Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Adams, successful author and entrepreneur, is best known for his highly popular
daily cartoon strip, Dilbert,
chronicling the workplace ups and downs of this nicely nerdy engineer and his
odd workfellows, which include a pointy-haired boss and colleagues who make an
art of work-shirking.
has written a valuable, enthusiastically reviewed book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story
of My Life. “This is the story of one person’s unlikely success within the
context of scores of embarrassing failures,” encouragement for those of us who
feel on the edge of success but not yet ensconced there. Rather contrarian, it
serves as an “on the other hand” for the advice we often receive.
It’s Mostly Luck
where, and what you are is largely a matter of chance Adams argues.
so, you can improve your chances. Adding a skill, even at a modest level,
“doubles” your chances for success: public speaking, psychology, conversation,
grammar, persuasion, a second language, business writing, basic accounting, the
Internet, even design basics. He lists about a dozen useful skills. These
skills become part of your “stack of talents.” The more of them, like tickets
to a lottery, the more likely you are to capitalize on an opportunity and win.
Passion Is B.S.
learned this from a commercial loan officer who shied away from lending to
entrepreneurs who were long on passion: “…the best loan customer is one who has
no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good
on a spreadsheet.” Finance trumps fervor.
Goals Are Not Golden,
without goals, we are adrift; specific goals can keep us motivated and on
course. And yet…a goal we repeatedly fail to reach is discouraging, sapping our
energy. Better, Adams argues, is to have a system, a method we stick to and
regularly reward ourselves for doing so.
20 pounds? Nice idea for some, but if progress is slow, the diet is dropped. Instead,
we must change our eating habits, adopt a new system. Every day we stick to the
new regime is a victory. I did this myself this year, dropping 10% of my weight
by greatly restricting carbs and replacing them with salads and proteins. The
daily “victories” helped me maintain my new weight. I confess I did keep track
of both what I was eating and how much I lost.
Failure Is the Raw
Material for Success
describes numerous failures on his way to success as an author, entrepreneur,
and cartoonist. “If success were easy, everyone would do it. It takes effort.”
in the mound of your unsuccessful efforts is likely to be a success. “The trick
is to get the good stuff out.”
you generate the mound. Adams amusingly describes his own pile of
trial-and-error. From failure comes knowledge…if the failure is faced squarely,
and if it doesn’t kill you. Next comes success.
Conservation of Energy
Is not Limited to Physics
we can increase our personal energy---sleep enough, eat well, keep active
daily---we have to note what drains our energy, too; avoid the negativity of
much of the news of the day and the people who are pessimists rather than
optimists. Pay attention to how you feel; recognize uppers and downers.
or Just Seem To Be So?
Jane Dough, am going to be a best-selling writer.” That’s an affirmation.
Repeat it often, and it appears to improve your chances of reaching this goal.
Adams gives specific, rather spooky, examples from his own life of his affirmations
that came true. He gives the arguments on both sides of the question of whether
an affirmation really changes your chances or only seems to. He concludes it
costs you nothing and may well be of benefit.
The Best Advice on
you want something, figure out the price, then pay it.” You have to decide rather than merely want.
to be successful, and paying the price for it, may seem excessively selfish,
but doing so can allow you to enjoy your life, help others, and not be a burden
estimates he will consume about a tenth of the wealth he has gained, with the
rest going to “taxes, future generations, start-up investments[D1] and stimulating the
economy.” Failed enterprises do not long support their owners, their employees,
or their communities.
Doubt the Experts
truths are self-evident; some are simply expert opinion. Though experts have a
better record than non-experts, they also make serious mistakes. Advice must be
taken with skepticism.
your gut feeling (intuition) disagrees with the experts, take that seriously.”
Going against expert opinion may lead to ideas that open opportunities for you
that others have overlooked.
sometimes you should doubt even popular cartoonists.
What are you doing to add to your skill set? What have
you done to improve your “luck”?
First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book is Tim
Grahl’s contribution to the art or science of marketing your book. His method
relies on a strong email list, applying a system of:
permission, your communication efforts risk being ignored, deleted or otherwise
tuned out.” Grahl’s key: a mailing list of willing recipients. “Earning such permission is the art of
motivating website visitors to grant permission to stay connected.” In
other words, letting you add to the clutter of their email. “Having a direct
connection to an individual’s inbox gives authors a way to communicate to their
readers where they regularly spend their time.”
You get their permission by attracting them to a website
with an offer, exchanging the offer for something you value, their email address.
People pay more attention to most items
in their email inbox, nearly 100%, than they do to items on Twitter or Facebook,
more like 1%. You want them to get to know you and vice-versa. “…your #1 goal as an author should be to
grow your email list as much as possible.” Look into MailChimp, Aweber, and
overarching rules: (1) make a specific, compelling offer and (2) expose them to
the offer multiple times.”
