You’ve worked really hard on writing that book, conceiving a new idea or blogging, but you still haven’t seen results with your efforts. Literary agent Kevin Small who I interviewed in part I of this post, sets us straight this time with the unintentional mistakes you could be making that’s sabotaging your career.
1. You’re undisciplined.
Yikes. Has Mr. Small been reading my blogs? Yes, folks. He didn’t quite say that us writers are “lazy.” In fact, he said he wouldn’t use that word, but that we have a tendency to be “undisciplined.” I would like to add that this probably applies to all creatives.
Then, I couldn’t help, but nervously laugh when he said this about authors: “They don’t even know what they’re having for dinner tonight let alone what they’re going to write about tomorrow.”
Yep. That sounds about right. But he believes that it’s a big, big mistake not to do so. One of the easiest things writers/bloggers/authors, etc. can do is to create a content sheet of potential ideas for your blogs. Not doing so, he said, can be likened to writing a book without the table of contents.
Here are a few specific takeaway tips he offered that might help you:
- Create an excel sheet with columns labeled with date and then ideas for your blog, tweet and e-newsletters.
- Then, make sure to space out your best ideas so they’re not all in the same week.
- And if simply creating a document seems too much for you, there are a lot of sites that offer free blogging calendar downloads like this one, and there’s even a free editorial calendar plug-in from WordPress, so you really have no excuse (guess I don’t either) not to do so.
2. You’re trying to do it all yourself.
You’ve got that 9-5 job going and the writing and then attempting social media. Maybe that works for you. But maybe it’s eating away at your real passion, writing.
After you’ve created your list of blog ideas for the week, Small suggests asking this question: “Do I have the time and energy to fill that up or do I need somebody who will help research and take the burden of 50% of the writing for me?”
Gads! I didn’t even think of hiring someone to do that. Small’s company ResultSource actually hires research assistants to help find relevant information on any given topic to beef up blog posts and articles. This can save a writer’s energy so they can focus on writing quality content instead. Maybe Kevin’s last name should have been Smart. Seriously. I had no idea.
3. You’re either spending too much or not enough time on social media.
Small said one of the challenges with social media, which by and large is a good thing, is that people have opposing and often disadvantageous views on it. “You have people on one end of the spectrum that are absolutely going, ‘I don’t think this blogging or this tweeting this is going to last’ or ‘this doesn’t make any sense to me.’” At the other end are people who don’t do anything else. Like Goldilocks, the key is to find the happy middle, where everything is just right. The problem? It’s difficult to find.
- Small defines this space as knowing who your audience is and finding ways to connect with them.
- Paying attention to your numbers is key. “I think the most important thing they can do is measure their success as first by the size of their followership and so they should make it their sole focus to engage an audience.”
4. You’re not committed enough.
Obviously, marketing your book or your business is not easy. In fact, it may feel like a full-time job in addition to your full-time job. But the commitment must be there in order for you to succeed. Small expects as I’m sure many literary agents do, that level of commitment. And if creating a blog content sheet, writing blogs, e-newsletters and articles seem too much for you, you may want to consider opting out or having someone else step in.
- Self-awareness of one’s strengths are important. Say you are committed and want your business to be a success, but you feel you’re missing the two T’s (time and talent) to come up with 140 characters on a daily basis. That’s a task you might want to hire out to do. You can still be committed, but wisdom and success comes from #2, dispersing responsibility so you don’t have to do everything.
5. You’re not taking advantage of every opportunity.
In the case of authors, Small feels the number one mistake they’re making is not “creating a really top notch speaker reel.” For anyone else confused as I was about what that is, a speaker reel is a video of you doing your speech sent to convince companies and individuals to hire you. “That type of work is the easiest, it’s the highest return for the lowest amount of time and energy expended which could then allow them more time for writing.”
In the case of all writers and entrepreneurs, I would argue that with everything you do, there lies a potential for great opportunity. Your blog posts that you think nobody reads or an e-newsletter or e-book you think maybe modest in its readership, do matter. In fact, Small said that he sometimes pitches ideas to writers for a book idea because he found them on a blog or liked their e-book.
You never know what’s out there, so you might as well give it your best shot.
*Thanks to Kevin Small, literary agent, founder and managing partner of ResultSource. For more information on his services, you can visit his website.