The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘success

*this piece was originally published in the September issue of the Chatham County Line for my monthly column. I’m writing what I think will be a three part series about writing and publishing in this new decade.

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What makes a successful writer today? That’s a tough question and it depends on who you ask and what metric you use. As a Gen-Xer, when I was growing up, writers held a mysterious allure. On TV and in print culture, popular and literary writers were celebrated, everyone from Steven King and Jackie Collins to Toni Morrison. To me, writers were the most glamorous and intriguing people on the planet and I wanted to be like them.

Although luck and connections always played a role in who got published, until the late 1990s, there were some standardized and taken for granted ways that one became a successful writer. Being discovered in a “slush pile” by an assistant editor was one way. For literary oriented writers, pursuing an MFA was a respected route. Being published in high visibility magazines and having an agent contact you was another. New York was the hub of publishing life. A relatively small number of agents, editors and publishers were gatekeepers and decided what readers wanted. Authors wrote books, went to lunches with their agents and occasionally wrote back to their fans.

This kind of writing culture and ecosystem was imprinted on me and shaped what being a successful writer meant. That eco-system has fundamentally changed. And, consequently I’ve had to revise my notion of success.

With the introduction of the Kindle, in 2007, a shift in publishing and writing was well under way. Publishing, writing and reading would be changed forever. Consolidation in publishing had accelerated, and due to changes in advertising revenue, many magazines and newspapers disappeared (which meant the disappearance of book review columns).

The paths to publishing now (especially for commercial fiction) are multiple, non-linear and fragmented. Writers publish their work and find readers and audiences on a variety of platforms including Medium, Wattpad, Amazon, Instagram, etc. Traditional publishing is no longer the only model. There are writers that will never become household names that happily self-publish or ‘indie publish’ and make six figures a year (some make seven figures). They do this without an MFA, an agent or attending writing conferences and networking with traditional publishing professionals. Many have a direct relationship with their readers and could care less about the New York publishing world. The success stories of well-known indie writers include E.L. James author of Fifty Shades of Grey (originally written as fan fiction) which has sold over 125 million copies and Andy Weir who serialized a novel (on his blog for science enthusiasts) that would become The Martian. Both writers were discovered because of loyal followings on digital platforms.

To publish has become a democratizing practice. Did you know that there are 1 million books in the U.S. alone published every year? As one publisher told me, it’s not about one’s ability to get published anymore, it’s about being found and read. The challenge of discoverability for authors has skyrocketed in the last decade.

So what does success for writers mean given these changes? Does it mean having 10,000 followers on Instagram who love your poetry? Does it mean a publisher sending you on book tour (almost a thing of the past and usually reserved for very famous authors)? Does it mean serializing your book on YouTube? Does it mean writing a novel that is critically acclaimed and read by a few devoted fans?

Some writers who have been wedded to a traditional publishing model of success have criticized the new eco-system. Indie authors have also disparaged traditional publishing. This is folly.

Moving forward, due to technology, changes in publishing and how readers find books, writers will need to embrace a hybrid version of traditional and indie publishing. Writers must become more marketing savvy and view it as part of their creative work. Traditional publishers expect you to know (or be willing to learn) about websites, SEO and marketing. The indie publishing arena is also maturing and it also no longer possible to publish an inferior product and expect it to sell.

The successful and fulfilled writers I model myself after are crafting a hybrid path. They look at a new writing project and ask, would this be better suited for a traditional publisher or do I already have an audience for this work that wants it right now? Many traditionally published authors self-publish their novellas, short stories and other material to their audiences via Patreon and Amazon.

I like the hybrid model. I have been traditionally published through newspapers, magazines and small presses. And, I have truly valued working with a team of editors and publishing professionals that were committed to honing my work. And, I can’t imagine not continuing to take craft classes and meeting folks at a conference (in the future). However, indie publishing offers room for quick experimentation, innovation and enables the flexing of a different set of skills beyond craft. I no longer believe there is only one path to success that holds all the answers. I also know in the end, both indie and traditionally published authors have one thing in common when it comes to success. They keep writing.

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BTW: Your invitation still stands, click here to get your free guide: ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’.

Dear Creative Community,

I’ve spent the past two months creating two offerings that will SUPPORT your writing in 2019. They are my holiday gifts to you. As you know I am passionate about serving you! I am only offering these gifts to my special community of writers and that’s YOU. They are time sensitive!


The first is a FREE winter wonderland pop-up webinar called ‘Affirm the Writer in You 2019′. This webinar is designed to allow you time to reflect on your 2018 writing accomplishments and chart what’s next in 2019. I bet you are craving time to write and reflect before the year ends! If you don’t grab this time now, when will you?

During the webinar we’ll explore:
-The sequence of success on the author journey
-Trends for authors in 2019
-Cultivating the “maker” and “manager” energy of the writing life and business
-Harnessing urgency in order to write in 2019
-How to get unstuck and approach the page with more ease
-Cultivating audiences that love your work

No need to signup—just bookmark the details below and I will send a reminder the day before.
SUNDAY, DEC 30th-3-4:15 pm EST
Dial-in number (US): (605) 475-4081
Access code: 380339#
International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/bergermichele2005
Online meeting ID: bergermichele2005
Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/bergermichele2005
(copy and paste the above link–you’ll want to join the online meeting so you can see my slides!)

