Faith, for the Creatives

My experience in the Created to Thrive mentoring program

Nobody buys art because they need it. They buy it because of connection.

Matt Tommey of created to thrive mentoring

That is the basis of Matt Tommey’s marketing approach which I’ve been learning and applying since I joined the Created to Thrive mentoring program last September.

Created to Thrive mentoring program binder

Now this sounds like a sales pitch, so let’s back up. I am not an affiliate, nor offered anything, by telling you about this program. This post is for the curious, those who are wondering what I’ve stepped into and where I’m growing.

So how’d I get roped into Created to Thrive?

I already knew and learned so much from Matt Tommey’s work. This wasn’t some salespitch from a stranger. I’d been part of his Facebook group for years. I’d heard him speak at conferences. I recommended a couple of his books back in 2016. I took his free Artist’s Rise Up online class. I’d learned and grown as an artist countless times from his work.

There were a couple type of connections I was looking for last year:

  • More connections with artists that are further along in their business than me.
  • More connections with artists who are Christians working in the general marketplace.

This mentoring program offered an opportunity for community in both of those areas.


There’s lots of training out in the world to help me grow as a Christian artist.

There’s lots of training out in the world to help me grow in my artistic skill.

There’s lots of training out in the world to grow my business and marketing skills.

A short weekend training in any of those categories is normally what… a few hundred dollars at best, easily up to a thousand dollars…right?

Enter, the best deal ever.

All of those categories, wrapped into a yearly mentorship program, from a trusted professional I already glean from, for a price I’d normally pay for much less training.

What I’ve gleaned from the mentoring program so far.

Since I joined Created to Thrive, I’ve:

  • worked on better telling my creative story
  • revamped my website with SEO
  • found direction in growing as a Christian artist even though I’m not writing Christian books

And that’s just scratching the surface of the program. There are also opportunities for live Q&A, mastermind groups with other artists, and so much more. The program offers five modules full of training – cultivating your heart & mind, your art, your brand, your business, and your life – to remind me I’m a full person that needs some semblance of balance 😛

It came along when I didn’t expect it.

I say I was looking for training opportunities and for connection. But I should clarify, that was more passive waiting and praying for those opportunities to show up. I didn’t have a specific idea of how to get to there from where I was.

So if this blogpost just blindsided you with a new shiny idea you didn’t know you were looking for, don’t discard it right away.

If you’re looking for Christian artist community and training:

Look into the Created to Thrive mentoring program. Sign up for the free Artist’s Rise Up online class he is offering right now (the same one that got me hooked hehe). Try it out. Ask me questions. Count the cost of doing it, but also count the cost of not doing it.

This program offered all that I was looking for, which I’d originally thought would only be answered by about 20 new things on my plate. Instead I got 1 thing, a program that has so much training I can’t keep up, with growth opportunities for years to come.


Okay, now I’m curious: What training do you recommend for growing as an artist? How has it helped you along the way?

Interested in the Created to Thrive mentoring? Sound like a fit for you? Ask questions below, and maybe I’ll see ya in the group soon 🙂

Exclusive Content, for the Writers

All the details on my author taxes process

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for the Bookworms

5 things to add to your bookmarketing toolkit

  1. Enthusiasm: being passionate about your work sells. If you’re not excited about it, why should anyone else be? And if others are excited about your work – readers, friends, or even your family – even better. Because if others are excited about your work, that builds credibility as they share their enthusiasm through posts, reviews, social media interactions, and in person discussions.
  2. A catchy title: You need to get their attention before they can even consider making a purchase.
  3. A quality cover: People want to buy something that they feel good about having in their home and becoming part of the image they present to the world. Your book can be the best story in the world, but there’s more than that. “Do I want to be known as the type of person that purchases this item?” each reader will have to subconsciously answer, and the cover is more a factor for that decision than the content inside the book. Let your cover make that answer a resounding “yes”.
  4. Delight: What’s one thing that will make the purchase more than just a purchase? What will bring the reader delight?
  5. A unique experience: What sets your sale apart from buying any other book or item out there?

