"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: March 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Tall Poppy Syndrome

Why is it that the more successful you become, the better you get at doing what you do, the more people want to criticise you?

It's a bizarre phenomenon that seems to be far more prevalent in Australia than in the US. In fact, in Australia, we have a name for it. It's called the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

It assumes that if you achieve success - or even want to be noticed for something you're doing, then everyone else has a right to cut you down. 

To the extent that 'it's your own fault' for raising your head above the other flora. 

It doesn't matter how proud or good and right you are - the fact you have the audacity to stand tall must mean you deserve every bit of criticism you get!

I've noted that Americans love success - in whatever arena, artistically, creatively, even in business. Doesn't matter - success is the pinnacle of the American Way. 

Not so in Australia. Success is treated with suspicion, even fear by the locals who seem to regard talent and vision as some some kind of illness of which you need to be cured. If not, then beaten down like some leprous interloper and driven back into obscure, safe normality.

Success goes against the Australian Way - where the culture is allegedly based on equality and fraternity. A fair go, as it's called down here.

But to me, it's telling that anyone who's ever made it artistically in Australia ends up leaving these blessed sun-burnt shores. And, really, who can blame them?

They all have the same complaint. 

That not only are artists unappreciated in the land of Oz, they can't get anything done! The entire culture flattens initiative, stifles talent, squashing new projects so fast you can barely hear the wheeze of dying artists.

I used to think it was a generational thing.

I remember my mother - and many of her ilk who grew up in the 1940s and 50s. They encouraged their children 'not to get ahead of themselves', to accept a life of 'security' and quiet desperation. 

I'm sure that anyone who lived in the decades after the second world war would have felt that way. It was a tough time. It was hard to survive on a daily basis, let alone fight your way out of the gray mire to do something worthy.

But times have changed. That war is over.

I grew up in the 80s - a time when you were encouraged to express yourself - in almost ridiculous ways - but still there were those who said, take it easy, artistic success happens to others, not you. Go back to your day job - be realistic!

But now there's no excuse.

Okay, so there's yet another (seemingly ever present) recession - we're always being encouraged to tighten our belts. 

But this is an artist's age, surely. 

Apart from the banks, as ever, who's making all the money?

The media. 

Movies, TV, computer games, books, online information - that's where the new fortunes are being made. 

And that's where we as artists should be heading. To take part in the burgeoning entertainment and informational markets.

But watch out - that way lies the trap of fame!

It's unfashionable to say so but I think being famous is quite hard nowadays. 

Imagine it was you, standing there, paraded in front of the public week after week - and all you get is people taking potshots at you: questioning your motives, denigrating your talent, setting out to undermine your confidence on a systematic basis - when all you want to be is creative.

Can you imagine how that would make you feel?

To be like Kanye or Taylor Swift?

Putting out your products, your music, your books and stories, laying your soul and your unique vision bare to the world - only to be consistently attacked and put down by critics and those with smaller minds.

Why is that? Why?

Because still, in 2017, most ordinary people fear success - other people's that is.

Why do you think the media follows around movie and pop stars, intent on discovering their secrets and exposing their faults?

Obvious. Because it's easy. And to level them - to cut them down. 

To reassure the public that money and power bring you nothing - and least of all: respect.

It takes a special kind of person to handle fame and success nowadays - but maybe that's what those who would criticise you hate the most.

That you're special - and they are not.

Keep writing!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's Okay to Break The Rules

Today I'm giving away a free course. The Instant Author Kit.

It's all part of the official launch of the Writing Academy. You may see some ads about it on Facebook.

Please share this article wirh anyone you feel might be interested in this new course!

Anyway, this week's article is about changing writing rules when you feel the need!

Keep Writing

Rob Parnell
Your Success is My Concern
It's Okay to Break the Rules (Sometimes)
Academy Website
Recently I've changed the way I write fiction.

You know me. For years I've been saying the best way to get past novel writing blocks is to write your first draft quickly. Get the words and the story down first and worry about the editing later.

This process certainly works if you're having doubts about your ability to actually get a whole book written. The principle of letting go of your inner critic is valuable - especially if you're prone to blocks.

My last novel was around 90000 words, which I wrote very quickly.

After the initial draft I sat down and then plotted the whole thing - a mistake to be sure but my feeling is that you have to do whatever works for whatever piece you're working on. Different MSS often need a different approach so that you don't go stale sticking to own self imposed routines.

