ET34- Authorpreneurship w/Sharon Jenkins
Making Your Business From Books Or Adding A Book to Your Biz
Being an author can be a business in itself, or you can add being an author to the business you already have. Either way, it’s a mark of success and credibility to be an author and these days it’s easier than ever to hit that milestone.
Sharon and I discuss the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur and how books and being an authorpreneur can be an end unto itself for independent minded people. Plus we cover some social media marketing tips and other topics on top of it and hear how Sharon discovered her own passion and finally took action to make it her reality.
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Matt: Well, I am very pleased today to welcome to the program, Sharon Jenkins. She is at sharoncjenkins.com and mcwritingservices.com. You can find her on Twitter and PeriScope at Sharon_Jenkins. She is an author and an entrepreneur and an all-around great lady from what I’ve already seen in just the first few minutes here of talking to her. Thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show. Why don’t you start out? Just give us a little background – kinda where you come from and how you got to where you are today.
Sharon: Well, Matt, I always wanted to be a writer but you know I was raised during the time when people said “You need to go and get a good paying job. You need to work for the government.” Unfortunately, that’s the career choice that I took. Well, fortunately for me, I went into the army at the tender age of 17. [Inaudible 0:04:53.7] and I had the privilege of serving my country. But then, when I grew up, I decided I better go find that civilian government paying job – the good paying job. I did that for a period. But you know when something is a passion of yours, it holds you captive until you just open it up and you decide that you’re gonna jump in. in the middle of my life, I decided that I would become an author and I started the journey. I started out by co-authoring my book with a couple of beautiful ladies who did poetry. And then, I went into becoming a playwright. Then eventually, I started solo projects. One of the concepts that really intrigued me was the entrepreneurship concept. That is an author is actually a startup business owner and when you adopt that mentality, you experience a tremendous amount of success.
Matt: Well, I think that’s really interesting because all you have to do is walk into a bookstore – if you can find one of these days anymore – and you’ll see that there’s thousands of thousands of books on the shelves – fictions and non-fictions. So, to think that you’re just kinda sit down at your computer and write out your manuscript and send it off and somehow people are gonna find it, and flock to it. You’re gonna become a best-selling author. I just don’t think it happens that way for 99% of the people even if you got a fantastic point. So, to your point, you really have to work well after you’ve written the book to become as successful as you want to be and that’s the business side of it. Is that kinda what you were saying?
Sharon: Absolutely! Your work really doesn’t start until after you put the last word and the last period on the last page of your book. I’m taking about the roll-up your sleeves, getting the trenches and become a marketing ninja. You have to become – really literally – a celebrity in order to market your book because there are so many voices – literary voices – in the industry. There are tons of people who are saying “I can help you!” But, you have to vet those spokes and the reason why you have to do that is because historically, people think that you’re an expert if you’ve written a book. Then, you buy into this thing that I’m an expert because I wrote a book so you start telling people how to write books and actually the moral of that story is just like anything else you got to get educated and you need experience. So, that’s why it’s important for you to number 1, know that you’re starting a business when you start writing a book and number 2, when you go to look for your team, make sure they have the experience and the education necessary that will take you to fulfill whatever it is your book vision is. Make sure just like when you go to a medical doctor, just like when you want to hire employees, make sure that they have the qualifications to perform the test that you want to be performed in regards to your book.
Matt: So, let’s say I finished writing a book which as it turns out I did finish writing a book about 6 months ago and now, I want to get the word out. In my case, the book ties in with my business. In some sense, it works as an advertisement for our services but of course, the content that’s there is helpful on its own. It has gotten good reviews and people found it really helpful. But, what do I do next? I finished the book. Now, there are so many choices in front of me, so many different ways I could go and I only have a limited amount of time and a limited budget like I’m sure most especially starting out authors do. What do I kinda do from here? How do I figure out where I’m gonna the best paying for my book? What some ways I can start getting some traction and some interest in my work?
Sharon: Well, really when you decided that you were gonna write a book, that’s actually when you should start thinking about marketing your book. It’s just like anything else. You have to set the climate to receive whatever the knowledge or wisdom or whatever – I would say character – that you’re introducing into the world just like being pregnant and yes, men get pregnant with book ideas, Matt.
