Have you ever thought of yourself as too young, too old, too smart, too dumb, too tall, too short, too big, too small, too experienced, too inexperienced, too sick, too tired…?
Every artist has some version of this going on, even the most successful people you know.
Many artists disqualify themselves from the success they desire for reasons they think are very sound but are usually anything but.
The only difference between you and your more successful counterpart is they have developed self-awareness to know when they’re pulling back when they should be pushing ahead.
If you’re making excuses for yourself in any capacity, you need to look at why that is. Is it habit? Did you learn it from someone? What has you looking for an “out” when you should be “in?”
I’m not kidding – do the inner work. Journal. Think. Reflect. Ask questions. Converse with a trusted friend or mentor. Notice where your excuses are coming from. They are coming from somewhere. Be willing to dig deep to identify the reasons, whether it’s learned behavior or trauma. And once you know the source, notice it whenever it comes up, so you aren’t stuck in repeating habitual behaviors. Empower yourself with the ability to take new actions where you would normally back out.
Read David J. Schwartz’ The Magic of Thinking Big in full and cure the failure disease – Excusitis.
May not be that big of an accomplishment.
As I was sharing with my friend over the horn the other day, Amazon KDP literally helps you choose categories that increase your chances of becoming a best-seller. And to some, that sounds mighty disingenuous.
And yes, to a degree, it’s possible to “game the system” (though not without sales). And I have heard of people buying up their book inventory at major stores to earn New York Times best-seller status.
But some are a little too quick to write off the achievement as insignificant (and I want to hit you – you’ll know why by the end of this).
Even so, I do understand. In a world where many (but not anyone) can become a best-seller, you may deem the achievement on par with eating a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s.
And I also understand that you have some arbitrary notion of what a best-selling author is supposed to look like.
(Let me assure you, we’re all human, no matter how big our talk… Still haven’t met anyone who doesn’t need to sit on the throne now and again. I don’t care how big their name. Go meet your hero – I dare you.)
But it takes at least one of two things (if not both) to become a best-seller, and most critics vastly underestimate what it takes to generate either of them.
1. A Great Book
A great book does not guarantee success, but it does increase your chances of making a good first impression and spreading through word of mouth. Which can contribute to factor #2, but we’ll get to that.
Let’s remember that most budding and aspiring authors start with junk. Their first book is either scrapped, or if it is published, it’s ignored or panned as worthless. No publisher would dare touch it with a double sized hockey stick. It’s very rare for an author to find their footing with their first work unless they’re willing to beat their head against the wall for a long, hard joyride through hell or they’re an unmitigated genius.
81% of people want to write a book someday. “Someday” means never. The other 19% are the only ones that ever get anywhere with it, and only a subset of them have written a published book.
Most people nowadays can’t be bothered to pick up a pen and paper to write a letter let alone sit down at a computer for months and years to pound out a slick manuscript. Not to mention the months and years spent editing and polishing the damn turd.
I haven’t even touched on the years and even decades it can take to understand what a great book is, which has far more to do with writing something people want to read than being factual, accurate, or data based. These things help, but we’ve all read boring textbooks, which are supposed to be objectively true. I think it may be unlawful for textbooks to be interesting, though, and the only reason they become best-sellers is because they are mandated by our daytime indoctrination camps for their slaves… I mean school and their students. Not because of clever marketing.
So, how easy is it to write a great book? You tell me.
2. An Engaged Audience
90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies. Sure, if you’re in some obscure category, and you manage to sell a few dozen books in the first week or two, you may still achieve best-seller status.
But most people simply can’t rub enough of an audience together to read a damn blog post let alone motivate them to go to Amazon (where is that, in Brazil?), deadlift their wallet, delicately and meticulously extract their credit card from a dangerously small crack leading to the pits of hell, muster the final shred of generosity residing in some appendage or appendix or organ… OH MY GOD is this molasses going to take all day?!
Everybody wants to hustle. No one wants to build connections. Everyone wants a follower. No one wants to follow others, especially not some poor, unshaven, unwashed sop banging it out on a keyboard in a dark basement. Think about it.
Mike Winnet proved that indeed, you can sell a book filled with blank pages and still make it to best-seller status. But let’s be fair – Mike has nearly 100,000 YouTube subscribers, he spent a small fortune getting to that point, and he has a following that would gladly give him more than a minute of their time (I find him delightfully entertaining).
