The Author’s Mindset: Life Happens For You
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Welcome to the Author’s Mindset Podcast. I’m Dan Padavona, your partner on this amazing journey to becoming a successful author. If you haven’t already, please click the Subscribe button so you receive all my tips and motivation. And while you’re at it, head over to my website at DanPadavona.com and click on my Advice for Authors blog for my latest tips and tricks and new techniques I’m using to advertise my author brand and generate higher earnings in my writing career. Once again, that’s Dan Padavona.com.
Well, Happy New Year to all my friends and writers out there in author world. Hey, just a little update on me. You may notice I’ve not been around for the last two weeks, and I caught the inevitable holiday get together cold. I could have recorded except for I sounded horrible. And you all know the way that you sound when you get a bad cold. You just sound like death warmed over. I wanted to spare you from having to deal with that. So I didn’t record for the last two weeks, but I am back and I’m feeling great, and I am ready to roll.
Hey, since I said Happy New Year, did you set any New Year’s resolutions on your writing career, any on your business prospects, for health, for just about anything? If you didn’t, it’s not too late. In fact, it’s never too late. I don’t even use New Year’s resolutions anymore. I just don’t. I’m not one of those people who decides that because it’s January 1, it’s time to go to the gym, it’s time to finally start this or that or whatever. Any excuse which you can use to better your life, that’s a good thing, but you shouldn’t depend on these calendar days to tell you that it’s time to write or time to work or time to increase your business, just as you shouldn’t wait for November to write that novel.
You need to be working on yourself and working on your career all the time. So if it’s January 11, which is the day I’m recording this, and you decide I want to accomplish X over the next 365 days, then go ahead and set yourself a goal for January 11, 2024. By then I will have accomplished such and such. And don’t limit yourself to year long resolutions or year long goals. Set shorter term goals. I’ll be discussing this in the future too. I think it’s highly motivating to have both short and long term goals so you’re always working towards something and you’re always accomplishing something. Boy, that can really motivate you and get the juices going.
Now in our last episode, we talked about AMS ads and CTR versus CVR, and that has already inspired a lot of fun conversation on the interwebs. So if you have an opinion on that, or you want to go back and listen to the last blog cast, please do so and let me know what you think. I think that there are many reasons that they can be independent of each other, even though I think that CTR at least to a small degree should inform CVR. But I have a lot of data backing up my own studies on CTR and CVR. And we’ll we’ll take a look at this many more times in the future as we roll up our sleeves and get data heavy. We also discussed on the previous episode GPT-3’s impact on novelists and writers like you and me. And a lot of people are now talking about the impact of GPT-3. Of course there are a lot more naysayers starting to come out after all the excitement, or at least all of the worry that it was going to take away the careers of authors. Here is a quote from Wahid Uz Zaman, who is a freelance content writer of great note. He was quoted in The Business Standard.
This is coming from a freelance content writer who makes his money off of writing content on the web, and therefore, AI could be threatening his future career. But I agree with many of the things that he says. I think perhaps he takes a little bit more negative viewpoint than I would on generative AI.
I mentioned in that episode on GPT-3 and its impact on novelists that I believe the technology will help writers, not take our careers away. And I put my money where my mouth is.
I’m currently a subscriber to both Sudowrite and Ryter. I am running a one month testing lab of sorts on both those applications. And I’m also a beta tester for LAIKA. Of the three which I’ve seen by far, Sudowrite is the most advanced and the best, which I’ve encountered. Writer doesn’t do much for me, I’m starting to experiment with blog content and see how it performs. You know, giving you ideas for blog content, but as far as helping you write a novel, not at all, I don’t like it at all. LAIKA is very much in the development stages. One of the neat things about LAIKA is you can feed it a very long piece of text, and it will write in the style of that text pretty convincingly. So I fed it an entire novel which I had written three or four months ago. LAIKA generated text based on some prompts, which frighteningly looked a lot like my writing. However, the actual direction which the story took was just strange. So it certainly wasn’t ready for primetime. But I’m encouraged. I like what I see. Back to Sudrowrite. Sudowrite is terrific for outlining for instance. You can give it like five or six scenes, and these are just short summaries. You might say something like – scene one: Thomas Shepherd does so and so. Scene two: The bad guy shows up and does so and so. And then you leave the next scene blank and click write, and Sudowrite will come up with ideas for what you can use for the next scene. That’s pretty neat. And that’s helping me in the development phase for future novels. So that’s why I say Sudowrite and generative AI can be very helpful for us.
