Why Should I Listen to You? How to Signal Authority

When we work with authors and other thought leaders, one of the first questions we ask is “why should anybody care what you have to say?” This may seem a little blunt, but it’s the internal monologue that is running through a reader when they see your book on the shelf or hear your voice in an interview. Why are you the authority on the topic which you are speaking or writing about?

People lead busy lives and can’t deeply research each and every source of information or opinions that are bombarding them throughout the day. We all rely on shortcuts to help us sift through the noise and figure out who’s worth our limited attention. We look at brief biographical blurbs, first-line Wikipedia entries, and Twitter bios to figure out who you are and why we should care.

In these short-form scenarios, we advise aspiring thought leaders to consider using the magic number of three when listing their bonafides: Jane Doe, Emmy-winning journalist, host of the Jane Doe Show, and PhD in subject X. Three is enough to show well-rounded experience, but also not too much as to become a full-blown resume.

There is no single way for you to become an “expert,” and some of it is a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you talk and write about something, the more you know about that something. But despite the lack of a clear path, there are some broad categories of signals that show you are worth listening to – and that fit in that Twitter bio.

Media

Are you a columnist, reporter, host, commentator, analyst, or some other form of talking head? If you’re the host of a podcast, featured panelist on a cable news show, or regular guest writer on a notable publication, you are able to directly show that somebody else agrees that what comes out of your brain is valuable. This is perhaps that most powerful signal.

On the flip side, have you been interviewed, featured, or profiled by a reputable outlet? While not as powerful a shorthand as creating the content itself, it’s still valuable to include these references in longer-form biographies.

Awards and Recognition

There are some unimpeachable awards that are the capstones of a career and become permanently attached to your name as a required prefix: Nobel, Oscar, Pulitzer, Emmy, and a handful of others. Including these in a biography goes without saying, but there are also dozens of impressive awards across industries and subjects that are also worth including as a signifier of noteworthy accomplishment and distinction. Beyond statuettes and medals, you may also be recognized on lists or rankings that are worthy of note: 30 under 30, top agencies in your city, etc.

Teaching and Learning

Nothing helps you learn a subject like teaching it. Fittingly, nearly nothing helps you be seen as a subject expert as teaching it. If you are an educator, whether it be full-time or part-time, you have a head start on building authority in your subject matter. You can do this at a formal institution like a college or university, or via more flexible means like a digital class on Skillshare or a seminar at General Assembly.

On the other end of the classroom, you’ll find the most traditional means of becoming an expert in something: studying it. Degrees, particularly advanced ones, are important in actually learning a topic as well as signaling to the world that you know said topic. Anybody can read a few books about something, but getting that masters or doctorate in the specialty puts you at a distinctly separate level.

Professional Accomplishments

Your resume is home to another set of valuable signals. Did you start a successful (or unsuccessful) company? Have you served in a leadership or specialist position in a relevant or noteworthy business? Are you on the board of any companies or non-profits? Your professional affiliations and achievements can help define your voice and bolster your credibility.

Personal Biography

Finally, we have the amorphous category of your personal biography: everything about you that doesn’t neatly fall into the buckets above. Did you grow up in a certain environment that makes your commentary unique? Are you a veteran, a social justice crusader, or related to somebody notable? Do you collect rare things or have read a thousand books? There is a lot that makes us who we are that doesn’t fit on a LinkedIn profile, and sometimes those are the qualifications that make us experts in the things we talk or write about.

Now, all these signals mentioned above are only so valuable if you actually do truly know what you are talking about. These can get you in the door to be considered by a reader or follower, but unless you have the brains to back it up then you’re not going to get you very far. Nothing is a replacement for true expertise, interesting insights, and effective communication.

Top Six Mistakes Authors Make Marketing Their Books

Every year, it’s estimated that more than 2.2 million books are published around the world. And every year, only a teeny tiny handful of them actually sell any meaningful amount to break into the public consciousness and become best-sellers.

