Why Masterminds Are Critical To Becoming a Full-Time Author

Posted by in Prose on Fire

It’s no secret that I love masterminds.

I am currently part of two high-end masterminds that meet in-person twice a year each. I also run an online mastermind to serve those who want to make massive progress on their goals, but have reasons they can’t travel that much—full-time day jobs, young kids, parents they need to care for —or lack of the resources it takes to fly somewhere, stay in hotels, and pay tens of thousands a year in mastermind fees.

But I’ve never really talked about why masterminds are such a huge part of my author strategy. The reason can be summed up in one word—results!

In June 2014, I was making between $500-$1000 a month from my fiction writing. I was really, really proud of myself, because before then, I had spent about five years circling around my goals of writing but never making much real progress on it. Don’t get me wrong—I had published about 5 books up to that point. (Many of them aren’t available anymore due to quality issues, but all were critical to my growth as an author and storyteller, so I know they were important to my journey all the same.) I was doing the work, but things weren’t gelling. And it was really frustrating and disappointing!

2014 was the year that I was able to publish—not just draft, but publish—8 books and 1 short story. I was absolutely ecstatic for obvious reasons, and I had spent so much of 2013 chasing writing productivity and now I basically had a secret weapon.

BUT…

I still wasn’t making a ton of money—which to me, meant working full-time as an author. Even though I had worked as a marketing director as high-tech startups for years, and even though I had an MBA (a Master’s in business), I still didn’t truly understand much about marketing and building a business.

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I made a huge leap and decided to meet some authors in person. Johnny, Sean, and Dave were the podcasters on the Self-Publishing Podcast, which I had listened to almost religiously since its inception. The decision made NO logical sense, because I didn’t really have all the money I needed (Sean was super gracious when one of my payments bounced—so embarrassing) and the event also wasn’t even technically a mastermind (though it would roll into one, eventually).

I just knew I needed to be there, because it was the beginning of something big.

I can’t really explain how the event changed me. There were 8 of us there, and I think it changed ALL of us, maybe bonding us for life.

That one event, which cost me more than I’d ever spent in my life on one event besides maybe my wedding, eventually rolled into more events, more connections, more relationships, and more leaps in my author career.

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I now had friends who were serious full-time authors, making it work, and I had insight into how they were making it work. I knew people who ran podcasts and started guesting on them. I finally had the confidence to publish my book, Write Better, Faster, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.

Nine months after that initial event (September 2014 – June 2015) I had hit my (now seemingly simple) goal of quitting all freelance work and becoming a full-time author. This was a goal I’d had since 2008, that I’d struggled with on my own for nearly 7 years, and finally I had arrived!

Since then, I’ve invested heavily in masterminds, to the tune of multiple five figures. And each time, I grow as a person by leaps and bounds, and I make new, lifelong friendships with people I truly adore, who “get” me and my author quirkiness (because all authors are quirky). And because of the first two, I make serious progress as a storyteller and as a business owner and entrepreneur.

There’s no magic wand-waving to any of this.

It’s a literal shift in mindset, in being, in doing.

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For example, here are some of the non-obvious results I’ve seen:

  • Once upon a time I wanted to write a web series because it was a nice, safe, and small way to get into video. David Wright asked me, “Why not write television though?” Now I want and truly believe I could write television.
  • Once upon a time I believed I couldn’t afford to hire help, even though executing my ideas on my own was killing me! Amy Teegan said, “Look, just email Maya (Sterling and Stone’s new team member). She’s awesome.” I did, and Maya is a critical part of my now 8-person team.
  • Once upon a time I believed that I didn’t really have a business. I was making money at writing, but still saw it as my “author hobby.” I wasn’t doing something big and scary like starting a company! I was a solopreneur, right? I spent some time with Jami, Kelly, and Tegan, who are so abundant and feminine and professional, and found myself saying at a networking event, seemingly subconsciously, “I’m building a production company. We currently produce books and courses, but we’re now in pre-production on a television show.”

None of these moments seem like a big deal, but they were massive shifts in my mindset at first, and then in my action. (Pay attention, as the “action” part is critical, but CANNOT be gained without first making the mindset shift.)

This has happened so many times to me that I’ve now come up with a framework to make these massive shifts much faster and really guide the change for myself.

It’s tough to pinpoint just what aspect of my mastermind experiences has helped me the most, but here are four that I know have played a huge role—and that I really focus on as I mentor participants in my own mastermind:

#1 – Accountability to Yourself and Others

I found my awesome weekly accountability group (and people who are now some of my best and lifelong friends) through the events that Sterling and Stone was hosting.

You may think just knowing what you need to do is going to get you there, but in my opinion everyone could use an accountability group to nurture that success.

Knowing what you need to do and posting about your weekly progress are NOT the same thing. For so long I told myself, “I don’t need accountability. I know what I need to do, I just need to do it.”

But guess what? I got a lot less done using this strategy. It wasn’t until I started speaking my goals out loud that I learned to:

a) fine tune to something I could actually achieve in a week (how many of us overestimate this?), and

b) hit those goals, week after week, because

c) my accountability group was going to ask the hard questions if I didn’t!

No one is going to do the work for you—but when you are your own boss, you often let yourself slide by on excuses. So if you’ve had big goals and pushed the deadlines back one or two times already, let’s break the cycle together.

“I was a busy writer, but honestly I think I lacked a bit of focus. Before the group, it was easier to slack off and not write.

“Now, I’ve nailed down a way to complete a comprehensive outline that make sense. Many of the components, I already knew, but having them all in one place, in a format that clicked with the way my brain works is priceless.

