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Selling Your Books Online
11 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Courses – The Final Frontier of Book Publishing
Courses – The Final Frontier of Book Publishing To boldly publish where few authors have gone before… Most people have heard and swallowed the hype that ebooks are all there is to self-publishing, that making 6-figures with a few Kindle ebooks is the trophy every player wants to walk away with. Unfortunately, that’s all but impossible. Statistically, those bestsellers on Amazon are less than 1 percent. (This is from Amazon’s own sales rank.) On top of that, the 6-figure authors I’ve chased down sell all possible other versions of those books everywhere else they can, not just ebooks only. In short, you can’t get there from wherever you are right now. Sorry. The bottom line to succeeding with ebook publishing is being covered over with a bunch of misdirections and strategies which are over 99% wrong. Let’s back this up then. First: You don’t succeed only with ebooks – they are only the start. Second: Books are containers for ideas. They can take many formats. You’re probably familiar with paperbacks, hardbacks, audiobooks. Third: Successful authors publish in all possible formats. Fourth: There’s a scale of formats. Your “books” start out with an idea, and usually in text format. Your text is usually started or converted to digital. Polished, this becomes an ebook. Take that digital data and flow it into a Word (or LibreOffice) document and then you can upload it to create print versions, paperback on CreateSpace and Lulu, hardback on Lulu. Record that text and you can have an audiobook, which can be published through ACX to Audible. Or uploaded to CDBaby. (Or – see Author’s Republic.) If you make a presentation and match it to the audio, you wind up with a video and posted to YouTube or others to promote your various book versions. What remarkably few writers talk about (but most non-fiction authors are doing) are leveraging all these different book-versions in order to create a course. Courses are the top of the heap, as they make use of all these re-purposed materials you’re able to create. They can also bring you in the most income of all the other formats. (Except where someone makes your book into a feature-length movie, like the Martian, or Fifty Shades of Grey.) Up to this point, I also haven’t talked about courses. These finally hit my radar after I took a few. When you look at these, you can quickly say – “hey, these aren’t anything I couldn’t do.” If you’ve followed my steps, you’ll know that I’ve personally done everything I’ve talked about. This is to test everything for you and then give you the rundown of the simplest way to do it for yourself. I’ve not gotten into videos as these are far more time-intensive than writing, editing, and recording audio. They are also harder to monetize, which takes even more time. Courses, though, make video’s possible to be utilized, and monetized. Western courses tend to be linear and top-down, with the provider as authority. That aligns to our linear books, so an author creating courses is not that far from their work in creating books. The great scene is that this also allows us to have more distributors bring us more passive income. How do distributors make you income? Promotion is getting your offer in front of other audiences so they can choose it for themselves. Each distributor has a marketplace with an existing audience. (This is what separates the wannabe’s and vanity/subsidy publishers from the rest – they expect you to bring your own audience for a price you pay up front.) Bonafide distributors usually take a split of your price for themselves in order to finance that platform. The one’s I recommend here let you start for free, they don’t charge you on a annual, per month, or per book basis. Let’s look these over. We have multiple distributors at nearly every echelon… Text: ebooks: Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, B&N, Lulu, Smashwords, Scribd, HummingbirdDM, own hosting printed books: CreateSpace, Lulu Audio: audiobooks: ACX/Audible, CDBaby, HummingbirdDM. own hosting PDF’s: presentations (mostly for free): Slideshare, HummingbirdDM, Scribd, own hosting. video: (free and paid) YouTube, Vimeo, MetaCafe, etc. (and inside presentations on Slideshare), own hosting courses: Udemy, eLearningMarketplace.com, OpenSesame, own hosting. The criteria I hold here is that you have to be able to submit for free, just as Amazon or others. The others not mentioned in each category require you to pay up front. And most of these have paid upgrade options. What I want to tell you about is how you can start from scratch without any out-of-pocket costs. All of these levels of formatting have increasing amounts of work and organization, but are all able to be created by an individual or solopreneur. You can have a content business located anywhere you can get an Internet connection. No boss, plenty of income if you organize it right. The idea here is that you can get started for nothing more than just sweat equity. Each formatting level has varying numbers of free-to-publish market places. It’s interesting to find that the bottom and the top have the greatest number of marketplaces who want your book-content. Factors in choosing marketplaces If you’ve followed my articles and podcast episodes, you’ll know the answer I recommend: all of them. Simply because once you have the book-container in the format you want, then you have a digital product you can host anywhere. So you might as well – you won’t know what money you are missing otherwise. The worst aspect to deal with is the “race to the bottom.” Amazon is infamous at this. They are the only ebook distributor that penalizes you for setting a price higher than $9.99 – they want to commoditize ebooks and so, commoditize authors. Most of the “how to” books on dealing with Amazon work only within these limits. Few tell you to simply take your book to other distributors as well. Or to sell it directly and pocket even higher percentages. One example was a guy who wrote a very authoritative PDF on Evernote. And he makes a few thousand every month from that single book selling on his own site. Yes, there are a lot of wannabe ebooks on Amazon for 2.99 or 3.99 – his is around $25 and isn’t available except on his site. So is he losing money? Not as much as if he tried to “compete” on Amazon. This is a research work in progress. I won’t have all the details in for some months from now, due to the complexity of the subject. In all of the above, the additional choice is to self-host. I’m torn between all of these, actually, since they each have different advantages. My current approach will be to build my courses on my own site, list them on eLearning Marketplace, and then create additional versions on Udemy and OpenSesame. (But I’m using the Rainmaker Platform.) If you don’t have an option already for creating a course via your web host, then I’d recommend starting with Teachable or Thinkific to build your course, and then port it as above. Do watch their preferences. Udemy is a stickler on pricing, but arguably does the most work in pitching their courses to potential students. Note that you won’t put any high-end courses here. Intro courses, with links to your main site where they can find your upper-end sequels would be a logical choice. Teachable has probably the best backend for enabling you to get started. Thinkific is close behind. As in books, I’d recommend you create the course once and port it to every marketplace you can. There are also other options for courses (and for any bundle of digital products) such as pitching them through affiliate sales platforms, which are nothing but marketplaces for affiliate sales people. That is completely a different subject area, and a research project still incomplete. Several of these course platforms have built-in affiliate programs you can take advantage of. Check them out for yourself as part of your due diligence. The point of this is to get started building courses and leverage what you have to the next level. Leveraging All Your Book Platforms Let’s review a bit. You have these levels of platforms: ebooks paperbacks / hardbacks PDF’s audiobooks (podcasts) presentations videos courses Those are in order of logical production, but not necessarily in the order of most leveraged marketing: While you create your book in LibreOffice (or Word), you’ll port to ebooks first in order to get quick sales. Creating the PDF will give you paperbacks on CreateSpace and Lulu, hardbacks on Lulu. Then port your PDF to Scribd if it’s an original work. Lulu will also sell it for you on their marketplace. (And there are other places to sell PDFs, beyond the scope of this article, and the radar of most book sellers.) Part of your editing is reading it out loud, so it makes sense to create at least a podcast at the same time. Then get the final version professionally recorded, or DIY. From that audio, you can create a matching presentation. Save this as a PDF or a series of individual images (GIMP will generate images out of those PDF pages.) Combine the audio and images into MovieMaker (on Windows, or iMovie on MAC, or OpenShot on Linux – there are many other non-linear editors available on all platforms.) Now you have a video. Create a course outline, probably according to your book chapters, and you can build your course with all these materials. Note that the best experience is where you post all versions of the material available for the student to download according to their own learning preferences. What is interesting is that you can work this all backwards from the course you want to create. You begin with the audience, and for that you need to write a sales page, write an ad, and do a course outline. Create the course on whatever platform you’ll be using. Start running the ad and getting opt-ins with emails. Give them access with their purchase, and survey them for just what they want. Then start producing it, modifying your outline and adding lessons as you go. As you produce your text, audio, slides, and video, you can be producing short-read ebooks which are available for purchase as part of the course materials. Combine these books so that they result in 32 print pages and you have a slim paperback. Combine all these slim volumes and you’ll have a thicker paperback to offer. That paperback can become a deluxe hardback as well. Meanwhile, your students can give your books reviews and start moving them up the Amazon rankings. This then gives us an unsuspected way to write and publish books – by teaching. And I don’t know that this couldn’t be adapted for non-fiction. Certainly, all the “cutting room floor” leftovers from creating a book could be used for a fan course. It would be much as the bonus material found on DVD’s, I expect. Other than some small details, this is the capstone of my research into book publishing. It was as surprising to me as it probably was to you. Next for me is to actually take these four years of blog posts/podcasts and turn them into a full-fledged course. Of course, you’ll be invited to pilot it. Luck to us all. Until next time… The post Courses – The Final Frontier of Book Publishing appeared first on Living Sensical.
8 minutes | Jul 8, 2019
Self-Publishing Secrets Every Author Should Know
Self-Publishing Secrets Every Author Should Know I stumbled across these while researching and testing. I haven’t seen them anywhere else, and they they are extremely practical ideas. First, You Have to Change Your Thinking 1. Authors are Producers. They generate “books-as-containers,” creating all possible versions of that title. Leverage is in multiple versions, as well as a multiple titles in a series. That makes the income generate exponentially rather than linearly. 2. The non-fiction writer should work from the course backwards, enabling the audience to help edit and build the experience. (I’ll go over courses as another episode. This note is to tell you what the fastest, and most profitable way to build your list.) 3. The author-producer doesn’t “sell.” They offer audience-experiences to explore. Descriptions and landing pages need to be written to draw the viewer/reader/listener into the story that title affords. It’s more fishing than anything else – cast a wide net and hook the audience by drawing them in by their own participation, interest, and trust. That audience wants to have a novel experience. The author-producer supplies it. Second, Have a Smart Sequence of Producing Your Titles. Begin with the end in mind. The whole point to publishing is to leverage every piece of content you create to earn you the most possible income. Most authors have this completely wrong. First conventional thought: I’ll write a great book and make millions. Sorry. Most writers don’t make more than $500 a year, with 3,000 sales for the life of the book. Second conventional thought: I’ll write a series of books, give the first one away, and make millions. Sorry. While that can give you regular income, it doesn’t take you to the tipping point. Third conventional thought: I’ll use social media to develop a following and get them to buy my books. Sorry. Especially these days, less than 10 percent of your “following” will ever see your posts. If you study the successful authors, you’ll find a different approach. It’s not obvious, but it works. Yes, they all write lots of books. But that’s just the beginning. a) They get readers to opt-in to their mailing list. Lead Magnets in every book, front and back. b) Out of that mailing list, they recruit reviewers (“ambassadors”) who get advanced copies and scour for errors. Those ambassadors are then asked to leave an honest review when the book goes live. c) They alert that entire list to the pre-order offer, to the low-intro-price offer, and before the price goes up. d) They rinse-repeat with all subsequent books. e) They meanwhile run FB ads to spike book sales, so Amazon will push it through their promotions. Now, even less obvious: f) They sell everywhere else in addition to Amazon, and run FB ads for iTunes users to buy the book there, also Kobo gets a similar treatment. (Haven’t heard anyone doing this for Nook…) g) They get the book recorded and published as an audiobook. h) They publish the paperback and hardback versions. i) They get translations and publish those as well, or sell the foreign rights to someone who will. j) They get paid speaking gigs. The real hidden options, particularly for non-fiction authors: k) They make courses out of the book series. Why this works If you’re just writing more books, it can only increase your sales linearly. Practically, the earlier books in any series will tend to downtrend in sales as later ones come out and the market has mostly read your books. That also dampens sales overall. FB ads, particularly for box sets, tends to spice things up a bit. If you are offering more versions of your books, you get into different reading audiences. You now have more books in series in front of multiple audiences. Popular books will tend to reinforce each other (especially on Amazon where all versions are sold.) If your books are popular in multiple areas, then the sales aggregate more exponentially Why courses? There is a progression of content from digital text to printed text, to audio, to video, to courses. Courses are the container for all versions of the content you produced originally as an ebook. Courses have more ways they can be distributed. While there are four main book distributors, courses can be offered on about 15 or more distributors in various formats. Obviously, more people are looking for digital packages of materials than just a single digital version. People have more ways of learning than just reading on their smartphone. The general principle of promotion is to put your offer in front of as many different audiences as possible – with their permission. The multiple eyeballs theorem confirms this, but goes further to say you need to be putting it out there in as many formats as possible as well. While you probably won’t sell many videos on YouTube, you can get links to your course page where they can buy a course with that video in it. Begin with the course in mind. The best way to write a book is to get the audience to help you with it. The best way to produce a course is to get the students to help you compile it. The best way to run an FB ad promotion is to a paid service or product where the sales will cover your advertising costs. You can see where this is going: Announce a course before you build it, run ads to get people to buy it, and then use their feedback to build the course materials as they start taking it. Before that, you have other steps. 0) Do set up the course with its outline and introduction page – don’t put any content on it yet. 1) Do your homework and write the sales page. Create several with different course names. Use the one that converts the best. 2) Use that sales page and course name to create the introduction to the course. Short video, PDF transcript, downloadable audio. 3) Create the prelaunch videos that lay out what is going to be in the course. Set these up in a sequence and track opens. Run your FB ads into this landing page and autoresponder sequence. 4) Start building out the course, by making one lesson live and with open-ended survey questions that have to be answered before the next lesson opens. (Once you’ve completed the course and ran enough students through it, you can take the surveys down.) 5) Start building your next course in the series. Survey your students for what they want before you start anything. 6) Rinse-repeat – until you have courses for all the books you’ve written. 6a) This is also the way you write the books based on what you taught in the course, which is simpler. Just start with a problem area and the known solutions. Give them your own particular take on it and start from there with your FB ads. Authors should produce courses in order to write the textbooks. They should start with courses and build their base from there. Your text, audio, and graphics will all be ready at the same time. Practically, you’ll be able to publish your books, audiobooks, and bundles while the course is being built. These book-versions will then each be emissaries for your course and bring you more students. That is the new top-level strategy for non-fiction authors. Have fun with this. The post Self-Publishing Secrets Every Author Should Know appeared first on Living Sensical.
