Before & After: A Tale of a Frustrated Salesman

Andy Horner, Founder & CEO, Ace of Sales

Andy Horner, Founder & CEO, Ace of Sales

I started my career as a junior web designer at a creative web agency around 1998 when the internet and websites were just exploding. It was a gold rush for those of us pioneering the new industry of website design and development. I worked my way up to senior designer, then art director, and finally creative director. 

By the mid 2000's, I 'd reached the ceiling of my earning potential. The only way to climb higher was to transition to sales. So I did. The websites my agency developed ranged from ten thousand dollars all the way up to a quarter of a million. I was selling to municipalities, manufacturers, telecom, and universities. It was high dollar sales and the competition was fierce. 

I quickly learned that for enterprise websites, which often had a sales cycle of six months to a year, the sale was often won during the follow up and stay-in-touch process. The combat skills of this battlefield were communicating creatively, giving value, building trust, exhibiting professionalism, and most importantly – connecting with the prospect.

Just like today, the prospect almost never answered the phone. Texting didn't exist and even if it had, it'd be as inappropriate to text a prospect as it is today.

So that left email as my only way to reach out.

My emails looked like everyone else's – black text on a white background. Bland. Blah. Boring. Not only did my emails look like my competition's, they looked just like the other 100 messages my prospects received on any given day.

So, I started to ask myself...

What could, and should, email be?

I discovered a few email marketing programs, like Constant Contact, but they really didn't fit my needs for one-on-one communication. Ecard services were fine for inviting parents to a birthday party or sending my aunt a get well greeting, but didn't apply to business. There just wasn't anything out there. Since my only options were boring Outlook emails or mass email tools for marketers, I realized the only solution was to build an email program for salespeople.

Soon we hooked up with Jeffrey Gitomer (which is a tale on its own), and we transformed the  prototype system I'd created into Ace of Sales. The primary goal was simple – give salespeople a tool that actually helped them make sales. That was over four years ago. Now used by almost ten thousand salespeople, our mission hasn't changed. We continue to ask...

What could, and should, email be?

A recent study reveals that email is 40x more effective at customer acquisition than both Facebook or Twitter and is still growing compared to organic search.

What could, and should, sales-making, customer-connecting, and relationship-building emails be?

Our amazing customers are showing us. I never imagined how they would help shape the tool, drive ideas for improvement, and apply their creativity to our product. I also never dreamed how many customers would become friends along the way.

Ace of Sales is my story of before and after. It's Jeffrey's story of before and after. And it's our customers' story of before and after. 

I invite you to watch our new video to learn how it could be your 'Before & After' story too.

Before & After: Your Email Makeover Story Webinar

Their first webinar together in over a year, Jeffrey and Andy return with a muscle car of an event. Their new presentation tears the hood off your email strategy and supercharges it with new examples and ideas to:

  • Get responses
  • Wake up silent prospects
  • Drive clicks
  • Excite customers to work with you 
  • Connect with humor
  • Get proposals downloaded and read
  • Foster longstanding loyalty
  • Get your newsletter out routinely
  • Inject your paycheck with more closed sales

The webinar will include brief and basic training on how to apply the ideas and examples using Ace of Sales.

Complimentary Webinar with Jeffrey Gitomer & Andy Horner

THURSDAY, MAY 1 – 30 minutes

4 SESSIONS ARE AVAILABLE

Seats limited to 1,000 per session / Live Q&A at all sessions

REGISTER NOW:

8AM EST SESSION

11AM EST SESSION

1PM EST SESSION

4PM EST SESSION

Crack a Few Smiles This Easter with Four 'Fab'ulous Pre-created Messages

I've always thought Faberge eggs were over the top. The amount of ostentatious detail that artists invest in the graceless shape of the egg is just plain silly. 

So, this Easter, we decided to poke a little fun at the world of Imperial Eggs by imagining how self-conscious plain old, everyday eggs might feel in the presence of Faberge grandeur.

Our new feature messages for Easter are predesigned, prewritten and ready to send in a couple clicks for just $1.99 each!