Overall, remember that every reader is purchasing identity and delight. If you find how your product is offering that, you’ll be 5 steps ahead in your marketing plans.

for the Creatives

An artist’s call to serve

Last month I wrote a blogpost about what artists have a responsibility to in their art. The trend right now is generally toward the artist’s role in the social justice movement or to using their platform to speak out.

Which is important. But a coworker reminded me that another big part of an artist’s calling is the call to serve. I think of the work of an artist throughout history, of commissions and patronage, of crafting for practical purposes and for communal areas.

Sometimes I see serving and chores synonymously, which is of course a piece of serving. But it’s important to remember the work of service in the artistic field too.

A quick note on valuing your work:

I think there’s a bit of a backlash to that thought sometimes, swinging too far the other direction trying to avoid the “starving artist” mentality and trying to remember our own worth as an artist. But it’s not one or the other: it’s both.

It certainly isn’t becoming a doormat and saying “yes” to every request for free labor that gets thrown your way. And it certainly isn’t throwing out halfhearted work without considering how it’s meeting the needs of the fanbase and how to give back to your community and to the artistic community.

I’m still learning to grasp both concepts tightly instead of leaning on one over the other. Placing value on the work of an artist while also finding ways to serve. That can include both volunteering free labor and also doing the work you’re paid to do with excellence.

Steps to take towards serving through your art:

  1. How are we serving our customers, our communities, our family/friends, and other artists?
  2. What value do we provide?
  3. How do we go above and beyond to care for them?
  4. Where do we sacrifice pieces of ourselves through our craft?

Some of it will be practical chore-like service: preparing a snack for a writers gathering or cleaning up after a paint night or organizing a conference.

Some of it will be serving through art: posting a timely word of encouragement, volunteering to proofread a cousin’s college application, or spending that extra time on worldbuilding for your novel to better entertain the readers who catch tiny details.

Serving comes in many forms, but overflows from a heart set on others. I’m spending time reflecting on that, how I’m currently serving others through art, and how I can continue to serve.

Tell me: In what ways have you seen artists (yourself or others) serving?

short books - psychological mystery short story "I Know You Like a Murder"
for the Bookworms

The perks of a small book.

Most publishers won’t risk as short a story as this.
 
I will. In fact, I think it’s quite appropriate that my debut book is so small. Here’s why:
 
37308175_2127465814208333_4686015220668170240_n
 
I grew up with a love for reading. I devoured books as a kid from a young age, until I didn’t.
 
Ya see, I hit that age where I was supposed to move from short stories to chapter books. Ya know, those bulky things that take forever to get to the point and describe too much because there aren’t pictures to do the describing for it. My kid brain couldn’t handle it. While other avid readers were finding big books to love, I had this hurdle I couldn’t seem to get across as I entered my teenage years.
 
Perhaps my love of reading, my future of writing, perhaps it would have died there. If it weren’t for my mom who didn’t give up, and if it weren’t for TCDC. The Three Cousins Detectives Club series (that’s an affiliate link – I may receive $ from purchases made with that link). Teeny tiny chapter books. 40 pages max. A mystery that kept my kid brain hooked and made the concept of longer stories manageable. My mom bought me every single book in the series (that’s 40 books) once she saw I’d devour them.
 
And that was the gateway to larger books. I pretty quickly jumped from those teeny things to Ted Dekker books like Blink (also an affiliate link – I may receive $ from purchases made with that link), well above my age range. Fast forward to getting an English Lit degree and becoming a writer. And it started with TCDC.
 
Small books get a bad rap, but small books kept my love for reading intact.
 
And small books aren’t just for kids learning to read big books.
 
  • They’re for grownups who want to dig into a good story but don’t have the time to devote to a novel.
  • They’re for stolen moments in frenzied lives.
  • They’re for the non-bookworms, not quite ready to commit to those huge tomes on the bookshelves, yet still wanting a good story in a digestible format.
  • They’re for those who would be readers if reading was just a little more accessible.
 
One of my greatest surprises and delights in publishing I Know You Like a Murder is the number of non-readers who see it and say – “Oh, that I could read!”
 
That thing I found as a kid – that short mystery in quick chapters that pulls me in for a brief adventure – I now get to offer that to others. I think that makes kid me super proud.

 

for the Creatives

Tip for Creating: Ask a Lot!

