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Alesha Brown of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services: How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book

Never stop. Some books are relaunched and wildly successful in later years versus when they are initially created. Never look at a book like a loss and something you should just leave in the past. Some would highly value what you created but simply have not been introduced to you or your brand. Make the introduction and sell! Stay abreast of current events and how your book and brand offer the perfect solution. Reintroduce yourself and your book brand and offer your solution. Success is not the faint of heart but for those who choose it and diligently pursue it.

As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alesha Brown, CEO of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services, a division of Alesha Brown LLC.

Alesha Brown, The Joy Guru, is an award-winning entrepreneur, copywriter, and book and magazine publisher. She is the owner of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services (a division of Alesha Brown, LLC), where she offers ghostwriting, writing coaching, and full publishing services to help people share their stories with the masses. She published her first book to help others thrive after surviving abuse and trauma. Her first book, which became an Amazon Best-Seller, led to her becoming a magazine managing editor, podcaster, celebrity interviewer, and 100% self-employment.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?

I unknowingly started my journey to 100 percent self-employment by fulfilling a dream of becoming a published author. As a child abuse survivor that battled the plague of suicide, I wanted to write a book for other survivors that were on the edge of life, and the weight of their trauma was becoming too much, leaving them feeling hopeless. I wanted to show them that they could regain control of their lives and create their success. I wanted them to know that there is life after, and it can be a glorious one if you decide to make it so.

However, as part of the journey to becoming a published author, I have experienced my share of frauds and novice publishers that had no clue what they were doing and who definitely did not invest in continued education. And nothing hurts me more than the thought of someone finally getting the courage to publish their book, share their story, and be defrauded and scared to ever share their message with those who so desperately need it! I am only alive today, in part, because of the books of other child abuse survivors that I read on days when I was contemplating suicide.

This is my life’s purpose and calling, and I refuse to abort the mission.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?

Reflecting on this during a pandemic makes me so thankful that I invested in myself and followed my heart. In my last corporate job that I resigned from to be 100% self-employed, I requested a salary adjustment that was well deserved and that there was more than enough funding for. I was denied that request and countered with a ridiculous offer for years down the road. Instead of taking it personally, I realized that the company was confirming that they were not vested in me. I decided that if they were not vested in me, I should at least be vested in myself.

From that moment on, I decided to look at what my passions were and how to pursue them and at least build a side hustle or business for myself. To my surprise, business was booming to the point that I was suffering from exhaustion and needed to decide between my government position or my small business. I refused to give up on myself, so the decision was clear. I resigned and never looked back. The entrepreneurial life was not one I had envisioned, but time proved that I was born for this, and there is no other life for me.

There is no job security. Detroit’s bankruptcy proved that. I couldn’t imagine working and investing in a retirement plan for almost 30 years, only to have it erased and having to start over again. And if I could make money from a side hustle while working for someone else, what would stop me from increasing my wealth and influence to match and exceed my employer’s income? Having the nine-plus hours per day for five days a week to invest in my business was priceless.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

So many AMAZING things! Fruition Publishing Concierge Services published its first black comic book during the late summer of 2021. We are continuing with the next comic books to be realized in 2022 from that author. We are also a few weeks away from the digital and physical release of Published! Magazine, which highlights the stories of authors and those that serve them. What is so amazing about this magazine is that the focus is put on who the authors are, not just their book(s). I always tell our clients that it is important that they monetize their expertise and position their books for success. Because of my media relationships with executive producers of daytime TV shows, national media outlets, and the top bookstores, each quarterly issue is mailed directly to them. This is the ideal exposure for authors that are determined to be a force to be reckoned with. I am so proud to be the Editor-in-Chief of Published! Magazine that wasn’t even or my vision board when I entered this industry.

Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?

Yes. My first book, Sometimes All You Have is Happy, is a guide to obtaining happiness while awaiting your dreams. It is a magnifying glass to enable the reader to identify the root(s) of their unhappiness and discover how to get back into the driver’s seat of life. At the end of each chapter, there are exercises that give you the opportunity to focus on and apply what you learned.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:

“We have to understand that there is a difference between survival and thriving. Often times we are not where we want to be in life because we continually operate in survival mode versus thriving. There are certain situations in life where all you can do in that moment is survive. (Some refer to this as the fight or flight syndrome.) It is difficult to focus on your dreams when you are literally drowning and need a life raft! You do not give a band-aid to a patient with blood gushing from his or her arm! However, and this is the tricky part, at some point, just surviving is over! Once you make it through and survive, you must transition to life after and thriving. Ask yourself, am I simply breathing and existing or am I living and thriving?”