Use their permission; deliver to them valuable content regularly, and
share it freely and publicly, giving it a chance to go viral. Share more than
you feel comfortable sharing. Grahl (2013) gives many examples of success by
sharing, as your following grows faster, your connections increase and improve,
and your reputation soars. Consider bonus offerings besides the book. “Fans
Expanding and deepening your connections, outreach, starts with empathy,
identifying with the feelings and thoughts of another. Help
others. Zig Zigler is quoted, “You can get everything you want in life if you
just help enough other people to get what they want in life.” Grahl claims the
investment is worth it: “Long-term career plans require long-term thinking.”
Over time, you will have connections to both fans and influencers, the latter
being more lucrative. Fans you give
one-to-many communication. Influencers
you give one-to-one interaction.
For recruiting readers, Grahl recommends:
where they spend their time.
an introduction approach to their platform(s).
is the goal of the system. Boost yourself. Ask others to buy, having stimulated
their appetites. “Leave them wanting more.” Tell stories that help you connect
emotionally with your readers. “Enthusiasm sells. Let it out.” Make it easy to
buy and ask them to.
the system: Mass
marketing especially depends on building a system to manage the multitudinous
contacts. Do it.
this is not the kind of work I like to do; My email list is paltry and filled
with friends rather than potential customers. Your talents, taste, and
experience may be quite different.
Excerpted from my book, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP and from online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.
Mark Allen sold his SELL MORE BOOKS: Self-Publisher’s Guide to
Getting a Top Selling Book, charging only $0.99 at amazon.com, for its
40 pages of material. I could not find it again in January 2017, however.
Top Selling Book is all about how to
market a self-published book….based on the following basic ideas:
Media (podcasts, radio TV)
Each idea is meant to market
and expand awareness of your book.”
element helps support the other.
His first idea: work hard to get your book on the first page
of searches by giving it away or selling it cheaply at the start.
will help with his second recommendation: get reviews. The more readers, the
more reviews. Top reviewers at amazon display their email addresses, and you
are urged to contact them. Put the link to Amazon’s review page for the book at
the end of your book, where those who read it to the end will find it
“Your book should be offered to all major
ebook vendors. At the end of this book, I have a large list with links to eBook
turning your ebook into a physical book, using for example, Create Space. You
can buy them cut-rate and sell them in person.
your book as an app.
audio book, perhaps getting a voice-over from someone on fiverr.com.
“…it can generate as much as
60 of your monthly sales.”
He lists the top ten sites and their unique monthly
“Social media is global word of mouth.
Books get sold on word of mouth.” “Don’t get discouraged. Growing an
audience is slow.” “Don’t spam shameless plugs for your book.”
“YouTube marketing is
effective for nonfiction and fiction books alike. Especially ‘how to’ type
YouTube videos.” The videos have a long shelf life. Consider using a pro from
fiverr, although audiences may prefer the author.
“For fiction and nonfiction alike, an
author blog is a must have.” The free blogs are probably adequate. You want
to catch the attention of people. “You attract people with your information and
direct them in one way of another to your book and branding.” You have to use
other social media to call attention to your blog. Search for related blogs and
“The more you
give to people, the more sales you will get.”
marketing broadly is a better investment than marketing locally. Think:
Pareto’s 80/20 rule, 80% of the value in 20% of the items/activities.
of eBook Sites
About 80 sites are listed, and their links are active, using the
Excerpted from my Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available online from OP and amazon.com and bn.com among others.
On January 16, 2015, I listened to a fine webinar by marketing and publicity expert Steve Harrison (@PublicityGuy on Twitter, head of Bradley Communications Corp.) on nine common errors, to which he added a tenth. He emphasized that your book represents you, so make it as good as you can.
1. WRONG STRUCTURE: Don’t deviate from the tried and true, such classics as Covey’s itemized 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Blanchard’s parables in the One-Minute Manager, or the classic How To…. Imitate what has succeeded in the past.
2. WRONG PUBLISHING OPTION: Your choices include self-publishing, co-publishing with a subsidy press, getting an agent and a conventional publisher. Then, too, there are print and digital. Each has its plusses and minuses.
3. WRONG TITLE: Keep it short. Make it intriguing. Make a promise. Bust a myth. Quantify, such as Tim Ferriss did in The 4-Hour Work Week. Get advice from others; even run a focus group.
4. NOT MEDIA-GENIC: Need a hook to get attention: Fame. Celebrity. Current event. How to. Myth busting. Controversy.
5. WAIT UNTIL PUBLISHED TO START CASHING-IN: No, start as soon as you have a good title and some work done on the book. Pre-sell, if you can. Lecture. Do interviews.
6. TRYING TO SAY EVERYTHING IN ONE BOOK: Pick your best, save the rest. A few key ideas you can explain clearly, forcefully.
