(Transcript) – Is your writing a business? It should be!

Morgan MacDonald : Everyone welcome. I am Morgan Gist MacDonald, writing coach, editor and author, and I help you write your book from vague idea to first draft to finished manuscript. I run my business and blog out of http://www.paperravenbooks.com , and I take Scope Notes for you. So if you are busy – like Shaleen Johnson was lifting weights [this morning] while listening to Periscopes, [so] if you do that too I take notes for you. Go to http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope . On all of these value-packed Periscopes I take notes for you, you’ll find the replays, and you’ll find transcripts so you can always stay totally up-to-date.


Oh, and if you’re not already following me, hit the little “Peri Dude” down there, and if you like to Scope about writing, [and] listen to Scopes about writing and becoming a better writer, and a better SELLING writer, go ahead and change that “plus” to a “check” and that means you follow me. That means you’ll get notifications when I go live. And if you know any other writers who are trying to SELL their stuff – make a living off their writing – go ahead and SHARE. I think if you swipe some direction – it depends on if you’re [set to] landscape or portrait, IOS or Android. But just start swiping, and it will let you share on Periscope, Twitter or Facebook,  or pick individual people to share with.


So thanks guys. And if you’re also new, as we’re going along here, if you like what we’re talking about, tap hearts, and that lets me know you’re there, and engaged, and that what I’m giving you is valuable, and it make me happy [laughter]. So I like seeing those hearts… Hey Miguel, who just hopped in the room.


So let’s talk about your writing as a business. This is a major mindset shift for a lot of writers. A lot of times when we go into writing – and I will include MYSELF in this group – we go into writing because we’re passionate, we love the words, we tend to be more introverted, and we just like ideas and reading, and then creating NEW ideas that we then write about. So we’re very caught up in the creation mode, and that is great. I think that’s part of our GIFT, and part of our CRAFT, this creation. So I don’t want to downplay that at all. In fact, I think a lot of current marketers completely downplay the craft of writing, and that’s honestly one of the things that I love to talk about on Periscope…


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : We’re creepy people too, lol!


Morgan MacDonald : …  [laughter] “We’re creepy people too.”. Yeah. I think we’ve talked about that in some of our Scopes…. But I think there’s almost a little too much emphasis out in the internet world about : getting your book on Amazon, being a number one best-seller, selling your first 10,000 copies, getting a traditional publisher. There’s a lot of emphasis on this self-publishing and marketing stuff, and I tend to push back again that a little bit, because I think FIRST you have to begin with writing that is really well crafted. But I don’t want to just let you hang out in that SPACE of writing. I know you LOVE the writing, [and] that’s why you’re here, BUT you can’t just sit in a dark room and write. You can, but NO ONE with READ it! And what’s the point of writing unless someone reads it? So I would love for you to spend some time thinking about how your writing is not just a HOBBY, it’s a business. I know a lot of people don’t like to think of writing as a business, because it makes it feel like you’re in it for the money, the profit, [and] that kind of thing. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. You can be in it for the BUSINESS just because you’re a REALIST, and you understand that readers are consumers. So a lot of the ways in which writers reach their readers is very parallel to how business people reach their customers.  


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : I’m an entrepreneur anyway!


Morgan MacDonald : … You’re an entrepreneur anyway… so you are totally up on this. Yeah. I think there is more and more of a trend of writers becoming much more entrepreneurial, because we’re starting to realize that WE are the ones who are putting our writing our there. We don’t have businesses like traditional publishers doing it for us, as much, anymore. We’re taking on that role. We’re becoming the publicity department of a traditional publisher, and that’s fantastic. We’re going to be more about this over the next few days – it’s like the theme of the week…


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : Marketing and management.


Morgan MacDonald : … “Marketing and management”… [laughter] managing YOURSELF is definitely a big part of being a writer, that’s for sure… But I want to try to encourage you to start thinking about your writing as a portion of a business plan. So here’s the truth : you can be a phenomenal writer and sell ZERO books, [or] you can be a crappy writer and be a BESTSELLER. It sucks [laughter], but that’s the truth. So how does this happen, and why does this happen? I think you can be a good writer with an not a whole lot of business savvy, and you can both BECOME a better writer…


Ayesha O ( https://twitter.com/LeAyeshah ) : Yeah!


Morgan MacDonald : … Thanks Ayesha. Yeah, that’s true… AND you can become a business person. So that’s what I really would like to encourage you to do. [That is], AS  you are increasing in your craft of becoming a better writer, ALSO be increasing your business savvy, and start thinking about your writing as a business.


