For most authors out there, earning a meaningful income from writing can feel as elusive as finding the right words during a period of severe writer’s block.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of experts on this topic, each with a different take on what’s required to be successful in this business. One tip we hear repeated again and again is that you have to start out each day writing X number of words … just write! Some experts recommend 500 words each day, while others say “no less than 2,000 words.”
So, you spend day after day cranking out material. You pore over each page assuring yourself that it’s funny, witty, insightful, emotional, and everything else that it takes to get readers invested in you. Three months later, you have ninety well-crafted articles, blog posts, and stories. Unfortunately, nobody has read them. There are no likes, no shares, and definitely no comments. Suddenly, your blog feels like a very lonely domain on the Internet.
Unfortunately, this advice is missing two important details. “Who?” and “How?” Who’s going to read all of this material you are writing? And, how will you get it to them? Their advice is fine if you already have an eager audience just waiting to gobble up your every word. It also helps if you have a platform that delivers your words to their screens.
The Two Modes of the Online World
For many authors, the brave new online world feels much like the Twilight Zone. It’s chaotic and unfamiliar. How can you get ahead when you can’t even figure out which way the current is moving, or the correct direction to shore?
To get your bearings, simplify your online behavior into two categories – building and selling. When you do this, it becomes clear that if you aren’t selling, you aren’t getting paid. It’s that simple.
As you begin each day, write out all of the activities you need to accomplish. Divide them into two columns – Building and Selling. Where does your daily writing activity fall? Here’s a hint, it’s not selling. Writing content for your blog or the next book in your series is building. You are building content for your platform. Since writing is not going to generate income in the immediate future, prioritize it accordingly.
Start your day by setting up all of your selling activities first thing in the morning. The benefit of living in today’s digital world is that you can (and should) automate your marketing activities. Schedule your marketing messages to be blasted out throughout the day. Now, you’ve doubled your productivity. Your platform is running in the background as you turn to your building activities.
Unfortunately, many authors start their days writing. By the time they are ready to take a break, half of the day has passed them by. They’ve missed out on potential sales that their platforms could have been generating in the background. Making matters worse is that you are likely itching to get off of the computer by the time you finish that blog post or chapter. At this point, the last thing you want to do is schedule a list of Tweets and posts. How creative do you think your posts and Tweets will be when your mind is fried? So, don’t short change yourself by giving your book less screen time and creative attention on the digital bookshelf.
Remember Your ABCs
You might remember Alec Balwin’s character from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross reciting A.B.C. – Always Be Closing. Here is the online version of it:
- Always Be Connecting
- Always Be Communicating
- Always Be Closing
Your selling activities are comprised of three sub-activities. If you don’t have a book or anything else to sell just yet, you should still engage in connecting and communicating each morning.
“Connecting” refers to building your online network of connections. Each morning, you should spend time building your audiences on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Why does “selling” start with a building activity? You can’t distribute your messages without first building a network. Second, it takes on average seven interactions with a product before consumers are willing to make a purchase. Those lucky interactions when a buyer makes an impulse purchase online are like love at first sight … rare.
Your social media profiles should contain good quality content (with links) that can help market your books. Now, you’ve turned “connecting” into the first of the seven interactions required to earn a customer’s trust. What appeared to be a building activity has become a selling activity.
We suggest that you focus your efforts on one or two platforms and purchase an automation program for your marketing routines.
“Communicating” is getting your message out to your audience with regular frequency. Social media is a fast-moving, highly-polluted river whose banks are lined with potential customers who occasionally watch the thousands of messages passing by. You need to make your book rise from the noise. Dropping eye-catching messages into the river every 30-60 minutes will help ensure that you have a shot at being seen as your audience periodically returns to the riverbank. Remember, most people are not spending all day online. One message will be seen by a small fraction of your followers. If you multiply that small fraction by twelve to twenty-four messages, it adds up to meaningful exposure.
On a side note, the author- and reader-related Facebook groups we discussed in our last article on book marketing are akin to a river in which all people lining the banks are simultaneously dumping a never-ending stream of messages. Nobody is actually looking at the river, they are only looking at their shovels. In this scenario, there’s little you can do to stand out or build meaningful connections because there are no qualified readers there.
This leads me to the second part of “Communicating”. The types of messages you send in this phase are meant to build a relationship. Let your audience get to know you and your work, and give something back. If you aren’t giving, you won’t receive anything in return. So, get them invested in your process. Solicit their advice on cover design, character development, or even small details. “Where should Jack take his girlfriend on vacation – Aruba or Paris?” Post some pictures and get your new friends voting and commenting.
“Closing” is when you ask people to buy your book. This activity should comprise no more than one-quarter of your messages. In fact, the lower the frequency, the better. Try sending five “communication” messages for every “closing” message. Sending too many sales pitches will undermine the trust you’ve spent so much time building.
Please let us know how you spend your mornings. Have you automated any of your marketing activities? Which marketing activities do you wish you could automate? We just might have your answers. Leave your comments below.
About the Author
Novel Finds is a network of reading lists that helps authors build a digital footprint around their book to better attract readers in the search engines. Each site targets keywords that readers actually search. Authors receive ‘do follow’ links to help increase their SEO. Listing benefit from social media blasts and paid reader traffic. The result is meaningful ongoing exposure.