To Succeed as an Author, Get Your ASK Out There!

by Joel Friedlander on December 6, 2013 · 24 comments

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by Bob Baker (@MrBuzzFactor)

Bob, whose last post here was Three Easy Steps to Selling a LOT More Books and Information Products, is a constant source of new creative endeavors. He helps both authors and musicians get traction for their own creative pursuits through his blog, training programs, and books. Today he tackles a subject that’s really difficult for some authors: asking for what you need. Here’s his report.



This blog post title may seem like a joke, but if you truly embrace the idea I share here, it could seriously transform your life and career as an author.

Do you ever get frustrated by slow progress? Are you cynical because few people seem to give a damn about you and your book?

Do you find yourself praying for a big break? (Heck, you’d probably settle for a modest break or even a break crumb at this point.)

Here’s one solution:

Maybe you just need to get your ASK out there more often.

A writer friend was recently expressing frustration over the lack of financial support she was getting. “I’m following my passion and doing good work in the world, but very little money and attention are coming my way,” she moaned.

Can you relate?

After chatting for a while, I discovered she really hadn’t put structures and offers in place that would allow enough people to send money her way. And most important, she wasn’t ASKing people to benefit from the books and message she delivered.

She was putting good stuff out into the world, but she was relying on people to figure out for themselves what to do with it. She was waiting for them to come to her. And, as a result, they were slow to respond.

Here’s the reality …

People are busy … and distracted … and overwhelmed … and … oh look, is that a squirrel?

As much as you’d like to think your friends and fans will step up to the plate and support you on their own, most of them will require a nudge.

That means you must get in the habit of regularly ASKing people to do something.

  • Want more book sales? Create special offers and ASK your fans to make a purchase. And not just once, but ASK two or three times during any given book promotion.
  • Want more raving reviews? Ask people to rate and review your book on Amazon and other book sites. And make it easy for them by giving them the direct link to your book’s Amazon page.
  • Want more public speaking gigs? ASK more associations, meetup groups and schools if they could benefit from your topic. And follow up when you don’t hear back after the first request. Also ASK your readers and fans for suggestions on speaking opportunities.
  • Want more people at your live events? ASK your fans to come. And do it more than once, in all sorts of ways – by email, on Facebook and Twitter, in person, at the previous event, etc.
  • Want to create more buzz and about your book? Well, the best way to inspire word-of-mouth is to create a remarkable book. Beyond that, ASK people to share, retweet, pin, and forward your links. ASK them to recommend it to their friends or give a copy as a gift.

Of course, you must also learn the art of how to ASK. It can’t be in a self-serving way. You must always position your request in terms of how it benefits the other person.

But one thing I know for sure …

The more you ASK for the things you desire (in a helpful, value-added manner) the more you will get!

Sure, some people will tell you “No.” Many will ignore you. But a surprising number may start to say “YES” and actually give you what you ASK for!

But you won’t get to this radiant state of receiving until you ASK more often.

Here’s your new book career mantra: ASK, ASK, ASK, ASK, ASK!

Got it? Good!

Now get your ASK out there!

I welcome your comments on this topic!

self-publishingBob Baker is the author of “55 Ways to Promote and Sell Your Book on the Internet.” Get a FREE copy of Bob’s “Self-Publishing Confidential” report at www.FullTimeAuthor.com. Also check out his free ezine, blog, podcast, and video clips while you’re there.



Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

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    { 18 comments… read them below or add one }

    Connie Dowell December 6, 2013 at 5:06 am

    Great advice! A lot of folks worry they’ll sound pushy, but when done in the right tone, asking is not pushy at all. It’s just common sense.

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

    You got it. Connie. Absolutely!

    Reply

    Debra L. Butterfield December 6, 2013 at 7:48 am

    We can apply this same mantra to our author blogs. People might subscribe to our newsletter, but they are more apt to do so if we ask, as you say, the right way.

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Yes! Always ask within the context of what’s in it for them!

    Reply

    Jason Matthews December 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I think you hit the nail on the head at the end of the post when mentioning “the art of asking.” Many Indie authors are primarily asking (or demanding) “will you read my book?” and that approach tends to push readers away.

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

    So true, Jason. Saying “Hey, check out my book! Please!” is not very effective. But saying something along these lines might get better results:

    “Are you struggling with XYZ? Here are some simple ways to overcome it. Please read this free chapter of my new book. If it speaks to you, I’ll send you two bonuses if you order the full book by this Friday. Please take a look now, before you get distracted :)”

    That’s just a generic example. But I hope it shows the difference.

    Reply

    Michael W. Perry December 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

    i’d add another suggestion: Contribute as well as ask.

    Illustrations:

    1. History. I lived in Israel for the better part of a year and feel strongly about its security as the region’s only stable democracy. That means I read the Times of Israel daily and comment on current events there. When I do, I often sign off as the editor of a most serious historical work: Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II.

    Do you think a heavily Jewish audience might find that sort of book appealing? Almost certainly. Since I began to contribute to the Times of Israel, my sales have definitely gone up.

    2. Healthcare. About a year and a half ago, I decided to write up my experiences at one of the nation’s top children’s hospital. There are a lot of books on what it’s like to be the parent of a child with leukemia or a teenager with the disease. I wanted to write one describing what it was like to be on the nursing staff caring for those children, particularly at night when the resources of even a top hospital are thin.

    One of the book’s themes is the impact of administrative decrees and legal policy changes all the way down to the hands-on-care given on night shift to children with leukemia. Wrong policies brutally applied can literally put the lives on those children at risk. I saw that happen. In one case a little boy almost died from a morphine overdose given by a nurse who was too rattled by administrative misconduct to think straight.

