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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
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I love to talk to amazing, enthusiastic people who have made a successful transition from corporate jobs to creative entrepreneurship. Today, I discuss the journey and thoughts on publishing with the brilliant Farnoosh Brock.
In the intro, I talk about a shift to a global focus with an eye on future disruption, my box-set for ARKANE books 1-3, my lessons from the fantastic Write, Publish, Repeat, and my next non-fiction book on Public Speaking for Introverts, coming soon. Plus, if you want to make the transition from corporate, I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway for my own book, Career Change that you can join here.
The podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Farnoosh Brock is an author, professional speaker, coach and creative entrepreneur at ProlificLiving.com
- Farnoosh left a corporate job to be a full-time entrepreneur as a personal development blogger, author and coach as well as creating programs to help with career transition. A year ago, she hired her husband out of his corporate job to join her business. She also specializes in physical health, with the Healthy Juicer's Bible, as well as programs for stretching and juicing.
- Both Farnoosh and I left our 6 figure corporate jobs in 2011, and she talks about how unhappy she was after over 11 years of the job – in engineering, software support and other technical work as well as project management. She had to make that change, but she did start the blog part time, so it wasn't too a risky move. [My transition was very similar] Farnoosh talks about having to learn a lot about entrepreneurship and business at the beginning, and now she teaches others through her SmartExitBlueprint.
- Publishing comparisons. Farnoosh started with self-publishing and thinks it's brilliant and empowering. She wrote a book on juicing which did so well that it attracted attention from a traditional publisher, who made her an offer.
“By waiting for a literary agent to ‘choose' you, you're holding your book hostage.”
- Farnoosh does the writing, and her husband does all the publishing tasks. Her self-published book on juicing really took off, and showed her the possibilities of reaching an audience that way. A publisher approached her and asked to buy the rights for that book, but Farnoosh proposed writing a new one, which became The Healthy Juicer's Bible.
- Skeptical about the publishing industry, Farnoosh hired a lawyer to go through the contract and negotiated. We talk about the change in power differential that there is now, especially if you have a platform and will walk away if your terms aren't met. That confidence and knowing what you want will help you negotiate. The more she talked to them, the more she became sure it would work. She also interviewed authors who had worked with that publisher, so she did a lot of due diligence [which most authors skip in their enthusiasm for any deal]. Her experience, as a result, has been very positive.
“The book is a collaboration.”
- The publisher doesn't owe the author anything, and Farnoosh is more than willing to do a lot of marketing by herself. That impressed the publisher so much that they asked for two more books, so it is now an ongoing partnership. Publishers have a lot of authors who work with them in an unprofessional manner, who miss deadlines, who don't deliver, and if you can be a professional, you will stand out.
- Blogging is fantastic for improving your own writing, as well as building a platform. It can help you find your voice, as well as finding an audience.
Some of Farnoosh's marketing activities for her book include:
- Doing a trailer/commercial for the book impressed the publisher a lot. You can watch it here.
- Farnoosh recommends reading Goodreads for Authors by Michelle Campbell-Scott and also did a Goodreads giveaway. [Check out this interview with Goodreads Author liaison, Patrick Brown, for lots more on Goodreads].
- She also targeted specific bloggers, podcasters and authors who were willing to do something to promote the book – guest posting, Google Hangouts, podcasts etc – and used print books for giveaways. But you don't have to just focus on the launch, you can keep marketing as an ongoing task.
- The importance of having a positive attitude about money, but also your health, when talking about prolific living.
- How to stop seeking approval and validation of others. The separation of you from your work.
- Top tips for the writer's body – Farnoosh talks about the power of stretching and 10 mins of moving. We also talk about what we're excited about as creative entrepreneurs.
You can find Farnoosh and all her books, products and services at ProlificLiving.com
You can also find her on twitter @prolificliving
Sam Peterson says
I just looked over the Smart Exit site because it sounded like something that I would be interested in, but, without sounding too negative, it looks like every pop-up scheme site I’ve ever seen (get rich quick, lose 100lbs. in a month, etc.). I really want to stress that I’m not trying to sound mean and I want this to be creative criticism, but if you want your product to be taken seriously you should really try to get away from the long, single column of text with a $300 product and a bunch of testimonials at the bottom because it really just makes it seem like something that tech-savvy people would immediately write off as spam.