If you’re thinking that the existence of your book is enough to move the needle on its own, you are poorly mistaken. Successful authors are proactive about building an audience, nurturing their communities, and maintaining a movement. Unsuccessful authors often do a lot of things in common too, including a few we’ve seen over and over. Here’s our top six mistakes that we see authors make when marketing their books and themselves.

Neglecting Email

It may not be as sexy as the latest social network, but the decades-old marketing channel of email is still the single most valuable resource that any marketer has at their disposable. By some measures, the ROI on email can be many multiples what you may see from social platforms.

If you’re not actively concentrating on building an email list with your website and everything else you do, then you are simply losing readers and customers. A well-managed email list allows you to regularly communicate with your tribe on your own terms – without having to go through gatekeepers on Facebook, Twitter, or somewhere else. Too many authors ignore this channel completely, or invest so little in it that their list is effectively useless.

Not Pushing Pre-Orders

The simple, most powerful piece of arithmetic of publishing is that all pre-orders count as first week sales when factored in to most traditional best-seller lists. This means that instead of just having seven days to break through, you have weeks and months of lead-time in building up interest in your book and your message. Furthermore, strong pre-order numbers will bring you attention from retailers, media, and other players in the space that can influence the overall success of your book launch. The best author marketing campaigns will be pushing pre-orders from early in the cycle, and will use incentives like recipes, shopping lists, chapter previews, webinars, and more to help trigger that sale.

Not Coordinating Friends and Allies

Most authors know the power of endorsements and blurbs from other leaders in their space, but not enough take the next step to further engage these relationships for cross-promotion during the book launch process. First off, authors need to ask for social media or other promotional support, and not just assume it is coming naturally. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

But then once you have those commitments, you need to coordinate a strategy about what they are saying, how they are saying it, and when they are saying it. The best teams will put together a package of suggested tweets or talking points to make the endorsement job easier. Then, you want to use an 80/20 breakdown of these announcements: the majority should all be posted on the same day or week to create a “disturbance in the force,” but you should also reserve some posts for earlier publication to entice pre-orders and build anticipation.

Ignoring Their Audience

This mistake is so simple, and so easy to avoid. If a reader reaches out to you via a comment on Facebook, reply on Twitter, private message or email, or any other means – respond. Many authors simply let their inboxes and notification tabs run over, and this can foster a feeling of distance and aloofness with their following. Most often, a simple two-second like or thanks will suffice, but it will truly make the day of your reader to be acknowledged by their favorite author. To make this more manageable, consider scheduling a 15 minute block into your daily routine to go through and take care of all the community management across your platforms.

Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks

Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s important to have a support team by your side to help you launch your next great book, however you should carefully consider who is on your team and how you manage them. Make sure any agencies or contractors you engage with can play nice with others, and that there are clear areas of responsibility among your collaborators. At the same time, you both don’t want to have two people hired to do the same thing, and you also don’t want something crucially important falling through the cracks between scopes.

Being Afraid to Ask for the Sale

Finally, the biggest mistake authors make when marketing their books can be summed up in one word: bashfulness. Selling something can be uncomfortable, and many authors will shy away from being overly promotional with what they are doing, often overcorrecting too far in the other direction.

You’ve worked hard on this book for months or years, and it is now your time to shine. You should be proud of the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into this work, and the world deserves to read it. If you don’t actively market yourself and your book, and if in that marketing you don’t directly ask for the sale, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Go out there and spread the word with confidence and energy, and the readers will respond.

Elements of a Great Book Website

Think of the last time you learned about something new on the news or from a friend–what was the first thing you did? If you’re like most of us, you probably whipped out your phone or cracked open your laptop to give it a Google.

And once you pressed the enter key, you probably saw a few different things staring back at you: an Amazon listing (if it was a product), maybe a Wikipedia entry, and, most likely, a website.

Your website is often the first or second experience that a would-be follower or reader has with you and your work, and it is the best opportunity for you to capture their interest and imagination. You don’t want to blow it.

Done right, a great website can lead to not only a book sale, but much more (email subscriber, social media follower, even course taker). Done poorly, or even ignored, and you are leaving your brand to twist in the wind, with editors and commenters on Amazon, Goodreads, or whatever other platforms your potential customers are congregating on taking control of the conversation and determining your fate.

