Robin Cutler [00:00:07] Hi everyone. Welcome to Go Publish Yourself, an IngramSpark podcast. Hi, I'm Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark. Today I am joined by Alex Fullerton, an Author's Consultant and Self-Publishing Specialist at Author Support Services, which is based on a pineapple farm in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Australia. Alex has spent the last 13 years working with business people to create concise, compelling, and comprehensive books that complement their businesses and increase their professional standing. Alex is supported by a dedicated team, who provide a full self-publishing service from planning to printing. Welcome, Alex.
Alex Fullerton [00:00:56] Thank you Robin. It's lovely to be here.
Robin Cutler [00:01:01] Where the heck is the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Australia?
Alex Fullerton [00:01:05] The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is in Queensland. It's very warm, tropical area and it's on the right hand side of Australia on the East Coast, about three-quarters of the way up. We're in the mountains but you can see the ocean. It's a beautiful area.
Robin Cutler [00:01:28] I was in Australia last summer for the Indie Publishing Forum and I actually spoke at the Queensland Library in Brisbane. Is that close to where you are?
Alex Fullerton [00:01:43] That's about an hour, an hour and a half drive South of here.
Robin Cutler [00:01:49] Well, I loved my time there. Australia, for our listeners, if you've never been to Australia, that is definitely something that should be on your bucket list. It is just a glorious country. I loved every minute. I was there for about three weeks, it wasn't nearly long enough. I really envy where you are, Alex.
Alex Fullerton [00:02:14] It certainly is a beautiful part of the world. We're lucky enough to get quite a few backpackers through here. They come to pick the pineapples on the farm and they have the most wonderful time. They're usually very surprised at what a pineapple looks like while it's growing.
Robin Cutler [00:02:32] I don't remember seeing pineapple farms when I was there, but I wish I had a chance to meet you. Let's get started here and kind of tease out everything you have to tell us about what it is that you do to help people, to help professionals create content.
Alex Fullerton [00:02:55] Sure, sure. That's the thing I love to talk about. Let's do it.
Robin Cutler [00:03:01] How does someone get started and how does somebody find you? I imagine you have a website and then you, people come to your site or they’re referred to you. Is that right?
Alex Fullerton [00:03:15] Yes, I'm finding most people are referred to me by word of mouth. Obviously, it’s mostly online, publishing, they say, as you know, and yet the majority of my customers are word of mouth from people who live within 500 kilometers, which is a pretty small distance in Australia. They're referred to me because it's a trusted source. But I do have a certain amount of people who come straight through the website. When a business person or an indie author is looking for someone to help them self-publish, it's such a mine field, as many of your listeners would know. They're looking for somewhere they can go to get some advice without being up-sold into something or trapped in a program.
Robin Cutler [00:04:08] These would be, these would be professionals that aren't necessarily writers, right? That's something.
Alex Fullerton [00:04:13] Yes
Robin Cutler [00:04:14] But they want a book?
Alex Fullerton [00:04:16] That's exactly right. There's a lot of people who are professionals in their area and they're experts in their area and they can talk all day long about their area of expertise, but turning that into a book is not as easy as it sounds. You can't just write everything you know about your subject. You really need to unpack that a bit and figure out, "What am I going to say about my business and how is this going to help my business?"
Robin Cutler [00:04:45] What's your process with leading one of your clients through that?
