Carla King interviews Becky Robinson on The Four Commitments Critical for Achieving the Greatest Possible Influence with Your Book.
October 12, 2022 at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET
“So your book–your nonfiction book–is this content asset that can be repurposed and reused into all sorts of different shapes, all kinds of different content over time. And because you’re going to share it over time in new ways, you’re going to attract new audiences.”
About Becky Robinson
Becky Robinson is the Founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in marketing and public relations services for authors, business leaders, coaches, trainers, speakers, and thought leaders. In April 2022, Becky published her first book, “Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause.”
She also hosts the Book Marketing Action Podcast to share actionable advice to help authors reach more readers and enhance their brand.
Becky holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College and received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Miami University. Becky lives in Lambertville, Michigan, and when she’s not working or writing, Becky is a distance runner and has completed ten full- and eleven half-marathons.
Nonfiction Authors Podcast: Becky Robinson
Find the video podcast, show notes, links, quotes, and podcast transcript below.
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- Website – www.beckyrobinson.com
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/beckyrbnsn
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/beckyrbnsn/
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BeckyRbnsn
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/beckyrbnsn/
- Weaving Influence, Book Marketing Agency
- Free eBook Resources from Weaving Influence
- Weaving Influence YouTube Channel (More Free Resources for Authors)
- Reach, by Becky Robinson
- Twin Flames Studios
In this episode…
- Why lasting impact is important to consider when authors are thinking about the audience they are reaching.
- Two ways to discover our audience.
- Consistency of presence vs. consistency of action.
- How to overcome resistance or fear when sharing the message of your book.
- How generosity can make your connections closer and stronger.
- Why it’s important to establish a social media presence long before your book is published.
- Ideas on how to use the content of your book over time and in new ways.
- Why it’s important to build a team as an author.
- Why giving away pre-publication copies of your book can benefit you as an author.
- How to mobilize your already established network to support your book.
Hello and welcome to the interview series for the Nonfiction Authors Association. Today’s session is with Becky Robinson and we will be talking about the four commitments critical for achieving the greatest possible influence with your book. I’m Carla King, your host, and I’m happy to have you with us today. This interview will last only 30 minutes and you can find the replay on our Nonfiction Authors Association website and social media platforms including YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
And now I’d like to introduce our guest.
Becky Robinson is the Founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in marketing and public relations services for authors, business leaders, coaches, trainers, speakers, and thought leaders. She is also the author of a book published this year, in 2022, titled “Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause.”
Becky hosts the Book Marketing Action Podcast to share actionable advice to help authors reach more readers and enhance their brand.
She holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College and received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Miami University. Becky lives in Lambertville, Michigan, and when she’s not working or writing, Becky is a distance runner and has completed ten full- and eleven half-marathons.
Becky, you’re a superstar. Welcome to the podcast.
Becky Robinson 1:14
Thank you so much.
Carla King 1:15
Your long distance running might be a metaphor for writing and marketing a book, I think, with the topics that we’re going to talk about.
Becky Robinson 1:22
Well, you know, yes and. So I would always tell authors before I published my own book, that marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. And people use that analogy for all sorts of different difficult things in life. But I have a new way of looking at that. Now that I have written, published–and marketing my book–I’ve decided that it’s not a sprint, nor is it a marathon, because both of those have a finish line. And I think that when we believe in the messages of our books, we are making a long term commitment. And there may never be a finish line if the book that we’ve created has lasting value in the world. It’s more like a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, where you commit to running regularly over time, more than a one time event.
Carla King 2:07
You know, I’ve heard that from some authors. One in particular, who told me a few years after her book was published–’Be careful what you write about, because you’re gonna have to live with it forever, and talk about it forever, it never really goes away.’
Becky Robinson 2:21
That’s true. I’ve also heard someone say, ‘Are you willing to be married to your message?’ With the understanding that marriage is often usually meant to be a lifetime commitment. And so if you really love your book, it’s almost like you’re deciding that you’re married to the message over time.