That's fine. Embrace change.

Sometimes an idea is so strong you just want to get started - as I did with my last novel. I loved the premise so much I managed to pump out the entire manuscript without formally plotting it.

Then, problem was, after the first draft - and the rethink of the plot, I had to rewrite the entire thing again!

Mainly to sort out issues to do with timing - it was a minute by minute thriller after all. But also I changed the order of some of the deaths - and slightly altered the perspective of the lead character.

So far so good.

But then it came to the editing. I did one run through. Just tightening up the prose until I was fairly happy with it - I thought!

Then I gave the manuscript to one of my assistants to read. She's nearer the age of the lead character and I wanted her feedback. She had some criticisms. Fair enough.

One more edit.

Then I thought I was ready to send it out.

I did and got a couple of rejections. Okay. Can't win them all.

Then I thought, what if I wanted to publish the book myself?

Good in theory - so I began the process.

I decided I'd need a stronger opening so wrote a new prologue.

Trouble was, I was so impressed with the writing in the new prologue, I realized I'd have to make the rest of the book as good!

So another edit ensued. This one took ages. I basically had to re-look at every line, every word, every paragraph and chapter - to make the manuscript as strong as it should be.

Maybe in the two years that it had taken to get the book finished, I had grown and changed. I started to feel like I was editing someone else's book. That I was no longer the person that had written the first draft.

Good, really. But it meant I had to do a lot more work at the end of the novel writing process that I would ever have envisaged at the beginning.

The consequence of all this unexpected work was that I decided I wasn't going to do this for the next one.

So, as I said at the beginning, I changed the way I write fiction.

Just slightly. I mean I'm still the same story teller. I can still see my voice in the writing. But now I've changed just one aspect.


Yes, I've slowed down.

Instead of writing my most recent book as fast and furiously as possible, I decided that a more considered pace was appropriate - at least for this story.

Basically I just don't want to spend so long editing this one - so I'm taking my time over which words I use to express myself during the first draft.

Why? Because I'm deliberately looking for all the things I usually want to edit out later.

Things like the overuse of adverbs, 'ing' words, the word 'it' and anything woolly sounding like 'just', 'felt', 'decided' and 'thought'.

The interesting thing is that if you try and avoid the woolly stuff the first time around, it seems to change your writing - almost fundamentally.

Passages of description suddenly become much more specific - and effective. And when you're forced to write without adverbs, you realize you have to change the way you say things in order to get the 'ly' word across without actually using it!

But the other thing that's really helped this new book is that I plotted the whole thing from beginning to end first - before I did any writing.

Just like all those bestseller writers I'm always telling you about, I wrote a very detailed outline of the story before I began.

Now that doesn't mean the novel slavishly follows the template. No, as you'd expect, new scenarios, even new characters seem to appear as I'm writing. But that's okay.

At least now I know that as I'm writing, the quality is fairly good. Not because it's literary or clever - far from it.

The purpose of clarity in writing, I believe, is to serve the reader.

And whatever technique you or I choose to employ is to that end.

I feel this time - in this latest novel - I have at last found the right balance between my own technique and its end purpose. That is, to entertain (and to sell a squillion copies of course!)

Plus, I'm enjoying the process.

Time will tell.

Fingers crossed.
The Easy Way to Write
Keep Writing!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Self Publicity - At What Cost?

It's one of the problems with writing: if you want people to buy your work, you need to let them know about it.

And you have to balance this issue with how marketing can seem a bit vulgar - even desperate - sometimes.

It's like the ads on TV.

We say we don't like them but we know that TV wouldn't exist without them.

Couldn't. Nor could magazines or newspapers - or, more especially these days, the Internet.

Sorry to burst your bubble on this but if you think the Net is in any way free, you're kidding yourself.

For a start, how much do you pay your service providers EVERY month?

And how exactly do you think Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have survived for so long?

It sure ain't charity, Bub, I can tell you that much.

I know.

We'd like to think, as writers, we can be quiet, reserved, indeed anonymous - and people will somehow hear about us and buy our books - by word of mouth perhaps - or by luck or by using other people's promotional skills.

Alas those days are over - if they ever existed in the first place!

There are no talent scouts anymore. Nobody is going to take you away from all this and make you rich.

