This is a guest post by Jeff McKinney; I was curious about the Write it Forward event and Jeff agreed to do a write-up I could share.
On July 25-26, authors, speakers and creatives gathered in Atlanta for Write it Forward featuring bestselling author and writing teacher Jeff Goins. The event was well organized, intimate and delivered great value for attendees.
Kent Julian, the founder of Write it Forward, hosted the event. Kent is a nationally known leadership speaker and author with tens of thousands of book sales to his credit. He is very engaging, personable and excellent at teaching through story. Kent is also very practical, providing detailed “nuts and bolts” content to help authors move from concept to finished, sellable product.
Jeff Goins is a nationally known writing teacher who created the online Tribe Writers Course and wrote the bestseller The In-Between. I am a Tribe Writers student so seeing Jeff in person was like a reunion with a good friend (so that doesn’t exactly mean I’ve been to his house or anything, but I FEEL like I know him…). I also have the good fortune of knowing Kent from common Atlanta connections.
Entrepreneur or Author?
What was interesting, and a bit emotionally tearing for me since I respect and admire both men, is that they have vastly different approaches to writing and publishing. Kent is a speaker who also writes while Jeff is a writer who also speaks. Kent approaches writing from an entrepreneurial mindset while Jeff is a creative who loves the craft of writing. They appear to be polar opposite mindsets, yet to be successful as indie authors we need both!
Jeff Goins’ TribeWriters approach helped me get started writing. Jeff teaches consistency, 500 words per day, to hone your voice and find your tribe of fans or followers. Jeff’s course was exactly what I needed as a beginning writer – just get the words on paper so you have something to work with. Your voice will become refined, your thinking and writing skills sharper, allowing you to develop a platform and find your tribe.
In contrast, Kent emphasized knowing your audience before creating your work. We’ve all heard that, but Kent taught specific steps to outlining, titling, and writing a book that will sell to a defined niche. I mean, who would actually sit down and spend months writing a book without even taking the time to define the market and know who is going to buy it, right? Right? Well, I’m guilty. Maybe some of you are as well.
Another amazing contrast between Kent and Jeff is the channel for their book sales. Kent sells most of his books in person at events. He actually…okay, are you ready? He self publishes books in bulk, like…on paper, and sells them at events. Jeff Goins, in contrast, has enjoyed massive self-published eBook sales through Amazon in addition to traditional publishing and distribution sales. Amazon? Not really Kent’s thing. Madness? Did I mention he’s sold tens of thousands of books and been approached and paid by traditional publishers because of his high book sales?
An unexpected bonus of Write It Forward is the business teaching Kent provided. He made it clear that books aren’t the only income source for most successful authors. Oh sure, if your name is “King” or “Clancy”, maybe. But for most of us, feeding our families with words alone will be difficult. Thus, Kent highly recommends speaking as an income-multiplier and hosts a Speak It Forward conference to teach this craft. Book sales “back of the room” ($1 to bulk print, sell for $15) can add up fast.
Speaking, Writing and Leadership Master Kent Julian and I
Jeff and Kent both shared inside information about leveraging your words into other forms of income such as online courses, workbooks, and training materials. It was clear that Jeff, beginning with a focus on words, has become a savvy entrepreneur. It was also clear that Kent, beginning with an entrepreneurial mindset, has become a very prolific author. Their divergent approaches have produced similar endpoints. Fascinating and freeing to know you can choose a path that fits your bent and talents.
Personal Access and Fish Tacos
I highly recommend you add Write It Forward to your “must attend” list. While it will definitely grow as word gets out, the 2014 version was very intimate, with fewer than 50 attendees. It was an absolute steal to have personal access to Kent, Jeff Goins and the third featured speaker, Brian Dixon. It’s also funny how the most impactful takeaways from a conference sometimes come from unexpected sources.
I had never heard of Brian before last weekend, but he is a product launch and marketing genius. I had the opportunity to eat three meals with him over the two day conference and his knowledge blew my mind. More impressive was his willingness to help. I didn’t have to “corner him” to ask him a question, after telling him what I was working on, he would come back and ask me questions, dig deeper and help me refine my thoughts and ideas. The only cost to me? Fish tacos.
Left to right @JeffMcManus (world class landscape artist), @brianjdixon (speaker, launch expert), Matthew Casteel (@ILovemyVA), Richard Casteel (richardcasteel.com), Me (@mckinneywriting), and Jodey Smith (@thePodfreak)
Featured Speaker Brian Dixon delivering another great idea (and witty comment) over dinner (brianjdixon.com)
Lunch on Friday, pictured above, illustrates the value of conference attendance well. As I sat right center at lunch I had many options. Want to learn about podcasting? Turn to the left. Marketing? Look straight ahead. Leadership or VAs and social media? Across the table. Download forty years of leadership, counseling and spiritual wisdom? That’s sitting next to me on the right. Really a shame I spent so much time distracted by Marlow’s killer fish tacos….
You will be hard pressed to find an event that matches Write it Forward in terms of one on one time with high-level speakers (not just for 30 seconds, but to genuinely “chat it up”) and high quality attendees. During the two day event, I had the opportunity to ask Jeff about his take on fiction writing, share Ahi Tuna with Kent and Kathy Julian, and have my world turned upside down (in a good way) by input from Brian Dixon. Brian’s pHD in Educational Technology apparently amplified his sense of humor. His skills are accessible to you at the DixonAgency.org.
Jeff Goins’ TribeWriters Atlanta Meetup and WriteItForward Dinner at the Arena Tavern
In case you don’t know, Jeff is the dude in the striped shirt and cool RayBan glasses
It is extremely cool to meet and connect with people who you knew only as a Twitter handle before. They walk up in 3D, exhale on you (cough) and you realize that the pixels on the devices we so dearly love ARE actual people! This event was a great reminder that there are others out there seeking to honor the gifts God gave them to the best of their ability. To spread a worthwhile message that impacts others in a lasting way. Write It Forward was a stark reminder that we are better in groups than we are on our own. As brilliant and creative and insightful as we all tend to think we are (or am I the only arrogant putz out there?), being around other like-minded, ambitious creatives brings us to the next level. Think about our blog host, Derek Murphy, who went to World Domination Summit and now has work in progress for a Kickstarter campaign to achieve his dream to buy a castle in Romania. Tough to nail that one down sitting in traffic in Atlanta. Being around great people at great events brings out the greatness in us and inspires us to “bigger” action.
The bottom line with Write It Forward is that I walked out better. I walked out inspired. I walked out with new friends and connections (or at least a list of people to harass when I have questions), and I walked out feeling better about humanity in general. I also walked out with BONUSES (whoooo!) – an autographed copy of “The In-Between” by Jeff Goins (thanks, Jeff!), Kent’s new book “Who wants to be Normal Anyway?”, and a sweet coffee cup (delivering fuel for life!).
Kent Julian’s event kicked butt. He delivered more value than expected and brought in two amazing speakers to boot, Jeff Goins and Brian J Dixon. Quality leaders attract quality people and the level of attendees at Write It Forward confirmed this. If you are a speaker or interested in becoming one, check out Kent’s Speak It Forward event coming up in Atlanta November 6-8 at SpeakItForward.com.
The author, Jeff McKinney, writes on life, family and ALMOST spiritual topics at mckinneywriting.com. Click there to download a free eEbook entitled “Good Enough for God: He’s Ready for You, Even if the Church Isn’t”. Thanks again to Derek Murphy (@Creativindie) for posting this review.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.