Wynn-ing Ways email 45 of 45 What are your wynn-ing ways?

So, where are you after reading this season?

Have you determined what your Wynn-ing way forward will be?

I’ve got one last story for you this season. It’s about a guy named Amarillo Slim.

Amarillo was a cowboy gambler and an original personality in Las Vegas.

If you want the full details on him and his stories, you can get a copy of Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People. This is one of the books I read for next season.

If Slim made a bet, it was already won.

You see, he didn’t leave things to chance. In some respects, he was a bit of a con man. Words mattered when you agreed to a bet with him.

This story starts with Amarillo making a bet with Bobby Riggs, a notorious tennis hustler, and the 1939 Wimbledon Champion.

Slim didn’t like to sucker just anyone. He wanted to sucker champions—those that were un-suckerable.

Now Slim knew he didn’t have a chance in a straight-up tennis match against Riggs. While he liked rackets, he’d never been much for courts. To make matters worse, Riggs was a hustler who had won tennis matches with poodles tied to his legs, or while holding an open umbrella.

 They finally agreed to play ping-pong on the condition that Slim got to choose the paddles. Bobby agreed, as long as the paddles were identical. The bet was set, and money was posted for a match in thirty days.

On the day of the match, Slim pulled two cast-iron frying pans out of his bag.

The result was Slim won, 21-8.

Slim had been practicing for months playing table tennis with a pan since he saw Bobby Riggs play Billie Jean King in the battle of the sexes.

The funny thing was this wasn’t the first time Slim had set up a champion. Ego had led a champion to step into one of Slim’s proposition bets, yet again. Slim used their behavior against them. The Soviet KGB called this “reflexive control,” and Slim knew its power well.

This story is just getting started…

News of the Riggs match got out, as Slim knew it would.

A few months later, he was in Tennessee at a poker game. There were some wise guys there, and one named Lefty (I can’t confirm if it was Lefty Rosenthal) said he had a guy who could beat Slim at table tennis.

“Not if I can pick the paddles,” said Slim.

“My friend will be here in a couple of days,” replied Lefty.

“Well, I’m going to do a bit of fishing after I bust these poker players. If he wants to play me, let me choose the paddles, and he’s got a game.”

“What if he’s a good player?”

“I don’t give a damn if he’s a good player or an aviator. If I get to choose the paddles, we’ll play.”

A few days later, when Slim got back, he met Lefty’s ringer. A professional table tennis player from Taiwan.

“Let’s get it on,” said Lefty.

“No. Let’s post our money and play thirty days from now. I need a little practice now that I see you got yourself a real-life ping-pong champion.”

Now, “posting the money” means both parties give the cash to a neutral third party. If Slim failed to show up thirty days later, Lefty would get the money, no-contest. (And yes, by the end of season two, you’ll be up on all the gambling and grifter slang.)

The day before the match, Slim got word that the ping-pong champion was seen playing with a skillet and had mastered its use.

On match day, every rounder, hustler, and wise guy was there. Slim recounts there were eleven private jets on the tarmac. Besides his bet with Lefty, he took anyone’s money that would bet him at even money. Then he took bets at 6:5 (meaning, he would pay $6 for every $5 bet if he lost).

After all, the betting was done, and the match was to begin. He walked over to a soda machine and put in ten cents. He selected a bottle of Coca-Cola. He then repeated the act to get a second coke. He opened both and poured out the contents.

He walked over to the Taiwanese champion.

“Pick your paddle.”


“Yeah, these Coke bottles are our paddles. Have your pick? I’ll even give you a choice—to serve or return first.”

Slim beat the ping-pong champion 21-0.

Slim knew that someone would like to teach him a lesson after the Bobby Riggs bet. Every step of the way, he set the stage to win the bet and do it on an epic level.

The bet wasn’t who could win ping-pong playing with pans, but that he could beat anyone if he picked the paddles.

Slim had been practicing ping-pong with a Coke bottle well before his first meeting with Lefty.

He knew he could have beat the champion when he first learned who he would play. He had already had enough practice serving a ping-pong ball with a Coke bottle. He purposely pushed it out so that Lefty would tell all his goodfellas about how he had Slim in a squeeze. They all wanted to be there to win money from Slim.

Lefty and his champ would only get more confident as the athlete practiced with his skillet.

Slim knew Lefty would get greedier, and the champ would get worse as the skillet was heavy and rough with a flat surface, and they would be playing with a smooth, lighter, rounded “paddle.”

When you patiently and deliberately design outcomes and turn probabilities in your favor, you win before the game is played.

Slim was a natural at slow-cooking a mark. He’d thought through not just winning the first bet to teach Bobby Riggs a lesson, but he knew someone would try to win playing ping-pong with a skillet, and that guy would lose even more money.

How did he know it would work?

Because of human nature. Grifters and hustlers are PhDs in psychology. They learn how people behave in pool halls and the hardscrabble streets where they ply their confidence games.

Why don’t most authors have the optimal business system?

Because they don’t do the work to get the outcomes, and they don’t have the patience. They focus on ego or sales rather than a long term business outcome.  They haven’t developed Wynn-ing Ways.

Slim didn’t know who the big mark would be after Riggs, just that there would be one, and he had a plan. This wasn’t the first time. As a pool hustler, he had learned how to set the honey pot for a big win.

Envisioning this big, profitable, optimized, antifragile publishing business can get overwhelming. It might seem like it’ll never happen. Start taking small steps today and patiently set yourself up for as many positive probabilities as you can, and someday it will all fall into place.

You’re not pulling off some scam to sell some books. Instead, you are writing books that satisfy a substantial unmet market desire and delivering them to that market.

This concludes season one.

I appreciate the attention you’ve given to this season and I hope you came away with inspiration to find your Wynn-ing Ways.

Joining us in season two will be Amarillo Slim, cult leaders, one of Chicago’s most notorious swindlers, and the father of propaganda. Tune in to hear how you too can play the big con on the publishing market.

And if that’s not your game, remember, if you sit down to play at that table and can’t identify who the sucker is, guess who’s the sucker?

Let me show you how to be the one setting up the market for the big score rather than a mark.

All the best to you,


Season 2

Wynn-ing Ways email 44 of 45: Procrastination and comparison

Have you been reading these emails and wondering what to do or how to apply them?

Do you feel like you procrastinate on this work?

Maybe you’ve been comparing yourself to some go-getter author who’s been reading these emails and implementing ideas weekly to build a publishing powerhouse, while you’re left thinking, I’ll never get ahead.

Eighteenth-century philosophers believed that idealized achievers existed, but only in a remote part of our brain that can become over-agitated.

They believed these thoughts were generated in your comparisonium, a portion of your brain that holds all your thoughts of inferiority. The treatment in those days was brutal and had a low survival rate.

You are cursed blessed with an active imagination. It is the source of your creativity. When ideas don’t come fast or scintillating enough, we can fall into a downward spiral. Your imagination is linked to your comparisonium, and the result can be a severe bout of comparisonitis and procrastination.

But just like that imagination can be a force for good or ill in your writing life, it can have the same power in your business life. These emails are your Call to Action, challenging you build a brand that others identify with and a business system that is functionally different from the one used by 90% of the authors in the market. This is a big, fun undertaking that can be overwhelming at times. Daunting tasks like this have been documented as the precondition and potential cause of comparisonitis and procrastination.


It takes time and creativity to formulate a plan around these concepts, then pick the small part you can begin with that fits your budget.

