I am excited to kick off Bobbi’s Bookshelf with the book I am reading right now—Write and Grow Rich: Secrets of Successful Authors and Publishers (Exclusive Tips from Publishing Experts) by Alinka Rutkowska and Adam Houge. Of course, the title grabbed me right away because it is a takeoff on Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, the all-time best-seller in its field and one that has influenced more people than perhaps any other business book.
This is part of Amazon’s description of the book: “Write and Grow Rich is a jam-packed handbook for making your words worth more than you ever dreamed possible. If you like expert guidance, multiple points of view, and down-to-earth education from entrepreneurs who’ve made it, then you’ll love Alinka Rutkowska’s authorpreneurial anthology.”
Unlike Think and Grow Rich, which was one man’s observations of the giants of his time, Rutkowska interviewed twenty-four successful authors, all of whom she seems to know well, and grouped them into six categories: authors, communicators, marketers, teachers, trainers, and transformers. She asked each of them roughly the same questions, and while no two responses were alike, there were many overlapping themes. “The bottom line,” she wrote. “is that there are different ways of going about writing, and they can all lead to financial success.” Every person she interviewed had started from scratch and failed a number of times but, ultimately, they succeeded.
Here are the questions she asked her interviewees and a sample their answers:
- When did you start considering yourself financially successful as an author? How long did it take you after you published your first book? How did it feel and why?
- “I became a professional book editor, then I used my fine arts background to start designing book covers. Within a year I was making enough money for my wife to quit her job.”
- “It was, and still is, what I consider to be the greatest achievement of my life–that moment when it sank in that I was making a successful living without having to go to work.”
- “Almost immediately. A few months after I published my very first book in 2010 it was gradually bringing in the same amount in royalties as my salary as the headquarters of a national multinational company. This success encouraged me to leave the corporate world and pursue my love for writing.”
- What have been the key factors to your success and why?
- “If you want to Write and Grow Rich, you must follow Napoleon Hill’s advice and always strive to increase both the quality and quantity of the service you provide and focus on reader satisfaction.”
- “Perhaps the most important thing is working for a cause beyond myself. When I take the focus off myself and put it in the people I’m serving, I’m no longer wrapped up in my own fears. To get out of your comfort zone, make your cause greater than your comfort.”
- I rely on my email list pretty much 100 percent for launching new products, bringing in sales, and connecting with clients.”
- What has been your best decision as an author and why?
- “My best decision was to take a year after publishing my first book to learn marketing and promotion.”
- “I’d have to say that it was the decision to do things that made me uncomfortable. But I do these things anyway because I don’t want to be a mere author—I want to be a successful”
- “It was my decision to write one more book that changed my life. My best decision was to keep going.”
- What is the best investment you made as an author and why?
- “I don’t believe I would have had the success I had if I hadn’t regularly put myself into live environments of experiential learning and seeing role models in action.”
- “In 2011, I purchased a course for $497. It was the best $497 I ever spent because this course taught me how to format the book very quickly. the other amazing aspect of this $497 investment was it taught also taught me how to publish to different platforms.”
- The best investment I’ve made and continue to make is to be a perpetual student. I invested in courses and coaching. In the same ways are third authors gain from my expertise I value learning from gurus in the business”.
- If you were deprived of all your marketing tools and could keep only one, which one would it be and why?
- “The art of writing good sales copy and great emails has been incalculably more valuable to me per word written than the words I wrote for blog posts or books over the years.”
- “The one marketing tool I would keep is my brain. Marketing tools and strategies may change as the times change, but the principles of success are evergreen.”
- “The single best marketing tool is the blurb you use to describe your book and Amazon. It’s worth analyzing every single word and especially the opening sentence of that description.”
- What is an unusual habit that you have as an author that helps you succeed?
- “What has helped me be successful over the years is not having any habits or a set routine. This means that I’m only working when I want to work and working on what I want to work on when I want to work on it.”
- “I go to the spa. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to give yourself time to reflect, meditate, and create, in a distraction-free zone.”
- I’m very organized, so when I have a goal I make sure I divided into manageable chunks. Let’s say I decided to write a 50,000-word novel in a month the first thing I do is figure out how many words a day I need to write to make that happen then I’d be sure to hit that word count.”
- What would you have done differently if you were to start your career with the knowledge you have now?
- “I’d have hired assistants and coaches much earlier in the process.”
- “The biggest payoffs in my business have come from relationships. Since relationships take time to build, I’d have started right off the bat forming relationships with other authors.
- “Today, with so much to learn, asking and often paying for help and guidance is expected. Instead of showing weakness, it shows wisdom to realize you can’t go it alone.”
- What bad advice do you often hear in the subject of self-publishing and book marketing?
- “The worst advice I’ve heard about self-publishing is to avoid self-publishing.”
- The worst advice I’ve heard about self-publishing is that you can do everything yourself.”
- “The worst advice I hear about marketing is that you can rely upon an email list to do all your marketing for you.”
- What do you do when you feel demotivated or overwhelmed?
- “I work on something. Work, when you have the right relationship with it, is the ultimate provider of fulfillment in life.”
- I take a step away. Now I make my simple to do list. Then I say hey look. If I can do these five things today, call it a successful day. I give myself a reward for doing those five things on my to-do list.”
- I allow a day to well up and vegetate. Then, it’s time to get tough on myself even though this choice might look like an attractive option at that moment, it is time to simplify and take stock of what’s going on.”
- What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are still struggling?
- Do not give up. Giving up is a guaranteed way to fail. Make sure your passion about your subject and work to a plan.
- “Learn the Amazon algorithm. If you want to sell more books, you have to learn how Amazon gets your books in front of more eyes.”
- “Persevere and keep pushing to give your target customers what they want.”
- Every setback, when you get the lesson, is actually setting you up for greater success down the road.”
There is so much more, I could have filled pages. Some people were brief in their replies, and others never got past the first question as if they wanted to share every little detail of their journeys. When I finished the book, I couldn’t be sure if I was motivated by these success stories or demoralized by my level of success versus theirs. The people in these pages have made it BIG, very big. Whether any of us ever make it that big isn’t the point. The point is they have told us how they did it and it’s up to each of us to use that information to Write and Grow Rich.