Advice for New Indie Authors

By Jon F. Merz

I chimed in earlier today on Brian Keene’s blog about guest poster Glen Kirsch writing about his success with indie publishing and folks wondering whether Brian would be well-advised to think about a similar route. I posted a few of my own experiences to-date, but it got me thinking about what my advice would be to new writers and older, established writers who are considering the indie route. So here, then, are my thoughts on the topic. Bear in mind, this is my opinion only, but it’s based on roughly eighteen months worth of sales data.

NOTE: for the purposes of this post, I’ll assume your books are thoroughly awesome and reader-ready. No need to rehash the tired old maxims of “rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.”

1. Buy Scrivener: Scrivener is a fantastic word processing program that I now use for all of my writing. Coming from MS Word, it was a bit of a learning curve, for sure, but Scrivener boasts some excellent video tutorials that explain everything. Scrivener’s best feature is “compile,” which allows you to take your manuscript and turn it into an ebook, perfectly suitable for uploading to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as any other platform (iBooks, Kobo, etc.) that use the .epub file format. Scrivener formats both for Kindle (.mobi format) and regular .epub format. It’s quick, easy, and saves you a ton of money that you’d otherwise have to pay a professional ebook formatter. You can order Scrivener using these links (and yes, I am an affiliate, but only because I love the product so much!) Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence) | Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

2. Find an Artist: Find a great cover artist who can turn out NYC-quality cover art for your books. The goal is to NOT look indie. You don’t want consumers passing your books by because of sub-standard covers the scream indie publishing. Like it or not, many readers still equate indie publishing with self-published vanity crap. Your goal is to visually align yourself with the stuff coming out of New York, even if you’re doing the indie route. To that end, you need a damned good cover artist to render some great covers for you. I have a fantastic graphic designer who handles my Lawson Vampire series covers, re-did a cover for my horror novel Vicarious (I did the original), and even created the look for my latest release THE NINJA APPRENTICE. Consider the fact that paying for a great cover is an investment in your business. People tend to be visually-oriented, especially when it comes to online book shopping. You want something that really looks great, still looks good shrunk down to thumbnail size, and excites readers.

3. Write a Series: Seriously. If readers like your series, they will be anxious for more and that means you now have a built-in audience ready to buy your next adventure. So if you intend to create a series, get with your cover artist above and develop a “look” for the series. Going back to my Lawson Vampire series for a moment, you’ll notice that all of the covers feature Brandon Stumpf, the actor who plays Lawson in THE FIXER TV series. The font is the same, the design is the same. My graphic designer and I have built up brand awareness with these covers, even going so far as to do color overlays to help readers know at a glance that the blue overlay means it’s a novel, green for novella, and red for a short story. This is the kind of thing that you, as an indie author, now have complete control over. Use it to maximize your new business.

4. Build Your Personal Brand: Okay, you’re an author. So what? So are a veritable ton of other people. A bestselling author? Again, so what? In this day and age, you need to find something about yourself that is hopefully unique (or at least rare) and then use that to help you establish your author brand. I thought long and hard about what I do and who I am and eventually distilled my platform down to three things: writer, producer, ninja. I obviously write books, but I also have a production company with my good friend Jaime Hassett. And then I’ve been studying authentic Ninjutsu for over twenty years. There aren’t too many other authors who can say the same thing. So it works. Now, if you go to my Facebook fan page, or my Google+ page, or my Twitter account, or my LinkedIn page, or pretty much everywhere else, you’ll see that tagline: writer, producer, ninja. It’s been working very well for me and helps people quickly gain insight into what I do.

5. Study Social Media: The indie publishing route is far more effective today thanks to the rise of social media. You absolutely, positively NEED to study this stuff. I know, I know…so many of you are going to whine about not having time to write and all that related bullshit. Get over it. If you’re going the indie route – even partially – then you need to understand what the hell is going on with social media. It’s not enough to have an antiquated Livejournal account: hardly anyone is there anymore. (Don’t believe me? While Livejournal might have just over 37 million accounts, of those only 1.7 million are “active in some way” according to Livejournal’s own stats. And only a bit over 125,000 have updated in the last 24 hours.) You need to have a Facebook Page, a Google+ page, and a Twitter account at the very least. Then you need to know how to use those platforms to their maximum effect. Each is different. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Also, you need an active blog and a well-designed, visually-attractive website. I know a lot of horror authors who think that the bleeding eyeballs are the coolest thing ever. Maybe. But not on your professional website. Remember, this is a business now. Those days of doing the writer/hermit thing are over. You want to do indie and make a good living, you need to get out there and press the social media flesh.

