My last post featured the first part of my interview with Chris Garrett, co-author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, in which he discussed how to convert blog readers into book buyers using attraction, retention, conversion, and referrals. Today, in part two of the interview, which I conducted at BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Los Angeles, CA, in early November 2011, Chris speaks more specifically to aspiring authors, writers blogging books and bloggers who might want to book a blog, or repurpose their material into a book.
I was quite honored to spend time speaking with Chris, who is an online business consultant, teacher, coach, new media industry commentator, writer, speaker, and all-round web geek. He has been involved in several start ups and has written for some of the web’s best-loved blogs as well as co-authoring four other traditionally published print books and many ebooks. (See the end of this post for a full bio.) He definitely knows how to look at the idea of blogging a book and apply all he knows about blogging, writing books and new media to this endeavor and offer relevant tips and advice. Below, find my questions, and Chris’ answers, in part two of this two-part blog post:
I tell people who want to begin blogging a book to go through a full evaluation process to make sure their book has a chance of succeeding both in the blogosphere and in the online and brick-and-mortar book stores. What are your thoughts on getting started blogging or writing a book?
A lot of people say they have a book in them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a book somebody would want to read. You are going to save a lot of pain, heartache and effort if you work out if the book you want to write is one the market is going to accept. Plus, there’s a confidence that comes in doing your homework. The more confident you are the more likely you are to carry on, because writing a book is not easy. It may be simple, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. The most important thing to know is that if you do your research you understand the audience you’re speaking to; I think that’s vital because you can have great content but miss the mark.
I know you haven’t actually blogged a book, but if you were going to give advice to writers doing so, what is the most important tip might you offer them to help them build their readership?
It’s the point I made earlier: You don’t drive traffic. It’s not like being a cowboy. It’s not getting on horse with a Stetson and driving people to your blog. They have to come of their own free will. You’ve got to attract rather than drive. You have to go where people are, and meet them where they hang out. You’ve got to find what they want and need, what’s going to get their attention and deliver that. You might have to give ¾ of what you know away to get that attention and to get people to know and respect you enough to trust you with their money. Because at the end of the day if they are going to take action by investing time and money in what you have to offer they have got to be sure about you.
Do you work with work with any aspiring authors, and, if so, what do you recommend to them as far as their books?
A lot of my friends are authors—some of them New York Times bestselling authors—and a lot of my clients are authors or prospective authors.
The first thing I recommend is probably the most important: Look at what successful people have done before them and what is working right now. Things that have worked two years ago will not necessarily translate to now. So you have to look at both. And also look at what people have done that have gone terribly wrong, especially in their specific market or niche.
The second thing I tell them is to have a plan. Someone was telling me that they thought they were going to be able to retire early because they got a book deal, and most people know that is crazy talk. Unless you are JK Rowling, you aren’t going to retire early. This writer had no plans for what would happen once their book hit the shelves. They were so focused on writing and launching that they never thought, “What’s next?” They had no back-up plan, no follow-up plan. Basically, they thought their life was going to be transformed once their book went on sale.
Also, authors need to be realistic. Unfortunately, today the publisher can only do so much to help you and your book succeed; you have to do a lot more. And the best book tour is not going to make your book a best seller without a lot of marketing, a very, very good subject, a well-defined audience, and a lot of effort. Even then it doesn’t mean you are going to be able to live off it the money from your book sales. But people see Amazon Kindle sales are making a million dollars a year and think, “This is for me.” They believe once you get to Barnes & Noble you are a millionaire, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Writers and authors need to need to research what is working, plan and be realistic.
Lots of long-time bloggers would like to turn their blogs into books—or “book a blog.” What would you tell these bloggers about repurposing their posts into an ebook or printed book?
I’ve found that there are certain markets where there are readers who are very receptive to the idea of you putting a book out, and there are markets that are very resistant to any sort of monetization at all, any sort of business influence. The strangest niches I would have never expected have worked super well. A lady told me the other day that she has a blog where she writes about a hairstyle of the day. All the content was on her site, and she packaged it up into a PDF. It sold really well. It blew me away because I never thought people would pay for an ebook full of photographs of hairstyles. She had a receptive market that really loved it and told all their friends.
At the same time, I’ve seen people in tech fields who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a workshop but won’t buy an ebook. They will buy a textbook off the shelf, but they won’t buy an ebook. They are technical people who should be okay with it.
Market research is very, very important. But if you’ve been blogging for a while, you have an audience; you have a really good focus group. They are going to tell you what they want, what they don’t like, what they are struggling with. You just have to open your ears to it. If you deliver what people want and need, you’ve got a lot better chance of success.
You can put the content out there and see what your readers’ reaction is, what they share, what their comments are, what they tell you about, or the follow up questions they ask. That’s the first test. This action lets you know you have an audience. You know if the audience wants that stuff. Then you have to find out what they are willing to pay for, which is sometimes a different thing.
Does pricing come down to trial and error or is there a better way to know what blog readers will pay for a book or other product?
Sometimes it’s trial and error. The more you know about your audience, the better.
If you know what else they are buying, that can work really well. You can either ask them, or you can be an affiliate. You can review items and tell your audience about things they could buy in return for a commission. Dollars and cents is the best feedback ever. If they are willing to tell you via buying something that they are interested in paying for something then you know there’s a market there.
More About Chris Garrett
Although Chris Garrett has been “online” since the 1980?s, it was in 1994 Chris first became addicted to the World Wide Web. Since then he has helped thousands of individuals, non-profits, small businesses and blue chips such as Heinz, Toshiba, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Durex, amongst others, make the most of the internet.
In 2005 Chris left the advertising agency world and founded a company to help smaller businesses and solo-entrepreneurs profit from their skills, knowledge and experience, achieve more with Online Media, and grow audiences of people who know, like and trust them. See how your business could benefit from working with Chris on the services page here.
As well as coaching and training companies and individuals, Chris also regularly speaks at conferences around the world about internet salesmanship, writing compelling content, and social media for business. He has spoken at events such as BlogWorld and New Media Expo, the Successful Outstanding Bloggers conference in Chicago, Think Visibility, Affiliate Expo, Wishlist Member Live, WordCamp, the Netherlands Social Media Congres and the Institute of Fundraising, along with the dozens of webinars, teleseminars and virtual events he holds or contributes to annually.
Chris was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1974. He lived in the UK for most of his life but now lives back in Calgary with his wife, daughter, cat, and a three-year-old Cocker Spaniel.