You’ve written a book and published it. So, why aren’t you at least web famous? We’re going to talk about what you may be missing and why becoming an author just isn’t enough anymore.
Paulo Coelho is a cultural icon. His book, The Alchemist has gone down in history as the most translated book by a living author, available in five dozen languages around the world. What most people don’t know is The Alchemist is author Paulo Coelho’s sixth published work.
A small publishing house in Brazil first published The Alchemist in the mid-1980s. Legend has it, the initial print run was for 900 books and the publisher had no intention of running a second print. With a firm belief in his own book, Coelho says he took his book and literally went door to door in search of another publisher. The publisher he found agreed to take a chance on a book that had already been in the market and not done well. And that’s how the “legend” of Paulo Coelho started.
Of course, today, Paulo Coelho is Paulo Coelho, but had he not taken his book and knocked on doors with it, we may still not know anything about a seemingly random book written in Portuguese about a boy in search of a buried treasure. I’ve read The Alchemist. I read it after I heard Will Smith mention it in an interview with Tavis Smiley. But think about that: From obscurity to Will Smith’s mouth to my house. My, what a little foot work can do for a book.
It’s okay to use authorship as a cool side hustle
We are living in the fast and furious age of information. You and I both know that you can Google just about anything these days and generally learn more theory about a topic than the guy next to you.
By reading a few well-chosen web articles then writing a few well-placed ones, anyone can feign expertise in anything and write a book about it. Heck, I earn my living doing just that for folks. Ask me anything about Joe Biden, pomegranates, the paleo diet, nursing informatics, digital marketing… the list goes on and on and on.
The Internet has changed how we consume, and therefore value, written content. The more content we have access to for free, the smaller paychecks get for writers.
Having never been in the world of traditional publishing, I wouldn’t dare attempt to recommend best-practices for getting published and staying relevant in that space. But I will say it’s a hard mountain to climb if you’re writing books, publishing them and banking on the quality of your work to be your only marketing tool. For goodness sake folks, we’re pushing out more than 4,000 books a day in the U.S. And a recent article in The Guardian entitled “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels” lets me know authoring and publishing are no money machine in the UK either.
Books have been demoted to being just another medium by which we share content. That said, if you’re still thinking of book publishing in the old-fashioned way, I urge you to catch up.
Digital publishing, on the other hand, is the next phase of writing and authoring books. With a smart marketing plan supporting your efforts, writing a book really is a great way to build your brand, get traffic to your site, boost your profile and create residual income from one-and-done efforts.
Digital publishing is more my terrain and comes with opportunities that will help you make money faster and gain more traction as you build your brand. There are those who write trade books and want to see them sell. Then there are those who write trade books they want to see sell them. I am in the latter category.
Here are two proven ways to help any book perform better, assuming you have the time to do them (or the budget to get someone in there to do it for you)
Whether you pursue traditional publishing or you self-publish, you will need to implement a marketing plan that will set you apart from the other authors crowding the virtual bookshelves. There are two strategies you can employ that will keep you from being just another nameless author with a book on the shelf.
First, build your tribe. Marketing expert, Seth Godin talks about this notion extensively in his book, Tribes. Even before you release your book, your team should be working to locate your target audience, figure out what your audience wants and how they engage online. This happens long before your book ever goes to market.
Effectively building your tribe is going to require the three things people are most stingy with: time, energy and attention. Still, this one important practice is the single most important thing that separates the experts from the book authors. They are no longer one in the same these days.
Second, build your brand. As important as finding those who are interested in what you have to say is making sure you’re actually out there saying something. In addition to your book, you need to have other digital marketing collateral. These are the elements I like to call “moving parts” and they are a big part of your brand identity. They also play a key role in supporting and validating your book. These include:
- Your website
- Your social media platforms
- Your videos and podcasts
- Your membership site
- Your opt-in products (books, reports, templates, videos, training)
- Your subscriber list
- Your training program(s)
On the surface it may seem like a jumble of marketing tactics where one has nothing to do with the other, but the truth is, without even consciously being aware, these are the elements or moving parts your audience expects to see from you. It helps them feel good about trusting you.
So, write that book. Get the forward done and vie for the endorsements… and while you’re doing that, have your creative team handling the other important things on the list. For this is how you build a brand and building a brand often makes becoming an author worth the effort.