Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monday's Guest Muse: NY Times bestseller Jenn Probst on Perseverance, Stubbornness, and General Goat Headedness

For those of you who may have been offline (or not paying attention) Jennifer Probst is the first Entangled Publishing author to reach the New York TImes list.  She did so with her category length ebook, The Marriage Bargain.  BTW, that same book has been on the USA Today list since March 15th.  I have the good fortune of tweeting regularly with Jenn, and she's a smart writer.  Because all of us are filled with envy (in a completely good way) by her success, I twisted her arm and asked her to tell us her "secrets" to becoming an "overnight" sensation.  Read on....
I read a fantastic post on the amazing Kristen Lamb’s blog regarding quitting. That sometimes it’s ok to quit. Lamb went on to explain that in life, there are certain times we must voluntarily quit something in order to open up the door for other opportunities.
Writing is a pretty amazing career. It’s one I never had to choose, because the path chose me. I knew as soon as I read my first book at five years old I would write one. Of course, I knew nothing about the process of the business, or getting published, but consider myself lucky I always had a goal. A dream. It helped me not get lost along the way, because writing was always my true north. (I love that line from Sparks’ Message in a Bottle, sigh).

But many times, whether your goal is to be a fireman or a sports star or a writer, there are many obstacles along the way. Sometimes permanent, sometimes movable. Recognizing each obstacle and dealing with it is crucial to keep moving toward the goal. And as Lamb says, sometimes you have to quite certain things in order to get there. Here’s a list of things I quit:

I quit listening to other people who thought it would be impossible to make a living writing full time.
I quit listening to the little annoying voice inside of me to give up because it would be a heck of a lot easier.

I quit housecleaning.
I quit making excuses.

I quit thinking of writing as a wonderful hobby and began thinking about it as my career long term.
I quit thinking rejection was a sign to give up.

I quit cooking. Kind of.
I quit negative energy.

I’ve told my story in various blogs regarding The Marriage Bargain and the amazing journey to the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling list. I spoke about how I was rejected numerous times before I found an editor who believed in it at Entangled Publishing. And I honestly don’t giggle in revenge at the other publishing houses who rejected me – it was truly for the best. You need someone to believe in your story or it won’t be issued in the way you deserve – full force with lots of loving and enthusiastic attention. To get a lukewarm acceptance isn’t fair to the editor or the agent.
What I didn’t talk about before was the conscious decisions you need to make as a writer along the way. One of the biggest things I believed in was building a social platform before the book hits. Making friends – real  friends not fake friends who may do something for you in the future. This is the world we live in, and we should support other writers, buy their books and review them, speak with them, make contact with reviewers, go to meetings, learn our craft and take workshops. I commented on blogs, joined loops, did advertising, and received great reviews from my first few books, then built on that foundation. I studied the best in the business in all areas. I did this well before The Marriage Bargain ever came out, so it helped having my teams in place when the book finally issued.

The publishing world is tilting on its axis and we are so lucky to be writers. We have choices and freedom we never had before. But the most important ingredient in using the options out there is to write a kick butt story you think is the best you ever wrote. The rest is quite simple.
Make it better.
Send it out.
Write another one.
Keep going and never give up.

That’ s the whole process. Quit the things in life that are keeping you from the goal, and be as stubborn as possible with belief in yourself and in your dream.
I look forward to seeing ALL of you on the lists!

Stalking is highly encouraged. For real.

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