Now up front I want to say I’m not against paid on-line writer courses. I can only comment on the ones I have looked at and in a couple of cases paid out good money for. They are full of useful content that, if you are in the right place with your writing and prepared to put in the time and effort I’m sure they can have a major impact. However, what they are not (in my opinion) is a magic bullet. For the vast majority of Indie-authors success will not be instant and when it comes will probably be modest. But hey, modest is good and I’ll be happy with modest when I get there. And yes any better than modest, I admit, would be great.
What has prompted this blog is a post I came across on Facebook, the SPF Community run by Mark Dawson. If you are an indie-author you’re more than likely to have come across his name and his courses. Mark had an Ads for Authors course out recently, which at the time I looked, was $749. Now to me that’s a heap of money. However, it does appear to have a lot of added value in terms of templates and even a template for an author site, so I’m not doubting it’s value to the right people. However, this person had basically ploughed all he had into the dream of being a successful author for, so far, little or no return. He was now contemplating spending more to sign up for Marks course etc. In this case Mark himself responded saying that this person was not in the right place with his writing (he didn’t have enough of it) to benefit from the course and that he should certainly not go into debt for it.
Now I have paid good money for writer courses: $90 for James Patterson’s writing Masterclass, which has had a positive impact on the way I approach my writing. A more substantial investment was $549 for Nick Stephenson’s, Your First 10,000 Readers course. I felt I was in a rut with my marketing efforts and had read so much, often conflicting, advice. I needed a clear strategy. Can it provide this yes. And yes it has changed the way I work for the better and I will continue to use the advice and materials it provides. However, is it a magic bullet? no. Has it paid for itself? Not yet. I have a long way to go.
Now for my sins I am also a golfer and there are a lot of golfers who buy that latest new shiny driver every time thinking, ‘this is the one that is going to revolutionise my game’. It doesn’t, they still have the same old swing after all. There is a temptation to believe that the next driver, or in our indie-author case next course, will answer all our problems.
One thing I take from Nick, Mark Dawson, and others is that they have large numbers of books. I remembering reading when I started that one of the main things that helps sell more books is having more books to sell. For Nick and Mark this means they can give books away to attract readers (check out their web sites and get their free books!: Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson). Also, as their books are series, again giving those books away is a large part of their marketing strategy. The other thing is their success was not overnight. Nick had a good number of books before he changed the way he did things – he had the foundation. Finally, at the risk of being cynical, this is a commercial exercise for these authors and they are charging a lot of money for their writer courses. That’s fine, if you’re in a position to take advantage of what they have to offer. Then I’m sure they’re worth it. It’s just not a guarantee of success.
Me, my top priority is working on that series. One thing Nick Stephenson says is that if what you’re doing is not selling more books then you might as well be writing the next one.
As always comments are welcome