Do you know the reason I succeeded at freelancing? It’s the same reason I have a top New York literary agent. Also the reason I run a six-figure business, and of course, the reason why you’re here.
Because even though all of these things may seem disconnected, with seemingly nothing that ties them together, there is only one reason that I’m successful: I know how to sell.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m brilliant at selling. I’m not. If I were brilliant at sales, I’d have a spot on the New York Times bestseller list and a million-dollar business to show for it, but I don’t (yet) and so it is something that I am continuously looking to improve. I learn about the art and the craft of writing, of course, but I’ll be honest with you: If you want to make money, if you’re committed to actually making a six- or seven-figure income with your writing, then you have to learn to sell.
I am continuously learning how to sell.
How do you get magazine commissions and book deals? You learn how to sell an idea.
How do you create a six-figure online business? You learn how to sell a result.
How do you get readers for your books? You learn how to sell a feeling.
Many writers balk at the idea of selling. “I’m a writer, not a salesperson,” they say. This attitude, and this lens with which they view themselves and their work, is what keeps them broke and in struggle.
Look at any successful author and you’ll find that they’re either brilliant at selling or have someone on their team who is. JK Rowling. Elizabeth Gilbert. Amy Tan. Stephen King. They don’t always sell you products. They sell you on who they are. And in order to buy into that identity, in order to buy into their worldview, what do you do? That’s right. You buy their books, attend their workshops, go to their readings.
That, my friends, is selling. And selling brilliantly.
(And sure, you can find an outlier and email me about it and I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you right now: You can either sit around waiting your entire life to be that outlier, or you can be smart and proactive about your career.)
Selling is often direct, too. And if you want to write for magazines or sell a novel or build a business, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the words, “This is who I am. This is what I offer. This is what it costs.”
You can tell how good a person is at selling by how much money they make. The bestselling author isn’t necessarily the most talented, but she is the one who sells the most. (Bestselling. There’s a clue.)
If you want to increase your income, stop worrying so much about the industry, the “average” pay rates, what other writers are doing, and what systems and tools you need to have in place. Instead, start placing your focus squarely on answering one question: “How can I get better at selling? How can I get clarity in expressing who I am and what I do?”
Fix that first. Everything else follows.