SPF-107: The Entrepreneurial Mindset -with Chris Ducker

James talks to serial entrepreneur Chris Ducker about the Rise of the Youpreneur and why self-published authors fit this business model perfectly.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Building a business around yourself
  • Why Chris chose to self-publish Rise of the Youpreneur
  • The economic longevity of being a Youpreneur
  • Why self-published authors are the ideal Youpreneurs
  • Chris’s marketing strategy for his new book

Resources mentioned in this episode:


BOOK: Rise of the Youpreneur

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

COURSE: Book cover design course with Mark’s cover designer, Stuart Bache

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SPF-106: Masterclass: How To Get Reviews – with Mark Dawson

Mark and James discuss how even beginning authors can gather reviews for their books, and why this matters.

This week’s highlights include:

  • The chicken and egg problem for new writers trying to get book reviews
  • How to avoid Amazon removing your reviews
  • The benefits of an Advanced Reader team
  • Getting your readers enrolled in your success, which helps with getting reviews
  • Paid options and other tools and tips for gathering reviews

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

SPF RESOURCES: The companion PDF to this episode

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SPF-105: Increase Your Global Reach – with Kobo’s Christine Munroe

Kobo’s Senior Manager for Author performance, Christine Munroe, talks to James about the advantages of reaching world markets with Kobo that other retailers do not reach.

This week’s highlights include:

  • On Kobo’s background and beginnings
  • The idea of buying ebooks in a brick and mortar bookstore
  • The reality that we’re still in a growth phase for ebooks and indie publishing
  • The world markets where Kobo dominates over Amazon
  • The ease and simplicity of listing a book at Kobo
  • Merchandising opportunities available to Kobo authors

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

NEW COURSE: Book Cover Design with Stuart Bache $100 savings until 16 Feb 2018

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN: The KOBO Aura H2O the waterproof e-reader

KOBO WRITING LIFE: The Kobo website for authors

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SPF-104: Book Cover Design for Authors – with Stuart Bache

Book cover designer to the stars (John Le Carre, Stephen King and more) Stuart Bache talks to James about the new course he has put together to help authors design their own professional looking book covers.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Why book covers matter so much
  • Considering genre when designing a book cover
  • Mistakes authors make when they consider book covers
  • The DIY Facebook advertisements that Stuart offers
  • Details about the book cover design course Stuart has done for SPF

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

SPF BOOK COVER DESIGN COURSE: The brand new cover design course from Stuart Bache.

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SPF-103: How to be a Healthy Writer – with Joanna Penn

Indie author community superstar Joanna Penn talks to James about putting a focus on improving her health and creating a sustainable long-term career as a writer.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Joanna’s collaborations and full production schedule in 2017
  • Making changes to prevent author-entrepreneur burnout
  • Joanna’s break-up letter to sugar
  • Being truthful and vulnerable about health and habits in order to help others
  • On making new healthier habits stick

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

JUST GIVING: The fundraising page for author Tommy Donbavand


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SPF-102: The Rise of the Bots – with Kerry Gardiner

Author Kerry Gardiner chats with James about the rise of message bots; what they are, how they work, and how authors can use them for list-building, reader interaction, and so much more.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Discussion of the changes to the Facebook algorithms and their possible affect on advertising authors
  • The potential Kerry sees in message bot applications for indie authors
  • Recommendations about which bot interfaces to use
  • The interactivity of message bots
  • How Messenger operates independently from Facebook
  • Why message bots are not spam
  • Using message bots for different author business purposes, including list-building

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

KERRY’S BOT SITES: BookBotBob and his cousin, BookBotBill


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SPF-101: Smart Book Delivery – with Damon Courtney

Demon coder and indie author Damon Courtney talks to James from the NINC conference about starting and running BookFunnel, an ever-evolving service that continues to support self published authors to get their books into customers’ hands.

This week’s highlights include:

  • How Damon came up with the idea for BookFunnel
  • How BookFunnnel solves several problems for authors
  • Advanced features, including selling direct, that have arrived on BookFunnel
  • Automating book distribution and reminders to readers
  • How BookFunnel customers (authors) contribute to its development

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

SPF RESOURCES: The page where all the SPF books are available for listeners, delivered by BookFunnel

BOOKFUNNEL: Go here to learn more

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SPF-100: Making Every Second Count – Time Management Tips for Authors with Kitty Bucholtz

This Week's Handout

Kitty’s Time Management Tip Sheet


As Kitty Bucholtz followed her husband around the globe, and dealt with increasing interruptions to her writing life as a result, she had to learn effective and easy-to-implement time management skills in order to get her books written. Today she shares with James her top tips for making the most of whatever time you have to write.

This week’s highlights include:

  • The challenges that promoted Kitty to ask how to get work done in a chaotic, mobile life
  • Figuring out what normally derails your plans to write
  • The importance of written lists
  • Planning for the year ahead in steps
  • Where does spontaneity fit in with planning?
  • Managing our expectations about what we can get done
  • Planning for time off

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SPF FOUNDATION: Click here to learn more

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

TIME MANAGEMENT HANDOUT: A complimentary handout from Kitty, which includes a voucher for savings on her January 2018 course

JAMES BLATCH, INTERVIEWED: James is featured on Paul Tigg’s podcast, Self-Publishing Journeys


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SPF-099: Slave to the Algorithm – with Data Ninja David Gaughran

Champion of indie author justice, David Gaughran joins James at the NINC conference to discuss his start in self-publishing, and what he’s observing lately in the industry.

This week’s highlights include:

  • How the fundamentals of indie publishing have not changed since 2011
  • The importance of different marketing strategies depending on whether an author is in KU or publishes wide
  • Why the business of being an author is better than ever
  • Remembering that no one will work harder for your book than you will
  • On indie authors being miles ahead of the big 5 when it comes to marketing
  • David’s lesson on writing in a series

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

David’s books:

Let’s Get Digital

Let’s Get Visible

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SPF-098: Here’s Johnny! (And Sean) – Inside stories from Two Self Publishing Pioneers

No doubt you’ve heard of Johnny, Sean and Dave, the self-publishing pioneers from the Self-Publishing Podcast, one of the original podcasts focused on indie authors. Today James talks to Sean and Johnny about their two brand new offerings for authors, how things have changed in recent years, and how they will continue to change.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Being authentic while still being helpful when giving a keynote address
  • On the evolution of the SPP team and the value of meeting in person
  • Preparing during 2017 for 2018, Sterling & Stone’s big year
  • Story Shop and Stories to Go, two big S&S projects
  • Reorganizing Sterling & Stone using the team’s natural strengths
  • Throwing away a $100K project and starting over

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SPF FOUNDATION: Click here to learn more

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

STORY SHOP: Writer better stories faster.

STORIES TO GO: We give you the story. You keep the rights. (Forever.)


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SPF-097: Funding Your Way from the 9 to 5 – with C. Hope Clark

Hope Clark always knew she wanted to write. So by her mid-40s she had retired from her day job and was running a writing business full-time. She talks to James about how she supports other writers to do the same.

This week’s highlights include:

  • An announcement about the newest course coming from SPF
  • Hope Clark on retiring in her 40s so she could write
  • On Funds For Writers and the work Hope does to help authors
  • How every bit of writing helps us find our voices
  • Hope’s focus on realistic steps for writers to take when they want to quit their day jobs
  • Managing the risks involved with an author career
  • The increasing opportunities available for writers

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SPF FOUNDATION: Click here to learn more

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page


NEWSLETTER OFFER: If you’d like a complimentary subscription to Hope’s Funds for Writers newsletter, send her an email to hope@chopeclark.com before December 29, 2017 and mention you heard her on the SPF podcast. An $18.75 value.


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SPF-096: A Quiet Catastrophe – with John Birmingham

British-Australian author John Birmingham was forced into a crash course on self-publishing when, through no fault of his own, his trad deals disappeared. Luckily for readers, John turned those lemons into a new, lucrative self-publishing career.

This week’s highlights include:

  • John’s success as a freelance writer, and his unplanned, rapid switch from trad publishing to indie
  • What’s working for John now in marketing and where his focus is
  • On the shrinking mid-list at trad publishers and how that could prove to be their downfall
  • How John adjusted to running an author business as well as writing
  • The challenges in the Australian book market

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SPF FOUNDATION: Click here to learn more

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

ARTICLE: John Birmingham’s article at Which-50.com, called The Quiet Catastrophe


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SPF-095: How to Defeat Imposter Syndrome – with Katie Cross

This Week's Handout

How to Beat Imposter Syndrome by Katie Cross


Author, mother, and nap-time entrepreneur Katie Cross offers an explanation for why it’s normal for indie authors to struggle with Imposter Syndrome, and also specific strategies for how to deal with it.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Katie’s success as a YA author and her move into chick lit via Wattpad
  • What’s working for Katie now in marketing
  • The importance for Katie of segmenting her list and connecting with her readers
  • How Katie began investigating Imposter Syndrome and what she did about it for herself
  • How Imposter Syndrome can affect book sales
  • Tips from Katie for how to deal with Imposter Syndrome

Resources mentioned in this episode:

FREE PDF: Katie created a free PDF on how to defeat Imposter Syndrome

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Playing Big by Tara Mohr

COMPLIMENTARY SESSION: Katie offers a complimentary 20 minute strategy session with authors

SPF FOUNDATION: Click here to learn more

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page


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SPF-094: A Helping Hand from SPF – with Reedsy’s Ricardo Fayet

James Blatch and Lucy Dawson introduce the Self Publishing Formula Foundation, a partnership with Reedsy, that will help four authors each year to fulfill their dream of publishing and marketing their books.

This week’s highlights include:

  • The origins of the SPF Foundation
  • How the foundation works and how to apply
  • What SPF are looking for in foundation applicants
  • What Reedsy does and how they help indie authors
  • Reedsy’s suggestions about the best use of the self-publishing support available from them
  • Thoughts on the rise of book marketers who help authors

Resources mentioned in this episode:

More information about the Self Publishing Formula Foundation


Self Publishing Formula Patreon page

Do What You Can’t video – Casey Neistat

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SPF-093: From Teacher to Writer in One Year – with Cecelia Mecca

Medieval romance author Cecelia Mecca started out thinking she’d traditionally publish her books. A chat with an indie author at an RWA conference changed Cedelia’s mind and a year later she’s a full-time author, working at home and in full command of her author career.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Picking up a manuscript after 20 years and starting again
  • Learning about independent publishing – and changing directions
  • Genre research and writing in a small genre niche
  • Strategies for building a new author business
  • Thoughts around the pros and cons of free as a marketing strategy
  • The importance of finding the right editor

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Ads for Authors Course – INFO/PURCHASE link

Nov 21, 2017: Free Webinar with Mark about Advertising Strategies REGISTER HERE

Self Publishing Formula Patreon page

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SPF-092: Building a Career in Fantasy – with Michelle Madow

This week’s highlights include:

  • Doing the math and making the transition from traditionally published author to indie
  • Focusing on the genre you love to read
  • Do blog tours work any longer?
  • Outlining in order to write faster
  • Using LeadGen ads to grow Michelle’s mailing list and business
  • Classic marketing copy that still works

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Ads for Authors Course – INFO/PURCHASE link

Vellum for ebook and print formatting

Self Publishing Formula Patreon page

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SPF-091: Why I Turned Down Seven Figures to Self Publish – with Hugh Howey

This week’s highlights include:

  • Hugh’s beginnings as a writer
  • The search for a publisher … and then a change of heart
  • Re-acquiring rights
  • The increasing empowerment of creative people
  • Negotiating a print-only deal

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Selfpublishingformula.com/ads17 Get on the waitlist for the next enrollment window for the Ads for Authors course

Bella Andre episode of the SPF Podcast

Author Earnings Hugh’s project with Data Guy

Data Guy’s episode of the SPF Podcast

Conrad literary festival, Poland

Self Publishing Formula Patreon page

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SPF-090: Using BookBub CPM Ads for Profit – with Adam Croft

This Week's Giveaway

Adam Croft’s BookBub CTM Ads Tip Sheet


This week’s highlights include:

  • The basics on how BookBub ads work and how to split targeting
  • Getting on the wait list to use BookBub ads
  • Differences from the Facebook and AMS ads platforms
  • The superior reporting of BookBub ads
  • Using BookBub ads for picking up sales at vendors other than Amazon

Resources mentioned in this episode:

FREE PDF: Adam created a free PDF about BookBub Ads for SPF listeners

BOOKBUB WAITLIST: Use the form at the bottom of this article to get on the waitlist to be a BookBub advertiser


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SPF-089: Masterclass: The Value of a Sale – with Mark Dawson

This week’s highlights include:

• Using Facebook Messenger to boost launch sales
• On the excellent response rate of Messenger
• Calculating ROI for ads based on sell-through rates, rather than just sales of one book
• Different ways to calculate read-through
• Why it makes sense to run ad campaigns at a loss because of read-through
• Ways to promote and encourage read-through
• On the new and updated modules for the Ads for Authors course

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Authors on a train

Facebook Messenger for Business

Help! My Facebook Ads Suck (book)

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SPF-088: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Revision Process – with Joan Dempsey

This week’s highlights include:

  • The misconception that the first draft is the finished book
  • The overwhelm that can occur when revising a novel, and how to tackle that
  • Breaking the revision process into smaller chunks to deal with overwhelm
  • On Joan’s online courses about revision and their flexibility for different types of writers
  • Tips for establishing distance from your manuscript in order to revise like an editor
  • Tips for overcoming “My writing is rubbish” syndrome

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Joan’s Website

Joan’s novel: This is How It Begins

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SPF-086: How to Administer your Advance Readers – with Chris Leippi, Booksprout

This week’s highlights include:

  • The challenges Chris faced when sending ARCs to his readers
  • How Booksprout addresses those challenges
  • Why having advanced readers matters
  • Price points for new authors and also those with larger review teams
  • How Booksprout reduces follow-up time for authors
  • Discoverability for readers on Booksprout
  • The leap in ARC review response Chris has seen since using Booksprout himself

Resources mentioned in this episode:


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SPF-085: Shaking Up the Audiobook Market – with Kevin Tumlinson

Kevin Tumlinson from Draft2Digital reveals the company’s exciting new plans for indie authors wanting to make the most of the audiobook market.

This week’s highlights include:

  • Changes to the tools available for indie authors at Draft2Digital
  • The new partnership between Findaway Voices and D2D
  • Details on the expanding world of audiobooks available to authors
  • Removing the limits on pricing and book length that have been in place
  • Why audiobooks are an important part of an indie author’s library

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Draft2Digital (https://www.draft2digital.com/)
SPF Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/SPFPodcast)

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SPF-084: When Your First Novel Goes Global – with Felicia Yap

Felicia Yap talks at length about how she achieved global success with her first novel – and how she’s dealt with the repercussions.

Highlights of this week’s episode:

  • Felicia’s unique and intriguing premise for her new thriller, Yesterday
  • Working out story ideas on the dance floor
  • Felicia’s very flexible approach to her writing routine
  • Applying to the Faber School
  • Finding an agent and working with editors
  • Applying creativity and a strong work ethic to the submission process

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SPF-083:Breathing Life into your Backlist with Chris Fox

How do you go about ensuring that ALL of your books are out there earning for you? Cue, self publishing wiz, Chris Fox, on how to get the most out of your previously released books.

This Week's Giveaway

Chris Fox’s free book: Relaunch your Novel


This week’s key highlights:

  • Chris’s beginnings as a writer and his background in Silicon Valley
  • About Chris’s books and videos offering help for authors
  • How to make a novel work
  • Chris’s approach to productivity
  • The power of a backlist
  • The recommended tools that Chris uses for his writing and publishing

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:

STORY GRID: Editor Shawn Coyne’s book about story structure


PATREON: The SPF Podcast Patreon page


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SPF-080: How to Sell Your Foreign Rights – with Orna Ross

The paradigm shifts in publishing have opened doors for authors. And sometimes caused challenges for those authors who have lost rights to a trad publisher and now want them back. Orna Ross, Founder and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, talks to James about these issues, how authors can approach getting lost rights back, what it takes to sell rights in foreign territories, and what to be aware of when doing so.

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<a title=”Learn FB Ads” href=”https://selfpublishing.leadpages.co/leadbox/14478ca13f72a2%3A1517e7619346dc/5641543528480768/” target=”_blank”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/lInCfMaAi6H5d8aSrc_4u2fB34mJvtglZp4jPQ17tz6BXLWwnNGGsB7J5vxLjfjqNDbFgwbOrShUjJRkE5Dd2A=s0″></a><script data-leadbox=”14478ca13f72a2:1517e7619346dc” data-url=”https://selfpublishing.leadpages.co/leadbox/14478ca13f72a2%3A1517e7619346dc/5641543528480768/” data-config=”%7B%7D” type=”text/javascript” src=”https://selfpublishing.leadpages.co/leadbox-1491318356.js”></script>


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SPF-054: Inside Amazon – with Darren Hardy, Amazon KDP

Darren Hardy is the manager of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the organisation that’s changed the lives of thousands of indie authors across the globe. With some twenty years in the business, he’s played a key role – and had a unique view of – the digital publishing revolution.

As you’ll hear, he’s still impassioned about his work at KDP. That’s in part to the organisation’s constant focus on innovation for their authors and readers (there are some great examples of that in this episode). Darren also delivers some practical tips for new authors on how to ensure a smooth start to their self publishing journey – and how to pique the interest of Amazon. Whether you’re an established indie author or just starting out, you’re going to find this episode both fascinating and useful.

Notes for this episode:

* Darren’s beginnings with Amazon and his move into KDP.

* How Amazon has changed since Darren joined the team.

* How Amazon keeps its culture of innovation going.

* On whether Amazon’s customer is the reader or the writer.

* Recent innovations include Kindle Direct Publishing for paperback.

* On whether the perception about self-publishing has changed.

* How are information about self-publishing has spread…or not.

* Darren’s thoughts on how new authors should publish.

* Errors to avoid in self-publishing.

* How authors can get Amazon’s attention.

Resources and links mentioned this episode:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

London Book Fair

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SPF-053 The Book Launch Process – with Mark Dawson

Getting ready to launch a self-published book? You’ll definitely want to listen to this Book Launch edition of the podcast. Last week saw Mark release John Milton’s latest adventure, ‘Blackout’. It turned out to be his most successful book launch ever. Find out how Mark fine-tuned his book launch process and secured 10,000 sales for ‘Blackout’ in its first week on the market.

The story of a book launch
Mark explains the importance of feedback using advance reader teams and describes what kinds of ads and book pricing worked for him. He also details how he had to face up and deal with some unforeseen problems. These ‘facepalm’ moments will help others learn from Mark’s experience.

The best places to advertise during your book launch
Mark has three favorite advertising platforms. Tune in to find out what they are and how he uses them during his book launch to exponentially grow his audience. Learn how he used his lists to gain visibility and increase sales.

The best form of marketing – Write another book!
Want to increase your visibility and increase your book sales? Listen to this episode to find out how writing another book can be your best marketing tool! Along with lots of other great marketing advice, Mark talks about how your new book can generate more sales for the books you already have out in the market.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:17] Welcome to the podcast!
  • [2:12] Intro to this episode about Mark Dawson’s most successful book launch ever.
  • [5:04] Mark shares the process of his book launch.
  • [14:19] What about pre-orders and ranking?
  • [17:16] Ways to get responses from more of your audience.
  • [21:07] The best places to advertise your book launch.
  • [26:57] Book launch mistakes to avoid.
  • [31:56] Increasing visibility.
  • [35:39] The best form of marketing – write another book!
  • [36:46] Mark’s publication plans. Congrats to Adam Croft, alumni.
  • [39:03] Final comments — looking to the future of the podcast.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-052: When Hollywood Comes Calling – with Cal Moriarty, Screenwriter and Novelist

Let’s dream a little: a Hollywood producer has called and wants to turn your book into a blockbuster. What exactly do you do next? In today’s episode, ex-private eye, crime novelist and screenwriter, Cal Moriarty, explains how to prepare for such an eventuality and how to navigate the challenges that follow.