6. Study Celebrity: You might laugh at this, but there are lessons to be learned from people who make their living in the public spotlight. They know how to interact with people, get their fans excited, and more. Writers have typically shunned such things in the past, but again, the indie route necessitates at least some interaction with the world at large. So the next time you attend a writer awards function, leave the Wrangler acid-washed jeans and death metal T-shirt at home. Instead, opt for a button-down shirt, blazer, dressy jeans, and shoes. Make sure how you present yourself in public matches up with how you portray yourself online.

7. Go Global: Understand that the indie route means you are going global. Amazon has storefronts in a half dozen countries right now with many more to come. Barnes & Noble has also talked of its intentions to go global. That means your book written in English is available in countries where English is not the first language. That’s great because it enables you to reach more consumers than previously possible with traditional publishing. It should also prompt you to think about getting your work translated. You’re no longer limited by the traditional distribution of foreign rights – meaning that if you sold rights to a German publisher, your book would only be available in Germany and anywhere else that particular publisher had the ability to distribute it. Now, you can get that book translated into German and sell it on Amazon’s German store platform and in every other Amazon country platform (potentially reaching many more German-speaking consumers than you would with a traditional subrights deal).

7a. Open Your Mind: This goes along with #7 above. The marketplace is global, so that means you will interact with people from all over the world. To that end, make sure you don’t come across as a raging racist xenophobe extremist homophobic piece of puke. Seriously. Cleanse thyself of such nonsense. Understand there are crazy people everywhere on this planet – but that there are also great people everywhere on this planet. Their views, religions, lifestyles may not be what you think is “correct” or “right” or what have you, but you need to respect them regardless. Don’t let yourself be known as a small-minded pinhead. There’s nothing unique or appealing about it.

8. Get a Newsletter: While social media is great, nothing beats having a newsletter list that is consistently growing and enables you to talk directly to thousands of people on a weekly or monthly basis. People who have subscribed to your newsletter are giving you implicit permission to talk to them directly via their email. Don’t abuse that privilege. Offer newsletter subscribers something each month – special exclusives like news, fiction, etc. I run a serialized Lawson adventure each month in my newsletter. It’s a freebie that I include as a way of saying thanks. That’s bundled around news, blog posts, advertisements of my books, shout-outs for friends of mine who are doing good for others, and more. Get a professional newsletter design, pay a monthly fee for an email service provider that offers up stats like open rate, click through rate (and URL destinations) and more. It’s another investment in your company that is well worth the cost. Then build up that list of subscribers. The more, the better.

9. Give To Get: Give more of yourself, not less. Talk to your fans and readers. Interact. The social media world means that people talk. A LOT. If they comment on your page, send you a Tweet, or an email, then you’d better be there to respond. I’m not saying drop everything and be available 24/7. But be ready to make an effort to communicate more readily. If these people are spending their hard-earned money on your products, you need to be willing to talk to them. Many companies are finding out the hard way that ignoring customers is about the worst thing you can do. And the companies who are succeeding are finding that the more they engage with their customers, the better their reputation becomes and the more people spend on their products, talk up the company, etc. etc. If one of your fans is having problems, try to help them in some way – even if it’s just taking the time to send a special email. Treat your readers and fans like gold, because they are. This isn’t something to fake – you have to be sincere in this appreciation or else people will abandon you for another author.

10. Study Tangential Businesses: More studying? Yep. Grab a few minutes of Bloomberg Television in the morning while you much on your Honeycombs. Pick up an issue of Fortune or Entrepreneur. Learn about emerging tech businesses that might impact digital publishing or spark an idea on how you can position yourself to take advantage of things long before anyone else does. Back when Myspace was relevant, I was the first author to reach out and partner with them on a serialized Lawson adventure THE COURIER. Myspace hyped it; I hyped it, and I accumulated a ton of new fans over the month-long project. That’s just one example. Savvy “authorpreneurs” (a phrase I’ve coined for this new generation of indie authors who are smart) are always on the lookout for new opportunities.

