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Ep 067: “Write Your Book Faster”

Welcome to the 67th episode of The Author Hangout, a podcast designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“You have to shut off that internal editor if you have any hope of writing quickly.”– Kevin Tumlinson

Write Your Book Faster

In this episode, we were joined by author Kevin Tumlinson, who shared some great insights on how he learned to write quicker so he could put out more great books, as well as some awesome marketing strategies he has implemented to sell more books.

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Intro

He’s a prolific author, speaker, blogger, and coach who specializes in helping authors and entrepreneurs build authority within their industries and expand their businesses through better writing. An author since the age of 12, he’s produced a library of fiction and non-fiction books including popular titles such as The Citadel Series, The Sawyer Jackson Series and Evergreen. As a podcast creator and host, he offers invaluable insight and advice on both his Word Slinger Podcast and The Self-Publishing Answers Podcast. Please welcome award winning copywriter and creative director, Kevin Tumlinson.

How did you become an author and publish your first book?

I wrote my very first grown up book probably in my early 20’s, not probably, definitely in my early 20’s and I actually got a posting contract at that point but after doing some math I figured out I’m going to lose money. Because they give you a pretty significant advance and then your royalty is just barely anything. This would have been around 2006, and I basically ended up giving back the advance. I had already spent some of it so I basically had to dig into savings but I managed to pay it all back. They had a contract on the book for the next 4 years…I never did publish it actually. Later, I wrote another book and I self-published that and I liked that process much better. It’s been very good to me actually. That first self-published book was in 2008. I took 2 years to write it and then I took another 2 years to write a sequel to it. Somewhere along the way I decided that if this is going to be my career, this is going to be a business, I can’t survive putting out a product every 4 years.

He also shared this great tip about writing faster:

“I was trying to find odd hours during the week and weekends to actually craft this book and I was making the fatal mistake, I was editing as I went, which was…I talk about that with clients in my newest book. I tell people that you have to shut off that internal editor if you have any hope of writing quickly first of all, or finishing off what you start anyway. There came this moment where I realized that I had to come up with a different process so basically, I started studying the market. I started studying the people who were doing what I was doing and taking tips from guys like Chris Beaty who wrote the book No Plot No Problem. He’s the guy that founded NaNoWrimo and he had some good tips. He made it sound like a nightmare but once I got that idea of losing sleep or something, I realized I didn’t have to do that. I can actually set up a word target each day and knock things out very quickly.”

What is your most recent book or project?

“The book is the 30-Day Author and the first half of that book is really about mindset. It’s very much a mindset book for the first few chapters because the primary audience for that is generally entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily looking to have a writing career but they’d like to get a book out. They might want to do more than one and they might want to do it quickly. I sort of talk up the benefits of a daily writing habit. The second half of the book it all the formula. Basically you have your deadline, you have your general word count, I use 50,000 words as an example. You can do that math and work backwards and you are figuring out what your daily word count needs to be. It’s really stupid simple but a lot of people don’t think about it that way. I love working with fiction authors. I don’t get to do that as much because odd little fact, fiction authors tend to not have any money, and I’m a good example of that, but the same process works well for fiction too. It’s really about deciding “I want to have this many words on a paper each day” and no matter what it takes getting those words there. As little as 1,500 words a day will get you a book in a month. It’s powerful. It’s like compound interest.”

Be sure to listen to the podcast to get another great tip from the book!

Can you tell us about a time when you really struggled as an author?

Kevin shared a great tip someone shared with him when he was struggling:

“The challenge was really building that list to begin with. I remember approaching everyone I’ve ever heard of and asking them, “How do I even start this list?” I’ve got…at the time I was using Mail Chimp, through my client, I’ve used practically every client management system you can think of but I kept asking, “How do I get the names?” I don’t want to pay people to be on the list or whatever. I don’t mind offering something free but how do I attract them to the free item? To get them on the list in the first place. It took time. Someone pointed out to me at one time, you’re already connected to a few hundred people at least in your personal email account. Why don’t you email those folks individually and ask them to get on the list? That was a nice start. I had 200 people on the list. It went from there. Then I started using Facebook ads, which really propelled my list building.”

What one marketing tactic is really working well for you?

Kevin has a great tip here:

“I had thought about ways to [figure out who my audience is] and I actually thought about doing a survey or something along those lines. It turned out that I didn’t have to because I was getting so much feedback from…I’d get email for example. I also started…I started getting feedback on my ads. People would actually comment and say, “Hey I like this…” and they would share it with people and say, “You should definitely read this book, you’ll like it.” Facebook actually offered me a pretty unique opportunity I hadn’t really considered before, which is, you get that demographic information. You get to know who it is actually liking and sharing and reading your work. I made a combination of what was I getting from the feedback via email but then I was actually did in the end and find these…true confession…a little bit of a stalker activity here, but I went and found a handful of people that really liked the work, I went on their profiles and found out everything I could about them and created, granted I didn’t write it all down in a nice and neat list but I know my reader. As it turns out my reader is generally female between the ages of 20 and 30 and loves science fiction. That’s great because that’s what I write. I had that interesting opportunity there. I think we don’t often realize how many tools we have in our box. Facebook actually turned out to be a great tool for connecting to readers but also just finding who they are.”

If you started over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?

Kevin’s tips are the same as many we have heard before, but listen to his thoughts, and how you really NEED to apply it:

“I’ve asked this question from a thousand different authors and it’s always the same answer and I cannot add anymore to the conversation than to say, I would write more books sooner, I would build my list sooner, and repeat. It’s really 2 things. I guess if I had to pick a third thing, I would probably have started…I would have brought in professionals for the editing and all aspects of the writing a lot sooner as well. Those things help a lot, nurturing reviews and that sort of thing, it’s all vital. Everyone says that. In fact I roll my eyes even thinking about it because it’s exactly the advice you get…maybe #3 should be, take everyone’s advice a lot faster. I don’t think I did because I heard all that and I’m like, yeah, yeah, I’ll write more books, no problem.”

Don’t miss more of the mindset that Kevin recommends for all authors in the podcast.

How can people connect with you?

The easiest best way is, you can come visit me at http://kevintumlinson.com. That’s my personal website. And if you’re interested you can also check out the Wordslinger Podcast at http://kevintumlinson.com/podcast/. Either of those will get you to essentially the same place. I’d love to have you.

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