Know your target demographic. Your readers determine absolutely everything about your promotional and marketing strategies. If you know who they are, you’ll know where they most likely “hang out” online and what strategies would most appeal to them. Tailoring where and how you promote your book to reach your demographic is critical to the success of your book launch. Smaller, targeted campaigns are infinitely more effective than most large-scale, general ones.
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zoe Rose.
Zoe Rose is the cofounder of BrightRay Publishing, a company dedicated to helping busy professionals write and publish books. She is also the coauthor of How to Build Your Brand with a Book: Establishing Yourself as the Published Expert, which will be published this summer. She lives in Orlando, Florida.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
It’s an interesting thing. I was never really motivated to become a branding and publishing expert. It just sort of happened out of necessity when my company’s co-founder, Scott Turman, had initially approached me to help write and publish his book. My expertise essentially came from everything I had learned while working on his project, and it was only afterwards that we realized what exactly we had done and what we could do with this.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
I’ll be the first to say that my career has so far not been all that long. It’s hard to say exactly when that pivotal point has been in the course of everything since I don’t know if I’m quite there yet.
However, I think a really big moment for Scott and I was shortly after publishing his book when we had fully realized what we had accomplished. A book is the best way to literally “write the story” of you or your company and the most successful medium to distribute it. This is the major brand-building tool that most people don’t even realize exists. We were able to see not only the need for a service like this, but that we now had the ability and a process to do it.
At the time, my main gig was working the takeout counter at a restaurant during the height of COVID-19. I don’t need to tell you that it wasn’t exactly a high-paying job, but it gave me income security. It also took up the time I needed to concentrate on our startup. Eventually, it got to the point where I knew that I was either going to burn myself out or I would have to take the gamble. Quitting my “steady” job was a little scary at the time, but it definitely worked out well. I’ve always been a writer and my goal has always been to do it professionally. At 21, I can say that I’m living the dream. 🙂
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
Since we have confidentiality agreements with our clients, I can’t get into any specific details. I can say that all of these projects are writing-based and that we get to work with a lot of cool people like surgeons, CEOs, and other highly-accomplished professionals. These projects are all exciting in different ways, especially because I get to learn directly from experts in all kinds of fields. Each project means learning a lot of completely new information and then learning the best way to structure and present each client’s slice of genius to their readers. I get to work with a lot of interesting people on a lot of interesting projects, and it’s honestly so much fun to wake up and do everyday.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
Ok, so this is where the interview gets meta — our book is literally a guide on building a brand by writing a book. We explain exactly why a book is so vital to brand-building and outline the entire start-to-finish process to do it. By writing this book, we also present the proof of our expertise and cement the BrightRay brand. So, we wrote a book on building a brand by writing a book to build our brand, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Workaholic. I don’t want to talk myself up or anything, but I would say that I have always worked as hard as I possibly can. And I’m not saying that this is a positive character trait for general life and all that. Really, it can border into the obsessive at times. But it’s what has always felt normal to me. I grew up watching my dad come home from his office to keep working at his desk (he’s a Capricorn, if that’s anything). “Downtime” has always just made me uncomfortable. My thinking is that if I have a goal, then I need to be actively doing something every second I’m awake to reach it. I’m sure there is a balance to be found somewhere — I’m definitely not it. But when you want something bad enough, your best chance of success is doing everything you can to get it.
- Continuous Curiosity. I tend to get absolutely fascinated with the weirdest things. When I research something, I want to learn literally everything that I can. It probably comes from the same thing that compels me to stay at my laptop all day, lol. But this constant need to know more proved really helpful when I was researching launch strategies for our first book. I would have, I swear, like 35 tabs open of all these different things on book promotion. Because I kept digging and digging (…and digging), I learned a lot of super niche, super successful tactics that I otherwise wouldn’t have even thought of. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you never know what you’ll end up learning when you stay curious about something.
- An Open Mind. There’s no real set way to launch a book. For the independent author, it’s up to them to figure out which strategies and tactics to use to promote their book. A one-size-fits-all approach is not always going to work out, and you’re not going to be able to pivot when needed if you have a rigid way of doing things. You have to be willing to explore other options, especially in an industry that has rapidly changed since the online era. What works today may not work tomorrow, and so you can’t ever shy away from trying new things as they come up.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?
