Do You Have A Nonfiction Book In You? Here’s How To Tell

I believe that most writers have a nonfiction book in them–they’re just not always sure how to pull it out. In situations like this, I share two of my favorite exercises:

  1. Uncovering your book idea
  2. Finding your angle

If you’re not sure that you have a nonfiction book in you, here’s an exercise you can do to find a potential topic you could write about.

The “Uncovering your nonfiction book idea” exercise:

  • Grab your notebook or a piece of paper
  • Draw a line down the center of the page, dividing it into two parts
  • At the top of the left column, write “Skills I have/things I know how to do really well”
  • At the top of the right column, write “Transformations I’ve made/experiences I’ve had”
  • Make lists in each column based on the prompt at the top—now you’ll have two lists of potential topics you could write a nonfiction book about
  • Go through the lists and circle the topics or ideas that most interest you
  • Narrow down the topic/idea and choose one

Once you’ve done this exercise, then complete the exercise below.

The “Find your angle” exercise:

The following exercise will help you find a unique and/or interesting angle for your book topic:

  • Grab your notebook or a piece of paper
  • At the top of the page, write your book topic (or idea)
  • Brainstorm 30 (or more) different angles or approaches you can take on this specific topic
  • Go back through the list and circle anything that pops out as something worth writing
  • Narrow down your circled choices to one (or combine several if it works)

From doing both of these exercises, you should have a bunch of nonfiction book ideas. You don’t have to write all of them, of course. In fact, most you probably won’t write at all.

But you’ve got a whole bunch of ideas to choose from now. And maybe you’ve even proven to yourself that you do actually have a nonfiction book in you.

Share With Us

What potential topic are you considering for a nonfiction book?

Cut to the Chase: How To Write A Really Kick-Ass Short eBook

Something I’m becoming known for is getting right to the point. I’m not big on filler or writing words just to have a higher word count. I like to say what I need to say and move on.

That’s how I am in life and that’s also how I am as a writer.

The funny thing is, my ideal readers love this.

Case in point, I received a message from a reader recently who said the following:

I like how you just tell things how they are and you don’t waste your readers/students/fans time with a bunch of fluffy bullshit to fill up the pages.”

I took this as a huge compliment. Especially because I sometimes take a lot of heat from people about writing short books. Things like, “it’s misleading to call it a book when it’s so short” or “short books don’t count as books.”

To which I say, that’s just an opinion. I’m not writing for those people. I know those people aren’t my ideal readers.

My ideal readers are people, like you. Multi-passionate writers who have busy lives. You don’t have time to wade through gunk to find gold.

I’m a trained journalist, so I’ve been de-fluffed. Because in journalism, you don’t have a lot of space for words (especially in a newspaper) so you have to cut the fluff and make your point.

And while I did lose some of that descriptive writing I used to be better at before I went to journalism school, overall I believe it has served me well.

Because it taught me to be concise. To choose the right words. To say the same thing in 3 words that other writers say in 5 or 10.

All of this has been the perfect foundation for the blogger and eBook writer I’ve become. Writing for the web isn’t like writing for print. On the web, the eye needs white space. It needs a break from long paragraphs.

This is true of blog posts and news articles, so why can’t it also be true for eBooks? An eBook is not like a print book. It’s being read on a digital device, so why wouldn’t the eye still need white space and a break from long paragraphs?

Exactly. And that’s why I write the way I do.

My eBooks are usually on the short side and range anywhere from 37 pages to 118 pages in length. My novels are longer (though still on the shorter side for most novels).

I’m OK with this. And a big reason why is because I prefer short reads when it comes to nonfiction. I’m much more likely to finish a nonfiction book that’s short than I am one that’s really long, even if I’m enjoying it.

I keep a packed schedule and I prioritize my writing over everything else. So short-and-sweet reads are gold to me.

I’m also starting to see that short reads are becoming more of a trend. I’ll tell you more about that in the next section.

Now before you take “short” the wrong way, let me clear something up. Short DOES NOT mean shitty, and writing a short book isn’t permission to half-ass it.

Any nonfiction eBook (or print book) you write should be value-packed, results-based and actionable for the reader. Those three ingredients make for the best books.

This book will help you write books like that–no matter how many pages or words you end up with.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

The Short Trend

My Story

In July 2016, I wrote and published, The 15-Minute Writer: How To Write Your Book in Only 15 Minutes A Day. It was an eBook I’d had in my head for awhile, ever since I started doing 15-minute writing sessions again and having success with it.

It seemed like all the writers around me were raving about the idea of working in 15-to-20-minute sessions. I invited those writers to share their stories in the book as well.

When I finished writing the eBook, I realized it was short–like, 36 pages, short.

At first I let the noise in my head get to me. The voices telling me that 36 pages didn’t count as a book and it was too short and I should add more, blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully, I didn’t listen to the noise. I trusted the gut feeling I had that it was enough and that I didn’t need to add a bunch of fluff. The point was for it to be a short-and-sweet guide to getting your writing done. Something you can come back to if you need a boost, because it’s short enough to read more than once.

