Two Writers Walk Into This Bar . . .

Celebratory drinkWhat happens when two writers unexpectedly find themselves with a free evening together?

A nice dinner and a glass of wine? Laughter and bonding? Sharing experiences from both on and off the author trail?

Yes. All that, and new marketing ideas, too.

At least that was my experience two weeks ago when my agency colleague Anita Agers-Brooks made a short-notice trip my way and we were able to spend a few hours together – hours that had no agenda other than getting to know each other. And even though we write in different genres (Anita is a leadership guru, while I write humorous mysteries and memoir), we had much to offer each other in the way of marketing and business ideas. Here are a few nuggets from our impromptu party to spark your own ideas:

  1. Writing is a business. Do you treat it that way? Anita reminded me that I needed to file paperwork to become an LLC (limited liability company) as legal protection of my assets. We live in a litigious world, and a writer must be a good steward of her assets both spiritually and financially. As Anita pointed out, if you wait to protect your business till someone sues you (yes, it can happen!), you’re already too late. (And be sure to include Errors & Omissions insurance while you’re at it.)
  2. Goodreads.com is a publicity goldmine. Are you on it? For my new book release, 658 people entered my giveaway drawing for 3 free copies. That’s a lot of eyes on my book the day it released. And giveaways are just the tip of what you can accomplish on Goodreads. (Read this marketing tutorial on using Goodreads.)
  3. Pay attention to casual comments. After a pastor told Anita her book would be a good topic for a sermon, she found a template online for sermons. She plans to fill it out using her book and then share the template with pastors. She’ll get her message presented by pastors, and she won’t even have to be present! (Does that qualify as bilocation – being in two places at the same time?) I’m going to take her idea and see if I can make it work for me.
  4. Take ownership for your promotional campaign, because ultimately, the book is your baby. Both Anita and I have been surprised by the limitations even large publishers can have when it comes to marketing; our publishers can pull some big coups for us (Anita spoke to a filled college auditorium thanks to her publisher, and I’m getting phone-in radio interviews thanks to mine), but the local press and on-going events calendar that make up the bulk of your PR efforts remain in your own lap, not to mention getting your launch team recruited and equipped to spread the word.
  5. Learn from each other’s experiences. After spending an evening with a writer in the same phase of our careers, I feel like I may still be in the same boat. But now I know there are other boats traveling along beside me, happy to share their own tips and advice. In fact, maybe a small-group marketing retreat would be a good idea. Hmmm….

(FYI – I was kidding about the walking into a bar. Anita and I did walk around a golf course, however. The air was much fresher.)

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?

Give ‘Em What They Want, Not What You THINK They Want

shop-vac-10-gallon-industrial-wet-dry-vacuum-925-40-100After fumbling around with social networking and reading every marketing article about it that I could get my hands on for the last year or so, I’ve distilled my promotional strategy down to a simple directive: give readers what they want.

I know that sounds obvious, but the tricky part is understanding the ‘what,’ especially once you realize that ‘what’ your readers want may not be the same ‘what’ that you THINK they want.  The key is taking ‘you’ out of the picture, so you can clearly see your reader without your own perspective distorting your vision.

It’s like reflective listening – you want to reflect back what the other person is saying without putting your own spin on his words, so you hear clearly what he said, and not what you think he said. Quick example of doing it wrong: my husband said he wished he’d taken music lessons when he was a kid, so I got him music lessons for Christmas. Two weeks into the lessons, he told me he didn’t want to continue.

“But you said you wished you’d taken lessons as a kid,” I reminded him.

“As a kid, yes,” he said. “But now I have other interests that I’d rather spend my time on. You interpreted my comment as a current wish, which it isn’t.”

Ouch. I should have gotten him the shop-vac he said he needed, which I thought was boring.

Same idea applies to your readers.

Pay careful attention to what they say, or in the case of social media, what they really like to see and with what they engage.

For instance, I thought that as an author, I should be posting on Facebook about my WIP or upcoming events. Those posts, I’ve found, get little notice.

