Today I want to talk about publishing. While storytelling may not be your G-d given talent, it’s a skill like any other and can be improved upon. Everyone has a story to tell and I think everyone can write a book. It’s a lot like starting a workout regiment. If you have the discipline and dedicate time to daily manageable goals you will reach the finished product without feeling overwhelmed.
Once you get started on your writing journey, you will want to think about distribution. I have experience with a few options, but if you’re just starting out I recommend KDP, which is Kindle Direct Publishing. You can capture up to 70% of the royalties of each digital book copy sold and if you feel like most of your sales come from Amazon you can join the select program and be exclusive to amazon in exchange for the ability to share your work with Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited is great because it can help boost your book’s overall ranking and you get paid per page read by members (think of it like Netflix for books).
You can also create paperbacks on KDP, but if you’re interested in physical books there are other avenues with more options (like Ingram Spark) however I’m going to stick with KDP for the rest of this post. It’s effective, and simple. A great place for beginners looking to control their publishing fate.
So, why is writing a book important? It can help establish your brand; people still love to read books and what better way to capture your entire story than to write a book about it? It can be fiction (a parable or a fable), it can be nonfiction, it can be whatever you want–you could publish a cook book if that’s what you think fits your brand.
Books are timeless. Books go up on Amazon and you don’t have to think about them ever again. You could create some ads to draw traffic and reference them in your videos but they aren’t costing you any money by sitting there. You aren’t paying for warehouse space or anything.
At close to no cost (outside of time, professional editing, and cover art) you’ve opened yourself up to passive revenue streams that you don’t have to actively promote, that you don’t have to run the fulfillment services for, that you don’t have to handle shipping costs or anything. Your book is out there for the world to see and you can promote it however you want.
This isn’t a strategy that’s going to make you a millionaire, but it feels great to wake up in the morning and see 10 people were interested in your story and purchased a copy. This happened to me recently. I saw I had 40 bucks moved to my bank account from Amazon royalty services. I was stressed with exams, and feeling a little overwhelmed, and this put a smile on my face. It’s fun to be able to treat someone to dinner with royalties–it made me feel like a real writer. I think Stephen King once described talent as being able to pay the electric bill with something you wrote.
To conclude this post, writing a book is a great way to encapsulate your story, diversify your brand, and create passive revenue streams. It’s also a way to expand global reach, and grow your business affordably, by offering a new product with very low upfront costs AND offers you the ability to build an infrastructure around the culture you’re trying to implement into your business.
Today I want to tell you about how I grew my mailing list from zero to over 100 people for free and the steps I’m going to take down the line to continue its growth. One caveat to this advice is you must have a published book. Now, I say this all the time, everyone has a book in them. It doesn’t have to be fantasy or fiction. It could be nonfiction, it could be personal stories, it could be a collection of essays on your travels across the continental United States. Whatever you want as long as it’s published and available digitally. You also have to be willing to give it away for free. This book will be your anchor–it will be your funnel for those who have not heard your voice yet but are interested in what you have to say. You will draw new audience members and through the power of your newsletter you will hopefully convert them into diehard fans.
Let’s get into the good stuff. I started off with maybe three subscriber so it’s not quite zero to 100 but the three subscribers were something like a friend of mine and my parents. I identified the book I wanted to give away for free. It was Just Under the Sky, the first novella I ever published and I published with this small press down in Texas called Weasel Press.
It wasn’t Amazon exclusive, so I had flexibility. If a book is Amazon exclusive you can only run a giveaway on other platforms up to a certain percent of the book. I made a free account on a website called instafreebie, it’s now prolificworks but from what I’ve seen it operates the same way.
I uploaded an .epub copy of my manuscript but I believe any digital format works and individuals on the platform downloaded it for free. If you have a free account they do not have to opt into your newsletter to receive a free account. You will probably not receive many subs. HOWEVER you are still able to participate in the group giveaways. This was how I received all my subs with a free account. I signed up for as many group giveaways as I could–each giveaway has a theme so you have to make sure your book meets the criteria but there are plenty of options.
