SPF-027: Systematised Book Marketing – with Gabriel Mercer

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

http://rachelaaron.net/

BOOK: 2K to 10K

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

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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

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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

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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

www.Teachable.com/SPF

www.Udemy.com

Join the Facebook Community by emailing support(AT)SelfPublishingFormula.com

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

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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

www.CreateAwesomeOnlineCourses.com

www.TheRiseToTheTop.com

www.Wufoo.com

www.SurveyMonkey.com

www.LeadPages.net

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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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