Oh, that glorious blue hair!
It was the first thing that made me want to be BFF with this dynamite of a human being. The second thing was obviously her glorious British accent—she lives right on the border with Wales, and lists off a ton of recommendations for my upcoming trip—and the third thing?
Well, the third thing is simple: she she helps people write books for a living.
And what better job to have? (Seriously, this might even top “winemaker in Tuscany, with a bangin’ body and a boyfriend named Mario.”)
Turns out, I am not wrong: she’s ultra passionate about what she does. Hearing her talk about the way she works with clients, and the hopes she has for her clients—”I want to work with people who have an aching message to share, and whose voices, perhaps, have been stymied by the traditional publishing industry”—I don’t just want to make her my best friend.
I practically want to kiss her.
Vicky Quinn Fraser is not your average book coach.
- Her Instagram handle, @tinybeetlesteps, is more than a quirky name: it’s a law of writing she lives by. “Most people think they need to quit their life and go to a cabin for a month to write, but that’s not true,” she tells me. “All books happen in tiny beetle steps.”
- She brands herself as “the book coach for misfits.” And if you ask her, she is one: being diagnosed with ADHD years ago made her realize that “mainstream advice isn’t usually helpful for people like me: the 7 habits of highly boring people just doesn’t WORK for us. The world is not set up for us. It’s set up for Victorian factory workers. It’s not set up for the way it needs to be.”
- She’s hilarious, if you couldn’t tell (that line about “the 7 habits of highly boring people” had me rolling).
- One of her coaching programs is actually called “The Weird and Wonderful Book Coaching Society.”
- While she’s in the middle of getting a shiny new website in place, she deliberately doesn’t stress about marketing—below, I’ll tell you what she does instead.
- When not working, she hopes on a trapeze or a pole and puts us all to shame. (She also hangs out with baby lambs, so I’m pretty sure she is doing something right and we should all follow suit!)
- She met David Sedaris (!!!) and he asked her: “So, have you ever met anyone who is truly evil?” (Sedaris is famous for asking you questions, rather than the other way around, on his book signing tours.) This started a whole conversation about a cat in their village, who is obviously the epitome of all evil because he attacked her car. 😂
One of the first questions I ask her is this: “So, what stops people from writing a book?”
And Vicky Quinn Fraser, being the dynamo that she is, instantly rattles off a long and loving list of the things her clients struggle with most.
”There’s no time to do any writing this week (ahhhh!!!); I have this beautiful idea in my head, but when I write it down, it sounds like garbage!”; I’m creatively blocked; I haven’t got any ideas; everything I’ve written for the last week is trash; actually, this is the wrong idea for my book—hell, what are we going to do?; everyone’s going to hate me and the world is going to end.”
But the biggest one is the trash: everyone thinks what they’ve written is trash.
”Okay well why don’t you send me this ‘trash’ that you’ve written and let’s have a look at it.”
And already you can see why having a book coach like this would be invaluable: hiring her comes with the bonus of a warm writerly hug for your brain. And, if I’ve learned anything in publishing myself, it’s that we ALL need warm writerly hugs for our brain. (The brain is a real asshole to writers.)
Of course, Vicky didn’t start out having all the cool indie publishing clients. In fact, she didn’t start out in publishing at all. In a far, far away world, Vicky was once a direct response copywriter, but she “didn’t love it enough to be amazing at it.” (So much insight in that statement alone, for those of us considering career changes.) One day, a client of hers asked, “Can you write a book for me?” Naturally, she said “sure!” and then immediately thought to herself “how the hell am I going to do that???”
And so began her initial foray into the world of self-publishing. She researched. She experimented. She wrote. She tested. And turned out? She loved the process. “Ever since I did that first one, I wanted to do more of it.”
And do more of it, she did.
For other clients, yes—but also for herself. Since, she’s self-published four of her own books, her latest of which is appropriately titled, “How the Hell Do You Write a Book?”
And guess what???
It serves as the best lead magnet EVER.
”The book markets me, rather than me marketing it. I give it away quite often as well. It IS a lead magnet: it’s a great thing to bring people into my world. Then people seek out all your other stuff as well.”
Lesson number one in online business: we all need books on Amazon. 🌟
Lesson number two in online business: think about marketing the way Vicky does. The concept of “bringing people into my world” is an attractive one. It’s not about being pushy: it’s about inviting people in. (See? More warm hugs!)
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In the early stages of her business, as she began helping clients write their own books and writing some of her own, she naturally started publishing her thoughts related to it all—her podcast is A GEM—and then she began getting questions from people all over the world: well, how can I self-publish mine?
Lesson number three in online business: when you’re doing something you love, it’s easy to talk about it publicly. And that’s really all that marketing is: talking. Sometimes I suspect that when we don’t want to talk about our thing, it isn’t because we lack the confidence: it’s because we lack excitement and enthusiasm for what we’re actually doing.