Procrastination is a label applied when we urgently want to get something done but don’t know how to get the result we want. Think about it. Once the muse is with you, the ideas and words flow. But when your muse is on hiatus…

Most solve this problem by setting deadlines and forcing work out. You know on a gut-level that your best ideas aren’t yet formed. But you need to get something (anything) out.

So you give it a go.

The first press just gets the juice out. In winemaking, the first press is pretty nasty. It’s got stems and skins. It’s not wine yet, and it may not even be good grape juice.

It’s what happens after the first pressing that determines the quality of the wine. It’s the fermentation and chemistry that happens over time that changes grape juice into an award-winning vintage.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve shown a high level of determination. I’ve not made it easy. There have been thousands of words, complex ideas spanning several emails, and slews of stories about gamblers, casino operators, my kids, my parents. You’ve had hoops to jump through, like surveys and click requests, each one asking for your renewed dedication.

This all shows a level of commitment that can be the momentum you need to get to the other side of your Wynn-ing Way.

Are you looking at this whole season and thinking you might have to reread it over and over for all of this to sink in, then figure out what to act on?

That just may be the case. This is dense stuff, fundamentally different from what you get in the six secrets to publishing from today’s guru du jour.

If that’s where you are, go ahead and reread the material, then squeeze the first juice.

As a creator, there is always tension and questioning that leads to hesitation. In winemaking, that first pressing is all you get that year. You work with the juice you have.

You’re told that publishing is about grit, hustle, and determination if you want success.

But let’s unpack that…

The message of hustle contradicts some of the other entrepreneur platitudes, like “failing forward.”

How do you hustle and take time to learn from your mistakes?

How do you hustle and take time to form a new idea?

If you’re anything like me, the tension of all this bubbles in your unconscious. The ideas resonate with you. You know that you can improve your business model on some level, but aren’t sure where to start. That tension creates anxiety, and it can inflame your comparisonium and manifest as procrastination.

If the folks reading this email were in the same room, you would see your fellow authors nodding along with you. All this business and marketing stuff overwhelms them, too.

I was recently at NINC, and an author said he subscribed to my newsletter, but at times the stuff goes over his head. Determination alone keeps him coming back.

I’ll tell you what I told him—just email and ask me to break things down. We can’t lose any ships out in these uncharted waters. I’ll help you navigate them.

And the same goes for you, dear reader!

Another tension creator is that what you read here directly conflicts with what others say has been the right way—a problem as old as human communication itself.

Remember John Harrison from earlier emails? He was the eighteenth-century guy who figured out that by using a maritime clock and a measurement of the sun, you could determine your longitude at sea.

Because the powers that be didn’t believe that a clock could be the solution to the longitudinal problem, he had to fight for years to get the money and recognition.

Everyone assumed you had to navigate by the stars. So much so that the committee included Nevil Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, as a member.

I wonder if Nevil had an open mind about the solution?

Fast forward to today, the clocks in the GPS satellites include calculations using Einstein’s theory of relativity to assure accuracy. When Einstein wrote his paper on relativity, he was challenging Newtonian physics. He was seen as a usurper of classical physics. Later in life, Einstein became the status quo and challenged the theories of quantum mechanics.

Abandoning what everyone takes as gospel to go out and explore and create is another reason you feel tension.

It takes tremendous courage to be out past the edge of the map.

People will express skepticism. Their criticism may lead you to wonder if you should go back to running with the herd.

The experts and gurus will say that you’re crazy! But they have too much invested in the status quo to question the premise. They are like Nevil. Let them get shipwrecked while you ride the wave of creative destruction to success.

Sometimes the opposite of a good logical solution is an even better, more creative, illogical solution. Today’s logic-driven information-based ideology leaves little room for the creative.

Your solution will come out of you. Give yourself the time to contemplate and get your creative juices flowing.

Start simple. Consider: What experience can you deliver to readers who are tired of being treated like checkbooks?

Now squeeze that juice.

Still feeling troubled? Let me share a secret…

While twenty-first-century neuroscientists are using fMRI technology to finally locate the comparisonium, I’ve developed a comparisonium and procrastination suppressant. Hint: You’ve just been exposed to it.

As you read, did you notice how the phantoms were chased away, and you became more sure of a path forward?

You may need to continue to reread this email if your comparisonium is severely inflamed and procrastination chronic. That’s OK because you have the solution right in front of you.

I can’t share the secret of how I developed the word recipe. Just know that even after we finally identify the location of the comparisonium, the solution will remain the same. Trust your creativity and give it time to manifest. When in doubt, get that first squeeze of juice, then make the best of what you’ve got.

Crank that creative press!


P.S. You may have noticed how I’ve laced this email with the techniques to create and sell a pseudoscience. I’ll unpack these ideas in season two as they are a fantastic way to get into a reader’s brain and inspire their imagination to create solutions.

Email 45 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 43 of 45: Take two aspirin and call me in the morning

A year ago, you started reading about the abuse of attention in marketing in my Tragedy of the Commons series. Those three emails highlighted the problem but didn’t offer a solution.

I did that on purpose.

Sort of…

Before writing the email you’re reading now, I went back and looked over my “old” newsletters—the ones before the big change. They always shared something topical, but like most marketing pitches, they made a call to action—offered a book I was trying to sell or a podcast I wanted you to listen to. This is Marketing 1.0.

Then things changed.

My research and conclusions drawn from my work on Advantage rocked my world and left me wanting to change everything.

I knew things needed to change, but I didn’t know what to change to get cumulative advantage working in my favor.

I looked at my website, email, and ads and knew it was all wrong.

It was not just a new funnel, but an experience introducing authors to a new way of thinking and helping them to implement this new way.

An adoption of Andre Chaperon’s ideas of treating everyone as a customer well before money exchanged hands.

The Tragedy Series identified the problem, user’s attention was being held hostage and abused by social media.

Tragedy of the Commons galvanized readers (and myself) to action. If you said, “Yes, I agree!” it was demonstrated by clicking, and engaging with that email. You followed me over to a new list and this series of emails.

You followed me over…

Then what?

You got a front row seat as I completely overhauled my marketing strategies, essentially building the proverbial airplane in the air.

I also chose to do this in the open.

I shared how I was walking away from some of the most powerful tools in marketing—tools like exit-intent pop-ups and lead magnets. I made it hard to sign up and even harder to find my products.

As I write this, I’m thinking about how to put this into context for you since you’re curious about how to do this for yourself and perhaps share my feelings of confusion, curiosity, and lack of direction.

Here comes the big admission. I don’t have this figured out. I don’t have the seven secrets of advantage on post-its notes next to my computer. I’m here figuring this out along with you. I may only be one step ahead of you in the journey.

Too often, gurus act like they have the secrets of the pyramids, and for a price, you’ll learn the secrets, and all will change. They are like doctors that tell you to take two aspirin and call them in the morning. They know the effect it will have but not how it works.

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) was first synthesized and manufactured in 1899. Since then, billions of patients have used aspirin to treat countless cases of fever and inflammation. It’s a household staple. You’ve probably used it yourself or given it to your children. But do you know how it works?

Probably not. In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that a published paper demonstrated how aspirin worked. Seventy-four years of the producers, prescribers, and users not knowing how it worked, but being able to see and feel the results.

Likewise, we can see that cumulative advantage works, but we’re still learning how and why—and how to make it work in publishing, specifically.

Just like the scientific community worked to discover aspirin and explain how it worked, together as a publishing community, we can encourage, inspire, and challenge each other to become the best we can be at treating our readers like human beings rather than transactions.

So, a year after raising concerns about how we treat readers and trying to figure out MY Wynn-ing Way, here is what I learned:

1. Marketing is about nurturing relationships and experiences, not transactions and products.

2. Treating your writing as a business and the concepts of Advantage should be systematized into a process that produces cash flow through delighting readers with your intellectual property.