Want people to buy your work?

  • Have you asked if they’re interested?
  • Do they know you’re a creative?
  • Do they know you’re selling?

If you talk about it a lot, and I mean a lot a lot, then yes they do. But if you can’t tell me that you’re talking about it all the time, then I can almost guarantee you they don’t know.

I talk about my writing with almost everyone I run into. And I have posted multiple times on social media about preorders. And still, I have people who either 1) don’t know my book is coming out, or 2) don’t know they can preorder.

*Ahem, by the way, did you hear you can preorder “I Know You Like a Murder?*

If you can’t say that you talk about your creations a lot a lot a lot, then you probably know people who would support you if they just heard about your work.

If you haven’t talked about it or posted about it in the past 2 weeks, go do it. Now.
Your diehard fan customer might be just around the corner waiting for you to tell them about that amazing cool thing you offer. 

 

 

 

 

 

for the Creatives

The Qapital app may have helped save $725

Did Qapital help me save more?

Sooo if you recall, for the new year I began this experiment to see if Qapital helps me save more money than I already do. I’m happy to announce that in the past few months I’ve saved $725 more than my average savings before. I excluded my tax return from this savings amount, because I’m not sure that counts in the span of a three-month average 🙂 Life circumstances change of course, so I can’t say for sure, but there’s a fair chance that Qapital helped with some of that.

(Interested? Sign up using my referral link and Qapital app will give us both $5.)

How will I change my usage of the Qapital app?

Problem: On the downside, most of that savings was to my “general savings” not my “book launch savings”,  because the only savings rules I gave for book launch were related to spending at Starbucks or Walmart – two places I try not to go to often.

Solution: I will likely be moving one rule from “general savings” to “book launch savings” to make a little more money there. I’m thinking the 1% of income rule. Tbd.

A warning for the go-getters:

Be forewarned! Qapital can only save as much as you actually have to save, except it doesn’t know that of course. My friend talks about her negative experience on her blogpost. Qapital can only help as far as you actually have money to save. So if you have a tight budget, it’s possible this app wouldn’t be the best tool for you. And if you’re a super competitive nature, don’t get too crazy with the rules on this app 🙂 Find balance.

This experiment is in flux:

I won’t be able to completely accurately continue this experiment because I’m about to buy a new car engine which will take a bunch of savings. Soooo that’ll screw up the average a lot. But I’ll keep ya updated 🙂

Have you used Qapital app? Tell me your experience. Has it helped you save? What rules do you find most useful?

Interested in trying it out? Sign up using my referral link and Qapital app will give us both $5. An easy way for you to contribute to your savings goals and my book launch at the same time 😉

Musings

Still learning to juggle a platform

 

If there’s two types of people in the world:

  • Minimalist: Keeps as little as possible
  • Hoarder: Gets rid of as little as possible

then I am absolutely neither of them.

But of course that’s a very sparse definition of minimalists and hoarders. I could go the other way:

If there’s two types of people in the world:

  • Minimalist: gets rid of stuff
  • Hoarder: gets more stuff

then I am absolutely both of them.

I love finding new favorite things as much as I love clearing out my house of all the excess. Just shop my closet to find that out.

And in the world of building a brand and platform, there a plenty of new favorite things to discover I’m supposed to do. I have a whole pile of things on the backlog of possibilities.

But a brand and platform of an artist can’t be everywhere. I can’t hoard all the things for that. I have to be selective. We have to be selective. A combination of where our audience is and where our joy lies.

I probably have a good chunk of a potential audience on Instagram, but making pretty visuals is overwhelming to me. So I stick with Facebook – a safe bet – and Twitter, which I just love being on regardless of my reach. And here, WordPress, my blogging community, always my little homebase.

Do you ever feel stretched too thin? Like a ghost shadow of yourself covering the town because there’s too many places to be at once. Well for me, it’s come time to publish my book, which means my to-do list got way bigger and it’s about time I have a monthly email update to my biggest supporters (hey, if that’s you, go sign up!) to peek behind the scenes of my publishing journey.

As if that’s not enough, I’m providing writing classes. (If you’re in Central IL, check it out.) I know, what was I thinking!? I recommend adding only one new thing at a time, and I definitely threw caution to the wind here.

