Discover more from The Creative Shift by Dan Blank
How I help writers find their audience
I’ve worked with writers and creators full-time for the past 13 years. It is a joy and privilege to spend my time with those who create. The work we do focuses on practical outcomes: establishing and growing a writer’s platform, creating marketing campaigns, launching books, and more.
But I find this work also goes very deep. It’s common for a writer I’m working with to say, “this is like therapy.” Now, of course, it is not therapy, I have no credentials in that field. But I think I hear this so often because it is inherently difficult to put one’s creative work out there. To know how to talk about what you create and why, and to ensure it truly connects with others, goes to the depths of what it means to be human.
The benefits, of course, are huge. It opens up possibilities such as:
Knowing exactly how to describe your creative work
Having a clear sense of your ideal audience is and how to engage them
Feeling total clarity on how to launch your book from start to finish
For those I work with, I bring a comprehensive system that we work through together step-by-step. Sometimes that has us ideating big bold ideas to engage readers. Other times, I am deep in the weeds of technical assistance.
The results? Here are what some writers have said recently about our work together:
“I began working with Dan almost two years after publishing my memoir. Working with him opened my eyes – and my curiosity – to all of the possible avenues to reaching my potential readers. He encouraged me to constantly think outside of the box by broadening the scope of the key messages in my story.” – Rachel Michelberg
“Dan was a beacon of kindness in an industry which is so often tough. His wealth of knowledge is exemplary, and he has a way of encouraging you to put yourself out there whilst holding your hand in his very own gentle, supportive way. It was such a comfort to have someone to brainstorm with and bounce ideas off, someone who was really, genuinely rooting for me and was in my corner. Dan truly cares. It’s like your book is his book, he’s truly invested, and he’s constantly working away for you behind the scenes.” – Ingrid J. Adams
“When I started working with Dan, I felt overwhelmed by all of the things I thought I should be doing to market my books. Dan helped me focus my energy and pinpoint what strategies would work best for me. He also gave me the confidence to pitch myself and my work in ways I might not have before. I now have tools I know I’ll use throughout my career.” – Kathryn Holmes Marshall
“Dan gave me a plan, helped me develop the key messages I wanted to share, and showed me all the aspects of marketing I needed to consider. Now I have a handle on what I’m doing and my confidence is soaring. I feel like I’m presenting my authentic self to my readers.” – Josephine DeFalco
“Dan provided a framework that demystified platform and social media, and helped me navigate this unfamiliar landscape. More importantly, his guidance empowered me to clarify my priorities, both as a writer and a human being. That clarity is essential to developing sustainable and effective marketing strategies. What I viewed as obstacles, I now see as opportunities for meaningful engagement with potential readers.” – Margaret Whitford
“Dan works his magic by shifting your mindset. When I first came to him, I had rather shapeless ideas of how to reach my audience. Dan was a wonderful teacher, not only guiding me on how to share my work with readers but, most importantly, encouraging me to home in on who my readers are and why I want to share my work. His patience, insights, kindness, and great sense of humor made our sessions a delight. Dan helped me understand the many tools to building a platform and taught me to approach each with focus and intention.” – Leah Redmond Chang
“Dan is an anchor in the sea of social media and marketing. He helped me change what I saw as tasks into the pleasure of sharing things that mean something to me. Working with Dan keeps me focused on connecting with others rather than checking boxes, which makes me feel grounded and keeps me calm. And, bonus, he loves what he does.” – Cynthia Newberry Martin
“Working with Dan provided a strategic point of view that goes beyond the obvious. By turning themes in my work into messaging, I’ve been able to connect with readers more organically. His approach really is a new and different way of facing the dreaded tasks of promoting and selling.” – Michael Mullin
Of course, every engagement is unique and personalized to the goals, challenges, and styles of each individual writer. Let me take you behind the scenes in how this all works…
Who I Work With
It’s most common for someone to reach out to me when:
They want to ensure they give their book the best possible chance to reach readers.
They don’t want to struggle alone through a hodge-podge list of ideas on how to share their writing. They want a strategy and a collaborator.
They want their writing to truly connect with readers, and have a positive impact on their lives. They aren’t looking for hollow vanity metrics.
I work with a wide range of writers. Each week I’m working with those who are pursing various publishing paths: traditional, hybrid, indie, and those who are not yet sure. I work with writers who are at different points on that path: still writing the book, looking for an agent, looking for a publisher, pre-book launch, book launch, and months/years after book launch. These people write fiction, memoir, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and so much else. I’ve worked with authors in seemingly every genre.
Does this sound too broad? Well, I grew up as the art kid. My life has been surrounded by creators. Even at home, my wife is an amazing artist. I believe that working across all areas of writing makes me better at helping each individual writer. There are ideas I will see in one area that can be applied to another. What I care most about is that the writer strongly believes in what they write. That is what lights me up, and why I love — LOVE — working with writers.
I tend to work with people as early as possible in their process. Why? Because to establish your platform, find your ideal readers, and ensure your work reaches them takes time. What we work on can deliver better results if you set the foundation right, then focus on effective communication, and developing trusting relationships around your creative work.
