Writing Lessons From the Best Selling Author of All Time

Is it a stretch to say that the Apostle Paul is a best selling author?

But no one can argue that his writings aren’t loved, and still purchased, in a book that has sold more copies than any book in history.

I happen to believe Paul had some “help” with his writing. I also believe we can glean some crucial elements from his work as an “author.” So if you’ll allow me, here are some things that stand out to me – in relation to OUR writing.

Paul was:

  • Focused on his audience.  It was all about them.  When he spoke of himself, it was for the sole benefit of his readers.
  • Willing to pour his guts out.  Pain, anger, love, passion. He was an open… book.
  • Unconcerned with being labeled a fool. And never trying to impress. It wasn’t really about him anyway, was it?
  • Writing like it was the last chance he had.  He held nothing back. Every sentence could be his last. Literally.
  • Undeterred by “inconvenient” writing conditions.  Go ahead.  Complain about your time or equipment.
  • Deeply in love with his readers. I suppose that’s where his “Helper” really came through.

How does your writing measure up?

Did I leave anything out?

Does Your BIO Tell a Story?

Your bio called, it said you haven’t looked at it in a while.

Forgot where it was? Check the “About” page on your web site.

Gone are the days where people only want to look at your resume. Maybe I’m biased, but your diploma is not the headline. Bullet points about past positions will not help me get to know you.

Your bio must tell a story
This may not apply to biochemical research professionals. But we work with influencers and thought leaders. These people must create connections and build an interesting brand.

Once upon a time
What’s the epic version of your early days? Lean years, between jobs, youthful ignorance…  How did those early years shape you? I’m giving you poetic license.  Always truthful, but never dull.

Comic relief
What’s something about you, or an experience, that isn’t necessarily “Bio” material, but would give insight into your personal quirkiness? If a sense of humor is a major part of how you operate, I dare you to share it. If you’re a nerd, let your geek flag fly!
Start conservatively, and push the boundaries slowly, OK?

Battles waged
Can we turn “failures” into tales of epic adventure? You bet.
Will you be honest and share how unexpected events and course corrections made you more capable?  I hope so.
Share successes, too! And be sure to credit others for their part.

Every picture tells a story
Please don’t post the photo of you with those white tigers.  Just as horrible is one that looks like your yearbook photo.  Enough said.

Happily ever after
Are you in your happy place in your current venture?  Alert your “About” page!
When others read your bio, do they get a sense of the road you’ve traveled?
People throw resumes in the trash, but they’re eager to connect with a real person.  You.

Hey Perspiring Authors – STOP Writing Your Book!

For the love of God, and in the name of Gutenberg… STOP writing your book!

There’s a rumor going around, about the mysterious way a book is created. Someone locks themselves in a room, pushes words from their brain, through their fingers, into a manuscript, until a book appears.

Arduous. Pixie dust is somehow involved. And bouts with depression.
Read More

Speaking Sells Books in the Education Market – by Josh Shipp, Founder of Speaker University

What do John Milton, Fried Twinkies and you have in common?  More than perhaps you’d think.

We have the honor today of having a guest blog from our new friend Josh Shipp.  Josh is the founder of Youth Speaker University as well as starring in his own documentary TV series Teen Trouble airing on Lifetime and A&E.  In addition, Josh is the author of The Teens Guide to World Domination.  We ran into Josh along the trail of book publicity and thought it would be nice to hear from someone who has real life experience.

Here’s what I know about you.  You are a smart person.  You wrote a book, and were able to get that book published.  And you wrote that book because you had something to say.  Something you thought was important.  Something you thought would actually help people.  And because of that, your ideas and thoughts deserve to be heard by the widest possible audience.

But if you only have a book, even a book that is selling better than you expected or hoped, you are absolutely NOT reaching the widest possible audience.

And that’s a shame.

But good news my friend it does NOT have to be that way.

In 1644, an English philosopher by the name of John Milton published a small pamphlet called “Areopagitica.”  The title is taken from Aeropagus, a hill in ancient Athens where great thinkers would engage in legendary debates about the most important questions of life.  Milton’s basic premise was that life is like a giant open-air market, and ideas float around.  To Milton, in this “free market of ideas” the best ideas would naturally gain the most support.  This might have been true 300 years ago, but that was before certain ideas had the unfair advantage of amplification.  Milton couldn’t have imaged People Magazine, or celebrity endorsements, or television.  Dear heaven, if he’d seen a glimpse of “Dancing with the Stars” he likely would have gone into a deep depression and given up on human civilization.

The point is, now, if you want to get your idea out there, you need to be LOUD.  I don’t mean volume loud.  I mean, you need to force people to pay attention to you.

