Results, Now! is a book by education writer, Mike Schmoker. The title was intended to motivate and encourage educators of diverse learners. The title, however, is applicable to my subject today because Results, Now! is how so many of us feel about our blogs and our books.
We’ve put in a lot of work and we want results, now! Aren’t hours and hours of input supposed to yield good results? We’ve been good. We’ve followed the rules. Now, where are the fans, the followers, and the reviews?
I know that most of you blog and create because it’s second nature to you, so be confident that you’re not wasting your time. In fact, I’ve come to offer encouragement while you’re waiting for success.
First, developing your craft will be time well spent. You’ll be honing your skills in a field that is overrun with figurative mountains of bad writing that is overflowing from the “cloud” and clogging the stratosphere. It will take more than a little while for your sensational writing to get discovered. Why not settle in and have fun creating while you wait for your magic moment.
Re-read your favorite blogs and novels with a highlighter and a notebook in hand. Jot down what makes them so outstanding. Is it the phrasing, terminology, or descriptive writing? Is it the amazing dialogue?
Study your craft. Of course you’re going to hire an editor afterwards. Still, you can read The Elements of Style, The Chicago Manual of Style, or Polish Your Prose by Harmony Kent and Nonnie Jules to make your copy as clean as you can. You can use the time to practice show don’t tell or rewrite a scene eliminating all the unnecessary adverbs.
Secondly, make yourself as integral to the social media scene as you can. If you’re not already doing it, start retweeting or sharing other people’s Facebook posts. It’s not always about you. I know you’re excited and you want to fly, but you need some wind beneath those wings and how are you going to get that if you haven’t earned it.
You already know the difference between Twitter and Facebook, but you might want to brush up on when to utilize Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn, too. They may give you some fresh ideas and, if nothing else, your kids will think you’re cool.
Understand that others may not retweet you. They may not “like” a great Facebook post. Your insanely awesome blog post may not get any comments and may languish in a reader’s inbox for weeks before he or she deletes it, and I won’t mention reviews! Just keep building relationships, get your name out there, and reciprocate! Say “Thanks” to those who take the time to support you. Read, tweet and review them!
Write and publish a few short stories that you might give away as gift books and prizes while you’re building your email list. Create a timeline, participate in conferences, and host events like blog tours while you’re waiting for success to find you. When it does, you’ll be ready to walk into it like a pro. Look at all of these Pros who struggled before they made it:
- “I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say. Apparently the author intends it to be funny.”
—Publisher rejects Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, a novel believed to have been given its name because it was the 22nd publisher, Simon and Schuster, who agreed to take it on. To date: 10 million sales.
- “It was rejected 60 times. But rejection letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. Three weeks later we sold the book to Amy Einhorn Books.”
—Kathryn Stockett on the worldwide best-seller: The Help.
- Richard Adams’ Watership Down received 17 rejections before it was picked up by a one-man publishing firm. “Do you think I’m mad?” Rex Collings wrote to a friend before taking a risk that paid off big for both him and Adams.
- Judy Blume got nothing but rejections for the first two years of her writing career. She says the rejections from Highlights for Children were so embarrassing that the sight of a copy of Highlights still makes her wince.
- E. Cummings not only had difficulty getting his first book published, but after several publications, he still self-published six more volumes of his work in the 1930s when he was unable to get them published any other way.
- The Christopher Little Literary Agency received 12 publishing rejections in a row for J. K. Rowling, until the eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor read the book. The editor agreed to publish but advised Rowling to get a day job since she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Yet Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone spawned a series with combined sales of more than $450 million.
- While working in a group home, Amanda Hocking wrote 17 books. After being rejected by publishing houses and agents for 9 years, she decided to self-published all of them as e-books. Her thoughts were that she could at least sell some of them to family and friends, and raise the $300 she wanted for a trip to Chicago. The books became insanely popular and she sold over a million copies. Reportedly, she managed to sell the rights to her first trilogy and a new four-book series for 2 million dollars to St. Martin’s Press. Quite impressive for someone who used to write part time.
There’s no hurry. Write as if you had a lifetime. Be daring! Be crazy! Write about things you’ve never told anybody. Then, give those things a twist. Make them even more bizarre than they really are. Freak yourself out! Guess what? You’ll have a best-selling book or a money making blog on your hands.