While everybody’s brand and needs are different, there are some core elements common across nearly all maximally effective author web presences. These sites focus on hooking the visitor, selling them on why they should care, and then inducing them to take action. In the next section, we’ll go top-to-bottom describing the elements that move the needle for each of these core principles.

Anatomy of an Effective Book Website

  • Place the cover on a 3D mockup of the book. This makes the product more tangible, increasing perceived value.
  • Make sure that the book cover is visible within the “above the fold” area on the page. While mobile and social media interface patterns have trained us to scroll, it’s still important that the visitor immediately knows what this site is for.
  • Start with a hook. What is the benefit to the reader? Lead with that instead of simply the book title. However, use the book title and descriptive/availability information to supplement this hook in a sub- headline.
  • Book merchant links should be featured at both the very beginning of the site for those who are immediately sold, as well as right before the footer for those who have scrolled through the sales messaging.
  • Merchant links should be the logo of the merchants, not a text name. These booksellers have spent millions of dollars to earn their brand recognition, so leverage that to increase the speed of visitor conversions for your website.
  • Affordance is the concept of an object “telling you” what to do with it by virtue of its design (i.e. the handle on a tea kettle tells you to pick it up there). Make sure your merchant links have proper affordance as links/buttons, which can be accomplished by any combination of: rounded corners, contrasting colors, shadows and gradients, hover and press states, animations, and button content.
  • Consider strongly the use of video, even short direct-to-camera pieces, as a way to quickly and persuasively convey your message. Not everybody is going to watch your clip, but data shows that sites with video earn more engagement and longer visit durations. Even with books, sometimes people just don’t want to read.
  • Include a longer synopsis/description of the book that hits on your core message. This can be very similar to the back cover/flap content from the book itself. Be sure to use bold, italics, bullets, and other formatting to help the content read clearly and easily on the web. Done right, this longer description will also pull double-duty in helping with search engine optimization.
  • Blurbs are important: they provide social proof that is especially valuable for lesser-known authors. It’s important to highlight one or two powerful lines from influential individuals, but you do not want to overdo it. If there is no quiet, then there is no loud, and including a dozen quotes is less effective than a couple really stellar ones.
  • Media logos for outlets that featured appearances/reviews also provide valuable social proof. It is most effective to only feature “top tier” organizations, so if you have those meaningful mentions feel free to drop the local paper from this list/collage.
  • For certain types of books (health and lifestyle, self-help, business and management, etc.) testimonials or case studies can provide one more layer of proof that “it works.” With consent, make these stories personal, with names/locations/ages/etc. to help visitors identify with these success stories.
  • Include a short biography about the author, placing emphasis on concrete achievements and positions (“professor at Harvard” “TED speaker”) and selling why you are uniquely qualified to be writing this book.
  • An author photo can help tell the full story here as well. Ideally, this photo helps sell your authority – speaking in a board room, in front of a bookcase of medical texts, etc. No grainy selfies, high-quality photography only.
  • If there are pre-order incentives and/or supplemental book resources on the site, they should be featured in the last third of the landing page. Pre-orders are important, but are best messaged through other channels. If links or downloads are promised in the book itself, there should either be a section on this page or an entirely separate page dedicated to these assets. Remember, people looking for these resources have already purchased your book and you do not need to lead with this content.
  • A vibrant email community is one of the best marketing assets you can own, so consider adding a list-building section somewhere on this page. Though, keep in mind that this page is first and foremost meant to sell books, so do not lead with this.
  • Most websites benefit by including some sort of signs of life that indicate this is a current and relevant topic. Ways to accomplish this include recent blog posts, integrating social media feeds, or simply updating static content to be continuously topical.
  • In your navigation and/or footer, be sure to include copyright information, social media links, and other boilerplate. If required in your field, you may want to consult a lawyer for any necessary disclaimers about medial advice, legal advice, etc.