3. There is a better way!

That last one is the biggest.

WE (you and I) can build a process-driven publishing company that collects cumulative advantage.

You can call it your Wynn-ing Way or a process-driven company. The name isn’t important. What is crucial is that you build a system that makes more funds and fans.

For me that meant creating a serialized newsletter and shifting content on my website. It meant changing business processes to focus on funds and fans in a systematic approach rather than silos.

You’ll need to determine how you’ll create the experience, define your customer’s journey, and build the systems to support your collection of funds and fans.

You may feel like you’re at version 0.0 or maybe along with me on the path to something better but feeling like you’re building the plane as it flies.

I still don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I can show you what I’ve learned about human behavior and how we can use those ideas to build our brands.

I said that in Email 43, I would reveal the name and plan for next season.

But that would violate my rule.

To get the big reveal, you need to opt-in. That’s right. I’m not forcing anyone over to the next season. You get to choose!

I’m excited and anxious about the season. Click the link above to get introduced to next season and how to get it in your inbox.

I’m excited because I’ve learned how powerful some methods can be for getting groups to act as we want them to act.

The season will be an in depth exploration of influencing publishing at the neuroscopic and mesoscopic layers.

I’m anxious because of how you may all feel when you learn how often these strategies are manipulating us.

But like I’ve said, I’m collaborating with you. You need to know how to use these tools.

This will be a year-long investigation of how aspirin works, and work together to make it work for you.

Join me in my continuing exploration of creating a great author business—with integrity, so we can hold up our heads knowing that we are additive and positive.

Next week will be email forty-four where I’ll discuss procrastination, comparison and the application of what I’ve covered in Wynn-ing ways.

All the best,


Email 44 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 42 of 45: Building an anti-fragile positive possibility engine

In the last email, I ended with your need to diversify to create and protect your wealth.

I also stated that if you’re lucky, you’ll always be burdened with your publishing business as being your largest asset.

Even with diversification, your ability to create cash through making up stories should continue to exceed the growth of your diversified assets.

If it doesn’t, then the rational decision of your inner investor would be to reallocate capital to those performing best.

The thing is, the publishing businesses can have crazy returns while remaining flawed and fragile.

Many of today’s hot business models are flawed and fragile.

It’s hard for us to see these flaws because of the valuations and the hype these companies get.

Uber, Airbnb, Facebook are all fragile—even Amazon.

Frankly, it boils down to what you create. You may argue that these companies create value.

Now we’re going to argue.

Most are market-makersfriction between the value creator and the consumer. Friction can be eliminated by both incremental improvement and Schumpeter’s creative destruction.

Amazon adds value, but not in the act of buying and selling, but only in the most profitable division Amazon Web Services. There they have created cash-flowing assets.

The basis of a durable business is assets that produce cash flows.

Copyrighted assets are incredibly profitable given the monopoly power you’re given through the protections in the Constitution.

While the assets are durable, what may not be is the publishing business that exploits those assets.

The average lifespan of a business has shrunk from sixty years to ten. In the time I’ve been around publishing, I’ve observed some shooting stars fizzle.

I’m watching a few right now.

In just about every case, career success was entirely under the author’s control. They steered the plane into the mountain. The mountain didn’t suddenly jump in front of the aircraft.

What about you? How do you keep from becoming another cautionary tale?

Thinking it won’t happen to you is a mistake. Preparing for change and building in adaptationthat’s what will make your business antifragile.

Because here’s the cold, hard truth:

Most of life is the unplanned.

How much of your life went according to your plans?

Maybe I’m sensitive to this, given the fact that my son was randomly hit by a stray bullet. He’s fine, but those types of scares indelibly remind you how little of life is under your control.

Take time right now to think through how many decades you’ve been on this planet and what you planned to have happen versus what actually happened.

When looking back over my own time so far, much of what happened was outside my plans. Certainly, my planning and goals were essential tools for guiding my life as best I could, but shit happens.

Most of life is unpredictable.

In preparation to write this email, I reflected on some of my predictions.

I can remember twenty years ago when my vision for the future was just a bigger version of my business. Sure, it was audacious in its scope, but it was just growing what I had.

More of the same, but super-sized.

Life dealt me different cards, and choice took me on a journey I never could have predicted. It ended up better than I planned.

I’m in industries that didn’t exist thirty years ago. I couldn’t have predicted my place in those nonexistent markets.

Planning, Preparation, Prediction, and Optionality

Let’s talk about preparation. It’s planning for the unforeseen and unplanned.

You may think that preppers are odd ducks, folks constantly worried about some future cataclysm. The act of being prepared becomes an obsession as the prepper gets hyper-focused on what’s in the car, what to carry, and how much rice is in the pantry.

Funny, huh?

It is—until the grocery stores run out of toilet paper. Then you scramble online to find some and end up subscribing to a prepper YouTube channel. Two videos in, you’ll discover that prepping is not just about saving your family during highly unlikely events, but also making your life better now.

How does that pertain to your business?

What if, rather than predicting and planning for a particular outcome, we prepared for positive outcomes—not focusing on one specific goal but seeding the future with positive possibilities?

This preparation will manifest in two ways:

1. Preparing for the downturns

All the talk is about hitting the goal of being a six-figure author. Only here do we discuss surviving the four to six economic downturns you’ll face as a business owner.

For a business, survival boils down to cash management. You having the reserves to get you through down cycles. Planning can be seen in a new light. What contingencies do you have in place when things don’t go according to plan? Because there’s a higher probability that life will send you a curve ball or two.

But if you have those contingencies in place, you can change bad into good. When your competition is cash-strapped, you can spend. My clients and many of you who subscribed to this email followed my lead and got PPP grants and EID loans. That cash got you through tough times, or even turned a global pandemic into a growth period by using cheap capital to grow your business.

BOOM! That’s scooping up resources in this current round to give you massive leverage in future rounds.

Think of preparing as dynamic planning. Instead of being focused on one particular outcome, come up with a plan to manage should a set of conditions present themselves.

Just like your decision-making, there should be contingencies for various outcomes. This runs counter to the myth of the heroic CEO. What do I mean?

Today, the entrepreneur is told to hustle and make their goals a reality. You, as the CEO, should be able to set a plan and, through grit and determination, make it happen. The obstacles that come your way? It’s over, under, around, or through. If not, you pivot. But that’s all start-up speak to say, “My first plan sucked, so I came up with another.”

No pivoting. Instead, prepare.

There is a multitude of outcomes; the majority are determined solely by how you react to forces outside of your control.

Treating the CEO’s original plan as gospel is an attitude full of hubris—one that leads to a holy smackdown. The idea that you or I am so clever that we know what’s best for your business ten years from now is laughable. You’re smart enough to plan for possibilities rather than specific outcomes.

When the pandemic hit, I stress tested all of my client businesses. I took their business model and simulated what a 20%, 30%, and 50% drop in sales would look like. That prepared us to see how bad it could get and to put in place contingencies.

We may now be facing a downturn as readers seek to get out of their homes and revenge travel. Will they have time to read along the way? That remains to be seen.

Can your business survive such a downturn? Maybe—if you follow the indicators that guide you to invest or conserve funds based on unforeseen events and inevitable business cycles, rather than throwing everything you’ve got at your publishing goals.

Sometimes goals seem intelligent, but are they helping or only making your business more fragile?

One goal some authors have is to enable their husbands to retire. It’s a significant accomplishment, but in doing so, did you just make your life more fragile?

