I once worked for a company that started out as a small business in the owner’s basement. Over the course of about 10 years, the company evolved into the worldwide leader in their industry. From my perspective as an insider, the secret of the company’s success was the focus on producing high quality products and continually re-investing the company’s profits. When I left the company, it was a little over 20 years old and we were selling our products in 160 countries around the world, so you could add “bold moves” to the company’s success attributes. We were at a point where our reputation with customers and our industry was so strong that we no longer had to seek new customers–new prospective customers easily learned of us and sought our products.
One of our suppliers had a different view of the company that always stuck with me. It still drives my ambitions. He told me that what he most admired about the company was that the owner built a machine, which was something the supplier was never able to do with his company. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, so I asked him to elaborate. He said that a business machine is something that runs on its own without the need for the owner to get actively involved and push it along every day. From his perspective, a business machine does not stop working just because the owner is not there. The supplier’s viewpoint was correct. The company had a stellar reputation and all the employees knew exactly what they needed to do to keep the machine running. But it did require a lot of work to get to that point.
Good Writing Builds a Strong Machine
Creating a successful book is a lot like building a machine. What I like most about writing is that the majority of your time is spent up-front while engaged in the research, writing and editing process. Once a story or book is published, the machine is tested and either it works well or it doesn’t. When it works well, the machine begins churning out an income stream that can last for many years. That income helps finance the writing of your next book, which helps finance the following book, and so on.
It Takes Work To Start the Machine and Keep It Running
Very few authors achieve instant success, regardless of how brilliantly they write. The machine will need to be built and primed. With writing, the method used to get things moving and keep them running is called marketing. Many aspiring authors think that they can write a book and sell it to a publisher, or self-publish, and rake in thousands of dollars. If you are part of that crowd, consider yourself delusional. Books rarely sell themselves and most publishers put little effort into marketing. For a book from a new author to be successful, marketing is that author’s responsibility. Even if you don’t know much about marketing, learn as much as you can about the readers in the niche you wish to focus on. Do this while you’re writing the first book for that genre, not afterward.
Today, successful book marketing means finding and engaging the type of reader most likely to buy your book. You will need to get to know those readers and build both a following and a means to communicate. That can mean joining Facebook groups or online forums focused on writing or your chosen genre. The more you can relate to your readers, the more likely they are to purchase your book.
Reputation Drives Success
Success rarely comes easy for a writer. The most important step is to write a quality book that draws the reader into your story. With non-fiction, the draw is the topic and how much interest you raise with the reader and how easy you make it to learn something new. With fiction, characters are used to draw people in. The main characters must be memorable and larger than life. The reader needs to relate to the good guys and care about their ability to prevail against overwhelming odds, or hope that the bad guys are taken down, even if they initially appear unbeatable. The reputation you build with the readers is your best marketing tool.
If You Do It Right, At Some Point the Machine Runs on Its Own
The quality of the experience you create with your readers drives the success, not only your current book, but for all future writings. When people are thrilled with what they read, they will seek more from that same author. As with the company I once worked for, the time and effort we put into the quality of our products built the machine that fueled its growth and kept it running.