“With the help of my outline I prepared using Monica’s techniques, I wrote and self edited a short novel in fifteen days. And the icing on the cake was my editor loved it.

“I’m on target to publish five books since the course started, and only one of them was novella length. My favorite aspect of accelerated artists are the breakout small accountability groups.”

~ A.C. Nixon, Accelerated Artist Mastermind member

#2 – Improving Your Mindset

This has been so key to my author growth and success, and the bottom line is that my mindset shift happened when my network got upgraded.

You are the sum of the five people you hang out with most, and your writing progress often looks similar to the people you hang out with most too. If you are working on this big dream of yours by yourself, this means your writing/business partners are your spouse, your kids, or even your pets!

(My little westie Mia is still my favorite coworker, but if my word count looked like hers…)

You may want to get that first book out, or you may be trying to earn enough writing income to quit your job or go part-time.

If this is you, here’s the secret to making it happen (finally)—you need to surround yourself with people who understand the challenges you’re going through and are making progress anyway. This will help you to face your challenges head on and make progress anyway too!

“More than any single big breakthrough, the best thing about the Mastermind has been the series of rapid, incremental insights its provided to both my writing process and my thinking about marketing, platform building and the book-writing business. Monica’s videos, the live Q&A’s, the online group discussion and the weekly accountability group have helped me continually rethink my approach and led me to insights it would have taken years to come to on my own.”

~ Lakis Polycarpou, Accelerated Artist Mastermind member

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#3 – “Level Up” Faster

Bonus secret: You’ll also grow fastest when you spend time with people who are just a few years ahead of you in their writing careers. They will show you what’s possible AND (most importantly) give you a realistic plan to work toward it. That last part is what’s missing for most people… and focusing efforts on the wrong tasks that don’t produce results is the bearer of burnout and wheel-spinning!

I used to think that because I was smart, I could figure this out on my own. But the reality was that I didn’t see progress until I learned to ask for help. As a result, I wasted 2009-2013 (5 years) spinning my wheels.

I know you’re smart too, so please don’t kill your writing dreams this way! Doctors, lawyers, and software engineers all have clear and concrete paths to success… but what many writers don’t know is that self-publishing has a clear and concrete path of steps to take too. The smartest thing you can do is to get the playbook and learn these steps, so you know exactly what you need to do next to reach your goals.

“I had never talked face to face with writers before. Now every week, I have a call with a group of writers and we share goals and progress and kick each other’s butts. It’s also great to have somewhere to go to (our AA slack group) and be able to get input and feedback and ideas on all kinds of topics. It’s especially cool and insightful to get Monica’s input and ideas because she’s several steps ahead of us and where we want to be or similar.

“It’s crucial for the growth of a writer entrepreneur to have a mentor like Monica and tons of peers that are in the trenches learning with you and pushing you forward. Even to serve as inspiration to other writers who are right behind you is amazing and important.”

~ Yesenia Vargas, Accelerated Artist Mastermind member

#4 – Increasing Your Motivation With Inspiration

Watching others grow is truly inspiring. That’s why as a society we are so fascinated by our children (who grow tremendously month to month) and with young celebrities (who grow and fail quickly in the public eye).

When you see someone growing in their writing or business, you feel such a genuine joy for them. You see their breakthroughs and triumphs, and it not only fuels your own dreams but it also lights a fire inside you.

I’ve not only experienced my own massive growth over the last year, but also been witness to so many other peoples’ growth spurts.

“Before I joined the Mastermind, I was struggling on several fronts.

  • On the craft side, my stories had great characters, settings, and scenes, but my plotting was all over the place.
  • On the business side, I had no idea where to start. I was in total overwhelm mode.
  • I was starting a lot, but not completing much of anything.

“And now…

  • I understand story structure in a way that is breathing new life into my writing and editing.
  • I have a design of a systematic approach to book production and marketing.
  • I finally believe in putting it out there now and optimizing later.
  • I am editing my not-as-ready-as-I-thought series opener, and re-outlining the next two WIP books.
  • I know enough about the options in production and marketing to design a good plan for each book.
  • I am creating a non-fiction line related to planning for Authorpreneurs and Indys that I have been thinking about for years by applying the do-it-now, optimize later approach.

“The Accelerated Artist Mastermind is a joy. An active Slack community offers a place to test ideas, get feedback, and just support each other’s triumphs and challenges. The accountability groups create a weekly touch point to keep us all moving towards our goals, with hot seats for our most pressing issues and great discussions. The courses and challenges provide guidance through topics such as list building and outlining, all in Monica’s friendly, authoritative voice. And Monica’s personal style informs the whole experience.”

~ Cathy Pelham, Accelerated Artist Mastermind member

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Success happens when you have growth spurt after growth spurt in succession.

Ready for your next big growth spurt?

If you’re an author with several successful books under your belt, but are looking for deeper support from authors like you so you can make the leap to full-time, the Accelerated Artist Mastermind will be the best way for you to level up.

Join a group of focused writers who are ready to reach their author business goals >>> Accelerated Artist Mastermind

(However, if you’re just starting your writing journey and haven’t finished your first successful book yet but want to get there quickly, Finish Your First Book is perfect for you.

Maybe you’re a blogger, coach, or entrepreneur trying to get your first book done while growing your business.

Or you’ve never been a “writer” but you’re trying to write your memoir so you can leave a legacy for your kids.

Or maybe you’re an aspiring writer with a story to tell but no idea how to turn that into an actual novel.

Whatever reason you want to write a book, I can help you finally start it (and finish it).

So you can reach more people and grow your client base. Or tell your life story. Or finally be able to call yourself an author.

Make massive progress on your first book here >>> Finish Your First Book Course)

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