Read and Learn, Grasshopper: Nina Amir and The Author Training Manual

NinaBookcoverFor those of you who’ve followed me regularly over the years, you know that Wednesdays can sometimes be What Not To Do Wednesdays. Because let’s face it, grasshopper. I’ve learned a lot about what to do from learning what not to do. And when I started reading Nina Amir’s The Author Training Manual, I had that old “what not to do” feeling. Mistakes? I’d made a few…

But the good news is, I realized I could change, could correct a few of my errant ways, starting with the way I thought about myself as an author. The Author Training Manual will guide you, step by step, with exercises, in What To Do to be a successful author. Here’s Nina with answers to some of the questions I thought you might have:


1. I love that you start by saying that anyone can move from aspiring writer to published writer—but only if we have the AUTHOR ATTITUDE. Can you share a little about what you mean by the AUTHOR ATTITUDE?

Sure! With the advent of digital publishing, it seems easy to become an author. But to produce a successful book and to become a successful author takes more than just slapping together a manuscript and throwing it up on Amazon as a Kindle book, or even as a POD book on CreateSpace.

To do it “well” takes much, much more. For that you need the right attitude, what I call an Author Attitude, which is comprised of four primary elements.

First, you need willingness. To succeed as an author generally takes an enormous amount of willingness. To succeed as a self-published author takes even more. You must be willing to do whatever it takes, do more than just write, to change, to learn new things, to step outside your comfort zone, to make mistakes, to take risks, to fail, to succeed, to play big and be seen, to get rejected, and to run your own publishing company.

Second, you need optimism. Studies show that optimists succeed more often than pessimists. Optimists don’t take rejection, criticism and mistakes personally, which helps them avoid getting stuck. Optimistic people approach challenges as opportunities to move closer to their goals. Pessimistic people see them as obstacles, or reasons to quit.

Third, you need objectivity. Writing and publishing requires the objectivity to see yourself and your work from readers’, editors’ and publishing professionals’ perspective. When you can do this, you can take the necessary steps to improve your work and make yourself into an attractive publishing partner.

Fourth, you need tenacity. Writing a book isn’t easy. It’s often said that the real work of a writer begins after publication when you begin promotion. You must have determination, persistence and perseverance—all elements of tenacity—to get from aspiring to published (and successful) author.

I created an acronym to make it easy to remember the elements of an Author Attitude: WOOT. According to the Urban Dictionary, the word “woot” originated as a hacker term for root, or administrative, access to a computer. It works well when applied to the topic of attitude because to change your attitude you must access your “computer”—your mind.


 2. WOOT! Even I can remember that. Next question: I’ve always thought that a business plan for a book referred to non-fiction, but you recommend this tool for any book. Many of my readers are fiction writers, including children’s writers. Do I need a business plan for a picture book?

Every book is a product. Publishers want to know if that product is viable—if it will sell. If you want your book traditionally published, you must offer a publisher, who is really a potential venture capital partner, a business plan that proves you have a marketable product and that you can produce it and help sell it. That means that you can or will promote it. That business plan convinces the publisher they can make back their investment and, hopefully, earn something on it as well.

So, why wouldn’t you need a business plan for every genre of book? Of course, you would.

You also need one if you self-publish. You need to convince yourself that you should invest your own time and money in your book project—that you will earn back your investment. When you self-publish, you become an entrepreneur and create a start-up publishing company. A start up needs a business plan.


 3. The Author Training Manual lists nine steps (and includes training exercises to go along with each step!). Is there any one step that’s more crucial than the others? Is there any step that maybe the fiction writer can skip? (Not saying that I would, of course…)

I think they are all crucial. I wouldn’t skip any. Many fiction writers don’t bother with platform, competitive analysis or chapter-by-chapter summaries, for example. I think these will help any writer in any genre. In the book I discuss the fact that some novelists might just do a synopsis instead of the chapter-by-chapter synopsis in Step #6, but I still think the former option is better, and it leads to the writing guide I describe in the book.

If you want to help your book stand out in an ever-more-competitive marketplace, be sure to do a competitive analysis. Then apply that information to your idea so you can craft a unique idea that is truly necessary in the book’s category. Fill a hole on the shelf. Produce the book your readers have been looking or waiting for.

