Reading and writing are two skills that cannot be separated. How much you read and what you read relates to the success of your writing journey as well. Today, in the second part of the March Madness Series, Arlene continues to talk about how to be a better writer and how to create a tangible output in no time. This step, however, is not about you sitting at your desk and jotting down the first chapter of your book. Rather, it is something you should do before giving life to your content. In this episode, Arlene explains the difference between genres and how reading can help you find the genre that best describes your work. This way, you can accurately identify your target niche and improve the quality of your product to make it to the right market. Reading can also help you on the business side of writing and getting to know your competition. Knowing what others can and can’t offer will help you stand out as different, which can boost your business and your “expert” identity. If you’ve done everything and still couldn’t write your book, you’re probably writing the wrong book. The most important thing in book-writing is connection. A writer always writes from the heart and from the mind. It’s where the soul of your work is.
“You need to read in order to understand how to be a better writer.” -Arlene Gale
01:30 What Your Book Should Mean To You
02:50 A Book Writer Is A Book Reader
06:22 The Business Side of Writing
07:19 Genre Differences
14:10 Fiction and Non-Fiction Myths
19:37 Read To Know Your Competition
22:31 Write the Right Book
Do you want to be a better writer? Then be a better reader! Listen in as @arlene_gale explains why you should start reading RIGHT NOW! #BookWritingBusiness #BusinessBuildingBooks #MarchMadness #ReaderWriter #genre #FictionNon-Fiction #competition… Click To Tweet
04:21 “You need to read in order to understand how to be a better writer.” -Arlene Gale
05:45 “Nothing kills a product faster than negative word of mouth.” -Arlene Gale
09:03 “You have to read because you have to understand the genre promise that you’re making to your readers. It’s a matter of trust.” -Arlene Gale
19:40 “Everybody has competition. Just because you don’t acknowledge that competition or you don’t know it exists as competition, doesn’t mean it’s not there.” -Arlene Gale
22:59 “If you sit down to write a book and this book is too hard to write, you’re writing the wrong book.” -Arlene Gale
Connect with Arlene:
Arlene Gale is an expert in helping people tell their stories (professional or personal) to build business. She combines decades of business marketing, communicating, and writing expertise to direct clients past damaging business mindsets, myths, and misconceptions toward powerful and profitable business-building success. Arlene is a top-notch business strategist and written content expert. She has helped hundreds of clients, in a variety of industries, earn millions of dollars in business as a result of writing & publishing credibility-building books. She helps clients duplicate these results from start to finish, including writing book proposals earning mainstream publishing contracts before the book is written. If it needs to be written, Arlene can do it, and do it in such a way that it generates income. She has written thousands of feature magazine articles, hundreds of business plans establishing short- and long-term goals, written and produced hundreds of television and radio advertisements, and more.
Arlene Gale: Hi everybody. Welcome to this episode of Mindset Meets Mastery with Arlene Gale. We are continuing the series called my March Madness. Remember, two weeks ago, we interviewed a traditional publisher and got some myths and mindsets around publishing, and how to approach an agent or a publisher and increase your opportunity for success, that was Episode 22. And then last week in Episode 23, I talked about how to grow your writing muscles, and some of the myths and mindsets around not being a good writer, and how that can keep you from writing your book.
So this week, we’re going to continue my March Madness. And remember, for me, March Madness is the fact that, just a few months ago, we were all excited about having this brand new year, and it was so bright and shiny, and untouched, and full of potential. And here we are almost to the end of the first quarter, and your goal to start writing your book or to finish writing your book may not have started, or finished, or materialized in any way, shape or form. So that’s why I’ve dedicated my March Madness to the book writing business. I’m an expert book writing coach. And what makes me different from everybody else who calls themself quote, a book writing coach is I have 30 years of combining marketing and writing, and business development expertise. I have a proven track record for success. I have helped hundreds and hundreds of clients, or millions of dollars in new business because they’ve written powerful and profitable books. Because my goal is not to just help you write any old book. My goal is not for you to just say, Oh, yeah, I’m a published author. My goal is to help you say, Hey, I’m a published author, and I’ve grown my business by X amount of dollars or X number of clients, because your book is a tool, a business building tool. It is not your toolbox. It is not the beginning, middle, and end of your business. It is another tool that features your expertise, and helps bring in clients, and helps you sell products or services.