But if I post a photo of me getting kissed by a French bulldog, or a goofy homemade video of me singing (badly) about the cold weather, I get comments galore. Clearly, on Facebook, at least, my writing news is not very interesting to my readers.

Writing news is appreciated very much, however, by my newsletter subscribers, so that’s where it now goes, along with on my website. As for LinkedIn, I post both events and business-related material, such as when my books get a rave review or included in an industry-recognized blogger’s post.

For Twitter, I post quick links to interesting material in my subject areas (birds, nature, dogs, humor) or retweet entertaining posts, because I’ve found that those kinds of communications are most appreciated by my followers. Because it’s a fast and short exposure, I tend to use Twitter more than any other social media platform as more of a shotgun approach – post and hope it spreads wide and far to get my name in front of a greater number of people, because that’s the first step to finding new readers.

My experience has convinced me that connecting with readers, followers, and networks is a necessary piece of expanding my readership, but once I’ve reached new folks, it’s time to shift gears and use social media to build relationships, not solicit sales.

That’s why it’s called social media, and not the shopping channel. Remembering to give the reader what they want is easy when it’s the same thing you want to give your friends.

How do you use the various social network platforms?

How to Maximize Your Social Media Time

Early in my wanting-to-pursue-publication journey, I heard a woman give a talk about maximizing your time. She said, “Nothing you do should go to waste. If I see a movie, I’ll figure out a way to use it in my writing. I’ll write something about it.”

Social media conceptHonestly, at first, I did kind of give a big eye roll. Really? Nothing could be sacred, private, and free? Couldn’t my mind ever just have a void where I didn’t have to think about marketing?

Now, I might have changed my opinion on that somewhat.

Marketing is hard work. Author Richard Mabry once said to me, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And this is the truth. When your book releases, there is usually a flurry of activity to launch your baby. But, there comes a time when you need to begin to focus on the next book while still keeping your other marketing activities going. This may be less about your book and more about growing your platform and social media presence.

Consider all your activities: can they aid in growing your social media? Can they give you a blog topic? Can something you do for fun give you a possible return on your time investment?

I recently read the book Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner. I wanted to read this book. Lisa is a favorite author of mine so I put most other books aside to enjoy her new releases.

On the marketing side, this is how I used my leisure time to help my social media.

1. I wrote a Goodreads review on the novel. This is good for authors. It gives people an example of your writing style and can help readers find you. After all, you likely write what you like to read.

2. I pinned it to Pinterest. Some readers/followers are more visual and I do find people repinning books from my boards.

3. I blogged about it– in two different places. My main blog is Redwood’s Medical Edge and it deals with medical accuracy in fiction. Fear Nothing had a character with congenital insensitivity to pain so not only did I blog about this particular medical disorder but I also did a post that was a review of the novel and some of its medical aspects. And now, I’m here blogging about how to use one activity to foster multiple marketing efforts. So, I guess that’s three blog posts.

Your activities should become the ultimate wardrobe, where all pieces can be mixed with one another. Ultimately, a book I read for fun ended up being used to build my platform (a medical nerd who writes suspense novels) and, hopefully, keep up interest in my social media.

What about you? In what ways have you used fun activities to maximize marketing efforts?

WordServe News: March 2014

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Debora M. Coty released The Bible Promise Book: Too Blessed to be Stressed Edition 9781624169885_p0_v2_s260x420with Barbour, a collection of selections from the original Too Blessed to be Stressed book.

*********************************************************************************

9780802409577_p0_v1_s260x420Roberta Kells Dorr released Abraham and Sarah with River North.

*********************************************************************************

SavedbyGracieJan Dunlap released Saved by Gracie with Authentic.

*********************************************************************************
Ken Gire released At Peace in the Storm with Bethany House Publishers.9780764208843_p0_v2_s260x420

*********************************************************************************

9781624168581_p0_v2_s260x420Paul Kent released Playing with Purpose: Baseball Devotions with Barbour.

*********************************************************************************

Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall released Mark of Evil with Zondervan.

9780310334545_p0_v3_s260x420

*********************************************************************************

9781433683312_p0_v3_s260x420

Ben & Julianna Zobrist with Mike Yorkey released Double Play with B&H Publishers.