Also your target audience is probably people like you Joanna who had six-figure incomes, but most corporate and cubical jobs are way, way lower than that. I’m the sole bread-winner, I make about $30k US a year, and I have a wife and daughter, so a $300 price point is very expensive for me and I would never just put down that kind of money for anything that wasn’t an actual college-accredited course even if I had the money.
I think having that kind of money for eleven years would make it very easy to quit and branch out on your own and hire your spouse, but what about the little guy? Could you make a course about how a <$40k a year person with no backing capital or savings what-so-ever, a full-time job, and a family can transition to becoming a work-at-home entrepreneur/full-time author and sell the how-to materials at about $5-$20 in an ebook on Amazon so it comes from a site everyone knows is reliable? If you did that you would probably make millions from the single title if it wasn't all fluff.
Sorry if I sound bitter, I love most of your interviews Joanna, just keep in mind that what you both had is not what most of either of your audiences can ever relate with.
Please keep up the good work and remember the little guys 🙂
Sam Peterson says
I was referencing this page ( http://www.smartexitblueprint.com/join-us/?utm_source=prolificliving&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=sebsidebarwidget ) which is a direct link from your Prolific Living blog.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for your feedback.
We are all in different places when we start our writing lives, and the jobs we left are only a tiny part of what Farnoosh and I talk about in this interview. Both of us have 90% of our information and resources available for free, hundreds of articles, podcast interviews and videos that can help you for free. But we also have premium courses for people who want to invest. I trust Farnoosh and I love her enthusiasm and her business-sense – and there’s certainly no push to buy anything from either of us.
In terms of your question, I don’t think it makes any difference in terms of how much money you make now – transitioning into becoming a full time author is all about time – and we all have the same amount of that. I used to get up at 5am before work, and then work evenings and weekends in order to write my first 3 books and start this site. The money is setting up a blog is minimal – $8 a month hosting and you can set it up yourself.
You can write books for free, and publish them for free on Amazon – if you’ve read my Author 2.0 Blueprint (which is free) http://www.thecreativepenn.com/blueprint/ I share everything you can do as regards to free marketing, and how to avoid the expensive traps of self-publishing. Amanda Hocking did all this with a lower income than most, so check out her story. Her success is due to writing 14 books – so I believe it’s all about time.
Joanna Penn says
I just came across this story too, as an example of someone with nothing who became a full time author with just time and effort
A woman who went from being a single mother of three living on welfare after leaving an abusive marriage, to a happily married woman who made a comfortable 6-figure income this year in book royalties alone.
Thanks for your honest comment. I have students that are social workers that swear by this course, I have seen success in people who did not see 6 figures in their corporate jobs but are going to see it in their businesses because they can create real wealth and I know that my course is not fluff and every word on my sales copy is something I can prove in my course and have, but that does not help you because you have already decided that you are stuck in that job and in that place and that is entirely your limited mindset, something that kept me and many others stuck, so all that is between you and your entrepreneurship freedom, I hope I don’t sound too bold to say so, is yourself. The course would be perfect for you if you saw it as an investment and believed that you can indeed break free and pursue your dream, but if you don’t think it’s the best investment and you see it as “spam” as you do every other course, then it absolutely won’t work for you. I wish you the best Sam. I created my course for the big and the little guy, it’s for anyone and everyone who is willing to walk away from the limited negative victim mindset and I’ve seen it work miracles so I’m excited to help my future students too.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Farnoosh, and Sam – and I’m actually really pleased this has come up. Part of the reason I wanted to change direction and focus more on entrepreneurship is to start talking more about money – as it is often a negative thing for creatives and authors, and I want to bust that myth.
Joanna, I am so glad this came up too. We associate being comfortable and wealthy with negative thoughts and it holds us back from giving our gift to the world but that means that we must then hate JK Rowling instead of seeing her as the amazing heroine that I do. We cannot have double standards and that’s what really gets to me when we talk money. We have these heroes who are …. super wealthy thanks to their gifts and yet we think wealth is evil. It most certainly is not. We control that as humans (assuming we have free will AND exercise it). About to check your other blog post now.