6 minutes | Jan 21, 2019
Is it Time for Authors to Speak Up and Sell More?
Download audio. The more authors get their content out to more people, the better chance they have of discovery. The more discovery, the better the book sales. I’ve long said that any author could and every author should “write once, publish to as many places, in as many formats as possible.” This is known as the “multiple eyeballs” theorem. It’s been applied to the mundane action of publishing to every distributor out there – which can double your sales almost overnight. It also applies to getting into other formats, such as the three types of ebooks (epub, mobi, PDF) as well as several formats of print (two sizes of paperbacks, and hardback) – as well as audiobooks and even video. Not to mention people actually want to see your covers everywhere as well… A recent re-discovery of podcasting seems poised to make discovery even more possible for authors. The homework on this shows that it’s becoming more and more mainstream – and (see links at the bottom) is becoming a key way to build an audience of your own through even more channels than regular ebooks allow. It’s just so easy to do that I’m poised to dive off into the deep end of this pool myself. How to do Podcasting – Quick and Low-Cost. All you need to invest in is a decent microphone to get started (about $100 or so.) I’ve got a USB Blue Snowball mic, myself. Just Google “best podcasting usb microphones” and you’ll see several brands that keep coming up. (You want USB so it records right into your computer without needing other cables and boards and whatnot.) Here’s the simple sequence and the lean approach to getting it done: Write your blog post like you would talk to someone. Record this to your computer and edit it on Audacity (that’s a free download.) Find some royalty-free intro (beginning) and outro (ending) music and add it if you want. Upload the result to Archive.org for hosting. Embed their player on your blog post. Add that Archive.org MP3 link to your blog post as an “enclosure” link. Burn the RSS feed for that blog through Feedburner – which will give you all the meta-data slots you need to fill in terms of cover art, descriptions, etc. Then take that feed and post it to iTunes, Sticher, Mrio, DoubleTwist, Blubrry, and Libsyn (which are all the heavy-hitters in this field.) And you’re done. You’ve just added the top 6 podcasting directories to your list of distributors. All by just recording what you’ve been writing about on your blog all along. Just keep podcasting every blog post from there on out. That series of links at the bottom of this blog post will tell you most of the above (and why authors should be podcasting). They also give you real examples of how expanding into podcasting brings you far more traffic in most cases. What I’m doing with this blog It’s getting podcasts added for every blog post from here on out. (You can count on me to “eat the dog food” I make.) Because it turned out to be so easy. A couple-thousand word blog post (which Google and LinkedIn like) turns out to be about 5-6 minutes of audio. Which is about a 5MB file – no stretch for anyone to post something like that. (A video I produced recently from the audio and a presentation went over 100MB, so I have to sort that out a bit, as my ‘boonie-based-broadband has it’s budget…) Every blog post can have a soundtrack, and also simply get a PDF as well. So the link-love from Archive.org and Slideshare.net will be a nice addition. That also means that now I’m into the potential audience of people at those two sites to find what I write about – and so find my books. How a fiction writer could use this Ever hear of audio books? This is a perfect way to get them started (just save all your original recordings for later editing. Charles Dickens use to publish like this – it’s called serializing. Everyone loves to hear the author themselves read their book. (If you have a membership, then you can give the first few minutes for free members, and the full chapter to the paid members – just like you don’t let free members read the whole chapter on the blog.) Paid memberships pay your bills so you can write full time. Paid members are able to contribute to the stories you write – like an avid fan base they are. (I think I’ve already covered this somewhat…) For non-fiction writers, this is a godsend. By the time you’ve finished blogging all your research, you’ve also created an audio version. Even if you edit your book severely, just the audio files along with your other “cutting room floor” material can go onto a BitTorrent Bundle for promotion (and even sales, now) and can also be sold as bonus materials via Sellfy, Payhip, and/or Ganxy for direct sales on your site – or inside your membership. All this media production means discovery is easier, social signals are simpler to get, and your booksales should take off (if not audiobook sales.) Next to crack would obviously be video, but that’s another blog post and another day… Good luck with this. I’ll keep you posted on how it does for me. – – – – Make sure you’ve opted-in so you can get notices of new blog posts as they happen. Don’t miss a blow-by-blow account of modern book-marketing in all it’s white-knuckle, cliff-hanging excitement. (News Reader subscription is good, too…) PS. Stay-tuned for iTunes and other podcast directories as I get this ramped up… – – – – Show Links for Reference: http://socialmediaimpact.com/untapped-power-social-podcast-virality-podcasting/# http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243860 http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/proof-that-podcasting-will-benefit-your-business/ http://tylerbasu.com/top-10-reasons-to-start-a-podcast/ http://www.bookmarket.com/podcasts.htm http://www.searchenginejournal.com/peak-podcasting-sponsored/126934/ Transcript PDF Available for download: Should Authors Speak Up and Make More Money? from Robert C. Worstell The post Is it Time for Authors to Speak Up and Sell More? appeared first on Living Sensical.
5 minutes | Jan 14, 2019
When Your Case Study Becomes the Next Case Study (11)
Download this audio. This could have happened to you – or maybe not. The scene was this: I was listening to some podcasts while working (as radio these days is nearly as bad as the TV news) and got inspired to use this fancy mic I had gotten a few months back. It would be a nice test (I told myself) as you’ve got all these programs and it would be a good thing to do what you’ve been telling others all along – you know, publish to multiple eyeballs in as many formats as possible… So I “ate my own dogfood” – I did what I thought was a good blog post about what I’d just done the night before in publishing. Then I read this over, just the way I’d tell someone the same data – well, maybe a bit more interesting than that. Recorded it, and edited in Audacity on a MAC. (Could have done that on my Linux box as well – or Windows, if I was into self-torture.) I uploaded that to Archive.org, then took that file location and set it into Blogger as an enclosure link. Voila! I was podcasting. Went back to the blog post and embedded the audio on the page. Then, I worked up a presentation, based on the outline of what I was saying. Did this in LibreOffice Impress. Exported each frame as a jpeg file. These images and the audio were combined in a video editor (OpenShot – on Linux) and created a video file for YouTube. But it was a bit dry, so I looked up some PLR bumper music on my hard drives and added this to the sound-track. Produced the video again, and uploaded it to YouTube. Then embedded it onto the original page – below the podcast file. Finally, I added the presentation to the bottom of the page, where it could be downloaded. Where this could be improved It took most of the day, with interruptions. Most of the time spent was in finding everything the first time. Knowing how to use Audacity and a video editor made it faster. Still, it took at least as long to edit the audio into shape as it took to record it. (Peacock in the background – see if you can hear it…) The presentation took some time, although I didn’t even try to create the whole transcript (original blog post) as a presentation. This would have been way too many images to set up – so building one based on a simple outline makes the video possible. I’ll probably keep doing this on future videos as a time saver. What I still need to do is to scrape that original blog post and make a simple PDF of it (with links – through LibreOffice) and post that as well to Slideshare.net. I’ll use the same bumper music – to brand these – so that will be faster on the podcast. If I podcast all the blog posts from here on out, then I’ll be able to burn an RSS feed via Feedburner and post this to Itunes. This, of course, makes your book discovery more possible. (A future blog post will happen on this.) The assembly-line sequence for your multi-media production Blog it like you’d talk to someone you know and respect. Podcast this. (Edit goofs, add bumper theme intro and outro.) Scrape and create the PDF of this blog post. Create a presentation of the outline. Turn the presentation into images (jpeg’s.) Combine the audio and images into a video. Post the podcast to your hosting service. Add the link as an enclosure. Embed the podcast. Post the video. Embed the video. Post the PDF’s. Embed the PDF’s. Review and make your blog post live. Rinse, repeat. This should just takes an hour or so, once you have all the tools in place. Why do all this work? As I’ve covered before – it’s a point of Search Engine Marketing. Now I have backlinks from YouTube, Slideshare, and Archive.org coming directly to that blog post. As well, I’ve got peripheral links out to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Some got hit a couple of times. This means I have some rudimentary social linking happening. And I have some of the biggest sites now saying that my little blog is important to them. All good. While I can cut out the video to save some time (still posting the podcast and PDF’s) – that wouldn’t be the smartest move, as videos tend to convert more than just blog posts or audio only. The point is to set up a Gary Vaynerchuk scene, as there’s a lot to say on this subject. All that would enable people discovering my books that much easier. Believe me, I see that there is still a lot to learn in this area. For a first try, that wasn’t bad (IMHO.) It’s all downhill from here. PDF download: When Your Book Case Study Becomes Your Podcast and Video Case Study from Robert Worstell The post When Your Case Study Becomes the Next Case Study (11) appeared first on Living Sensical.