Carla King 2:38
And that’s a good thing. Because nonfiction authors are usually super super committed to their cause, or their business, or their emotional journey in the case of memoir, or whatever message they’re putting out there. Some are supporting a business, or upping a speaking career, or getting more business for their books. So it’s already a part of their business, they’ve already been living it for many, many years.
So you’ve broken down your process for cultivating and growing a following and achieving the greatest possible influence into four parts. And it consists of value, longevity, consistency, and generosity. And so I’d just like to start with value. How can nonfiction authors provide the kind of value that just really compels their audience to find them, to listen to them, to read their books, to follow their messages?
Becky Robinson 3:39
Sure, I’d be happy to talk about value. But before I do, I want to tell you how I define reach. I define reach not only as expanding audience, but also lasting impact. And so when we start to talk about value, one of the things that authors want to get clear about is who they are creating value for. Because every person has a different view of what’s valuable to them. And I think one place that nonfiction authors can get a little bit misplaced when they’re trying to create reach for their messages–if they’re not super clear about the people who need their book right now. And I’m going to just shout out my colleague Fauzia Burke–she’s the one who first articulated it this way. You might think that you wrote your book for everyone, or that everyone might need your book. But the truth is, there really isn’t any book for everyone. And if you can get very specific on who you’re creating value for, then the content that you’re creating–both in your book and through your other content marketing–will meet their needs more effectively.
So value really has a lot to do with knowing who you’re creating content for. And then being willing to show up in various ways over time to provide that content that’s of value to them. And there’s lots of different ways that we can do that. Obviously, right now we’re providing value through this podcast. Some people are more comfortable writing articles. And it’s that content that meets the needs of the audience that they will perceive to be of value, and that they will keep coming back for.
Carla King 5:12
Do you have any ideas about how authors can find–really hone down on–their niche and their audience?
Becky Robinson 5:19
Sure, I think sometimes we discover our audience in two ways. So we might think we know who our audience is. And then if we start to show up, whether it’s on social media, or through other content marketing, we can identify our audience by who shows up to engage with us. And so it can be a discovery driven process. I think that taking a few steps back before you even write a book, you should have that ideal audience member in mind–you should know who you’re writing to. Because that way, you can ensure that as you craft the book, that it will meet the felt needs of that person.
So I would encourage people even before they write the book to–as you’re saying–in that book proposal process, if you’re traditionally publishing or even if you’re self publishing, actually build relationships with those people. Use them as you do your research. Test out your material as you’re creating it. And that way, you can ensure that you’re providing the value that they really need.
Carla King 6:18
Right. And we just love to tell people about Beta readers, and getting that feedback before their book is published. Because you want the feedback before the book is published, not after the book is published.
Becky Robinson 6:29
Yeah, so I did that in two ways as I wrote my book. So one of the things that I did is–it was a 10 year journey for me, from the time that I built my business until the time that I launched my book. So I had, really, 10 years of working with the types of people that I wanted to write the book for. And through blog posts, and other email newsletters, I could really get a sense of–what are the ideas that I have that are really resonating with people? What do they respond to?
Now, not everybody’s going to take 10 years figuring it out, of course. But the other thing that I did is–in the process of crafting my book, I did a number of interviews that I also featured in the book later. And so then I could see–in terms of the podcast listeners, or the response that I got to the podcasts–which stories and which guests were really resonating with folks. And then use that as I crafted the book to meet the needs that they have and provide the value that would be most helpful.
Carla King 7:21
So that brings us to the next topic, which is consistency. And I think a lot of authors get very discouraged when they write their book, or they’re building their platform. And they don’t quite know if they’re gonna blog, if they’re gonna podcast, if they’re gonna be on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or medium, or slack, or whatever. How can authors, first of all, figure out where they’re going to provide their message and how to do it? And how do you commit to it? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you change after a while. But when is it time to quit and try something else as well?
Becky Robinson 8:06
So in the book, I talk about the difference between consistency of presence, and then consistency of action. So I think there is this misconception that whatever you pick, you have to stay consistent with that. Which would be consistency of action–I’m going to blog daily, or I’m going to blog weekly, and I have to keep doing that forever if I want to be consistent. Instead, if you really think about consistency of presence–that means I am committed to showing up regularly over time. I might shift the ways that I show up. But people will always know that they can count on me to provide value. So for any authors that get overwhelmed thinking, ‘I have to make a commitment to something and stay with it forever.’ Try to think about consistency instead, and consistency of presence. You have to keep showing up.