Building Your Brand with a Book: Establishing Yourself as the Published Expert is still forthcoming (but soon!), so I can’t really give you the “before and after” from that specific book. But the “before” — a work in progress — has so far proven comprehensive enough to gain an audience and client base, while still waiting for the “after” to be fully realized. Our prediction is that this book is going to solidify our brand and set the trajectory of our company’s growth. I really am excited to see what happens. 🙂
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
I would first ask them whether they think that they actually have a book in them. If they are trying to package up 200+ pages of fluff, then it’s never going to be worth it. Do they have expertise or experiences that potential readers could derive actual value from? If so, what are their expectations for what writing this book will get them? That’s almost always the determining factor.
The likelihood of making money directly through book sales is very, very low. If someone is only trying to profit from royalties, then this is not the endeavor for them. It’s about what having a book can get you rather than the book itself. Think about the value of being the person that literally “wrote the book” in their field. They become the person that others go to for business, interviews, and more. People really respond to seeing your name on a front cover. A book can promote your expertise and your business like nothing else can. And of course, a book is always worth it for anyone looking to build their brand by controlling their story/image and really reinforce their expertise.
I’d really just encourage anyone that’s on the fence to thoroughly assess their goals, do the research, and to honestly read our book to understand everything involved and evaluate whether they have the time and effort to put into a project of this scope.
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
Some super rookie mistakes I made (way back when I was an indie romance novelist, lol) was starting to promote a book only after its release. It takes time to build up interest, and your book will be basically irrelevant by the time you have it if you wait to promote. Getting the jump on it is so important that we start working on a book launch right when we start writing the actual book itself. You have to give yourself as much time as possible to get it right, and starting the process sooner rather than later will only help you create the most successful book launch possible.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
The easiest thing that someone can do on their own and for free is to send out an email to all of your friends and family about your book. Out of everyone in the world, they are the most personally invested in seeing you succeed, and so they are the most likely to buy your book and leave a review when it is published. Leveraging your support network is a quick and highly effective tactic to garner that much-needed initial traction for your book. I also recommend all authors to establish themselves on at least one social media platform and build an audience there. If you get even one reader from posting about your book, it’s worth it. Either way, it doesn’t cost anything to make an account. It can quite often work out to be free advertising if you do it right.
As far as getting an expert, there are skilled services that you may need depending on your budget. If you need a website, an ad campaign, or anything that you cannot produce yourself (and at the professional level), then that’s when you call in an expert. Some things are just way too important to try to DIY.
What brand-building authors especially can’t try to DIY is PR. An expert is essential to best figure out how to craft and pitch your story to the press and get the publicity that a branding book needs. Getting this part wrong could more or less negate all of the other efforts that you’ve expended on this project. It’s really that important.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Know your brand. If you don’t know what your brand is, how are you supposed to build it with a book? It’s a no-brainer, but people often think that the book will create the brand. No. A book will cement your brand and get it out to others, but you have to understand the image that you’re trying to convey before you do it. It’d be like shooting a movie without a script. Beyond that, knowing your brand will help you determine the best promotional strategies that reinforce it.
- Know your target demographic. Your readers determine absolutely everything about your promotional and marketing strategies. If you know who they are, you’ll know where they most likely “hang out” online and what strategies would most appeal to them. Tailoring where and how you promote your book to reach your demographic is critical to the success of your book launch. Smaller, targeted campaigns are infinitely more effective than most large-scale, general ones.
- Know your categories. The categories that you place your book in determines its overall visibility in the market. You have to set it in categories that are niche enough to be able to rank in, yet still broad enough that the people who want to read your book will still find it. It’s a difficult balance that you have to get right.
- Know your keywords. It’s like any SEO (and if you don’t know what that means, you should probably go read up on that right now). Keywords are basically how you “tag” your book. If someone is looking up that keyword, they may find your book. Getting this right opens another avenue for potential readers to access your book. The right keywords are a lot like the right categories. They need to be niche enough that you can rank in the search results while still relevant to your book. Again, another difficult balance to manage.
- Know your goal. Setting quantifiable goals for your book launch will determine the appropriate budget and what strategies are most effective for the money. Goals also later tell you whether or not your launch was successful. If you don’t have an idea of what you wanted out of this endeavor, then you will never know if it was worth it. Goals give you a marker of success to definitively measure the results of efforts up against.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I am super fortunate to already get to work with a number of inspiring, big-name people. But, I would be over the moon to meet Joan Didion. She’s basically my “writer role model” in her style, subjects, everything. I could fangirl about her for hours, but I’ll just leave it at that.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Also, be on the lookout for our new book! 🙂
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.