7. NOT IDENTIFYING A “CHOIR” TO PREACH TO THAT WILL SING YOUR PRAISES: Need a tribe to help promote you. Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life advanced by congregations he contacted. Robert Kiyosaki (2000) pushed Rich Dad, Poor Dad with help from multi-level marketing contacts.
8. NOT DESIGNING YOUR BOOK TO FACILITATE FOLLOW-UPS: Make it easy to know how to reach you. Solicit email addresses from fans. Much money from books comes from follow-up activities, like speeches.
9. NOT HAVING A TEAM: Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor single-handedly. Others help with ideas and actions, serve as “multipliers.”
PERFECTIONISM: Promising nine items, Harrison delivered one more: the French say, “the best is the enemy of the good.” Nothing man-made is perfect, and if you wait to reach perfection, you will not publish.
In May 2015, Ty Cohen, highly
successful author of books sold as paperbacks primarily on amazon.com and as
ebooks sold through its Kindle Direct Publishing Program (KDP), presented a
generously detailed webinar on writing and publishing his way, followed with a
short pitch for his program that you can see at KindleCashFlow.com.
He has been dubbed “King of
Amazon Kindle Publishing” and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his
I summarize his talk:
New authors typically have one
of the following three problems:
Being a procrastinating perfectionist. The writer finds his work is never
perfect, so he never publishes it.
knowing what the audience wants.
Needing a way to get in front of the right audience.
These new authors have other problems, as well, with
decisions that need to be made about: attracting readers, setting prices,
choosing covers, selecting genres, and getting started rapidly.
Publishing is undergoing a
radical transformation from the publishing of physical books to the publishing
of digital books:
1. The book 50 Shades of Grey got its initial
success on Amazon’s Kindle.
2. Amanda Hocking made $3 million in her first 18 months;
she was self-published.
3. Stephen Leather sells 2000 ebooks per day containing his
4. Novelist John Locke sold $1 million in ebooks in his
first year, under nine different titles.
Clearly there is money,
distribution, even fame to be obtained through the use of self-publishing in
to the Kingdom and Its Treasury
Cohen’s keys to success on Amazon:
what readers want.
which price points are optimal.
a huge, loyal fan base.
large sales so readers and publishers seek you out.
royalties dwarf those of traditional publishing houses. Often
Amazon gives authors 70% of the price of their ebook. Conventional publishers
typically give 5 to 10% royalty for a printed book.
Not only are there 7 billion
devices worldwide that can receive ebook content, but Amazon itself has 700
million credit card numbers already on file, simplifying the purchasing process
for its customers.
Amazon for Research
Authors can use Amazon’s sales
information and review information to determine what the public is interested
in having them write about.
Go to amazon.com and type in
the genre you want to investigate. Sort by the number of reviews that the books
have received or more specifically five-star and four-star reviews. Amazon
makes it easy to sort by other characteristics as well.
Look at the most popular books
and determine their strengths and weaknesses by reading the very favorable and
the very unfavorable reviews. This will help you understand what the readers
want and don‘t want.
In general, the book’s title
is the first thing that captures a potential reader’s attention. Next is the
cover. Finally, those still interested will read the description of the book.
Them What They Want
You are trying to seduce your
reader into going past page 20. The title beckons. The first few pages continue
to entice. You must continue to battle for attention.
Although a high price will
give you more money per book, it can easily become too high and cut your total
revenue. Amazon gives 70% for ebooks
priced at $2.99 and above, and this $2.99 price Cohen has found to be optimal.Books over $10 sell at 1/6th
the rate of those at $2.99. Not only does this $2.99 price get your more money
up front, it gets more readers to swell your fan base, valuable for sales of
follow-on publications and other uses.
In pricing the paperback
edition of my WYBWM, I chose to make
it roughly a dollar more than the minimum allowed by its publisher. Gaining wider distribution trumped
profit-making. If I make it a Kindle book, I will probably charge $2.99, as
lower prices produce much less income, and very inexpensive books are often not
given much respect. Besides, 70% of $2.99 nets the author $2.07, and 35% of
$0.99 nets $0.35, one-sixth.
Many Honest Positive Reviews
number of reviews the book has and how enthusiastic they are keys to successful
sales. Even if you are giving the book away, people will be
reluctant to spend the time to read them without some reasonable assurance that
they are likely to find that effort worthwhile. Favorable reviews give that
to obtain such reviews?
a good book.
2.Contact people who have already written
reviews on Amazon.
Unfortunately, Cohen does not indicate how to
3.Having contacted them, ask if they would
like a copy, and gently request that they review it. Those
who do agree to accept a copy of the book will usually end up giving favorable
reviews, partly because they are predisposed to liking such books and partly
due to feeling that a gift should be reciprocated.
Translations to Speak to Reader in Own Language
to English is Spanish for world-wide use, and English books can be translated
to Spanish readily using http://translate.google.com or hiring a translator from eLance.com or