There are no literary agents or managers who have your best interests at heart.

They're all in it for the money. And 15% of your gross income is, after expenses, often more than 50% of your net income. So yes, your big shot New York agent may actually make more cash than you on your bestseller.

Fact is, being a published author doesn't pay anymore.

The latest reports show that, of the hundreds of authors signed to publishers in the last five years, only a handful have made over fifty thousand dollars. Most, 99%, made less than ten.

It's brighter for those self published on Amazon. 3640 authors made over one hundred thousand dollars last year.

For the first time in history, self published authors are making more money than their traditionally published peers.

On one proviso: the self published author MUST self publicize.

Indeed, even the Big Five publishers are as concerned about marketing as they are with publishing nowadays.

These days the marketing department is always bigger than the acquisitions department.

Writers need to have the capacity and the willingness to go out there and promote their own work.

Literary success, to put it bluntly, is now a competition of sorts - you just can't hide your light under a bushel any more if you want to be taken seriously by the public - or the writing industry.

There's no shame in being in people's faces.

Think about it. Why is it okay for Coca Cola and Nike to get in your face and come across as big corporate bullies - but somehow it's unseemly for writers to be anything less than demure?

When it comes to myself and my Academy for instance, the way I see it is that I'm not really promoting me - just my writing - which is not really me, the person, but me, the writer - two close but not entirely the same individuals. Does that make sense?

I'm shy as a person, afraid of criticism and easily hurt... but when I put together sales pages, project proposals, or movie treatments or anything I use to 'sell' my writing - I know I can seem super confident to the point of being almost 'brash'.

But that's not really me - it just helps my career. A lot.

I try to teach this aspect of writing to others - because I know it can help new writers get around this problem of having to seem self confident, worldly and wise in the ever more competitive marketplace that writing has become - when all you really want to do is sit at home and write.

I think I show that this can work. You can be both creative and open.

Like all those (apparently) insecure Hollywood actors who look good in the media but secretly crave solitude - they only do all the media stuff because it's what enables them to do what they love.

Celebrity, notoriety, call it what you will, goes with the territory.

Even as a writer, you need to connect with the marketplace.


To ignore the need to publicize yourself is to cut off your nose to spite your face.

In order to gain success, you need to get yourself - or at least your writing - out there, or you simply won't be able to afford to keep doing it!

It'a very modern dilemma.

And one that will continue to plague authors as the Internet envelopes our lives - and makes us all accountable to ourselves.

If my writing career has taught me anything it's that you simply can't rely on anyone but yourself (and your loving partner) to get you to where you want to go.

Other people will always let you down - or rip you off. Probably both.

Anyway, again I apologize for my apparent brashness sometimes - I'm really only trying to set a good example for you, my friend.

Thanks for letting me speak to you.
The Easy Way to Write
Keep Writing!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Secrets of a Freelance Writer

It's taken me a long time to get this right: 97 video lectures, 128 pdf downloads, 8 ebooks, 11 exercises and activity sheets to help you make a lot of money as a writer. I wanted to get this course perfect for you.

Secrets of a Freelance Writer. Thousands of dollar value. All just $27 - for this weekend only.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell
Secrets of a Freelance Writer

Do You Sincerely Want To Be Wealthy?

Take my hand and I guarantee you can change your life.
Simply become a freelance writer and take charge of your
total freedom, independence, and your new found riches.

I want to fill you in on what I’ve been doing recently, on how I’ve been trying to come up with something to help you succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

My latest course, Secrets of a Freelance Writer is really my magnum opus, my swansong – the most epic achievement of my life up to this point! Okay, all that might sound a bit dramatic until you see for yourself the vast scope of this course – and understand how valuable this instruction will be to your profit making ability in the future.

Yes, if you want to be a successful freelance writer, a bestselling author or a any kind of wealthy wordsmith, this is the course you’ve been waiting for!

The course is arranged in the order that best ensures you’re going to get rich from taking my advice! All you have to do is find the time to watch the videos and read the text and download the PDF extras (which include fresh market listings) and voila, everything is done for you. Your success is assured. Just add writing – but that’s the bit you like, right?

What’s In the Course?

