About Anita Agers-Brooks

Anita is a Certified Communications Specialist, Personality Trainer, Business Coach, and Certified Training Facilitator. Her twenty years of management experience drive her to an ancient text, filled with success secrets. She's often quoted as saying, "In business, as in life and love, it's never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith."

Marketing In and Out of the Box for Authors and Speakers

“It’s getting harder to find places to sell books.”

Anita Brooks Conference Speaker

Find an Audience and Speak to their Needs

Public speaking is still the most effective sales tool for book authors according to many professionals. But with conference attendances lowering, and some closing down, the opportunities are dwindling.

And without a strong marketing plan, you often can’t get a publisher to bite on a proposal anyway.

So what’s an author to do?

You’ve probably heard “think outside the box” when it comes to marketing, but what does that mean?

Don’t lose hope, there are still effective things you can do to strengthen your marketing strategy through speaking. For instance, re-slant your messages to fit groups you might not normally speak to, or have never thought of speaking to.

Conference Speaker

Every Celebration & Educational Event Needs a Speaker

  • If you speak on marriage, have you targeted business groups and associations where couples may work together, or have employees who do?
  • If parenting is your theme, have you contacted day-care centers who often spend more waking hours with children than parents?
  • If grief or trauma is your message, what about speaking to Chambers of Commerce, or association conferences about how their members can help the hurting, promote good will, and further their mission as a result?
  • Is there an awards banquet you can connect a presentation to?

When contacting churches and ministry organizations, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What are the biggest problems I see in society today?
  • What are my greatest pet peeves?
  • What do I hear people complain about most often?
  • What do people say they are lacking?

Those are the areas you can target to reach audiences in a relevant way. Many ministries are looking for speakers who can address concerns of a younger crowd growing more jaded, more “accepting,” and more in need of spiritual wisdom than ever. But wrapped in practical twenty-first century applications.

The Whole Earth Needs Hope

People All Over the Earth Need Hope

The fact is, human beings all over the planet are drawn to messages of hope and encouragement, and like-minded people flock together. The key is to develop a strategic marketing plan, do your homework, study potential audiences, make consistent contacts, and follow up on a regular basis. Over time you will begin to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Set goals and stick to them.

To help you get started, here’s a link that offers info on associations of all kinds.

Finally, I must mention the most important thing of all. Partnering with God through prayer, trust, AND practical action.

Here’s my real secret to any marketing success. Based on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, I ask God who the bankers are that He wants me to invest my talents with, and then I look and listen. I’m often surprised at the opportunities available; it simply takes looking at things through fresh eyes. Sometimes in the box, and sometimes by stepping out.

Have you discovered any unique ways to market books or sign more speaking events?

After You Sign the Contract

You did it! You succeeded in acquiring an agent, your book sold, and you just signed your contract. Ahhh. Life is amazing.

But…

There’s more work to do. Maybe the hardest work of all. This is where an author truly needs encouragement, practical ideas, and inner strength. But it all starts with thoughts.

Magic of Thinking Big Book

Little Thoughts Keep Your Writing Small

“Success is determined not so much by the size of one’s brain as it is by the size of one’s thinking.” The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Allowing any task to become daunting can deter us from doing all we are capable of. Especially when there’s a lot at stake — like the completion of a life’s dream. I know, I almost let it happen to me.

I was approximately 85% finished with my final manuscript and three weeks from deadline. Then I froze. There’s no reasonable explanation I can offer as to why. My outline was solid, and until that morning, my words flowed smoothly.

At first, I attributed it to exhaustion. After all, I was still working over sixty hours a week as the general manager of a large river resort, and it was early September. But after taking a couple of extra days off, catching up on rest, and trying again, still no go.

I panicked. A swell of fear felt like it was swamping over me. In a choked voice, I told my husband, “I guess I’ll send the advance money back.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t finish.” I felt my chin quiver. “I don’t know why I ever thought I could write a book. It isn’t good enough to send in, and I can’t get any new words on the page.”

“I thought you wanted this.”

I ran out of the room. My husband meant well, and he was right. It was what I wanted, but in that moment, I didn’t know how to get it done.

First Hired Last Fired

Available in Major Bookstores and Online

The next morning, I awoke feeling no less anguished, but one thing had changed. My determination not to give up. My husband’s final words on the subject resonated in my heart. I did want this. So I got on my knees and thanked God for helping me finish what He had started. Then I took advice from my own book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market, and resolved to get the job done, regardless of how I felt.