13 minutes | Jan 7, 2019
6 Simple Steps That Guarantee Your Publishing Success
Hello again, I actually had a rant ready to spring on you, but decided against it. This is the holidays after all. And it goes against my grain to simply diss someone for acting stupid and selfishly. (Well, most of the time.) So, that we will leave for another day. I did find a great nugget for you. Unfortunately, I don t have a transcript. But you ll want to hear this anyway. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute was on Chris Ducker s show at Youpreneur.fm. They are discussing his new book and lay out the 6 steps all the multi-million-dollar companies have been using to achieve their success. Because if you want to be successful, you need to find what the successful people are doing. That s why I spent a solid week analyzing Steve Scott s six-figure success and several days working on Mark Dawson and the half-million he s pulling in both are doing nothing but books, building on the sands of Amazon. Well, not entirely and Joe s 6 steps tell more about how these authors made their success. They both used the same 6 steps, although they actually did go through them in less than a year before they were able to branch out into other things. I m getting ahead of myself here. Have a listen, and I ll meet you on the other side Pulizzi’s talk inserted here. (If you want to follow along with Joe, get the PDF linked below, which covers this in a general fashion.) Our approach is to apply content marketing to book publishing which is the business we are in, after all. What s the takeaway from this? 0. Follow your bliss and get into a very narrow niche with fits with your particular expertise. Double-down, as Scott found. 1. Get your list started today. Now is the second best time to start, best would have been 6 months ago. 2. Get your own site, whether it s blog or podcast or whatever. Have a place you can build on which isn t someone else s. You have to be prepared for changes like Facebook has made, or Amazon nuking all your books (I just read about it again today.) 3. Get regular content out consistently and have your list popularize it on Amazon. Yes, that can be your own books, which is what both Scott and Dawson did. 4. Keep doing this consistently. Keep showing up consistently. 5. Then monetize by diversifying. Dawson started his FB ads course. Scott started a podcast and focused more on his site. It s just that simple. Six steps. And that s how we ll leave it with you. Here s wishing you a great Thanksgiving and holiday season. Here some links: I had to cut out the Youpreneur host s interruptions from the audio you heard, but the whole podcast is at Episode 138 (http://www.chrisducker.com/podcast/content-marketing-entrepreneurs-joe-pulizzi/) Content Marketing Institute with This Old Marketing podcast. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/pnr-with-this-old-marketing-podcast/ Content Inc. Joe Pulizzi s new book. The Content Inc PDF lays out the 6 steps in PDF. If that isn t available, try this opt-in. The CMI article laying out the steps simply different examples. Steve Scott s analysis of his last book launch. http://www.authority.pub/podcast/book-launch-strategy/ Mark Dawson s Self Publishing Formula. http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/ Update: This got me going. It dug under my skin and made me itch to find out more. So I ve extended the links above so you could get the text of what Pulizzi is talking about here. We already have proof with these two authors who build their 6-figure incomes in a year or so with this same model. It can be done. You can do this. Here’s a key sub-list in that talk. Focus on one content type Pick the platform Consistently deliver the content Consistently deliver over time – usually about 12 months, per his studies. My own test is to do this with special reports (and podcasts) extracted from these books I have already published (and are sellling well or a bestseller on their own.) I’ll keep you posted… The post 6 Simple Steps That Guarantee Your Publishing Success appeared first on Living Sensical.
7 minutes | Dec 23, 2018
Story Grid Battles Muse – and Lessons from Cows
Download this podcast. How Story Grid fights with your muse and upsets a perfectly good draft (while cows give life lessons…) This episode was extracted from a Mastermind group I participated in yesterday. It says everything about what I’ve been going through lately in building a new book. The inspirations are constantly giving new ideas and builds for this book, so starting over has been consistent. Sorry, no transcript. But it’s only around five minutes long. Please enjoy. Show Links Dynamic Laws of Prosperity – Catherine Ponder Story Grid – Shawn Coyne and Stephen Pressfield – storygrid.com Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell Steal the Show – Michael Port Lester Levenson – Release Technique – Sedona Method Mark Dawson The post Story Grid Battles Muse – and Lessons from Cows appeared first on Living Sensical.
8 minutes | Nov 11, 2018
Playing the Long Game to Win at Life and Self-Publishing
Playing the Long Game to Win at Life and Self-Publishing …isn’t that hard, but it seems to be a skill to master that isn’t commonly taught Hi there , This week brought to view the fact that 98% of us don’t choose to set goals, and if we do, don’t write them down. But this is also the way to being what you want to be and having what you want to have. If you follow this, you have a route to “making your dreams come true.” You simply have to keep dreaming the same thing and taking action. Let’s back up. I’ve been launching a book in a different way, all in parts and in several versions at the same time. In the middle of this, another application of natural systems showed up. Authors seem to worry about their platform a lot. Any new author has to “build a platform” in order to get sales. And traditional publishers turn down authors who don’t have a “platform.” But mostly, they don’t define a platform. No one really does. The closest I’ve found is Tim Grahl, who has figured out three different ways to get a book launched and promoted. Every one else has only said there was one way to do this. (Conventional Wisdom strikes again.) Again, we’re talking here about having a goal of being a successful author and having a successful book that is selling well for you. What is more interesting is that the natural system that successful authors use is the same one which you can apply to your own work, or business, or life-success in general. Now, Grahl says that if you have a big network of people, then you get them to help you launch your book. He says that if you have a big audience (mailing list) of people, then you ask them to help you launch your book. The third type he calls the “long game” where you gradually build your network and audience while you prepare to launch your book. And these are all fine, and are head and shoulders above the rest. Good Old Boy networks used to be the way to get something done. Colleges rely on alumni. Clubs have networks and echelons. Audiences are the way to get “instant bestsellers” and are how Amazon picks the books they want to promote. If you have neither, then you seem to be out of luck, and have to spend some time building each of them up in order to make your book launch a success. Not really. There’s a system underlying book launches, and this is the same that runs any business. It’s also a way you can run your life. It has four parts: Mind – Body – Value – Bliss Let’s take these up one at a time: You need to have your Mind straight and not filled up with a bunch of unworkable stuff that holds you back. And this is why Make Yourself Great Again is an introduction to Mindset Stacking Solutions. You are constantly restacking your mindset every day – it’s called learning. The trick is to learn to take control over what you want to learn about and so change your brittle mindset stack (based on static data that can be disproved) over to a resilient mindset stack (based on systems which allow you to “roll with the punches” and adapt to your environment more easily, no matter what changes happen.) Your Body is what you’re riding around with through this life, but this term is also the specialized knowledge that you acquire for your job. It’s also the training you’ve done and can do. In your business, its the form of the organization and how it’s planned. Value is what you give in order to get. Golden Rule stuff, which what our economy is based on. You can’t expect a fire to give you heat until you add some fuel. And the scams you see in your email are all of this type – you have to give them something before you can get the Next Great Thing they are offering. The emails you like to read are from the people who regularly give you great stuff without asking for anything (well, not very often.) Bliss is your sweetspot of what you most like to do and what you know how to do best. Some call this your purpose in life. Others frame it as “what you would like to do even if you never got paid for it.” When you narrow down to what you most like to do that you can do, then you can work out how to find people who would pay you to do that for them. But that takes us right into working this system. You know what you can and want to do. So you work up some stuff you can give to others that they would want to give you something in return. You have to have it organized so they can get the best use out of it, and you have to have an assembly line so you can generate this stuff simply and regularly. To do that, you have to be able to sit there and crank this stuff out without distraction. You have to have your mind clear, in other words. How this applies to writing and launching a book is just this simple. Bliss becomes Vision. Value becomes Content. Body becomes Audience. Mind becomes Network Vision – You find a genre that you are fascinated with, the stuff you like to read. You get an idea of what you want to accomplish by writing and publishing your books, write this down and refer to it at least twice a day and every chance you get. Content – study that genre and find out what people are expecting. Start cranking out stories which meet their expectations. Audience – publish these in the various areas people are looking for them. Social networks like Goodreads and Wattpad are great for this. But Amazon and all the ebook outlets are also places to find your audience. They won’t buy what they don’t like, but until you publish, you’ll never know… Network – these are like-minded authors and people around them, like book bloggers and podcasters and radio hosts, even broadcast news media. You contact them and offer value that they can exchange with their audience. You treat them like you’d want to be treated, with openhanded giving. Now, the next step is to simply put that machine in action. Start writing daily. Start publishing weekly or bi-weekly, even if it’s just short stories to your own blog. Reach out regularly to others in these areas to join their team and vice-versa. Set up a mailing list that people can join and so you can stay in contact with them, and help them with what they most need. Spend some time daily clearing your own mind, and in improving your craft as an author, publisher, and marketer. Then you are on your road to success. What’s interesting is that these all work together as a system. If you improve any single element, it improves the other three elements. Similarly, if you publish crap, then your audience and network won’t trust you as much. Plus, you’ll feel bad about it. Just keep polishing your vision and fixing the details of it in your mind every single day. Keep polishing your skills and producing valuable stuff every day that other people will appreciate. And then spend some time finding more people to join your audience and become part of your network. Before long, you’ll see your vision start showing up around you in terms of the booksales you want to see, the income you want to see, and the life-satisfaction you want to see. And that’s the Long Game. It works for life, it works for business, it works for authors. Probably everything you could ever want to be or have. Try it for yourself. You only get out of life what you put into it. So get started. Until next time… – – – – And you may want to check out my new book, Make Yourself Great Again. Part 1 is free and the other parts are set to really low prices. Feel free to share this with your friends. But above all, have fun. Click here to get yours. The post Playing the Long Game to Win at Life and Self-Publishing appeared first on Living Sensical.