Alas, Vicky doesn’t lack enthusiasm, passion, or motivation. In fact, one of the reasons why she got so hooked on indie publishing is one of the reasons she’s continued on in the business:
“Traditional publishing not an equitable way of doing things since they’re looking at your platform and that’s why you get a book deal.”
As someone who’s done the traditional publishing route, I can vouch that this is an important metric. They’re looking at authors as partners, rather than writers. Which, of course, is troubling if you’re out there trying to be a damn good writer, rather than “big, fat Instagram influencer.”
More than that, though, Vicky’s perspective is that the traditional publishing industry, while glamourous AF, also minimizes otherwise inspiring voices. She’s ALL ABOUT the democratization of book writing.
Furthermore, she’s all about bringing hearty little messages of truth into the spotlight. The client she seeks is the client who has “something important to say”: she’s not interested in working with “bro-marketey” clients who just want to “be positioned as thought leaders” rather than actually being them. She tells me this:
“There’s this saying of “books lend an air of expertise. No, you EARN your expertise. You absolutely can write about your journey up to your experience until now. But, what’s gross is attempting to put on a thin veneer of expertise, i.e. ‘I’ve just started and now I want to position myself at the top the tree.’ If you don’t have any experience, that’s disingenuous.”
So, how does she find these clients? And then, how does her business work?
She tells me that six things are critical for her success—but that they all play different roles in her business:
- The Book on Amazon: its role is to “bring people into her world,” as she so elegantly put it.
- Instagram and LinkedIn: their role is to start having conversations with the people she’s brought into her world. She credits these two as THE TWO where most of her leads come from. In fact, she’s been delightfully surprised at the effectiveness of her LinkedIn page: her strategy has been to just get on there and “have fun,” since in that context, her personality really stands out. Naturally, LinkedIn is a great fit for her, since her target market of business folks are always hanging out there. Instagram, on the other hand, is great for more creative types. She’s been getting into Reels lately, and said that it’s been working well because it’s still a relatively untouched land for people in her industry.
- The Podcast: its role is to start having more in-depth conversations with the people she’s brought into her world, except they are asynchronous and a potential client can ‘have a conversation with her about self-publishing’ anytime they’d like. Here’s where she shares more of her authority and expertise in a longer format. (And also brings new people into her world who are searching on podcasts for writing inspiration.)
- Email List: We all know the email list is the crown jewel of online marketing, and this is no exception. She works to get leads from all of those places onto her email list, where she sends two things: an email every Tuesday, and a poke about her latest podcast every Saturday. This is awesome, as it adds a cyclical dynamic to her marketing: her authority will be reinforced through her podcast to her email list subscribers, and her email list subscribers will subscribe to her podcast.
- Book Breakthrough Jams: This is the first paid service she offers. It’s an entry-level mini coaching service designed to attack the biggest problem that new authors face: “I’ve got an idea, but how do I even get started???” This is usually where someone is stuck in the beginning, so this is an excellent way to get a client’s trust: meet them where they’re at for relatively small investment, and then it opens the door to a bigger conversation about a more committed service. Her Book Breakthrough Jams consist of: one 90-minute “book breakthrough session” + a month of Voxer + 1 follow-up call for £1800. As Vicky told me over the phone: “Essentially I take people from having their big idea (we spend the first week on their big idea) to getting them set up so they can spend next 10 or 11 weeks actually writing. Then, we see how far you can get.” And, one of the things she’s doing well is limiting the number she offers every month, AND requiring an application, so she can nudge potential clients to take the leap. Here’s an example of how she words it. From there, if you decide to upgrade to her 6-month coaching service (more on this below), she’ll knock the charge off the total bill. Otherwise, she has the 3-month group coaching service she can offer as a downsell for less money. Lesson here: look for the biggest obstacle your clients have and turn it into an intro service. Then, upsell and/or downsell accordingly. 💛
- Word-of-Mouth: One of the other big ways that clients find Vicky—and hire her for her big-ticket services—is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. And, this makes sense: people are always talking about wanting to write a book, so it serves as an instant trigger for her to be referred and recommended by her existing and past clients. The key here is designing your work around a phrase that people can associate with your work, so that way, when it’s mentioned in conversation, they’re triggered to refer you. This is when it’s preferable to keep your elevator pitch simple and results-oriented: if you’re a heart-centered coach for creatives, it’s hard to imagine that coming up in everyday conversation. (And how would you know if someone needed one of those?) But, if you help people self-publish their books, that’s an easy association: it’s focused on the result, rather than the title. And, since people are always talking about what they want, you can connect the two.
Word of mouth is usually one of the best marketing methods for high-ticket services: that implicit trust that comes from a recommendation goes a long way to getting someone to commit large sums of money.
Vicky has two main high-ticket services:
- 3-month group coaching program. That would be The Weird and Wonderful Book Coaching Society, which she sells for £3,500. (Currently being renovated and placed on the new website.)
