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#sfwc – Dan Millman – #Creative Compass

@robblightfooot  Your Creative Compass – Dan Millman

Photo of Dan Millman by Robb Lightfoot

Artist, Martial Artist, College Prof

Stasislaw Lec – “I wanted to tell the world just one word.”

Unable to do that, he became a writer. After 17 books, Dan said, “I think you teach what you need to learn, and so I must need to learn a lot.”

Dan won’t lecture a lot about the topic, it’s covered in the book very well.

He often speaks to business groups, and he tends to talk about what they need to know. Problems are usually not about the business, it’s about the people.

Writing is the same. Our problems are often about other things. We can control our efforts in life, but we can’t control the outcome. We can control our efforts. You may 0% of the shot you don’t take. This is about limitations.


Finding enough time – this is external. Writers find a way. You make time. I have the luxury of spending all day writing. This is not a good idea. The best writing he did was when he had 4 hours a day He had to concentrate and fit in in a deadline.

These are some of the obstacles. Inertia. The more important the project seems, the bigger the inertia.

Stages – Pre-procrastination phase, procrastination, then the involved stage of hitting the keys.

The procrastination phase is necessary. It’s the dream phase where we start to develop.

He reads an opening passage of the night sky. Tell’s Twain story. After his death, his colleagues were quoted as saying “Heck, we all knew the same stories he did. We just bothered to write them down.” We’re the people who write things you down.

Writer’s Block – not real. You can always write a note. It’s that you can’t write at the level well. You’ll write badly, you must allow yourself to do bad writing. Ray Bradbury said there are two phases of writing: Throwing up and then Cleaning up.

Dan said he’s never written a great first draft. Your job is NOT to write perfectly, it is to write onward.

Section 1 – David Morrell – Writing Forward

He tells the story of writing a literary novel that was well reviewed but poorly received by the public. It was renamed to “Rambo,” and the rest is history.

You can write down “I have no ideas,” and then what your alter ego would say… “Well, if you did have any ideas, what would they be.” Harold Robbins got this technique from Dan Morrell.

This is done by drawing out your alter ego and giving him a name, say “Socrates.”

There’s 5 stages on writing. There’s even a section in the Creative Compass that talks about how to read a book on writing. (Don’t do it INSTEAD of writing.)


There’s no one best path. You have to write as you can. You can’t write as Shakespeare but you can write as you. There’s a saying that God invented people because God loves stories.

Drop him a note – ask for the one page and how to write a memoirs under contact.

Not all memoirs should be published widely, but all should be shared.

To be successful at what you do. At the share stage,  you need to be good at what you do. Work your craft. Anything you practice you’ll get better. Then you need to promote your work.

You must find an audience and let people know about it. Enthusiasm counts.

Some is luck and timing. Some of his best books he did the least promotion. The only thing that carries a book is word-of-mouth. Ultimately, if you write the kind of book friends point out to friends.

SECOND- Master metaphor. When we run up against self-doubt. (This presentation is more about a mind map. Powerpoints that are linear don’t go deep. We’ll get all the necessary stuff done.)

AFTER the involved I get into the Interested phase (would rather write), then comes immersion (don’t bother me—your world is right there with what you’re creating) Then comes OBSESSION phase followed by the DESPERATION phase.

He didn’t mention the “Depression” phase. This is self-doubt. You must counter this with your master metaphor.

How many of you have learned to do something difficult that you accomplished.

Just before he turned sixty, about 8 years ago. He turns 68 this coming week. He told me to practice on a tennis court because it’s level and you can get a death grip on the chainlink fence. The next week two ladies told him, out of compassion, that “you should quit that.” And he did, but then he came back each day. He kept up.

He learned that everything is difficult until it becomes easy. And… there are days where everything fell apart. He was WORSE than he’d been the week before. He found that breakthroughs will often happen right after this.

The master metaphor is that if you persist through a crisis, you’ll get to a breakthrough.

Comments – Dream, we understand. But it’s not a receptive stage. You dream with drafting in mind. You find out where you dream best. Not all good ideas are sticky ideas. Some good ideas will fade, but a sticky idea will sustain you through a long project.

Some stylistically simple or awkward books are still successful because they connect with the reader.

