Regular readers of this blog will know that I am semi-retired these days.
That doesn’t mean I have stopped working altogether, though, and I wouldn’t want to.
Things have been a bit quiet over the last few months, though, so I decided to get in touch with some old clients to remind them I was still around if there was anything I could help them with.
Some didn’t reply, but others did. I got more work almost immediately from two of them, with the promise of more in future from a third. I thought it might be worth looking at what lessons can be learned from this…
One very important thing is that when you work with companies, people move on and – shock, horror! – they don’t always tell you. A new guy or girl moves into their role and doesn’t know you from Adam (or Eve). If they need a freelance, your name is unlikely to be the first one to come into their mind. Consequently, the flow of work suddenly dries up.
That was the scenario in one of the companies I got more work from. I received a reply from a woman saying that she was fairly new in the role, apologising for not getting in touch sooner, and asking if I could also do proofreading work.
Of course, I said yes, and the upshot was that I got a dozen short novelty books to proofread, along with the company’s trade catalogue. Although I am not primarily a proofreader, it is something I am happy to do when the occasion arises. In some ways I rather enjoy correcting work someone else has produced, rather than having to write it all myself!
At the other company I got new work from, the same person was still there. He was pleased to hear from me again (he said) and mentioned that they wanted a Kindle e-book writing to help promote their seminars business. Of course, as a published Kindle author myself, I immediately volunteered my services. The result was that I got a sizeable commission to write a book on their behalf, with more projects promised in future as well.
Clearly then, while not all my old clients replied positively, enough did to make this a very worthwhile exercise. Here are a few more points you might like to consider if you find yourself in a similar position to the one I was in…
If it’s been a year or two since you last worked for a client, it’s quite likely your previous contact will have moved on, so start by briefly introducing yourself and mentioning projects you have worked on in the past.
It may also be a good idea to write to the company’s main email address rather than one that belonged to your previous contact. Or at least, copy it to that address also.
If you have a good pretext for contacting a business, don’t hesitate to use this. In one case a company had promised to send me an author’s copy of a print book I had written for them, but I never received this. So I wrote politely to ask if I could be sent it now. I also reminded them that I was available for other work if required. I got an immediate reply apologising for the oversight and promising to send me three copies of the book (which they did). They didn’t have any work for me straight away, but promised I would be top of the list if anything else came up. So I would say I am definitely back on their radar now.
Another good pretext for contacting a new client is if you are now offering a new service, e.g. blogging or social media work.
You could also write to let them know if, for example, you have launched a new blog or website (and this might be of interest to them). As you may know, I recently launched a personal finance blog called Pounds & Sense, and I mentioned this in several cases. It certainly generated a degree of interest, although I didn’t get any work related to it directly.
Remember as well that a client may not realise the full range of skills you have to offer, especially if you have acquired new ones since last working for them. So it’s always good to remind them what you can do. In the case of the company mentioned above, they evidently hadn’t realised I could also do proofreading work. I fully expect to receive quite a lot more work of that nature from them in the coming months.
Finally, since I’m on this subject, I do still have some spare capacity at the moment – so if you have any writing, editing or proofreading work you need doing, please get in touch!
And if you have any comments or questions about this post – or any other ideas for generating work from old clients – do post them below.
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As some of you will know, Crystal Lake Publishing is a small (but growing) horror fiction publishing house, run by my old friend Joe Mynhardt. Joe has recently taken the leap to become a full-time publisher, so I wish him every success and satisfaction with this.
Joe has just published a free report called The Author’s Career Cheat Sheet. This is a guide to building your career as an author, focusing especially on how best to use the internet and social media to help build your platform. It also has advice on how to find inspiration, and generally how to balance writing with other areas of your life.
The report is a 12-page PDF and is well worth a read. As mentioned it is free, although you do have to provide your email address to get your hands on it. This is something I am normally a little wary about, but having known Joe for many years I can say categorically that he is not going to start spamming you!
Indeed, if you write horror or speculative fiction, signing up is likely to be a good move, as Joe will be sharing tips, advice and calls for submissions for new Crystal Lake projects, as well as info about books including authors’ guides that may be of interest to you.
Speaking of which, don’t forget that Crystal Lake currently have two open calls for submissions. I wrote about them in this blog post a few weeks ago. One is for their annual Tales from the Lake anthology, and the other is for a C.H.U.D. tribute anthology. The deadline for both of these is the end of January 2017, so don’t delay if you have something suitable.