From Private Eye to Hollywood
Cal’s own career journey is inspiring. In this episode, listen to her tell the engaging story of her road to success as a novelist and screenwriter with years spent working in Hollywood now being put to very good use.

The Hollywood Rules for Screenwriters
Film-making is a business. Hollywood has its ways of doing things, and successful writers will learn and understand the “rules,” follow them and harness them to achieve success. Cal unravels the logic behind some of these rules and how to play by them in order to secure that life-changing deal.

What are the differences between a novel and a screenplay?
“They are buying the story, not the words.” Cal Moriarty talks about the differences between novels and screenplays and what the process of turning a book into a film script involves. Find out why most movie producers don’t want authors to write their own screenplays – and how you can change their minds and get yourself the job as screenwriter for the film adaptation of your book.

Getting paid for a film option
You get the call that a producer wants the film option for your book. What should you expect in terms of being paid upfront and when the film gets made and is released? What kind of deals should you say “no” to? Cal discusses good deals, bad deals and percentages. Don’t sign anything until you’ve heard this episode!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:25] Introduction to this episode about thinking big – Hollywood big.
  • [5:17] Introduction of today’s guest, Cal Moriarty, private eye and crime mystery writer.
  • [10:18] Cal Moriarty’s transition from private eye to Hollywood
  • [19:12] Hollywood’s rules for screenwriting
  • [25:22] Difference in writing styles between books and screenplays.
  • [32:33] Some can’t do the work of cutting their novel down to a screenplay. Others can. How to get your novel out of your head and approach it as a screenwriter. It is a lot of dialog and many writers don’t like the dialog aspect.
  • [34:36] How screenwriting skills can enhance your novel writing.
  • [40:47] When to say “yes” and “no” to an option offer.
  • [46:54] Cal Moriarty’s plans for self-publishing her next novel, The First Detective.
  • [52:22] Concluding comments.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-051: Masterclass: The Value of a Reader Survey – With Mark Dawson

A reader survey is a significant tool in helping you make educated decisions about what to write, where to publish, and how to market your book. In this immensely practical episode, Mark provides details about the key information his completed 12-question 2017 Reader Survey provides and how he intends to use it (the full results are available as a free PDF with this week’s podcast). He shares the questions he uses and how they benefit him as he connects with his audience and continues to write, publish, and market his books. You don’t want to miss this very practical edition of the podcast!

Important questions to ask your readers
What do you need to know about your readers? Mark reveals three key questions to ask about demographics, and how the answers to those can make a difference in how you write and market your books.

How are readers attracted to your books?
A reader survey that gives you good feedback on how and why readers get interested in your books is a great tool to help you figure out how to fine-tune your writing and marketing. Mark explains how to get hold of this data and how the answers he has received have given him valuable insights into the most important elements for attracting new readers.

Questions that help you determine your book costs and pricing
Can a simple reader survey question help you determine the cost of a lead? How can reader feedback help you determine the price to charge for your book? Mark expands on how he used the survey to help him come up with a pricing strategy for his books.

What to write and where to publish
Information from a reader survey can be invaluable in shaping your writing and publishing strategy. Mark shares from his personal experience the impact that hearing from his listeners has on his writing – from boosting his confidence to helping him decide what to write next.

This Week's Giveaway

2017 Reader Survey & Answers


Outline of This Episode

  • [2:14] Why should an author do reader surveys?
  • [5:25] What size list do you need for a survey to be effective?
  • [7:20] Three important demographic questions.
  • [14:35] How are readers attracted to your books?
  • [21:57] Questions that help you determine costs and pricing.
  • [31:52] What to write and where to publish: Key questions to ask.
  • [42:26] The value of reader surveys for making future decisions and turning fans into superfans.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-050 How to Land a Publishing Deal – with Alex Clarke, Headline Publishing

What makes a book sell? Alex Clarke is a traditional publisher who understands the independent market as well. In this episode, he talks about writing and pitching your book in a way that will get it noticed by both publishers and consumers. You’ll want to hear every tip in this episode if you want a saleable book after all your writing efforts.

What books are publishers and consumers looking for?

What book genres sell the best? What role does the annual calendar play in how books are chosen? These questions and more are answered by Alex whose new imprint at Headline Publishing – Wildfire – has been created to try and capture those ‘water-cooler’ books that has everyone talking and Hollywood calling.

How to effectively pitch your book

Everyone wants their book to be noticed by publishers and consumers. Which part of the book is your most immediate marketing tool? Who buys and consumes the most books? Alex explains how to set expectations for your book and draw the most likely readers in. You’ll want to learn from his experience as he provides clear tips on how to pitch your book in a way that will make people want to read it!

Mistakes authors make and how to avoid them

For authors, seasoned or not, it can be easy to make some rudimentary mistakes when it comes to pitching and selling. Alex talks about those mistakes and gives plenty of insight into how to avoid them. You’ll feel better about the dreaded pitch-sell process after listening to what he has to say.

Traditional or self-publishing?

How do you get your book to be noticed by a publisher? How are the traditional and indie markets changing? Alex talks about new dynamics in publishing and the changing roles of publishers and authors. Are people reading more ebooks than paper? Which approach should you take? Tune in and find out the answers to all of these questions.

Outline of This Episode

  • [01:50] Introduction of Alex Clarke, a traditional publisher who also understands Indie market and the value of both industries.
  • [5:39] Alex Clarke talks about setting up a new imprint and describes the genres of books he will publish.
  • [8:50] What is the thought process that goes into setting up a new imprint?
  • [10:49] What will make publishers take notice of your book?
  • [19:41] Writing that appeals to the most frequent buyers and consumers.
  • [22:40] Mistakes authors make, and how to avoid them.
  • [27:40] The time and process involved in working with a traditional publisher.
  • [34:24] What is the impact of the explosion of self-publishing platforms on the traditional publishing industry?
  • [40:32] The key skill for getting your book noticed and increasing your sales.
  • [42:25] Conclusion, upcoming webinars and courses.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-049: Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors – with Ian Sutherland

Having tens of thousands of Twitter followers to engage with – especially when you have a book launch coming up – is something that most indie authors only get to dream about. But this week’s guest, Ian Sutherland, a crime fiction author with a background in technology, has learned how to do exactly that. In this episode, he explains how to use Twitter to find more readers, providing workarounds to use the platform organically, (i.e. for FREE!), to get real results. And he’ll show how to do it without breaking the rules.

How to get free Twitter followers who will be interested in your book

The more followers you have the bigger your reach will be whenever you tweet. Ian explains how to get free followers and communicate with them in a way that converts them into loyal subscribers. Ian’s strategies will show you how to get those all-important free followers who will be most interested in your book.

What tweets will help you get more free followers?

Of course you want to tweet about yourself and your book. But what other content can you tweet that will help you build a loyal follower base? Blog posts? Genre-related information from around the web? Ian provides tips and resources on how to tweet out content that will add value to followers and fans – and keep them interested in your author brand.

How to turn your followers into mailing list subscribers

So how do you motivate your followers to become mailing list subscribers? Ian provides instructions on how to effectively invite your followers to join your list. It’s a simpler process than you might think!
Don’t be a bot – Keep it personal!

There are many automated ways you can put out content on Twitter but be wary of adopting a fully automated approach. Twitter is a social media platform, so guess what? You need to be actively social with your tribe for it work effectively!

Podcast #49 Giveaway

There’s a lot to take in with this week’s episode so you might be relieved to hear we have a handy takeaway for you. Ian has put together a two page PDF that sets everything out in an easy to follow format, and it is free. It’s a fantastic resource for any indie author who’s serious about building their social media profile and engagement opportunities. You can grab a copy of it here.

This Week's Giveaway

Summary: Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors


Outline of This Episode

  • [3:23] John and Mark introduce this episode
  • [07:08] Why Ian Sutherland is on this episode today.
  • [13:15] The importance of growing your follower base.
  • [15:07] How to grow your Twitter follower base.
  • [17:53] Who should you follow?
  • [22:35] What should you Tweet, and how often?
  • [33:05] How to turn your follower base into mailing list subscribers.
  • [44:45] Don’t be a bot – Keep the personal touch in your tweets.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-048: Get Subscribers For Your Mailing List Using InstaFreebie – with Ashley Durrer

How can you get subscribers for your list? That’s what we’ve been talking about on the last few episodes of The Self Publishing Formula and this episode features a new promotional platform – InstaFreebie – as well as Mark’s ideas about how to use it in partnerships with other authors to build your list and quickly snaffle new subscribers.

Newsletter swaps with other authors.

On this episode of the podcast, Mark shares an idea he’s implemented a few times with a good deal of success. Authors can begin to build relationships with other authors writing in the same genre. Together they can use their respective email lists to share each other’s books and make them available through opt-ins. When combined with a tool like InstaFreebie – highlighted on this episode – subscriptions can sky rocket. You can hear how Mark has seen it work, in this episode.

Get to know authors in your genre.

Every self-published author struggles to build their subscriber list and sell books. But it can be easier if authors learn to work together – especially when those authors write in the same genre. Imagine what might happen if you are able to use your list of 500 subscribers to promote another author’s free book offer – and they use a list of their own to promote yours. You have a “warm” audience that is very likely to take a look at your book after a recommendation from an author they already trust. It’s a win-win situation.

Getting more subscribers to your email list just got easier.

Our guest on this episode of the podcast is Ashley Durrer of InstaFreebie. The platform helps authors choose how many eBooks they want to give away in return for some serious list-building. Using the InstaFreebie platform, readers are given the opportunity to opt in to your mailing list at the point of book delivery. As Mark has discovered, the service has the ability to give authors some real traction with regard to boosting those all-important mailing lists.

For around $20 per month, you could get thousands of subscribers to your email list.

InstaFreebie is a new way to promote your books through giveaways – and it’s a very reasonable investment when you calculate the cost-per-subscriber. For pennies, you can potentially get thousands of new subscribers to your list and be set up to promote your next book or special offers to many more subscribers than you have now. On this episode, Mark chats with Ashley Durrer of InstaFreebie about how the service has become an essential tool for many indie authors.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:33] James and Mark’s introduction to this episode of the podcast.
  • [5:30] Update on Mark’s latest BookBub promotion.
  • [7:30] Using Newsletter swaps with other others.
  • [12:31] How you can find good Newsletter swap buddies.
  • [13:40] What is InstaFreebie and how can it be used to build your list?
  • [16:52] The reasonable cost of InstaFreebie.
  • [20:40] How InstaFreebie helps authors connect with readers and other authors.
  • [23:10] What Ashley recommends for authors who only have one book.
  • [25:50] How the platform works and why it’s so helpful.
  • [29:10] Why InstaFreebie is comparable in terms of cost.
  • [30:38] How authors can work together using the platform.
  • [33:57] The SPF efforts to build a way for authors to get more subscribers.

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SPF-047: Masterclass: Building a Mailing List part 2 – With Mark Dawson

List building is one of the most strategic and powerful activities you can engage in as an indie author. That’s because it’s the one way that you’re able to build a list of people who have willingly expressed an interest in the type of books that you write. And it’s YOUR list. One that you control and can sell to any time you like. That’s a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal when it comes time to launching a book, running a promotion, or just reaching out to your list to build the relationships required to fuel your author career long term. This episode is part two of the list building series in which Mark and James address the use of paid advertising to capture the email addresses of prospective buyers. You won’t want to miss the plethora of career-boosting tips shared within it!

List building through paid advertising. Did you say ‘paid’?

The words “paid advertising” might make some of you shudder. But try and remember that your author career is a business and in order to grow any kind of business you will need to invest money in it eventually. Mark and James talk about how to get started with paid advertising without breaking the bank and underline the rewards of getting it right and seeing that email list grow.

Facebook Ads is one of the most powerful lead generation tools for list building.

Mark’s Advertising for Authors has become a go-to course for many indie authors looking to exploit this marketing option. Mark and James touch on some of that course’s content and share some of the basics of lead generation using Facebook Ads. The tips learned here have been used by many other authors to successfully explode their mailing list. It’s powerful stuff!

The lowdown on Twitter Ads and YouTube Ads.

Two of the less popular advertising platforms out there that you might want to consider are Twitter Ads and YouTube Ads. Both are featured as bonus modules as part of the Advertising for Authors Course. Whilst they’re not as effective as the Facebook platform, James explains why they shouldn’t be written off – and maybe just the thing for some authors.

Did you know that Amazon Ads can be used to by authors to build lists?

You’re now able to use the power of Amazon to get your books in front of more readers by targeting people who have already demonstrated through their Amazon purchases that they are interested in the exact genre or type of book that you’ve written.So how does it work? Worry not! Mark and James briefly walk you through the Amazon Ads option and show you how you can use it to promote your books – and successfully build your list through opt-ins.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:22] Mark’s latest epiphany – he’s been writing 2 books, not 1.
  • [3:44] Resuming the email list instructions, what to expect on this episode.
  • [6:28] James’ progress in building his list since last week’s episode.
  • [11:27] Today’s focus on paid advertising to build your email list.
  • [15:10] How to set up a Facebook lead generation campaign (and why Mark spends most of his money on these).
  • [21:23] How to dial-in the targeting functionality on Facebook ads.
  • [27:08] Why you need to give targeting and ads time and how you can learn as you go.
  • [29:52] Ways you can defray the cost of your advertising.
  • [33:04] Twitter and YouTube ads. Possibilities and returns you can expect.
  • [40:41] The basics about Amazon Ads (anyone can use them, not just KDP select)
  • [46:45] Bookbub promotions and deals.
  • [49:44] Upcoming episodes in this series and on detailed additional topics.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-046: Masterclass: Building a Mailing List part 1 – With Mark Dawson

At Self Publishing Formula, we often bang on about the importance of building an email list. It’s the most important piece of digital property you’re ever likely to own as an author – perhaps even more than your books. That’s because your email list is the jump start to every book launch. Up to now we’ve never really gone in depth to tell you exactly what comprises a list and how to build one. That all ends today. This episode of The Self Publishing Formula is the first of a series of podcast episodes that will unpack the mystery of mailing lists and teach you how, step by step, to build your own. It’s the crucial component of a successful author career so listen carefully!

So what IS a mailing list?

A mailing list is a collection of names and corresponding email addresses that you own and are able to send correspondence to. But there’s more to it than that. The kind of email list we’re talking about on this episode is one where the people who are on your list have CHOSEN to be on the list. They have asked to be added because they’re interested in the type of things you promise to share through your list. That’s a powerful thing! It enables you to engage with readers without fear of spamming or bothering them. They want in on what you’ve got to offer.

List Building is Career Building!

Your mailing list will allow you to start creating long-lasting relationships with readers that will pay dividends not only when it comes to book launches but also with regard to research, feedback and writing inspiration. Getting the relationship right is key. Mark offers up some clear advice on how to go about this.

Build your first email list.

Mark and James take a hands-on, practical approach in this episode, walking you step by step through the process of building an email list. The first thing Mark suggests you do once you’ve decided on the method you will use to collect your subscriber information is to reach out to 10 people you know personally – family or friends – and tell them what you’re doing and ask if they would be interested in being part of your list. It’s an easy but often overlooked way of getting your list started.

Keep it going.

There’s never a time when you should feel that your email list is large enough, no matter how big it gets. Mark and James discuss the various ways you can build your mailing list on an ongoing basis – with more tips, tricks and advice to come in the weeks ahead.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:23] James and Mark introduce this episode about mailing lists.
  • [5:33] This is the first of 3 episodes about mailing lists – how it’s going to work.
  • [9:02] Why SHOULD you have a mailing list?
  • [12:55] What tools can you use to build your mailing list?
  • [20:01] How to begin building your list.
  • [25:44] The importance of growing and maintaining the relationship with your list.
  • [29:16] How often should you send email to your list?
  • [33:01] Using social media to grow your mailing list.
  • [42:30] Additional methods to give people opportunity to join your mailing list.
  • [47:00] The challenge for this week: Get 10 subscribers by the next episode.

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SPF-045: From US Marine to Self Publishing Success – with thriller writer Wayne Stinnett

In the final SPF podcast of 2016, James briefly looks back at a year that held much promise for indie authors trying to advance their careers. It was also the year that the long-awaited Self Publishing 101 Course was launched with over 1000 students taking a step closer to becoming full-time, successful writers.

Talking of which, in our last author interview of the year, James chats to thriller writer, Wayne Stinnett, whose career path alone could form the plot of a book! Wayne has exploited his experiences as a US Marine and used them as inspiration for a book series that is now delivering handsome returns and allowing him to live that dream as a full-time author. The interview was conducted in Florida in September 2016 when the SPF team were attending the NINC conference there. Happy Days.

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SPF-044: Make Money Teaching Through Self Published Books – with Million Dollar Author, Joseph Alexander

The million dollar guitar tutor.

It’s still quite rare to hear of an author earning $1 million in book sales. But it’s extraordinary to hear of an author earning that amount from sales of his instructional books on guitar techniques. James chats with guitar tutor and author Joseph Alexander this week to unpack the way he’s been able to leverage his teaching to make money in a way that wouldn’t be an obvious option for most music teachers. Joseph’s self-publishing journey is nothing short of remarkable and you will be inspired with new ideas from listening to what he’s achieved.

Who is the guitar teacher behind this $1 million author career?

Joseph has been a guitarist and expert music tutor for over 20 years. His guitar instruction books are published in four languages and have sold over 200,000 copies. He’s authored over 30 guitar guides and is very generous in sharing how he’s exploited his niche, including his marketing approach and more. It’s all on this episode.

You could very well make money teaching a subject you love, just like Joseph Alexander.

If you are a teacher of any kind – languages, music, yoga, cooking – you have the possibility to create a self-published book empire just like Joseph. His terrific teaching ability lies at the heart of his business but it’s self-publishing and self-taught marketing processes that have triggered his high income. Get outside the box of what you thought was possible by listening to how Joseph has creatively leveraged his teaching skill to build a sizeable income for himself and other instructors.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:22] Welcome and introduction to this episode.
  • [4:19] Introduction to today’s guest, Joseph Alexander: $1 million author.
  • [7:37] How Joseph started putting his guitar teaching into written form to publish.
  • [9:10] Why guitar teaching has become a very lucrative career for Joseph.
  • [10:47] How Joseph has marketed his instructional books.
  • [17:46] The systems Joseph uses to manage his email list and deliver his content.
  • [21:38] Exploring the possibilities of online courses.
  • [26:52] An example of how Joseph does his instruction.
  • [31:39] The practical side of teaching guitar.
  • [41:10] The history of Joseph’s book publishing journey.
  • [48:23] Using Amazon marketing to distribute his books more widely.

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SPF-043: Legal Hazards for Authors and How to Avoid Them – with Attorney David Burgess

Defamation of character is not something an author wants – or expects – to be sued for. But as you’ll hear from this week’s guest, attorney David Burgess – a specialist in publishing law – it’s more common than you might think. Most self-published authors write without thinking about the possible legal implications of their published work. Given that a legal action could end up costing you thousands of dollars and threaten your livelihood, it might be worth giving David a few minutes of your time. Expert legal advice rarely comes as cheap as this!

Character defamation and other legal pitfalls

James and David chat at length about the issues of character defamation – both in fiction and nonfiction works – and how careful research and mindfulness during the writing process will help limit potential legal threats. Privacy is another hot potato of an issue. How do you know when your work has stretched beyond the limits of what’s deemed acceptable by law? David provides a useful outline of how privacy laws are viewed in both the US and the UK with tips on how to sidestep problems from the off.

The problem with having a high profile

With writing success comes an increased profile. And that might make you more of a target for unscrupulous lawyers and fortune-seekers who want to cash in on your success. David explains how his work as an attorney helps authors safeguard themselves against such attacks.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:24] Summary of last week’s recording experience and gathering.
  • [1:55] The importance of the “legal” side of self publishing and introduction to today’s guest.
  • [6:13] Why the legal side of publishing can become a big problem if you’re not careful.
  • [10:20] What steps should authors take to prevent legal troubles?
  • [17:30] The issue of privacy: How authors need to protect themselves from lawsuits.
  • [23:23] How legal counsel can be accessible to the everyday author.
  • [26:00] A situation in James’ book he’s probably going to change for legal reasons.
  • [34:19] What happens when authors reject legal counsel they might receive?
  • [36:22] Do you need a disclaimer passage in your books?