You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Focus. Being a published author is a business, and those who do not understand that will have limited or little to no success. You have to be strategic, persistent and avoid unnecessary distractions. For example, while social media can be a helpful tool, dancing on Tik-Tok or posing in skimpy clothing are not the keys to success even if they increase your likes. People forget the way business was conducted before social media and how many practical principles are still necessary. Email is still gold, and more productive conversations occur there versus on social media. Before you and your team create social media content, do you have a plan for how to continue the conversation off of social media? What is the call to action, and do you have a flow, funnel, or clear path from conversation to conversion/sale/contract?
  2. Purpose driven, mission-focused. I tell prospective clients that if you just want a “cute book,” I am not the publisher for you. I am looking for those who are on a mission to transform the lives of those their books are meant for. Successful authors are purpose-driven. They understand that this is bigger than a book, and there is a mission that they must fulfill. They will not give up easily. They will make plans and pivot when others make excuses and remain stagnant or give up altogether. For example, as a business owner, there are times you want to give up. There are times you do not want to sacrifice and invest. There are times, even in the most successful periods, that it all becomes too much, and you wonder if you are in alignment. But if you are purpose-driven/mission-focused, you look at the big picture. I shared my example earlier, so I consider it robbery for me not to pay it forward and provide the solution that my target audience of authors need.
  3. Creativity. Authors, by nature, are creatives, and that often works against them. Sometimes, authors cannot separate themselves from the aesthetics: catchy titles/taglines, book covers, and their love for what they created. A large part of their creative nature needs to be channeled to marketing; relationship building with their target audience and industry leaders; business strategy, growth, and scalability; platform creation, etc. A perfect example is when I tell authors to monetize their expertise. Okay, you have a children’s book in mind. But who is your target audience, and what solution does your book provide? How do you market and position your message, book, and self to stand apart from other authors who offer the same message? If you do not use your creativity consistently regarding your book business, you will not be successful. You will be what I call a “mediocre author” or “broke author.”

In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?

I call myself an “Accidental Entrepreneur” because I never desired to be one, regardless of my undergraduate and graduate business studies. But one thing about being a published author, if you take it seriously, you have to constantly look for opportunities to market and promote your book. For me, that mindset led to me being a podcaster & assistant station manager; magazine managing editor; celebrity interviewer; non-profit executive; and course creator. Being a published author provides a certain layer of credibility and can be used as a catalyst for expansion and profitability.

If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?

I would immediately go to their “why.” You can have a great book concept, but you need to be clear about what your vision is and what your expectations are. “What, exactly, do you want this book to do for you?” That is what I want to know from prospective clients and authors I talk to.

There is a difference between someone who wants to publish a book for their family to chronicle their family’s history versus someone who wants to use this to present themselves as an expert and to add credibility. I have had people tell me that their book is more of a passion project versus something they want to use to create wealth.

So how does writing a book and thought leadership create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow? It does not. Publishing a book and strategically positioning that book does. One book can be used to create multiple income streams, from public speaking to courses and business coaching or consulting. Beyond book sells from e-books, audiobooks, paperback/hardcover, workbooks, journals, bulk sales, etc. Authors are writers, so they can monetize their expertise as copywriters and contributing writers for magazines. Some may venture into editing, journalism, affiliate marketing, and the list goes on.

Your book is your calling card. I always teach our clients, and laugh when I hear them saying it to others, “Your business card tells me how to contact you. Your book tells me why.” I also remind them that “books are low-hanging fruit and should never be the end-all or the highest offer that your business has.” At the end of the day, you will receive the results you desire from the work you put in. If you are not willing to conduct the business of being an author, then unless you want to publish a book just to say you can, you might want to think twice before proceeding.

What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?

Please do not buy into the old “build it and they will come” concept or “if you write a good book” it will attract people. WRONG! When I wrote my first book, I was so focused on creating the book that I was ignorant of how key marketing was and having a marketing strategy prior to launch. The people who I initially learned from never emphasized marketing nor had that expertise. Marketing is vital to being a profitable and noteworthy author.

And avoid “analysis paralysis.” Someone might read the advice I just shared and go do copious amounts of research on marketing. Then they start looking at those who they want to emulate. They will see all the “bells and whistles, shiny objects” and then get discouraged by how short they come up in comparison. They will obsess over each minute detail and will not execute until everything is perfect. Those are the people that will talk about their book for years, extensively, but never publish anything. They don’t even complete writing the book because they are not “ready yet.” Someone else is going with what they have and perfecting along the way with record-level success.

We all must start somewhere. I am not advising anyone to quickly throw their book together and launch haphazardly, but you also should not wait until everything is “perfect.” It will never be “perfect,” and we all must start somewhere. If you are clear on the value of what you add and who needs it, you will be last inclined to procrastinate and strategically launch. You also will not do this alone and build the team you need for ultimate success. (You do not have to have a massive team or expensive experts that you cannot afford to move forward.)

Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?

Authors need to remember that they are the CEOs of their brands. There is nothing wrong with having certain areas that they are uncomfortable with, such as public speaking. But you are the face of the brand. You are the one with the vision. So you are not only responsible for delegation and selecting the team of experts and professionals that you need, but you also have to identify your strengths, capacity, and expertise.

I am a copywriter, so I often write my own content and serve as creative director for my videos and media. But I do not serve as my own editor (I use to when I was bootstrapping in the beginning). I use to create my own websites and a few clients’ websites. I no longer do that and the professionals I hired worked on my personal websites before ever being trusted to create our clients’ websites. I have built relationships with PR professionals, so the media connections I have are based on their introductions and expertise.