I won’t lie and tell you things suddenly got easy. Those final pages were excruciating, and to this day, I can pick them out of my book by the weakness I see in the sentences forced into existence. But I did it. Exactly on my deadline date, I submitted the full manuscript according to contract. And I learned something.

Michael HyattI’m not the first author to experience soul-crushing panic deep into the book writing journey. Many have relayed similar experiences, including best-seller Michael Hyatt.

But I also learned how to push past my fears, and whether the world likes it or not, to put the message out there. It was hard, but the satisfaction is sweeter than my earlier efforts and emotions.

I’m not sure where you are on the path to publication. But if you’re new to the process, be prepared for some emotional bumps after you sign the contract. And remember — sometimes we need to do what we love, versus what feels safe.

Have you ever panicked in the middle of a big accomplishment? It’s never too late to start again.

Anita Fresh Faith

Growing a Writing Garden

We writers are pioneers — with the opportunity to become heroes. 

“Do what?” you say.

Here’s how I connect the dots, or the rows, in this case.

Country Vegetable Garden

Preparing the Soil is Critical to a Bountiful Harvest

I now realize how much writing is like gardening. I grew up in the country, with parents who toiled under hot sun and long days. There were eight of us in the family, so we gardened to survive.

I can still see my mother making mud when she swiped her saturated forehead with a soil encrusted hand. “Break the ground up until all the chunks are gone, and the dirt feathers through your fingers.” Then she’d demonstrate, watching streams of brown flow into the wind.

After softening the soil, we fertilized with a mix designed to enhance growing power, making sure we didn’t scorch the tender seeds we hid beneath a blanket of dust.

Every seed looked different. We placed pods, beans, tiny black dots, and flaky wisps into the ground, then covered them according to the depth of their needs, before watering. The scent of earthy musk was strong, as wet and dry mingled.

But still, the work wasn’t done between planting and harvest. It took several days before the first fledgling shoots peeked into daylight. We hunkered over the dirt, waiting to glimpse the sprouts. The first took the longest, but when it popped, the landscape was soon covered in bright green, fragile plants, all groping higher for the sun.

Kentucky Tobacco

Are You Nearing Harvest Time?

Once we saw progress, even harder work began. Hoeing, weeding, continual watering, fighting the heat of radiating summer days. Sleep. Repeat. Sleep. Repeat. While the plants slowly grew taller and thicker.

For weeks, we followed this pattern. The newness had long since worn off. We were hot. Tired. Bored. And ready for the monotony and harsh elements to end.

Until finally. Harvest time. Though it was still too early for the soothing calm of autumn winds, gleaning fruits and vegetables energized our dry spirits. We plucked juicy tomatoes, and ate them like candy. Fresh cucumbers refreshed our hot lips. We shucked silk from raw corn and popped it in our mouths. Life was good, and we wallowed in its glory. Until canning and freezing time.

Green Cornfield

What Does Your Writing Garden Look Like?

I won’t go into plucking, shucking, de-stringing, pressure-cookers, mason jars, freezer bags, or the other finger-numbing parts of putting food away for the winter. I think you get the picture. We couldn’t rush the process.

And writing connects with this scenario. So do pioneers and heroes.

Think about it. When you write, don’t you have to prepare the soil? Deal with fertilizer, but then realize it adds fodder to your crops? Don’t we seed devotions, articles, webzines, copy-writing, books, and speaking platforms?

We water, hoe, weed, and care for our tender publishing shoots.

Then we finally harvest. And we wallow in the glory of it — until we realize how much more work must be done.

Pioneer Wagon

You Are a Pioneer Who Could Be a Hero

This is where I think of pioneers. Many of us dare new territories with our messages. We explore and discover. And like the pioneers who founded America, we stake claims, work hard, protect, and we pray. Sometimes all manner of crisis, like harsh winters, droughts, prairie fires, tornadoes, and hail, threaten to destroy what we’ve built.

But like the sturdy pioneer, we must determine not to give up. This is where heroes are born. Those hardy souls who will not be moved from the place they are called. Who refuse to buckle under the bellows of the wind.

Those who know growing a writing garden is not something everyone can do. But who believe in their message, the impact, the harvest — and don’t give up. Because the honor of feeding a multitude makes dealing with every clump of dirt worthwhile. And so they hoe.

How does your writing garden grow?

Traditional Marketing Versus Relational Marketing

This is how traditional marketing worked. 