*********************************************************************************

9781624166181_p0_v2_s260x420Mike Yorkey released Playing with Purpose: Racing with Barbour.

*********************************************************************************

New WordServe Clients

Shelley Hendricks signed with Alice Crider.

Leticia Yuzefpolsky signed with Greg Johnson.

Linda Znachko signed with Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Anita Agers-Brooks signed a contract with Barbour for her non-fiction project titled, Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over. Alice Crider, agent of record.

What We’re Celebrating!!

The Brotherhood Conspiracy by Terry Brennan is a finalist for Foreword Review’s 2013 Book of the Year Award, in the category of Action & Adventure (Adult Fiction). Foreword Reviews, the only review magazine solely dedicated to discovering new indie books, announced the finalists for its 16th Annual Book of the Year Awards. The winners will be determined within the next two months. The final announcement will be made Friday, June 27, in Las Vegas, during the American Library Association Annual Conference. There are awards in over 60 categories and cash prizes for the best in fiction and nonfiction. Here is the complete list of finalists and the listing for The Brotherhood Conspiracy can be found here.

Amy Sorrells’ debut novel How Sweet the Sound received a fantastic review from USA Today!

Set in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time when the topic of sexual abuse was not a thing “talked about” in the media and for which victims were still too often treated as “deserving” of the crimes committed against them, this novel refuses to nicey-nice over tough and ugly realities. This story is, throughout, raw — but yet penned with a sweetness of prose that makes you want to keep reading, even when you know it would be easier to curl into a ball and weep for the brokenness of the characters therein.

Poignant switches of point-of-view between Anniston and her aunt, Comfort, show the reach of abuse within generations of the same family and stretch a reader’s heart to its limits. Simply put, it hurts to read this novel. It hurts to watch the characters go through what they do. It hurts to see family secrets exposed, revealing pain upon pain. It hurts to see them abandon true love and it hurts when they are seemingly abandoned by it — but how beautiful the pain when an ending so lovely and right redefines and redeems several futures at once.

This book will turn your emotions inside out and grip your heart with a clawed fist before pouring acid — and then balm — over the wounds. You have been warned. Now, by all means, go buy this unusually edgy and entirely moving inspirational novel and read it for yourself.

What are you celebrating on this writing journey?

The Business of You

me-myself-and-i-021Social media is full of the white noise of people promoting themselves. Writers promoting books, ministry leaders promoting tools for church growth, singers promoting new releases, churches promoting their church, and on and on it goes. Tweets for how to lead your church, how to get more followers, how to make money off your blog. The list is endless. Social media has become a clogged highway of everyone promoting themselves and their newest content that will help you _____________ (fill in the blank). The problem is, I have been pulled into this white noise that seems to get lost on the people who are seeing constant media feeds in Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and the other social media sites.

What is a Christian to do when it comes to self-promotion in a me-driven world? As writers and artists, we produce content we believe others would benefit from consuming and implementing into their lives, ministries, or business organizations. Is it wrong or sinful for us as Christians to promote ourselves as writers, artists, pastors, and ministry leaders? The fine line we have to walk keeps some people from promoting themselves and their work. On the flip side, other believers promote themeselves without shame and almost to the point of being obnoxious.

1. It’s Not About You

Rick Warren popularized the statement “It’s not about you” in his best selling book The Purpose Drive Life. Even though we verbalize this thought and half-heartedly believe it, do we live it out when it comes to self-promotion? The way you live this out without putting yourself front and center is to focus on other people. When you tweet, FB, or use other social media, always make it about other people, not yourself. Put the focus on God, your spouse and family, other leaders, and people who have made an impact in your life.

2. Self-Promotion Is Not A Sin, But Can Become Sinful

Self-promotion in and of itself is not a sin, but when all the focus all the time is about you, it becomes sinful. While everyone wants to think they are agents of humility, that rarely is the case. Humility and pride are opposing forces in our lives. We believe that we are not prideful and have humble motives. But motive plays a part in this equation. Why are you promoting yourself? Are you looking to make a living? Wanting to become well- known?