If you have any comments or questions about this post, as always, feel free to leave them below – although please bear in mind that I do not work for Crystal Lake Publishing myself! If you need to get in touch with Joe and his colleagues directly, here is a link to their contact page.
Regular readers will know that until recently I was chief bizopps reviewer for More Money Review.
By the end of my time working with MMR – and I am incidentally still on very good terms with them – I had reviewed several hundred home-business opportunities in a wide range of categories, from Kindle publishing courses to multi-level marketing schemes.
During this time I saw plenty of bad and ugly products, but not so many that were good. As a reviewer you soon get to know who the good developers are and who are the ones you need to avoid with the proverbial ten-foot barge-pole.
Anyway, Dave Guindon and his business partner Chris Guthrie are definitely in the ‘good’ category. They aren’t as prolific as some other developers, but when they do release a product it is almost always the best in its class. They routinely over-deliver to an astonishing degree. Their KD Suite of market research software for Kindle authors is something I have raved about in the past, for example.
Today, however, I wanted to draw your attention to another of their products, AmaSuite, which is just about to come out in its fifth iteration. This is a market research product (and training) for anyone interested in selling physical products on Amazon, either their own or as affiliates.
I reviewed an earlier version of AmaSuite (AmaSuite 3) for More Money Review a while ago. Here’s a link to my in-depth review there. Note that to read the whole review you will need to be a registered member and logged in, but registering is free and only takes a few moments. I have reproduced the conclusion to my review below…
Overall, I was highly impressed with AmaSuite 3. If you’re serious about making money as an Amazon affiliate, and willing to put some work in to make it happen, AmaSuite 3 will undoubtedly prove a valuable resource for you.
I was impressed with Dave Guindon’s earlier product KD Suite (also reviewed on More Money Review) and in my view AmaSuite 3 builds on the lessons he learned from that. It is a highly professional, multi-featured product that should provide you with all the tools and training you need to make a growing income as an Amazon affiliate.
The latest version of the software, AmaSuite 5, now has five main components, as opposed to the three in Amasuite 3 that I reviewed. Briefly, they are as follows:
Top Product Analyzer – This tool lists and analyzes the 100 best-selling products in the most popular 100 categories on both Amazon UK and Amazon.com.
Search Analyzer – This shows you the most popular products on Amazon for any given search phrase.
Keyword Analyzer – This extracts the exact keywords people are searching for right now by using four of the major online e-commerce websites in the world.
Review Analyzer – This tool helps you come up with ideas for white-label products you could create yourself, by analyzing reviews of existing products and highlighting feature requests and suggestions for improvement. You can then use this data to develop your own rival products that meet these requests and address the criticisms.
AliAnalyzer – This tool works with the popular AliExpress platform to discover best-selling products there and identify products you could dropship from your own e-commerce site.
I can’t really do justice to all the things these software tools can do for you in this post, so I highly recommend visiting the AmaSuite 5 offer page and reading the full in-depth descriptions there.
The software is by no means the end of it either. You also get two full-length training courses, one about making money as an Amazon affiliate, and the other about selling your own physical products on Amazon (which is where the really big money lies, of course).
And finally you get membership of their ‘AmaGroup’ on Facebook, where you can discuss how to make the most of AmaSuite with over 6000 other users.
As you will gather, I’m a big fan of AmaSuite. I appreciate it won’t be for everyone, but if Amazon selling or affiliate marketing is something that interests you, in my opinion buying Amasuite 5 is a no-brainer.
AmaSuite 5 Launch Discount Offer
I am pleased to say that Dave Guindon has kindly allowed me to offer a special launch discount to my blog readers. From now until the closing date of Friday 13 January you will be able to claim a huge $100 discount on the entire product if you order AmaSuite 5 via my link. After 13 January 2017 this offer will no longer be available, so please don’t delay if this product could be of value to you.
As ever, if you have any comments or questions about AmaSuite 5, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them.
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This product is being sold via the popular and well-established WarriorPlus platform. The main guide is a 94-page PDF. This is well written (as with all of Amy’s guides) and illustrated with graphics and screen captures where relevant.
