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SPS-360: The Author Helper Suite – with John Logsdon

From publishing over 100 books to founding the Author Helper Suite, John Logsdon joins us to chat about book pricing, mindset, and tools we can use as authors to maximize our success.

Show Notes

  • How the Author Helper Suite got started
  • Managing ARC Teams effectively
  • How the Author Helper Suite can help track sales, read through rate, and more
  • Pricing your books to maximize profit
  • Developing a mindset for success as an author

Resources mentioned in this episode:

FREE WEBINAR: Revise Your Book with Jennie Nash

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

SELF PUBLISHING LAUNCHPAD: Check out the course page before enrolment closes.

AUTHOR HELPER SUITE: a tool that makes ARC teams, book links, analytics, and more easy.

AUTHOR HELPER ACADEMY: Free courses on mindset and using the author helper suite.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-360: The Author Helper Suite - with John Logsdon

Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self Publishing Show.

John Logsdon: Those three things, questions, beliefs, and habits, do they coincide with whatever that goal is? Because if they don't, you're sabotaging yourself the entire trip.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie bestseller Mark Dawson and first-time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is The Self Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello, and welcome to The Self Publishing Show with me James Blatch.

MARK DAWSON: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: All right. For those paying attention, you could probably hear if you're listening or watching on YouTube, we are not at home. We are in fabulous Las Vegas.

MARK DAWSON: We are. Yes. And in particular at Bally's, which is the venue for the 20Booksto50K conference.

James Blatch: Is the word fabulous the word you'd use for Bally's?

MARK DAWSON: Possibly not the precise word I'd choose, but it'll do for now.

James Blatch: Yes. It must be great. It's been a fantastic conference. This is called 20Booksto50K. You can join the Facebook group. We have good friends with them. Lot of overlap to an SPF and 20Books, and it's a place in the office to learn and share. But there are two and a half thousand people in here, Mark. So excuse me, this is the first thing we need to do, if you watch not watching on YouTube. This is Elaine Bateman who helps us with The Self Publishing Show in London and is chief sanitizer in Vegas. And believe me, Vegas is a place that requires a lot of sanitising.

MARK DAWSON: It is. Yeah. I got... Thank you.

James Blatch: If you could go and do the other 2,498 people and we'll all be sanitised. There's a big COVID going around.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. I got COVID last year at Vegas.

MARK DAWSON: Well, yeah, this year we go this year, there is a lot going around but it's one of those things, isn't it? Yeah.

James Blatch: Okay. Before we do anything else, we have a patron to welcome. Mark, you can do that.

MARK DAWSON: We do. So just checking now from Catherine. It is Angelica Anderson, no address, but thank you to Angelica for supporting us on patron and helping us to get the cameras and pay young Tom's wages behind the camera today and Keith, the podcast guy, it's really very much appreciated.

James Blatch: I just met Laurie and her daughter who are both authors here. Laurie is a patron supporter of ours as well. She told me. So thank you very much indeed. Before the next thing we have a webinar to tell you about, this is going to be about revising your book. So a really well-timed webinar because we time everything well for NaNoWriMo. If like me, you've been doing that, you've got a draught that you now are going to revise and turn into a book. And even if you don't, this is going to be a fantastic opportunity to learn the process, a structured way of approaching it, turning a draught from good to great, I think is what Jennie says. So it's Jennie Nash, very experienced editor. She's going to be taking that webinar. We are going to be doing that on the date. John, you have a shout at us.

John Logsdon: 28th of November, 9:00 PM UK time.

James Blatch: 28th of November-

MARK DAWSON: 9:00 PM.

James Blatch: ... 9:00 PM UK.

MARK DAWSON: UK time.

James Blatch: So it'll be a bit earlier in the day in America. That's earlier the next day in Australia. And the URL for that, John, is?

MARK DAWSON: /revisedwebinar.

James Blatch: Okay. So it'll be selfpublishingformula.com/revisedwebinar, all one word, revisedwebinar. Sign up to that. Mark and I will be there. At least one or both of us will be there, but you'll be listening to Jennie teaching you. And believe me, this is such a critical part. I can tell you as a new author, Mark probably does some of this stuff in his sleep now. But as a new author, such a critical part of the process because first draughts... I think it's probably understandable if someone said that you first draught isn't shit, you're not doing it properly. First draughts are usually a bit messy, a bit rushed, half-baked ideas. It is the process that follows. It turns out into a book that people are actually going to read.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. Absolutely. It's definitely something that is we need to learn. It comes with experience, so this would be a good way to short circuit that and take advantage of Jennie's experience in helping authors to make their books as good as possible.

James Blatch: So what have we've been doing this week? I did a presentation on TikTok. We did an overview, and I brought Adam Beswick on. If you're in the TikTok for authors group, which we have the Facebook group, you'll know Adam who's been going great guns this year. I've just sat and had a very good chat with Adam about TikTok shop. He's been invited into that programmes a bit of a beater. He's going down to TikTok HQ in December. And if you read the newspapers today, he's been quoted in The Guardian and others as an author who's using TikTok to sell books.

 Thanks to TikTok. We're really promoting him. You know I've been going on about TikTok for a while, but this is something I need to get into, the shop aspect of it. So at the moment you're still fulfilling the books at home in your kitchen table, but it's a growing part of his business and I'm going to get that sorted out hopefully with myself as well, so we can teach it soon. So get involved in the Facebook groups if you want to know any of that stuff. Now Mark, the sessions we did here available for streaming, aren't they? I guess if we go to the 20Booksto50K group?

