Episode # 59 – The Secrets of the World’s Most Successful Author

In Podcast by Julius S8 Comments

Stephanie Hale cover

Stephanie is an author and coach who focuses on encouraging authors to think BIG. She’s appeared in numerous major media outlets over her writing career, and has spoken to some of the biggest names in the publishing world (the people who have sold hundred of millions of books). I talk to her about how you can think bigger, and what that might mean for you writing career.

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Links:

Celebrity Author Secrets

Amazon Profile

Website

Mentions:

Tom Evans Interview – Tom was interview in episode 53 of the show, he recommended that I interview Stephanie.

Bryan Tracy – Interviewed in Celebrity Author Secrets.

Jeffrey Archer – Also interviewed in the book.

Daily Express  – Article about Stephanies boot camps

Report by Stephanie on writing a bestselling book.

Show notes:

Celebrity Author Secrets Book

Stephanie wrote this as she was in a competition to finish a book before a friend. She is a coach to authors and is always being asked “How can I sell more books?” She decided therefore to talk to those who have sold tens of millions of books. Long term, big players, almost all traditionally published (self-publishing is catching up! These guys have just been around for a while!). All of these authors started well before self-publishing was what it was today.

The book is targeted at anyone who wants to sell more books. It is applicable to both traditional authors and self-publishers. It found that despite many big authors in the book saying that they don’t treat writing as a business, it is clear that they really are just by the way that they act. Stephanie also found that they are all people who keep going, and show a huge amount of emotion resilience.

Background

Stephanie is an author coach who focuses on helping authors get great results by focusing on thinking big. This is done by focusing on media coverage in order to turn themselves into a ‘celebrity author.’ She has a strong focus on changing the often found mindset of an author that marketing is a dirty word.

Stephanie spent many years struggling as a literary fiction author, and taught creative writing at Oxford. Throughout her career she has found that anything teaching authors is too focused on writing and not focused enough on marketing. Stephanie feels passionately that authors have to work on marketing because that is the only way to get people to read their books.

After leaving Oxford, and become disillusions with writing for the traditional world, she stopped writing for five years, and set up a consultancy helping others to write books. She didn’t think that books made money, and after a divorce she needed to.

A health scare encouraged her to write a book that would be something she could leave behind if the worst happened. This scare caused her to take risks that she wouldn’t have normally taken. She brought out “Millionaire Women, Millionaire You” – a self-published work. The result was phenomenal. Print on demand wasn’t around so she had t print and fulfil the book herself. She also had an ebook version which she gave away in order to get people on her email list, which she would then sell her seminars though.

Marketing Plan

“People abstain responsibility think that the publisher will do it for them,” Stephanie says. The reality is that even if you have a publisher they are not going to do that much for you (unless you are already a big time author). Just because the publisher gives you a “marketing manager” doesn’t mean anything! Obviously, if you don’t have a publisher, it’s all down to you.

Social Media

No one likes someone who goes into a room and starts shouting about their book. First you must work out who you book is for, and then go and work out where those people hangout online. This process tends to be easier for non-fiction authors, but it is still possible for those doing fiction. Also consider, not just those readers who are interested in your book, but who are interested in you as an author. Don’t underestimate how interested people are in your life itself.

When you have found those people, go and answer their questions, mentioning your book whenever appropriate. Don’t just talk about your book, be a friend, be a trusted authority, and people will want your stuff.

Advertising

There is no silver bullet in advertising and you need to test you adverts. Create an advert and then see how it is working, and adapt. You will have assumptions about what you potential audience wants, be prepared to find out that these are totally wrong.

Stephanie also believes that just sticking to internet marketing is thinking small. If you have a print book you can try and pitch traditional media. Stephanie has reached huge audiences through her appearances in some of the largest papers in the UK. Think about what they want, can you write an article for them? What can you pitch to them that they will love…

Stephanie says, “You are missing a trick if you aren’t going to the traditional media.”

Seminars

As a non-fiction author Stephanie makes a lot of money outside of the books themselves, often using them as lead generation for the seminars.

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Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 59 – The Secrets of the World’s Most Successful Author
  • robertscanlon

    That was brilliant, Simon, thank you! Talk about a BIG kick up the bottom. I like thinking big – but Stephanie makes me think I failed! (In a good way)

    Thanks to Stephanie for your time and motivation.