Now in terms of deciding how and where to show up, and where to bring the value that you have to give–again, part of that is a discovery driven process. And part of it has to be driven by your joy as an author. And, for example, I love love, love interactive media. So I love being on a podcast like this Carla. Having a conversation with you. I love presenting in a webinar format, where it’s not just me as a voice into the void, but where there’s some back and forth. And so for me, that’s something I know that I can keep showing up for, because I find joy in it. Now if I tried to force myself with a tripod and my camera to do videos on TikTok, it would be hard for me to sustain that.
So one thing to remember is–it’s impossible to have consistency without choosing a path that is sustainable and joyful for you as an author. And so that’s one of the reasons why, when authors are starting on this journey–if they’ve never done online content marketing before, I’ll say, ‘Always start small.’
There’s a blogger who I admire. You probably are aware of him. His name is Dan Rockwell. I talk about him in the book Leadership Freak. Dan Rockwell has written a weekday daily blog post about leadership, 300 words or less, since 2010. He has been doing this for 12 years straight. Now, if you are just starting on a content marketing journey, it is not the time to say, ‘I am going to do what Dan Rockwell did.’ It’s impossible. It would be far better to say, ‘I am going to write a once a month article.’ Now, if after six months, you have done it consistently for six months, you might say, ‘This is going well, I will try twice a month.’ But I would never, never, never encourage someone to make some kind of unfulfillable commitment. Instead, create something that you can sustain. And as you get momentum, you can increase that investment of your time and sharing valuable content in online spaces.
Carla King 11:05
Well, how long–is six months the magic number?
Becky Robinson 11:10
No. I mean, not necessarily. I think that you have to know yourself. And again, if it’s possible to shift the way you show up over time, it is okay to stop something that’s not working for you or your audience.
Carla King 11:25
But you do have to pay attention to analytics, and actually enter in conversation with people. And I do find that authors find that very intimidating sometimes. They’re not quite sure who to reach out to, or they’re afraid to comment on a famous author or celebrity’s social media posts, etc. How do you get over that?
Becky Robinson 11:47
Well, I want to address two things that you said. Because you talked about–is six months the magic number, and we’re going to talk later about longevity. But I think one thing that’s true is that most of us give up way too soon on the things that we’re trying. We look at the analytics way too early, and make it a judgment that it’s not working, and we quit before we can see the right results.
You know, as it relates to overcoming the resistance of reaching out to someone who may have more influence than you, that is tricky. And if you can focus on the value that you want to add to the conversation, you may be more successful in overcoming it. So one of the common complaints–or again, discomforts–I hear from authors related to book marketing is, ‘I don’t want to be a self promoter.’ And so when we get in that situation of, ‘I should be reaching out to this famous person,’ we have that resistance of, ‘Well I don’t want to promote myself.’ And the way that I always reframe this is–book promotion is not self promotion. It’s message promotion, it’s value creation.
So if you stay focused on, ‘I have a valuable message to share. I have something to add. This may be helpful or useful, I want to serve this person.’ Then it may be easier to overcome your resistance to reaching out.
Carla King 13:07
And it’s true. And I just want to share that before I was an author, I was a blogger. I was blogging from the road on weird motorcycle trips around the world by myself. And I really loved social media at the time. And I still do because I have friends all over the world because of it. But oftentimes, people would ask me, ‘Are you wearing a full face helmet? Are you wearing boots? Where do I go?’ And I was always super happy to share my knowledge about gear, women’s gear, the lack of women’s gear. The roads–the roads weren’t paved in Albania, what kind of bike you need, how do you deal with fear. And when my book came out–and this was not on purpose–I had huge sales as soon as it came out.
Becky Robinson 13:57
And that’s because people already knew that they could count on you to bring content of value to them.
