Traits of a LeaderI’m helping students analyze  Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.

The book chronicles the amazing survival and struggles of  28 men stranded on the Antarctic ice floes for almost 2 years during a 1914 expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

It’s really a book about LEADERSHIP and endurance and willpower.

As the class and I discuss the book, it HITS me!

An author needs the traits of a leader to succeed in this new age of publishing and self-promoting.

While there are many leadership traits, here’s a list most relevant to authorship.

Diligence: “Overnight success takes 10 years.” That’s a quote with which most of us are familiar. An author must show dedication to:
  • the craft of writing
  • embracing the kit & kaboodle that comes with establishing a readership
  • working the required hours to build a  platform
  • learning the “business”
  • writing, re-writing, and editing–editing–editing–editing…

Persistence:  “Never, never, never give up.” Churchill understood the importance and value of persistence. Just don’t confuse stubbornness with persistence.

Understanding: An author needs to be well-versed in several fields
  • genre particularities & requirements–and  when/if/how to break the rules
  • the craft of writing–specifically the effects of syntax, grammar, tone, symbol, motif, structure, characterization, diction, POV, dialog, plot, setting, allusion, &  foreshadow
  • Social media methodologies, techniques, problems, & tools
  • algorithms & ranking
  • personal website/blog advanced operational tasks
  • manipulating and proficiency in Word/PhotoShop/Excel/PowerPoint and other computer applications/programs

Confrontation: No conflict–no novel. Pitting bad against good is typical. But confrontations between good against good? Or bad against bad?  Better. And of course, it helps to know when NOT to confront a reader, Facebook friend, Twitter follower, reviewer, agent, or publisher (oh, the stories I could share)

Ambition: We all know people who talk the ambitious talk–but don’t have any follow through. Success–for most of us–takes hard work, long hours and includes lots of angst and setbacks. Ambitious folks don’t make excuses.

Organization: Yep, I know there’s many “pantsers” out there and kudos to you for having the innate ability to craft a story that way, but there’s other reasons why organization is important. An author needs to:
  • schedule writing time with work, family, promotion
  • track social media promotions,  blog tours etc
  • establish/maintain a query/agent/publisher data sheet
  • catalog research
  • create flow chart/timeline/spreadsheet of chapters
  • track business tax info & receipts

Punctuality: Authors with publishing contracts have no choice. Indie authors might be tempted to slack off. Create your own deadlines and keep them!

Street Smarts: A necessary survival skill in any business. One needs to stay au courant with:
  • social media trends & language
  • publishing /agent lingo & trends
  • learning one bit of information and applying it effectively in another media/venue
  • scams to publish, edit, promote, review your work for money
  • dishonest or overconfident folks claiming to have skills in editing, reviewing, promoting
Versatility/Flexibility: Rigidity gets you nowhere fast. An author needs to roll with the proverbial punches with regards to:
  • social media trends ( what’s hot– what’s not)
  • correcting writing/novel problems
  • managing promotions
  • learning to multi-task
  • balancing coffee cup over keyboard
Loyalty: Authors should be true to:
  • their brand/platform
  • friends who help promote
  • their own work
  • improving their knowledge of the craft
  • time spent actually writing
Problem solving: Authors have many problems to solve:
  • plotting the arc of the story
  • grammar no-no’s
  • breaking bad habits ( for example: poor time management)
  • HTML coding irregularities
  • ebook formatting
  • creating new blogging topics
  • promotion quandaries

And let’s not forget Creativity: Leaders must think energize…to evaluate…to problem write…to promote…to accomplish the above mentioned tasks.

Authors are leaders of their own destiny!
Writing is the tip of the iceberg.
Writers are amazing!


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