11. Set a Production Schedule: New material is essential in the indie age. A novel a year is not enough. I’m ramping my own production schedule up so that I have something new coming out every other month – whether it’s a short story, novella, novel, or non-fiction piece. If you’re still under contract for projects, split your time between working your contracted stuff and your indie stuff. Give the people what they want – and what they want is more stuff to read.

12. Expect Cycles: This is new territory and nothing is predictable…yet. 2011 started off amazing for me, but then I went through a sales slump. Even during my worst month, I was still selling several thousand ebooks and making thousands of dollars, but it was a far cry from Spring 2011. So expect that things may be up one month and down the next. The key is to never have to rely too heavily on any one single title. This is why #11 is so essential. If you can reasonably expect that each novel in your virtual shelf will sell, say, 50 copies each month then that is somewhat bankable. Multiply that across a half dozen titles and now you’ve sold 300 ebooks and made anywhere from $600 bucks to several thousand. As long as you reach that minimum threshold each month, you’ve got the makings of a fairly consistent income. And then every time you add a new title, you’re basically giving yourself a raise. Not bad.

Best of luck as you forge a path in the indie world. I hope this post has been useful to you. If you’ve enjoyed it, please share it around with others. Thanks for reading!

More Steps to EBook Success…

By Jon F. Merz

I’m having my best month of ebook sales so far in 2012 so I thought I’d share some of the steps I’ve been taking to increase my sales. I outlined a lot of practical steps – including the best piece of software you can use to help boost your ebook sales in my book: HOW TO REALLY SELL EBOOKS (which was written after I wasted five bucks reading another author’s account of how he sold one million ebooks but failed to list anything concrete that he did beyond a blog) but here are a few other steps I’m doing right now to help things along even more.

1. Production Schedules: Depending on how quickly you work, I think it’s vital to come out with new material at LEAST every few months. Debuting new material allows you to promote it and simultaneously call attention to your other works. I’m aiming for new stuff every other month. I’m not necessarily talking a new novel every other month – it can be as small as a new short story. The key here is consistency and an ever-increasing amount of ebooks for your growing fan base to pick up. People want new stuff faster and the old days of only a novel every year are well and truly gone.

2. EBook Anthologies: This is going to piss a lot of people off, but every time I see someone else soliciting stories for an e-anthology, my first reaction is “why on earth would I waste my writing for it?” The fact is, any writer can put that story out themselves at a 99 cent price point and earn 35 cents and 40 cents (Amazon and B&N respectively) with each sale. And rather than getting lost in the table of contents with other authors (who may or may not help sales depending on the quality of their work) you can put it out yourself, increase your own virtual shelf space, and help further your own brand. Royalty sharing among ebook authors (unless it’s a novel collaboration) is no way to generate any sort of income. Of course, if Stephen King drops you an email and asks you to be in his anthology, that might be a different story.

3. Free Ebooks: Stop. Just stop. Everyone is doing this now, which means you absolutely should NOT be doing it. Further, while I know everyone wants to get exposure and introduce the world to your writing, the simple fact is, if you’ve labored long and hard on your book, then you shouldn’t give it away for free. Perception is reality and if people see you don’t value your own work, then they’ll never value it either. It’s worth something – even if it’s only 99 cents. But free? No way. There’s such a glut of free ebooks out there now, you’ll never get any sort of exposure anyway. It’s wasted effort that you could be using to sell copies of the work in question. Want exposure and reviews? Recruit a few keys friends or fans and give them a copy in exchange for them talking it up and posting reviews about it. Yes, it’s free to them, but there’s an exchange of value going on – they get the ebook and you get some definite exposure and reviews out of it.

4. Stop Book Launch Events on Facebook: Learn to use Facebook Pages for your author stuff. Creating a new event every time you have a book launch splits up your audience and then forces everyone you invite to receive email every time you post an update on the event page. It gets annoying very quickly. Announce your books on your Author Page and if you need help setting them up properly, I wrote up a few posts in the past on how to do it here and here. Remember: your goal is to build your audience, not annoy them. Plus, the more things you invite people to, the less likely they are to attend. Give them one page on Facebook to focus on, not thirty.

