In this episode, Susan Harrow shares the steps to getting a 6-figure book advance, why you don’t have to be a great writer to get one, and how to create an author’s platform to get the attention of publishers and get that deal!
6-Figure Book Advance FREE TIPS: http://ellenlikes.com/advance
3 Key Points
Publishers don’t buy books they buy book ideas
Publishers want to know that you can sell books
Your plan for selling books has to be proven (it can’t be pie-in-the-sky thinking)
[0:51] Today my guest is Susan Harrow. Susan Harrow, a top media coach, martial artist, publicity expert and author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins) and Get a Six-Figure Book Advance. Dozens of her clients have appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, CNN, CBS, Good Morning America, “Larry King Live”, and appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Time and the most respected print publications nationwide.
For the past 30 years, Susan has consulted with Fortune 500 CEOs, chefs, coaches, speakers, start-ups, entrepreneurs and many New York Times best-selling authors and people just like you.
Today we’’ be talking about How You Can get a Six-Figure Book Advance and Susan will show you how you, too, can get a six-figure book advance so you can become a best-selling author. You can go to her website to get 10 free tips about this topic and I hope you’ll do that after the call . http://ellenlikes.com/advance
[2:10] Everybody wants to write a book and has a lot to say.
[2:22] So many authors who have gotten 6-figure advances say you can’t get that any more. So how can an author get one?
1. Publishers don’t buy books, they buy book ideas
- Show publishers you are the best person to write that book,
Do you have a platform?
3. You have to prove that those who follow you buy books. You can have an original idea, but if your audience doesn’t spend lots of money on books it isn’t of interesting to them.
[4:12] 4. Are you mediagenic? What that means is: do you have your soundbites down? Can you get on tv and sell your book? Are you charismatic? Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert
[4:45] ] Writing is the least important thing-they can get you a ghostwriter (or we can do it for you) But if you are mediagenic and have a platform, that is the prescription for a 6-figure book advance.
[5:03] What do they consider a good-enough platform?
Not social media, you need to get them on your list. You have to be able to contact them directly. Same on your blog. Or, show some way you have followers. And then numbers are different for different niches-not a set number.
[6:18] Some are more offline., but you need to show some way that you have followers. That would look like, are you consistently doing speaking engagements? Can you connect with those who hear you talk and part of the book buying group? Or, you have a way to create a list.
[6:50] Susan created a list for Dr. Sarah Gottfried got a 7-figure advance and Susan media trained her for that. Part of it was instrumental to making her first book a success. They planned it nine months before. They set up a structure including: Joint- venture partners connecting with others in her field who would promote it, to move it to the NY bestseller list in a short about of time. We planned for her webinars, special reports-those all need to be set up behind the scenes ahead of time for you to start list building and gathering clients.
It is specific to a book launch that you would have an opt in, a webinar, joint-venture partners to help you reach your audience, bonuses to incentivize people to get those books.
[8:16] Ellen shared that so many think publishers will market their books and it’s not true. Susan agreed that that’s a myth. It’s been gone for a long time.
[8:39] A client told Susan one should think of the publisher as a distributor. But she thinks that’s true and not true. It is up to you to sell the books. Publisher wants to know one thing-bottom line-how many books can you sell? You-not them. They get it to Amazon, speaking engagement, book stores, corporate gigs-the book buying public
[9:29] Once you “get legs” -if you start doing really well on y our own, the publisher will get behind you. Susan had a client with a 6-figure advance but the publisher wasn’t really supporting them so, she had to show them they could sell books then they could ask the published to put some money behind the book and maybe set up a book tour in New York, or some other city for example. You can get them to put money up for whatever you’re doing.
[10:28] Ellen agreed that it was the same in the music business. Only the top-tiered songwriters were promoted and the others, even though they were signed, had to promote themselves.
[10:51] But the better you do, the better you do and then they will help because then they get excited. That’s why you have to get it set up first, in the book proposal.