That’s a lot of places to be. Something’s gotta give and there’s not really many things to come off the plate anymore.

So instead of weekly blogposts, I am adjusting that to once or twice monthly. I’ve been told readers won’t notice, but of course I kinda hope you do 🙂 When you miss me, sign up for my email newsletter or get in touch and ask me how my writing is going and if the (fictional) murder gives enough goosebumps yet. Or ask to beta read my murderous draft because this is your last chance, I have a few slots left before I’m to booklaunch.

Oh, and you can also contact me to pitch a guest blogpost that matches my general topics and brand. You have lots of options!

  • Mermaids
  • Pirates
  • Book art
  • Dabbling in art you have no business dabbling in (my failed attempts at painting for instance)
  • Mental health
  • Chai lattes
  • Adventuring
  • Creative arts in the church
  • Artistic fashion
  • Bookish or literary discussions
  • About writing in a very practical sense or in a very entertaining sense
  • Inspiration, motivation, or instruction for creatives in general

If I have a niche, it’s not a very nichey niche 😉 So tell me what you want to guest post. And I’ll be back here in a few weeks with a riveting post about our favorite inspiration: Lady Gaga 🙂

 

 

Exclusive Content, for the Creatives

When to hire a ghostwriter

This post is top secret content for my most raving fans. There are two ways to get in on the fun:

  1. An abridged version of any new post is sent to those who receive my posts by email. You can sign up for free at the very bottom of my webpage. 
  2. The all-access pass for the archives and any future exclusive posts is available to paying patrons for just $2/mo. You can sign up through the below link to Patreon.com/AmyLSauder
The only question is, which will you choose? 
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mermaid knee-high socks
Fashion

To break a mermaid curse

You may recall for Halloween I shared definitive proof that I am cursed by mermaids.

I had a great discussion about breaking the curse with Beware of the Reader <– which can we all agree that is the best bookblog name ever?

The curse all started when I didn’t show up to a magical disappearing lake at midnight. So presumably I could break the curse if I could just wake up at midnight to get there! Alas, I love sleep more than I did as a child – we all do, right? – so I have not remained conscious through that time. If I were Cinderella, I would have made it home long before the spell is broken, but alas, I’m the opposite of Cinderella where the spell is only broken if I can stay up ’til midnight.

However, in the weeks following the reveal of my mermaid curse to the world, I received a number of mermaid items:

A mermaid blanket,
to be a land-dwelling mermaid from the comfort of home:

mermaid

Mermaid socks,
to be a mobile land-dwelling mermaid:

mermaid1

A mermaid necklace,
to carry the magic of mermaids close to my heart:

mermaid3

I guess you could say something fantastical is happening, something mermaid-related. Here’s some possibilities:

Option 1: The curse is broken. This could have occurred from my vocalizing the curse, realizing and acknowledging it existed in the first place. I did not wake up at midnight and go to the lake, but I did inexplicably wake up at 5:45 the morning I received the first mermaid gift, and isn’t that basicly equal to midnight?

Option 2: The mermaids are placating me. Mermaids are almost sirens, and sirens have a way of luring humans to their death. When I acknowledged the curse and the way to break it, maybe the mermaids sent gifts to lull me into a false sense of security, so I wouldn’t try to break the curse, to keep me forever in their grasp. Mer-things bribery, if you will. Aghhh clever mermaids you!

Option 3: I have been dubbed mermaid ambassador. My affinity for mermaids has made me an ally, speaking on their behalf to the human world. I never became a mermaid, but I now have an understanding with them. And I am surrounded by amazing non-merfolk that give me merfolk gifts, so I certainly can’t leave to live with merfolk. I like it here with you all too much. So maybe the mermaids have given me their blessing and the humans have embraced my mermaid obsession.

My parents got me the blanket and socks since, as they said, I’m “obsessed with mermaids.” But they should know by now that I’m just obsessed. I’ll flit (like a faerie!) from one fancy to another, whether that be circus or mermaid or unicorn or magicians or – who knows what’s next. But now as a potential mermaid ambassador, I’ll have at least one more mermaid story to share as a Christmas present for you all. Just you wait 😉