I sold more than 800 copies of, The 15-Minute Writer, the first week it came out. And then something crazy happened.

The book hit #1 in 3 categories at the same time. And then it spent a month at #1 in the “Education and Reference: Short Reads (33-43 pages)” category on Amazon.

A whole month. 

And the craziest thing of all–reviews just started pouring in. People raving about how they loved the short format. (Sure, some didn’t love it, but again, those are not my ideal readers.) I never had that many people review one of my books all at once.

Between the reviews and the book sitting at #1 for so long leads me to believe there’s something to keeping things short and sweet.

Why Short and Sweet?

I think that short eBooks are becoming a trend for a few reasons:

1. People are busy–and getting busier by the days

2. People like instant gratification–a short eBook can give them that because they can read it and act on it right away

3. People are sick of “fluff”–there’s so much distraction online and in the world, it’s hard to cut through the noise and get to the good stuff. Short eBooks that make a point quickly do exactly that–get to the good stuff right away

Apparently, Amazon agrees, as there are now a variety of “Short Reads” categories for books ranging from a few pages to under 100.

I don’t believe in setting a specific word count for a book. I think a book should be as long as it needs to be. Some books need more words and pages, and some need less.

Getting Over the Short Thing

Before we can move on to the next section, you’ve gotta be OK with the short thing. Because as writers, we’ve got so much nonsense drilled into us–what counts as a book and what doesn’t, what the word count should be, etc.

And that’s all it is–nonsense. Other people’s opinions.

What I say to that is: let the readers decide. No one can argue with book sales, period.

You’ve just gotta do you. And there’s no point in stuffing a book with extra words or pages that don’t need to be there, just to fulfill someone else’s opinion of what counts as a “book.”

Screw that. It’s not about the length of the book, it’s about the impact that it makes.

Impact is the most important part.

Did the book resonate with readers? Did it inspire them? Motivate them to take action? Did it give them something to walk away and implement to make their lives better? Did it teach them how to do something they wanted to learn how to do?

Did it give them what they want while also delivering what they need?

Then you did a good job. Keep going.

And just in case your mind is really being stubborn and refusing to accept the short eBook thing, here are a few examples of short books written by well-known authors:

3 Ways to Put Together A Nonfiction eBook

Writers take writing a nonfiction book so seriously sometimes. Now I’m not saying don’t take your writing seriously–absolutely do take your writing seriously.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be super rigid about everything. You don’t have to write a book from scratch for it to count. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

You just have to say whatever you’re saying in a way that resonates with your target readers. And you can absolutely use content you’ve already created as a starting point.

This section will walk you through three different ways to write your eBook.

1. Use Content You Already Have

When I wrote my first eBook, Butt-in-Chair: A No-Excuses Guide for Writers Who Struggle to Get Started, I used 50-60 blog posts I’d already written from the previous two years of being a blogger.

Yes, I added some additional content, including action steps at the end of each section, and I wrote transitions so everything flowed together. But overall most of that book was blog posts I already had.

Which meant putting the book together was more about organization than it was about writing.

Here’s what I did:

1. Read through all of my blog posts to get an overview of what I have to work with

2. Make a list of all the posts I want to include in the book

3. Go through the list of potential posts and group them together based on similar topics

4. Organize everything into an outline so I know exactly what posts go where and in which order

5. Review the outline to determine if there are any gaps, any additional posts I need to write, anything that needs to be added, additional ways to add value to each section, etc. Anything I come up with that needs to be written or created (for example, an audio recording or a worksheet) I write on a separate “to write/create” list

6. Transfer over all of the blog posts to your Scrivener file or Word doc by copying and pasting from the original

7. Read through the posts to see where you need to add transitions or additional words to connect the sections together and make everything cohesive

8. Go back through and look for places you can add additional value to the eBook. For example, can you add journal prompts to each section? What about creating a few worksheets? Can you make an audio training that gives additional information or goes deeper on something in the book?

2. Breaking Down A Bigger Topic

The next way to write an eBook is to create a series of shorter eBooks all on one topic. So rather than have one book that’s 200-300 pages, you would break that down into smaller chunks that are easier to digest and take action on.

Sure, we all love a good read, but a lot of the times–especially with a nonfiction book–if the book is too long, people don’t finish or they intend to finish, but then never go back to it.

But if you break the book down into smaller, easier-to-read-and-digest-in-a-short-period-of-time chunks, you can add even more value and almost guarantee your reader will make it to the last page.

This works especially well when you’re writing about a complex topic or a topic that has a lot of subtopics.

Let’s look at an example:

If you want to write a book about cooking, you could either write a long book that covers everything in one shot. Or you can write one eBook about kitchen tools and cooking techniques, and one about how to shop for good ingredients and where to find the best deals, and one about how to create your own recipes, and one about…

You see where I’m going with this?

