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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-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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