Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Formichelli two decades ago wanted to become a professional writer and break
free of working in the corporate cubicle. Baby steps might have sufficed, but she
found that she and her family had to commit to this goal big-time. She changed
careers, moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina, economized on time and
money, wrote articles, editor queries, and cover letters non-stop, homeschooled
their son…all to fulfilled her personal commitment to become a prosperous
freelance writer. It worked.
Giant Steps, Not Baby
we are advised to eat the elephant one bite at time and take that journey of a
thousand miles one step at a time and heat that frog slowly, Ms. Formichelli disagrees:
sometimes, baby steps will NOT get you where you want to go. Giant dreams
require giant steps.
works four ways: explosively quick results; boosted motivation: success feeding
upon success; victories that energize you.
20 Ways to Win
are this author’s 20 tactics (her words, my explanations):
“Embrace discomfort.” If it’s comfortable, you
aren’t stretching enough.
“Clear the decks.” Abandon lesser projects and
“Make it non--optional.” If it is really worth
doing, then you MUST do it.
“Connect your goal to a larger purpose.” Why
are you doing this, really?
“Go big or go home.” Half-measures won’t win.
“Check in with yourself.” Is this what you
“Put some skin in the game.” The more you risk,
the greater your motivation to succeed.
“Read 10 or more books on the subject.” You’ll
nearly be an expert.
“Overwhelm your goals with sheer numbers.” Barely
enough is likely to be insufficient. Recall “shock and awe” attack. Nothing
succeeds like excess?
“Make a list of 100 ideas.” Don’t settle for
listing 10. Some of the next 90 are likely to be gems.
“Do a 30-day challenge.” We can endure almost
anything for a month.
“Fill every spare moment.” Be like those ladies
who knit while doing something else, almost anything else.
“Deliberately move faster.” You can accelerate if
you decide to.
“Surf your way to success.” The Web can be your
“Measure everything.” Management gurus advise:
if it isn’t measured, it doesn’t get done.
“Hire help.” Not all tasks are suitable as
and conquer.” Utilize specialization and division of labor.
“Crowdsourcing.” The ultimate in getting
“Gear up.” You can’t do something with nothing.
Buy the essentials, at least. Investment enhances motivation.
“Make space.” You’ll need elbow room or even a
whole room. Find space at home or perhaps rent it.
“Let the competition spur you on.” If Mr. X. or
Ms. Y. can do it, so can you, right?
Fornichelli gives the encouraging example of her family’s migration south and
her successful freelance writing career, requiring the family’s whole-hearted
commitment. She gives the counter-example of their unsuccessful effort to keep
their cats from destroying their furniture, an effort marked by half-measures
and failure. (Cats rule!)
my own case, I rescued my college sweetheart from a difficult situation,
changed location, jobs, and career, downshifted my living arrangements and my
other expenses, and was blessed with the marriage that I had always hoped for.
The Bottom Line for Top
heart never won fair lady” the adage goes. Whether in love or war or career,
one must commit fully to achieve great outcomes.
What have you done
wholeheartedly and succeeded at? What do you want to commit to for 2017?
Please join the conversation.
Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former Harvard science professor. He still
publishes, and he helps others write and publish their books via his business
website, http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His
life's central theme has been his half-century romance with his
wife, Tina Su Cooper, now quadriplegic for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis,
receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, as discussed at their website here.
almost got paid to write some books rather than to coach or edit. For
nearly a day this prospect had me feeling high.
representative from “Fake Publishing” (not its actual name) contacted me on
Twitter, where I am active in writing about politics, science, and
writing. He indicated he had liked what he had read of mine, went to my site,
writeyourbookwithme.com, and liked that, too. He asked whether I would be
interested in getting paid to write books for his company.
