Glenn Fisher: A copywriter’s guide to book publishing
It’s every writer’s dream to get a book published. Well, this guy, Glenn Fisher, has only gone and done it.
Glenn Fisher is a direct response copywriter, speaker and writing coach.
In his new book, The Art of the Click, Glenn writes:
“The Art of the Click is for anyone who’s looking for a secret weapon to help them make more sales… The book is designed for anyone who wishes to understand more about how people think and how you can use direct response copywriting to craft your sales message and alter the influence it has on people.”
It’s a bloody good book, I’ve read it.
I wanted to know what it’s like to write and publish a book. Glenn was kind enough to answer my questions.
We talk about copywriting, what makes a good client and how to juggle freelance work with writing a book.
Buckle up, grab a cuppa, enjoy the ride.
Why do your clients choose you?
Because I’m nice, I hope. And possibly because I know a thing or two about writing to sell. But that could be a coincidence.
The truth is I’m very lucky to have a worked with a big, well-respected company. I still do. In doing so I’ve been able to write a lot of successful copy and also I’ve built up a big network of people who’ve seen me have success.
That’s been a big bonus for me on a national/international level. But then on the flipside, I also work with a lot of small businesses local to my hometown and a great little agency based around here. They didn’t really know my background, so I guess they choose to work with me because I seem to know what I’m talking about.
Of course, it could be that my mother is secretly paying all my clients to work with me to save me from crushing self-doubt.
Has your copywriting process changed over time?
Hmm. I guess so. It’s developed, let’s say. Not so much changed. It started out as no process. I got my first job as a copywriter without knowing what copywriting was. Luckily I landed in the direct-response world and learned how to write direct-response sales letters.
Over the years, I’ve come to recognise how helpful this was. It is kind of what the book is about. Since I developed a basic knowledge of copywriting I’ve just honed the skill.
I’ve written almost every format of copy you can think of for almost every niche. But it all comes from the same place. In broad strokes I’d say any copy process – including mine – comes down to three stages. Research. Writing. Editing. Writing is the least important element. The other two are far more essential. I suppose I used to think it was all about the writing, so the fact I’ve discovered it’s not has seen my process change a little.
Where do your clients come from?
As I say, I’m lucky that I still write for the big international firm I worked at for over a decade. So that’s a big client. And then from that, other people come to me a lot to ask me to work for them.
As I’ve got a bit of a name for myself now, people tend to come to me. That’s nice. But in case that ever stops happening, I also try to be as open and as friendly as possible with everyone I meet in the business so that if I ever need more work, I’ll have people to go to. It’s hard work and I think freelancers deserve a medal for the work they put in.
But ultimately I think it comes down to being useful. Always be useful to people and work should follow.
What do you look for in a client?
They need to be nice. And ideally they need to value my skill.
I’ve come to realise too many people just think copywriting is about writing a few words out and it should be easy because I’m a writer and all. But it’s not. It’s about ideas and your ability to come up with new ones on demand.
That’s where the value is and I try to only work with people who understand that and how it can help their business.
Otherwise, somewhere down the line – that disconnect between what the client thinks they’re paying for and what they’re actually paying for is going to cause a misunderstanding. In turn, it’s going to stress everyone out. I’m trying to reduce stress at all times.
Why did you decide to write a book?
I think I’ve always wanted to write books in some form or another. I thought it would be novels. I still might do that. But when I quit my previous job in finance and attempted to ‘become a writer’, I knew subconsciously I was aiming towards having a book published.
Things diverted from that goal for a while, but eventually I found myself with all this knowledge of direct-response copywriting and it made sense to put it all in a book.
What will your audience get from reading your book?
A laugh hopefully.
I think it’s fun to read and that was important for me. But also the aim of the game is to offer some insight into why direct-response copywriting is important, why it’s useful in the modern world and how to get good at it.
It’s not just for copywriters. It’s for anyone who’s interested in finding different ways to persuade people to do things. You don’t need to know anything about copy to read it. It’s written in quite a personal, anecdotal kind of way. It’s not full of research notes and stuff like that.
I think those books are great, but it wasn’t what I was trying to do here. Maybe the next one will be more like that. But on this occasion, it’s more like me sitting down at a bar and telling you what I’ve learned
What’s the story behind the name (The Art of the Click)?