What are you doing to deal with the unforeseen if your household income is entirely tied to the publishing business?

You might say to yourself now, “I need to see that estate attorney.”

Sure, that’s helpful for IP and tax planning, but does it mean that your publishing business will generate income for future generations?

Will it continue if your spouse had to run it?

Most author spouses don’t know the password to get into a KDP account, let alone what would need to be done to keep the IP cash flowing.

A contingency plan that makes sense is starting with simple things like writing down passwords and who they could get help from. These are simple steps to making your business antifragile.

Once you take care of some of the basics of encountering the unplanned, you can look at the probabilities of outcomes and plan for those.

Our author wave model is essential. Not that we look to get the timing right, but that we plan what to do in up and down cycles. How do you react in an A phase versus a B or D phase?

Having a plan for the ups and the downs is another way to accumulate advantage. Downturns are inevitable, and having cash reserves to act during the downturn allows you to get the most of your assets.

2. Preparing the future for better optionality

Here is another advanced way of thinking. What if today was about planting the trees of prosperity?

Design your day-to-day schedule to increase the optionality in the future. Rather than following the one vision—go hard or go home—look to increase the probability of positive outcomes. And not just ones you can imagine, but all possible positive outcomes.

One trait I’m particularly proud of is my capacity to build networks. When I meet people, I look to understand how I can help them or how they may be helped or help someone I already know. This can take years to manifest, but when the pieces come together, value is created.

I now understand this is one way I create Future Positive Optionality (FPO). FPO isn’t some woo-woo manifestation, but laying the foundation so your business and mindset are prepared and open to see the ways that yield the best results.

Furthermore, by creating FPO, you’re connecting to the positive options of others and increasing the probability that you’ll be a part of something great.

This is a far different mindset from trying to make a million dollars writing books. That’s finite and fragile. Designing a business around your content that looks to produce, promote, and participate in positive outcomes is infinite and adaptable.

Next week I’m going to introduce you to what I have planned for next season. More than just introducing you to the content, it is an example of how you can think about delivering your content.

As we did last year, you’ll need to indicate interest in my newsletter. If you’re interested, raise your hand here. This way, you will get access to the next season.

Now, go build some FPO!


Email 43 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 41 of 45: Mmmm Satisfaction

Your publishing business has an ultimate purpose. Before I go into it, let’s talk about all the other reasons authors have for publishing I hear authors profess.

Love of Writing

Many authors declare that they write for the love of writing. Sure, you need to love what you do, but once out of limerence it’s like a marriage. Sure, there’s love, but it’s different, and it carries responsibilities. Also, love won’t pay the bills.

Serving Your Reader

Reader delight is essential—without it, the business caves in on itself. Your customers are your source of revenue, but if your business didn’t exist, others would step in to meet the need. Your business needs customers, but it doesn’t exist only to serve them.


Who doesn’t love the accolades? Everyone is wired for appreciation and acknowledgment, and when it comes from the masses, it’s all the sweeter.

Here’s a chunky nugget: fame won’t make that imposter syndrome go away. It will be greater because you’ve got more at stake and wonder when it will all crumble. As an observer of the industry, it’s easy to see when an author has built their business for the purpose of feeding their own ego rather than serving others.


Who doesn’t love money? I mean BIG money—hundreds of thousands in big advances—wowsa!

This is a winner-takes-all market, so some will garner fortunes from writing. But even those who make the elite 1% by writing a profitable title may still struggle to earn a living. Fortune is a tough goal for authors. Few ever attain six or seven figures by self-publishing.

Remember, while there are more millionaire authors today, there are more broke-ass writers publishing books and seeing no sales.

The answer is producing positive free cash flow.

Wait, Solari, that’s the same as fortune.


When you define the business around positive free cash flow, you have one KPI to guide you.

It measures the accumulation of your most powerful asset—cash.

Sure, that comes from fans, and you need to accumulate them, but cash allows you to reinvest in the business and provide a return to your investor.

We can never forget the investor’s needs. Every business is valued for its ability to produce cash. The more money it makes, the higher return on capital employed. The higher the return, the more valuable.

You measure the bottom not the top.

How much of every dollar of sales do you pocket?

How fast does every dollar you put into your business go out and come back, and does it return with friends?

Positive free cash flow (that’s your post tax money you take out of the business) determines if you ever pay yourself anything, then how much and for how long.

So here’s the dirty secret: You can get fame, fortune, and fans too if you get cash flow right.

But how do we generate it?

Let’s walk through the phases every author will need to pass through…

Phase 1: Break Even

You are the source of cash until the business breaks even. Once you finally get to this glorious moment where you don’t have to put more money into the business, you’ve cleared a critical hurdle. The problem is getting to this stage takes longer than most plan for. Even after the company makes money, you may still need to invest because you want it to grow faster than the money the business produces.

Phase 2: Set the Right Growth Rate

When you begin to earn a profit, it’s time to pay your investor: yourself. A good rule of thumb is that you pay 6% of gross revenues back to you and start the flow of cash out of the business. Over time, you can increase the percentage, but initially, just setting a rate will force you to pay your investor back.

In any start-up, it’s a massive relief to the operators and the investor when the investor gets their investment back. Even if there isn’t a return, it’s no longer money at risk. Everything from there is upside.

The natural inclination is to pour on the gas. Throw all of your income back into publishing. Grow that business into a monster.

That’s a dangerous path.

You can only grow as fast as you can keep up with working capital. That’s the cash that has to stay in the business to make covers, pay editors, and share advertising. If you grow too fast, you’ll have growth-related cash flow problems.

Suddenly you won’t know where all your money went to. You will have to slow down, disrupting plans you can’t afford to fund. Now cash and growth are dictating their terms to you.

Phase 3: Diversify

The elites who earn a living from writing need to accept the cold hard truth—there is no diversifying within the writing.

Going wide isn’t a solution because Amazon is still 60% of the market.

Think about how you can move profits out of publishing and into wealth generation methods to create a durable business. You don’t need to learn those businesses, but you’ll need to find trusted partners that can help you diversify.

The way to diversify is by investing in industries and assets that are not associated with publishing, or ones that run counter to its trends.

Most business owners never escape the fate that their most valuable asset is their business. They are good at what they do, and it produces cash like no other asset. Expecting not to have it be your biggest cash-flowing asset isn’t the goal. Instead, siphon off cash to create additional assets that produce more cash to give you less reliance on one highly concentrated asset.


Joe Solari

Email 42 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 39 of 45: The long and short of it

Two emails ago, I suggested you think like a 1950s advertiser, focusing on providing readers a way to know, like, and trust your work.

That doesn’t mean acting like a direct response marketer all the time.

I’m old enough to remember direct response marketing by mail. It was a huge business in Chicago. Legends in the copywriting industry used curiosity, behavioral psychology, and conversational hypnosis to get you to imagine a wonderful life all made perfect through the purchase of the special offer you just opened.

The tactics translated well to infomercials and, later, digital advertising.

That is, until everyone was doing it. Then an immunity grew against calls to action.

The very best direct marketers understand how to market through the life of a product. When a product is new, they focus on consolidating the audience around a desire. Once a product is known, they spotlight the product itself.

The objective in the early stage is to connect the product to an existing unmet desire, NOT educate them about a product.

This is what most authors lack today—a broader long-term brand awareness strategy.

To build your business, you need both long- and short-term strategies. Some of those strategies will be passive, others active. Both are needed to make the system work.

A long-term passive brand awareness strategy allows prospects to get to know you with lower risk and on their timeframe. Done right, your website becomes SEO supercharged and a portal to your story world.

