You ever have one of those times when you sit down to write and don’t know where to start?
Right now is one of those times.
You see, for several days I’ve been pondering whether I should write an article celebrating the hardest-working authors I know… or, if I should write an article “ripping” the lazy-a*s ones.
Since I’m out of time (and still undecided), I’m going to do both. That way you can’t accuse me of being negative. Plus, you need to see both sides to get the point. You’re going to be amazed how lazy some authors can be.
I just hope you’re not one of them!
Oh, in case you’re wondering… yes, this article was inspired by a true story. Several of them, as a matter of fact. It all started a few months ago when I recognized a troubling pattern with some of my 1-on-1 coaching clients. Some of them weren’t willing to do the work necessary to develop and market their books in the best way.
In a hurry.
Sticking their heads in the sand.
Here’s the best of the best…
and worst of the worst.
Take it all to heart.
One of my 1-on-1 author coaching clients (Cheri) hired me early this year to help her write an irresistible query letter and get an agent. She’s awesome. I took Cheri on because her book concept was clear and her writing was clean. She also had a “good-enough” promotional platform to get her foot in the door with agents, and she had a bubbly personality.
I like positive people.
When we started working together, Cheri had herself positioned as “Atlanta’s Stress Therapist.” She’d gotten some decent publicity. And her book was about helping people develop better habits so they could have less stress in their lives.
I also learned that Cheri was the lead singer for a small girl (women) band that did a bit of touring years ago. She still does some gigs from time to time, but not a lot because she’s also now the mother of two little kids.
Everything was going great until our second phone call.
We were just about to start writing a killer query when I realized there was a problem. Cheri told me, off the cuff, that her husband had been encouraging her to include more examples of businesspeople in her book. According to him, all the examples in her book were about moms.
I was concerned, too (but for a different reason).
Although Cheri was a successful therapist, and her book concept/content was solid, I knew she has some MAJOR competition in her category. You know, all those nice old guys with white hair and Ph.D.s… with years of impressive research, affiliations with Universities, lots of papers published, friends like Oprah, etc.
That’s when it hit me…
I knew Cheri needed to change her entire book, business, and brand… if she wanted to get a top literary agent, publisher, and book deal. It came to me like divine revelation. I even got goose bumps. Even so, I figured it would be difficult for Cheri to hear.
So, I broke it to her gently…
“Um, Cheri, I know you didn’t hire me to tell you this… and you’re probably going to kill me when I do… but I have a million dollar idea that could change everything for you… in a good way.”
She gave me permission to continue.
“Have you ever considered writing a book called, I don’t know, something like How to Be a Rock-Star Mom? You could keep 80% of your content. All you’d have to do is develop the metaphor… compare the hectic life of raising kids to being a pop singer on the road. That way everything you are would make sense. It would be more fun. All those stories in your book about moms would work. And you’d no longer have competition. All those Ph.D.s wouldn’t know what to do with you. The media would love you. You could even sing a song or two at book signings and workshops. What do you think?”
Surprisingly, Cheri didn’t scream (although I could hear one—or both—of her little ones going at it in the background). Instead, she took a deep breath (okay, a lot of them) and tried to hold herself together.
She asked smart questions.
Then she told me she was going to do it.
“Do what?” I asked.
“Change my title, my business name, my book, my brand. Everything.”
And that was that.
Of course, Cheri took more time to think about it. She talked to her husband, friends, other moms, some of her clients, and a few strangers too.
But it stuck.
Now, here’s the point…
Cheri could’ve cried, complained, or attacked me. She even could’ve ignored me and sent out queries for the old book. But she didn’t.
Instead she decided to do the work.
Right now Cheri is in the process of redoing her entire website (she already had professional photos taken – see below – how cool is that)? She’s going to design a new logo and get new business cards. Plus, she’s writing new copy for her website, creating new keynote talks and workshops, and… yes, she’s going to rewrite her book.
She’s not lazy.
She loves writing.
And she takes pride in her work.
It also helps that the writing is flowing a lot more easily now… because she’s writing the right thing for her. I have to say that I owe Cheri a great debt of gratitude as well. She made me realize something about myself.