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SPF-042: Self Publishing 101 – The Lowdown – With Mark Dawson

It’s been on the slate ever since The Self Publishing Formula came to be: to create an easy to access course that indie authors could use to have the myriad of options and processes involved in launching or sustaining a successful author careers explained to them in plain English and easy-to-follow tutorials by someone who’s been there and done it. After months of painstaking research, writing, recording, editing and multiple revisions, that course – Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing 101 – is now available for a limited period. Pre-launch beta testers and early adopters are buzzing with excitement about it and you’ll hear – and see if you watch our podcast on YouTube – their enthusiastic feedback for yourself on this episode of the podcast.

Who is this publishing 101 course ideal for?

With a name like “Self Publishing 101,” you might think that the most basic steps about writing, formatting and publishing a book yourself are what’s covered. And you’d be right. But this particular course doesn’t stop there. Mark and the team have included steps for helping you establish yourself as an author brand, how to find your audience, how to use social media effectively to promote yourself and your books, how to gather emails and build a list of rabid fans. And the list goes on and on. Tune in to learn more about the exciting, jam-packed course curriculum.

They told me I didn’t need the course because of my experience. They were wrong.

One of our beta testers for the Self Publishing 101 course is a woman who’s been writing and publishing her own books for many years. Her writer friends decried her use of the course telling her she’d be wasting her time. But what she discovered was the same thing that is true of many experienced authors: the platform on which she had built her career was shaky. Through the course, she’s now been able to make some major refinements and tweaks to the way she operates as an indie author. You can hear more about her reaction – and why she thinks the course is woefully underpriced – in this episode.

When a self-publishing course is not just a self-publishing course.

It’s one thing to include the basics of how to write, format, and publish a book on your own in a self publishing 101 course. It’s an additional step to take you into the brand building and fan attraction machines that every successful author needs to master. It’s even more valuable when the course provides tangible examples of the resources and tools you can use to make your life as an author and entrepreneur easier. But with access to a large supportive community of fellow authors coming as part of the package, the team at SPF are convinced that they’re close to achieving their main aim with Self-Publishing 101: to make it the gold standard course in its sector. But they’re not alone in thinking that as you’ll hear from the guests on this week’s show.

The best pricing on the Self Publishing 101 Course is NOW.

The SPF team has created the Self Publishing 101 course and it’s AVAILABLE NOW for a very limited period (until 14th December at the latest). The current price is $397 as a one-off purchase or by way of 12 monthly instalments of $39. Whilst SPF are planning a second launch sometime well into 2017, they can guarantee that it will never be available again at this starter price. Purchasing the course provides you with lifetime access to the course, the associated communities and a host of VIP bonuses (that are worth more than the price of the course). Future updates to the course will also be free. So for $400 you’ll be getting a proven, long-lasting, evergreen set of instructional materials that will add rocket fuel to your self-publishing career. No wonder the guests on today’s show are so excited!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:21] James’ introduction to the group today, Mark, John, and James.
  • [1:10] The overview of this episode: The 101 Course unpacked.
  • [2:38] Mark’s thoughts about the way the course has turned out.
  • [5:12] The response from the online course community.
  • [6:50] Who this course is ideal for.
  • [11:06] Beta tester testimonials and feedback for the course.
  • [12:30] “I didn’t expect it to be as comprehensive as it is” ~ a beta tester.
  • [16:30] “a very compact DIY kit for self publishing.” ~ beta tester
  • [18:40] How this publishing 101 course cuts your learning curve down.
  • [20:13] The pricing of the course – and why it’s at its lowest price ever right now..
  • [23:00] The interactive groups and support associated with the course.
  • [27:05] “It really does guide you through the steps you need to take…” ~ beta tester.
  • [28:21] “It’s not just the individual areas that are helpful, it’s the depth in which they are addressed.” ~ beta tester.
  • [29:55] “Mark is teaching me how to swim through the shark-infested waters of self publishing.” ~ beta tester.
  • [30:52] “I had quite a few people tell me that I didn’t need the course, but that’s proven not to be true… I had built the house but my foundation was shaky.” ~ beta tester.
  • [32:00] “This course covers it all.” ~ beta tester.
  • [34:12] “For $400 it’s an absolute steal!” ~ beta tester
  • [35:50] “If you don’t know it and you can’t find it in this course, it doesn’t exist.” ~ beta tester
  • [38:16] The refund on the Self Publishing 101 course is always available – and once you buy it, it’s yours for life and will be updated as things change.

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SPF-041: How Do You Define Success As An Author? – with Author and Self Publishing Coach Elizabeth Lyons

How do you define success? Is it in the number of books you sell? Is it in the money you make or the raving feedback you receive from fans of your books? Or is it simply that you got your book written? As you can tell there are a number of ways different people might define success as a self-published author and none of them are wrong. But asking and answering the question is crucial if you are going to have a sustained and personally fulfilling career as an author. Today’s guest is Elizabeth Lyons. The mindset issues that fuel her writing have led her to write about and coach authors extensively on the importance of developing a clear sense of WHY behind their writing. You’ll learn a lot about the serious and confident mindset that fuels Elizabeth and many other successful authors from this conversation.

Why you need to define your own brand of success as an author.
If you don’t know what you’re looking to achieve as an author you’ll never know if you’ve hit it. You’ll also not be able to weather the storms of negative response, missed deadlines, editorial feedback, and a host of other things that make it difficult to persevere as an author. This conversation could provide that missing sense of clarity you need to push you forward over the edge.

What to do if the creative side of writing makes it hard to treat it as a business.
Writing is inherently creative. There’s no doubt about that fact. It’s for that reason that many authors find it difficult to make the mindset shift that is required to effectively approach the business side of their writing. But it’s absolutely necessary if your books are going to make any kind of financial difference in your life. Elizabeth has some great advice for those authors who find it hard to make the switch between creative and business person. Her advice could help you get over the hump and finally start seeing yourself and the work you are producing as things worthy of other people’s money. Curious yet? Find out more on this episode.

How do you define success if you never get started?
Unspoken behind the concept of self-publishing is the fact that the author himself or herself is the one doing the work of getting the book published. That can take on a variety of forms but the fact remains that the end result is due in large measure to the author’s work and nobody else’s. Because the “getting started” phase of self-publishing can be intimidating for those who have no experience at publishing the team The Self Publishing Formula have put together their “Self Publishing 101” course. It’s packed full of step by step instructions to help you get off the ground and walk your book project all the way through the final draft, publication, and promotion. Find out more about how you can get the course on this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:22] The Self-Publishing 101 course is LIVE!
  • [1:17] The feedback being received from Beta users of the course.
  • [2:10] Today’s guest, Elizabeth Lyons and the issue of mindset behind your writing.
  • [4:20] Introduction of Liz and the importance of having meaning behind your author career.
  • [7:10] Why it is OK to say, “I’m writing to make money.”
  • [9:21] The mindset approach self-publishing authors need to develop.
  • [15:07] Advice for those who feel uncomfortable running a business.
  • [17:56] What it looks like to build relationship with customers in the digital world.
  • [23:46] How Liz has learned to be herself from writing non-fiction.
  • [28:04] The challenge of living with negative responses.
  • [35:01] The tools Elizabeth has created to help authors.

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SPF-040: Personal Branding For Authors – with Branding Expert Chris Ducker

Personal branding. If you spend any time with online entrepreneurs (and you should if you’re an author) you hear that phrase all the time. But what EXACTLY does it mean, and how can it increase book sales and advance your career as an author? There’s nobody better to explain it than our guest today, Chris Ducker. He’s a fellow Brit who’s made quite a name for himself as an online entrepreneur, author, podcaster, and brand expert. You’re going to get some very practical tips from Chris on this episode so be sure you set aside the time to listen and learn. Then take action!

Why being different is more important than being better.

The role that personal branding plays in your marketing arsenal is not about positioning but differentiation. And that is where a focus on branding yourself as an author is worth gold to your career. Chris unpacks why being different is more important than being better on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

Why you need to begin creating online content. Now.

When asked how authors can get started building a personal brand Chris said that one of the most important things they need to do is to begin creating a repository of online content. Blog posts, videocasts, podcasts, ebooks – anything that might prove helpful to the people who are interested in you or your books. It’ll help you to be seen as a unique resource and authority on the issues that they actively engage in. Chris says that too few authors take this seriously, and too few of the ones who do take it seriously actually do it well. It’s a simple way to stand out in the crowded self-publishing space.

Relationships should be treasured, not used.

When Chris talks about building a following he makes it very clear that you should never see people as a commodity, even though it is people who pay for your living as an author. The relationships you have with your audience are important for their own sake and you need to be clear about that. People can sense if you really care about them, if they matter to you – so you want to make sure you have this issue settled in your own mind and heart. Chris says that relationships (even with fans) should be treasured, not used. Find out more about how you can build the right kind of relationship with your fans in this episode.

People are happy to pay for access to experts. That’s why personal branding matters.

Most authors think that the only way they can make money as an author is through book sales. But that’s the furthest thing from the truth. On this episode of the podcast, Chris gives a handful of examples of how he’s helped authors build a significant income from their writing without it being solely through book sales. Are you curious? Chris draws from a wealth of information and experience and you’ll find his approach extremely helpful, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:34] James and Mark introduce this episode with Chris Ducker.
  • [1:17] A special announcement: The winners of our Reedsy giveaway!
  • [2:52] Mark’s latest speaking opportunities.
  • [5:45] Update on the 101 course production.
  • [11:25] Who IS Chris Ducker?
  • [13:20] The changes Chris has seen online since he first began.
  • [15:48] The importance of building your brand as an author.
  • [18:00] Practical steps to brand building that authors should consider.
  • [20:24] Do you really want to give away a ton of free content?
  • [22:28] How would fiction authors handle this issue differently?
  • [25:22] What should authors look for in terms of virtual assistants?
  • [29:50] Chris’ perspective on what’s going on in the digital business world.
  • [34:07] The only change entrepreneurs should be focused on.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-039: The One Stop Shop for Formatting and Distributing Books – with Draft2Digital’s Kevin Tumlinson

The SPF team has been very impressed with the platform and service of the team at Draft2Digital. Their service has a two-pronged approach to help self-published authors with some of the most important aspects of self-publishing – and the service ensures that no financial investment is required until a book actually sells. On this episode, James chats with Kevin Tumlinson, a self-published author himself who works with the Draft2Digital team. Together they lift the lid on how D2D works, what it can do for self-published authors, and how the pricing model makes it easy for anyone to submit top quality ebooks to every digital platform.

Formatting your book can be a nightmare. Draft2Digital makes it easy for free.

In case you haven’t noticed or you are a brand new author looking to self-publish, all of the online ebook vendors (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, etc.) have differing digital requirements for books submitted for distribution on their platforms. That means you’ve either got to format the book yourself or you hire it out to someone to do it for you. But not anymore. The Draft2Digital team has created an online manuscript conversion tool that will provide you with all the major ebook formats – and it’s free. If you want to learn how you can use the tool, what it’s capable of doing, and how it integrates with the D2D submission system, you’ve got to hear this episode.

Get all the self-publishing goods up front without paying a thing.

As writers themselves, the team at Draft2Digital understand the particular pain points authors experience. They also know that many self-published authors don’t have any real marketing budget and that their time is one of their most valuable commodities. That’s why they’ve arranged their platform in such a way that you can both format your books professionally and have them distributed to ALL the major platforms – without paying anything up front. Find out more details about how the platform works on this episode.

Digital income makes a nomadic lifestyle possible for self-published authors.

Finally, Kevin and James get to talk about Kevin’s new venture which will see him and his wife travelling the US in their newly purchased RV. One of the main motivations for doing this was to stimulate his creativity and thinking for his own writing by getting out to experience more of the world. He knows that new places and new people generate new ideas and he’s excited about the possibilities their travels could have for future books. You can hear how Kevin and his wife are getting on in their adventure on this episode. Who knows, maybe it will spark you to go on a nomadic adventure of your own!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:23] James and Mark welcome you to this episode with guest, Kevin Tumlinson.
  • [1:00] Update on the upcoming 101 course development.
  • [3:40] James’ invite onto Radio 4 in the UK.
  • [8:08] James’ introduction to Kevin Tumlinson and the Draft2Digital platform.
  • [10:15] The formatting issues authors face and why they are important.
  • [14:30] The nightmare of trying to get your book onto the online retailers, and how D2D helps you do it.
  • [18:01] How Draft2Digital can help you with the income and tax side of author income.
  • [19:34] How D2D makes their income through these services.
  • [22:00] Why the platform only charges authors after the book is successful.
  • [26:02] Kevin Tumlinson’s work as an author.
  • [31:29] Kevin’s experiment with mobile living.
  • [34:46] How the new living arrangements impact Kevin’s workflow and podcast.
  • [43:33] Mark’s story about working with the Draft2Digital team.

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SPF-038: How iAuthor Can Give Your Books Greater Visibility – with Adam Kolczynski


One of the best things about self-publishing is that anyone can publish a book. One of the worst things about self-publishing is that anyone can publish a book. The marketplace is getting more and more crowded with new authors appearing on Amazon and other online book outlets every day. How do you stand out from the crowd? There are a handful of effective ways but Adam Kolczynski has taken a different approach with the creation of his free platform iAuthor. On today’s episode, you will hear how authors and readers alike are using iAuthor to discover and promote books with very impressive results.

iAuthor is not your typical book listing service.

There are many places online where you can make your books available, but when there are already numerous books and authors vying for visibility it’s hard for a new offering to become known. Adam and the team at iAuthor are making that problem much easier to deal with through their unique way of making books available to their user base. You can promote your book through typical genre listings but also through themes – a unique way of telling a bit more about your book and who may find it enjoyable.

A new twist on the Amazon-type book discovery models that seems to be working.

When you list your book on iAuthor you’re able to categorize it like normal but also make it a part of broader thematic searches within the system. The site can work very much like a social media network where users are able to follow authors and other readers, interact about books on the platform, make comments and have discussions, and much more. Adam explains why he created the platform and how it can help you get your books discovered by people who are eagerly searching for new books.

The iAuthor platform treats self-published and traditionally published authors the same.

James and Mark have long talked about a move they foresee where traditional publishers will be forced to work alongside indie published authors without forcing them to give up their publishing rights. It’s a move that will gradually blur the line between traditional and self-publishing. iAuthor already works along those lines, not even asking or considering whether the book you submit is traditionally or self-published.

The Self Publishing 101 course is coming!

Mark, James, John, and the entire Self Publishing Formula team have been hard at work on the videos and modules that will make up the 101 course – and though they are eager for you to see it they also want to make sure that it’s got every single step and resource you need in order to self-publish your own book. On this episode, James and Mark discuss the challenges of putting the course together and provide some insight as to what it’s likely to contain when it launches at the end of this month.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:57] Our introduction to the topic of visibility and today’s guest.
  • [2:50] Mark’s latest feedback from his editor.
  • [5:30] How feedback from an editor is typically handled.
  • [7:30] James’ editing process as it stands presently.
  • [11:43] The latest progress concerning the upcoming course.
  • [13:29] The need for visibility done right.
  • [15:00] Adam’s experience as an author and author service company owner.
  • [16:30] The problems that contribute the the visibility problems authors face.
  • [18:10] The ways Adam and his team are attacking the visibility problem.
  • [21:30] How authors can use the platform to promote their books.
  • [31:58] Utilizing the paid features of the platform to get even more reach.
  • [35:20] How the platform is laid out for beauty and exposure for authors.
  • [43:02] Blurring the lines between traditional publishing and self publishing.
  • [46:10] What you need to be able to do to make use of iAuthor.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-037: Writing Against the Odds – with Author, T.J.Garrett


What you’ll hear on this episode of the Self Publishing Formula is nothing short of empowering. Tony Garrett is a new and very successful author, (writing as ‘T.J.Garrett’), pulling in over $30K per month in book sales. But in order to get to that point he’s had to overcome a degenerative disease that makes it almost impossible for him to see. When Tony discovered that technology could enable him to read again, new doors of possibility were opened for him. On this episode, you can hear Tony’s story from his own lips, how technology and the help of friends and family made all the difference, and how resilience and determination enabled him to teach himself how to successfully market his books and generate sales.

Self-publishing changed his life forever – and that’s no overstatement.

Tony was entirely supported by public assistance due to his degenerative eye disease when he discovered that his electronic tablet could place white text on a black background and increase the font size – which in turn allowed him to be able to read for the first time since he finished his schooling. Halfway through reading “The Hobbit” Tony felt inspired to write. His success has been truly amazing. He’s been able to get off public assistance, finance his kids’ education, and live a lifestyle he never thought possible. He details how he worked to improve his writing, get it published on Amazon and promote it successfully.

How did a self-published, blind author promote his books so effectively ($30K/mo in sales)?

After Tony overcame the odds and successfully published his first book, the real work began. He knew that the only way his books would sell and be a financial success that could support his family was if more and more people became aware of his books. That’s when he took to promotions, Facebook Ads, building an email list, and much more in an effort to get his book in front of as many sets of eyes as possible. The result is a highly successful career as a self-published author. You can hear more of Tony’s tips for successful book marketing on this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:11] Introduction to this episode by James and Mark.
  • [2:00] What’s going to be inside the Self Publishing 101 Course?
  • [7:18] How you can join the FB groups SPF offers.
  • [8:05] Who is T.J. Garrett?
  • [10:49] The difficulties Tony had reading, much less writing and how things changed.
  • [12:43] Steps Tony has taken to improve his writing.
  • [14:51] Tony’s first published book, summer of 2015 – 10 books since!
  • [15:50] How Tony built his audience and marketing channels.
  • [18:30] The emotional impact of Tony’s writing success.
  • [21:07] Tony’s recommendations for new authors.
  • [22:45] The kind of help Tony has found in various places.
  • [25:21] The role Kindle Unlimited has played in Tony’s success.
  • [26:40] The encouragement Tony gives to those with disabilities.

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SPF-036: Working With Your Spouse as an Author Business Team with Natasha Boyd and Charlotte Byrd


Working with your spouse may not be your idea of a perfect work environment, but many authors are discovering it’s a natural next step once success comes knocking on their door. If you’ve listened to the Self Publishing Formula you know that Mark and James often speak of the real work it is to become self-supporting as an author. It’s a reality that our guests on this episode have come to realize – and they’ve enlisted help in sharing the workload. In both cases, their husbands have come on board the business bus to help with marketing, launches, and more. On this episode, you’ll hear from successful authors Natasha Boyd and Charlotte Byrd as well as their husbands, their new partners in business.

If you’ve considered working with your spouse, this should be encouraging.

Today’s episode features two successful self-published authors who are not only making a living via their writing but are also clearing enough income on a monthly basis to enable their husbands to quit their 9 to 5 jobs and come on board as part of the business team. You’ll hear the struggles and the triumphs involved in making that kind of transition and why both couples feel it was the best move they could have made on a number of different levels.

The business side of being an author can easily swallow up the time needed for writing.

That is exactly why Natasha and Charlotte – successful writers and businesswomen in their own rights – have decided to bring their husbands into their writing businesses as full partners. Both discovered that they simply weren’t having the time to produce the great books their fans had become accustomed to because they were too busy figuring out how to market, build email lists, interact with fans and everything else that goes into building a business as an author. You can hear their stories and get insight from their husbands about what it’s been like to come alongside their wives to create an even more effective business.

It is entirely possible to make a substantial living through writing.

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer but have wondered if it’s really possible to make a living doing it, the answer is a clear and emphatic “YES!” But… you have to understand that it doesn’t happen simply by writing a great book, putting it on Amazon, and watching the money come in. Charlotte can attest to that approach not working out, which is why she’s taken the time to learn what it takes to build a business that promotes and supports her writing.

A successful writing career depends on more than a talent with words.

