I’m going through leadership training at my day job. It’s pretty awesome because it’s all about Women in Leadership, less focused on our particular industry, more focused on how to be a leader in anything we do. As I sat listening to a panel of corporate hot shots this summer, some of the advice struck me as particularly helpful for authors and I wanted to share it with y’all.
1. Have a personal brand and a brand strategy. As an author, specifically, this means figuring out your branding. The big things like: Are you a cozy southern mystery author? Sexy contemporary romance with wry wit? Deep and thoughtful YA? Maybe you’re sexy YA romance author who is deep and thoughtful. It may take a few books or your publisher to help you nail it down, but eventually, you’ll know your particular brand.
Once you know your brand, develop a strategy. If your books are steamy, your book covers should reflect that. Whether you’re indie or traditional, consider your brand and communicate with your cover artist. When they give you the form to fill out for art details, be detailed. If your humorous, share your humor on social media. If your books are adventurous and fun, it doesn’t hurt to be fun at a conference. From your online behavior, to how you appear at events and reader meet and greets, YOU are your brand.
In even greater terms, your personal brand means important things like: Your reputation for professionalism, your public persona, your business ethic. Are you genuine and polite or is it super obvious to everyone that you use people merely to get ahead? Are you easy to work with and dedicated or do you complain about everything, to anyone who will listen? All of this is part of your brand too. You think the good or bad word about your behavior doesn’t get around? You know it does.
2. “I am where I am because of all the promotions I didn’t get, all of the things that didn’t happen. Now I see, the rejection led to my success.”
This came from the head of a national department, but it hit home with me as a writer. The jobs she didn’t get only made her work harder. She kept going, kept trying, and as a result, ended up with a plethora of experience that made her a top executive. As writers, I think we face a hell of a lot more rejection than other industries. But we can take the closed doors and criticism, and use it to push us harder. Keep writing, keep trying. You will only get better. If one path to publishing is closed, go for another one. That is where you could find success. No one ever grew stronger because their path was easy. You gain strength when the going gets tough.
3. Three things will lead you to your definition of success, regardless of what it may be:
a) Believe in yourself.
b) Find your voice and help others find theirs. Opportunities to speak, lead, teach, mentor, volunteer, moderate, serve on a committee – all of these are a form of helping out and networking. Once you have a clue what you’re doing, get out there so you can help others and meet people. In teaching, we learn and serving we are served. This pretty much goes for every aspect of life. Our time is limited, but we can always volunteer to do our share.
c) Enjoy the ride! Otherwise, this journey gets to be a real drag. There will always be somewhere else to go or something else to do, that next book deadline looming on the horizon, but pause every now and then to take note of how far you’ve come. Pat yourself on the back for the improvements and face palm at the failures. Get together with your writer people and celebrate even the smallest accomplishment. Rent that confetti canon, if for no other reason than just once in life you want to fire off a freaking confetti canon!
I hope some of these points speak to you. They certainly did to to me. The business side of writing can be pretty nuts, and quickly become overwhelming, but when I think of it in terms of any other business, and how I’d conduct myself and my reactions, it helps me manage the madness. 😀