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Why authors don’t make money selling books and what to do about it.

I’m re-reading this rather lengthy article today which reminds me of all the reasons authors don’t make that much money with their books. Tim Ferriss highlights all the math and percentages so I don’t need to go into all of it right here. At the end of the article, he also suggests speaking as a side gig for authors…

Speaking: Particularly in the business category, if you target your Fortune 500 audience well enough, you can stair-step your way into $20,000 per 60-minute keynote without needing a miracle. Hundreds, if not thousands, of authors earn this kind of money. The higher echelon can make $80,000 or more per speaking engagement. Needless to say, this adds up fast.

Even with all the disclaimers in that paragraph one would think that this is all you need to do to start making the kind of income you want. Well yes and no. Authors who write in business, medical or self-help categories can parlay their book into a speaking engagement pretty easily. But what happens if you’ve written a cookbook? How often have you paid to go hear a cookbook author speak (and no, I’m not talking about those cookbook writers who also happen to host their own shows).

Consider that your book is but one component of your entire brand.

Your book is your calling card. It gives you entry into larger venues, and establishes your credibility. It should not however, be the only tool in your toolkit. Nor should it be the primary focus. You are the brand. Your life experience, knowledge, unique perspective, upbringing, training & education all combine to make you the brand. Anyone can write a cookbook, but there’s only ever going to be one you.

Plus a strategy centered solely around selling a cookbook is not as strong and looks something like this:

  • publish the cookbook
  • publish a website with the book on the front page
  • include links to sites that sell your book
  • send out periodic updates to your Facebook friends
  • schedule local or regional book signings
  • hope for the best

You’re left wondering why Amazon or Barnes & Noble are making all of the money when clearly you put a considerable effort into making the product. Plus who is reading your cookbook and are they enjoying it? And why on earth are you not pocketing more than $75k in sales?

Alternatively, a platform strategy centered around the chef or baker looks somewhat different:

  • Launch a platform that positions the chef as an expert
  • Create an endorsement strategy
  • Partner with key influencers
  • Publish the first of multiple cookbooks with a clear focus and special content that directs your reader back to your platform
  • Automate sales of your book and release an interactive product connected to your book
  • Capture all email addresses of your readers
  • Turn your readers into fans by sending them unique content
  • Plan your book launch, press junkets and events and collect more fans and create landing pages and websites for each event
  • Automate sales of products that are licensed to use your image/logo
  • Keep giving the media a compelling reason to promote you
  • Offer services that bring your brand forward – this could anything from cooking classes to custom menu/recipe development
  • Sell and promote your expert knowledge about ingredients, products, locations, cookware, style, etc.
  • Market and re-market products, services and ideas to your growing number of followers
  • Create new campaigns, products, events and mini-sites that you market with your industry partners (for example other chefs, restaurants, bartenders, celebrities, lifestyle mavens, designers, etc.)
  • Innovate

Happy writing, launching and selling!

Lise

“Why the big boys lose their edge and the virtual company is king.”

One of our most recent projects reminded me about the never-ending layers of bureaucracy and the slug-like speed at which things are sometimes accomplished (if that truly ever happens) in large corporations. This sort of thing can be somewhat frustrating for a virtual company proponent. Nevertheless, it has inspired me to keep a running list in my mind (and now here) on the slow & stodgy traits of the big boys vs. those of the small and nimble. Which list describes your business?

Does your business have these Slow & Stodgy Traits?

  1. Unnecessary people, doing unnecessary tasks, collecting unnecessary paychecks
  2. Very little ability to innovate because of past decisions and investments in software technology that limit growth potential
  3. Old, outdated processes created for reasons no one can now recall
  4. Invested in equipment that now sits in a storage room instead of selling it to create a profit
  5. Never questions the status quo or comparing your company to the best in class
  6. Employs those who prefer to impress the boss instead of doing what’s right
  7. Discounts the inherent wealth of knowledge buried within the company
  8. Builds silos, management layers and territories who operate independent of the larger organization and cannot share resources easily or effectively

Or are you one of the Small & Nimble who:

  1. Have the ability to turn on a dime – creating quick, workable solutions which solve client’s challenges
  2. Opt for the best in class which is not always the most expensive option
  3. Decide at the outset to build a company which will remain virtual and profitable
  4. Allow for smart and calculated growth
  5. Automate 90% of what they do
  6. Limit the number of full-time employees – as they consider this model to be outdated
  7. Are never afraid to toss out something that’s not working
  8. Constantly ask whether they can do better and improve the process and returns
  9. Run a company with a skeleton crew
  10. Plan, automate, improve, repeat.