Discover why I am the right teacher for you. Indeed, I may be the ONLY writing teacher out there who has actually made a good living from writing. Most teachers either live in dusty classrooms teaching theory, or are so called ‘gurus’ who have no real world experience and yet spout even more theory from behind a blog or a flashy website. Not me, I’m the real deal. I’ve been making a living from freelance writing for over 25 years, online and offline – so I know how it’s done, how it works, and how to make a shed-load of money doing it.

Let me show you the best attributes to develop to make your new career a certainty. Talk to me about your problems within the course and let me help you gain the right mindset, attitude, and motivation. I’ll be candid and assist you as much as is humanly possible. Plus, I’ll be upfront about the money you can make, which is sometimes a lot more than you’d think!

The key to making freelance writing work is to create multiple streams of income, so that you’re getting a constant flow of money coming in from all kinds of writing work: magazine articles, travel writing, ghosting writing, editing jobs, writing fiction and nonfiction, getting published by the trade AND/OR self publishing certain things. The trick is to diversify and not rely totally on just one form of income. I’ll explain fully how that is done effectively at the beginning of the course.

Many new writers don’t fully appreciate how to run a lucrative business. Basically writing for a living is a business too – and you need to approach it like one. In one crucial set of videos I explain how to plan and strategize your success and use priorities and measurement of your activities to maximize your earning potential. Plus tips on how to reduce your taxes and properly manage your finances.

Writing success is about managing your activities – daily – and responding to feedback. My course ensures you don’t get caught in a rut and that you respond quickly to the demands that writing for a living will engender. Included are downloadable activity sheets that will help you identify the best paying jobs.

More than any other freelance business, you are a product of your own destiny when it comes to writing. You decide on what you want. You decide what you want to do with your time. You are the master of your universe – and you reap the rewards of true independence. During the course I explain how your mindset is your best friend, your best asset, and your key to true success. It’s what is in your heart that matters – and I explain why.

After this master class in self management I then go on introduce the concept of Practical Cash Creation. This detailed module explains the reality of writing for a living and what it means, how it can impact your life and those around you, how making money changes your life – and your partner’s – all for the good. There are more downloadable income to activity schedules and spreadsheets in these modules to help you chart your progress and track your journey to success.

Finally we reach the actual meat and potatoes of the course – actual money making activities explained in detail: how actual cash is generated from a myriad of sources. The information in these videos will literally blow you away. Never in one place have so many secrets been laid bare, especially about an industry normally shrouded in secrecy. Now it’s no longer necessary for you to learn the hard way – all by yourself and over a long period of time (years!) because I have done all that FOR YOU. All the information you need is here. All the right tips and tactics that work are ALL HERE. Just for you.

Writing for Magazines is traditionally seen as the freelancers main income source and the subject receives its full attention from me. The fact is, magazine articles may only make up a small part of your overall income but everything you learn about pitching for work will help sharpen your freelance writing skills. In this series of lectures I help you with Sample Query letters, assistance choosing topics that can’t fail to have an editor salivating and a market listing to die for.

Non Fiction Writing is covered in a series of SEVEN videos that show you how to construct sure-fire submissions to publishers on all kinds of books: science, fashion, history, whatever you like. You see the thing is that you don’t have to write entire books to get paid to write them. Better to pitch nonfiction ideas to publishers FIRST and then let them commission you to write them. This is how true professionals work – and I show you the exact method by which you can compete and win with ease. Again I include an up to the minute listing of nonfiction publishers who are desperate for new book ideas from you.

Writing Genre Fiction for big money is the dream of almost all new authors. But how is this achieved? Look no further. Over EIGHT info packed videos and FOUR full-length e-books, I explain how to write effective romance, thrillers, fantasy, horror, science fiction and cross-genre fiction for the modern marketplace, whether you’re targeting traditional publishers or you want to self publish on Amazon. This module alone is worth far more than the super low price I’m asking for this extraordinary course. You won’t believe what you get!

Writing for Children is another favorite choice among new authors who sense there is much money to be made from spinning short tales for kids. It is true that the children’s market is huge and lucrative but, do you really have what it takes to be a winner in this field? This special SEVEN part lecture series will put you on the right track. Compiled with the help of a multi-published children’s author, this section alone is super valuable to any writer’s career. Includes great instruction on technique and comprehensive market listing of children’s book publishers

Writing for the Corporate World has always been a great fallback for me. If ever there’s a market that’s always hungry, it’s the business world. But many people misunderstand how most companies go about attracting freelance writers... because mostly they don’t. We writers often have to make the first move. This section gives you the foolproof strategy I have always used to get business work. It’s quick, easy, and costs nothing – but the pay is out of this world! Learn the one trick I present in this eye-popping SIX part section and you’ll always be wealthy!

