Lessons Learned over a Decade
Posted On: 2015-04-01
by: Bill Platt
This past weekend, I realized that I was coming up on my ten-year anniversary of leaving my last job.
Today is my 10-year anniversary of setting out on my own, without the safety net of a job behind me.
It has been a fun and exciting ride, and I have learned a lot from the experience.
In this article, I am going to share some of the lessons I have learned in the last decade about being successful as a self-published author.
To simplify this information, I am breaking it down into four sections:
1 - How To Create a Better Product
2 - How To Be a Better Writer
3 - How To Hire Ghost Writers
4 - How To Market Your Books
Without any further ado...
How To Create a Better Product
Instead of trying to figure out what people want to learn, you should try to figure out what people are already willing to buy.
This may seem like an odd method for creating books/products, but in order to make it worth your time to create the book/product, you should take steps to ensure that you will find buyers after you have done the hard work involved in the process.
If there is a particular topic that people have already shown an interest in purchasing information about, then you are in a good position to make some good money selling books on that topic.
One good way to find a topic worth developing is to go to Google and look to see how many people are paying for advertising to advertise their solutions. You can also do this with print magazines.
But it really isn't enough to see what people are spending money to advertise.
The gold in this information is...
Discovering advertisers who continue to spend the money month-after-month for several months to advertise.
It is a little trickier with magazines, because most magazines make advertisers purchase ads three months in advance, so it is better to check the magazines for a particular publisher over at least one year. Your local library will help you with this kind of research.
If you are checking paid ads in Google, it is better to take screen shots and compare those screen shots over at least a couple months.
How To Be a Better Writer
1. The more you write, the easier it will be to write.
I write every day, and you should do so also. Every day, I am writing articles, emails, and books/products. It all helps.
The point of the exercise is to train your mind to create content daily.
2. The better you understand what you want to say --
the story you want to tell, the easier it will be to write it all down quickly.
3. Take notes and create outlines.
Doing so allows you to guide your writing in a way that will allow you to keep your thoughts well-organized.
4. Write first -- edit later.
It is far too easy to get lost in the weeds, if you are trying to edit as you write.
5. Don't forget to edit. Edit for clarity, and look for misspelled words and confusing grammar.
If your reader gets lost in what you are trying to share with them, it is likely they will quit reading before they reach the end.
6. Edit for story flow.
If your reader stumbles over something confusing in your prose, they are more likely to abandon what you have written, rather than to try to work through what you were trying to share with them. If your reader fails to reach the end of your story, be it fiction or nonfiction, then you will have failed the reader and failed yourself.
7. Put yourself in the mind of your reader.
This is sometimes harder to do, but if you put yourself into the mindset of your reader, then you will be able to identify any problems in your storytelling that can be repaired before publication.
How To Hire Ghost Writers
1. No one will be as committed to your business as you are.
This is true whether you are in the publishing business or operating a restaurant. Restaurant employees might think that it doesn't matter if they skip work. And freelance writers, editors and graphics people might think it doesn't matter if they miss your deadlines.
2. Make freelance writers turn in samples before you hire them.
You don't need to ask them to create special works just for you. The important thing is that on first contact, they demonstrate a willingness and ability to follow instructions.
3. Put all new writers on probation for 30 days.
A lot of writers will turn in their best stuff during their first week on the job. Once they get your approval, they think that they can start cutting corners, because they assume that once you have hired them, they are guaranteed an income for the indefinite future.
4. Set standards and force your writers to meet them to keep their job.
In the long run, it will cost you more to keep someone who is cutting corners than it will to replace them with someone better. I keep making this mistake. I think to myself, "Okay. I am an editor. I can edit what they turn in." In short order, I find myself spending way too many hours each week doing the editing myself. Make your writer do their own editing, and if they are unwilling, replace them.
How To Market Your Books
Marketing your books is a lot easier when you cover the basics up front:
* Choose a topic that people have shown a willingness to buy;
* Write a good story -- fiction or nonfiction;
* Edit your manuscript and make it the best you can make it;
* Choose a great title;
* Design an awesome book cover;
* Write a compelling book description that more or less forces people to want to click the buy button.
Once you have covered the basics, then marketing is simply the process of getting the people who are most likely to purchase your book to your book's sales page.
Target your advertising to the people who are most likely to purchase your book/product, then create opportunities for people to find your book's sales page -- either through links online, or URL's to type into a browser when using print media.
If you are using a lot of print media to reach your intended audience, an author's domain is essential to help a customer find your book's sales pages, with very little typing necessary.
To Be Honest...
I have only scratched the surface on the lessons I have learned over the last decade.
But the information shared in this article will help you see some of the more important things that you should understand if you are looking for your own "ten years without a job" anniversary.
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