Episode # 81 – Chris Fox on Applying the Startup Mindset to Writing

In Uncategorized by Julius S28 Comments

chrisnewChris Fox has two lives. One where he is the lead developer of a medical app for a Silicon Valley startup, and another where he works redefining werewolf fiction. After seeing Twilight and thinking “we can’t have werewolves like that” Chris decided to write the sci-fi novel, No Such Thing As Werewolves. Since it’s recent launch it has taken off, and Chris puts a large part of that down to applying the startup mentality to indie publishing. In this interview, we talk about that. Show notes: rspcast.com/fox


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Links:

No Such Thing as Werewolves

Amazon Profile

Website

Mentions:

Writers’ Circle – RSP’s private mastermind forum.

Word Clouds for Novels

10X Thinking – Great post on KBoards by Chris.

Talent is Overrated – Another great book about thinking big.

ENT Book Promotion – Worked well for Chris.

Darren Wearmouth on RSP

Show notes:

Starter Novels

Chris has been writing short stories for a long time, and had several of them published, but he knew that writing a full sized book is a different animal. He wrote four books that will never see the light of day – his practice novels. He then spent two years writing the first book in the series. This process took some time because Chris was also becoming an app developer at this time, a choice he had made over writing many years ago.

Startup Background / Time Management

Chris is the lead developer at a Silicon Valley startup, CellScope, that allows you to do ear exams with a smart phone. Startup people don’t tend to get much time off work so I was curious how Chris balances everything and managed to write his book which is nearly 400 pages long. The answer? He works all the time. After exercising and thinking about the book for an hour, he will write for an hour, and then put in a 12 hour day at work. After that in the evening It reminds me of that great quote, “Live like no one else will, so you can live like no one else can,” or simply, that hard work really does pay off.

Chris also hires a team to work for him, not just for the book production, but for marketing and management.

Audiobook

Chris was a beta reader for Audiobooks for Indies as he was just putting out his first audiobook. He followed  the case studies in the book, posted his book, and it has had enormous success since day one, with his audiobook sales now outstripping his ebook sales. We discuss a few theories about why Chris thinks that this book has done rather well.

10X Thinking

This is not easily wrapped up in the short show notes format, so have a listen to the show for more, but essentially, 10X thinking is the idea that growth actually becomes easier when you stop thinking, how do I grow 10% next year, but how do I grow ten times bigger. The shift in mindset and ideas is remarkable.

Action Steps

  • If you are struggling to get everything done, fire up Word, or wherever you take notes, and start writing down tasks that you have done many times before. Move the most common tasks to the top of the list. Can someone else do these tasks for you? If yes, consider hiring someone to do them for you. I personally hire through Odesk.com.
  • Are you using a word too much in your books? You can get an idea of how many times you have used a word in a book through a “word cloud” – check out this website to get an idea about that: http://www.wordle.net/create
  • If you are a brand new author, and really want to improve your craft, and have a bit of money to invest, consider looking into hiring a writing coach. They will improve your craft, so that each subsequent books gets better.
  • Get people invested in the book. This can be hard, but made way easier if you write them into the book. They’ll read it if they are in it.

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Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 81 – Chris Fox on Applying the Startup Mindset to Writing
  • This was a great interview! Kudos to you both. I’m still wrapping my head around 10x idea but it’s a hell of a way to start 2015.
    thanks!

    • SimonRSP

      Totally worth spending the time to wrap your head around. As I mentioned in the show it took me a while to “get” it, but once I did, it really changed the way I think about a lot of stuff.

  • Robert Hegwood

    I really enjoyed the interview (been listening for several months, nearly a year). The 10x thinking introduction is something new to me and a lot to think about, but likely very worthwhile. I tried the word cloud link provided but did not find it useful, or maybe I didn’t get how to use it right. The end result is pretty, but I am not sure how to interpret the relative size of the words. I don’t know if it is random or related to frequency of usage. Either way, it is actually a word frequency counter I thought I would be finding in the links based on the interview. Since I didn’t find one, I went looking for one and found this on another UK writing site, that looks very useful. http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp. That said I would not have even been thinking of finding such a thing had it not been for the excellent interview and a mention of a word cloud generator.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Robert. My understanding is that the larger the word in the generated cloud, the more times that it has appeared in the text, giving you a visual representation of how often you are using different words. So if the word “random” is really big, then you might want to check how often you are using it in your novel :).

