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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.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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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.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This 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.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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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.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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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?

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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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.

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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.

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