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. I think it's on YouTube. So if you go to 20Books, you should be able to find a link to YouTube. I guess just search 20Books Vegas 2022 and they'll probably come up. I think all of them are recorded. I know they had some technical difficulties with streaming them this year, but as far as I know, they've been recorded. So you'll be able watch them at your leisure when you-

James Blatch: In quality.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. We'll watch it when we get home, but definitely want to take a look at some good sessions this year.

James Blatch: Yeah. And it's always the best bit is bumping into your friends and authors who you just know about. We've never met him, and I've been working quite closely with Kevin J. Anderson over the years. And I used to read Kevin when he wrote Star Wars books when I was probably in my 20s, don't want to age him too much. And he's just behind, he's actually over there. And I went and had a chat with him and got a selfie with Kevin. He's a big fan of SPF, and we're a big fan of him.

 So Kevin actually runs, interestingly, a master's course in the university in Colorado. And I keep bumping into students' office here, and there can't be many university courses that are so up to date. Because I imagine if you enrolled in a lot of university courses in England as well as in the States and their teaching, publishing, I think a lot of their stuff would be 10, 15 years outdated, but not Kevin's.

MARK DAWSON: No, not at all. No. I can't think of any other courses that would teach the way that we do things. So no, he's been in that for three or four years I think. So definitely one of the best places to learn other than present company of course.

James Blatch: Part of the curriculum is he asked them to listen to one of our episodes.

MARK DAWSON: Does he?

James Blatch: Yes. Curriculum. And if you've done really badly you have to-

MARK DAWSON: This is the two.

James Blatch: This is the two of our episode.

MARK DAWSON: I see.

James Blatch: Yeah. And he sells the courses on our behalf to his students. So this is everything else you need to know. Anyway, so that's Kevin and the draught additional guys here. KDP have a big team. We went out and had drinks with KDP at The Cosmopolitan hotel during the week, which was loud but really fun. Met some lovely people there. I think it's possible by the way because there is some news flowing about that Amazon are looking doing some restructuring, and inverted comma.

MARK DAWSON: 3% of their office workforce is going to get let go, I think so, yeah, and some staff, our friends.

James Blatch: It could be worse. It could be Twitter.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. That would be bad. Definitely. Or Facebook.

James Blatch: Or Facebook at the moment. Yeah. And if you've never been to these conferences, I think that this is a good one to start with. Depending on where you are in your career. You will find stuff at the advanced level, but a lot of this is geared around authors, understanding the indie world, getting to meet the contacts who going to help you like those author services we refer to and sitting in on sessions and people basically setting out like the launchpad version of our course I think this conference is.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. It's good. There's a lot to do here. There's several tracks running at the same time to multiple opportunities to listen to whatever you want really. And also to find other authors as one of the best things to do with these places to hook up with authors like you, rising your genre or at the same stage as you, it's not difficult with, what, 1,700 people here this year.

 It's not difficult to find people that you'll have things in common with. So it is difficult sometimes authors tend to be quite introverted. So to get out of your hotel room, come downstairs and mix with others can be a bit discombobulating for some authors, but it is really worth getting out of your comfort zone. And I was going to say press the flesh, but press the flesh and then sanitise afterwards.

James Blatch: Yeah. And this is today by the way. The conference officially finished yesterday. This is the book fair.

MARK DAWSON: Yes. Yeah. So authors here and vendors as well, they're authors selling their books to members of the public who are coming in to get signed copies and merch and all that kind of stuff. So I'm going to have to wander around later and see what I can see too. It's vibrant, lots of people here. I was successful last year and I'm sure it'll be the same this year.

James Blatch: Just keep a 1.5-metre gap between you and any other human beings. Okay. We have an interview for you. Of course, it's not recorded here in Vegas, but a couple of weeks ago before he came out, with John Logsdon. We've got a very long memory. You've listened to the show for four years. You might remember Tom was on in the early days. So he has the author helper suite started out as ReaderLinks, which did universal links, but they've expanded the service now. The author helped suites of stuff and I'll let John explain what it offers. So here's John, and then Mark and I will be back for a quick wrap up at the end.

Speaker 1: This is The Self Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: John Logsdon, welcome to The Self Publishing Show. That's quite a naughty background. It's like Forbidden Planet shop in the West End.

John Logsdon: Yes. I decided this year that I didn't like the look in the background, and I wanted to do something. So I just put up the tiles, and the tiles looked like I was lying on a bathroom floor, so it didn't work out. So I said, "Wow, why not grab all your stuff that you have from collected over the years?" And collected some new stuff too, including when we were down in the Disney area. I got this guy right here from a Universal Studio, stuff like that. And I just started stacking it and I got to fill up some more.

James Blatch: I should say, if people are just listening, they have no idea what we're going on about. But John is sitting with a Pentagon tiled background and floating shelves on which there are figurines from Star Trek, and some Marvel stuff maybe, and some-

John Logsdon: World of Warcraft.

James Blatch: World of Warcraft. Yeah. And so of course some guitars because you are a rock musician and a rock star in the world of indie publishing. How's that?

John Logsdon: Right. Rock star. All to me.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Logsdon: I'm my biggest fan.

James Blatch: Okay. Well, look, we haven't had you on the show for a very long time, but we know that you have The Author Helper is your brand within indie publishing. So why don't you tell us a bit about Author Helper, John?

