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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What is a Warrior Writer? by Bob Mayer

At the end of this month I’ll be doing an on-line class about Warrior Writer here, so perhaps you might be interested in exactly what this beast is?

I just got back today from Boise, ID, where I taught a WW workshop yesterday. The weekend before that, I taught it here on Whidbey Island, WA. Earlier this year I’ve taught workshops in San Diego, Atlanta, Dallas and other places.

I developed Warrior Writer by looking at a gap in the publishing paradigm (no one formally trains writers how to be authors); and using my ‘platform’ (key buzz word now in the business).

After 20 years and 40 books published, I’ve learned a lot. Mostly how NOT to do things. If you talk to experienced novelists, they will tell you all the mistakes they made. What I finally realized, though, was that these mistakes were unnecessary. Somehow, the publishing business expects a new author to gain the business and publishing savvy needed to be a successful author by, well, osmosis? Magic? Oh, wait, by learning on their own. And when the new author fails (as 90% of first novels do), it must be the author’s fault. Of course, the fact that no publisher or agent takes the times to ‘train’ a new author is irrelevant. They don’t have the time for it. Right. But they do have the time to work with clients whose failure rate is 90%?

“We contract for the book; not employ the author,” one editor said to me. Then why do I get a 1099 from a publisher? Send it to the book.

I’m being a bit cynical, but in most businesses, there is considerable time and expense spent training employees (all we did in Special Forces was train—until it was time to use the training). But the producer of the product in the publisher world—aka the author—has 0 time, energy and expense spent by agents and publishers on training. It’s the author’s responsibility. So be it. So I developed Warrior Writer.

I graduated West Point, was in the Green Berets and taught at the JFK Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg for many years (As Rambo laments in the first movie: “I wanna go back to Bragg” and I wondered why?). We produced the finest soldiers in the world and the best team in the world: the Special Forces A-Team.

Then, while still in the Reserves, I began writing. I got a three book deal while being totally ignorant of how the publishing business worked—yes, I could write a good book, but how the hell was I supposed to know how the business worked, having never been in the business (plus living in the Orient studying martial arts wasn’t, shall we say, helpful?). Then got another three book deal. Then no more deals from that publisher, but I was already being published by another publisher. For 12 books. Then no more deals there. But then I was being published by two other publishers and so on and so on. Not once was I given any formal instruction on the business of publishing by any agent, editor, publisher. I don’t blame them. I understand (NOW!) the way the system works. Also, it’s important to understand that agents/editors while they do work with authors, don’t really understand the strange, dark twisted way we create. They don’t know the incantations we do for our creativity and have never attended the midnight author covens where we sacrifice one of our own for the muse—the virgin one—wait, there are no virgin authors. Damn. Well, the one who looks, well, virginy. (Is that a word? Need a copy editor STAT).

So last year I thought: this is a pretty inefficient business paradigm. I decided to combine my Special Forces expertise and my publishing experience and developed Warrior Writer. It doesn’t focus on the writing as much as it focuses on how not only to survive as an author, but flourish. I used my experiences and all I had learned from many other published authors (yes, name-dropping, but it’s my experience and I earned it): Susan Wiggs; Elizabeth George; Terry Brooks; Jennifer Cruise (my co-author who taught me more than anyone else), John Saul; Dorothy Allison; and so on and so forth. And the hundreds of authors whose workshops I’ve sat in and soaked up their knowledge and experiences. Last month alone it was Cherry Adair, Anne Perry, Diana Galbadon, Susan Mallery, Don Maass, and many others at Emerald City Writers Conference, Surrey International Writers Conference, and some others.

So what the workshop will be is a torrent of information to give both published and un-published authors as template for success. I’ve boiled it down to three areas with three steps in each, which will be the 9 lessons, with an introduction, which makes, um, wait, ok, enough fingers, don’t have to take sock off—10 lessons:

WINS: What, Why, Where
WHO: Character, Change, Courage
DARES: Communicate, Command, Complete.

I was just watching a special on Monty Python and how the people who created it worked (you must study the entertainment business), so I think it’s appropriate to see if you sign up for the workshop: “And now for something completely different.”

Or we could just bring out the comfy chair.

NY Times bestselling author Bob Mayer has 40 books published. He has over three million books in print and is in demand as a team-building, life-change, and leadership speaker and consultant. Bob graduated from West Point and served in the military as a Special Forces A-Team leader and a teacher at the JFK Special Warfare Center & School. His latest book is Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear & Succeed. He teaches novel writing and improving the author via his Warrior-Writer program. He lives on an island off Seattle.

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Mary said...

I saw you in Boise last June at the Murder in the Grove conference. I was so impressed I wanted you to attend our chapter.

And as luck would have it, I'm the 2010 president elect for the Utah RWA chapter. And you've agreed to do an all day writers workshop in SLC in June 2010. I'm so excited, I can't wait. I think we'll have a great/sold out turn out for the workshop.

Thank you for agreeing to come visit Utah.

Rita said...

*Then why do I get a 1099 from a publisher? Send it to the book.*
LOL. so true.
Love your book WHO DARES WIN. it's marked up and full of sticky notes.

Anonymous said...

OMGosh, while I was reading this my head was nodding like a bobble-head doll--with my mouth hanging open.

I would love to listen to you in person. I'll have to look at your schedule to see if you'll be anywhere near me.

Thanks for making me think about my traing and career in a new way. :)


Pamala Knight said...

So excited to see this workshop offered here on FFnP and really excited to possibly get Bob out to Chicagoland next year.

AlleyPat said...

I took Bob's Warrior Writer Workshop in Dallas this summer and wow! I'll be hooking up again online. Highly recommended for all writers, this workshop will get you thinking out of the "box" (or monitor, or keyboard, or whatever LOL)... Alley, NTRWA Newsletter Editor 2008/2009

Dawn Chartier said...

Can't wait to learn about the Warrior Writer...I believe I'm already signed up...


Mary Marvella said...

Guess I'll put this on my schedule! It sounds like a must for me.