Bryan Cohen

How to Win More Fans Through Storytelling

I’m excited to welcome a special guest poster today–Bryan Cohen. I originally “met” Bryan through a request to guest post on my blog a couple of years ago, and since then I’ve been privileged to take part in three March to a Bestseller events with him. Today, he’s back on my blog again to share some great insights on how we can connect with our newsletter subscribers through stories.

So take it away Bryan!

How to Win More Fans Through Storytelling

Guest Post by Bryan Cohen van den Berg van den Berg

I once competed on the show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. After the obvious question (did you win any money?), the second question people normally ask me about my appearance is, “How did you get on the show?” Each participant must take a difficult multiple choice test and score relatively high on it before moving onto the real challenge. You need to sit one-on-one with a producer from the show and make them think you’re interesting enough for TV.

Sure, they don’t come right out and say that, but when they’re asking you basic questions about you and your life, they’re not looking for one-word answers. They want to know your story, so you better have one to tell.

While connecting with new readers through your email list may not be as nerve-wracking as attempting to get on a game show, the same rules still apply. When you get a new email subscriber, it’s your job to turn that person from a casual reader into someone who wants to buy and review all your future books. To create a fan, you need to get that person excited about you. It all starts with your story.

When you share your journey, your writing process, and your personal struggles, you form a deeper connection with your readers. As you drip out bits of your story over the course of a few emails, your readers will feel like they know you. And it’s a lot easier to sell a book to a fan who wants to be your friend then it is to sell to a complete stranger.

Here are five different types of stories you can share with your readers to forge a stronger bond:

How I Did It

You may not feel like you’ve achieved much in your career, but readers are more impressed than you give them credit for. If you’ve written one or multiple books, then you’ll earn their respect and praise. By telling the story of how you got to this point of your writing journey, you’ll give readers context whenever they considering buying one of your future books.

Treat this story like your own personal Wikipedia page. Write about where you came from and how it influenced your efforts to write your awesome books.

Why I Became a Writer

In addition to sharing how you wrote your books, you can also explain why you decided to become a writer in the first place. This is an opportunity to really tap into the passion behind your writing. Explain why you had to write above all other callings (or why you write despite working a 40-hour-a-week job and taking care of your kids). These kinds of stories can really provoke emotion from your readers, and an emotional connection is one of the most important precursors to selling your books.

If you don’t have some momentous event that called you to writing, then simply share why writing has become so important to you.

My Biggest Struggle

Struggling is awesome. Not in the moment, of course, but one of the best things about a difficult challenge is getting to share your story about it later. Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of my stories about the troubles I had attempting to write my first novel. You might have had a difficult past to overcome or a trying incident that delayed you from becoming a writer. Readers love to hear this stuff because it humanizes you. You’re not some mythical author, you’re a regular person who deals with the same struggles that they do.

Make sure to share what lessons you learned from your ordeals as part of the story.

Where My Book Came From

Book origin stories are always fan favorites. Readers love to ask about what inspired you to write a certain character or tell a particular story. In many industries, it’s a harrowing experience to learn how the “sausage was made,” but fans are always interested in the building blocks of your well-crafted tales.

There are many different directions you can go with this. You can talk about the research that led to the book, the other authors who you read leading up to the idea’s germination, the people from your life who you modeled your characters after, and even the moment in the shower when your best idea came to you. Pull the curtain back with this tale to reveal the backstory to your backstory.

Fan Encounters & Appreciation

There really is nothing quite like meeting fans. It’s an incredible feeling, and your readers would love to hear how much those encounters have meant to you. You can share certain incidents or just the general sensation you get when you actually meet a person who loves reading your stuff.

If you haven’t had any in-person fan meetups, then share how you felt when you got your greatest compliment via email or through a customer review on Amazon. When you share stories about fans, don’t be surprised if you get even more praiseworthy messages from readers who want to join in the fun.

I went into my Millionaire audition with a story ready to tell. It touched on struggle and love and a happy ending with a dash of humor. I made it onto the show and earned enough money to pay off my credit card debt.

What do you think you’ll win when you tell your story?

Byran CohenBryan Cohen is an author, a podcaster, and a copywriter. If you’d like to learn more about writing better book descriptions and emails for readers, then check out his free cheat sheet and free mini course. Click the link and enter your email on the next page to get instant access:



Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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March to a Bestseller 3 – Great Writing Resources

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

March to a Bestseller III

I’m honored to once again be participating in the semi-annual March to a Bestseller event run by Bryan Cohen. I love this event because it brings writers a bunch of high-quality books about writing and publishing for an affordable price (99 cents each).

And to make it even better, on the day of the sale, the authors involved staff the Facebook group for giveaways and Q&As. If you have a writing-related question, this is the place to bring it. I’ll be manning the “table” from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern.

Here are the books involved this time!

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks. (You also might want to check out Grammar for Fiction Writers or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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A Chance to Win One of 15 Great Writing Resources

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Even though this isn’t my regular day to post, I wanted to let you all know about an opportunity. From February 14th to February 28th, you can enter to win one of 15 excellent ebooks about writing and marketing your fiction, including two of my Busy Writer’s Guides. Take a look at what’s on offer!


