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I love the New Year! It's full of promise for the year ahead and in today's show, I talk to Nina Amir about positive thinking and creative visualization to help you set your goals for 2017.
In the (mega-45 mins) introduction, I go through a couple of the trends I see for 2017. The Amazon Echo was the biggest seller for Christmas which (I think) means a rise in audiobook listening through the devices. But stay non-exclusive with your audiobook deals if possible because there will be more options than ACX coming in 2017.
The rise of beautiful print products will continue in 2017. Indies will continue to make the biggest chunk of income with digital but gorgeous hardbacks and limited edition print products will become collector's items – mirroring vinyl in the music industry. This was also emphasized in Rohit Bhargava's Non-Obvious Trends 2017 under Precious Print.
I recap my 2016 creative year including the surprises I hadn't planned for, and talk about how I hit my income goals. I also share my 2017 goals for The Creative Penn & non-fiction as Joanna Penn, our new small press, and J.F.Penn.
Nina Amir is the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual and other nonfiction as well as an author, coach and trainer, award-winning blogger and professional speaker.
She founded National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers' University. And her latest book is Creative Visualization for Writers: An Interactive Guide for Bringing your Book Ideas and your Writing Career to Life.
You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher or watch the video here, read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- How Nina got started with journalism, then editing non-fiction and finally into writing her own books
- Why non-fiction can be creative and can change lives
- What visualization is and how you can use it as an author
- My own story: Back in 2006, I wrote the affirmation “I am creative, I am an author.” In 2011, that affirmation became a reality.
- How to identify your own visualizations
- How to take ACTION in order to set your visualizations into motion. (This is sometimes the missing aspect that people forget!)
- Why successful authors work on their mindset as well as the practical aspect of writing
- What will you give up in order to achieve your creative dream? Because there is always a trade-off. How much do you really want this, and what are the excuses you're telling yourself that are preventing you getting there?
- Why deciding on your values is so important in shaping the life you want
- How to stay focused and positive in troubled times
- Why content marketing will not go away, and why you should (maybe) start a blog
You can find Nina at www.NinaAmir.com and on twitter @NinaAmir. You can find her books here on Amazon.
Transcription of interview with Nina Amir
Joanna: Hi everyone. I’m Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com and today I’m here with Nina Amir. Hi, Nina.
Nina: Hi, Joanna. Nice to see you.
Joanna: Yes, great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction. Nina is the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual and other nonfiction as well as an author, coach and trainer, award-winning blogger and professional speaker. She founded National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers' University. And her latest book is Creative Visualization for Writers. We've got lots to get into.
But, Nina, you've had a long career in writing. Just give us a bit more of a background of how you got into writing and why you write nonfiction in particular.
Nina: So that's a funny story but I'll start at the beginning.
I actually wanted to be a novelist when I started out and, you know, I was one of those people who read under the covers. And, you know, I was reading all fiction. And I told my mother that. She's very practical. I don't think she meant anything bad by what she said but I said, you know, “I wanna be a novelist,” and she said, “Well, only really good writers can make a living as a novelist.” So I took that to mean that maybe I wasn't that good a writer. And so, well, I don't fall through because she was being practical. It sent me on a trajectory that changed my life really.
I took a class in high school with a teacher who was teaching journalism and I got really turned on by it. And I realized that one of the things I read was nonfiction and that was magazines. I love the magazines that were telling you how to do things better, how to improve yourself. At that time I remember reading Self Magazine.
So I went to college and I got a degree in Magazine Journalism and realized that, you know, I really love this. And it gave me a superb training in everything from design to editing, everything. Anyway, so I went out. I was a journalist. I worked for some magazines and I worked for some consultants, a variety of things.
And at one point somebody asked me to edit a book. And it was a nonfiction book. And I remembered what my professor in college told me:
If I could edit, I could write an article. If I could write an article, I could write a book.
Because a book was just a bunch of magazine articles all on the same topic tied together. And so I thought, “Okay. Well, I've been editing magazines. I've been writing for magazines. I should be able to edit a book.” And I did. And the next book I edited went on to be quite successful. And so I edited a few that were picked up by big publishing houses and did very well. And so, after editing for a little while, I thought, “Maybe I should write a book. My professor said I could do it.” And that became my focus.
But in the midst of all of that, you know, I had this business where I was writing and editing. And I started a blog, Writing Non-Fiction Now. And then did my November event, Write Non-Fiction in November or National Nonfiction Writing Month and began to really hone in on this non-fiction area.