Not all group giveaways require email sign ups but you will gain a few more here and there. I managed to land mine in four group giveaways in the same month and after three weeks I collected around 350 subscribers! The first two emails were the most tumultuous. I received some subscribers who joined for the one free book and unsubscribed once they received their first email, but by the third email I had my true list set and a new audience interested in my content. I lost about 180 subs when Europe passed GDPR and I had to ask my subscribers to opt in to a new newsletter–I expected to take a loss–no one likes a hassle but I walked away with around 120.
Now, I mentioned before this was all with the free option. The paid option, which starts at $20 requires those who sign up for your book, even if it’s not in a group giveaway, to opt in to your newsletter. The site has a decent infrastructure in place, so even without promotion individuals still find your book and download it. I think my solo giveaway averaged about three downloads per day on its own before I took it down, with higher spikes on the days I shared across social media.
So if you want to get started, first tip is obviously have a book either in the process of being published or published already. Don’t stress about this, everyone has a book in them. It doesn’t have to be a 900 page monster, as long as it’s high quality you can giveaway a free 80 page book. Publish it through Draft 2 Digital so it’s available across all platforms (Amazon, B&N, Google, iBooks) and finally give your book away for free on prolific works.
I hope this helps!
If you have any questions on publishing a book never hesitate to reach out I’ll happily share all I know and be your accountability buddy.
Rejection is important. I don’t want to annoy you with some long stories of overcoming rejection and persevering to become the man I always knew I could be. For one it just wouldn’t be accurate and two I really don’t want to bore you. Instead, I’m going to touch on rejection in business and creative endeavors.
I learned for one that anything in life worth pursuing is going to be full of competition and you are going to get rejected along the way, and it’s not so much as how much you grow talent-wise, though that’s obviously important, it’s more about your resiliency.
Your talent won’t have a chance to grow if you run away at the first sign of rejection. I know this isn’t something you don’t already know. This mantra circulates social media daily. Accounts share stories of perseverance and a willingness to succeed playing a more significant role than raw talent in a person’s career.
It’s advice we’ve all heard before and one reason is that it’s true. When I got started with writing, I wrote poetry more than fiction because, putting it bluntly, you can write more poems in a day than you can write fiction in a day, which means you can send out more query letters to literary magazines and you have more opportunities to get accepted. Quantity—quantity—quantity.
Of course, I got rejected a lot because if you are writing five or ten poems, a day chances are a few of them (if not all of them) are going to be–subpar.
I still have a slight fear of rejection, but it’s nothing like it used to be. When I first pursued writing in college, I would hover over the submit button for ten full minutes before finally holding my breath and sending out my work. I took rejections personally too, even if I knew it wasn’t my best work and let a boilerplate response ruin my day. But as time wore on, and the rejection letters piled up (wow this is not making me sound like a good writer) my skin grew a little thicker, and I was able to brush it off and move on to the next one. Now, I’m not saying this guarantees I’ll succeed as a writer, but my chances have improved.
Moving on to traditional business endeavors. When I first moved down to New Orleans and started a consulting firm with my brother and father, I scheduled two meetings my first two weeks. They were both booked off LinkedIn, both essentially cold calls, and both turned down our services. Two rejections right out of the gate–and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
If it weren’t for those two rejections, I might’ve still feared pitching potential clients, or closing a sale. Yes, these rejections helped me on a technical front, they forced me to revisit my pitch, and focus on my delivery, but they also helped develop a skill I didn’t know I needed–the ability to brush off rejection–the ability to keep moving forward. You could be the most talented individual in your field but if you crumble when your ideas or pitches are rejected your career will stall.
Dealing with rejection is a skill, and it’s one anyone can learn. All a person has to do is put themselves out there a little more.