Ah. Well, it’s a bit embarrassing really. There were a fair few names in the running but my publisher asked for some more and so Ruth and I were brainstorming one evening. At the same time we were watching a documentary about Donald Trump that mentioned his book, The Art of the Deal. As a kind of joke, we wrote down The Art of the Click.
Weirdly it kind of stuck and seemed right, despite it ultimately being named after a Trump book. It reminds me of when we did the photo shoot for my band’s first proper vinyl record and it was Movember, so I’ve got this awful moustache that makes me look like a weird cop.
It seems every one of my major achievements is undermined by something embarrassing in some way. Come to think of it, I was pretty much asked to leave my degree awards ceremony too. Oh dear. Let’s move on.
What was it like working with a publisher?
Great. And very enlightening.
I’d kind of published books myself in my previous role as associate publisher, but I realise I’d never done it properly.
There’s so much that goes into the process and I have a new found respect for anyone who gets a book published by that means.
I think there’s a lot to be said for self-publishing. But I must admit, having gone through the process with a publisher, you realise that every book that makes it has been grilled to a level that I just don’t think you get self-publishing.
Still, it’s all about what’s right for your project. But I’d recommend to keep pushing to work with a proper publisher if you can, for the experience if nothing else.
Did you use an editor? How did that work?
Yes. A chap at Harriman House called Craig Pearce. Again it was incredibly enlightening and I would recommend the experience.
After agreeing the proposal, we met – randomly in King’s Lynn – to talk about the book in general and the whole process.
Craig said something I thought was very clever, along the lines of him not being a writer. He was an editor. I was the writer. He may have even massaged my ego a bit.
But more importantly, he explained his job was to make my writing as clear as possible. As someone who’s trained a lot of writers and know what it’s like to have to give feedback, I thought this was a great starting point and it made the back and forth over email very easy.
Thankfully my writing didn’t need too much editing. He deleted some of my more tenuous jokes, thankfully.
But interestingly, Craig was able to view the whole book in a different way to me and suggest moving sections around, which was instrumental in making it the coherent thing that finally got published.
I write letters that run to 10,000 words or more. But managing a manuscript of 50,000 plus is a whole different ball game.
How did you juggle writing a book with client work?
Mostly the book got done in my spare time. I saw it as my hobby so I didn’t mind working on it in my downtime.
But during more intense periods, I’d just schedule time out of my day for that job as I would any other job. I use Asana, for anyone interested in that type of thing.
Working freelance allows me to be pretty flexible and I find that avoiding the hundreds of hours that get lost in an office gossiping, drinking through lunch, panicking over things that aren’t really a panic…without those, your time is more efficient.
That said, I’m thinking up ideas for the next book now and already worried about when I’m going to write it with all the work I’ve got.
Any advice for fellow copywriters?
Don’t write when you don’t feel like it. It’ll take you ages to produce nothing and you’ll have to write again anyway. Identify the lull. Acknowledge it. And then go do something fun
Don’t write until you know what you’re writing about. Again, if you do try to write when you don’t have the idea or the endpoint you want to make, you’re going to waste a lot of time and resent the whole process.
Don’t write if you don’t believe in what you’re writing. Authenticity is one of the most important and fundamental elements to copywriting and there’s certain magic that happens in your writing when it comes from an authentic place.
Most of the crap copy out in the world is born because deep down the person resented what they were writing.
Not sure why all my advice started with ‘don’t write’. But then I guess that’s been my big learning curve over the years. Writing is hard and editing takes ages. So don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Anything else to add?
Please order my book and please say nice things about it on Amazon – I’m a very sensitive person. Feel free to follow me, email me or tweet me. But forgive me if I’m slow to respond. I’m probably walking my dog.
Don’t check your phone before bed. Write a little every day. Read even more every day. Spend more time with your family and friends than you do. Take more walks. Be curious about everything. Dance more. Make up words. Be careful about criticising other people’s copy. Take risks. Be nice to people.
Thank you Laura for asking me questions and telling more people about me. Thank you to everyone who reads this and enjoys it and shares it online.
Check out allgoodcopy.com, a free online resource for copywriters and marketers.
Can I just say, thanks Glenn, It’s been a blast.