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[Feature Friday] Author Richard G. Lowe, Jr on The Power of Content - The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 60

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On this Feature Friday episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Steve talks with Richard G. Lowe, Jr. a.k.a. The Writing King, about the importance of producing great content—whether you write it or not. Richard explains what a ghostwriter is, how to write better books, blogs, and articles, and why all that makes a difference for your business. 

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Richard Lowe Jr. was an IT manager at Trader Joe’s before he decided to shift careers and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional author, ghostwriter, blogger, and copywriter. Now, he’s the owner and senior writer for The Writing King, a platform helping inform future authors about what ghostwriting is and how to use it to bring their book into the world. 

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He has ghostwritten 40+ books, written over 300 LinkedIn profiles, published several hundred articles and blogs, and has published 63 books of his own— all available on Amazon. One of his books sold over 10,000 copies and reached Amazon bestseller status. Whether you write the content or have someone else do it for you, you should put content into the world every day—on whatever platform hosts your audience. 

Richard and Steve discuss:

  • How writing a book can elevate your business and your reputation far above the rest of the pack
  • Why someone would use a ghostwriter, what The Writing King and ghostwriting is, and how content can move the needle for your business
  • Finding your voice in your writing, why it matters, and how Richard brings that out of his clients
  • How to use social media to host your content, why it’s important to share something every day, and how to fit it into your busy schedule
  • How to improve your writing and the best advice Richard has to offer newer or inexperienced writers 
  • How to promote your book, get your book written, and why it can make a difference in your business


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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Richard Lowe: 

I believe that we all create boxes that we live in through our lives, most of the usual boxes, the American dream, or I got to have a job box, or I feel safe living at home box. And the only reason there's a box around you is you made the box. Get rid of it. You don't need the box, or create a new box if you want. But there's books on get outside the box, why do you even need a box in the first place? That's kind of my philosophy, just eliminate it. And that's kind of what I did. And when you think about it, I quit my six figure job and jump, jumped off the cliff and moved to Florida and started over at age 53. And was successful. Until now I'm making more money now than I was making at that six figure job just by ghostwriting, and I'm having fun, and I have no stress. But back then there was a stretch. And going out and meeting clients was, it was a matter of I have to do this because otherwise, I don't know what I'm gonna do.

Steve Brown: 

Hi everybody, welcome to the ROI online podcast where we believe you. The courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown. And this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Richard LoweJr. Welcome to the ROI, online podcast.

Richard Lowe: 

Well, thank you for having me. This will be fun.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, so folks that are listening to this and marketing directors, story brand guides, business professionals, entrepreneurs. But more importantly, they're wondering why in the world, they need to pay attention to this episode. And so the question we need to answer right away is, why are you called the Writing King?

Richard Lowe: 

I'm called the Writing King because I'm a great ghostwriter, and writer. I write books and blogs for people, and articles and anything else they want really, including LinkedIn stuff. And I do a good job for them. A lot of technical stuff, and a lot of other things as well.

Steve Brown: 

That's a lot of hard work to try to bring out someone's voice out of someone who may not be totally settled into their voice. How do you do that?

Richard Lowe: 

I interview them, make sure that I understand who they are and what their message is and who their audiences. And then we write a few, write a few pages, and we go back and forth on it until we got it right. Basically, work it until it's right.

Steve Brown: 

Well it seems like if you're like busy helping everyone else write books seems like you might write a book or two, tell us about that.

Richard Lowe: 

Well, I've got one science fiction book in progress plus two books that I'm collaborating with two different authors on two different books. So that's a total of three books of my own. All of them are kind of science fictiony. And I have a goal and then I have to write one book in each of 12 genres, before too much longer. So I want to write a mystery in a science fiction and romance and so forth.

Steve Brown: 

You've written a book on LinkedIn, correct?

Richard Lowe: 

Yes, I have called focus on LinkedIn.

Steve Brown: 

And so where did that come from? Where, you know, a lot of people are listening to this. They're trying to figure out how to take advantage of LinkedIn. It's this platform that's kind of businessy, but you know, what rules do you follow? How do you take advantage it and more importantly, how do you get, get it to help you grow your business or your sales?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, one of the first things I did once I left Trader Joe's was, I started working for a company called LinkedIn makeover. And I did about 300, LinkedIn profiles for them for CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, C level people, down to directors, a few ambassadors, some government people. And I really learned from one of the best, Donna Serdula, how to do a profile, and what to do with it, and then how to use LinkedIn to your advantage. In fact, I get probably 75% of my business off of LinkedIn. So it's, it definitely works when you know how to use it, you have to leverage it, you have to have a good profile, a good picture and so forth.

Steve Brown: 

Well, let's talk about the specifics or the must dues on our LinkedIn profile. I seems like the right place to start, right?

