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Articles for Aspiring Authors

SPS 021: Using Books to Grow My Blog, Following & Online Business with Crystal Paine

Today, I am speaking with Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom. Crystal is a wife, mother, speaker, and author of several books. Money Saving Mom is a coupon and blogging website about intentional living, finance, family, and business. Crystal began couponing while living on a strict budget while her husband was in law school. Her couponing and blogging eventually turned into her Money Saving Mom blog which exceeded her expectations and helped allow her and her husband to purchase their home outright.

Being around Crystal is contagious. She is just one of those people who you would trust to let your kids go to her house. I’m excited about this episode as we discuss how Crystal used her books to help promote and grow Money Saving Mom to phenomenal levels. Crystal wrote her first book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget when she was contacted by a publisher. She had a following, but she didn’t really know how to write a book and really didn’t understand the contract.

Her first book deal was a bit rocky because she did everything wrong, but it was a great learning experience. She shares her lessons and inspiration for writing a book the right way. Some of these include having a thorough plan, outline, and proposal. As well as having a ghost editor to help with cohesiveness, accountability, and input. With these experiences learned Crystal is now a book writing machine, and she shares all of this and more in today’s episode.

You can find Crystal here:

Money Saving Mom
Books by Crystal Paine
The Money Saving Mom’s Budget
Money Making Mom Book
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
Show Notes

[01:34] Why Crystal decided to write her first book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.
[04:43] Lessons learned included needing to have a plan before writing a book.
[05:31] On her second book she spent time finding the idea and then focusing on that topic and writing a proposal that outlines every single step.
[07:20] Using ghost editors made the full-length book process much easier.
[08:21] The editing process helped with accountability and organizing and strengthening the text.
[09:54] Having published books gives a form of legitimacy and credibility that opens up opportunities.
[11:18] Going through a publisher is not as strong an income stream as self-publishing.
[11:56] Crystal had to make the time to work on her books because she is extremely busy and it becomes a family endeavor.
[13:01] Getting up early helped with her first books. She wrote her third book from midnight to 4:00 am to find time to focus.
[14:49] Her husband also helped with the homeschooling and allowed Crystal to sleep in.
[16:51] She put together a marketing plan for her first book. Publishers expect you to do the work of marketing.
[18:27] She planned 7-9 months in advance and found hot topics to write on and promote on social media. She thought about the marketing while writing the book.
[19:33] On her third book she was honed in on marketing from the beginning including finding her target audience of overwhelmed moms.
[21:35] She focused on sharing the value the book would give people in the form of articles and creating awareness.
[24:00] Using a launch team also helps get the word out.
[27:58] The book has opened doors and helped Crystal’s confidence grow.
[31:05] Being a real person has been key to Crystal’s success.
[32:18] Crystal used Periscope to promote her 5-day Money Making Mom course.
[37:27] Crystal offered a free 1st-day offer on her courses. This was a great teaser that led to a lot of sales.
[38:13] Her biggest revenue is from email sign ups and blog readers which lead to affiliate sales.  
[38:56] Her books are also in the library which has led to readers.
[39:45] Giving away coupons and freebies from companies fell flat on its face until she gave away a chore planner. Focus on the freebie that will be the biggest incentive for people.
[44:02] Share your own unique gifts and your own unique story.

Links and Resources:

self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
Sell Your Book Like Wildfire
Periscope
Motivated Mom’s Chore Planner
Money Saving Mom
Books by Crystal Paine
The Money Saving Mom’s Budget
Money Making Mom Book
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

SPS 020: How to Punch Worry in the Face with Mitch Matthews

I am really excited about today’s guest. It’s the man, the myth, the legend Mitch Matthews. Mitch is a speaker and entrepreneur and the host of the DREAM. THINK. DO. podcast. Mitch is an inspirational guy. He is a success coach and the author of Ignite: 3 Simple Steps for re-sparking Your Buried Dreams and Building a Plan That Finally Works. He is also the founder of the BIG Dream Gathering where people can get clarity on their dreams and goals and then build a plan that enables them to take massive action towards those goals.

Today, we talk about the worry, fear, and doubt side of writing a book. We talk about how there is a huge disparity of people who want to write a book compared to people  who have written a book. Circumstances sometime have something to do with it, but the main problem is usually mindset. Mitch shares his ideas about how to think better and to create the right mindset to crush our goals and dispel worry, fear and doubt. Mitch also touches on his 3 ways to punch worry in the face, tips for productivity, and hacks for getting that writing done.  

