The Recipe for Becoming a Successfully Published Author

The Recipe for Becoming a Successfully Published Author

I often get asked how I became a published author. How did 600 000 copies of my books get sold? How come publishers now approach me to write books for them? I wish I had a recipe I could share like Jamie Oliver so that everyone out there could do the same.

But life recipes turn out differently in the kitchens of each of our hearts and circumstances.

Though we control our own effort, grace also weighs in there to some mysterious degree. I suspect the personality of our effort – open, humble and resilient as opposed to attached, needy and desperate may have something to do with success – but who knows? We all do our best.

I’ve reached a place in my own writing career where I feel that if I don’t write any more books, it will be okay. I have said much of what I want to share. The next phase of my life is about helping others to find their authentic writing voices and get their books published.

But I see aspiring authors stumble over the same problems. So I’m going to identify the most common ones and offer suggestions for getting past them.

First up: most beginner writers don’t understand the writing process or where they are in it. They’re lost. They don’t know where or how to start.

Writing a book is daunting. The task can feel overwhelming. Most people have no clue what writing a book entails. Many people start, and don’t get very far. Or they don’t start at all. Or they write a whole lot of bits and don’t know how to put them all together. Or they get stuck. Or they finish and they can’t get published. So let’s just begin with the beginning. Getting some sentences down on the page every day.

Try these:

  • Read books that can guide you and give you specific writing exercises to start the writing process – I recommend Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write or Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind.
  • Just start writing anywhere: the itch on your nose; the jackhammering outside your window, the temperature gauge on your fridge that’s stuck and freezing the milk. Don’t worry about where it will go.
  • Draw it – draw your story or book as a map. You can always stray from the map.
  • Write on index cards – bits you can write in one-hour increments.
  • Don’t worry about the beginning, middle and end. Just write. Structuring comes much later. You need to know where you are in the process and trust that what comes next will in fact, come next.
  • Break the immense task down into small-bite sized chunks. You aren’t a python, you don’t need to swallow the thing whole — you don’t need to know how your book ends, or even what will happen. You just need to start it. And keep working away at it, scene by scene, or chapter by chapter. Shawshank it. You can tunnel your way out of a maximum-security prison one pocketful of dirt at a time.
  • If you get stuck, use this as inspiration: ‘Write hard and clear about what hurts.’ Ernest Hemingway said that.

My Triumvirate: Meditation, Mantra and Memoir

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How to Write a Self-Help Book Guide

How to Write a Self-Help Book Guide

Our books will bear witness for or against us, our books
reflect who we are and who we have been….
By the books we call ours we will be judged.”
― Alberto Manguel

I’m a self-help book junkie.

I started reading them in my early twenties, and I’ve never stopped.

As soon as I finish one, I’m ready for the next. They’re like fries that way. Except without the guilt – in fact, they leave me on a high. When I read a book in which someone has figured out one of the many problems I’m facing (emotional, spiritual, psychological, financial, business, writing), I begin to feel the stretch of an emotional muscle; the flicker of light inside me as someone illuminates a path through my tunnel of darkness.

Self-help books help us solve problems.

They’re glorious because there are as many ways to solve a problem as there are human natures and perceptions. That’s why every single one is different – because as the poet Mark Nepo writers, ‘If I’d experienced different things, I’d have different things to say.’

A self-help book is a wise guide by someone who has already walked the path I am stuck on. They point out to me where I am stumbling. They tell me stories that show me how others healed, worked through the pain, survived, overcame. I put one down, and I sigh. “I will get through this problem. I see it can be done.”

But there are good self-help books and there are poor ones.

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

What distinguishes a great self-help book from a crap one?

I’ve analyzed the hundreds of self-help books I’ve read and worked out that there are two fundamental issues an author must address, and that, for each of those, there are eleven areas an author must tackle to ensure the book does what it’s meant to do.

And I’ve created a guide for anyone who is writing or who wants to write a self-help book called How To Write A Self-Help Book – ingenious title, right? But the first lesson of a great self-help book is just this – keep your message simple – make sure your book tells people what problem you are solving for them in the title.

I break the process down into reflection questions, structure, storytelling, methodology and I share my framework for writing a well structured, engaging self-help book that shares your insights in a way that turns the personal into the universal.

Because if you’re going to take the time to help people, make sure you write the best book you can. Your book can – and should – change people’s lives.

We all have life experience and wisdom to share. We’re all wiser, braver and more talented than we know or give ourselves credit for.