  • Introduce a new or improved product
  • Explain all of its cool features
  • Show a brief overview highlighting how to use it
  • Tell the consumer why they shouldn’t live without it
  • Communicate a desired call to action

But twenty-first century consumers are more savvy, and demanding. They respond to relational marketing, whereas they are turned off by techniques that proved effective in our not so distant past. Here’s the difference:

  • Tell a short story about the new or improved product instead of simply introducing it, or even better, show something shocking, dramatic, and/or totally unrelated to get their attention
  • Explain how it will benefit the consumer — be clear in communicating what’s in it for them
  • Paint a picture of a personal connection between the product and the everyday consumer
  • Tell the consumer why their life will be better because they have the product, especially if you can make them believe the product will help them fulfill their dreams
  • Leave them hanging with just a hint of how they can find out more, or end with a subliminal reminder of the product, but never use in-your-face advertising methods

This is how relational marketing differs.

When marketing our books, we must remember how the consumer has been trained over the last few years. Gone are the days where you could push through advertising. The buying market expects you to ask permission before sending them special offers. Bombarding them with notices about your book or other products mostly ticks them off.

Instead, find a way to connect your message to them personally, and leave the final decision up to them, versus pressuring for a quick decision. Especially effective is making them feel like insiders, and showing them a way they can help. It feeds the human intrinsic motivator to assist others. And psychologically, it establishes a bond — a relationship.

Relational marketing is here to stay. Find a way to establish a relationship with your buying public, create and maintain mutually beneficial reasons to stay connected, and watch your sales rise.

But make your efforts real and genuine. Strive to give them something that truly will make their lives better, because if you try to fake it, your marketing efforts will fall flat. Some things never go out of style. Honesty. Authenticity. Vulnerability. Humility. Keep those at your core, and relational marketing will require no more effort than being who you really are.

Preparing for a Radio or Podcast Interview, Pt. 2

Darren and Anita Engaging Life and Leadership

Host Darren Dake recording Engaging Life and Leadership Podcast

You may not think this pertains to you, but if you are an author, or aspiring author, there is something you need to face. One day, if you are fortunate, you will sit on the other side of a mic or telephone, answering questions from a show host. And you want to shine as brightly as possible, so your message connects with more people in the listening audience.

In Part One, I talked to you about preparing before the interview. This time, I want to share how I prepare during a radio or podcast episode.

I’ve gotten experienced in the process, and learned several things along the way. I’m going to tell you what happens behind-the-scenes that helps me do a better job. I hope this encourages and strengthens your confidence when it’s your turn.

  • Here’s the weird one, but I bank on it. I make an interview tonic of raw, organic apple cider vinegar, raw local honey, a touch of garlic, and mix it into a glass of Appletini or Cherry Pomegranate Crystal Light. (No, I don’t add alcohol, and I don’t suggest it, no matter how tempting, LOL.) About five minutes before we air, I take two or three good swigs. It reduces phlegm, sore throat, a gravelly voice, and strengthens my tone when I speak. On commercial breaks, I’ll sip a little more.

    First Hired Anita Brooks

    Spread Your Message with an Effective Interview

  • I have a fresh glass or bottle of water at the ready. Keep anything you drink away from the microphone or telephone receiver — don’t want to gulp On Air. Word of caution: continue paying attention to what’s being said or you might miss a question you need to answer. (Also I don’t drink too much before the interview. If Mother Nature calls during the segment, it can get mighty uncomfortable.)
  • I place my briefing book in hand’s reach. (See last month’s post on what a briefing book is.)
  • I have a copy of my published book on hand. During commercial breaks, I’ve had two hosts ask me to read a sentence or two directly from my own book.
  • Take slow, deep breaths to reduce blood pressure and calm my nerves during breaks.
  • Listen twice as much as I speak, making sure I don’t cut the host off, or interrupt his/her flow. Remember, most people tune in because they like the host, or the program format. The percentage of audience members who listen due to the topic is small.
  • Strive to be myself, while intentional about infusing a warm and welcoming tone to my voice. I imagine talking to a dear and trusted friend, even when the host is trying to stir a little controversy. I had this happen, and because I stayed calm and steady under pressure, allowing God’s spirit to lead my response, it transformed the entire interview. By the end, the host was profusely inviting me back, and called my book fabulous three times. (I counted.)Engaging Your Writing or Speaking Audience
  • When asked a challenging question, I’ve found it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure, I need to research or pray about it,” or even to pause for a couple of seconds while crafting my answer. Adds a bit of dramatic effect anyway.
  • I follow the PIER method for engaging audiences when I write and speak. It ensures I maintain focus, interest, and credibility, while providing them with take-away.

