Archive for September 8th, 2010

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 by Bob Mayer
Are You Striving To Survive or To Succeed

Warrior Writer works because other successful people use the same basic strategies and tactics:

Nora Roberts sells 27 books every minute. She has 182 books in print. “You’re going to be unemployed if you really think you just have to sit around and wait for the muse to land on your shoulder.”

Ever watch Chef Ramsay? Kitchen Nightmares? He would be called in to assist restaurants that were failing (BTW new restaurants have the same failure rate as new novelists: 90%). His flow of evaluating and helping the restaurant reminds me a lot of my Who Dares Wins concept. To start, he would walk in, sit at a table, look at the menu and order a meal.

The menu tells him the focus of the restaurant. Often, there is too much stuff on it. He tells the owner and chef: pick one meal that’s going to be your moneymaker. Don’t try to do too much. Many authors use the large menu technique when approaching an agent: I’ve got a paranormal romance, a thriller, a YA book—which do you want? Cherry Adair said a smart thing at the Emerald City Writers Conference in her workshop: you can write in multiple genres, but if you want a career in publishing, pick one genre and become very good at it. Then you can write the other stuff. I’ve written military thrillers, romance suspense, science fiction, non-fiction, paranormal romance, and a bunch of other stuff. I wish I had heard Cherry’s advice 20 years ago.

As a writer, there are times you have to close doors. I sold back the third book of a three-book deal to the publisher because I knew, based on the sales numbers from the first book that the third would just die. I didn’t want to write a book that would die. I wanted to spend that time writing a spec book that had a better chance at success. Walking away from a contracted book is a hard door closing, but a necessary one.

I think it’s exciting times. I predict numerous start-up publishers springing up in the next couple of years. I also predict 90-95% of them will fail as they make the same mistakes that many restaurants make. One key to being a successful publisher is to focus on selling to the reader, not selling to the author. Another key is promoting synergy among the authors at the publishing house.

Chef Ramsay then eats the meal. It tells him the quality of the food and how good the chef is. How good is your writing? The best idea in the world has to be supported by solid writing.

A big problem he runs into time and time again is that no one is clearly in charge in the restaurant. Under Force Eight COMMAND of Warrior Writer, no matter how good your agent, editor, publisher, etc are, you are in sole command of your writing career.

Often the problem is the chef. But the owner is afraid to fire the chef. I’ve let go of three agents. I did it before I went looking for a new agent. It’s hard. It’s scary. But it is something you control. A key thing to remember as a writer is: pretty much the only power you have in the publishing business is the power to say NO. Close a door.

Ramsay goes back to the restaurant several months later to see how they are doing. What’s amazing is often the restaurant is out of business, or still teetering on the edge of failure because they have not implemented his recommendations even though they asked for his help.

I think Chef Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares set a good example for author nightmares: change or be left behind.

Warrior Writer Tip:  The Three Rules of Rule Breaking from Warrior Writer: From Writer To Published Author The paradoxical rules of rule breaking:

1. Know the rule. (Breaking a rule because you don’t know or understand it, is just being dumb)

2. Have a good reason for breaking the rule. (I ask WHY a lot in my workshops. I don’t believe there are any rules of writing—you just need a good reason why you are doing something.)

3. Accept the consequences of breaking the rule. (If it worked, you’re a genius. If it didn’t, figure out what went wrong, reboot and restart)