OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
We all need mentors, and I have had many over the years … the vast majority indirectly through books, podcasts and online courses. Today, I'd like to introduce you to two of them and the book they have just released for writers, Write. Publish. Repeat.
I started out my journey online in the community of bloggers writing about online business, copywriting and internet marketing. In a world with some shady characters, a few people stood out as authentic and real.
I came across Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt when they wrote for Copyblogger, my long-time favorite blog on content marketing, and I've listened to Johnny's brand of kick-ass motivation for a while.
A few years back, Sean moved into writing fiction, collaborating with David Wright on dark horror serials … then Johnny joined them to start the Self-Publishing Podcast (which I highly recommend but it's not safe for work and contains strong language).
Sean and Dave have always had prodigious word count output, but the last 18 months have seen a transformation in Johnny. He has gone from a man who wrote one novel in 12 years (whilst working on other things), to writing and publishing several million words in the last year, with 8 new series published in 2013.
Seriously impressive stuff.
These boys kick my ass, and now they've written a fantastic book, so I want you to reap the benefit of the wisdom they share too! Here's some of what I consider the highlights from Write, Publish, Repeat:
The concept of the funnel
You need something to draw people in, but that something must then lead logically to something else readers will pay for.
So your first product in the funnel needs to be freely available, or very easily experienced. For example, a perma-free ebook as the first in the series. Johnny's example is the Realm & Sands free list, and I now have Pentecost as perma-free. It's had nearly 20,000 downloads in the last couple of weeks, and I can see the uptick in my email newsletter and also sales of the other books in the series.
If you don't have funnels, it's hard for readers to follow through your work. So my ARKANE series is obvious now – Pentecost is the wide open beginning as the first in the series, which logically leads through to the other books.
But I have just released Desecration, with no entry product, and a horror short story series, A Thousand Fiendish Angels – neither of these have a funnel. I am considering writing a little novella to prelude Desecration, as well as the sequel Delirium, for next year.
The thing is to think how people can progress through your books, hooking the reader into staying with you for a bit longer.
You must include calls to action
The back of your book is valuable real estate. When people have just finished your amazing work, what do you ask them to do next?
Your call to action at the back of the book should generally be one of these:
a) Drive people to the next book in the series
c) Ask for a review
I've been banging away about email lists for a long-time, mainly because I come from the same community as Johnny & Sean. You need an email list so that you can tell people about your next book, and you'll still be able to make an income even if Amazon, Kobo and all the rest of the booksellers disappear forever. It's great to hear this reiterated, and it is still my #1 recommendation for authors – get this sorted out!
Writing fast using beats
Johnny's transformation into a fiction writing machine has inspired me to write faster in 2014. There is a myth that writing slowly equals higher quality, but Dean Wesley Smith busted that one a while back! I've also read ‘The Beam,' one of Johnny & Sean's works and it's impressive writing, along with White Space from Platt & Wright, my favorite of the dark horror serials.
Essentially, the beats are a paragraph of description per chapter, an outline that enables the writer to KEEP WRITING and NOT STOP to think in the first draft phase. Things may change, but the writer never has to think, what shall I write next?
I do a basic outline at the moment, but it's usually about 10 scenes to get me started and then I re-plan after about 20,000 words, and then then replan again at 50,000. I have to stop a lot, and I don't want to keep doing that. So I will be trying the beats technique for 2014 and we'll see how it goes. Considering I have 8 creative projects on my wall for 2014, writing faster would really help!
A kick in the ass
This is not a ‘get-rich quick on Kindle' type of book. Which is good, as I wouldn't be recommending it to you if it was!
In fact, the book says, “you will have to work your ass off and endure many ups and downs if you want to make a full-time living from your writing.”
You may have noticed that I haven't got rich from my books as yet, very few authors do, but the focus of ‘Write, Publish, Repeat' is about how to work smarter, as well as harder.
As ever, it's simple, but it's not easy.
But the book illustrates that it is more about putting in the work now, with far more of a direct correlation between how many words you write and publish, and your income. In the past, however hard you worked, it was still a lottery of being chosen. Now there are so many more paths to success, and the writer who stays the path, can be successful. As Johnny says, “It's a true workman's paradise.”
But I don't think you're in that category. If you are, you wouldn't be on my blog either!
Write, Publish, Repeat has inspired me to continue on the path, and believe me, I have my wobbly days. To be honest, it would be easier to get a day job again, but I believe that in the long-run, this is the career for me, and it has the potential to be a fantastic living … but we all have to treat it as a business, and do the work.
Check out The Self Publishing Podcast here (but only if you don't mind bad language and naughty humor!)
Here's my interviews with the guys – and Johnny will be back on the podcast in 2014.