And I was interviewing and working with so many experts that, you know, like you with your podcast, the more you immerse yourself and talk to experts, the more you become an expert. And that's what happened. I became an expert on nonfiction as well as blogging because of the one book.
Through all this, I realized I really had a passion for both publishing and writing and for personal development, practical spirituality, which were two of the areas I really wanted to write about.
And so I believe the people who write nonfiction have this opportunity to make a really positive and meaningful difference in the world with their words, that they can transform lives.
And so that's what really turns me on about nonfiction.
Joanna: But I know what everyone's thinking now – are you writing a novel?
Nina: So the idea for National Non-Fiction Writing Month came out of me doing NaNoWriMo. We had an idea for a novel and I have to admit, I had about 3,000 words already written when I started NaNoWriMo. But I wrote another 50,000, so I completed. And I do have it and I pitched it at the San Francisco Writers Conference one year and got a lot of interest in it.
But I write nonfiction. And so the book needs some help. I mean, everybody loved the pitch. You know, the storyline works. It’s just the technical stuff and it starts probably 50 pages later than it should. It needs some work. So eventually, yes, there will be a novel.
Joanna: Good, I’m glad because, of course, I started with nonfiction and moved into fiction.
I think when you are good at writing nonfiction, you realize writing a novel is very different and there's whole load of stuff you have to learn.
And there is a big mindset shift to starting again which is what you would basically have to do. But I wanted to bring that up because I know a lot of people have self-doubt around their ability to write creatively. And one of the questions I get from so many nonfiction authors is that they wish they were creative enough to write fiction. But, actually, there's a lot of creativity involved in nonfiction.
How can nonfiction be just as creative do you think?
Nina: So, first of all, I think I would ask those people listening or watching to think about memoir because memoir is nonfiction. I mean, it falls solidly in the nonfiction category but it has to be written like a novel. Now that's why I don't edit memoir because, to me, I would have to have those skills, right? So it's very creative. You know, you’re working with a true story but you need fiction-writing skill to do it. So that's number one.
Essays can include anecdotes and that storytelling aspect is very creative, but it's nonfiction. You can write nonfiction books that are peppered with personal anecdotes. And so there, again, you have to tell the story, right. And a lot of memoir now is mixed with non-fiction, I mean, straight nonfiction or prescriptive nonfiction. So they’re weaving their story into the actual nonfiction book.
But all of that require some novelist-like skill set. And then I really think, when it comes to prescriptive nonfiction, it is a creative process like any other. So I think, you know, you have the novelist over here saying, “Oh, nonfiction is not anywhere near as creative.” But I don't think that's true.
Any writing is really a creative endeavor and you’re trying to take your reader into consideration and decide what's unique out there and create something that's totally new. That's a creative process.
The thing to remember about nonfiction is that you’re solving problems. And problem-solving is creativity.
And that's what nonfiction authors are doing. They’re solving problems. They’re answering questions.
Joanna: I totally agree with you.
The act of creation is putting something new in the world.
Everyone can have ideas but, actually, creation is making something new in the world whether that's fiction or nonfiction or whatever else it is, a painting or whatever. So I totally agree with you.
I find the mindset issue with a lot of nonfiction authors is they feel that they can't use the word “creative” about themselves. If, for example, they write a technical manual on a programming language, they think, you know, they might be labeled by someone as not creative. And it’s like, “No, that's crazy.” You’re creating value in the world and you’re creating wealth out of those ideas.
But related to that, your new book is “Creative Visualization for Writers.” What do you mean by visualization?
Nina: It's basically using your mind's eye to picture what it is you want.
The famous book that mine is titled after (it wasn't my choice, it was my publisher's) is “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain, right. And her whole concept has been put forth into the Law of Attraction and deliberate creation. We’ve used lots of terms for this but basically you’re using your mind to think about what you want.
That can be a successful career as an author. It can be more money. As writers, perhaps we’re visualizing ourselves holding our book. We’re visualizing people buying it at the bookstore. And the reason for that is because the more you visualize something as already having happened, the more you actually convince your subconscious mind that it’s true.
The subconscious mind doesn't have a way to distinguish between what's real and what we picture.
And that's why athletes use visualization all the time. It's not a different process. They’re visualizing, let's say, a marathon runner. I always use that as an example. They’re visualizing themselves taking the first steps. And then that middle part where their legs are tired, they can't breathe, they're so hot, they’re just thinking, “I can't do it.”