I don’t like lazy-a*s authors.
So, listen up, you.
If you’re a lazy-a*s author (or if you’ve slipped into lazy-a*s mode recently), the only person you’re hurting is you. If you’re taking shortcuts (even though you might hide it well—or think you hide it well), the only person you’re hurting is you.
Maybe you need to do one more rewrite. Maybe you need to cut some material because your book is too long (or maybe it’s too short). Maybe you need to hire a professional editor. Maybe you need to do more research. Maybe you need to write more. Maybe you need to send out more query letters.
I don’t know what you need,
and I don’t need to know.
Because you know.
So, “man up” as they say and don’t be a lazy-a*s. Love your writing, respect yourself, and make it happen.
It really is that simple.
Yes, it is.
And don’t give me your sob story about how your situation is different. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to hear it. I’m your book marketing coach, not your therapist.
You know when Cheri gets to write?
When her kids are napping. Or, a few hours here and there when she has a babysitter and isn’t on the phone with clients. It’s sad for me to say this, but Cheri gets more done in a week than some people get done in a month.
And they don’t have kids.
I’ll do anything for someone like that.
So will agents and publishers.
I know, I’m probably just preaching to the choir. So… if you’re one of the faithful, getting it done no matter what, willing to do what it takes, awesome.
You freaking rock.
For everyone else, a gentle reminder…
Don’t be a lazy-a*s,
* * *
Your “Undercover” Agent
* * *
* * *
Ugh. You’re right. “Lazy” is the excuse for scared. People (and people includes me, btw!) can give you many legitimate excuses for why they “can’t” do the work – but excuses are nothing more than gremlins in disguise. One of my new favorite sayings is “settle for more” – time to take my own advice.
So, back to work…
Hi Lynette, good call. You’ve inspired me. I’m going to write another article about courage and fear… which is probably the bigger issue. Although there are certainly some lazy-a*s authors out there. 😉 Thanks for posting! Mark
…My kids are going to Children’s Morning Out (they’re too little for school) 8 hours a week and I am seeing about 8 clients FTF a week. So, time is limited.
A LOT more mom business in the works!
I just picked up the book. I was afraid it would be too hard to write….that I couldn’t take my own advice about the Little by Little Mentality…
I LOVE it. The goal? 10 minutes a day. When they sleep, when they get engaged with one another, whenever…
This is who I am. Thank you.
Here comes me!
Who knew that nap-time could have double-meaning? I hope you know that you’re now inspiring more people than ever… not just in your work but by your example. Keep doing what your doing and I’ll post a link to your website once it’s ready for all to see. Much love. Mark
I needed this…thank you.
It’s been about two months. My website is little by little…I haven’t added the awesome coaching program you put together for me because until my nuggets go to summer camp, I frankly, wouldn’t have the time to take on a new client!
My new logo and cards should be here within two weeks. Can’t wait!
I have a BIG talk at the Center of Disease Control in June and an awesome workshop mommy series starting in August.
Ha! Surprise. Glad you liked it. I was going to email you and let you know I posted this about you… didn’t think you’d have time to read my blog… taking care of the nuggets and doing all that you do. But I’m delighted to see you did. Let me know how it goes with the CDC and everything else. I know you’re going to do great. You are… a rock star. 😉 Mark
Ya’ll have such kind words…good luck to all of you!
Mark! Yes, I almost missed this, but of course, the title lured me in. ; p
Glad you saw what other people said… and thanks for being gracious about the praise. As a pop star you must be no big deal to you anymore. 😉 Have a great rest of the week. Email coming to you from me soon. Mark
Many need a wake-up call and your article just did it. I’m into my fifth rewrite and I discipline myself to write every day. It’s true when you love your writing, it doesn’t feel like work and you want it to be perfect. Having been a writer and editor on magazines where I had to work late to rush for deadlines, I’m used to it. At the end of day, there’s a lot satisfaction knowing you did your best for your manuscript and it increases your confidence level in getting an agent.
