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E10: Writing a Book - The Learning Curve (46-50)

Reviews & Monetization

· writing a book

I can't believe it...we're already to edition #10 of the lesson's learned from writing the book, The Transparency Sale. If you'd like, as these are easy reads, you can start from the beginning here, with edition #1. If not, here we go with lessons 46-50 below...

In this edition, we'll discuss where the money comes from with regards to a book. If you're going through a publisher and not expecting to sell a million copies, it's much more likely your dollars will come from other channels. We'll also talk a little about how to get reviews, as the concept of "tribes" plays well here: the more reviews, the higher the perception of the popularity of your book.

Learnings 46-50

46) Monetization is through speaking, training and consulting:

If you’ve gotten this far down the lesson’s learned list, you already know that making money on a book is a futile effort. Unless you’re selling a million copies, margins are small on book sales, especially for the author. However, companies are willing to make investments in good speakers, teachers or consultants. Basically, I’ve found that there are three options post-book launch:

  • Consulting: The pros are that it’s consistent and predictable revenue. Based on what your line of work is, you may likely agree to do a few months of consulting, or potentially take on an “advisory” role. Don’t overcommit to those until the book comes out, and you see how much activity the book will generate. I made the mistake of overcommitting to consulting early. Consulting doesn’t pay as well, and takes much more effort than the other two below.
  • Training: If the content of your book lends itself to teaching others, this can be highly lucrative if you do it right. I’m not a fan of long classes, so I teach mine in 60-90 minute chunks. I may do 2 or 3 classes in a single day for a client, but rarely do anything longer than a half-day. This is fun for me, and the rewards of the results from the participants makes the effort of creating the curriculum / delivering it rewarding.
  • Speaking: For me, this is my favorite. Typically talks are 30-60 minutes long, large audiences, and if you can bring the energy, conferences and companies will invest in you mightily. Depending on your level of comfort, focusing here will give you the best ROI on your time.

47) Speakers bureaus don’t give a shit about you:

Well, at least they haven’t for me. You probably think you’re good. You probably think that speakers bureaus have a responsibility to know you if you’re good. On their sites, there are literally hundreds of speakers the conferences can scan for their events. So, as a potential speaker, you start emailing them, because you’d love to be on the list, right? None respond. Ever. They have so many speakers doing the same thing, there’s no way for them to differentiate. And, depending on what you charge, you may not have enough potential income for them to care. I, luckily, haven’t needed them.

I have been incredibly busy - speaking in Portland, Seattle, Boston and Chicago in a 5-business-day span alone. Those were all me, generating interest through marketing, other speaking events and referrals. Don't bang your head against a wall trying to get them to notice you - You can do this without a bureau.

48) Reviews matter, and are hard to get:

As you know, I could write about reviews all day long. Here’s the thing with reviews on books: You could certainly use a lot of them. There is a perception that the number of reviews represents how popular the book is, so this will need to be somewhat of a focus. Here’s a couple of ways to do it. First, people will tell you how much they love your book. They’ll send you a note in LinkedIn, or they’ll tag you in a Tweet, or send you an email. That certainly feels good. It may be uncomfortable, but when they do, turn it into a review. “Thank you so much for that feedback. Is there any way I could get you to share that feedback on Amazon in the form of a review? Reviews are tremendously helpful in getting the word out.” Then include a link. Not everyone will do it. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Second, you could provide some sort of incentive to write a review. I sent cool little Transparency Sale concierge bells to the “next ten people to write a review”.

As of today, my average review score on Amazon is a 4.84. On Goodreads? 4.25. As it turns out, I barely have any reviews anywhere else...even though the book is available everywhere you can imagine.

49) Feedback is hard to read sometimes: 

If you’ve read my book, you know that negative reviews actually help. They contribute to the credibility of all of the positive ones. An average review score of a 4.2-4.5 sells better than a 5.0. All 5’s doesn’t help those who don’t know you make a decision to buy the book. However, the reviews that are less than a 5.0 don’t feel great to read. I book is perfect, and mine certainly isn’t perfect. But I can’t fix it’s already in print. In other words, embrace the negative reviews, because they help sell books...but know that those negative reviews never feel great.

And here's another "half" of a learning:

49 1/2) You’ll find that, depending on the channel, the way people leave reviews will be quite different:

Amazon seems to get the long reviews, and lots of 5’s. However, check out It’s associated with Amazon, but the participants on this site are much more discerning. The review scores on everything are lower. You’ll receive a glowing written review from someone, however, they’ll give you a 4 instead of a 5. It’s odd, but I believe there are higher literary expectations for Goodreads individuals.

50) But when the feedback is glowing and from someone you don’t know, it’s awesome: 

This is obvious, right? When someone you don’t know, that has no reason to lie to you sends you a note or posts something on social raving about the book, you screenshot it. It’s an amazing rush...that the risk you took and the ideas and research you’ve communicated make a difference to someone you don’t know.

We're through fifty lessons! With twenty left, you're going to find that we'll cover a lot of subjects. In the next edition, we cover the data (understanding your book sales), how my cover design made a difference, and how simply having a book has changed so much about my career. On to learnings 51-55!

Have you signed up for future articles yet? If not, you can easily below. Or, if you don't want to, that's totally cool, too. If we're connected on LinkedIn or Twitter, you can pick and choose which ones to read via the posts. Up to you. Either way, thanks for getting this far! You are a solid 4.5 of an individual. :)

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