Now, you’re ready for your interview. It’s your turn to shine — be brave, and go spread that message! This is what God called you for.

Do you have any funny interview stories? Lessons learned? 

Preparing for a Radio or Podcast Interview, Pt. 1

I’m not sure where you are on your writing journey, but if it hasn’t happened yet, hopefully it will one day soon. Your invitation to guest on a radio program.

First Hired by Anita BrooksWith the release of my book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job MarketI’ve done several interviews now, while working to line up numerous others. (If you want to listen in, I’ve got links to those who provided them.)

Imagine my surprise when the podcast host for Engaging Life and Leadership called. Podcasts are Internet radio shows, so they enable you to reach global listeners versus a regional audience. Think of it like this: Podcasts are the big-city landscape of audio, while most traditional radio programs have a home-town community feel. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each reaches different wants and needs.

Engaging Life and LeadershipSince my guest spot on Engaging Life and Leadership went over so well, I was asked to return — again and again. It didn’t take long until the unexpected happened.

“Will you join the show as a permanent co-host?” Darren Dake asked.

We’ve now recorded over twenty episodes as a male/female team, discussing relevant answers for Christian men AND women in 21st century leadership. At last count, we are reaching 17 countries.

But why did I just tell you all of this? For a few reasons actually.

  1. As authors, there’s constant pressure to build your platform. From the beginning, I’ve trusted God to design mine, and partnered with Him in the building. He continues to do more than I could possibly have imagined.
  2. My heart beats to help others, especially my writing brothers and sisters. Consider this an open invitation to be our guest on the show. Regardless of your book’s genre, there’s a place for you. All authors and speakers run their own businesses. You are thought-leaders. We can help you find a topic relevant to our program that will enable us to promote your project. Email me if you’re interested. anita@anitabrooks.com.
  3. The nail-biting prospect of guesting can terrify the most confident of men or women. So I want to share what has helped me survive small, nationally syndicated, and global radio programs.

Here’s my pre-show routine:

Radio Interview Mic

Have You Interviewed Yet? Prepare Yourself.

  • In Michael Hyatt‘s awemazing Get Published! program, he advises the creation of a briefing book as a guide during your interview. I created a PDF synopsis of my book, including the questions sent to the host in the media release. If you’d like a copy of mine as a sample, feel free to email me at anita@anitabrooks.com. (Half of the hosts never asked the arranged questions, but my briefing book kept me on track when they strayed.)
  • Double-check dates and times, (accurate time zones especially) to ensure I don’t experience a faux pas, and either scramble last minute or extend my nerves and frustration from a longer wait. My worst fear? Missing the opportunity altogether.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. I’ve discovered half a Melatonin is a great way to enhance my natural sleep rhythm, providing deeper rest.
  • Walk or exercise prior to my interview, making sure I finish an hour before show time.
  • I take a shower about forty-five minutes before to freshen up.
  • Share my prayer need on social media. Friends and family appreciate the chance to support me in advance. (Plus it reminds some who want to listen in.)
  • About fifteen minutes before, I get prostrate in prayer. Literally. I lay on my living room floor, as flat as possible, and humble myself before God. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words and still my tongue when appropriate. He hasn’t failed me yet.

There’s more I’d like to share, but I’ve run out of room. Next month, I’ll list the things I do during the interview to help me spread the message in a more effective way. Some are plain old common sense, but a couple will surprise you. See you then.

Have you interviewed? If so, what do you do to prepare?

Resting from Writing

Rolling Mississippi

Working Through Fatigue is as Easy as Swimming Across the Mississippi

We become consumed with the writing life. Work…work…work, type…type…type, we push ourselves to meet the demands and deadlines set before us. And then we wonder why we hit mental brick walls — taller than mountains, and wider than the rolling Mississippi.

But what does God say about the pressures we endure? Is this really the plan?

I knew when I jumped into the throes of writing, I’d encounter the temptation to break a personal and, for me, very important value principle. One honored not merely out of duty and obedience, but because I recognized the benefits and blessings. It’s an overlooked command in today’s hustle-bustle culture. Over the past three decades, we’ve slowly become conditioned to push ourselves 7/365, until we’re flat-nosed against that mental wall.

National Speaker Anita Brooks

Juggling Jobs Pressure

I refer to taking a sabbath rest. It goes against the grain of our writing demands.