Rather than one huge, long eBook that gives a reader multiple results, instead multiple eBooks that each give the reader one very specific result.

With this same example, you can see how you’d be able to attract readers who are looking for those specific things.

And the cool part about selling eBooks on a site like Amazon is that when someone checks one book out, Amazon recommends your other books. So by having multiple eBooks, the books actually help sell each other.

Because the person who bought “kitchen tools and cooking techniques” would definitely be interested in “how to create recipes” and probably also into “how to shop for good ingredients and where to find the best deals.”

One result per eBook keeps the book focused, on topic and keeps the reader interested.

3. From Life Experiences

Writing about topics related to your life experiences: things you’ve gone through and overcome; stuff you’re interested in, have mastered and can now teach to others; lessons learned and the stories behind them, etc.

This would be more like a memoir-how-to type eBook.

Here’s the thing you may not realize: you’ve got experiences that are worth writing about.

Now I’m not big on only writing about life experiences (that’s just me), but when you connect your life experiences to lessons and then action steps people can take to either avoid your mistakes or to do whatever you did–for example, if you lost a ton of weight, or if you achieved something that other people want to achieve–then you’ve got a book worth writing.

How To Come Up With An Idea for Your eBook

Now most of the time when you want to write an eBook, you’ve already got an idea that you want to write. Probably several.

But if for some reason you don’t, this section will give you some suggestions for how you can find an idea or clarify an idea you already have.

Exercise 1: Idea Dump

This is a process I do at least once a week or so. I like to just do a brain-dump of all the potential books I could write.

I won’t actually write 95 percent of the books that I brainstorm, but from all of that will usually come one or two ideas that are must-writes.

That’s how I come up with most of my book ideas. I mean, sometimes an idea will just hit me–BOOM–seemingly out of nowhere. (I call those ideas Divine Downloads.) But mostly I use this process:

1. Get out your notebook or a piece of paper

2. At the top of the page write “eBooks I could write”

3. Brainstorm by making a list of 30 eBooks you could write–write down everything that comes to mind, even really lame stuff. The point isn’t to come up with 30 great ideas, the point is to just come up with 30 ideas. And of those 30, end up with one or two you can actually use.

4. Read through your brainstorm and see what you have to work with–does anything immediately pop out to you? Is anything you see there a “HELL YES?”

5. Repeat again soon.

This idea-dump exercise can be used for just about anything and you can do it as often as you want, even daily.

Exercise 2: List of You

If you really have no ideas, this exercise is for you. I believe that everyone has stories and experiences and skills that they could share with others through an eBook.

You just have to dig them out.

1. Grab a notebook or a piece of paper

2. Draw a line down the center, horizontally, dividing the page in half

3. Draw a line down the center vertically, dividing the page into fourths

4. At the top of the top-left quadrant, write: Things I’m Best At

5. At the top of the top-right quadrant, write: Stories I Could Tell

6. At the top of the bottom-left quadrant, write: Stuff I’ve Accomplished

7. At the top of the bottom-right quadrant, write: Stuff I Can Talk About Forever

8. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and fill in responses under each quadrant, writing down anything that fits. Don’t censor, just write whatever comes to mind.

9. Now go through what you wrote down and see what stands out as something you could write about. Any topics that were repeated across several of the quadrants? Any common themes showing up? These can be good starting points for coming up with an idea.

For example, maybe you see a theme of dogs. You know a ton about dogs, you’ve actually trained dogs for dog shows for a few years, you love talking about dogs and you’ve got a bunch of stories from your dog training days. From this, you could write a book about how to win dog shows or how to prepare your dog for training, etc.

Give the exercises a try!

Outlining Your Nonfiction eBook

First, listen to this accompanying audio (you can do that here).

And then use this worksheet (below) to outline your nonfiction eBook. This worksheet is set up to help you go from idea to outline in 5 simple steps (you’ll need a notebook or paper or your computer to do this worksheet):

1. What’s Your Idea?

What’s the idea for your book? Why do you want to write it? Use the space below to explore these questions. If you don’t already have a clear idea, make a list of things you could write about.

Final Book Topic Choice: __________________________________________

2. Do A Brain-Dump

Now that you’ve got your book idea, it’s time to do a brain-dump of everything you can think of that needs to be included in it. Use the space below (or a notebook) to write out all the ideas, subtopics, etc., that need to be included in the book. Note: don’t censor yourself or leave anything out at this point. If you think it needs to be in there, write it down.

3. Group Common Topics and/or Ideas Together

Now you’ll want to take the stuff from your brain-dump and start to make some sense of it. Use the space below to start grouping like ideas or topics from the brain-dump together.

4. Put Everything In Order

Now take the stuff that’s grouped together and put it in order like you’re writing the Table of Contents of your book. This will be the first draft of your outline. Use the space below (or a notebook) to create your outline.