10 minutes | Oct 28, 2018
4 Simple Author Models to Use For Your Ultimate Success
(Download this audio – Click here.) There are four basic journey-choices you can make to get all the success you want as an author. Some of these are known, some can be observed. At least one isn’t obvious at all. That last one only came up recently in trying to explain some mystery successes I’d heard about. But we’ll get to that shortly. There are four ways to be an exceptional success as an author: Tap into an eternal desire with a book that is good enough to gain adoration. Doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ve made a classic. Promote yourself with advertising that raises your books to classic level. Expensive. Takes your whole life, if you aren’t extremely smart about it. Be prolific your whole life through and write in many varied genres. Produce your work in so many forms that your best become classics. Wait until the time is right. None of these can be faked. The first is often by accident, and is the first (and usually only) book the author ever publishes. If there are others, they are unlikely to succeed as well, since the first was an inspired stroke of lightning (that never strikes the same place twice.) You see this in J.D. Salinger, Margaret Mitchell, Anna Sewell. Funny enough, only the second requires a great deal of advertising or remarkable marketing to make it happen. This is the most common approach these days. Grahl, Morkes, Dawson, Stephenson, and others are our current crop. The third gains by sheer brute force of will and rivers of sweat-equity. That set knows all about publishing and has worked out what people want and how to best serve them. They serve humanity by using the long tail. Charles Dickens was one of these. Isaac Asimov another. The final one is where the other three start. The author who starts only when the time is right. And otherwise makes their way through this world with a Day Job. We know who we are. Each of these four types have their “platform” in place, even if they don’t know it. The one-shot-wonder taps into a wide audience with that classic and rules thereafter. There is enough sales to that book that they can live off residuals (or reinvest them) thereafter. The second is constantly promoting to his audience in order to keep them. They move into and out of various forms to be worthy of following. Once they quit advertising, their books slowly dwindle down in sales. The promotion is what keeps their audience following them. The third is alway paddling away in their river of interest, always finding more to write about and loving their lifestyle. By sheer volume, some of their stories become great hits. Others sell well. Some don’t sell. But there is always another story after that last one. If they are promoted, someone else is doing it as part of their team. Someone else running their marketing. Because they are too busy writing and inventing and describing in order to pay much attention to the world at large. The fourth has an invisible audience who is waiting. Each serves humanity. Each has their own way to do so. Their story of success in each case is different. The story of the first one is enigmatic and cannot be explained easily. The story of the second one is explained too much, as they constantly are promoting themselves and selling courses on how to do it as well as they did. The third will tell people to simply write what they are interested in (and their market will buy) and to read other authors in order to improve their own style. The fourth reads all about the other authors and buys their books, courses, and audio. The first and third are not believed. People spend a great deal of money in the second, but learn to write no better and have no more particular success than any of the three types. The fourth generally they keep their day job, as they are always buying courses and not doing the writing they want and have a need to do – yet. The first are the real leaders, and they never particularly wanted to be. The second are the following-followers. They don’t really listen to their intuition to be as good as the first one. And don’t have enough persistence to be a dogged success as the third. They live well as long as they keep finding stuff to promote to their audience to keep them interested. The third lives well and independently, because their content can be consumed by multiple audiences. If their marketer is also a good manager, they live a comfortable life. The fourth live as good a life as they work for others. Amazon, and other book outlets fund the first three well. The fourth is part of that funding effort. It’s your choice which you will be, even though most people think they can’t be one of the first, and don’t want to “work as hard” as the third. So they either crack the conventional wisdom of the second, or keep their day job until they buy enough courses and read enough great books to work it all out. I’ve studied all four types and can tell you that any of them can by done by anyone. The first is mystic, the second is mechanical, the third is inspired, the fourth is where we all start out. None is any easier than the other. The hardest might be the fourth type: those who won’t just sit down and write the stories that come to them and so never get started at all. They keep their day jobs. (And, if they only saved 10% out of every single paycheck they got for 40 years, they’d be a millionaire on retirement and could live off the interest comfortably. That would also be a great time to write.) No one tells any of these four how to succeed. They each count their success differently. Salinger and Mitchell relished their private lives. The business person with their single book and the speaking gigs and coaching deals, keeps promoting themselves and enjoying the respect. (Celebrities fit this mold.) The fairly anonymous authors who crank out tons of work under pen-names enjoy doing what they are doing and are well supported by their sales. The fourth has a decent job, and all the security that can go with it, as well as all the entertainment it can buy. All are authors in their own right. Mark Twain in his “Letters From the Earth” described seeing a line of the greatest generals in history. At the head was someone dressed as a common farmer. The explanation for the obvious question, “Well, he just never got around to generalling.” You are an author first in your own mind. The rest of it depends on what actions you take. This study started out because the collection of material on the how-to’s of authorship was mostly filled with the stories of people who had made it big by promoting their few books and then bridging off into courses and affiliate sales. Also in this category were entrepreneurs who published only a single book and then make a living with that (and brand extensions.) This huge category seemed to be all there was. And the conventional wisdom was that an author needed to learn to sell and promote and give talks and so on. (Meanwhile, the authors themselves said they disliked having to do this, and would rather just be writing.) That huge amount of data didn’t explain the one-hit wonders. (Nothing really seems to, except metaphysics. This was their time and they took it.) Meanwhile, my own route was publishing everything I could lay my hands on in addition to my own written works. Some sold, some didn’t. A few did really well. But I was able to get my financial freedom enough to simply do research. The more I researched and published, the better I did financially. On the fringes, I started collecting other stories of people who were making six-figures from just writing what they felt like and what people were interested in buying. A lot of these stories are in Geoff Shaw’s “Kindling” course and his Facebook group. The most disregarded has been the author who just “hasn’t gotten around to it.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with this category, although some will beat themselves up because of being there. One day, they will move into one of the categories above, or they won’t. The point to any life is thoroughly enjoying what you are doing while you are doing it. Joy is what we are really here for. And the more joy you spread, the more you get back. With that, my studies of the “how-to’s” of authorship are complete. And thanks to the books I’ve published, I was able to afford all these courses. Digesting them will still take some time, and will wind up with other books for you to read. But I don’t need buy any more courses or webinars or how-to manuals. I am going to write up what I’ve found, just to get it out of my head. After that, and probably at the same time, I’m going to find some more books to write, edit, publish, produce – all just for you, to spread the joy I’ve found. My only advice to this is: Have fun with your choices. Choose to do those things you can enjoy. Until next time… The post 4 Simple Author Models to Use For Your Ultimate Success appeared first on Living Sensical.
10 minutes | Sep 29, 2018
Exploding Sales Funnel Fraud
How to Resolve and Expand Your Audience Out Of Trust The core value any online commerce runs on is trust. Yet business schools don t teach this. They are instead given all sorts of models to use which take them away from why they are there to begin with. A business is a ongoing exchange of valuable services and/or products usually in return for that commodity called money. (But not always.) The major problem that business courses and online training have is that they are so busy teaching the How s that they forget the Why s. Look at that definition above. It s all continuing exchange of value. That all has to happen in an atmosphere of trust. The seller has to trust the buyer and vice-versa. These are age-old principles, which tend to help us understand how it s done these days in digital-everything. The reverse of this is a scam, where whatever is promised is only partially delivered. (See my Get Your Self Scam Free for more details of this.) There is no decent physical model to explain what happens in marketing. Perhaps the stupidest or laziest one is calling it a funnel. That implies once people enter at the top, they eventually move down to the bottom and out. This model doesn t deal with the fact that people are leaving all the time because they don t want or can t trust the person or group they are dealing with. A better model is a set of concentric circles. People start on the outside edge and gravitate toward the center as you improve your relationships with them. The ideal flow of customers and customers implies they are following a custom, or cultural habit goes from less trust toward greater. Your clients come very closely in to you, and what you do, to absorb everything possible. When they ve achieved the highest pinnacle of what you can offer, then they do one of three things: They move on to another mentor, or They go back through the material from the start, or They become evangelists for your material and bring new customers to you. The Usual Suspects, the Usual Lies Recently, I laid out how the Social Media has been pushed as the latest Shiny Object. I wasn t so complimentary about it, as it was described as Revenge of the Social Media Zombies. Social Media, and even book distributors (like Amazon) are on that outer ring. People come and go, they even buy your books and you have no clue who they are or what they did for you. That outer ring isn t worth much of your time to deal with, as there are no reliable ways to build trust. You cast a wide net of content out there, and invite them closer in to you. Next in would be to get them as subscribers to one of your feeds, so they could get your particular brand of content on a regular basis. This is your blog and podcast. Blogs are less reliable as most people don t know how to simply subscribe to a feed and get your data regularly, so podcasts are further in. The next closer ring is an opt-in email subscription, where they can get a regular newsletter from you. Here is where you can build your relationships more closely. At any time, you can communicate directly to individuals, or vice-versa, and improve your mutual trust. Even closer in would be a membership, where they have to log-in to get your special content. Here you are able to track their interests more closely, and find out what people are clicking on within your own site. Memberships don t have to be paid, and it is probably best to have a free one at the outset. They do have to sign in and take that extra step to get your material. They have to demonstrate a little more trust. And you reward that with exclusive value. From here on in, and closer, you ll be able to offer tailor-made products to them. With their feedback, you can carefully improve the value of the content they are looking for. And, if this content is good enough, they ll pay you for it. Courses start showing up here. Especially when delivered with a Learning Management System (LMS). You can then open a course up which is delivered on demand, not on a time schedule. People can progress at their own pace, and you can send them tailor-made emails to encourage and debug them. And this is where it gets quite interesting. Because the trust becomes mutual. As the trust increases, you can offer ever-greater value, and your clients will start to exchange with you more frequently and in greater volume (you can set and get higher payments.) Errors, Mistakes, and Misdirections Most of the misdirections which are being spread ignore this trust factor. For authors, this can be very confusing. Amazon pays for sales, but doesn t build trust. Your buyers are completely anonymous. And you probably know more about your reviewers (especially the trolls) than you do about your buyers. Like Social Media, there is tons of free advice about how to get sales on Amazon. A lot of it is spread by Amazon itself, who wants you to only sell on their platform. Let me repeat Amazon is the outer ring of trust. Right out there with strangers giving you odd looks. Here s how you use Social Media post your content with invitations to join your mailing list. Interaction (like resistance to the Star Trek s Borg) is futile. Always syndicate to as many social networks as possible. Here s how you use Amazon and all ebook distributors post your content with invitations to join your mailing list. Never respond to reviews. Always publish to as many distributor platforms, in as many formats as possible. Always. Because they each have different audiences. Do you see the similarities? You don t spend a lot of your valuable time where you ll have nothing to show for it. You can t build lasting relationships by interacting on either social networks or book distributors. The one exception perhaps is to run something like a private Facebook group by invitation only. That is tricky, though, since that platform can shut you down at any time, just as the book distributors can cancel your account at any time (like Google Play has done to many Indie publishers.) Ideally, you d run a personal forum on your own site if you want to interact with people on that level. Like social media, it depends on how valuable your time is (as in what should you be writing or editing right now? ) You can get a return of money for monetary investments, you ll never be able to get time back for time spent. Always invest money. Always spend time wisely. This model tells you to spend most of your time building relationships with those closest to you. By giving them private and exclusive special offers, they ll help you with reviews on Amazon and sending out tweets, plusses, and likes on your behalf. Those can attract attention and get people closer in. But some percentage of your time needs to be spent on the middle ground as well. Guest blogging, and being a podcast guest are the ways you can build your audience by interacting with other s audiences. In these, that existing audience is given the opportunity to join your inner circles. They trust the site you are appearing on, and can start building trust in you. Appearing as a guest takes more time than simply doing your own thing but the investment pays off better. Again, here s the breakdown: Outer circles: social media, book distributors syndicate content with offers to join your inner circles. Middle Circles: blogs, podcasts deliver regular, valuable content with offers to join, as well as appearing as guest (also with offers to join.) Inner Circles: free memberships, email subscription, private forums, free courses give them more valuable content and invest in relationship building with offers to purchase. These can start inviting others to join. Closest circles: paid memberships, paid courses, coaching this is very intensive relationship building. These can become your evangelists. I hope you ve now started examining and discarding what you ve been told about sales funnels and all the conventional wisdom around them. I know that this was a tough slog for years for myself and others, as there is just so much untested silliness being foisted off as Gospel these days. Do test everything I say for yourself. Don t assume it s useful until you ve tested it for yourself. All this article is about is to lay out a common sense approach to timeless natural commerce principles. As you uncover more of these natural principles for yourself, you should speed up your own progress toward the goals you ve set. OK? See you next time Please Download This Complimentary Transcript Exploding Sales Funnel Fraud from Robert C. Worstell Get Bestselling Success Guides from Our Free Online Library Instant Access Join Here Click here: https://livesensical.com/go/freelibrary/ The post Exploding Sales Funnel Fraud appeared first on Living Sensical.
