Every writer needs help. Most writers try to go it alone. Every writer needs to spend money. Most writers try to do everything as close to free as they can get. Every writer needs to identify a sales platform. Most writers look at everyone as their market. Every writer needs to hire professionals to do the things the writer does not do well. Most writers expect success to come looking for them.
I’m been a member of the “most writers” club for far too long. Despite some excellent mentorship and some outstanding courses taught by relevant, intelligent people, I still tried to do everything myself. I languished in mediocrity at best far too long
Everything I’m about to write I’ve heard before. The information I’m about to write, I heard and understood on a certain level intellectually, yet I still did not use it. From my perspective, this is why these words still need to be placed out into the world. There are others like me. Maybe that person is you. Maybe a friend or co-worker. Doesn’t matter. Listen up…
As a writer, you do something well. You write. Whether novels, non fiction, poetry, etc, this is your passion. Writing is your life. Writing completes you.
Our problems arise with the business side of writing. We want people to read. We need people to buy. Most often, we absolutely own no clue as to how to market out books nor ourselves.
I’m telling you true. Find a platform. Work on a brand. Establish them with your name. If you have no clue how to do this, find a professional to help you, or make the decision to write for your own satisfaction and benefit. Without a platform and a brand, you will not go anywhere. With a platform and a brand, you likely will muddle around and see frail to barely moderate success. Hire a professional, you have a chance.
Writers are notorious for not wanting to spend money. None of us really feel we have all that much money to spend. I’ve been in the writing business for nearly ten years now. I understand, now, that had I spent the money six years ago when I had it, I would be in a much better place now.
Do you know how to build a professional website with leads generators, auto-responders, shopping cart, and a host of other critical elements including integrated social media? The you know what a fair price would be to pay for this and I would recommend you do so – IF writing is your desire. Everything we do outside of writing takes us away from what we desire. If you don’t know how to build a professional site, don’t get sucked into the DIY (do-it-yourself) syndrome. Your learning curves and frustrations will severely damage your writing mojo.
If you have a platform and a brand, do you have a plan with which to exploit it? If you do, I suggest you pay a professional to at least look it over and offer their assessment. If you’re like most writers I know, you do not have a clue and you seriously need to invest the money in a professional and get the help you need. Or, you can languish, like I did, with millions of other writers trying to do everything themselves on the cheap. Play cheap, you most likely will get cheap.
I’m not suggesting you get irresponsible with your money. What I’m saying is, you need to hire people to do the things you do not do well so you may continue to do that voodoo that you do so well – write.
How do you build a brand? A platform? What are they?
A brand is something for which people will recognize you. For instance, I have taught a five week workshop titled “How to Write Your Book in 30 Days” for three years now. People identify me as a book coach. A person who can help you get your book written. My platform is helping people write their books. My brand is Michael Ray King – Book Coach.
Is that all I do? No, absolutely not! I write books. I own a publishing company. I run an event called The Inspired Mic. All these things I do are related, and all generate some level of income.
Building your name and your brand (my name and brand are conveniently connected due to a lot of work) takes time. Speaking is huge. Didn’t sign up for that? You likely will struggle to sell books if you don’t. How do you learn to speak professionally? Try Toastmasters. What you get there is worth far more than the money you pay.
I’m touching on things in no particular order. My main goal here is to help you not do as I did in some key areas. Maybe a list of what I did well and what I did poorly will help.
What I did well:
I wrote books, books I love
I listened and learned about the business side of writing
I overcame my fear of public speaking (thank you Toastmasters)
I spoke at some writer’s groups and events
I overcame my fear of teaching (again, thank you Toastmasters)
I found ancillary products to one of my books (teaching paid workshops, running paid events, consulting fees)
What I did poorly:
I designed too many of my own book covers
I tried to do everything I learned about the business side of writing myself rather than pay professionals
I tried to market myself and write my own marketing copy
I tried to build my own websites
I tried to do things off the cuff
I used “tried to” to illustrate the difficulty in achieving success when you attempt to do things outside your expertise. I am a good writer, sometimes a great writer. I am a dynamic speaker. I know how to motivate and inspire people. I came up with some great ideas on a brand and platform. I am not a professional copywriter (someone who writes advertising and marketing copy). I am not a social media expert. I am not a marketing expert. I am not a web designer. I am not a graphics design artist.
As long as I kept trying to do the things I am not good at, marketing, design, copywriting, etc, I struggled to get people in my workshops and to get book sales as well. Here’s a quick one for you – if you want to make money, don’t count on your book sales to do it for you. Find ancillary products, something tangential to what you wrote, and sell it. I wrote the book on “How to Write Your Book in 30 Days!” Then I developed the product which is the workshop, which drives the cash I need to write more books. I also started the event “The Inspired Mic” where people pay to have writers entertain them with their creativity.
Ancillary products. Making money with your writing takes a lot of effort. The book sales I get do not comprise the bulk of my income. In fact, book sales are not going to do much for me at this point. The goal, of course, is to get enough attention and notoriety to drive book sales on a large scale which will help me down the road.
What are you doing to market yourself? Who do you have on your team? What is your biggest challenge with respect to marketing your brand and platform? For me it currently is a professional website which generates a mailing list and leads for my workshops and allows me to sign people up and collect the money while I write and speak. This means I need to hire someone who does this type of work. Today, I did just that.
My next challenge will be getting speaking engagements. Paid speaking engagements.
Understand what you’re getting into when you enter into the business of the book-writing world. If you hope to sell books, you need to work at finding out how to accomplish your goal. It’s a lot tougher work than many are willing to take on. Just be aware and don’t cut corners. Invest in yourself. Hire professionals to do those things which are outside your level of expertise. Stick with what you love to do. Have professionals help you continue to do that which you love – write.