So the first shift is [that] the books are NOT just brilliant pieces of writing. The books are a product. They are a very SPECIAL product because you believe this book will cause some sort of shift, change or transformation in your reader’s life. That’s the point, right? Whether it’s a blog post, or a thesis, or a full-on book, the point of the writing is to cause some change in perspective, a change in behavior, [or] a change in ANYTHING. There’s always a change that you’re bringing to your reader. So how do we FIRST contact those readers [whose lives] we want to change? How do we get in touch with them, so that we can say, “Here’s this book that will change your life!” And second, once they read ONE of our books – or pieces of writing – how do we STAY in touch with them, so that when we produce more – because you’re not a “one book wonder”, [and] you’re going to write more – we can come back and say, “You liked what I wrote previously. I have ANOTHER one for you.”


So those are, kind of, our two main goals. I said I don’t want to overcomplicate this. I want to break it down into the real basics here : get in touch, [and] stay in touch. That’s what we’re doing, right?… Thanks for the hearts… Okay. So if you are just starting out – and Miguel may already, kind of, be onto this – we’ll do, sort of, some 101 stuff, and then I’ll give you some extra resources for continuing to build.


So 101. If you’re an author you need THREE things. You need a web site. A REAL web site with a real domain name that has something to do with your name as an author preferably. If yáll follow Ron Estrada, his web site is http://ronestradabooks.com/ . So you need a website, just if nothing else, to showcase your author bio, what you’ve written, and a place where people can get on your email list.


[Here’s a] question for you : Do you know what an email list is? Yes or no, please [laughter]? I’m happy to explain more about what an email list is, but just type in the chat if you know what an email list is.


Johnnie Alexander ( https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr ) : Yes.


Morgan MacDonald : … Johnnie says “Yes.”


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : Sort of.


Morgan MacDonald : … Miguel says, “Sort of.”… Anybody else? I know there are some other people in there.


Ayesha O ( https://twitter.com/LeAyeshah ) : Not really.


Morgan MacDonald : … “Not really”… Okay. Yeah. So I do think you need a website, no matter what kind of writing you are doing. Whether you’re doing blogs, academic theses, or books. You need a website. An email list is just merely a list of people who are interested in your writing. So obviously they need a way for you to get in touch with them. You’ve probably seen this [out there on] web sites. There is usually a little box where you put your name and email. Now what that does – when [they] put [their] name and email – is it goes into a third party software that simply maintains a list for the person who owns that box.


So on my website I have a box where you can put your name and email. I use a company called AWeber ( http://www.aweber.com/ ). When you put your name and email in [what] it does is [build] a huge list of names and emails of people who have said, “I like what you write and I want to hear more.” That’s it! And when I go to send out an email it is very much like sending out an email on Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, [or] whatever. But it’s just MAINTAINED by someone else. It’s maintained by a third party, because it’s a big list, and it would explode my Gmail account. That’s not true. It’s not that big [laughter]. I probably have between three and four hundred at this point, but that’s enough that I don’t want to manage it inside my own Gmail account.  And it has some auto stuff in there so when you fill the box it automatically puts your email on that list, and if ever you decide that you DON’T want to be on the list there is a little button in the email that lets you unsubscribe from that list. So there are a couple of things like that that’s why we use a third party service. The lists get big, and it has some automatic stuff like “auto sign up” and “auto unsubscribe”.


So you just need literally a list of [information like] : Miguel, and his email address; Ayesha, and her email address; Johnnie and her email address, so that I can reach out to you and say, “I’ve got this new book out in case you want to read it.” That’s all an email list is. Now you can get REALLY deep into how to get people ON that email list. But [you need a] website, and then a third party service like Aweber, [which] is the one I use. There’s also MailChimp ( http://mailchimp.com ), like the monkey.


Okay. So website, email list, and when you have people email you, make sure it’s – number three – a PROFESSIONAL email. So, when you do your website, and you have “[yourname].com”, have an email address that goes with it. I don’t know anybody’s last name here… [for example] MiguelRubbio.com. Your email address would be “miguel@miguelrubbio.com”. Okay? So you’re not going to use “awesomewriter123@aol.com”, because that is NOT a professional email. You are going to level up. That’s part of this whole mindset of taking your writing from a hobby into a business. You’re going to level up. Okay? You’re taking yourself SERIOUSLY, and part of taking yourself seriously is getting a professional email address. If you have a university address you CAN use that, [although] academics DO tend to switch affiliations partly through their career, so if you switch your email address it can get, kind of, confusing. I would still recommend – even if you have an institutional affiliation – you go ahead and get your own domain.com with your own [your name]@domain.com. It looks really nice and professional, and then you have a cohesive image. Then if you don’t want people to know where you’re teaching right now you don’t HAVE to let them know. So that’s my recommendation : website, email list, [and] professional email.


Okay. So now, my challenge to you is to start reading business books. Now this may feel a bit weird at first, because we’re so used to reading about the CRAFT of writing. But I will say that once I started taking MY OWN business really seriously about three years ago, and started reading business books, I was like, “Oh my gosh! All of this applies SO MUCH to writers.” Even though the books are speaking directly to entrepreneurs who are starting like tech businesses…


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : Way ahead of you!