God created the creativity that flows from your writing, your voice, and your speaking, and it can be used to provide financially for you and your family. Never should we promote the creative gift we have as ours and claim it as our own. God gave us the gifts we have to be shared with others, so they can enjoy and benefit from the content that flows from what we create.

Strive to be humble, because God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

3. Your Identity Is Not In Success

Our culture values success in everything that we attempt to accomplish and there is nothing wrong with being successful. The problem comes when we worship success and when our identity is grounded in whether or not we achieve that success. Our identity, as followers of Jesus, is in Jesus. We should teach our children and others to be successful, but only in order to bring glory to Jesus. Athletes are often criticized for glorifying God when they are successful. What the critics do not understand is that those athletes know their success is not for themselves but for someone else.

If you look at my website, you see that I promote my writing and other endeavors I undertake. I struggle with self-promotion. It probably has to do with one’s personality and experiences in life, but I find it distasteful sometimes that I toot my own horn. What about you?

Entertaining Angels

My illustrator, Tom, with one of 48 hot dogs we grilled at a book event.

My illustrator, Tom, with one of 48 hot dogs we grilled at a book event.

I’ve been  marketing books of mine now for more than 20 years but only recently realized a big mistake I was making:

Thinking it was only about books and sales. 

Instead of, say, salt and light. Or experiences. Or giving instead of getting. 

Example: I used to fret when I’d show up for an event and only a handful of people would be there. It made me feel like a failure. Like I was wasting my time and, given my poor-me attitude, the time of those who showed up.

Then it dawned on me: God must have some purpose for me to be wherever I was. And if people are important to God then they should be important to me, whether three or three hundred show up.

“I don’t worry about the folks who didn’t show up,” I now tell people if there’s a sea of empty chairs. “I’m just thrilled to be with those of you who did. Thanks for coming.”

Changing my attitude changed everything. Realizing my worth is defined by God’s love for me and not by any popularity I might get from people, I loosened up and had more fun.

Sure, I’ve had my moments, but, more often than not, I started laughing at situations that otherwise might have angered me. “OK, OK,” I might say to a group of eight people amid 25 chairs, “let’s all scoot to the center to make room for others.” (Proverbs 18:12: Humility comes before honor.)

I became less concerned about selling books than about making sure people were having a good experience.

I became more attuned to others, reminding myself that perhaps there was just one person in the audience who needed some inspiration or a good laugh from me that day.

Recently, one event hammered home this lesson. In the spring I had set up an event at a small-town library regarding a new children’s book I’d written and my friend Tom had illustrated. At the time, I had casually joked with the librarian that maybe we’d make it a barbecue.

Six months later — and three days before an event that I’d all but forgotten about — I got an e-mail from the librarian. “Can we help you at all with the barbecue Wednesday night?”

I called Tom. “I guess I sort of promised we’d do a barbecue for their town,” I said.

He didn’t say, “You WHAT?” He’s way more grounded than I am. Instead, he said, “Let’s do it, baby!” and organized who would bring what. 

As I rolled down a freeway with a grill in the back of my ’95 pickup, I said to myself: Are we really putting on a barbecue in a town of 600 people?

That’s when I heard a thud. Despite my tie-down job, the grill had flipped over, its guts strewn around the pickup bed. It was 95 degrees. I was on the side of a freeway trying to re-secure a grill. And I was not happy. Does John Grisham have to do stuff like this to sell a few books? 

Once Tom and I reached the town, 30 minutes away, nobody showed up. At first.

Then, slowly, people trickled in. Five. A dozen. More. Tom started grilling dogs. A group broke out in “Happy Birthday” to a friend of theirs. I realized people were having a blast. 

A woman took me by the arm. “I brought my neighbor,” she said. “She’s dying of cancer and said she would love to meet you. She loves your writing.”

Two hours later, in the pink light of an Oregon sunset, Tom and I were heading home when he said something I’ve never forgotten: “This was one of the coolest nights of my life.”

Same here. We’d grilled and given away 48 hot dogs, sold two dozen books and brought together people in a small town for an evening of fun. 

What’s more, I’d had the privilege of spending time with a woman who would, three months later, be dead, but who somehow thought seeing me was important.

