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A New Publishing World Requires a New Type of Writer

Over the course of the last 29 days of Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) blog posts, one thing struck me over and over again: The publishing world changes almost daily.

I know most writers know this. They just don’t always get what it means to them and to their ability to succeed as authors. And if they get it, they don’t want to change with the changing times so they can, in fact, succeed. By success I mean becoming a published author with a book that sells well.

This year I finally landed a traditional publishing deal. I’ve self-published nine short books and workbooks, but my blog, How to Blog a Book will be released as How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time in late April or early May by Writer's Digest Books and is now available for presale on Amazon. I managed to land this contract in large part by embracing all the changes in the publishing world over the last 10 years or so—and by transforming myself into more than just a writer.

I can remember the first proposal I sent out. Despite the fact that I was a newbie to book publishing, it received high marks. Agents and publishers alike commended me on the actual proposal, idea, title, and writing. However, after all the positive feedback came the dreaded word: but. “But you don’t have a platform.”

In those days—about 10 years ago—platform was the new buzz word. I’d never heard it before. And it took me about two years before I really began to embrace it wholeheartedly, before I really began to do what it takes to build platform. I put on my speaker’s hat and began to speaking to groups.

As the Internet took hold, I had someone create a website for me. Later I became my own webmaster, and now many days I wear a webmaster’s hat. Then came Facebook followed closely by the other social networks. I put on a social networker’s and marketer’s hat, and I wear it much of every day. And blogging fell into step. I am a blogger writing, managing and publishing five blogs. That also makes me a self-publisher, and as self-publishing print books and ebooks become more popular, I became a publisher of these as well wearing my self-publisher’s hat for these roles and tasks. Then came YouTube, podcasts, ezine marketing, teleseminars, webinars…I wear some of the hats associated with these, too.

I admit I haven’t been able to keep pace with all the changes. I’m just learning how to post a podcast. My too-fancy video camera keeps me from posting video to YouTube, my lousy Internet connection precludes doing webinars, but I have done as much as I felt able—more than many writers.

I don’t say this with any sense of ego. I say this from experience. Because I meet these writers at conferences where I speak and at workshops I teach. They call me or email me every day. They tell me they haven’t put on these hats—nor do they want to in most cases.

Here’s the deal. A new publishing world requires a new type of writer—a writer who is more than just a writer. It takes more than just a good idea and good writing to get a book published today. You must also be a good business person and wear a business person’s hat. Along with that hat comes a promoter’s hat, and under that a social networker’s hat, a speaker’s hat, a press release writer’s hat, etc. You may also need to wear those other hat’s I mentioned, such as a blogger’s hat or a webmaster’s hat. Or else you will need to hire someone to do these things for you—but some of these hats you will simply need to wear. Period.

You must transform yourself to meet the demands of the publishing industry—if you want to succeed, if you want to land a traditional publishing deal or sell a lot of self-published books. That requires wearing more than a writer’s hat. That requires embracing all the jobs and all the technology of the new world in which publishing—and your potential readers—operate.

As agent Michael Larsen, author of How to Get an Agent, says, "Now is the best time to be a writer." But for some writers it feels like the worst time. The constantly changing technology of this era offers numerous opportunities for aspiring (and published) authors—or obstacles depending upon your perspective. You must decide to be more than a writer or to achieve your goals of becoming not just an aspiring author but a published author. And you have to be more than an author to become a successful author—one that sells more than the average 300 books per year. (Yes, that’s the average number.)

Like me, you must embrace the changes in the publishing world and transform yourself into more than just a writer. Are you ready to do this? How badly do you want to succeed? Badly enough to do what it takes—no matter what? Ask yourself those questions. The answers are important.

Here are the five things I suggest you do if you want to transform yourself into a new writer for the new publishing age:

  1. Be a good business partner. Remember that publishing is a business. Gone are the days when a publisher would take a chance on a new writer, offer a huge advance and put a ton of promotional time and money into making that first book a success. In addition to great ideas and great writing, publishers want great business partners—ones that can help sell books.
  2. Get social. Despite the fact that many writers tend to be antisocial—or shy, reserved or introverted, to succeed you must be willing to get out and connect with other people—people who will one day buy your book. If you don’t like doing this in person, you are in luck. Today the Internet offers myriads of ways to connect with people by simply showing a picture of yourself and writing status updates, sharing links and your wisdom. You can write, write, write, which you know how to do, as a way to connect. And don’t balk at the people wanting to connect with you; that’s the point!
  3. Embrace technology. Move through your fear. Instead of hiding behind the thought that you can’t understand or manage Facebook or a blog or your website, get help, take a tutorial, hire an expert, or simply dive in for a week. Before you know it, you’ll be a techie, too!
  4. See every obstacle as an opportunity. It’s all about attitude. If you think it’s going to be hard, it will be. If you think you can’t do it, you won’t be able to. But if you see all the changes in the industry and the technological advances as opportunities to help you succeed, you’ll jump at them faster than a jack rabbit. And you’ll be a published author before you know it.
  5. Make choices. The changing world and industry have created tons of choices. You don’t have to do everything or be everywhere. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you think you do. Pick and choose what works best for you and your work. Start small and build up to some of the other options. Add things into your tool box after you’ve mastered others. Take your time; don’t feel rushed.