The sticky ideas with universal qualities is what you want to find.

Research – book talks about when to do it. You can wait and just put blanks.

Drafting, page 1. You can write a lot before you actually draft.

The most common mistake that’s between those who shine and those who don’t.

The development stage – no matter how much you polish a plastic spoon it won’t become a silver spoon. Don’t skip development stage. This is an adolescent stage. You need to let it grow. You may need to throw out large passages.

Asked about the Journeys of Socrates… He was told he had to cut the last 300 pages because two characters hijacked the story.

Michal Corda – Editor at Simon and Schuster. He was famous for saying “You know that section of your manuscript between 197 and 302? Can you turn that into a really good sentence?”

Now you can Polish

Development redux– people skip it to their regret, Sweat trumps talent. Then, the Master Metaphor – your past triumphs. Follow the Golden Thread – find the spine. Be loyal to the story and not to the words. You can change the words. We’re all storytellers, even non-fiction. We relate our lives. Our lives are our persona. Questions – ask yourself these questions. Then, the book gets to when the world becomes your teacher.

Development is the big picture look at your book. Three or four drafts isn’t enough.


#sfwc14 – #selling 90% of your work


How To Sell Almost 100% Of Your Non-Fiction Writing – Then Sell It Again  —  Gordon Burgett

Photo of Gordon Burgett

Told his story of how he broke in. Send off a story and got $4, took his family, parents and brother, to get hot dogs. Barely brought it in under $4.

Did sports writing in high school. Had a typewriter without an “e”.

Went to study at U of Illinois. Studied journalism, also Portuguese. Had an opportunity to study in Brazil, and did a crash course in Brazil. Did travel writing there, hard because of the postal system. Sold 100 stories. This provided him the income he needed.

This is how he broke in.

The idea is how do you get good ideas and what you do with it.

His idea is not to think about writing, but to think of an idea that is so compelling that people must know more about it. You think of the benefits. Your approvals will go way up. Sell the benefits.

Gordon never writes a book unless he has approval.

Most query letters have one sentence about the topic, but he reverses this. He has four paragraphs about the topic and one sentence about himself.

Most writers don’t do enough research before their pitch.

  1. Article resale business. He never has just one sale. He looks for stuff with resale value. He usually interviews three people, sometimes up to eight. He rarely meets them in person, almost always by telephone. He asks for 5-15 minutes. This is enough.  He looks for ideas that mesh. He gets an idea and puts it through a feasibility study. Can it be researched and will it sell? If it fails, then he skips it. Looks for who might read it. He focuses on magazines. Gordon says there are now more than ever. He doesn’t send pictures anymore, he sends them to a page on his website that has photos. Pick and pay. Here’s the article. If you’re interested let me know. He’s never been stiffed. How do they pay? On acceptance, on publication, unknown. He puts on top of his list, the above the line pay on acceptance. He then ranks them by how they pay. He then puts a query, cover letter. He sells tons of reprints this way. Sometimes when he writes for publication, he gets into it, and develops three or four articles. When he works his way down the list he can do a rewrite. You’ll change the title, the lead, the structure and the conclusion. He does the reprints. Now, back to the feasibility study… he sends the query letter. He gets rejection, but if your ideas and execution are first-rate and well-executed, and it matches the publication, then you’re in good shape. Example – Grey whales. He decided to look at them from 8 different slants. Normally he doesn’t do research unless he can see that is interest. He sets up a mind map, a “topics wheel.” He gave examples about how geography is a way a focusing. He also could do articles on animal orientation. This also had spokes of dogs, cats, goats, squirrels.  Here’s the point. He had an idea that would support all these articles. He knew it would because he’d spent 24 hours in library research. He does this before he can do topic spoking. Twenty-four hours is a minimum. He interviewed 30 people for the grey whale article. You can get up to about $3k for a big publication. But you can make this $30k with the resales. He might make $1 an hour for the first, but he’ll make $280-400 an hour for the last.
  2. More money speaking than on the speaking than on the articles. You can make a 6-figure income. So, when he’s looking for a book to write, he’s looking for books with speaking legs. He told of how he was suddenly drafted as a teacher in a travel-writing class. So, with the little time he had, he made a list of questions about things he wanted to know. This process led him to speaking gigs. This is about taking an idea and making it explode.
  3. This is empire-building. Made of a book in the middle, secondary books, audio cassettes, booklets. To make this go, you need a website. Get a URL. He has a bunch of websites on reserve. This will have landing page for the book. Excerpts. Ordering process. You become an expert in the subject. You go beyond this. He made 2 million in 2 years with a niche that served dentists with standard operating procedure. He partnered up. He used to write a book a year. He now writes fewer books, he hires people and writes only 10-14 a year. Then he partnered up with his kid brother, who was secretary of education in Illinois. He assembled a team of experts on “what every education superintendent and secretary needs to know.” This is how you can make money. He makes a substantial cut on the book, but the authors are speakers and they make money on the book. This gets back to the book core idea. (Question: How about competition in the field?) You have to answer the question: “Why would readers want to read this?” You can often answer this by having a new slant that no one else has taken in. He also sends a box of facts. He is looking for topics where he can become the expert or an employee or collaborator will be. In magazines, you go to the hot topics—you want frequency—but you look at an angle they don’t cover.

