In the "Story of the Successful (But Broke) Author," you were left hanging a bit.
Successful Author had found new ways to market books that actually result in sales. But we didn't tell you what those methods were.
This article will do that. Successful Author said I could share a big secret she learned.
Do You Want to Write … Or Communicate?
First, you need to understand why the traditional approach to writing, promoting, and selling books is obsolete.
Believe me, I'm the first one to mourn over this.
Like many authors, I like to write. I like to write books. I love to play with ideas, tease out words that communicate those ideas in fresh ways.
I always wanted to believe that good writing will attract an audience. Thus, I focused on the writing aspect. The craft.
Craft is important. I don't want to minimize it. But … I've also come to accept a very important truth.
If my ideas (no matter how artfully rendered) aren't what my intended audience cares about, communication does not happen. Writing without communicating is like an archer shooting arrows aimlessly, not caring where they land or whether they hit any target.
No archer gets satisfaction out of shooting arrows. It's hitting the target that matters.
Writing for writing's sake is, in the end, narcissism. Communicating is what brings the satisfaction.
Ultimately, I want my words to touch people. Make them laugh, cry, rage, or at least mull over what I say. Sometimes (people tell me) my words affect the very way they see the world. Changes behavior.
That's what we're after, isn't it? No matter what we write, we want to communicate. Communication is a two-way street.
So, when you sit down to write a book (or article, blog post—anything), be aware there are three things you're dealing with.
The Three Parts of Communication
There's the Message.
There's the Medium (or Media, if more than one kind. Which is preferable).
And there's the Market—those you are trying to touch with your Message, through the Medium.
How are books traditionally written?
Author has a Message. He or she proceeds to assume the most effective Medium is the printed word, compiled into a book. So the author starts to write the book.
At some point, someone (a publisher, if the author is trying to get one interested—or an annoying book coach like me) asks, "Who is your Market? To whom are you writing? Who wants to hear your Message?"
If you don't have a good answer for this, your book is doomed. (Good answer = a very clear picture in your mind of who would just love your book. My market for Abundant Gifts is a woman, probably in her thirties and beyond, who likes to read stories, who has a certain spiritual sensibility that is open and even eager for evidences of God's hand in her everyday life. She is busy, has little time to read, so needs her inspiration in small chunks. See how specific that is?)
Even if your book is self-published, it's doomed if you don’t know your Market. You'll end up with a garage full of books and an empty bank account. (Just as publishers end up with warehouses of unsold books and sometimes even go bankrupt.)
Why the Traditional Model is Obsolete
The traditional, obsolete approach to writing books is:
Message → Medium → Market
Even publishers have adopted this model. Editors get excited about a book, convince the publishing personnel the book will sell, they print the book, then push it through their existing channels, which may or may not be right for that book.
My friends, this is completely backwards!
If you want to communicate, you must know what the people you are communicating with want. Right?
Every successful businessperson knows that before you create a product, you must first make sure there is a large enough market for it. You must also know who your competition is and what sets you apart from that competition. Why would anyone buy your product over someone else's? What do you offer than no one else does?
Yet, authors rarely ask these questions. We get enamored of an idea, are sure that other people will be just as fascinated, and start writing away. Sometimes we get blocked. (I maintain that one reason for "writer's block" is we don't have that clear picture in our minds of that specific person we're writing to.)
Publishers pay attention, by the way. If your book proposal doesn't give pretty convincing answers as to who the market is, the publisher knows exactly where to toss your proposal. (It can be circular or rectangular.)
The Solution: Three Key Questions
The solution is actually rather simple. It consists of three steps. Three key questions to answer.
1. "WHO is my target Market?" Get very specific, as I did above. If you can, define not only the demographic (age range, gender, life situation), but also the specific type of problem they have, or what it is they're longing for.
2. "Which MEDIA sources give my target Market the fastest and easiest access to my Message?" Authors usually think only in terms of books. What about blogs, radio, teleseminars, audio "postcards," CDs, podcasts, online book stores, ezines, articles, public speeches, interviews, webinars, magazine articles, newspapers?
3. 'WHAT is my Message?" What "promise" does my book make? How does my Message improve someone's life, solve a problem, inspire them, entertain them, etc.?
Finding Out What the Market Wants
How do you find out what your target Market wants? Ask them!
I did that recently, with my survey. (If you haven't taken it yet, please do! Just click here.)
Guess what? Seventy-one percent of you wanted to know how to get published by a traditional publisher. I am working on a course to help you do just that. And you'd better believe you'll see more articles on that.
Nearly 67 percent want information on marketing, another 62.5 percent wants to know more about promotion/publicity—and the same amount wants writing tips. (Folks, all of these things are what my blog covers, so do subscribe if you haven't yet!)
This is why I'm writing this particular article. My goal is to give you what you want and perceive your need. In that way I serve you well, which gives me deep satisfaction. In that way, I can be assured that the products I create, you will want to buy. (I'm being perfectly transparent here.) Thus, I make s living by giving you what you want. Everybody wins.
You can do the same thing. It's not difficult.
Put up a blog. On that blog, post a survey. (If you don't know how to do any of this and want to know, tell me! I can easily create a Special Report on "How to Create an Effective Author's Website for less than $30 Per Month." Do you want that? Let me know!)
Drive some traffic to your blog by writing and posting articles in ezines, with a resource box pointing them to your site. (If you're not sure how to do this, check out what Jeff Herring offers.)
Start asking your market to tell you what they want, and give it to them. They will become your loyal fans and, eventually, will buy your book or other information product(s).
Remember this model:
Market → Medium → Message
It may seem new, but it's not at all new to businesses. The problem is, most authors have not seen their book as a business.
If you accept that your book can be a business, you will realize that it has the potential to earn you a wonderful living, as any successful business does.
I want you to make a living from your book.
Seems like you want that, too. My mandate is clear. I'm in business!
(My "door" is always open to your input. Simply take my survey at any time. There are places to write freestyle what you want.)