So with that said, I want to jump into this episode of March Madness, which is about writing your book, and it might seem a little weird because what I’m going to talk about today is the myth that you don’t have to read that if you’re going to write a book, it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction. It’s not a big deal, I don’t need to read books. That is absolutely not true, there are so many reasons why, if you want to write a book, you need to become a book reader. And audible is fine. Listening to books on CD while you’re on long trips, that’s fine. You get some value in that, but what you really need to do is to stand around, or sit around, or go to a bookstore, and flip through the pages of a book. Look at the table of contents, how many sections are there? How many chapters are in each section? What does the introduction feel like? What is the call to action at the end? And now, let me stop and remind you that I specialize in writing nonfiction. So it doesn’t matter if you’re writing a personal story or if you’re writing a business professional story. Either way, that’s what I’m talking about, you need to understand what’s on the marketplace, which means you need to read, because there are trends in the marketplace that are selling now that nobody would have dared to do five years ago. So you really need to read in order to understand how to be a better writer, how to write a book and publish a book, that’s going to be a business builder that’s going to get you return on investment. Otherwise, you’re banging your head up against a wall. And all you’re doing is getting a headache, and spending time, and spending money on becoming a published author for a book that’s never going to sell and never going to get you clients.“You need to read in order to understand how to be a better writer.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
But if you’re writing fiction, you also need to be reading because you have to understand your genre. And what is the difference between the genre that you want to write and other genres that are similar? You have to understand your genre. So I’m going to warn you right now, I’m going to go off into a little rant. So consider yourself warned. But if you’re writing fiction, you really have to know this. You have to read other fiction books in the genre that you think you’re writing just to make sure it’s the right genre. Because you’re making a handshake deal with a reader, when you tell them that this is the genre your book is in. If your genre does not deliver, or if your book does not deliver on the genre promises, then you have lost a reader for life. And you’re potentially going to end up losing his or her friends too, because nothing kills a product faster than negative word of mouth. And I don’t care if it’s a book or whatever, negative word of mouth spreads way faster than good reviews. But you really need to understand your genre.“Nothing kills a product faster than negative word of mouth.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
So let me start with this. I’ve mentioned this many times before I go, and I do workshops, and I speak at business conferences, and writing conferences, and where I go, and I talked to fiction writers about the business of book writing, and how to write a book and actually be able to sell it. The difference between advertising, marketing, public relations and sales because most fiction writers don’t understand the business part of writing. And that’s not really a criticism. It’s the fact that they’re focusing on breathing life into these characters and making them real so will love them. So the business part is just something they need to learn, and it is learnable.
But let me start with this, go back to this on my soapbox. When I go out and I’m doing workshops. I will often ask somebody: “So hey, so what do you write? What genre do you write about?” And they’ll tell me: “Oh, I write Y, A.” Okay. Y, A stands for Young Adult. Well, Y, A is not a genre. Thriller, murder, mysteries, sci fi, punk or steampunk, those are genres. Romance, Y, A is a target market. Let me say that again, Y, A or young adult is not the answer to the question, what genre do you write? The answer Y, A is the answer to the question, who is your target market? Or who are your readers? Okay? Again, genre is something like romance, sci fi, thriller, murder, mystery, detective. steampunk, I’m trying to think of all of the genres that are coming to the top of my brain at the moment, but those genres. And it’s really important that when you tell somebody you’re writing Y, A or young adult novels, Is it romance? Is it a detective? Is it a coming of age story? What is it? Is it a thriller? I want to know that because you know what? It’s been a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time since I have been a Y, A, a young adult, but I read a lot of young adults, because you know what? Some of the more adult stuff, I like mysteries and murder mysteries, but I don’t like violence against women and children. So there’s a lot of that that’s target marketed towards adults that I can’t read. So I prefer the Y, A, I will shop in that category instead. And I like different genres of Y, A, but if you tell me that you’re writing a coming of age story, or you’re writing a woman’s fiction, and I pick it up and it’s really historical fiction, or it’s something else, you’re going to lose me. You’ve lost your credibility because if you don’t know your genre, and you don’t know what you’re selling to me, I’m not buying anymore, I’m just not. So that’s another reason why you have to read because you have to understand the genre promise that you’re making to your readers. It’s a matter of trust. It’s a handshake deal you’re making.“You have to read because you have to understand the genre promise that you're making to your readers. It's a matter of trust.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