Charles Hurst Author of The Second Fall says
Glad I came across this as I’m trying to stay on topic with a question on marketing and the blog that is always prevalent in articles you write. Joanna–you have mentioned in your work “How to Market a Book” that in blogging that you recommend wordpress due to software. Could you go into a little bit why vs say the other web companies? What about their software is so great vs what else is out there? I’m hesitant to switch with godaddy because I don’t want to lose the domain name as I’m getting a following. (Using techniques in your book BTW)
This one is to Sam’s response. Little guy,big guy doesn’t really matter. These techniques aren’t fluff. I started marketing after my novel sat on the shelf in the millions on rank for six months as I was reading everything under the sun. I have two books and one of them is Joanna’s “How to Market a Book.” And it’s not expensive.
It’s not the money factor–I am, or should I say I was a medical provider. Unlike the two former corporate kittens above I liked being a physical therapist–but it is America and healthcare is becoming so chaotic– I’m ready to leave. So I’m marketing full time now. I have read everything under the sun and was overwhelmed with the amount of info out there which constantly contradicts itself. ie twitter works, twitter doesn’t work. (BTW it does if you use it right)
Before I left full time contracting I was working all day and writing and marketing at night. This is where you pay. In the old days of Miller and Fitz and even the modern S. King the writer spent all of his time writing but was solely at the mercy of the publisher. With self publishing we aren’t–but we now have to market—–what kind of response you will get depends on the hours in. I had nothing this summer. Then a drop sold. Then another. Now I have a steady trickle which I want to turn into a waterfall. If I go back to part time or full time contracting then I’ll keep building–just a little slower—but keep getting sales until the algorithms on amazon start helping. Joanna describes the struggle as “pushing a boulder uphill.” That is about right–I fight on the blogs and comment on news sites for hours for one sale. Then another. You pay with the lack of sleep and the feeling of burn out–whether you are sitting from a leather lined chair or one from walmart the time in is the same regardless of income.
I can promise you this is not a scam–these techniques that Joanna and her guests keep repeating work–if you have decent material
Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL
Sam Peterson says
Thank you for the response from a reader. What I actually said was, “If you did that you would probably make millions from the single title if it wasn’t all fluff,” in reference to writing a book for people with zero backing capital and selling it on Amazon. I did not at all mean to say that the program, the contents of which I don’t know anything about yet, is fluff whatsoever (just out of my price-range even as an investment in my future). Many books are already written on the topic, but as you’ve said, often contradict each other and a definitive book on this subject by someone with actual, viable knowledge, written with no frills or making it too good to be true would be great, especially at an affordable price and written with the lower/lowest tax brackets in mind as the audience.
Also, I did not mean to imply that the product was a scam or seemed scammy, but that the layout of the advertising page is the same layout used by countless internet marketing scams and that Mz. Farnoosh would possibly add to her already immense credibility by using a more reputable layout to stand out from other stand-alone internet products. Sorry about the confusion.
“so a $300 price point is very expensive for me and I would never just put down that kind of money for anything that wasn’t an actual college-accredited course even if I had the money.”
You’re probably not in their “target audience” then. Listen, one of the things you have to understand when you become a producer vs. a consumer is that for everyone one of you (producer) there are tens of thousands of them.
$300 is peanuts when it comes to a business expense. That’s the equivalent of giving up cable or 6 months of starbucks coffee.
College accreditation is one of the biggest money makers in the universe – ha. Most people who really are good at new media, digital publishing, etc are not teaching at a college. They are doing it. This is the new economy we live in.
I felt compelled to respond to this. If you want to 5 or 10x you income, 80% of the work for you is going to be psychological.You’ll need to shift the way you see yourself as an entrepreneur.
Spending time ruminating over the inconsequential 80% (“popovers”) vs the vitally important 20% will not change the course of your life. I appreciate your initiative with making feedback but you are missing the forest for the trees.
This is why we decided to actually raise all of our prices and make authors prequalify to work with us. Some people get it others don’t. If you want to be a position where you’re earning say $68 a readers and you have an audience of 25,000, 30,000 newsletter subscribers….consider a shift in looking at things. And please no feedback about money not being everything. Put the right resources in the right hands and we can change humanity.