What do they do with that moment? They visualize in advance what they'll do there, how will they would re-energize themselves, how will they shift their mindset to, “I can do it. I know I can do it. I can do it. I’m doing it.”And then, you know the runners who’re always at the end of those marathons, they suddenly, you know, the last two miles they just like fly ahead, right? And they win. This is what they’re visualizing: “Okay. I’m at the two-mile mark. What happens here?”
The mind is sending signals to the body, firing off muscles just as if they were running the race, convincing the body that they can do it.
It's conditioning the body and it’s convincing their mind that they can do this.
It's the same thing. So we’re trying to train ourselves in advance to be able to do what we wanna do. So it could be sitting down and writing every day. Visualize that before we ever get to the computer.
But we can also visualize what we want to create because, you know, not only are we convincing our mind, we’re actually putting out energy.
Joanna: Back in 2006, I actually wrote an affirmation about my life which is similar to visualization, I guess. I wrote the affirmation, “I am creative. I am an author.”
At the time, I couldn't even say it loud. I wrote it down. I wrote that over and over again. I said it in my mind but I couldn't say it out loud for a number of years.
And, of course, 10 years later, I’m living that affirmation. It has a physical manifestation but I was imagining that kind of future life.
So how do people come up with what their affirmation should be even at the point where they might not believe it?
For most of the listeners, it would be things like seeing my book in the bookstore or making the New York Times list or leaving my job, because these are hard to even conceptualize when you’re a long way away.
Nina: Right. Affirmations are kind of a lead in to your visualization. Because you said, “I’m creative. I’m a writer.” And I don't know what you thought about when you did that but when we say those words, we’re thinking it, right?
And if you can actually sit down and visualize, what would that mean?
What does it look like to have that life, a creative life, a life as a writer? What does that look like? So that's becomes a physical thing and you’re feeling it and you’re thinking it and you’re focused on it.
But to answer your question, there really are two ways to create an affirmation. Typically what happens is we notice that we have a negative thought or a limiting belief. “I’m not creative. I can't write. I’ll never be a writer. I’ll never be an author,” whatever it is. “This is too hard. I don't know what I’m doing. I’m not a good enough writer.”
And so we notice that and what we want to do is turn that around. So we want to create an affirmation that is, “I am a writer. I am creative. Every day I write.”
Instead of saying, you know, “I can't write,” we’re affirming, “Every day I’m becoming a better and better writer.” And I’m doing that by sitting down at my desk and I’m writing, right. So that's number one.
Number two is to begin with what you want to create. You wanted a career as a writer.
And so we begin there. I’m a writer. I’m creative. I have a career as a writer. And no, at first the mind is going to say, “That's not what we have.” And so that's why sometimes it’s better to not say, “I have a career as a writer if we’re struggling with that.”
Better to say, “I’m creative. I’m a writer.” And then do affirmations of actions.
Actually sit down and do the action because you have to affirm it and then you have to actually take action towards it.
Joanna: I've said before on the show that I believe in the Law of Attraction. I've used it in my life to create the life that I want.
But I think that some of the more mainstream books like The Secret haven't really emphasized the ACTION part of attraction. So you've worked with a ton of successful authors.
What are the actions that they take to manifest those visualizations in the world that other people can model?
Nina: So, first of all, you know, action really is where the action is. And I think for everyone listening, whether you believe in the Law of Attraction or not, this what I think was the missing piece. You know, we talk a lot about visualizing and affirming and all of that, but you have to actually DO something in the world for something to happen.
So what do successful authors do? What actions do they take that make them successful?
First of all, they write regularly whether it's a blog or articles or a manuscript. They’re not just talking about writing. They’re writing.
The first action is if you want to be a writer, you have to write. The other thing is that they’re moving though their fear and insecurity. This is an action. They do what they know they need to do and they do it courageously. They could be sending out a query letter or getting up on stage to speak or self-publishing. Whatever it is, they’re doing it. I mean, I can't imagine that all these years that you didn't have moments wherein you’ve felt afraid or insecure, and yet your books are out there, right, your blog is out there. You took action on that.
They also do things that they'd rather not do.
So what I hear from a lot of aspiring authors is, “I really wanna be an author. And everybody keeps talking about platform and I don't want to do that. I don't like promoting.”
Yet successful authors do that. That's an action they take.
They embrace this as part of becoming successful and they build platform. They promote their books. They take care of business because it is a business.
I think they also do spend time visualizing. I think they’re visionaries. They see the future, their future, they are mystics about their own lives. And so they spend a lot of time planning and thinking about it and, “How will I get there? And what do I really want? And why do I want it?.”