John Logsdon: Sure. So basically, it actually all started when I was listening to Mark's course originally and so on. You know the story of I didn't want to do it. My wife kept on convincing me to do it, and I said, "Fine, I'm going to do it exactly like it shows just to demonstrate it will not work." And it worked.

James Blatch: Yeah. That was annoying.

John Logsdon: Worked great. It worked great actually. But then I started seeing that other authors weren't necessarily doing it like that. They weren't doing exactly the way that it was said. Obviously, there's some nuance you have to bring to it for your own genres and such.

But so what I did was I started saying convincing other authors, "Hey, do the course but make sure you do the course." And that should be with any course you take. Don't just do like one or two of them or kind of glance over it and say, "Oh, okay." And then go do something on your own that's not representative of the course because there's been a lot of thought put into these things and why it's done the way it's done.

 Anyway, so I started helping authors with that. And then they started asking me, "Well, can you help me with this area and that area and so on?" Because I've been a developer for a very long time. And also I did a lot of mentoring in corporate environments and so on to lift people's careers up and such. So I started doing that and next thing you know, Author Helper was born from there.

From that is where we created The Author Helper Suite, which was formerly known as ReaderLinks. And that was just me with a few other authors, though the authors are Ben Zackheim, Shayne Silvers, Orlando Sanchez, Eric Knowles. We all had just gotten together and were working with each other to try to support each other. A little mini support group as it were.

 And then I started programming tools to help my life, and I said, "Hey, you guys want to use this?" "Yes. I want to use that." And that just kept on snowballing. And then Ben said, "Hey, why don't we put this all as a collective item and then put it out there?" And so Ben and I actually started it, The Author Helper and The Author Helper Suite officially where ReaderLinks at the time. And yeah, so it all went from there and we've just been growing and growing. Yeah. So that's it.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, I'm going to ask you about the nuts and bolts of it and what people get out of the service in a moment. But let's go back to you and your writing. So you were writing, and if I read a couple of your books, because I'm a big Douglas Adams' fan, I think you must be as well because you wrote a similar genre science fiction book.

So where are you with your writing now? Tell us a bit about your history of writing and what you've got.

John Logsdon: Sure. Well, actually, the first books I ever published were in early 2000s. They were programming books for games and that was actually at a company in, I want to say, Doncaster. Yeah. It was up north, right?

James Blatch: Up north, yeah, Doncaster.

John Logsdon: Yeah. Oh, sorry, my bad. Yeah. So a couple of books there. And at that time, I was working in the games industry. And I was doing some writing, just taking some classes and stuff. Like I took the Gotham Writing workshop and such. And one of my buddies, Chris Young, is one of my co-author. We worked a lot together. We were both taking that class and we were like, "Hey, let's go ahead and start something."

Well, anyway, long story short, I started writing more and more fiction. I've been writing fiction since I was a kid, but more and more fiction went on. And then I published my first book in 2013, I believe, actually officially published. And then that was fantasy comedy. And everything I write is geared toward comedy. So to me, it doesn't matter what genre I write in, I'm always going to angle that direction.

 So started out with regular fantasy comedy, then went into science fiction comedy and played around in there for a while. And that's when the gang I was just talking to you about, they were like, "You got to write urban fantasy, you got to write urban fantasy." And so I tried and I kept on thinking it's got to be serious because it's urban fantasy. And I went through 17 iterations, and I just couldn't stand it. And so finally they said, "Dude, just write it like you write your other stuff, bring that element to it." So I did. And then I was like, "This isn't going to fly."

 So anyway, I put it out there to a bunch of readers that I didn't know. And I asked from their groups, I said, "You've never read any of my stuff. Try this out, tell me what you think." And so people liked it. And I was surprised at that because of the angle that I brought to it with over-the-top comedy and craziness that went on. But they really liked it. And next thing you know, 50 books later in the Paranormal Police Department.

James Blatch: Wow.

John Logsdon: There were eight precincts and all that kind of stuff. I did that. And then I've recently just started a series called The Grave Digger Mythos. And I'm just currently writing book, five of that book four releases on December 1st. That's going really well. Narration starts in December. Yeah.

James Blatch: Did you say your 40 books into your urban fantasy?

John Logsdon: No. Sorry. So my new series has four books.

James Blatch: Oh, okay.

John Logsdon: And the fifth book I'm writing now. But my urban fantasy, I have a pretty large catalogue of that now, and I have co-authors that I work with. But the Paranormal Police Department has over 50 books, including short stories and stuff. And I've written and published, but taken down some over the course of time, over 100 books.

James Blatch: And you don't do those comedy sci-fi books anymore.

John Logsdon: Actually, we did. We released one last year. They're not as lucrative as urban fantasy to be honest. And this is a business, but we still do them for fun mostly. And we do okay with them. But there's just a difference as far as what you aim for as a business, that's all.

James Blatch: Because they're quite similar actually to JD Kirk's Space Team series, which is how I noticed similar sort of what we could only describe as juvenile youth, which is absolutely up my street.

John Logsdon: Oh, absolutely.

James Blatch: Okay. Well, that's John Logsdon, the writer, brought me up today because I hadn't realised how prolific and large your writing empire was now. And ReaderLinks, which I think I got it right, think started off by just a frustration that it wasn't easy to get universal book links and a few other things for authors, so you started this dashboard service.

But just describe what ReaderLinks does today. Oh, sorry, it's not called ReaderLinks anymore, is it?