      I think the writewords.org site is creating a non-graphical result of the same thing essentially. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Shelfbuzz

    Some of the links in the show notes are broken (author website, kboards) — as of 01-09-15

    • SimonRSP

      Argh, my mistake, just fixed those. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  • Jeff Ambrose

    10X thinking … reminds me of the book, THE 10X RULE by Grant Cardone.

    So: I wrote 4 books last year, 3 novels and 1 short nonfiction title. Which means I should write 30 novels and 10 short fiction titles this year!

    Looks like I’ll be writing at Pulp Speed 6! See: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-new-world-of-writing-pulp-speed/

    Ha ha ha …

    Seriously: I listened to this podcast yesterday in the car. When I got home, I screwed around with the math for 10 minutes. That’s when I realized that to 10X 2015, I’d need to write about 2,000,000 words, about 40,000 a week. When I saw those numbers, I got a good chuckle.

    And this morning, I work up thinking: “You know, given my schedule, that just *may* be possible!”

    • SimonRSP

      Ah excellent, there is an audiobook of that (love listening to this stuff on the move/while running etc).

      For the curious: http://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/The-TenX-Rule-Audiobook/B005DF6XHQ/

      I think that that is exactly the sort of thinking that allows this method to get big results. I did one book last year, so that would be 10 this year. At first that sounds crazy, but then the gears start turning and you start to work out ways to make that actually happen.

      Would be really curious to hear the sort of bigger thinking stuff that might get you to that goal.

      • Jeff Ambrose

        I feel crazy for even writing this, but … here are my initial thoughts on thinking bigger. Like I wrote previously, all of this came to me yesterday morning, upon waking. It just hit my in a flash, and I’ve been thinking about it since …

        1) Use my time more wisely. I’m an at home dad with a wife who’s 100% on board with my writing, and the question is: Do I use the time I have when the kids are at school as best as I can, or do I waste it? Is my schedule as such that I can start writing the moment they walk out the door? Do I have things arranged so I can write until they come home? I have basically 8 hours. Let’s take 90 minutes of that for breaks and lunch, and let’s say I can average 1000 words an hour, so I should be writing about 6,500 words a day (which is about 60% more than what I try to write daily now). Right? That’s not quite the level of 40,000 words a week, but I haven’t counted weeknights and weekends. Still 6,500 words a day is 32,000 words a week — or about a novel every two weeks.

        2) My three novels last year averaged 60,000 words, and my nonfiction title was 15,000 words. Put those numbers together with my 10X thinking, and I’m 50,000 words shy of 2,000,000 words. And that gives me an alternate goal. I’m not one to write to a particular word count — especially for novels. I don’t outline, and I more or less write into the dark. So a story is as long as the story is when it’s finished. Is there really a difference of writing thirty 60,000-word novels or two million words (provided that those words equate to finished projects and not just a hundred abandoned projects)? I don’t think so. 2,000,000 words in a year, no matter how it’s divided, is nothing to sneeze at.

        3) Failure to write 30 novels and 10 nonfiction titles in one year is not really a failure at all — if 10X thinking helps me achieve half of that! Which, for me, seems to be the most important part of this thinking. One thing Grant Cardone talks about in THE 10X RULE is that no matter what goal you have, you WON’T hit it. Period. You’ll always come up short. So why not set the goal really high, and when you come up short, you’re still way beyond the norm? My original goal was to write about 500,000 words on the year, with six or seven novels, and a few more nonfiction titles. So the question I have to ask is: Would I rather fall short of writing 6 novels or would I rather fall short of writing 30 novels?

        I have to say, I feel like a raving lunatic for even writing this. 2,000,000 words in a year? 30 novels in a year?

  • Alyne de Winter

    Chris is right! This is a great and helpful podcast and Simon is too self-effacing. I love this 10x thinking. It’s just what I need this year to kick my B-type personality _______into a higher gear—because its time.
    I also have been rescuing werewolves and vampires from the foggy Twilight. They are supposed to provoke in us a kind of psychic dread, not take us to the prom.
    :)))

    • SimonRSP

      That Alyne. Glad to see we have another 10Xer listening 🙂

  • Jesseca Moreda

    Hey, indie writers! I’m Jesseca Moreda, Chris’s editor for No Such Thing as Werewolves. I won’t be available on Servicescape for a while, but if you’d like a project edited, feel free to shoot me a message on LinkedIn, and I’ll be sure to get back to you quickly. Thanks!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks for jumping in Jesseca, Chris speaks very highly of you indeed :).

