Expert Interview: Easy Marketing for Self-Publishers
Welcome back to How to Write and Publish your eBook. This our final guest expert interview and, guys, this is gonna be a real treat because not only do we have a published author coming up, we actually have the founder of Self-PublishingSchool.com, which I think is pretty rad. I mean, if anyone knows anything about marketing your books, it's the founder of Self-PublishingSchool.com and so that guy is Chandler Bolt. We're going to talk to him about marketing, making sure we're getting as many readers for this great work that we're creating as possible. So let's go ahead and bring up Chandler and find out about some book marketing. There he is, hey, Chandler!
Hey, how are you doing?
Good, I'm great, how are you?
Awesome, I'm really good.
Cool, thank you so much for taking time for this. Because I know you're gonna have lots of really great nuggets for us about book marketing. So, first, can you tell us, I'd kinda like to start with the negative side of book marketing so can you t...
ell us some really common mistakes that you see new authors make in terms of marketing their books?
Yeah, well, there's tons of them because, I don't know, at least we found that most people they either fall in one of two camps, right? They either love writing and they hate the marketing part or they hate writing and then they love the marketing part, or maybe I got that, I'm getting a little bit of echo in my audio so it's throwing me off just a little bit. But, so, most people fall in one of two camps, right? So either they like one or the other so first off, they're scared. So they're scared to even tell people that they're writing their book and that they're doing their book and so one of the biggest mistakes I can see people make is that they don't, they go into a cave when they're writing their book and then they come out a week before it comes out and they're like, "Hey, guys, book's coming out next week. "Buy it, review it, do this, do that." You know, like they just ask, ask, ask, ask, right? And they're just beating you over the head with their book and it's just a week outside of release so the first mistake is that they don't prep soon enough and they don't kind of seed it. They don't let people know that it's coming and they don't kind of people a behind the scenes look that it's coming out and then I think the second mistake that I see a lot of people make is they have a crappy cover. You know, as they say like your self published book shouldn't look self published, right? And I see so many people, they spend so much time making their book good and then they spend five seconds and 50 bucks, or five seconds and five bucks on Fiverr for their cover and it looks like the cover was designed in Microsoft Paint and, I mean, it just looks horrible, right? It's like a rocket ship with money signs like flying off of it and it's like, this was literally designed on Microsoft Paint on Windows like '98 or something, right? It just looks really bad (chuckles) and so like people judge a book by its cover and they wanna see a good looking cover so those are a couple of mistake I see people make.
Awesome, alright, so I'm sure there's lots of best practices that you could share with marketing for us but I'm really interested in some of the unusual techniques or surprising things that you've personally seen that work to get books sold.
Cool, so, a couple things and I guess this will maybe be a little bit more philosophical as opposed to we can go tactical as well but there's a couple things that I like. One is the building buzz like I talked about. And, so, just making people feel like they're a part of the book and this is like, it doesn't, most people would say, "Well, that's not marketing," but it's like, so when you start writing a book, you let people know, you post it on social media, you have people vote on your book covers, you have them vote on the title, take stupid pictures of yourself where you're like, you know, I would take like eating ice cream and I'm like writing my book and me and my co-author are writing our book and we're laughing and whatever. It's just like making people feel behind the scenes. It's kind of like un-marketing, right? It's making people feel like they have like the red carpet pass behind the scenes of your book being created so that the people who voted on your cover, people who gave you feedback, who helped you come up with a title, like all those people feel like their book's being launched not yours. So by the time it finally comes out, they're ready to support it and the second thing I'd say, and this is one of the biggest things and I forget, I know we got Stacey, Shannon, Lacey, Britt, I'm not sure, I'm like the uninvited guest, I've been chillin' for a few minutes, just kind of eavesdropping on your conversation and I forget who it was but one of you guys said 20 reviews on your book, so here's how you can guarantee you'll get 20 reviews on your book; So you form what I call a launch team and so basically this is, a launch team is just a fancy word for supporters of your book. So what you'll do you is need to do an application or you can just see if people are interested. I like doing an application because it's a little bit of a barrier to entry and it's more quality over quantity and it's people who are invested. So what you'll do is you'll say, "Hey, I'm accepting applications for my launch team. "You're gonna have to check out the book ahead of time, "leave a review on Amazon when it comes out, "and help me share the message for the book." And I'll like put out the expectations, it's gonna be those four to six weeks leading up to the book launch, the time expectation is like an hour or two a week, okay? That's the expectation, here's what you're gonna get. You're gonna get a free copy of the book ahead of time, you're gonna get to see the behind the scenes of a successful book launch, you're gonna surround yourself with like minded people, blah, blah, blah, right? All this cool stuff about being a part of this launch team and, "I'll put your name in the book, "I'll give you an acknowledgement in the book." And people love that, right, that's a huge deal. So we're giving them all this and so what happens is they're your launch team, okay? And I'll put them in a private Facebook group and that's how I manage the launch team. I'll release a video every single week and so it'll be like, "Hey, guys, this week I want you to reach out "to podcasters and bloggers, I've got a Microsoft," er, not Microsoft, I'm like stuck in Microsoft Paint, man. "I've got a Google doc and it's got like "a script you can use to "reach out to podcasters and whatever." And so it will say, "Hey, this guy Chandler Bolt is releasing this book." And so like they'll actually go out and get me on podcasts, they'll get me on blogs, they'll get me on all these things, right? And then the next week it might be, "Hey, this week you just need to read the book." Or, "This week share it with your friends on social media." Or, "This week the book's launching, leave a review," right? So you've got all this built in support and easily 20 reviews when the book comes out. And so that's just kind of a great way to really start with a solid push with your book.