Exactly how easy is it to build an engaged audience that gives a crap about your shitty Kindle let alone how your weekend went? It’s easy to say it’s easy after the fact. It’s not.
It’s as Easy as One, Two, Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
I’m not going to jump to the defense of other self-published best-selling authors and vouch for their work. But what I will say in my own self-interest (not self-defense) is this:
- I am a best-selling author, I wrote seven stupid tomes, and I have legitimately sold hundreds of the darn things. I have proof and I can show it to you. But book royalties won’t make you wealthy. I also have proof.
- I blog daily and expect very little in return. I’m pleasantly surprised when it leads to something.
- I’ve dedicated untold hours to “building a following” with mediocre results to show for it.
- I have thousands of articles, hundreds of podcast episodes and videos, and dozens of songs published. Whatever. No one cares. Stop talking about yourself. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Wait, am I still typing out loud…?
I think what we can conclude from all this is that:
- Growing a social media following is ass. It often ends up being about numbers and not engagement. And even as numbers grow, your engagement can shatter through your roof, pile drive through your bed, and continue to drill into the depths of god’s green earth into oblivion. For no apparent reason.
- It’s like the more stuff we do, the less people care, man. You’ve got to make things people will miss if they are gone. Otherwise, doing more is just doing more.
- There ain’t no school for critics. So, show me your best-sellers, bro.
- I need a hamburger. I should probably stop talking about them.
We’re about due for an update, aren’t we?
It’s nice that I’m back in the rhythm of publishing daily here on my personal blog, but this is, after all, about documenting the journey. Not that this isn’t what I’ve been doing, but the content has certainly had a more outward looking esthetic to it than before. For the most part, this will probably continue to be the case.
Either way, a personal update is in order, because I’ve been making some massive progress in a couple of domains.
The Renegade Musician Manuscript is… Complete?
As of today, I’ve completed editing the bulk of The Renegade Musician book, and it’s coming in at nearly 70,000 words! The only thing left to do now is to edit Appendix II, and the manuscript will be considered complete.
Of course, there is more to do before we can publish. All the content needs to be dropped into a 6×9 US Trade template, and then we need to add the boring legal stuff, table of contents, acknowledgements, next steps, and so on.
In the meantime, though, there is going to be a bit of a publicity push, and we do expect to see some blurbs and interviews out there soon.
The project has taken a little longer than expected but I obviously underestimated how much I would have to do in November. As of today, it feels like I’m starting to get back on track with everything (and I emphasize starting, because my email is still piling up…).
New Podcast Incoming!
I began discussing the idea for a new podcast with my team a couple of weeks ago. The wheels are in motion, and we’ve already created the podcast artwork. We’ve also settled on a podcast theme, and I’ve generated over 40 episode ideas.
If all goes according to plan, the first episode will come out this week. But there are a lot of moving pieces we’re trying to work out.
Also, this is the first time I’ve made the call in a while, but we are looking for more team members to support the project! So, if you’re interested in contributing:
- Graphic design
- Social media
- Audio editing
- Something else
Be sure to reach out to me so we can get into conversation!
Last year, I had the pleasure of sharing my best-selling, guitar-windmilling, cigar smoking and whisky swilling The Music Entrepreneur Code with you.
And the feedback I got on the new book was phenomenal. Rocker status.
As I continued to share the work with readers and friends, though, I realized there was an opportunity for an encore performance.
Most if not all of what’s shared in the book is going to stand the test of time, like “Stairway to Heaven,” meaning it’s unlikely to go out of style like nu-metal shlock of the early 2000s.
Not to mention, in the book, principles were distilled down to their core essentials like Eric Clapton’s Unplugged. No fluff, no B.S. In that sense, revision would have been redundant, like the Beastie Boys’ deluxe edition of Check Your Head.
Here’s What’s New in The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition (Now with More Ninja)
The most significant opportunity I recognized with the book was the importance of sharing my story.
As we all know, story creates connection. And I don’t say that to sound smart. Some of the greatest songwriters of all-time, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul Simon obviously knew this.
But with a new introduction centered on story and heart-based connection, I knew that the tactics and strategies discussed in the book would land the plane on smoother, gold-studded runways.
As with any other artist or creative, I’ve had many struggles (some would say that’s putting it mildly). And while struggling is ultimately optional, to get to that point in your development requires some deep intellectual digging (and usually several thousand dollars’ worth of courses). But that’s a whole other conversation. Remind me to waffle it out on another occasion.