My second holiday gift to you is an opportunity work with me through my NEW e-course Charting Your Path to Publication NOW.

So many writers feel daunted navigating the submission process and often find themselves stymied by inevitable rejection and not making progress on the path of publication. I’ve been teaching this successful live workshop over the years and have taken all that wonderful content (and wisdom learned from what writers need) and created an amazing e-course.

This transformative course will empower you with the necessary tools and skills to move your writing forward in 2019.

SPECIAL BONUS: If you sign-up by Dec 31st, you’ll receive a 30 minute coaching session with me!

Click here for the FULL DETAILS and see the fantastic price of this offering. I hope you make the investment in your writing for 2019.

I am wishing you the healthiest and happiest of holiday seasons. Thank you for being a part of my community. I am inspired by your creative path.

Stay inspired,
Michele

P.S. Any questions about the e-course? Just shoot me an email at mtb@creativetickle.com

What would it feel like to live your writing dreams in 2017? If you were experiencing your definition of success as a writer, how would you stand? How would you walk? How would you sit at your desk? What would you say to yourself? What would you say to others?

I know that you want that experience for yourself. As writers, we all do.

Now that the holidays are winding down, isn’t it time for you to start mapping out a plan that gets you closer to your definition of writing success?

This year, because of my connection to my Writing Self, I have experienced more joy in writing and more success than ever before.

What I learned this year is that when we are deeply connected to our Writing Self, we can live our highest vision as a writer. And, we can rock it! I’ve been doing a daily affirmation practice for the past 355+ days and it has changed my life.

I am hosting the Affirm the Writer in You: 5 Ways to Connect to Your Writing Self for 2017 webinar and I’m inviting you. It’s on Dec 29, 8pm EST.

It’s free and I’ll share a process to connect to your Writing Self and set yourself up for success in 2017. During the webinar you’ll find out:

  • How to deepen a connection with your Writing Self
    ·How to supercharge your productivity and sustain your momentum
    ·How to get unstuck and approach the page with more ease
    ·How to deal with challenges of time, energy, self-worth

Go here to save your seat for this live training! I’ll be offering some special bonuses to those on the call.

Get the support and tools you need to take your writing life to the next level!

Affirmations-366Days#313: Successful writers leave clues. I study how other writers achieve their goals and adapt their methods to my life.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#201: The fear of success or failure melts away when I am fully present to the writing coming through me.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

 

Affirmations-366Days#122: Success is a multi-layered experience for writers. Its meaning changes over time. I affirm that my definition of success is fluid and marked by joy.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#112: I envision and plan for success and fulfillment as a writer.
For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

success-34-300x199

 “Have a success plan, in this business and in this art, as writers, we are prepared for failure…As writers and as an industry, unless something is a major blockbuster, we talk about failure a lot…We tend to teach how to deal with failure, how to get out of failure, how to get over failure to get to success. And, then when success happens nobody talks about it.”
Jake Bible, Writing In Suburbia podcast

I’ve become a fan of Jake Bible’s ‘Writing In Suburbia’ podcast. It’s geared toward pro-writers, but is chock-full of great information for people at various writing stages. The podcast is irreverent and also deals with the less glamorous side of the writing life (e.g. embracing housework chores of the day). Jake’s a prolific writer across many genres. He typically writes a novel a month. You read that right, a novel a month!

Anyway, I really enjoyed his ‘Prepare for Success’ episode which reminds writers to take some time to envision and make a plan for success. He notes that the general writing culture is often overly focused on the rejection and failure that is part of the writing life. I agree and that’s why this episode felt so refreshing. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I took up posting daily affirmations as a way to encourage the development of a supportive mindset in service of our creative work. He also mentions the value of affirmations.

I was reminded of his post when about three weeks ago, I spotted an email from an editor. I had submitted a story to her themed anthology. I sent in a story that I really believed in, and frankly thought was great for her anthology. It had gone through several writing critiques and multiple revisions and I believed it was ready. It had gotten rejected elsewhere, but I was undeterred.

But, as I looked at the subject line and the first few words of the email (“Michele, thank you so much for submitting  X story”), I had already prepared myself for yet another rejection. But, I’m so glad I did open it, because it was an acceptance! The editor said things like “It’s great!” and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would like to formally invite you to join the X Anthology.” I will post the details about this the anthology as it gets closer to publication this summer.

So, it was refreshing (OK, thrilling!), to receive this acceptance and break the expectation that I automatically would be rejected. The other issue that Jake talks about in this episode is that being successful is also undertaking all the additional work after something gets published. It’s about building capacity to handle all the good things that may come your way, practically and psychologically. That’s where a success plan comes in handy! And, indeed, the editor who accepted my story is an indie publisher and is encouraging all the accepted authors to do things to help make the anthology successful (e.g. setting up newsletters, Facebook pages, etc., depending on what we already have in place). She is helping us create an individual and collective success plan.

Check out this episode as Jake provides valuable information in preparing oneself for success before, during and after publication.

Do you have a success plan in place as your writing dreams come true?

Affirmations-366Days#95: I envision being a successful writer. I cultivate a receptive mindset.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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