John Logsdon: It's The Author Helper Suite, but that's okay, people have it. Let me explain that really quick, why is it not called ReaderLinks anymore. And this was because last year at 20Books in Vegas, what happened was when I would say ReaderLinks, people would say already have a link service. And so it makes sense. Obviously, you think links and there you go, I'm already using ABC links or whatever. And it's like, "Oh, you know what? That's a good point." ReaderLinks, it's a module of our service, but it's just one small thing in a sea of a bunch.

 So basically, yes, that is exactly what happened. I was trying to use Bitly. I was doing various different services to try to figure it out. And even when I found something that worked, then it was really hard to find my links everywhere. So what I did was I said, "I'll just code it myself and this way I can click on any book and find all the links I need for that book." And then the second thing was every time I create a new book, I have to create 20 links, 25 links, whatever, because I got one for my newsletter, for my ads, for my website, et cetera. And I thought it'd be nice if I just create a new book and it just created those links for me. And so took away that headache. And then from that point, if I create a new link, I want it to go to all the books, so the other direction as well.

 So that way if I've got 25 books, they don't have to create 25 links. I create one link, it acts like a, quote, "blueprint" and then a little robot goes out and creates it for all 25 books for me. They each have their own IDs, so they go to their respective book. But so it was that kind of thing and then it really, what it was is I'm an author who has pain points and I'm trying to fix them programmatically for myself because programmers are notorious of being lazy. And it's funny because it's like we will take two months to code something to save us two minutes. That's our mentality. But the returns are exponential because over the course of two years, those two minutes add up. You know what I mean? Especially when you continue doing that thing. So yeah, that's where it started and then it just kept on adding new and new tools.

 We have Reader Team tool where we can bring in readers to any book and they can submit issues that they find by chapter. Then we can of course go in and look by chapter and just do our own edits through there. We can also have a thing where they can put their review where they can then cut and paste it to whatever services that the book it launches on. And then that way we can see who's reviewing, who's doing all this stuff.

So three books in, you can start seeing who's actually participating and who isn't, whether that be through reviews or through issue reports or answering questions. And there's also a note section. So maybe a person is big on social media, and they share you all over the place, but they don't do reviews. That's okay for me if everybody has their own rules, but for me that's okay.

 Obviously, Amazon, you're not supposed to based on their terms of service, require a person to do a review on your book if they're on your team or whatever. But what you can require of your readers is that they participate in some way. And that's one thing that, using our reader team's feature, you can gauge because you can say, "Well, okay, I'm keeping notes so I see on Facebook or whatever they are sharing my stuff so I can see that." Or they've reported six issue reports. So they're participating in some way and I'm able to look at that person and go, "You know what? They've participated great over the course of five books, I'm just going to auto approve them." So the next time I put out a book and they come into say, "I want to apply to be on your reader team, they're instantly in." That kind of thing. So those are just a couple of things that started this all out as it were. Do you want me to keep going or you want...

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, I'm interested in how it works, the mechanics of it. So it's a service that sits in your browser, I think.

John Logsdon: Mm-hmm. That's right. Yeah. So it sits on your browser, you can access it from anywhere basically. It's not something that you have to instal as it were. We do have a book market that you would instal for automatically grabbing your KDP data because that's the other thing we do is we bring in your reports from KDP. You can also upload your reports if you want. From there, you can upload your Facebook reports. Now of course, we have the API linked in, so you can just click a couple of buttons and it brings in your Facebook information for, I think we go back five days or might be seven. And we're also working on that for the Amazon side and how we're going to approach that as well. You can also do other incomes. So if you want to do your Apple reports right now, you would have to put those in by hand. But we are looking at in the future supporting that as also.

 And so this way you can see on your dashboard what your sales are for the day, but not just sales. And that's the thing, we don't do it by orders, we do it by sales. We want actual monetary, we want numbers. The actual numbers that are coming in. But you can also say, "I want to break that down by what platform I'm in. So am I on the UK site? How are my sales for today or for this month or this year, whatever? US site, Germany, et cetera." Also, what is my net profit because it's basing it off of my Amazon ads and my Facebook ads and so on. And you can do that by series because we allow you to assign your ads to particular books. So you can say how is this particular book doing?

 And so I could look at my first book, let's say, and it's A Lost Leader. Maybe I'm selling it for less money, but I'm driving all the ads to it because I know my read through is good. Then from there, I'm able to actually see that, yeah, my first book is losing five bucks a day, but my series is gaining 500 a day or whatever, we wish. It's one of those things where we can do that. So we can give you your net profit. We can give you your return-on-investment percentages, things of that nature. And we can also estimate what you're going to be at this month for gross revenue, for spend, and for net profit. So that's another aspect of it. We also have tonnes of analytics reports that'll tell you how is your read through on KU? If you're on KU, how is your sell through for each one of your series over any period of time you want?

 So you can see where are my books dropping off or I'm only getting a 10% from book one to book two. Well, that's a problem. But then you can look at things and start saying, "Yeah, but I also did tonnes of giveaways. So I did a free event. I gave away a thousand books, but only 6% of people from that thousand books went to book two." So then you start asking questions like, "How valuable really is it to giveaway books?" And so you can start trying to find your price point of book one. Is it 99 cents? Is free means does the reader really have enough skin in the game because we all have got 10,000 books on our Kindles or whatever. But when you start getting to let's say $2.99, now they're going, I just spent three books. I got to read this as opposed to I'll get to it soon. You know what I mean?