Matt: I was just gonna say I don’t know how I will relate to that. My wife has been pregnant. But I don’t think I was never – okay.
Sharon: Well, you were right alongside with her and actually you were there when the story began. Anyway, when you conceive the idea, you should also start thinking about marketing then. But don’t worry; if you waited until the book is actually published to start your marketing, I want you to start thinking about some things. Okay, let’s say you’re in your industry – accounting industry. Are there any celebrations or national holidays like national financial week or something that coincides with the message that you are putting out in your book? So, that would be good opportunity for you to set up a marketing campaign. Social media campaign in addition to actually doing a physical launch. For example, last week, I went to a fellow author’s book launch and she did it at a five-star restaurant. We had a champagne toast and the name of her book is Give to Grow. What she did was so phenomenal. She did 9 months of Google Hangouts on this topic and she had a panel. She took the transcripts from this panel discussion and put them into a book form after the fact. So, 9 months she was marketing the concept on Give to Grow on her Google Hangout and then when she produced the book or published the book, she had us come on to another Google Hangout and support the launch of the book. Now, you don’t have to be a brain scientist to figure out the things that coincide in your world that will support you doing a book launch or marketing your book. There are tons of things that you do on a regular basis. All you have to do is ask the event planner or ask whoever’s in charge if you could politely grab the mic and say something your book or have a book signing or give away books at a particular comfort to promote your brand.
Matt: Okay. So, it’s really just about finding good opportunities to get the word out to the crowds that you can get in front of and making the effort really. I guess more than anything else, right? You just put yourself out there and the word starts to spread if you put the effort in spreading it.
Sharon: Well, you really need to come up with a marketing strategy and that’s not hard to do. There are tons of resources out there – free resources or you can hire a virtual author’s assistant. Believe it or not, there are people who are trained to help authors get their book out there. You can hire one of those and they can do that for you and they get you tons of great results or you can do it yourself.
Matt: Okay. Well, I guess, that’s just sort of depends on your budget and your goals, right? Whether or not you’re gonna be able to hire somebody to do that or you’re gonna become your own sort of your own public relation’s person. But, either way, again, the difference is making the effort to go out and do it and trying to have a plan for it.
Sharon: And then, there’s one of our option that we often don’t consider. If you are a bonified business owner, you can do this or non-profit. You can get an intern.
Matt: Right! That’s another option too.
Matt: So, we were taking just briefly before we started about some of the different options for marketing, some of the channels, and one that came up is PeriScope. You mentioned that’s something you’ve been doing lately and working on. Tell me, what is PeriScope all about? What should I be doing with PeriScope to help me promote my business and my clients who got their own small businesses? What should they know about PeriScope?
Sharon: Well, PeriScope is a live streaming app. If you associate it with Twitter, you already know about PeriScope because Twitter is the Mama and the Papa of Periscope. What PeriScope does is it gives you the opportunity to do live streaming. For example, it’s a place where people go to get tips or they learn how to do certain things. A lot of people say “Well, you can do that on YouTube.” You can. But, the fact that you can actually connect with the person while they are doing it is all the rage right now. And so, for example, if you’re an author and you’re writing a book, it would be wonderful to scope about the “Behind the Scenes” things that are happening with you when you’re creating your masterpiece or bestseller. People love to know what happens behind the scenes. That’s why reality TV is so popular right now. They want to know about the good days, bad days and the struggles, the triumphs that you have. You can share that with them on PeriScope. The beauty of PeriScope is that any particular moment in time, you can reach out to people around the world if they happen to be scoping or on PeriScope when you are doing your PeriScope. You can reach anywhere in the world. I did a scope yesterday and I have somebody from Russia on my PeriScope. I’ve actually helped my authors do book launches on PeriScope. Why? Because you have an international reach. Then, if you have a particular group of people who are on PeriScope – followers – that you want to share certain things with about your book, you can do that too. So, you have the opportunity to be private on PeriScope and do a live streaming or public on PeriScope and do a live streaming.
