailboat Suspense Series, which will contain four or five titles. Once I have multiple books, I can experiment with setting the first in the series at permafree or $0.99, see how follow-through sales go from that, and Facebook ads on the boxed set.

March Goals

2015-11-18 target bulls eye darts arrowsSo, what do I want most to accomplish in March 2016?

  • Finish edits on Book One of the Mailboat series
  • Invite fifty bloggers to read and review Journaling to Become a Better Writer
  • Mess around with a Facebook ad for signups to my personal newsletter

What are your goals for March? Let us know in the comments! I’ll check back in with you guys in April to let you know how I did!