To send one of these 'fab'ulous messages, click on the Message Library and then click the Easter category. 

Don't have an Ace of Sales account yet? That's as silly as a Faberge! It's free to try for 30 days - hop to it!

Check out the two examples below...

© Messages, including graphics and text, are the copyright of Ace of Sales. Rights to the messages are restricted to purchase and use within the Ace of Sales system.

How Does Yahoo!'s New Email Policy Impact You?

Are you seeing a lot of email bounces recently? Are you sending your Ace of Sales emails from a Yahoo! email address, like eddiewarner@yahoo.com?  These two circumstances are probably related, and it's likely due to Yahoo!'s new email authentication policy. 

Before I explain the impact of the new policy and what you can do about it, let me first describe the basics of how email marketing services, like Ace of Sales, send email. When you're logged in to your Yahoo! account and send email, you're sending directly from your Yahoo! email address through the Yahoo! email servers. Your recipients see your Yahoo! email address in the From field.

When you send email through any email marketing service, Ace of Sales included, you're really sending from an email address hosted on the email marketing service's email servers.  Most people who use email marketing services and their recipients rarely see the 'true' email address of the sending server. Why? Because, email marketing services allow you to display what email address you want your recipients to see in the From field. You can use any email address you like, including a yahoo.com address.

When you use an email marketing service, it appears to your recipients that you're sending them an email from your Yahoo! email account. In actuality, it's being sent from a hidden email address from your email marketing service's server.

Though you may find it hard to believe, there are loads of people who abuse email. Shocker, right? Because of this, Yahoo! has finally decided they don't want people sending email from what appears to be a Yahoo! email address, when it really isn't. Understandable.

Yahoo!'s new policy change is also a technology change. Whatever email marketing service you use, Ace of Sales or anyone else, using a yahoo.com email address in the From field will cause a very high number of your emails to be bounced or blocked. That means your recipients never receive your emails. Not all email sent from an email marketing service using a yahoo.com email address in the From field may be bounced – but it will certainly be enough to notice in your open and click rates.

If the email address in your From field ends in yahoo.com, any of your recipients who use an email service that respects DMARC polices, like Gmail, Hotmail, and other prominent services will be much more likely to reject – or bounce – your email. 

So what can you do?

Simple. Switch from using a Yahoo! email address in your From field to another email address. You can use an email address from Gmail or Hotmail, who don't currently have the same authentication policy as Yahoo!. Could they adopt the same policy in the future? Yes, they could. Email fraud is worse than ever, and it's certainly within these popular services' rights to protect themselves.

The best strategy is to switch over to a custom email address that you set up at a hosting service like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, or 1&1. You can get yourname.com or yourcompanyname.com. Another alternative is to use your existing company email address. Or you could set up an email address to use just with your email campaigns or newsletter, like eddie@eddiewarnersupdates.com. It doesn't cost much and you'll avoid the high bounces due to Yahoo!'s new policies.

Ace of Sales offers one other option that few other email marketing services provide, so you can continue sending email from your yahoo.com email address. It's included with every account. We call it 'Email Delivery Boost.' Using this feature, you can send to up to 25 recipients at a time. Turn it on inside your Profile area, and you can set up your Ace of Sales account to send from your email server, including a yahoo.com account. To learn more about this feature, contact our Support Team at 800-865-7496 or support@aceofsales.com.

There are two constants with email marketing - nothing is ever constant, and email marketing will continue to grow. Learn, adapt, and keep having fun with your recipients!

Comment below to add your thoughts or email support@aceofsales.com with your questions.

Escape The Sales Insanity Rut

Guest Post by Ace of Sales Certified Partner, Jean MacDonald

Guest Post by Ace of Sales Certified Partner, Jean MacDonald

Albert Einstein said "The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result."

As salespeople, if we are not setting ourselves apart and being game changers, we are like all the rest of the many salespeople out there that simply wash, rinse, and repeat.