Richard Lowe: 

Mm hmm. Yep. Probably, well, let me when I look at somebody's profile, I look for certain mistakes that they've made. The first mistake is not having a good picture. People, the book, the cover of the book sells the book. That's a truism with LinkedIn profiles. So if the picture is awful, then people aren't going to look at your your profile, your picture has to reference, has to resolve or relate to your brand. So if your brand is a circus performer, then it's probably okay to wear a clown suit otherwise, probably not. If, if you're dressed in casual things, and that's part of your brand, like me, I'm a writer and I'm casual, then that fits the brand. If you're going to be a banker, probably this type of attire would not be appropriate. And you don't know how many profile pictures I see where people have, say they're, they're just clip, they've clipped a picture of somebody else, they've just hand sitting in from somebody else over the shoulders, it's awful. I had one who had a cemetery in the background. Yeah, others who had beer bottles top, all over the place and room, you got to watch the background. The advice is get a professional picture. Even if you go to JC Penney's, or some supermarket mall photographer and get a good quality professional photo, well dressed, even makeup to clean you up, then and then maybe even retouch the photo a little bit. Make that photo as professional as possible without being, you know, obviously, professionally, without being too obvious about it, if that makes sense.

Steve Brown: 

All right so picture, real important is number one. What's number two mistake people make?

Richard Lowe: 

Headline, their headline would say something goofy. Usually, they put in most people put in their title, their title is probably the least important thing they need to be promoting. What they want to promote is what they do and what they deliver. So what do you do? I'm a ghostwriter. What do I deliver? I deliver quality books to people, I'm just off the cuff thing. What's the, what's the deliverable that your business or your job is? And it needs to be kind of keyword driven. So think find some keywords on Google, because it's going to be referenced in Google that that makes sense. Obviously, mine's ghostwriting and ghostwriter. So that's how you'll be found. If you're, if you're a banker, then you want to have some banking related keywords in there. And you want it to really portray your, your call to action, you know, also at the end. And you probably don't want to put things like looking for work, because that immediate, then a lot of people do that. I've seen it a lot after the pandemic. And that probably is not what you want to do. You don't need to hide that you're looking for work, but you probably don't want to put it out there on on the headline, because that's going to be on the front page, that's gonna be in all search engines, you want something that's going to search well, and it's very important. And this is same thing with all of the headlines on each one of your experiences, you can put in more keywords there too. And you want to make sure that all of those keywords and experiences align, and that they give you additional room for phrases and things and you only need to put them in once. You only need to say ghostwriter once, Google and LinkedIn are smart enough to figure it out from there, you don't need to have it sprinkled all over the place and stuff keywords and things. It's not gonna like that.

Steve Brown: 

All right. And then number three mistake that people usually make on their LinkedIn profile.

Richard Lowe: 

Their about page is their resume. And they use they just cut and paste their resume in and it's in third person, your LinkedIn profile and your about page should be in first person, I, me rather than third person or past tense. What do you do now? What are you doing now? I do this, I deliver this product, I deliver this service. And here are my statistics. That's what you want to say in your LinkedIn about page. You don't want to say these are my responsibilities. Nobody cares what your responsibilities are or where, what they care about is what are you going to deliver for me? What have you, how can you back that up? I you know, I increased ROI by 5% over a period of a year, or something like that, or, and sometimes you got to be careful with numbers. A lot of banks don't allow numbers to be on LinkedIn, I found out the hard way. Don't do that. So be careful with numbers sometimes, especially if you're publicly owned. But make sure that "about thing" is in present tense and make sure it's about you, not your company, not your business, but it's about you and then your business. And because when I see the LinkedIn profile for Tom, Sully, I want to see what Tom Sully does. And what is it about Tom, Sully and how, what he can do for me, why am I interested in looking at him, why he can deliver me this. That's what you want to have in there.

Steve Brown: 

Okay, so we get our profiles squared away, and we get that upgraded. Like, who do I connect to? What do I do next?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, then the next thing you want to do on your profile is have your experiences also, and it should tell us coherent story. So it should starting from your education, work forward. And if you're an engineer now, but in the past you were say, an auto mechanic. How does Auto being an auto mechanic help you be an engineer? And just think about that and maybe write it in there a little bit. Connecting with people, connect with as many people as you can. But use some caution about connecting with them quickly. LinkedIn, like all social media has spam filters. So be sure that you're not like, okay, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect group, you're locked out, and it will lock you out, connect to people on through the day, and as you meet them, and as you find them in, in groups and things. And as you run into them online and as you go through stuff, link with connect with them, says it looks more natural, and you want it to be more natural than just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Facebook's the same way, if you, if you connect with too many people, or friend too many people on Facebook too quickly, it will lock your account out. So just be careful about that. But don't hesitate about connecting with people. And if you don't know them write a little introduction, like, Hi I know, I read your book. I do that a lot you know, I read your book, I got interested in you or I see you're interested in AI and I'm a writer about AI, how'd you like to talk? Stuff like that, something to make it personal. And don't sell. You obviously, I'm a writer and I read about AI, you want to talk about it, it's just a little bit of selling. But it's more of an introduction. But if you send out a sales message, first of all, if you send it to me, I'm gonna block you, if that's the first thing you send me, I'm literally gonna block you so I never hear from you again. And, that's gonna happen a lot. So that message needs to be sustained and needs to be at least semi targeted and not appear robotic. And do a lot of connecting, you need to have a lot of connections, you should be able to build up 1000 connections in six months, easy. I've got almost 9000 now and like I keep building them up every single day. And make sure that your audience, that's super important, it's important when I write books for people, is important when I write blogs for people, who are you talking to? What are you looking for on LinkedIn? That's super important, your, if you're looking for people from India who sell ink cartridges, then that's the people you should be connecting with. If you're not, then don't be connecting with those people. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just just if your target is bankers, then connect to bankers, and target your LinkedIn towards bankers. So it's super important to understand who you're talking to, and who you want to attract, you cannot attract everybody. So attract the audience that you want. That's very, very important.