Matt: Wow! Sounds like a pretty flexible medium. You have to build up your followers like you do with Twitter. People have to opt in to follow your PeriScope account. Is that how it works?
Sharon: Yes. But, think about this. If you already have thousands of followers on Twitter, it’s as simple as a post today saying “I’m now on PeriScope. Follow me on PeriScope.”
Sharon: Natural Connection. And then when you scope on PeriScope, there’s an option where you can automatically post your video on Twitter.
Matt: Okay. So, it kinda goes back and forth?
Matt: Alright. For people like myself – I’ve already done a book that has helped me pretty tremendously in growing my business – but for other clients I have – small business owners – and they ask, “Should I think about writing a book? How much does it take? Is it gonna really bring me a nice return?” Do you kinda help advice people on that and figure out what to do and what they might be able to get out of the effort it takes to put a book together?
Sharon: Absolutely! For some people, they are looking to expand their brand. When you write a book, it does expand your brand width. But you have to make sure that the right people are getting your message. So, if you want to expand your business, write a book. If you want to increase your customer base, write a book. Why? Because a book can go in places where you can’t go. A book is available if you’re on Amazon or [inaudible 0:18:29.5], a book is available in all of the time zones. That’s a wonderful way to expand your brand. Let me share a quick tip with you, Matt. You’ve written a wonderful book about accounting and startups, business and all that wonderful stuff. There are key concepts in that book that you can share on PeriScope, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook Key Concepts. All you have to do is take a minute – minute to five minutes a day – and just talk about that key concepts or you can do a Q and A.
Matt: Hmm. Okay. So, additional ways to get benefit out of the already written content.
Sharon: Absolutely. So, right now, because you’ve written that wonderful book and people are making New Year’s resolutions to either write a book, that’s a popular New Year resolution. Don’t forget to call me or check me out. I’d love to help you with that. But, because people are thinking about starting a business in the New Year and making that as one of their goals, your voice should be loud in the market place saying “I’ve written this awesome book for business startups and you need to get this to help you formulate your business plan.” Not necessarily the typewritten business plan, but your business plan strategy.
Matt: Right. I think those old 40 page business plan are kinda gone away but that doesn’t mean you skip the planning process. It just means you don’t have to right a whole book about it.
Sharon: Absolutely right. Your book can sell your book.
Matt: Right. Forget the business plan.
Sharon: [inaudible 0:20:23.8] and make sure you use it to keep you on course and focus in 2016.
Matt: That sounds like very good advice and I know starting is a business is a very common New Year’s Resolution. A lot of people feel like this is the year they’re gonna finally taken off with it. Its popular time of the year for entrepreneurial type of topics.
Sharon: Hmm. Do it now. That’s my mantra for 2016. Do it now.
Matt: Definitely. In terms of your business, the MC Writing Services, I see on there a lot more kind of content than just a full length book. What other kinds of contents should small business owners be thinking about producing or you help them product and strategize about?
Sharon: Well, we talk earlier about our marketing plan. I help you do that. I also help you do proposals. I also help you do a checkup from the neck up on your policy and procedure manuals. At any given day, I can go on to somebody’s website and find grammatical errors or maybe a better way to say what your marketing concept is or a better way or selling your particular product or service. That’s what we do. One of the things that I love to do with small business owner is just to encourage them on how to write better. I want to equip you to save money by telling you how to write better to get results. That’s what you want to do. You want to sell a product. You want to sell a service and you want people to know that you exist.
Matt: Yeah. The world is a crowded place. Being able to stand out and be found is a challenge for sure. What’s next for your business? Where do you from here from what you’ve built so far, you being an author, having your writing services company? What’s next for you? What are you building on?
Sharon: Well, my overall goal for 2016 is to expand a little bit. We want to do an international thing. So, I partnered with transcription/translation Company. We want to help people to speak in different languages and to embrace different cultures in 2016. Also, were going to do a lot more with the authorpreneurship brand. As more people began to write books, we want to help them to solidify their piece of the market by becoming better authorpreneurs. There are a couple of books that are gonna come out [inaudible 0:23:33.9]. I partnered with Eloquor Media Publishing because the visionary for that publishing company and myself, we have the same vision for authorpreneurship. We’re gonna be doing some fun things for entrepreneurs to help them solidify their part of the market share in 2016.