Let me give you another example. So when we’re talking about genre, you know the difference between writing a romance novel and women’s fiction novel, because it sounds like they ought to be pretty similar right? No, not right at all. A romance novel focuses on a romantic relationship. And in that relationship, both sides of the equation bring something of value, and a power, and strength, and also the vulnerability to the table. And usually, the characters will complete each other, one’s weaknesses will be another strengths or vice versa. But mostly in a romance novel, in the romantic relationship, you’re guaranteed a happy ending. The heroine, the heroine may break up, they may fight, they may separate, geographically or philosophically for a period of time. But by the end of that romance novel, there’s going to be a happy ending for the two of them. So that’s romance.
But Arlene, what’s the difference between that and women’s fiction? Well, let me tell you, they’re very different. I am not a huge fan of romance, but I love women’s fiction. Because women’s fiction features women who are on a journey, they’re looking for something, and they have inner strength or outer strength even though it may not be completely clear to those characters, it’s clear to the reader. Then in women’s fiction, as the woman goes through her journey, wherever that may take her or whatever that means to her. There may be a romance, sure, why not? There might be a romance but the romance is happening because the woman wants it to happen. The woman makes conscious decisions about it happening. It’s not like a romance where you might bicker with somebody and then all of a sudden, one morning, you look up and you get all googly eyes and you’re in love. No, that’s not women’s fiction. Women’s fiction, if there’s a romance, it’s pretty much intentional because the woman is driving that. Yeah, there’ll be growth of the female character, but one of the big differences is, there’ll be a character arc for this woman character, the female lead, and you’ll know, and you’ll be happy for her because she has experienced, she’s found what she’s looking for. But that may not lead to a full blown happy ending, and that’s okay. But that’s the difference between romance and women’s fiction. If you want to happily ever after, then you want to read a romance. You don’t necessarily want to read a women’s fiction or women’s lit. So think about the genre that you’re writing, and read, go to the bookstore, go online and order books, and read the books that are in the genre that you think you’re writing. And as you’re reading those books, you can say, Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m looking for. Or, oh, no, that’s not what I’m looking for. That’s not what I’m doing. That’s not what I meant to have happened.
So now there is a difference between a thriller, and a murder mystery, or a psychological thriller. There are nuances that make up the genres that make them different. So think about those things, and by all means, become more of an avid reader before you try to sit down and write. Because by reading more, you will get clearer about your characters, your world building, and your character arcs, and the genre that you’re writing in so that you can be truer to that genre. So think about that for a moment. I’m gonna take a quick break. And then I’m going to come back and talk about another advantage to reading books in your genre. And that’s called competition.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Mindset Meets Mastery. And we’re talking today about becoming a better writer so that you can actually start and finish writing your book. And it doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. I specialize in helping people write nonfiction, whether it’s a personal story or professional story, that’s what I do. But I also teach classes in elements of fiction writing. And one of my pet peeves is that people think they’re writing fiction or nonfiction, and they understand how those two are different, but don’t really stop to think about how fiction and nonfiction are similar. And the myth is that nonfiction has to be boring. It’s all processes, or systems, or history, or data, or statistics. And that’s not true. So nonfiction writers would tremendously benefit by understanding world building, and character arc, and interviewing their characters, and problem solving. As is done in the fiction book writing world in order to produce and write a better book with their story, whether it’s, again, personal or professional.
But what I want to spend this time here in the second half of the program, is to talk about the second reason why you need to be an avid reader if you want to be a good writer. So remember, this is March Madness, and we’re talking about becoming a better writer. So that you will be able to have the confidence to get off dead center and start writing a book, your book, or to stop using that as an excuse for not starting or finishing writing your book.
