Finding Words, Finding Inspiration
Sometimes just knowing what to write about is a struggle - one I am sure all writers are familiar with - finding the words, finding the inspiration isn't always easy. The Internet is full of opportunity - some paid, some not. How do you decide which opportunities to take and which ones to walk away from? Once you choose an opportunity, how do you craft your story?
These are questions writers deal with everyday - and I'm no exception. Writing a book - or in my case, lots of books - didn't change this. I thought after the first book my inbox would be filled with great writing opportunities that paid well. That didn't happen. Instead my inbox was filled with requests for free articles, requests from places to speak for free or at least way less than what it would cost me to travel there and sometimes negative emails or reviews.
You see people are quick to point out a flaw and slow to point out something positive. I even had a woman tell me calling my book The Complete Idiot's Guide was just - well, idiotic - and that no one would ever read a book with such a title. LOL - I guess she didn't realize there are lots of Complete Idiot's Guides out there.
So, how do you choose what offers to accept? Well, my decisions were based on two things - the first was the gig worth doing for free. What was I going to get out of it? An increase in website traffic? Book sales? Other paid opportunities? The second decision was based on the amount of time and money doing a free gig was going to cost.
You see, I didn't make six figures off any of my books. I made a fair amount which had to be paid back through book sale commissions. Nothing is free. This meant I had to promote, promote, promote my book and hope people would buy it.
Giving away articles naturally made more sense to me than driving long distances to speak for free to a room full of people who may or may not be interested in what I had to say and who may or may not buy my book. In the beginning I didn't realize that though so off I would go with a trunk load of books and all my computer equipment in tow. I would set it up, speak for about an hour - notice people were talking and doing other things instead of paying attention (not everyone mind you, but it is frustrating to look out and see people talking to one another during your presentation), finish the presentation, offer my books for sale and for the most part watch people file out of the room.
Now - mind you - I did sell some books. I've met some wonderful people. I've given programs that were standing room only and every eye in the room was on me, every ear tuned in to what I was saying and an audience that wanted to interact with me. It was great - and I so thank those people. Those are the programs I would give again in a heartbeat even if it was a non-paying gig. I know what I'm saying is nothing new. Everyone who has ever been in the public eye or spoken to a group of people has dealt with this. All I'm saying is finding the words, finding the inspiration to keep going is hard sometimes. Nothing is easy and there is oh so much more to being a successful author than simply writing a book and collecting an advance.
I hope this post hasn't discouraged anyone - and I hope it has enlightened a few. You see, I love what I do and feel fortunate to be a best-selling author. It is a dream-come-true - but it isn't all roses - and that is what you need to know. Take the good with the bad, understand it is a life of ups-and-downs and nothing is guaranteed.