The advertisement isn’t about your product or price but helping your audience identify as your audience. How do you help someone that desires to read your work identify as a potential reader when they don’t know you?

The classic line is, “If you like X, you’ll love Y.”

Awareness campaigns are long and slow. The campaign allows the reader to discover and browse. You guide a prospect to walk through your conditioning content and form an opinion, not rush to a call to action like “buy my book.” Ads click through to LEARN MORE, not BUY NOW. A prospect finds low-risk passive interaction on the other side of a click.

Let’s use the idea of Firefly. The fan community feels let down and abandoned because a show they loved was canceled. While that audience may be too small to warrant an ongoing TV series, it is an audience that desires a particular type of story that you might fit with your work.

So, what if your advertising and presale pages on your website targeted that feeling of abandonment and fan betrayal? Your campaign is designed to get a reader recognize that they are part of many, and there’s a solution to fill the unmet need—your Firefly-like stories.

But being Firefly-like isn’t enough.

There are hundreds of authors producing that type of content. You need to deal with the feels.

Let’s dig into feelings manipulation with a tool like Pluchik’s Wheel of Emotions.

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Fans of a discontinued show feel sadness and surprise.

On the wheel, those adjacent feelings lead to disapproval. The opposite is a mix of joy and anticipation resulting in optimism. Could you, over a series of presales pages, take a disappointed Firefly fan to a place of optimism? The basic instinct is that the fan has lost something, which goes back to abandonment and loss of resources. You can include them and help them reclaim those lost resources.

In a funnel process, 95% of traffic gets lost. The direct marketing model tells you to find more traffic to shove into the funnel to get to the conversion goal.

Our strategy is to get readers to congregate, then loiter. Build a system that gives them time and opportunity to understand how your work will fulfill their desire to be entertained. Give them time to change their mind.

Educating a reader is hard, and there will be resistance. Getting someone that is part of a crowd to engage in crowd behavior is far easier. You help them recognize that their private want is part of a greater group’s desire.

The trick is finding and activating that group’s desire.

Thus, active direct marketing is appropriate—when it’s time.

Your tribe, the readers interested in your latest release—you owe it to them to get the word out. The reality is that only a small portion of readers will be super fans. The majority want to support you and are eager to read, but getting their hands on your next book isn’t a top priority. You need to go the extra effort to get the word out. That’s when direct response marketing makes the most sense.

Remember, the way cumulative advantage works is the audience you keep after your current launch pushes the next launch further up the ranks.

Nothing is better at audience building than retaining the right readers, then sending that optimum signal back into the market. Sales channels love a signal they can amplify and optimize.

Beware of the Rising Bar

Think about how the bar rises over time.

If the key performance indicator for Amazon to keep sending your signal is an above-average conversion rate, you’ll continue to get favor until you fall below the average threshold.

That’s logical but scary when you think about how this function will slowly increase the average conversion rate.

Authors will need to overcome greater and greater hurdles to trigger Amazon’s marketing boosts. The disparity will increase between authors as only the more successful ones will be able to keep up with the rising average.

This is another cumulative advantage supercharger, always favoring those with an above-average close rate and increasing the average over time through feedback.

It may be hard to have the patience to develop an audience through passive brand awareness. Still, the businesses that take this long-haul strategy will see exponential growth in the long run because behind the scenes, you’re compounding readers’ attention.

When you use active direct response calls to action, it’s to a smaller engaged audience that wants to see your notifications.

Don’t think it will play out this way?

Consider: there are hundreds of authors just like you reading these emails, nodding their heads, pulling out notebooks, and planning out their Wynn-ing Way. Those adopting and implementing these ideas are seeing the results.

How do I know?

Every week I get replies. Sometimes it’s just a one-word reply, a “Thanks,” or “Brilliant!”

Other times, I get readers telling me the relief they have from the Joy of Moving On and the results from adopting these ideas.

Let others stick to interest-based advertising with calls to action, or take another Amazon ads course with thousands of authors learning identical tactical activities in the hope of selling more books. Let others be slaves to the algorithm, altering their content and channel to get likes and follows.

We understand the path to fame and fortune is one that requires courage and patience. One where we put experience and service first if we wish readers to give us money.

This is a career that can go on for decades. It is also one that can be short-lived, trying to get rich quickly.

If you’re one of the authors applying these ideas to the 4% of your business that delivers the biggest results, you’re already moving out ahead of the herd. It may not feel like it because compounding takes time. The early impact is small, but it scales exponentially.

If the system is in place for prospects to become aware, loiter and learn, it’s working. It may take months or years for it to deliver, but it will capture more prospects than traditional funnels. Adoption of your work happens on the prospect’s timeline, not yours. Suddenly and unexpectedly, things will appear to have gone viral. Readers will come out of the woodwork.

But the truth is… we both know you did the work and practiced patience. You treat others as you would like to be treated and let them take the long path to becoming your fan.

Wishing you the best in building your publishing business,


Email 40 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 38 of 45: Does your read-through need to go to rehab?

In the last email, I shared ideas on systematizing your marketing. The function of how you get readers to know, like, and trust you.

In the end, you need your intellectual property to become a money-generating asset.

People are scrambling right now to buy cash-producing assets to fight inflation. It makes sense if you’re not a creator that can pull cash-producing assets out of thin air.

For creators, it isn’t having assets. It is getting them to produce cash.

You need sales, or maybe you’re looking for more sales coming from your assets.

There are only three ways to increase the top line of a business.

  • Sell to more people.
  • Sell more things to the same people.
  • Sell more expensive stuff to those people.

As an intellectual property owner, you sort of have a fourth way, reselling the story in different formats. It’s like selling to more people and a little like selling more items, but it’s different in that a single IP can be exploited in so many ways.

Most businesses focus on the first.

I just want all the customers I don’t have.

The justification for spending more marketing dollars than you can make on a book is that a customer won is worth more because of the value of a full read-through.

Read-through is an author’s way of talking about lifetime value or selling the same customer more stuff.

Can I acquire a customer, then extract value from them by selling them more or higher priced things?

This is a useful way of looking at a business.

What amount of funds can I expend to acquire a fan that will then produce more funds?

Let’s see how this aligns with the idea of customer delight.

If customer delight is our primary focus, wouldn’t the entire journey be important?

Not just initial sales, but future sales, the ease of backlist navigation, working to keep the fan in the trance they desire, and moving them from book to book. Wouldn’t all of this be important?

Of course, and this aligns with read-through.

Now, most ads people use read-through to justify the higher cost per click we’re experiencing.

I’ll leave that be and just get to my point.

Flip the script and focus on throughput rather than winning new readers.

Designing an incredible story-based customer experience that guides the reader through your inventory is the essence of Disney World.

At Disney World you’re a hostage—a well-treated hostage, but a hostage just the same. You’re trying to get the most out of the time and experience you can, and they are trying to squeeze out the most dollars while you’re in captivity.

If they do it right, you’ll be back for more…

So what happens when I go to your amusement park?

Is it amusing?

Is it well-themed and customer-focused?

Does it do its best to make me want to give you money?(Not just willingly, but me wanting to give it)

Do I leave with relationships and experiences, or do I feel like I’m trying to get out of a time-share presentation?

Is your reader’s journey more like a shifty carnival with dodgy rides and those games designed to take all my money?

This can be painful and expensive. Some I’ve worked with recognized that earlier books in the series needed serious work. I know how hard it can be to have to go back to older works to fix them.

These read-through bottlenecks are costing you money. They are stopping you from selling more. Furthermore, with the process tuned up, the read-through will be higher. When you do advertise, you’ll achieve a better return.