Steve Brown: 

A lot of the etiquette, and the protocol that you follow on LinkedIn is different than the other social media platforms, it's more professional, more respectful. So once you start building out these connections, then I think the dilemma is what in the world do I post on in how often and there's just seems to be a lot of confusion around that

Richard Lowe: 

Post every single day. Even if it's just 100 words, post something, something about, you know, a success you've had, or something you learned or a class you attended, or an article you read, or something, you want people to begin to notice those, LinkedIn will notice that you're posting a lot. But here's the secret to all social media, is the word social. Social media wants you to be social. And the way to be social is to post a lot, and to comment on other people's and share other people's posts. Link, liking doesn't matter. The LinkedIn and all the social media doesn't really care about likes and things. But you want to comment on other people's posts and other people's things. And then LinkedIn, or Facebook, or YouTube or whatever, it goes, Oh, this person's playing the game that I want to play. Good, I'm gonna reward him by sending him more people. And especially about the subject of which he's commented on. So if the subject you commented on is politics, you're going to start receiving a lot of politics posts. If the subject is AI, which tends to be me, then you're going to start receiving more and more artificial intelligence posts. And, but that's the key to sort of, to succeeding on social media, any social media, play the game that it wants you to play. If you don't play that game, you're not going to get the views and the likes and the comments and things and you're not going to get people noticing you.

Steve Brown: 

That's interesting, because a lot of people are, they really, they're stymied by what they should post. But what you're communicating is, you don't have to really worry about that right now. Go and be social and comment on other people's posts is just as advantageous?

Richard Lowe: 

It's just as advantageous is probably even more advantageous, but you want to do both. But as you're commenting on other people's posts, your brain will say Oh, I could write a few 100 words about that, maybe I'll post about that. Or, maybe I have something similar to that that I can post about. So you'll get some ideas. And you can even use the Add sign to reference the person that you borrowed the idea from and say, Hey, you know, I got I got this from you, and he's gonna come and look at your thing, and he might start sending it out to people. And that's even more social. When you start doing stuff like that. LinkedIn loves that kind of stuff.

Steve Brown: 

Wow. So then, time, you would think that, people's, their objection would be I don't have all this time to spend on social media every day. But how do you answer that question?

Richard Lowe: 

15 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day tops, set a time. Do it while you're eating breakfast, or when you have some downtime or something. Set a time every single day when you're going to do this. And do it every single day, five days a week, whatever your work days are, I tend to sprinkle it on different times of the day, so I like to do a little bit in the morning a little bit at noon, then a little bit at night, maybe 15 minutes at a time. It doesn't take a lot. You just go through your feed, do some commenting, do a couple shares. Write a quick post, maybe once a week, spend an extra hour writing an article or even once a month, you can always hire a ghostwriter to write those articles for you. And I have a lot of clients who do that. They have me write their LinkedIn articles for them, and then they post them. And that's, that's very common. Just make sure you get a good ghostwriter. And not something, somebody who's not professional. The idea is to be professional and to get to appear professional.

Steve Brown: 

So writing, obviously, is a something that is rewarded, good writing, or good thoughtful writing, give us some ideas or things that maybe we haven't considered that would help us become better.

Richard Lowe: 

Well, first of all, again, think of who your audience is. Who are you writing it to? That's number one. What's the theme? Who are you writing this article to? And why am I writing it? So if I'm writing an article about artificial intelligence, is that aimed at managers? Is that aimed at technical people? Is that aimed at people who want to hire me? Who's it aimed at? Let's say it's aimed at directors level people, well director level people maybe aren't interested in the bits and bytes and stuff, they just want to know what it does. So write an article at that level. And then, what's the theme? The theme is artificial intelligence can help the consumer because it controls their house for them makes their alarm system safer, whatever. So that's the theme. And then just write it around the theme and write it to the audience. And keep those two things in mind. And you're gonna do fine. And break it down into just headers and sub headers, use head use the heading a lot, so that it has some logical flow, and put in pictures and videos. If you've got them. Pictures and videos do great. Be careful with with just hunting around on Google for pictures, because you're gonna run into copyright issues. And you could get sued. Make sure you use stock photo, you can get free ones from Pixabay or use your smartphone and take some pictures yourself. If you're writing an article about the factory and you happen to work in a factory, go out in the shop floor and take some pictures of those machines, assuming your company allows that. If you're working in a bank, take pictures of what, some teller stuff or some money flowing, or something taking yourself, they don't have to worry about copyright and it's unique. And Google loves unique. And the more you do that, the better you're going to be. And videos are great too. LinkedIn has has been slowly rolling out LinkedIn live, which is the same as Facebook Live, but you can post videos all the time from whatever source you want from your camera or smartphone and do that a lot.