So here’s another key reason why reading will make you a better writer. And there’s just so many levels and depth to why reading is a powerful way to spend your time before you start writing your book. So if you’re writing your book, we talked a little bit about fiction, if you’re writing in a certain genre, or you think you’re writing in a certain genre, then go find books in that genre, or read your favorite authors, or ask your friends who their favorite authors are and read some of those authors books. And what that will do is help you to understand that yes, you are writing in that genre or maybe you’re not. But you’ll also get a good feel for world building, and character building, character arcs, and ensemble casts, and antagonists and protagonists, and how are they similar but different.
But I really want to talk to people about writing their story, their nonfiction story, whether you’re writing a business building book, which is about your systems, or processes, or skill sets that benefit your clients, or whether you’re writing a personal story that you can use to fund a nonprofit, for example, or to become a keynote, motivational inspirational speaker, or maybe you want to become a life coach. What you want to do before you start writing your book is to start reading books in those categories. If you are a time management expert, and you want to write a book on time management, who’s your competition? What have they written? If your leadership coach, and let me tell you, leadership coaches are a dime a dozen, they really are. You really need to niche down, or fine tune what is your message? Yeah, you may be teaching leadership, but again, you’re going to be drowning in a sea of leadership coaches, what makes you unique? What makes you different? And in order to be able to answer that question, you gotta know what’s on the marketplace. What are other people teaching, or talking about in the leadership field related to what it is that you do? Knowing your competition is key because it helps you to see the format, the structure of their books. But also, what are the key points that they’re talking about? And do you agree or disagree with them? Look at their listing online for that book, and look at the reviews for that book. Are the reviews something like, oh, too much data, too much research, too much this, or too much that Well, you know what? That’s something that you can learn so that you can become a better writer when it comes to creating the content for your book, right?
So what if there’s some great reviews that say, Oh, I love the case studies, or I love the cautionary tales, and how you were able to turn them around with your expertise. That’s good stuff. That’s exactly what you want to know about writing a book, because you want to know what your potential target market is in tune to, what are they looking for? What are they hoping to find when they pick up your book? And when you understand what your competition is doing, or not doing, then you understand how are you bigger? How are you better? How are you advancing the dialogue? Because not only does that information impact the content of your book, and the way you write it, but that information becomes part of your marketing plan. Because if you can tell me why you’re better than X, Y or Z, I’m going to resonate with that and your books the one I’m going to write. But if you just another book on topic A, or topic B, then there’s nothing that sets you apart from all the other books in that topic, why would I bother? And that’s the question you want to help the reader or potential reader answer. Why would I buy your book over these other books in the same category?
So it really does require some reading and some research to be able to answer those questions for yourself, so that you can then answer those questions for your reader. I get people who often will tell me that they have no competition. Everybody has competition. There you go, I just rip the band aid off. Everybody has competition. Just because you don’t acknowledge that competition, or you don’t know it exists as competition doesn’t mean it’s there. So I have a client who is teaching a specific process that is unique and that is different. And if he searches that process on Google, that process is not coming up in the Google search. So does that mean that he has no competition? Now, it just means that he hasn’t found the right keywords to search for that competition yet. So think about what are some of the top key words or short phrases that your potential clients or your potential readers are going to search for, to look for what it is that you are an expert at? Because what you’re an expert at may very well not come up on a keyword search. But if your clients are hiring and looking for what you’re teaching, or what your skill set is, what your expertise set is, then you really need to kind of get out of your own way and figure out, or maybe you need to make some phone calls and ask people, what is it that you say I do? Because if you’re wanting to be hired, you have to find a way to communicate with the people who are going to hire you. And it’s not that I have no competition, it’s just that I haven’t found the right words to describe my market niche and where my competition is.“Everybody has competition. Just because you don't acknowledge that competition or you don't know it exists as competition, doesn't mean it's not there.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
So again, that other more reasons why reading is so important to help you to be a better writer. Here’s my last thought about writing a book. Let’s say you’ve practiced, and practice, and practice writing. And you feel pretty good that your skills have come a long way in four weeks, or six weeks, or eight weeks, or three or four months. And you really feel good about your ability to paint word pictures, your ability to build a story in layers, and you’re ready to start writing your book. Let’s say that you’ve done all the reading, and you know for sure you feel comfortable what genre you’re writing in. Let’s say that you know who your competition is, and you’re very clear about that, and you’re very clear about how you’re different, and what marketplace you’re going to insert yourself into. And why you are the expert, why you are the go to expert in that marketplace. And you’ve done all of that. You sit down, and now you’re going to write, cricket, cricket, cricket, cricket, cricket. You’re sitting at the blank computer screen with your hands on your desk. Maybe you’re banging your head up against the wall, because nothing’s coming to you. Writing this book is so hard. Yeah. So you kind of stopped before you even begin. Or let’s say you got in and you got real gung ho, because you started to write this little piece of the story, and then you got stuck.