If I hadn’t taken my own advice I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t have my traditional publishing deal. Because I embraced technology—blogging, took the opportunity I saw in the blog-to-book trend and blogged a book about how to make the most of this trend, and used everything I had learned about promoting myself (building platform) and my work (my blogs) on the Internet using social networking, ezine marketing, on-line press releases, teleseminars, etc., I became a more than just a writer. I became a good business partner for a publisher. I became a new writer for a new age.

Today marks the final day of the 2011 Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) challenge and blog. As the final event I'll be interviewing agent and author Michael Larsen today at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. PT on a topic related to this blog post: "Content, Character & Connection: Becoming a Successful Writer in a Bottom-Up World."

If you want to learn how to transform yourself, if you want to find out what you need to know to take advantages of the opportunities the new age of publishing hold for you (and to not see them as obstacles to success), register for this FREE WNFIN finale teleseminar. You can do so here.

During the teleseminar we’ll be asking some important questions you need to consider as you think about your own transformation—and your path to success as a writer. Whether you register for the teleseminar or not, ask yourself:

  • What perspective do you need on writing, agents, technology, promotion, and publishing to succeed?
  • Do you need to change your perspective in order to succeed in today’s publishing world?
  • Do you know how to build the platform and communities you must have to sell your work?
  • Do you know where to get the best editor, publisher, and deal for your books?

Also, beyond putting the right words down on paper in the right order, do you have the character it takes to become a successful writer in the new age of publishing? According to Michael, “Character is the set of qualities you need to be effective as a writer.” To be effective you must not only write well, you must get your write read—published. Do you have these characteristics? Do you know what they are?

And, do you know how to connect with and relate to all of the people you need or want in your professional life? Today there are so many ways to connect—and to connect with people who heretofore where unreachable.

Michael has been many things to me: agent, mentor, colleague, and friend. I'm so excited to interview him today. Join us on the call and get the information you need to move forward and achieve your goals. Register here.

After today you can find the same great information you’ve receive during WNFIN at its sister blog, Write Nonfiction NOW! I hope you’ll visit it Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when I post new content there. By continuing to read about how to write, publish and promote your nonfiction you can support your self in becoming the new writer for the new age and succeeding in reaching your writing goals.

I hope you met your November writing goals—and the challenge WNFIN offered you. I hope you learned something in these 30 days of blogs posts you can use to help you succeed as a writer. I also hope you were able to combine your passion and your purpose and get inspired to move on in December to edit your finished WNFIN project and get it published. Please let me know if you do.

Also, if you got something out of this month’s WNFIN blog posts, and if you are a Write Nonfiction NOW! reader, please take the time to vote for the blogs in two very important contests. Getting on either list would give my blogs much more recognition and exposure, which would help me get the information I offer on how to write, publish and promote nonfiction out to more people.

1.      The 6th Annual Top 10 Blogs for Writers Contest

I'd love it if you would nominate my blog for the Top 10 Blogs for Writers Contest, the blogosphere’s biggest contest for writing blogs.

To do so, click here for instructions. The blog url you will need to include is www.writenonfictionow.com (Write Nonfiction in NOW!), and mention Write Nonfiction in November, its sister blog. Write Nonfiction NOW! functions 11 months out of the year and then dovetails with Write Nonfiction in November during one month of the year--November--during the challenge.

2.     Writer's Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers

I’d also be very appreciative if you would vote both www.writenonfictioninnovember.com (Write Nonfiction in November), and www.writenonfictionnow.com (Write Nonfiction NOW!) as one of Writer’s Digest‘s 101 Best Websites for Writers, which is one THE top list of on-line resources published each year by this writing magazine. Learn how to vote for the blogs here.

Thank you so much for participating in WNFIN 2011! May you Achieve More Inspired Results in the final month of 2011 and in the New Year!

 About the Author

Nina Amir, Your Inspiration-to-Creation Coach, inspires writers to create the results they desire—published products and careers as writers and authors. She the author of the forthcoming book, How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books, April 2012) and the popular workbook, How to Evaluate Your Book for Success. Additionally, she is a freelance editor, and writing, book, blogging, and author coach who blogs at Write Nonfiction NOW and How to Blog a Book and writes the National Jewish Issues and the National Self-Improvement columns for www.examiner.com. She is also the founder of Write Nonfiction in November, a challenge and blog, and the weekly writing and publishing expert on Michael Ray Dresser’s popular radio show Dresser After Dark. Find out more about her at ninaamir.com or at www.copywrightcommunications.com .