Storytelling & Marketing

Roasted Rats on a Stick

Roasted Rats on a Stick
Is Your Writing Any Better Than This?


Storytelling & Marketing
I just read an interview with Amanda Hocking and she talked about the secrets of her success.  These “secrets” are what I’ve been talking about for years.

How To Succeed as a Writer

90% of your success as a writer is dependent upon how good you are at storytelling.

The other 90% of your success is dependent upon how good your marketing is.

 What does it take to be a writer?

Imagine going into a restaurant where they serve ROASTED RATS ON A STICK.

Would you ever go back?

90% of writers operate at the “Roasted Rats on a Stick” level.

Most writers are HORRIBLE.

This is because writing is very, very, very difficult and most people are either too lazy or to proud to study.

How good do you have to be?

You don’t have to be Shakespeare.

All you have to do is to get to the “MacDonald’s” level of writing.

So, concentrate first on STORYTELLING.

Next, concentrate on MARKETING.



The Rules

There are two rules to writing:

The first rule is that there are no rules.

The second rule is that just because of rule number one, that doesn’t mean you can do anything you want.

Like art or music, there are no rules as to how you approach your work, but an understanding of the subject is still important, and usually necessary to produce the greatest works.  If you break the rules, you should at least know what they are.


So what does it take to be a writer?

You need three things:  Passion, practice and study.



The most important trait that a writer needs is zest, gusto, passion.  Although it’s important to understand things like story structure, point of view and how to write a scene, it can be easy to forget about the fire which causes a story to be told in the first place.  Ray Bradbury has said that he wasn’t born with natural talent in writing.  Instead, he was born with a passion for writing itself.  His enthusiasm was the fuel that forced him to develop his skill as a writer.  Think of it this way; if you want to fly to the stars you need a rocket ship full of fire.  How do you know if you have the passion to write?  How do you know an artist has passion for drawing?  An artist draws all the time, simply for the fun of it.  Writers write all the time.



“Write a thousand words a day and in three years you will be a writer.”

– Ray Bradbury

If you want to succeed as a writer, you need to write at least a thousand words a day.  Ray Bradbury wrote a thousand words a day for ten years before he sold something.  That’s three and a half million words worth of stories.  Like a musician or a professional ball player, you need to practice every day to succeed.  One great way to get into the habit of writing every day is to join one of those Play By E-Mail (PBEM) games on the internet.  While the quality of writing isn’t always the best, it will get you writing all the time.

An art teacher (Gary Faigin, who teaches classic realism) once told me that he could tell how many hours someone has been drawing just by looking at his artwork.  He said that every profession has a certain number of hours you need to put into it before you are proficient.  Airline pilots need a certain number of hours of flying time before they are qualified to pilot planes safely.  Music, art, sports and writing all require “X” number of hours of practice before you are good enough to work professionally.  The number of hours required depends on your natural talent, how quick you learn the techniques of your craft and on how much passion you have for what you’re doing.

Everyone writes terribly at first, but after six months or a year of practice (or more), the bad stuff will tend to go away.  Another way to think of it is like an athlete lifting weights.  You shouldn’t try to lift heavy weights until you’ve developed the muscles.  If you write all the time, things like your individual voice and style will develop naturally over time.

So if you want to be a writer, you need to write at least a thousand words a day.



Imagine seeing a bridge or a skyscraper or an automobile and deciding that you’re going to go build one too.  Without acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to build that bridge or skyscraper or automobile, you won’t get anywhere.  Yet this is the approach people take when they want to become a writer.  They think they can do better than what’s gone before.  They dream up an idea and just start writing, refusing to learn anything about how stories are put together.  Fiercely independent, they never study the craft of writing.  This kind of nonsense is the reason so many people fail.

Imagine an artist saying something like, “If I go to art school, I’ll learn the FORMULA and all of my art will look exactly like everybody else’s.”  This kind of thinking is nonsense, and yet this is precisely the reason why aspiring writers refuse to study writing techniques.  It’s true that the best artists spend most of their time practicing, but they also need to develop the skills needed to be an artist.  Michelangelo didn’t just spend time practicing.  He studied his subject.


The Seven Steps of Classical Storytelling

For more information, get John Truby’s book, “The Anatomy of Story.”

  1. Problem/Need
  2. Desire
  3. Opponent
  4. Plan
  5. Battle
  6. Self-Revelation
  7. New Equilibrium

Every writer should have these books:

The Top Five Books on Writing

  1. “The Anatomy of Story,” by John Truby.
  2. “Zen and the Art of Writing,” by Ray Bradbury.
  3. “Writing the Breakout Novel,” by Donald Maass.
  4. “The Scene Book,” by Sandra Scofield.
  5.  “The Power of Point of View,” by Alicia Rasley.

The Top Five books on Self-Publishing

  1. “How I sold 1million E-Books in five Months,” by John Locke.
  2. “The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” by J.A. Konrath.
  3. “Format Your E-Book for Kindle in 1 Hour,” by Derek Canyon.
  4. “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide,” by Mark Coker.
  5. “Smashwords Style Guide,” by Mark Coker.



Definition:  The science of finding prospects and turning them into profitable customers for your business.