10 minutes | Sep 16, 2018
How to Shift into Online Business Gears You Probably Don’t Know Exist
How to Shift into Online Business Gears You Probably Don’t Know Exist Imagine that you had a car that only had two speeds – reverse, and low. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? You’d probably be able to go faster backwards than you could forwards. Yet this is the scene that most businesses have. Because people aren’t taught the system which runs businesses. I should know. I’ve been hard at entrepreneuring for some 15 years now, and only in the last two have been able to fire my last boss and get some real freedom into my life. (However, the 16-hour days haven’t quit. ) It was finally this year, in the last couple of months, that the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. I can tell by the amount of hype by marketers to exclusively use “social media” and “search engines” that most people out there also have no clue. And that noise has only gotten worse over the years. I don’t have all the answers to everything. My own scene has been to keep throwing things into the fan as tests, then see what stuck to the wall behind as a result. What I’ve found out what works out of “conventional wisdom” averages out to be 95% BS and 5% truly workable. The tool I’ve found as most useful is to look for systems. Natural systems. Things that work despite pandering politicians or celebrity endorsements or ads on the mainscream media channels. Systems work throughout recorded history, through legends, through current times and enable you to envision a brighter, more prosperous future. The Entrepreneur System This tends to explain how all businesses get started and why they fail. But you are going to have to test this for yourself and not rely on what I tell you. Sorry. Just the way life is. 1. Understanding Success as a subject. 2. Understanding how to persuade others. 3. Being able to produce something valuable. 4. Promoting your product or service. Let’s use what we know about indie authors and self-publishing. The reason most authors keep their day jobs is just those points above. It’s not just writing books and putting them up on Kindle at a low price. If you don’t understand what success is and how to get it, you’ll never learn how to set and achieve goals (only 2% do.) Not knowing how to persuade others means that your description for that book will never get people to buy it. How to produce something valuable is a lot more than writing a single book and hoping. Promoting your book is also much more than sending out some tweets. Before any author (or any entrepreneur) can really succeed, they need to know what success is. The most common and most useful way to learn this is to study books that were written by people who studied others who were successful. Chief among these were Abraham Maslow, Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill. Earl Nightingale, Steven Covey, and more recently, Tony Robbins have been more modern-day examples. You study successful people who studied success, and then distill what they considered was important. From this, you create your own success model to follow. The second point after this is to be able to persuade others. Most of those above were known for their own ability to get people to act in their own best interests. While you can also note that through history, there have been a lot of people who influenced others to do bad things, the bulk of humanity has always been working to improve their conditions and those of people around them. This is all “Golden Rule” stuff, which is also known as Cause and Effect. You can test this yourself. Go around and frown for a day at your job and to everyone you meet. You’ll make people grouchy around you and they’ll also leave you alone. Now, go around and honestly smile at everyone. They’ll want to start conversations, and you’ll find all sorts of happiness in your and their lives. This is the core of Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The next study to take up is that of the better copywriters. Also Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence.” All these copywriters agree: what works is to really just build on humankind’s natural habits. As a species, we really haven’t evolved much in our 10,000 years of recorded history. The core desires and motivations are still there. And that is probably why ancient texts like the Bible are still selling so well these modern days. Good copywriters can demand and get paid whatever they want, once they master the old texts which laid all this out in the 1920’s. Third is to know your production model and hone it to a polished, sharp edge. In Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi laid out the 6 simple points each of the many businesses he had studied all had in common where they succeeded. And those points (plus the one of setting goals and making them, covered earlier in that book) are the exact steps any author-publisher needs to take to build a truly working system and regular excess passive income. It would be just as true if you were manufacturing cars, or buying and selling stock. You have to know your market and how it works, what it wants and how to get it to them. You also have to know how to deliver far more value than is expected. You have to go the second mile – and do this consistently for years and years. You have to develop production habits that will see you through the rough times into the good ones, over and over. You have to build a body of work. There are very few one-shot wonders that had a great life after that single success. (Look up some Motown artists as examples.) Fourth is Promotion. This isn’t running advertisements. Currently, that has been made into a very bastardized version of the principle we are going to talk about. Once you see how simple it is, then you’ll see how to run ethical promotion. For our use, although there are ways to run ethical advertising, especially via Facebook (currently – until they change it again) we won’t mention ads as a term because the majority of what’s out there builds dis-trust. People have trained themselves to purposely not look at ads, all in addition to their browser-installed adblockers. The principle of effective promotion is this: “Ask to get in front of other people s audience and give then additional choices that they ll appreciate.” Related to that is to get that host to recommend you to their audience. In chasing down the success of some of the top 6-figure authors, you’ll see they were showing up on other people’s popular podcasts in order to pitch their books. Amanda Hocking was commenting on the popular book blogger sites, who then reviewed her books to their own following. Wayne Dyer showed up on the Johnnie Carson show and got a huge boost for his first book, just like various comedians that got their start there. The Ed Sullivan show launched many careers on it’s own, as did American Idol, the Voice, and other talent competition shows. How this differs from “normal” or “conventional” advertising is that people are willingly tuning in to find new entertainment, education, or inspiration. They’ve asked you to come into their homes. On TV these days, you are trying to understand what is happening in the 15 or 20 minutes between interruptions, (some of which go on for 5 minutes in 30-second spots.) There is no continuity in these ads, except perhaps in how stupid they think we are. It’s no wonder advertising is hated and despised. They don’t ask, they don’t give choice, they don’t give value. The reverse happens when you’re a guest on a podcast, where you find out about the host and what type of information his audience is looking for. Then you deliver far more than was asked for. Similarly, guest blogging is writing articles for that audience which they really appreciate as you custom-tweak that article based on what they expect to see. Meanwhile, your article is then tweaked by the site editors to make sure it’s a good fit for that audience. That is the key to promotion these days. Ask, be accepted, deliver value. And that is why advertising has high fail rates and “content marketing” is replacing it. Meanwhile, selling ads is a convenient addiction for any platform that has to show a profit to its investors. Ask Facebook, ask Google, ask Twitter, ask Instagram. All social media is embracing ads and limiting organic reach – you can’t inform your followers unless you pay. Why these four points work. Because it’s a system, not another listicle to memorize. Not another fancy acronym. These four points interact with each other to improve your result. The more you hone your personal success system, the better your esteem and higher your self-confidence will be. The more you refine your ability to persuade others, the more people you will attract and interest and enable to act on your offers. This then leads to delivering a valuable product, whether it is a physical object or service, or a virtual product such as an online course, or ebook or other content. The better you refine this offer, the more exchange you’ll be receiving. This means more income. But people never find the better mousetrap until you can routinely get in front of interested audiences to tell them. As you do, you build your own audience. Because of your own self-confidence and certainty, your own persuasion and empathy, your own high-quality delivery of valuable materials and services. Test this all out for yourself. All of it. Don’t believe anything I say – unless and until you’ve found it to work for you personally. In my opinion, the amount of your success and income depend on it. If you have better ideas or examples, leave a comment below the show notes. Or drop me an email. Thanks again for list
13 minutes | Sep 15, 2018
Trolls and Bullies, in the Kindle Author Graveyard
Would you believe me if I said I had proof of Amazon KDP being a bully? How about that they are trolls as well? Well, it happened to me like this: I had a book up which got a DMCA complaint that wouldn’t resolve. You see, you can use DMCA to complain about someone else’s content and never have to give that person a copy of your complaint – so they have to take their content down, or in Amazon’s case, they block it and you can’t do anything about it. The long and short is that someone at Kindle got a hair up and went to suspend my account over it. I answered right away and pointed out that it was because they left the book in question on their site and it could still be found by the DMCA trolls. But I got the dirty end of that stick. The next day, someone else at Kindle reversed it, but I was still guilty as accused. So, as usual, they put their boilerplate threats at the bottom of the email. Why does Kindle put threats at the bottom of every email? The answer – they are bullies. KDP has around 60% of the market and they don’t have to take your book if they don’t want to. And if you try to publish public domain works, they can be downright hateful about it. Sidebar: What made Kindle into troll-bullies? Their own “success.” Yes, there’s the corporate cult in place, which comes down from the top. It’s that take-no-prisoners, scorched-earth policy they have. Besides that, it makes them a great target. I’ve published that one complained-about book everywhere else. But who got the one and only DMCA complaint? Amazon-Kindle. Because it’s an easy target and Google searches will pull up that title there first rather than anywhere else. So the DMCA internet trolls simply have to fire off an automated request to Kindle, and the book is shut down. If it doesn’t disappear entirely, they complain again until that title is removed. (That is the actual strategy: to eliminate the “competition” for a specific book title, which isn’t trademarked.) It’s the mutual troll society. Amazon-Kindle doesn’t have to care. They’ve got 1.6 million books out there, and yours is just one tiny drop in their ocean. The bottom line is that I’ve finally had enough with these guys. It set me to thinking about what I was actually getting out of my dealings with them. Frankly, I have one book that sells decently, and a lot of other books (about 70, maybe) that don’t. Some have never sold. Which brings up the fact that… Amazon Kindle is correctly the “Graveyard of Indie Authors” Out of over 1.6 million titles on their Kindle site, less than 100,000 sell more than one per day. That’s 16 percent. (See http://www.theresaragan.com/salesrankingchart.html) And the more people publish to Kindle, the bigger that graveyard grows. Now if you had a book that sold one a day, and you were getting a royalty of maybe $2 per book, what kind of income will that give you? Yup – $720 a year, more or less. So you can figure what I’m getting with my book whose sales rank says it’s turning over maybe 5-10 per day. Nice pin money, but won’t support any family by itself. And that is my Kindle star player. Then when I have to put up with Kindle’s nastygrams in order to do these submissions, it doesn’t really seem worth it. Here’s the surprise: I make more money on paperbacks and hardbacks. Meanwhile, neither CreateSpace nor Lulu give me any grief at all about my books, as long as they are technically able to be printed. They trust me from the start. (They don’t accuse me right off the bat of doing something illegal, like the Kindle trolls.) iTunes, Nook, and Kobo similarly don’t care what I publish there. And they also just accept the stuff I give them. On each publisher, my books sell differently. But only Kindle has that weird review hang-up. (OK, it does affect CS sales, I imagine.) The point here is that I can help you best with all these books I’m finding if I’m not hassled and stressed every single time I submit a book or revise it. The Kindle Trolls just made up my mind for me with their last round of bullying. I’m really through with having to fight for the “privilege” of getting books up there. So if I do find a great PD book, it’s going everywhere except Kindle. It will wind up on Amazon as a paperback and maybe a hardback as well. I’m just not going to fight over measly profits from their Kindle version. (I’m sure there’s no love lost on either side.) What I will do is to offer that ebook to you directly with it’s Kindle-ready version, and pocket something like 97% of the royalties. Members only, of course. Where I come out with an original work, Lulu is going to distribute it to Kindle for me. So I lose some royalties out of it, at least I’m not losing sleep. I think that if authors wised up, they’d see how they are getting screwed and would quit their Kindle addiction. There are 1.5 million, 9 hundred thousand Kindle