Keep these points in mind when addressing the read-through process or any customer experience you look to optimize.

  1. View it from the customer’s perspective.
  2. Is there continuity to the rest of your brand and story world?
  3. It’s about the reader, not you!
  4. Reread #3
  5. Does it keep them reading, provide experience or connection with your community?

Getting back to the vital few, you likely have one series that drives most of your revenue. Tuning it up from the first to the last book is a good use of your time.

Or you could be like most authors, repeating these same money-destroying mistakes.

Mistake #1 Looking at the read-through as a justification for ad spend.

Most of the talk is about read-through as the indicator to evaluate your ad spend. Without a series and some readers going on to read multiple books, your chances of successfully advertising are dismal. The problem is the revenue on a single book is so low, and the cost per click could exceed the total margin.

The real reason to understand read-through is it’s the clearest indication you have to your customers being satisfied with the journey you’ve put them on. Use read-through as an indicator of customer joy, not good ad returns.

Even if you write stand-alone books, do you see the audience moving from book to book?

Mistake #2 Not optimizing read-through

It may not be a surprise that the first few books of a series aren’t the best. This is another example that time benefits your business. The more you write, the better you get.

Maybe this is your most successful series, but it doesn’t scale up to where you think it should be. Would $1000 of ads or editing get you better results in read-through?

Get this right, and your reader retention will soar. The more reliably you deliver on your brand promise, the more substantial reader bias will be in your favor.

Mistake #3 Advertising before optimizing read-through.

Optimize read-through before you spend a penny on ads.

Like I shared in the last email, by having a process designed to deliver a better customer experience you will see higher conversions (there, I said the C-word).

Let me share an example.

With my presale pages and an autoresponder series, I convert one of three visitors. I can spend over a dollar per click and see a return. The only reason is because of the months of work done to optimize the presale process.

Too often, time is spent at the top of the funnel and not getting the experience optimized.

Get it, so you know that you see 75% or higher read-through from book one to book two and then ninety percent read-through through the rest of the series. If you have that in place, you’re ready to advertise to bring more of the right readers into your world.

What if you took half the time you spent on ads and focused it on the sequences supporting read-through in your most profitable series?

Do you have an email sequence that coaches the reader through your series?

Having a story wrapped around the story keeps the experience going as the reader transitions from book to book is, in my view, vital. Getting to curate this experience, setting expectations, open loops, and coaxing a reader through the series gets you more revenue.

Every ad dollar spent will be maximized if you were to do more work on throughput.

I’ve come to believe that far more time should be put into autoresponder sequences that align with where readers are in your series, rather than on a weekly newsletter to keep them warm.

The system will scale without effort. The sequences meet customers where they are and make them feel special.

If done well with compelling sub-stories that make them curious about what happens next, you will always have them in a reader’s trance state. This is where you influence readers the most, associating your characters with their memories and past associations. Your readers will anticipate your emails, and you’ll be awarded attention and identity association.

Is your primary money-making series a vital few?

Should you take the next few weeks and allow put of your marketing time to get your autoresponder set up with a two to three email sequence between books?

Do that and in a matter of weeks you’ll be seeing your page reads and book sales climb.

Get the throughput improved on your existing assets. Get them to improve in cash flow. Once that’s optimized, you can focus on new customers. You know you’ll sell every new customer more because your read-through is optimized.

If you’re looking for help, you can sign up for Autoresponder Advantage and go right to the section on Readthrough Rehab. The material outlines how to get your autoresponder to support your series and coach a reader through a series.

P.S. If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve created a free membership area called Autoresponder Advantage. It is where you can learn how to use your email autoresponder to nurture a reader systematically. If you’re interested, sign up here.


Email 39 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 40 of 45: The Author Wave Model

Joseph Schumpeter is the Austrian economist who coined the phrase creative destruction.

He believed that innovation drives the economy, resulting in newer and better things. These new ways, by their very nature, destroy the older, less efficient methods.

For example, the whaling industry was once vital to the global economy. It no longer exists. Those pesky rock oil drillers destroyed it with their kerosene. Later, Edison’s light bulb wiped out all the lamp oil sellers, and so it goes…

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Schumpeter was a fan of Kondratiev’s wave theory. The Soviet economist theorized that technological waves within other waves make up predictable cycles in economies. These cycles create expansions and contractions. He identified the phases of expansion, stagnation, collapse, and recession.

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Dalio’s thoughts on the debt and deleveraging cycles are based on wave theory. My credit spent on goods and services creates growth. However, when I pay down my credit with the creditor and deleverage, there can be a shrinking of growth.

Waves are natural and integral to spontaneously organizing systems like the publishing market. It’s the nature of self-correction and feedback loops to over and under compensate, seeking equilibrium. Human interaction amplifies these cycles through our emotional swings of enthusiasm and skepticism. Our hearts overrule our heads and drive the booms and busts.

I’m going to firm up some ideas in this email about the cycles within publishing. I believe every author’s career today is a sum of all these cycles.

Publishing is an ever-changing, accelerating, no-holds-barred business. The market is self-organizing, driven by collective behavior, and will have natural ebbs and flows. As you read through my list, think about how each cycle influences your business now or will in the future. These waves are summative and subtractive. The combination determines your career.

Technology Innovation Cycles

Throughout time, there have been fundamental shifts in technology that disrupt and create the creator economy. For example, the steam engine and manufacturing innovations made the mass printing of books possible. The digital age birthed ebooks and audiobooks.

Who knows what innovation waves may destroy and create within the content industry? What we know is that these cycles are shorter and more disruptive. While innovation creates uncertainty and can destroy parts of the economy, history has shown that the overall market grows, making a bigger pie for all of us to enjoy.

Economic Cycles

Throughout time, economies have always been driven by cycles of expansion and contraction. Booms and busts. Ray Dalio ties these cycles to introducing credit and its deleveraging of debt. But what happens when we tinker with these cycles and delay deleveraging? At some point, does our tinkering to ease the pain of an economic shock result in a more painful correction?

There is no doubt that larger economic cycles can influence your business. Also, economic shocks can disrupt the momentum.

Seasonal Cycle

Many industries have seasons. There is seasonality in publishing, and depending on your genre, these can be amplified. Middle school book sales, holiday pushes backed by traditional publishers, Black Friday, summer reading surges, and Amazon Prime day can all impact sales we see (or don’t see) online. How will the seasonal influx of consumers impact your publishing schedule? If we can anticipate a surge in sales in a particular genre, what choices can we make to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks?

Career Cycle

Your career cycle has several influences. The first is where your business is in its growth curve. If you’re just starting and working toward breakeven, you’ll have different cycles and risks than a mature publishing business. Respecting this curve is essential to your personal business growth.

Then there’s where you are at in your career concerning your energy and effort. This influences your business and its ebb and flow. Burnout is real, and if the creative engine isn’t firing on all cylinders, it will take its toll on business growth.

Genre Cycles

Personal taste and general interest in a genre also fluctuate. Genre influence presents two ways, reader interest in the genre and your fellow authors’ interest in a genre. This will drive supply and demand in the genre.

Series Cycle

Where you are in a series will also shape your business. Early in publishing a series, there is traction for building readerhip As series adoption builds, launches and read-through improve. Later audience building has less impact as a series gets long in the tooth or ends.

Launch Cycle

I’ve shared dozens of slides demonstrating the sales decay curve of a title. While the intercept and slope may shift a little, the curves are identical. Your audience bingeing a new book drives an immediate boost in sales, and when the existing audience is exhausted, there is a steep drop.

