Follow My Author Experience

Welcome to the author experience blog.  As an author, I have to wear many hats: writer, marketer, social media expert, etc. I also have to perform SEO optimization, website creation, and launch team preparation.  It has been a steep learning curve for me, but one that I have enjoyed, despite the occasional roadblock.  

As I learn, I share the knowledge and experience on this blog for other authors and aspiring authors.  I hope that the topics on this blog will be helpful to you as you follow my journey.  Connect with me in the Comments sections, follow me on Facebook or join my email list.  

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How to Build an Email List

Key Idea: Book deals come and go. Fans are forever.

I was looking at my email stats today to see how many people joined my newsletter list last week. Why do I care so much about my email list?  Email is a way to communicate with people who are interested in what I have to share about urban farming with no middle-man in between.  It is not dependent upon where Facebook decides to make my post visible, or timing posts on Twitter for the most viewership. More importantly, it is not dependent upon the marketing team at 5m Publishing. It is direct messaging, straight from me to my fans and followers.  

Direct communication with fans and followers is critical to an author's success.

I am extremely excited about City Farming and the marketing that 5m Publishing will do for me.  But I am also aware that books tend to  have limited time spans in which they are popular.  It is during this popular phase that a decent income can be earned. 

But eventually, a new book will come along and bump City Farming down in search results. New buyers will be less likely to find the book or will prefer to buy the latest book available. Buyers who already purchased the book are not likely to purchase it again.

In order to make a living as an author, one cannot depend upon a single book deal.

Authors need to keep writing.  What if 5m Publishing does not offer me another book deal?  How will I make a living, considering that I have put a lot of other projects aside in order to write City Farming?  

The answer is that I will keep writing and creating educational products for urban farmers. Whether or not 5m wants to work with me again (and I hope it does,)  I am developing my own platform on which to sell future books and products.  The platform consists of an email list and social media followers who like what I do, and may purchase other items from me.

In order to make a living as an author, one must be trusted as an authority on their subject matter.

How am I establishing my authority on the topic of urban farming and building a following at the same time?  By giving away free content in exchange for an email address.  

This is how it works, in a nutshell:

1.  Start an email list (either a free one, like MailChimp, or a paid service.)

2.  Create something to give away.  This could be an informational PDF, and e-book, an email course or a video.  The giveaway item should teach the recipient something of interest to them, which also ties in specifically with the books or products that you are developing for sale.  In my case, I gave away a free e-book called Garden Now!  How to Start Growing Food Today.  This ties in with a course that I am developing on container gardening that will be for sale shortly.

3.  Ask for an email address in exchange for the giveaway.  Create an email signup form to collect email addresses.  In your email program, you should be able to create a redirect that sends subscribers to a page delivering the free product.  On, subscribers are redirected to a thank-you page that contains a link to the file.  Files are housed on Google Drive, and anyone who has the link can view and download the file.

4.  If you email service allows it, tag subscribers so that you know which file they downloaded.  For instance, I offer a free compost ebook, a list of online garden tools, a list of resources for plant problem diagnosis, and the Garden Now file that I mentioned previously.  Depending upon which file or files that a subscriber downloads, they receive a tag in my email program that indicates their interest in those topics.  In the future, I will be able to send more composting resources to those people who expressed interest in composting by virtual of downloading the compost e-book.

5.  Communicate regularly with subscribers. Don't wait until you have something to sell before you start sending emails to your list.  Send them tips, event notices, updates and anything else that you believe will be of interest to subscribers them, reserving sales emails for the rare occasion.


The only way for most authors to make a living is to build an audience of followers who like and trust them enough to buy books and products from them. So start building your audience today!

Are you building an email list? Share your ideas in the comments section.

Which Comes First, the Writing or the Marketing?

Key Idea:  Marketing starts the day you decide to write a book.

I started marketing my book late.  As of this writing, City Farming:  A How-To Guide to Growing Crops and Raising Livestock in Urban Spaces is complete and scheduled for release by 5m Publishing on November 30, 2017.  It has been a long time coming, more than a 2-year project, of which we are in the final phase: marketing.

From the perspective of a publisher, the time to market is after the project is completed.  

From an author's perspective, marketing starts much earlier. Ideally, it starts the day the idea for a book is born.  I am definitely coming late to the party.  My efforts to market started in June, when the publisher connected me with the 5m marketing team. I was sent a very long and detailed marketing form, for which I had to do some serious research and report back to the team.  

Research for 5m led me to self-publishing sites, and I became keenly aware that if I am to market the book effectively, I can't depend on 5m's team to do all of the work.  Otherwise, 5m builds its own audience on my efforts; and once the book has had its heyday, I gain nothing for the future.  While I am extremely grateful to 5m for the opportunity, I must be responsible to build my own platform for the long-term.

Here are 3 reason why I should have started marketing before I wrote my book proposal.

1.  Marketing would have helped me to discover what my audience wants and needs the most.  I could have started by creating some free content and collecting feedback to hone in on what people want to learn and how they want to learn it.  I am starting now to offer free content to gain feedback for future book projects.

2.  Offering free content early would have built a larger following of people who like what I do.  I am reaching out to them purposefully now.  These will be the people who are most likely to buy the book when it is available.  Had I started two years ago, I could have had a much wider audience than I do today.

3.  I would be a lot more knowledgeable and better equipped for the book launch. I regret that I did not start learning and practicing sooner.  Early marketing efforts would have made my current efforts more skillful and effective.

Since I can't go back in time, I am making the most of today.

5m is totally on board and encouraging when it comes to building my audience.  One of the reasons that I landed the book contract in the first place was because I already had a decent following and lots of content on my blog.  There are so many more people out there who want to grow food and be urban farmers, and I can serve them if I can find them (or help them to find me.)

It's time to connect with my audience.  Now that the writing/proofreading/market research are complete, I am focusing my energy on reaching more people.  The larger the audience, the more books will potentially sell; a win-win situation for me, for my followers and for 5m.  


If you are even considering writing a book or creating an online course, start developing an audience today.  Give away free content to draw followers and to refine ideas.  This will help you to better meet the needs of your audience and to gain greater financial reward when your project goes to market.  

Later in the blog, I will share specific techniques and resources that I am using to to reach my audience.  Stay tuned!

What do you think?  Share your thoughts or ideas in the comments section below.