16 Monday Apr 2012
Are you still smarting from not winning the Mega Millions a few weeks back? I know I am. I buy a ticket every Friday, figuring it’s worth the dollar to hedge my bets in case my other work doesn’t pay off. No one ever wins the lottery without playing, and you can’t win at the game of life without playing either, because if you don’t put yourself out there, you are guaranteed not to win. Now imagine you hesitate to buy a lotto ticket because you’re afraid of not winning. Sounds ridiculous, I know, because the odds are so small that you actually will, and yet the fear of failure in life so often paralyzes us to the point that we’re afraid to even try. A one dollar investment in a lotto ticket seems reasonable, but here’s another tool for you to try for free and it just might lead to something big for you.
When I signed up for Christine Kloser’s Transformational Author Experience, I had the benefit of listening to more than twenty experts speak about writing, publishing and marketing. One of those speakers was Marc Allen, the co-founder of New World Library, a publisher known for New Age books by Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, among many others. Marc’s topic that day was traditional publishing, and he demystified the subject in an irreverent and totally relaxed way. Marc does just about everything in an easy and relaxed manner, and during that hour he laid out his admittedly biased views of Big Publishing, calling it a production line business that hurts writers and ends up orphaning books because of its revolving door culture with the editors who champion books. By this time I had already decided that I was going to self-publish, so Marc just affirmed this decision for me, but at the end of his talk, I wanted more of what Marc had to say so I bought The Millionaire Course, a book he published in 2003.
But let me back up a little…in the beginning of 2011, just after I left my corporate gig, I had a dream that I was all dressed up for work (in a pencil skirt!) and ready to go, but to my horror, when I pulled out my keys, they were broken off. In the dream, I thought “well, I’m screwed” but then a man appeared who said he could help me with the problem. I never saw who it was; I simply had a knowing that a voice of authority would help me with the keys. Months later…
My copy of The Millionaire Course arrives in the mail. I love the way the book feels and looks, its crisp green cover, just the right trade paperback shape, and of course, the most perfect marketing title ever created. How can you resist a book called The Millionaire Course? Well, I couldn’t. Eagerly I opened the book and began reading the introduction where Marc gives the reader the background of his own life and why he wrote this book. I am literally on page two when I read, “This book is filled with keys,” and suddenly that dream came flashing back. I devour the book like candy over the next week. This book really is full of keys, more than 160 of them, and Marc incorporates them into the three hundred pages that lay out his plan in detail (he also offers a shortened plan for artists with short attention spans) but here is the basic framework:
The first step is to visual your ideal scene, or in other words, your fantasy life. The sky is the limit here as you think about how you want to live your life, the kind of person you want to be, how you want your relationships to work, and the kind of work you want to do (hint: you love to do it). The simplest question to ask yourself is if money were no object, what would you do? Don’t dream too small here. Have fun with this part.
The next step is to take your idealized scene and identify the goals within it. List them out. For instance, one of my goals is to be a successful published author.
Step three is to take your goals and rewrite them as positive statements or affirmations. The statement should be active and in the process of happening, so my affirmation is I am now succeeding as a published author.
The last step is to make a simple written plan for each goal, just a short one page plan that spells out your mission (highest reason for doing it), goals (steps you intend to take), and strategies (steps you will take). For my goal as a successful published author, I listed this strategy: Publish a book. This last part about the plan is important to get down in writing, because to build anything, you need a design, and this gives you the blueprint for your success. When you write it down, it automatically becomes more real.
I know this all sounds absurdly simple, but you’d be surprised by the results you get just by thinking through your fantasy life and breaking it down into actual goals. It allows you to think about your pie-in-the-sky stuff in a very tangible way. After you begin to re-train your brain by telling yourself what is possible, and then take the necessary steps that you’ve detailed in your one page plan, you can’t help but move closer to the life that you want to live. Yeah, it won’t happen overnight, but the life you have now didn’t happen overnight either.
