The Author’s Mindset: Episode 1
Motivation is the key to your writing success
Welcome to the Author’s Mindset Podcast. I’m Dan Padavona, your partner on this amazing journey to become a successful author. If you haven’t already, please click the subscribe button so you can receive all my tips and motivation. And while you’re at it, head over to my website at danpadavona.com, that’s danpadavona.com, and sign up for my free email 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 danpadavona.com.
Now, you may wonder why you should listen to me. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m five foot two and never going to dunk a basketball in an NBA game. So that’s not my skill, but I do sell a lot of books. In fact, I generated half a million dollars in Kindle sales and Kindle Unlimited page reads over the last 12 months. And I kept over $360,000 of that in profit. Now that’s after advertising, book cover designs, editing, new equipment, and all that goes into the writing business. And I did it all without a major publishing house backing me. That’s right, I’m self published.
I’m a thriller and mystery writer with multiple successful series that I published and promoted on my own. And because this is the first episode of the Author’s Mindset podcast, let’s lay out a roadmap for where our travels will take us. So I’ll talk about promotional techniques, advertising strategies that work, how to build an email list, and how to pick a genre that virtually guarantees that you’ll have success as a writer. But as you may guess from the title of the podcast, we’ll focus on mindset. Now, I’m a huge believer that mindset determines your future success. Whether you’re an author or the CEO of a small business, whether you’re trying to become a better person, planning to run a 5k, or you just want to burn a few pounds of belly fat. Yes, we will return to mindset repeatedly in this podcast and I think you’ll get a great deal out of it.
You’ll also hear a repeated theme in which I refer to authors like you and me as creative entrepreneurs. Now, this is a term I’m borrowing from my friend Joanna Penn. And I feel it’s absolutely integral that you think of yourself as both a creative and a business person. Even if you’re fortunate enough to work with a major publishing house, chances are that company will expect you to manage your own advertising and promotion, to build a website and mailing list, and to ensure your readers are excited about your books. You’re going to have to do it anyway. So you might as well learn to do it on your own.
A little bit of background in my career. I didn’t begin writing until 2014. That was a full 20 years after I entered my first job professionally with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1994, I was all set to be a meteorologist and I joined the National Weather Service under NOAA. And I was really fascinated by the mystery every day of challenging myself to learn about the forecasting process. However, there were some downfalls to the job. There are downfalls to all jobs, aren’t there? And for me, it was shiftwork. It just broke me; it broke me both mentally and physically. And when I hit 2014, I knew I needed something else in my life.
I’d always been a reader. But I always thought that writing was just a dream. It was too many words, and I could never put that many thoughts on paper. But I decided to try in 2014 and I learned everything I possibly could about writing before I set out on that journey. And between 2014 and 2018 I built a small following. I knocked out some books, but I wasn’t making any money. And you know, maybe you shouldn’t even expect to earn that much money out of the gate, or even profit out of the gate. I had several books under my author brand at that point, all horror books. And there was a small following, but it wasn’t enough to move the needle. It just wasn’t working. 2019 rolled around and I knew I needed to make a change, and I decided to shift into dark thrillers, which are very close to the horror stories, which I was already writing. I added a mystery component, and pretty soon, I thought that I had a winning combination on my hands.
Those first few books which I released, again very little success, and going into 2019, I was barely breaking even in my writing career. In other words, I was spending as much on advertising and book cover designs, as I was earning from Amazon and the other retailers, which I sold through. That was pretty sobering. Because writing is a very difficult job. At times, it made me want to turn back and just give up. I’m sure glad I didn’t, because fast forward to three years later in 2021, and I was making well above six figures in profits from my writing. Over the course of these podcasts, I’m going to show you exactly how I did it, and we’re going to talk about how you can do it too.
Now let’s get some things straight. This is a difficult career. It’s not easy. Facing the blank page and writing for 90 minutes straight. Some people might scoff at that and say, “Come on, Dan, you were working nine hours at your previous job. That’s what I do. Now you’re telling me the 90 Minute day is harder than a nine hour day.”
But I’ll say this: Those 90 minutes that I write are as challenging as any nine hours combined that I ever spent at my previous job. Let that sink in for a little bit. Facing the blank page and not knowing what to write next is very difficult. I don’t write for 90 minutes straight. What I do is I divide my workload into three 30 minute chunks of writing, which are separated sometimes by just a few seconds to take a breather, and sometimes 10-15 minutes to go down and get something to eat, make some tea, kind of refresh my mind. Either way, it’s a very difficult job. And if you’re going to work a very difficult job, you ought to be compensated for it. Those 90 minutes aren’t even counting the additional hours I spend each day working on my advertising, sending out emails, writing articles for my website, editing my manuscripts, working with designers and editors, and on and on. It’s a busy life being a creative. And I’ll tell you one thing, there is only one way to succeed.