As legendary marketer Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Across your whole site and every marketing channel, make sure that you step out of your own head and speak in language that connects to your audience and their needs/wants. You may be familiar with why your book is important, but they have no idea – yet.

How to Launch a Best-Selling Book

After months and months of grueling hard work you can see it now: your name, prefaced by those simple yet magical words “best-selling author.”

Writing a best-selling book is about a lot more than simply being a great writer (although that certainly helps). You have to be a savvy marketer, promoting both your ideas and yourself in order to top the charts at Amazon, the New York Times, or other lists. And we know a thing or two about this: we’ve helped launch over forty different titles and move over a million books in the past 6 years.

The common thread through all of these successful launches is a focus on building a platform and a movement – not just on selling a single book. Today, we know that readers aren’t buying a title because they want the information inside of it, but rather because they want the souvenir. There is plenty of access to information on Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, and even the public library. Readers want that book on their shelf, the cache of saying they “read that one,” and most of all to feel like part of an in-group.

At the core, building that following and cultivating a movement and following requires two things. First, you need a captivating brand story. Second, you need to bring that story to your tribe.

Discovering Your Brand Story

Ultimately, a brand is not a logo, slogan, or jingle. A brand is a promise. Our favorite definition of a brand comes from legendary marketer Seth Godin:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

So, how do you build a brand that readers choose? You start with a seed that is called the brand essence. Your brand essence is a distilled summary of who you are and what you stand for, typically a 2-4 word phrase from which everything else grows. It doesn’t have to be, but sometimes you can imagine a brand’s essence as it’s tagline.

This may all seem a little abstract, but you know it better than you think. Here’s some examples with famous brands:

  • Disney: Magical Happiness
  • Starbucks: Rewarding Everyday Moments
  • Hallmark: Caring Shared

For you as an author and thought leader, this may take many shapes. Maybe your essence is:

  • Badass Natural Healing
  • Leadership by Service
  • Small Town Palace Intrigue

Once you have your brand essence, you begin to define your audience and build the story you tell them. Stories help people make sense of the world, and framing your message as a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end will help your brand stick in the minds of readers. We recommend reviewing the famous Pixar Storytelling Framework for a simple outline on how to craft a story that captures attention.

Email Works

Building a Following

All marketing boils down to the message and the medium. What are you saying and how are you saying it. The first half stems from your brand, and the second is about meeting your audience where they are.

Successful authors build a lasting relationship with their tribe through their website, email list, and social media platforms. Your website is crucial as a home base for your brand and content, but for now we’ll focus on building a following across email and social media – channels which empower you to actively communicate with your followers.

Email is the most important audience you will build. Full stop.

It may not be the sexy new thing, but year over year email sees high conversion rates and better return on investment than any social media platform. It’s also the one channel you truly own and control, everything else is merely leased from the companies that run the platforms and want your advertising dollars.

The other side of the coin is that it takes more effort and creativity to effectively build an email list than growing your follower count on Instagram or Facebook. You’ll want to explore website pop-ups, dedicated landing pages, lead-capture ads, and a variety of other tools to find the tactic that works best for you.

While email is the most effective single channel, you will also want to invest time and resources into building compelling public presences on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Should you be on all of these networks? Probably not. But you should consider the ones which fit your brand and you have the capacity to properly execute on.

Across all of these platforms, the currency of the realm is content. We often liken these social media networks to a great big man-eating content monster that is always hungry for more. As an author you have a leg-up on other brands: you already know how to produce content that people want to see and read.

How to Do it: Join Our 10-Day Email Course

We simply can’t fit everything that is involved in a successful book launch into a single blog post, so we’re inviting you to join our comprehensive ten-lesson email course, the Author Marketing Academy from Digital Natives Group. In this course, we go over the whole process of building your audience and launching a book step-by-step, with over a dozen guides and worksheets to help you through the process. Sign up today and let us know your thoughts.

Feeding the Great Big Man-Eating Content Monster

The modern internet is based on a thirst one life-sustaining thing: content. We’ve been conditioned through years of continuously-updated feeds, streams, blogs, and other rivers of information to expect something new and interesting at the click of a refresh button. Journalists used to have monthly, weekly, or at most daily deadlines – now it’s an hourly update or traffic starts to dip.