The self-publishing space is becoming more crowded by the day which means that authors with genuine talent are becoming more and more common. How do you stand out? How do you find the fan base that can support your writing full time? It’s through the business side of a writing career – through marketing, sales, list building, and much more. Listen in as James chats with two successful authors who are just as committed to making the business side of things work as they are writing excellent novels.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:01]How you can win $3,000 from Reedsy!
  • [1:55] Why Mark recommends Facebook LIVE to connect with readers.
  • [2:44] Who does Mark’s business stuff for him?
  • [6:12] Natasha Boyd’s self publishing journey.
  • [9:40] How Natasha got an agent so early on in her career.
  • [12:05] What Natasha has come to understand about writing faster (or not).
  • [20:05] Natasha’s husband Stephen has joined her business through marketing.
  • [23:10] Why Natasha views her writing as a career and business.
  • [26:41] Introduction to Charlotte Byrd and the launch of her career as a writer.
  • [30:20] How Charlotte’s husband has gotten involved in the business.
  • [35:13] The reality of a substantial living through a writing business.
  • [40:21] How the family business is a throwback to the past.

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SPF-035: Dealing With Criticism from Editors and Readers – with Dr. Debra Holland

As an author, it’s a given that you’re going to have get used to dealing with all kinds of feedback on your work. But don’t get downhearted by the negative words. For a start, new authors should quickly get used to the fact that you simply can’t please all of the people all of the time. And bear in mind what Woody Allen once said about keeping your creative talent on task: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” If it takes someone else’s words to make that clear to you, so be it. Take note – and don’t take it to heart.

The smart author will always make the most of the constructive criticism that comes his or her way and use it to refine their written output. They also know how to identify the less useful pieces of feedback and process them without feeling the need to hide under a duvet for a day. But how to do that exactly?

In this week’s episode, James and Mark discuss strategies for dealing with criticism and feedback – a very timely discussion given James’ feverish wait for feedback from his editor on the manuscript of what will hopefully be his first novel (you can read more about that here).

They are joined by author and psychologist, Dr.Debra Holland, whose professional insight into the issue adds an extra dimension to the discussion. As usual, there are plenty of tips to be had for both established authors as well as those, like James, who are looking to kick start their self publishing career.

Are you ready to win $3,000 in book services from Reedsy?

The Self Publishing Formula team and the great folks at Reedsy have teamed up to give you an opportunity to get some of the more costly editorial, design, and formatting services for your book absolutely free. The contest will be running only for a short time longer so you’ll want to enter soon. And the good news is that you can enter more than once. If you’d like to get your shot (or many of them) at this great prize package you can listen to this episode of the podcast to get all the details and enter for your chance to win!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:01] Your opportunity to win $3,000 in services from Reedsy.
  • [1:56] The process James has been going through with his first book.
  • [6:00] Getting into your reader’s shoes. It’s not so easy.
  • [8:00] How Mark approaches the task for writing the first draft.
  • [10:55] Choosing the right mindset about receiving editorial feedback.
  • [14:58] Mark’s tips to make the best use of editorial feedback.
  • [16:39] Is there a difference between a developmental editor and a structural editor?
  • [18:51] James’ blogging process of his book writing process.
  • [20:27] How Mark responded to his very first editorial feedback.
  • [22:18] Dealing with negative reviews on your book once it’s published.
  • [26:58] Dr. Debra Holland (live interview at a conference).
  • [32:07] The difference in dealing with reviews on fiction and nonfiction books.
  • [33:01] How can authors deal with isolation and introversion.
  • [34:16] How beginning writers can join helpful writer’s groups for support.
  • [35:22] Dealing with the uncertainties of the financial side of writing, psychologically.
  • [41:10] How you can win $3,000 in services from Reedsy.

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SPF-034: How to Format An Ebook The Easy Way with Brad and Brad From Vellum


If you haven’t gotten far enough in your self-publishing career to worry about formatting your ebook, you’ve got some learning ahead. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite complicated. Instead of there being one format that all of the ebook platforms use, each of them has their own file type that they use. But before you go off and do that we’ve got a great solution for you. Brad and Brad are the creators of some great Mac software called Vellum and it takes all the difficulty out of the ebook formatting process to allow you to easily submit books in every format you’ll need. You can hear how to get and use Vellum on this episode.

Does your ebook need to be in ePub, MOBI, or PDF? Yes.

Every book publishing platform out there – iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo – has its own preferred way for you to submit your book for publication. Some of them even require their own technical format or file type (such as Amazon’s MOBI files). If you want your books to be available in the broadest possible way you’ll want to be able to submit them to all platforms. But you don’t want to become a software coding genius in order to do it. Enter Vellum, a powerful and beautiful piece of software that takes all of the guesswork and headache out of the formatting process so you can stay focused on your writing and be confident that once you decide on one of their pre-installed formats and make your own customized tweaks to it, your book is going to come out just as it should. Learn more about Vellum on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

This has got to be the easiest way to get pictures that work into an ebook.

They guys at Vellum have worked very hard to figure out the technical aspects of what it takes to place images into the content of ebooks. That’s because the two of them are former software designers for Pixar who decided to create their own book formatting software to make it simple for authors to produce beautiful books every time, no matter the publishing platform they use. That includes books with images. Find out how you can test out Vellum for free, on this episode.

Here are the options for formatting your ebook.

There are tons of tutorials on Youtube showing you how to use MS Word to create and format an ebook. That’s fine. You can go that route. When you do, you’ll wind up making a series of adjustments to your final product to dial everything in and have it come out looking how you want it to look. Alternatively, you can use a free tool (there are many of them online). That’s fine too. But wouldn’t it be better if you had one amazing tool to format your ebook perfectly, with great headings, drop caps, headers and footers, and images? You can do exactly that with Vellum. Find out more from the creators of Vellum on this episode.

Would you like $3000 worth of free editing and creative services for your book?

The Self Publishing Formula is holding a contest in co-operation with Reedsy to give one lucky winner $3000 worth of publishing services that could include editing, cover design, formatting, and much more. Anyone can enter and you can also get more entries by sharing the contest with others – and when they click on the link you shared with them you are entered into the contest again. This episode of the Self Publishing Formula contains the details of how you can enter to win, so be sure you take some time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:14] Introduction to this episode of the podcast.
  • [7:41] The topic of formatting.
  • [12:09] Vellum – what is it and how does it work?
  • [13:14] What makes for good formatting in a book?
  • [16:10] How the two Brads got started in business and came up with the idea.
  • [19:36] The varying ways you can purchase the Vellum packages.
  • [23:38] How the guys came up with their pricing model and designed it for authors.
  • [27:36] Any future verticals for the business?
  • [28:53] The variety of looks Vellum can produce for your book.
  • [31:00] Future developments for the platform.
  • [31:53] Available tutorials and other ways to learn the software.

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SPF-033: How You Can Win $3000 Worth of Publishing Tools – with Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy


Many of the publishing tools indie authors need to access are hard to find – at least with the quality and trustworthiness you need in order to make your book of the highest quality. That’s why Ricardo Fayet and the folks at Reedsy developed their online platform. It’s a site that brings together editors, graphic artists, and many other professionals who are experienced in the book publication process so that you don’t have to spend days searching the internet to find the tools and professionals you need. In this interview, we chat about the ways Reedsy interface can help you put together a first-class book.

How traditional publishing editors are transitioning into the self-publishing space.

With the changes that have come to the publishing industry in just the last 10 years, many professionals who have worked for decades in the traditional publishing world are finding themselves with much less work than they used to enjoy. Ricardo and the team at Reedsy saw an opportunity in that shift in the publishing world and created a platform for editors, artists, and others to pivot into the self-publishing space. In this episode, you’re going to learn how you can find and utilize the services of all kinds of professionals to make your book shine.

A free book writing tool that takes the hassle out of book conversions.

One of the real pain points of self-publishing is the various conversions that have to be made to ensure your book is able to be read and used on all platforms. ePub, MOBI, PDF – it’s a mind-boggling array of options that you have to learn. Until now. Reedsy provides a free book writing and editing tool that can help you automatically format and convert your text to fit the specific needs of each publishing platform. You no longer have to struggle, search YouTube in vain for tutorials or figure it out on your own. The Reedsy team has made it simple. Find out about this incredible publishing tool on this episode.

Looking for a professional book cover designer? How do you know who to trust?

There’s nothing worse than taking a chance on a graphic artist you’ve never worked with before only to get back a piece of artwork that you’re not happy with. The back and forth of getting it just right is part of the process, but when the design is not professional to begin with the process is much more difficult. Reedsy provides an array of professional, vetted graphic designers who are able to take your book cover concept and make it a reality for you. You’ll find your experience with their cover designers a pleasure rather than a burden. Find out more how you can take advantage of the various tools the Reedsy team has to offer self-published authors on this episode.

Would you like to win $3000 of book publishing services?

On this episode of the Self Publishing Formula podcast our guest Ricardo has a generous offer for one lucky SPF listener. He’s giving you the opportunity to enter a giveaway where the prize is $3000 worth of professional services from Reedsy contractors. That could include editing, cover work, or whatever you feel you need the most – and you can use it any way you like. In addition, there are three runners-up prizes of $600 worth of book design.

Find out how the contest works, how you can enter, and what you can do to increase your odds of winning by listening to this episode or visiting www.selfpublishingformula.com/reedsy.

Outline of this great episode

  • [1:18] Introduction to this week’s episode and interview guest.
  • [2:23] The progress of the new course.
  • [3:09] Mark’s upcoming book launch.
  • [8:15] How and why Ricardo started his platform.
  • [9:20] The key area’s Ricardo’s platform helps writers with.
  • [16:03] Formatting issues in a book.
  • [19:08] What Reedsy actually is and how authors benefit from it.
  • [22:04] The cover design and selection process.
  • [26:30] How the Reedsy team chooses their editors.
  • [29:04] The contest The SPF team is doing with Reedsy.

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SPF-032: An Inspirational Self Publishing Success Story – with Elicia Hyder


Self publishing success stories are becoming more and more common. The opportunity to write and benefit from your books is now very real. During their recent trip to the United States for the NINC conference, Mark and James were able to meet a number of SPF students, one of whom was Elicia Hyder. She is one of the many people who has not only replaced their normal income through self publishing, but exceeded it. This delightful conversation was recorded poolside at the hotel where the NINC conference was hosted, and will serve as a shot in the arm for anyone who’s willing to work hard for their self publishing success. You can do it!

A cancer diagnosis right after being offered a traditional publishing deal.

Once Elicia had her novel written she began making inquiries to a handful of agents, one of whom responded almost immediately. It was a very exciting response that told Elicia that her book truly had promise. But hot on the heels of an offer from that agent came the news that she had cancer. Putting her publishing dream on hold she dug in to fight the cancer and beat it. Once she was ready to focus on her book again she began to see that she had the means to publish on her own more successfully than with any traditional publisher – because she was willing to work harder for her own success than they ever would. You can hear what she did and how she went about it on this episode.

Building an email list and setting up Facebook ads to fuel her book sales.

When Elicia began to market her books in earnest she did so with the experience of her digital marketing background. One thing she knew was that an email list was her first order of business. Through self-study, she learned how to set up the systems to make it happen and began collecting email addresses of those interested in her work. The next step for her was to unpack and master the Facebook ads system. She heard about Mark’s course but decided that she could do it on her own – and discovered that she was missing some key components in the process. That’s when she decided to invest in the course. The results she saw were tremendous and almost immediate. You can hear her entire story on this episode of the Self Publishing Formula.

Self publishing success is entirely possible, but not easy.

As Elicia’s story shows, success at self publishing is entirely possible. But if you listen to what she has to share she’s also very clear about how much diligence and hard work go into the process on a consistent basis. This is a woman who works hard for the success she’s experiencing. If you’re curious as to what that kind of hard work looks like you can hear Elicia’s version of it on this episode. You’ll also hear her pep talk to anyone who’s willing to do the work, and about what they might be able to achieve by self publishing.

Is your self publishing promotion and sales missing a few key components?

Just like Elicia discovered, there are some very important, small adjustments that make all the difference in the success or failure of marketing a self published book. When she was able to understand those things and put them into practice, all her efforts began to pay off. The most vital of those was the Facebook Ads for Authors course that Mark has created. Listen to this episode to find out why Facebook ads are one of the key pieces of the marketing puzzle, and how it can be used for authors, or anyone wanting to promote their product effectively.

Outline of this great episode

  • [1:03] Mark and James chat about their trip to the U.S.
  • [2:26] How the NINC conference works and the benefits of the guys going.
  • [10:42] The power of the Facebook for Authors course: first hand testimonies.
  • [15:30] Elicia Hyder’s story of how she pitched her books: and her diagnosis with cancer.
  • [19:30] How Elicia Hyder first came to know of Mark’s course and why she thought she could do it on her own.
  • [21:05] How Elicia Hyder’s cancer battle has progressed.
  • [22:03] Why she turned down a traditional publishing offer.
  • [23:36] The income figures for her book sales today.
  • [27:30] The things that make Elicia Hyder work as hard as she does.
  • [32:23] How you can connect with Elicia Hyder .
  • [32:48] Upcoming podcast episode you can look forward to.

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SPF-031: Creating a Bestselling Book Cover – with Stuart Bache


There are many book cover creators and designers out there but none with the expertise and experience of today’s guest on the podcast. Stuart Bache has not only designed books for Mark Dawson but also for many other bestselling authors such as John le Carre and Stephen King. On this episode we chat with Stuart about his own journey into book cover creation and pick his brain about the steps new and aspiring authors can take towards creating their own book covers. You won’t find a person better qualified or gifted at doing what Stuart does. That’s why his willingness to share his experience and thoughts on the podcast means so much to us.

The road to becoming a professional book cover designer.

Stuart was still in college when a mentor began pulling him into some design work for clients creating, amongst other things, book covers. It was during that time in his life that he began to meet and work with some of the best-selling authors of the day. His approach has always been to make the book not only attractive but have the cover design trigger immediate and long-lasting engagement with potential readers. In the digital world of self-publishing, provoking this kind of response is crucial. Find out how and where Stuart begins his book cover creation process, on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

What does a book cover designer need from an author to fashion a great cover?

When Mark began working with Stuart on the creation of book covers for his novels he was asked a short series of questions about his books. What’s the story synopsis? Who are the main characters? What are the locations of where the book is set? From there Stuart set off to create a book cover to represent the entire story arc. On today’s episode Stuart generously shares the types of things he does to make a cover stand out – from imagery to shading and typesetting. Tune in for plenty of cover design tips!

Simple rules to follow for a great book cover.

It’s tempting to use all the bells and whistles in a program like Photoshop to create a visual spectacle of a book cover. But Stuart advises you to resist the urge to over complicate your book cover and instead, opt for simplicity. In this conversation, Stuart points out the kinds of things that make for a simple but effective book cover and explains why book cover creators who are successful have mastered the tricky art of keeping it simple. It’s all on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

If you don’t want to create your own book covers, here’s another great option.

Stuart understands that up and coming self-published authors might be on a budget, so he’s come up with a way for authors to use his design skills. You’ll be introduced to Stuart’s new design service that offers some of his cool designs in a template style format that can be edited to create a unique cover. It’s a great way to get some outstanding design work for your self-published book.

Outline of this great episode:

  • [1:04] Things to expect from the podcast in the next few weeks.
  • [2:50] The interview topic today: book covers.
  • [6:57] How Stuart approaches his creative process and communicates with authors.
  • [11:03] Multiple concepts for a book cover to start.
  • [15:31] How Mark and Stuart work together to create great covers.
  • [19:17] The tools Stuart uses to create his work.
  • [21:24] How Photoshop can be used by authors.
  • [24:01] The resolution and sizes Stuart creates for book covers.
  • [27:12] Suggestions for starting out with book cover design.
  • [33:12] The process of the work being done on the upcoming course.
  • [35:31] Stuart’s new venture.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-030: Bestselling Books Made into Movies with Author A.G. Riddle


It’s every author’s dream to have their books made into movies and today’s guest, A.G. Riddle might be about to realize that dream. His best-selling series of books has already had the movie rights purchased and he waits to hear from the studio as to what the next steps will be. But Gerry is amazingly at ease with it all, taking his success and the possibility of a movie deal in his stride. On this episode we talk about the movies and a good deal more that has to do with his self publishing journey, writing routines, mental toughness, and the things he believes have brought success to his writing career.

Two years to write the first book – and very little promotion after that.

It’s not a formula for success that A.G. Riddle recommends to other writers but it’s what really happened in his case. He spent 2 years researching and writing the first book in his series – The Atlantis Gene – then published the book to Amazon, sent out a promo to his email list, and waited. It was slow going at first but over time the momentum increased and his book sales exploded. He’s still astounded at the success that the initial book had and is glad that the follow-up books, and a stand-alone book, have also done well. You can hear what Gerry says about book promotion and marketing at this point in his career and why he recommends email lists as a powerful way to get launched.

Reader interaction and relationships are keys to a successful writing career.

In this new “social” digital age, interaction with readers has never been easier and A.G. Riddle says that it’s one of the things about being an author he enjoys the most. He feels that the depth and genuine nature of the relationships he’s able to establish with those reading his books is a large part of what makes a new release so successful. His loyal fan base is quick to set the initial charge and the Amazon search algorithms take over from there to expand his book sales. You can hear what Gerry does to keep up fan interaction on this episode of the podcast.

Having his books made into movies is great, but he’s not holding his breath.

Gerry is quick to point out that the studio simply has the option to make the movie and that the option is a ticking clock that will expire if further steps are not taken. He knows it would be a great asset to see the movies made but isn’t counting on it. He’d rather stay busy writing and building his fan base than place all his hopes on a movie deal. You can get to know best-selling author A.G. Riddle on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

Success in self publishing is not defined by movie deals.

With the recent breakout success of Andy Weir’s book “The Martian” and the Matt Damon movie that was made from it, many self published authors have come to see books turned to movies as the ultimate sign of success. But A.G. Riddle doesn’t agree. Even though he’s got a movie deal in the works, what matters to him is the impact his stories are having on people. In this conversation, he recounts a letter he received from one reader who told him how his books got him through a difficult period in his life and kept him encouraged and hopeful. That is the kind of impact that matters – to Gerry – and to you.

Outline of this great episode

  • [1:42] A get together for SPF listeners at the NINC conference.
  • [3:16] Today’s guest: A.G. Riddle, author of “The Atlantis Gene.’
  • [5:25] How A.G. got his first book release to blow up.
  • [8:40] How Gerry launched the book and promoted sales.
  • [11:05] Why authors need to develop mental toughness.
  • [15:44] A.G.’s daily routine.
  • [20:40] How important is reader interaction and relationship for A.G.?
  • [22:08] The use and benefits of a mailing list.
  • [23:12] The idea of offering bonus content on the website.
  • [24:32] A.G.’s decisions regarding Indie VS traditional publishing.
  • [27:18] How the Atlantis Gene series became traditionally published in foreign markets.
  • [28:57] The films that are being made of A.G.’s books.
  • [31:22] Daily word counts, character development and research, the actual craft.
  • [36:39] Pricing strategies and how they came about.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-029: Indie Author Support from the Alliance of Independent Authors – with Orna Ross


Like more and more traditionally published authors these days, Orna Ross took her rights back from a large traditional publisher to re-publish her books herself. Because she was the one in charge she was able to do it in the manner she’d always wanted. That was in 2011. At The London Book Fair in 2012, she launched ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors. Her work for ALLi has gotten her a good deal of notice. She’s been named in The Bookseller’s “Top 100 People in Publishing.” We are honoured to have Orna on The Self Publishing Podcast and on this episode you’ll hear her story, what ALLi is doing to help Independent Authors, and learn how you can be involved with the group.

Looking for support in your self-publishing journey? The Alliance of Independent Authors may be the place for you.

The ALLi (pronounced “Al-eye”) offers friendship and collaboration for those self-published authors who often feel alone on their publishing journey. The advice and education, advocacy, and representation offered enables authors to self-publish in a professional manner. It’s quickly grown to have thousands of members all over the world. From basic self-publishing help to issues surrounding book rights, translation rights, and sales in foreign markets, ALLi is the best friend of many indie authors. You can find out more about ALLi and learn how you can join the group, on this episode.

