Write the Damn Book Already

Ep 67: What Authors Will Need Most in 2024

December 13, 2023 Elizabeth Lyons Episode 67
Write the Damn Book Already
Ep 67: What Authors Will Need Most in 2024
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready for an honest conversation about what skill authors will most require in 2024? 

In this episode of the Write the Damn Book Already podcast, I tackle the sometimes harsh realities of the creative industry while stressing the importance of patience and persistence. 

No author's success is an overnight miracle. Instead, it’s akin to the restaurant business, demanding hard work and time.  Together, let's redraw your mental map of the author journey, equipping you with a realistic and resilient mindset to conquer 2024 as a published author. 

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Write the Damn Book Already is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with authors as well as updates and insights on writing craft and the publishing industry.

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To see all the ways we can work together to get your book written and published, visit publishaprofitablebook.com/work-with-elizabeth

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Write the Damn Book Already podcast. My name is Elizabeth Lyons. I'm a six-time author and book editor, and I help people write and publish powerful, thought-provoking, wildly entertaining books without any more overthinking, second-guessing or overwhelmed than absolutely necessary. Because, let's face it, some overthinking, second-guessing and overwhelm is going to come with the territory. If you're anything like me, I believe that story and shared perspective are two of the most potent ways we connect with one another, and that your story, perspective and insights are destined to become someone else's favorite resource or pastime. For more bookwriting and publishing tips and solutions, oh, and plenty of free and low-cost resources, visit PublishAProfitableBookcom and for recommendations of fabulous books. You've possibly never heard of bookwriting inspiration and the occasional meme so relatable you'll wonder if it was created with you in mind. Follow me on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons. Author. Hello and welcome to episode 67 of Write the Damn Book Already.

Speaker 1:

This is going to be another solo episode, so I'm going to try to keep it brief and to the point. I would love to chat, and when I say I would love to chat, I do realize that a chat involves two people and I'm kind of chatting to you through a podcast, but I would love to hear your thoughts. If you want to reply, either shoot me an email at Elizabeth, at ElizabethLionscom, or a DM over on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons, author. I would love to hear what you think about this or any of the other episodes that you've listened to. The topic for today is what I believe authors need most in 2024. So we've got two more weeks or so until 2024 is upon us, somehow, some way, and I've been giving a lot of thought to what it is that I'm feeling like, and maybe it's what I'm feeling like I need more of. I don't know, but in chatting with so many of my fellow authors, I'm hearing a lot of similar themes, and whether or not the authors with whom I'm speaking are traditionally published or self-published or hybrid published or whatever, and whether we're talking about print books, ebooks or audiobooks, and whether we're talking about Instagram or TikTok or Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or threads or any of the other social media platforms, I'm finding that maybe, just maybe, the solution to everything that everyone's lamenting is the same, and again, I'm including myself in this. So I'll just get right to the point and then I'll backtrack on why I'm thinking this is the case and, furthermore, how we can think about it differently to make it actually our reality.

Speaker 1:

What I think authors and, frankly, most creatives need more of in 2024 is patience and persistence. I was talking to a friend of mine this morning who is not. She's a very creative person, but she's not an author or a painter or musician or an actor. She's a business owner who happens to also be a creative person, and so we were combining my thoughts on creatives with her thoughts on business leaders and business and I suddenly realized that creatives, it's this one space out there where we're not inherently taught to do it for the money.

Speaker 1:

On the flip side, the phrase starving artist drives the majority of us crazy and when I say the majority of us, I mean the people with whom I speak, because we don't see any reason why anyone needs to be a starving artist. It used to be almost. It was almost glamorized or glorified or dramatized Like it was a cool thing to be, like I'm a starving artist. It's really not anymore, but the mentality sort of carries over and there was an episode I don't remember which one it was at one point that I did with someone Actually, I didn't do an episode with someone.

Speaker 1:

I posted something on Instagram about patients, and a friend of mine who's a prolific author, juliana Baggett, replied and said being an author is like or being a creative at all really is like going after prize, fight or money. You win one bout and maybe you win big, and that means different things to different people. So in the boxing world, maybe you win a boxing match. In the creative world, maybe you get a big advance. Maybe you sell a big painting for a higher dollar amount than you're used to. Maybe you get a gig, an acting gig that pays well.

Speaker 1:

Maybe you write a song that is very, very popular and gets downloaded a chazillion times and it creates a nice payday and a nice sort of I don't want to say I hate the term passive income because I don't think it exists. I think at some point you put in the work. So it may be that you put in the work three years ago to write the song and now you're just seeing it kind of come to fruition. It's just that it didn't happen right on the back end of you doing it. It took a little bit longer. So people think, oh, it's just happening while I'm sleeping, and that may be true now, but when you, when you were actually creating the thing, you weren't sleeping at all.

