I don’t think anyone who found her way to the Women in Publishing Summit blog is going to be shocked to hear that “writing is hard.” It’s one of those things that we take for granted. That it’s an art that takes practice, honing, sharpening. And as women, we so often find ourselves short on time or space to do that work. When so much of the unpaid labor of having a family and keeping a home running falls on us, how can we have the freedom to create, too?
That’s why I appreciate the people behind ProWritingAid, a company that takes the mission of improving writing seriously, and, in creating a successful, practical system to help authors do that, they’ve lifted up so many women’s voices.
I’m also so grateful that they’ve once again committed to support women authors in another way: by joining us as a Silver Sponsor for the 2022 Women in Publishing Summit.
ProWritingAid’s revolutionary product creates better books – I know because I use it myself! Here’s why!
What does ProWritingAid do?
ProWritingAid is a platform that offers a world-class grammar checking AND style checking, so your writing – be it business writing, creative writing, academic writing or anything else – follows the rules for what “good writing” looks like. ProWritingAid then goes beyond that by offering in-depth reporting to help you understand how you write.
In other words, ProWritingAid lets you know when you’re breaking a good writing rule, and it also tells you how often you use a given word, phrase or even sentence structure. The reports go deep into helping you unpuzzle your own authorial style. It helps keep your writing clean AND interesting.
You can use ProWritingAid in combination with other writer’s products like Scrivener and Fictionary, as well as within all major word processing programs. You can even add it as a Chrome plug-in so you can use it to write better emails. It’s an easy-to-use product that’s like having a writing coach right in your laptop!
In addition to the practical help this program can give any writer, the ProWritingAid community is a highly engaged and deeply knowledgeable one. Their paid course community gives authors valuable training on a wide variety of topics in the industry – just one more way ProWritingAid helps every author develop!
You don’t need to be writing the Great American Novel to benefit from this platform. The grammar and style checking can work magic on your business emails, your sales copy and more. We especially recommend that all our clients use it for things like newsletters and blog posts to keep them on track in terms of precision and voice.
But the impact that ProWritingAid can have on your book is huge: there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get real insight into your writing as you’re working on your draft. It’s a game-changer for writers in any genre and in any stage of their career.
How can I learn more about ProWritingAid?
Check out the ProWritingAid website to find out how they can help you become a better writer – click right here to learn more!
But times have changed since the times of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife living in the Ritz on an author’s salary. Millions of books are added to the marketplace each year. But I think we can all agree that it’s good to dream about what can happen.
And, even with the publishing industry changes, let me assure you that there are plenty of authors making big dollars in royalties each month.
How do you make money as an author?
But selling books is HARD WORK. I don’t want to be a Negative Nelly – but I look at stats every day. And I can tell you this: social media can help you grow your audience, but if you’re relying on your social media to get it done for you in terms of book sales, it’s a road that takes time and lots of energy to build. Social media is one tool in the toolbox, but it can’t be your only tool.
That’s where ads come in. (Register now for our upcoming Ads for Authors workshop – it’s on Monday July 12th!)
I wrote my first book in 2013. I know I often say that earning money as an indie author is a marathon not a sprint, but most authors would be forgiven for not expecting a book published nearly 10 years ago to still be bringing in much money every month.
But a few years ago, after learning more about Amazon ads, I decided to make this long-languishing, but deeply personal book my guinea pig for testing my new knowledge. I tweaked and adjusted, and over time I built a pretty decent Amazon ad. It was so good that I’ve kept running it for 4 years. I’ve not promoted or marketed this book in any other way since this ad started running.
And because this book is getting in front of not just readers but the RIGHT readers in the place where they’re already ready to make a purchase (Amazon), it’s selling. Consistently.
Every month, I get a check from Amazon for about $250 for this book alone. WITH NO OTHER MARKETING. I’m not blogging, Instagramming, podcasting, or promoting this book in any other way except Amazon ads.
And even when I deduct my ad expenses, I’m clearing about $150 a month from one book that I don’t do a single other thing to promote. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s $1800 a year that I didn’t have to work for.
(And, more importantly, this book about coping with child and infant loss is reaching the grieving families who need it. Making a lot of money was never my goal, to be clear, but I do want it to show up in the search results when someone needs it.)
No, it won’t pay my mortgage or for braces. But it goes towards family vacations and dinners out and creating memorable times together. Having that income helps me create something special in my life that wouldn’t be possible without it.