[11:12] You can’t create a pie in the sky publicity plan. It has to be proven. If you haven’t spoken before, you can’t say you are going to speak once a week for a year. If you’re speaking, how many people are at those speaking engagements? How many have bought your books? So, we can now say, when your book is out, you have twenty speaking engagements and you already have a track record to say you get 500 people at a talk and half of them buy the book.
[12:12] She has a client where she said right now, “Let’s do a presale!” Then they can show these people bought the book before it’s even out.
[12:36] Ellen said, you can’t do that on Amazon (you can only do it 90 days in advance on Amazon and you’re talking about a year out) so you’d have to be doing it on a website.
Susan didn’t know that. Ellen explained that they’d have to set them up on a website and have a fulfillment company send them out unless she wants to send them out herself.
[13:31] But if they didn’t do a presale they could have an advanced notice list and a percentage of them would buy later.
[13:54] ] Ellen said, Publishers only take about 5 seconds to decide?
Susan said it’s the same with an agent. It goes in “trash”, “maybe”, or “yes, let’s see-let’s talk”.
You have to capture that interest with your title in those 5 seconds cause that’s what you’ve got. It’s just like a headline for a pitch letter when you’re sending out the media.
[15:25] It has to capture their attention first with your title, so they will read further, then whatever you choose to lead with-endorsements, synopsis, your strongest suit, then you’re leading them into “I really want to read more…” So, you want to be able to propel them to the next section. You’re seducing them through your book proposal.
[16:39] And BTW it’s Millennials who are reading it. So, you really need to set it up for them with links, so they can look at things really quickly -they are the first screeners. And they have such a short attention span.
[17:45] Ellen loves that she said TITLE FIRST! Because if they don’t have the right title first forget it. That’s why Ellen always tells her clients to do the research first, see what’s already out there so you’re not repeating it, see how your title is going to be different, so that it stands out from all the other titles, and then make it so cool that people have to pay attention to it!
[18:24] Coming from the music business, Ellen wrote hooks; songs have to have great hooks so that’s what Ellen did for years (and then build the song around it). You write the hook first, and then you write the story (or book) around the hook.
[18:44] ] In the Get a 6-Figure Advance eBook, Susan has a whole chapter on different title formulas to try out.
[19:14] First, M is for metaphor, so you can find a metaphor.
[19:21] Here are a few of the titles:
-What successful authors know about getting published and are afraid you’ll find out.
The formula is: What blank know about blank that blank should…
-Every Mistake in the business how not to….
-10 Stupid Things Women do to Mess up Their Lives. (That’s more Millenial language.)
A hot one right now is:
– The art of not giving a f_____
-Crappy to Happy, Small Steps to Big Happiness NOW!
[20:23] You want to have a tight and exciting title that captures what’s inside your book-like a trailer to a movie. Ellen added-with the benefit of reading it-why they should want to read it . If you think the title doesn’t matter…Ellen interviewed Stephanie Scheller Dupre on an earlier podcast and she sold over 4,000 books her first weekend, and she attributed it to the title, which Ellen wrote. And, people actually told her that they bought it because of the title.)
[21:47] Ellen sees so many people write their manuscript and then they start thinking about their title. Ellen added: “No Don’t do that, write your title first” Otherwise, you could write about something that is “eh” instead of great.
[22:13] Susan remembers Tim Ferris, tested this out. It was originally called The Vagabond …. Millionaire? He tested it with Google ads and it didn’t sell. It became the 4-Hour Work Week.
[22:42] Her client has social media following and they love to help, so she came up with some ideas that weren’t quite right, so Susan suggested her client ask them for feedback. They love to help. You don’t even have to spend money on Google ads. Just say, “I’d love to hear what you think, here’s a couple of things I came up with, what can you come up with?” And give the winner something wonderful-a first edition signed, some kind of prize.
[23:34] Ellen added it’s can be problematic. Sometimes it works, like with How to Crush it in Business Without Crushing Your Spirit How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Depression and Find Success because the original title had How to Kill it instead and they pointed out you don’t want to use “kill” with “depression”. But, in other situations people want to contribute and they throw stuff out and it’s not helpful. Or, Ellen just did this with a logo-it’s a little bit different but the same concept. She showed them two logos and asked which they liked best. They chose one on the right and they suggested a third possibility. And then, she put the third one up and got all these really negative comments on the one they had said they liked before!