So, here’s a question for you: what do you know about (life, love, failure, health, parenting, divorce, marriage, fitness, money…. or anything you’ve gained great experience or insight in) that you could pass on to others? And what if you put it in writing as a gift to others?

If the idea excites you, you can purchase my How To Write A Self-Help Book Guide here for $19.95 which will walk you through the process, step by step.

So many of us have hidden insights and wisdom that remain locked inside us. By writing a self-help book, you gift these treasures to others and leave a legacy.

How To Write A Self-Help book will show you how to turn your lived experience into a meaningful narrative that serves humanity. I don’t know of a better way to honour the life each of us has lived.

My hope is that this guide makes the process easy, exciting and accessible to you.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Over the past years, I’ve been working with ordinary women who are writing the ordinary stories of their lives.

‘Why would anyone care about my story?’ each one asks in her way. ‘Who am I to write my story?’

‘What does my life matter? I’ve done nothing special. I’m no-one important. Who would be interested in my life?’

Yet just what constitutes these ‘nothing special,’ ‘unimportant lives’?

I healed from a chronic illness. I left an abusive marriage. I raised my children alone. I lost a child. I was raped. I nursed my dying mother. I was sexually abused. I was abandoned. I am living with breast cancer. I am raising a disabled child. My family rejected me. I adopted an abandoned child. I was widowed. I lost my mother. I raised four children. I stayed in my marriage. I built my own business. I decided to keep the baby. I left my religion. My child is a drug addict. I left my homeland. My husband left me for another woman. I couldn’t have children. My daughter was raped.

Each one is a staggering narrative of survival, and a triumph of the human spirit.

What is startling is that none of these women thinks of herself as a hero. Each one is innocent of her own greatness, oblivious to the power and wisdom in her story. These women do not appreciate or value their own courage and how their lives are lanterns to others. In most cases, not one of them has ever been told ‘you are beautiful, you are brave, you are an inspiration.’

Men who fight in wars are bestowed with medals, salutes and state funerals. Sports stars are over-valued, over-paid and treated as a subspecies of little gods. In our culture, celebrities are lauded over for their wealth, their wardrobes and their Oscar wins. While men still fight wars (real and on sports fields), women on the whole, work to nurture, bring life and beauty to the planet. Quietly.

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

As women age and we pass into our forties and fifties, our status plummets dizzyingly. As pertness gives way to gravity, and our generous bodies stop bleeding so we can no longer bear children, we stop satisfying traditional standards of beauty. We become shadows. We grow invisible. Some try to hold back time, and Botox our sagging butts and boobs back into youth. Some of us grieve. Our children leave us. And it’s round about this time that a woman may decide that she’s going to (finally) do something for herself. Just herself. That’s when she finds me. That’s when she whispers, ‘I’ve always wanted to write… but who would be interested in my life?’

It is one of the best kept secrets in the universe right now that true power and wisdom reside in these women and their experiences. Our planet is desperate for their teachings. Our world urgently needs the lineage and luminance of their humble labour, unrewarded, unacknowledged.

So when people ask me, ‘Why do you work only with women? And women over forty?’ here it is. It is my spiritual calling, my mission if you like, to help women write and curate their stories as a collective act of conscious healing so that together we can tip these narratives back into the world.

What I know is that women’s stories – of growth, healing, transformation, creative endeavour – are the medicine this world needs now. When written from a place of deep knowing, with care and craft and conscientiousness, the personal voice speaks into the universal voice. And each time a woman stitches herself back into the fabric of life with words, she create a groove for someone else in which to rest her own tremulousness. One woman’s courage breaks ground for others.

In a troubled world, I believe our work as writers is to use our words to inspire, nourish and grow the spirit – our own, that of the reader, the planet, or the Great Spirit that runs through all things.

Perhaps when the world has learned what it takes to leave an abusive marriage, what it asks of the human spirit to forgive your rapist and what work is needed to heal an illness, we will find a way to deserve our future.

If you are wondering, ‘Who am I to write my story?’ perhaps now is the time to invest in yourself, and to honour the life you’ve lived.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

You can learn the craft of writing any way you choose: you can take a course, you can read a book about writing, you can read great writers until your eyeballs bleed. There is no one way to learn what you need to know about writing. And that’s because the craft of writing is not what you’re fighting to learn.

My experience having mentored hundreds of aspiring authors, is that the fight is never to ‘learn the craft.’ The fight is learning to deal with yourself: your resistance. Your own feelings of worthlessness. Your sense that you’re a fraud. Your belief that no-one will care about anything you have to say. Your conviction that you’re wasting your time.