I’ve also experimented with Sudowrite, taking an idea, taking a chapter of I’ve already written, and then saying, Okay, what happens next, and just letting it go. And what I’ve found are very mixed results. So far, some of the content is pretty interesting and gives me ideas about where I could go next, things that I hadn’t thought of, which is kind of neat. I liked that aspect of Sudowrite and generative AI. But oftentimes, it just goes off the rails, it starts coming up with all these ridiculous ideas. There was one where, if you’re familiar with my novels, if you’re familiar with my Wolf Lake or Thomas Shepherd books, you know who Scout Mourning is. Scout Mourning is a teenager who was in a wheelchair; she is a private investigator on the internet, not a real private investigator, but like an amateur sleuth. She’s kind of nerdy and fun, and et cetera, et cetera. And Sudowrite decided that the killer, who was trying to escape the snowstorm, would go to Scout’s house and Scout would help him warm up and give him hot chocolate and coffee.
So yeah, generative AI is not taking my job. But like I said, there are great ideas which these generative AIs come up with. And they just helped me with my creative process. I can do really neat things with it too, like I can write a paragraph and I can say, rewrite it and make it more poetic or something like that. And it comes up with some neat prose. Sometimes it’s garbage. And other times, I could take a couple of those lines, and they kind of spice up the story. I like that. So I’m more than happy to pay Sudowrite what I’m paying them per month, which is basically for the maximum amount. I can generate 300,000 words per month, just to give you an idea, and that’s quite a bit more than I need. I don’t write 300,000 word books. And I’m not using Sudowrite to generate an entire novel for me. I’ve often thought about wasting 50,000 word, and just seeing what it comes up with. I think it would probably be pretty damn hilarious, to be honest with you. But I’m not going to go there.
Okay, so now on to our next episode, I want to get back to mindset. We certainly rolled up the sleeves in the last episode and got pretty deep into the technologies of AMS ads and working on conversion rates and click through rates. But this is The Author’s Mindset, and I know that you come here for a reason. And one of those reasons is to develop the correct mindset, so that you can have success as an author.
So here’s a concept which I want to talk about today. Won’t take long. But I think it’s going to have a huge impact on your life and your year. I really want you to take it to heart. And that is that life happens for you, not to you. Let me say that again – life happens for you, not to you. We all run into bad luck here and there, and if if you are like me, and you believe that things happen for a reason, then you can either say, Boy, I just have the worst luck. Or you can say that happened for a reason, and I can grow from that. Now, I’m not going to say that losing my father to cancer was positive. But there is still something which I can learn from that. I won’t say that having my wife go through breast cancer several years ago is something which I find positive. But again, we can draw positives from that. She is doing fine now, and we have much healthier lifestyles, et cetera, et cetera.
All right, so let me give you a couple of examples from my own life. And hopefully you can apply these to your life as well. In November of 2021, I was dealing with some strange lightheadedness; I would get up and I would kind of feel like the room was moving on me. It was becoming bothersome when I was driving in the car. It was certainly worrying me. Of course all sorts of things go through your head. You think about brain tumors, you think about a clogged artery; all sorts of things will pop into your head. So I finally went into the doctor. The first thing they do when you walk into the doctor’s office is they check your blood pressure, and they take your pulse. Turned out that my blood pressure was sky high. It wasn’t in the I’m about to have a heart attack range. But it was really high, like 140 over 100. Here I am, I’m somebody who ate right, at least for the most part. I had my vices, my pizzas, my ice creams. But for the most part, I ate right, I had a fairly healthy weight. I also exercised far more than the average American. I was always on my bike, I weight lifted, I walked a lot, all the things which doctors tell you to do. So I felt like geez, I’m doing all the right things. So I could have taken that diagnosis and said, well, there it is – life happening to me again, and buried my head in the sand.
