Do you see yourself breaking away
from the “4-Hour” brand in the future?
I definitely see myself breaking away
from that brand in the future. I don’t
feel dependent on “4-Hour” and
I don’t feel like forcing it where it
doesn’t fit. I can see exploring outside
of it in other genres. Amazon offers
a really unique opportunity to learn
about many other facets of publishing
I haven’t been exposed to before, but I
wouldn’t be surprised if I explore other
types of media vehicles for communicating content, like fiction, television
or film. I think it would be fun.
You received the Self-Promoter of
the Year Award in 2008. How can
speakers promote themselves and
Focus on “evergreen” content in
almost everything you do. In other
words, content that should be as relevant and as popular a year or 10 years
from when you write it. Focusing
on topical tie-ins to news or fads
can be effective for getting one or a
handful of media appearances, but it’s
a curious way to build positioning in
the mind of an audience. By focusing
on “evergreen” content, you can build
a blog that is low maintenance with
consistently high traffic. You never
have to write another blog post after a
certain critical mass. If I were to stop
writing my blog today, I would still
have hundreds of thousands of viewers
two years from now. That’s not only
more effective, it’s also more efficient,
saving you tons of time.
I would also encourage people
to read The 22 Immutable Laws of
Marketing. For me, the biggest take-
away from that was seeking to create
a new category rather than dominat-
ing an existing one. For example, in
4HWW, rather than associate myself
with the pigeonholed categories of
time management or work/life balance,
I created a new category called lifestyle
design, which is now in the popular
vernacular. Being associated as the
leader or innovator of a new category
is a very powerful way to position
yourself for long-term success.
In 4HB, you say quite clearly that you
are a bachelor who does not cook and
eats out for every meal. So, why are
you writing The 4-Hour Chef?
Because I want to become awesome at
cooking; that’s the short answer. I’m
inherently lazy, so the reader should
get a combination of approaches that
lead to awesome food with the absolute minimum investment of time and
money. It will be unlike any cookbook or food book that has ever been
written. I think it will be as ADHD,
varied and more colorful than 4HWW
and 4HB. It’s a real challenge to reinvent what is possible or appropriate
in a crowded category. It’ll be a fun
book on cooking for people who don’t
cook. Even for experienced cooks, it
will provide some interesting pro-tips
from some of the best in the business.
You wrote 4HWW with two friends
in mind who were struggling with
time management and corporate life.
Is this a strategy you typically use in
all your writing? If so, who are you
writing 4HC for?
It is a strategy I use for all my writing
because you really can’t write for a
“general” audience. I think it’s true
for any company that if everyone is
your customer then no one is your
customer. And that’s true in writing. I
always write for one or two people I
have in mind. It's true for 4HWW and
4HB. In the case of 4HC, that’s certainly true. Honestly, I’m writing 4HC
for every super busy, lazy dude who
hates cooking. It’s not a book for guys
specifically at all, but I have a clear
picture of who those friends are, so
it’s easy for me to create content that
would appeal to them.
You’ve developed a devout following.
How did the people know to find you
in the first place?
I drew people to the blog during my
first book launch and focused on
putting my best content not only on
my blog but also on guest posts for
other blog sites. I think I have a loyal
following because I treat my audience the way I would treat a friend.
I talk about my personal feelings
when applicable and my personal failings when helpful. People who know
me through my blog really know
me, I feel, as a friend. I think that’s
reflected in a lot of the interaction
that I have with them, whether that’s
with spontaneous YouStream Q&As
over a bottle of wine or doing live
Q&As on Facebook for the hell of
it, to doing drive-by book signings.
Trying to have fun with my community is what has maintained that level
of engagement and excitement. They
certainly give me more than I could
ever give them. It’s not one way at
all. I learn more from my readers on
any given day via Twitter, Facebook,
and blog comments than I possibly
could teach them in a given month,
two months, probably even a year.
So it’s been really gratifying. Even if
someone offered me four or five times
what I’ve been paid in advances for
all of my books combined to purchase
my blog—which is certainly well in
seven figures—I would not do it. I
really view it as that valuable.
Sharí Alexander is the co-owner of the Expert Message Group. EMG works with speakers and authors to publish their books, craft their speeches, and build
their business. On the platform, Sharí shares
her experiences as a presentation coach and
speech writer to help organizations improve
public speaking and communication skills.