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How to Think Like a Successful eBook Author

June 5th, 2012 . by Peggy

 


Rodin's The ThinkerBecoming successful in any field often requires a shift in thinking. Here are some of the shifts that I myself experienced, and that I continue to witness in clients and other successful eBook creators.

1. Stop thinking of yourself as an Author.

Authors are amazing, creative, driven, and professional people. However, as the motivated creator of an eBook trying to crash into what might be a crowded niche, you need to shift yourself from almost all traditional thinking, and quickly.

My own fantasy of what it meant to be an Author was probably like that of many people: the Author as an introvert creative, working from behind a leather-topped desk in a quiet study, the oak-paneled walls lined with books, and a dog stretched out on a thick carpet at my feet. Occasionally, I would fetch myself a whisky from the mini-bar in the corner, or gaze out at my ocean view for inspiration. My publisher would take care of everything, and send me fat checks once a month, all because I was gifting the world with the gold that came out of my brain.

Yeah, that’s pretty far from my reality. Instead, after a rowdy morning of getting the kidlet off to school and taking something out of the freezer for dinner, I whip through Starbucks on my way to an office that I share with a crowd of marketing types. I then run down my whiteboards and address whomever is screaming the loudest. I eat lunch while typing or talking on the phone, scramble to meet deadlines, meet with new and existing clients about 3 times a week, test out new technologies or tools, write blog posts like this one, plan and execute official launch dates for ebooks or new information products, setup affiliate marketing data for the products of myself and clients, and then when that’s all done, dinner’s over and the kidlet asleep, I do a bit more market research to try to find the next niche that I can exploit to the max.

While I’m not in that luxury den, I must say that I find this much more rewarding. NO, this is NOT a life of luxury, but it is fulfilling. I love marketing. I love technology. And I especially love the freedom that I have to keep reinventing myself and my work over and over again. The reality is that successful fiction Authors (versus me as a product creator) do a lot of the same things I do, all day, every day. They might call themselves something other than an information marketer, but really, that’s what all of us are. Once our false expectations fade about the exotic life of an Author, we discover that this, being a marketer with a sort of literary bent, is actually way more fun.

2. Get into a tech groove.

Let’s face it: books mean technology. Even if you are writing for print in the most traditional sense, with a publisher and (perhaps) even an advance, you’re still in a technology-run business. There is simply no working around that. The time of Authors being lumped in with lawyers and real-estate agents for their lack of tech knowledge has passed. Content creators must now at least understand, and hopefully fully control, all aspects of their content distribution.

At the very least, all Authors must get used to the basics;

  • Writing on a computer, using appropriate word-processing software. 
  • Creating eBook content using a standard word-processor. 
  • Using social media. 
  • Blogging or creating other web content. 
  • Deploying and managing their content (and things like reviews) on popular eBook platforms like Kindle or Nook, etc.
  • Linking to places where people can buy the books, and making them easily accessible.
  • Managing a mailing list properly.

The more advanced techy types will take it to the next level;

  • Setting up a shopping cart on your website to sell books and eBooks. 
  • Formatting your own eBook uploads.
  •  Managing your own blog platform, on WordPress. 
  • Setting up things like feeds for your blog or website.
  • Tracking visitors to your blog or website, to see where your visitors are coming from.

And then there are the ones that really exploit the technology that makes money;

  • Conducting webinars or teleseminars. 
  • Using web video conferencing for lectures or virtual signings. 
  • Managing an ongoing affiliate marketing program.
  • Managing digital ad campaigns to sell books or eBooks.
  • Using podcasting to gain recognition and drive traffic.

If you know you’re stuck in the first paragraph, or less, at least know what you need to delegate to the techy types – and how to explain to them what you want.

3. Stop waiting.

The slowness of the literary industry is improving, but it is still its Achilles heel. Independent product creators must work faster in order to meet demand and build market share. In my observation over many years, the idea for a novel does not get better if it steeps for a few years. Instead, it gets neglected. It’s not just about writing every day, which is also essential, but about setting up a production schedule. This allows you to move from one completed project to the next, without losing your momentum or enthusiasm or joy for the content. In the case of non-fiction, there’s often a window of opportunity that is fleeting and small. You either grab it, or you miss it. Speed of production is the way to make money.

4. Keep producing.

If all you have in you is one novel a year, please be sure you have another job. (But don’t stop writing that one novel, either!) One product does not a company make. But, one product can a market open. What I mean by this is that you can do a lot of work to launch one product into the market, and once you open that door, you then capitalize on that by creating more products to fill the market space you have created. Once you have your spearhead product created, be sure to follow it up right away with a companion product, or a sequel, or a study guide, or a series of implementation exercises, or a new edition, or, or, etc. As the expression goes, the second eBook takes 1/10th of the work, and makes you 10 times the money.

