How To Fail

HOW TO FAIL MISERABLY AS A WRITER (or anything else)

It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you think you are, if you can’t figure out how to connect with readers you’re not going to sell anything. Internet marketing for indie authors is especially tough to figure out. Often our budgets are small or even non-existent and the rules are changing often.

This is important stuff. If you don’t figure it out eventually you’ll be discouraged enough to give up on your dream. I admit that marketing has never been one of my strong suits. This is one of the reasons it took my writing career so long to take off. 
I was that skinny and awkward kid with thick glasses that few things came naturally to. I would practice things hundreds of times until I perfected them. One of the few things I had on my side was persistence. I’m still that same kid inside, only larger, with a few gray hairs, and the nagging thought that time goes far too fast to waste it.

A month ago I tried to make a poached egg. It ended up looking like egg drop soup. It was terrible. Ten or so attempts and a few YouTube videos later I can make a perfect poached egg. The secret, once I learned it was like magic and made the process easy. What is the secret? Soak the eggs (still in the shell) in white vinegar for five minutes before cracking and boiling them. That was it.

Things are incredibly hard until you figure out the secret and then they’re easy. To find success you must have to have the patience and persistence to get to the EASY.

Most of us have heard the quote by William Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” If a sentence or passage doesn’t work for the good of the overall project you must get rid of it no matter how brilliant you think it is. This is excellent advice but it isn’t easy to do partially because of ego but to a greater degree because of fear that you can’t write something better.

To become a successful writer you must subdue your ego and have the confidence to believe that great ideas come from an endless source within you. When you believe this amazing things begin to happen.

The opposite is true as well. The surest way to fail at this is to write from a place of fear or hold on to ineffective ideas. They become bars in an invisible prison cell that will keep you stuck right where you are.

I know this “kill your darlings” philosophy works for writing so I applied it to marketing. Sometimes the entire marketing idea stinks and has to go but sometimes part of it can be saved, retooled to try again. I’m not getting any younger and the books aren’t selling themselves so I’ll only try a retooled idea once. If the idea doesn’t get results it must go to the scrap heap.

Some of you might remember last summer I had a marketing idea that I was super excited about. While traveling I decided to hand out a few copies of my novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, to random people for free. There was a note inside the front cover asking the recipient to leave me a message on Facebook letting me know what they thought about the book. After they were finished reading it I asked if they would pass the book onto another friend to read and they could do the same, and so on. The whole idea was based on the Pay It Forward philosophy.
It was a hard thing to accept because I was sure it would work but the whole thing fell flat. I waited for months but all I heard were crickets…not a single response from anyone. Ever. I had to accept it and move on to something new and better. All of us are a constant work in progress. 

Failure is not an option.
Next week I’ll be traveling to Chicago for a long weekend, partially for business but mostly for fun. I’ll be visiting a few independent bookstores and doing some research for my new novel Truth Is Stranger. Along the way I’m going to try this Pay It Forward marketing idea once more. It’ll be interesting to see how it works after a few tweaks. I’ll be updating you all on my experiences throughout this process.

All it really takes in this world to be successful is working through the hard to get to the EASY. I hope your path to easy is a short one. More importantly, I hope you learn quickly from every misstep along the way.

With Gratitude,
~Eric Vance Walton~

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THE WAY TO THE SECRET GARDEN (INSIDE YOUR HEAD)

Just this morning a coworker told me about her recent vacation to a family lakeside cabin in mountains of Pennsylvania. She said her favorite memory of the whole trip was picking huckleberries that grow wild around the lake. Her family fashioned a metal pail with a shoestring from the handle so they can hang the pail around their necks. This way have both hands free to pick berries. With the most serene expression on her face she said picking those huckleberries for an hour was the best therapy in the world.

These moments, to me, are like visiting a secret garden inside your own head that only you can access. The time spent in this garden is special and it is sacred. Our world today is so demanding that to stay balanced we need access to the garden more than we realize. We need the visit the garden as much as we need to breathe oxygen. For most people a trip to this garden is can be triggered by some external thing or memory (most often connected to childhood). When discovered, this trigger can act as a magical pathway to that wondrous place.

When we were young it was easy. We could find the garden instantaneously. Our lives were uncomplicated, we still believed in magic, our heads weren’t filled with excuses of why we couldn’t do things. Somewhere between childhood and where we are today our worlds became a lot less a land of laughs and magic and much more of a scary and dangerous place. A small portion of this scariness is real but most of this is false perception, propaganda, and conditioning. These false perceptions keep us from achieving our best life.

It’s easy to see that we don’t have to live each moment of our lives in fear once we find our way to the garden. The trick, as a lost and stressed-out adult is rediscover our triggers that we once could so easily access. Ask yourself…what made me happiest as a child? Once you have the answer to that question think how this can be integrated back into your life as an adult, even if it’s silly. The sillier the better, we need more silliness!

As I child during summer vacation my feet rarely touched the ground. Except for meals I was on my black Huffy BMX bike from sun up until the streetlights came on. As an adult I can still spend hours not only riding my bike but also restoring them. My father taught me how to fully dismantle a bike and restore it by the age of eight. My latest project was a 1958 Raleigh three speed bicycle and it’s a gem. Any time spent with or on a bike transports me instantly to the garden.

One major hurdle to finding our triggers is technology. You must put your mobile phone on airplane mode and ignore it for a while. As useful technology can be, it occupies all of our attention and robs us of our chances to experience these sacred moments. It’s difficult to calm our minds and be present when we’re constantly connected. In all reality have you ever paid attention to how many times you check your mobile device in an hour? It’s astonishing. Anything that keeps your ears from tuning in to the music of life is a roadblock to the garden and the music I’m speaking of can’t be found on iTunes.