Speaker 1:

So I don't like the term passive income, but in any area, in any creative endeavor, there can kind of be this prize fighter situation where a lot comes in and then you have to parse it out a little bit, because if you don't have a secondary occupation and for the record, most authors do and or they have a partner who's helping them carry the financial load, you don't know how long that is going to have to last. You, you don't know. The next time you're going to sell a painting, sell a book, get an acting job, you don't know if SAG after is going to go on strike or the writer's guild is going to go on strike. So even, and even honestly, in this day and age, it used to be that when you worked for a corporation it was very secure. It felt like something you could trust for years, if not decades, to come. That's no longer true. I mean, people are getting laid off with no warning, but we still somehow, I think societally perceive it as more secure than entrepreneurship or creatorship. But is it or is it not? Is? It's the debate that continues, and of course the answer depends upon who you ask and what day of the week it is.

Speaker 1:

But with creators, what's happened in the last couple of years is there's been this big push, and when I was having this conversation this morning with my friend, I was saying you know, this is something I really want to speak to, but I'm not completely sure how to yet, because if, depending on where you are right, if I'm someone who hasn't yet made a million dollars as an author and a book coach and I haven't, so I'll just put that right out there If you haven't yet had a million dollar year and you speak out on this, it can be put back to you like you're just bitter because you haven't made it yet and because you haven't made those numbers yet, now you're going to come down on everyone who has, which, by the way, I'm not at all going to do. On the flip side, if you have made that kind of money and you speak out about it, then people can come back and say well, that must be like it's easy for you to say you've already done well and probably invested the money correctly with any luck, and you're going to be just fine. Sometimes it just feels like you can't say the right thing to everyone, no matter what, which is a huge aspect of being a creative that we all just sort of have to learn how to make peace with, but what I will say is that, in the last several years, creatives have been being taught which this is a wonderful thing, by the way how to not be starving artists. There aren't many spaces, though, where I've seen it be more profound and prolific than in the book space, so I haven't seen, for example, many Facebook ads telling art, and maybe it's because I'm not a painter. Maybe, if I were a painter, I can think of one example, because I do post a lot of art stuff here and there on Instagram and Facebook, because my son is an artist, and so I have gotten a few things that have shown up in my feed with regard to different courses and programs and really more platforms that will kind of say hey, if you sign up with us and you sell your art on our platform, you can start making 250,000 a year, 500,000 a year, and then, of course, they've got the testimonials from the people who did, and blah, blah, blah, but that's the only space I've seen it.

Speaker 1:

I personally haven't seen ads for musicians or acting or anything any other creative pursuit that likes to set it out, and I mean I hope I'm not like I should knock on all the wood because I hope I'm not bringing it into existence by saying it, but other things that aren't like hey, if you take this course or if you do this thing, you can start making incredible money within the next seven minutes as a creative again, as a musician, as a singer, as an actor. But we see it so much in the book space and we've seen it for the last several years. There are, I mean, the ads are like it's like ad nauseum hey, I wrote a book in five minutes with chat, gpt or some other AI technology and I made $150,000 in X number of days where they just don't say and it's actually 20 years but they don't say and I can teach you how as well for $47. And I've always been super suspect of those sorts of things anyway, because I feel as though if someone is doing that well with something, why are they putting so much energy into creating a $47 course and then spending so much energy and money on the ads to promote it? And the answer is ostensibly from the person who created it. Because I want to help other people. I know other people like me are also struggling and my answer is that's amazing. Did you start with your friends and family and people behind you at the grocery store? Like you can help the people that are in your inner circle and who you care about and are blessed to just randomly meet without having to make a full business out of like I already make $27 million over here on two hours a week, but now I'm going to commit four more hours to making another $100,000. I don't know, it's just it's weird to me, but to come back around, we don't see that, and so we don't see that in the creative space, except for the book space and one of the things that's happened, I think, as a result of that, specifically in the self publishing and the hybrid publishing areas not so much in the traditional publishing, for obvious reasons, but in these other areas it's been this onslaught of you can do this quickly, it doesn't have to be hard, and then you just publish it real fast and you hit best seller status and all of a sudden you have no more problems ever again.