 So we start learning that skin in the game thing. And I recently worked with an author on this who was doing 99 cents and second book was, I think, 4.99. And it was only a 17% jump from one to two. And so what we did was we increased the price of book one to make it closer to what this is and also to make sure they'd read it. And anyway, by doing that and using our system to track those sales, track the read through, sell through and so on, we got him up to, I think it was 70 something percent from book one to book two. And you could say, "Yeah, but didn't his sales go down?" They did. They went down from 75 to, I think, it was in the 50s. So if you think about that at 99 cent book, you're only getting 35 cents anyway.

 And I think we ended up with his first book being at 3.99 or 4.99, I can't remember. So just that alone, the difference between 50 sales and 75 sales, you're making more money anyway. And in the long run, you're making more money because those people are now it's up to over 70% that they're jumping to those next books in the series, which means that your long tail is way better. And that's something that he wouldn't have known unless you can do it through spreadsheets. So he would have to enter in all of that data by hand and everything else, which is nice about our system is since you are uploading that data anyway, all you got to do is click a link or one of our links, it takes you into that report and it shows you just like that. Here's your information and you say, "Well, what is it over 90 days?" Change it to 90 days, boom, there it is. So the information is right your fingertips without you having to enter in all of that information to get there.

James Blatch: So this is giving you read-through information.

John Logsdon: Read through, sell through. It gives you sell through as general, if you're on KU, yes, it'll give you read through as well.

James Blatch: Yeah. That's right. And it pulls all the data in automatically including the ad spend?

John Logsdon: So it pulls in the ad spend for Facebook, you just click a button on our page and as long as you're connected to the Facebook thing through our system, it will do that. Amazon, not yet. And if you're using the KDP bookmarklet that we provide, then it will automatically grab that data for you every 15 minutes. Assuming it's running. You have to run it obviously. But I think it's every 15 minutes it will update the data and send it back to our system for you. Otherwise, you can download and upload the reports manually.

James Blatch: I've got a slightly niche question, which is I'm somebody who has multiple KDP accounts because I have an imprint and my own books and SPF has some books. Does that mark things up when it's a browser installation?

John Logsdon: It's not that it really messes things up. Well, either A, you have multiple accounts obviously with us and that would solve that problem. But the other option that you have is you have three pen names that you can use. So you could have each one of those pen names set up for each one of those situations. Now if-

James Blatch: But how if it's automatically importing data from KDP, how does it know who I'm logged into at any one time?

John Logsdon: Oh, well, that's a good point. It doesn't. So basically, what happens at that point is if you are logged in as, let's say, pen name A and you're running that tool, it will send back pen name A data. It can't send back pen name B because that's a different KDP account. So you would have to log into KDP account two for the next report that pulls to go to the right location that there's nothing that we can do about that. We can't log you out and log you back in.

James Blatch: So use different browsers maybe, for different accounts.

John Logsdon: You could do that. Yeah. Some people do that.

James Blatch: Yeah. Got that. Don't worry. That's a bit of a niche question because not many people have multiple KDP accounts, but if your life is complicated like mine, you do. All right. That sounds really good. It's really come a long way, I think, from those early days. I'm a big spreadsheet freak and I just like spreadsheets personally because I think part of the learning process for me of getting under the skin of figures is the act of putting it into a spreadsheet and the act of doing the formula. And that works for me, but I'm always tempted to use dashboards. But because of my complex multiple KDP accounts, I've never really found one that's worked satisfactory.

 So I will give this a try, John, and try and use Safari or so we should a browser I don't normally use. Just lock that away for my own books and see what difference it makes. Read through, is it? It's a complex calculation and their different ways of doing it. I think if you can automate that, if you can present that data clearly to people.

And I hope people understand what we mean by read through. Not everyone necessarily will, but if you've got 10 books in the series and a hundred people read book one, you are really interested in how many move on to book two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, 10 because that's usually where the juice is, right?

John Logsdon: That's right. Yeah. And also keeping in mind of one of the things that we as authors have been conditioned to do is get book one into their hands no matter how you do it because at that point, they'll read it, they'll love it, they'll move on to book two. But what we're learning as time goes on, the free market may not be the best way to do that anymore or the free campaigns and so on, or even the 99 cent sales and such. Depending on your genre and depending on your reviews, there's a lot that goes into it. But the reason why you have to be a little bit careful these days is because people have so many options, and you've seen the memes left. I've only got 3,500 books to read before I die, that kind of thing. And you have to think how many books can a person actually read?

 And if you're giving them something for free, it's going into the pile to be read because... Not all cases, granted, but it's likely going into the pile to be read because I'll get to that as soon as I finish this book and I've got my TBR list and so on. But as soon as a certain amount of money is spent on your particular genre, what we call skin in the game, at that point now the reader is more likely to read your book because it's not a 99 cent or a free book like the other 100 they picked up this weekend. Yours was five bucks or whatever that price point is, $2, $3, whatever. It's a price where they have to prioritise it over all the free stuff. And if they still love your book, they're more likely to go to book two.

 And what we do see that in our stuff with authors that I work with personally, where I will say, "Okay. What are you doing on book one to book two?" I had just mentioned with this other author. And we start seeing, yeah, you've given away a lot of free books but only 6% or 10% or 17%, whatever it is, are moving to book two. What happened when you used to charge for this? So you can pick that timeframe where they used to charge a full price for that book and they were like, "Oh, wow, I had 35% or I had 60% jumping from book one to book two." And what people really need to recognise here is that as you pointed out for the 10 books, 10 books at, let's say, 4.99 a pop is worth a pretty decent chunk of change.