They’re spending time thinking and feeling what they want as if it's already created. Then they take that action towards, you know, whatever they want. Whatever’s necessary, they’re doing it. They’re not holding back. I think that's the biggest thing.
The last thing I’d say is that they’re working on their mindset.
Because we stop ourselves. Other things don't stop us. We might have challenges that come up but those don't stop us. It's our response to that that stops us. And typically that's happening up here (in the mind).
And so successful authors take action in terms of working on their personal development. They’re trying to change their negative thoughts,. They’re trying to be more courageous, more secure, more confident. They’re trying to be more productive, to have more energy, to be clear about where they’re going, to influence themselves to do what needs to be done.
Joanna: I think you’re right and that's why I wrote The Successful Author Mindset earlier this year because I was amazed that people didn't realize that everyone feels this self-doubt and it's not how you overcome the self-doubt, but how you live with it, how you just live with the feelings of, “I’m not good enough,” and yet you do it anyway.
And, in fact, this creative dissatisfaction seems to be an important part of creativity because if you are happy with what you created, you could just go die, right? I mean, you’re finished.
But if you create something and then you’re like, “There are a few things that I need to improve. I’m gonna write something else and I've got these other things.” The point is we’re never finished until we do die which I think is really cool.
But I also wanted to ask you there, Tony Robbins talks about this:
What will you give up or what will you give in order to achieve what you want?
Because you can't just say to the universe or creative spirit or God or whatever you believe in, “I want to be a successful writer. Just give it to me.” There has to be something that you give up.
And for many writers it's time.
But what are some of the other trade-offs that writers make along the journey?
Nina: I think we do make a lot of trade-offs and I would hope that anyone listening doesn't see the trade-offs or this giving up as something negative because it's getting us where we wanna go, right? So I think that's important.
And along with Tony Robins, I mentioned Napoleon Hill. He also emphasizes both giving and receiving. It's a continuum of giving and receiving, giving and receiving. What do you have to give up? What are the payoffs?
I think that you have to be willing to get very conscious of your mindset and what you're thinking and give that up because typically that insecurity, those negative thoughts are not helping us.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And so one of the things we have to do is change ourselves. That's a giving up of what we normally would do in order to do something different that's going to help us succeed.
You have to commit to follow through.
If you start, you’re going to have to look at what you have to do to finish this?
Maybe you have to give up time to even get started. But in order to finish it, is there anything else you have to change or give up? Basically, you’re giving up anything that doesn't support your goals and that could be television time or it could be reading that novel every night in bed, instead of going to bed earlier so you can get up earlier and write.
You might have to give up people who don't believe in you because they’re holding you back.
You have to, as you said, give up time. Sometimes you have to give up money. It's a sacrifice of your achieving any goal, but, you know, going back to Tony Robbins, he would say that you need to only speak and see the truth. And so I think, for me, that's giving up false stories that we create, you know, that idea that, “I can't do it,” or, “It's hard.”
Joanna: “I don't have the time.” Who has the time?!
Nina: Exactly. So it's giving up denial, Joanna, because these are excuses we have and we have to give those up.
See, I think more than anything else, we could say give up watching TV and reading books and going out for lunch with your buddies. You know, we could talk about all of that, but that fact is that this is about having no excuses.
If this is what you want to do and you’re committed to it, then you have to honestly look at yourself and say, “What is holding me back? What are the stories I’m telling that are not serving me in getting where I wanna go?”
And I think that is the biggest thing we’re giving up, is our habits, our mindsets, our stories so that we can actually move towards our goal.
Joanna: And that is visualizing a new story about what your life would look like. It's interesting. The money thing and the time thing.
When I wanted to do this, I would get up at 5:00 a.m. and write before work. And then I went to four days a week a gave up 20% of my income in order to do this.
And then eventually I gave up my job. And I think it took five years, four-and-a-half years to get back to the same income I was on when I quit my job. But those were things I was willing to do because that was more important to me.
You talk in the book about values which I think is so important. And, again, obviously we read the same self-help books like Tony Robbins because values are so important and deciding what your value is.
I've done this exercise around values a number of times, and I come up with freedom over and over again.
Freedom is my number one value which shapes decisions like location independence and running my own business and not answering to anyone else.
I like money but I was willing to give up money to have freedom and build that up.
How have values impacted your own journey and how does that shape your work? And, also, how can people decide what their values are?