Feeding this beast is both an obligation and an opportunity. To maintain or grow a position in the public’s conscience, you need to fill a calendar with daily content, which requires time, money, and attention. But by doing so well, a thought leader can spread his or her message to an ever-widening audience that then becomes the backbone for launching other initiatives.

Content Calendars

Depending on the networks that are part of your strategy, there is some variability in the optimal frequency for publishing content. Regardless, there is a need to build out and prepare a calendar for your posts on a weekly or monthly basis. This will empower your team to maintain a regular publishing schedule, which is vital to keeping your audience engaged. Fans respond best when they know what to expect and when to expect it.

Your subject matter might not enable you to build a calendar a month in advance – which is fine. Think of your calendar as a content library, instead of a rigid schedule. You and your team can pull from this pre-produced and pre-approved content to fill in open slots on your networks. This will enable you to add posts with current events or breaking news to your networks while still always having something to fall back on.

The Golden Rule: It’s impossible to give away too much information

We’ll often hear from authors, agents, publishers, or other stakeholders that they “don’t want to give it all away” in regards to sharing their message. That is flat-out wrong.

People aren’t buying your book because it has some secret formula in it. The thesis of your work can be found out for free by anybody with a search engine, library card, or television. They can piece together your interviews, magazine excerpts, the “Search Inside” function on Amazon, tweets from readers, reviews, blurbs, video trailers and all the other thousands of fragments to form what is, essentially, your book. People are buying your book because they want a souvenir. They want to be able to say they read it, to hear it all in your voice, and to have that trophy on their shelf.

We advocate towards sharing more and more of your content with the world. Not in the form of wholesale distribution of chapters or PDFs, but through videos, infographics, tweets, and more. The more you feed this machine, the more opportunity you have to touch the people that matter to you. (Of course, there may be PR considerations in giving certain publications exclusives to certain pieces of content, but beyond that we believe that more sharing is almost always better.)

Best Marketing Books for Authors

The age-old advice is true, great readers make great writers. Stephen King famously takes a book with him wherever he goes, sneaking in pages from when he’s waiting in line at the theater to eating meals.

To be a great marketer of your writing, you also need to read a lot – but this time books of a slightly different type. There are thousands of great books about marketing out there (maybe even one of yours!), so it can be a tough job figuring out where to start when you want to learn to sell your book.

Our team has read hundreds of books related to these topics, and we’ve made this easy for you by curating the ones that matter most. Outlined below are seven of our absolute favorite works related to marketing. If you pick up even just a few of these you’ll be in good shape for the road ahead.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding – Al and Lauren Ries

A 1990s marketing classic, the lessons in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding are roughly equivalent to the concentrated knowledge of a college-level course on the subject. While some of the examples in this book show their age, the “laws” behind them are as true as ever. If you’re first beginning to think about developing your own brand, this accessible book is your best starting point for reshaping how you view who you are and what that means.

Influence – Robert Cialdini

Not strictly a marketing book, Influence is actually framed with the consumer in mind, outlining the methods that marketers and sales professionals use to persuade – and how the consumer can avoid them. In detailed, science-backed chapters, Cialdini distills the psychology of decision making down to six core principles: social proof, commitment, reciprocation, liking, authority, and scarcity. It’s hard to read all at once, as you’ll frequently find yourself putting the book down to scribble notes on how to apply each to your own marketing.

Eating the Big Fish – Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan’s 2009 book Eating the Big Fish was an instant classic – its title becoming shorthand for how challenger brands can win in a crowded market. Unless you are Stephen King himself, you are likely facing a lot of the same hurdles that a challenger brand in other verticals might grapple with. Read this book if you want to fight scrappy, but smartly.

This is Marketing – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of the leading marketing thinkers of the last generation. You might be familiar with his work from his incredibly popular daily blog (with over 7,000 musings), or from his other best-selling marketing books. In This is Marketing, Godin offers a summary of his unique philosophy that is as good as any, complete with countless observations and insights that will change your mindset for the better. One word of warning however: this is a book best enjoyed in small bites. Read a section or two and then ruminate on the ideas before moving on.

