Over the years I’ve talked to a lot of authors, and soon-to-be authors, and I found that the most common mistake among them is they don’t think about the long term life of their book. They don’t consider what their real goal is.
I’ve also seen that many people who want to write a book think that’s all they have to do: write a book. They assume that the world is going to be knocking at their door once their book is published.
Most of those authors end up learning the hard way that that’s not the case. It just doesn’t work that way. For every 50 Shades of Gray kind of bestselling books, there are about 5 million other books that are written that no one has ever heard of or knows anything about.
Even the most successful authors, fiction or nonfiction, don’t think that way. Take JK Rowling for example. When looking at her success with the Harry Potter series, it’s easy to say that she had it easy but that’s far from the truth.
She experienced the same dilemmas most hopeful authors face: dozens of publishers turned her down. It took a long time for the series to be published. She’s talked in various interviews about how she had no idea what would have become of the series. No one could have fathomed how huge it became. She just knew she wanted to publish it.
If you want to make money on a consistent basis, daily, weekly, monthly, etc., you need to have an end goal in mind with your book.
As incredible as JK Rowling’s story is, it’s such a rare situation. To become an international bestseller for years and one of the first authors to become a billionaire in the US. I wish it was more common and we could all experience such success, but that simply isn’t the case.
So for the rest of us, we need to get really clear about what we want from our book.
If one’s goal is to just make royalties from their book, they’re going to need volumes of work (fiction or nonfiction).
Stephen King is a great example of this. Over the years he’s written so many books (many of which have also become movies). I’m sure he makes enough on royalties that, financially speaking, he probably doesn’t need to write another book.
Now I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he loves what he does and is incredibly passionate about it so I don’t see him stopping anytime soon. A huge pro to regularly publishing books is that Stephen King is making consistent income. If he wants to be making money every single day, week, month, and year, he has to continue to produce new content.
He has a huge audience who will buy his books because he’s such a well-known author because people love his work, because of the people who help market his books, etc.
The money doesn’t just start flowing after you write a book. You need a model and plan that works in conjunction with your book. I believe the best place to start is the end. What’s your end goal with your book?
I have 3 more questions an author should be able to answer, regardless of what stage of the publishing process their book is in…
- What am I trying to sell with my book?
If you want your book to make you money, you need to ask yourself what exactly you’re selling. If you’re ultimately trying to sell books and you want to make a living from book sales and royalty, you need to work like Stephen King and JK Rowling.
You’ll need to continuously create content and publish books to reach that level of success from selling your book and even then, few people achieve those levels of success as an author.
So many authors have reached out to me over the years telling me that they’ve been working on a novel or some great piece of writing for years. My first thought is always: if you’re writing a novel and you’re spending years on it, you’re making a huge mistake.
Someone who spends that much time on a book is putting all of their eggs into one basket or in this case one book. If that didn’t work for authors like Stephen King and JK Rowling, it probably won’t work for you.
Most of my clients write nonfiction books that have something to do with their area of expertise, as I did with my book Publish, Promote, Profit. For those of us in this category, we’re selling two things. At Bestseller Publishing we sell my book, but we’re also selling our “done for you” publishing services. For another business owner, it may be consulting services, or a coaching offer, or multi-week/month courses, etc.
The point is we should be using the book to raise our level of authority and get people to trust us so they will buy that next thing from us. Ideally, you’ve figured out what that second “thing” is before you finish your book, but if your book is out and you haven’t created that “thing,” it’s not too late.
However, you will want to backtrack a bit and make sure your book can accomplish that goal (of getting people to buy a higher ticket offer from you). Whatever idea you land on, it’s so important that it’s clear, straightforward, and attainable.
- How can I use my book to reach my ideal customer?
I’ve talked about how we get clients at Bestseller Publishing quite a few times so I apologize if it’s redundant, but for those of you who don’t know, we use paid advertising.
Social media is an opportunity to reach massive amounts of people that might be interested in what you do and you can get super specific in who you target so the right people will see your message.