I responded that, depending on
the topic, this would suit me just fine, and I offered to do so for a few cents
per word. He continued to be interested, and we scheduled a phone conversation
for the following morning. Excited, I went through my 300-odd blog entries and
my monthly articles for asiancemagazine.com and my memoir, Ting and I, and
came up with dozens of possible topics I could write up for them. I assumed we
would be discussing his needs and my suggestions and come to a “meeting of the
minds” on a topic. Money was not my paramount consideration, although it is the
sincerest form of flattery.
we spoke the next day, it became clear that what he wanted was ghostwriting. He
said he was impressed with my credentials and my writing and that Fake
Publishing has orders for books that professionals, like doctors, pay to have
others write for them. The real author
is to be a “ghost,” not to be credited in any way, but rather the
“professional” is to be the person associated with the book.
said I would not do this for two reasons: First, some credit (even in the
acknowledgments) is part of the reward for writing the book. Second, and more
important to me, participating in what I see as fraud is distasteful. Claiming
credit for a book one did not write is a form a plagiarism, big time, despite
its being quite common---for politician’s books, for example.
Years ago I helped a very
successful writer who had gotten wealthy, partly through ghostwriting books. He
paid me for the bulk of my contributions, which he used for part of the book he
was writing for a doctor, but he stiffed me for the last 20% of what I wrote. I
was helping him ghostwrite a book. Perhaps I was aiding and abetting fraud. I
should not have been surprised that, to a degree, he cheated me, too. The adage goes, “You can’t cheat an honest
man.” I might add, you are likely to be cheated when dealing with a dishonest
If you are dealing with a
professional who claims to have written a book, beware. Check his publishing
company out, if you can. I’d give you this advice: don’t trust a plagiarist or his enablers.
Excerpted from my recent book, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available through OP and online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com. Next section gives a different opinion from a ghostwriter herself.
Adams, successful author and entrepreneur, is best known for his highly popular
daily cartoon strip, Dilbert,
chronicling the workplace ups and downs of this nicely nerdy engineer and his
odd workfellows, which include a pointy-haired boss and colleagues who make an
art of work-shirking.
has written a valuable, enthusiastically reviewed book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story
of My Life. “This is the story of one person’s unlikely success within the
context of scores of embarrassing failures,” encouragement for those of us who
feel on the edge of success but not yet ensconced there. Rather contrarian, it
serves as an “on the other hand” for the advice we often receive.
It’s Mostly Luck
where, and what you are is largely a matter of chance Adams argues.
so, you can improve your chances. Adding a skill, even at a modest level,
“doubles” your chances for success: public speaking, psychology, conversation,
grammar, persuasion, a second language, business writing, basic accounting, the
Internet, even design basics. He lists about a dozen useful skills. These
skills become part of your “stack of talents.” The more of them, like tickets
to a lottery, the more likely you are to capitalize on an opportunity and win.
Passion Is B.S.
learned this from a commercial loan officer who shied away from lending to
entrepreneurs who were long on passion: “…the best loan customer is one who has
no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good
on a spreadsheet.” Finance trumps fervor.
Goals Are Not Golden,
without goals, we are adrift; specific goals can keep us motivated and on
course. And yet…a goal we repeatedly fail to reach is discouraging, sapping our
energy. Better, Adams argues, is to have a system, a method we stick to and
regularly reward ourselves for doing so.
20 pounds? Nice idea for some, but if progress is slow, the diet is dropped. Instead,
we must change our eating habits, adopt a new system. Every day we stick to the
new regime is a victory. I did this myself this year, dropping 10% of my weight
by greatly restricting carbs and replacing them with salads and proteins. The
daily “victories” helped me maintain my new weight. I confess I did keep track
of both what I was eating and how much I lost.
Failure Is the Raw
Material for Success
describes numerous failures on his way to success as an author, entrepreneur,
and cartoonist. “If success were easy, everyone would do it. It takes effort.”
in the mound of your unsuccessful efforts is likely to be a success. “The trick
is to get the good stuff out.”
you generate the mound. Adams amusingly describes his own pile of
trial-and-error. From failure comes knowledge…if the failure is faced squarely,
and if it doesn’t kill you. Next comes success.