5. Write a Series: if you’re only writing standalone novels, I suggest you start writing a series. Now. Why? Because if your series is good and people like it, you will have a built-in audience for future installments. Plus, new readers will discover your series and you’ll keep building it. But if you keep writing standalone novels, then maybe the subject matter doesn’t click with certain folks. A series is a definable product and provided they like the characters, readers will keep coming back for more. I would argue there is more inherent value in continuing a series than there is in a standalone. My Lawson Vampire series now stands at seven novels, five novellas, and seven short stories. Each month, the series earns me roughly 85% of my income as compared to my various standalone novels. It is well worth your time developing a series.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll share it with others!


By Jon F. Merz

I am very pleased to announce that I have signed on with to donate copies of THE NINJA APPRENTICE to their amazing program that brings e-readers and ebooks to children living in under-developed regions in Africa. Worldreader distributes Amazon Kindles to the children and then Amazon “pushes” the free ebooks to the kids, who get to choose books to read on them for free. It boosts literacy, aids in their education, and their ability to improve their station in life. I heard about this organization, based in Seattle and Barcelona, yesterday and knew I wanted to get involved. It took no time whatsoever, and now thousands of kids will get a chance to read about Jimmy’s wild and crazy adventures as he tries to restore his family’s honor. Worldreader has already sent 100,000 ebooks to these kids and their aiming for ONE MILLION.

Worldreader has partnered with many publishers and authors to help expand their programs in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya and soon Rwanda. After launching, they soon found some pretty dramatic effects: “After 9 months the biggest gains were realized from the 4-5th graders; in 8 months kids were reading 50% more in volume, their rate of reading increased by 30% when measured by wpm and they were excited about great content… win win win!!! Textbooks – novels – the Atlas – all kinds of knowledge and information. ”

So awesome. And this is just one more indicator of the technological shift away from paper. This program would not have been possible using printed books. It’s only with e-readers and ebooks that such a thing is possible. I’m grateful to be able to contribute in this small way and hopefully give those kids a fun, exciting read. I don’t know how many Ninjutsu practitioners there are in Africa (outside of South Africa, which has a few dojo) but there might be several more once these kids meet Jimmy!

If you’re an author with middle grade to YA fiction and would like to help out, make sure you have the rights to your work or that your publisher is interested in participating, and then contact Michael Smith at For authors, it’s a simple, one-page contract – quick and easy. For me, it was a no-brainer to get involved and do some good. I hope my writer friends feel the same. Writer & non-writer friends can also head to the website and donate money or get involved to help them send more Kindles to the kids in Africa.

Clone Your EBook Success

By Jon F. Merz

Imagine if you were a corporation and you sold several products, one of which sold better than any of the others. That one product was responsible for bringing in more revenue than any of your other products. Looking at your numbers each month would hammer that home and probably make you wish there was a way to clone that product so you could double the revenue it brought in. Or pretend you make good money at your job and wished there was a way to double that income. Before, you’d have to take on a second job, but you could only do so much until you burned out. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

For writers, books have traditionally had this feature built in to them. When you sold North American rights, you, as the author (or your agent), could then turn around and sell those rights to foreign publishers who would translate the book and bring it out in whatever market they operated in. Many times, the sale of foreign rights brings in staggering sums for bestselling authors and much more modest sums for midlist authors. Perhaps the book earns out enough to generate royalties, but that isn’t often the case.

With the advent of ebooks, however, the author has far more control over that “cloning” process. Entrepreneurial authors – or as I like to call them “authorpreneurs” – who view their writing careers as a business will be keen to capitalize on the incredible potential that now exists. Let’s take a look at it in-depth.

This is the cover for the Spanish-language edition of the first book in the Lawson Vampire series, THE FIXER. EL EJECUTOR is nearly finished being translated by a fantastic friend of mine and should be on-sale the first week of June. THE FIXER consistently sells hundreds of copies each month on its own and its impact on my bottom line is huge. It is a solid earner, and as such, I want to clone that success. So I paid to have it translated into Spanish, which is one of the largest market demographics in the world. According to recent statistics, upwards of half a BILLION people speak the language globally. That’s a market I want a piece of!

The translation costs were an investment into my business. In order to make money cloning the success of THE FIXER, I had to first invest the capital to pay for its translation. I consider that money well spent. As more and more people turn to ebooks, the number of people who will start reading my Lawson series will also climb. And if the series is available in multiple languages, then I can exponentially increase my profit potential on each book I write. After several months of strong sales, the translation cost will be earned back and then the real fun starts.

