Build Your Following by Adding Value to Your Writing
Creative writing is all about value. Any career, in general, is all about value.
It’s simple, really.
The more valuable your product, the bigger your following.
We COULD write a book and publish the first draft.
We COULD design a simple cover.
We COULD not bother to use our Amazon keywords.
We COULD expect people to buy and enjoy our work because there’s something out there for everyone, right?
Nope. Not at all. Not even close. Don’t even go there. Turn back now. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200. Fire and cut ties with whoever fed you such lies.
Okay, did you complete your task?
Fantastic. You’re ready to proceed.
Understand the Writing Process
I encourage all writers to write every day but don’t publish anything if you don’t understand the writing process!
I don’t care if you’re an architect or a gardener. The former outlines and plots everything before writing, the gardener writes without bothering to make an outline.
We’re going deeper here. The greatest writers engage in ferocious self-editing by showing instead of telling, omitting needless words, getting rid of adverbs and dialogue tags when necessary, the list goes on.
Jerry Jenkins has an awesome blog that will help you understand this process better. Check out his blog for more details at JerryJenkins.com/blog
You need to write, edit, rewrite, edit, let someone else read your work, garner feedback, revise again, read on different platforms, like e-calibre, and see how well your work reads.
Once you’ve completed the above steps, edit again, again, and again.
If you have the means to afford a professional editor or proofreader, the process is easier, but if you’re on a budget, it’s all you.
I also recommend writing courses like the Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild or his Novel Blueprint. I can attest, the Writers’ Guild transformed my writing and my debut book Northern Knights never would’ve read so well had I not taken the course.
I also recommend books like Hooked by Les Edgerton to further increase your writing knowledge. In it, Edgerton goes over what authors need to know and keep in mind while writing their work.
The information Edgerton gives will help you with every single book you write.
Follow blogs like The Creative Penn, where Joanna Penn hosts podcasts on writing with the top professionals in the writing industry. She also has thousands of blog posts on her blog regarding the writing and marketing processes.
Her non-fiction books are all based on writing and the writing process. She provides multiple excerpts from her book at The Creative Penn.
Perfecting Value Takes Practice
How long did it take me to craft Northern Knights, the first book in the Lord of Columbia Series?
Try thirty-seven months.
I thought I knew how to write.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t understand point-of-view, show, don’t tell, throat-clearing, on the nose writing or any such writing jargon.
I wanted to write my own version of Harry Potter, so I had a story I could craft but other than that, I had nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Thank goodness I didn’t hit the publish button, because if I had the work never would’ve made its way out of Amazon.com’s sea of fantasy novels. Or, it may have and after about one hundred bad reviews, my writing career would’ve been finished before it even started.
Take the time, learn the process, practice the process, and trust the process.
Learn from your mistakes, admit you don’t know everything there is to writing, and there’s always room for growth and improvement.
Even today, I’m still practicing the writing craft, slowly perfecting things I could’ve done better in Northern Knights, like distinct character voices, names, and personalities. There’s so much to learn and the true writing professional realizes and understands room for growth never ends.
Our writing continually evolves.
Find mentors, beta-readers, writing groups, writing peers, anyone and everyone you can think of to help you on your writing journey so you can provide the best value to potential customers.
Every writer will tell you if you don’t offer a high-end product, you’ll have few if any buyers. Competition in the writing field is tougher now than ever before and it’s where your team comes in.
Find anyone willing to mentor you.
Do you know of any local authors?
Take time and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and that you’re a writer looking to break into the industry. Don’t be afraid to show them your work, ask for critique, see if there are others willing to help you in the field.
If anything, reaching out to other authors will be the key to unlocking your full potential. Perhaps you write fantasy as I do, but the author you reached out to writes historical fiction. They might know someone local who writes or reads fantasy and could offer you critique.
These authors may point you toward beta-readers who may even become your first book reviewers. The importance of reviews on Amazon is key to watching your book climb through the rankings, and by gifting the books to some beta-readers you’ll already have a few reviews come launch time. This was one rookie mistake I made after publishing Northern Knights!
Which leads me to my final word. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t be afraid of any feedback or critique any mentor you find hands you. In the end, they’re trying to make your work stand out among a sea of books in the Amazon Store.
The more feedback and information you absorb from your mentors, beta-readers, and peers, the more valuable your product will become. Take what they say seriously because when applying such critiques, you’re going to be grateful for the fact you created a product of value over a product that you knew could’ve been better.
Strive for value, stand out among the masses, perfect your practice, and your readers will find you. They always do.