Speaker 1:

And the unfortunate thing is that so many people are and understandably so desperate and I don't mean that in a as negative a way as it sounds, but they so badly want it to work. They so badly want that dream for themselves, not even necessarily the money. It's not that they want a million dollars I don't know that they'd turn it down but that's not their end goal. Their goal is actually just, in many cases, to make enough to either replace their full-time income, supplement their full-time income. They just want to do what they love. People don't go out and start buying canvases and learn how to play piano and start watercoloring and taking acting classes because they think that they're going to make a million dollars in the next six months. You just don't hear about that.

Speaker 1:

The analogy I use a lot is actually the restaurant industry, because I don't know a single person I know a couple different people who own restaurants are somehow involved with restaurants and not a single one of them thinks for even a second that they're just going to open a restaurant and work two hours a week and be a gazillionaire in a year. The vast majority of restaurant owners do it because they love food. That's their art. It's just that they have to combine it with business because, unless you want to, just yes, you can love food and that can be your art and you can just do it for your family, just like you can love words and write a book and just write it for your family. Both of those things can be true For people who open restaurants. They want to do it on a grander scale. Of course they have to make enough money to pay their employees and to buy the food, to make the food and those sorts of things.

Speaker 1:

They go into this knowing that the first five years are going to be complete torture. They are going to get up super early, they are going to come home super late. They are going to have problem after problem after problem. In all likelihood, within five years they're going to have to shut down, because 95% of restaurants close within the first five years. I think 95% of all businesses fail within the first five years, but I've heard the restaurant statistic many, many times that 95% of restaurants fail within the first five years and yet and yet these people still come up with the money whether they're borrowing it from the bank or from a friend or from their own accounts to start and it's not a small amount of money at all to start a restaurant and then to commit every single day, usually seven days a week, many holidays included for years.

Speaker 1:

The patience and the persistence is ingrained from the minute they start. No one's selling them a different reality. Many of them have to find another way to pay their bills. Either they have a partner who's covering that or it's part of their loan. They're paying themself enough just to cover their bills. While they're building the business there is no profit happening.

Speaker 1:

I have an extremely good friend who runs an extremely high-end restaurant who told me at one point they start every day $1,500 in the hole because the amount of service they have to do and the amount of food they have to sell in a given day in order to pay their overhead and to pay their employees. That's how they're mentally. They start every day $1,500 in the hole, every single day. But that's just like common, the common mindset among restaurant owners. They're also very stressed out, I think. But in the book space we've gotten a little bit like we've put on the rose-colored glasses, because it we want there to be hope that we might be able to do this thing in five minutes and sustain ourselves with it, and most of the time really, I want to say all. But I mean I really want to say all. That's not how it works at all. Even when you find the Colleen Hoover's and the JK.

Speaker 1:

All those individuals were writing for a long time before anything got picked up, and that's why, on this podcast, I ask authors like how long did this take? And more often than not, they say you know, this book took six years to write. This book took three years to place. This book took two years to come out. Once it was placed, this book was rejected 872 times before it found a home in traditional publishing, because that was the route that they were determined to go.

Speaker 1:

But it all comes down to patience and persistence, and I think this idea that we get in our heads that says that it can be different is based on a false reality. It's based on a belief that the people who are saying I did it really quickly and I make a full-time living doing this are telling the truth, the full truth, because context matters. Maybe they are now making a full-time living as an author, but maybe they've written 23 books and they've been doing it over the course of 10 years and they have a partner who's helping them with the finances and, like, we don't know. We don't know the full picture, but we want that dream so badly and I don't want anyone to give up on the dream or on the hope, but what I want people to give up on is the idea that it's that easy and that we all don't need to have a good amount of patience and persistence throughout.

Speaker 1:

I was on a podcast last week that hasn't yet aired and I was asked a couple of different things I couldn't definitively answer. One was how much money I've made in the first week of any of my books launching. I don't know. I don't know. No one can tell you how long it's going to take for something to air-quote work, because everyone's definition of work, like success, is different. Another thing I was asked on that podcast was how I plan my marketing, like if I have a full year-long plan, and I kind of almost started laughing when she asked me that, because the idea of having a year-long plan like I will break out in hives. Now, for some people that's exactly what they want and need. They need full structure. They want a full year plan, a quarter like the whole thing.

Speaker 1:

This is not me saying that's wrong at all. I mean sometimes I wish I were more like that. This is me saying this is what works for me. I have a launch plan that goes two weeks well, it's 12 days and then from there I do it really a month at a time, like I pick one thing to focus on for a month and then I do something different. Sometimes I'm doing things to see if I even like doing it. So if I had a full year plan where one domino knocked, another one knocked another one and I started doing them and I didn't like it, I'd be in trouble. It'd be a very, very long year. So I just kind of gauge every once in a while. It's definitely not a strict 30 days, but okay, what's working, what's not working.