But I didn’t. I believe that life happens for you, that life happens for a reason. So my diagnosis of high blood pressure led me to cleaning up my diet, especially taking a lot of the salt out of my diet, and also dropping weight. The quest for diet information led me to Dr. William Li’s book, Eat to Beat Disease. That was so eye opening. I took so much from that book. This led me to a desire to reduce stress, because obviously, stress can affect high blood pressure. So that got me into exploring meditation, and meditation led me to self development books like Tony Robbins, Brendon, Burchard, and more. And that led me to career development. Tony Robbins led me to Dr. David Sinclair, and treating aging as a disease. I just find Dr. David Sinclair’s studies to be absolutely fascinating. Long story short, a little bit more than a year later, and all of a sudden, I have this much more positive view of the future and believe that many people my age are going to live well past the age of 100. And with many more healthy years than the typical elderly person has had up till this point. I took it as life is happening for me; I took it as a lesson. Each lesson led me down the path to a new, even more important lesson. So here is a direct application and how you can use the idea of life happens for you, not to you, in your writing.
Many of you know that I built my career on the back of advertising. That was how I got myself in front of readers who had never heard of me. Over time, I built a following and took my books from obscurity to the top 100 in Amazon. But in the fall of 2022 (we’re going back about three or four months), my ads simply stopped working, my conversions on Amazon’s advertising system absolutely plummeted. They were just terrible. I also saw a explosion in cost per click on Facebook. So what to do? I had built my career on these advertisements, and all the sudden they’re just not working anymore. Does this mean that my career is threatened? Is this life happening to me again? No, I had to say that life happens for me. I had to take lessons and grow as a business person and as a writer.
This led me to studying what worked for me in the past. I’m kind of a data freak, so I’m always going back and I’m looking at my dashboard in AMS. I’m looking at my spreadsheets, which I keep on my profitability and revenue.
Here’s something curious: I noticed that my highest revenue months were occurring last summer – summer of 2022. There were some months in excess of $50,000 revenue. Just some jaw dropping stuff. I realize there are some of you out there who kind of laugh at that and say, No, that would be a bad month for me. Great, I want to hit that level someday. But a lot of us can look at that level of revenue and say, Wow, that’s something to shoot for.
But here’s something interesting. My most profitable month was actually back in March of 2022, when I had much less revenue. I had to dig into the whys and look at my spreadsheet data. Boy, did I find I was spending a lot more on ads in the summer of 2022, than I had in March of 2022. That led me to completely rethinking my ad strategy. I lowered a lot of bids across the board to decrease the risk of one my conversions going through horrible periods, and those horrible periods are inevitable. I don’t care how good you are with AMS ads or Facebook ads. You’re going to have those periods, whether it’s the fact that you’ve worn out your target audience, or it’s just bad luck and random statistical deviations. I concentrated more on building my email list. And of course, we talked about email list just a few episodes ago.
The result is I am now pulling between $30000 and $40,000 per month in revenue, with far less reliance on advertising. Hence, profitability is way up. In fact, last month, December of 2022, I almost beat that March 2022 profitability level. (Profitability is taking revenue and subtracting off all of your costs. And for me, the largest costs are advertising costs)
So the big takeaway from all of this is, it’s easy to be a writer and a business person, when every strategy you use works. How you respond to challenges determines your long term success in any business, especially writing. So remember, life happens for you, not to you.
If you enjoyed this episode, please do me a favor. Go to Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, or wherever you’re listening to this podcast, and give me a rating and a review. Positive reviews help other authors or anyone engaged in self development, find this podcast. Remember to head over to DanPadavona.com and check out my Advice for Authors blog. It’s absolutely free. You can see what I’m working on now and what techniques I’m employing to grow my author business. And if you’d like those tips, you can apply them to your own career.
Remember, the seeds of happiness flourish when you shine a positive light. So make someone smile today, and remember to stay amazing.
Thank you for listening to the Author’s Mindset Podcast.