What does your email look like? Are the emails you send or receive all the same boring stuff? Are you lost when it comes to being creative with your marketing? Do you just blast a newsletter out there once a month, hoping people flock in with responses? On the other hand do you even know if anyone opened your emails or newsletters? When was the last time you sent a printed card? Better yet how many cards have you received this year, thanking you for the great job you did?

Finding Ace of Sales has been more than a game changer for me. It's my master key to unlock responses and relationships. And it's my self-marketing "buddy." I send outrageous emails, dynamic newsletters, and beautiful printed cards. By the way, not only do I send fabulous emails and newsletters but I know when people open them and also know when they go to my links! (note: then follow up is key)

For those I have introduced this to, using this tool on a regular basis has brought outstanding results. An illustrator said that she has sold her work because of the email greetings, a mortgage broker told me he is getting noticed and closed 3 deals the other week. A wedding planner told me because her customer was able to see her picture and a beautiful backdrop the agreement was signed.

You may ask, how easy is this to use? I like to say “Fisher-Price simple.” Now the real question, what is the cost? Try it 30 days complimentary and then just $20 a month. WOW! Less than the cost of 4 cups of specialty coffee - no caffeine or calories.

Escape the insanity rut! Let’s be outrageously creative together.

Bus or Car: Which Self Marketing Vehicle Are You Driving?

What was your favorite PBS show growing up? I loved Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers as much as the next kid, but my favorite program was 3, 2,1 Contact. Remember that show? I can still remember munching on Little Debbie snack cakes while being mesmerized by their science skits and reoccurring stories, like the Bloodhound Gang.

One of 3, 2,1 Contact’s best pieces was a simple but brilliant math lesson about efficiency. Shot documentary-style, the setting was a school parking lot. Parked in front of a group of 60 kids was a school bus and a hatchback car. A young lady asked the viewer which vehicle could transport all the kids to the destination on a very small, specific amount of fuel (I don’t recall the exact volume). 

As a kid, I thought the car would use the gas more efficiently. It’s so tiny! Both vehicles attempted the task. The hatchback, which could only hold 3 passengers, ran out of fuel on the 6th trip after transporting only 18 kids. The bus, which could carry all the children in one trip, successfully completed the challenge. 

To my surprise, the bus was the more fuel-efficient method of transportation.

This illustration applies to the current Sales Automation business trend.

Sales Automation is the “set it and forget it” process of acquiring new customers. Email blasts and search ads drive prospects to landing pages, which then capture their info, score them, and queue them for salespeople to contact. The salespeople complete a call or demo and re-score the prospect, which triggers a whole new set of emails or higher tier calls.

Ugh.

That’s the bus at work. It’s fast. It’s efficient. And guess what, it creates customers who have no loyalty to you or the company.

Thinking back to the 3, 2, 1 Contact bus/car test, let’s ask a different question. Instead of "which vehicle was more efficient?” what if they were testing "which driver made more of a personal connection with their passengers?" The bus driver could never get to know the children they carried. But the car driver could have chatted and connected with each car load on a personal level - a few minutes to talk to each kid.

As you decide how to gain efficiencies in your sales process this “spring cleaning” time of year, protect the customer relationship!

Perhaps you route support calls back to the same sales rep the customer spoke with first. Maybe you send a printed thank you card with a unique message to every new customer. Try sending at least one unsolicited referral to one of your customers each week. Once a customer has been contacted, all templated messages should include a personalized intro.

Automation may dominate the current conversation in sales, but heed this warning:

You can automate a sale, but you can’t automate a relationship.

'Bear' Essentials for St. Patrick's Day

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Green beer. Green rivers. Green lipstick. Green EVERYTHING!

St. Patrick's Day is no doubt one of the weirder and wilder holidays! Whether you're one of those crazies who go all the way on St. Patrick's Day or you're a more sensible type who grabs their once-a-year green socks, don't forget to send a greeting to your customers and contacts.

St. Patrick's Day is all about friends, family, fun, festivities – and sometimes even acting like an animal.

So here's a series of fun and festive pre-designed, pre-written St. Patrick's Day messages with an animal flair and a 'pinch' of weirdness.