And I cannot emphasize this enough: never completely turn your social media over to your staff. While you can hire experts to create content and manage your social media, you should never stop monitoring these accounts and not interact with your audience. While the pros can offer you ideal results, they are not you. You need to be a part of the conversation with your audience, not just your staff or team. Remember, you are the face of the brand and the CEO. Your name and reputation are always on the line. Beyond that, assign promotional elements according to strengths, weaknesses, and expertise.

Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Create your hitlist and continuously add to it. When this advice is given, they are normally asking you to create your list of supporters from family to friends, typically at least 50 people. You can do this as well, but I encourage authors to think of organizations and businesses that have their desired audience. If you are a child psychologist and working on a book in your field, what organizations would love to have your book? What organizations would buy your book in bulk? Think of events, major industry conferences that will have hundreds upon thousands of people in attendance that your book would be the perfect gift/giveaway for? Connecting to the event planners/coordinators for these events can lead to a lucrative agreement for speaking, bulk sales, and future programming, collaborations, and sponsorships. A mediocre author will just expect their book to have so much mass success and appeal from the launch that they will wait to be seen and, hopefully, have someone contact them. That is not typically the way it happens. You will have the success that you create and work for.
  2. Have a website/central location where your audience can connect to you. The worst thing you can do is not have a central place where your audience can connect with you. Even when it comes to book sales, have a website where they can buy from and connect to you. Trust me, Facebook, Amazon.com, and online booksellers have built their platform. They are not going to encourage your audience to connect to you after they buy from them. That is your job, and if you do not do it well, you are leaving money on the table. Being a published author is a business. You can start with a landing page if that is all you have, but make sure you eventually have a full website that includes information about you, your brand, your books, and other offerings. Have an offer that allows you to obtain email addresses and names at a bare minimum. Social media does, and so do online retailers. You must continue the conversation beyond their initial contact, and you cannot do that through a like or video view. You must build your community and communication information such as email, so you control the communication and future conversations.
  3. Have sales goals (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly). Nothing happens by osmosis: you must strategically plan and work for the success you desire, which starts with sales. You do not need to go on social media with the same tired, “please buy my book speech,” but you need to have sales goals and strategies for how to achieve those goals. Successful authors will plan or attend an event with a specific goal. Let’s say you choose a large book fair to sell your book(s). Your attendance is not enough. If it is a large, well-known book fair, so are the number of authors registered There is so much planning and work required for ultimate success. Have you garnered local press to inform your audience of your attendance and why they should look for you at the fair? Have you orchestrated a pre-order process where attendees can have their order on reserve and avoid a long wait? Do you have enough inventory for the amount you want to sell? And do you have a mechanism in place for those not geographically present to order? Sometimes, you can offer them the same special deals that you are offering attendees, but make it time-sensitive for them to buy to receive the special deal. This one tip can be a lifesaver if you do not sell out your inventory at the event. It can also help fund your inventory for the event if you do presales. Similar to having your book physically in various bookstores, you must garner the awareness of your target audience and encourage them to support you. Otherwise, your book will just collect dust, and you will lose profits when the bookstores ask for a refund because your book is not selling. Why do you think celebrities make appearances and heavily promote so their audience will buy from the bookstores? Your presence is not enough; you must work in harmony and develop successful strategies to accomplish your sales goals.
  4. Do not forget bulk sales and email marketing. Again, this goes with what the “average author” is doing versus someone who understands being the CEO of a brand. You want to maximize your sales, and that happens with larger orders. No, I do not recommend that you ignore your audience members but use their support to garner additional sales. Do they know friends, organizations, small events, etc., to whom they can recommend you and your brand? Ask them. Often, they are more than happy to share you with their local PTA, school system, bookstore manager, book club, etc., and you can build relationships and convert conversations to sales. The possibilities are endless, and you must diligently create and pursue them. And I love social media, but a lot of business still takes place via email and email marketing. You can use your videos to provide more information, but those videos should be part of a successful email funnel/marketing.
  5. Never stop. Some books are relaunched and wildly successful in later years versus when they are initially created. Never look at a book like a loss and something you should just leave in the past. Some would highly value what you created but simply have not been introduced to you or your brand. Make the introduction and sell! Stay abreast of current events and how your book and brand offer the perfect solution. Reintroduce yourself and your book brand and offer your solution. Success is not the faint of heart but for those who choose it and diligently pursue it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

Oprah Winfrey, hands down. She and Maya Angelou were two of the main survivor stories I read as a child. I looked at their lives after and reasoned that if they could survive all they went through in childhood and be successful, perhaps I could too. So, in part, I always say they are why I am alive today. I remember this, especially in the industry I work in and the type of authors I attract.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can go to FruitionPublishing.com, which will provide links to all our social media accounts and how to contact us. To follow me personally, they can visit my speaker’s website at TheJoyGuru.net.

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.

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