Here’s one of the coolest things: even though El Ejecutor is written in Spanish, it will be available in every single one of Amazon’s Kindle stores. Think about that for a moment. Using the old business model of publishing, if you sold Spanish rights to your novels, then the books would only be available wherever the publisher had distribution. But with Amazon, El Ejecutor will be available in the US for Spanish-speakers, in Amazon ES, their official Spain site, as well as Amazon UK, France, Germany, Italy, and many more coming down the road. So now instead of a fragmented distribution that used to happen with foreign rights sales, you have the SAME global distribution that you do with a book written in English. Suppose there’s a Mexican ex-pat living abroad in Italy, for example, and he wishes he could read something in his native tongue but can only surf for ebooks on Amazon’s Italian website? No problem, El Ejecutor is sitting right there ready to be bought. BAM! Sold!

The point is, with Amazon’s global storefront you not only have the opportunity to get your translated ebooks into the hands of the particular demographic you’re trying to reach in their home country, you can also reach them wherever they might be across the world! This is huge. It increases your chances of finding new readers in places you might not expect. Whereas before if you had a book out in Germany, you might only reasonably expect to find it in German bookstores and perhaps a few specialty shops here and there. Now, you can have that same ebook available to Germans in Germany as well as Germans anywhere else in the world – or at least anywhere else Amazon has a storefront at this moment. (But believe me, Amazon will soon have storefronts everywhere…)

You are truly cloning your success when you get your ebooks translated. And each time you add a new translation, you’ve just cloned it again. Instead of doubling your profit potential, you can triple it, quadruple it, and so much more. And you don’t have to worry about earning out advances, reserves against returns, or any of the other stupid antiquated business machinations left over from the decaying publishing industry. Amazon pays you net 60 days every single month via direct deposit. You’ve just potentially doubled your money without having to do anything beyond the translation! No extra work, you don’t have to write the novel again, you don’t have to devote any extra time. Translated. Done.

To say I’m excited about debuting THE FIXER in Spanish is an incredible understatement. I’m beyond excited. I don’t know how sales will go, obviously, but ebooks are a long-term investment. They earn forever. And as more and more people flock to ebooks, the profits will continue to escalate. Once the initial investment in translation has been earned out, that ebook goes on to provide income – passive income at that – forever.

And that ain’t too shabby.

How To Cultivate an Asset

By Jon F. Merz

In the world of intelligence, relationship building is one of the most critical skills an operative can possess. As a case officer, handler, [insert term here], you cultivate “assets” by first developing a relationship with your target and then gently steering them into the role you would like them to play. Whether you use them to gain access to someone else, get access to information they turn over to you, or a variety of other actions, you cannot simply approach a would-be asset and kick things off by demanding they perform Action A. That’s a bit like approaching a complete stranger and asking them to sleep with you…without any foreplay.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been astounded by the number of messages and emails I’ve gotten from people that I either don’t know, or have had one interaction with, that have basically done exactly that: the message opens with someone like this: “Hi Jon, I need such-and-such, so can you do that for me?” The amusing thing about these messages is that, with the exception of one, they have all come from people who study Ninjutsu – itself an espionage-oriented martial art. And yet they have clearly NOT taken the time to understand the first thing about cultivating an asset or building an intelligence network. (Such terms might seem a bit unusual if you’re not in the intelligence community, but think about your own life and your own path to success: you have certain networks around you – especially with social media being what it is. You are, in effect, running your own intelligence network – even if you happen to call it something else.)

So, let’s look at what you need to do to create a relationship and then cultivate that person as an asset.

Here’s the golden rule: don’t ask for something right away. In fact, don’t ask for something until you’ve given something of worth yourself. You certainly wouldn’t walk up to someone on the street and say, “Hey you, go steal the cash register out of that convenience store for me.” (Side note: well, you *could* but you would have to possess an enormous amount of leverage in order to convince them. That’s a subject for another post.) One of the emails I got last week did pretty much that: “Hey I notice you’re using [redacted] so how about telling me how to use it so I can profit from it as well?”