  • Philip Harris

    Just listened to this today – great stuff. There’s so much doom and gloom in the indie world these days, it’s refreshing to hear about a new author being successful with a single book. And the 10x idea is great.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Philip. Agreed on both points. Still plenty of people making it work, big time.

  • Loved this show. My daytime job is sales, marketing, and engineering (yes, you can do all three), so the business side of writing is a favorite subject. You mentioned some service you use early in the show–I believe you’re on the free trial. I didn’t see it in the show notes. What was that?

    • SimonRSP

      Hey Ron, an application called Omnifocus. Looks to be a great tool, I’ll probably be buying it in 3 days.

      I also use something called Asana (which is perfect for project management), which is free, but Omnifocus has the ability to set up recurring daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

  • robertscanlon

    Another great episode, Simon & Chris, thanks to both of you for giving up your time!

    I’d like to add another resource to the list (one of my fave non-fiction books actually) regarding the myth of innate or dna-driven talent. It’s called “Bounce” by Matthew Syed. http://www.amazon.com/Bounce-Federer-Picasso-Beckham-Science-ebook/dp/B003F1WMDO/

    The extras I’d add from Syed’s research are not just to practice, practice, practice to produce talent (ie equivalent to flying hours), but also practicing with intent, and practicing with an expert coach who is able to coach you past the detailed flaws.

    Writing over and over won’t necessarily improve one’s skills, but do it as Chris did, with developmental and beta feedback, and whatever other learning methods you have available, definitely shortens the timescale, IMO.

    As for the whole 10x thinking, it’s a mind-bender … in a good way!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Robert. Completely agree. I’d even expand further to say that a coach could be a mentor. Not that that has to be a formal position, but just someone who is perhaps in a position you would like to be in. I’ve even found mentors (or mentor like benefits) from reading non-fiction books and autobiographies. No point practicing, if you are practising doing it wrong.

      Thanks for the share.

      • robertscanlon

        Hi Simon!

        “No point practicing, if you are practising doing it wrong.”

        Now you sound like my piano teacher!

        Seriously, I felt I was going backwards learning piano (at a more … advanced age), then I read that book and realised I could be motivated because I was doing all the right things (a great and observant teacher, and a really overly-analytical student!), I just needed to keep at it, and to find more time. It also made me more ruthless about my practice and to zero in on the problematic phrases, techniques etc, and yo find more ways to solve a problem. I mention all this because I think writing – especially fiction writing – is a parallel study.

        Haven’t worked out how to learn 10x faster yet though!

        • SimonRSP

          >>Haven’t worked out how to learn 10x faster yet though!

          I hear the Four Hour Chef covers a lot of that stuff. I haven’t read it, but intend to.

          And yes, I probably got that phrase from my piano teacher (way back in the day) ;).

  • Just wanted to make a quick comment (before I forget) that the “niche” you say you’ve found yourself in is a good one! You cover things and topics that others don’t and I always learn something. Look forward to listening to you and your guests for (hopefully) many years to come!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks for saying so Ingrid 🙂

  • The 10X mentality has definitely struck a chord. What a great outlook.

    I had one book out last year – my first (Fantasy fiction). This year I do have about 10/11 projects on the go – 3 fiction and 7/8 non-fiction (but let’s face it, I’ll do more too if I can fit it in, since I’m bursting with inspiration!). I’d never thought to look at it as a 10x/scaling up type operation, however, but the shift in mindset it brings is clear.

    Since gearing up for last year’s book launch, I too take everything seriously – a love of writing runs firmly alongside an indie mentality. I’m determined to make each product the best it can be, and make it a success so that I can make a living income from writing. I work on marketing/strategies every day just as I write every day. Even though relatively new and not yet profitable, I hope this determination will bring results. Bring on 2015! Only 694 more sales needed til I can 10x my sales too. Oh the possibilities… 🙂

    Thanks for another great podcast, Simon.

    • SimonRSP

      Sure thing Meg, glad that it was useful :).

      Completely agree about the shift in mentality that this type of thinking can bring. I also did one book last year, and I am looking at doing ten this year (haven’t actually announced this anywhere, but a comment seems as good a place as any 😉 ). The determination, and everything else is so much more inspiring than just thinking “Eh, well, I could do two I suppose!”

      Good luck, I’m sure with this attitude 2015 will be an awesome year for you!

      • Wow, well may I be amongst the first to wish you well with all your projects! I look forward to hearing all about them! 🙂

  • Adrijus Guscia

    Am I blind or are there no Share buttons on the website? Wanted to Tweet this episode but can’t find it.. 🙁

    @Chris, huge props for ambitiousness! 😉

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