Authorpreneur Journey and the Purpose of the Newsletter

Journey of thousand miles begins with a cartoon character...

In the past week, I have been able to give some thought to this project hence in today’s issue I am going to share it with you.

Contrary to the expectation set by the name, a newsletter isn’t something you do light-heartedly. It requires blood (in the eyes), sweat (on the palms), and tears (running down the cheeks). But if it fulfills its purpose of helping even a handful of people, it can be a very rewarding experience. Also, it’s a long-term project. t is not something you do for a few months and then abandon.

So here are my thoughts on the purpose, measures, and duration of this project.

Purpose:

To share new age writing, publishing, and marketing know-how while having fun. To shatter the image of the stereotypical starving artist, literally dying for their creativity and to replace it with vivacity, humor, and playfulness.

Measures:

The subscriber numbers and the open rate percentage will determine the success of this newsletter.

Duration:

At the moment I am committing to run it for one year. In December 2021, I will review (along with my subscribers) whether I should continue with it, change it to something else or abandon it completely.

Planning weekly content in Advance:

Format:

I have added one more section to the three sections I introduced last week. So the new format is Today’s newsletter is in three parts:

1) Authorpreneur Journey Steps

2) Writing Industry News

2) What I Am Up to

3) What Intrigued Me This Week

So without further ado, here is today’s issue.

Authorpreneur Journey Step 1

Like the proverbial journey of a thousand miles, an Authropreneur journey of a thousand miles also starts with a single step. And that step is - Blogging.

You read right. Blogging is your first step if you want to become a writer who makes his/her living from writing in the twenty-first century. Earing royalties from your books might be your nirvana but blogging will provide you an income while you are learning your craft as well as help you make a name for yourself in the industry and build a following much before you have written your first book.

If you have already written a book (or several) and don’t have a blog, it is time to start one.

“If you don’t exist on the internet, you don’t exist at all,” is the slogan of the twenty-first century. You know that from your own behavior. The minute you find a new product, a person, or anything you don’t know about, you goggle it.

Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time.

- Andy Baio, a technologist and blogger

Two years ago I started a blog. It was just bare bones and ugly. I didn’t know much about building a website but I learned.

My bigger frustration was writing. Although I wanted to do nothing else but write, I couldn’t write a single blog post worthy of publishing on my site. It used to take me hours to write a couple of paragraphs. But I persisted. Today, I have close to 300 blog posts on my site and I am writing for online platforms such s Medium and Substack.

Online is a place where you can become the person you really want to be. I wanted to become a writer. And I am a writer in the cyberworld. Much before my first book (which has yet to come into being).

Rather than thinking of your blog as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine. It is a repository for your work, your ideas, and the stuff you care about.

Austin Kleon said it best in his book Steal Like An Artist:

A blog is an ideal machine for turning flow into stock: One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work.

My blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront and my salon.

Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships – they all exist because I have my own little piece of turf on the Internet.

If you need more convincing, read my articles Should Writers Blog, and Twentieth Anniversary of ‘Blogs.’

Your homework this week:

Buy a domain name and start a basic blog. There are several free videos on YouTube that can teach you how to do it.

For the domain name, I would prefer that you use your own name. You would want to build your author brand on your own name rather than some poetic phrase (although some people have done that).

Next week I will tackle the question, what to blog about (provided you have done your homework).

Writing Industry News

  • Penguin Random House’s owner, Bertelsmann, to buy Simon & Schuster in a $2bn deal [The Guardian]. German media firm, already the owner of the giant Penguin Random House, says the acquisition of another major publisher is ‘approvable’ within monopoly rules. Simon & Schuster currently publishes around 2,000 books a year, on top of a catalog of 35,000 titles, while Penguin Random House publishes 15,000 titles a year. Bertelsmann’s CEO Thomas Rabe said the merged entity would have a US market share of less than 20%, making the acquisition ‘approvable.”

  • Now, you can publish your audiobooks directly with BookFunnel.