There’s an uncommon bond of fellowship between independent authors.

The self-publishing community is an amazing group of people, each person working diligently to write great books and get them to their readers, but also willing to lend a hand to other authors who are on the road a bit further behind them. On this episode, Orna explains how the ALLi membership helps each other through events, website forums, and more – and explains the benefits of coming together in such a supportive community of like-minded authors.

Trade publishing can’t stop what indie authors are bringing to the industry.

The trade publishing industry is struggling to keep up with indies. We are finding more and better ways to write, publish, and market our work in record time – and with incredible success. Orna believes that in time there will be a greater synergy between traditional and self-publishing, but she is hesitant to say exactly what that combination might look like. She can see both sides learning from the other, but how it will happen, nobody can predict. You can get more of Orna’s insights into the industry and the world of independent publishing by listening to this episode.

The indie author spirit isn’t seeking validation, it’s seeking something else.

One of the things Orna loves about the world of self-publishing is what she calls the “indie author spirit.” In her view, it’s a spirit of generosity that’s aimed at giving value and wonderful experiences to the readers while at the same time focusing on the business side of publishing. Indie authors seem to understand the importance of relationships with readers and the connections that make those relationships happen in genuine ways. Set aside some time to listen to this episode. You’ll be inspired by what Orna and others are doing to move the indie publishing community forward.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:01] How you can get in on the new SPF Beta Course for new authors.
  • [1:20] The Youtube Ads for Authors module is released.
  • [5:59] How Orna’s creation of AIA came about by accident.
  • [8:31] The aim of AIA when it comes to ethics in independent publishing.
  • [12:30] The importance of community and fraternity in indie publishing.
  • [15:36] Orna’s advice to brand new indie authors.
  • [19:22] How help happens within The Alliance of Independent Authors.
  • [21:10] The international nature of the alliance.
  • [23:30] The markets in India and Germany.
  • [26:55]  How you can be a part of The Alliance of Independent Authors.
  • [29:27] Orna’s insights into what’s happening in the publishing industry these days.
  • [36:03] Preview of next week’s episode.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-028 : Success, Marketing and Writing – With Rachel Abbott


Best-selling thriller author, Rachel Abbott is quick to point out that her success is just as surprising to her as it is to anyone. Her skill and her savvy for marketing and sales have combined to make her the best-selling author in the UK on Amazon’s KDP platform. On this episode, you’ll get to hear how Rachel, after an entirely different career in business, got into writing, how she devised and regularly implements an extensive marketing plan for each new book launch, and what she believes it takes to be a successful author these days.

If you want to be a best-selling author, write a book that impacts the reader

That is just one sliver of the advice Rachel has for those who take the time to listen to this episode. It’s her firm belief that you can’t simply write a story: you have to connect the dots between the story and the human experience being portrayed within it. It’s the connection to the reader made by your story that makes the difference and propels them to read your book – and the next one after that. Rachel generously shares her insights and experiences on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula so be sure to set aside the time to listen.

Building awareness is the most important thing for book marketing

Before you even think about selling books you need to consider how people are going to to get to hear about them. One of the most important parts of book marketing is building awareness that your books even exist. On this episode, Rachel explains how she first got started and how that initial set of experiences influenced her current approach to awareness building. She walks us through some of the foundational elements she puts in place to ensure that it happens across a wide variety of media and social channels.

No best-selling author today attains that status by their writing alone

Many self-published authors these days seem to believe that once they write the book it will somehow magically sell itself. But that’s not the case and it’s something that Rachel discovered early on in her writing career. She says that she didn’t become a best-selling author by writing and expecting sales to follow. She’s taken a very aggressive approach to marketing and selling her books including plenty of social media interaction with fans, building an email list, paid advertising, and other tactics. You can hear how this successful author integrates skilful writing with savvy marketing on this episode of the podcast.

Even self-published authors can use a good agent

It does create a little bit of confusion when you first hear that a best-selling self-published author like Rachel Abbott uses an agent. But it’s not the typical approach to hiring an agent that you’ll find in Rachel’s toolbox. Her agent helps her keep abreast of what is going on in the market that Rachel is trying to write for, serves as a sounding board for the book’s structure, plot developments, themes and much more. You can hear Rachel describe this fascinating twist on the standard author-agent relationship on this episode.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:24] Update on Mark’s recent webinar with Nick Stephenson.
  • [1:12] How you can be a part of the one on one course beta team.
  • [3:55] A SPF meetup in Florida – September of 2016.
  • [6:05] Introduction of today’s guest: Rachel Abbott.
  • [7:07] How Rachel got into writing.
  • [8:04] What got Rachel into the idea of writing.
  • [10:05] Rachel’s thoughts on writing a book that impacts the reader.
  • [11:27] How Rachel began pursuing publishing.
  • [14:53] The road toward success for Rachel.
  • [15:37] The marketing plan that got her book to best-seller in 4 weeks.
  • [20:19] Rachel’s writing schedule – 1 book per year.
  • [21:40] Rachel’s general advice for those just starting out.
  • [24:50] When Rachel started collecting email addresses.
  • [27:07] Rachel’s launch plan (it’s a massive plan).
  • [29:36] How Rachel uses a publicist.
  • [32:20] The role Rachel’s agent plays in her career development.
  • [35:13] Rachel’s writing routine.
  • [38:56] The tools Rachel uses.
  • [42:04] How Rachel is using Facebook Advertising Boost Post

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

Rachel Abbott Official Website

BOOK: Only The Innocent

BOOK: Stranger Child

NOVELLA: Nowhere Child



BOOK: Kill Me Again

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SPF-027: Systematised Book Marketing – with Gabriel Mercer


Writing a novel is one thing. Writing a novel specifically to fulfill a demand is another.

On this episode of the Self Publishing Formula podcast, James has a very intriguing conversation with Gabriel Mercer, a marketing and technical expert who was approached by a would-be author about marketing her books – before they were written. She had an idea that she wanted to be a best-selling author and made up her mind to make it happen. She figured that the best way to do it was to find out exactly how to meet the demand of a popular niche genre on purpose. It turns out she figured right. This conversation opens the door to many ideas that seem unorthodox but as the one who pulled all the strings behind the scenes Gabriel is convinced it is a repeatable strategy – and you’ll get to hear all about it on this episode.

Most novel writers write from passion for the story. This author wrote to sell.

Don’t misunderstand, this author enjoys writing, but the driving force behind her efforts was not self-expression or creativity. She was interested in becoming a professional author so she did what needed to be done to ensure that happened. She found out how successful book promotion happens, what book niches were most likely to be fertile soil for a new author, and began her plan to create books that would sell well within that genre. Gabriel is the man she asked to spearhead her technical and promotional efforts – and he’s our guest on this episode of the podcast.

How can you create a marketing plan for a series of novels when the novel writing process hasn’t even begun?

Many products come to market because an entrepreneur sees a demonstrated need in a particular niche and specifically builds a product or service to meet that need. It’s smart business. The product is built with a degree of certainty that it is going to be a success. Why isn’t that approach taken more often when it comes to writing a novel?

The groundwork that was laid was just as important as the marketing approach they used.

Gabriel provided the basic structure she’d need to follow to promote and market her books well. Then he told her that he’d serve as a paid consultant if she wanted to take further action – and didn’t expect to hear back from her. But she jumped on his offer and the two were off to the races. One of the things Gabriel advised she start on immediately was building relationships with other authors in her genre and those who would soon be fans of her writing. Her efforts at establishing those relationships even before the books were written was a significant part of the sales success she experienced. You can hear how Gabriel advised her to go about it and what she did to accomplish it.

Could this same successful writing and promotional approach work in different genres?

Gabriel took a fairly unorthodox approach and believes – based on the sales numbers and email opt-ins alone – that the approach he used should work in other genres as well. He’s currently running tests in the science fiction and fantasy niches to see if his suspicions are correct. This conversation opens the door to all kinds of creative novel marketing ideas, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:23] The introduction to this episode an d an upcoming webinar Mark will be conducting with Nick Stephenson.
  • [3:32] How Gabriel Mercer came to be known by the SPF guys.
  • [4:10] Starting the book launch and marketing in reverse.
  • [6:40] Why authors need to understand that self publishing contains many roles.
  • [7:50] The state of the project when the author approached Gabriel.
  • [9:25] How Mark approached the marketing task on behalf of his author client.
  • [12:37] The giveaways Mark used to promote the book.
  • [15:20] Facebook Ads in the promotion campaign.
  • [16:49] Lining up the books to release in quick succession… a mistake.
  • [18:15] The books series sales success since launch.
  • [20:25] Gabriel’s role in cover design and formatting.
  • [22:01] Current campaigns Gabriel is running.
  • [23:47] Testing Gabriel is doing in different genres and why he’s confident it will work..
  • [28:34] Next week’s conversation with Rachel Abbott.
  • [29:43] A sneak peek of what will be covered on the upcoming free webinar.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-026: ConvertKit: A Mailing List Service Designed Especially for Authors – with Nathan Barry


ConvertKit is an example of a niche focused business.

And the focus is authors and bloggers. Nathan Barry was (and still is) running a very successful self publishing business of his own and found that the majority of his sales came through promotions he made to his mailing list. But he began to have problems. There were not enough options in his email software to segment people according to purchase history, interest levels, and more. The frustrations became so great that he decided to create his own solution, and ConvertKit was born. On this episode you’ll hear how Nathan came up with the idea, what ConvertKit can do that other email providers can’t, and why it’s the ideal choice for authors and bloggers.

I already purchased your book. Why do you keep asking me to buy it?

That’s an example of just one of the complaints Nathan was getting from his mailing list that forced him to create an email solution of his own. Tremendous success selling his books enabled him to be in touch with many of his customers – but his email software at the time didn’t have a way of excluding people who had already bought his books from receiving a second or third email encouraging them to buy. Nathan gives a quick walk through of the features of his software and highlights why it’s the perfect solution for authors.

ConvertKit is created by authors and bloggers, for authors and bloggers.

And that really matters. As an author you have some unique needs about interacting with the fans who have opted in to your mailing list. You want to be able to address them uniquely, according to purchase history, interests, needs, and more. Nathan and his team have created a customized solution for authors and bloggers and its growth has truly been phenomenal. You’ll find out what all the fuss is about on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula podcast.

How Does ConvertKit compare to MailChimp?

Many self published authors start out building an email list with MailChimp’s free plan. It enables them to get the basic features of an email list up to a certain number of subscribers. It’s a great way to get started from scratch that Nathan says is the way to go for most authors. But when you have a thousand or more subscribers to your mailing list and need to begin interacting with them in specific ways, you need something more – which is why Nathan created ConvertKit. Convertkit doesn’t have a free plan but offers so much more that fits your needs as an author. You can hear Nathan’s description of the software and learn more about how you can see videos and more of the software in action.

The transition from MailChimp or Aweber to ConvertKit could be a “done for you” proposition.

For authors who have already built a significant following and have 500 or more subscribers on their list at present, Nathan and his team provide a concierge conversion from any other email service provider to ConvertKit. All you have to do is ask.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:23] Mark and James introduce today’s episode and guest.
  • [1:20] A new course in the works from the Self Publishing Formula team.
  • [3:10] James’ book and process will be the demo for the course.
  • [7:09] How the formatting stage will work within the course.
  • [8:48] Chatting with Nathan Barry, owner of ConvertKit.
  • [10:53] Why a mailing list and the benefit good software can be.
  • [13:31] How and why Nathan created ConvertKit.
  • [16:07] How ConvertKit works.
  • [23:13] How Nathan’s team does direct sales for ConvertKit.
  • [26:06] ConvertKit pricing and comparison to other services.
  • [28:45] The user interface and features of ConvertKit.
  • [25:20] How you can find out more about ConvertKit.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-025: Interview with the biggest selling KDP author of all time – WIth Barbara Freethy


Self-Publishing is what we’re all about here at SPF.

And that’s because it often makes more sense than traditional publishing. In fact, self-publishing is very much a response to the limitations of traditional publishing. Today’s guest, Barbara Freethy, was already an established traditionally published author when she dipped her toe into the self publishing waters by independently releasing some of her backlist. The success she found motivated her to go full steam ahead as an indie. You’ll hear Barbara’s story and her tips for success in this episode.


The less control you have over something the less opportunity you have to fix it.
Barbara is the highest selling self published author ever. What she’s come to believe after seeing both sides of the coin is that the less control an author has over their publication process, the less opportunity they have to fix it. For her, self-publishing provided the opportunity to avoid the problems that were out of her hands as a traditionally published author. Now she enjoys the freedom and increased income of being an indie. Find out how Barbara systematizes her publication process in this episode.


You never really know where your readers are.
Barbara doesn’t assume anything about where she will find her readers or how they will want to consume her content. She’s makes her work as widely available as possible and ensures that her readers can get her books however they prefer. You’ll hear many more of Barbara’s insights from a career that spans both traditional and self publishing.


The more you’re involved in your own e-publishing career, the better you will do.
There are many services and contractors out there who can help indies accomplish the tasks that need to be undertaken to get their books published and promoted. Barbara has come to believe that the more she is involved in the various aspects of her publishing career, the more success is going to come her way. That’s because nobody cares more about her books and how well they succeed than she does. And the more she understands about every aspect of the process the better she can guide those she does bring alongside to help her with the business. Tune in to find out how Barbara suggests you go about learning the various skills needed to self publish successfully.


Fear is the biggest problem for writers.
Though she’s been tremendously successful Barbara believes that every writer – even the Stephen Kings of the world – still have a certain amount of fear that accompanies them as they pursue writing and publication. Will the readers enjoy the book? Will it be good enough to attract an audience? Will she be able to maintain her pace to continue producing books for her fans? These fears have to be faced and dealt with repeatedly and in today’s episode she chats about her approach to killing the fear and how those pursuing a career in self-publishing can do the same.


Outline of this great episode

  • [0:23] Introduction to this episode.
  • [1:20] Mark’s recent BookBub promotion.
  • [4:08] Mark’s experience with BookBub Ads.
  • [5:11] Introduction of this episode’s guest: Barbara Freethy.
  • [6:36] Barbara’s experience with traditional publishing and the transition to Indie Publishing.
  • [8:02] The rocky road Barbara experience in traditional publishing.
  • [13:08] The difference in income between traditional publishing and Indie publishing.
  • [16:45] How Barbara discovered she enjoyed the entrepreneur side of Indie publishing.
  • [19:21] How Barbara began getting her email list established.
  • [23:56] The way Barbara approaches giveaways for promotional purposes.
  • [27:05] How learning the business side of self publishing makes you a better writer.
  • [28:58] The team Barbara has to help with her business.
  • [30:53] The reader relationships Barbara builds to foster her audience.
  • [35:20] How Barbara’s relationship with fans has impacted her writing.
  • [39:26] Barbara’s approach to writing productivity.
  • [42:07] Not a lot of advanced planning for her stories.
  • [43:38] Barbara’s advice to new authors.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-024: Tips For A Successful Social Media Advertising Campaign – with Depesh Mandalia


You can’t approach an advertising campaign haphazardly.

That’s one of the main lessons learned in this conversation with Depesh Mandalia. Depesh is a successful social media marketer and advertiser and has boosted the popularity of a children’s book project through his use of Facebook Ads and other social marketing. In this episode, Depesh shares some of the things he learned when working on the “Lost My Name” book advertising campaign so that you can learn how to avoid the mistakes he made and make your advertising campaign the best it can be from the start.

You’ve got to have patience in the exploration phase of Facebook Ads.

As with any advertising campaign you’ve got to approach Facebook Ads cautiously and with a good deal of patience. The platform requires a good deal of time for you to troubleshoot and tweak your advertisements – including the wording and images. It’s a process of honing your offer so that it strikes a chord with those you are targeting. Depesh shares why it took 6 weeks to get the advertising campaigns for the “Lost My Name” project refined to the point it began converting – and shares his best practices with you.

Are you selling your book or the adventure your book represents?

Most authors are not adept at advertising or social media marketing. That’s fine. You’re a writer first and foremost. But if you’re going to tackle your own advertising campaigns to increase your book sales you have to be aware that you’re not really selling a book – you’re selling the adventure or experience your book provides to the reader. Depesh shares how he discovered that subtle nuance to marketing that began converting his prospects into customers – and how you can determine the same kind of appeal for your marketing and advertising campaigns.

In 2016 there’s no excuse for not getting a better understanding of your customer.

With the advent of Facebook advertising and other social media platforms there really is no excuse for not knowing who your ideal customer is. You can use the platformsto drill down into the data of who’s using and viewing the products and services your book is most closely associated with. When you do, you’ll be able to place your sales pitch or advertisement right in front of them. Once that’s done your only task is to refine your offer until they are enticed to click through and purchase. Depesh shares how to do exactly that in this episode.

You should avoid making generalizations and look at the facts.

When creating an advertising campaign you may think that you know who your ideal customer is. But Depesh says that you’re likely wrong. When he began helping with the advertising for the “Lost My Name” book project, the entire team believed that they would need to target parents. But by looking at the data they accumulated during the campaign they discovered that the people actually purchasing their books were not parents – but grandparents. The demographic data showed it very clearly. That changed the way they approached their marketing and soon their book sales began to soar as they targeted an older set of people. You can find out how Depesh recommends using the data to find your ideal purchaser by checking out this episode of the Self Publishing Formula podcast.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:24] Today’s episode: Facebook Advertising and today’s guest Depesh Mandalia.
  • [4:25] How Depesh got started using Facebook Ads.
  • [5:17] The children’s book project Depesh used Facebook Ads to promote.
  • [6:48] One of the reasons Depesh believed Facebook Ads would work for them.
  • [10:30] The hurdles the team needed to overcome to make the campaign successful.
  • [14:27] Why children’s authors have to approach things differently.
  • [24:29] Do the same techniques work in various markets?
  • [26:10] Different ways of approaching effective marketing.
  • [29:00] The mechanics of discovering a NPS score.
  • [30:32] Lessons being learned from other social platforms.
  • [34:10] Key tactics recommended for your campaigns.
  • [39:14] Why social media will continue to grow.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-023: How to Increase Your Daily Word Count Exponentially – with Rachel Aaron


Daily word count is one of the metrics many authors track to ensure they are moving toward completion of their projects. One of the struggles is increasing that word count to get more work done, but doing so in a way that doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Today’s guest has discovered a way to do that. Rachel Aaron is the author of an award-winning series and has also authored a non-fiction book, “From 2K to 10K” – a ‘how to’ book covering the task of increasing word count through daily planning. Rachel provides insight into the writing process and is generous enough to share her insight with you in this episode of the SPF podcast.


How Rachel learned to increase her daily word count beyond her expectations.

It all came about accidentally while Rachel was experiencing one of those “writer’s block” moments. She had spent days trying to slog her way through a particularly difficult part of her novel when she decided to take a different approach. She got out her notebook and forced herself to very quickly write out a brief sketch of what she wanted the scene to be about. It took about 10 minutes, and once it was on paper she went back to writing and finished the scene in record time. That experience got her thinking about why she struggled to write and how she might improve her efficiency at writing. The result was an increase in daily words written from less than 2000 per day to over 10,000.

How a little bit of planning can save you a lot of time when writing your book.

Rachel believes that one of the main reasons authors struggle to get their writing out of their heads and onto the page is that they don’t clearly know what they’re writing about before they begin writing. They try to let the story unfold or the characters develop on their own – to discover it as they go. But Rachel has found that approach to be too ambiguous and subjective. She’s learned that if she is able to sketch out the outline of a scene prior to sitting down to write it, her ability to write it is dramatically improved, not only in how long it takes her to write it but also in her ability to get the things she wanted written in a compelling way. Be sure you listen to Rachel’s explanation. Her techniques will not only help you write faster, but enable you to increase your revenue as an author because you do.

An outline before you start could make your story more polished from the beginning.