Nina: So, like you, I value freedom a lot. I haven't worked for somebody else in many years. And I’m lucky to have a husband who has supported me quite a bit financially. But definitely the value for me was freedom. But I think I also think of that as independence. I don't want to work for a boss. I want to be independent and do what I want to do. So I think the two go hand in hand.
So that's definitely influenced me working for myself for all these years and finding ways to earn an income from what I know how to do rather than going into an office. I think I value almost more than that making a difference. I think that informs what I do daily. Even blogging, I mean, like you, I’m a big blogger. I mean, I actually have several blogs. And I was thinking about it just the other day, you know, why the heck do I keep doing this?
And everybody keeps saying, “Nina, you do so much. You need to give up a blog.” And I’m like, “I can't give up my blogs. First of all, they promote my work. But beyond that, I actually like writing. I’m a writer at heart.”
Yes, I speak and I train and I coach and I do all these things, but I started out as a writer. And so I really feel like I make a bigger difference with my blogs than I do with my books and I hate to really say that but more people read my blogs every day than read my books.
Joanna: Me too.
Nina: I mean, it’s a little sad to admit but it's true. And the fact is that I get more like emails and comments from people reading my blog, you know, who’ll take the time to write to me and say, “Thank you so much for writing that. That made a difference to me.”
And so that, making a difference is a huge value of mine and I think a lot of my work revolves around making a difference, whether I’m educating or inspiring someone to write a book or start a blog, when I’m writing something for publication or coaching.
It's about making a difference. And then I think another value I have is what I would call personal power.
It goes with personal development, right. It's the, “I am able to discipline myself, right, and then I am willing to change to see how I need to change in order to grow and be better and succeed.” So it's this working on myself to change.
And so self-empowerment goes along with this idea of helping others, transforming others, where I’m basically empowering others.
Joanna: I think we’re exactly the same person!
Nina: No wonder we like each other!
Joanna: That empowerment message, I feel that’s the message of The Creative Penn. It's about empowering creatives and authors to understand their own worth.
Because it's incredible to me how many creative people just haven't put any value on their own worth and their mindset is always a negative one. So I really liked what you were saying there.
So, what came first, the action or the values?
Nina: I think we develop values over the course of our life. Some of them are given to us by our family or environment and some of them we develop. I’m thinking back that I started reading personal development books or practical spirituality books that I read was Richard Bach, “Illusions.”
And I was just like, This is so great. And so, in that sense, it started there and I developed a passion for personal development and personal growth and spirituality and metaphysics and how does this all work?
How do we create something from nothing in our lives?
Joanna: A lot is developed over time. And this is particularly important because this will go out in the beginning of the New Year and as we’re recording this, the end of 2016, it’s been a very difficult political year for both America and the U.K.
There's way too much negativity in the world like in terms of the press. And I get emails from people who feel very affected by this negative shift.
How can we keep this creative, positive, action-focused visualization in difficult times? How do we keep on that straight and narrow path and not get distracted by all the naysayers and the winds of change?
Nina: So I don't know if you know this but in 2015 I became a certified high performance coach. I had been studying Brendon Burchard’s work and had been gone to some of his events. I was coached by one of his coaches and decided to become a certified high performance coach, which helps a lot with focus.
So for me it’s the self-discipline. It's personal growth.
What I see is that writers don't write. They don't write and they don't build platform and all these other things because they don't have self-discipline.
One of the things we talk about in high performance coaching is influence or persuasion. We need to have influence in our target market. But before we can even do that, we have to have influence over ourselves.
We have to be able to persuade ourselves not to go to Facebook when we’re supposed to be writing, to not think about what's happening in the world when we’re supposed to be writing. And I’m not saying you have to stick your head in the sand and not be aware.
But if you want to create something in terms of written words, you have to learn the discipline that goes with that.
And the other thing is that people get negative and they get depressed, right. And we have control of that. And I’m not talking somebody who's clinically depressed but just sort of the general malaise. We have control over that. We can generate a different state of being. We can generate a different energy. We can generate a different mindset. It's all a decision. It's like Tony Robins says, “A decision happens in a moment.”
Joanna: And you can change your life in that moment.
Nina: That's right. Then you have to be committed to that change and you have to take massive action.
So it isn't like saying, “I'll just turn off Facebook.” It's, “I have decided to go to Facebook only 30 minutes a day and it's after I've done all my writing because during my writing time, I’m going to focus on this.
And I’m not only going to focus on my project, I’m going to come to that project with a positive and enthusiastic mindset and with energy.”