5. Review Outline and Finalize

Now go back through the outline you created in step 4 and finalize it. Is there anything missing? Anything else you need to add for it to make sense and flow? Anything you should take out? Don’t worry too much right now about naming the sections. For now, just use “working titles” for each section. You can change them later once you’ve written your first draft of the book.

And there you have it! The outline for your eBook. Now you can use this outline as a guide as you write your first draft.


The V-R-A of eBook Content

I’ve written a lot of nonfiction books and I’ve also read a ton of nonfiction books. And, for me, there are three things that make for a really great read:

  1. Packed with value
  2. Results-based
  3. Actionable

That’s my criteria for any nonfiction book that I write. Does it fit all three of those things? If it doesn’t, I’ll keep writing and rewriting until it does.

In this section I’ll be walking you through what each of these criteria means and how to execute it in your books.


Alright, criteria number one: Value-Packed.

But what exactly does that mean? Especially considering “value” is one of those things that differs from person-to-person.

I like to define value in terms of my target reader.

So I ask the question: would my target reader find value in this book? Is it something she would read and be so excited to have found because it helped her to do something she’s been wanting to do? Can she walk away from reading it and immediately make changes in her life based on it?

If so, then I know the book is valuable. No matter what the length of it is.

Value is relative, which is why it’s important to know who you’re targeting as a reader and then keep focused on that specific person when writing the book. The right person reading your book will always find value in it.

And if someone doesn’t find value in it, it’s because they’re not really your target reader and aren’t meant to be.

I know that’s a tough shift to wrap your mind around. As writers, we think we have to appeal to everyone and we want everyone to buy our books.

But when you target everyone, you target no one.

Focus on your ideal reader, the person who needs the book you are writing. And forget about the rest.

How To Add Value

Adding value to an eBook can come in all forms. Here are some of my favorite value-adds:

> Related Content–create videos, mp3s or written content that is related to the topic or content in your book and link to it inside the book. I like to do additional trainings or expand further on something that I just touched on in the book. Related content is a great way to add value.

> Worksheets or a workbook–downloadable PDFs that you can link to or create to go along with your eBook is awesome. A great way to add more value.

> Bonus Content–this can pretty much be anything–written, MP3s, videos, an eCourse, whatever you can think of. Bonus content is usually stuff that’s related to the book topic, but that didn’t get included in the book. For example, I created a schedule for what you could do in 15 minutes to actually write your book and put a link to it in the back of The 15-Minute Writer. When people click the link, they go to a page on my site where they have to give me their email address to download the bonus content.


Now I’d argue that most nonfiction books are results-based. The problem is so many of them are based on getting multiple results, instead of just one very specific thing. And that can be overwhelming to a reader.

When you focus on one result in each book, you make it easier for the reader.

So what does results-based mean? It means using your book to help people achieve a result of some kind.

To lose the last 10 pounds. To start a business. To do their taxes. To cook delicious Italian food. To clean up their writing habits.

Whatever result your target reader would want. And if there are multiple results, focus on one per eBook (unless the results are all along the same lines and then you could put them all in one book if you wanted to).

But the idea here with writing a short eBook is that you focus on one result. Otherwise it’s hard to keep it short (which is the whole point).

The other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the time, as an expert writing a book, you’re focused on the deeper things that your reader needs in order to make changes or to do whatever it is you’re teaching them or showing them how to do.

But the reader is focused on a surface result.

For example, you want to teach your reader that mindset is the thing that will really help them to finally get the body they’ve been dreaming of, so you focus on that in the book. But the reader isn’t thinking about mindset. That probably didn’t even occur to them.

The reader is looking for a surface result: to lose the last 10 pounds and fit into her bikini before summer.

So you have to give the reader what they want, while also giving them what you know you need.


This is one of my biggest pet peeves with eBooks. There are too many eBooks that give lots and lots of information, but don’t give you anything you can take action on.

When someone is reading a self-help book (or a nonfiction eBook), nine times out of ten it’s because they want to learn how to do something. And without giving them something actionable they can walk away from your book with and use in their real-lives, your book falls short.

I know the reason I’ve had so much success with my eBooks this year is because I’ve focused on making all of them super actionable.

I include journal prompts, worksheets and assignments to help people take action on what they’ve just read. I also include additional related content, like links to MP3 recordings and videos that give more value and more actions you can take.

The whole point of a how-to book is to be able to take action. So make sure you’ve given your reader something to take action on.

Wrap Up

Well, there you have it. My short-and-sweet guide to writing a really kick-ass short eBook. (And yes, I could’ve made this content into a short eBook–that was my original plan. But I’ve decided that I don’t want to write books about writing books. I have a lot more fun working live with writers–or via my digital eCourses–to help them get their books written.)

QUESTIONS?? Leave ’em in the comments. 

