Sell Your Passion without Selling Your Soul

Today’s guest post is by Matthew Turner, marketing consultant and author, and he has some great insights to share about merging your passion for writing with the practical business side of marketing your book.

You’ve just written “The End.” Quite possibly it’s the most poetic part of your entire novel. You’ve written 80,000 words, drafted scenes, character profiles, and emptied your brain of every last drop of inspiration. You’re done–both in terms of your story and your sanity.

This, simply put, is your baby. You want to protect it. You want to make sure people love it as much as you do. However, you also want to sell millions of copies. You want people to read your masterpiece, write glowing reviews, and look to you in awe. You want your art–your passion–to touch souls and help people.

Does this sound like you? If it does, you know there’s one giant problem.

 To Sell Your Art Is to Sell Out

As soon as you sign with a publisher or publish it yourself, your art becomes a product. You become a brand. You are less an artist and more a business. You’re a sellout. You’ve become everything you hated as an angst-filled thirteen-year-old. But don’t worry, there’s a solution. It isn’t a quick fix. It isn’t a list of five techniques that will cure your problem. But it is something you have control over. It is about you, and it is done on your terms.

You simply need to set some foundations and sell your art in a way that suits you. Why conform when you can create your own rules?

 Start at the Beginning

In my ebook, How to Build an Author House, I say vision, mission, and core values around 227 times. Why? Because it’s super important.

This is the secret sauce. This is the solution. This is my top tip to you.

It’s all rather simple when you think about it. You’ve no doubt heard about an author platform, but the advice rarely begins at the beginning. But to start at the start is sensible, no? Think about your writing for a second. That inspirational idea comes to you. But the inception of this genius is how the book will end. So you make some notes and draft out the ending.

What do you do next? You dig deep and create a beginning. The start of your story is important–after all, it’s the first thing your reader reads. The ending maybe amazing, but who will get there if your beginning is weak?

Your author platform follows the same principle. If you want to sell your art on your terms, you need to create a structure that allows this.

What Is Your Vision?

The vision is what you intend to do and why you intend to do it. It’s as simple as that. How can you expect to go anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go? This is the first step. Why do you write? Why do you put yourself through the pain of penmanship?

 What Is Your Mission?

Your mission, on the other hand, is how you intend to achieve this. It doesn’t look at anything specific, merely a quick overview of what will you do. Will you self-publish? Will you gain authority through public speaking? Will you get an agent? Will you create an online personality that reaches thousands?

 What Are Your Core Values?

This is the cherry on top of your beginning. Your core values are who you are. What do you stand for? You will come across many decisions down the road. Understanding who you are will help you make the right choices.

 Not As Hard As You Think

Many writers associate anything to do with an author platform as difficult, time consuming, and boring. Building your vision, mission, and core values isn’t part of this. You simply dig deep and find your own answers. They exist inside–you just have to ask the right questions.

Before I offer any more help, let me get something off my chest. I don’t have all the answers. The way I do things won’t necessarily work for you. It is your author platform. They are your rules. As you read the following tips, please be a filter. Read them, digest them, but constantly ask yourself how you can relate them to you. If you find yourself disagreeing with me, you’re doing just fine.

All that being said, these are my top tips for discovering your vision, mission, and core values:

  •  What do you really want? We all have dreams and aspirations. What are yours? How does writing fit into all this? Figure out what you want to achieve and building your foundations becomes much easier. You might want to be a writer, but what kind of writer do you want to be? If you want to become a published Big Six author, the way you do things will differ to someone who wants to release a dozen self-published books. And you might want to be more than a writer. You might want to speak, teach, coach, and consult. So again–what do you really want?
  • What makes you special? We’re all snowflakes in a giant storm. Very similar, but just different enough to be unique. If you can discover what makes you special, and who you want to be, the things you can create are vast. If you have a gift for speaking, then speak. If you have a way with words, then teach. If you have a knack for helping, then help.
  • How can you help others? Speaking of help, you should help those you can. We can all help others, but the questions is, do you want to? If you give more than you take, good things will happen. If you’re kind and generous, people will be kind and generous in return. When it comes to your core values, build them around your best traits. Squeeze it tight with aspects that showcase your very best side.
  • Who inspires you? Chances are there are a few people you admire. If so, who are they? What do they do? What makes them special? How can you replicate them? Not by copying who they are but finding your own way forward. If your hero is Ghandi, how can you help people in your own special way? If your hero is Steve Jobs, how can you innovate and stand out? If your hero is Hemingway, how can you create work that leaves a lasting legacy?