Think about what you want, break it down into actionable steps that you can take, and then start doing it. One step in front of the other, at whatever pace you can manage, and believe me, you will either end up transforming your life, or you will reconsider what you thought you actually wanted. Either way, you’ve got clarity.
I have to admit I am not a millionaire yet, but I’ve made amazing progress in the direction of my goals and dreams. This book gave me a roadmap to follow and I’m still walking the yellow brick road. So this Friday, go ahead and buy a lotto ticket, but invest in yourself by getting clear on what you really want and what the steps are to get there. All you need to do is just begin. Get it down on paper. Start making it real. Play to win.
14 Wednesday Mar 2012
At the conclusion of my Woo-Woo post, I was told by a total stranger that she felt compelled to tell me about Christine Kloser’s Transformational Author Experience program. I must confess that I searched it on the internet, but then I hesitated. I had just finished my novel, which felt like no small accomplishment, and then had a mystical experience called Constellations, where I learned I would be self-publishing not only Sterling Redmond, but also a novella called Dreaming Montana that I had abandoned almost twenty years before, and I would start blogging and connecting with readers. From where you and I are sitting right now, that’s sounds like a no brainer, because that’s actually what we’re doing, but back in summer 2011, I had no website, no blog, and only a sketchy knowledge on how to get my book published. Still, I balked at signing up for the program. This happens sometimes when you finally reach a goal, and you’re standing on the crest of it, but you have no idea what to do next because you never actually thought you’d be here. When I reviewed how this suggestion was delivered to me, I decided there was a high likelihood the universe had sent a postcard, so I made the modest investment in myself and signed up. The biggest mistake you can make at this stage is thinking you can do it all yourself. Just get over it and admit that you need help, and the smartest thing you can do is to ask for it from people who have already done what you want to do.
Christine Kloser is a three time award winning author who built her program around the concept of conscious entrepreneurship, and the focus of the course was on writing, publishing and marketing your book. This wasn’t just a practical guide, but a program that included doing both the inner and outer work in order to get your book out into the world. Kloser calls this strategy Pray and Move Your Feet, and it starts with getting clear on who you are and what you bring to the world. Then you ask for divine help and guidance and do some activity every day that brings you closer to your dream. Kloser believes that if you first transform yourself, you can then transform your readers, and transform your business, and then ultimately transform the world. Sounds pretty grand, I know, but I also know that I went through a personal transformation while writing my book, and I have heard from readers who feel inspired by my writing and are embarking on their own transformations, and I have to honestly cop to the expectation that this will at some point in the near future transform my business, otherwise known as me sustaining a career as a writer. But right there is where I got temporarily tripped up. I had never thought of my writing as being a business, and this opened my eyes up to the fact that I would need to wear two hats to be successful, one as a creative writer and the other as the marketer of my books. This requires both head and heart, logistics and soul, passion and purpose.
Here’s the bottom line on what I learned during the program:
1) I would need an agent to sell my book to a traditional publisher.
2) I didn’t have the one to two years that it would take me to acquire an agent, and if they managed to sell my book to a traditional publisher, it would then take another year to get the book out into the marketplace. I could get to market quickly if I self-published.
3) I would get higher royalties if I self-published or mediocre royalties if I traditionally published.
4) I would retain the rights to my work if I self-published; I would give them away for a rather paltry advance if I traditionally published.
5) If I went the traditional publishing route, I would not have a say in my final cover design.
6) Traditional publishers do very little marketing for the author. There is an expectation that the author will build a social media platform in order to promote themselves and their books.
7) I hope it’s obvious by now why I decided to self-publish.
The Transformation Author Experience program featured various speakers in one hour teleseminars, ranging from book experts and life coaches to publishing execs and spiritual teachers, and it essentially fast tracked me through the rapidly changing world of publishing while giving me a solid spiritual foundation on which I could rest. I learned something valuable from each speaker, but there were two who stuck with me, Marc Allen and Jonathan Fields, and I’ll share with you in upcoming posts how these two people helped to guide me to the next steps in my journey.