Discussion – FOX news is buying her articles, but reselling them all over. Gordon – says that you should have the conversation on how to share. You can pitch 50-50 on subsequent people. Normally secondary rights have some compensation. You can offer to sell and give it back to them. You have to have a trusting relationship. Ask.

Question – tone of the magazine. Read it. Also, look at how it’s written. Travel pieces for seniors. Who is quoted. And have the goods. Seniors are picky. They want to know specific routes, places to say, what day of the years is best to go?

Question – He used to have a magic 13 newspapers. Not nationals, and 100 miles apart. He’d sell the same piece. That’s their market area. Daily papers. He sends it out. Newspapers are not buying much other than travel.

His tracking system – a sheet of paper with 8 things. Date, magazine, a sentence or two what it’s about. Then he adds the queries and articles that go out. He keeps copy of the queries, too.

Bring in your mailing list, queries, leaves a margin for notes. This is done year-to-year. He’ll cross through the rejections with a red felt pen. If they ask to see it, he puts brackets on the side, and if they buy it, he closes the brackets. Then he circles the amount they paid.

Question about queries – Most magazines want to be queried and then to think about it.

Rewrites – Much easier.

Words in articles? Never knows how long it should be? Look in the writer’s market at the publisher’s demands. Or count the size of the articles they run. You’re better off coming in short.

#sfwc14 Making 6 Figures Writing – Lisa Tener

@robblightfoot #lightfootznotes

The Six Figure Writer – 21 Principles for Making Money Writing, Teaching, Editing, and Doing What You Love – Lisa Tenner     @lisatener


Photo of Lisa Tener at San Francisco Writer's Conference - Robb Lightfoot

She’s a Stevie award-winning agent. Her clients have signed 5-6 figure deals

She asked the crowd if we wanted this, and everyone raised their hands.

“You’ve taken the first step—to decide you want it.”

It’s really about six

MINDSET – What if

Market – Who

Mission – Big Why

Mechanics – How

Money – How much will you charge

Magic and Muse

Mindset is about you beliefs up to this time. This can change. If you don’t want to change your mindset, then it’s going to be hard to get anything done.

Three biggest Myths – “It’s  Tough Economy”  – Think about it. What would it feel like not to have to worry about the economy to make money? Truth is – tons of people are making money as writers and teachers. This is not their mindset.

She also hears about soul and mindset and soul and creativity and commercialism. What if you could do something you really believed in and still make money? Try this on.

What about “people don’t value what you do?” A person in the room shared  that she had a client was haggling, even though this writer was getting a low rate anyway. Then this client showed where they’d paid $18k for some money-making scheme.

You need to be able to walk away.

You need to embrace the idea that you can make money doing this.

3. Understand rejection. This keeps showing up as a problem. She tells the story of a Harvard researcher who was doing a relationship book, but this is a saturated field. Agent was not closing a deal. But the writer kept blogging for the Huffington Post. Keep showing up, stick with it, and it will work out-especially if you work the other ideas.