Let me give you an example.  A few years ago, I went to an Official State Fair in a state that will remain nameless.  Let’s just say it rhymes with Choke The Homer.  Over the course of 11 days, more than 1 million people visit this State Fair.  And over that 11 days, more than 37 million dollars is spent.  That’s a lot of funnel cakes.

As I walked around the grounds of this State Fair, I was overwhelmed a bit by both the size and the magnitude of the whole operation.  But two things really stuck out to me.

1. How crowded it was.  People were lined up all over for a chance to plunk down $5 to not win that carnival prize or get that deep-fried cheese-infused breaded dill pickle.  And the number of attractions and vendors and rides and booths was mind-blowing.

2. How hard the vendors worked to get people’s attention.  Because there were so many people and because there were so many vendors, the distraction of the average fair attendee was incredibly high.  Vendors realized that if they didn’t do whatever it took to attract attention to themselves, they’d be leaving money on the table.  One booth had a barbecue spit in front of its booth, and was handing out fresh samples of its pulled pork.  Another booth would periodically blow a whistle, and then country music would blast out of speakers and all the employees would do a short choreographed dance.  Another booth was home of the “throw’d rolls.”  Please don’t think I approve of this grammar.  When you purchased a meal, a guy in the back would throw a roll to you.  Luckily, I played baseball in high school, and was able to snag several line drives.  They were delicious.

Here’s my point: our modern society is a lot more like that State Fair that you’d think.  And just because you have the best product doesn’t mean people are going to automatically come to your booth.  You have to get noticed.  You have to have a platform.  I read somewhere that the average US attention span is now only slightly longer than the life of a tsetse fly.  Scientist blame the internet and the Kardashians for this.  You have to learn how to stand out.

And frankly this is how I’ve been successful.  Frankly, you’re probably a better writer than me.  But the secret to my success is where I found my audience.  And I built it by speaking at live events.  In the Education Market.  In schools.  In front of students, parents, and educators.  Over and over and over and over again.

Early in my career I started speaking to students, parents and teachers in schools. I just told my story of being an abused and abandoned foster kid with a dream of triumphing over tragedy. My speech challenged listeners to overcome their obstacles and live life to the fullest.

In the last decade I have given this speech to millions of people.  Literally.  And because of this, I’ve been able to sell my books because people hear me speak, are interested in both me and my content, and I’m able to serve them by giving them more resources – namely my book.  I’ve been able to positively impact millions of people and have been paid millions of dollars to do such.  You see, our industry keeps us honest.  The only way to make more money is to serve more people.  Sell 10 books, you impact 10 people and make 10 books worth of money.  But if you learn the strategies to sell 10,000 books, you’ll impact 1,000 times the number of people and make 1,000 times the money.

Recently, after digging into my business model, Inc. Magazine put me on their “30 under 30” list of successful entrepreneurs, labeling me as “the highest paid youth speaker in the world.” Even Inc. was shocked to discover how lucrative the Education Market is.

But this is not just about money.  It’s about influence and impact.  Because I actually believe my message is helpful and because I actually believe my book will help people, I don’t mind doing the leg-work to do whatever it takes to get to my audience and convince them to buy it.

Here’s what I have found: local schools are incubators of innovation, information and ideas. Every school district is committed to progress and expects its teachers and administrators to spend a quarter of their lives in formal learning. Also, schools can be culturally diverse – including people from various spectrums of race, religion, politics and economic standing. If you want to influence an entire community, schools are the place to do it.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “But my content isn’t aimed at 14-year olds.”  That’s fine.  I don’t expect you to be Justin Beiber.  The world – and the vocal chords of millions of prepubescent teens – could not handle another Justin Beiber.  Speaking in the education market doesn’t mean that you only speak to students. It also means speaking to parents, teachers, college students and mental health professionals who serve youth. There are more than 130,000 K-12 schools and thousands of universities, which means you have endless opportunities for impact.

Within 50 miles of you there are scores of schools with thousands of students, teachers and parents, gathered in a single setting with a common purpose. Starting local is a great strategy because it enables you to perfect your speech, sell books in bulk and grow yourself quickly to national prominence. As your impact grows, so does your income.

1. Define your message.  This is easy.  The main points of your book are likely what you’d say on stage.

2. Define your audience.  Who would your information have the greatest impact on?  Who would most benefit from your content?  Teachers?  Students?  Principals?  Parents?  How can you alter your message just a bit – say 15 percent – to serve an audience you maybe hadn’t thought of?

3. Define your buyer.  The buyer is different from the audience.  For example, my audience is a 17-year old, but my buyer is a 47-year old principal.  You have to market to the buyer.