Steve Brown: 

What are some best practices as far as video? The length of time, you know I don't know what right question is that there.

Richard Lowe: 

Short and sweet, 30 seconds to 60 seconds is a good length. A minute, five minutes even is probably okay once in a while. People's attention spans are very short. So, and funny if you can make it funny, funny is good. Keep it high level and make it inspirational is another thing you can do. Just a straight Matter of fact videos probably not going to get a lot of hits. But a funny video will get a lot of hits. So if you're writing about HR think of a way to make HR funny, maybe some of those horror stories that some of your, you've got come in over the years of people saying they did this, or they did that, or you caught people doing this wouldn't it, as long as you change the names, of course would probably make great videos, stories. But video is kind of tough, because a lot of people are kind of introverted. So they don't do well on video. And if you don't do well on video, don't do it. If you like video, do it. If you like podcasts, do it. If you don't, then don't do it. That's my recommendation for everybody is, pick the social media type that works for you. I happen to like podcasts and I like LinkedIn. And two channels, two different things are probably about as much as most people can process and that's as much as I can do. So I tend to not use Facebook as much. Because it's not really my market. But if you like Facebook, and you can get sales on Facebook or sell your services or sell yourself, then use Facebook. Pick the one that works if you're if you're an extrovert, maybe video is great for you. For me, I'm not a video person. I don't mind video, but that's not where I come across really well. I tend to do good on podcasts. And that's just, and LinkedIn Of course, I pretty much got wired.

Steve Brown: 

So when we, you keep mentioning artificial intelligence. Where did you start to get interested in that and why?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, I've been interested in that, since I found out about it many, many years ago. And it I'm fascinated by the subject of AI, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, machine learning and big data and things like that. I'm a techie, that's where my background is technical. So those things kind of, kind of, I just kind of fell into those. And I started writing books on it, because I could talk the talk and also kind of walk the walk a bit. And it just became more and more of an area where I'm really good at writing about, because I've learned a lot about it. But at a management level, not in the techie level, I don't tend to write down in the weeds articles about how the technology works at low level, that's really not my forte, I'll tend to write at the higher level like trying to sell a certain kind of AI to managers, or how does our augmented reality help a warehouse? That's the goggles that yes, you can get see things, those are really cool. So I'm kind of fascinated by that. And I'm fascinated by how that will change the world, and how it is changing the world.

Steve Brown: 

So you've written several books for, you know, the way I see that I can add value is by helping business owners understand why this particular technology could be advantageous not in the weeds, like you're talking about, but you know, applied application of that. That's what I'm understanding that your your books are?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, most of my books are written by people who want to enhance their career. So they use the book as kind of this is my credibility, this is my expertise, this is my story. This is about me, and about how I can help others and educate others. So they write the book is kind of their, their way in their their additional power over everybody else. Gives them a step up. So when they walk into a job interview this I wrote the book on AI, when they want to get press, they send the press the book, their book, when they want to give speeches, they use the book, and a lot of my clients go into the speech route. And keynote speeches, five grand a pop at least so you can go in and get us keynote speech at a conference, you've got a made if you can start doing that. And that's what a lot of them do with the books, I help them write.

Steve Brown: 

So where are they in their career, there's a life cycle that a lot of people, there's probably a common pattern that you see business owners kind of raise their head up and go, Hmm, I think I should write a book.

Richard Lowe: 

Usually they're at a point where they feel like they want to advance, but they see some barriers to that. The barrier on one of my clients was that he, he was in a fortune 50 company, and he was kind of stuck at a senior VP level of a division. And he wanted to get up to the major player and be a major player. And he just couldn't quite get out of that, that rut, so to speak. And he hired me to help him write a book, which was interesting enough, was one of my first books. And he specifically had the goal of getting the notice of the CEO of the Fortune 50 company, the whole thing. And when he was done the CEO roundup writing the foreword to the book. So he achieved that, he gets keynote speeches before the pandemic anyway, for $10,000 a pop, he gets paid for the book. And he gets its textbook and classrooms over in where he lives and it also sells on Amazon. So he's, and he donates all the money from that to charity because he doesn't care. That's not what he wrote it for. And most of my clients don't care about Amazon book sales. That's it's an extra thing. What they care about is they can show that book to somebody say I wrote the book on this subject that makes me an expert. And then for blogs, it's usually somebody who wants to, is a little bit lower level, maybe VP level or director level who wants to build their image up so they can continue pursuing that career.

