SSA #027: This Skill Stack Will Build Your Author BusinessJul 08, 2023
Read Time: 4.5 minutes
When I first (briefly) dipped my feet into running Facebook Ads for my wife's books back in 2017, I thought this whole self-publishing thing was easy:
Run a few ads, and make sales.
How wrong (and naive) I was. There's so much more to this game than running ads.
The more you play the game, the more you learn, and the more you understand the depth of what truly leads to success.
The tallest buildings have the deepest foundations. The same is true for your author business.
If your books are the building itself, everything else required for running an author business is the foundation. And we all know what happens to buildings with little to no foundations.
So, today, we're going to a slightly different rabbit hole. It's not directly Facebook Ads related but will have a huge impact on your author business as a whole if you take action.
I want to share with you the 3 skills that have had the biggest impact on our journey (our being my wife and I) in the self-publishing world.
Let's dive into it...
Skill #1: Marketing and Advertising
Love it or hate it, you'll need to become accustomed to marketing and advertising if you want to succeed in this game for the long term.
Without marketing and advertising, your books will be buried beneath millions of other books, never seeing the light of day.
Embrace marketing though, and you can enjoy the writing process of your books, safe in the knowledge that the marketing and advertising systems you have in place are bringing new readers into your world on a daily basis; potentially, to the tunes of $100's or $1,000's per day.
Fortunately, I've always loved the marketing side of business.
Lori, on the other hand, has not.
So, she is in the rare position of being able to dedicate 99% of her time to writing, leaving the marketing and advertising to me.
Once her next book is out though (early August), we're going to be tackling the marketing and advertising together, which for me, is quite a relief, as it's a lot on your shoulders doing all this by yourself, as you may well know from personal experience.
And Lori is also looking forward to getting her teeth into something new.
Marketing and advertising for us don't involve much work because my philosophy is less is more, but here's a sampling of the marketing tasks we work on each week:
- Facebook Ads
- Amazon Ads
- Email Newsletters (Lori)
- Email Autoresponders
- Analyzing the data
- Tracking performance of Ads and overall business
- Replying to comments on the Facebook Ads (Lori)
The problem I see many authors facing with marketing and advertising is believing that they need to do all the things and be everywhere.
You don't. You really don't.
What you actually need to do is do less, but do it better.
Focus on honing your skills on 1-2 marketing and advertising avenues; that's all you need.
If I were to give you one piece of actionable advice, it would be to learn and devote time to:
- Facebook Ads (shameless plug: Jumpstart Facebook Ads For Authors will show you exactly how I run Facebook Ads)
- Email Marketing (Building an autoresponder and sending a monthly newsletter)
- Tracking the performance of your author business (i.e. total royalties, total spend, profit, orders, page reads, etc.)
Aside from great books, and strong branding, this is all you need to build a thriving author business.
Skill #2: Curiosity
It's all too easy to slip into the habit of taking everything you have for granted, especially when things are going well.
Just letting things chug along, and forgetting about indulging in your curiosities and other possibilities and opportunities.
Now, before you think it, I'm not talking about shiny object syndrome here!
I'm talking about not standing still because if you're not moving forwards, you've already lost.
For Lori and me, curiosity has led us down the route of:
- Finding a foreign rights agent
- Searching for a TV/Film Agent
- Launching a Shopify Store to sell Lori's books direct to readers
You need to adapt, you need to evolve.
Without this evolution, you will fall by the wayside.
Embrace your curiosity, but at the same time, don't let it consume you and lead you away from what is working and already driving results.
Yes, this is a difficult balance to attain, but it's possible.
Become fascinated by absorbing knowledge, learning new skills, and the opportunities you create for yourself could change the trajectory of your author business.
Skill #3: Decision Making
I'm a procrastinator on the little things, but a fast-decision maker on the big things. Perhaps that's the wrong way around, who knows!
Buying a car, a house, getting married, having kids; these decisions took mere seconds to decide on.
What to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; these decisions took far too long to make for what they were and the impact they'd have on our lives.
As you build your author business, you'll be faced with decision after decision, some large, some small:
- Should you turn this Facebook Ad off?
- Should you increase the budget on this Facebook Ads campaign?
- Should you say yes to this newsletter swap opportunity?
- Should you send that newsletter to your subscribers?
- Should you start running Facebook Ads in the first place? (yes)
First off, stop shoulding all over yourself.
Instead, ask could you do these things.
Could these opportunities benefit you in some way, and if so, how? What will be the potential downside to saying yes to these opportunities?
Decision-making isn't about being smart. It's about avoiding making the wrong decisions.
Sure, there's always the element of the unknown, and there will inevitably be leaps of faith you must make at times.
"Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward"– John C Maxwell
Failing forward refers to iteration; it's about taking risks, small bets, in order to, someday, achieve success.
Our brains make 35,000 decisions per day, the majority of which are unconscious decisions.
So, if you can make decisions relating to your author business quickly and efficiently, and not procrastinate over them too long, you're going to save your brain the agony of suffering from decision fatigue (yes, this is a real thing).
If you can improve your decision-making by just 1% per day, by saying yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things, quickly, over a long enough timeframe, the impact these decisions will have on your business is incomprehensible.
One word of warning...
Don't make decisions based on fads and trends you see and hear about online or in person.
Ensure that every decision you make aligns with your goals, your values, and your vision. No one else's.
Sure, you could lock yourself away for 6 months and learn everything we've discussed here today in-depth, before implementing anything.
But let me suggest an alternative...
Create a project, but pick just 1-2 to really focus in on. Don't spread your time, energy, and budget too thin.
Going all-in on 1-2 things will deliver substantially superior results than trying to take on 5-10 new things and getting little to no results from all of them.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius
I have personally fallen down the learning rabbit hole; reading books, taking courses, watching YouTube videos, etc, but never taking action on what I've learned.
This is where learning falls down.
You could learn all you want about riding a motorbike from books, blogs, courses, etc, but until you get on a motorbike and experience it for yourself, you're never going to learn to ride one.
So, set yourself a project, whether it be to:
- Learn Facebook Ads
- Setup a mailing list
- Create a Reader Magnet (to build your mailing list)
- Write an email autoresponder
- Commit to sending a monthly newsletter to your email list
Once you've decided on a project, ask yourself what you need to do to take action on this project and start getting results.
I know you'll be blown away by what happens.
You got this.
To Your Success