4. Be willing to invest in yourself and your education. There were times early on that Lisa put stuff on a credit card. It was always worth it. Do assess the quality, but do invest.

5. Be a mama bear and papa bear when it comes to investing your time. Best to say “I’ll think about it.”


MARKET – Who are your ideal clients? Who do you want to work with? This is key. Some clients are not a good fit. Think favorite clients. Look at demographics and psychographics.

You want to work with people who pay on time? You don’t want to spend energy chasing money down. Also people who cancel and reschedule.

Makes deadlines on commitments.

People who can afford your fees. You can take on partial-scholarship projects. Just one or two.

Identify people you DON’T want to work with.

Marketing is not something writers want to do. It may be a carryover about our attitude towards marketers that bug us. But marketing is about service and meeting the needs of clients. Draw inspiration from this mind set.

Good clean marketing – a example. Sam Bennett. See the handout, “The Organized Artist,” page 3. Lisa reads email from Sam even when she skips others. Her emails are funny and real.

If you don’t like marketing, you can work with a marketer who refers clients. Eg. Lisa does not do fiction.

This is a framework, not about speeches and such, Lisa assumes that most of us have heard about this.

Google is your best friend. If you Google writing coach or book writing coach. She’s in the top 3 nationally. You need to understand how to leverage the internet to reach your key clients.

Look up how to use Google research tools.

You want to have some good keyword on your blog/web page around the key words. Do this for your home page AND articles. You want to blog around these key words. She blogs articles about how to write a book proposal, and how to write specific sections of this.

9 – Convert your interest into clients by doing this. How many people like selling? Not many. She’d rather people come ready to buy. She suggested that we have testimonials on the web page. You may not be there yet, but there are things you can do to get their attention.

You want a juicy give-away gift. And you want them to see you as someone who delivers useful information. You want to ask what they find valuable.

Use these 10 tips – research them

Press release with tips, problem and stats. Quote yourself as an expert. 10 tips – give 3-5 in PR – and the rest on the website with a link.

Once people get to the website,

Help A

Pitch rate (read ?).com

11. Learn to rise to the top in a crowded industry. When she first started teaching her book writing program, it wasn’t crowded, but it got so soon. She wanted to get attention, so she sought an award. Take on the best clients, the ones likely to be serious, and that have excitement and intellectual curiosity. Don’t take clients on out of desperation.

12 – Be the best you can be. Charge a solid rate. You can justify this by getting additional training. Get coaching.

13 – Exceptional customer service. Do what others aren’t.

14 – Tap into large media sources – Look for large markets.

She told a client who was thinking “Readers Digest,” but the subject was about mood and depression, and so Lisa steered her into a 6-figure deal. This was because appeal was big.

Lisa asked how many people are paid up front, and this is how you should operate. The reason is that you have a business, and if you were cheating people, you’d be out of business already. You can break a project into pieces and get paid as each piece comes up. This gets people away from being fuzzy about money. Story about a guy who ran out of money. You don’t want to be there. Make sure you’re compensated for all you do. Example: You do a job, and the client wants to come back and chat you up in something that becomes a consultation for which you should be paid. Don’t allow this to happen. It’s not good for the relationship, and sometimes they don’t realize they’re doing it.

Price your services by value and not competitors. The value of writing a book is huge, higher fees and speaking in the field. This frees you from worrying about what your competitors are doing.

Make it easy to pay you. Take credit cards. But checks are a pain. Take extra steps. Automatic payment plans are good.

Be willing to walk away. Leverage multiple income streams. Writing can lead to referrals. Self-study programs.

Some of the most fun ways to make money are entrepreneurial. Teaching private classes.

Don’t let someone take content away from you.

Look for high-value and small group.

Mechanics – Keep honing skills (see handout). Courses, conferences, experts to train you. Get coaching. Get testimonials when you can.­

21. Read – learn about your area.

Money rewards fun. Authentic is attractive.

There steps – clear on vision – vision it, connect with it, feel what it would be like to make it happen.

Question – Haro? – Has a website.


Last point – create a prosperous environment – Artwork and beauty that you enjoy


#sfwc14 – Linda Lee – Sticky #Websites



Photo of Linda Lee at SFWC14#

Linda Lee – Sticky Websites

Sticky Websites

Linda Lee

Sticky Websites

Linda Lee

Bio – 200+ websites designed. Does a lot with WordPress. Has a training forum and 65+ videos.

People feel stupid, but it’s just a matter of breaking it down. She wants to teach, to empower people to do and run their own website. This frees you from continually hiring someone to do it.

What are the basic needs, and what will bring readers back.

Know your goals. Know what you’re trying to accomplish.

A lot of people have 5-6 websites, and while a lot of things won’t go together you want to draw people in. You can have several things, segmented.

You can buy your name with the word “author” after it.

Most authors are not just one thing. People are interested in you

Nina Amir once had 7 sites… now down to 3

The web is like the Yellow Brick Road – there are sparkly things to distract.

She has an index card in front of her that asks: “Is what I’m doing right now help me achieve my goal?” This is apart from your writing or blogging. The web design and presence is part of what you need to allocate time to.

Writers should talk about your journey, your process. People want to hear about this.

Blogging is more forgiving, and you can give readers information about things not directly related to your work.

There is a heat map. This looks at how people’s eyes move about the site. Big photos that clog things up are irritating.

People will stay for 5 seconds, that’s the bounce rate.

“Comfort your readers with familiar items and navigation. Design your site so people are familiar and comfortable. Include a sidebar that features your book and other social media icons.

Think about how you use a website and what you expect.

You may want to put “click here” and not just rely on the color differences. Don’t worry about what snobby designers think. You want to please your user.

Click here – download here – right click-save

Give directions so you don’t leave people confused.

Oversize designs may be too much, but big buttons are good.

This makes it even easier. You’re website is like your own, mini-broadcasting station.

You want your bio, your link to the Amazon page. Your site should drive it to the Amazon page. You need the BIG picture of the cover on your page.

Mike Penny – Author

Look at how he does it, with buy-it links at the bottom.


Get a good one. Have your writer’s group do it. She eventually hired a broadcasting producer to write it. He added stuff that she would have omitted. The bio-author put it back in stuff like her sales background. Flesh it out.

Q-Publicist – What do you tell people who have a background that’s different background than there book.

A-     See if there are any tie ins.

A – include an explanation of why they want to write this blog.

Linda – Sell yourself. Buy the product. Have the reader buy you.

3 – Tell your story – What makes you different from others?

Build an Opt-in list.

You want to build an email list. This is your goal. You don’t have to have a newsletter. You can have a Pdf for them and put it on an autoresponder.

Don’t go with a monthly newsletter. Quarterly is better. It’s easier to do.

Use A-webber. It’s better because there are stats, and people can track it.

Mail Chimp just raised their limit. It’s now up to 2,000 a month, it used to be 500.

Email is the goal. These are people who are interested enough to sign up.

You need to keep adding content. Each time you add content, your site pings out and you get re-indexed.

You can add a plugin called translator, and it will translate your whole thing.

Add a blog section to your website – if you didn’t build it in WordPress.

Also, you may have RSS feed subscribers.

You can add a message site or a forum. You can add a linkedin group, they have some amazing writers group. Linkedin are serious. Fun because she’s a part of a WordPress group, and she’s gotten business just by being helpful. Working online is all about building trust.

Building trust – helping people freely helps off big time.

She has a bunch of links that we’ll get at the end.

Post your speaking gigs and media appearances. Leave them up. This shows your expertise can attract clients. Claim everything.

Get testimonials. It’s OK from your writing group. Put the entire name (unless it is a book on addiction).

Become a solution guide for the reader. –

Put together a source guide. You can turn this into things to sell, PDFs and more.

Connect with readers, make it easier for them to come back.

Connect by answering questions. Get right back to them. She told a story about a professional relationships for years. It began with a helpful responses.

You want to use the “thank you” plug in, it will help you.

Also the bookmarking plug-in.

I asked if the “follow this blog” button was worthwhile, and she said that it isn’t doing what I need. I need an email opt-in

the linked in – – or search if you’re logged in.

Ebook sales – there are options to sell directly off site. You can use paypal, but it must be a secure link.

(Note: There are services you can buy that will charge you monthly and handle all this, giving you a link.)