Steve Brown: 

So this fits into the LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a perfect place for you to start to maybe introduce your book or promote your book. What are some good strategies for the authors that are listening?

Richard Lowe: 

To promote their books? First of all, they have to find out which social media platform works for them. That takes experimenting, I would say to back up a minute, they have to be willing to experiment on the promotion. In the backup even more from that they have to be willing to promote. Most writers, as in many technical people, and I'll just make this generality, please don't kill me, are introverted. They start writing because it's easier to write to a piece of paper than it is to talk to people. That was me anyway, a long time ago. I'm kind of grown out of that. And, thus, having to promote means "Oh, no, I got to come out of my shell and I got to go talk to people" Some writers find that exhilarating. And they they actually figured out how to promote and others. They never get through that wall of promotion. It's like a wall of fire, they can never get through it. And they get discouraged. And they never read a book again, because they hit that wall. They didn't think about it. So you have to be willing to promote and then you have to be willing to experiment. And you have to be willing to fail. Because you're going to try Facebook and it might work or not fails. Well, what you do wrong, and what you know, I tried Facebook ads Didn't work. Okay, move on, you know spent several $100 lost, gone waste paper, move on to the next thing LinkedIn ad, didn't work. Okay, pretty soon I got the idea that the ads don't work, not for me. And it's just a training thing. I'm not an expert in that. So then the answer is do I want to hire somebody to do it or want to move on to something else? Then I tried YouTube. That didn't work for me, just because I'm not a video person. And I'd tried podcasts. And then I started getting people calling in from podcast saying, "We heard you on a podcast, we want to buy one of your books" One of my hardcover books or you know something, or actually buy my services, I've had several $10,000 contracts come off of podcasts, that was very useful. I've also had quite a few book sales. So you need to find out what works for you, and you experiment, and don't spend real money. I mean, you know, don't spend billions of dollars or 1000s of 1000s of dollars, just spend a little bit. Amazon marketing ads tend to work very well for a short time. So maybe spend a 20 bucks on that in a month and see what happens or 30 bucks or whatever it costs. They're paid, remember their pay per click, they're not pay per sale. So you got to be real careful, those things can really suck the money out of you, fast. Google ads, or, for me, they mean, it's the money just like a vacuum cleaner, and you got to be really careful with them. So find that for me, the channel that works best is LinkedIn. And that's because I'm making I'm my contracts are fairly large, I only need a dozen of them a year to make a living, a good living. So I can go out there and I talk to people get in a conversation and then before long, they want to use my services. So that's, that's good for me, for books probably Facebook is especially consumer books, fiction books, I would say Facebook's probably a better place because you're going to find people who want to buy books. If you've got a business book, LinkedIn might be better. If you got a political book, Twitter might be better. Just off the cuff things. I haven't done any research into any of those. So don't don't take my word for it. YouTube is virtually always a good place to be. If you can make videos that people want that grab people, podcast, SoundCloud, things like that work well if you're if you like to talk. And don't forget about seminars and conventions, even though convinces virtual now, you can get a lot from conventions, and things like that. I had a friend who, we were doing the marketing thing together. She was promoting other marketing, other people's books and things and she was getting real discouraged and I said, Bonnie, why don't you write your own book, you're a great marketer by your own book. She's written three now that was a year ago, she's written three, and they're moving up in sales. She's learning how to market even though she's a marketer, books are different and she's learning how to market those books. And she's been in contact with several major science fiction and fantasy authors and they're helping her promote her book. That's called influencer marketing. By the way, you get an influencer somebody of influence and have them help you. By posting their social media and things, that really works well. That's the idea behind podcasts is, I interview you, you've got a following your whole following will come to listen to the podcast, and they'll also come to see me. That's how podcasts work. If you've got somebody who's an influencer. So be willing to experiment, be willing to try don't spend a lot of money. And before you go out there and buy packages, there's lots of people who will sell you a promotion, and they can cost anywhere from almost nothing to everything you own. Make sure you know what you're doing first, before you buy somebody, pay somebody money to do Google ads for you. Make sure you understand how Google Ads work. So that you can take a class, take two classes so that you can judge whether or not you're getting that $5,000 you're going to spend for the promotion is going to come back or not. I've wasted a ton of money on promotion that I didn't understand. So if your arguing with somebody else he'll understand. Didn't turn out, so...