Conservation of Energy
Is not Limited to Physics
we can increase our personal energy---sleep enough, eat well, keep active
daily---we have to note what drains our energy, too; avoid the negativity of
much of the news of the day and the people who are pessimists rather than
optimists. Pay attention to how you feel; recognize uppers and downers.
or Just Seem To Be So?
Jane Dough, am going to be a best-selling writer.” That’s an affirmation.
Repeat it often, and it appears to improve your chances of reaching this goal.
Adams gives specific, rather spooky, examples from his own life of his affirmations
that came true. He gives the arguments on both sides of the question of whether
an affirmation really changes your chances or only seems to. He concludes it
costs you nothing and may well be of benefit.
The Best Advice on
you want something, figure out the price, then pay it.” You have to decide rather than merely want.
to be successful, and paying the price for it, may seem excessively selfish,
but doing so can allow you to enjoy your life, help others, and not be a burden
estimates he will consume about a tenth of the wealth he has gained, with the
rest going to “taxes, future generations, start-up investments[D1] and stimulating the
economy.” Failed enterprises do not long support their owners, their employees,
or their communities.
Doubt the Experts
truths are self-evident; some are simply expert opinion. Though experts have a
better record than non-experts, they also make serious mistakes. Advice must be
taken with skepticism.
your gut feeling (intuition) disagrees with the experts, take that seriously.”
Going against expert opinion may lead to ideas that open opportunities for you
that others have overlooked.
sometimes you should doubt even popular cartoonists.
What are you doing to add to your skill set? What have
you done to improve your “luck”?
First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book is Tim
Grahl’s contribution to the art or science of marketing your book. His method
relies on a strong email list, applying a system of:
permission, your communication efforts risk being ignored, deleted or otherwise
tuned out.” Grahl’s key: a mailing list of willing recipients. “Earning such permission is the art of
motivating website visitors to grant permission to stay connected.” In
other words, letting you add to the clutter of their email. “Having a direct
connection to an individual’s inbox gives authors a way to communicate to their
readers where they regularly spend their time.”
You get their permission by attracting them to a website
with an offer, exchanging the offer for something you value, their email address.
People pay more attention to most items
in their email inbox, nearly 100%, than they do to items on Twitter or Facebook,
more like 1%. You want them to get to know you and vice-versa. “…your #1 goal as an author should be to
grow your email list as much as possible.” Look into MailChimp, Aweber (http://aweber.com), and Constant Contact.
overarching rules: (1) make a specific, compelling offer and (2) expose them to
the offer multiple times.”
Use their permission; deliver to them valuable content regularly, and
share it freely and publicly, giving it a chance to go viral. Share more than
you feel comfortable sharing. Grahl (2013) gives many examples of success by
sharing, as your following grows faster, your connections increase and improve,
and your reputation soars. Consider bonus offerings besides the book. “Fans
Expanding and deepening your connections, outreach, starts with empathy,
identifying with the feelings and thoughts of another. Help
others. Zig Zigler is quoted, “You can get everything you want in life if you
just help enough other people to get what they want in life.” Grahl claims the
investment is worth it: “Long-term career plans require long-term thinking.”
Over time, you will have connections to both fans and influencers, the latter
being more lucrative. Fans you give
one-to-many communication. Influencers
you give one-to-one interaction.
For recruiting readers, Grahl recommends:
where they spend their time.
an introduction approach to their platform(s).
is the goal of the system. Boost yourself. Ask others to buy, having stimulated
their appetites. “Leave them wanting more.” Tell stories that help you connect
emotionally with your readers. “Enthusiasm sells. Let it out.” Make it easy to
buy and ask them to.
the system: Mass
marketing especially depends on building a system to manage the multitudinous
contacts. Do it.
this is not the kind of work I like to do; My email list is paltry and filled
with friends rather than potential customers. Your talents, taste, and
experience may be quite different.
Excerpted from my book, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP and from online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.