Getting Started (what you'll learn)

Many authors spend months navigating complex publishing options and when they finally figure out their book cover and formatting and are ready to put their book for sale, they realize they have no idea how to get people to buy it.

So they start researching author websites and social media and book marketing and Facebook ads and Goodreads and keywords and—I could go on and on…

Everybody wants to learn book marketing tricks or hacks, but successful authors will tell you it’s no big secret: you need to build a strong author platform. But what does that mean? And what if you don’t want to spend a year blogging and building an email list? Why can’t you just set up everything all at once and be done with it?

This course is designed for people who have finished their books but are starting with little or no author platforms – they want to launch soon so they need to set everything up quickly and effectively for maximum impact.

Why a “course”? There’s already a whole bunch of guides to publishing and marketing books out there. I know because I’ve read them all; and I’ve written a few myself that continue to sell dozens of copies every single day. I’ve written about writing, formatting and designing books. I’ve written about book marketing.

But I wanted to do more. On my numerous blogs I write about strategies you can and should use to write and sell books that hit and stay on the bestseller lists. But most of these little tricks are extras that only work when you’ve already set up a basic author platform.

What is an author platform? Anything you have that helps you reach readers – your website, your Amazon page, social media accounts, ads or promotions, videos or podcasts – it’s the collective sum of your online presence.

I was thinking about writing 21 individual books on each topic, instead of one big one, which would have been a neat example of guerrilla marketing (completely blacking out the entire wall of my category bestseller lists during launch). And I wanted to avoid another book marketing book that just lists basic summaries of all the things you can do:

"Use Twitter – because Twitter is great for book marketing!"

You don’t need more crap like that.

And you’ve probably already heard of all the things I want to talk about.

The problem is, even if you’re using them – you’re probably using them wrong. And if you aren’t using them yet, it’s probably because getting set up seems too hard or confusing. And reading a section in a book describing the process isn’t going to make it any easier.

I wanted to make something much more useful: an insanely specific, ridiculously practical (precise to the point of being obscene) series of books focused on mini-topics.

But that was six years ago: it was mostly another stunt to get a ton of free visibility, when I should have been more focused on helping you learn all of this material. I often have very good ideas that are too large to actually tackle, and I've started to focus on the less flashy, simpler tasks that move the needle forward. This course may never be everything I originally intended it to be, but that's OK - because we'd both rather be writing, and this is the easiest way for me to share my knowledge so that you can implement quickly and see results.

Each day will focus on setting up one critical aspect of your author platform, I’ll show you how to do everything, and though it may take you several hours of work, I think it is possible to complete each task in one day, so that you’ll be ready to launch your book successfully in just three weeks. (You don’t have to wait three weeks, you can publish first and do this stuff later – but I strongly recommend holding off if it’s not too late; you’ll have a much more powerful book launch and if you do these steps in order, leading up to your launch).

Disclaimer: I was talking with a friend recently who has been publishing some novels. I recommend a bunch of things he could do to build his author platform; start a podcast, a facebook page, review other authors in your genre… many of the same tips I’ll share in this series. But he shrugged it off, because he’s “an 80-20 kind of guy.”

He said that 80% of success is going to depend on 20% of the action, and in this case, the vast majority of author success will depend on the book. Not just the design and formatting, though that’s part of it; MOSTLY it’s about the kind of book you’ve written it, how well you’ve written it, and how many fans there are of that particular genre who are going to read it. So his thought was, focusing on writing more books is more important than doing any author platform building stuff.

And largely, he’s right. It is the most important thing.

However, here are my objections:

Most of you have probably already written a book. Maybe you plan to write more, maybe not. But there’s a good chance you didn’t write a bestselling book in a popular genre. There’s a good chance you will make some mistakes with the design, publishing and distribution.

80% of success is the book – but when the book is finished, that large chunk is completely out of your hands. It’s either successful, or it isn’t. What you CAN still do, are all the extra things that are outside your book (all the things that make up your author platform). They won’t guarantee success. The book is always going to be more important. But when the book is done and you want to sell more copies, the author platform is the way to do it.

Also – it isn’t true that you need to constantly maintain things or devote a lot of time to building an author platform. You can set it up in as little as three weeks, and do very little maintenance. But once it’s set up, you can focus on writing lots of books, but those books will become easier and easier to market, as your author platform gets more and more visibility and traffic.

What you shouldn’t do, is spend a great deal of time or money building your author platform. But you do want it to be pretty good, functional, not terribly hideous or unprofessional, and serve its purpose well. It’s the icing on the cake. It’s that extra something special that, while it won’t make or break your success as an author, could help you sustain long term sales and growth.

But the books matter most; and you usually need several of them before you see earnings (I’m shooting for 10 novels before I even worry about making income – but after I’ve published 100 books I firmly believe I’ll be over the 10K a month mark.)

Something else worthy of note: developing your author platform is a task you need to consider even – or especially – if you hope to find an agent or traditional publisher. You can pay a “vanity press” to publish for you, but without a platform they will do little to nothing to sell your book. In fact the publishing industry as a whole has been in upheaval for several years, and a significant author platform is crucial for getting any interest in your book project. Many people get publishing contracts and advances simply based on the numbers of their author platform.

So if you’re preparing a manuscript to submit, going through this three week course and building at least something to show will give your book an extra advantage.

An author platform isn’t everything, and it isn’t strictly necessary, and there may even be better ways to spend your time. But, in the very likely event that you’ve finished the book and have no idea what to do with your time, your sales are dismal and you can’t get any interest at all, taking the actions outlined in this 21-step program is, in my opinion, a very good process for you to go through, the benefits of which you may not fully appreciate until years later.

What it looks like in practice:
I made this video for YouTube but it gives you a sense of what we're trying to accomplish. Whenever anybody searches for anything relevant to my genres, my blog content shows up first. That means I always get a lot of free traffic, I can then try to turn into sales:

Complete and Continue