If you don’t do this, no matter your genre, you take the risk of producing one more book like all the others that have already been written in your category.


4. You also provide four excellent samples of business proposals and/or business plans. What’s most important in a business NinaAuthorPicplan/proposal, and where do most writers make their mistakes when they make a plan?

Again, all the sections are important. What can make or break a traditional book deal, especially in the nonfiction category, is an author’s platform and promotion plan. These days, platform and promotion can help a novelist stand out from the pack as well.

Indie authors should keep this in mind as they create their business plans. Author platform provides the foundation for a promotion plan. It convinces a publisher you will do what it takes after book release to help sell your book. If you aren’t building platform, you likely won’t promote your book. That can mean failure for a book—and an indie publishing company. Few books just take off on their own.


 5. It occurred to me that in completing the training exercises, I’ve practically done the work of all those people at an acquisitions meeting! Do you think it would be helpful to share that research from the training exercises when pitching a fiction book? Or in querying an agent?

The point of the training exercises is to help aspiring authors compile the information necessary for a book proposal or business plan and to evaluate it—something most writers don’t do when they put together a proposal. They also don’t use that information to craft a marketable book.

You should, therefore, put the appropriate information from the exercises into the business plan after you have tweaked or revised your idea to make it the most marketable one possible.


6. I like to end with a good take-away bang. So what’s the ONE thing you want to impress on writers when it comes to The Author Training Manual?

Creating a business plan for a book may seem uncreative. It may seem like the farthest thing from writing the book you imagined. But that’s not true.

If you want your idea to have impact and to reach many, many readers, it must be marketable. If you learn to see that idea through the same lens used by publishing professionals, such as agents and acquisitions editors, and if you evaluate it in the same way—using the same tool (a business plan), you can then put your creativity to use to craft the absolute best idea possible—one that will sell to a publisher, if you want, and to readers. You can allow yourself to get inspired and to write a book—your book based on your idea—that will give your audience what it truly seeks. In this way, you can succeed as an author.


Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual, and 10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs as an Inspiration to Creation Coach. She moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.


And oh, happy day! You can win a copy (US and Canada only) of The Author Training Manual! All you need to do is leave a comment. And if you share this giveaway post, on either Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, you’ll get an extra entry for each share. Just let me know in your comment; I’m a trusting sort.

Okay, grasshopper, now you know exactly What To Do to succeed as an author. I think it’s about time you did it. (WOOT!)

Blogging a Book: Well Done, Aspie Writer!

ImageI like a good success story, even if it’s not my success story.

In October of 2012, I talked about Nina Amir’s wonderfully succinct how-to book, aptly called How To Blog a Book. One of my blog followers commented on the post; she asked a question and stated that she thought blogging her memoir might be the way to go.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera (you may have seen her as Aspie writer in the comments) said she was going to do it. And she did.

Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed (Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism) is Jeannie’s story from her earliest memories to her life today. And what an interesting, compelling, and often heart-wrenching story it is.

Though I’ve worked with autistic middle schoolers, these were kids on the far end of the spectrum and I must admit, I had little success at communication and often had little understanding of their world. Having known them, I thought this was the most common face of autism. 

But those who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome are also living with the challenges of autism. And it’s a number that’s growing daily.

Twirling Naked in the Streets was an eye-opening read for me. From Jeannie’s earliest memories of childhood as a somewhat happy, free-to-be-me (yet definitely quirky and particular) preschooler to her journey as an adult who finally understood the years of depression, years of job-hopping, the years of trying to be like everyone else (and miserably failing), I learned something about Asperger’s on every page.

And I thought of all the people out there–the ones with Asperger’s, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or addictive behaviors or any number of mental health challenges–who struggle daily to fit in a neuro-typical world. Maybe it’s the middle-aged cashier you speak to at the grocery store, or the young mom sitting next to you at the park, or the teenage boy in your neighborhood who works as a dog-sitter. Lord knows, life is hard. But perhaps it’s just a little bit harder when your brain doesn’t work quite like other people’s brains.

I’m so glad Jeannie sent me a copy of her book. I’m glad for her success as a writer, of course, but I’m also very glad to know a little more about the face of autism. If you want to know more, visit her blog (where she blogged her book!).