Steve Brown: 

I want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released called ROI. quickstart Academy for authors. Every day, I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place. We want to create a great foundation and we want to grow our business. But the things that are in our way, our lack of knowledge about the specifics, we should put in place, what kind of technology what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns and that problem exists for authors as well. And we just chill so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with, you have a great idea you have a great book, but what do you want to do, you want to get your book in front of more people, you want to make it easy for them to find you learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the Quickstart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like minded authors, and the experts from the ROI quickstart team, it's a great way to get your messaging clear to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the Quickstart Academy for authors, you can visit ROI online.com or click in the link in the show notes below. And now, back to this episode. So the, you know, you you started writing books for other people at where, where do you get that idea? Where do you get the courage to go, Hey, I think I can pull your voice out of you and help you represent yourself better?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, um, when I got started, I actually quit my job and moved to Florida and started all over, I was decided I was going to be a writer. And at first I was going to be a fiction writer. Then I ran into a ghostwriter. And I started writing for him. And the first book I wrote, for him was and first of all, I was taking over from a ghostwriter who failed and who left horrible notes. The guy was from Afghanistan barely spoke English. I didn't know anything about Muslim culture. And I didn't know anything about Afghani culture, they're different. And I had to learn all of that. Plus, he was in a hurry because he wanted to go back to Afghanistan. So I had to do a full set of interviews. In a day.

Steve Brown: 

Oh my gosh.

Richard Lowe: 

Yeah, sitting there and barely understanding every fifth word that he said, his wife trying desperately trying to translate for me. And we're into all kinds of interesting things. We never finished the book because he went to Afghanistan and lost interest. But I learned a lot about overcoming fear. At that point in that book, I did a couple more for him and then I struck out on my own, and never looked back. You just, it really is just a matter of, I believe that we all create boxes that we live in through our lives, most of the usual boxes, the American dream, or I got to have a job box, or I feel safe living at home box. And the only reason there's a box around you is you made the box. Get rid of it. You don't need the box, or create a new box if you want. But there's books on get outside the box, why do you even need a box in the first place? That's kind of my philosophy, just eliminate it. And that's kind of what I did. And when you think about it, I quit my six figure job and jump, jumped off the cliff and moved to Florida and started over at age 53. And was successful. Until now I'm making more money now than I was making at that six figure job just by ghostwriting, and I'm having fun, and I have no stress. But back then there was a stretch. And going out and meeting clients was, it was a matter of I have to do this because otherwise, I don't know what I'm gonna do. You know? I'm in my, in my 50s and and don't have a degree and who's gonna hire me for a six figure job, ran into that problem. People think there's a big prejudice against this or that or another thing, the prejudice against old people, older people is even bigger. Because you try get a job. Try, you know, there are people without a degree, and there's a big, big biases out there. Okay, you know, you just overcome it, you just do it. I mean, I managed to live this far, I can do something. And it's just a matter of doing it.

Steve Brown: 

So what are some of the common themes that you know, you've been a ghostwriter for this time, and you've worked with a variety of authors. But I'm sure there's a theme of they think they have a book in them, but there's a process to pull that book out of them. What are some of the hurdles that you help them get past to really identify that that book? Yeah.

Richard Lowe: 

Well, I just basically talk it through with them. And I, they lean on me a lot. And that's, that's part of my purpose is sometimes they they barely know what they want to write about. And sometimes they know exactly what they want to write about. And sometimes they want to help me write the book, that first book I mentioned with the the guy wanted to the CEO, meet the CEO. That was a collaboration, we actually wrote the book together. I mean, every single day, we spent an hour on the phone writing. So that was kind of that was tough on the old back. And then there's another client that I have now who basically said, I want the book about this, write the book, have fun, call me when you're done. That's, that's a book on artificial intelligence. And so I have to go out and write it every once in a while sending a chapter and he kind of glances at it says, Yep, looks good. Those are a little bit more scary, because obviously, he hasn't reviewed it heavily yet. So I want to make, but the process basically is decide what we want to write, decide who the audience is, go through the outline. And then we write a chapter at a time. So read the first chapter, review it, I'm getting better with your voice, second chapter, review it, third chapter, review it each time, and it's getting more and more and more closer to what you want. By the time we're on a third chapter, I pretty much, we're in sync. And then basically, we follow that process to the end of the book. The main idea I have is to avoid having a revision phase at the end of the book. What we want to do is revise as we go. And then by the time we're done with the book, we've got a polished manuscript that's ready for an editor. I always recommend that go to an editor after they're done with me. And the editors are not very expensive in comparison to a ghostwriter. And, just give a read through the book and make sure that it's polished and that there's no, no, nothing sticks. I mean, remember, we write the book over a period of six months to a year. So there's going to be some inconsistencies and some things that the editor is going to fix. And that's what they do. And editing is a different thing than writing they're two different parts of the brain.

Steve Brown: 

So do you help them write their title, the book title? That seems like that's the most important piece of a book.

Richard Lowe: 

The book title usually becomes apparent about halfway through the book. Sometimes they have it in mind at the beginning, and then it changes. But it usually becomes apparent to them. But halfway through the book, what I recommend is they do research and maybe even work with a marketing person to figure out what that title will be. Because the title is something that will help sell the book. And a title that sounds really clever, may not be the one that sells the book. So you've got to, you've got to work on the, the title, but from a marketing point of view, not from a it sounds good point of view. And it can change multiple times. But the point at which you can't change it is when the paperback is published, you cannot change the title on a paperback. You can change the title on a Kindle, but not on a paperback.