So I want to leave you with this little nugget. If you have done everything I’ve asked or suggested about writing a book to increase your writing abilities, not just writing but also in reading, and learning, and understanding your genre, and your target market and you still can’t write the book. That’s because you haven’t created, you haven’t found. Let me just put it this way, you’re writing the wrong book. If you sit down to write a book, and this book is too hard to write, you’re writing the wrong book. For some reason, there’s a disconnect between what is in your brain, and what is in your heart, and what is trying to come out through your fingertips onto the page or onto the screen. And that’s going to have to be a topic for another day, I think.“If you sit down to write a book and this book is too hard to write, you're writing the wrong book.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
But really, if you’re struggling to write a book, then there’s a disconnect somewhere between, that’s keeping all of that from happening. So if you’re having trouble writing your book, you got stuck or you stopped, then it may be that you have to back step, back pedal, and go back up to the 10,000 foot overview, and look down and see what’s missing, what’s not right? What’s not working? Why am I trying to force this? What am I not happy about? Because until it’s published, and out on the market and sold, you got the great gift of editing and revisions that you can do. So just keep in mind if you get, if you do, get to the point where you sit down to write the book and the book is just not coming easily, then you’re writing the wrong book, something’s missing. And it’s going to be up to you to back pedal, or back up, and look to figure out what is it that is keeping you from writing the book.
So, those are my words of wisdom for today, for this week’s March Madness, book writing style. If you are looking to do an online coaching class, I have on my website bookwritingbusiness.com, two online courses, one of them’s a self paced course, and the other one is a 12 week coaching course that’s video based, you will get a video on, I think a Friday, and it comes with homework assignments and a workbook, and then sometime you’ll have that weekend to work on all of that, the video and the homework, and then we will have a coaching call the next week, and I keep these classes small, because everybody’s going to get an opportunity to talk about problems, concerns, issues, but also goal set, and then talk the next week about what goal did I meet? Why did I not meet it? What do I need to fine tune? So even though this is an online class so that I can reach people all over the world who want to learn to write their book, it’s still a small group.
So I invite you to go to bookwritingbusiness.com online course, and join either one of those. And let’s see we can get your book written because there’s still time, there’s still time. So I am Arlene Gale, The Book Writing Business Coach, and I invite you to join me on social media on Facebook Book Writing Business, and also asked to join the private group Mindset Meets Mastery where we are business people coming together to support/encourage and build each other up. I’m on LinkedIn, Arlene Gale. Twitter, Arlene_Gale. I am on Instagram Arlene Gale. I’m on YouTube, so I’m everywhere. So no excuse not to connect with me. I would love for you to connect and introduce yourself, and share the word about Mindset Meets Mastery with your friends, I would appreciate that very much. If you need a speaker on business development topics, I’m here for you too.
So let me leave you with these final words of encouragement. Do not let the world dictate your story. Be mindful of the stories that you tell yourself every day. The stories you tell yourself about what is or is not possible for you. Don’t let others define you and your story. You get to choose to live it and to write it your own way, everyday. So go out and live your story, and then spend some time writing it to.