 If you can get a person to read from book one to book two, if only, let's say, 10% are going from book one to book two, that's a lot less money that you're going to get over the long haul than you're going to get from the person if you are at 30% or 50%. So it does matter. And calculations like that help you to determine, "Is free worth it for me?" For some people it's really worth it. "Is 99 cents worth it? What is that price point?" And you can only do that by over time testing.

James Blatch: Yeah. Price is such a tricky areas now. I always think there's basically, it's two considerations. One is how price sensitive are your readers, your target? And that depends on genre, it depends on the way you are targeting them. And the second thing is that assuming there will be a drop off or whatever, whoever your readers are, there'll be a drop off because supply and demands predicts there will be for a slightly higher price. And this is something you alluded to earlier. Depending on the size of that drop off, it's still worth you going up because you don't need as many readers to make the same or more money. And there are two things to factor in. And even those two things, that becomes quite a complicated decision.

John Logsdon: Absolutely. But there's also one more thing that ties into that, what you just said. And I don't want this to sound wrong, but that is the quality of the reader that you're picking up. Because if you are picking up, I hate this term and a lot of people use this term so I will, but it's with a grain of salt, bottom feeder readers who are either free seekers or cheap seekers, right? 99 cents and so on and so forth. The question really is are they just waiting for that next book in your series to be free? Are they just waiting for you to have a box set that you discount greatly and so on? So the quality of your readers matters too. And the reason I think that's the case is if you have a reader is willing to pay what the genre is worth and so on and going through, they actually are really supporting you as an author.

 And there is a lot of value in that because those are the ones who typically become super fans. So you're more likely to have that happen with people who are you're going to do a Kickstarter. Some people are just like, "Good luck with that. Let me know when it comes out free." Is that really who you want to target? Or do you want to target people who are just as... Maybe not just as invested in your career as you are but invested enough in your stories that they want to make sure that you succeed. And I think that there does come a price point with that.

James Blatch: Yeah. This goes to underline, I think, the importance of a main list as well. When you make a personal connection with your readers, even if they picked up your book for free, you can start to turn them into people who are, as you say, skin in the game, invested in you a little bit.

John Logsdon: Absolutely. And that's something you can find out over time. So even if they pick up your book for free, but do they turn into a valuable reader or do they stay the, quote, "bottom feeder" over that course of time?

James Blatch: Yeah. So tell us how it works and how much it costs, what we need to do to get going with it and how much it's going to cost us?

John Logsdon: Sure. So you get a 30-day free trial with the system, just go to authorhelper.com. It'll tell you all about the system and so on. It's a 30-day free trial, no credit card needed to get started with the system. If you want to continue on with it and sign up, it's 24.99 a month unless you pay annually, then it's 19.99 per month. Pay it as annual for the system. That's it.

James Blatch: That's it. There's no tiered levels, gold, silver, bronze. It's just a straightforward, everyone gets everything.

John Logsdon: Straightforward. That's right.

James Blatch: And do the developing yourself? I know you've got a programming background, you mentioned that earlier.

John Logsdon: So I started the whole system programming it myself and then we brought on one of our team members, Rafal Dudek, who is someone I worked with for a number of years in the corporate industry when I worked at America Online. Actually, Ben and I both worked at America Online, so did Rafal. So that's how we all knew each other. But yeah, he's a better developer than I am. Definitely. He's very, very good at that. He's not an author. So that it also brings a cool perspective to things. When we start down The Author path, he'll reel us in sometimes and go, "Okay. But this just doesn't make any sense."

James Blatch: This is how we do it.

John Logsdon: But this is what we do. And he'll bring us some unique perspectives on things. He's definitely a better developer than me. So when it comes down to heavier lifting stuff, I leave it to him. And I get to do the stuff that these days where it's probably a little bit more flashy. You call him nitty-gritty, call me flashy where he has to deal with some of the stuff where people don't see it and how important it is to do. And then I get to turn on this feature and that I code it up, and people are like, "Oh, you're amazing." And I'm just like, "Oh, no, I couldn't have done this without him, without all the stuff that he does." So yeah, that's it.

James Blatch: Okay. So the formula one analogy, he's cleaning out the air filter of the cars and you are standing there welcoming the sponsors to the VIP lounge.

John Logsdon: There you go. Yeah. But it's a-

James Blatch: The car doesn't run without the air filters cleaned out.

John Logsdon: Oh, no. And the tire's changing and everything. That's correct.

James Blatch: So you are also moving, I think, into doing some education work, bit of webinar stuff, online courses. Tell us about that.

John Logsdon: Sure. So we have Author Helper Academy, and there are two courses up there right now. One of them is just how to use the Author Helper Suite and it goes through all of the details for that. And the second one is called Writer-to-Author. And that's a series of webinars that I'm going to be doing that's free. Both of those are free basically. And that comes from when I was, again, working with those other authors. When we were all together, the idea was we were trying to get from just being writers to, quote, "being authors" and all, it's just a semantic play that we have. The only difference is this, a writer writes and author in our minds is someone who writes and does the business of writing. So that was really it. And the first thing is called The Mental Game. I mentored a number of authors and including the ones I mentioned before.

