Writers: We’re Doing It All Wrong

Changing the ModelIt’s been a few days since I last posted. For me, quiet usually means I’m deep in thought and big things are happening in my life. This week has been transformational, something I will be sharing in more detail with you later, but I’ll share with you one part of it today.

It All Started with a Webinar

Yesterday, I was listening to a webinar by Mirasee owner and small business startup marketing expert, Danny Inys. He told the story of creating his first online course. He spent 2500 hours developing it, and it sold to 20 people. Just 20. He revised the process out of fear of failure, spent 60 hours on the next one, and netted a much bigger response. The difference? He got people to buy in to his idea before he produced it, and then he got them to help him create it by getting their feedback on it as he went. This got me thinking about how we write books.

The Current Model Isn’t Working

We spend countless hours at our dining room table putting together content that we then spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars packaging and putting on the market with no idea of whether or not it will sell. We end up giving away our books just to get some attention, and we often walk away with very few sales out of it.

Even the big publishers get it wrong. 7 out of 8 of the books they buy never break even. It’s why publishers are so cautious about who they bring on board – they can’t afford the losses. It’s the reason they want to make sure that the authors they take on already have a built-in audience, so they can virtually guarantee that they will make money from their investment in it.

For the longest time, I’ve searched for a better way for writers like me to get their voices heard and their books sold. I’ve subscribed to virtually every single email list out there with book marketing tips and strategies. The first hint came weeks earlier.

Testing the Market Before We Write

Last Friday, as part of my quest to help make 40 Day Writer Reality TV a reality, I got on Twitter and I participated in a pitch party being held by Curtis Brown, a literary talent agency. I decided to trot out several of the book concepts I’d been playing with and see what response I got on Twitter as a method of deciding which story I would invest my time in writing.

The results were positive on several levels. First, I was able to see in measurable amounts which idea was the strongest based on engagement versus exposure – how many people interacted with it versus how many people saw it. Second, I was able to see which book blurbs were well written enough to work and which needed improvement.

I wrote the first two chapters of the winning book blurb and posted them to the 40 Day Writers Facebook group. The response was very positive. People wanted to read more. It was the second step of confirmation that this was a winning idea.

Testing As We Write

I realized that this is one secret to the success of authors like Diana Gabaldon and Stephanie Meyers. If you read up on what they were doing as they wrote their books, they were testing them as they got them written. They had a group they belonged to and people who were giving them feedback on the story as they went. Not only did this give them the encouragement they needed to continue, it allowed them to see where their writing was working and where it needed work as they went.

They were able to build a fan foundation before they ever released their first book, and to gain an audience that felt like they were co-creators. This is something else that Danny mentioned during the call. He said that people who participated in pilot programs of your course are more likely to buy the finished product because they feel like they had a hand in creating it!

I believe I have finally stumbled on the way for struggling authors to break into the market, figuring out which of their book ideas to develop first, and then investing the time in writing a book that will sell well by testing as they go.

The Potential for Radical Transformation

Imagine if you, as a writer, could take the anxiety out of a book launch. Imagine if you didn’t have to worry that the money and the time you’ve invested in creating it would be flushed down the drain. Imagine if you knew for a fact that people wanted the book you were writing and were cheering you on to finish it. How different would the writing experience be?

It is possible, and I think this is the way forward.

Participating in the Grand Experiment

So, I’m inviting you to participate with me in a grand experiment. I want you to take all of the ideas you’ve ever had for writing a book, fiction or non-fiction, and compile them into a text file. Tweet each of these using the hashtag #40daywriter and @WriterBrandy. Remember – if it can’t fit in a tweet, it’s too long. Using hashtags is important because it allows us to sort through all the billions of tweets that go out in a day to find yours, and we can then track more easily the responses you receive.

To add an incentive for your participation, the one who gets the most engagement on their tweet will receive a free ebook cover designed by me. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can comment on it below and I’ll share it on my Twitter feed. I’ll also be posting something later this week about how to set up your Twitter account, and I’ll be one of your first followers once you do if you’ll let me know that you’ve done it.

A Special Offer

If you sign up for my email list, not only will you be getting the recipe I use for cooking up my book blurbs, but I’ll be including you in my beta-readers club. You’ll get to read my works-in-progress as I create them and give me feedback on it that will help guide me in making it better. It’s a win-win for both of us.

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