New to Self Publishing? Writing Tips for New Writers

A lot has changed since I started writing. If you’re a new writer, you can’t really
look at bestselling indie authors right now and be assured that what worked for them will
work for you now. In this video, I’m going to talk about how
to start a writing career today, what I’d do differently, and what I would avoid. What’s up, guys? My name is Michael La Ronn with Author Level
Up, helping you write better and faster. If you’re new here, consider subscribing,
and click the little bell to get helpful writing videos every week. I remember when I was just starting out on
my writing journey. I was determined, but scared. There was so much to learn. This was during the end of the Kindle Gold
Rush, so it was still the wild west as far as self-publishing goes. I started with nothing. My first month of publishing, I made $5.79,
and that doesn’t really count because I sold two books, and my mom bought one copy,
and my friend bought the other. I went for months with zero sales. And I’m still not a bestseller yet, so maybe
my advice will be more helpful for you guys since I’m closer to some of you newbies. When it comes to the topic of starting out,
so many people are looking for answers to the KDP Select question. I answer that elsewhere, but honestly, I think
it’s irrelevant. Whether you do KDP Select or not, if you don’t
get the basics of writing craft and marketing down, it won’t really matter if you’re
exclusive or wide. If I were starting out today, the first thing
I would do is make a list of all the things you need to learn: book formatting, story
craft, marketing, Photoshop, websites, etc. I’d break all of those into sub-categories,
and I would go learn them, one-by-one. I’d invest money where it made sense, including
courses. The sooner you can get yourself acquainted
with the best practices, the better off you’ll be. Most people don’t take their learning seriously. They just wander about, not really learning
how to format a book or write an opening to a chapter or create an engaging website. My problem was that I tried to learn everything
at once, which backfired on me. If I had to do it again, I would be more systematic
about it. For tips on what to learn, check the video
description for a video I did a while back on creating a learning plan for yourself. Another thing I’d do differently is that
I would have jumped into video sooner. Video is still the number one way to stand
out in today’s environment, and if I had done it sooner and had been more serious about
growing my channel when I started, it would have accelerated my growth. Video is an easy way for people to get to
know you, or feel like they know you. 99% of people are so terrified of it that
you’ll be in the elite 1% if you do it. Video has a learning curve, to be sure, but
I’ve always considered that curve to be a barrier to entry for people who aren’t
serious about it. Video will teach you about copywriting, marketing
and promotion, audience engagement, and production quality ten times faster than blogging or
podcasting. Video is all about keeping people’s attention. If you can do it with video, you can do it
with anything. When I started off, I had a crappy blog. I didn’t even know what copywriting was. I wrote about trite things that no one cared
about. I tried a solo podcast back in 2014, and it
bombed. If I had just spent some money on a DSLR and
learned how to shoot high-quality video and showcase my personality that way, it would
have worked better for me. When you do video like me, it makes you appear
like an instant expert, even if you’re not. It’s still unusual right now for writers
to do video. I would take advantage of that. A video once or twice a month telling your
readers what you’re working on, what you’re reading, and some fun items to keep people
engaged, like trivia or bad jokes or something. Let people get to know you, and link to those
videos in the back of your books and in your email newsletters. Another thing I would have done differently
is that I would have studied the works of mega-bestsellers religiously. John Grisham, Stephen King, Nora Roberts,—those
writers. I’m learning advanced craft techniques from
them right now that are making me look at my early work and cringe. But I’m learning craft faster than I ever
did when I was reading blogs and listening to podcasts. And the final thing I would have done differently
is that I would have tried to think longer term about the craft skills I would need. For example, I could have learned to write
character injuries more convincingly into my stories by learning the basics of injuries,
and what happens when someone gets shot, for instance. I could have learned more about science and
space physics. I could have learned more about my country’s
legal system so I could write it accurately. As I look at my career now, the areas where
I’m weakest are the areas where I could have done more research into basic facts of
life. But I didn’t know what I know. If I could go back, I would learn about: injuries,
guns, how to research historical times correctly, police procedure, legal systems, and military
operations. It’s amazing how those things come up in
your novels all the time. Better to learn how to do it right. In case you’re curious, there are some things
I’d do the same if I had to start all over again. I invested a lot of time in mastering Scrivener
and Ulysses. That paid off for me. Learning how to format my books on an advanced
level paid off for me. Writing poetry and short stories helped me. Writing across genre helped me. I’d do those all over again. Anyway, that’s the advice I’d give you
if I were just starting my writing career today. If you’re a new writer, enjoy it. Despite all the mistakes I made, I still look
back on my early years fondly. If you’re new to writing, I put together
a playlist of videos that will help you get your bearings and get started with confidence. I’ve got videos on writing craft, the best
podcasts and blogs, and of course, writing books to help you start your career off on
a solid foundation. You can check it out right here. That’s it for this video. If this is your first time watching, I’d love
to have you subscribe. Every week I publish videos just like this
one with writing advice to help you write better and grow your influence with readers. I’ll see you in the next video. Thanks for watching.

9 thoughts on “New to Self Publishing? Writing Tips for New Writers

  1. Michael, Excellent video and great approach to updating your style and the 'how' you would do things. Quick question, do you still have your Author Plan in print that you mention in the video linked from this video – Yes, I leapfrogged from one to another and being late to the game, I did not find the list. I am in my beginning throws of writing and I don't have a plan beyond – Write.

  2. One thing I would have done differently is to make sure I put into action everything I learned. Watching videos, listening to podcasts, and reading writing how-to books can make a person feel vicariously as if they have actually written. Years can pass this way with no output.

  3. If I was starting over again, I wouldn't bother with a website or facebook or any marketing except maybe a free mailing list. I spent so much time learning how to sell my book, but I should have been learning how to write my book. Also, when I was new, I didn't realize there was a difference between writing skill and storytelling skill. I would 100% focus on developing my storytelling skill and not worry about using adverbs, deleting the word 'that', and other 'good writing' rules.

  4. 3:00 Yes, video is an invaluable tool to help authors connect with their current fan base and reach an all-new audience. Great video, Michael! 😀👏👍

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