Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am one of those rarities who has made a good living for many years as a writer, with over $1M in book sales and well over $1M of freelance writing for others. I have written 14 books under my own byline – nine through traditional royalty publishers and five self-published – and ghosted several others. Until my recent retirement, I was also a successful public speaker and a practicing psychotherapist.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book, The Million Dollar Writer, opens up my playbook on how to crack the high end of the writing market – stable, high-paying commercial writing assignments and book contracts with major publishers. It sprang from wanting to teach people that there is a real process to financial success in writing, that any good writer can learn and follow.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I am a serious night owl and do my best work very late at night. I joke that like 7-11, our household is always open! But my other main habit is writing to spec. When I sit down to write, I have specific wordcounts and section objectives in mind, often down to the paragraph level. I joke that I write with a calculator, rather than simply following my muse.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
The classic self-help genre that started in the 1970s has always inspired me – many of these books have truly changed my life – and my favorite kind of writing involves high-content skills and advice for handling tough life issues. My best selling books have been about how to handle your worst situations with customers and co-workers, and I’ve also written a successful self-help book on dealing with fears and phobias.
What are you working on now?
My next project was serendipity – I recently had an article go viral on a simple technique therapists use to help people be happier, and I am now exploring turning this into a book-length project entitled “A Therapist’s Guide to Happiness.” After all, we psychotherapists are in the business of making people happy, so who better to learn from than us?
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I generally employ Kindle countdown deals in conjunction with sites promoting discount books for readers, including yours! I also am a big fan of Amazon ads and get a good return on investment from them, and use a done-for-you service from BookAds.co.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Yes I do: STUDY THE GENRES YOU WANT TO WRITE IN. Deconstruct books that already sell in your market, in terms of things like their titles, chapter structure, opening hooks, writing style, etc. I am not saying to copy other books – rather, I want you to know what bestselling books smell like in your field, and then make market-informed decisions about the style and content of your own projects.
Most budding writers never do this – instead, they focus on what they want to write, start on page 1, finish on page 247, and then hope it sells. Follow the market instead of just your muse, and you will be way ahead of the pack.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write a strong query FIRST, and use that to pitch your book projects to agents and editors. (After you finish your submission, of course.) I learned that from Jeff Herman in his guide to agents and editors, and it’s the best tip ever for getting published.
What are you reading now?
As I transition from a royalty-published author to a self-published entrepreneur, I am reading a lot of books about the craft of self-publishing as a business, and learning a lot.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Although I am now retired and in my 60s, I still plan to create books and courseware on self-help topics for as long as I am vertical – it’s still fun!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The titles are always changing, but at least one psychotherapy book (I love reading about the human condition and how to improve it), one travelogue, and one book just for fun, like a comic novel.
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