Hang Gliding with Hurricane Wendy -- Guest Post by Reb MacRath


Since publishing her first book in 2014, Scottish writer Wendy H. Jones has proven herself to be a force of nature. Consider the breadth of her output: the bestselling Shona McKenize police procedural mysteries, the quirky Cass Claymore investigations, the Fergus and Flora mysteries for younger readers, the Bertie the Buffalo books for kids...and a series of how-to books for writers. 

She's uniquely qualified to teach, embodying the lessons we need to survive with a million new books coming out every year. Wendy's almost everywhere: signing, interviewing, hosting a popular podcast, guest blogging, conventioneering...you name it, and she's likely there.

As a former traditionally published writer (under the name Kelley Wilde), I've been struggling for some time as an indie writer. Though I didn't mind the struggle, I'd grown sick of struggling stupidly. And I knew the time had come to either quit or pay attention to someone who's aced the arena.

Luckily, Wendy had put out a new marketing book. 

UK: https://www.amazon.com/Motivation-Matters-Revolutionise-Writing-Creative-ebook/dp/B07S3ZS8HS

US: https://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Matters-Sell-Books-Writing-ebook/dp/B08F2HZT2X

I clicked an online Look Inside and was struck by the friendly but no-b.s. tone and also the table of contents: 22 chapters covering everything from marketing theories to branding to professional comportment to book promotions to social media to podcasting...and on and on.

I downloaded the Kindle version and dug into it instantly. The style is so breezy and upbeat that the book may seem like a quick fix or a shortcut. It's not. It's a battleplan set forth in demanding detail. Within 20 pages, I understood I had only two choices: either stop reading and let my ship sink...or learn how to hang glide with Wendy.

To do this, I knew that I had to confront a terrifying obstacle:

                                   THE CURSE OF ALL SELF-HELP BOOKS

Whether the book is a new diet plan, a quick guide to Ultimate Abs, a visualization manual, a master plan for getting rich, or a battle plan for writers, readers come face to face with The Curse. That first wild sense of 'Eureka!' is followed by the glum awareness that the way forward will require frightening reserves of patient, persistence, pluck--and scores of other 'p' words they can't even start to imagine. Onward to the next quick fix, which proves once again to be not quick at all.

Damned if I'd say 'Die', though. New habits, I knew, take a month to kick in...and three months to become solid. The whole trick is to hold fast. Long ago I'd done just that with two destructive habits--smoking and drinking--by keeping a journal. Could I try a different tack to whip a third habit that's dragging me down: thinking I'm not tough or resourceful enough to prevail in the indie arena? Can I replace that habit with a better one that works?

Game plan: devote a year to Wendy's battleplan and break it down into quarters, tackling one chapter every two weeks. I'd keep a bullet journal to plan and organize my efforts, monitor my progress, and hand copy the keys to each chapter so that I'd have them at my fingertips. Furthermore, I'd keep my Quarters fluid: though the first covered September through November, a sudden change of apartments cost me a couple of weeks and so I'm ending Q1 at New Year's. Extra time to review my progress and prepare.

A few photos will give you the idea:

Front: fave author and color keys

Week 2 keys at my fingertips

Week 1 exercises

                                                         Weekly planner


       My first Quarter review (September-December 2020

--Wendy's stern counsel on time management and honoring priorities enabled me to finish drafting the fourth volume in my Seattle BOP mystery series while proofing the third book for formatting. This was accomplished despite a sudden forced move to a new apartment and continued pain with a sprained right knee.

--Wendy convinced me of the need to brand my BOP mystery titles with a unifying link. E.g.: Her Shona McKenzie mysteries all start with the word Killer's (Countdown, Craft, etc.) From the third BOP mystery on, my format will be The ___ of BOP. (The Rock of BOP, The House of BOP, etc.) I hope to join the first two books into a single volume called The Birth of BOP.)

--But my dozen-odd other books needed to be branded too, though they ranged from romantic suspense to historical mystery to hardboiled pulp. What was the unifying thread? Thanks to Wendy, I came up with this: From ancient Rome to Seattle, the twists come at the speed of night.

--My online platform has grown increasingly less effective. No time to play on Twitter. Less time to spend on Facebook. But after reading Wendy's book, I've committed to making far better use of my limited online time. And that means more engaging posts, more interesting Comments, more Shares, etc. And on Twitter, instead of trying frantically to tout my work daily, I plan to Tweet 3x a week regularly...with Tweets that aren't just about MeMeMe.

--I've also joined Instagram, carefully building a base of followers who either like my writing or share my interest in fitness. And, just as important, I've taken care to link them: lean thinking, lean writing, lean muscle.

--The bullet journal has been a life-changing companion. Honesty is essential, of course: indicating shamelessly and fearlessly what I couldn't get to...moving it forward and trying again.

--The importance of the author's image can be seen in Wendy's latest photos--she's rockin' it now as The Woman in Red--compared with photos taken before she'd perfected her presence.

--Marketing Matters needn't be read in a linear way. I recommend reading the opening chapters on marketing and branding, then turning to chapters that you need right now. I followed Chapters 1-5, then skipped to chapter 13. Another thing, some chapters may require more work.  I ended up dividing the thirteenth chapter into halves, each studied for two weeks.

--Do yourself a favor and do the exercises. There's magic in committing to truthful, bold responses.

--I've reaped richer rewards by taking time with certain points that only appear to be small. E.g. behaving always like a pro, doing favors rather than constantly asking for favors or help, not responding personally to reviews (negative or favorable), paying the price cheerfully for whatever needs to be done.


This concludes the story of my first Quarter adventure. In a couple of weeks, I'll start Q2. And with two new mysteries coming out next year, I'll find out soon how well I've learned to hang glide with Wendy H. Jones.

Here's a link to my Amazon page, with hopes you'll drop by there to visit. The two Seattle BOP mysteries would be a good place to start.

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=reb+macrath&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

US: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=reb+macrath&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss


Eden Baylee said…
Thank you for the post Reb. So great to hear how motivated you are! It's a slog to write, read, market, promote, and rinse and repeat. Doing it all is tough, but I think you are making the right moves.

I will take a look at Wendy's book too. Thanks for shining a light on her work.

Reb MacRath said…
Glad you enjoyed it, Eden. When I look back on the number of good guides on various things that I've read through the years, I realize that I 'understood' them far too quickly. I'm taking Wendy's book at a much slower and more demanding pace.
Wendy H. Jones said…
Reb, thank you for your kind words. I am so glad you re finding the book useful.
Reb MacRath said…
You're welcome, Wendy. Thanks to you, 2021's off to a promising start.

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