And if you’re ready to write and publish your nonfiction eBook, be sure to check out my self-paced eCourse: Write and Publish Your Nonfiction eBook in 10 Days. It includes EVERYTHING you need to go from idea to self-published book. Learn more here.


What’s A Writing Empire and Why Do You Need One?

I love that phrase: writing empire. It sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?

Having an empire that you created with your writing at the center of everything.

Usually when you think of an “empire,” you imagine someone like Martha Stewart or Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity brand. But writers can have empires too.

Remember the other day when I talked about diversifying? That’s what building an empire is. It’s finding ways to diversify in your writing life so that you’ve got streams of income coming in from different things.

Freelance. Copywriting. Nonfiction books. Novels. Workshops. Virtual events. Live events. Digital products. Writing services. Coaching services. Editing.

There are tons of ways for you to diversify and build your writing empire. And here’s the best part: you get to create it however you want it.

If you hate doing live stuff, you can be 100% virtual. If you love live events, you can build those into your brand. Whatever you love to do, that’s what you should focus on and build your writing empire around.

I love teaching, I love writing, I love speaking, so that’s what I’m building my writing empire around. I have books, digital products, live virtual workshops, live events (more live events coming in 2017!), coaching, writing and self-publishing services.

The other thing about an empire is that it’s also a legacy. It’s the legacy of the person who it’s built around.

An empire will live on long after you do.

So really think about that for a second. What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to be known for changing the way writers think. For showing writers what’s possible when you set your mind to it. For being a living example of the power of combining practical physical actions with energetic mindset actions.

That is my legacy–the one I’m creating.

These are all things you’ve gotta think about if you want to be an authorpreneur. Not just a writer who publishes a couple books, but someone who builds a business around being who you are and doing what you love.

That is the true power of taking control of your writing destiny.

And you can absolutely do it. It’s yours to create, exactly as you want it.

For some examples of legacy and what a writing empire looks like, check out:

Robert McKee
Larry Brooks
Joanna Penn

These are writers who have diversified. They’ve found what they’re awesome at and they’ve built a business around those things.

If you want to make a living as a writer, this is the best way to do it. Yes, you could just write books, but you’re limiting so many things when you do that, including growth, reaching additional audiences and, of course, the money you can make.

Diversifying is where it’s at. And while you’re at it, you may as well build an empire and create a legacy that lives on.

And speaking of empire… I wanted to introduce you to my new 1-1 coaching program:

Build Your Writing Empire

This program is your springboard to making a living as a writer.

For 6 weeks we will work together to:

Map out your writing empire, including all the things you love to do
Start setting up and implementing the systems and structures you need to support your empire (including an author website, if you don’t already have one)
Overhaul your writing life so you’re aligned with and set up for the success you want to create
Get your nonfiction eBook written and published (at least one, but possibly more than one, if you’re up for it)
Grow your following
Sell more books

You will walk away with a published nonfiction eBook, a blueprint for your writing empire–including what to focus on and in what order–and feeling confident and ready to continue growing your audience and your author brand.

With this program you get:

> Six 1-1 calls with me via phone or Skype (up to 60 mins each)
> Unlimited email support between calls
> Feedback, edits, guidance on everything you create while in the program, including your eBook

And as a BONUS, you get a FREE 1-YEAR MEMBERSHIP in the Bestselling Author Mastermind group (a $348+ value). [This is extra-awesome because I’m going to soon be announcing some major changes to BAM that include giving the group access to pretty much everything I’ve created (and the price is going up).]

This program is PERFECT for you if you:

> Have lots of ideas for books you want to write and just need help getting started/organized/productive/etc
> Want to build a writing empire and legacy with your author brand
> Are someone who takes action and follows through
> Are ready to get your damn writing career off the ground
> Want to finally get your first (or next) nonfiction eBook written and published

This program is for writers who are action takers and willing to put in the work.

Program investment: $997 (payment plans available)

Interested? Email me or send me a PM on Facebook.

Explode Your Following By Doing These 7 Things

Something every emerging author needs to know how to do is build a following. And that’s because without an audience (aka: people following you), it’s pretty hard to sell books.

Of course, you can always run paid advertising and reach them that way. Or go the traditional publishing route (can we say, waste of time?).

Or you can do the free (or nearly free) version: build your following organically.

Now depending on how you do it, the organic way can take awhile. It took me 8 years to get to where I’m at right now. But I’d argue I could’ve gotten here in half the time (or less) if I had just stopped worrying about everything and just consistently took massive action.

That’s why I’m going to give you the secret 7-step plan for building a following online and creating raving fans who buy all of your books.

It took me 8+ years and six-figures+ investing in my writing career to learn all of what I’m divulging here. So you better listen up, because this is the golden ticket to exploding your fanbase.

1. Say What You Really Think

The world is full of people who are PC and who people-please and say things just to make everyone happy and comfortable. But here’s the thing, vanilla doesn’t sell books.