Ads for Authors: A Live Workshop
If you are ready to do the same for your book – whether it’s a book you’re still writing, or a book you launched a while ago – join me and bestselling indie author Kirsten Oliphant for my brand new premium workshop on Ads for Authors on July 12 at 12:30 pm EDT. (Click here to register.)
We’ll spend 90 minutes talking about…
How to run ads on Facebook and Amazon
Whether ads on either platform are right for your book (or not)
The timing and strategy for running effective ads that get results
I’ll tell you up front that Kirsten is not from a marketing company – she’s an indie author who is literally supporting her family with 5 figures in Amazon royalties every month. And that’s just her Amazon revenue.
And she did it by building smart Amazon and Facebook ads.
Kirsten has grown her career by writing great books and pairing them with great ads. If you’re ready to do the same, I recommend you join us. (The workshop will be recorded to make sure it’s accessible to everyone who’s ready to take this step!)
As a special bonus, everyone who registers will get a recording of the fantastic webinar Kirsten did about writing to market. If you want to take your author earning to the next level, writing books that speak to what the audience is seeking is vital!
Finding the ideal reader for your book can be the difference between a bad review and a good review. Bad reviews can be hard to accept as an author but they can also give you insight into your marketing and who is reading your book. They give you a chance to ask “am I reaching the right readers for my book?”
Every author gets bad reviews.
Imagine you’re a novelist looking through Goodreads at some of your new book’s latest reviews and this is what you come across:
This is not an epic, beautiful tale of a wonderful family’s trials, or whatever. It is a long, poorly written story of a family’s sex life.
How does this author take such an interesting and impactful topic and write it so bland, emotionless and boring?
Was this book well written? No. Did I still enjoy it anyway? Also no.
This is the book that made me ignore other people’s recommendations. I have no idea what anyone sees in this piece of trash.
Yikes. You can imagine how hard that feedback would hit a person. They might think the author should hang up his or her hat and find a nice job in a tea shop or selling timeshares.
What if I told you that these were reviews that were left on the recent critically acclaimed books, respectively, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a National Book Award Finalist; The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020; The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab, which made nearly every 2020 “best of” list; and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, winner of the 2012 Orange Prize?
Showing up in front of your ideal reader matters.
Sometimes the wrong person stumbles on your book, and there are just going to be those people who don't like it. But sometimes these bad reviews come from bad marketing, along with targeting the wrong types of readers. By ensuring you know exactly WHO your reader is, and making a concerted effort to market to that particular audience, you can make sure that reviews like this are far and few between. That they only happen when the wrong reader stumbles across the book.
And it makes sense that most of the reviews are good for these books. Not only are they all great books, they also all have major publishers lined up behind them with loads of expertise in audience targeting. That’s how you know that finding and showing up in front of your ideal reader matters – the big publishers are willing to spend big bucks doing it.
Authors have to know how an ideal reader.
But indie authors and new voices in writing don’t have that luxury. We have to know how to target our ideal reader on our own, and we need to start figuring it out as we are writing, and carry it through our marketing efforts. We need to dig in and do the work early, and constantly check our work! Otherwise, we’ll end up with readers like the ones above who just don’t “get” us. Readers who don’t know why we’re telling this story and hate the way we’re telling it.
I’ve seen reviews like the ones above on books that clients brought to me for relaunches. These books were well-written, urgent, interesting, powerful. And unfortunately, without proper reader targeting, they found an audience who just couldn't connect with them. They left salty reviews. They didn’t check out the back catalog. They didn’t tell a friend, unless it was to tell the friend to “skip this one.”
But when my clients make the small changes needed to their marketing to find and speak to their ideal reader? The great reviews roll in – “I felt like this book was written for me!” – and the sales come, too.
My clients often learn an important (and pretty encouraging) lesson: it wasn’t the quality of the book that was generating the lackluster reviews and sluggish sales. It was merely incorrect targeting in the book marketing.
Getting in Front of Your Target Readers
Click here to join an exclusive workshop with my friend, Belinda Griffin. She’s a book marketing expert who has mastered the art of audience targeting, and she’s coming to share her secrets with us! No matter what your publishing journey looks like, this is the workshop every author needs to connect authentically, leverage publicity and grow their platform! This workshop is now on demand, which means you can watch (rewatch) it anytime!