When you approach someone for the first time, you have to be open and honest (or at least give the appearance of being that). If they see you coming with an agenda, they’ll be harder to cultivate. A casual, friendly initial contact is always best – and always approach with a smile. It’s disarming. An email can serve the same function. “Hi, I noticed we have a few friends in common in our networks.” (Friends in common is an good icebreaker and gives you a bit of credence, even superficially.)

Before you make your approach, find out a little bit more about your target. Never go in cold if you can possibly avoid it. Research them. Look at Facebook, Linked In, etc. and build a picture of their life. Then try to find common ground that will help you build a bridge to them. The goal is to make them receptive to your initial contact. If you get the initial contact out of the way, then you can offer something they might find valuable. “Hey, just saw this article and since you’re in IT, I thought you might like it. Hope you’re having a great day!” That’s it.

Once you start a back-and-forth, you can work on expanding the relationship. Ask questions about what they’re working on, how their family is doing, that sort of thing. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so it’s just a matter of expressing interest with as much sincerity as you can muster to make them feel worthwhile. If you see a Facebook status update that you can comment on without looking like you’re up to something, then by all means do so. Maybe even drop them a message. Have they lost a pet recently? Express sympathy for their loss. Have they gotten promoted? Send them a congratulations. Keep the number of contacts to a minimum – no more than one or two per week. You don’t want to come across as pushy or annoying.

You’ll notice that nowhere in these first steps of building a relationship have I suggested you demand or ask for something. Aside from asking them to connect, you’ve done nothing that takes away from them. All you’ve done is give. You’ve provided them with value. You’ve given them the control, but it’s an illusion of control. Because when you’re cultivating an asset, one of the key ways to bring them to where you need them is to produce a sense of obligation. If they feel like you’ve been such a great friend, then they’ll be more willing (in some cases) to actually want to give you something in return. Most normal people don’t expect their friendships to be one-way streets. That’s exactly what you want them to feel – that it has been to-date, and when you finally ask for something, they’ll be all too willing to provide it.

Bear in mind, this doesn’t work for everyone. Motivations differ from person to person. But it is one technique that works well.

When it comes time to ask for something, do so in a soft-sell manner. Don’t demand. “Well, I’ve given you this-and-this, so give me this.” That’s a turn-off. Craft a nice, complimentary approach that enables you to work in your request without seeming too focused on it. Embed the request rather than focus on it. Bracket it amid other statements, but nothing too distracting. You still want them to see the request. So make sure you don’t ask too many questions in the email or else you’re likely to get everything else answered except what you asked for.

Once you get your first bit of information, you must make sure that you continue the two-way street approach. Don’t keep making demands without giving back. Relationships work in the intelligence community because of this back-and-forth. Usually, it’s a simple arrangement. The asset supplies information and you supply the cash, security, etc. It’s an even exchange. Outside the IC, you have to form a similar relationship. So always be looking to extend value into the relationship. The more demanding the request, the more value you must provide in return. The ratio depends on the target; some people are more giving than others. Some people will be reluctant to part with any information, in which case, you have to reconsider your approach and method of coercion.

I’ve seen three terrible examples of relationship building in recent days: all of them asked me to do something that would have taken time and potentially cost me money. All three requests came with no real relationship in place prior to the demand. In one case, the emailer asked me to give up names of contacts that I have in the film/TV business – information that has taken me years and cost me money to develop. And this was done after a throwaway line about me being successful selling ebooks on Amazon. No real effort put into the email; no effort made at building a relationship or offering anything of value. You can guess what I did with that email.

The Flip Side: Depending on your circumstances and goals, you might actually invert the tactics outlined in this post in order to get something. Take the example I just outlined in the preceding paragraph. If it turned out that the person who emailed me was someone I needed information from, had something of value to offer in return, etc., then I could very easily offer up that information he wanted and immediately get that person indebted to me – which I would then use to extract what I wanted. This works primarily by putting yourself out there as “bait” that people want to be associated with. So, if you are successful and people know that, they may want to connect with you. It’s the inverse of the relationship you’ve been building over the course of this post.

Take the time to build relationships the proper way and you’ll have a pool of people only too willing to aid you as you pursue your goals. Treat your relationships – your “assets” – like plants. They need water, sunshine, fod, love, and caring in order to flourish. Skimp on those things and they’ll wither and die. You won’t have a network and you won’t be successful.

PS: Remember: this is just ONE way to cultivate an asset. There are many others.