Morgan MacDonald : … You’re way ahead of me [laughter]… I’ll give you some of my favorites too, Miguel, and then you can let me know what your favorite books are too, so we can swap… But even if they’re talking to people who are starting tech businesses, or whatever, there’s so much of the MINDSET piece, and even the brick-by-brick building pieces that are directly applicable to writers, I’m like, “Oh my gosh! EVERY writer should be reading business books.” That’s just going to be the best way for you to start getting a handle on how to spread your writing out into the world.


I was brainstorming some ideas [in relation to] which being a writer IS being an entrepreneur. If you think about it, entrepreneurs are looking for clients, [and] YOU’RE looking for READERS. Entrepreneurs are creating sales funnels, [and] you are looking to advertise to your readers so that they can buy your books. Entrepreneurs bank their businesses on testimonials, and you bank your book on reader reviews, on Amazon. So there are lots of ways in which the exact same things that entrepreneurs are doing, writers are also doing, just parallel. We’re just using different WORDS for it almost.


Okay. Some of MY favorite business books that I think apply really well to writers [include] “Tribes” by Seth Godin. All of this is in the notes. It’s all in the Scope Notes. Basically anything by Seth Godin – who’s a marketer – he’s amazing. The next one “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. Awesome!  The premise of the book “Start With Why” is that WHY you do what you do should underpin everything, and you should LET me people know why you do what you do, because that’s the only way they’re going to get connected with you. So whether you are doing Paleo Cookbook recipes, or researching third-world poverty, people want to know why you do what you do. They will care so much more about your writing if they know the author behind the writing. The third one is “Platform” by Michael Hyatt [which is] a classic book. This book is like FAMOUS now. It’s all about how to use blogging and social media to build an online presence. So if you want to know how to get known online, Platform is the “step one” classic book for that. Then the fourth one is “Rework” by David Hannson…


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : I have “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Seven Habits”.


Morgan MacDonald : … Oh, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, and [“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”] by Stephen Covey… Miguel, those are also awesome. Those are also really deeply tied with personal development, so personal development also plays HUGE into being a writer, because in order to be a writer you have to, sort of, self-motivated and tackle a lot of your self-doubts, and self-sabotaging problems [laughter] – [with which] we ALL sabotage ourselves. So yes, Napoleon Hill and Stephen Covey are GREAT for those two.


So I want to encourage you, [because] I feel like it’s so easy for us writers to just reply on reading books by Stephen King, and William Zinsser, and these other classic [writers] who are all about the writing craft. But I want you branch out a little bit. Read into business and personal development, because you will become not only a better, more productive person, but you’ll be able to build your writing into a true business that can grow with you. Like I said, you are NOT a “one book wonder”. You’re going to be doing this writing and publishing thing for your CAREER. So let’s make each block BUILD onto the next block, so that it develops into a full-fledged business. That’s the dream right? That’s the DREAM!


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : [Will] those books be on your website?


Morgan MacDonald : … Yes. The books are in the Scope Notes. I’ve posted links and everything. So I have links to mail service providers, and these books that I’m talking about. I’ll add Napolean Hill and Stephen Covey too… But start dreaming! Dream about what your business what your business could be like. What would it be like if you wrote a book, [then you] sent ONE email to your list, and within two or three days you sold thousands of copies.  What?! That would be AMAZING, right? That’s the dream, that you can launch your own book, have people buy it and review it, and have people email you saying, “I loved your book!” and spread the word.


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/migg300 ) : Awesome!


Morgan MacDonald : … Miguel, exactly. Awesome… THAT’S what we’re going for. That’s the VISION behind building your writing into a business. This is almost like “online word of mouth”, that through emails and social media you book can spread like wildfire. That’s the vision.


So I would like to leave you guys with that. If you have any questions I’ll be on Twitter later, so hit me up at @morgangmac ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac )… Thanks for the hearts! Yáll are awesome… So [for] the rest of this week we’re going to be talking about, sort of, traditional publishing and self-publishing and things like that – more of this business stuff… Thanks for the hearts. Yay! Heart party [laughter] .. I appreciate you taking time out for this. I am really excited for you. I think that your writing – as you evolve more and more of this business mindset – is really going to take off. Because if you’re thinking of this stuff NOW, a YEAR from now you’re going to be WAY ahead of the curve. So I just want to encourage you to keep on. .  


Johnnie Alexander ( https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr ) : Always enjoy your info.


Morgan MacDonald : … Thank you Johnnie. I appreciate it. Thank you guys for being here, so much. I will catch you tomorrow, if not sooner. Okay. Bye everyone.




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