  • For instance, we are urged to write every day, so we don’t lose momentum, or allow our skills to cover in rust.
  • As writers, many of us pull double-duty as speakers. This requires even more time while we juggle between the work itself and the marketing of writing and speaking.
  • Most of us hold down a day job, and it lessens the amount of time we can devote to writing. The weekends are promoted as time to buckle down and focus.

But I offer an alternative mind-set, about the benefits of taking our weekly Sabbath.

  • If we continually push ourselves in a fatigued state, we are subliminally distracted by the influx of pin-pricking, achy feelings, and heavy muscles brought on by exhaustion. Rest diminishes painful symptoms.
  • While the body rests, so does the mind. Science has proven that in a state of rest we heal, regenerate, and restore. Rest provides the much-needed medicinal touch when our words run stagnant and our minds run dry.
  • God promises blessings when we honor the Sabbath.

Resting in a HammockConsistently allowing ourselves a whole day of rest, with permission to nap, relax, to enjoy life, can  free us to produce powerful words that will inspire, encourage, teach, and exhort. And I believe God’s example of resting on the seventh day is one worth following. After all, He is the best-selling author of all time.

When I wrote my first book, while holding down a demanding day job as General Manager at a large river resort, the temptation to write on Sunday pressed on me week after week. But I determined to give myself the gift of a weekly sabbath. To this day, I can’t fully explain how I wrote that book while working insane hours during our peak season.

The only answer to my accomplishment is that it was supernatural. I believe honoring the sabbath and keeping it holy played a part. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect (that would get a bah-ha-ha from my family and friends), but I’m doing my best.

For me, the importance of placing God and His ways above everything, including my writing and speaking, is the real secret to my success. You might try it — resting from writing to find the inspiration you’re looking for.

Do you rest from your work?

Risky Moves, But Not Like Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears

Miley CyrusSome risks are worth taking, some are not so smart. Authors aren’t typically in the same celebrity category as Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears. But just as these young artists turned off many product purchasing fans with crazy antics, so can an author’s choices affect book sales. Taking a risk is one thing, taking an in-your-face attitude is not wise.

But unless you fall off the cliff of common sense, some risks can bring happy results.

First Hired Last Fired BookAuthors take risks when they try a new style. I did this with my nonfiction book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. I patterned short stories in each chapter, using strong fictional elements to demonstrate my hypothesis. It wasn’t something I’d seen done in exactly that way before, but I decided to take the risk. So far, it’s working well.

Into the Free

Many WordServe authors have taken their own style risks suited to particular genres. Reading their books infused me with courage when I battled fear.

It’s a risk when authors write about difficult subjects. Our own Julie Perkins Cantrell did this in her amazing novel, Into the FreeWhy is it an award-winning best seller? Because it hits the heart with readers. Even if they don’t relate to the circumstances in the story line, they can relate to the gut-wrenching feelings Millie experiences. I expect much of the same in the sequel, When Mountains Move

Authors risk when they get out of bed at 4:00 a.m., versus sleeping until 7:00. Who wouldn’t prefer a few extra Zz’s, but trusting the rewards will outweigh the sacrifice keeps dreams alive.

Investing time and energy in the elements that make up your writing business is a risk. After all, you can’t recycle either one. But every web page, blog post, article, social media blast, and book proposal are like laying pieces down in a jigsaw puzzle. Not until you’ve placed a string together, does the picture of your writing career finally start to look appealing. The key is not to give up before the last piece is in place.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some risky moves that don’t typically work for authors. 

  • Avoiding education and research, in hopes you’ll get lucky, and success will come with little effort on your part.
  • Assuming you know how your writing comes across without getting feedback from unbiased sources.
  • Joining negative media frenzies on social media when they involve putting others down for political views, personal choices, or religious beliefs.
  • Reacting to professional guidance with an unteachable spirit.
  • Giving up on writing, and spending the rest of your life wondering, what if . . .

There are many risky writing moves, but envisioning worst case and best case scenarios can help you decide which ones are worth taking. Most are reasonable, and even if you don’t get the outcome you hope for, be willing to brush yourself off and dream again.

After all, if you risk and fail, are you any worse off than you are now?  

Selling More Books

Selling more books, and spreading your message is the ultimate goal. For months extending into years, you work to build a writing career. By the time your book releases, you hope your efforts pay off — and people actually buy it.

But you must help folks find it, or else they can’t purchase and read your Faberge -- And So Onmasterpiece. This takes a whole new kind of effort. I think we all hope for something akin to the old Faberge Organics shampoo commercial. Remember? “If you tell two friends, they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.”