To use the messages:

  • Log in to your Ace of Sales account (or sign up for a 30 day free trial)
  • Click the Message Library tab
  • Click the St. Patrick's Day category on the left
  • Preview and purchase your favorites for $1.99 each (yours to use over and over!)
  • Click 'Use'
  • Add a contact or group of contacts
  • Make any edits you want, then send!
  • Enjoy the appreciative responses!

Speaking of appreciation, we appreciate you!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Ace of Sales Team!

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New Daylight Savings Designs Added

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Don't let your customers experience the Wake of Shame this Sunday by forgetting to spring ahead because of Daylight Savings.

That's right – we lose an hour!

Twice a year, you get to be Johnny-on-the-Spot by reminding your customers about the upcoming time switch.

Here are 3 new pre-written, pre-designed messages that will help you do it in style! They're 100% ready to send.

Just log in to Ace of Sales, click the 'Message Library' tab, click the 'Daylight Savings' category in the list on the left, preview the messages, purchase your favorites for $.199 each, and send to all your contacts in seconds.

Way to go, Johnny!

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Never Say "Open the Attachment" (Updated)

The next time you send an email with a file attached, avoid instructing your recipient to "open the attached file." Such instructions are now a red flag to do the exact opposite. Viruses cloaked as harmless email attachments have ruined countless computers and devices in a single click. To many, clicking any email attachment is no longer worth the risk.

So, how do you get your recipients to open your attachments so your sales and projects can move forward?

You stop using attachments. You start providing download links.

Upload your files to a well-known, free file-hosting service like, Dropbox or Box. Then, paste the public download link to your file into your email.

Advantages: 

  • Recipients feel more safer clicking to receive your file
  • You're not filling up their inboxes storage with attachments
  • Download clicks are trackable so you know when to follow up!

Here's an example how to handle it:

"Tom, please download the Word file from Dropbox to review the outlines of our milestones for the month."

or...

"Nancy, here's the Excel spreadsheet (Dropbox download) with our detailed proposal."

When you follow this tip, your files will be opened more frequently, you'll have a new window into recipient engagement (via click tracking), you'll naturally get more responses, and fewer recipients will wonder if opening your attachment will require a trip to their dreaded IT department.

Written, Designed, and Ready to Send - New Message Series for Valentine's Day

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Appreciate your clients. They’ll love you for it!

Instant is the opposite of lasting.

Instant fades quickly.

Instant never tastes as good as slow cooked or slow brewed.

Instant has its place, but it’s not at the heart of real connections. Or is it?

Harken back to the days when connections were real with our new pre-written, pre-designed Valentine's Day series. We’ve added the new series to the Message Library so that in mere moments you can fire them off to every single one of your clients in a couple of clicks.

Just show a little appreciation.

Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to let your clients know you’re thinking about them. It offers a unique opportunity for you to stand out and build loyalty.

While most of your competition is trying to find the time to get a gift for one or two people in their lives, we’ve made it easy to touch all the special people in your life.

Sending a message your contacts will appreciate and remember? No sweat.

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See how to send one of these new Valentine's Messages in 1 minute

New Designs Added – Will You Be My Valentine?

Remember that kid in first grade who didn't get a valentine?

Of course not! That's because your teacher made a rule that you had to bring a valentine for EVERYONE in the class.

This year, we're making a rule. Every one of your clients deserves a valentine too. Why? Because just like little Timmy in first grade, they're each special.

Are some more special than others?

Sure. That's why you gave the wrinkled one to Timmy. Thankfully, at Ace of Sales, we don't have any wrinkled ones, so start sending valentines like the teacher's watching.

Put your heart in it and have fun.

We're sure the replies will make it all worthwhile.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Check out the designs below and feel free to leave a comment about your favorite or make any suggestions for next year's batch.

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New Holiday Designs Just Added

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All year long we've been very busy making new things for you to enjoy. Like little helpers bustling around a workshop...if only there were a seasonal reference we could make... Anyway, in addition to our new Message Library and Holiday Ebook, we’ve added fresh designs to our holiday art galleries! Check them out below!

