The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Episode 5: An Interview With Best Selling Author Chandler Bolt

Listen on  iTunes or Stitcher

Guest Bio:

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-4-06-03-pmChandler Bolt is the author of 5 best selling books including “Book Launch” and his most recent book, “Published.” He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Through his books, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.

Show Notes:

I’m not gonna lie–I was geeking out a bit when Chandler agreed to be a guest on my podcast. I’ve been following his work for a while now and I’m a huge fan of him and what he’s created in the world (not to mention he has some pretty good travel hacks 😉 ).

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Don’t take your old book down, even if you write an updated version of it–this was something I was actually thinking about doing because I’m in the process of updating some of my eBooks. Until I heard Chandler’s reasoning for why you shouldn’t do this.
  • Meditation app recommendation: Headspace
  • Book recommendation: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Be sure to check out Chandler’s new book, Published, it’s available now!

Share With Us

What’s your biggest takeaway? Share in the comments. 

And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and share it using the links below.

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.

Value-Packed

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.

Results-Based

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.

Actionable

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.

5 Ways to Make Money From Your Writing

Last week in my Facebook group, The 1% Writers Club (you can join the group here—it’s free), I asked: who wants to be a full-time writer? 
 
Out of the 65 people who responded, 60 said HELL YES, that’s me! 
 
And it makes sense. Most writers who were born to write want to do it full-time. That’s kind of a no-duh, I think.
 
Problem is, most writers don’t know what it really takes to be a full-time writer (and most aren’t willing to do the work—but that’s a whole other thing). They just imagine Stephen King or J.K. Rowling and see themselves sitting around all day drinking coffee and writing fiction. 
 
And that’s totally fine. We’ve all imagined that scenario before.
 
But a lot of times it doesn’t quite happen that way. And when you look at most writers who are making a full-time living from their writing, you’ll find that, nine times out of ten, they’ve diversified. 
 
They’re not just writing novels. They’re also writing nonfiction eBooks, freelance articles, doing some editing and creating digital products and services, for example. 
 
A writer who makes a full-time living from their writing knows you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. At least not at first. 
 
Unless you really do want to stay in your day job until you can write fiction full time. (That could take a while.) If you do, then go ahead and wait. 
 
But if you’re totally impatient like I am, I want you to know that can actually make a living from your writing in 8 to 12 months (maybe even sooner) if you diversify and don’t just try to do one thing. 
 
And really, why would you want to do just one thing? Owning a writing business and being a full-time writer is so much more fun when you’re doing lots of different things.
 
When I first quit my job in 2012 to take my writing business full-time, 90% of my money came from freelance writing projects, including writing copy, blog posts, emails copy, and social media content for companies. The other 10% came from my eBooks and coaching writers.
 
After a couple years, those percentages shifted, and most of my money was coming from coaching, writing services (like editing) and selling digital products. 
 
And now, after years of dreaming about it, a decent chunk of my income each month comes directly from my books (like this month, for example, I’ve made $1,190 so far… and the month isn’t even over yet).
 
Did this happen overnight? No.
 
Did it happen from one book? No.
 
Did it happen from doing only one thing? No. 
 
It came from diversifying. From writing fiction and nonfiction. From creating digital products and doing virtual workshops. From offering writing services and private coaching. 
 
I no longer do freelance writing. I no longer take on writing projects where I’m required to write for someone else.
 
All of the writing I do is stuff I actually want to be writing. It’s writing I want to be doing. 
 
The point of all this is to show you what it really takes to make a living as a writer. And also to inspire you to see that you don’t have to wait until you’ve made enough money from your books to become a full-time writer.
 
You can start right now. Here’s how:
 
Act As If—whoever that writer is you dream of being, be that person RIGHT NOW. Pretend you’re already a writer who makes a full-time living from your writing and then ask yourself every single day, what would I do if I was already that writer? When you absolutely believe at your core that you ARE that writer—even if your reality says otherwise—you WILL become that writer.
 
Start Doing Some Freelance Writing—there are tons of websites out there that list paid freelance writing gigs. Some pay more than others, but even the lower paying ones can be great experience for a writer who wants to get a foot in the door. One of my favorite freelance gig sites is: jobs.problogger.net.
 
Get On A Freelance Site—sites like fiverr.com and upwork.com are great places to offer writing services, depending on the kind of writing you enjoy. You can set up a profile and then offer yourself up as a writer-for-hire. 
 
Ask Around—let people know that you’re looking for paid writing gigs. You never know who has a connection or contact. When I first left my job I reached out to all the people I used to work with and asked them if they knew of anyone looking for content marketing and social media services (which is how I was using my writing back then) and I ended up with several new projects only a couple weeks later. 
 