What are your triggers? I urge you to delve into your deepest of memories and answer this simple question. Once you find your triggers I urge you incorporate these things back into your routine and see how quickly your life changes.

Do you know someone who needs their own trip to the garden? If so please share this post with them. By all means, after you revisit your garden come back and let us know how it felt. I guarantee the world will seem like a better place.

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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.
Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

Big Boy Pants

I was feeling depressed and stuck a few days ago. After nearly twenty years my writing career underwent a quantum leap in growth in the previous two years and then began to sputter. I started to panic. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally grateful for each and every step of my journey so far but working with others can be difficult and when our personal aspirations aren’t met it’s easy to become impatient and frustrated.

I had a shift in attitude this morning that was triggered by a comment from one of my loyal readers. This is a precise example of why it’s so valuable for creative folks to communicate with one another. This particular interchange was Zen like and forced me to think about things from just a slightly different perspective. It was a reminder that it’s up to no one but me to take ownership for my own success.

What was the magic question you ask? It was a simple question but one that when deeply contemplated was absolutely transformative. It’s something that I challenge all of you indie authors to answer yourselves. If it were totally up to you what would you do to promote your books? Think about it, if you had to rely on no one else and the one person on Earth responsible for you achieving your goals was you, what action would you take? The secret is this is absolutely true…ultimately we’re all responsible for our own successes.

This writer’s life is really a difficult path, it’s one of the most difficult professions on Earth to make a living at, and it’s so easy to get discouraged. The truth is the very minute you think you have to fully rely on someone else for your success you instantly diminish your power. Although literary agents, publishers and the media can play an important role in your success, your fate never has been and never will be dictated by them. Your savior is yourself. If you keep remembering that, no matter what, no one else is responsible for your success but you, your power and confidence will grow exponentially.

I’ve learned from the James Altucher show that podcast guest appearances are the best book promotions available today. Author after author has confirmed this. So today I’m going to begin researching and contacting the
hosts of the top writer-focused podcasts to give my pitch and ask to be a guest. If nothing else this will give me some experience and help foster new connections that I can draw on. I will also begin to learn more about the industry incase I want to host my own podcast at some point in the future. It’s time to put on the big boy pants. The sky is truly the limit, I’ll make sure of it.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Why Is It So Easy?

Life can be extremely difficult. Life can also be magical and wondrous. When your eyes are opened to the deeper meaning of events unfolding around you in this physical world you begin to experience more of the latter. This great Universe is an interactive web of energy that has a way of giving you exactly what you need at the precise moment you need it.

As a practicer of meditation and yoga for nearly twenty years I’ve learned a few things but most importantly I’ve realized I have much more to learn. A couple things I HAVE learned are:

1. None of us are given preference when it comes to these receiving these gifts of guidance and windows of opportunity. Certain people are just more aware of what’s going on and recognize them when they occur; and

2. We are awesomely powerful beings and the quality of our thoughts dictate the quality of our life experience. Our thoughts, consciously or subconsciously, draw to us certain events and circumstances.

The great problem is most people (myself included) don’t always remember they have the power to change their lives through something as simple as changing their mindset. This is so simple that, at first, seems like nonsense. Most times our lives have been like a rudderless ship drifting aimlessly in the current for so long that we’re used to not being able to steer. We’ve become accustomed to reacting to life events instead of being proactive and taking control of them. Even after opening yourself up to the idea that this could be possible and then seeing it work first-hand it’s still so easy to forget that we can do it.

Luckily, we have many tools to help us in our journey to begin to actively steer our lives towards our destinies. One awesomely powerful tool is the gift of affirmation. I was recently reminded of this from a massage therapist that my wife and I met. She explained that an affirmation is so much more powerful if it’s framed into the form of a question. Questions have a way of focusing the energy of our minds like a laser beam and gets much better results than mere statements.

You can use these affirmations for anything you want to change or attain in your life. For example:

“Why is it so easy for me to be successful?”

“Why is it so easy for me to be happy?”

“Why is it so easy for me to be healthy?”

“Why is it so easy for me to make friends?”

These are just general examples but the beauty of these affirmations are their simplicity and flexibility. You can adapt this tool to pretty much any situation. Go ahead, give it a try! Really, what do you have to lose? I don’t know about you but I could use a little more “easy” in my life.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Eric Vance Walton invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Download a free preview of Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, here: http://www.authorspublish.com/press/sample/

The Greatest of Secrets

You languish, awash in worry
that time is slipping by
and all that once was
has long gone down the road
never to pass your way again

they tell you you’re a sinner
and you remember
when your innocence
wouldn’t allow you to believe
but time and their wicked words
have so deliberately whittled you away

it is they who tell you to keep coming back,
dangling the hope of salvation
just beyond your fervor’s grasp.

But there are a few things
that they have failed to tell you
you are miraculous, you are divinity’s spark
the power of your soul is a sleeping giant, long exiled 

if you only knew the power that you possess
your eyes would stream tears of joy as if awakened
from a terrible nightmare to realize the greatest of secrets,
that you are an emperor in beggar’s clothes indeed.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Success

Both a seeker
and a scarred sage
I am approaching
that certain age
when you
learn that
each decision
matters,
Fear is both
a bully and
a coward
stand up to it
more than
once and it
shatters

Mine heart
has felt
the glory
of the dawning
of this dream
to be found
a few steps
beyond the
searing pain
of defeat

Each time
you fall
you must rise
again
to your feet
because with
persistence
you will win
and this
success is
so sweet.

~Eric Vance Walton~