Alex Fullerton [00:04:53] Quite often people will come to me with a bit of an idea of what they want to write about and just as often it's not fully formed. They want to write something that's really worthwhile and not just a big business card. They want to write something that their client would get a lot out of, but also something that brings in some more business to them. We actually step away from the book at the beginning and look at the business and look at what it is that you're trying to do in your business. "What are your goals for writing the book? Do you want to build the business in general? Or are you looking at becoming an expert in one area of your business?" So that we can really narrow down and write about something in particular. As a business person you know a lot about a lot of things. If you had a counseling business you might do relationships counseling, team counseling, grief and loss counseling. If you wrote a book about all of that, that's a lot of information. But it's also not targeted particularly at any one person with any one issue. And that's what we're trying to do in a book is to have it really appeal to a particular reader and have them be engaged by it. We usually look through the business, better looks of that area that you feel that you're a specialist in or you're best qualified in and want to build up that part of your business. And so we often hone into that and write specifically on that. And I get that business people,
Alex Fullerton [00:06:41] they're used to having clients come in talking one-to-one, getting an idea about what the client needs and then working to that need. With a book, you don't have that opportunity. There's no one standing in front of you, you're speaking to an empty room. Creating a feeling of intimacy and a feeling of trust in the writing, so that the reader feels heard, is a little trickier, that they're not there and you don't know who they are. That's just as important as working through who is it that you're writing to and building a bit of a character for them. We even sit down and do some character-building exercises, which you can find online really easily. Avatar or Ideal Reader, there's some blogs on that in the IngramSpark website, on figuring out who you would like to speak to, so that when you're writing your book it comes out naturally and it is a conversation with that client. They feel heard. It also gives you that depth of understanding of who they are and how much they already know, how deeply you need to go into the material to explain things for their level of learning. It's quite complex figuring out who you're talking to if they're not there and they don't really exist. Creating a profile for that person is probably the biggest thing I find for business people so that they can speak really authentically and clearly to their reader.
Alex Fullerton [00:08:36] Well, not directly. Not because they don't want me to, but because I had to draw a line as I can't do everything. In my personal background, I have a lot of background in business mentoring and I've spent also 13 years running a not-for-profit group for women entrepreneurs, teaching them business skills. I get that my personal level area of interest, so I can't help but look at their business as a whole. That's really important. Writing a book takes a long time, it takes a lot of energy, and it takes a certain amount of money to get it through the editing, the design, and... If you're going to go into a project that requires that much, I think it's really important to start off with some really clear goals about where you're going, who you're writing to, who you want to bring into your business. You can talk to your business coaches about that if you don't have someone like myself who will help you do it. But it does go well beyond the books because in the pre-planning, that's really important, but also coming out the other side. Looking at where the book fits into your funnel, your marketing funnel. A book, I think, is a fabulous tool in your marketing funnel because it fits in a lot of different places. It's at the top where a client might first contact you through seeing your book and reading a bit about you and having a sneak peak at what you do before they engage. But it's also for clients to get deeper into your work. They have a reference manual that they keep at home that helps them on a day-to-day basis
Alex Fullerton [00:10:20] with the issues that you're helping them with. I find a book is a really great place. Yes, I might be a little bit biased, I'm a book person.
Robin Cutler [00:10:29] Yeah, me too.
Alex Fullerton [00:10:31] Yeah, you too. It is a great thing to have in your marketing funnel. We do the editing and the design and get it all uploaded onto IngramSpark. Then they've got their book out on IngramSpark's distribution list and it's available everywhere. We've now added on some marketing services for people through their launch period and everything, just because they needed it. That's something that as a business person, you can incorporate into your own marketing anyway. Just making sure that the book really fits in there.
Robin Cutler [00:11:12] Well, I especially love your focus on women entrepreneurs and helping women's business sort of thrive with the addition of a book. That's really fascinating. How many people have you helped to bring a book to market?
Alex Fullerton [00:11:36] I've been doing it for quite some time and so I'd say there'd be close to a 1,000 people that I've worked with.
Robin Cutler [00:11:43] Oh my goodness.
Alex Fullerton [00:11:45] Yeah, in various parts of their journey. I've run a lot of book writing workshops and also done consultations with writers just to get them on their way. But the entire end-to-end service of the plan, write, edit, design, print, is something that we've only brought in, in the last year. We're putting out a book about every two months, I guess, in the new fuller service. It's been wonderful. I've touched a lot of people and once they know how to go about it, it opens the door for them to then write more within their business, with confidence and not need someone to hold their hand all the way through it so much. Of course, all the offshoots of writing that build back into their marketing and build the profile of the book, through their blogging, through having a more professional website, through building all the sides of writing in their business and targeting that a bit more clearly, so they know things about consistent voice. They know things about the avatar that they didn't know before they started the book journey. Writing, it teaches business people so much more about their business from angles that they might not have looked at.