That's fantastic, I'm so glad you talked about launch team and also there's all sorts of exploded brains over here because everyone's mind is blown by that idea. (laughing) So, guys, I wanna turn it over to you. What questions do you have for Chandler about marketing your books, I know you've got something here. Come on, no, Stacey.
Okay, hi, Chandler. So we're working on a compressed timeline that we're looking to write our books and launch them and get them out very, very quickly. So we can't do full on launches. What are the key pieces that we should do in a really short timeframe?
Yeah, if you do nothing else I would do the launch team. You can, although, so our whole process is similar to yours, I love tight timeframes, that's the only way I feel like anyone gets anything done. (Stacey laughing) And a book is, it's like this crazy intimidating thing, right? Everyone's like, "Oh, I need two years, "I need an agent, I need a publisher. "I need to lock myself in a cabin "for like a week and a half." And like it's just crazy, right? And so we go from blank page to published author in 90 days. That's like the timeframe that we teach and what I'll say is like if you do nothing else, do the launch team, make sure that you get a lot of reviews, make sure that you pick your keywords and your categories well, those matter, in terms of evergreen ranking on Amazon, and, yeah, the launch team is really like, I'll tell our students like, because everyone thinks they have to execute like a 10 out of 10 launch, right? And I'm like, "Hey, look, just follow the system "and if you hit like a five out of 10, "you're gonna be better than 99% of people, right?" And so the launch team is one of those things where it's like if you hit the launch team, you're gonna have so much more momentum than almost anyone else.
Okay, thank you.
That's a great plan, everyone's always a perfectionist when it comes to the launch, right? They get down on themselves and really you can do a very small part of it and have a very big impact. Britt?
Question, piggybacking on what Stacey said. Can you do more than one launch? I mean with this self publishing school, since we're on a short compressed launch for this first real launch of the book. Can we do that and then come back and do a longer one later, does that make sense?
Yes, it makes sense and you 100% can and sometimes we'll have people, they'll go for a relaunch of their book. Like if the book didn't go so well the first time. Like if they had no clue what they're doing like in terms of marketing and or if they had like a Microsoft Paint cover or whatever, (laughs) so sometimes people will relaunch. You can 100% do that, it's focusing effort in there. I thought you were gonna ask for a second if you could launch two books, which a lot of people like try to write two books at one time or launch two books at one time and I can tell you just do not do that. Like if any of you guys are thinking about doing two books at one time, because maybe you have multiple ideas, don't do that, it doesn't work. Everyone thinks it works for them and it's like, "Oh, no, that doesn't work for everyone else "but me, I'm used to multitasking, I got this." It's like, no, just focus on one. I can tell you you'll be way better off and then I actually wanna touch on something else for you too, Britt, because I know that you said local television was like a big goal for you.
You were mentioning that earlier. So easy, so easy, and I happen to be really, really passionate about this because I think this is like the most undertapped thing that people, it's like local PR, it's so easy. Like and no one does it because they're scared to do it. So I'll give you just a few tips here. So when I was in college I did an internship called Student Painters, if you've ever heard of that, it's like they teach you how to run a painting business and so if you've heard of College Pro, College Works, whatever, and so in marketing you have one to one marketing and then you have one to many, right? So in Student Painters we would knock on doors and we would cold call for leads, right? So that's one to one marketing. That's one person, me, knocking on one door, talking to one person, right? So I'm always looking as a marketer, how can I go one to many? So the best way to go one to many is PR, right? I talk to one reporter and then I get out to 30,000 people in a newspaper or on TV or on whatever. So within a short period of time I was able to get several newspaper articles, on TV, I got a proclamation from the mayor, like all this stuff, I'm just spending an hour a week. So I'm telling you if you devote like an hour a week, you can do really well and what you'll do, is you'll just have a simple little script and you'll reach out to the station, you'll say, "Hey, I really love this station, "I've been listening to it for awhile, "watching it for awhile, whatever, I've got this story," and you kinda have to have your hook, right? So, for me, it's like local college dropout runs seven figure business or, you know, like whatever your hook is, you have that, and they're always looking for feel good stories. So you say, "I think your readers, "or I think your viewers will really enjoy this story. "Here's what I think, what do you think? "Do you wanna chat about it?" And then my goal is to get them on the phone as fast as possible, so if I get any response, and if I get a phone number, I'm just calling them up, and even if they don't respond, then you can cold call the station and be like, "Hey, I'm just calling about the, "we were emailing back and forth, "or we were just emailing, or whatever." And so you're just calling them up and the key thing here is you only have to get one and then it's so easy, I'm sorry, I'm going long winded on this but I just get really fired up on this but it's so easy because once you get one, all you have to say is, "Oh, you may have seen this on ABC News "or you may have seen this." Because what's the last thing a reporter wants to do? Miss out on a hot story, right? So if other people are covering it, they think they're gonna miss out. So just a couple things for positioning, you wanna make it exciting, you wanna make it relevant, you wanna make it right now, like this is something that's happening right now that people are talking about and you don't wanna miss out on this. So kind of think about what your hook is and then my last tip is email every single person in the station. So if I'm emailing the weather guy, I'm emailing the sports guy, I'm emailing everyone and you might think, well they could never do a story on you. Right, what'll happen because they don't usually get pitched, is they'll send something back to me and they'll be like, "Hey, I'm not the right person for this "but I just forwarded it to the person who is." Or they'll CC them and bring them in on the email. So now what's happening, it's hitting their desk four or five times in one day and they're like, "Okay, this kid's serious, I'm gonna actually give him a shot."