Jeannie’s world changed for the better when she read a book about an autistic character and realized she was reading about herself. I wonder who will read her book and find himself or herself in the pages? Who will write their success story because one person was brave enough to share her journey?

Well done, Jeannie, and thank you!


Could Your Blog Turn You Into a Published Author? (Hint: YES!)

I am thrilled to have Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book, here as part of her WOW! book tour! And Nina’s stuff is so good, I think it best if I step aside and let her run the show. So here’s the scoop, straight from the author’s mouth. Er, pen.

If you balk at starting a blog because you think it will take you away from writing your book consider this: Your blog could change your status from “aspiring author” to “published author.”

Want some proof? Just consider some of the bloggers who didn’t even set out to become authors but who are now published, like Julie Powell (Julie & Julia), Christian Landers (Stuff White People Like), Jill Smokler (Confessions of a Scary Mommy), Jenny Lawson (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened), and Neil Pasricha (The Book of Awesome). They wrote some pretty amazing content on their blogs, garnered a ton of fans—potential book buyers and readers—and were found by agents or publishers. They then turned their existing blog content into a book or, in some cases, wrote a book based on the topic of their blog.

How can you repeat the success of these bloggers and use your blog as the path to publication? Let’s look at what these authors had in common that helped them land their book deals:

A Blog: This served as the hub of their promotion plan; even they weren’t conscious of this fact. From their blog they built out to social networks and found followers and fans. Their blogs served as their website, but it was dynamic, rather than static—filled with keywords and keyword phrases that helped them become discover-able by the search engines and by readers.

A Good Idea: These bloggers attracted so many readers because their ideas resonated with many people. The topic about which they wrote, and the angle from which they chose to cover that topic, solved a problem a lot of people had or answered a question in many people’s minds. It added benefit to people’s lives. It touched them emotionally.

A Large Fan Base:  Their blog attracted a large number of readers. This equates to an author platform, which is what most publishers require. It’s also necessary to create a successful self-published book—one that sells.

Great Content: They all wrote great content. Without great content, readers won’t stick around, come back or share your blog posts.

How can you create a successful blog and end up with a book deal? And, maybe more importantly, how can you blog and find time to write your book, too? Simple. Instead of re-purposing existing blog content, blog a book.

When you blog a book, you write it from scratch on your blog. That means you break your book down into post-sized bits and publish them, one by one on the internet. In the process, you create the first draft of your book. If you write consistently and often—2-7 days a week—and use your social networks to help promote your blog, you should begin to build a fan base. If it grows large enough, you may be found by an agent or publisher.

If you don’t get discovered in the process of blogging your book, you can send a query and a book proposal to agents and publishers. Or you can self-publish your book.

Here are some simple steps to help you blog your book:

  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Evaluate the topic’s marketability and competition.
  3. Re-angle your topic as necessary to make it unique in both the book store and the blogosphere.
  4. Create a content plan.
  5. Break your content plan down into post-sized bits (250-500 word pieces).
  6. Write and publish these post-sized bits on a schedule (2-7 times per week) on your blog.

Blogging a book is actually the quickest and easiest way to write your book and promote it at the same time. Whether you end up traditionally published or self-published, by using this method, you’ll find that your blog can help you realize your dream of becoming a published author—and a successful published author at that.

About the Author:

Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation Coach, inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. The author of How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), Nina has also self-published 10 short books. A sought after editor, proposal consultant, book and author coach, and blog-to-book coach, Nina’s clients’ books have sold upwards of 230,000 copies and landed deals with top publishers. She is the founder of Write Nonfiction in November and writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction NOW!, How to Blog a Book, and As the Spirit Moves Me. Sign up for a free author, book or blog-to-book coaching session with Nina or receive her 5-Day Published Author Training Series by visiting Find out more about Nina at

And follow her here:!/ninaamir

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I know dozens of bloggers (because I visit your blog) who are sitting on a book goldmine! Nina’s generously shared a ton of info here–and her book is packed with even more great advice and tips–to get you started, mining those nuggets. How to Blog A Book could be a golden writing opportunity for you!