 While doing that, I started seeing similarities. Everybody was chasing, "How do I make sales today? How do I make sales today? How do I make sales today?" But nobody was really thinking about their actual goals. They were thinking about the goals that they saw somebody else might have had and adopting them to be their own. But that can be a dangerous recipe because if you are adopting someone else's goals and yet you are not really following your own internal compass. You can fail pretty quickly and destroy any momentum that you were trying to gain. And we see this a lot when folks go to conferences. They'll come out and they'll be filled with excitement and ready to take on the world, and then 30 days later, that's kind of petered off and now they're not really doing that anymore. So it is definitely the least exciting thing to do as an author.

 But what I found is when I was doing a lot of mentoring, the people who did it, they're still in business today, they're still successful today. The people who didn't are either still struggling like they were on day one or they're just not doing well or they stopped completely. And this happened when I was... Again, let's go back to 20Books Vegas, I think it was 2019. Yeah. It was a year before the pandemic. I was sitting with Orlando Sanchez, and he said, "Hey, there's this person I want you to talk to." So I sat down with this couple. I said, "Well, what's your goal?" She said, "I want to make a million dollars a year." And I was like, "Okay. Cool. So you need to be a rock star. Okay. No big deal. Let me ask you some questions." So I started asking questions, find out, at the time, she had three kids. All under 10. There was soccer and various sports that were going... Sorry, football. My bad.

James Blatch: Yeah. That's all right. We know what's soccer is. It's actually an old English word. So I'm quite happy with soccer.

John Logsdon: Oh, really? Okay. And then obviously she was married. And I said, "Okay. Well, do you work full-time as well?" And she goes, "I do. I have a full-time job. It's really more than full time." I'm like, "Okay. So it's more than full-time. Yeah. Are you willing to leave this job?" "No. I love my job. I never want to leave my job." "Okay. So you're working more than full-time job. You're married, you have three kids under 10, they have sports and everything that they're doing and so on. How much time per week can you really dedicate to this?" "Oh, I've got that all mapped out. Okay. I'm doing three hours every Sunday." And I'm going, "And you want to make a million dollars a year? Unless you're going to write the less than 1% miraculous book that's going to hit, that's not going to happen. You're going to have to change the way that you're looking at things."

 And she's like, "Well, these other people said that they just put up a few ads and it worked." I said, "Well, some people that could happen because they hit that magic book that just everybody grabbed and went for. But statistically speaking, sorry, not likely." Then I was speaking to somebody else who had the same situation and was clearly uncomfortable with the concept of I want to be a millionaire. And I said, "How much do you make right now?" And it was like $40,000 a year. And I said, "Okay. And how much do you need to live every month?" And I don't remember the exact number, but let's just throw out $3,000. And I said, "Okay. So you don't need to make a million dollars a year. You need to make $3,000 net that you can live on so you can be a full-time author."

 The relaxation in that person's face. And I'm like, "Don't get me wrong, making $3,000 is not as easy as you might think net in this industry." But if you do the right things and you walk in the right... You do all the right stuff and you're consistent, you can certainly do that. It can absolutely happen. And it doesn't mean that you can't then aim towards the million dollars, but let's just start with what do you need to do to eat, to live and everything else? Let's start there. And once we start there, then we can move forward. And also thinking in terms of some people, they are afraid of success or they're afraid of failure. They have problems with money, not just necessarily managing it, but just in general of I don't want to have a lot of money because if I do, then I have the risk, I might lose a lot of money.

 It's an interesting mental dynamic that ends up happening. And when you start digging into this with people, you start realising that their beliefs, the questions they ask themselves and their habits tend to be the indicator if they're going to succeed at what they're attempting to go towards or not. Especially because those three things, questions, beliefs and habits, do they coincide with goal? With whatever that goal is because if they don't, you're sabotaging yourself the entire trip, and you're not going to succeed. And so I saw this over and over and over again, and I started finding a pattern that I could use with these people to help them solve that problem. And then just this year... Well, last year, I had a whole bunch of personal issues and family issues and such, plumbers have leaky pipes, I decided maybe I should do this course for myself.

 And so I did. And wow, it changed a lot for me and everything that I did. And then I was working with another author. She and I work a lot together is Bonnie Paulson, and we went through it with her as well. And she said she just make this a course, this piece to help people out. So I did. And I've had a number of people taking it. It is free. Again, just go to authorhelperacademy.com. It's called Writer-to-Author the mental game. And I am also planning to do the next one, which is called the Brand Game.

 And with that one, it's going to be basically the same thing as the mental game. The mental game just helps you get from, let's call yourself 0.5 to version one. So you get to version one, cleaning up your act in your own mind so you know where you're at. The brand game is really version two of you, is really what that is. And because it's the persona of the author and making sure that you're not just running a brand that doesn't match version one. So you don't want to jump to the brand without doing one or you're in that same problem where you've got a conflict going on internally. So that's that.

James Blatch: It is incredible how mindset is so important. It sounds like a great course, John. And I see this in all walks of life. I'm involved in our local Cricket Club. It's a bit like baseball, only much more skillful. But in cricket you see people getting in the way of themselves. Not physically, but you can see their mentality and good talented, players who are... In fact, you said a really interesting thing I've not heard before. We talk about being afraid of failure, which is crippling, but actually being afraid of success is more common than you think in the way that some people approach life in business and books.

 And I see this, like I say in sport, sometimes due and very young kids have the wrong parents who sounds a strange thing to say. But this mental side of life, that's why these books, these self-help books, Atomic Habits and all these other books that we read are doing so well at the moment because finally, I think we're getting to the nitty-gritty of the human condition with this stuff. But look, we're almost out of time. Sounds great. Where can people find the course again? That's the Author Helper Academy.