ebooks out there that sell less than one copy per day. It then makes sense that the average income of most indie authors by survey is about $500 per year. Because most of these have published a single book which never sells, especially on Amazon-Kindle. And people can’t find your ebook because it isn’t recommended because it never sold to begin with. That’s the way Amazon works. Amazon Kindle is the ebook author graveyard. Cue the funeral dirge, please. What Turns a “BestSeller” into “Makes a Living?” You’ll find that all these “bestselling” authors have built up an audience of rabid fans who buy everything they come out with. Takes some time, and some good writing, but it can be done. Like Amanda Hocking, they don’t just write a bunch of good books. They also borrow other’s audiences until they can get enough of them to join theirs. This is the lightbulb moment most authors are missing. And frankly, it’s a point of visiting podcasts as a guest. In Content Marketing, it’s called guest blogging. Hocking got the book bloggers to take up her cause. Steve Scott and Mark Dawson visited the book podcasters. Same approach in all cases. Enough of these visits, with your own opt-in’s and list in place, and you have your own audience. At that point, you can do the Kindle Review Dance. You know the steps: a) Give your audience advance review copies, b) get some of them to put reviews out on the first days, c) get some to buy it right off. d) Then tell the rest of them so they can get it during the first opening week, and e) then raise the price and get some more to keep buying it. f) So then Amazon starts pushing it and drives the sales even higher. That’s all it takes to make a “bestseller” on Kindle. Yes, the reviews are all contrived. (Normally, about 1% leave reviews there or anywhere. But this strategy is legal and accepted.) But what does it take to make a living there? Well, the honest truth is that you can’t get there from here. No author I’ve studied makes their income strictly and only from Kindle. No one. Not any. Lots of “conventional wisdom” guru’s say to just get your books on Kindle exclusively and – voila – instant 6 figures. Nope. Doesn’t happen. Except for the 1% – usually those with lists of rabid, buying fans. Like celebrities. (Cue the zombie march.) It takes a couple of years to build up your audience to even start approaching 6 figures from book sales. It’s a real grind, but necessary. Learn by doing, not by hoping for lucky breaks. Let’s crunch some numbers. Smashwords’ Coker has done surveys say ebooks sell the most at $2.99, but produce the most income at $3.99. We don’t know how many 6 figure authors are using those numbers. Mark Dawson won’t run Facebook ads for anything under $4.99. He’s pulling down $500K per year, spending over $100K on FB ads – and making twice that back. Let’s figure you want to make $100K in a year. In New York and other high-tax districts, $50K won’t even get you out of the poverty zone. You need $2K per week. Let’s take Dawson’s book price – that’s about $3.50 royalty per book. Just over 570 units sold per week. Or around 82 units per day. Your sales rank needs to be between 1500 to 3000 – meaning that you have that many books which sell better than yours in all of Kindle-land. The air is thin up there, for sure. That’s just one book to do all the heavy lifting. Most of these guys have an average of 10 before they get any decent income. That makes more sense, as then your average sales only need to be around 8 per day, meaning your sales rank for these are between 10K to 50K. Now you can see why 84% of all Kindle authors make diddly-squat. But crunch the numbers for yourself. Come to your own conclusions. What the guys making real income from booksales are doing. Their money is made with multiple versions on all possible platforms. By my last notes, Scott was sticking to KDP Unlimited with his ebooks and had given up around $100k per year. But around a third of the rest of his money was coming in from other versions. Print books, audio books, foreign rights. It was only when Scott moved into these additional versions that jumped him into the $300K range. That’s the model. Get all your books available everywhere possible in all versions possible. If you’re publishing original books and have a decent audience built up, you can very probably keep making 6 figures indefinitely – as long as you keep producing books they can consume. If you’re trying this with Public Domain books, figure that you’re going to have to publish a few hundred to do
23 minutes | Sep 2, 2018
How to Write Less and Profit More: A Rich Adventure In Short Read Kindle Publishing
Can you actually write less and profit more? Introduction Deep in the heart of the ever-growing Amazon Kindle jungle, there’s a profitable under-served market which is not easily discovered. It sits in a clearing by itself, much like a massive stone temple rising above the forest. A temple with some gold-filled rooms. Just my kind of area to explore. I’ve long been in favor of “find where everyone is going and go the opposite way.” So this makes a lot of sense. And any adventure is always welcome. We saw this expedition hinted at by Steve Scott with his non-fiction habits books. But he never really explored the opportunities this area has. In re-tracing Scott’s own path, it showed me the turns he didn’t take. That inspired me to start my own journey around two months ago. I’m currently publishing an average of one short read ebook per week. And the results are promising, as the Christmas sales influence fades. This path struck my fancy, as it told more about how to really use short reads as a business strategy. How to cement those 6-figures that Scott started having. What I’ve discovered accelerates that progress, perhaps even creating your 7-figure income. (BTW, in Scott’s recent videos, he points out that his income is still dwindling, down from a high of around $400K annually to an average of “just” $250K per year. While this is still great, it also shows that he’s left tons of money on the table.) One of the more profitable avenues is content writing as part of business publishing. A lot of businesses are getting into content marketing these days, but don’t have a lot of thick texts sitting around waiting to be turned into Kindle ebooks. What they do have is lots of shorter material which would be perfect how-to non fiction books about their particular industry. If these could also be quickly turned into small books to hand out at trade shows and by their sales people, a business could get a real marketing advantage over any competition. And such production can be fast. The book you are reading (although more work could have been done in editing, to be sure) was created and published into four widely-distributed formats in only three days, at a cost of sweat-equity only. Imagine what could be done for your next product release… This isn’t just for fiction writers. It’s for everyone with a message to get out. So let’s get started… The Secret Map to Short Read Riches Here’s the secret map – How to Succeed with Kindle Short Reads, by Geoff Shaw. (Note: Geoff Shaw shut down his Kindling course, and generally confirmed that any success he had in that was in being exclusive to KDP as a platform. Here’s the Geoff Shaw “don’t let the door hit you” summary.) There’s a growing group of readers which Amazon has been catering to with their Kindle Short Reads. Shaw describes them like this: “Introducing Coffee Break Readers “There s a new generation of readers. “People who will download and read lots of books. They only have so much time and they want their fill of excitement in that limited time. “We call them the CBR s – the coffee break readers. They re not just people who have never read longer books before… They re anyone who has limited time to read for whatever reason. “These people aren’t stuck into a certain author, it’s more like the certain type of entertainment they want: short stories which they can read in their available time.” That idea opened my eyes quite a bit. The price range for these CBR books is the same as Scott’s .99 and 2.99, plus the 3.99 or 4.99 boxed sets. But the trick is that you’re having to write a lot less and profiting more from each bit you do write. When we last left our hero, Scott seemed to be getting into longer and longer books as he went, but this is the reverse of where you want to go. You’ll see shortly that this is more of a pioneer territory with a lot less competition and few tools to use to find your way. What Scott should have been doing is to figure out how to multiply his success in related genres, and stick to the short reads and box sets. It’s really all the “deep backbench” principle again. The more books you have up there, the more they can be recommended, the more chances you have to uncovered your room of gold. Less Competition, More Profits The great part is that this is still mostly virgin wilderness. Go look over Amazon short reads and you’ll see there is a lot less competition, as the books are split up by length as well as genre. People can have 15, 30, 45, 60, and 90-minute reads. Your book still shows up in the regular categories. but the CBR’s will specifically hunt up your books according to the time they have to read. So it’s easier for them to find your books. Basically, Amazon counts every 250 words as a page. Except for special instances, they generally only accept 2500-word books these days. So Shaw’s chart shows the reading time category you’ll fall into with your short reads, depending on word count. Let’s look at that competition you won’t have: For instance: Literature & Fiction – Kindle Books: 1,352,061 Kindle Short Reads (30 min): 48,093 Business & Money – Kindle Books: 249,574 Kindle Short Reads (30 min): 15,937 Which arena would you like to compete in? Another point is that there’s higher turnover. People are basically consuming books like tasty snacks. This then leverages your writing far beyond anything we’ve seen before. They aren’t looking for books they can read a bit of each day (munching all week long) but rather 5-10 books they can finish each week. For the money they’d spend buying a traditionally-published big name author’s ebook, they can buy just as much reading material for less than half – and it’s all designed to be read in those tiny snippets of time they have available. Shaw says that the bulk of the reads in this category are actually indie authors, so this means the Big 5 publishing houses won’t compete with their big promotion budgets in this arena. Shaw points out, as I did earlier, that you can publish a single 80,000-word book and take a month writing it. (And another month editing and proofing it.) Or write eight 10,000-word books and publish every two weeks. (One for writing at 2,000 per day – 10,000 words – and the next week for editing/proofing.) In two months, the first author has one book, which will sell for 4.99 or so. The second author has 8 books that can sell at 2.99. The second author has roughly twice the royalties coming in, plus: the ability to get readers as email subscribers also from each additional book (with a Lead Magnet at both beginning and end) the ability to be searched for 56 keywords and in 16 categories, instead of just 7 keywords and 2 categories. the greater number of his books and his more frequent releases prompt Amazon to recommend these other titles. and you’re making income while you are writing. then creating a box set of these (or even a couple) just adds to the above. In this hypothetical match-up, you have the same amount of words for each author, a tiny bit more overhead in producing covers and descriptions for short reads each ebook, plus building that box set. But then the box set allows a longer-read customer to consume the full novel. As a sidebar, the box set looks to be a better bargain than the 80,000-word single book. Would you rather buy a collection of 8 books for 4.99 or a single book for 4.99? This starts to point out the factors in Steve Scott’s system that he was missing. What you’ve also done is to create 9 books (8 singles, plus the box set) in the same amount of time as the other author, but on your author page, you’ve got 9 books they can check out (and buy). And that’s two months’ work. The audience then doesn’t question if you’re a one-shot wonder, but will know by the end of just two months that you’re a serious contender. The other successes I’ve studied spent an entire year or more creating their bigger novels in order to have 5 or 6 books available (which was Scott’s average, by the way, and he was doing short books.) Again, you can have 9 books published in just two months. Instant legitimacy, with less competition. Setting the first ebook as perma-free is an even better option. Plus, you can give it away from your site (and also from your box set look-inside) to get their email address. You aren’t giving away your first 80,000-word book (which freaks most beginning authors out) but only 1/8th of your total work. (One tip here is to tell them in the first line of each single book’s description that a box set is also available.) Shaw talks quite a bit about Kindle Unlimited here, but I still hold that you’re throwing away income if you’re not offering your works for sale everywhere possible (see Addendum.) The places you should publish in my opinion are Amazon, Itunes, and Lulu (both as an aggregator and hardcopy publisher.) This gives you the minimal interfaces to deal with. Hook, Line, Sinker and the Lead Magnet This is a tip Shaw gives which I’ve seen nowhere else: Inside your first book, it says: “Get the next book in this series!” and has a link which goes to a landing page opt-in. When they sign up, they go to a thank you page, which lists all the rest of the books in that series, as well as your other series – and they can buy each of the books through that page, directly from Amazon. That “thank you page” also has the free samples linked. To my mind, this would be where you also give a link to sell a bundle for each ebook. It would include the PDF, epub, and mobi files as a download from your own site. (Shaw does give a way you can help them side-load it with their Kindle email link. This builds relationship.) Now, note that you will be building your ARC (Advance Review Copy) subscribers with your email. This segments part of them into a special list so you can sent preview copies in exchange for a review on Amazon. This is the key way to make “bestsellers” on Amazon. I did find a slightly better take on this from Mark Dawson, who has: a) Tell your ARC about the release date. b) Tell the rest of your list the day after, letting them know the price is going up. c) Tell your entire list the day the price is going up. d) Then (my addition) post to your blog/podcast with the release data and use IFTTT to syndicate it everywhere. e) You’d then run Facebook ads about the book, particularly if it were a boxed set, where the increased book income would pay for those ads. ($4.99 or so.) What that does, per Dawson, is to give you immediate reviews and sales, then gets continuing sales afterwards, as Amazon will promote books which are new and continuing to sell well. Additional Short Read Marketing Tactics Shaw comes up with some marvelous tactics with short reads, which are just as applicable to bigger books, but not as quickly or easily done. 1) Collaborations with pen names This tactic can be used for testing other genres, but is also essentially brand-extension. Your first pen name is known for a certain sub-genre, then you write a book in a related sub-genre adding a co-author that is actually just another pen name. It’s not hard to see the cross-selling aspects of this. You can now can have several authors with their own list segment, for each sub-genre you want to write in. Shaw explains this in more detail in his course. Your emails then come from an embracive source (like your publishing house or an “imprint” of it) which then lists the books by each author for each sub-genre. Each author could have their own special offer going. As you segment off your hotter audience (more opens, clickthroughs) then you can give them polls, in order to narrow down what they like most and so create a better experience for them. 2) Collaborations with other (real) authors If you have a box set with books by several of your pen names, you can then offer other authors in those sub-genres a chance to get into that box set. Since you have several “authors” already, it’s a no-brainer. And that new author then emails his list about that box set. This is an old standby of affiliate marketing. It builds both your lists. 