So I’m going to get to my desk. You’re using your whole body and you’re saying this stuff out loud. And I am going to say, “I am creative. I am a writer. I am an author. I’m ready to write. Yes.” And you’re gonna have your little power move, you know. “Yes.” You know, you’re gonna do all that, right?
You’re going to sit at your desk and you’re going to do 30 deep breaths or whatever it is to energize yourself. It's a matter of self-discipline and commitment to actually protecting your writing space, protecting your own well-being.
Joanna: And I would say to all the British people listening, you don't have to go all full-on American with your full-body visualizations!
I agree with Tony's thing about you can change your life in a moment if you take action and make that thing happen.
When I decided on the affirmation, “I am creative. I am a writer,” it changed my life. I set off on the path that has led me here today by that one decision of what my creative visualization is.
Which is why I think your book is really interesting because it will help some people get to that point. They'll get to the point of helping them decide what that might be for them. People listening, you don't have to be a full-time writer. That might not be the thing that you want to eventually achieve but you get to decide.
Anyway, I also want to ask you two more questions before we finish.
You are a big blogger and you and I have connected over the years through blogs. We met very early on I think, 2009, we first crossed paths on Twitter and blogging. I know a lot of people have doubts about blogging now because the world is even more noisy.
What do you think in terms of blogging for nonfiction authors, in particular? Is it still necessary for nonfiction authors to have a blog? Or what do you recommend?
Nina: I still recommend it to every client and at every conference because since it is so noisy, the point is that we as authors, we want to have visibility online.
We need to be findable, discoverable.
And the best way to do that is with a blog because Google is cataloging. It’s indexing the new content that you’re putting up there and if you’re writing on one topic then you’re going to rise up in the search engine results pages.
How to blog a book – when I started that blog I had nothing. I started from scratch like everyone. And at first there were no readers. And in five months I had number one Google search engine result status and I've retained it because I wrote about one topic and I wrote frequently and consistently and I kept up with it, all these years.
So I think if you want to be discoverable, you have to be blogging.
And the other thing for nonfiction authors is that you wanna be seen as the expert. You have to be the authority. And so there's this whole idea of authority blogging. You’re an authority blogger.
If you’re writing on a topic as an authority, even if you’re learning as you go which most of us are, and even if you're just sharing what you've learned, you are the expert, the authority.
You put yourself out there as an expert. You have expert content, valuable content, to share. And I think the biggest problem is if you don't have a blog, what are you gonna share? You’re only going to share other people's stuff.
I’m all for curating content. I think it's important, but more important is to share your own content across the social networks. And if you don't blog, you don't have that.
Joanna: I totally agree with you. And, in fact, I am doubling down on content in 2017. I want to do more content, not just books but more blogging and more audio and more video.
And it's funny because I think people feel like it's too late but we’re only just beginning. There are billions more people arriving on the Internet shortly.
Nina: Right. That's right. And there's so much you can do. I think the video is enormously important today but you still need to have content, written content.
Google is still looking for a minimum of 300 words underneath that video on your blog if you want to be indexed well. So there's so much we can be doing and combining it like the podcasting. We can do so much and I think it's more important than ever.
I think the noisier it is, the more you have to not shout but just continue to speak and put yourself out there so that the right people find you. And by right people, I mean your people, the people who need to hear your message, that want to hear your story.
Joanna: And, of course, you become an authority by putting it out there.
Neither you or I were an authority before we started doing this. And then you become one over time. So don't worry if you’re listening and you’re like, “I’m not an authority.” None of us started out that way.
Nina: I was never set out to be a blogging expert. I just saw the ‘blog to book' deals happening and said, you know, what if you just wrote the darn book on your blog instead of trying to figure out what to do with all that content afterwards?
And I wrote it and, you know, I blogged it, wrote it. And, you know, suddenly I’m a blogging expert and a marketing expert. Because of that they think I’m a marketing expert. I’m like, “Really?” But that's what happens.
Joanna: This leads to my final question which is about longevity and also making multiple streams of income both of which you have.
Now you’ve got all these different things going on. You have not stopped at one book. You've not stopped at one blog. You’re doing all this other stuff. I've said this to other people I've known for years online, but how did you make it through? Because so many people that we met back in 2009 have disappeared.
So how have you continued to do this and what are your secrets for balancing creative with earning money and growing your business?
Nina: So I think the reason that I’ve stuck with it is, first of all, I’m enormously stubborn. Like I really hate to fail and to give up on things. So that's number one. Once I start something, I really feel committed to finishing it and I think a lot of people start a blog, for instance, and then they go, “This is too hard.” And they just give it up. And that's just not me.