Write A Self-Help Book—now you should only do this if you’ve accomplished something worthwhile or if you’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience in a certain topic. But in 2014 (the most recent stats I could find), self-help was a $10 billion dollar industry, a big chunk of which included books. Just imagine where it is now! And the reason?

People, more than ever, want to learn, grow and achieve things in their lives. They want to save money and learn how to do stuff themselves. They want to self-heal by using advice and experiences from people who’ve gone through what they’re going through and came out the other side. 

 
So writing a book about something you’ve been through or know a lot about is a great way to jump-start your pro-writing life and, if you do a good job, make some money. 
 
There are so many ways for you to start your pro writing career RIGHT NOW TODAY. You just have to be flexible and open to the idea of diversifying. 
 
Yes, we’d all love to do nothing more than write and publish our novels (or nonfiction books). And, yes, this can absolutely happen. 
 
But it’s not gonna to happen fast (in fact, it could take years and years and years). Whereas you can literally start freelance writing tomorrow. Money in hand, writing out in the world.
 
Pro writer, baby.
 
A lot of writers who see themselves as making a full-time living from writing only see themselves writing books. And while you can do that, you’re much better off diversifying. 
 
There are a lot of different ways to get in the pro-writer game, so don’t limit yourself. Explore all of your options and push yourself to try new things. 
 
Your full-time writer self will thank you for it.

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Which of the 5 options will try to start getting your writing out there and making some money.

Ready to write and publish your nonfiction eBook? I have a self-paced eCourse coming out in mid-August that will help you do just that. Stay tuned! 

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.

 

I’m Finally Taking A Stand and Saying What No One Else Will…

I do that a lot, don’t I? Take a stand, share what I believe. But I’m working with a new mentor now who is pushing me to greater levels of service and success than I ever imagined before.

And one of those things she talks about all the time is how you have to take a stand for your community. You have to take a stand for the people who follow you and for yourself.

You have to stand for what you believe and you have to share it—even if there are people out there who won’t like it. 

This is something I’ve always done anyhow. But there is one topic that I’ve avoided taking a stand on. It’s a topic that’s super close to my heart and something I always dreamed I’d do.

But, to be honest, I’ve been afraid to take a stand on it. To come out and say what I really, truly think and believe about it.

Because there’s a really big chance that you don’t or won’t agree with me… and that’s a scary thing to face. Disagreement. Conflict. People who discover they don’t fit in with my community anymore.

I’ve spoken about this topic before, danced around it for years, but I haven’t really shared my full all-out opinion on it.

But the time has come for me to rise up and take a stand. I deserve it and so do the people who are my ideal tribe members. After you read what I’m about to say, you’ll know once and for all whether or not you are…

I think traditionally publishing in the Digital Age is fucking stupid.

UNLESS you’ve got enough of a following (think Amanda Hocking and Andy Weir) where a traditional publisher comes knocking on YOUR door (when that happens, by all means, hop to it!) OR if you’ve always dreamed of being traditionally published and you’d truly feel like you failed in life if you didn’t make that happen.

But otherwise, I think it’s a bad decision for your writing life. Not because it won’t get you where you want to go, but because it takes away so much of your control and yet throws most of the work on your back. And it takes way too long.

They make the money, you do all the marketing. They give their opinions—and that’s all they are, opinions—and you spend another six months revising a story that’s already fine the way it is.

And did I mention that it takes SOOOO long and it’s built so much on the differing opinions of others—what someone else thinks will sell, what someone else sees as valuable.

I mean, let’s just look at this from a logical stand point. And I will say that I don’t care for logic. I do things how I want to do them, and the world will just have to bend.

But looking at this from a logical stand point… you spend a year writing a book. You’ve cleaned it up, revised it, it’s been to an editor and now it’s ready to go.

And then you’ve gotta look for an agent, because these days, unless you’re going small press, the only way into a big publishing house is through an agent. Could take six months, could take nine. Could even take a year.

When you finally land your agent—which is an awesome accomplishment, by the way, I’m not at all denying that—you now have to wait, again, while your agent tries to sell the book. Another six months goes by. Maybe more.

Or, maybe the agent comes back and says, “so-and-so at this publishing house suggests you make these edits, and so-and-so at that publishing house suggests you make those edits…” So you go back to the story and revise it, yet again. Another six months piled on.

Now let’s say your book actually gets sold to a publisher—and so many don’t—now you’ve got another 12-to-18 months before you’ll ever see that book in print.

Adding that up, it can take you an average of 2-3 years—or even longer, which is the case for most writers. Two to three YEARS! Before you’ll ever see your book in print.