Speaker 1:

And what's working is also very dependent upon what am I enjoying and what am I not enjoying, or what do I want to try, like what's something new that I want to try, and then I give it a go and I actually have great success with that, because I know that. And when I say I have success, I don't mean I make millions of dollars, I mean that's a successful approach for me, because I know that if I don't like it, or if it doesn't work because I don't like it, or it's just I don't know the wrong time of year or something, it's not resonating, I can just pivot and try something else, and I love that. That's one of the aspects of being my own, in control of my own marketing as a self-published or a small press author. That I love, because I get to just sort of make up my own stuff and see what other people are doing and try different things. But if I weren't patient this is admittedly this might be the first thing I've ever done where I have patience and persistence when I was very young I played a game with my parents.

Speaker 1:

I was about three years old and the rules kept changing throughout the whole game. So I was always winning and the game never ended either. And at one point one of my parents asked me what is the name of this game? And without hesitation I said Jack Bat. And so now, whenever I take on something new, the family joke is kind of like oh God, it's Jack Bat again. I mean, I had a company. I invented a product I don't know 15 years ago for babies well, for parents of young babies and I named the company Jack Bat because everything's got to come full circle and have meaning in my life, but almost everything that I have done for the past 12 years or so. I have done for a small amount of time and I just didn't have the patience or persistence to see it through. Any one of those things probably could have done well, probably could have ended up sustaining me financially for some period of time, but for whatever reason it wasn't happening fast enough or I did need money to pay my bills or I stopped liking it and so I switched to something different.

Speaker 1:

And the book space is the one where I find I have the most patience and persistence, because I love it so much and my heart goes out to people where it's not their business being in the book space isn't their business, but writing a book is important to them Because there are so many messages out there that are being thrown at you saying that or helping you think I should say that it should be easier, that it's more difficult than it is, and the actual process of writing a book is damn hard. I will die on that hill. It takes time and it is not easy, full stop Like. I don't care what anybody says about wanting to do things with ease and grace, and I'm here for that too Writing a book and building a sustainable, ethical, integrity-filled business is hard work, and that is a hill I will die on. So our ability to sit back and have patience and persistence with the process and patience with ourselves is of paramount importance to reaching that level of success to which we each aspire.

Speaker 1:

And so I think that, instead of lamenting why things aren't happening faster and while I understand all the reasons we do, I promise I do I mean, I make my full time living this way as an author, but not as an author as a book coach. My book sales are but a small portion of my income, but as a coach or a guide, I'm getting tired of the word coach. So, as someone who guides people who are writing books, as a book editor and as a book publisher, that's where my income comes in. And so I know because I'm talking to people about this all day, every day, or all day, most days I know what most people's angst and concern is and feeling like it's why isn't going faster? Why isn't it going faster? Well, because it's not.

Speaker 1:

So use the time that it's taking to get where you want to go to build the mental muscles that you'll need when you get there, because it's not necessarily any easier once a lot of people are buying the book or once the book has lent itself to bring you new clients. If that's what you're trying to do, if your book is an extension of your business and it's a way to attract new clients who are going to love that takes a while. Most of the time, people don't read your book and then hire you for $15,000. They just don't. Does it happen once in a blue moon? It does. It has happened to me. It does happen. Sometimes people just know you're their person, this is your price, they can pay it and off you go.

Speaker 1:

But more often, the people who join my programs have been reading my books and following me for years, and so I kind of look forward to making this episode again at the end of 2024 and being able to recap this and say okay, another year in the books, pun intended on patience and persistence. As an author and as someone who guides authors, it's both. I have to employ it in both places. I think that if we each make a vow to ourselves to be more patient and persistent within the process, we're going to be A far more realistic, b far happier, c far less hard on ourselves and D. Because of all of that, we'll actually probably progress a little bit more quickly. So that is my. It's not a prediction, but it's a. Is it a recommendation or I don't know? It's a thought. It's just a thought I had about what I think authors need most in going into 2024 and will most benefit all of us, myself included.

Speaker 1:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. As always, feel free to send me a message, send me an email. Let me know about your experience, about your book, about your thoughts. I love hearing from you and if you have a question that you'd like me to speak to in an upcoming episode, send that to me as well. That's where I get all this. So thanks so much for joining me. I will talk to you again soon. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, this is your friendly reminder to follow or subscribe, leave a quick review and share it with someone you know has a great story or message but isn't sure what to do next. Also, remember to check out publishaprofitablebookcom for book writing resources and tips and to see all the ways we can work together to get your book out into the world. Again, thanks so much for listening and I'll talk with you again soon.

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