Brand Thinking – Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a leading designer and marketer who truly excels in her interviews and profiles of other leading creatives. In Brand Thinking, Millman insightfully interviews the minds behind some of the world’s best brands – including Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Tom Peters, Virginia Postrel, Wally Olins, and more. Each interview provides a different perspective, and thus Brand Thinking offers a glimpse into dozens of different ways to approach your marketing goals.

Show Your Work – Austin Kleon

This short book will help put you in the right mindset to share your creative pursuits. Kleon self describes this book as “for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion.” By following some of the principles here, you’ll learn tactics to help you tell good stories, teach what you know, and build an audience that lifts your brand.

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is famous for his low-fi 2009 TED talk where he explains the “golden circle” and how great leaders and organizations communicate – by starting with the “Why.” In his book of the same name, he seeks to answer some fundamental questions about why some communicators are more effective, profitable, and influential than others. The core concepts in Start with Why are as applicable to your individual marketing as they are to building a gigantic corporation, and you’ll learn such with examples as varied as the Wright Brothers to Apple.

5 Ways To Make Money As An Author

If you’re attaching all of your money-minting, early retirement, big spending dreams to the launch of your book, I’m sorry to tell you this but you’re doing it wrong.

A nice upfront deal can be a real cash windfall for some authors, but once that’s gone all that remains is the royalties from book sales, and that coupled with $13 is enough to get you one month of a standard Netflix subscription in 2019. For most authors, residuals should be considered little more than walking around money. That check is the surprise in your bank account each month, but not the revenue stream you can build a career off of. It’s not going to be what you can use to propel yourself to greater and greater heights.

To do that, you need to have a business plan. In our time working on 35+ book launches, the authors we’ve seen become the most successful, both for book sales and personal wealth generation, have been those that view their book release as a platform launch rather than a culmination of effort. It’s the starting point of a journey, not a celebratory conclusion. When it’s the latter, you’re left asking, “What next?” When it’s the former, you’re standing around with your hands on your hips and telling people, “Okay, let’s begin.”

So what’s a motivated author to do? We’ve seen through our work with 30+ authors a number of ways to build that revenue generation base. The kind of money that helps you quit your day job and move writing from passion project to purpose. The kind of money that enables you to build marketing campaigns that bring each subsequent title to a new audience base. Plus, those paying for your knowledge/program are now readily identifiable as your avid fans, and that’s knowledge you can use to your benefit.

For starters, a few of these revenue generation methods are quite simple and straightforward:

Start Speaking

Paid speaking gigs are the golden ticket for many authors, the one-hit wonders that can pack a big paycheck. If you’ve got a message that an audience will pay to hear you deliver, this is the route for you. Prior to book launch, start preparing a sizzle reel, your talking points, and a social media presence that has video baked into its foundation. Let people know what you’d be like in front of the crowd at their next event.

Consult

For nonfiction authors especially, this is an attractive option. If you wrote a book about leadership, psychology, medicines etc., there’s going to be a prospective audience of business people, practitioners, or potential patients who will want to pay for you to apply these lessons to their problems. Find a way to monetize that.

Sell Products

Write a health book? Why not start a supplement line. Very popular in the nonfiction space as well, develop the universe of ancillary products that people would pay to have. These are the tools they need to unlock the potential of your message for themselves.

Of course, not all of these are feasible in all genres, and some require a various amount of resources or capital to initiate. Instead, here are our 5 favorite strategizes for monetizing your author presence that can work for any author.

