How to Generate More Business By Publishing a Bestselling Memoir
Jan 21, 2020
I have a confession to make: as a publisher who employs ghostwriters, I’ve launched books that have ended up being little more than a nice thing for the author to put on his or her bookshelf. But I’ve also had clients who have made hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of their books. In short, I’ve seen that a memoir can be a memento or a moneymaker. So here’s how to make your memoir into the second option:
- Leverage the relationships you already have. Look at the people you know through a new lens…a lens where you could support one another in your respective goals. The best example I know of for this is my client Darren Prince, who had built up decades of goodwill as a sports agent who never asked for anything for himself during years of negotiating on behalf of his clients. Once he had a book, he reached out to someone he’d known for years and was able to score a six-figure spokesperson deal. The fact was: the person who hired him looked at him in a new way—as a valuable asset—once Darren was an author. If you’re thinking, “Well, I’m not a sports agent and so I don’t know people who can hire me for fancy spokesperson deals,” I encourage you to make a list of the people you know; go through your address book, look at Facebook, do whatever you need to in order to inspire your brain to look beyond the obvious. Then ask yourself: who do I know who knows other people who I may be able to work with? Keep going from there.
- Brainstorm organizations where you can speak and then figure out how to make that visit into a news event. A great example of someone who did this effectively is my friend Ryan Hampton, who made a list of all the organizations he could find that aligned with his book topic and then strategically reached out to each of them, telling them that if they ordered copies of his book, he would speak for free. To incentivize them, he thought of ways he could make those events newsworthy and then contacted local reporters to cover the visit, thereby bringing press to both him and the organization.
- Launch a speaking career. Speaking of speaking, by far the most common transition authors take into other work is speaking. Of course, this isn’t as simple as publishing a book and waiting for the speaking offers to roll in. While we have a course on the exact steps to take, the most important thing to keep in mind is that although it can be a slow build, speaking is one of those careers where your fee can skyrocket once you have success. (Some authors who are currently making a killing on the speaking circuit are Dorris Kearns Goodwin, who nets $40K a gig and Tim Ferriss and Malcolm Gladwell, who are each in the $50K+ range. While my books have led me to speaking gigs, I get a mere $3-$5000, which is still great since speaking isn’t a priority for me, but pennies compared to those others!)
- Develop a coaching program. Most non-fiction books display the author’s knowledge about a topic. And the majority of authors share their experiences because they want to help others who struggle or have struggled with the same issues that they have. Creating a one-on-one or group coaching program, either based on material in your book or simply on the topic, provides an author not only an opportunity to help people on an even deeper level but also a way to take a deeper dive into the topic (possibly providing you with material for book two?) Example: among the many products Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin offers is a coaching program for those who want to learn the method she breaks down in her books.
- Become a consultant. Want to take coaching to the next level (and possibly get paid better for it)? Consider offering consulting services to companies who could use whatever expertise you established with the book. (My book, How to Publish a Bestselling Book, has led me to consult with clients after their book release in order to help them continue to use their book to grow their profile and create new opportunities.)
- Create a certification program. If your coaching program is in full swing, maybe you want to create a bunch of mini-me’s—or at least train other people in what you’ve been teaching. Developing a curriculum and providing certification shouldn’t be hard if you have a thorough coaching program. (Samantha Skelly, the author of Hungry for Happiness: One Woman's Journey from Fighting Food to Finding Freedom, has the Hungry For Happiness Certification Program, where she spends 10 months guiding participants through the process of learning her signature method so they can coach others.)
- Come up with subscription or monthly membership programs. The same material you create for a coaching program can be used in a monthly membership program. You can run these however you want—with videos and worksheets you’ve created, with guest interviews, with in-person events or with daily or weekly video check-ins. The main thing to remember is that people abandon monthly programs that they don’t use so make this as value-packed as possible (the more the group includes direct involvement with you, the more value it’s going to have). A solid example: Gretchen Rubin, who in addition to other offers—see above—also has a membership program, The Happiness Project Experience.)
- Offer events or retreats. We’re living in the day and age of event throwing and your event can be anything from a workshop to a retreat to a weekly gathering and it can be held at a cafe, theater, holistic health center or AirBnB (I’ve held events at all of them). Your programming can cover the same material that your monthly programs and everything else does but here’s the secret about gatherings: oftentimes people are just aching to connect with a like-minded community and thus the activities matter far less than simply the fact that the event is happening. Looking for inspiration? Daily Love author Mastin Kipp has held countless retreats over the years, in places like Bali and Hawaii—as well as one-night events all over the world.
- Create a mastermind. Plenty of authors are launching them—and with hefty membership fees. Joe Polish runs two Genius Network groups (with a $100,000 and $25,000 annual cost respectively)—and he’s not the only one. The key to a mastermind is in its members: the price tag is the ultimate weeding out process, leaving members to network and do business with those whose businesses are thriving. If you look at lists of the biggest—i.e., most expensive—mastermind groups out there, you’ll note that most of the leaders are also authors. (Dean Grazioso, Brendon Bruchard, Jeff Walker, Russell Brunson all have books and of course there’s Joe Polish, who co-authored a book with me!)
- Sell physical products. Selling an on-brand product can be a way to take your expertise to another commercial level. James Swanwick, the author of The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge: Your Simple Guide to Easily Reduce Or Quit Alcohol, was doing well with his 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge program but his career skyrocketed when he realized his expertise was in lifestyle and not just quitting drinking and then started selling blue blocking glasses. (Gretchen Rubin—again!—also offers a slew of merch.)
- Launch a podcast. Yes, there are a billion podcasts out there. But anyone who tells you it’s too late to start one is lying (just look at what I have to say on the topic here). If you’re looking for the next steps to get started, consider taking my free class on it. One thing to keep in mind: podcasts are very rarely a source of revenue; much like a book, they are a credibility builder but they are even better at providing an opportunity for people to develop a “know, like and trust” factor with you and therefore support all your other endeavors. And if you have ANY of the offerings above, your podcast will absolutely bring in clients. Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins are among the authors with podcasts that feed into their respective businesses.
Before you get overwhelmed, remember that the first step is write and publish the book. You can worry about how to use it to launch or bring your business to the next level after that.