4. Deliver the product.  Give your speech to your audience.  Practice for 100 hours if you need to.  Rock.  The.  Stage.

5. Leverage your book.  Look, you already HAVE a product.  You’re published.  Include 100 “free” books with your speech (for which you charge $3,500).  Schools often have budgets for curriculum which makes your speech not just an hour on Wednesday, but an hour-long kick-off to a multi-week learning process involving your book.

Not many folks can say they are living their dream. At the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial, I must say that I am truly living mine. I have built a platform, recruited a responsive audience, positively influenced countless individuals and made a small fortune doing so.

Do yourself a favor. Visit nearby schools. Let people know that you have a powerful message to share – and watch the road ahead pave itself.

Do it for your message.  Because unlike fried twinkies, it deserves to be consumed by as many people as possible.

Josh Shipp is the founder of Youth Speaker University, a comprehensive training program for those who want to make an impact and an income in the Education Market. He is the author of “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination,” and stars in the documentary TV series Teen Trouble airing on LIFETIME and A&E.

Book Marketing Tactics for Quality versus Quantity

Fresh Impact PR Group loves coaching about all things publishing and book marketing. Many times authors will call us from all over the world needing helping taking their messages to the next level and need ideas on how best to reach high visible media exposure. We talk with authors all the time about the best practices in how to do this. In all honesty, it starts with having a compelling message in conjunction with a story. Producers want to know how your story will pull their viewers in and help their own ratings. Whether they like your book or not is really not the issue. You have to prove to them you watch their show and offer them a compelling case for having you on the program.

In some cases authors will tell us they have been on over 25 or 50 radio stations with their last book they did. It is really not about how many interviews you do as much as which ones you do. Any time an author tells me they have done a ton of media I ask them, how many units did you sell from being on those 25 stations? Typically they don’t know.

Media is about repetition over a period of time. If you are talking to a radio station in Topeka, KS at 6am about career’s and leadership the likelihood is you won’t move a lot of books.

If you talk to Fox & Friends First in the largest media market in the country you have a WAY better chance. This week we visited their show with our client Jeremy Kingsley and his bestselling book Inspired People Produce Results.

5 Ways to Sell More Books than Oprah at any Level

Over the years we have had authors on Oprah’s program. While Oprah may be the queen of television, it still takes a village to sell a lot of books. In fact most recently, our client Devon Franklin, the VP of Sony Pictures was featured on Super Soul Sunday. The results to being on the show did in fact catapult the author into new realms. While the ratings don’t carry the weight they did, the response still helps. There isn’t an author alive who wouldn’t give their left arm to be any platform that large.

While there are many emerging trends on the market from crowd funding to crowd sourcing to LIVE Twitter chats. They all have their place. But there are still some basics to moving books which we thought we provide after 14 years of being behind the scenes to multiple New York Times Bestselling authors and campaigns.

Here are 5 things every author should do to sell more books than Oprah:

  1. Start working on the size of your reach as an author at least 6 months before publication date. This means if it is 3-4 months from publication date you are too late! Don’t call us when you have a garage full of 5 thousands books and say the publishers isn’t doing anything. We will likely still have great idea’s for you but it makes us feel really sorry for you.
  2. Think like a salesmen not an author. Too many times author are great or gifted at writing but horrible at selling. Stop trying to be an author who thinks they are the next gifted writer and just start reaching readers. Remember that content is still King! But if no one knows who you are or what your writing will do for them you won’t sell anything. Customer service still matters so respond to buyers when they email no matter their reach or size.
  3. A bookstore is the worst place to sell a book for any author. (TWEET THIS) I heard this in a consulting session one day with a high profile author and it left me laughing. Stop being consumed as an author about where your book is selling and start selling your own books today. There are no rules anymore so don’t wait for permission to launch your next big dream of selling thousands of books – WE CAN HELP YOU!
  4. Own the space you write to – too many times authors come to us and they are in a long line of authors already speaking to a thriving audience buying books of 10 other authors. Create your own niche! Many times, these authors aren’t really gifted in these niches anyway and have a writing voice to a different group waiting to hear from them that no one is speaking too!
  5. Combine Traditional and Social Media Platforms – the spark of sales comes today when social media meets traditional media. People still read magazines just in different formats. Spikes in sales come from spreading of those messages no matter what format they get digested in. This includes offering trades to other authors to promote their books via Twitter and other spaces. It works!

If you need help selling more books I would love to help you. Type out any question and I will provide you solutions to any problem. If that doesn’t satisfy you, email me here info at freshimpactpr.com and I will pesronally see to it, you start selling more books.

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