Kent Gustavson, PhDWorking on projects that matter.

Startup advisor, executive strategist. >100million views across social media. TED Talks speaker. Featured on Entrepreneur & NPR. Prize-winning author & ghostwriter of more than 50 books. Serial entrepreneur with several exits.

Recent Answers

This is a great question. The best way I can answer it is to say that the world of indy book publishing is closely following the direction that the indy music world went about a decade ago. The bands and artists who were willing to "give away" their material actually became huge stars, and the artists and labels who were afraid of "theft" suffered at the hands of Napster, and a public that increasingly wanted "free" music.

In the publishing industry, this takes the form of ebook giveaways now. If you have invested very little capital in putting your book together (I have a great case study in mind of a client who spent $53 on her book editing, production, and publication), why not give away as many as possible, and count the number of books "in distribution"? We have one author who recently "gave away" 37,000 books in one day on Amazon during a promotion. What is he now able to say? He has 50,000 books in distribution. How many has he actually sold? Probably around 800 at this point, but that will continue to climb as the 49,000 people who downloaded his book free over the different giveaway days "actually" read his book, and recommend it on to others, or buy a paperback copy for themselves.

Let's look at the opposite case study that I always cite. I have a former client who unfortunately had spent nearly 1/2 million dollars on his book project before he started talking with me (no, I'm not kidding). He was able to rise to the top of a prominent bestseller list as a result of what his "book publisher" did for him, but how much money or influence did he get as a result of putting a 2nd mortgage on his house for that 1/2 million dollars? Very little. Or, I should say, just about as much influence as the person who spent $53 on her entire book process.

All of this is to say, there is great scholarship out there around how much to charge for your book, and it can be a great "business card" – but that is an old concept. Instead of a "business card" – think of your book as your album or record that will get you fans. Build up your social media presence, build up your readership, and you will then build a community around this. That community will allow you to fulfill your dreams, whether coaching, authoring, speaking, dancing, or building ships.

(Please don't mortgage your house or invest more money than you can afford for a "hobby".) And, my personal belief is that if you don't have fun, it's not worth it! If you succeed in getting your message out to 10 people or 10 million, you are changing the world. So, blessings to you on that great mission!

The best way to get speaking engagements is as follows:

1. Make sure --> you <-- are a quality product. Do you have a message that will sell? Do you have a personal brand that will stand out among countless other people in your field, and/or in the speaking/training world?

2. Identify your market. Who will pay to have you speak in front of them, or conduct training with them?

3. Practice in front of groups, even if you are a great speaker. Watch, listen, read, and absorb the cadence and presence of professional speakers, and make their world your own.

4. Create a dynamite video, one-sheet, and website, then write a book. Those are the things that will show a potential client that you are worth hiring, and worth the fee that you command.

5. Be reasonable in your fees. Ask around what other speakers are getting. Start with "free" speaking engagements, and test the water with various fees. Work your way up to $1500-2500/speaking engagement, plus travel expenses. Then, work your way up from there.

4. Create a value proposition and pitch that no one can refuse. Also, don't forget to "salvage the sale" if you get a "no" from a potential client. If you have books, ask them to buy 500 copies of your book, and then you will speak free. If you need video of you speaking, ask them to give you an honorarium and pay your travel, but pay for a video team to come in and record.

It will take time, but it will be worth it in the end. Speakers can be very well compensated for their ideas and effort. Good luck!

I like the name "Melissa" — but I wouldn't use a website URL like because it just doesn't feel "natural" — I would choose something that implies what Melissa means to us... For example: "Ask Melissa" or something like that.

Good luck!

Both domains are very important. I suggest that you use both of them in different ways.

If you believe that your empiric spirit domain is a "company" that you would like to support in social media and in articles, etc., for years to come, support it on its own domain separately from your personal domain.

However, I surmise that your personal domain is where you will (and, in my opinion, should) be driving up your social media presence and content. So, I recommend that you direct all book traffic there.

So, create a subdomain for your site, or a subfolder, and "point" your book domain to that subfolder. Write about the book in your social media and blog, and all traffic will come where you want it to ultimately come - your website.

It's important to maintain a website for the success of your book - for informational purposes, and to show people where to purchase the book. But it is important that you use social media like a pro, and become a guest blogging expert and frequent guest on radio programs... Those things matter much more. Direct all traffic where you want using bitly links, and track what is most effective.

Good luck! Enjoy the journey :)

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