“Hello, my name is Sharon and I am a Powerful Choleric.”
Writing as a child, was an extension of my controlling nature. I was raised in an era where children were spoken to and no response was required or desired. Your opinion did not count and if you felt that it did, you might be searching for your teeth. So, being the little “control freak” I was, I had to find a way to express my view without losing my life and I choose writing as my medium; it became my therapy at an early age.
As a prissy little girl, I decided my writing should be pretty and rhyme, so I embarked on becoming a poet. During my teens, I began to read about poets that looked like me who were popular in the 1960’s and well I became a literary revolutionary. Couple that with the fact that I was cute and you can change my name to TROUBLE.
My first adventure into writing for others came as I was trying to persuade the girls in my gym class to like me, which was complicated because I was a situational asthmatic, and anything that looked like running, hitting something, or team sports brought on an asthma attack. I spent a lot of time in the nurse’s office, but when I was in class, I spent a lot of time in the bleachers. Occasionally, one of the girls would join me because they too were sick and I would start up a conversation, if I could find the courage to do so.
One day, I met a girl who was having boy problems. She was heartbroken. Now, I’d read every romance novel in the library, some of them twice. Couple that with my innate passion for writing and all of a sudden I was a teenage therapist. I listened to her story and suggested a way for her to get her boyfriend back. I offered to write a letter that would hopefully get her some results. She liked the idea, I did it and it worked. I soon became known for my skills and at that time my entrepreneurial nature had not kicked in, but if it had I could have paid for my college education. That did not come until later on in my life, when I was quite a bit older.
I’m sure your venture into writing is motivated by a more sophisticated story. Perhaps, you have some writing skills, but don’t know where to start. Once I decided to become serious about my craft, I started taking workshops, going to writer’s conventions, and dialoging with other writers to determine the best starting point for me. They suggested that I follow this pathway:
• Write about what you know (and make sure you know it really well): A wise older friend gave me some invaluable advice, “Find a problem and become an expert on the solution.” Your years of experience and education may have equipped you to address these areas of concern in your industry. Put it in writing and share it with your peers.
• Start off small: Try writing an article for a local newspaper or magazine and gauge the reaction to your contribution. Or identify what periodicals are associated with your profession and become a contributing writer for them.
Internet writing is also a great place to start; there are numerous e-magazines that are constantly looking for articles from great writers. They provide the opportunity to be published and the benefit of having an editor on board to take your article from good to great (ex. www.mediabistro.com, www.woodenhorsepub.com, www.ed2010.com, www.textbroker.com, and http://thecontentauthority.com).
• It’s time to go to the next level, Blogging! What is a blog? A blog is an on-line journal or diary. What is a blogger? A blogger is someone who blogs or writes content for a blog. You can actually be a guest on a blog. How regularly should you blog? A blog is updated frequently. If scheduled, it takes a small portion of your day to complete. I know bloggers who sit down and write all of their blogs for a week and post as needed. Talk about instant feedback on your writing, other people can also comment or respond to your blog post.
• Now that you’ve mastered the small stuff …: Writing your first book can be intimidating, but if you have practiced and perfected your writing skills, you are more than ready for the big time. If you decided to blog, you could take your blogs and use them to build content for a book. Or you could start from scratch if you like, but whatever you do realize that it’s going to require lots of time management and dedication to project completion.
If timidity has you in neutral, partnering with a seasoned writer or writers by participating in a compilation may be a great place for you to start. This is where you contribute a chapter to a book that is a variation of an agreed upon theme. I did this in Ready, Set, Succeed, Making Your Dreams Come True. I partnered with eight other authors to write a book about success. I am a master networker and I met a young man at a speaker’s competition who introduced me to this opportunity. My first self-published book, Songs of Three Sisters, was co-authored with two other poets. We took our literary works and categorized them based on the poetry and wisdom books of the Bible and included our personal testimonies.
Today, you have the advantage of e-book publishing, which allows you the luxury of writing a book and test driving it on a major publisher’s site such as Amazon. It’s cost effective and it allows you to have a genuine Authorpreneurship experience. Take a lessons learned approach and when you are ready to really step out there and “git ‘er done,” you will be more prepared to do so because you practiced, practiced, and practiced. The results being that you not only will be a better writer, but you also a better authorpreneur.
Complete the following assessment designed to assist you in determining what you want to write.
1. Brainstorm. What topic or topics do you have a passion for writing about? Consider a common problem for which you have discovered a solution. Do a Google or Bing search to determine what current books are out there on that topic. If you find there are inadequate resources out there, do your homework, become the expert and present your solution.
2. Are you finding more articles on that topic than books? If so, perhaps that topic is better shared in an article or white paper.
3. What magazines, newspapers, or professional journals are doing stories on your topic?
4. If you are finding more books published on your topic than articles, what publishers are publishing books on your topic?
5. Look at the NY Times Best Sellers List. Do you see your topic on that list?
6. Look at the Amazon’s Best Sellers List for your potential genre. Do you see your topic within the Top 100?
7. Preview the Top 10 books in your potential genre. Make a list of their similarities. Make a list of their exceptionalities (the things that make them unique).
8. Go to your favorite local Barnes and Noble. Check out the books that are located at the front of the store. Look for books in your potential genre. Then go to your specific topics section in the store and look for books that are similar in nature. Make a list of the things you like about the book such as content, book cover, and authors’ credentials.
9. Visit your local library or purchase a copy of the Writers Market on www.writersmarket.com to determine who is publishing books on your topic, what are their submission guidelines and if the publisher is accepting new writers.
10. For a faith-based topic, purchase a copy of The Christian Writer's Market Guide – 2015-2016: Everything You Need to Get Published, by Jerry B. Jenkins.
11. Go to www.surveymonkey.com and design a survey to distribute to your email list, Facebook friends, or professional contacts querying their interest in your topic.
12. Put together a focus group to discuss the relevance of your potential topic. A focus group is an excellent way to find out about the latest trends from the consumer's point of view.
The most comfortable position a writer can assume is writing about something they know about. Don’t compromise your vision and sell out to writing about what’s popular in the industry at that time. Wait for your season, it will come. There is plenty to do in the interim to perfect your craft. Take advantage of the writer’s groups, conferences, and books that are available to help you do that.
Passion also plays an important role in choosing the topic you want to write about. That’s why it is important to write the passion of your heart. Authors are my passion. Years ago I fell in love with those who were able to provide me with a pleasurable escape. I have spent the last decade sowing into their lives by entertaining, empowering, and equipping them to tell their stories. It is my hope and prayer that whatever your topic and however you choose to share it, the reward will far exceed your expectation and be a blessing to the readers who explore its pages. Happy Writing!
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~William Wordsworth
Sharon C. Jenkins is a Senior Publishing Consultant with Ellechor Media, editor and the Inspirational Principal for The Master Communicator’s Writing Services. The Master Communicator’s writing services provides business communication services to authors, small businesses and non-profits. For more information about Sharon or to read some of her inspirational blogs on business and authorship, go to http://www.mcwritingservices.com.