While every author would like to increase their daily word count, they also would love to spend less time in the editing phase of their book project. Rachel discovered that as she began using outlines from which to write her scenes, not only did her word count dramatically increase, she also came out with better first drafts because the outline enabled her to have the ability to stay on track and direct the writing exactly where it needed to go. Your first draft could be of much higher quality too if you use Rachel’s methods. Check out her conversation with James in this episode, and grab her book as well – it’s only 99 cents.

How an increased word count can grow the revenue of your writing business.

When Rachel discovered the writing techniques she discusses in today’s episode her daily word count increase from less than 2000 words per day to over 10,000. So think that through: she’s able to generate more completed first drafts in less time than she ever has. That means she can get more books into her author portfolio in less time – which puts more hooks in the water to draw in potential readers. The difference to her profitability as a writer has grown exponentially as a result.

Outline of this great episode
  • [0:22] Introduction to this episode with guest, Rachel Aaron.
  • [1:37] Mark’s writing goals each day.
  • [4:05] James’ introduction of Rachel Aaron.
  • [6:20] An award Rachel received for her latest series.
  • [7:20] The newness of what self publishing has brought to the industry.
  • [12:11] How Rachel learned to write faster.
  • [14:45] The way Rachel’s process works for individual writers.
  • [21:58] How a little bit of planning can save you lots of time in writing.
  • [23:24] How the outline helps the text be more polished at first draft.
  • [25:39] The struggle of writing fiction in light of past writing habits and training.
  • [31:20] How Rachel moved from traditional publishing to self publishing.
  • [35:00] The way that niche books work better in self publishing.
  • [38:26] Some of the things Indie Authors miss by going independent.
  • [44:02] The things that are working for Rachel in marketing right now.
  • [51:23] How Rachel’s approach could be a great approach for many authors.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode


BOOK: 2K to 10K

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SPF-022: Using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Ads for Effective Lead Generation and Book Sales


Social Media Ads are a big focus of our work here at the Self Publishing Formula simply because the days when you could organically drive traffic to your website and book sales pages through normal social media interaction are gone. That’s not only because social media is becoming more and more crowded but also because platforms like Facebook are adjusting their algorithms to make that kind of reach virtually impossible. Why? Because they want you to use their advertising platform instead. In this episode James and Mark give a summary of social media advertising and why they feel it’s the best approach for every self published author to find and target a specific niche of readers.

Facebook Ads for Authors: Which came first, the course or the need for it?

You might expect that a guy who’s created a course called “Facebook Ads for Authors” would tout using Facebook Ads. It’s in his own interest, after all. But in Mark’s case, he didn’t create the course because he knew it would sell (though he did know that). He created the course because he understood the changes to social media landscape and figured out how to leverage those changes to his own benefit. If authors are going to be successful at building a mailing list and selling books through social media, one great way is going to be through social media advertising platforms. The course is one opportunity for you to make that pivot alongside Mark, gleaning his hard learned lessons without having to make the same mistakes he did. This insightful episode will have you thinking differently about your social media strategy as an author and help you understand the need to tweak your approach and how to do it.

Why not every indie author will get the same results from Facebook advertising.

You might think that once you learn how to use Facebook advertising as an author, you’re all set. But it’s not that simple. Every advertising campaign targets a particular niche or genre fan base. Your appeal to your ideal reader may be effective but they may not have the means to respond as you’d like. You’ll hear more insights about issues like this in this episode about social media advertising.

But there are other social media advertising platforms out there.

The Facebook Ads platform is the most mature of the social media options but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one that works. In this episode Mark and James chat about their experience using both Twitter and Youtube ads and give you some hard numbers on the results they’ve seen. Depending on your market those may be very profitable platforms for you to learn and apply to drive mailing list signups and sell more books by building a larger fanbase. Hear the basics of how these platforms work in this episode.

Driving opt-ins to your mailing list is just as important as selling books.

One of your goals with any advertising is to sell books. But keep in mind that it’s only ONE of the goals. Mark believes that even more important than getting that one time sale is starting an ongoing relationship with a fan who could not only purchase more books in the future but also become part of a community that supports your work over the long haul. That happens through fan conversations, word of mouth, online community interactions, and much more. Find out why Mark says that building your email list is the most important thing you can do as an author – and why he recommends social media advertising as the best way to do that.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:40] Introduction to this episode of the podcast about paid advertising.
  • [3:52] The Facebook Ads course was created because Facebook works.
  • [4:45] Why organic Facebook interaction is not enough these days.
  • [8:03] Is Facebook still good for paid ads geared toward sales and list building?
  • [11:08] How lead capture is working on Facebook these days (2016).
  • [13:20] How Mark also offers a purchase option during his lead capture process.
  • [14:30] How Facebook works best for direct sales of books.
  • [17:24] Why every business needs a mailing list.
  • [19:12] How Facebook is working for selling books in Mark’s experience.
  • [22:43] The reality of how Twitter ads work.
  • [29:07] New experiments using Youtube ads.
  • [32:12] How to get a FREE conversion on Youtube ads.
  • [33:41] The different types of videos you can use on Youtube.
  • [37:25] The problems James had with getting Youtube videos U.S. to work.
  • [38:43] The up and coming social media ad platforms.
  • [41:15] Lead generation and remarketing on Youtube ads.
  • [44:26] The ongoing changes to social media ad platforms.

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SPF-021: Tapping into the Traditional PR Machine as an Indie Author


Indie authors have long taken pride in their ability to use the tools at their disposal to create works of fiction and nonfiction that easily rival the quality and appeal of those published through the traditional channels. But using the traditional PR (public relations) channels has been a bit of an enigma to this point as many of the existing gatekeepers appear to still be in place. Not intimidated by such things, Mark and James took it upon themselves to do a bit of an experiment in the PR world to see what reach and exposure Mark could generate for himself both as an author and as an authority in the indie publishing niche by hiring a PR firm. In this episode you’re going to hear what’s come of that PR experiment so far and get some lessons you can use right now.

PR is no longer only for the traditionally published author, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Most self published authors understand the hustle it takes to gain exposure for their writing in the crowded book markets of the online retailers. But stepping into the world of bookstores, media outlets, and television stations is another world entirely. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, as Mark demonstrates on this episode. His recent foray into the world of traditional PR did cost him a pretty penny but it was worth it in both results and in learning, and he’s not shy to share all of that information with you. Hear how his PR campaign took place, what came of it, and how you can take some of the principles he learned to advance your own reputation as an author and an authority.

Why traditional PR could be an important step for you at some point.

While the “rebel” nature of self publishing enables us to accomplish a lot of good for ourselves by going around the traditional gatekeepers of the publishing industry, we can’t allow our independent spirit to keep us from taking advantage of opportunities that may seem a bit more traditional. The typical PR route is one of those that can yield great results if we’re willing to use it. The exposure that comes from features on TV shows, traditional newspapers and their online equivalents, and radio shows is still unmatched in many ways. In this episode you can hear how Mark was able to leverage those to his advantage and why he thinks it could be a great way for Indie authors to gain even more exposure as their career advances.

Even in self publishing the market is getting crowded. You’ve got to set yourself apart.

We all love self publishing because it enables us to go around the gatekeepers and empowers anyone to publish a book. The bad news is… anyone can publish a book. That means your baby is one of the crowd and you’ve got to do something to make yourself and your writing stand out (apart from making it very, very good). In this episode Mark and James discuss how a PR campaign could help give you that boost in attention that you need to get on the radar of more and more prospective readers. It could be the added tool in your toolbox that gets you the notice your writing and your book really need.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:40] Mark’s mixed feelings about paying for PR.
  • [1:50] The need to build reputation and credibility as an author.
  • [4:42] Mark and James’ discussion of the experience with the PR firm.
  • [5:44] Why Mark was impressed in his meeting with the PR firm.
  • [10:04] The authors the PR firm has worked alongside.
  • [11:05] Why PR could be an important step up for authors at some point.
  • [13:13] Approaching potential readers who are engaged with “old media.”
  • [15:00] The importance of having print books for this approach.
  • [15:55] Measuring the price and success of this potential PR campaign.
  • [18:14] The potential of reaching new readers through the campaign.
  • [20:41] Why this is a long term investment (and how you can follow along).
  • [23:31] 12 weeks later and the costs involved: $6,000 pounds.
  • [25:00] The option of going solo and what Mark got out of his investment.
  • [28:51] Additional notice that may have come from corollary sources.
  • [32:06]  Why mark wanted to do this campaign in the first place.
  • [34:30] How a growing self publishing market demands you set yourself apart.
  • [36:10] Letting readers know that “vanity publishing” is gone now.
  • [39:02] Other PR options for smaller budgets.
  • [42:22] Moving forward with the PR company: how it could look.

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SPF-020: A Technology Partner to Help Build your Online Course – with Ankur Nagpal of Teachable


When you’re able to get your non-fiction book or area of knowledge put into an online course you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to organizing that course for online consumption. And when you do, it’s important that you find a platform that serves you as a partner, not just in a business relationship. Today’s episode of The Self Publishing Formula podcast is a conversation James had with Ankur Nagpal, founder of the online course platform Teachable. The two of them chat about the way Teachable came to be, what makes the platform unique from other online course platforms and how their view of partnership with their instructors makes all the difference. You’ll love the insights you’ll hear in this week’s episode.

The Teachable online learning platform came about almost by accident.

Ankur had created his own online courses and was hosting them on Udemy but was having some issues with the way that platform worked. First off, he didn’t like that he had no access at all to the students who took his course. In that way he wasn’t really building an asset he could use into the future, only dealing with one-off interactions. In his desire to find a new platform that would work in a more cooperative way with instructors he wound up creating his own app. That was the beginnings of Teachable and the start of a successful online learning platform.

The first step to a successful online course: Find the audience.

No matter the idea you have for an online course in terms of subject matter, it’s not a good idea to spend a lot of time creating it only to discover that nobody wants to buy it. Instead you need to find out if there is a real audience that wants to learn the subject you want to teach. Given the reach of the internet that’s no longer a difficult thing to do. In this episode you’re going to hear some great advice about ways you can verify the need for a course before you begin creating it.

Why online courses are not yet in need of professional production.

In the overall lifespan of the internet Ankur believes that online courses are still relatively new. The public is yet to develop expectations of online courses that are on par with television or movie studio productions. That’s a great thing for content creators who are low budget, small business owners because all kinds of simple approaches to instruction can still make the grade: screen capture software – slide decks with voice over – standing at a whiteboard drawing doodles – all of these and more are not only acceptable but very popular ways for instructors to create and disseminate the information they have to share. In this episode you’ll get some ideas about how you could use your computer and smartphone to create your first online course.

Creating a course on Teachable is not the last step – the Teachable team continues to help you.

Ankur and the team at Teachable are committed to building the best technology in existence to fuel online learning. As a result, they’ve committed that they will not get into the business of selling information themselves. Instead they want to provide the training, ongoing tips, and useful instruction for free to those who use their platform. They see it as a primary and powerful way they are able to be true partners with those who use their platform – which only serves to make everyone involved more successful. You can get a free trial of the Teachable platform by listening to this episode, so make sure you take the time to listen and get in on this great deal.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:24] James’ introduction to this episode and the track record of the show thus far.
  • [3:18] The reason for today’s episode emphasis on nonfiction writing.
  • [4:00] Introduction of today’s guest, Ankur Nagpal.
  • [6:30] When Ankur got into online courses and how it happened.
  • [8:30] Ankur’s experience in software engineering and how he hired developers.
  • [11:43] The Self Publishing Formula’s team experience with Teachable.com & what Ankur sees working in the realm of online courses.
  • [14:25] How Teachable helps authors build an audience without worrying about the tech.
  • [18:10] The most common type of teaching videos and other options you can use.
  • [22:30] What limitations might exist when it comes to online learning?
  • [26:00] A free offer from Teachable and how the platform has come to be.
  • [28:07] How Teachable compares to Udemy.
  • [29:00] How anyone should start building an audience.
  • [31:35] How the Teachable team helps its instructors with ongoing training.
  • [34:31] The growth of online courses in the future and the Teachable path ahead.
  • [36:48] Free resources for SPF listeners from Teachable.com.
  • [40:14] The end of the nonfiction mini-series and Mark’s experience with nonfiction.
  • 42:50] Preview of next week’s episode on the topic of publicity.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode



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SPF-019: How Books Turned to Online Courses can Create an Income – with David Siteman Garland


This episode of The Self Publishing Formula is part two of a three part series about using non-fiction writing to establish revenue through online courses. Give some time to this episode and you’ll see the common sense and not-so-difficult way you can turn your knowledge and expertise into an online course that generates income for you.

“But I’m not an expert.”

David Siteman Garland can’t count the number of times people have told him that when he tries to encourage them to create an online course. But he challenges them to rethink what is meant by the word in the first place. He often says it in this way: “What have you done that has been successful? What have you gotten great results from? What do people always ask you about?” The answer to any one of those questions could be the source of a nonfiction book on the subject which, coupled with an online course, could begin to generate income for you over time. If you don’t know where to begin, that’s exactly why we have David on the show. He’s going to give you the broad overview of how anyone can put together an online course and get it generating income.

Nonfiction book + Online Course = Cash Cow.

Even if you fancy yourself as only a fiction writer, give this scenario some thought: You identify an area where you’ve had great success – maybe in character development, world building, CreateSpace publishing, or something entirely unrelated to writing. You put the knowledge you have on that subject into a nonfiction book designed to instruct others in how to accomplish what you’ve already done. Then, for those who want a deeper dive into the subject, you offer an online video course that holds their hand through the process step by step. It’s a one-two punch for leveraging your experience and knowledge into a resource that can help people accomplish the things they have been dying to accomplish, and it generates an income for you at the same time.

How do you know if your idea for an online course is a good idea?

Like anything that is developed for a consumer market, your online course needs to be on a subject that people are eager to learn about. It’s the demand side of the “supply and demand” equation. It’s really pretty simple: If nobody really wants to buy what you’re thinking of selling, you shouldn’t take the time and invest the energy to create the product in the first place. That principle holds true for online courses as much as anything else. In this episode of The Self Publishing Formula, David walks us through the steps to discover if your idea for an online course is a good one. He highlights the ways you can research the topic to discover demand and how you can begin building an email list of interested buyers before you even create the product. Interested? Listen to to this fun conversation to get the details.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:21] Introduction of this episode, part 2 of a 3 part series.
  • [0:38] Who this episode is for.
  • [2:22] Introduction of today’s guest: David Siteman Gartman.
  • [4:49] The approach you can take to generate revenue from a book.
  • [5:57] Two different ways your online course could go.
  • [12:42] How to determine if there’s a demand for your course idea.
  • [16:18] Finding your unique approach to the subject.
  • [20:18] Why your course could be for you a few years ago.
  • [21:50] Tips for building an email list.
  • [26:38] How to get traffic to your list building page.
  • [30:51] The way to track conversions on your course: create your own data.
  • [33:14] How to price your course (go for a premium price).
  • [35:21] Ongoing engagement with customers.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode






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SPF-018: Using a Non-Fiction Book to Create Income From Online Courses – with Nick Stephenson

Much of the Self Publishing Formula audience is engaged in writing fiction. But there are distinct advantages to learning how to write and distribute non-fiction works. To investigate and expose these opportunities we’re starting off today with the first of a 3-part series that focuses on how to write and leverage non-fiction for the purpose of creating income streams beyond book sales. In part two, next week, you will hear David Siteman Garland tell us that EVERYONE has an online course in them, even if you think you’re only a fiction writer at the moment. We start however with our good friend Nick Stephenson. Nick has a proven track record in this area and happily provides a wealth of insight on the subject with tips on how you could follow his lead.

The advantages of non-fiction when it comes to producing income.

When it comes to fiction vs non-fiction, it’s often issues of preference, life experience, or writing skill that determines what we end up writing. But Nick points out some very compelling reasons to consider adding non-fiction to your writing skills toolbox. Besides his own success at making the switch, Nick’s also come to realize that the profit potential for non-fiction writers is much greater, simply because the topics non-fiction writers write about are more narrow, more specialized. That means there’s a demand for the information you’re putting out there that is unique. It’s that demand that can drive the need for additional resources to help readers apply what they are learning. Nick shares his journey into non-fiction writing and the amazing income that’s come from it. Be sure to listen so you can learn how to apply his techniques to your writing career.

The frustration that led Nick to build his first online course.

Nick had become a very successful fiction writer, selling at a level higher than most authors ever reach. He wrote a very popular blog that chronicled his journey, including the steps he’d taken to make his writing accessible and produce sales. He began receiving requests to turn his blog into a book, which he did. It sold well but he continued to get the questions that he’d already answered in his book, even from people who had read the book! He wanted people to apply what he’d taught so he decided to build an online course for those who really wanted the knowledge he had to share. His income from that course has grown in leaps and bounds ever since. Hear how Nick did it, and how you can move in the same direction, in this episode.

Why a course gets results that a non-fiction book doesn’t.

As Nick began to sell the online course version of his non-fiction books, he saw that the participants in the course were more engaged in the learning and more likely to apply it than those who purchased the book. What he discovered was that making a greater monetary investment proved to be a greater motivation for his students. They were invested in their own success at a level that those who had made a book purchase simply weren’t. He suggests that all non-fiction writers consider creating a course to go more deeply into the subjects they’ve written about, to increase personal income but also to increase the likelihood of students actually applying what you’re teaching. Hear more of Nick’s journey in this episode of The Self Publishing Formula podcast.

Could you make the transition into writing non-fiction?

Nick believes you can achieve this. It’s his conviction that everyone has something in their history or background that they could leverage into a non-fiction book. It may be a skill, a way of dealing with a situation, or a philosophy or spiritual perspective. Whatever it is, every person views the areas of life from a unique perspective that might help others. And Nick not only believes you could write a non-fiction book, he also believes that from that book you could create a course to teach students on a deeper level about the concepts you’ve already covered. And one of the amazing benefits will be that your income opportunities increase exponentially. In this episode you can hear how Nick suggests you get started.Much of the Self Publishing Formula audience is engaged in writing fiction. But there are distinct advantages to learning how to write and distribute nonfiction that fiction does not lend itself to. To investigate and expose those opportunities we’re starting off today with a 3 episode series about how to write and leverage nonfiction for the purpose of creating streams of income that go beyond book sales. For this first part of the trilogy we’ve invited our good friend Nick Stephenson to join us. Nick has proven to be very successful at doing exactly what we’re after and on this episode he shares a wealth of insight into how he got started and how you can do the same.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:24] Welcome, and your invitation to the free webinar on writing copy for books.
  • [3:30] Why courses are a powerful means of income and an introduction of today’s guest: Nick Stephenson.
  • [6:57] Nick’s bio and introduction.
  • [7:52] How Mark was influenced by Nick’s work and career.
  • [9:12] Nick’s transition from fiction to nonfiction writing and his first courses.
  • [12:01] Why a course gets results that a book does not.
  • [13:54] The right and wrong way to use a “free” resource or book.
  • [16:03] How Nick follows up with the people on his mailing list.
  • [20:00] The lifestyle Nick and Mark get to enjoy because of their courses.
  • [23:37] Why writers need to understand that writing is a business venture.
  • [25:29] The tone of Nick’s emails to his list.
  • [31:25] What kind of frequency does Nick publish his email to his list?
  • [35:40] Nick’s preferences and goals in writing.
  • [37:04] How Nick builds his mailing list from the beginning.
  • [38:59] The power of testing your course topic and idea.
  • [46:13] Leveraging competitiveness to make your business work.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-017: How to Write a Book Description That Sells More Books – With Bryan Cohen


It’s an amazing thing when you realize that you might be able to write a stellar novel, full of excellent scenes and powerful characters, but when it comes to writing a blurb to put on Amazon and other online retailers, it feels like pulling teeth to do it well. It requires a different set of mental muscles to write a compelling book summary and on this episode we receive some help from a friend of the SPF community, Bryan Cohen. Bryan’s not only an accomplished author himself, he’s also a copywriter who specializes in this sort of thing. You’re going to be amazed at his insights and helped by the tips he has to offer. And if you apply what he teaches in this episode and see your book sales rise as a result, be sure to let us know.