These tricksters of our own consciousness sabotage our mental space; they make a lot of noise; they kidnap our sense of what’s possible.

But we cannot negotiate with such terrorists.

 

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

If we want to write, we have to fight. What we finally produce and gift to the world through our writing has been hard-won. Far from witnesses. We succeed when we battle past self-doubt. We win when we write even when we’re not in the mood. We are victorious when we edit our work, and can let go of whatever does not serve our story.

We think that ‘success’ means publication. Book deals. Book tours. But that’s not where our mastery lies. It lies ‘behind the lines,’ or in our case, between the lines. it lies in the work no-one sees, the work it takes for us to believe in our stories and shout our worth to the world. It lies in every word you commit to the page.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Are You Sharing or Over-Sharing?

Are You Sharing or Over-Sharing?

I am by nature a sharer, and am delighted, for example, when people help themselves to food on my plate. As far as I’m concerned, few things are more enjoyable alone than in a group.

I am happy to be shared with too. Tell me your secrets, your deepest desires and longings, your worst regrets, your unscriptable shames and I will not flinch. I have also learned not to judge – though it’s taken twenty years of deep personal and spiritual work to get here. I have also made a career out of sharing – my mistakes, my personal failures, the errors of my heart – in writing, with tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people.

But then along came Facebook. And a whole new era of sharing has begun:

‘If you don’t copy and share this on your wall, it means you don’t care about me…’

‘I’ve just received the worst news but I can’t tell talk about it now…’

‘Tell me how we met otherwise you’re not a real friend…’

‘I just ate breakfast. Look, eggs benedict.’

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

 

What used to be a form of intimacy, a method of drawing people in and connecting, has become a form of exhibitionism and attention-seeking, over things that – let’s be real – don’t warrant our attention, or not the kind of attention someone scrolling through their Facebook feed is able to give. This kind of over-sharing does the opposite of what real sharing does – it pushes people away, when actually, what the sharer probably needs is a hug in flesh-‘n-blood arms.

When we ‘put ourselves out there’ – whether on social media or in our writing, we need to assess what we want to share, and more importantly, what is necessary to share. Necessary to what? To the story. To the purpose of our communication.

Sharing ought not to burden our reader. It should never make us more vulnerable than we can cope with (social media invites unsolicited and often uncaring feedback). It should always be in service to something larger than our own loneliness, sorrow or grief. It should be invitation to engage. It should offer our reader a bridge into his or her own experience.

When we share, we open our hearts. Self-indulgent misery is best kept private (on the pages in which we bare our soul). But as soon as we go public, we need to ensure it’s not an open invitation to every troll with nothing better to do than judge, condemn or feel sorry for us.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to help other writers get their story into the world called Your Story: how to write it so others will want to read it. My aim for it was modest – I was going to self publish it, and it would be a gift to the writers I mentor and a few on my mailing list who would like to come on retreat with me, but can’t for some reason.

My agent in France read the book, liked it and offered to try find a publisher.

‘I’m only interested in Hay House in America,’ I told him. ‘And I’m not waiting two years – it has to come out next year.’

This was a cheeky conversation, because despite at least three attempts (including a trip to the US in 2008 to try and secure a US literary agent), I haven’t been able to get my books into America. In fact, a few years ago, I completely let go of the American dream. As authors, we imagine that someday we’re going to be ‘discovered.’ That a publisher will swoop down and rescue us. We will be the next J. K. Rowling. But we grow up. We realise no-one is coming to save us, and that we’re in charge of our own destinies.

 

Your Story - How to write it so others will read it - out now

In this no-excuses book, written for aspiring writers and emerging authors, Joanne Fedler shares her original techniques, frameworks and strategies for life writing to ensure that your story connects with readers and doesn’t bore them to switch to Facebook scrolling.

In the spirit of mature making-my-own-shit-happen, I went ahead and invested a huge amount of money into self publication and I didn’t care if I didn’t make it back, as long as the book got into the hands of a few people and helped them figure out how to write their stories.

So here’s how the Universe works: on the same day on which I paid the last installment on the book, my agent came back to me with the news that Hay House in the US had made an offer to buy the rights to the book.

This is exciting news. Not just for me, but for all of us. Because of what it’s revealed about how the algorithm of manifestation works: we have to be 100% committed to ourselves, and we have to be 100% unattached to the outcome. And if the universe plays favourites, it picks what we offer in service to others, over what’s driven by ego.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Writing about Ourselves So That Others Will Read It

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Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

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