    Now we’re in the midst of a debate about Obamacare, which might almost be defined as “wrong policies brutally applied.” When I comment on that, typically at online newspapers and magazine, I close by mentioning the book I wrote, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer. That lends authority to what I say and also gives the book some much needed publicity.

    In addition, if people read my book, they’ll understand why medical decision making should be made as close to the patients involved as possible. It shouldn’t be decided by distant committees, whether they are called ‘death panels’ or something more benign-sounding. Life is too complex for rule by dictate and decree.

    Does contributing always work? No, not for some subjects. I was quite aware when I wrote my other hospital book, Hospital Gowns and Other Embarrassments: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Hospitals, that I was broaching a taboo subject in medical care–the impact of embarrassment on patients, both in their willingness to undergo treatments and their comfort with those treatments.

    To state that nothing is being done in the area is an understatement. A medical research librarian and I spent 45 minutes searching medical and nursing databases for any article or research on the topic. The closest we came up with–I kid you not–was a translation of research on ‘integrity’ issues for Iranian women in Iranian hospitals. I also spent almost an hour in a medical/nursing school library looking for anything in nursing textbooks or manuals on the topic. Again I drew a complete blank.

    How do I contribute to a debate, drawing attention to what I have done, when no debate exists? I don’t know. The best I can do is start that debate at the instructional level. Over the Christmas holidays, I plan to send personal emails to nursing school faculty and, if I have the time, to faculty at medical schools. Both books would be excellent reading for future doctors and nurses and, at $2.99 in digital, they’re a bargain in comparison to the usual textbooks.

    Perhaps by jumpstarting a debate over embarrassment in health care, I can draw attention to Hospital Gowns and reach my target audience: hospital patients. The book’s actually filled with helpful advice on taking charge of every aspect of your care that should be handy for anyone, whatever their age or sex. I wrote on teen girls because that’s where my expertise is. When I left nights on Hem-Onc I shifted to days on the hospital’s teen unit. As a guy, I knew that I was as much an issue for the teen girls I was caring for as all the unit’s female nurses were for the teen boys.

    In short, if you want your book to be heard on a topic, contribute to the existing debates on that topic. Even fiction can be handled that way. Go to good writing websites and use stories you’ve told to illustrate writing techniques.

    Contributing will win you that elusive audience you need.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

    Reply

    Lisa Angelettie December 6, 2013 at 10:32 am

    This post really hits the nail on the head Bob!

    Many writers/authors have a “teaching nature” and share information because we love to, OFTEN forgetting that this is also how we make a living:) We need to ASK for what we want readers to do and not be afraid to do so.

    It took me a very long time to learn this lesson and I left a lot of money on the table by doing so. I hope some of you newer authors reading this post will take heed:)

    Reply

    R.J. from BookMarketingTools December 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    People definitely need to be told what to do. Some readers don’t know how helpful good reviews are to you, so you can simply ask them to leave good reviews. Chances are if they are following you on Twitter or if they signed up for your mailing list, they already like you!

    Plus, asking your readers stuff is much better than tweeting “BUY MY BOOK!!!!!!!!!!” all day!

    Great post!

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 10, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Great points, R.J.!

    Yep. People who follow you might actually like to help you – if you only made them aware of how they can do that!

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg December 6, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Well I know what my next blog post’s going to be about, thanks!

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 10, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Can’t wait to read it, Greg! :)

    Reply

    Dan Erickson December 7, 2013 at 6:28 am

    I’ve asked a few times too many it feels. I do run promotions, but according to must social media strategists I’ve overdone my posts “asking.” I’ve got a few sales. I can’t imaging I’d have got any more by asking less. I don’t ask for live gigs because I’m a single dad of an eight-year-old. One thing you did not cover: What about asking for money to create better work, like a kickstarter program?

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Dan, in the interest of time and space, I limited this post to the subject of simply asking. Of course, there are an infinite number of topics that relate to it. Such as the importance of delivering value and non-sales messages, in addition to asking for things. And fan-funding is another huge topic that is worthy of discussion.

    In fact, here’s a good post by Stephanie Chandler on this topic
    http://book-promotion.blogspot.com/2013/08/crowd-funding-for-authors.html

    Cheers!

    Reply

    Michael W. Perry December 7, 2013 at 7:19 am

    There’s a big downside to asking and it’s what I call the Tupperware effect.

    Remember Tupperware… all those nifty plastic containers and stuff? They’re still around, but I can’t remember the last time I was invited to a Tupperware party. That seems to have faded away.

    The problem with Tupperware parties was that it encouraged friends to try to sell you stuff and you often felt under obligation to buy to avoid offending them. That’s what bothers me about this asking people to buy, read and review your books. If they’re really interested, I feel, they won’t need to be pushed. And if they’re not, pushing will do as much harm as good.

    Reviews are perhaps an exception, particularly if someone you know reads and volunteers that he or she likes it. Most people don’t see themselves as book reviewers and the idea of writing one brings back bad memories from high school. There a little encouragement helps. And there even one or two good reviews can help a book sell.

    –Michael W. Perry, Across Asia on a Bicycle

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Michael, everyone has to decide what works for them, in the same way that each writer has a unique style and voice. If not asking is working for you, then bravo! But I’ve seen too many writers over the years who are so worried about offending people, they are paralyzed with fear while being frustrated with slow progress. I think there’s a more healthy balance that can be struck.

    Reply

    David Hooper December 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Don’t Ask = Don’t Get

    This is an important lesson not just for authors/fans, but for all people in all types of relationships. You can’t just expect people to read your mind…

    Reply

    Bob Baker December 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Thanks, David :)

    Reply

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