That’s why you have to be someone who says what you really think. Who stakes a claim and takes a stand on the topics that are important to your industry and/or genre.

Share your opinion on the stuff that matters. Don’t be afraid to tell-it-like-it-is.

The world needs more people like that. Funnily enough, they’re few and far between, which is why when an author stands up and speaks their truth, people listen.

That’s why authors like, J.K. Rowling and Chuck Wendig and Jenna Moreci have such huge followings. Because people know they will always hear them say what they really think.

It’s refreshing.

So be that author too. Be an author who says what you really think and takes a stand on the issues and topics that are important to you and to your industry and/or genre.

2. Jump Off the Fence

This one goes with number one. You’ve gotta jump off the fence and stop toeing the line. You’ve gotta pick a stance and stick with it (and if you change it later–which is totally fine, people’s opinions do change sometimes–you can justify it by sharing how or why you can to this new conclusion).

Authors who are on the fence, in general, do not build massive followings. The authors with massive followings have created them based on taking a stand for something that’s important to them. And their audience almost always knows exactly how they feel about that issue. 

For example, you now know how I stand on the matter of self-publishing. I’m crystal clear on it. There’s no more wondering how I feel. You know.

Same goes for you. What issues or topics are there in your industry and/or genre that you can get off the fence about?

It’s especially good to choose at least one issue or topic that’s controversial. Controversial topics are always more popular.

Which brings me to…

3. Piss People Off

Sounds harsh, right? We should all just play nice and get along.

Maybe. If you want to create an online following that resembles a child’s daycare center. All roses and nice-nice.

But if you want to build a massive following of raving fans who read all your stuff and buy all your books, you can’t play nice and try to make everyone like you. You have to talk directly to your target readers and say things that no one else is willing to say, but that people need to hear.

Make an opinion–one that your target readers agree with (unless, of course, your opinion is opposite your target readers. Don’t lie to them… but at the same time, why would you target readers who don’t believe what you believe or think like you think? Think about that one.) This will cause them to resonate with you more.

I piss people off all the time when I use swear words (especially FUCK) in my writing and also when I say things I believe to be true but that others don’t agree with (like you control your own destiny and everything that happens to you is of your own design).

But doing this is what tightens my tribe. It’s what makes people who aren’t my true tribe leave and unsubscribe, and what makes my true tribe called in.

Your true tribe–the people you resonate with and who love who you are and what you do–will not be able to find you if you’re always playing nice. Because they won’t be able to relate to you.

When you say state your opinion and piss people off, your tribe can find you, because all the people who don’t resonate with what you’re saying will go away, and the ones who are left will be your true tribe.

Think of it like this, in a room full of 100 people, it’s hard to know which ones like pizza and which ones don’t. The only way to find out, is to shout out to the group, “Pizza is the best food that exists! Who’s with me?!”

The people who love pizza will start to cheer and will agree with you and move in your direction, where you can all gather to talk about how much you love pizza…and how much you don’t understand people who don’t. Meanwhile the people who hate pizza will leave the room or tune you out completely, making more room for the pizza lovers.

Get it?

4. Give Massive Value

This is a tough one for most writers. In fact, this is what really separates the authors with a following from the authors no one cares about.

The authors with a following give massive value to their audience, in whatever way makes sense for them. Value comes in all forms.

But the two biggest things people are looking for online is: education and entertainment.

So you’ve either got to educate your audience, entertain them, or–and this is the best one–both. You have to be interesting or you have to present things to them in an interesting way.

They want to be inspired and motivated. They want to feel the love and know they’re not alone. They want to connect with other human beings who are just like they are.

The best way to give massive value is to create content, lots and lots of content. Content that your target audience will LOVE.

Here are some examples of what counts as content:

  • Blog post
  • Video
  • Meme
  • Photo
  • Short blip (Snap Chat, anyone?)
  • Article
  • Guest post
  • eBook
  • Print book
  • Audio recording
  • Whatever else you can think of

You have to focus on the kind of content you enjoy creating and that your target audience enjoys as well.

For example, don’t force yourself to make videos if you hate videos (although I will say that video is pretty important in the digital age, so you should probably just get over yourself and do it anyhow).

Once you’re giving enough value, you’ll start to see your following skyrocket.

5. Be Who You Are–And Show It

Whoever you are in real life, that’s who you need to be online. People will connect more with you if they know you’re human just like they are.

A lot of authors think they have to sell the dream life or that all people want to see is the good stuff. But giving your audience a highlight reel of your life isn’t the best way to connect with them.

It’s humanity that makes you real. It’s your vulnerability that will resonate with them.

A few months ago I made a video talking about the worst hater situation I’ve encountered since I started my blog (back in ’08). The guy was a true asshole and crossed the line several times in his comments. It was ugly.

And I could’ve chosen to not ever mention it to anyone. To not ever bring it up and just act like everyone loves me and life is all roses.

