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.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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