[24:41] Susan said it’s wonderful to go to someone like Ellen for that reason, someone who’s got a track record. So, there’s something to be said for both-whatever is right for you. It might be a combination of the two. Get an idea from social media and bring it to Ellen, and she can help you flush it out.
[25:18] That’s why Susan loves brainstorming. You bounce ideas off that may not be the right idea but that can lead to the right one, and that’s why it’s fun to PLAY with your titles. Ellen says that’s the best -the creativity-the fun part.
[25:40] And just like a publisher knows in 5 seconds if the book is worth pursuing, it’s important to work with people like Susan and Ellen who know it too so they can help your shortcut the process. Susan volunteered that titles is not one of her superpowers so she would ask Ellen to help her. And Ellen would ask Susan to help her on other aspects.
[26:23] Ellen said she’s heard you can’t get on the NY Times Bestseller List unless you have $100,000 to spend. She asked Susan what her take was on that. Susan said she did know of some people who have bought their way on to the NY Times bestseller list.
When somebody does that it stays on for one or two weeks, but it wasn’t for merit. It didn’t stay there. If you buy your way on you can say it was on it and that’s wonderful. But, is it really through and through showing that it has tapped into the psyche of the public?
[27:38] BTW, nobody knows the exact formula. Selling to Corporations doesn’t count. And it has to be in a short amount of time. So, there is a strategy to it. You can get on selling 30,000. Now, are you going to stay there? How are you going to continue to do your marketing? And how your book resonates with the public.
[28:09] Eat Pray Love was on the list for something like 200 weeks.
[28:28] Can anyone do it? Yes, but you do have to spend some money to set up your systems of the back end, and then you have to have a strategy to sell books in a short amount of time.
[28:51] Brendon Burchard offered to give you the book for free and you paid for shipping. Free + shipping, so you paid like $6.00 for a book that would be $25.00, and there were a lot of people who wanted that book but it’s also because he has such a big audience and people already loved him. Ellen agreed, he’s got a HUGE audience. so you might do that and go bankrupt.
[29:31] But there are online and offline ways to do it but to do it in a concentrated period of time, and you have to have your ducks in a row ahead of time.
[29:40] Ellen said, authors come to her and say they are going to do a free + shipping offer, and Ellen tells them not to because they don’t have a huge following, and they will probably go broke trying (unless they have a large advertising budget and know-how or team to do it properly) . But, they see Brendon Burchard and Russell Brunson do, it so they think they can do it.
Note: To learn more, listen to Ellen’s podcast with Alex Branning Episode 8 www.BooksBusinessAbundance.com/podcast/8).
[30:13] Ellen works with a lot of first-time authors and she gets them to do a #1 bestseller Amazon launch because they can do it with an eBook, it doesn’t cost them anything (once they learn how), and you can do it over and over and it’s predictable. And you can even do pre-sales. But, you’d not spending thousands in ads that are coming out of your pocket.
[30:28] Closing Thoughts
You need a really strong title.
Put your most compelling information upfront.
There are lots of ways to build a platform.
Start far in advance to develop it.
Susan systematized it and there’s a plug-and-play software template with the book because you need all the information ready for a literary agent even if you aren’t ready to get a 6-figure advance yet, start to get these in place now.
Let’s imagine you’ve only done 1 speaking engagement every two months. You could bump it up to 3 times a month and by the time the book is published the author could be doing 3 times a month so you make a connection from where you are now to where you will be when the book is published. It’s proof of concept, that you are moving toward your goal and now is the time.
Whether you get a $10,000 advance or 6-figures it’s the same process. So, start wherever you are. And if you’re overwhelmed listening to this, start with one thing at a time and build, build, build. Anyone can do this but it depends on your dedication, skill level and topic (how fast you can do it) and audience love.
Ellen reminds people to go to http://ellenlikes.com/advance to get Susan’s free gift.
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