I confess, I’m a devotee to ABC’s Shark Tank.
It gives a variety—and I mean HUGE variety of entrepreneurs at every stage the opportunity to pitch their company to five entrepreneurs who have been enormously successful in their individual endeavors—oh, you can rest assured that they have had some detours and potholes along the way. If the pitch “hooks” them, the lucky, and very nervous budding entrepreneur gets a partner. The cost—part of his or her company. As I’ve watched over the past three years, there have been many of the pitches that I thought the Sharks were fools to bypass. And, because millions are watching, other angels are out there who track down the entrepreneur post the show.
One show had two women who were making customized, homemade ice cream. Ice cream is one of my weaknesses, so I was already salivating. The Sharks all agreed that the product was “hot” … but took a pass. My immediate response was, “Wrong!”
Recently, the Shark Tank did a recap of the “pass” and “gulp” reported that the public saw the show and business has skyrocketed.
The women are now looking at over $2,000,000 in sales within months and on their way … Sharks goof too. There are lessons that savvy authors can take from the Sharks … and at the annual Extravaganza, we introduced the Author Shark Tank™ … which we will continue to develop. Your lessons are:
1. Be passionate. Whether you are pitching to your readers, the passion for your book, your characters, your all, should be evident. If you want to be a successful author, you better love what you’re doing—no exceptions. Otherwise, it won’t keep you going when you hit the hiccups of the authoring and publishing life. It’s the core of what drives you and your book.
2. Get off your tush and demonstrate what you and your book are made of. The phone isn’t going to ring or email isn’t coming in unless you make the first move. Get over it. Show that you are the expert and that you have the solutions. Throw out freebees that you are a hoot (or a spook or a …) of a story teller. Be absolutely clear what the value you bring to your reader … and for that matter, who exactly your reader is.
3. Know your pitch—get it smooth and quick. OK, you probably aren’t going to be on the TV show Shark Tank, but you are out in the waters all the time. At a neighbor’s BBQ, a wedding, the airport, a conference … ANYWHERE … you have the opportunity of talk about your book. That’s a myriad of opportunities. Time after time, I cringe when I simply ask, “Tell me about your book …” and the other can’t. “Tell me who your book is for,” and they either say “Oh, everybody.” Stop it. Get your author act together. Books are not for everybody. If your book solves a problem, say so. Who does it solve a problem for? Get clear and concise in a response that will leave me with “Tell me more.” It’s the #1 thing that authors repeatedly screw up.
4. Is your book, your idea, a must-have for a niche audience? Back to above—everybody is off your list. If you write nonfiction, you are solving problems of some sort—you are relieving pain. Oh, what a happy dance to be at. If you are a fiction author, your books create some type of entertainment. Again, it’s a happy dance for the reader who finds you. You, dear author, need to know WHO that reader is—imagine they are directly in front of you every time you look up—write to them … speak to them with the words that they want to hear.
5. Create your GamePlan. Your Author and Book GamePlan doesn’t have to go on in perpetuity. Keep it simple. Who is the audience; what is the value you bring to the reader; who do you need on your team to create and produce the book; who will be fans to shout out to others about your masterpiece; what are your financial costs in creation; where will revenues come from; what formats will you create your book product in; what about your personal time to create and support the book; what will you do to market the book? Start with just key ideas, then filter—delete and add. The savvy author gets prepared gets the book worm!
6. Create a strong team—in advice and resources. There’s a lot of predators out in the publishing waters in both the creation and the production of a book. Start looking and gathering those who can guide you, and forewarn. Related: Read our blog: What “Some Ones” Are in Your Author Circle? http://authoru.org/what-someones-are-in-your-author-circle.html
7. Mini thoughts will sink you. The Vision is the book one; it usually starts with a series of mini ideas that come together, creating a wonder combustion. Certainly, start small, just don’t wallow in it. Start stretching yourself into our areas that your concepts are compatible. Once the author bug bites, more books breed. Some bigger; some smaller. Some connected to the topic you first start with; some delve into new fields. I started with an idea 34 years ago. It was to be just one book—only one. Book #31 went to layout this summer. Books breed more books.
8. Get the town hall behind you—the Internet. The single best thing that has helped today’s author in getting his or her word out is the Internet. Your Town Hall. Too many authors will say, “Leave me alone, I just want to write.” Will, if you have a trust fund that will support you or deep pockets, that’s not going to work. You are the single best person to chat up your book. YOU. Even for you introverts, the Internet is your ally. All you need is a computer and a keyboard—click and type away … and, and you need time. Time to find your audience, time to create content, time to follow up, time to market you and your book.
A guaranteed question the Sharks will ask is: “What are you doing to market your product?” Today, it’s the Internet that will propel you forward, creating and feeding the buzz you and your book needs. It’s the perfect shark frenzy.
Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, the Author and Publishing expert and the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Author U, a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating Your Book and Author Platform that has won multiple “best” in the writing/publishing categories in book award competitions. Her next book is Snappy, Sassy, Salty … Wise Words for Authors and Publishers and will be available this fall. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Your Guide to Book Publishing on the www.RockStarRadioNetwork.com. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. Join the Author U LinkedIn Group and the Author U Google+ community. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.
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