The Author Wave Model

All of the waves are interconnected. They can amplify and negate each other. For example, suppose you have a positive career cycle during an economic downturn. In that case, you may not feel the larger downturn, or conversely, the bigger economic impact could dampen your career upturn.

We look to understand these waves, not to give ourselves more excuses as to what we’re up against, but to understand how we can ride these waves. Wave riding up and down takes skill and emotional resilience.

This little sketch shows the various phases of a wave.

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In B and C, life is awesome, but in A and D, life sucks.


Because our emotional response follows the peaks and valleys of the wave and becomes our emotional reality.

The ego boost and endorphin rush of success leave us wanting to let it ride or double down our investment in B and C. Problem is, it’s a wave. It will crest and recede, right after its highest peak. Do you have the discipline to back off and prepare for the downturn when the outlook is still positive?

Can you separate your worth and emotions from a downturn? Too often, we think it’s something we’ve done that is driving the result. Every book eventually falls from its launch high, but are we going to accept that as a natural wave or take it personally?

When are these readers going to get it and finally buy more of my books? we might ask.

This week, take out a piece of paper and list out these waves. Estimate what phase you believe each of these different waves are in. Is technology in B (in an upswing) and the economy a C (plateauing)? Is your career at A and a series at B?

How do the waves have different magnitudes?

How are they amplifying or canceling each other out?

Think through how these wave phases influence your business and your headspace. Are you taking the influence of the waves personally or accepting them as natural phenomena?

​All the best,


Email 41 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 37 of 45: Do you know, like and trust me?

So, you’ve got a fantastic story experience you want to share, and the world will be a better place for it, but how will anyone find you?

Let’s advertise!

That may help visibility, but those ads crash into reader bias if you don’t have discoverability systematized.

I heard the term from author James Hunter.

It’s the idea that, as a new author, you face a reader’s tendency just to read what they know. It’s a huge hurdle, but once you overcome it with a fan, that barrier favors you. It keeps that reader coming back.

Discoverability is that tough middle-of-the-funnel stuff few gurus touch on.

It’s the most challenging stuff, and frankly, the most important, as it links visibility and conversion.

Below is my funnel model. While I’m not a fan of the funnel as a model. I like the virtuous marketing cycle.

I think it helps to translate some concepts into common marketing ideas.

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If you get someone to click on your ad, the aim is to get them to buy, but how often does that happen?

Most of us need to get comfortable taking a purchasing risk. We need to be brought over from the bias of what we are satisfied with to what’s new.

So what to do…

It’s simple. Think like a 1950s adman.

I’m not saying to write snappy copy or having an Always Be Closing mindset.

No, this is about old-school marketing acumen with an author twist.

You see, in the twenty-first century, data, funnels, and conversion tactics have blinded us to


This is what gets you to the other side of reader bias.

First, I have to know about your books.

Then do I conclude that your books are going to be to my liking? Specifically, I need to know that I’m getting an entertaining read that suits my taste. That comes from the emotional satisfaction a reader gets by spending time reading your books.

The problem here is as much as you want the reader to figure this out, they’re lazy. They don’t want to waste the cognitive power to sort through that choice.

If the reader reads, they will come to trust that you will deliver the goods time and time again.

If that happens, they become a customer for life. Better yet, they begin to advocate for you to others to get them to join the tribe.

This is where it gets tricky. It also gets powerful.

Ask top advertisers, and they’ll tell you the story sells. Read all the greats for direct sales. The old ads men, and you see the same themes.

They sell with story— a story that evokes an experience or emotion.

Look down the Vegas Strip. All the hotels have themes. They use experience to get you interested.

Remember what Steve Wynn said in the Pirate video “To me, it’s more than a hotel. It’s a gateway between reality and fantasy.”

His latest theme is luxury, style, and exclusivity. The brand and story are woven into every facet. You can see how he moved from the Mirage, a classy Polynesian oasis in the desert, to Treasure Island with its pirate theme, to the Bellagio being an example of the opulence of Lake Como, and finally, the Wynn where it’s all about his vision of a Vegas experience.

When the Wynn opened, people were ready to move their casino play over the minute it was done. They were loving Bellagio, but they knew liked and trusted what Steve Wynn delivered.

But what about you?

You have the secret weapon.

You can create that gateway between reality and fantasy on a smaller scale. The selling gets done in your books. That’s where the like will happen.

As I discussed in Advantage, you have the unique opportunity to connect your brand with your readers’ most intimate feelings and associations. They use their experience to fill in the details of your story and create a new adventure. If it’s good, they won’t be able to get enough.

I’m suggesting the winners in the future will be the authors that abandon the digital marketing Always Be Closing attitude and adopt a marketing experience that feels more like their story world.

When you get a potential reader’s attention, give them a story?

Think about this hard.

Go into your genre and read the first few sentences of the look inside for few of the books(including yours), and ask yourself if it keeps you reading?

Does the ad copy and book description get you engaged?

This is the world we live in, and this is the business you’ve chosen.

Tik Tok attention span is all you get to set the hook.

If you can’t pique curiosity in that timeframe, then readers will stop. They will stop reading the ad, the blurb, the book.

But if your marketing is all the best examples of your work and part of the story experience, you’ll stand out. You’ll get the extra time. Instead of trying to make the sale, make the introduction.

Take the ten seconds of attention you’re given and earn enough trust to get another thirty seconds, then deliver more story to keep them reading. Eventually, they will either like you or not.

Give them quick wins.

Introduce the prospect to your story world and characters. Could you write an ad copy that got me more curious?

It’s during the awareness (know) phase that you can trigger an availability bias.

In 1973 Tversky and Kahneman ran experiments where they asked subjects if there were more words that’s start with K or have K as the third letter. There are twice as many where K is the third letter, but words starting with K are easier to recall.

Sure, you can use re-targeting and multiple ads platforms to get visibility. The question is, what are you making visible?

To get a prospect to summit reader bias and come to your side of the mountain requires a comprehensive strategy of getting in front of a reader and educating them.

Your job is easier because you’re selling a story.

Don’t focus on telling the story of enjoying your product (I write fun urban fantasy). Instead, use your marketing and advertising to get the prospect into the story world. Let them experience it first-hand.

I touched on boredom and curiosity in email number ten. Bring the same techniques you apply to your story to keep them turning pages.

This isn’t new. The old-time ads men knew it took seven to ten touches. They understood that constant repeated messaging delivered cognitive recall for the actual purchase occasion.

I’m suggesting that you look at your marketing as an extension of your story world. Another medium that allows prospects to get to know you.

This is a slow burn. Just like cumulative advantage, it takes time to compound. It will eventually hit a threshold and start an information cascade supported by social proof and word of mouth.

The model is different in that you’re looking to use story to get emotional investment not in the act f reading your book but in your story world. You want the prospect to begin to connect and associate with your characters. The more they are invested in your story world, the easier it is for them to continue to buy from you.

How you implement this idea will differ from others because the content will be tied to your story world. The methodology, though, can be the same as other authors.

Remember back when I spoke of rat habitats?

Why not build your reader habitat in a way that bleeds onto social media, email, and your platform. The idea is that you stop looking at your email and social media as marketing but as extensions of your publishing.

To hell with what the algorithm says, only create content on platforms that aligns with and supports your story world.

Using curiosity, you can create a maze for the reader to explore. Of course, this has to be solely designed from the perspective of the reader. It’s all about the experience and getting them to value what you have to offer.


While this can include ad retargeting, this is more about the reiteration and continuation of messaging. If the old school ad agents are right and you need 7-10 touches (maybe more) to get traction, then how are you automating this process?