Steve Brown: 

Because?

Richard Lowe: 

It's not allowed. The Amazon and the ISPN's service do not allow it to change, you have to create a new book.

Steve Brown: 

Oh really?

Richard Lowe: 

Yeah, you loose all your reviews and everything when you create the new book.

Steve Brown: 

So what's your expertise as far as the Kindle Direct Publishing, the Amazon system, audible? What's your experience in that area?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, I've published 60 books of my own, plus 42 books that have been ghostwritten most of those books for the ghostwritten side are self published all but one, the one went traditional, with a traditional publisher, and then on my books, 27 of them are nonfiction, and all 27 have audiobooks, paperback, hardcover, and Kindle. And, you want to hit all those formats, you can because the only cost involved in all of that, for the platform is $50 for the hardcover. The paperback, Amazon doesn't charge you for the audiobook, you can do the royalty split with a performer, or you can do the performance yourself. A lot of people do it themselves. Or, and the Kindle is also they don't charge for the, what I do as part of my service is just I charge an hourly fee. And I can help people publish, I've done it a bazillion times, over 100 times now. So I can help them publish and all of those things, and I just do a pitch charge by the hour and do it for them. And that works really well. They'll also need a book cover and, an editor and proofreader and stuff and I help line up those things. I don't take a commission on any of those. When I refer, I believe commissions introduce conflicts of interest. So I don't take commissions. When I refer, I just refer.

Steve Brown: 

Seems like that, just like LinkedIn or you'd like you said in social media, social media has the game, they want you to play a particular game, that exists in the Kindle Direct Publishing and the Amazon system as well, correct?

Richard Lowe: 

Yes, yeah, I'm in Amazon, you've got categories, which will help. So a category is a type of book. So let's say you have a category of, of artificial intelligence, and then a type of artificial intelligence, what you want to do is search out those categories to find one that has sales, but not so many sales that you can't get on the first or second page, you want to get on the first page if you can. So if you go look at that category, and all 20 books in the top of that category of the first page, have 60,000 sales each a month, you don't want that category, because you're never going to break that they're getting promoted by the big publishers and things. That's that's how they get those sales. So what you want to find is a category that has say, a couple 1000 sales in the first few books, and then it starts dropping off to 50 and on 10. And now you've got a category that you can break into, because you can see that it's getting sales, but it's not so competitive that you're never going to get there. That's trick. So that's one of the games you've got to play. Then there's keywords, you've got to have keyword phrases and things in there. And Amazon keywords are different than Google keywords. Amazon keywords are like, keywords were 20 years ago on the internet. They're just keywords then there's, they don't, Amazon doesn't have all the special web bells and whistles that Google does. Google actually tries to figure out context and tries to figure out what your article is about and he uses AI to do that. Amazon doesn't care. It just knows that you have the keyword geology in there. And then Okay, I got a book about geology. Whoo, thanks. So you just got to work with that. And there's all kinds of other games that you can play. If your books not selling. I'll just mention that. So you put the book out there and it's not selling. It's a bad cover, or it's not getting promoted. Two things and, if the cover is bad the first thing you do is get a new cover. Second thing you do is how are people getting your odds of being promoted is key, is the index right? Is the category right? Is the code keywords right? If those two things are wrong, your book is never gonna sell. And if you fix those two things, ahead of everything else, buy a 100 times, then your book will, will probably sell. Then you look at the other things like the look inside the title, reviews, and things like that, come down from that. But if they never even get to your page, never gonna see reviews. And if they hate your cover, they're never gonna see your reviews.

Steve Brown: 

So what's a good resource for the promotion to make sure that you're doing the promotion aspect correctly?

Richard Lowe: 

There are several websites or people out there that do that. They charge anywhere from I think, Bookbaby, charges $1,000, or something, I'm not sure for a package where they, they do the cover and publish the book for me and format it and, and promote it, you just got to look around and find somebody you trust, and probably fail a few times before you find a good one or learn it yourself. There is no accreditation out there, there's no way to know if somebody is good or not, other than by their testimonials, and what they say, get referrals. And, try and go low before you go big. What I recommend authors do is rather than write a big old novel that takes them a year, and they spend a lot of time promoting and waste a lot of money a lot of time and then get frustrated, publish a short Kindle ebook, 5000-6000 words, say a short story or a novelette, you know that novelettes usually run about 10,000-20,000 words, write one of those first because you can write them fast, you can polish them, and then you can prime promote them. And you can experiment and you're not wasting the time, you're not wasting the money. If you write a big old novel, and it doesn't sell, that's a big hit of time, and money, and resources, and things, and pride and so forth but a short story. Now, Kindle ebooks, short Kindle ebooks tend to sell very, very well if you promote them, right. So you could put out a 20 page ebook. And you could probably if you really promote it, right, and it's got the right categories and title, and cover and stuff. I've seen people sell 20,000 copies and $2.99 each, just because and they only spent, you know, a day or two writing that I've even seen people who've written one page, short Kindle ebooks in an hour, send it out there and sell 1000 copies for $0.99 each. So that's what I mean by getting out of the box, get out of the box. And, I always recommend try something small before you try the big thing. You can write a lot of Kindle, short Kindle ebooks before you finish that novel. And then go the novel. It'll also help you tune your writing skills. So you can you can adjust those, I've got a few out there and they were fun to write. And they're just short and sweet. And I learned a lot about what to do what not to do. And they're fun.