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In case you want to know more about any of these books, here are the links:

Captivate Your Readers by Jodie Renner

~ Fiction Attack! by James Scott Bell

~ Outlining Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland

~ How to Market Your Book, by Joanna Penn

~The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

~ Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, by Janice Hardy

~ Grammar for Fiction Writers, by Marcy Kennedy and Chris Saylor

~ Fire up Your Fiction, by Jodie Renner

~ Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives, and Other Introverts, by Joanna Penn

~ The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction, by C.S. Lakin

~ Writing a Killer Thriller, by Jodie Renner

~ The Positive Trait Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

~ Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide, by Marcy Kennedy

~ 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, by Bryan Cohen

~ The Negative Trait Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

To find out how to enter, you’ll need to visit the site of the talented Jodie Renner. She put this fun event together to celebrate the release of her newest book Captivate Your Readers. Winners will be drawn on March 1st.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? You might also want to check out Showing and Telling in Fiction.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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March to a Bestseller 2: A One-Day Sale on Books for Authors

March to a Bestseller 2

For today only, I’m dropping the price of Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction to 99 cents. And I’m not the only one. Fifteen other authors are also dropping the price of their books to 99 cents. This is a treasure chest full of writerly goodness, so buy your copies before the sale ends.

And make sure you join the Facebook group where the participating authors will be hanging out during the day to answer any writing questions you might have!

Here’s a list of the participating books and authors:

Indie Author Power Pack









The Indie Author Power Pack by Joanna Penn, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Gaughran

How to Write and Sell Non-Fiction









How to Write & Sell Non-Fiction Books for Kindle by Nancy Hendrickson










APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

Write From the Middle









Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction









Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction by Marcy Kennedy

Kindle Publishing Package









Kindle Publishing Package by Steve Scott

Writing the Heart of Your Story









Writing the Heart of Your Story by C. S. Lakin

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales









Supercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson

Book Cover Design









Book Cover Design Secrets You Can Use to Sell More Books by Derek Murphy

Goodreads for Authors









Goodreads For Authors by Michelle Campbell-Scott

Writing a Killer Thriller









Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner

Weite a Book Already









Write A Book Already! by Jim Kukral

1000 Creative Writing Prommpts









1,000 Creative Writing Prompts by Bryan Cohen

Work Smarter









Work Smarter by Nick Loper

Online Writing









The Moonlighter’s Guide To Online Writing For Immediate Income by Connie Brentford

Honest Reviews









How To Get Honest Reviews by Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart










Write! Stop Waiting, Start Writing by Cathy Presland

Formatting Your Ebook









Formatting Your eBook by J. Thorn

Writing Active Setting









Writing Active Setting Book 1 by Mary Buckham

How to Sell Books by the Truckload









How to Sell Books by the Truckload on by Penny Sansevieri

Make sure to grab your copies before the sale ends! And please help me spread the word so that other writers can find out about the reduced price on these 20 books in time.

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A Literary Agent Can’t Replace Hard Work

Many times I’ve had editing clients worry that they don’t have the talent to do a story justice or that they’re not talented enough to be a writer. But talent is over-rated. Talent can contribute to success, but it isn’t the most important thing.

I have a guest poster here today to share the secret of what the most important thing is.


A Literary Agent Can’t Replace Hard Work

By Bryan Cohen

1,000 Creative Writing Prompts Volume 2 CoverI’m writing this post after having a two-hour conversation with a friend, who also happens to be a New York Times best-selling author. My friend has an agent with a very reputable agency and he’s been published with one of the major publishing houses. We touched on many different topics during our chat about writing and life, including what his agent, editor and other publishing professionals have done for him. He had nothing but high praise for everyone who helped his book to sell tens of thousands of copies. He saved all of his negative comments for himself.

My friend said he didn’t do everything he needed to make sure his book was a lasting success. He said he didn’t lay the ground work of creating sign-up form for a mailing list on his website before the book was released. He said he’d given up on sending queries to magazines and other publications because he wasn’t immediately welcomed with open arms. My friend wasn’t talking about the changing industry or the lack of a marketing push from his publisher. He had trouble getting himself to do the hard work he needed to do to become successful.

A part of me was surprised by what he said. I considered asking him why his agent, editor and publishing house didn’t do the work for him. That’s when I realized that all those publishing professionals are in the business of selling books. They aren’t the ones who help authors to build a brand or a legacy. Authors need to do the work themselves.

Something common in almost any profession is that the people who work the hardest and the smartest are the ones who rise to the top. As writers, we like to think that getting an agent, an editor and a publishing contract would ensure our only requirement was the fun stuff. The truth is that even with all those ducks in a row, the nose to the grindstone hard work needs to be there to reach the highest levels of success.

While my author friend and I both shared advice and tricks of the trade (him from publishing, me from self-publishing) during our chat, the most important thing I took was the perspective. No matter where you are and no matter what stage you’ve reached in the game, hard work is the best way to propel yourself forward. Set some goals, create a plan and put in the time required. Treat the work as its own reward and you’re bound to get added spoils on the way to the top. 

Bryan Cohen Author of 1,000 Creative Writing PromptsAbout the Author

In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!

Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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