Carla King 14:01
Right. And it was–I was blogging, I was doing the consistent thing. And then I was also, I remember, very generous–not just by trying to be generous, but just because I love talking about what I talked about. And I wanted to spread my message and help more people do the kind of traveling that I was doing. So I was very generous in my talking and spending time with people. And that sounds easy. When I tell that story it sounds easy, because I was actually doing something. It was like a plot driven social media track. But most people aren’t doing that kind of a thing. And it was also when the internet first started, so there was very little on the internet at the time. But now, in this overcrowded world, so many people are offering value, offering consistency, and being generous. How can you stand out, and be generous, and help other people? And be happy and excited about doing that yourself?
Becky Robinson 15:09
Yeah, well, that’s a really, really big question, Carla. And I think it probably maps back to–why are you writing the book in the first place? And when I think about the commitment to generosity, it is that commitment to show up with the unique value that you have to offer the world–-to give it away freely. I think sometimes authors get worried. They think ‘Well, if I give away my content on the internet for free, then why would anyone buy my book?’ And it’s actually–the opposite is true. It’s the more that you can give away that shows people the value that you have to offer–like you were sharing on your journey–then the more people will be drawn to you. I think generosity is that unexpected element that really does help to build closer and stronger connections with the online connections that we’re making.
So I think just getting clear about–What do I have to offer? What do I want to share? And it’s not about even giving away books, although I love to give away books. It’s about giving away the best of our time, our energy, our commitment, our encouragement to others. And if we can use our online presence in that way–that’s a positive, uplifting, encouraging force–showcasing others, elevating those who might have come from a marginalized identity and their voices can’t be heard, elevating those others–it really can have an impact on the audience’s that we’re growing.
Carla King 16:38
Thank you. Dan Blank, who we interviewed not too long ago–you probably know him. He talks about human centered marketing, right? And that sounds a lot like that. He’s got some great exercises, as well. So creating these meaningful connections–they’re not just temporary ‘until my book comes out’ connections. They’re much bigger. I know–from my experience–I’ve had friends for 20 years who I met online a long time ago.
Becky Robinson 17:09
Oh, wow. That’s amazing. Well, certainly. And that kind of leads us to the whole topic of longevity. Maggie Smith–who’s a poet from Columbus, Ohio–when I interviewed her on my podcast, one of the things that she talked about is the frustration of someone coming to social media only because they got a book. And the importance, instead, of building those real relationships and allies, and contributing to online spaces before you have something to ask for. So that can be dicey for people who might be authoring a book and it’s kind of too late–they missed the chance to build that network online before. Either way, you still have that opportunity, once your book comes out, to forge those real relationships.
And what I’ve noticed and seen is that the longer that you keep showing up, the more you show your audience that they can count on you–that there’s value to be had. I’m sure you know Dorie Clark–she wrote a book called The Long Game. And when I interviewed her for the Book Marketing Action Podcast, she shared these startling statistics. One of the things she said is that many people have to show up online for an entire year with value before they see any results. And to the discussion we were having earlier, Carla, people give up way before that.
Dorie also says that it takes five years to be recognized as an expert in online spaces for the topics that you’re contributing about. So for anyone who’s out there who might be listening or watching this, who’s aspiring to be an author, the stronger the foundation that you can lay in advance of your book’s release, the more successful you will be when the book comes out. And it can be intimidating to think about, ‘I have to keep showing up over a long period of time.’ But again, to Dorie Clark and her amazing and wise advice, half the reason people end up as successful is because they outlast everybody else who gave up. Like, you’re still here and you’re still sharing value, where others who might have been sharing similar content just give up or disappear. So that longevity can really set us apart if we’re willing to make a long term commitment to sharing value.
Carla King 19:20
And there are a lot of tools that can help. I use RecurPost, but you can use HootSuite and Buffer, and hire a VA to create Canva inspirational messages or quotes, and things like that. I mean, how can we take some of the burden off of ourselves when we just need to write, and do business, and direct the social media?
Becky Robinson 19:46
What I would say is really getting clear about–there’s three possibilities. So when you think about marketing your book over the long haul, there are some things that you enjoy, as I talked about that. That bring you joy as an author, that you will maybe always want do yourself. Like I’m not going to have someone else host my podcast. I love to show up to host my podcast. So there will be a set of activities that are for you as the author, always.
