Roughly a year ago I attended a conference called Superstars Writing Seminars, or Superstars for short. It’s a writing conference focused not on the craft of writing but rather the business of being a successful author, and attending the conference was, quite simply, life-changing for me.
Let me paint a picture of where I was a year ago, in terms of experience, knowledge, and my mental/emotional makeup. In the year prior to attending, I’d realized my love of writing, and I’d written my first novel. Then, like many other people in my shoes, I’d polished up the work, sent it to agents in search of representation, and gotten rejected dozens of times. And I’d become depressed and unsure about my path forward.
Thankfully, I had my lovely wife to gently encourage me (via a swift kick in the rear) to keep trying—assuming that writing was something I was serious about. Well, it was, and a conference seemed like a good way to kick-start my, at the time, non-existent career. As luck would have it, I found Superstars, and only a few weeks before the conference was scheduled to be held.
Now, I won’t go into the specifics of what topics were discussed—everything from contracts to self-publishing to marketing to sales numbers and trends, and every tidbit I learned was helpful. But there were two things I took away from the conference that were far more useful than any specific piece of advice I learned.
The first was seeing how hard the most successful authors worked. As someone who had approached writing (to that point) as a hobby, it was eye-opening to see how much time and effort the successful writers poured into their craft, and by craft I don’t just mean learning and practicing their writing, but also marketing, networking, working on budgets and sales and financials, blogging, web design, cover design, editing, etc, etc, etc. Not surprisingly, those authors who were successful approached their endeavors as a business, and like any other business person, they worked hard to be successful.
The other major takeaway I gained from the conference was a renewed passion about writing—in part due to specific motivational speeches (*cough* James Owen *cough), but also because the presenters and attendees were all so passionate about their writing that it was hard not to be infected by the feeling. Not that I really needed to be infected—I was already passionate about my writing. But seeing others doing the same thing I was working toward, and seeing their success while also learning how to do better myself—that was inspiring. And I came away from the conference with that knowledge that I could—not would, but could—succeed as a writer. And despite the idea of gatekeepers in writing, whether they were agents or editors or others, the biggest hurdle to my own success came from within.
So after the conference, I worked hard. I applied myself. I learned as much as I could, and I cut things out of my life that wouldn’t help me become a better writer and a more successful one.
I read blogs on business and writing daily. I updated my website with new bells and whistles. I boosted my social media reach over twofold, and more importantly, I made connections with other writers and with editors and cover artists. I read—a lot, in lots of genres, stuff outside my traditional preference.
And I wrote, as much as I could. I penned three novels, and self-published them when they were ready to see the light of day (well, not the last one yet—but it should be out very soon).
And sales? I tried not to worry about that part too much. That part was largely out of my control. All I could do was work as hard as possible and put out the best product I could. I figured if I did that, success would at some point follow. And you know what? In many ways, success is already here, as evidenced by some of my recent blog posts. My books are doing great. They’re flying off the digital shelves. Readers love them. And I love writing them.
So for those of you who are going to be joining me next week at Superstars, brace yourselves. You’ll have a flood of information coming at you. All of it will be useful. Absorb as much of it as you can. But also keep in mind—success will only be able to come from within you.
Chances are, it’s already there. You just need to free it.