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

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

Show Notes

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

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

Visit selfpublishingformula.com/contest to enter.

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

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

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

Visit selfpublishingformula.com/contest to enter.

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

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

Show Notes

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

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SPF-005: Interview with Sean Platt

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

Show Notes

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

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

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

Show Notes

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

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SPF-003: Interview with Hybrid Author Marie Force

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

Show Notes

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

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

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

Show Notes

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

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

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

Show Notes

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

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

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

Show Notes

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