As you may gather from the name, Card Deck Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing your own decks of cards. These are not standard packs with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds (though you could certainly produce those if you wish). They are actually much more varied than that, including:
Card and trading games
Flash cards / learning / education cards
Business / creativity / thinking / self-help
The manual goes on to look at where you can get ideas for card decks, and how to design and produce them. Amy covers a range of publishing options, including traditional self-publishing companies and online ‘drag and drop’ services. She provides detailed information about services she recommends in both these categories.
The final section of the manual includes advice on marketing and selling your card decks, including the use of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, as well as Amazon (FBA), eBay, Shopify stores, and so on.
There is also a separate ‘fast-start’ guide, which I understand will be available as an optional extra. This is a 45-page PDF. It goes into much more detail about the nuts and bolts of publishing a card deck, including design considerations, fonts to use, software, and so forth, again with plenty of useful free and low-cost resources described. This guide also contains valuable advice about using public domain and PLR (private label right) content, to avoid the cost of commissioning original artwork. If you plan to buy Card Deck Publishing Profits, I would definitely consider getting the fast-start guide as well.
Overall, I thought Card Deck Publishing Profits was a high-quality guide to creating, publishing and marketing a print product I wouldn’t even have considered before. But certainly, even a swift search online shows that there is a big market for this type of product. There is also the attraction that card decks are ‘evergreen’ products with the potential to go on selling steadily for months or even years to come.
Of course, as with any printed product, there will be a learning curve. This is not as straightforward as publishing a Kindle e-book (although it must be said that this is becoming a very crowded market). On the plus side, however, there is much less competition, and once you have published one deck, there is no reason you couldn’t publish more quite quickly. It is definitely an opportunity any entrepreneurial writer should consider.
Finally, I should note that Card Deck Publishing Profits is on sale at a launch offer price of just $17 until 31 December 2016, after which the cost will rise to $27.
I am probably best known online as the author of a number of writing courses that I created for the electronic publishing house WCCL (also known as The Self Development Network).
I am no longer working with WCCL (except as an affiliate) but I still get lots of queries about these courses. So I thought today I would take the opportunity to highlight one of them…
Write Any Book in Under 28 Days (also referred to as The Nick Daws Course) is the first course I ever wrote for WCCL. It’s also the first they ever published. Nowadays they offer over seventy products in a range of categories, but this course is the one that started it all!
Although I have written a dozen other courses since, in many ways Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is still my favourite. It could be sub-titled “Everything I know about writing a book”. It is packed with tips and advice based on my experience as the author of over 100 books, most of which were traditionally published. At its heart is my unique four-step system of outlining and “blueprinting”, which thousands of new writers have used successfully to create their first books.
The course has, as you might expect, been updated a few times, but thankfully much of the content is “evergreen”, so it doesn’t actually date that quickly. It is aimed primarily at non-fiction writers, but there is a substantial section on fiction writing within it. My only slight reservation is that, as far as I’m aware, the publishers haven’t updated the bonus items for a while, but that doesn’t affect the value of the course itself, in my opinion.
Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is shipped on a CD that runs in Microsoft Windows. I know that’s slightly less convenient than the usual instant download, but when it was first launched the course was pirated remorselessly, so WCCL had to take this action to protect it from copyright thieves.
So there will be a little wait before you can access the course content, but it will – I promise – be worth it!
I’ve published an extract below, to give you a taster. It comes from the section of Module Two about getting ideas. Note that, like the whole of the CD, it is written in US rather than UK English.
Start by thinking about your job (and if you’re a student, a carer, a home-maker, a full-time parent or an unpaid volunteer worker, that counts just as well). Think about whether there are aspects of this that would be of interest to ordinary people, or people who do similar jobs to you (or would like to). Remember, you don’t have to be an ‘expert’ now – you can always research what you don’t know later. But clearly it helps if you already know something about your subject. And by the very fact of doing a certain job, you already know more than the great majority of the population about this subject.
However, suppose your job doesn’t suggest many ideas – or you simply don’t find it interesting or exciting enough to inspire you. Try thinking about jobs you have done in the past. Think about your hobbies and leisure interests, from baseball to gourmet cookery, astronomy to travel. Could any of these provide the inspiration for a book?
And think about experiences you have gone through in your life. The topics below (an expanded version of the list in Module One) have formed the basis of many thousands of books already. How many of these could you write about from experience yourself?