As a debut author, I knew I needed to find creative ways to tell my first two friends. So I went to the experts, and scheduled a cross-country trip with Michele Cushatt and Michael Hyatt. Okay, so I drove cross-country to a speaking engagement, and took their voices with me via audio recordings. But  their amazing presentation of Get Published gave me some fantastic tips for getting my book noticed.

First Hired Last Fired BookBecause I follow their blogs, I’d already done some of the things Michele and Michael outlined in their program. Like building an online media kit. Mine still needs tweaking, but it’s good enough to have garnered some attention.

But there were plenty of extras I didn’t know about in Get Published. One of the things I learned was to create a Briefing Book, so I could give confident interviews. It was a good thing I did, because the day after I finished it, my publicist scheduled a radio spot.

Another way I spread the word, was to make sure my family and close friends knew I would appreciate speaking leads. It so happens one of my sisters works for a large hospital chain. So she mentioned me to a woman in charge of signing speakers for the New Mexico Staff Services Medical Association Conference. The woman researched my website and online media kit, then voila, booked me.

After that, two other prospects from the medical community called. And so on, and so on.

One of the most fruitful things I’ve done is follow the leads in Sell More Books, Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors. J. Steve and Cherie K. Miller’s marketing manual is chock full of practical applications and lesser known resources. I especially like the access I’ve gotten to state and national associations for potential speaking engagements.

These are just a few ways I’m attempting to spread the word. I don’t know how my various efforts will affect final sale figures. But I think they are making a positive difference. Suddenly likes on my author/speaker Facebook page have increased, and my web traffic is growing.

Cattle on HillsideBut one simple thing has made the biggest difference of all. All along on my writing journey, I’ve prayed about this scary platform thing. A few months ago, I blogged about my reliance on The Platform Builder.

In reality, I know little about book marketing, except to trust and obey. And yet, I truly believe trusting is a secret to selling more books — IF it’s God’s will and my motives are pure. One of the hardest prayers to offer is, “Not my will, but yours be done.” After that, it’s completely in His hands. If He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, I know He owns the pages in a thousand books. I can’t sell a thing if He doesn’t help spread the message. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Being a Joseph to the People You Write With

1985 Montgomery WardWhen I was in my late teens I worked at a Montgomery Ward store. One day my supervisor told me to stock inventory in our sporting goods department, but the shelves were a disaster. Fishing lures of varying shapes in reds, oranges, blues, and browns were strewn beneath the silver pegs they’d hung on earlier.

I groaned to myself and looked around. No one will know if I put the new ones on the pegboard and leave the mess scattered below. They’ll assume customers came behind me and wrecked my work.

But my conscience wouldn’t let me get away with it. You’ll know. Mom and Dad always told you to leave things in as good a shape or better than you found them. They’d be disappointed if you did a shoddy job. 

So I got to work, and straightened every artificial worm, spinner bait, and fluke. When I finished, I stood back with a sigh and surveyed the tidy results. I didn’t hear my boss walk up behind me.

“Nice job. This is the best I’ve seen this area in months. Keep up the good work.” Then he patted me on the shoulder before walking away with a smile on his face.

Less than two months later, I received a nice raise and a small promotion. And I learned a valuable lesson through positive reinforcement.

A lesson I’ve carried with me into my writing work, along with another principle I picked up from a historical figure. I apply both to my career today.

The historical figure I mentioned is Joseph. His account in Genesis demonstrates an amazing work ethic that eventually brought him miraculous outcomes. Not without difficult circumstances, or serious setbacks, but by adhering to a determined set of attitudes and actions, Joseph overcame his adversity. And he ultimately succeeded.

As an author, I take the things I see in his story and allow them to help me be a Joseph to the people I write with. Whether it’s my literary agency, publishing team, or booking agency, like Joseph, I strive to:

  • Learn their ways, and follow their processes
  • Treat their business as if it were my own
  • Pray, and then listen for God’s wisdom on the steps I should take next
  • Always respond with a respectful attitude, even when boldness is required
  • Exercise patience when the situation looks bleak
  • Refuse to take credit that belongs to someone else
  • Believe in my early dreams — trusting they came from God

Anita Brooks - First Hired, Last FiredI share a more in-depth version of these principles in my book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market, releasing early next month. When it comes to writing, I have much more to learn, but these basics serve me well, and I hope make me an author others appreciate working with.

At the end of my career, I pray I’ll leave a few writing related businesses in as good a shape or better than they were before we partnered. I want to be a Joseph, for God’s glory, and the good of other people. Otherwise, why bother writing for publication at all?