Hi SawLian, I used to worry about being too bold with articles like this… but now I don’t care. If someone doesn’t like the tone of this article, they probably aren’t the kind of person I want to work with anyway. I hope it is a wake-up call for some. I’m not going to do anyone any favors by pretending getting published is easy. We all know it’s not. We should be optimistic, but also realistic. I admire your dedication and appreciate your posts. Mark
I’ve never understood why people settle for less than the best – even though it might take more time in the long run. There’s an enormous amount of personal satisfaction in knowing you’ve performed or written as best you can.
Hi Rinda, very true. Doing things well is one of the things that makes us feel good in the short-term while waiting for the long-term result. I’m proud to be working with you. Mark
Sorry to persist, but I’m surprised any author balks at rewrites. I started my first book on an electric typewriter. Changing a word meant retyping the whole page. A paragraph change would require retyping the chapter. A chapter change could necessitate retyping the entire manuscript. I did that so often I lost count. Today, I can’t resist making changes that improve the books even a little, because on a computer it’s so easy! Published POD /eBooks can be revised at any time, and I do that, too.
Hi David, you’re the perfect example of the writer who, well, loves writing. Too many writers see writing as a means to an end. But that never works. Thanks again for posting, do it as often as you like. You always bring something worthwhile to the discussion. Mark
Aw, shucks. Thanks, Mark!
Hey, you deserve it. Will respond to your email separately in a moment. Mark
When I was a weekly newspaper editor, I covered Tues. night council meetings til midnight, wrote the articles til 3 am, pasted page layouts, shot film of the pages, drove 70 miles (often in snowstorms) to the printer, waited for the printed copies and drove them back, attached 3000 labels for postal delivery, dumped them all at the PO, went home for a late meal and short nap. Did that 3 weeks per month for 10 years. Today I work 16-hr days because I’m conditioned. But I still can’t market books!
Hi David… THAT is what I’m talking about. Of course I always believe in working smarter rather than harder whenever possible… but hard work is just as important. Thanks for sharing. I’m tired of everyone wanting shortcuts. It’s time to LOVE the work. We might as well, there’s no way around it. Have a good weekend and thanks for posting. Mark
Great article – and a great idea you gave her and great title…. I could feel it coming as I was reading. 🙂
I have to admit, I can be one lazy A*S MO-Fo! But I have learned to love myself, flaws and all… and I nurture them too! 😀
Please post her website when it’s finished…
Hi Gil, I love that your brought your personality to your post. I can be a little outrageous on my blog so it’s fun when someone else brings it too. 😉 I can be lazy, too. No doubt. But I love all of me as well. And yes, I will share a link to her site when she gets it done. Have an awesome weekend and see you soon. Mark
Cheri is not only a positive worker/writer she is an inspiration. She has accepted and realized her ideal market place, with your help.
I agree that we need to write about what comes naturally. I found that to be the case with my book, currently with the editor. I did call him and ask him if I had gotten lost in the mix. I had, so now I think we are both pushing forward.
Hi Jan, I agree. I was stunned that Cheri was able to roll with it, even though it did seem like a perfect fit for her. It’s difficult to discover that we have a lot more work to do, when we thought were so close to the finish line. But life has a funny way of taking us all on that journey again and again and again. Success to the patient and persistent. I’m glad things are moving along for you. And thanks for posting. Mark
I wouldn’t actually put myself in the lazy category, even though, sometimes I don’t get a lot done. When I do get the time to do writing stuff I blast stuff out. Sometimes it’s more about time management. I keep myself moving forward, even if it’s only in baby steps, and that’s good enough for me. At least I’m moving forward! LOL I would love to get to the point where I’m turning out 10-12K a day again.
Hi Becca, you are definitely not lazy. Your energy inspires me. Keep being you. 😉 Mark
It does occasionally feel like I’m procrastinating, or circling around something, unable to just plow ahead — like now — but sometimes I find that there was something going on beneath the surface, something that needed to fall into place, or something I had to uncover. Of course I don’t find that out unless I keep plugging away at it. Thanks for the kick in the A!
Hi Ellen, you’re awesome… and just so you know… I was NOT thinking of you when I wrote this. But it is good for all of us (including me) to be reminded to step it up once in a while. My wife is constantly doing that for me. She’s sweeter than syrup, but she also kicks my butt when needed. 😉 Mark