That's great, thank you.
"I'm not gonna string him along."
Fantastic (laughs). We actually ended up talking a lot about local media as an option for marketing your book and all the things you can do with it. So I'm really, really glad you laid it all out because that was fantastic. Do we have one last question for Chandler? Shannon.
What's up, Chandler?
So your energy is totally contagious. So what do you tell either your students or the people that you work with when they start to get in that discouragement phase around I'm stuck, what do you do? How do you get them through it?
Oh, it's tough, so there's a lot of, and sorry, I'm a little ADD here, I'm gonna like backtrack one second and just say, Britt, the key is, (laughs) and I'm like beating the drum of PR but the key is follow-up, you're gonna get nos or no responses for like everyone, almost everyone, so like follow up every three days until they just tell you to stop. (Britt laughs) So I'll back up on that. But to answer your question, what to do when you get discouraged. So one the toughest parts is to actually finish the rough draft then I would say that's the toughest part but if you can get past that, then the actual toughest part is the first time you read it, right? And so there's this entrepreneurial dilemma, I'm gonna pull it up, I've got this screen shotted, it's on my background and it says, "This is the creative process, step one, "this is going to be awesome, step two, "this is hard, step three, this is terrible, "step four, I'm terrible, step five, hey, not bad, "step six, that was awesome," right? And everyone can relate to that because you go through that process so just know that there's gonna be times where it sucks but you're doing something worthwhile, like, and just the mere fact that you want to not do it or that you're discouraged is a sign that it's exactly what you should be doing, right? Because you can always tell when a writer has a book deadline because that's when they're most active on social media, right, that's when they're on Facebook, that's when they're on Twitter, or whatever, because they have to write, so what do they do? They're like, "Alright, anything but write. "Oh, man, I need to like clean off my desk, "I need to call that old friend "I haven't talked to in a couple years." It's like, yeah, it's gonna be tough but it's worthwhile and it'll be one of the most rewarding things that you've ever done in your life and I will say, I'll kind of wrap the answer with this, is if you focus solely on finishing your rough draft, like that's the only thing you should think about. So right now, I'm not sure exactly what step of the process you guys are in but if you haven't finished the rough draft, I tell our students, like, literally don't think about anything else. Don't think about marketing, don't think about your launch team, don't think about how you're gonna do any of that, don't think about your title, don't do anything. Like, that's another thing, don't start with your title because you'll end up writing your way to that title. Like the title is the last thing that I do. So a lot of people are like, "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. "I can't start writing yet, I've gotta have my title first. "As soon as I get that, I am set," right? It's like, what, no, you're never gonna come up with a title. Like, 'cause if you come up with a title, that means you actually have to write, you don't wanna write so like just get in there and write. Get the rough draft finished, and I've seen this play out time and time again, is once you get the rough draft finished, you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, right? You're like, "Whoa, this is actually possible "and I actually might finish that." So if you focus solely on the rough draft, I think that'll really help.
Fantastic, that is a great place to leave it. Chandler Bolt, tell us where we can find you online and where, I'm sure you've got like tons of resources that would be very helpful for our audience, so tell us where we can find that as well.
Sure thing, yeah, it's self dash publishing school dot com. That's kind of our hub, that's our blog, that's where we have all kinds of stuff and then we also have a pretty cool summit coming up, at the time of recording this interview. So it's self dash publishing school dot com forward slash summit. We've got like, gosh, Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Hyatt, like all these people talking about how to write, market, and publish your book so that's where we're hanging out.
Fantastic, Chandler, thank you so much. This has been absolutely incredible.
Thank you, Tara. See you guys.