I’ve sat down with award-winning author Katey Schultz to pick her brain about her e-course, Katey’s Notes: an E-Course on Stewardship and Marketing. As writers it’s important to understand the business side of writing but usually, we haven’t studied business and it can be an overwhelming undertaking for people who just want to be creative. Katey Schultz has compiled her experiences and created an e-course that will more quickly and less expensively guide us through the marketing and promotion side of being a writer.
I wanted to talk with her about her process before and while creating this course if any of our alums might be interested in taking her course, or offering a similar type course on their own websites.
- How long did it take you to set up the course prior to offering it to clients?
The course was inspired by my self-designed, self-funded book tour of 52 events in 52 weeks. In that way, I suppose you could say I spent a year “researching,” because I was out there collecting data, learning things the hard way, and coming back between events determined that there had to be an easier way. When it was all said and done, I knew I had a lot I could share with other writers that would not only save them time, money, and energy, but that would empower them to create successful book tours and marketing of events as writers, without so much struggle.
When I decided to create the e-course, I spent about three weeks drafting and revising the content, a few more weeks beta-testing it, and several months preparing for its launch through my website (and that website, incidentally, was designed by Spalding MFA alum Cathy Shap!).
- What was your online engagement like before launching the course?
I’ve always used my online presence professionally, and for the most part, I’ve maintained a pretty clear message of community spirit and lending a helping hand. But by designing and launching the course, I was able to distill key takeaways and tenents of literary stewardship for myself, and I found that meant my posts on social media and my blog content “upped their game” so to speak. I think I can be more immediately useful to folks now—I can talk in terms of skills and dollars and cents, but I can also talk in terms of goals and reasonable expectations—and all of that, of course, can be catered uniquely to each writer.
- What made you want to offer a course like this?
Writing is hard enough. Deciphering the ins and outs of the publishing industry is even harder. Why not help each other out? I learned so much and worked so hard on the book tour, it seemed a waste of experience to do anything other than tell other writers “what I wish I’d known beforehand.”
- What other services do you offer similar to this course?
I offer one other e-course, two free trial e-courses, and a combined live webinar/online course, all geared toward creativity, metaphor, craft, and writing (especially short form writing—flash, etc.).
- How much social media marketing do you do for just this course?
I took out my first paid ads online and in print publications, ever. And I posted tastefully a few times a month. But the most effective thing I did was send personal, curated, private emails to select individuals, telling them about the course and asking them to consider enrolling. This got the greatest response, and anyone involved in marketing today will tell you that email still takes the cake in terms of marketing effectiveness. I view social media more as a chance to walk the walk, rather than to push products on people. Interestingly, that’s one of the skills that I teach in my Literary Stewardship & Marketing e-course. At the end of the day, it comes down to learning how to engage in ways that are meaningful and sustainable to each individual writer. If something is based on trends or something doesn’t feel right (like shoving products in front of people, regardless of whether or not it meets their needs), then it won’t last. It won’t be upkept and it won’t succeed. But if you start with what you are genuinely interested in and you create behaviors and systems to support those interests, audience expansion, increased sales, networking opportunities, and respectable exposure will follow.
- About how much time per month do you spend interacting with clients taking this course?
Each participant gets as much of out the e-course as he or she puts in. I make myself available by email 24-7 and some writers will enroll in the e-course and I never hear from them, whereas others have gone on to have great success online, on tours, and with book launches—and they keep me posted about this, because they’re using the techniques they learned in my e-course. These are the folks who also take nearly every cue at the end of the e-course lessons to email me and ask questions, share homework, or engage online in the ways that I suggest. That’s the long answer. The short answer is that I may spend anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours with someone. It all depends on how much they put in, and I’ll meet them wherever they are and do my very best to be an upstanding and helpful resource.
- Do you offer any in person courses or seminars?
I travel about once a month to teach or read from my book, including four trips a year to Interlochen Center for the Arts and two or three trips a year to Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. Teaching person is fulfilling and often leads to lasting connections, but it works both ways. I’ve met plenty of writers via my e-courses and online engagement who I then meet in person, later, when they arrive at one of my classes.
- What did you do before starting the online course? Did you do anything similar offline before taking it online?
I beta-tested the course with several trusted, longstanding clients who I offered all the materials to for free, in exchange for their critique. I also shared the course content with Spaulding MFA alum Cathy Shap, for her expertise on branding and effective teaching strategies.
- What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a similar type of course?
Take your time. However long you think you’ll need to create the materials and do your launch, double that, and then be patient. You can only launch once and it’s worth it to do it right. And of course, make sure there’s demand for what you’re offering, by reaching out to your existing contacts and surveying them about their needs and desires, not to mention price points and time commitment preferences.
- What else would you like our readers to know about your course?
I think it’s useful to know that my 52-event book tour cost $12,000. I made that money back in less than two years, but still—it was a lot of out put and a lot of work. The e-course I designed based on everything I learned from that tour, and from my experiences as an author in the publishing world, costs $87. If someone had given me this information before I headed out on my tour, I still would have done it—but it would have cost me less money and less effort. At the end of that day, what that means is that I would have had more time to write, which is what this is all about, isn’t it? I’m so glad I learned what I did, though, and I love engaging with others and seeing how they are succeeding and excelling in smart, effective, lasting ways.
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Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, and puppy. She has way too many books, more cameras than she knows how to properly use, and a never ending need to keep moving. She write about her life and adventures at home and around the world at A Wandering Scribbler.