You can find Mitch here:

DREAM. THINK. DO. Podcast
Mitch Mathews Website
Ignite: 3 Simple Steps for re-sparking Your Buried Dreams and Building a Plan That Finally Works
Mitch Mathews LinkedIn
BIG Dream Gathering
Show Notes

[02:06] Things that get in the way of thinking better. Worry.
[03:59] How we get nervous right before publishing a book. Worry is why so many people never take the final step and publish.
[05:33] First step is to acknowledge worry. Sometimes we don’t even realize it has overtaken us.
[07:11] How fight or flight can be good when it comes to safety, but chronic worry has negative effects.
[08:19] How worry narrows our ocular nerve and makes us see less, great for escaping predators but not so much for creativity.
[10:45] Acknowledging the worry is there and then replacing it.
[11:14] Taking an inventory of what you are actually concerned about.
[14:06] How many of the things that people worry about can be overcome with training.
[14:22] Getting so caught up in the fear that you don’t take that first step.
[14:40] Distinguishing between good and bad worry.
[15:31] How journaling can help get a handle on the worry so that you can acknowledge it and make adjustments. A worry journal.
[16:44] Replacing the worry. If you are told to not think about purple cows, replace it with pink elephants.
[20:31] How worry is unproductive imagination.
[22:53] To replace worry ask yourself better questions.
[23:30] Asking what success looks like.
[25:51] Asking what I can control and what I need to let go.
[26:28] Step 3 is doing something intentionally. Worry may make us react in a way we don’t want to. After acknowledging worry and replacing worry, take intentional action.
[28:43] Having an action that you can take immediately even if it is only for 15 minutes.
[29:13] Giving yourself permission to skim a book in 15-minute chunks. Give yourself permission to listen to the book’s author on podcasts while working out or when you can fit it in.
[33:35] The difference between worrying and being tempted to worry.
[38:37] Giving yourself grace if something goes wrong instead of just going off track permanently.
[44:39] The importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people.
[46:21] Having other people’s back, so they will have yours and not defining your circle of influence to your zip code.
[49:04] Punching worry in the face. Acknowledge or write it down.  Replace it by asking a better question. Getting it out of your head and then doing something intentional or taking action to shift that state of mind.
[50:33] Acknowledging your worry may be the genesis of what you need to teach about. Teach the lessons you break through.

Links and Resources:
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
Brendon Burchard | Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power
DREAM. THINK. DO. Podcast
Mitch Mathews Website
Ignite: 3 Simple Steps for re-sparking Your Buried Dreams and Building a Plan That Finally Works
Mitch Mathews LinkedIn
BIG Dream Gathering

8 Steps to Start Writing a Book

One of the biggest challenges to writing a book is starting. Putting actual words to “digital” paper can create stress, anxiety, and instill that fear of failure.

Writing in and of itself isn’t that hard but the trap that many people fall into is, where do I begin? Do I write chapter 1 first? Should I start without an outline? Do I need to finish that course on book writing before doing anything?

Resistance to the craft just seems to show up at the beginning of each writing session as we become flooded with feelings of overwhelm, perfection, and the fear of failure. We want to do everything right, to navigate around potential mistakes when writing your book. But this could be the very thing holding you back from starting your book.

So how do you start writing? How do you keep the momentum going each day until finished? How do you deal with the most common sticking points for writers and creatives that show up disguised as procrastination, self-doubt, and uncertainty?

Why do we stop ourselves from starting the things that would bring us the most joy?

If we procrastinate and put off the writing by telling ourselves “I’ll do it later” or “I I’m just not in the mood today”, you’ll walk away from your writing project full of frustration.

Writing a book is like any other project: You have to stick with a schedule, be resilient, and push through the resistance when you get stuck. Small details and not sure what to do next can keep you from making progress.

If you are feeling overwhelmed when it comes to starting your book, you are not alone. This is a common obstacle for most authors, even after they have been doing for years. But there are a few effective strategies we can use to get over this hurdle and become book finishers instead of book dreamers.

In this blog post, I’ll give you some simple strategies for:

  • Getting started on your book
  • Building momentum
  • staying focused on your writing project.