5. Template what works.

If I were to consider selling my business, I know that the part that would be assessed for the greatest value would be my templates. I have systems up the ying/yang. Spreadsheets for processes, lists for checking off, template documents with fill-in-the-blanks, step-by-step guides for myself and for clients, pre-formatted documents for creating everything from class handouts to new eBooks, etc. etc. This is where your real value in a business lies: in its systems. This is true of almost every company. McDonald’s is nothing without its templated systems for everything from food processing and handling, to uniforms for employees, to how to scrub a toilet. Templates are what allow success to repeat. I rarely do anything more than once, because in everything I create or do, I look for a way to be able to do it again without any extra work. Yes, I have a lot of wall charts. Yes, I keep a pile of post-it notes in my bathroom magazine rack. Yes, that makes me look like a major geek. But I know that if I want to look professional, I need to save time, and templating is the only way I know to do that effectively.

The moment I let go of the unrealistic fantasy was the moment my company was born. I found real joy in offering something of value to a market that wanted it. I love sharing this with consulting clients, and watching them make the same shift and get real. No, I don’t have an ocean view (especially here in Las Vegas!) but I do have constant inspiration.

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Chris Garrett on Affiliate Marketing

December 12th, 2010 . by Peggy

I really like Chris Garret’s honest comments in this article about his experiences with affiliate marketing. While he talks about it more from the standpoint of running ads for someone else’s product, rather than having an affiliate program for your own products, he gives encouraging advice that mirrors my own.
Pay special attention to his remarks about mistakes that he made while starting up: as a product owner with your own affiliate program, you can use quality documentation (good written instructions) to make it easier for your affiliates, build their trust, and help them to avoid potholes.

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Book Launches, New Releases, and Affiliate Programs – Oh My!

April 12th, 2008 . by Peggy

What a weekend it has been for Humanus Publishing! A launch party for one of my authors, a new release from another of my authors, and the rollout of our new affiliate program, all in the last 4 days!

Sunday was the launch party for The Freshman FlyFisher, (ISBN 978-0-978-3292-1-1) by Rick Passek of Surrey, BC. Rick held his launch event at the Little Campbell Hatchery at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club on 184th in Surrey. What a huge success for all involved! Rick not only sold plenty of books, but made numerous contacts related to promoting family outdoor events in the Surrey area. We are grateful to the Rotary Club of Cloverdale BC, for their wonderful management of the food concession stand, and to the City of Surrey for their support. As always, Rick was a real star, and was cool as a cuke from Friday morning’s appearance on Breakfast Television on City TV, to his interview on CBC Radio’s BC Almanac Friday afternoon, right through Sunday’s festivities. My favourite moment was little 6-year old Gracie’s fishing lesson on Breakfast Television Friday morning. She picked up the fine art of casting in a matter of minutes, due at least in part to Rick’s careful tutelage. Good going, Rick!

Another one of my authors, the lovely Jeri-Lyn McCrea, is the author of Words in Action – A Journal to Inspire Change, (ISBN 978-0-9809325-0-8) which is scheduled for release on April 25th. I saw the first copies back from the printer’s on Saturday, and boy, do they look fantastic!! The matte-coated hardcover is sooooo soft in the hand, and the pages look truly inspiring. I’m really excited about this journal (I guess we should stop referring to it as a “book”), because it breaks entirely new ground in the area of motivation and self-improvement titles. Jeri is so right when she talks about people “figuring it out for themselves”, and not looking to others to “complete their lives or tell them what to do”. Her journal is a book you ultimately write for yourself, and get a little burst of energy and motivation every day. Setting goals and making up your mind to achieve them – that’s what Words in Action is all about. Watch this blog for more info about events coming soon to the Langley and Surrey areas.

The cherry on the cake of this weekend was our new Humanus Publishing Affiliate Program. I started this project a few weeks ago to solve the problems of one author’s quest to market their product online, and it has now snowballed into something that can be used by any self-publishing author who wants to sell their books direct to consumers over the internet. Authors want to be freed of the hassle and overhead of online sales in order to keep writing, and this system means that they do not need to put up any money up front to make that happen. It’s cheap, fast, and keeps writers doing what they should be doing – writing. I hope that this system will expand into something resembling a marketing co-op for self-publishing authors, while continuing to align itself with the values of Humanus Publishing. If you know of a publisher who wants to sell their products through our program, you can earn money by referring them. Simply email me and let’s find a way to make it happen.

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