John Logsdon: That's right. Authorhelperacademy.com.

James Blatch: Superb. And so it's just underlines authorhelper.com for the book service, the publisher.

John Logsdon: Right. And you can actually just go to authorhelper.com and you'll see all of it's there.

James Blatch: All of that.

John Logsdon: You can just go there. It's easiest way to do it.

James Blatch: That's your place on the web. Wow. 40 minutes is ripped through, John.

John Logsdon: We talked a lot.

James Blatch: And I haven't got used to do your rock music screaming. So I think we'll have to say for another day but-

John Logsdon: Yeah. I can't do it anyway because the voice is still messed up.

James Blatch: Right. Yes, of course, you did say to us about that. Yes. But John and I will never forget those few moments when the screams suddenly erupted. And I think you've moved, because we visited your home, you and Lorelei. Are you're still in North Carolina?

John Logsdon: We are. We're still in Clayton. She said when we talked to you at NINC, she said it was the same house. So it's the same place. I'm Just in the different office. So she took my office and I took this one because of all of the recording, the air conditioning is outside and when it comes on-

James Blatch: So I see. Yeah. You had a tardis I think back in the day when we were there.

John Logsdon: I did. I got rid of that because of this fantastic microphone.

James Blatch: Yeah, yeah. For sure. I've got one as well if you're watching them.

John Logsdon: Oh, it's awesome.

James Blatch: Yeah. It is very nice.

John Logsdon: It's awesome.

James Blatch: Okay. John, thank you so much indeed. I hope we going to see you next week in Vegas.

John Logsdon: I will be there.

James Blatch Excellent. Well, we'll have a cold one and discuss things further over that. We'll get our mindset right.

John Logsdon: Yes, sir. Sounds good, man. Well, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: This is The Self-publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: That's John Logsdon, The Author Helper Suite. It's fun watching all these services grow up. And I think very much are drafted is a lot of these companies, they are completely author led so that basically that service is expanded because authors keep emailing John in this case and saying, "Can you do this? Can you do that?" So gradual they increase the services. This is the beginning. We're still in the foothills probably, aren't we, of indie publishing of all these operators appearing?

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. I've been doing this long enough now, 10 years actually this month. We're on that later perhaps, but I've been in this enough time there to see the companies usually created and run by authors. Things like book funnel, and looking over there, I see Geniuslink book linker service that I use, draught digital, lots and lots of companies that have been created by authors who recognise the need for the service that they have attempted to provide. So yeah, it's great. It's one of the best things that's changed over the last decade is how much easier it is to get the help that you need these days than it used to be. Back in the past when we were struggling with formatting, struggling with getting books to reads, all of those things, much, much easier today than they were before.

James Blatch: Using spreadsheets, copy and pasting, email addresses.

MARK DAWSON: Oh yeah, been there. All that stuff.

James Blatch: You don't know how lucky you are if you're starting out today. Lot of services available. I didn't realise Geniuslink is here. I use them all the time. I'm going to go and have a chat with them as well. Okay. Right. I think that's it, Mark. We're losing our throats because it's the desert, it's very dry.

MARK DAWSON: Not the COVID.

James Blatch: We did go to the spa last night, you and I.

MARK DAWSON: I'm going tonight as well.

James Blatch: We had a couple's massage, which is lovely.

MARK DAWSON: No, we didn't.

James Blatch: But one of the main things I wanted to do, so I did do, I sat for five minutes in the steam room because honestly it was blessed relief because it's dry air.

MARK DAWSON: It is very dry.

James Blatch: It's inside the casinos. But I wouldn't change it for the world. It happens growing to like Vegas the more we come. We discover little parts of it. We've got some of the best restaurants in the world on our doorstep.

MARK DAWSON: We did probably have one of the best steaks I've ever had last night.

James Blatch: It was sensational.

MARK DAWSON: It was unbelievably expensive, but it was really delicious.

James Blatch: What steaks in Vegas?

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. If those in Vegas, it's cut by Wolfgang Puck, which is at The Palazzo, isn't it, which is connected to The Venetian? They're really, really good. I really enjoyed that.

James Blatch: Yeah. Top tip from my friend, Karin. Okay. That's it. Thank you very much indeed to John Logsdon, our guest. Thanks, Tom, he's behind the camera. You can't see. Thanks to John who's amazingly holding the knife.

MARK DAWSON: He's staggering.

James Blatch: He is staggering now.

MARK DAWSON: He's staggering in many ways.

James Blatch: And to Catherine who's back home selling Christmas trees and everybody else involved in the production, Stuart and so on. Thank you very much indeed. Oh, I should also mention, I've got a new book out. Well.

MARK DAWSON: Yeah. Maybe for next episode.

James Blatch: It's up for pre-order at a well-known online retailer

MARK DAWSON: Called Desert Venom. There we go. The nice new cover I saw from Stuart Bache this morning.

James Blatch: Fantastic.

MARK DAWSON: So anyway, with no more further ado, it's goodbye from me.

James Blatch: And it's goodbye from him.

MARK DAWSON: Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

Speaker 1: Get show notes, the podcast archive and free resources to boost your writing career at selfpublishingshow.com. Join our thriving Facebook group at selfpublishingshow.com/facebook. Support the show at patreon.com/selfpublishingshow. And join us next week for more help and inspiration so that you can make your mark as a successful indie author. Publishing is changing. So get your words into the world and join the revolution with The Self Publishing Show.

 

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