Now, I don’t even like to call it “marketing.” I call it a privilege to spend time with people — sometimes many, sometimes just a few — who think I’m important enough to give up a few hours of their time to see.

And I remember Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

WordServe News: February 2014

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

RoadUnknownBarbara Cameron released A Road Unknown (part of the Amish Road Series) with Abingdon.

***************************************************************************************

Shepherd SongBetsy Duffey and Laurie Myers release The Shepherd’s Song, their debut novel with Howard Publishers.

***************************************************************************************

UnlostMichael Hidalgo released Unlost: Being Found by the ONE We Are Looking For, with IVP.

***************************************************************************************

TransformedCaesar Kalinowski released Transformed: A New Way of Being a Christian with Zondervan Publishing House.

***************************************************************************************

How SweetAmy Sorrells released How Sweet the Sound, her debut novel, with David C. Cook.

***************************************************************************************

NotWhoIImaginedMargot Starbuck released Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God with Baker Books.

***************************************************************************************

HeartWideOpenShellie Tomlinson released Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus, with WaterBrook Press.

***************************************************************************************

TenaciousJeremy and Jennifer Williams released the DVD and audio of their book Tenacious through Brilliance Audio.

***************************************************************************************

New WordServe Clients

Bill Myers, longtime CBA novelist and filmmaker.

Kathy Carlton Willis, platform coach, editor, and member/trainer with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and CLASSeminars, signed with Alice Crider.

Cassandra Soars, narrative non-fiction writer and cofounder of iheartus, a new social media website for couples, signed with Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Robert Wise signed with Barbour to write Bible Lands: An Illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places.

Back to the Bible signed a 13 book agreement with Barbour Publishers to write short, felt-need books that will be distributed directly to churches through a back of the church spinner rack (as well as in all other outlets).

Sarah Varland signed with Love Inspired to write Tundra Threat, a romantic suspense novel.

Bryan Bishop signed with Baker Books to publish Boundless Jesus: Radical Faith from a Hidden Global Trend.

Kelli Gotthardt signed with Kregel to write her memoir, Unlikely Rebel.

Kate Hurley signed with Harvest House to publish a memoir about making sense of the unexpected single life.

Sarah Parshall Perry signed a two-book contract with Revell for her projects tentatively titled Sand in My Sandwich and Mommy Wants a Raise.

What We’re Celebrating!!

YouFoundMeKeith Robinson’s book, You Found Me, landed on three bestseller lists this month!

Scary Publicity Stories

????????????Like most authors, I have a second job title: Doer of Whatever It Takes to Get My Books in Front of the Public So They Will Sell. Much of the time, it’s a pretty cool job with a lot of variety.

Sometimes, though, it’s almost scary, like…

The bookstore signing

I spend an hour and a half at a table outside a bookstore. The place is mobbed – not with readers frantic to buy my book, but with adults and kids participating in a fun run to benefit the local children’s hospital. It is also the weekend for children to trick-or-treat in the indoor mall. Sitting at my table, I get lots of attention, though. The two most frequent questions I get asked are: “Where is a bathroom?” and “Is there some place around here where we can get something to drink?” Being the helpful person I am, I point people in the direction of the former and offer the others some of my bottled water. And people think being an author isn’t glamorous…

The best part of the gig is watching the costumed revelers go by. I see a pint-sized Dracula in tears, a little Spiderman whose foam-padded muscles are slipping off his shoulders, several princesses, and a standard-sized poodle dressed as a duck. But my day takes on cinematic proportions when two adult Star Wars storm-troopers, fully armed with plastic laser guns, walk down the hall. Oh my gosh! Man the Deathstar! Call the Jedi! Tell Spielberg to get the cameras rolling again!

A mom with her baby in her arms poses next to the storm-troopers while a friend takes a picture with her cell phone. The baby takes one look at the helmeted man and goes to sleep. I know how she feels.

Storm-troopers are so passé.

My first television interview

“You’re not allergic to dogs, are you?” a nice young intern named Kurt asks me before he opens the door to the green room, where I’ll wait for my turn on the show.

