Notes from PNWA Conference 2011: Part 5, Conclusion

Write it Forward: From Writer to Successful Author

Closing seminar of the PNWA 2011 conference, presented by Bob Mayer in the Grand Ballroom. Mayer is a N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly and USA Today Best-selling author.

From Jen: The following are several pages of notes I originally jotted down by hand during the final two-hour session of the 2011 PNWA conference. I haven’t edited or added comment to them; if you need clarification on any portion, leave me a comment and I will find the answer for you.


What is holding you back? You. Not your agent, editors, or anybody else.

Agents pretty much tell everyone in the one-on-ones to send them material. 90% of people won’t actually do it.

Agents need us more than we need them.

Emotions and background can be your platform.

Less than 5% of people are willing to change.

Don’t focus on what you are; focus on what you aren’t. Go to your weaknesses and make them better.

Self-help books need to be under 50,000 words.

Focus on anything that makes you upset or angry or inspired. Apathy is not caring. That means you don’t care anymore. It’s better to have feelings one way or another.

No one is going to take charge of your writing career but you. No one is going to care more about your book than you.

Is talent or perseverance more important? Perseverance.

The only person that can stop you is you.

Don’t confuse goal with motivation.

Keep it positive. A negative goal is automatic defeat.

Study successful authors.

What do you fear doing? Often, this is what you must do.

Writers usually aren’t writing the books they should be writing.

Who cares what’s hot? Write the book you want to write.

Trends last three years.

Will anyone else care? Make them care.

Writing about something don’t care about will show up in the result.

You have to look at a minimum of three books. Each book has to stand alone but have continuity.

Where is the Passion?

  • What excited you?
  • What excites the people you tell it to?
  • What does the consumer relate to?

Where is the Fear?

  • What do you fear doing?
  • Risk-taking involves facing fear
  • Often what we must do flies in the face of our fear.

You need a unique protagonist.

Probably the best book you’ll write is the one you’re most afraid to write.

Network and ask for help.

Study other books like yours.

Read a lot.

Study the publishing business.

You can’t ignore fear; you must plan for it.

Change brings discomfort and then fear.

Character is more important than plot.

Emotion is more important than logic.

Open Mindedness

  • Grown mindset.
  • Willingness to surrender.
  • Close doors. You have the power to say no.

99% of what we do is habit.


  • Name recognition (brand).
  • Are you an expert in your field?
  • Special background that makes you unique?


  • Your book.
  • Your articles.
  • Your classes.


  • Ability to do it.
  • Access to media outlets.
  • Social media.  Your name is your screen name. Your photo is your screen photo.
  • Interaction with the public.
  • Hook, niche, uniqueness.


  • If you aren’t where you want to be, you must change.

This is the best time ever to be a writer.

The successful become.

The #1 character arc people like is redemption.

  • Moment of enlightenment
  • Make a decision
  • Sustained action

Emotional stages of change.

Bookstores are retail outlets that must change with the environment.

You hear about indie bookstores going out of business but not indie authors going out of business.

The hardest thing about being a writer is writing.

It’s statistically born out; perseverance is more important than talent.

You need a writing community. Only writers understand other writers.

Denial defends blind spots and justifies needs.

Fear of….

  • Success
  • Failure
  • Rejection
  • Starting
  • Finishing
  • Revealing too much about ourselves
  • Criticism
  • Making wrong decision
  • Mistake
  • Peaking
  • Regrets

People who write reviews on Amazon do not represent your average reader.

Rip away denial.

Most fear is subconscious.

We bend our lives around fear.

Fear can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

We feel like we’re fooling everybody.

Many writers and artists feel like frauds.

Whatever you’re afraid of, you must attack into it. Attack the ambush.

Write what you’re afraid to know instead of what you know.

Take action. Thinking about it isn’t going to help you.

You need a catastrophe plan

  • Plan to avoid catastrophe.
  • Deal with it when it happens.
  • Plan to free your mind from worry to focus on success.

Have a backup plan. Scared writing isn’t good writing.

Plan three years ahead in publishing.

Communicate, Command, Complete.

Big publishers promote ten authors. The rest they just throw out there.

You are in charge of your writing career.

90% of first time traditionally published novels fail because publishers don’t do what the author expects them to do.

Know why you’re on social media.

There’s no such thing as self-publishing. You will be outsourcing editing, layout, cover.

An e-book cover is very different from a traditional book cover.

In order to succeed you’re going to have to break rules.


Bob Mayer is a N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly and USA Today Best-selling author. He graduated West Point, served in the Special Forces (Green Berets), including commanding an A-Team, taught at the J.F.K Special Warfare Center & School, has conducted thousands of presentations, workshops and keynotes both in the United States and internationally.

Find out more about Bob Mayer and his books, classes, conferences, and insights by viewing his website, reading his blog or visiting Who Dares Wins Publishing.

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