In our second post written by speakers at the MaWSIG Showcase at the annual IATEFL Conference on 4 April in Liverpool, Rob Howard encourages us to put dreams into practice by becoming successful independent authors.
Using the old philosophical question of ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’, I asked the question, ‘If you write a book that no one buys, are you an author?’ This was the start of my session for the MaWSIG Showcase talk I gave at IATEFL Liverpool 2019.
While preparing and practising my talk and reflecting on my audience, I surmised that I would be speaking to a mixed audience of both new, experienced and future authors. Knowing that many others from MaWSIG, more expert than myself, would discuss writing, editing, formatting, cover design, pricing, the marketplace, promoting and networking, I resolved, at the last minute, to change my focus. While keeping with my theme of becoming an independent author, I decided not to give a ‘How to’ presentation but instead, a talk on ‘Why’. I felt inspired by my visit to the Beatles Story museum to change the framework of my talk to IMAGINE.
Who do you admire? Look to others in our industry to emulate. Whether it be their topic, their style or their voice, reach out to your heroes for guidance. Listen to them; they were beginners once, too. Use their stories to help form your own story, to develop your own voice and to flourish.
Why do you want to write? What is the message? Decide on your target audience and focus directly on them. Stay vigilant regarding fulfilling their needs with every word, phrase and sentence you write. See them reading your book. See them learning from you. Success starts with a vision, and knowing that you are giving them your all will keep you going.
What do you want to be? It sounds cliché in this era of ‘get rich quick’ gurus, but the concept of visualising your own success is essential to achieving your goals. Take the time to ponder who you want to be and what you hope to accomplish as an author. Envisioning your success adds to the richness of the journey and helps you to keep the motivation going.
What do you want to say? Keeping a clear and organised focus on what you want to say and the best way to say it is the key to forming your own voice. Pre-planning and laying out your materials even before writing them help to keep you on track.
How can others help you? It’s important to realise that no one has to go it alone as an independent author. Groups like MaWSIG, Independent Authors and Publishers, Society of Authors, together with their lively social media forums, are there to help. With the injection of help from others’ wisdom and experience, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it be formatting, cover design or just a need for a motivating nudge, reaching out to others can be the stimulus needed to stay the course.
What will get you started? Some colleagues that I have known and admired for years were in the audience. I remembered conversations I’d had with each one of them about plans for writing their own books. With five of my own and contributions made to a few others over the years, I challenged everyone to give just 15 minutes a day to start to get their thoughts onto paper (or screen). By dedicating just a small amount of time each day, a whim can turn into a reality. A book. Your book.
What have you accomplished? What a feeling to have achieved something. For me, writing eBooks was painless – nothing really spent or invested but time and energy. But when I decided to print 30 copies of my latest book to bring to Liverpool, I panicked. I doubted myself, my sanity and my ability. Investing a month’s rent into printing a book that perhaps no one would buy. I’m smarter than that. But when the first person handed me the money and asked for an autograph, wow, what a feeling. I felt like an author. It was more satisfying than the sales of my other books online. I haven’t felt that kind of a rush since my son was born.
So, I hope that I have inspired some of you to get ‘on your ass’ and write. If it is in you, let it out. Don’t waste your ideas. The world is waiting for you to share them. Becoming an independent author and a self-publisher has become easier than ever before and there are thousands of us waiting to help you succeed. Just imagine.
Remember, once upon a time, in the beginning, there was nothing but a blank page … an idea … and you.
Rob Howard is the co-founder of the Independent Authors & Publishers group along with Dorothy Zemach. He runs the Online Language Center and is a partner in the Business Language Training Institute. Rob is the IATEFL BESIG Web and Online Joint Coordinator, the Visual Arts Circle Video and Online Coordinator, and the founder of EFLtalks. His personal website is http://www.robhoward.me/.