Does your book description have an effective hook?

Just like a blog post or article title, your book description for online retailers needs to be compelling. In particular, the very first sentence needs to be the “hook” that urges the reader to keep reading. How do you make one sentence so powerful? Bryan is the man to tell us how. Listen to learn how to create a powerful hook, infuse it with emotion, and compel those checking out your book to push the “buy” button as a result.

Transitional statements keep the movement and energy going.

Take a moment to stroll over to Amazon and read a few of the book descriptions for some of the bestselling books in your genre. What do they have in common? It’s more likely than not that those book summaries use transitional statements to keep the energy and interest of the reader moving forward. They pose questions, arouse curiosity, and evoke sympathy for the characters through the description on the page. You can write a summary like that for your book and on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula, Bryan teaches you how.

One place where you definitely DO want to leave your reader hanging.

There’s a good deal of discussion going on in writing communities these days about whether or not cliffhanger endings are a good thing or not. While it’s debatable when it comes to the way you end your novels, there’s no question about it when it comes to your book description. A cliffhanger ending is a must. Why? Because that’s what leaves the person interested in your book with the desire to find out more. It’s taking advantage of the natural bent we humans have toward curiosity and using it to gain a new reader and customer. You can discover Bryan’s foolproof approach to writing powerful book summaries in this episode of the podcast.

Would you like to get in on a webinar to take a deep dive into creating a powerful book summary for YOUR book?

While the tips Bryan shares in this episode of the podcast are indeed powerful and many authors will find increased sales simply from applying what he shares here, you may find that you need a deeper understanding of this topic. Mark and Bryan will be hosting a live webinar covering the issue of book descriptions for Amazon and for Facebook Ads that you won’t want to miss. If you’re able to learn this form of effective writing it could impact your book sales in a positive way for years to come. Get all the details on the webinar by listening to this episode.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:21] Mark and James introduce the episode.
  • [1:17] The value of the Facebook for Authors course and why the launch is such work.
  • [2:00] Today’s guest, copywriter Bryan Cohen.
  • [5:35] Why Bryan calls himself an adventurer.
  • [9:26] The upcoming webinar Bryan will be conducting with Mark Dawson.
  • [11:24] How writers struggle to summarize their novel into a blurb.
  • [15:00] A blurb hook- writing formula for authors to follow.
  • [17:19] Taking cues from film taglines for your book’s “hook.”
  • [21:40] How to write the first sentence of your synopsis.
  • [23:31] The same principle in book writing.
  • [24:51] Moving beyond the first part of the synopsis.
  • [26:38] The powerful end of your synopsis.
  • [29:47] How the book copy can be the difference between sales and no sales.
  • [33:25] What can be done for an author after the initial sales rush ends?
  • [36:01] What do we mean by conversions and conversion rates?
  • [40:14] Applying these concepts to copywriting in general.
  • [46:14] A preview of the upcoming webinar.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-016: From Police Officer to Gazillion-Selling Novelist: Clare Mackintosh’s story


In this episode we’ve included a great conversation with the author of smash hit crime thrillers, Clare Mackintosh. Clare is traditionally published but the lessons she’s learned about rewriting, editing, and Facebook fan interaction have a lot to each Indie and Self Published authors, so we thought it would be a valuable conversation to bring you. There’s no doubt that lessons learned on both side of the publishing divide can benefit authors residing in each place, so please, make the time to listen – there’s lots to learn here.

A massively successful author talks about the agony of rewriting.

Clare Mackintosh is name that is well known in the UK and is just now coming into prominence in the fiction realm of other markets, most notably the U.S. Her success has been staggering to say the least, and she says that much of it comes from the hard work put in to rewrite her books even after she received a book deal. No less than 5 rewrites of her book between the time she accepted a book deal and it actually published, and she says that every step was one she would gladly do again because they were steps that made the book even better and more successful. You can hear Clare’s journey from Police Officer to successful author in this episode of the podcast.

As a self-published author, maybe you could use a little more rewriting.

Being self-published, you likely don’t have someone holding your feet to the fire, requiring you to rewrite or reorganize large sections of your book like Clare Mackintosh did. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good idea. Most of us could use some distance from our writing (taking some time off) and then come back to it with eyes that are somewhat fresh. That sort of practice could help you get the perspective you need to do some rewrites that would truly be beneficial, even if you don’t have an agent or publisher breathing down your neck. What do you think? Could you apply the same lessons Clare learned through her rewriting process to your own workflow? Hear her entire story in this episode.

Understanding the social media platforms is key to your success in using them for promotions.

Clare Mackintosh has established a very active, thriving community of fans on Facebook and has a very large following on Twitter as well. But she’s quick to point out that the two platforms are very different and as a result, her goals in using each of them is very different. While the majority of people she interacts with on Facebook have read one or more of her books, the majority she chats with on Twitter have not. That alone requires a different approach. Clare has great advice for self published authors about how to approach the various platforms based on their unique characteristics, and how to share in a way that fits the platform. It’s all in this episode of The Self Publishing Formula.

Once again, the power of the email list comes to the forefront.

It’s normal to hear self published authors talking about the significance of having an email list of raving fans to market new books and projects to. But today you get to hear the same story from the mouth of a very successful traditionally published author, Clare Mackintosh. Clare runs her own email list follow up with those who purchase her books and she uses many of the same approaches and tactics that Indie Authors use. You can hear the success Clare has experienced from doing personalized follow up with her readers and how she uses it to her advantage, in this episode.

Outline of this great episode

  • [1:34] James and Mark welcome you to this episode.
  • [4:19] Today’s guest: Clare Mackintosh.
  • [5:08] Clare’s journey from her police job to writing.
  • [7:07] The amazing amount of work going from self publishing to traditional publishing.
  • [10:24] The brutal process of going through numerous re-writes.
  • [12:35] The personal story behind the writing and transition to being a writer.
  • [14:08] The differences in payments through self publishing and traditional publishing.
  • [15:55] Writing lessons learned about how to tell a better story.
  • [18:29] The themes that carried through all the edits to the end.
  • [24:15] The way Clare handles her own mailing list and career.
  • [28:31] The type of platform Clare had in place when she first began.
  • [30:35] The success and power of Clare’s Facebook page.
  • [32:35] The importance of sharing native content to each platform.
  • [36:05] A typical day for Clare.
  • [39:11] Future writing plans in terms of genre.
  • [42:42] The odds of success are greater for self publishing.
  • [43:36] Get into the Facebook Ads for Authors course.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

The Facebook Ads for Authors Course (course closes 14th June 2016)

Clare’s books: I Let You Go and I See You

Clare on Twitter: @ClareMackint0sh

Clare on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClareMackWrites


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SPF-015: Heading for $1.5m thanks to FB Ads – With Adam Croft

Can you imagine the day that all your efforts at self publishing – the hard work writing, promoting, and planning your books – finally pays off? Today’s episode is one author’s story about how that has finally come about. After writing for just over 5 years and self publishing a number of books, Adam Croft finally has a best seller to his credit. His latest book, “Her Last Tomorrow” is currently the #1 self published book on Amazon and he’s on track to make over $1.5 million from it this year. You can hear the account of his journey from his own lips today as he walks through the work and strategies he’s followed to get this latest book into the hands of thousands of readers.

Facebook Ads for Authors is a viable method of promoting your book.

But you can’t do it willy-nilly. There has to be a plan and a strategy in place to make the promotional efforts work. And it’s also got something to do with the book that you’re trying to promote. Adam tried Facebook ads before with other books but for some reason they weren’t the exact right fit to garner the attention he was hoping for. But this last time things appear to have fit just perfectly. Adam chats a bit about his success with Facebook ads and speaks highly of how it can be used to get your book into the hands of your perfect readers.

The money is coming in for his self published smash hit… but not yet.

As most self published authors know, once your book begins to make sales on Amazon there is up to a month lag between the actual sales of the book and the day you receive your royalty payments. The delay is understandable but it can make it difficult to finance continued promotions like Facebook ads. Adam openly shares about that difficulty and the decision he made to tap credit cards and family to finance his promotions in light of the revenue that his book sales was generating, but that he hadn’t received. Hear how Adam made the decision so you can make your own game plan for financing the marketing side of your self publishing business.

As an indie author, you must learn how to think like a business owner.

That’s because you ARE a business owner. You are the manufacturer and marketer, your books or writings are your products. There’s no “home office” that will take on the distribution and promotion of your books so you have to do it. Adam has been blessed with a keen understanding of that dynamic and the will to make both sides of the self publishing process – writing AND business – work in his favor, to the tune of $1.5 million this year alone. You can learn a lot from Adam’s approach as he outlines some of how he thinks about the business side of his writing platform, so be sure you take some time to hit the play button on this one and hear what he has to say.

A structured approach to writing and business.

Adam loves his career as a fiction writer and he also loves the self publishing aspects of it as well. He approaches both with the same studied, careful approach so that he’s able to ensure that his goals, in terms of writing and book sales success, are fully met. From outlining his books methodically before he begins to write, to the discipline required to stay in the chair and do the writing, all the way to the number crunching required to make wise decisions about marketing and promotions, Adam is a great case study you can learn from. It’s all in this episode of The Self Publishing Formula podcast.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:41] The introduction to this episode and a student of James’ course.
  • [2:19] How you can get involved in the Facebook course that changed this student’s life.
  • [5:00] The conversation with Adam Croft, student of SPF.
  • [5:42] The current standing of Adam’s book on  Amazon.
  • [6:52] How Adam began to see success with is Facebook Ads campaigns.
  • [8:00] Dealing with the lag between selling books and receiving the cash.
  • [10:00] Thinking about crowdfunding for successful authors.
  • [12:40] The overall story of Adam’s current success.
  • [13:40] Adam’s main tips for those who want to achieve what he has.
  • [15:43] Why writers have to think like business owners.
  • [18:43] The plot of Adam’s current best seller.
  • [19:55] Adam’s other books prior to this one.
  • [21:30] The direction Adam believes he’ll be going with his books in the future.
  • [22:35] How Adam structures his writing day in terms of habits.
  • [25:03] Software, structure, and Adam’s approach to writing.
  • [27:30] How it feels to be the #1 self published author on Amazon.
  • [29:00] The webinar on June the 7th with Adam.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

Webinar coming up on June 7th – Details and SIGN UP HERE.

Mark Dawson’s Facebook Advertising for Authors Course

Adam’s current best seller: Her Last Tomorrow

Scrivener – writing software

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SPF-014: Promoting with Bookbub – With Katie Donelan


It’s difficult to talk about marketing for self publishing and indie authors without the name of Bookbub coming into the conversation. That’s because Bookbub is a very effective and powerful platform for getting indie authors notices in the very niches their readers love. On this episode of the Self Publishing Formula James and Mark host Katie Donelan, the first non-founder employee of Bookbub, to chat about how Bookbub works, why it’s so powerful, and how self published authors can use the platform to promote their own work.

How does the Bookbub promotion platform work?

Bookbub has been around since 2012 and has build a very powerful platform for promoting self published books to the specific niches of readers who are interested in their genre. Its main approach hinges on an email they send out to readers who have opted-in to their list. Authors are able to submit their books for consideration and the Bookbub team makes the decision about whether to include the author’s book or not. Since Bookbub gets so many submissions, there is a very careful selection process and not all submissions are accepted. You can find out how Katie suggests you go about applying to get your work included in the Bookbub newsletter.

The Bookbub approach focuses on quality and data, with an editorial twist.

Katie shares how Bookbub uses the data regarding authors and their past successes as well as a group of editors who evaluate submitted books with a human touch to make sure that there is a proper assessment of each submission.

Coming soon: The Bookbub ad platform.

For a while now the Bookbub team has been running a beta program of their new ad platform where authors can purchase ads to promote their books within the Bookbub newsletter. They can do so without the editorial hoops to jump through and with the ability for their ads to appear to their specific audience. It’s a masterful move by the Bookbub team and Mark has actually been trying it out. On this episode you’re going to be able to hear how the ad platform has been going for Mark and why he’s convinced it’s going to be a great tool for authors of any stripe and skill level.

What can you do if your submission to Bookbub has never been approved?

Many authors have submitted to be included in the Bookbub newsletter but have never been accepted for inclusion. Why? It has to do with the genre your book is in and whether there is a high demand for books in that niche. It also has to do with the historical success of books within that genre as well as the success of the author in past book sales. There’s also the issue of quality and the view Bookbub has of taking care of its reader audience by only promoting books that meet their quality standards. So what should you do if you’ve never been accepted by Bookbub? You can find out on this episode.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:33] Why James and Mark are incredibly excited about this episode.
  • [1:55] The conversation with Katie Donelan of Bookbub.
  • [2:56] What IS Bookbub and why is it so important in book marketing?
  • [5:40] Why Mark believes Bookbub is a huge benefit to authors.
  • [7:50] Why books don’t get approved to be on the Bookbub platform?
  • [10:25] The things Bookbub looks for in addition to its basic criteria.
  • [13:15] Which is more important to Bookbub, data or editorial assessment?
  • [14:25] Who are the Bookbub editors and how are they chosen?
  • [15:40] How Bookbub adds new categories to their newsletters.
  • [18:00] How Bookbub attracts readers to new categories.
  • [19:32] In the early days, how did Bookbub build their email list and how is it done now?
  • [22:06] How often does Bookbub cull or clean its email lists?
  • [23:10] Would Bookbub consider new releases for authors who have past track records?
  • [24:56] Bookbub ads and how they benefit authors.
  • [28:50] Mark’s recent experience with Bookbub ads.
  • [32:34] Details of how the Bookbub ads are working compared to the newsletter.
  • [34:30] No editorial aspect of the Bookbub ad platform, but the same ability for authors to hit their target readers.
  • [36:20] How you can get into Bookbub ads.
  • [39:07] What are the main differences in Bookbub options based on location?
  • [41:50] 2D or 3D images?
  • [42:29] How to keep momentum going after a Bookbub campaign is over.
  • [44:55] 99 cents or free – which is best in the Bookbub view?
  • [46:42] Future plans for Bookbub: French language or audiobooks?
  • [47:58] Which genres are most problematic and most successful?
  • [49:34] Anything different about how traditional publishing and self publishing are handled?
  • [51:00] What companies are Bookbub’s main competitors?
  • [54:00] Is there any danger of Bookbub being sold within the next 5 years?
  • [55:20] The reason Bookbub is focused primarily on readers – and why it’s important.
  • [56:44] What should a person do if they’ve never been accepted for Bookbub?

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-013: Masterclass: A detailed look at a book launch – With Mark Dawson


There are many, many things that go into a successful book launch. For a self-published author it can be enough to make your head spin. That’s why it’s such a great thing to have an experienced and successful self published author like Mark to walk you through his own best practices and mistakes. That’s exactly what you’ve got on this episode because Mark recently launched his most recent novel and took the time to record his own thoughts and comments each day as he progressed through his launch sequence. You’re going to be the beneficiary of his hard work as he walks you step by step through the things he did.

74% open rate and 53% click rate from Mark’s beta team.

One of the practices that many Indie authors have implemented is an advance or beta team of readers who serve the author in a few very important ways in exchange for a free, advanced copy of the book.

  • #1 – These readers help tighten up plot holes, errors, and oversights through feedback as they read the book
  • #2 – They provide reviews on Amazon and other retailers once they book is live on their platforms
  • #3 – They also can be a great source of encouragement and affirmation for the author

Mark’s beta reader team was fairly large (over 700 people) and they were very active in this most recent launch. You can hear how Mark fared and the role the beta team played in this episode.

Facebook advertising to accompany the book launch.

Once Mark had sent out his book to the beta reader team he began thinking through ways to leverage the book to his mailing list. Not everyone he mailed to opened the email, so he decided to upload that mailing list to Facebook and target ads for the book directly to those people who had not opened his initial email. That put the opportunity in front of them again in a way that many responded to by purchasing the book. But that wasn’t all he did with Facebook. Once the soft launch was over Mark used Facebook to advertise the book to specific segments of people, especially those who had liked or followed his pages, and sales benefitted greatly. You can hear how Mark went about making his Facebook advertising decisions in this episode.

The most successful launch to date.

Within the first few days of launching his latest novel Mark’s book was able to break into the top 100 books on Amazon and his U.S. sales were over 1600. That kind of success is the direct result of a well-planned, strategic launch using a variety of tools and approaches to market the book. You can hear Mark’s insights and feelings about the entire process as well as hear his insider tips about what he did and why.

How Mark helped his launch with a launch party.

Since his last book launched, Facebook has rolled out its live video streaming platform in full force. He’s already been using Facebook live video a bit and knew that he had a significant number of people who followed him on Facebook. So, with a beer in hand, Mark sat down in his home office and interacted with thousands of fans the night of the book launch. The post was shared all across facebook and got lots of attention all across the platform, boosting his books sales even more.

Outline of this episode

  • [1:32] Preview of next week’s episode AND a powerful upcoming webinar on Facebook ads.
  • [5:10] Mark’s audio diary for his book launch: Getting things to the proofer and editor.
  • [6:19] The manuscript is heading to the advance team.
  • [7:46] 74% open rate and 53% click rate for the manuscript sent to the beta team.
  • [9:51] Received the manuscript from the copy editor – 50 to 60 emails from beta readers.
  • [12:10] Cover reveal and prologue sent to the beta team & on Facebook. Positive responses. Pre-order links sent.
  • [14:45] Final changes made to the copy edited manuscript, sending for formatting.
  • [15:52] The soft launch: over 100 reviews already.
  • [18:08] The final touches done for the launch emails – 50,000 emails on the way.
  • [20:25] The most successful launch results: 1637 copies sold in the U.S. Broke the top 100.
  • [22:00] Using Facebook ads in conjunction with his email list and cover art.
  • [26:43] Total sales figures well after the launch.
  • [28:13] Reviewing the cover price – $17,000 profit so far.
  • [29:20] Spending more on Facebook this time.
  • [32:20] Things that went wrong during this launch.
  • [34:22] The Facebook numbers.
  • [36:00] The launch party and results of it

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SPF-012: How to start really selling books – With John P Logsdon


It’s always beneficial and encouraging to hear from someone who started from nothing and built a successful writing career from the ground up. Even more so, it’s encouraging to hear the story from a person who is following the exact same procedures and school of thought that you’ve adopted. That’s what you’ll hear in this episode with John P. Logsdon. John is a student in Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula course and he’s followed Mark’s systems and approaches to achieve stunning success with his playful series of science fiction books. You’ll get the full story on not only his unusual genre and style but also how he’s leveraged Mark’s approach to great success on this episode of The Self Publishing Formula podcast.

Success in self publishing discovered through a spiteful response.

John had already written his first novel and was having a terrible time getting it noticed and promoted. Everything he’d tried by way of building a mailing list had failed (he had only 7 subscribers). When his wife pointed out the Self Publishing Formula course that Mark had created, John was very cynical. When he finally got tired of hearing his wife talk about the course he decided that he would follow it step by step just to prove to his wife that it wouldn’t work. That was his golden mistake! You can hear John’s hilarious story of spite turned to success in this episode.

5000 words per day using a script writing tool.

When John followed the advice of many of the traditional writing manuals out there he found himself stymied at every turn. It took him far too long to create character sketches and outlines of every scene and he was getting discouraged. He finally decided to approach his writing in a way that he felt was a better fit for his personality and way of thinking. In the end John wound up using a scriptwriting tool (in the links for this episode) to create rough scenes and situations, writing the dialogue first, and filling in the gaps as he went. The result is a blazing word count of over 5000 words a day on most days. John goes into detail about how he works this approach to his advantage, on this episode.

Working with a co-author in a way that maximizes each of their gifts.

John wrote his first novel without his co-author, Christopher P. Young, who had said that it wasn’t his thing. But Christopher came around – and John’s so glad he did. The two of them have unique gifts when it comes to the book publishing process, and though Christopher does not fancy himself a writer, John is happy to have his name on the books because of the great things he brings to the process. You can hear how this atypical partnership works and how it might spark your own creativity.

