I have to share this beautiful anecdote by Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Kiyosaki is a self-made millionaire who began studying how to be rich as a kid. He was lucky: the father of his best friend was a businessman who was amassing an empire out of nothing.
When Robert and his best friend asked this man to teach them how to make money, they got even luckier. “Rich Dad” didn’t just laugh them off and tell them that they could come back when they grew up. Instead, he decided to teach the two kids about money, using real world experience as his teaching tool.
Kiyosaki learned well. He went on to to master the process of acquiring wealth with minimal investment. His philosophy is that no one should have to “work hard” for money. Instead, it’s much better to “work smart.” Do your research. Crunch the numbers. Look for opportunities.
So what does this have to do with writing?
Well, Kiyosaki met an aspiring novelist in Singapore in 1995, when he was there on a speaking assignment alongside Zig Ziglar.
He didn’t know that this woman was a novelist at first. She was scheduled to meet him to do a interview for the newspaper for which she worked. Kiyosaki was impressed with her articles, so, when she told him that she dreamed of being a best-selling author like him, he asked her what was stopping her.
Apparently, she’d written a few well-received novels, but they weren’t enough to pay the bills. So she continued to work as a reporter, hoping her big break would come someday.
She asked Kiyosaki if he had any suggestions.
By pure chance, he did. A friend ran sales-training courses right there in Singapore for many major corporations. Attending one of those courses could help her improve book sales and turn her material into best-sellers.
But the writer didn’t react the way Kiyosaki thought she would.
Instead of thanking him for the tip, she stiffened.
“Are you saying I should go to school to learn to sell? … I have a master’s degree in English Literature. Why would I go to school to learn to be a salesperson? … I hate salespeople. All they want is money.”
The reporter began packing her briefcase to leave.
Kiyosaki felt bad for offending her and tried to make amends. He pointed out that he may be a best-selling author, but that didn’t mean he was a great writer. There’s a huge difference between being an excellent writer and selling lots of books.
And if even a bad writer could sell a lot of books, just think what she could do if she had both the talent to write and the talent to sell her writing!
Saying that only made things worse. She retorted angrily:
“I’ll never stoop so low as to learn how to sell. People like you have no business writing…. It’s not fair.”
And she stomped away.
You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.
In this day and age, it’s naive to expect great writing to sell itself. After all, one of the least publishable genres is literary fiction, not because the quality is lacking, but because it doesn’t often appeal to the masses.
There are a number of online programs designed to teach writers how to sell their writing, sell their brand, and sell themselves.
Mark Joyner, author of The Rise of the Author, suggests that we’re living at a very exciting time in the world, where the power of the internet is effecting a massive transformation in the publishing industry. Technologies like Print on Demand are allowing the author to wrestle back some of the power hitherto given to the publisher.
But that power is only useful to you if you learn how to use it.
You cannot afford to make the same mistake as that reporter. Don’t turn down any opportunity to learn how to market yourself and your writing.
As Kiyosaki concluded:
“The world is filled with smart, talented, educated, and gifted people. We meet them every day. They are all around us…. The sad truth is, great talent is not enough.”