Steve Brown: 

So who are the kind of, the best fit or the audience that you work with when you sit in and help someone ghostwrite a book? What's the, like the perfect client for you?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, I'm looking for clients who are that that level of management that I mentioned, director to C level, who. But beyond that, I'm looking for people, obviously, who have the money to afford me, who have, easy to work with. That's something that I discovered right away, mostly from watching other ghostwriters is they'll take anything, because they need the money. And they get clients who are kind of snarky or difficult to work with or don't pay, or you go to ghostwriting group and you'll find lots of complaints about people not paying on time or problems with getting information, I look for clients who are easy to work with, because I'm easy to work with. I deliver. My job is to deliver quality content on time on budget, and give you something that will do what you want it to do. And I do that. I'm not late, I used to manage projects for a living. So I know how to get things done on time. I deliver quality. And I expect my clients to, to be easy to work with because I left the corporate world to get rid of the stress not to get more. And of course things like the pandemic happened, lost a few clients during when it started, most of them came back. And interestingly, the pandemic actually doubled my business. Because people started, they had time to write books, I guess. And yeah, so the ideal client is, that now I also do fiction ghostwriting and that's a whole different kind of client. And usually the fiction, the fiction clients want to work very, very closely with me, they want to be right on top of it, because it's their baby and they're kind of nervous about giving up their baby to a ghostwriter. And by the time a couple chapters in we're definitely cohesive as a team and having a good time. And, again, I want to, I want a successful relationship for both of us, I want us both to feel good about it, I want us both to feel relaxed about it. And I don't want us to have to worry about it. And that's the best kind.

Steve Brown: 

So what are like, the biggest mistake you made working with a client? Maybe you went through the book, but you there was something that you really overlooked and would never do again.

Richard Lowe: 

I'm a believer of getting out of my box. But that first ever book that I wrote with the Afghani was way out of my league. I mean, it was my first book. And it had two ghostwriters, that failed on him before. And it should have been a clue. And all the other things I mentioned. I mean, it was a it was a fun book, the guy was a politician in Afghanistan before the Soviets invaded. So it was before the American invasion before the Soviet invasion. And when they, there was a coup, and when it happened, he had to leave the country or get shot. All you know, huge story, wonderful story, sounded so sexy, sounded so wonderful, and it's kinda I, I totally believe you should do things that you don't know how to do, just because you can learn. But there's a point at which it's so far beyond your reach that maybe you should think twice about it. And then there's also the price. Maybe if you're going to, you need to make sure your price is is valid. This is a mistake that many ghostwriters or freelancers make, is they price themselves too low. You can also price yourself too high. But if you price yourself too low, that screams amateur, you need to price yourself at a high enough level where it says I am a professional. And if you want a professional, these are the rates you pay. So you do some research to find out what professionals are charging, it's usually in the middle between the highest and the lowest. And that's what you charge. And you don't negotiate that away, at least not a lot. You, if you're charging, you know $100 an hour if that's what you think of professional should get, then that's what you should charge and you should get business. Obviously, if you can't get business at $100 an hour, maybe you should adjust your rate, or maybe you should adjust your marketing. But don't drop down to $5 an hour because you don't think you're good enough. Charge what you think charges for the value, be professional. I think that's one sign of professionals. They're charging professional rates. And at least in my experience.

Steve Brown: 

So one of 60 books focus on LinkedIn create a personal brand on LinkedIn to make more money generate leads and find employment, part of the business professional series in book seven. Richard, where can people connect with you obviously on LinkedIn is one, where some other locations?

Richard Lowe: 

Well, you can go to thewritingking.com. And there's a, just take a look at the website, there's a contact form there and you can send from there, there's also a direct scheduling link there. If you go to thewritingking.youcanbook.me you can actually schedule time to see me, then we can talk about anything you know about your project or whatever. That's also on the writing King website. You can send a message to Rich at thewritingking.com And, or you can just find me on LinkedIn @Richard Lowe Jr. or Facebook. And I'll be happy to talk to you.

Steve Brown: 

All right, Richard, thanks so much for being an excellent guest on the ROI online podcast.

Richard Lowe: 

Thank you. There's a lot of fun. Thank you for having me.

Steve Brown: 

All right and that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI online podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat, and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better. Be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden toilet at surprise that golden toilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI online podcast.