Create and Sell a Guide

Whether you’re a health author promoting a gluten-free lifestyle or the science fiction novelist who built the Cearlun Galaxy and the worlds within it, there’s always a deeper level devotees of your writing are looking for. Preparing a guide on that topic(s) is an easy and low-cost way to monetize that interest. A few examples of what that could be:

  • For a health author: 50 gluten-free recipes. Paleo supermarket shopping list. 10 ways to refute anti-vaxxers. 7 tips for beating sugar cravings. Guide to understanding scientific studies.
  • For a fantasy/science-fiction author: Language primer for {insert creation here}. Family genealogy for {insert character/family of characters here}. Character prologue for {character} (a “background chapter” on your protagonist or supporting character).
  • For a business author: How to talk to your employees about implementing these tips. How to conduct an employee evaluation using these tactics. Conducting a SWOT analysis for your business.
  • For a memoir author: How to keep your own diary/journal. How to turn your dairies into a manuscript.

Consider any information in your book someone may be looking to explore more deeply or may need guidance in applying to their daily life. And as a way to reduce the burden on your time, we suggest you take a look at your existing writings (articles, blog posts, omissions from your final book, etc.) and mine content there for this guide. Perhaps this “cutting room floor” material can find a valuable second life. For some inspiration, check out our guide to book marketing success.

Start a Small Group Coaching Class

This idea capitalizes on someone’s desire to have access, close and personal, to an author. For a fee (monthly or one-time), a member can join you for a “coaching” course of your own design. For a business author, this can be business coaching. For a health author, it’s ways to implement the protocols described in your book. For a genre writer, it can simply be a writing coaching program, for all the aspiring writers in your genre who respect your work. The workload here is a bit higher, as you’ll need to design a valuable curriculum, but you can price accordingly for that too.

Try Patreon

If you’re not familiar with Patreon, think of it as a Kickstarter for creatives and the arts. For a monthly subscription, community members can become your “patron,” supporting your work in return for exclusive materials/access/perks. Artists from a broad spectrum of industries are using Patron, folks like Issa Rae, Jake & Amir, and Peter Hollens. With Patreon, you have the heavier lift of having to create different membership tiers, and making them worthwhile, but the recurring revenue stream can make that an attractive prospect. Various ways you can reward your patrons include:

  1. Access to a private Facebook Group or Instagram account.
  2. Attendance in private webinars or group calls you lead.
  3. Swag.
  4. Shoutouts – personal mentions on your social accounts or videos thanking them for their support.
  5. Thanking them in the acknowledgments of your next book, or even dedicating it to them.
  6. Allowing them to name characters/places in your book.

And keep an eye on Facebook, which is launching Fan Subscriptions, an on-platform substitute for Patreon.

Launch a Paid Email Series

This is an idea we’ve seen only a few authors try before. In this model, readers pay a fee to be a member of a private email newsletter you create, where you share content only your subscribers have access to. It’s quite similar to the Patreon style of revenue generation, but a lighter workload for a few reasons. Firstly, the email series can be either static (in that it’s a pre-developed email journey with evergreen content that never changes) or dynamic (a secondary weekly/monthly email list you manage). Secondly, the incentive tier is flat – people either subscribe to this email series or they don’t, so there’s no need to constantly be inventing new ways to convince people to open their wallet. Finally, email can be forwarded along easily, unlike private content in a Facebook Group or a poll asking for character names in your Patreon club. So sure, someone may see your “paid” email once or twice if a friend who is a subscriber shows them, but if they see it enough times, and it seems valuable, this word-of-mouth marketing has just earned you a new (paying) subscriber (and we provide a free version of this premium content in our book marketing success guide).

Develop an Online Course

For sure, this is the biggest lift of any of these potential programs, but it has the most potential as an evergreen revenue source. Online courses are one of the most popular education models on the internet right now, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t hop on this trend. Because of that, your price points can vary, for something moderately priced that’s delivered via emails/shared doc and something much pricier with a robust video component. The topics of this can be similar to what’s in your guide (Idea #1), so it’s even possible you build both, and consider this the “upsell” you pitch to a reader once they’ve bought your guide. If you want to learn more about building an e-course, we suggest you check out this resource from Amanda Genther, in which she walks you through every step she took and tool she used to build her own.

Furthermore, if you want to both check out an online course that we’ve made, and learn more about how we have put these lessons to work, check out our ten-day Author Marketing Academy email course for yourself.