Three Words That Open Doors
Do you remember the first time you ever said, "I'm a writer"?
I mean out loud and in response to someone asking what you do. Not something you said to yourself.
Pretty cool feeling, right?
Two weeks after Bootcamp 2008, a friend who owned a sales training business asked me what I was doing now. "I'm a copywriter," I said (for the first time ever).
His response: "Really?! Because we just fired our copywriter."
He hired me initially for a small assignment, but I went on to work with them for six months.
"I'm a writer" opens doors. It's a great icebreaker, for one, plus it connects you to interesting people and projects.
But there are three other words that are more powerful and open even more doors.
"I'm an author."
That sounds even more interesting and prestigious, doesn't it? It is.
We've been talking all week about becoming an authority. In my opinion, there's no quicker way to establish yourself as an authority in your niche than by writing a book.
Authors command respect. They're instantly considered an expert in whatever subject their book is about. And they're admired. Think about it – how many times have you heard someone say, "I'm writing a book," or "I'm planning to write a book"? The follow-through is what matters.
I know because for years I've been telling people I'm going to write a book. Yet I still can't utter those three magical words, "I'm an author."
That's about to change.
I was inspired when I discovered that November is National Novel Writing Month (www.NaNoWriMo.org).
Last year, over 200,000 aspiring authors signed up, and by November 30, more than 30,000 of them crossed the finish line, completing a 50,000-word novel (approximately 175 pages).
NaNoWriMo is a program for everyone who's ever thought of writing a book but has been scared off by the time and effort involved. Instead of taking months or years to finish, participants are encouraged to write fast and furiously for 30 days without endless self-scrutiny and editing.
So how does this apply to you and me?
I propose that for us freelance writers we change it to NaBoWriMo – Nat'l Book Writing Month.
Writing a book on your area of expertise gives you instant credibility.
You'll have a great lead-generation piece to promote on your website, a tool to help land projects, and a thank-you gift to clients they’ll be able to use to improve their business. You might even make money from it, but that's not the main goal.
What do you write about? A good starting point is to combine a copywriting style or technique you're good at along with an industry niche that you're passionate about.
Let's say you've just read Autoresponder Apprentice, and it clicked for you. You also love writing about products to help baby boomer women get in great shape. You could write a book, "How Fitness Marketers Can Attract More Women by Selling Less."
Here's another example. Your specialty as a web copywriter is landing pages, and you've decided to focus on the higher education niche. "Your Landing Page Could Be Landing More Applicants" is something you could promote to prep schools and boarding schools (okay, it's a corny name for a book, but you get the idea).
The point is, your book isn't going to be on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It's designed to be a specialized title that will appeal to a very narrow audience (your targeted prospects). But those prospects will see you as a respected authority because you've written a book and offered a possible solution to their problems.
Your book doesn't have to be 175 pages. For a non-fiction book showcasing your knowledge and expertise, a 50-page book will probably suffice. That's about 14,250 words – only 475 words a day for a month. That's doable, right?
Here are some tips to help you turn a potentially monumental task into something you can check off your to-do list on November 30:
- Use a program like NaNoWriMo.org to keep yourself on track. It's meant for fiction writers, but there's no reason you can't use it for any type of book (see NaNo Rebels on the Forum page). The benefits are that you can see your daily progress online, you connect with a group of like-minded writers, you set a public goal for yourself, and it's free.
- Don't obsess over quality. Aim for getting started and quantity to start with. You can always go back later and edit.
Take a day or two to brainstorm topics, titles, and chapter titles (similar to creating headlines and sub-heads). This is a great outline to work from. Again, think about what you're particularly good at and what your areas of interest are.
If you're a gifted storyteller with a flair for dialogue, and you're enthusiastic about travel, "A Tour Operator's Guide to Telling Stories (and Booking Every Tour Fast)" could be a working title. Chapter titles? "No more selling," "Confessions of a disgruntled traveler," and "The real reason tour companies fail," are just a few ideas off the top of my head.
- Wait until you're done to investigate self-publishing options and your next step. Write the book first, and then figure out what to do with it.
Writing a book is one of those things that won't make you money in the short run, but could really pay off long term. Follow this plan, write for an hour or two a day, and before the year is over, you'll have another answer when people ask, "What do you do?"
Who's with me? Leave me a note in the comments below and let me know if you have plans to write a book someday and if you're going to jump in and take the challenge.
Tomorrow, we'll wrap up this week of "How to Become an Authority in 60 Days" with a few final tips for polishing your image.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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