Matt: That sounds great. I think it’s a great way to get in to business ownership. If you have something that you want to share in the form of a book or something to teach or wisdom that you want to get out in the world, I think that’s a great way to get in to being on your own doing your own thing through teaching, through sharing knowledge through the books. But it is a business and you have to treat it like a business if you want to ultimately be successful. So, combining those 2 things I think is a great effort on your part to be able to educate people on how to do that better.
Sharon: One of the things that I want to share with business owners, don’t recreate the wheel. If you see a place in the market that’s flooded, find another problem to solve. For example, like you Matt, you are an accounting wizard. So, if there’s a problem that’s not being solved in your industry, what you need to do is develop. You’ve already written a book. Well, take that book to the next level and develop a small webinar series about that particular book. I help you do that. I not only help you write your book but I can help you write curriculum. I can help you design your webinars. That’s what my company does simply because we know that you have to be multi-faceted in this particular industry as a business person. I know this one guy who has become a national best-seller on one book and he probably won’t write another book because this book has brought him literally millions. You can do that with one book but you have to stay focus on that goal. Well, I’m a multi-book girl. I want to ride on a whole bunch of things. So, the moral of my story is I will keep perfecting my crap by attending that workshops and all that wonderful kind of stuff not only so that I can be the best choice for my clients but also I want to make sure that I produce excellent work.
Matt: Wow! That’s really interesting to have somebody who could produce just one book and turn it into a seven figure business. That’s impressive on its own. Obviously, if you know who that is, if you help people like that and can work with people like that, that’s really exciting concept because I’m sure there’s a ton of people listening who feel like they have an area of expertise or an area of knowledge they want to create a book around then could possibility really take them to those levels. That’s an existing concept.
Matt: So, in terms of what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished so far, is there anything you would’ve done differently or any tips or other piece of advice you would give to somebody coming along the path of entrepreneurship that you wished you heard back when you have started?
Sharon: I would’ve become what I wanted to become earlier in life. When I was a little girl, I thought about becoming an authorpreneur. Well, not an authorpreneur but entrepreneur. I’m so happy to have the wisdom where I can combine the two – my love for writing and my love for entrepreneurship. But, I would say, even if you are a boomer and you’ve had a lifelong passion, you can still do it. You can still do it. But I honestly would’ve started earlier. I’ve had a lot of great ideas and I’ve dibbled and dabbled in writing for a while before I embraced the full concept. And I can tell you, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in life as a result.
Matt: Wow! I completely agree. I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a little kid. It took me until I was 26 to finally go out on my own and really do it. Obviously, I don’t regret things but had I started earlier, I think it only would’ve been to my benefit. So, I only encourage people don’t wait till tomorrow. Start today. It won’t be perfect but you’ll figure it out and you’ll be doing what you really were meant to be doing. If that’s how you feel, then just do it.
Sharon: And the figuring out is the fun part. I mean, how do you grow? You grow by figuring stuff out – falling down, getting back up, and having great triumphs. I tell you. It’s just the process, the route or the pathway, the actual journey itself is what is the most beautiful part of achieving your goals.
Matt: Definitely. Well, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. For people who are interested in working with you in turning their idea for a book, into a book, and then turning that book into a business, where should they go to find you and what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Sharon: Well, they can actually go to sharonatmcwritingservices.com or they can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. We have MC Writing Services.com as a Facebook Page. Or they can send me an email – if they just want to say “Hi!” – They can send me an email at my personal email which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt: Great! Well, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people who’ll be interested in reaching out. Of course, I’ll put the links for those in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your expertise with me. I’m glad you found your passion and it certainly comes through that you are passionate about what you are doing. I’m sure a lot of people would be excited to work with you on their projects as well. So, I appreciate your time and thanks for joining us.
Sharon: Matt, I tell you, my prayer for you is 2016 is that your book, you just sell tons of books. I want you to sell tons of books and I want you to reach out and make a difference in the lives of businessmen and women all over the world. That’s my dream and my hope for you in 2016.