When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said "A writer." I meant a novelist. I didn't understand the distinction of author.
"It's never too late to become what you might have been." George Eliot
My first published novel Cloudbusting will be released in March 2014. *Update: Currently available in Paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.
I'm not just here to promote that book. I want to share with you why it took me 10 extra years to start putting out my fiction; why you know me as a professional intuitive and a personal development author first; and why -- out of all the work I've put out in the last decade -- I consider Automatic Author the most valuable piece of writing I've ever produced.
Just over 10 years ago, on Christmas Eve 2003, I was laid off from a job at the one and only Internet company I ever worked for, without a penny of the six weeks' of salary that was owed to me. Looking back, it's okay -- I learned the importance of building an email list, how content marketing works, and that information-based business has virtually no overhead.
New Year's, January 2004, I spent the last $35 in my checking account to register a domain name and secure an introductory month's worth of web hosting for my own publishing company.
I took HTML and CSS courses and began working with a content management system called Movable Type which generated this new kind of web site called a blog.
As unlikely as it would seem, at this same time (of all times) I landed a literary agent. I called him Agent Phil.
An Author Platform
I have a degree in English, with a concentration in writing, and I knew I could write. I've been writing since I was a kid.
But it was Agent Phil who explained to me the concept of an author platform. He read my work, interviewed me extensively, psychoanalyzed me with more precision than any therapist ever had… and then he helped me strategize the components of my author platform and a long term plan.
1. An actual plan.
The novels are the smallest part of the plan. They are the jewelry in the outfit. The tiara. The crown. Painstakingly hand-made from precious materials. Possibly the most noteworthy aspect of my identity as an author (to me) but they are not the writing that covers me, clothes me, keeps me warm.
Making a living writing best-selling novels is a dream few people attain. But earning a living as a working writer has been achieved by masses of people. Independent and digital publishing are making writing and publishing a more and more valid career option.
2. Teach something.
Agent Phil explained to me that successful authors have always been teachers and speakers, as well as writers. Look at the academic world -- writers often teach at universities as their day job.
3. Make money from non-fiction first.
So, the first component of my platform needed to be non-fiction. A subject I could teach. It's easier to generate an income from non-fiction, straight out of the gate. You can make money faster, and most consistently, from the non-fiction part of your platform.
That will likely remain true for the entirety of your career. (I'm sure JK Rowling gets paid a larger fee for a speaking engagement than for the sale of a paperback novel, a thousand times over. Even one appearance or live workshop for her probably rivals the advance of most authors' book deals.)
4. Find a common thread between teaching, non-fiction, and fiction.
Agent Phil asked me "What's the true story behind all these stories about characters with emerging supernatural powers? Where are you in all of this fiction? What personally motivates you to write the stories you write?"
He was one of the first people I ever told the whole truth about my life as a closeted psychic. About my clairaudience, my ability to hear spirits and to communicate with angels and guides.
Long story short -- he pounced on that. It was the subject that the same potential audience would read about in fiction and non-fiction. It was the subject I could teach, speak about, and build a consulting practice around.
5. Start building an audience as early as possible.
Agent Phil wanted to get me a syndicated column in print publications, New Age magazines and the like, to begin publishing my non-fiction articles on the subject and make a name for myself.
That was going to take a while, though.
I knew a faster way -- an online blog with an email subscriber list.
Agent Phil was old school; he didn't know much about blogs and email newsletters. So, we made it a contest between us, a race: he was going after a gig for me writing a column; I built a blog.
I won that contest. By miles.
6. Capture and grow an email list of readers.
We all know the mechanics of how and why this is the backbone of any information- , content-, or entertainment-based business in the 21st Century.
To have a successful book launch, you need to have thousands of people to whom you can announce the release of your book. They need to already be interested in what you've written. It helps if they already know you.
Writing "part-time, on the side" did not work for me. I listened to all the parental voices who claimed this was the way to do it -- have a "real" job and write on evenings and weekends.
God knows, I tried. I basically wasted a few decades of my life being miserable. And unsuccessful.
7. Establish passive income streams from your writing.
If you're going to write the Big Things (the novels, the masterpieces, the best-sellers) the best way to support yourself is by writing other things.
Quick, short, practical, salable writing.
Tutorials. How To's. Information products. Topical e-books.
The kind of work you can write in a few weeks or a month that will bring in money for years.
Most people assume I make my living from high-priced personal readings... but 80% of my income is passive, and comes from the sale of information products -- short, instructional digital downloads on non-fiction topics associated with my brand.
8. Produce more than one information product.
One ebook shows you how it can work for you. Two whets your appetite. Three gives you a clue about how life-changing this could be. Four ebooks sell each other. Five produces real income…
You need to write multiple titles, and you need to write them fast.
You need at least 5 titles. That's the turning point in my opinion. Shoot for 7 income streams, along a spectrum of prices-points.
At that point, you're thinking about quitting your other jobs to focus on this. Writing.
9. This is life-changing -- getting paid continually for work you did a long time ago, so you can work on other things.
So you can write more. So you can write whatever you want.
10. If you're a writer, this is spiritual.
Automatic Author is the most important piece of writing I've ever produced.
I'm not exaggerating. Of all the subjects I've taught, of all the things I've written, Automatic Author is the most valuable. It's how I made all the others.
Hundreds of aspiring writers have now used this technique to quickly and easily outline, produce, publish, and create passive income streams for themselves.
If you're a writer, and you have a dream of being an author -- or if you know that writing will support your brand, build your business, share your message with more people -- then I know you want to do this.
I'll tell you exactly how I do it. It's a recipe. It will work for any non-fiction book.
Why not spend your dreary cabin-fever February knocking out your first title? You could be doing this -- building the ultimate supporting income -- by spring.
Image credit Sheng-Fa Lin via Creative Commons on Flickr
This is the process I use to create everything.
Click the thumbnail cover art or use this link -- https://sladeroberson.com/automatic-author