I think though, beyond commitment is purpose and passion.
I think if you don't feel a sense of purpose for what you’re doing and that ties into your values, of course, and if you don't feel passionate about it then you’re going to have a hard time sustaining it long term.
I always talk about that you have to combine your purpose with your passion and that's when you get inspired and you take inspired action. When you feel like you’re ‘on purpose' and you’re doing something you're passionate about, you will be inspired to action on a continual basis. So I think that makes a big difference.
I think there’s also that desire to share your message or your story or your expertise.
If you have that strong sense of, “I really want to help people. I want to serve,” you’re gonna keep going even if you have five readers or you sell two books, right? You’re just gonna keep going.
So I think it really comes down to your big “why.” Why are doing this? You know, are you emotionally connected and committed to the work you’re doing?
In terms of growing my business, I do a lot of planning and brainstorming. I’m never satisfied which, you know, could be a bad thing. I'm just always looking for how to improve and what I could do next. And I have a lot of ideas.
There was a time in my life I thought I had no ideas. Now I suffer from too many ideas. And in the past I threw them out there as fast as I got them, which is why I have a ton of courses and nobody knows about them because I just create them, right. And then I didn't promote them because I was onto the next thing.
And so these days, I think, in terms of being successful, what I’m trying to do is to focus on a few things.
I’m still going to have my little umbrella site, ninaamir.com, which leads you to all the different things I do. But I’m going to focus on building a few things per year.
I’m gonna limit how many things I’m taking on. There’ll be rhyme or reason to it as opposed to, “Oh, that's a good idea. I’ll do that.” Just this is what I’m focused on this year.
So it's looking at where I want to go and what I want to do and creating the business around that while keeping in mind my readers and clients and customers. What do they want? But also what do I want?
In terms of sustainability, if you’re not doing what you want to do, you will not keep it up.
So it's that happy medium between what are my readers and clients and customers want and what is it that I want? Then when you can find that happy medium, I think that really helps.
Joanna: I totally agree with you and those people who have stayed in the niche like us, I feel we really do love it and we work hard and we love it, working hard and we’re passionate about helping other people and creating things in the world. So, I've really enjoyed talking to you. Tell people where they can find the book and you and where would you like them to go.
Nina: So the easiest place to go is to ninaamir.com, so N-I-N-A-A-M-I-R.com to find the book… There are some books there as well that aren't on Amazon. But to find the majority of my books that are available on Amazon, you can go to booksbyninaamir.com. So books by Nina Amir.com, pretty simple. And then, you know, there are links to all my blogs right on ninaamir.com but for those really interested in nonfiction, they can go to writenonfictionnow.com. And for those interested in blogging, they can go over to howtoblogabook.com.
Joanna: You have so many URLs that are really good.
Nina: Thank you, but I just went through my whole list of URLs and like, said, “Do not renew. Do not renew.” I’m spending so much money on URLs I've never used and probably never will.
Joanna: I know that. I’ll get a good idea. So I’ll buy the URL so that I can do the idea later.
Nina: That's right. Exactly. And I have a page on author coaching. I need something on author coaching. I have something on blogging. I need a URL on blogging.
Joanna: So, everyone listening, do what we say. Don’t do what we do! Anyway, Nina, lovely to talk to you and thanks so much for your time.
Nina: You’re very welcome. I was honored to be on the podcast and great to see you and talk to you.
Christine Brooks says
Hi Joanna, Great item, as ever. I’d love to know what you think might be coming through for audiobook publishing in competition to ACX? Is it just a hunch on your part? Or have you heard something definite?
Joanna Penn says
I’ve heard things on the grapevine that sound semi-definite, but I can’t share them – sorry! Have a listen to this though – http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/12/09/audiobook-rights/
Sarah Painter says
As always, thank you for the inspiring show, Joanna! I loved the mega-introduction and wish you all the best with your goals for 2017. I am determined to add yoga into my routine this year and it’s encouraging to hear that you have found it helpful . May I ask whether you do this at home or go to a class? Any tips?! I have put my 2017 goals onto the Worried Writer site and they include writing three books and continuing my own podcast. I know I wouldn’t be making such ambitious goals if it wasn’t for your example so thank you again! x
Joanna Penn says
Yoga is definitely a very good thing for me – for moving physically and also for stopping mentally 🙂 I go to 2 classes a week near me. I have tried doing it on my own but it means I have to think too much, so for now, having a teacher is great.
Congrats on your ambitious goals for 2017!
