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If you want to be a financially successful author, it is important to consider how you will make your money. For most, writing does not pay a full-time income, but for some, it can be a path to wealth. I read “The Wealthy Author” a few weeks ago and thought it was full of fantastic tips for writers. It is aimed at non-fiction writers, but there are a lot of cross-overs that fiction authors can also use.
Debbie Jenkins is co-author of “The Wealthy Author: The Fast Profit Method for Writing, Publishing and Selling Your Non-Fiction Book”. She is also a publisher at Bookshaker.com , a small press for non-fiction books and runs The Publishing Academy.
In this podcast, you will learn:
- How Debbie went from being an electronics engineer to web design and marketing, through to publishing and marketing non-fiction “How To” books. Bookshaker.com have published over 70 non-fiction books now, and many of their authors have ‘muddy boots' i.e. they are specialists in their area and need help to turn this knowledge into a book.
- “The Wealthy Author” is a compilation of the lessons learned over the years as well as mistakes and successes. It is aimed at getting people to the end line faster than they could on their own. It includes the 6 steps to go from an idea to a book to becoming a wealthy author. Most authors can do a number of the steps really well, but may need help with the rest.
- There are lots of little tests in the book that help you identify whether the book will actually make some money. For example, does your book appeal to hungry fanatics? If you can find a market and supply them with what's missing in the market, then you have a chance of making great sales.
- What about people who say “this is a book that is on my heart”? Consider what your goals are for the book. They can write it and just self-publish. If there is no market, the vast majority of publishers won't take the risk. But now it is easy to self-publish then authors can do this and using print-on-demand
- To find your market, there is a list of questions e.g. can you easily identify the reader. People say “This book can help everybody” but it is incredibly difficult to market to the whole world. It is easier to market to small groups e.g. forums on Facebook or LinkedIn on the topic. Break the customer group into smaller targets. Also, you don't want hungry fanatics who are poor and can't afford your book, so you need to be aware of your demographic.
- On the changing marketplace for authors. Think about ebooks e.g. Using Smashwords to get your books to the public. Ebooks are no longer the realm of dodgy internet marketing. With ereaders and mobile phones, authors can get their book read by a bigger audience. Print-on-demand is also a great way to get your book out there with little risk and upfront costs. The biggest benefit is the low barrier of cost for entry.
- On vanity publishers, they are muddying the waters at the moment. Self-publishing by a savvy author or using a web 2.0 publisher presents great opportunities vs. vanity publishing which has a stigma.
- Top 3 Marketing Tactics
- Use the Existing Killer Apps, Don't Reinvent the Wheel. For example, Amazon.com is a killer app for print books. Use it correctly e.g. make an author profile, add descriptions on the book, get reviews and add reviews to others in your niche. People who write on your topic are allies, not competitors. People who like a specific topic buy multiple books on that topic so work with them. For ebooks, Smashwords would be the killer app and can get your ebook all over the web.
- Sell in Bulk. Most authors think the books will just sell, but it is easier to sell 100 books to 1 person, than 1 book to 100 people. Look for sponsors for the book, companies/organizations who might want to collaborate, sell books as part of speaking packages.
- Build Your Online Platform. Start with your own website/blog and also social networking, then automate as much as possible the process of feeding the networks with useful information. Create a good social network around you and your blog.
- The same principles can be applied to fiction authors who can use social networking to gather fans and sell books that way. Get your name out there and people will find you and may buy your book. Get recommended by different people. The ‘web' of buying books means you have to be there in order to be bought.
- The product pipeline is important for wealthy authors. You need to move people through a pipeline so you have a relationship with them over time, then they are more likely to buy. You need to start by attracting lots of people with free information e.g. your blog, chapters, images and start the relationship. You can't immediately ask people to buy. They need to know and trust you. Have products at different price points so people build up over time.
Kate Collings says
This is a really relevant post for me at present. I am currently on Maternity leave and have the dreaded thought of going back to my 9-5 mundane desk job.
I have finally got my writing carrer off the ground and want to progress as far as I can and make an honest living from my work. However as I am sure you will agree it is a timely process.
Thanks for the post, great reading.
Just listened to this on the drive to work today. Very interesting interview, thanks for the great info.
I figured out how to be a wealthy author back in the 1990s: write a ton of books. My best year had 10 titles; with advances between $8K and $12K per title, it wasn’t a bad year at all. The years only got better as I made a name for myself and had a few best sellers in my field.
The advice here seems good, especially for folks just starting up. Best of luck to all.
Paul O'Mahony (Cork) says
This is incredibly good timing. My book on Depression ( the mental health type) is almost ready to go to publisher for publication in 2010.
I’ve been publicising via Twitter & my blog. I’ve decided to give draft chapters away in advance to members of #depressiontribe. I’m looking for inspiration and something to compare what I’m doing against.
So I must see about getting it for USA soon.
Now I better go listen to the podcast.
CJ Werleman says
Debbie Jenkins published my book ‘God Hates You. Hate Him Back’ (Making Sense of the Bible) via Dangerous Little Books publishing.
This savvy lady knows her business. Thus if you are considering writing a book, you will do well to listen to what she has to say.
Justin Lusty says
Excellent advice. I bought the book a couple of weeks ago. Brilliant and no surprise given Debbie’s pedigree. I’ve read several books from her stable – all good.
Power to the small publisher that understands its niche!
Joanna Penn says
Thanks all – I really enjoyed the book and interviewing Debbie. Let’s hope 2010 is a wealthy year for all of us!
Rick Crawford says
Great ideas! I’ve been thinking about non-fiction lately. Great speaker! I enjoyed the content so much.