Getting Married Having a Baby Bringing Up Children Living With Teenagers Dealing With Bereavement Being A Student Shopping for Bargains Coping With Divorce Buying/Selling a House Learning to Drive Buying a Car Extending Your Home Making Your Own Clothes Designing a Garden Getting a Job Starting Your Own Business Managing Staff Negotiating a Payrise Employing People Managing Your Time Travelling With Children Investing Your Money Overcoming Disability
Remember, the experience itself is just a starting point. From the list above, take ‘Being a Student’, for example. Here are just a few ideas for books which might derive from this:
Leaving home: a guide for young people Study skills for students Improve your memory How to work your way through college Cooking for cash-strapped students The Internet for students Making the most of student life
Hmm. I might have a go at one or two of these myself! Seriously, the point I am making is that most people have the seeds for hundreds, probably thousands, of books within them already. All you need to do is spend a little time thinking about your life – things you do now and things you have done in the past – and consider how your knowledge and experience might be of interest to others.
And here’s a further idea to make your idea even more attractive to potential readers and publishers: develop your own technology around it! And no, I don’t mean you have to produce some clever gadget to accompany your book. By technology I mean a plan or system around which you can structure your book (or part of it).
An acronym is a good example of what I’m talking about here. For those who don’t know, an acronym is a word made up from the initial letters of other words or phrases. It acts as an aide memoire for the words concerned, and in many cases forms the basis for a set of guidelines or instructions. For example, advertising copywriters are often taught that any ad they write should meet the AIDA requirements. These are as follows:
1. ATTRACT the reader’s ATTENTION
2. Arouse INTEREST
3. Create DEMAND for the product or service
4. Prompt the reader to ACTION
Acronyms aren’t the only example of a technology you could invent for your book. The truth is, ANY original idea can work as long as it is snappy, easy to remember, and preferably contains at least a granule of truth! One example is Declan Treacy, the writer and entrepreneur behind ‘Clear Your Desk Day’. Treacy’s Big Idea (in a nutshell) was to tell harassed executives they could handle incoming paperwork more efficiently by assessing each item as it came in and allocating it to one of four categories: act on, pass on, file or bin. From this simple concept he created a world-wide best-seller, an international business organization and a highly paid career lecturing on the subject of managing your paperwork.
Or, if you want another example, take Stephen Covey. His book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was based around a system for developing personal effectiveness through seven ‘habits’ or principles. None of these is exactly rocket science – for example, the first is ‘Be Proactive’ and the second ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. Covey’s Seven Habits have been widely adopted by consultants and trainers, and were even incorporated by Microsoft into some of their software (e.g. Microsoft Outlook). Covey’s book has been translated into 32 different languages and has sold over 6 million copies to date. First published in 1989, it is still riding high in the best-seller lists today.
All very well, you may say, but I’m not an international business guru – maybe I don’t even want to become one. It doesn’t matter! Whatever area you plan to write about, create your own technology around it. Say you’re going to produce a book about bringing up teenagers (a subject I know nothing about, by the way). A few moments’ thought gave me the acronym RAILS, made up as follows:
Give SPACE (or SUPPORT)
As we’ll see in the next section, an acronym can also help provide the title for your book. In the above example, one obvious possibility would be Keep Your Teenager on the RAILS. I must admit, I can easily imagine this climbing high in Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list! I don’t think I’ll be writing it myself, even so – but if any reader wants to pick up the idea and run with it, I’ll be happy to settle for 10 per cent of your royalties!
Finally, suppose you want to write fiction rather than non-fiction. The same principle applies – use your own experience as a starting point, and build on this using your imagination and research. For example: a friend of mine writes detective novels from a police perspective; I believe they’re called police procedurals by those in the know. He doesn’t have a police background himself and wrote his first novel entirely from his own imagination, aided by a little research from books. He particularly treasures one glowing review from a police magazine which congratulates him on the authenticity of his characters!
Of course, the real point is that people are the same the world over, whatever the occupation they happen to work in: some are conscientious, others slapdash; some are sociable, others solitary; some court trouble, others aim to avoid it. The same would doubtless be true in medieval times, the present day or the far future. All writers have to do is start from their own experience of the world and the people in it, and extend this.
As I said above, I hope this will give you a flavour (or flavor) of what Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is about. It is (still) a course I’m very proud of, and I recommend it if you would like advice and guidance on writing a full-length book.