3) Cloning For fiction short reads this is a viable option. Taking your book outline (Shaw has a course on this as well on Udemy) you then get some ghostwriters to produce another book with the same basic plot. You then publish this under that pen name. Similar cover, similar title, cloned. It works because people want more of what they love. 4) Reverse Launch You can also release the box set first, and then offer them your first book in that series as a sample – and put that in your “Look Inside”. Then you can go ahead and release the other books on a schedule, getting people to opt-in to your list to get the “early bird discount” as each new single is released. Non-Fiction and Public Domain Publishing Amazon is seeming to do all they can to discourage any more PD from showing up there. I got reminded this last week as I had a special report (quick read) that wound up in their very slow PD queue because of its title alone. My other books were getting approved in about 12 hours, so having to spend 5 days getting a book out of that queue back into draft was really annoying. So I will definitely avoid this route just because it slows the speed of publishing. This also points out that they are primarily working with a database of titles (and maybe authors) as opposed to any search of submitted content (which might occur later, once it gets kicked into human hands, but that’s doubtful.) Another cross-over point is improving your writing. Writing a good non-fiction book has a great deal to do with how they write good fiction. Mainly things like having a good hook, and using emotional descriptions. Plus, fiction is more profitable in general than non-fiction. People like to be entertained and to escape. If you can bring these same writing styles into non-fiction, then you have a popular hit. All short-reads do is to make your books more consumable, which is the same point of learning fiction-writing techniques. The benefit of this strategy is to enable you to get more leverage out of the same amount of content that you’re going to create anyway. Pen names to fill space in a magazine is nothing new. Prolific authors have often resorted to these for any number of reasons. Being able to cross-connect these authors and their readers gives you new opportunities for income. I just wanted to tell you all about these, as this is a breakthrough down this line of short reads. And authors with existing books – depending on how they are written – can break up their books into a serial format and do this same thing. The first short-read excerpt becomes a sample, then release the other chapters along this same line. Gladwell’s Tipping Point could have been released like this, if that were a publishing option at the time. Remember, it has to read like a serial to be successful along this line. Leveraging Your Resources Further, I still recommend coming out with both paperback and hardback editions to get the most out of your title. And don’t forget your audio book. Some tips came to light this last Christmas season. It turns out that Amazon will stop ordering books for certain titles if they come from Lulu or other publishers, but not their own CreateSpace (CS). You can see how this makes sense from a shipping point, but you’ll also see that you just lost sales for the couple of weeks just before Chrismas. That means all the last-minute shoppers can’t get your books if you don’t publish to CS. CS doesn’t do hardbacks. Period. They do a lot of different cut sizes in paperback that Lulu doesn’t, however. So you can make a pocketbook paperback version on CS, and a trade paperback version on Lulu, as well as a trade hardback version (both casewrap and dust-jacketed.) Note, Amazon will show your CS version on the front page, and your Lulu version will have to be searched for. Having your expanded reach on Lulu gets your book into the other distributors with higher royalties and no Amazon stigma attached. The general theory is this: You have titles which are selling as ebooks and long enough to make at least a 32-page book in print, or about 8,000 words.) Paperback version on CS, just to Amazon. Paperback version from Lulu with their expanded reach. – Casewrap hardback from Lulu with expanded reach. “Deluxe” dust jacketed version at a much higher price. Work your books backwards in order of sales so that improved title sales pays for the proofing costs of the hardcopies. Editing itself can give you an audio book. You have four drafts of your book. First is your rough draft. Second is cleaning up your errors and inserting links, plus general formatting. Third is reading the book out-loud and correcting anything you find. At this point, you record everything you read out loud, with attention to reading the final version into your recording. You then send off that 3rd draft to a proofer. Meanwhile, you edit your recording into shape as an audio book (or as a podcast.) For instance. this podcast transcript is now over 4000 words in print. So it would qualify as a 30 minute quick read, but isn’t big enough to print by itself. (I could add material to the end pulled from my other books, and also put in ads to buy my other books on Amazon.) So we will probably use this as a test of this whole publishing scene While your recording can become your audio book, it’s also a podcast. Including that link into your ebook then gives you added value. I also include the link into the PDF version at the bottom as a footer. So when you submit the PDF to make your hardcopy version, they can always type that link into their browser and get the podcast. Of course, that sends them to your podcast where they get your ads, and another way to get them into your membership/mailing list. Quick Reads Other Than Amazon Of course this strategy works everywhere else, too. Your ebook are the same. You don’t have the “Look Inside” but all the ebook distributors enable previews – just make sure the PDF you upload has links to where you want readers to go. I’m also a fan of uploading the entire PDF, as it builds trust and encourages them to get a version they can read more easily on their smart phone. (But I do format my PDFs for 6″x9″ as these are more readable on smaller screens.) Podcasts and Keeping Updated One final thought is to tell you to follow my Authorpreneur Flipboard magazine to keep up with all that I’m finding daily on book publishing and content creation. I may work this up into publishing this as a weekly digest at some point, but don’t know when. Let me know by return email or comment on this episode if you think that’s something you could use. This podcast was started as another self-publishing test, and it’s succeeded far beyond what I expected. However, I have no need to simply work at finding more stuff to talk about just to have a podcast. I do like to share breakthroughs. But at this point, I’ve covered the bulk of the basics and have no reason to do like Steve Scott and others who are now trying to profit off selling courses to their list. This is mainly as that market is so saturated, it’s not funny. The ebook market is, frankly, glutted. The how-to books market for new authors is worse. Amazon is more the new-author graveyard than ever before. Most of this is because authors are following the followers rather than reaching for the top 5%. That’s where the real creative energy is. Market leaders are constantly creating. And that’s what makes them leaders. Everyone who tries to just copy what someone else is doing is just another also-ran. Scott was onto something with his short reads. But he’s another follower, even though well-paid. Essentially, he’s always been an affiliate marketer. And that’s always a follow-the-follower scene. It shows in his latest course in how to write and market books. Any breakthrough in leveraging Amazon is in finding what are still niche areas, such as short-reads. Amazon is a complete pain to work with, as they nickel-and-dime your royalty income every chance they get. But they can be leveraged and they can be used to build your own list. You do need your own site, and you should be able to sell your own books from your own site. I should finally have my own ecommerce site up later this month. You already see my membership site is up as a bare-bones operation, but I’m adding content to this each week. And my email lists are slowly building as I go. Here’s the minimum basics in sequence for a successful author, outside of their ability to write: 1) an autoresponder service 2) a domain of your own 3) a membership on that domain 4) your own hosted bookstore Everything else is getting your books also offered by the main distributors so you can use those distributors to build your email subscriber lists. If you don’t have these four points above in, then you are just asking to be booted off Amazon at some point and left with no income, nothing. The secret to profits from Amazon is to leverage their ebook sales into hardcopy sales, which are not subject to their money-grubbing policies on royalties. The real market for fiction and non-fiction, especially PD and PLR books, is in POD versions, not ebooks. And those few comments above sum up my entire accumulated wisdom on selling books profitably. The rest is technical how-to which can be dug up just about anywhere (although the books I’ve already published in this area have been described as a Gold Mine with all those technical nuggets you can find inside.) My earlier books were to help anyone start with just the computer and Internet connection they already have, plus a common sense approach mostly lacking in the bulk of the other books in this area. But I have no reason to revisit my own books. This scene is constantly shifting and evolving. I’d be forever just keeping these updated. I’m not going to promise you that my podcast will continue. If I don’t find anything really interesting, or a breakthrough, then it’s just another day in the life. Frankly, these two Shaw courses on Udemy have inspired a completely new approach for me – but there’s no reason to repeat what he’s already written, other than this review. I’m also studying Mark Dawson’s course on Facebook advertising, but this is a back-up to having a lot of books out there already. Your sequence would be to study the two Shaw courses and then Dawson’s free videos (until his pricey FB ad course opens up once again.) If you only have a couple of nickels to invest, then get my cheaper ebooks and work on building your backlist. Once the money starts dribbling in, then invest in the above – AFTER you have your own list, domain, membership, and ecommerce set up (which can be built with just Blogger, PayPal, and MailChimp – all free to start with.) Again, before you start publishing your books (you should always be writing, every single day) get your basics in above. Then expand your training with Shaw and Dawson. If you go back through my blog posts, I’ve given you other downloads to study through. All free. Your main focus is to thoroughly study and test everything for yourself, then throw away everything that doesn’t work for you. Especially what I’ve told you. No prophet is sacrosanct, regardless of how many followers they have or how much money they make. Your life is your own. Live it to the fullest you can. Enjoy every moment. Listen only to those who have escaped that bucket of crabs where everyone else lives. While I’m way behind and underneath my production goals these days, I still work to see how I can help you with whatever you need. Your input helps and inspires me. Email me directly or leave a comment. And, thanks for being there. – – – – Reminder: The paperback has additional addendums and materials to help you publish your short reads. Check it out on Amazon And the portable ebook version is also available on Amazon or – – – – – Resources and Links Geoff Shaw’s Udemy Courses How to Succeed with Kindle Short Reads Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction and Write Best Selling Books Mark Dawson’s Facebook Advertising Course Robert C. Worstell’s related books Just Publish! Ebook Creation for Indie Authors J’APE: Just Another Publicity Excuse (free) Publish. Profit. Independence. Authorpreneur Flipboard Magazine Selling Your Books Online – blog and podcast http://selfpublishebook.midwestjournalpress.com/ Live Sensical Podcasts https://livesensical.com/podcast – – – – Would you like related books in this series? Free ebooks (as well as links to paid versions) available in the no-charge membership. Join Today – Instant Access! The post How to Write Less and Profit More: A Rich Adventure In Short Read Kindle Publishing appeared first on Living Sensical.