With the attention onslaught, there needs to be a SYSTEM for repeated touches. What those touches are and the next step are what you need to do differently.

An author can’t expect to scale a business with ad hoc ads driving to a sales page. It’s just too big an ask to go from unknown to buy my book. You need to give a prospect control to self-education and discover why you’re awesome in their time frame.

Self-education and Discovery

A funnel may allow this, but most don’t.

The idea is your prospect gives you the attention and signal of interest as they self educate. In the case of an author of fiction, this, in my view, is getting them to “taste test” your story experience.

As they show more interest, you respond in kind. When designed as a SYSTEM, an audience scales up passively. Passive in the sense that you’re out of the process. The process allows the prospect to engage on their schedule. If it takes them three months to warm up or three minutes, the system adapts and responds.

Part of my marketing is providing content for prospects to discover and consume. If there is interest, there are ways to educate and discover more. Some would say I make it hard for people to find my paid products. I try to help a prospect understand if we are a good match for each other.

An example is my pre-sale pages for Treat Your Writing Like a Business. The product (book and course material) is only sold direct. This is limiting my visibility not being on Amazon, but the tradeoff is I have control of the experience.

Here is a link. Before you get access to the sales page, you must click several times then provide your email. It is only then that you get the offer.

Why do I make it so hard?

The pre-sale process helps define the problem and helps the prospect discover if they have a problem that I can help them with. In this case, if you’re not interested in treating your writing like a business, then I’m not your guy.

I have a bachelor’s in the fine arts. I went to school with those starving artists that want to beg patrons for money so they can preach, teach, and virtue signal. I can’t help them, and the sooner they figure that out, the better for both of us.

However, if my philosophy about building a publishing company that creates wealth is interesting, I can show you that I know a lot about the subject.

Here are the attraction rates for my pre-sale pages

From page one to two, 75% of the people make it.

Page two to three 86% click-through

Page three to the sales page 91% give me an email

At this point, I collect an email so that I can follow up with an autoresponder sequence tied to the interest they have shown. This keeps my list clean.

I only lose 41% of the prospects.

Of that, 49.8% purchase a book or a course.

Looking at it from those who visit the first pre-sale page, my conversion rate is 29%, with an average sale of $24.31. I get $7.09 for every person that sees that first page.

BTW I also have 100% visibility of my customer journey.

I know from my own experience it just takes time. There have been products that I’ve bought, and I now associate my identity with the brand. That didn’t happen overnight. I had to mature or have the problem present in a few cases that finally made me realize I needed that product.

For fiction authors providing examples of your writing that opens loops, evokes emotion, and builds character relationships are the hooks that catch readers.

Can you put me on a slippery slope to slide into your story world?

P.S. If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve created a free membership area called Autoresponder Advantage. It is where you can learn how to use your email autoresponder to nurture a reader systematically. If you’re interested, sign up here.

Email 38 of 45

Wynn-ing Ways email 36 of 45: What makes a great cup of Joe?

I’ve had more than one person write or tell me they set aside time to enjoy a cup of coffee and read my emails on Saturday mornings.

They (you know who you are) get some chores done or write, then take a break to read these words.

If you’re reading this around the time I send the email, you and hundreds of others are sipping on coffee or tea and reading my words. It’s an experience that you do as an individual, but the act makes you part of a community.

I intend to help you see the world in a new way and deliver an experience. I’ll assume that if you’re still here with me after thirty-six emails, you’re enjoying the experience.

Experience is the process through which conscious organisms perceive the world around them.

Notice the definition includes perceive, not observe, or record.

Experience is subjective, malleable, emotional, and becomes our reality.

What’s the difference between the coffee you’re drinking right now and a cup of espresso from a cafe in St Mark’s square?

A lot and very little.

The primary constituent water is chemically almost identical. It’s then filtered through ground coffee beans. Maybe the beans even come from the same plantation, and you use the same coffee brewing process.

From there, the similarities end. Most of what’s different comes from the experience. The perceptions and emotions we have along drinking the coffee. Later, it’s how we recollect the incident.

When Suze and I were on our honeymoon, we sat in a cafe in St Mark’s square and drank coffee. Those two coffees were nearly twenty euros.

Why would I pay so much for a cup of coffee?

We didn’t have to have an espresso in the square. We could have had free coffee back at our hotel.

We wanted the experience of drinking coffee and people-watching in a famous location.

While I can’t report precisely what I saw or even the name of the coffee bar, I can recall my experience and emotions.

The significance of being there and some facets of the experience are all subjective and part of the myth I create in my head.

What you produce is entertainment. Fiction. Your stories are no different from when you hear about my coffee in St. Mark’s. Your fiction and my memory of that coffee are perceived in the same parts of the brain.

Your stories and marketing should be an experience creation opportunity with the outcome of your readers making the experience part of their identity. Just like espresso in St Mark’s square is part of mine. An experience I paid for to be able to have and then recall.

Back in email five, I made this claim…

For every author, the next right thing is to publish the best quality book at the lowest cost.

I stand by the words and wish to elaborate further as you begin to think about your publishing system and what it needs to produce.

What is it that readers want?

Good books, but what does this mean?

It’s hard for those that look for literary excellence to understand that authors publishing genre fiction can be so financially successful.

It’s pretty simple best selling genre fiction delivers an experience the reader expects or wants.

Not everybody wants the $10 espresso. Some just want a good cup of coffee to get them through the morning.

Then some will go to the mattresses over whose coffee less expensive coffee is better. Dunkin’s, Horton’s, Buc-ees…

What they defend is the emotion and identity they have with the brand.

We will talk a lot about emotion, sentiment, experience, and perception in season two. My position is that these have way more to do with success than quality does.

What makes a fiddle worth $45 million?

In a sealed bid at Sotheby’s, a 1719 Antonio Stradivari Viola sold for $45 million.

A Stradivari violin is a common symbol of artistic excellence. Perfect and unreproducible. Most professional violinists will tell you that there is no sound like it and will pontificate about how it is so different.

That is, until you do a blind-playing test.

In the study where top musicians were allowed to play old million-dollar violins and new “cheaper” instruments to determine what they felt was the best quality instrument, the results often shocked those with trained ears. The violin that most musicians chose as the one they would want to take home was the modern violin.

Once you understand the market, you serve, it’s all about managing the experience. Not just the story experience, but their recollection of the story experience. If you pluck the right string in their heart, they will vote with their wallets.

Remember this, no matter how talented (or untalented), if your goal is to earn a living from writing, the market will dictate your success, measured by gross royalties.

Your talent as a business operator will then be measured by how much of those royalties turn into profits.

In season two, you’ll begin to see how the general masses can have their tastes influenced, yet believe they come to their conclusion as to quality.

What’s lacking for most is clarity on what to tell the masses. If you can’t have clarity and articulate it in the simplest terms, you can’t expect the market to understand and identify with that experience.

In most cases, the breakaway success isn’t that different from what exists in the market already.

It’s just a variation, a slight change on the spectrum of experience.

What’s different is that the collective unconscious of the market comes to a common sentiment about the work. Then it becomes something more through cumulative advantage.

This is where you, as one of those people sitting down each Saturday to read my words, can break away from the status quo.

Once you have your experience formulated, you can systematize and scale it up. Not through ad spend and gimmicks, but by using community and individual psychology to influence behavior.

The more you blur the lines between your story world and reality, the stronger the experience will be. Those that delight in your experience will come back to it like a good cup of coffee.

All the best to you on the Saturday as you contemplate these words with your favorite beverage.


Email 37 of 45