Robin Cutler [00:13:12] It helps them to completely focus. The fact that you're helping them figure out exactly who their audience is. That's something that I think every writer needs to think about at some point. Even if you're writing fiction, you need to be aware of your audience.
Alex Fullerton [00:13:34] Absolutely, absolutely. I quite often, when people first come to me, I say, "Who are you writing to?" And they say, "Everyone!"
Robin Cutler [00:13:40] I know.
Alex Fullerton [00:13:43] "Everyone can benefit from my book." Unfortunately, everyone is not going to be attracted to your book. Whether it's a business book, whether it's a children's book, whether it's a fantasy novel, they all need to be targeted to somebody. There's always subconscious things in your reader where, you know when you're reading a book and they over-describe something, that really you think, "Wow, a 10-year-old would've known that, I really didn't need half a page of information on that." And if you do that enough times in a book you'll lose their interest. The opposite is also true that if the material's going over their heads, and they're not quite understanding where you're going with it or what these big words mean, you're going to lose them just as much. Finding that tone of voice that suits the personality of your ideal reader, suits their background knowledge, suits their level of education—none of us have a crystal ball, but if you work through all of those questions yourself before or while you're writing, while you're self-editing, you can really iron it out so it's consistent. So that one person has that consistent voice from you in the same way that you would in a conversation one-to-one.
Robin Cutler [00:15:06] That's just fantastic advice about how to think about your reader as you're writing to make that connection. It's just fundamental. It's like Writing 101. And it's amazing to me the people that don't do that. And just what you said, you know. And I'll ask people who is your book intended for? And I would say probably 50% of people that I talk to will say everyone. And I go, well no, so.
Alex Fullerton [00:15:39] Yes. It is easy to think as book professionals that authors have thought through that. But as we've both seen, 50% of people that come to us, have not thought through it. It's really important to go back. It's something you can do even if you're already halfway through your book. Go back, sit down, work out exactly who this person is that you're talking to. Even to the point of downloading a photo from the internet of someone who looks like that and stick it onto your computer. Every time you're starting to go into these really long-winded instructions about what your chakras are, have a look out and say, "Well, Linda is my reader. Linda already knows about that. I don't need to write about that. She already knows that sort of stuff, because this isn't the first book that she's read that discusses that." It just give you that confidence to talk more confidently. I do think when I'm working with people it's the number one thing that changes their attitude to their writing and gives them so much more confidence when they're writing to know what to include, what to leave out, what to just write a blog about, and leave it out of the book. It really gives them a lot more confidence to write more authentically.
Robin Cutler [00:17:02] Well that is fantastic advice, Alex. We've just got a few more minutes. What other take-aways do you want to leave with our listeners?
Alex Fullerton [00:17:15] Well, there's a lot to it, isn't there? Yet, it's very simple. If you are writing a book for your business, you're teaching somebody something, then think of it in the same way you would in a consult. You'd start with introducing the concept, then you talk about why it is important, then you do some exercises, and then you do a conclusion. There you have a book outline. If you can work within that outline, just as the way you do in your consults with your clients, it'll really give a good flow to your book. We'll have to talk about that in more depth another time. But, that is to put together that book, or your book with flow, is something you do already know how to do. It's about tapping into it and remembering what you know about running a session with your clients and bringing that over to your book.
Robin Cutler [00:18:09] Well, thank you Alex. For someone that has helped at least a thousand writers, that's kind of daunting to me that you've helped so many people. You've given us really a lot to think about today and thank you so much for joining me.
Alex Fullerton [00:18:29] It's been my absolute pleasure, Robin. It's amazing what you can do from a pineapple farm in the middle of nowhere.
Robin Cutler [00:18:35] That is true. I wish the next time I visit Australia I intend to come see you and get some fresh pineapple.
Alex Fullerton [00:18:46] Absolutely. You're more than welcome, Robin. It's a date.
Robin Cutler [00:18:50] Thanks so much for listening to Go Publish Yourself. If you like what you hear please like us on iTunes. The more positive ratings we receive, the more authors and publishers, like you, will be able to discover our podcasts too. If you're ready to publish today, please visit the IngramSpark website. For even more tips on publishing like a pro check out our weekly blog and free online self-publishing courses in the IngramSpark Academy. Talk to you soon.