So whether you send an email from the Message Library or create one of your own, you’ve got everything you need to make your customers' spirits bright.

Thumbs Up to A New Gallery Of Fresh Thanksgiving Designs

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To all those who have smiled throughout 2013 even when they're being shoved in the oven, I raise the long piece of the wishbone to you this Thanksgiving: May the only family drama you experience stream from Netflix. May the kids' table be as quiet as your phone in airplane mode. May the turkey be as juicy as your Facebook updates. May you only check email once... or thrice. May your Instagram moments get more likes than your siblings'. And may you enjoy a Thanksgiving to remember.

This Thanksgiving, all of us at Ace of Sales are thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope our new Thanksgiving designs will light up your week and your inbox with warm replies.

New Feature Sneak Peek: Message Library

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For a while, you've been able to clone, save, and share your messages in Ace of Sales. Helpful. But we've received a stream of requests for improved message management. You asked for: + The ability to categorize your saved messages + The option to create your own categories + A visual preview to more easily select messages + A library of messages we write and design for you

Requests granted!

Early December, look for my announcement of our beta roll out of the new Message Library. It will be a new main tab in your account automatically added for you (no download required).

The Message Library will be filled with dozens of completed messages you can purchase for $1.99 and use immediately. It's like the iTunes of business messages.

We'll have pre-written, pre-designed messages for thank yous, hellos, follow ups, birthdays, and much more. Look for our special messages for December holidays and New Years. You'll be able to choose messages for both email and printed cards.

More information coming next week, but I wanted to give you a morsel to start digesting along with those delicious Thanksgiving dishes.

Enjoy Your Extra Hour - 2 New Daylight Savings Designs

Not into Halloween? We have a couple new designs for you too! Don't miss out on our new Daylight Savings Reminder Designs for your customers. They're a great tool to give value and get great responses.

Check them out and then send them out!

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6 New Halloween Designs To Die For

You're either a Halloween person or you're not. For those of you with cotton spiderwebs draped over your front yard right now – we've created a custom theme for this year's Halloween Designs that's sure to be a thriller! Send them as email greetings or printed cards.

See them below.

Don't have an Ace of Sales account? Don't let that stop you! Everyone gets a free basic account for 30 days at aceofsales.com. Just enough time to scare up some fun!

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Share your Best Emails

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Some emails simply outperform others. 

We’ve all sent them. The email that just feels perfect as you’re writing it and then gets a great response from the recipients. Whether it's a perfectly composed thank you or a finely worded follow up, those are the emails that you use over and over again with maybe just a quick edit.

In the past, you could always clone a message after scrolling through your list of sent emails in Ace of Sales. But now you can add it directly to your saved messages with a click of a button, and avoid digging through your Tracker to access it later.

Better yet, you can share it with another Ace of Sales customer to use with just another click!

Watch the video below

 to see how it all works.

6 Messages We Want To Share With You Right Now

We hope you’re as excited as we are about how easy it is to save and share emails in your Ace of Sales account!

To get you started, we’ve created 6 pre-written, pre-designed messages that anyone can use to reach out to or reconnect with customers.

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3 Ways to Build Relationships with Shared Messages

1. Work with team members to create the ultimate email.

Share a message back and forth with your team to gather suggestions for improvements, and then share the final version for everyone to use. You’ll show that you value your team’s input, and that you’re invested in their success.

2. Share email starters.

Not every email you write is going to be used word for word by someone else, but often the hardest part of writing a good email is just getting started. Help people out by giving them a point to jump off of and you’ll make their day a lot easier.

3. Say thank you. A lot.

Send your team members, clients and contacts thank you notes for every reason you can think of. Save them and then share them with the same people. It’s like buying a box of all-occasion thank you notes without forking over any cash.

How to write emails worth stealing.

Some people write news articles. Some write novels. Others write poetry. And some people write blogs. But you? You write emails. Big difference right? Maybe. Maybe not. There are actually millions of people who write stories and poems and articles, but there are relatively few who we all know. Why is that? There’s a good bit of luck involved, but there’s a great deal more work involved. People who practice writing are much more likely to become known for their work than those who only do it when they have to.