Thanks for the fantastic episode Joanna. I too am an obsessive goal setter. Before this podcast, I had five goals for 2017:
1) publish two more books in the current series I’m working on – coming out in February and September,
2) begin collecting short stories I’ve written that currently as sitting dormant on my blog into 5 story anthologies and publishing them – I’d like to get two out this year,
3) edit at least three manuscripts people sent me because I hate saying “no” but can’t say “yes” to everything,
4) up my personal reading to two books a month, and
5) get back into the habit of writing a short story a week – I stopped this in September when work got crazy.
When you get it started, I foresee adding a sixth: get my supernatural thriller books featured on Joanna Penn’s new website. =)
(By the way, I’m a newer listen/follower and supernatural thriller is a new to me – I’ve been calling mine urban-fantasy because I didn’t know where else to put them. Thaks for the new terminology.)
Thanks again for the great episode. Love and appreciate what you do.
Joanna Penn says
Excellent 🙂 The site will be open to submissions at some point so keep an ear out on the show and I’ll announce it when it’s ready. All the best with your 2017 goals.
Samantha Grayson says
Great article. Just what I needed to hear right now. I need to be more focused this year. Starting to set goals and plan to stick to them,
Lovely podcast, as always, Joanna. I do have a question, though, about the hardcover/deluxe books you mentioned. What is the best way for an indie author to print hardcover books? I’ve heard about people doing it through Createspace/Ingram, or their local book binderies. And though I haven’t heard of anyone using it, overseas printers like Alibaba also seen like they would work. Which way are you planning to go? And how hard/expensive is it to get all the fancy cover finishings, like spot gloss, foil, embossing, etc?
Joanna Penn says
In terms of basic hardbacks, then IngramSpark is the way to go. But in terms of more detailed stuff, embossing etc, I am having conversations with suppliers – more info to come on this with interviews and blog posts as I learn it myself. I don’t know right now!
Thanks for answering, Joanna! I look forward to seeing your posts about this topic.
Meg Cowley says
It’s great to hear your thoughts on beautiful print! I find myself also enjoying art-based books that are beautifully produced, just for art’s sake. I have been considering producing my own special edition books: art books, and hardback version of my fiction (i.e. a beautiful limited edition design, with illustration and a focus on a beautiful item, not just prose). I will producing stationary, i.e. diaries, as they sell really well. I wish we had more POD capability in terms of paper choice, finish, embossing (and all those lovely fancy things!) and the wide distribution of Amazon. It seems you can have one, but not the other.
Have fun with your hand lettering class too – it’s addictive… I recommend checking out Dawn Nicole, Ryan Hamrick and Lisa Lorek, who are amazing hand lettering artists. ‘Goodtype’ and ‘littlepatterns’ are great Instagram accounts to follow too. I’ve started collecting beautiful hand-lettering on Pinterest (https://uk.pinterest.com/megcowleyauthor/awesome-hand-lettering/) and it definitely makes me want to up my skills! 🙂
Going to have to come back later to catch the interview/rest of the podcast! 🙂
Peter Dudley says
Hearing that my sub-conscious believes what it’s told,explains why I’ve fallen for the female protagonist that I’m writing. What a relief. I thought that there was another thing wrong with me.
Thanks to your wonderful voice, good mood, and podcasts (plus the lovely backlist of course!!) that motivate me immensely and give me great ideas, here a few of my goals for 2017:
1) Publish (and market) my first novel, a dystopian adventure-thriller WHILE maintaining a healthy lifestyle (eat, move, sleep and care for my family) and a day-job.
2) Start my own podcast in french on self-publishing books.
3) Write interesting articles for my website (www.inspirediamonds.eu).
4) Refrain myself, for a while, from buying all the books and products you recommend on your website and podcast… (I think this will be the hardest goal…), not because they’re not worth it, far from it, but because they are distracting/slowing me down in my book-writing (see goal number 1)…he, he, he ;-).
Many thanks for your persistence in your podcast! Congratulations ! Best wishes for an awesome and successful 2017, may you reach your GOALS and don’t forget to take December off!!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Noelie, I’m excited about your podcast 🙂 That’s great – I think you’re ahead of the curve in France!
I also respect your decision to stop consuming and start producing more. I think that is SO important, and often it happens when we start realizing that we actually know what to do, we just aren’t doing it! All the best for 2017.
Thank you soooo much for your kind support, it warms my heart !! 🙂
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Joanna! I loved the chance to speak with you, and I wish you the best of luck with your 2017 goals.