Yes, you can find lots of great information online that doesn't cost you a cent, but free information will only take you so far. Here's why.
My favorable Amazon review of a nonfiction book for authors included specifics on why I thought it was a helpful resource, but another reviewer didn’t agree and told me why.
One sentence in their comment on my review stood out: “i (sic) expect a bit more from an author when google (sic) can turn up the info easily.”
Were they correct about this book?
Does their theory apply to pretty much anything else we might want to learn how to do as authors or as consumers in general?
Were they correct?
Nope and nope.
If you want to know how to replace the latching mechanism on your sliding deck door, you can find what you need in one YouTube video. (I know. I did it.)
But when it comes to author success, it’s not that simple.
When does free make sense? And when should you pay to learn?
systems thinker’s thinking is flawed
Let’s go back to systems thinker’s comments. Here’s the problem with their conclusion about finding information easily with Google:
- You can’t find all of the information in this book for free online. The book offers insights, opinions, and wisdom that you aren’t going to find “online for free” unless the author has uploaded her manuscript and made it available. She hasn’t.
- You’ll have to spend a lot of time looking for it. Even if you could find everything you need online (and I’m not saying you will), you won’t find it all in one place.
And you’ll have to try to piece it together in a way that makes sense.
What is your time worth? Probably more than the $5.99 Kindle price of this book.
- Some of what’s available online offers conflicting information or opinions. Because of that, it’s often hard to know who or what to believe. Information seekers are often left more confused — and with more questions — than when they started.
I like free, too
Hey, I’m all for free. But I can tell you from experience that you can’t get everything you need for free online.
Yes, it’s a good starting point, as you will see on this site. There’s lots of helpful free information here.
But I can’t cover everything you need to know about getting impressive cover blurbs from influential people in a single blog post on the topic, so I offer an in-depth training program that gives you the specifics steps you need to take make it happen.
Is it affordable? Yes. Is it free? No.
Simple task? Try Google
When I need to learn how to do something like write effective nonfiction book titles, sure, I Google the subject to see what I can find.
If I want to learn how to do something bigger — something that has several steps or that will have a significant impact on my business — I look online to see who’s saying what about it and how they’re saying it.
I look for someone who I think understands my problems and limitations and who seems to know what they’re talking about. I look for how they present information and instruct.
When I’m convinced they can teach me what I need to know in a way that works for me, I buy their course, order their book, or register for their webinar.
Free information will only take you so far
Because I know that free information will only take me so far.
Free information will only take you so far, too.
If you need to learn how to do something that isn’t as simple as setting up an email book funnel, be open to paying for the knowledge that an expert can offer you.
If the product description reassures you that the book or training will answer your questions, and if you’ve done enough research to know that the instructor can deliver, then you should feel confident investing that money in your author business.
Successful authors don’t rely on free
Successful authors know that free information has limitations, so they invest in writing or book marketing courses, books on how to self-publish or other topics, and attend writers’ conferences. Every author I know who is successful by most standards does this.Successful authors know that free information has limitations, so they invest in writing or book marketing courses, books on how to self-publish or other topics, and attend writers' conferences.Click to tweet
They know that they have to spend money to make money, just as they know that free information will only take them so far.
If you’ve hit a dead end with your writing, publishing, or marketing, it might be time to abandon the “I can learn what I need to know for free” mindset. That thinking might be precisely what’s keeping you from finding and enjoying the success you deserve.
What’s one thing you’re glad you spent money on for your book?
(Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2016. It has been updated and expanded.)
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