Like Think Like a Rock Star, I picked up The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth at Brand Driven Digital’s 2014 Social Brand Forum, the second day of the conference after I’d heard Chris Brogan speak. I’ve always felt like a freak, so a book to tell me how I could inherit the whole Earth sparked my interest. Then the subtitle: “Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators.” Weirdo and misfit are how I feel many times when I answer, “Writer,” or “Author,” to the question, “So, what do you do?”
Find Your People
This book, especially the chapter about connecting with your freaks, reminded me of a conversation I had once with my author-friend, Joanne. She talked about how wonderful it is when you “find your people,” those you feel at home with and who understand you. For me, those people are writers, and it took me a long time to find them. Over the years, my family and other friends have been great – always supportive – but I still have this sense that they really don’t “get me” or they still think I’m a little bit strange. Other writers understand my freakiness and I can carry on conversations with them like I can with nobody else.
In addition to embrace-your-inner-self, be-true-to-you, self-love encouragement, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, offers some practical advice for, if not how to take over the whole world, at least how to successfully run your business. I’ve applied a couple of ideas to running your author/book business:
Define Success Your Way
Chapter three talks about defining your success; you need to do this with your books. What will it take for you to be considered a “successful” author in your own mind? Make a best-seller list? Get picked up by a traditional publisher if you’re self-published? Sell a million copies? Sell a hundred copies? Get featured on the news? Or have someone tell you how your book positively impacted his life?
Book success comes in many different forms; decide what that looks like to you. Similarly, chapter six addresses goal setting. For books, you need to decide how many you want to sell and in what time frame and then figure out what you need to do today and who you need to connect with to make that happen.
Play to the Market – Just a Little
In most businesses – or even almost every business – you have to match your offerings to what the market wants. This is true for books to a certain extent. I don’t necessarily advocate for writing for today’s book market because it takes time to write a quality book. By the time you’ve finished, the market might be onto the next big thing. Instead, I think it’s better to write your story and then find the market for it.
Even though you are a wonderful freak, chances are there are at least some other somebodies like you out there. It may not be enough somebodies to get rich, but keep trying and tweaking your work until you find a large enough market. If you’re lucky, what you write will be timed perfectly with what the market wants – and that’s when big things will happen. The key is to know the characteristics of that market, defined right down to the underwear color of that one ideal reader.
The Book Math Test
I like to spin Brogan’s mortgage math test to that of a book test. In The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, Brogan advises calculating the amount you need to cover your mortgage and other expenses, and then planning your work, time, and expenses around that number. You can use a similar concept for marketing books. For example, if you have to pay $2.75 every time someone clicks on one of your social media ads, but your royalties are only $2.10 per book (70% of a $2.99 Kindle version), assuming if everyone who clicks the ad buys the book (which they won’t), you still lose $0.65 with every click.
I only use this for deciding on paid advertising, though, and not things that only use my time. It’s so hard to measure return on investment and put a definite dollar amount on the exposure you get from participating in social media conversations or attending personal appearances.
If you ever have any doubts about your book life (and who hasn’t), The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is worth the read. It goes quick and offers helpful advice and encouragement. Once you read it, you will be ready to take on the world and proudly fly your freak flag.