Will it be worth it? Yeah, I’m sure it will be.

But it will be hard-won and you will be burned out… and then once the book finally comes out, you’ll still be responsible for doing all of the marketing. And at that point you won’t want to do it, because you’re so exhausted from how long it took just to get the damn book published in the first place.

Why fucking torture yourself? Why spend years writing pitches and tweaking pitches and making more and more revisions and edits based on so many other peoples’ opinions (ever heard the phrase, too many hands in the pot?)? Why focus so much time and energy on finding an agent and then waiting to find a publisher and then waiting for the publisher to decide it’s time to publish your book?

You could just professionally self-publish your book and get on to writing and self-publishing the next one. (I believe the best way to sell a book is to write and publish another one.)

That is the power of the Digital Age. And yes, you’ll still be doing the marketing for the books you self-publish, but since you won’t be wasting any time or energy on pitching agents and publishers, you’ll have plenty of time and energy to do the marketing.

And then you’ll be the one making the money when your books start to sell. (I mean, you’ll share a little with Amazon, but it’s totally worth it to have this kind of publishing power.)

The gatekeepers are totally gone now. The doors for you to step in and claim the writing success you dream of having are wide open. 

But you’ve gotta step up. You’ve gotta commit to it and you’ve gotta do what it takes.

And, most importantly, you need to professionally self-publish.

What that means is, you treat self-publishing your books like a traditional publisher would: you hire out help for whatever you need to produce a professional book. That can mean hiring an editor, or a story coach, or a cover designer, or a marketing expert. 

Whatever you need to do this self-publishing thing the right way.

I do not support self-publishing in a vacuum or self-publishing when the only person who’s read your book is your spouse or a close friend. That is the biggest mistake self-published authors make and one that causes them to fail and feel totally hopeless because they can’t sell any books.

Books need a vetting process. They need an outside perspective. You cannot publish in a vacuum. You have to get outside feedback.

Now don’t confuse getting outside feedback with listening to the opinions of too many people in the publishing industry. You always need an outside opinion from a professional who knows what they’re talking about, but you don’t have to be inundated by it.

I speak from absolute and total experience on this one. I wrote and published my first eBook—Butt-In-Chair—in 2010. And I didn’t even put that eBook—or the one I wrote next—on Amazon until the end of 2012. Before then I was selling my eBooks exclusively through my website.

And I still made upwards of $4,000 in sales.

Since I’ve been on Amazon, I’ve published five more books—one of which was a multi-category best seller and still resides in the top 5 of its category. And as I’ve done this, I’ve grown my following and am now selling more than 1,000+ books a month.

Six years. It took me six years to get to this point…and I wasn’t even trying that hard until the last few months!!

In the traditional publishing world, it could take you six years just to find an agent or a publisher.

I have a good friend who was committed to traditionally publishing. It took her 11 years to see her book in print. And after all that time and energy and waiting… the book just sits there, collecting dust, because she’s not actively marketing it and neither is her publisher.

Is that REALLY the writing dream you want for yourself? 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are always exceptions. An author who finds an agent and a publisher quickly and when her book debuts it hits #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List and then gets turned into a movie and she becomes an overnight success story.

But that is an exception—and a rare one. That is NOT THE NORM.

When you professionally self-publish and build a following, you can get an agent and publisher to come to you. Seriously. Just look at Amanda Hocking.

Amanda Hocking spent 9 years writing books and getting rejected by publishers. Until one day in 2010 when all that changed. She needed the money to pay for a personal expense, so she put one of her books up on Amazon.

It started selling. Upwards of 9 copies a day. So she put another one up. And it started selling too. And then another and another.

She created millions of dollars from her self-published books AND THEN a traditional publisher came to her with a 2+ million dollar deal.

THAT is the true power of self-publishing and building a following. ‘Cause, remember, you’re gonna be doing all the marketing and work to build a following anyhow, so you may as well be the one to benefit from it.

Traditional publishing just can’t keep up with the power professional self-publishing holds. It’s a whole new ball game and it’s rigged in your favor.

But you’ve gotta do the work. You’ve gotta keep doing the work. You can’t write and self-publish and then sit on your ass. You’ve gotta step up.

Self-publishing is the ultimate way to take control of your writing destiny. But you’ve gotta take it seriously and treat it like a traditional publisher would. That’s the thing that makes the difference between a book that sells and a book that sits.

I’m insanely proud to be a successful self-published author and I will continue to stand and speak for the power of professionally self-publishing and for creating the writing life you dream of having.

I’ve taken my stand… how about you?