But that wouldn’t be authentic, and people totally see through that. No one’s life is perfect. So don’t pretend like yours is for the sake of trying to build a following. Doing that will cost you your following.

So I talked about it. I talk about the haters and I talk about the negative stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Because I want you to know exactly what to expect on your journey to being the writer and author you dream of being.

If I didn’t do those things, I wouldn’t be being me. I’d be covering up who I really am, which is someone who tells-it-like-it-is.

Be who you are. Embrace it and fly your “freak flag,” because the world is waiting for more authentic people to show up and lead.

6. Be Accessible

In a world where customer service is mostly talking to a recording and people just want to automate everything, there’s something to be said for being accessible. For giving people access to you and not just hiding out.

I have serious respect for the big-name people in the writing world (and the world, in general) who still run their own social media accounts. This is a task so easily passed off to someone else or pre-set up using a scheduling software.

So to be an author who actually posts live and responds to people’s comments and engages is HUGE. It’s really huge.

A lot of people say they love my Facebook group more than any other out there because I’m accessible. I check in DAILY and I respond to pretty much everything (sometimes I’m miss stuff, but overall I try to respond to everything).

This shows people that I actually give a fuck about them and about the group, and I’m not just trying to automate or be at an arm’s length from them.

I let people into my world. I give them a behind-the-scenes look at my writing life (even more so for the members of my Bestselling Author Mastermind group–they get an all-access pass). I show them exactly what I do and exactly how I do it.

I’m accessible. And you should be too if you want to build a following.

7. Set Your Mind To It

It wouldn’t be an article by me if I didn’t mention something about mindset. So here it is, number seven. The thing that makes everything else on this list work ten million times better.

If you want to build a following, you’ve first gotta set your mind to it. You’ve gotta decide that you’re going to build a following and grow your audience and you’re gonna do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, until it takes…and then keep going.

That’s the key. That’s everything right there. In setting your mind to it, you’ve just brought yourself 90 percent of the way.

The final 10 percent is taking massive actions that are aligned with your goal (whatever it may be).

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Which one of these 7 things can you start doing today? 

Want to explode your following and take massive action so you can gain a readership and sell more books (now or whenever you’re ready to)? Check out GROW YOUR FOLLOWING, a virtual workshop for emerging authors and authorpreneurs who want to create a raving fanbase. Full details HERE.


The 5-Part Authorpreneur Action Plan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the specifics of what I’ve done to get where I am today, not just with my writing career, but with the following I’ve built and continue to build. And when I looked at it, there were five things that stood out to me:

  1. Mindset
  2. Connecting (aka: building relationships)
  3. Creating Content
  4. Consistency 
  5. Visibility 

Those five things, when done simultaneously, will help you to create the success that you dream of having in your writing life.

To go a step further, I even made a little diagram to show you how these things are interlinked:


Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 7.53.32 PM

Mindset is at the very top as the umbrella over everything else, because mindset is the thing that makes everything else work 10 times better.

Under that we have the three Cs of being successful online: Connecting, Creating Content and Being Consistent. 

And all of this creates Visibility–which is when you’re out there, being seen and people know who you are.

Pretty simple, right?

It really is. The difficult part is doing the work and keeping it up. That’s the part where most writers totally fall off (or don’t even start).

Because it takes effort to live this action plan. Not to just do it here and there when you have the time, but to actually build your writing life (and writing business) around doing all five of these things every single day. 

That’s what I do.

I built my writing life around these five things–I do mindset work 2-3 times a day, minimum. I connect on a regular basis with my community and with people in my industry. I blog five days a week, I write emails to my community, I create Facebook posts, I run a free Facebook group where I create videos five days a week and post valuable content, I post inspirational quotes and fun pics on my Instagram, I create and upload my videos to YouTube. I show up in some form online every single day, period. And from all of this, I’ve created visibility, where people are starting to know who I am and opportunities are starting to come to me because of it.

This action plan will help you create the writing life you dream of, where you’ve got raving fans ready to buy your books and whatever else you create. 

But while understanding this action plan seems easy, it’s in the implementation where you really see the results (or not) based on what you choose to do and how you choose to do it.

You have to commit to showing up, every day, in some form, and putting something out there. You have to commit to doing the work, to not giving up when it looks like it’s not working, even if it looks like it’s not working for a while. You have to commit to thinking and acting like the writer and author you dream of being.

That’s what it takes to build a following.

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What’s one thing you can do today to start building your following? Share in the comments. 

If you’re ready to show up online, build your following, create raving fans and sell more books (now or when you’re ready to), be sure to check out my upcoming GROW YOUR FOLLOWING workshop. Full details here

AuthorpreneurTV, Episode 9: The REAL Key to Success

Success as an author is all about consistency and follow-through. Without both of those things, it will be impossible to create momentum that’s sustainable. But even when you’re starting to see some success, or even just some progress on your writing project, there’s a common error authors (and writers) often make.