“How big are the dogs?” I ask, since I don’t do well with big dogs in open spaces, let alone big dogs in small windowless rooms where they can slobber all over you while you cringe in abject misery on a hard plastic chair.

“They’re little,” he says.

“No, I’m not allergic,” I tell him, and he ushers me into the room.

Kurt’s right, the dogs are little. Really little. They are also dressed up in costumes. One is a shark, one is a pumpkin, and one is a Chihuahua wearing a blonde wig and red dress.

“Who’s the Chihuahua?” I ask.

“Marilyn Monroe,” the handler answers.

I give myself a mental head slap. Of course it’s Marilyn Monroe. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking I’m waiting to be interviewed about my novel with a bunch of dogs dressed up for Halloween. I’m thinking I’m going to fire my publicist, except that I’m my publicist.

Now that’s scary.

Writing is a Team Sport

olympics

As I write this, the Olympics are in full swing, and I don’t know about you, but I am glued to my television every night, cheering on Team USA.

I am blown away by the dedication of these athletes. As I watch them compete, I see similarities in their job and mine, in their passion and in my passion. And of course as a writer, I see an analogy in EVERYTHING. So here are my take-aways from the Olympics:

1. Identify your team.

Kariss' teamWhat strikes me about so many of these Olympic events is that they are solo endeavors, meaning the athlete competes alone and is scored individually, even though they are part of a larger team for his/her particular discipline and country. But regardless of the individual scoring, each athlete also has a support system, usually consisting of coaches, trainers, and family and friends. Writing so often feels like an isolated career. Unless I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard, it doesn’t happen. A month before my first book, Shaken, released, I panicked. I needed help, but not with the writing. I have a great publisher, editor, and agent, but I needed a local team. In January, I invited a group of my friends to participate with me in the dreaming and execution. I call them my “Creative Brain Trust.” And, man, did they have ideas. They are the reason for all the buzz leading up to release day. They not only encouraged, but jumped in to help.

2. Have the courage to share your passion.

One thing I LOVE about watching these incredible athletes is the pure joy they feel in participating in and sharing their sport with the watching world. Writing is a vulnerable career. We splash our hearts and thoughts across bound pages and put it into the hands of those who can criticize. That is the beauty and the struggle of art. These athletes are no different. There is something beautiful about watching a snowboarder catapult in the air on a jump, stick the landing, and grin from ear-to-ear as they coast to a stop. What a rush! Move past the possibility of criticism and fear of what people think. Find the joy in writing, and be unafraid to share that with others.

3. Dedication and training pay off.

KLshaken

What is your Olympic moment? What are you training for? For a couple of years, I wondered if my training would pay off. I flew to out-of-state conferences, bought training books, took classes, spent money on professional editing, joined associations. It didn’t seem to lead anywhere. But my Olympic moment just came February 4 with the release of Shaken, book one in the Heart of a Warrior series. I look back and see all the training and dedication coming down to this one moment. And I’m not done yet. I’m gearing up for my next Olympic moment next winter with the release of Shadowed. In the meantime, back to training.

4. Be innovative and take risks.

I heard a snowboarder from Canada say that his sport is always changing. In order to succeed and stay on top, he has to be willing to change with it. But change in itself isn’t enough. He has to be willing to blaze the trail for new tricks, new techniques, and new skill. That’s what I love about writing. It’s fluid. Though the rules are specific, they allow for personal style. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of this field and make it your own. There is value in following the rules of the market, but there is also value in standing apart. Find the balance. I’m still learning what this looks like, but I relish the challenge.

5. Celebrate the victories.

Whether or not they win a medal, at the end of the day these athletes are Olympians, and so many of them celebrate that fact alone. I loved watching a first time cross-country skier celebrate eighth place because it was a personal best for her. She even talked about where she could be four years from now in the next winter Olympics.

At the end of the day, you are a writer. Celebrate the success and release of your work. Take a break and rest. Then get back on the horse and crank out something even better for your next Olympics. You have accomplished something great. Now, set your sights on something greater.

What lessons are you learning during the Olympics? What would you add to this list? Happy writing, and Go USA!