We will look at 8 strategies you can put into action to assure you show up again and again with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.

Develop the Writing Habit

To get started on your book, it requires the mindset of “just do it”. Remember the Nike commercial? Doing it means you are moving beyond just thinking about your book. By taking action, you can immersing yourself deep into the process of putting words to digital paper. But to get there, you have to show up and do it. Write that first word, first sentence, and first page.

This can be accomplished with building the writing habit. The #1 reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to write. Why? They didn’t do any writing. Or they tried for a few days but realized that, unlike the myths of a writer creating the great American novel and earning millions of dollars from a book deal, writing is hard work.

But you can do this. The resistance you have towards starting your project is just fear. Do you know what the cure is for removing fear? Yes, taking action and just doing it.

Every book I wrote has been published. Why? I finished it. How does a book get finished and ready for publishing? One word at a time. Where would you be if you could write a thousand words a day? One thousand words a day is about an hours work. We spend longer than that a day watching TV or surfing the Net looking for mindless distractions.

Your writing habit can start small. You can commit to five-hundred words a day first thing in the morning. Build up to a bigger word count over the days and weeks to come. If writing is difficult for you, write a page of three hundred words. If that is difficult, write a paragraph of one hundred words. If it still persists, make it a sentence.

Keep breaking it down until you can show up everyday to work on your book. The writing habit isn’t about writing quantity, it is building the behaviour at first. You can scale up as you go.

What most people get stuck on isn’t writing once or twice but to keep it going, to start writing every morning. It is breaking past the first ten minutes of bad writing when the ideas are not flowing and you have to keep pushing forward to get into the flow.

8 Strategies for Starting Your Book and Building Momentum

1. Write in Bite-Sized Chunk Method

Feeling overwhelmed about writing your book is a natural feeling. If you pull a book of your shelf and hold it in your hands, you can feel the weight of it, the amount of words it contains. You know a lot of work went into this book you are holding.

You might think about the author and how much time they spent writing, researching, planning, editing, and all of the other steps that went into getting the book to market. As you think about this, it isn’t any wonder overwhelm creeps in and steals our creative moment.

But remember, every book successfully finished had a beginning. The author started somewhere, even if he or she wrote the ending first. If you are having trouble starting, you can write just a paragraph. Or a sentence. Or the first word. Start with something.

Momentum begins with taking that first action.

Remember what Lao Tzu said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Well, the journey of writing a book begins with that first page.

The bite-sized chunk method works because it breaks your project down into a manageable state. It is the act of staying present in the moment and focusing on the Deep Work we can do in the now.

2. Stay Focused on One Project

One of the challenges many authors face is dealing with the horde of ideas that continue to pop up as they are fixated on the one project. I hear it all the time:

I often hear people say: “I have so many ideas for other books I don’t know where to start.”

So most don’t.

Or, “I’m going to write three books at the same time and then publish all three within weeks of each other.”

But they never finish any of them.

My favorite: “I don’t know where to start because I’m so overwhelmed. I’ll just research some more before writing.”

Then the research takes months and nothing gets written.

Staying fixed on one project is challenging but, if you spread your energy thin, you’ll get weak results. When you start something, start it with the decision that you will finish it within a set time period. Have a plan for everyday, even if it is just “write for thirty minutes on my book.”

Writing two or three books at the same time requires high-end organizational skills and experience. Stick with your one project until finished. Having ten books in first draft mode will not do much for your self confidence if you don’t finish any of them.

Remember: only published books can earn you money and get you interviewed by podcasters who want you to tell your story.

Focus on your One Thing until finished.

3. Know Where to Start

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You decided to wake up early to start writing your book. You sit down. Time  passes by. After twenty minutes you still have a Blank page.

You realize you need coffee first to get things moving so you get up to make some.

Come back. Sit down.

Blank page.

Before writing that first sentence, you decide to check your email. Might as well do something while waiting for inspiration. Several emails marked urgent require an immediate response. You take care of that first, still thinking you are in warmup mode.

Then you get several FB notifications on your desktop. You jump over to FB to check it out because that will just take a few minutes anyway while you’re here, and then you’ll start.

Thirty minutes has passed and you are still reading up on today’s current posts that run in an endless loop. Now one hour has passed, you’re tired, and you need a break to stretch.