- 6-month individual coaching program. This is where her real bread and butter lies. 🍞 🧈 She works with individuals over the course of six months—purposefully placed into a six-month container because, from experience, she knows that putting constraints around the work will help the author do the work. This intensive program includes: weekly coaching calls, Voxer support M-F, 8am – 5pm, direct hands-on feedback on the work, a structural edit to get it ready for publication or an agent, all the advice in the world, and several bonuses. She charges £15,000 for this, and offers generous payment plans at no additional charge. (In fact, she emphasises how much she really promotes payment plans, and most clients do, in fact, take her up on them: it helps the investment feel more manageable.) But first, she requires a 10-minute application process, followed up by a meet-’n-greet call. You can view the application here. (She uses Dubsado to manage the application process.)
Regarding the 6-month window of time, here’s what she had to say on its effectiveness:
”I’ve found that when you put that time limit on, it feels like a big enough investment that they’re going to really do their best to make this happen. Clients get less done, less quickly, when there’s no time limit. You’re going to do your best in 6 months, I’m going to do my best in 6 months. If you want to purchase more after that, you can, but truth be told? Most clients need help being DONE.”
But perhaps most interesting of all is that she doesn’t need to scramble with her marketing in order to get 100 clients: her services are (a) priced healthily enough and (b) take up enough of her time that she can be comfortable with just a handful of clients during any 6-month period.
”It’s not a numbers game for me—I just need to find two or three right people at a time.”
There is wisdom in charging good money for your hard work. ✨ But, charging a healthy amount of money is also a strategy in and of itself to find the right clients. “You can’t write a book when you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from,” she tells me. And so we see, her pricing actually serves as a useful filter, helping her to attract clients who are in a position to do the work with her.
And who want to make the process way more fun.
Fun is a major theme of Vicky and her work: let’s face it, book writing can be DAUNTING. It can be super intimidating for clients. So, her goal is to make the process light and effervescent and exciting. And, it works wonders in attracting the right people toward her—especially the ones who could really benefit from a burst of “light and effervescent and exciting.”
Confidence is the piece that Vicky says is the real deliverable here. Sure, her clients are writing books, but the real game changer is the sense of personal self-confidence that comes as a byproduct.
”Doing hard things changes who you are,” she tells me. “And for many of my clients, it changes their entire business.”
”It’s exciting to see people start with one idea, but then they start writing their book and it changes along the way and becomes something very different. It becomes this thing that shapes the entirety of their business. It becomes the beating heart of what they represent and who they are in the world. Most people don’t expect that, but it’s one of the biggest benefits of writing a book: you get more clarification about yourself in six months than you might otherwise in six years!”
Naturally, I also want to know what the biggest objection she gets is.
When she’s on the phone with a prospective client, what gives them pause? Where does she have to do the most selling?
The answer: not money, but TIME.
Clients routinely tell her that they’re busy: “if I’m going to make this investment, how am I going to get this done?”
”This is one of the things I talk to people during the initial call: let’s be honest about your schedule. If you have NO TIME AT ALL, you won’t be successful. But if you’ve got an hour a day, then you can do it. So, I’ll often work through their schedule with them to find a pace that can work.
That’s some hands-on problem solving right there—and what a great way to sell: help your clients find solutions to the problem that’s making them hesitate.
The other common objection is less obvious—but just as big of an objection in the minds of buyers. That problem is this:
“Is this even a good enough idea for a book? Will it sell?”
Vicky laughs and tells me that everyone is worried about this.
”Most people worry they don’t have a super dramatic story, and so no one is going to want to read it. But, that’s an unfounded fear. All people have a story that needs to be told.”
She, in her warm hug fashion, encourages them to start writing the book first—then we can worry about how we’re going to market it.
If “fun” is the main theme of Vicky’s work, ”we” is its co-star. Speaking with her makes you feel like you’re a “we,” and that you’re in this thing together. Over the years, I’ve advised this change in demeanor as an excellent way to show clients exactly that: you’re on their team. This isn’t a “me” against “you” situation where we’re in a negotiation to see who’s going to “win.” (i.e. I’m going to take your money and you’re going to feel like you’ve lost something.)
Rather, we’re both going to enter into this relationship together in order to fight toward a common goal. I’m a damn good player to put on your team. Put me in coach, I can help.
And that, more than anything, is what makes Vicky Fraser a success.
While she’s a big ol’ brain when it comes to self-publishing…
And she can help you write your book from start to finish…
And she knows exactly which platforms you should publish on…
And she probably knows more about ISBN numbers than all of us combined…
What really makes her successful is the amount of heart she puts into her clients.
Which is, perhaps, why none of the main objections are about the financial investment in her, but rather the self-doubt clients experience in themselves.
Self-doubt is one of the most common business killers. It has nothing to do with you, but if you can take on the responsibility of helping clients manage theirs?
You can do anything.
And, you can charge great money for it, too—all while hanging out on a trapeze, rockin’ out with blue hair, fondling baby lambs, and working with the clients of your dreams.
Just as long as you don’t bring the village cat. 😉