Growth and profitability does not always mean that a company becomes weighted down and ineffective. Start now to build your company so that it stays lean and smart.

Micropreneur Ventures

I talk a lot about owning your own business around here. Primarily because I adore all things about business, and also because it’s one way for people to do what they love and make a great living. But I’m not fond of just any old type of business model – I love our new Online Micropreneurial Business Model, which is based on the years of experience and research I’ve done while working in and around some of the best virtual companies. And boy do I have some stories to tell…

From product selection to daily schedules, I’ve seen it all. These companies often fly under the radar and they don’t make Money or Inc. magazines. They are ordinarily run by anywhere between 1 to 7 people, and provide product or services to a niche market. These companies are all virtual. They hardly ever touch products, they take out advertising with precision, sometimes their websites aren’t even very elaborate – but they provide details that speak to a particular market and they make it easy for people to pay them. Plus they all make at least 7 figures per year. What’s not to like about that?

Our Online Micropreneurial Business Model helps new micropreneurs grow small and nimble niche companies – based on something they have a passion for.  But I think the key to being a successful micropreneur is in the setup of the virtual business.You can’t just throw it online, post a few blogs and product links and hope for the best. So here is a quick preview of my list of the top 6 things that are absolutely essential for upcoming micropreneurs to include in their virtual business planning and setup:

  1. Process Automation for 90% of your Sales, Marketing & Advertising
  2. Beneficial Information Products
  3. Niche Market Expertise and a Unique Voice
  4. Multiple Payment Portals
  5. Attractive, Trust-Building Branding
  6. Residual, Passive, Active and Leveraged Income Streams

Without any one of these six areas in place, you’re probably working too hard to make a living doing what you love.

Lise

The Difference between Owning a Job and Owning a Business

Recently Sanofi-Aventis made the news when they handed out pink slips to over 1,700 employees by phone. I won’t get into the callous delivery of this news – instead, I’ll just focus on the next steps for each of these people.

Some of them will seek a new position in the same industry. Even if you change some of the variables like choosing a smaller company, different industry, or alternate career path; these job seekers open themselves up to the same type of situation that just occurred. They are in essence buying time, but not stability.

Others, will strike out on their own, putting their expertise to work. This new group of consultants will end up owning their own jobs.  While they do gain some additional control over their future, they often end up working harder than they ever did in the corporate environment.

Another smaller percentage will buy or create a system that makes them a business owner, hopefully with their eyes on employing other people. These people are looking at franchise opportunities and long-term growth.

The final group of people will become investors and take control of the resources made available in their 401k and severance packages to invest in their own future cash flow.

I’ve got to tell you that my bet is on the people that choose to buy or create systems and become smart investors. Gainful employment is not a bad thing mind you – it’s just that when you don’t have a plan to transition to something that provides you more security you become a sitting duck.

And I don’t like being a sitting duck –

The Rule of 5 or How a Super Successful Author Made it to the New York Times Bestsellers List

I finished up a proposal yesterday for a new author (who we are super excited about launching!!!) that included a bit of history of how Jack Canfield pushed his first Chicken Soup for the Soul book to the New York Bestsellers list.

Here’s a little snippet ::

Jack Canfield and his team sold over 8 million copies of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book and went on to produce over 40 New York Times bestsellers. They did this despite being self-published and almost unknown in the publishing industry then. Canfield developed a strategy after consulting with a variety of industry experts including marketing guru, Dan Poynter and John Kremer who wrote “1001 Ways to Market your Book” ultimately creating their own practice known as “The Rule of 5.”

The Rule of 5 suggests that we do a minimum of 5 tasks each day to move us toward our goals. Team Canfield used a combination of sustained effort, enthusiasm, eagerness and a strong desire to see their book catapult to the best seller lists. With each team member executing five things every day, Jack Canfield’s first book hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1 year.

This story had a profound impact on me when I read it; and all of our business development, sales and project plans are now based on this Rule of 5 and the power of sustained team effort.