That error could cost you the success you’ve worked so damn hard to achieve.

I made an episode of AuthorpreneurTV to tell you all about it…

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What successes have you had lately? And what will you do to keep going? 

To watch all the episodes of my show, AuthorpreneurTV, be sure to check out my YouTube channel here.

What’s Your Author Message?

Last night I watched a stand-up comedy special on Netflix from comedian Mo’Nique. She’s hilarious, no doubt about that, and I loved her in the movie Beerfest (which I’ve watched 15 times in the last two weeks because I was deconstructing it for my story community, Students of Story).

But what stood out most to me wasn’t her rolling-on-the-floor, tears-in-your-eyes jokes (although those were awesome too). It was her message.

This particular comedy special was called, I Coulda Been Your Cellmate, and was filmed at a women’s correctional facility in Ohio. Mo’Nique took the stage to make those women laugh and laugh and forget their problems, even if just for an hour.

And throughout the program she shared a core message: love and acceptance—of yourself and each other.

I talk a lot about being who you are and being unapologetic about it. Mo’Nique is a woman who is unapologetic about who she is—and not everyone likes it—yet her message shines through.

And that’s because the most effective and powerful way for her to deliver that message—to spread the message of love to the women of the correctional facility and all the people who watch her comedy special—is to be one-hundred percent herself.

If she got up on stage in a dress suit and started preaching a PC-version of loving each other and accepting who you are, everyone watching would’ve tuned her out. Her message, while extremely valid and valuable, would have been totally ignored.

But going out there as herself—proud-to-be-loud, dressed in a custom-made orange prison uniform with her own prisoner number, and then preaching the message of love and acceptance while telling jokes laced with f-bombs and sexual innuendos—that’s why her message shined through. That’s why she got claps and cheers and standing ovations from the crowd.

Because her message was so much more powerful delivered by Mo’Nique being exactly who she is. Her message resonated so much more because it came draped in laughter.

Creating Your Author Message

I’ve been thinking a lot about messaging as I’ve begun my transition from being a “story development coach” to doing alignment, kick-ass motivation and success mindset for emerging authors and authorpreneurs. And the funny thing is, even though I’m changing what I’m doing, my core message is still the same: take control of your writing destiny.

I’m all about freedom and taking control (of the things you can control, of course). I’m about knowing where you want to go with your writing life and then stepping up to do the work to get there.

That’s what it means to take control of your writing destiny. It means knowing what you want, writing it into reality, taking the physical actions to move in the direction of it, and then acting as-if it’s already a done deal.

That’s my message. A powerful one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops of the writing world. And that’s what I intend to do.

It’s what I’ve been doing. Only the previous version was not nearly as powerful as the version I’m shifting into. Because the previous version—while just as important and necessary—had me teaching craft to writers. And while writers totally need that—there are other people out there doing it. Lots of other people out there who teach the craft of writing novels.

So my message was getting muddied in all of that. Bogged down in trying to teach people craft while simultaneously helping them take control of their writing destinies (craft is a big part of taking control of your writing destiny).

Except I’m not really a teacher. I’m a leader. And there’s a big difference.

A teacher teaches you how to do something. But a leader shows you by example.

My message of freedom and taking control of your writing destiny is SO MUCH MORE powerful coming from me as the authorpreneur who walks my talk and lives the writing life on a daily basis than it is coming from a story development coach who helps people plan their stories.

And while I was still doing the authorpreneur thing while I’ve been doing the story coaching thing, I wasn’t really sharing it with anyone. I wasn’t talking about it very much—the details of what it’s really like to own a writing business and be an authorpreneur in the digital age.

So my message got watered-down.

But now my message is shining through from me showing up in the world, acting like the writer and author I want to be, and being one-hundred percent, unapologetically myself.

If you want to stand out and make an impact as an author—regardless of what kind of author you are; blogger, nonfiction, fiction—you need to have a core message. And then you need to let that core message shine through by showing up in the world as who you are (and who you want to be).

So, what’s your message?

What’s that thing you want to share with your readers, followers and fans? What do you want to be remembered for? What does the world need to hear?

You need an author message, no matter what kind of writing you do. People who follow you and read your stuff will resonate so much more with you if you do.

Because you’ll be resonating with them at a core level, not just a story level. They won’t just be connected to the stories you write, they’ll be connected to you as an author.

And that’s what you need if you want to make a career of this.

Any yahoo can sell a bunch of books one time, but it takes a true authorpreneur to stay in it for the long-haul.

To help you get started, I created a worksheet where you can brainstorm and create your author message. This message will then inform all of the choices you make for your author platform and all of the content you put out there.

>> Download the author message worksheet

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What’s your author message? What do you stand for?

If you want to craft your message and create your author platform, be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a kick-ass motivation and success mindset group for emerging authors and authorpreneurs. We do monthly group workshops that include building your author platform, crafting your message, growing your readership and more.


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