With the latest edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code, I wanted to crack the code on creating intense relatability and instill an emotional connection, just as Elton John did with “Candle In The Wind.” I believe I have accomplished exactly that with the new introduction.
This isn’t all that’s available in the latest hard-rocking edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code, though. Here’s what else was changed:
- More data and insights. Although some of the bigger questions will be left to the forthcoming follow-up, The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide, the latest edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code features art- and science-based secrets to unlocking your inner musical star.
- More opportunities. We’re getting ready to launch some done-for-you opportunities to earn an income from sharing the book, and we’re excited about what’s to come.
- More ninja. Talking about revisions and updates is unsexy. So, I’m calling these changes “more ninja” instead. It’s more fun that way.
- More tool and resource recommendations. One of the things readers loved about The Music Entrepreneur Code was how it pointed them in the direction of other great gear to help them on their Budokan journey. The latest edition of the book comes with even more.
Pre-Order The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition
The writing of The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition is complete. The Kindle version of the book is set to go live on December 15, 2021. Paperback and hardcover copies will be soon to follow.
Click here to pre-order your copy on Amazon.
Thank you for taking the time to connect with me, and I hope you’ll make the decision to pre-order The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition.
I’m doing everything I can to get the word out about this latest release. Anything you can do to help out is much appreciated (including sharing this post), and it means the world to me.
Here’s to your continued creative success.
I’ve recently had some personal questions from those who are either interested in my forthcoming book, Flashes of Elation, or have already pre-ordered it, and are wondering about its status (and rightfully so). So, I thought it would be worth making a public statement so that no one would be in the dark about this.
You may have seen my November Monthly Hustle post on Music Entrepreneur HQ, seen the blurbs about “next books” and noticed that Flashes is missing from the equation.
First, and most importantly, I have not abandoned the project. Yes, I’m still working on it. And it is a very important work to me.
I admit that I use the term “working on it” a little loosely here, because honestly, I haven’t had a whole lot of momentum with it since 2018. But this is not because I don’t intend to complete it.
I am acknowledging that this has become somewhat of a Duke Nukem Forever or Chinese Democracy type situation, but at least what you can say about those releases is that they eventually happened (even if they didn’t impress). And it’s going to be the same with Flashes of Elation – it will happen, and hopefully, it will impress.
The other reason Flashes doesn’t appear in my “next book” list right now is because there are still some tough editing decisions to make. Will I eliminate certain chapters or entire sections of certain chapters, will I write new chapters, will I knowingly break certain writing conventions (spelling, grammar, formatting, etc.), and so on.
Not to make too much of it, but these are the types of difficult decisions I’ve been facing in the editing process, for a book that is sure to be the same length as The New Music Industry (66,000 words), which I laboriously edited many times (12 hours at a time), along with the help of my editors.
There is some good news in all this, though. I started an intensive yearlong leadership program about six months ago, and I’m in what they call the “Completion” quarter. And that means I’m looking for every opportunity to tie up loose ends in my world, and I know that Flashes is one of those loose ends I’m not willing to sit with for much longer.
But first and foremost, I plan to complete another Duke Nukem Forever or Chinese Democracy that’s been gnawing at me for even longer, and that’s my musical release, Back on Solid Ground.
That said, I’ve created a separate list of projects and tasks to complete, and Flashes of Elation is on that list!
As challenging as they have been, the last few years have taught me a great deal. With Music Entrepreneur HQ, I thought I was building a community / membership. Only to find that the traffic was just as disengaged as the stats showed. I thought it was growing into a profitable, sustainable business. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone one step forward and two steps back in the preceding years – even more so in the last six months.
I never would have discovered all that if I hadn’t gone through the motions of setting it all up and testing it in the market though. And maybe one day I will have a hungry, ready, engaged audience for what I’ve created. But I can see that time isn’t now.
I guess what I’m saying is – in experimenting with a lot of business models and initiatives, I’m recognizing that what people want from me most is music and books. And so, music and books you shall have. Online academies and coaching programs? Maybe for another time.
And, once the political weirdness that’s been playing out across the world over the last 21 months starts settling down, maybe you’ll see me on the stages of the world performing and giving presentations again.
Anyway, at this point I’ve gone on long enough, and I can’t justify spending more time on this when indeed, I could be working on Flashes of Elation. So, I hope your question has been answered, and thank you so much for sticking with me. It’s been a ride.