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How do you feel about self-publishing? Would you ever give it a try? 

NEW WORKSHOP: On July 18, I’m running a 4-week virtual workshop to help you GROW YOUR FOLLOWING so you can gain a readership, jump-start your traffic and sell more books (now or when you’re ready to). Learn more here

It’s Time for Self-Publishing Success Summit 2016 (Grab Your Free Ticket)

I first learned about self-publishing in 1996 when I wrote a 120-page novella that I was thinking about publishing. Back then it was insanely expensive just to get your book published and printed (thousands and thousands of dollars). And as a 13-year-old, I didn’t exactly have the means.

Today, you can use a site like CreateSpace to self-publish your book for no cost at all (minus any set up or pre-publication expenses, like editors, cover designers, etc). Self-publishing has totally changed the game for emerging authorpreneurs and writers who dream of seeing their name in print.

I’m super proud to be a professionally self-published author. I think self-publishing is the best way to take control of your writing destiny, to put the book you dream of writing out into the world and make an actual profit from it.

Now I say professionally self-published, because there is a difference.

A self-published book is one where the author just put it together and then published it, without any professional outside feedback or guidance. Books like this rarely do well because most writers (especially new writers) don’t have a clue how to write a good book.

A professionally self-published book, on the other hand, has been vetted; it’s had outside feedback and perspective from a professional (or series of professionals) and has been revised and polished accordingly. Now that’s not to say it’s perfect (nothing is, nor can be), but it has a much better shot at being successful.

If you’re going to self-publish, do yourself a HUGE favor and treat it as professionally as you would if you were being traditionally published.

That’s why I’m freaking pumped to tell you about the upcoming Self-Publishing Success Summit. This is a crazy-big annual event with a mission of helping you become the best professionally self-published author you can possibly be. Last year 30,000 people attended from the comfort of their own homes (it’s a virtual event).

This year’s speakers are really, really good, and they’re going to show you how to go from blank page to bestselling author.

Here are just a few of the speakers you’ll learn from at this year’s summit:

Step 1: Becoming An Author (Writing the Book)

  • Jay Papasan — Using The ONE Thing & Time Blocking To Finally Write Your First Book
  • David Allen — The Getting Things Done Approach To Writing Your First Book
  • Cal Newport — Eliminating Distractions & Practicing Deep Work To Finish Your Book
  • Gretchen Rubin — Happiness, Good Habits, And Becoming A Writer
  • Joanna Penn — Fiction Writing Techniques For First Time Authors (What I’ve Learned From Writing 10+ Books)

You’ll find at least one strategy or system in every presentation that you can put to use right away for massive results (like Jay’s time-blocking approach).

Next, marketing and publishing masters will reveal exactly how they went from zero to bestseller to millions of books sold. (Click here for your free ticket.)

Step 2: Marketing & Publishing Mastery

  • Gary Vaynerchuk—You won’t believe what he has to say about marketing 
  • Tucker Max — Selling 3 Million+ Books, Creating A Literary Genre, And Disrupting The Publishing Industry
  • Perry Marshall — 80/20 Book Sales & Marketing
  • John Lee Dumas — Using Kickstarter To Crowdfund Your Book (How I Hit $453,803 And The #6 Publishing Campaign In Kickstarter History))
  • Grant Cardone — Sell Or Be Sold: Using Sales Skills To Sell More Books & Grow Your Company

After you’ve discovered proven marketing and publishing strategies anyone can use, you’ll get hands-on advice on how to turn your book into prestige, respect, celebrity, and a booming business. https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss16/jlblanchard3

Step 3: Monetizing (Making Money From Your Book)

Turn your book into a 6-figure business and a brand with success secrets and strategies from:

  • Jeff Walker — How I Went From #1 NYT Book Launch To $5.1M Product Launch (And What To Do When The NYT Keeps You Off The List)
  •  Barbara Corcoran—from the TV show, Shark Tank
  •  T. Harv Eker — How I Built The Largest Success Training Company In The World Using My Book (Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind)
  •  Hal Elrod — Beyond The Bestseller: Foreign Book Rights, Creating A Book Series, & Selling Out Your First Live Event
  •  Mel Abraham — How I Sold $500K In Backend Products And Grew My Business Using A Book Launch — Mel Abraham
  • Verne Harnish — Scaling Up Your Business Using Books (And How I Sold 250,000+ Copies Of My First Self-Published Book)

These experts and dozens more leading authors and entrepreneurs are breaking down exactly how to self-publish, market, and turn your book into a successful business. I can’t wait for this event!

>> Claim your FREE ticket to Self-Publishing Success Summit 2016

Image courtesy of Aaron Burden