(this was hastily written so I haven’t even taken the time to edit/spell check – I’m off to deal with paying readers…..)
David Lee says
Farnoosh, it’s not that wealth is seen as evil, it’s that the wealthy aren’t grateful or recognize just how lucky they are. It’s a matter of checking your privilege. Changing your mindset isn’t a magical answer to anything. I know of at least two people who changed their mindset, spent their money on a “sure way to business success” programs, and are now on the streets because they lost everything. Joanna, you can pull up all sorts of “little person made it” articles but all of those are single cases. It really doesn’t help squat. Also, Farnoosh, “I created my course for the big and the little guy” is a wrong way to word it. $300 for a course, and that’s on sale good god, isn’t for the little guy. That’s for the person who can spend $300 and have it go down the drain. Sure, they might become successful, but it’s a risk. A risk that to many isn’t worth it. Everything on that page has been said over and over from many different mouths to many different ears. You can’t say, “100% of people who follow my steps to the letter will succeed” because that would be a bold faced lie. Sometimes, life happens. Sometimes you gotta eat. Also, he has a valid point, the web page design looks like every other scam site out there. Just change up the design a bit, don’t make it to where you have to put in your email. I saw a scam site a while back that had pretty much the exact same layout and font. They even had “testimonials” too. They were trying to rope people into spending hundreds of dollars to buy a guide on how to make money with google adsense. No one is saying you’re trying to scam people, just that the scamers use the same exact site design.
Now, all that being said, Sam! Buddy! Make yourself a tumblr, fill it with content that is relevant to the genera that you like to write, tag everything, then slip your stuff into the posts. You’ll have followers that are already into that genera, so you never know, you may find your audience that way. Now, about your wife, you can do what I do. I get dark hazelnut chocolate and a metric ton frozen beef. (Those are her favorite things) I get my son enough macaroni and cheese that he could turn into a cheese noodle monster, then hug the life out of both of them and say, “I’m going to be a Hermit for a while, don’t hate me” and disappear into our bedroom. Going away for a bit to focus can really help get all the words down. Focus on getting your content down first. After all, you can’t make money off a book you haven’t written yet! Now, I don’t know about you but my family is my support group. When I’m feeling drained and feel like life won’t change at all I hang out and do things with them. They remind me why I do what I do. Hang in there.
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts, comments and opinions, David. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. To be honest, if I had received some of this criticism on my course and/or the sales copy/price a year ago, it would have crushed my spirit. Especially since I had put my heart and soul into creating this amazing product … but being an entrepreneur has taught me that criticism is part of the journey of putting our work out in the world AND that our gifts are NOT for everyone (I don’t mean my course isn’t perfect for the RIGHT little guy, it IS, just not perfect for people who are not ready for it). It’s hard to describe it, one day you may find that your book for instance which is your baby may totally offend some and even anger others (as an author, I know that experience too). It’s humbling. I am open to feedback don’t get me wrong but the course sells very well and my fabulous students are from all walks of life and the one comment I have heard is that the course is underpriced for the value they get. So I am hesitant to change something that is working so well and helping so many so much. But I appreciate your feedback and if you ever decide to invest in my course, I can tell you with all conviction that it will be the best investment because I know what I can deliver and do to help others in stalled careers and in early stages of starting a dream business. Everyone has their gift and I trust you will embrace yours and not let anybody walk all over it. Again thanks for your kind thoughts and feedback and I wish you the best in your writing and/or other careers.
Charles Hurst Author of The Second Fall says
Sure Sam–no foul was taken. It’s hard to portray tone on blog types.
I would (as I have done this) order her book “How to Market a Book” and keep up with this blog. If you’re stuck working full time I would put days away where you write and days where you market. I’ve tried to do both every night and was in pretty bad temper after about two weeks. I would pick one item–do it consistently, get used to it and then add another until you’re using her tips to market.
Consistency is the key here I am finding.
Excellent tips, Charles. Pacing ourselves with the side-hustle is so key or else it can drive us crazy and be overwhelming. The key is to be selective about the type of activities we choose, because there’s little time to waste!