There are other ways to reach your ideal client such as speaking engagement, interacting in Facebook Groups, etc., but the method you should choose depends on your ideal client. Where do they spend their time online? What are they reading/searching/doing?
It’s important to have a real strategy instead of waiting and hoping that your ideal client stumbles upon your book on Amazon. Does that happen?
Sure it does. The other day I was going through my Amazon results for the last six months and I found out that my book as made me just under $6,000, but here’s the thing… I’m not interested in $6,000. I’m interested in the thousands of people who purchased the book and are now reading it or at least have it in their possession so I can speak with them.
- How can I start a conversation with them?
Once you find where they are, you need to figure out how to have a conversation with them. It’s important to make sure that when you do get the chance to talk to them, that it’s a two-way conversation.
By that I mean, when someone buys your book on Amazon and they read it, that’s a one-way conversation. They’re reading your book and you probably don’t even know they’re reading it. You may see a sale was made but you don’t know who that person is and you’re not able to speak to them outside of your book.
A two-way conversation can happen when they’ve joined your email list. When you send an email, they can respond. It can also happen within your Facebook group, on LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. The medium isn’t important.
What matters is that you’re able to speak to them and they can then reply to you so you can take them down the path of potentially buying something from you. That is the end goal that you had in mind at the beginning of this process.
I have a great example for you…
I just randomly chose one of my client’s published books off one of my bookshelves. It’s a book by a man named Ted Coleman. He’s a client from about five years ago. He wrote a book called The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects. Ted is an agile consultant to manufacturing firms. One can infer from the title of his book that he’s a spiritual person as well.
When we were working together, I tried to talk to Ted about the possibility of changing the main title of his book because I didn’t want his book to just appeal to people who already have a spiritual slant but he was not interested in changing the title. At Bestseller Publishing we always give our clients the license to make the final decision on things so I let it go.
When we started working together, the first question I asked him was, “what are you really trying to sell?” He told me his high ticket offer was high level consulting as an agile consultant to manufacturing firms.
He was getting paid as much as $2,000 – $3,000 per day for a visit. Most of the agreements he signed were for 20, 30, and even 50-day projects. So he was signing six-figure agreements with a company to come in, go through their manufacturing process and help them streamline that process and become more efficient.
Ted didn’t just want people to buy his book. He wanted people to pay him six figures to come in for a short period of time and work his magic.
At the time I remember being really excited to work with Ted because he knew what he wanted. So the next question I asked was: “how can you reach them?” I needed to know where he was most comfortable reaching out to potential clients. He told me it was speaking engagements.
He wanted to use his book to get speaking engagements and get on stages where he could use his book as a lead magnet. His plan was to share his expertise for an hour or so and then have booths open after the talk where people could get a copy of his book for free in exchange for lead information. He would then follow up with those people and close deals.
Ted worked on this strategy so during the launch of his book, he did over a quarter of a million dollars in real income because of his book which landed him two speaking engagements. He knew he enjoyed speaking and he knew his book would allow him to get onto stages where he could talk directly to his ideal client.
On top of that, he didn’t finish a speaking engagement and then cross his fingers that people in the audience would come up to him afterward with their credit cards in their hands, ready to give him money. He offered to ship a free copy of his book which goes more in-depth on what he spoke about in exchange for their name, telephone number, and a few answers on a brief questionnaire to help him determine if they were a great leader or not.
He told me that after he did a speaking engagement in front of an audience of 500, he had about 80 people come up to his booth after asking for a copy of his book. Those 80 people aren’t just interested in a free book, they’re interested in what the book can do for them which opens the door to that two-way conversation.
Whether you’re getting ready to start writing your book or it’s already published, take a step back and ask yourself those three questions: what are you trying to sell with your book? How can you use your book to reach your ideal client? And how can you start a conversation with them?
This is what makes the difference between somebody who is successful with their book and someone who is not successful with their book.