15 minutes | Aug 19, 2018
The Beginner’s Book Launch – How to Survive and Prosper
The Beginner’s Book Launch – How to Survive and Prosper It’s time I collated all the material on book launches to sort out how to do this and give myself a plan I can follow. The biggest problem with book launches is that they are either undocumented at the beginning stages, or don’t really tell what they did. There’s this gap between a person who starts writing books, and suddenly there’s a person with several books who has a huge list and can use that list to launch every new book to a big success. So I went back over all the material I’ve collected over the years having anything to do with launches. Most of it sucked, as usual. Either it wasn’t real, or it was incomplete like above. Some was a mix – they filled in what they didn’t know with conjecture. Like mortar used between bricks shouldn’t be used to fill in the spot where a brick should be. If you already have a list Good for you. In that case: 1) Find which ones want to be your reviewers. Segment these out and send them proofed copies of your book before you publish for their honest review and comments. Adjust the book based on what they tell you – or not. Part of the deal is that they should give your book honest reviews when it comes out. 2) Set your book up for pre-sales on Amazon (and everywhere else that enables this) and hit the podcast circuit to tell them about it. 3) When the book goes live, tell your list. Price it at .99 for the first five days or a week. 4) When you’re price is ready to go up to normal, you then remind your list again. 5) Once your price is where you want it, then you get back to finishing off your next book. That is the normal launch for an established author. It primes the pump for Amazon and if it’s successful enough, they’ll start promoting your book for you. Mark Dawson and other authors will also run Facebook Ads to also accelerate the process, but Dawson usually only runs these on higher-priced sets where the sales income will pay for the ad costs. (Take his course if you can. Save everything to your hard drive so you can review it as much as you want.) What most authors without a list do: 1) Publish the book at full price. 2) Hope. 3) Start writing their next one. What most authors do to get a list: Blog when they should be writing. (Of course you can also just convert your blog into a book afterwards.) The bribes and “content upgrades” you offer can be used as incentives for people to join your list. Eventually (years later) you have a decent sized list – providing you’ve then started relationships with them, such as maintaining a regular newsletter and also weeding out those who never open emails after that first one. The next thing they do is to guest blog, which gets their content in front of other audiences, so they’ll join yours. Once you have a list, then you can do the first approach, which is most common. Some will do the second and get some books out there, and then move to the first approach when they have enough of a list to make a difference. Research shows a third route. I did find that in general, the most routinely successful “launchers” used Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, or something derived from it. Of interest to us is his “seed” launch, where you don’t really have a product to start with. By including your audience into your launch, you can then build your product as the audience goes through it. Another datum showed up over and over that you really only want to publish once you have at least three books ready to go. (More on this point below.) As well, you want to include your audience in writing your books – which is nearly impossible without having an audience in the form of a list. Recent research on courses shows that this is the most likely candidate to be successful in list building, especially for non-fiction authors. Why ? 1) Walker’s “seed” launches have a record of building lists full of people who buy things. 2) You get instant reviews from everyone who participates. 3) Buyers tend to work to get their “money’s worth” and so will remain involved. 4) Courses pitch your books, and allow you to revise your books as well. 5) Courses help solve list building, relationship building, and income building. 6) People will buy an expensive course when they won’t buy a cheap ebook. What I’m saying here is that doing a launch of a course plus your books looks to be the best way an unknown author can get started. What makes up a seed launch: step by step There are some steps which are common to all marketing which have to be included. Walker covers these slightly, but they are basic enough to be mentioned. I. Pre-pre-launch 1. Who is your buyer? You want to know about your ideal customer. This is an avatar, a fleshed-out concept. When you write, when you market, you do it all to one person. Just as when you are on a podcast – the best ones you listen to seem like they are talking directly to you. The best books you read are written just for you. 2. What problem are you solving for your buyer? This is obviously pointed toward non-fiction authors. (Fiction authors have the problems of plot, character, and genre.) Of course, you can study the forums to find these. While this is pushed by these “overnight success from Kindle” scam-authors, it’s a true datum. You will also find out what kind of terms they are using. It’s important to talk to them in the language they use. Just search for “[problem area] + forum” You pick the problem area by something that interests you which you have had to find answers for or can’t find answers for. (Like how this podcast was started.) 3. Find your own voice. Most people have been trained from birth to lie to themselves and everyone around them. They have never been taught to simply appreciate who they are and what they can contribute to this world. Those that have usually don’t talk about the experience of making the shift from trying to please everyone to just having and following a basic purpose or goal. When you talk about people like Edison, Ford, Franklin, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Elon Musk, Bill Gates – these people succeeded in spite of everyone around them. That’s usually attribted to being simply brilliant and genius and all that. Actually, it’s because they were almost brutally honest with themselves. I prefer to study successful people who studied successful people and distill what they did and how they act into a short list of common principles. Joe Pulizzi did this recently with his book “Content Inc.” In that book, he lists 6 principles that all the successful businesses he studied used to get that way. One of these was what he called “Content Tilt.” Every successful individual and business used what they knew and what they were interested in order to narrow down to a niche they could succeed in. Pulizzi talks about a “Chicken Whisperer” who couldn’t find data on how to raise chickens in your back yard. When he visited forums, he found out a lot of people were out there just like him. So he used the answers he was finding and set up a site and products to help those people. And became an internationally known expert as a result (and also enjoyed nice profits.) You have to take what you already know how to do (make a list) and compare this to what you are fascinated by (make a second list). You’ll find crossovers here and the best combination will give you your particular voice. In this podcast, I give you suggestions on how you can make a living self-publishing. Each one is designed around the idea that you start from scratch with nothing but a computer and an Internet link. I also give it to you without fluff and sugar-coating. But that is my approach to this stuff. Writing is easy for me, so is researching. But marketing books has to be done, so I write about the problems I run into and the solutions I find. That’s my voice. What’s your voice? When you know who you are talking to, what they want to solve, and how you can talk to them about it, then you are ready to being to start. II. Pre-Launch The conventional prelaunch means getting enough people into the pilot so that you can get feedback. Walker’s first seed launch had 6 buying customers and he “comped” another 24 people into the course so that he had enough interested people to get it rolling. (He got those 6 people by speaking at a conference.) But he recommends getting at least that many people onto your list and into that launch. There’s a bunch of hooey that happens around here that says go out to social media and connect with people so they get interested in being an early adopter and reviewer for you. Even Jeff Walker says on one of his videos that it’s really dead-simple to get between 50 and 100 email subscribers by going out to social media. But he doesn’t tell you how. (Thanks, Jeff.) Another “authority” who sells courses on how to get thousands onto your list, at least tells you to use the old MLM trick of contacting 100 of your friends and asking them to join your list. The problem with this is that they aren’t really your audience. They are a start, and that’s it. It’s not certain that this will even prime your pump. Right now, the best course of action – although you probably don’t want to hear it – is to run Facebook Ads to get course buy-in. This is my route right now. This is a test of my own dogfood. This podcast is just saying that all these points have tended to show up at the same time and point in this direction. I’ve bought Mark Dawson’s FB ads course. And finished most of it. The rest now has a reason to get completed, as well as a prob
15 minutes | Aug 5, 2018
Beyond the eBook: More, Bigger Self-Publishing Profits
Missed Profits Following Conventional Wisdom Conventional Wisdom (which is usually 95% wrong) says you should be happy with your ebooks and how they are selling. The problem with that logic is that the biggest sellers aren’t doing that. The biggest sellers make more income from hardcopy sales than ebooks. Traditional publishers know this, even though they count on just a handful of authors to cover all their costs. The self-publisher can create their own publishing empire if they do two things: 1) Create a deep backbench of books. 2) Get their book in front of as many eyeballs as possible. The first is obvious. All the top-selling authors routinely bring out new titles and make sure their earlier titles continue to be available. The second means book discovery, sure. It also means having your titles in all possible formats – ebook, paperback, hardback, audio, even video. Because no two readers read the same way. No two readers prefer the same format. Most prefer combinations of these formats. Amazon knows this, and they bought Audible (audiobooks) and CreateSpace (paperbacks) to take advantage of that exact fact. My own research pointed this out over 6 months ago. I’ve published hundreds of books as tests (and gotten my financial freedom by doing this.) Of these roughly a quarter routinely sell as ebooks. I’ve got a much smaller set of these which have also been published as paperbacks (and even fewer as hardbacks.) When I crunched the numbers recently for 6 months worth of sales, it confirmed what I suspected: 12% of my books were producing 25% of my income. 92 of my ebooks were producing the income of 34 paperbacks. Meaning for all the work I put into ebooks, that if I would take the ebooks which were selling and turn them into paperbacks, I could possibly triple my income. Why are paperbacks more profitable than ebooks? You have to understand the elephant-in-the-room explanation first. The vast bulk of the press on self-publishing is devoted to becoming a successful ebook author. Let’s face it, there are some good reasons for this: They are easier to produce. They are fast to get published after the writing is done. 70% royalties are easy to understand. Paperback publishing has been hard for a number of reasons: It’s expensive to print books. Traditional publishers want only proven authors whose books will recoup the investment of big (or small) print runs. Every step of the distribution chain has to be paid, leaving little to pay authors. Hardback publishing is even more expensive and so, has less rewards. Traditional publishing used to have the model of building demand with the expensive hardbacks, then leveraging the profits by producing the lower-cost paperbacks and ebooks. Self-publishing, as I covered above, uses the reverse model for the same reasons. People who really like the ebook will want the paperback, and if they read it often enough, will want the more durable hardback. (Of course, you better be writing classics for this to take place…) My studies showed loopholes and potholes. I took a couple of days to digest Penguin’s 1700 classic books to get a set of books as a base. I wound up with about 80, quitting when I started running into their really long tail which never sell even one per day. I used CreateSpace’s royalty estimator to see if they could be self-published and be profitable. See: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content6 (The trick is to set the price a .01 and it will tell you the estimated costs to produce the book.) Then I published 8 books on CS to see what would happen. The first hidden factor I ran into what that there was a gap between what CS said it would cost and what they actually charge. Any book 108 pages or less is said to cost $2.15. It actually will wind up costing $3.59 Working with these, it wound up being exactly 1.67 difference between estimated and actual. The second hidden factor was to find that the price minus the actual cost, plus your royalty left a big amount of change on the table. In fact, Amazon only gives you 40% of that possible royalty. Just the way things are. Do these steps with a spreadsheet to do your number crunching: Take your page count. Find the estimated CS cost. Multiply times 1.67 Pick your royalty and divide by .4 Add that royalty to your actual costs and you’ll see the price you’ll need to charge. Run through a few scenarios and you may have some different ideas about what you can make off paperbacks. A nice introduction to this reality, perhaps. What you’ll find is that your costs will tend to raise dramatically according page count. What I found in these books is that they actually cease to become profitable for self-publishing much above 250 pages if you have to depend on the prices traditional publishing sets for those page-counts. This is because longer traditional press runs make bigger books more profitable, and there POD can’t compete. Smaller books have a bigger expense on binding per book, for instance. This is probably why any CS POD books at 108 pages or below cost “the same” in order to keep the business running profitably. What about Lulu POD? The biggest problem Lulu has is that they aren’t owned by Amazon. CS is internally integrated and so can produce more cheaply. Amazon can also change their prices more easily. Books that are over-priced or under-priced can be adjusted for the best income for Amazon. When Lulu prints a book, they have to mark it up by 50 – 55 percent in order to cover their distribution partners – who insist on being able to discount any book by 40%. Or that’s what I’ve been able to find out. When the price/cost of a book goes up $1, Lulu has to raise it by $1.50 or so in order to stay in the distribution game. (Lulu also has some fudge-factors in their pricing. I took 10 books I’d published as hardcopy there and ran them through a spreadsheet. Most of their added costs were explained as above, although there are some small factors – about 1.4% – that varied according to page count.) Lulu overall is higher quality than CS, but that doesn’t matter. On Amazon, a CS-published book (same author/title) will seem to get preference over a book published outside. Lulu is always higher priced, and has to be searched for in the “other formats and versions” link. During the last couple of weeks before Christmas, non-CS titles will become temporarily “out of stock” even though there are plenty on hand. The obvious explanation is that there are lags on getting it from the external publishers warehouses to Amazons, so their guaranteed delivery wouldn’t be possible. CS is completely integrated with distributed printing (that apparently matches the Amazon warehouse locations) so this isn’t a problem. Mostly, that depends on how many units are sold for any given title. Those which sell less than one a week might do fine with a single book on Amazon’s warehouse shelves. The trick is when you try to get a CS book into other independent bookstores. There are a significant percentage which won’t take a CS (read: Amazon) published book. You’ll get sales via Ingram of Lulu books where you won’t be able to get your CS version sold. Tim Ferriss ran into this when his CS-printed book wasn’t accepted by Barnes and Noble – so he marketed it via BitTorrent. Had he known the above, he could have had an easier time of it. Recommended distribution is then to publish on both at the same time. Use CS for only Amazon-internal editions. Use Lulu for all your “expanded reach” distribution. Of course, there are exceptions. And we all could use more studies than just what I found. These are rough workouts. There are far greater publishing wonks out there than I. This article simply gives you some tools to work more profitably with. Are there sweet spots? A key point to know is that there really isn’t competition. Amazon knows this with their “also-bought” recommendations. People who buy one book will probably buy more like it. You just must be more creative in your marketing than other authors in your genre. Be more creative in Covers Descriptions Audience Experience Never try to compete on price. Your titles aren’t commodities. They never have been, never will be. There is a very funny strategy you can try. I recommend publishing on Lulu in every format you can. That said, you also publish to Amazon with CS. So: set your Lulu book price at what the market will support. Then: increase your CS royalty so that price is close to your Lulu book. You’ll get higher royalties out of your CS version and benefit by the “competition” between them. There is an apparent sweet spot in page count. Because Lulu has to increase by $1.55 every time the costs go up a dollar, above a certain page-count that price becomes hard to support. I mentioned earlier how the longer print runs affect pricing. This seems to start kicking in at about a 250 page-count. CS books tend to return much less royalties for the same title-author combination. Lulu seems to cut out at under 200 pages. Lulu and CS compare best together at under 100 pages. If you take the standard of 250 words on a page, a 200-page book is about 50K words, a 100-page book about 25K words. A 100-page book is also in Kindle Short Reads category. This means that your investment with National Novel Writing Month would pay off if you completed one title, sent it to editing and then started in on your next novelette. Write five days a week, publish two. You’d end up with 10-12 books which would sit on the top end of Kindle “short reads” and also have profitable CS/Lulu paperbacks. What is a typical workflow to achieve Multiple Eyeballs? For publishing itself, you want t
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