Travel Writing – the dream ticket. What could be more exotic and glamorous? Writing travel articles is a bit like being James Bond without the gun! But what do travel magazines really want? What do travel book publishers need? In this wonderful new section I give you the facts. Everything you need to know about writing compelling articles, plus advice on how to get holiday gigs, and how best to do research on location and take photos that will become your way into the big time! Includes a complete list of travel writing publishers and high paying magazine markets.

Becoming a Ghost Writer is about getting it all: money without the hassle of being a touring author. Honestly, if you’re looking for sure-fire income, there is never a shortage of people looking for ghost writers. And it’s incredibly well paid. Your biggest hurdle is finding the right kind of clients, by which I mean the PAYING ones. Only one in ten ghost writing clients want to pay you – even though they will lie and tell you they’ll pay you later, which they often won’t. This section is all about using business skills to attract paying clients, how to construct ghost writing contracts and how to do a great job quickly AND get paid UPFRONT.

Getting Rich as a Copywriter is an ambition like no other. As we speak it is possible to spend up to $2000 on a copywriting course ALONE. But here, within Secrets of a Freelance Writer, over EIGHT packed lectures, you get every piece of information on copywriting you’ll ever need. Don’t waste your money on hack copywriters who have to sell their overpriced courses to make their mortgage payments. Find out everything you need to know from me, a freelancer – and a nice guy - who has used advanced copywriting skills to build a million dollar empire over the last decade and a half. Get in the know – and quickly!

Self Publishing Online is now a necessary skill for all new writers. You simply can’t survive as a credible author these days without having an online presence and a means by which to sell you own books. Many traditional authors are making the switch to digital author simply because the royalties publishers pay are too low. Amazon pays 70% to 90%. Traditional publisher pay 10%. It’s easy to see why the majority of new authors now CHOOSE self publishing over the long and often disappointing slog of getting an agent then a literary deal where you’ll end up barely able to pay the rent and bills. Learn how to self publish online like a professional and watch the money come rolling in! What are you waiting for?

Offline Self-Publishing too is still a valid way of making cash quickly – if you know how to do it properly. There are many pitfalls to vanity publishing and you don’t want to do that. But if you’re a teacher, a coach, or a speaker then publishing your own book in a limited POD run to can be earning money you would normally be leaving on the table. In this four part section, let me show you the best advice for self publishing offline in this digital age. Includes downloadable resources.

Grants and Funding for Writers. Did you know there are individuals, government departments, and corporations who regularly give money to authors, writers and poets? Getting grants and funding can be a useful tool to helping your bank balance and your kudos rating but many artists struggle over where and how to begin with this minefield of possibilities. This special section takes the mystery out of getting grants and applying for art funding.

Helping Other Writers is one major key to getting wealthy as an author. As the number of wordsmiths taking themselves seriously these days, the larger the market grows for people who need help, help only YOU can give. You may not have considered this as a market before. You may not have thought yourself good enough. No matter. This unique look at cash creation shows you, over TEN fact filled lectures exactly how to make a great living simply helping other writers to succeed. And it’s easy to attract the work and keep getting gigs for as long as you like!

Self Promotion is necessary but need not be hard. Many writers don’t want to promote themselves and then are overwhelmed by all the possibilities, many of which are a waste of time. Let me show you the best ways to promote yourself – the ones that work – so you can save time and get on with what really matters: the writing. Over this extraordinary FIVE part section – the likes of which you’ve never seen – I’ll give you the lowdown on promotion tactics that make money and make sure you benefit from your new career.

In the Conclusion, we look at maintaining a freelance career, which is all about combing self belief and proper business practice with writing. The fact is you don’t need to be the best writer in the world to make a living as an author, a copywriter, a ghost writer or even a magazine article writer. Your enthusiasm and your dedication will take you a lot further than your talent. Freelance Writing is a dream job where you are rich, independent and FREE. Come join me. Let me show you how it’s done!
The Easy Way to Write
Keep Writing!
The Easy Way to Write

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!