Why Facebook advertising, aimed at building a mailing list, is the way to go.

Many self published authors have tried Facebook advertising with little effect. They ignore the possibilities offered to build solid, long-lasting relationships with readers through mailing list opt-ins. That’s what John finally did with his Facebook campaigns and the result was an amazing email list over 10,000 strong. John has come to realize that the relationship and interaction he has with his readers is what enables him to be a successful self published author and he believes that you can do the same thing.

Outline of this great episode

  • [1:25] Mark’s process of recording every step of his new book launch.
  • [2:13] A quick preview of Mark’s newest John Milton book.
  • [4:15] Why connection with people in the self publishing community is helpful.
  • [6:23] The new SPF Youtube channel.
  • [6:43] Who is John P. Logsdon?
  • [9:21] How Mark’s course got John rolling in his self publishing career.
  • [11:52] How John writes at least 5000 words a day using processes.
  • [18:44] The secret tool in Scrivener that helps you know how fast you’re writing.
  • [22:53] John’s back catalogue of books.
  • [24:35] How John works with a co-writer.
  • [28:42] The marketing approach John takes to his self publishing career.
  • [29:22] What is a launch team and why is it such a powerful thing?
  • [33:15] John’s journey from 2013 until today.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-011: Everything you always wanted to know about Mailing Lists (but were afraid to ask)


When Mark Dawson first started seeing success as a self published author he was a bit late to the game when it came to interacting with those who were showing interest in his books. The best they could do was to buy his book, read it, then search Amazon for any other books he might have written. It wasn’t a very reader centric approach and not what Mark wanted. That’s when he started investigating the various ways he could interact with his readers via email lists. In this episode you’ll get to hear the story of how Mark first approached the issue, the mistakes he made, and the many helpful things he’s learned about truly engaging with readers that make them happy to hear from you and even eager to help you promote your writing to others.

How NOT to create an email list.

At first Mark knew that he had to have some kind of email list but didn’t really know how to start. His first step was to include his private email address in the back of each of his books. It was better than nothing, but became very cumbersome since he was adding each person to a spreadsheet and then bulk emailing everyone from his private email account each time he had something to communicate. He quickly learned that the time it took him to do all of that work could be mitigated through using a free service like MailChimp. Mark talks through how he made the switch and the huge benefits he’s seen from using an email provider of this type.

But isn’t email being used less and less these days?

James asks Mark whether he thinks email is still useful in the modern day. Studies and articles frequently report that people are turning to text and instant messaging platforms rather than email. But Mark’s convinced that email is still the very best way to communicate with fans and makes his case for why that’s so in this conversation. You’ll learn a lot about why email is powerfully important to your brand and future book sales as well as how to go about reaching out to your audience in a way that is natural and effective.

What sort of tone should you write with in your emails?

Mark believes that everyone can effectively write email sequences and truly connect with their readers. They know how to be themselves. If you keep in mind the fact that anyone who signs up for your email list is doing so because they are interested in you and your writing, you’ll realize that the thing they are wanting to get to know is you. So be you. Take the time to put some of yourself into your emails in a natural, unapologetic way. You’ll be giving your readers what they want from their interaction with you and also provide a way for them to feel like they are on the “inside track” when it comes to your books and your brand.

The nuts and bolts of email software and services.

What you’re probably the most interested in learning is how to set up an email service to begin creating your email list. James and Mark walk through the basics of how Mark did it, what services he considered and the one he finally went with, why he made that choice, how he uses his email list on a regular basis to drive interaction and book sales, and the benefits he’s derived from having an active, engaged readership that communicates with him via his email list.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:21] The introduction today’s topic: Mailing lists for Authors.
  • [1:27] A special announcement (it’s exciting!).
  • [3:20] The importance of a mailing list cannot be underestimated.
  • [4:20] The difference a mailing list has made to Mark’s career.
  • [5:40] Why Mark is convinced email is still the best way to communicate with fans.
  • [8:10] The different types of emails that you can send out and how they work.
  • [9:41] Using your email list to solicit help from readers to launch your books.
  • [12:45] The importance of “tone” in your emails.
  • [15:48] How Mark started his first email list.
  • [19:27] James’ tips for MailChimp beginners.
  • [21:59] What is a double opt-in?
  • [24:10] How do you create different lists and why?
  • [26:15] How to use the information from your emails to refine the process.
  • [29:00] Great ideas for getting more subscribers from your readership.
  • [31:50] The personal touch you can have through your email list.
  • [33:47] Tips and tricks about mailing list strategies.
  • [36:16] Using advanced email service providers.
  • [40:29] Get Mark’s April income report.  

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-010: From Indie Publishing to 7 Figure Book Deal, with Bella Andre


Today’s guest is one of the most prolific and hardworking Indie authors out there. All it takes is a glance at Bella Andre’s catalogue to realize that this woman knows how to do what it takes to get books written! Success has come with over 50 bestsellers to her credit, and, during this chat, you’re going to hear Bella’s thoughts about how self-publishing has changed over the years of her career, how and when Indie authors need to put on the blinders, learning to work in your own cycles, and the details of how she got her seven figure print-only publishing deal. 

As an Indie author you’ve got to learn when it’s time to put on the blinders.

If you know you’re supposed to be a writer and are doing the work, you’re going to have plenty of feedback and pushback regarding all kinds of things. People will criticize your work, tell you that you’re a bad author – the list goes on. It’s during those times that you can’t let yourself get focused on the negative things coming your way. Bella calls it “putting on the blinders” to keep yourself on track in your writing career. During this conversation she shares some of the things she’s had to overcome and how she did it by employing her own set of blinders. It’s encouraging and helpful stuff for any indie author.

Don’t get stuck believing that you have to write in the same pattern as someone else.

Bella has learned over the years of being a self published author that she has to be true to the way that SHE works and not try to follow some predefined or suggested writing formula. Even within the way she works she’s found that the routine changes from time to time. For her it’s a case of knowing herself and doing what best facilitates success for herself from day to day. James and Mark quiz Bella on how she goes about determining those cycles for herself and ask what she’d recommend to authors who are struggling to get into their own routine. You’ll love her responses.

The most consistently beneficial practice in Bella’s career.

From an author as successful and prolific as Bella you might think that the most beneficial things in her career are things you typically hear: writing a set number of words every day, doing the work, focusing on technique and skill development, killing her darlings. But she’s got a very different answer to the question that she shares on this episode – and it doesn’t have to do with the act of writing at all.

Outline of this episode

  • [0:20] Today’s introduction to the guest, Bella Andre.
  • [1:14] Busy recording videos for Youtube advertising.
  • [4:30] Things that have changed in self publishing over the course of Bella’s career.
  • [7:47] Why you’ve got to put on the blinders as an Indie author.
  • [8:34] Bella’s “normal” daily routine and learning to work in her own cycles.
  • [13:36] Is it common for Bella to work on more than one book at once?
  • [15:25] Bella’s writing is all done in MS Word – for a reason.
  • [16:28] One thing that’s been the most consistently beneficial to Bella.
  • [19:03] Looking forward to a publishing deal and how it came about.
  • [24:57] The disadvantage Indie authors are at in print publishing negotiations.
  • [26:30] Advice for newer authors.
  • [30:03] Why Bella does most of her stuff herself, with the help of contractors.   

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

Bella’s website: http://bellaandre.com/

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SPF-009: Self Publishing Success through Book Promotions – With Ricci Wolman

self publishing promotions

The book promotion piece is one of the most vital but neglected aspects of being a self published author. Today’s guest, Ricci Wolman, is not an author herself but IS a marketing specialist who has made a career (and a business) out of helping authors successfully promote their books. She is founder and CEO of Written Word Media the parent company of www.FreeBooksy.com – a site that authors can use to promote their own work across vast lists of interested readers. Today Mark and James chat with Ricci about promotional best practices for new and experienced authors alike. The insights and tips she shares could be the keys to increasing your sales and success as an indie author. Be sure you take the time to listen.

10 years of online audience building has placed Ricci Wolman in a unique place to help authors.

Book promotions don’t come easy for most authors because they aren’t marketers – they are writers. So when somebody comes along who has the skill and expertise to help an author get outside their own “writer’s head” and see how the bells and whistles of marketing their books can increase sales, it’s a winning proposition. Ricci Wolman is exactly that person. She began her venture into helping self published authors by endeavoring to help her own mother gain traction with her first self published book and the efforts have led to her very successful business. You can hear Ricci’s story and learn how she might be able to help you in this episode of the Self Publishing Formula Podcast.

“Free” book promotions on Amazon is not a sure fire way to get more downloads.

Free giveaways on Amazon are still very powerful, but there are so many free books on Amazon any given day, it’s hard for your book to surface. What should you do? Learn how to do great promotions alongside those free offers to increase your visibility, gain more downloads, and start the Amazon sales engine working on your behalf. If you listen to this episode you’ll come away with some very tangible things you can do to make your next book promotion a greater success than your last.

Why indie authors MUST build a mailing list now.

One of the most important aspects of your book sales is the ability to put your writing in front of audiences that are not only engaged with your genre but also interested in YOUR work in particular. That’s where building an email list comes in. As you publish your work you have the opportunity to build a list of people who express interest in your work, and once they are on your email list they are the first people you should tell about what’s going on in your writing process and publication schedules. Why? Because they’ve already expressed interest and are your first likely buyers once your next book publishes. Ricci walks new indie authors through the first steps of building an email subscription list for their followers. 

If you promote your books, you will make more money.

That’s the blunt fact of the matter. On this episode, Ricci shares her advice regarding the step by step process indie authors should use to build an email list, set up promotions for their self published books, and improve the success of their writing. 

Outline of this episode

  • [0:21] Mark and James’ overview of the fun had at the LBF (London Book Fair).
  • [2:21] Interview with Ricci Wolman begins.
  • [3:32] How Mark came to be a “fan” of Ricci’s methods of promotion.
  • [5:04] How Ricci began her own publishing in the first place.
  • [8:46] Why “free” on Amazon is not necessarily the answer to book downloads.
  • [10:42] The growth of self published books on Amazon.
  • [12:20] Why authors need to develop their own marketing skills.
  • [13:41] Entry level tips for building and engaging a mailing list.
  • [20:46] Promotional tools self published authors can use today.
  • [25:02] Tips for making promotions as successful as possible.
  • [28:57] How much should new authors invest in promoting their books?
  • [32:36] How full time authors can take their business to the next level.
  • [38:43] Next things for Ricci and Written Word Media.
  • [40:00] Upcoming episodes to look forward to.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-008: Live from the London Book Fair 2016, Part 2 – With Mark Dawson and James Blatch


In the second part of our London Book Fair special, Mark and James get to talk to key providers in the digital publishing space such as Draft2Digital, Reedsy and Byte the Book as well as indie publishing guru and author Joanna Penn. And in additional interviews you can hear how four young authors are progressing their dream of becoming full-time self published writers. It’s another podcast packed with ideas, tips and inspiration for authors everywhere!

Show Notes

  • What an aggregator is and how they work to get books into stores authors might otherwise not be able to reach.
  • The growth of Draft 2 Digital and the advantages of using them to distribute books.
  • Tips from Dan at Draft 2 Digital for selling more books.
  • What Reedsy does for authors and how it is different from marketplaces like Fiverr and People Per Hour.
  • On networking and why it matters.
  • How Byte the Book connects authors with agents and publishers, educates both authors and publishers about technology, and connects authors with those in other industries who might use their content.
  • Joanna Penn on the global reach for books, the state of the indie nation and predictions for the future when the outsiders become the mainstream.
  • Why an author’s personal definition of success is so important.
  • Guest spots from a couple of independent authors, including an ex-CID Detective.

You can win a scholarship to Mark Dawson’s acclaimed premium course “Facebook Ads for Authors” by spreading the word about this podcast.

Visit selfpublishingformula.com/contest to enter.

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SPF-007: Live from the London Book Fair 2016, Part 1 – With Mark Dawson and James Blatch

The SPF Team hit the London Book Fair earlier this week and managed to catch up with a wide variety of Self Pub folk – from bestsellers Mel Sherratt and Rachel Abbott, exciting up and coming authors, (including a Hollywood screenwriter), as well as indie publishers, bloggers and key figures in the digital publishing world. In the first of two special LBF episodes, expect innumerable insider author tips and the lowdown on the current state of play in the pioneering world of self publishing.

Show Notes

  • Why self-published authors go to London Book Fair (LBF).
  • How Rachel Abbott sold two million books.
  • The boost Mel Sherratt got when she had more books to sell.
  • The focus successful authors place on marketing and why each author should define their own idea of success.
  • On experimenting with marketing if it’s not working, and why building a mailing list matters. “The most important readers are the ones you’ve already got.”
  • Kobo’s strategy for supporting indie authors, and desire to collaborate with indie authors.
  • Advice for new authors from Mark Lefebvre of Kobo on writing your next book, thinking globally, and pricing strategies.
  • The Pigeon Hole and the serialization of novels.
  • Podcaster Ani Alexander on getting books written and publishing advice for new authors.
  • Screenwriter and TV & Film Producer Paul Pender on the attraction of self-publishing.

You can win a scholarship to Mark Dawson’s acclaimed premium course “Facebook Ads for Authors” by spreading the word about this podcast.

Visit selfpublishingformula.com/contest to enter.

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SPF-006: Best selling Indie Author Interview – With Russell Blake


Russell Blake is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of some 30 – count ‘em! – much loved books and has been featured in the likes of the Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Tribune. He’s become a hugely respected figure in indie publishing circles and together with Mark and James, happily discusses, amongst other things, why marketing a book is quite a different process to writing one, the whole Kindle Unlimited thing and how to be an exceptional author (i.e. one that makes a living from writing).

James: You can win a scholarship to Mark Dawson’s acclaimed premium course “Facebook Ads for Authors” by spreading the word about this podcast.

Visit selfpublishingformula.com/contest to enter.

Hello and welcome to podcast #6 from The Self-Publishing Formula.

Female: Two writers: one just starting out; the other a best-seller. Join James Blatch and Mark Dawson and their amazing guests as they discuss how you can make a living telling stories. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.

Show Notes

  • What a new author should focus on.
  • On marketing books and how that skill set is very different from writing them.
  • What being the exception to the rule in self-publishing means.
  • The perma-free strategy and whether Russell is a believer.
  • Russell’s thoughts on Kindle Unlimited.
  • On selling in online retail stores other than Amazon.
  • Kindle Worlds fan fiction and what it’s like to read stories by other writers set in Russell’s world.
  • Marketing a book that’s in a different genre than your readers / newsletter subscribers are used to, including pricing strategies.
  • Questions from listeners, including what Russell’s experience working with Clive Cussler was like.
  • Comparisons between the music business and the traditional publishing business.

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SPF-005: Interview with Sean Platt


This week’s guest, Sean Platt, has turned a love of writing into an indie publishing phenomenon in the shape of story studio Sterling & Stone. But that’s only half his story. In Podcast 5, Sean talks with the guys about what’s next for Sterling & Stone, author productivity, dreaming big, making the right choices and what’s currently working on the marketing front for indie authors.

Show Notes

  • On Sean’s background and how he structures his day for maximum productivity, including naps and walking meetings.
  • The pleasure of working hard on things we love to do.
  • How Sean dreams big and sets challenging goals for each year.
  • The choice Sean would make between being a storyteller and his other projects.
  • The marketing for authors that Sean thinks is working now. And what’s not working.
  • Where Sterling and Stone see themselves in five years.

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SPF-004: Masterclass – Five Must Do Actions for New Authors – With Mark Dawson


If you’re thinking of kicking off a career as an indie author, or have already started down that road, listening to Podcast number 4 might save you a lot of time, money and effort as you move forward. Mark and James focus on key elements that are worth getting right at the start of your adventure. Mailing lists, websites, social media presence, company set-up, copyright and using pro services are just some of the topics covered.

Show Notes

  • Action #1: Build your mailing list. What services to use to do this, Advanced Reader Teams.
  • Action #2: Have a website. Your space on the internet, affiliate income, tracking the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
  • Action #3: Social media presence. Focusing on one or two platforms, the ease of setting up a Facebook profile and page and why they matter.
  • Action #4: Setting up a limited company for your author income. Assume you’re going to be successful, the life of your copyrighted books.
  • Action #5: Be professional. Hiring editors, proofreaders, cover designers. The pace of change and not getting caught up in fads.

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SPF-003: Interview with Hybrid Author Marie Force


In podcast number 3, Mark and James are joined by the sensational Marie Force. Marie has developed a seven figure publishing operation with a mix of both self publishing and traditional publishing deals. They discuss her marketing tips as well as Marie’s advice to authors setting out to build a platform for better sales. They also discuss her unique approach to reader relationships which involve annual gatherings in her native Rhode Island.

Show Notes

  • In the introduction Mark talks about the ways he uses Scrivener writing software, and about his latest book launch.
  • Marie Force shares the strategy she had from the beginning of her writing career of connecting with her readers and staying in touch with them.
  • On the genesis of Marie’s Reader Weekends and the events that take place at this annual gathering.
  • Also the ROI that Marie gets from the event.
  • Marie’s beginnings as a writer and her early struggles with frustration, and her progress from there to running a multi-million dollar author business with several employees.
  • On Marie’s writing process and production, her monthly word count and the tools she uses.
  • Marie’s thoughts on working with a traditional publisher.
  • The marketing strategies that are most successful for Marie, including TV advertising.
  • The one piece of advice Marie would give new authors.
  • On genre specific covers, and learning new lessons all the time.
  • Why a long-term outlook matters to indie authors who want to build careers.

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SPF-002: Secrets from an indie online entrepreneur – With Pat Flynn

From redundancy to a pioneer in the online business sphere, Pat’s blog, ‘Smart Passive Income’ that details his story has become a go-to resource for budding online entrepreneurs everywhere. Mark and James hunker down with Pat to talk, amongst other things, about his new book, relationship strategies including the power of transparency and whether podcasting is still a sound business strategy.

Show Notes

  • Pat’s beginnings as an online entrepreneur.
  • Why Pat wrote his new book Will It Fly?
  • On the power of surveying one’s audience.
  • Relationship strategies Pat used with his followers while he was writing the book and at the launch.
  • Transparency as a powerful audience relationship strategy.
  • On segmenting email lists for greater response rates.
  • What Pat would do to connect with his readers if he wrote fiction.
  • Whether Pat thinks podcasting is still a good business-building strategy.

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SPF-001: Best selling Indie Author Interview – With Joanna Penn


It’s the first full edition of the Self Publishing Formula Podcast! In this episode, bestselling indie author Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn fame talks mistakes, mishaps and triumphs in Self Publishing. She also reflects on the immense changes that have taken place in the industry since her first book was published and provides tips and advice for those starting out on their indie author journey.

Show Notes

  • Mark’s new system of tracking his writing progress and a new sound tool he’s using that has increased his word count.
  • A quick reflection on the state of the indie author nation and the latest Author Earnings Report.
  • On the changes in the publishing industry that Joanna has witnessed since 2008 when she published her first book.
  • The importance of authors ‘getting their names into people’s heads’.
  • The questions authors should ask themselves in order to choose the publishing path that suits them best.
  • Joanna’s predictions about the future of indie publishing and her thoughts on hot trends in indie publishing.
  • What has changed for Joanna since she started writing and publishing, and the advice she would give herself when she was just starting out.
  • The business of non-fiction books vs. fiction.

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SPF-000: SNEAK PEEK: What’s coming in the new Self Publishing Formula Podcast!


The Self Publishing Formula Podcast is very nearly here! In this preview, its hosts, bestselling indie author Mark Dawson and rookie novelist James Blatch, talk about what they hope to achieve with the show for the legions of authors and would-be authors who dream of making a living out of their passion.

Show Notes

  • On Mark and James’ beginnings as writers and where they met.
  • On the intentions for the Self-Publishing Formula podcast, including providing actionable information for writers at the beginning of their career and those who are further along.
  • Future guests and some of what they will offer, including Marie Force, Joanna Penn, Nick Stephenson, AG Riddle and Bella Andre.