But, you never make it back to your book for that day.

This is a familiar story with writer’s. We have the best intentions to start writing and then, when we show up to get it done, we make ourselves feel so busy by buying into cheap distractions that nothing gets written.

Once again, we fail to start. This is why you need a plan before you show up to write. Without a game plan, you are inviting distractions in to take over your schedule for the day.

Starting a book the first time isn’t difficult. But starting your writing session everyday can be. Depending on the time of day you write, it is important to be clear about two things:

1. What are you writing about right now? Is it your introduction? The first 1000 words of chapter 7? If you don’t know what you are writing, you’ll lose momentum from the start. Be clear about the material you are working on. Of course you can start cold just to warm up if you aren’t sure, but when you are short on time, every minute counts.

2. How much are you writing? Set a target goal for your session. You can approach this in two ways. Write for a set amount of time [30 minute session]. Or, set a word target goal [1000 words].

Now that we have a plan for what to write, we can…

4. Write With Focus

Once you get into the flow of writing, you want to stay there for the duration of your writing session. Suddenly stopping to check that email notification can break your concentration and set you back 20-30 minutes.

By the time you are done chasing digital data down the rabbit hole, you might not get back to your writing. You started something but you couldn’t finish it.

By jumping around we become less efficient and it takes twice as long to complete our writing. Stay centered in the moment and leave the distractions on the outside.

We can do this by following a few simple strategies.

  1. Use focus enhancer apps such as pomodoro, coffitivity.com or StayFocused to build more focus into your writing time.
  2. Turn off your phone during your writing time.
  3. Inform friends and family you will be unavailable during this time.

Get yourself into the writer’s flow and you’ll become unstoppable while working in this mode. I work with a 25 Minute Timer that tracks the time spent on a project. Take a break and then get back into it.

5. Set Your Creative Mood

The environment you write in plays an important role in writing. Some writers can get focused in a noisy cafe; other people need solitude and the background of quiet music.

Create the environment that is relaxing and settles you into the mood for writing. If you are constantly feeling distracted, you’ll struggle to get into the writer’s flow.

Set your writing session up for success: favorite music, inspirational quotes, or reading a section of your favorite book to get you “feeling” it.

You can even decorate your work area with the pictures of your favorite authors or best writing quotes. Spend 30 minutes to create your ideal space for writing. You will feel more inspired to show up and write even on those days when you are not feeling like it.

Inspiration will not always be there, so you have to create your inspiration for those days when dealing with writer’s fatigue.

6. Use the Seinfeld Method to Stay Accountable

In the early days of his career, Jerry Seinfeld was asked how he managed to create such great content. He said: “The way to be a better comic was to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”

Well, as authors, this definitely applies to the craft. The way to be a good writer is to write everyday, and to write everyday you have to set yourself up for success even before the pen hits the paper [or the fingers tap the keyboard]. Jerry Seinfeld used what is now the ‘calendar method’. He called it the “Don’t break the chain” method. It works like this.

Get yourself a calendar and hang it on your wall. Then, for every day that you write, cross an X on the day. You should have a calendar week with a row of Xs at the end. If you keep the chain going, you will have your book written in less than 30 days. But you have to start somewhere.

So start right now and work on your book for 30 minutes today. When you are finished, mark that X on your calendar. If you miss a day, start again and see how many days you can get in a row before you break the chain.

7. Review Your Mindmap and Outline

If you don’t have a well constructed outline, you run the risk of getting lost in your book. This could waste time as you write just for the same of writing without purpose. Your outline provides clarity and direction to your story. Before you write, spend five minutes reviewing your outline.

Create a checklist of chapters and another checklist for the subtitle themes in each chapter. When we can check things off, it gives us a boost in confidence and we know that we are getting closer to our goal: finishing the book.

8. Free Flow for 10 Minutes

You can start with a strategy known as free flowing. This is a random series of thoughts about anything written in word or notepad. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages.

You don’t have to publish or edit these words. They are for your eyes only. But the key is to start writing something. It’s like working out at the gym. You can’t just walk in and start lifting the heavy weights before you warm-up. It is best to do some stretching with “words” and ease your way into it. You’ll find this will loosen your thoughts and get things moving. I have rarely had a day I couldn’t write if I did this first.