A man wants to get married.  So he goes out and buys a beautiful diamond ring.  He visits a bar and walks up to a girl he likes.  He says, “Will you marry me?”

Obviously, this is a STUPID way to operate.

Yet, 90% of people take this approach to marketing.

They get on FB or Twitter and as soon as they meet someone, they say,

“Hi, buy my stuff!  Look at me! Buy my stuff!”


Warning from David Ogilvy: 

Ford once ran an ad and discovered that the people who saw the ad bought less than the people that didn’t see the advertisement.

Advertising can UNSELL your customers.


The Business Friendship Model

People buy from those they like and trust.

Consider how people make friends, how one person makes friends with another person.

Have you ever even taken the time to consider the process?

Most business owners don’t consider this idea but instead try to behave like a big company which by definition depersonalizes the relationship process.

Structure this friendship building process with your customers.

Hey, I want to pay attention to you.

I want to connect with you.

I want to help you.  I’m committed to doing it.

In fact, I’m going to give you more value than I’m going to ask you to give me.

What customers do is turn around and say, “Hey this person is talking my language.  This makes sense to me.  I want to get involved with this.”

Every individual customer wants to communicate with another individual person.
They don’t want to connect with a company.

Don’t try to make your company sound like a big business.

You don’t want customers to feel like they are interacting with a company.

A customer wants to communicate with an individual human, not a big company.


What is the most important thing to know about marketing?

The first law of success states that, “You must radiate in order to attract.”

The best way to build a relationship with someone is to give away free content.

Give away newsletters, PDF special reports, audio files and videos.

To generate internet traffic, create FREE CONTENT for your website/blog.

Use a CONTENT DISTRIBUTION strategy to spread your content all over the internet.

Everything you distribute should have a LINK back to your LANDING PAGE, where you offer a FREE “cookie” in exchange for their email address.  The “cookie” is a crash course in your subject (if you’re creating info products) or a short story (if you’re selling novels).


To market your work, you have three goals:

  1. Build a list.
  2. Build a relationship with your list.
  3. Market (carefully) to your list.


Build a List

What is the most valuable asset in your business?  YOUR LIST.


What is the value of a lifetime customer?

Think about it.  Every time you create something new, imagine the value of having a large base of customers eager to buy it.  If you’re writing novels, imagine having 10,000 fans ready to buy everything you write?

So, building a list of customers is your first priority.


Build a Relationship with Your List

At first glance, you might think that the money is in the list.

This is only partially true.

The money is in the relationship you have with your list.


The relationship is created by GIVING AWAY FREE CONTENT that is valuable.

NEVER try to sell an item to your list without first giving something away.

Give away 200 pieces of free content for every item you pitch (try to sell).


Free content consists of:

  1. Blog articles.
  2. Free newsletter (bi-weekly or monthly).
  3. Free PDF special reports.
  4. “Top Ten Mistakes” reports.
  5. Audio files of all of your articles.
  6. Videos of all of your articles.
  7. Free books, novellas, short stories.


Marketing to Your List

Every time you give away something, your likeability factor goes up.

Every time you pitch (try to sell) something, your likeability factor drops.

The trick is to keep you likeability factor higher than the annoyance factor.

This is done through giving away more value than you sell.

With e-books, there is no overhead, no expenses, so you can give away 90% of what you have and still make money.


Authors should write short stories and give them away to build up a fan base.

Once you’ve build up a large list of fans, launch a series of novels.

Keep your prices low.  At $2.99, you will make 70% of the list price (around $2).

This amount is similar to what you’d make from traditional publishing.


The Best Books on Marketing

  1. “How I Sold A Million E-Books in 5 Months,” by John Locke.
  2. “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Capers


The best way to succeed as a fiction author:

  1. Write a thousand words a day.
  2. Write a short story every week.
  3. In three years, you will have developed the skills to succeed as a writer and you will have 156 short stories.  You’ll probably have to throw out 100 of them, but you will have 50 short stories which you can use to build up a fan base ready to purchase your work.
  4. Give away short stories to build a fan base.
  5. Then, launch your novels.


The best way to succeed as a non-fiction author:

  1. Become an expert at something.
  2. Develop a range of products for your marketing funnel:
    – A $27 e-book, a $197 audio course, a $497 DVD course, $1997 seminars and more.
  3. Get a Flip Video camera and make videos that help people solve problems.
  4. Give away free videos, PDF special reports, audio programs, hold webinars
  5. Once you’ve built a list, launch your product.


So if you want to succeed as an author, write well, write fast and market what you write.

Always remember that marketing is NOT you shouting “Buy my stuff!” over and over to people.  Marketing is about building relationships with people.


If you’d like to read that interview with Amanda Hocking, here is a link:


Written by Mark O’Bannon
Mark O’Bannon is the CEO of MEOw Publishing and is the author of “The Dream War Saga.”  His books include: “The Dream Crystal”, “The Dark Mirrors of Heaven”, and “Aia the Barbarian.”

You can find Mark on Google+ and Twitter.  Over the past 15 years, Mark has taught Writing, Self-Publishing and Internet Marketing for authors.  Visit his blog, “Better Storytelling” or his website,


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