    In regards to the question about change (from a nay-sayer glass-half-empty to the opposite): I would think Stephanie is a good example of change. Not from being negative, but from someone who could have taken their situation as being down on their luck, but instead pulled themselves up to be bigger and better. As did some of the other authors she mentioned of course. That whole resilience thing is critical for authors I believe, starting with believing in your own work (and improving it), to dealing with reviews and then ultimately dealing with the long haul to overnight success.

    I’ll be purchasing her book … and taking a good look at some of my own titles!

    Great stuff, love to have Stephanie back on sometime.

    PS. I couldn’t find the free thing she mentioned on the show, came back here and found it in your show notes. Simon, you are a mega-star!

    PPS. Second edit. I LOVE Stephanie’s autoresponder questions – Simon you could try this approach to your welcome email: Add the answers (anonymous) to each newsletter.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Robert. Glad that this one was motivating for you! And yep, resilience, pretty damn important ;).

      Also – going to check out that autoresponder now. Curious about it.

  • Simon, great interview. I think Stephanie made a lot of great points, but I have to quibble with one aspect of what she was saying. She used her own book as an example of her marketing success. She talked about having a good hook for the media. In her case, she was promising to teach women how to be millionaires. In marketing, they always say “sell the benefit, not the product.” In her case, the benefit — learning how to become a millionaire — is guaranteed to earn the attention of the media and of customers.

    My question is how fiction writers are supposed to use this advice. The benefit of my books, as it is with most novels, is several hours of solid entertainment. Reading my books won’t make you a millionaire. Stephanie’s suggestion that all any author has to do is find a good hook to get media attention and vastly increase sales. She suggests that failure to do so means you’re not thinking big enough. But I submit that there is no hook that is going to generate a fraction of the interest in a novel as the hook: “Hey, I’ll make you a millionaire.” Reading the greatest novel on earth won’t make you rich or more attractive or even help you clean your house.

    Interestingly, Stephanie tells the story of quitting the world of fiction because she wasn’t making money and going on to make gazillions of pounds writing nonfiction. In a sense, her underlying message may be that we novelists should quit and write something more salable.

    There are a lot of people who are making money by selling products and services to unknown authors who are desperate to be successful. Unfortunately, Stephanie’s presentation made her sound to me like someone who wants to promise people that thinking big (and buying her books) is the secret to outrageous success. The whole thing came off as a sales pitch from someone who promises the moon but can’t really deliver it.

    • SimonRSP

      Hey Stephen. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the interview.

      I see the interview had two real parts to it, the first being the chat about what she learned from interviewing some of the world’s most successful authors. While few of us can hope to sell 250 million books, I think it sure is interesting to know a little about someone who does. A bit of inspiration. My take away was that sometimes thinking big can help you see the bigger picture. While I think the “think big and you’ll be big” is some serious The Secret style BS (maybe I’ll draw some criticism from the positive visualization crowd for that… I don’t normally air my own personal opinions, but I will on that issue), I think that if you do think bigger, you do the work that bigger thinkers do and that can actually make things work.

      The second part was about Stephanie’s journey itself, and her success which is certainly down to her non-fiction. I don’t think that she was preaching that fiction writers should quit and start writing non-fiction, but rather “write something that sells.” Stephanie needed to make money off her writing, and writing literary wasn’t working for her, so she pivoted into something that is actually going to pay her bills, and I admire her for that. There are other paths than non-fic of course, genre fiction perhaps, or in Stephanie’s case she could have gone back to having her own business.

      I’ll agree that finding a hook for a fiction book seems much harder. “Wonderful entertainment” as a hook is far far less powerful than “get crazy rich!” I haven’t listened to radio or watched the news in years, so I’m not sure what hooks the fiction authors on those stations are using to get attention, but my feeling it would be something like “Sold a million books in a month on their first book!” – and, well, by that point, do you really need that attention 😉 ?

      I also get pitched by people on the regular who have the “mine the indie author gold system to unlimited riches and buy six Ferrari’s” pitch. I’m just not interested in that. I found Stephanie’s book of interviews interesting, and her journey inspiring. I don’t let guests blatantly pitch my audience, but I am happy for them to share something, whether that resonates with the listener is up to them.

  • Bobby

    I listened to the first half of the interview yesterday while walking my dogs, and I just bought Celebrity Authors’ Secrets. Can’t wait to read it.

    • SimonRSP

      Hope you enjoy it Bobby, and congrats on the great launch of Ebola K

  • Bella

    this was my favorite episode yet! thanks so much for all you’re doing.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Bella, I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