Once you are ready and the ideas are clicking, pull out your mind map or outline and get to work. You can sprint for thirty minute increments or less. I usually go for sixty minutes and then take a five minute break. In two sessions of this I can get on average two thousand words written.

Don’t worry about the word count. We are going for habit building here. Writing is hard if you are not used to it. You need to break yourself into the habit at first; after a couple of weeks you’ll be flying straight ahead.

Dealing With Resistance

It is a common obstacle that resistance to the writing is going to show up and hold us back from creating. Resistance is a form of fear that latches onto the mind and pulls us off course. If you let it, resistance will turn into a heavy form of procrastination. For years I resisted my natural urge to write. I would give into the resistance and take the easy path: watching TV, playing games or the like.

Resistance doesn’t have to defeat you. As long as you follow the first two steps you’ll be fine. But getting started, even if it is one word on paper, can turn the momentum into a powerful snowball. There are several levels to this obstacle and each one can be stronger than the last depending where you are in the process of writing.

Start-It-Up Checklist

So to revamp, here is your checklist for getting started on your book. If any of the components are missing you can go back and complete them. When you have a checklist it sets the pace for your writing schedule. I use this still even though I’ve been wiring for years because the urge to procrastinate and get stuck still shows up.

Know when to write. Set your writing session for the same time each morning. I set mine at 5:30. In order to start I have to show up at least by 5:25. This gives a few minutes to get relaxed and comfortable. I’ll spend a few minutes thinking about what I’ll be writing about. Then, using the Pomodoro technique you can set your writing session for twenty-five minutes. Take a five minute break. Go for another session.

Be ready with your outline. Have your outline ready to go. This keeps you on track and makes sure you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. When you get stuck you can go back to your outline and find what comes next. Your outline is the roadmap for your book. Make it as detailed as you can and you’ll get finished faster with a solid outline ready to send to the editor after a quick self-edit.

Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive “juice” that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation for a writer could be a quote from a writer, motivational or inspiring words from someone who has been there and done that. I keep a collection of affirmations in a journal and, when I am struggling with a writing session, I’ll warm up by flipping through these affirmations for inspiration.

Here are some inspiring quotes to start with:

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.”

— Confucius

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

— E.B. White

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

— Steve Jobs

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

— J.K . Rowling

Ready…Set…

You can do this. You now have ten mini-strategies for starting your book. The fears of writers rejection are being stamped out as you set out on an incredible journey to becoming a published author. I know there is a long road ahead, but you plug at this everyday and you’ll get your book done.

Just do it.

Start with that first word.

Build with small steps.

Your next bestseller is closer than you think.

Our Students Publish Bestsellers

From Meds to Motivation

By following the guidance of Self Publishing School, Michael wrote and published his book One-Month Willpower, and enjoyed its rapid rise to best-seller status. Initially, Michael had thought maybe fifty people would read it. To his surprise, thousands of people are now reading his book. People are reaching out to him from all over the world saying how much the book has helped them.

Michael Unks

Best Selling Author of One-Month Willpower

Published Turned Self Publishing Success

In self publishing The Power of Responsibility, Joelle shared, “The results I had with my latest book launch, following Self Publishing School, were amazing . . . I finally [had] the opportunity to become a ‘real author.’ ” Joelle is now selling roughly fifty books a day whereas previously, with traditional publishing, she was lucky to sell fifty copies in months.

Joelle Casteix

Best Selling Author of The Power of Responsibility

The Hidden Truth

“[Chandler Bolt] states that you can write and self publish a book in three months, and that is the truth. I was worried about making that timeframe true, and when I found out that he actually had a three-month timeline that told you what to do . . . it was a no-brainer.” Carly is a #1 best-selling author in two categories. In the first two days of her launch, she sold over 1,400 copies of her book.

Carly Danielle

Best Selling Author of The Toxic Truth

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Shirley Wu

Author of Resurgence of a Fallen Angel

About Self Publishing School

Hi, I’m Chandler Bolt,

6-time bestselling author and creator of Self Publishing School.

There’s a book inside you. And my goal is to help you find it and go from blank page to bestseller – even if you’re busy, idea-less, or bad at writing like me.

See, everybody wants to write a book – we just don’t know how. If you’re like me, you’ve dreamed about becoming an author for years.

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