Freelance to Fiction: Consciously Unskilled

I recently blogged about adult learning at my publisher’s blog, and moving from the state of being unconsciously unskilled to being unconsciously skilled. Basically, it goes like this:
Unconsciously Unskilled –> Consciously Unskilled–> Consciously Skilled –> Unconsciously Skilled
How does that apply, to both freelancing and fiction? 

As a newbie freelancer, I hung my shingle out, online, and bid on many jobs before landing my first client. I also read as many books as I could find on the subject. I learned a lot, and improved a lot in many areas, and not just in my writing. I also learned how to collect from clients who owed me money, to verify interview appointments the day before, and to only take the jobs I knew in my gut I could do well. 

By the way: The most memorable book I read was Robert Bly’s Secrets of a Freelance Writer. A lot of his advice about organization, copywriting applies to the business side of being an author.
As an author, I’m finding myself in the Consciously Unskilled category for right now, and attempting to become for the foreseeable future, somewhat Consciously Skilled. I refer to this indirectly in another blog post, Freelance to Fiction, Learning to be an Author.
It’s a process we don’t perhaps think about, consciously, but it’s one we’ve all gone through, numerous times. It really got me thinking about my experiences in the last year as a published author, in particular regarding marketing.
When I finished my second book, I took a few weeks off from writing to turn my attention to marketing, knowing this was an area in which I was unskilled. I also was very motivated to learn as much as I could, as I’d just signed a three book deal for my new paranormal romance series. I had lots of questions – how was marketing a series different from marketing a single title? How could I do better than I did for the first book? And most importantly, I was on a mission to ferret out the “I don’t know what I don’t knows’, if you know what I mean.
What’ve I learned? LOL – there’s a whole lot more to learn. But here are some of the takeaways I’d like to share:
Take time to meet folks in person. We’re a virtual society. I love it as much as the next guy. But it’s important to connect with people, in person. Get involved at the local libraries, go to the local shops, hand out SWAG, find out about book clubs. Recently, a book club invited me back to their last meeting before summer, and I was touched, and happy to meet new members, and talk with old friends.
www.timgrahl.comAn excellent resource, for all things related to book marketing, written in easy to understand, step by step language. Articles, guides, and his book, YourFirst 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book. The focus is his Connection system, and it focuses on connecting with readers, spreading your ideas, and using your writing to add value to people’s lives. A must read.
Bad Red Head Media – tons of no-nonsense advice about marketing for authors. Kudos to Rachel Thompson. Check her out on Twitter at @BadRedheadMedia, or her website On a related note, check out her recent article in the Huffington Post, 50 Shades of Trolls on handling trolls – a timely topic these days for those following discussions about E.L. James recent Twitter, er, discussion.
Twitter How To – Yeah, I tweeted, but I didn’t understand how to compose a tweet, who, or how to follow, when to tweet. Here’s a great guide, if I may say so:
Note:Twitter is my preference, over Facebook, but I’m active on both.
As I learned how to be a better Tweep, I discovered all sorts of interesting blogs and people and started to interact, and found some great resources. I’ve learned so much, and gained a lot of followers along the way, which, to me, is a cool side benefit. I still haven’t taken part in a Twitter chat, but it’s on my list. See:
I took time to work on presenting a unified theme on all of my author platforms – website, Twitter, Facebook and blog.
Evernote– I have come to depend on this wonderful organizational tool for capturing all of my research, ideas, notes, to do’s – you name it. Yep, I have it on my iPad, iPhone and I can access it online.
Cool Tools worth mentioning: SumoMe, Pixabay, Canva, Click to Tweet, Buffer, Hootsuite, Manage Flitter
And those are just some of the highlights. In the class I recently attended for the day job, in which I learned about adult learning, we watched an inspirational video about aphotographer from National Geographic. He talked about how so many people found so much wrong with the world; that was all they could see. He chose to focus on what was right with the world, through his pictures. As he went on his journey, traveling all over the world taking pictures, he found himself challenging his former thought process: if he could see it, then he would believe it. Instead, he came to discover that if he believed it, he would see it.
Powerful stuff. I think being an author is an amazing blessing that’s changed my life in so many ways, and to completely embrace the blessing, it requires shifting my paradigm, just as the photographer did. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work. And it’s the right work for me to be doing. I feel it in my gut. I’m in the journey for the long haul, moving toward becoming Unconsciously Skilled. I believe it. And I’m seeing it.
I hope you do too.
Let me hear from you…
As an author, what’ve you delved into, to move from unconsciously unskilled to unconsciously skilled?

Rebecca E. Neely is an author, freelance writer, lover of spoon rings, diners, the Steelers & great reads.

Thanks for reading! Love to hear your thoughts.

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