As an author, you must enter creative beast mode. And I say this with all apologies to Eric Thomas, who is probably my favorite in the self development and motivational speaking category. Success must become mandatory for you as it did for me. No excuses. I’ll tell you about my writing career. You probably say, “Oh, easy for you, Dan, to put in 90 minutes of writing per day. This is your full time job.” Well didn’t used to be. It used to be my side hustle. I worked a nine-hour day. I also had about half an hour to 45 minutes in commuting time. And I still managed to punch out three to five full length novels every single year, year after year. Plus, I was a husband. I raised two children, and I made time to weight train and work on my aerobic conditioning. You can find the time.
The light at the end of the tunnel says this: If you succeed, this can be your full time job. So the ball is in your court now. And this is what we’re going to leave you with for this lesson in this podcast. Let’s begin at the very beginning.
You need to find a level of success that will make you excited.
Think about that for a little bit. Don’t just write down a million dollars in sales, or quit my job, or, hey, just make enough money to buy pizza for my friends on Friday nights. Find something, which just thinking about it motivates you. You can see it, and so you can do it. Once you find this level of success that makes you excited, I want you to write it down. That’s the big task for today. You can write it down on paper, or you can stick it into a digital doc. But I put most of everything that I work on into a Google Doc or several different Google Docs. And that’s because I want to have them accessible no matter where I am. So if I’m out shopping, or I’m on vacation, or whatever I’m doing, I can look down, and I can see what I’m working on now and the goals which I’m trying to reach.
Now that you have this first level of success, and you have written down something which really motivates you, you need to list everything that you will need to learn and accomplish to reach this level of success. How many books will you need to sell, and at what price? Are there certain things you need to learn in order to become a better writer? Are there certain things you need to learn about advertising and promotion?
Have you found a book cover designer who not only you think is great, but the market thinks is great as well. That’s big. Why? Because you want a book designer with a track record of success, not one that you like, but one which your readers will like too. Remember, people judge books by covers whether we like it or not. See, you must have a great cover. Do you have a great editor? If not, this is also something which you need to learn about and accomplish to reach your next level of success.
Once you’ve spent enough time writing everything down, listing all of the accomplishments you will need to make to reach this wonderful goal that you have set in your mind, this thing which excites you to no end, now you need to assign deadlines. Challenge yourself. You need deadlines to reach your goals. And you also need deadlines to educate yourself and develop your new skills. So if you said I need to find a cover designer, a top notch cover designer, then that needs to be a deadline to write it down. Give yourself a deadline. If you don’t, you might not do it.
Also, you want to learn to crawl before you walk. And you want to walk before you run. And you want to run before you run a marathon. So assess where you are right now in your writing career. What is realistic for that next big jump in your level of success? If you can barely get a word on the blank page, then start from there and work up to 250 words per day. You’re already getting 250 words per day? Work up to 500 words, then 1000. Once you have a certain amount of words which you’re getting in per day, now it’s time to get more efficient. Start setting timers and hit word counts in a predefined time period. For instance, I need to hit a certain word count inside of 30 minutes. And I’m always challenging myself to improve just the way you must always challenge yourself to improve.
Do you need to block off writing time every day so your family knows this is when Mommy or Daddy writes? Is this something which YOU need? It may very well be that you are the one who needs to block off the writing time; otherwise you won’t do it. Has this been your problem up until this point? Procrastination? Not getting the words on paper. Always waiting for that sudden inspiration to strike like lightning out of the sky. Well that never happens. You just need to do the work. By blocking off your writing time, you form a habit.
So as we begin to wrap things up today, you now possess a plan that can take you from wherever you are in your writing career to that exciting level of success that you’re dreaming about. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait for next week or next year. Forget about New Year’s resolutions. Start now. Today.
And I want you to measure everything on this journey. Measure your word count, measure your revenue, measure your profit. Measure your return on investment. We’ll get more into this in the forthcoming episodes as we talk about things like advertising, and how much to pay for a book cover, et cetera, et cetera, and anything else which you add to your writing career to get you to the next level. Remember, progress must be measured so we know we’re on track, and we know where we need to make adjustments. And you will have to make adjustments. It won’t be a smooth rocket-ship ride to success. You will run into snags, and you will have to make adjustments when you hit those snacks. Don’t worry about it. Don’t fret it. The worst thing you can do is not measure and then go into a hole and quit before you reach the level which you could have reached had you just stuck it out a little bit longer.
Now if you enjoyed this episode, please, please do me a favor and go to Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, wherever you listen 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. Don’t forget to head over to danpadavona.com. That’s danpadavona.com, and sign up for my mailing list. It’s absolutely free. And you can see what I’m working on now and what techniques I’m employing to grow my author business. If you like those tips, you can apply them to your own career immediately. So once again, head over to danpadavona.com and sign up.
Remember, the seeds of happiness flourish when you shine a positive light. Make someone smile today and remember to stay amazing.
Until the next episode. This is Dan Padavona for The Author’s Mindset.