Then there will be a set of activities that you can outsource. You can find support if financially you have the resources to afford that. So I do have someone on my team who writes some of my social content–not all of it. We’ve divided the channels, and she’s providing a baseline of content on some channels.
Then there’s this other bucket of activities that–they sound like great marketing activities, but you don’t have the time, energy or money to pursue them right now. And you have to let those go.
So the first thing would be really to get clear about what you’re going to do, what you’re going to outsource, and what you’re going to let go. The other thing is to really tap into the resource that you already have. So your book–your nonfiction book– is this content asset that can be repurposed and reused into all sorts of different shapes, all kinds of different content over time. And because you’re going to share it over time in new ways, you’re going to attract new audiences. And I think that sometimes, as authors, we get it in our head that content marketing means always something new that I’m creating. And we underutilize others to repurpose and reshape what we’ve already written, or crafted, into new formats.
So one way I’ve done that is–I recorded the audio book for my book Reach. And we’re creating audiograms with little snippets of my book, and getting those out on Instagram. I don’t have to be the one that did that. I already wrote the book, I already recorded the audiobook. And my team can find those nuggets, create those audiograms, and put them out in ways that serve my community to provide value–thought provoking content–straight from my book.
So that’s just one of hundreds of ideas that I have in chapter seven of my book, where I talk about how to repurpose your content. And I think–for authors who are busy, or strapped, or trying to build a business, grow a business–repurposing the content that’s in their nonfiction book is one of the best things they can do. And then of course, you use those tools after.
Carla King 22:06
Sure. That’s a great idea. And honestly, I just started doing that. I have a VA who’s also creating social media cards. I’ve designated months of the year to different things. January might be book design, February’s editing. There are conversion tools, and publishing tools. And there are twelve topics in the publishing genre, right? And she’s just kind of doing it on her own–picking out little tips from the book, and making a social media card. And you’re right, it’s awesome. And that audiogram thing that you just mentioned sounds really fun. Although I have not been able to narrate my own book. It just makes me breathless. How did you do that?
Becky Robinson 22:57
Well, it took a while. I was thrilled to partner with an amazing team at Twin Flames Studio–Tina Dietz is the CEO. And what they do is–they work with you remotely. And you schedule one hour and two hour time slots. It did take me 14 hours to record my 5 hour audiobook. But they’re right there every step of the way with you to encourage you. And Steven–who was my producer–was amazing, and cheering me on, and it was a lot of fun.
Carla King 23:27
Well, thank you for that. Didn’t mean to get off in audiobook land.
Becky Robinson 23:30
A little commercial there.
Carla King 23:31
It’s great to have people to recommend who’s done a good job. And you have a talent for creating a team. I know–I talked with your publicity person, and you have an assistant. Do you have–as an author, I know you have a whole business. But as an author, what’s the bare minimum for a team? Is it just one author assistant, or VA, or somebody that you hire out?
Becky Robinson 24:06
Well, it’s crazy to me how often I meet authors who are trying to go it alone. And maybe they’re doing that because they don’t have a lot of budget to invest in marketing support, or it hasn’t occurred to them. And when there’s a limited budget, I always encourage authors–at the very minimum–you need a student, or an intern, or someone who can help you. Because marketing a book–if you want to do it well, and reach a wider audience–it’s going to take more time than you think, it’s going to take more money than you think, and it’s going to take more energy than you think. So at a minimum, certainly, every author could benefit from having an admin of some kind.
Beyond that, it really depends upon what your goals are for your book. And I do think that most authors would benefit from working with a strategist to create a custom timeline so that you can see the big picture of–’What am I going to do, when, to launch my books successfully.’
