8 Author Resolutions for 2014

Make this the year you nail it

Make this the year you nail it

Say goodbye to 2013 and get ready to reboot. Just one question: Will you be ready when new opportunities present themselves in 2014? Some suggested New Year’s Resolutions for my fellow writers:

1 – Update your website and social media properties. Maybe you’ve won an award or changed jobs. Maybe that idea you had for a Tumblr site didn’t work out and you haven’t updated it in months. Do some housecleaning. You can’t expect visitors to be engaged if you’re not even paying attention.

2 – Make your bio a story worth reading. The only people who want to read resumes are prospective employers. Readers like stories. You’ve got one, plus the ability to tell it in an imaginative way. Creativity shouldn’t end when you finish writing your novel.

3 – Commit to more personal appearances. Efficient as social media is, a handshake trumps a cyber-shake. Get out there and meet real readers. Look them in the eye. Tell them face-to-face why you’re so passionate. That doesn’t mean neglect your social media arsenal; it means find a balance between being social online and being social in person.

4 – Become a more engaging speaker. If you write like Steinbeck and speak like an insurance salesman, there’s work to do. Three quick tips: First, practice aloud, preferably in front of real people, or at least a mirror. Second, understand your crowd before you walk on stage. (What do they care about? How much do they know about your subject?) Third, anticipate likely questions, practice your answers, and try to weave in some relatable stories.

5 – Improve your pitch. No one has much time, what with the demands of the job, the house, the kids and the car. If someone gives you five minutes to explain your story, make sure to nail it. And (I can’t say this enough) be enthusiastic every time you make your pitch. Excitement is contagious. If you don’t have any, you can’t infect anyone else.

6 – Distance yourself from the reviews. Some, hopefully most, will be great, but some will be lousy. Live with it. There’s no way to please everyone, and remember you never wanted that when you first started out. Otherwise you would have begun by conducting a focus group instead of a prologue. And for heaven’s sake, don’t get in an online argument with someone who pans your book.

7 – Keep writing (and reading). There’s no finish line for writers. When you finish a short story, a novel or any piece of writing, take a break, but after a time, begin something else. Sometimes the work is great; other times it’s slow and painful. The only constant is that to continue improving, you have to keep writing. And reading. Reading helps, especially when the stuff you read makes you think.

8 – Pay it forward. Wherever you are as a writer, there are plenty in front and plenty behind. Tip your hat to the ones ahead and help the ones behind whenever and however you can. It pays healthy dividends.

Good luck, all, and please share the resolutions you’ve made for 2014.

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16 Comments so far »

  1. Marie Pinschmidt said,

    Wrote on December 26, 2013 @ 2:16 am

    Steve, excellent tips for the new year. All true. It’s so easy to become complacent which ends in boredom for our readers. Happy writing and Best Wishes for the New Year.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Thank you, Marie. Who among us wants to write anything that no one wants to read? I hope 2014 is productive and successful for you!

    [Reply]

  2. Julie Luek said,

    Wrote on December 27, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    Great advice. My theme for the year is being bold. Fear not! Keeping in line with that and incorporating your advice, I need to be better about my pitch and face-to-face interaction. I’m a hermit by nature.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Start small and work your way up, Julie. Try interacting at senior centers, small libraries, etc. Offer yourself up to speak wherever they’ll have you. I think you’ll find that the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Thanks for coming by and weighing in!

    [Reply]

  3. Sunny Day Publishing, LLC said,

    Wrote on December 27, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    New Year’s Resolution for all writers:
    Read, read, read…. when you are done with that, read some more. Read books you would not typically pick up. Use your local librarian. They are great resources! Well rounded readers make the best writers.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Terrific advice, Sunny Day (Mayra?) One thing I’d add is to be a critical reader. Learn from what others have done well.

    [Reply]

  4. David L Atkinson said,

    Wrote on December 27, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

    Hi Steve. There are several aspects of writing I could write a resolution about that are covered pretty well in your blog but there is one area that comes to mind. That is, I resolve to stretch my imagination more frequently. By that I am talking about the exploration of abstract ideas in writing. I find it is an enriching process in all aspects of writing.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    I agree, David. Challenge yourself. Throw some dynamite at the foundation!(That’s just a metaphor, folks). Try writing a short story on a topic you know little about. Or maybe go someplace you’ve never been before and write about it. Thanks for stopping by with some good advice, David.

    [Reply]

  5. Carolyn Arnold said,

    Wrote on December 27, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    Terrific ideas. One of my goals is to get out with my books in person in 2014.

    I have also laid out a rough book release schedule so I have something to strive/work toward.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Planning is key, Carolyn. I used Storify.com to package my pre-launch PR in one place, and to keep readers updated on latest appearances, reviews, etc. It’s here if you’d like to take a look: http://storify.com/wordsprof/piacente-to-launch-bootlicker-sept-1 Thanks for coming by, and best of luck in 2014.

    [Reply]

  6. Roberta Kennedy said,

    Wrote on December 27, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    Never stop believing in the dreams in your heart. No matter what you may undertake give your 100% best. Each of us was placed here for a reason so try new things, even afraid, because the thing you may fear most just might be the reason why you were born.
    Just do it afraid, but do it.

    Also, don’t let your age be a factor in what you strive for. Striving will keep you young.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Sage advice, Roberta. As one who who made a significant change after 25 years in journalism and then 10 years in the government, I can attest to the fact that (constructive) change is good for both mind and body. Have a wonderful New Year!

    [Reply]

  7. Michele said,

    Wrote on December 28, 2013 @ 12:59 am

    After I get adjusted to my new regular job, I hope to get back to writing and publish the second book of my trilogy by the end of January. I think setting goals is good too because it helps me stay focused and motivated.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    I like setting goals too, Michele. After years as a daily reporter, I also like setting (realistic) deadlines. Hopefully the new job won’t sap too much psychic energy. Thanks for coming by, and Happy New Year!

    [Reply]

  8. Frances said,

    Wrote on December 28, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    I’m working on book 2 with release date 2014/15 (still thinking). In 2014, I lam working towards a more consistent writing & working schedule.

    [Reply]

    Steve Piacente Reply:

    I know you’ll do whatever you set your mind to, Frances. A more consistent writing schedule is a great idea. Thanks for coming by, and good luck!

    [Reply]

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