Dostoevsky’s Risky Bet (how to self-motivate by raising the stakes)

Dostoevsky’s Risky Bet (how to self-motivate by raising the stakes)

Today I’m celebrating Chinese New Year’s at my inlaws, eating chicken soup and shrimp on the family farm, feeding wild birds. It’s the year of the tiger: a year for bold risks and action.

So I was tickled to find this gem of an anecdote about Dostoevsky, one of my favorite authors: After he lost all his money at roulette, he made a big wager with a sketchy publisher – he’d deliver a new novel in a year… or forfeit all his rights to all his past and future work.

He waited until the final month before writing The Gambler in 26 days. I love stories like this, because a LOT of authors feel like they’re missing something; that real authors work harder or have more creativity or discipline.

But the truth is, there are very few stories of stable writers who consistently put out great work; most authors – even very famous ones – were hanging by a thread and even ended up in debtor’s prison.

In dramatic fiction, the simplest solution for a satisfying story is to raise the stakes and add a deadline. That works pretty well in real life, too. You might be able to write a novel in a month, but it could take you 11 months of procrastination and the urgency of an epic failure to actually do the work.

It doesn’t make you lazy or unmotivated. There is nothing missing or wrong with you, just because you can’t finish books faster (why should you, without stakes or a deadline!)

So the first question I have for you is, when would you like to see some success with your writing career. This year… or next year?

Keep in mind, even if you commit to this year, you’ll probably put everything off until the last few months – and that’s OK. That’s part of the process. The hard part is putting your chips on the table, taking a risk even if it doesn’t pan out – but gives you real stakes in the game, and determination to learn.

I was looking at a case study today of an author who went from $400 a month to $10,000 a month. That’s inspiring to me, and aspirational. That case study, and others like it, are for a course on advertising for authors.

But here’s the important thing:

Zero times anything, is still zero.

If your book doesn’t get any sales or traction or anything, advertising might not work. You may need better covers, blurbs, and more reviews, before your conversion is good enough to even begin to advertise. It’s not a magic bullet.

On the other hand… it’s basically the *only* book marketing that does anything these days. It’s very, very effective, and pretty much the only thing I do anymore. Lots of authors want a free, simple, quick fix. And yes there’s lots of “guerrilla marketing” hacks to save money and get tons of visibility. I’ve talked a lot about those in the past. But getting millions of views on my content, doesn’t translate well to actual book sales. And most authors spend too much time and energy on all the wrong things.

Advertising works, as long as you have all the basics right, and you can start small and scale up. And even if you’re *not* at all ready for advertising, you’re going to need it eventually, and it can help you pinpoint very quickly what you’re doing wrong and what to fix.

So, that’s why I’m happy to share Mark Dawson’s course again this year, but it’s only open for another day. Tomorrow, it closes its doors. There’s a new section on TikTok and the course is updated regularly and comes with a private group for feedback. There’s a money-back guarantee, a payment plan and a ton of bonuses.

So what will it be… this year or next year?

UPDATE: Ads for authors is currently closed, but you can sign up for the waiting list… or grab the self-publishing 101 course which is open right now for a limited time…

SelfPublishing 101: (Click here for all the details)

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