Carla, I have a bias that the most important investment an author can make is to give away as many pre-publication copies of their book as they can afford to, so that people will get on board to help them in spreading the word about their books. So when my book came out, I sent out 400 pre-publication copies of my book to what I call the street team, or launch team. But also to endorsers, also to colleagues, and friends, and family. I hand signed every book, I included print collateral. That investment alone for me–and I’ve done the math on it so that I can share it with others–$6,000. But in my mind, that is the most important $6,000 of the entire campaign. Because books are seeds, and the best way to spread the ideas is to have more books in the world. I own a book marketing agency, but I would say 1000 times–spend your money on giving your book away, and getting it in as many people’s hands as possible. If that’s the only money you can spend, find a way to do that.
Carla King 26:08
I love that you said that. I say that to authors over and over and over again. And there are people who are on a budget, who can’t afford–right now–to invest that much in the print book, and then the mailing costs. But you can use BookFunnel to deliver the ebook in PDF, or ePub, or MOBI format, and collect email addresses as well and build your platform by building your mailing list. And I so agree with you–if that’s the only thing you can do, just do it. And don’t you think that people who have books out–and they’re sort of trying to refresh their brand, or maybe they’ve changed the cover or something–could benefit from that, too?
Becky Robinson 26:48
Yeah, definitely. You know, anytime I talk with an author, I always think about network mobilization as the first and often untapped resource. I think we make an assumption, Carla, that just because we say once or twice on LinkedIn, ‘Hey, I have a book,’ that everyone has seen it. And we don’t pay attention to the fact that the algorithms may not have shown our content to someone, people might not be on LinkedIn regularly.
It’s individualized connection to the people in our network–either to share the book, a print copy, an ebook copy. And really, for those who are interested in the topic, they’re going to be thrilled that we asked for their support. Writing a book is a huge investment. You put most of your life experiences, your expertise–if it’s a business book–you are putting so much value into that book. And people will be thrilled to be asked to help you spread the word about it.
Carla King 27:43
They are–I know. Don’t be shy, everybody. Just get your book out there. Oh, my gosh. Well, our time is just about up. So it’s time for us to ask you where we can find you and your book. Congratulations. It’s 2022 and you have a new book, yay! And your podcast, and your website, and your freebies–where can we get to your wisdom?
Becky Robinson 28:07
Sure, I will tell you all of those things. So if you’re interested in my company, Weaving Influence, we are a book marketing agency. We primarily partner with nonfiction authors–we are at weavinginfluence.com. And all of our social channels are Weaving Influence.
If you’re interested in me personally, and my author journey, and my life as an entrepreneur, I also own beckyrobinson.com. That’s where you can find all the links to buy my book at all the online retailers. The podcast is The Book Marketing Action podcast–you can listen to it wherever podcasts are streamed. And I would encourage you–if you’re a fan of the Nonfiction Authors Association–to definitely listen to the episode that I recorded with Stephanie Chandler–it was fantastic. And so go find that episode.
In terms of freebies–on weavinginfluence.com, if you go to our eBooks tab under Resources, we have six or eight different free eBook resources that you can download to help you at all the different stages of your author journey. Whether it’s selecting a publishing method, or finding endorsements, or mobilizing your network, we have lots of free ebooks there that you can download. And I’m trying to think–also, if you go to YouTube, I have a whole bunch of free book marketing webinars on various topics, and our YouTube channel is a great resource for you as well. So all of those things are out there for you.
Carla King 29:24
Thanks, Becky. Thanks for being our guest today.
Becky Robinson 29:28
I loved it. Thank you for having me, Carla.
Carla King 29:31
And thank you to our listeners for joining us today and every week. For a list of guests and topics just check our schedule on the site, use your favorite search engine, or better yet, sign up for our mailing list at NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com.
Quotes from our guest
‘So one thing to remember is–it’s impossible to have consistency without choosing a path that is sustainable and joyful for you as an author.’
‘I think generosity is that unexpected element that really does help to build closer and stronger connections with the online connections that we’re making.’
‘If we can use our online presence in that way–that’s a positive, uplifting, encouraging force–showcasing others, elevating those who might have come from a marginalized identity and their voices can’t be heard, elevating those others–it really can have an impact on the audience’s that we’re growing.’
‘So your book–your nonfiction book– is this content asset that can be repurposed and reused into all sorts of different shapes, all kinds of different content over time. And because you’re going to share it over time in new ways, you’re going to attract new audiences.’