I hate marketing speak. Hate. It. In general, words like “platform,” “branding,” and “networking” make me squirm. Yet I know it’s important. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in the radio world for a few years, it’s the importance of clear vision, a strong image, and a lot of hard work to survive and thrive, whether we’re trying to gain listeners, blog readers, or writing gigs.
In my job, I don’t have to worry about this, because it’s not my role. Managers and promotions do a wonderful job because they are passionate about it. But for the self-sufficient writers’ work, I’m all I’ve got, which means I have to care about these things at least a little. And that’s why I was really happy to discover Jeff Goins’ blog, newsletter, and new e-books Every Writer’s Dream and Before Your First Book. Jeff kindly offered free copies of the e-books to bloggers willing to review them, so here are some thoughts on these wonderful, quick and dirty guides for DIY writers.
I’m not generally an e-book person, but I downloaded these two to my phone and read them back to back in one sitting. They are short and to the point, and are written in a breezy, blog friendly style with plenty of space and momentum to make the reading quick. At the same time, the advice — and sometimes “butt-kicking,” as the title page describes it — carries a weight of importance and urgency. If you’ve read Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art or Do the Work, then you could expect similar here: a brief, urgent pummeling of information, pep talks, and motivation that makes you feel like you must write something or die on the spot when it’s done. Often, I need this.
In the case of these books though, it’s less about the creative process and more about the elements of getting connected and published. Every Writer’s Dream focuses on the three things every writer needs but doesn’t always know how to find: a platform, a brand, and channels of connection. Sounds stuffy and marketing-like, doesn’t it? Yet the way he approaches the topic is so practical, and he lays out ways to achieve these things without beating yourself up over it. Jeff gives practical advice about building your reputation as a writer (choosing a memorable name, finding your voice) and general principles for making your way through the publishing world (be generous, don’t wait until you’re “good enough.”) Some of these steps are simple enough to begin today if you even have the slightest inkling of writing desire. Others help set long-term goals to meet that elusive dream of never having to pitch your writing again. It’s an excellent motivational guide that I expect to return to.
Before Your First Book takes a similar approach, but is focused on 5 tips to getting published. Though there is crossover in the advice, it is a quick primer to beginning a writing career, from initially getting your foot in the door to advice on building long-term relationships in the field.
It all sounds quite self-helpish and perhaps a bit too confident at first glance. (you’ll get published and never pitch again! Hooray!) The cynic in me was skeptical to see such bravado in these claims, but then again, courage is what every writer needs to even get started. These e-books are a handy little dose of just that if you’re not sure where to start.
To read a sample of Every Writer’s Dream and purchase the e-books, click here. And whether you go for the books or not, I recommend reading Jeff Goins’ blog and subscribing to the e-mail newsletter. (You get a copy of his other e-book The Writer’s Manifesto free for signing up!)