  • In the past few weeks, there was a big author outcry over Audible’s introduction of the return of audiobooks. Over 12,000 authors protested. Audible/ACX has now adjusted its terms but they are not reversed. [The Guardian]

  • Now you can podcast your fiction as well. The Podcast Host, the company behind the drive to turn your novel or short story into a podcast, has come up with a lot of helpful material on their site. Now fiction writers have another alternative. Rather than just self-publishing your novel and compete with hundreds of thousands of other published and self-published books you could do something a little different. If you tell a good story in an effective and consistent manner. Soon you will build an audience who are desperate to hear your next episode.

    If you've got a great idea for a story then, arguably, the best thing you can do with it nowadays is to turn it into a fiction podcast.

What Am I Up to?

  • I managed to draft 5 articles this week and published 4. There Will Always Be Too Much To Do, How To Invite Inner Calm In 2021, What Do Readers Want, and How Should Writers Overcome The “Overwhelm Virus.”

  • Rather than writing one article a day, I decided to use Medium’s most prolific writer, Tim Denning’s technique, and wrote all five in two days. I am going to test this technique, as in theory it helps you concentrate on one thing the whole day and you can catch up on other things for the remainder of the week.

  • The Whimsical Writer newsletter subscriptions have also grown within a week of starting on Substack. Last week, 5 new readers joined. Welcome, Dr. Mehmet and Karen Williams, and the other three new subscribers. You gave me a reason to keep toiling away.

  • I am in the middle of updating my website. I bought a new theme during the Black Friday sale, which I am learning from scratch. I am a big believer that everyone should learn the skills to build and maintain their own website. You will make mistakes and it might take you longer to put it up and but you develop a skill that will save you thousands in the long run. Getting a site built by professional costs three to five thousand dollars. Then every time you want to make a change, you end up paying more. Add on top of that a monthly maintenance fee, and your website becomes the black hole of Calcutta.

What Intrigued Me This Week?

This is more about the purpose of this newsletter.

As creatives, we have a choice. We can be either a martyr and vow to be committed, dedicated, serious, grim, always-on-the-go, strive-for-excellence, fit-more-in-a-day-to-achieve-more types.

Or we can be a trickster and be artful, shrewd, play games, have fun, cheat- here-and-there-but-harm-no-one and put-in-less-and-get-more type of an artist.

I first learned about the Trickster/Martyr concept in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book The Big Magic.

Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.

Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgressive, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.

Martyr says: “I will sacrifice everything to fight this unwinnable war, even if it means being crushed to death under a wheel of torment.”

Trickster says: “Okay, you enjoy that! As for me, I’ll be over here in this corner, running a successful little black market operation on the side of your unwinnable war.”

Martyr says: “Life is pain.”

Trickster says: “Life is interesting.”

Martyr says: “The system is rigged against all that is good and sacred.”
Trickster says: “There is no system. Everything is good, and nothing is sacred.

Martyr says: “Nobody will ever understand me.”
Trickster says: “Pick a card, any card.”

Martyr says: “The world can never be solved.”
Trickster says: “Perhaps not…but it can be gamed.”

Martyr says: “Through my torment, the truth shall be revealed.”
Trickster says: “I didn’t come here to suffer, pal.”

Martyr says: “Death before dishonor!”
Trickster says: “Let’s make a deal.”

Martyr always ends up dead in a heap of broken glory, while Trickerster trots off to enjoy another day.

Martyr = Sir Thomas More
Trickster = Bugs Bunny

Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.

Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgressive, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.

It is surprising how many artists want to be martyrs. They are ready to die for their creativity but won’t live for it. They are ready to struggle and suffer rather than have fun.

I am the first one to admit that I used to take everything the hard way. I used to find the martyr’s sincerity more attractive than the trickster’s playfulness.

But I have changed my loyalty and have become a trickster.

Not because the trickster achieves more with her vivacity than the martyr could with her solemnity but because I have understood the value of life.

I have learned that it is better to live a playful life with vigor and lightness rather than a solemn life full of struggle and sacrifice.

That is why I created a cartoon character, Ms. Jolly, who is my alter ego. Ms Jolly is more daring, more witty, and more confident than me. She is now the energy behind all my creative work.

That’s it from me this week.

Take care.

Neera Mahajan