I’ve gathered a few of my favorite quotes from writers I admire and then added a couple thoughts after each about how they can be applied to a business setting. Take a read and let me know what you think. Tell me in the comments below about what you struggle with when it’s time to sit down and write. Tell me about your successes. Tell me about your (perceived) failures. Tell me anything you want to, just write something and then keep going when you’re done.

 

"I will tell you something about stories. They aren't just entertainment. They are all we have to fight off illness and death. You don't have anything if you don't have stories."

Leslie Marmon Silko (Native American poet & novelist)

There is a place in business for storytelling. Executives use them to open meetings. Entry-level employees are often asked to relate an experience or two they’ve had that they could draw on to find success in a new position. So don’t be afraid to start an email with a story.

Just make it quick, make it relevant, and make it compelling. Use it to capture a reader’s attention and give him a reason to keep reading.

 

"What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page."

Colson Whitehead (novelist, poet, essayist)

Don’t overwrite. Write enough to get someone interested, and then get out. If you give your reader everything she needs to make a decision right then and there without ever talking to you, it’s very easy for her to decide on “no" or not now, which is as bad as no. Tease her by letting her know that she’ll miss something really juicy if she doesn’t call. But then make sure whatever you’re holding back as juicy really is.

 

" 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. For example, would you rather hear the mincing shallowness of 'I love you very much' or the heart-slamming intensity of 'I love you'?"

Florence King (novelist, essayist, and columnist)

Some words are just overused. You can distinguish yourself and your product or company by not using them. Stay away from words like very and amazing and incredible and…the list goes on. Spend a few minutes making a compelling argument instead of lazily telling your reader that your offer is amazing and expecting him to believe you.

 

"Write every day. Don't ever stop. If you are unpublished, enjoy the act of writing—and if you are published, keep enjoying the act of writing. Don't become self-satisfied, don't stop moving ahead, growing, making it new. The stakes are high. Why else would we write?"

Rick Bass (novelist, short stories, essayist)

Communication only works when it is ongoing. Have you ever let a client relationship slip only to try and pick it back up three months later? What does that email or phone call feel like? It’s awkward. You have time that you have to account for. The very act of getting in touch is an acknowledgement that you haven’t been in touch for some time. It’s best to always be finding a reason – a good reason – to be in touch with your clients. Doing this will make you much better at it than the competition.

 

"In my own experience, nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family and friends. To most people, even those who don’t read much, there is something special and vaguely magical about writing, and it is not easy for them to believe that someone they know—someone quite ordinary in many respects—can really do it."

John Gardner (novelist, essayist, critic and professor)

“I can’t write." Or, “I’m not a good writer." These are what are known as excuses. Don’t lean on them. If you can fool yourself into thinking this, what can others fool you into thinking? You CAN write. You just have to pay attention and be committed to it.

Let everyone else think they can’t write, but you know what the number one skill is that almost every employer is looking for these days? Communication. Your ability to speak and write well is critical to your success. If you were always in the same room with your clients, email wouldn’t be necessary. But you’re not.

Technology has enabled us to broaden our wingspans and work with people from a great distance. But it has also focused a bright light on the importance of being able to communicate well.

 

"I wish you good writing and good luck. Even if you've already done the good writing, you'll still need the good luck. It's a shark-filled lagoon out there. Cross your fingers and watch your back."

Margaret Atwood (poet, novelist, critic, essayist, activist)

Not every email is going to help you set new sales records. No matter how much hard work you put into your writing, there’s always more to do. Not every message will hit the mark and not every email will get a response. Learn from the ones that do and study some of the reasons why they worked.

It’s a continual effort. Practice practice practice.

So is there a difference between writing a book and writing an email? I suppose there is, but mostly that difference lies only in the final product. Ask any of these (still living) writers mentioned here and they’ll gladly tell you that even they can only write one word at a time. Which is absolutely no different from you.

Happy writing.