These aren’t all the questions, but they will give you a good start. What you now need to do is sit down in a quiet room, pull out a pen and paper, and start making notes.

  • Ask yourself what you want
  • Ask yourself why you want it
  • Ask yourself how you can change the world
  • Ask yourself how you can provide something special
  • Ask yourself who you are and who you can be

It’s Just the Beginning

Figuring this out doesn’t end the hard work, it simply begins it. You still have so much to do. But what it does is give your platform a soul. It creates an essence you can live with. We all worry about selling out. It affects all artists. Our writing–it’s our passion. It’s our love. It’s like a child.

If you create your vision, mission, core values, things can follow the rules you create. You sell on your terms. You play by your rules. You become the writer, the author, that you want to be. You can sell your passion without selling your soul.

Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire) is an author of both fiction and nonfiction. Part of his life includes helping fellow writers build an author platform and brand story. You can find out more about him by visiting his website or downloading his free ebook: How to Build an Author House. Follow Matthew on Twitter!



11 Responses to “Sell Your Passion without Selling Your Soul”

  1. Don Darkes October 1, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    Great advice, great blog and certainly going to earn you credits in Karma heaven.( and reflect on C.S Lakin too)
    I am having HUGE issues on selling out, selling myself and hawking myself and my private self. My art? ok for want a better word- yes that too. I am going to take a huge dollop of your advice and one of the first Magic Wand solutions that makes any sense. Well done to You too Susanne!

    • Turndog Millionaire October 1, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Thanks Don, appreciate the words.

      And yes, it’s a tough one. It is a fine balance, like so much in life, but I do believe it is there for all (if we all look)

      Keep plugging away and do what feels right 🙂


  2. cslakin October 1, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    Thanks! Matthew has some very good advice and insights we can all be encouraged by!

  3. Jenny October 1, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I was just blogging on this topic today and I really like Matt’s take on the writer’s platform. We all want to achieve something with our books. Once we figure out what that is, the rest should take care of itself. I write to build awareness of Veterans issues so ideally, my platform would be simple – veterans groups/issues. But what if I were writing about plain ole romance or mystery? Those genres also put forth a message, and those messages don’t have to be political in nature to have an impact. People are motivated by all sorts of things and if the suspenseful romance is about stealing cupcakes from the bakery (one of my next ideas:) ) , then the platform could deal with greed, jealousy, hunger or misperception.
    I really like Matt’s approach … thanks for giving me lots to think about Matt and Susanne!

    • Turndog Millionaire October 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      It’s true, Jenny

      Who knows what you will write in the future. Your audience could change and evolve, but if you create a solid foundation and message, you will disocver how to speak to anyone. I think we need to be comftable with what we’re doing before anything else. This can take some time, though

      Thanks for your comments


  4. S. Ann Comte October 2, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Loved this article. Many things I need to hear. Set goals for myself, understand what I want, set values… Thank you.

  5. Nathan October 3, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Thanks for the good talk and for bringing us back to the why. It seems we writers drift from the basics.

    • Turndog Millionaire October 3, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      It’s so easy to drift away from the basics. Especially when there is so much to do (which there is!)

      But if you can start some solid foundations, the rest is so much easier


  6. Hussein ab Oladele October 4, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Well connected, this post drives me digging deep about myself.
    The vision, mission and my core values as a writer.
    I must go back to the drawing board and provide answer to questions lingering back and forth in my head.
    Thank you Matt and Susane for sharing this piece.

  7. Philippa Rees December 13, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Obvious, as all good things are, once someone has articulated them. Takes off all the bitter resentment and restores self belief. Excellent Turndog! Saved to consult often, because so easily obscured by the day’s frenzy getting nowhere.

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