What I Do
I help writers develop their author platforms, launch their books, and create marketing strategies that work. I work collaboratively with writers, meaning that I’m in there doing the work with them. We work through my system together, and customize the strategy for each individual author.
So on a day to day basis, that can have me:
Doing research to identify comparable authors
Identifying which podcasts that author can pitch to become a guest
Editing the author’s bio
Developing the marketing section for a book proposal
Creating a content strategy for a newsletter
Digging into the backend of WordPress or Substack or Instagram ads a wide array of tools for the writer
… and so much else.
Having worked with thousands of writers, I specialize in developing clear strategies and giving writers a step-by-step process.
How I Work
So how do I collaborate with a writer to make it all happen? Several ways:
The first is that they receive access to my 15+ tab spreadsheet that outlines key aspects of my system. This is a shared document that we will be working in together. Step-by-step, we move through it, with clear instructions that lead to a solid game plan. This is a key deliverable that the writer gets to keep and use long after we stop working together. It is a living document that will comprise their messaging, audience research, marketing plans, book launch timeline, and so much else. By the time we are done, this document is packed with total clarity about how to reach their audience, and also streamlined so they know exactly what to work on, and when.
We have phone calls every other week, which are usually an hour long. I come in with an agenda, but we also talk about any questions or topics the author wants to dig into. So, even if we are working on podcast pitching and newsletters, if they have a question about TikTok or their book proposal or social media ads or anything — we dive into it.
Each call ends with a clear set of tasks that we will be working on. Sometimes they are shared tasks, other times tasks for just the author, other times tasks for me. The writer is never guessing what to be working on or where we are in the process.
Between calls, we are checking in via email. Writers have unlimited access to me via email. This is where we can share progress, get direction, ask for help, or explore new areas.
I will often reply back to an email with a video. Here the writer can see me work through problems, learn exactly how to do things by seeing and hearing me do it, and experience the collaboration in a new way.
I have honed this system over the course of 13 years. What it is optimized for is getting the work done, and feeling a sense of calm and clarity along the way. This, as opposed to what I want to avoid: just dumping information on a writer as many courses do, leaving them drowning in ideas that they don’t know how to execute. In working together, we get the work done and level up their career.
I work out of a private studio here in New Jersey. I’ve ensured the place is two things: incredibly practical, and filled with beautiful things. Namely: books and typewriters. Here I am in the studio:
I have a pretty advanced technical setup so that I can easily create videos for the writers I work with, showing them exactly how to create marketing campaigns, newsletters, use social media, and so much else. They can see me, my screen, and anything else that is needed to illustrate how to get it done. Here is a behind the scenes photo you don’t often see:
What is in the photo:
Computer with multiple redundant backups. If the computer suddenly dies, I’ll be back up and running within minutes. If a tornado destroys the studio, I’ll be back up and running in 15 minutes.
Coffee. I mean, is there a more essential ingredient to creativity?
Video and audio controller.
Teleprompter with monitor.
Sony camera with ultra wide angle lens.
Overhead camera setup with a Canon camera and wide angle lens.
Compressor for audio.
Large display so I can monitor all video and audio feeds at once.
Locked door. Every creator needs one of these!
Guitar amplifier so I can practice during my lunch break. (guitar is placed just behind my chair, out of frame)
I have redundant backups for everything. This is my backup mouse. If my mouse battery dies midway through a workshop, the backup is just inches away.
Sunscreen. SPF every day.
Vintage electronics remind me that all of these things are mere tools for creativity. The point is human connection. Here I have a 1972 Sony TV, an Atari 2600 videogame system I had when I was a kid, and a 1990’s component stereo system.
A chair to rest, read, and nap. Creative breaks are important.
I have a system that I developed to help writers get clarity, identify their ideal audience, build their author platform, create compelling marketing campaigns, and launch their books. It’s called the Creative Success Pyramid. It is having a plan for what you will do, and when. It connects all of your actions to a cohesive whole. It also helps you determine what you won’t waste your time doing, thereby conserving your energy to just what matters to you.
See below, and click here to see this full-sized in a PDF:
It’s composed of seven basic parts, you start at the bottom and work your way to the top:
Define your identity for what you create and why.
Find your ideal audience.
Develop your channels, building the platform that opens pathways to your work.
Connect with your ideal audience.
Launch and market your work.
Establish systems to find more time and focus.
Find fulfillment and growth in your creative work.
How to Work With Me
Ready to take action? Questions? Email me directly at email@example.com and let me know what you are working on, the big challenge you are facing, and how you hope I can help.
(Bonus points if you add the subject line: “Dan, I’m ready to get it done.”)
I will send you a 12 page PDF that outlines my consulting process.
If you are interested, we will schedule time to talk via phone and explore a customized plan for you.
I only work with a very limited number of clients per quarter. This is your chance to take meaningful action.
And of course, if working directly with me isn’t the right fit for you, I try to share free resources every week in the following places:
Inspiration of the Week: here are the 1-minute videos I’ve been sharing this week on Instagram: