Q&A w/ Hugh Howey

 

Sell Your First 1000 Books

 

Lesson Info

Q&A w/ Hugh Howey

We'll start with one by adam po he says hey you have a question it is commonly said on the self publishing forms to never comment slash rip apply to reviews especially on amazon are good reads but I know you always replied to reviews good and bad do you feel this has helped or has had no sway or I then as it hurt do you think I don't know it's a good question that's the common wisdom is don't interact with the reviews are for the reader and don't wrap it though I think um uh I don't know if I agree with all these rules I think if you do it in the right way um I like to respond to the the positive reviews and a lot of them are written as if I'm going to read them because I write on the back of my uh the back of the wool omnibus I say if you love this feel free to write a review, I read him all that people say dear author like why did why did you do this and why did you do that? So sometimes it's asking for a response? Uh, I've had uh I don't know the effect has been for my reputation of...

my sales, but the effect of may permit me personally has been incredible because I I've had interactions with readers who have lost family members and I've done block bush about this so you khun contract this down but I've dedicated books to people after hearing their story and we met through an amazon review and I just there's another way to interact with your readers I think you could do anything uh um correctly or incorrectly I've done a little of both and I've learned through that um I think some I think more people that I care about are the ones who are excited to have that interaction and it could be a handful of people who want to write a one star review and say things that are that are factually incorrect and not have you had the ability to respond they weren't you know shut you down and say look this is my forum for you know libeling you publically and you don't get to defend yourself and if you do you're breaking someone written code uh just I approach things logically and do the things that feel natural to me and usually that's to say thanks for the awesome review and I look if you hate the book I totally agree with you I hate the booth but but your reason for hating at based on this price point that was because of a a sale that was going on so the reason it was ninety nine cent that day and now you're seeing someone else got for ninety cents and by paying five ninety nine that's because of this and well, but there are some things like so I was driving home the other day and you know, somebody you know tagged me in a twitter post and because I really hate to say the word tweet so I say twitter post and I'm a grown man I should not say the word tweet on uh, great man wearing this pant forgot to change out of my tent is this morning and they were like, and tag me in this post on twitter, um, talking about, uh, I said I just gave it three stars review toe at tim girl book save your money, right? And so put it on twitter, tag me in it to make sure it would pop up like mom driving home and I go to amazon and it's this bad review, and I went over a few things with my wife that I wanted to reply with, and she, you know, calmly suggested that that would not be the best thing to do, so I just didn't reply because it, you know, nothing's going to come of me continuing a firefight, so I think you can do it calmly and rationally like you do, then you know, that's great if you can't, then you just let it go and I found in most cases, especially with people like that, you know the common wisdom is don't feed the trolls right? So if somebody is just being a jackass, just let him and move on, but I think especially for good reviews, though, you know, interacting could be a good thing I don't I've had a favorite review, not just a content to the review, but the way it all unfolded. It's uh, this user on good reads named cash I hope she can see this because it's become a community of people. In this review comment thread, she said she had a four star review she said she loved well but she's docking a star because the title is so stupid when is we'll have to do this book was like their sheep there's no it's, not about history, so people, we've we've all got to know each other and the comments and we laugh about this now like I feel like we're all friends someone's going to get married meeting in this comedy of this review, but people will come in a skip right to the end and say the same thing that's been said like ten paid there's like twenty pages of comments on this review and the coming ago is because of having the we'll put up the guys and we'll all laugh because we all get updates that someone's comment it's funny, I read the book and then like eight months later I got candace my wife to read it and she's reading it I'm like and she said something about the title I'm like yeah I'm doing tio why uh name that why it's not in the book at all and she's like yes it is and like explaining what makes sense I've got a lot of knitting groups who read it because they had serious like one of the last two months in san francisco's the weekend dust was coming out and this group is having a dust release party and I crashed and I just showed up yeah uh in my cover alls were all in costume and I was I had inside agent helping me coordinate this but, um the reason they found out about it was they were looking they're all chris shares they were looking for a book on one person is looking for a book on that like walk out of this and read a science fiction book and now turned all their friends onto it is a clever strategy on my part something you said yesterday although not necessarily relation to reviews is that you should never take anything personally I think that it's actually very good advice yeah typically when you're reading it's gonna bite you so yeah you're not gonna be oh in that case especially it's really hard so I just try to let it go hold on that one was a little tough so you have a question uh first of all thank you for your presentation it's amazing it's I'm learning so many new things but I have a specific question regarding something you mentioned in your presentation about when you're working on a book now so in the beginning the process is like you're writing it for yourself and then by the end of it you're thinking came writing it for everybody on the planet so maybe that's now but in the beginning like years and years ago when you began writing did you know that you wanted to be a new york times bestseller or were you writing for yourself and then and then my secondary question to that is not exactly motivation but what drives you to right at that point when you didn't know yet that you were going to be this maybe big author or yeah take answer part of that question part of I think being a reader I mean similar readers and dream of writing because it's you're partaking and it's like watching basketball makes you want to go out and shoot some hoops um and then you maybe while you're playing you think there's the championship and I'm on the line have to make two free throws to win it and that's just part of the dream no part of you know I actually put the work in to become an mba player it's just part of the uh the the fun the fantasy of it so when I started writing of course part of me was ill be great you know jump up and down on oprah's couch and be a new york times best seller but I was also realistic it was never gonna happen but so yeah I did it was something that occurred to me it just never occurred to me that you know uh it would come true um what I wrote my very first novel that was just to say I've written a novel it's something I've dreamed about for I spent twenty years starting novels and not finishing them so it's like climbing a mountain you know why I do it? I just wanted to say like look here's a book that I had written and I was um not going to try to get it published until I got feedback from really readers to stay motivated now well I've got people like flooding my inbox with demands for sequels and new siri's and why don't you write this and do that so is to keep the bricks from coming into my my living room like I have to right now but I still write because I enjoy it you know at the end I don't write as for everyone I publish it as if everyone's going to see it and I write as if it's just for me and for my wife and when I wrote my first book she would come home and read the handful of pages I wrote that day and say I'm a cause is awesome what happens next and I would say I have no idea what happens next the next day I would have tto create some more for her so that's the feedback loop um and that's that's the heart of why you do it maybe for that one read it even if it's just yourself wait we talked about amazon another site so jam is asking what about good reads how useful is it on how best to use it do you have anything to say on that are you start I love good reads I just saw the announcement that the new kendall is going tohave could be integrated into it so that you can see people's feedback and comment and it creates a social network just for readers um I think the review system there is um much more honest because uh you as a reviewer your average rating that you give to books is broadcast which you know what I what I review books on amazon um I if I hate a book I don't review it all uh if I am like a book it's going to get like a four star rating if I love a book it's gonna get five stars so if you were to look at the average start that I give on amazon it would be a pilot four point eight or or something really closely on the end of one spectrum on good reads if you were to see that that should the average oh that you give a book no one's gonna take your view seriously they can say what you love everything so there's an onus there to write one star reviews for books that you didn't like it couldn't finish to give three stars for average books it makes and it makes uh there's a feedback mechanism there that makes you reviews mohr honest so I take the community and the feedback on good reads very seriously well and it's um it's mostly pretty hard core readers that are part of good resi give you you know um casually read a book here and there you're probably not going to spend a lot of time hanging out on good reads, you know? So and from a nonfiction standpoint, I don't see a cz much movement around nonfiction books as I do it fiction but there's a lot of movement, especially around genre fiction on good read so I think it could be a good thing. And um and again you've got to remember though I have seen that where um so it's kind of like this idea of like, you know, I'll go to a movie and love it and I look in all the movie critics hated right? And really that comes from the fact that it's, like they've seen too many movies, right? You know, they watch so many movies, something's got to stand out something's gotta really kind of put out there on dh be a reason for them to say it was good when somebody like me, that watch is a handful of movies I'm like, I don't know there's a lot of shooting, you know, there's a car chases it was good. Um, I find that the difference between, like, the interaction on amazon interaction on good reads, you really I have people that read a lot of books that are interacting a lot of good reid so it is more of a critical environment, which can be good and bad, but just understanding that from the beginning eyes good and I've seen you know, some alters can do, they'll do like giveaways of their book too good read readers to get that moving and again, be careful about that because I've seen nonfiction authors do it, and it just doesn't do much for them because it's not really the audience. So just like anything else, it can be good and there's a lot of very hard core readers on there that read a lot of books, I think it's, a site that's more useful to readers than it is to authors, but um, I'm glad I have a presence on and I think it's good to be available I ve been invited in some good beads groups you can create like reading a discussion groups and they've, uh, chosen wool to be their discussion book for a month and they'll have me come in and interact with people. Um you could get in trouble for going in there trying to sell your book, and I don't think that word anything that works in any venue but to make yourself available so that people can send you messages and invite you in um to discussions is useful. Do you have days when your muse has gone out to have a drink with your motivation? Writing is just not happening love the way she's phrases do you end up feeling guilty or upset for not writing and start questioning? If you really are a writer or do you just raise the shop class to your muse and say not today? Yeah, of course you have those days, but those were the days and our right anyway, and if maybe I'll end up deleting everything that I write in the final draft but the key to being a writers to write when you don't feel like it it's so easy to only right when you feel like it in those days are as numerous as you would like them to be so it helped me that before I read my first book, I was writing book reviews for a website that's now no longer around but I would, uh, read and review books every single day and I would write do interviews and I had to content every single day and that got me in the habit of writing, uh as a profession, you know, taking it seriously, and I think if you feel like you don't want to write, write stuff that you hate for ten minutes and you might start writing something that will survive the revision process. But, you know, I tried to do my word count every day, whether I don't want to or not and if I can't write in that story, all right, you know what is inspiring right now might be another story or might be alright oblong post or write a guest block post or there's always something you can do? Yeah, I think creating, you know, creating even when you don't feel like it has to be part of the process um, you know that that advice is out there so many times from so many different writers and were loud laughing last night one of my clients, he said writers are good at three things they're good at not writing, complaining about not writing and then self loathing about not writing and and you know, you know, and it depends on what kind of writing you're doing, you know, I know a lot of, um, you know, depending on how, how you ride and when you write in that kind of thing and how often you're wanting to come out with books, you know, it's going to give and take, but if you need to write, you've got a right and you've got, you know, the the rules to me or, like, you've got to set it, you've got to set aside it's in your calendar it's something that, you know, somebody needs to be bleeding in order for you to not show up on right and then get the word countdown and, you know, my book ended it just like, twenty eight thousand words, and I think I wrote almost fifty thousand for it, and there is, you know, I threw away and was half of it by the end, but, you know, you have to just you have to do the writing anyway from someone with a just absolutely fantastic name, which is tawdry hepburn nine so tawdry hepburn romance novel should, uh, these have all been great ideas for how to connect, we were talking earlier about how to connect with people and how teo do that outreach. Have all been great ideas for how to connect with people that can help you, but most of the ideas have been for people who have how to, or nonfiction type subjects, which makes it easier to tell someone how your book will help help them. So what sort of tips do you guys have for connecting with people when your book is a story just to purely entertain? Well, I'm the wrong person ask cause I d'oh d'oh, horrible job of telling anyone about my book or why they should read it. Or why it's any good? I I think you're the most control you have over that is to write a story that's going to get the the reader to the end of the story so they can finish it and then there's something about the story that makes him tell two or three other people about it. That's that's the best outreach you could do is the author. Yeah, and I think you think of everything that you do as a story. You know, one of the things we talked about yesterday is treated like an adventure, an adventure we're sharing, and that goes for any kind of writer, and so I think, you know, one of the things that you do really well, um is not just invite people into the stories that you've written you've invited people into your story as a writer, right? So we know when great things have happened we know when you've had a hard time, you know, you know, we're following the story of hugh howey along with your medicine stories that you're actually writing cell and so I think, you know, having that thing of, um giving people ways to interact with the story with you and interact with the stories you write them too, you know, we talked about yesterday, you know, the biggest fear that every author should have his obscurity, right? It shouldn't be somebody stealing your work, it should be somebody, um, you know, ripping you off for something like that. It should be the fact that, like every authors is drowning in obscurity and so that's what you should be fighting, so use your stories that you're writing to break out of obscurity by giving them away by sharing them in different places, and if they're good, they'll spread you can also you can involve the readers in the writing process on dh even randomhouse uk. When we did the release overseas, they did a contest for the taglines, you know, on the cover of the book and I've put up multiple cover our ideas and lead the reader's votes on which one they like better and even if it's only five people paying attention to you and only family family members, you know, you're helping involve them in the process of creating the book so that they're aware of the book, and I don't know, I think, isn't that the kind of things you could do with fiction, like, just tell my invite people the story, yeah, of the story and think about, like, any time you spend time on something, you know, you're putting a little bit of yourself into that, even if it's just clicking a vote but not a website, you could have just completely ignored it or not come to the web site in the first place, so any time you can invite somebody into the creative process, is there going to be emotionally attached in some way to that final product? You know, I mentioned yesterday patty die, who brings artwork that people submit on their website and actually that's the artwork that fills the book and, you know, think about if you are an artist, you submitted your artwork and that's now part of a published book, that's on bookshelves. How many people do you think you'll tell about that book? Right? You'll tell everybody about that book, and I think that's the kind of thing, too, that what you're talking about, shawn it's much smaller scale than that, but having that kind of inviting people in having them be part of the story creates that emotional connection that you know will last a long time in the last pass just this one thing that they did and there were a ton of people that did ask the question what's your workout what's your daily workout didn't count two thousand words and just so they know he's written a ton about his writing process on his blawg so if you go in search through his blawg um pretty much any advice he would give anyway he's written um I would say I don't think you keep any of the real secret stuff back to you no no okay, alicia one secret that's going to make him think everyone wildly successful that's right he's not talking yeah mark, go ahead. So back to marketing you are those your approach to marketing? I know you don't call it marketing, but what was the difference between your approach when you were doing this part time and then when you were doing it full time because obviously time changes when you get a full time. But was there a difference in how you approached your way to communicate to your readers as you became a full time, huh? Author it's stayed the same I, um, still interact in the same social networks now just got introduced teo instagram and my wife got me pent arrest and so there are a couple things had been added, but they would have been added anyway, it's just because the volume on the scene yeah it's the volume and also doing things like this, I'm going to conferences and you know my gratitude to all along has been to say yes to everything on dh there was a time where I could say yes to everything because I had the time to invest in it all the first like huge fan letter I got for a book called halfway home um I wrote back along the response in their email on then they wrote back like a shorter response then there first for their first e mail to me alright back like an even longer when I realised I'm like stalking them so desperate to have like, you know, affair well, yeah it's somewhat a reader, someone who read you're working and joint and this was a really moving I let my wife read that first email were like buster there bawling because it the issues discussed in the book affected them and and had something to say about it moved them because of what they've gone through their life and so when I realized you know, back then I had the time to do that and now my emails have got a lot shorter so that's changed but my attitude throughout the whole thing has just been to say yes to any opportunity and to engage people and one of whatever way possible you know it came up briefly a little bit ago but I do want to ask um you know, I could go to your website and buy the books the file straight off trom free so there's no digital rights management nothing to keep me from sending it out to twenty people and you also kind of have an ambivalent attitude towards people that pirate the books too. So could you just talk a little bit about um how you feel about that how do you feel about the fact that like I can I might not shouldn't say this but I'm going to I can like google your books and find where I can pirate them and just download them for free um like does that bother you? How do you deal with that? What what what are your concerns and what do you know kind of? What is your overall stance towards that as far as how fits into overall sales of your books, what bothers me is I remember searching the torrent sites on dh googling you know, like my book names dot movie dottie pub and nothing coming up and realizing no one was parting my books they didn't even think it was worth stealing yeah that's ah you know they weren't available anywhere and that that was a bad feeling their first yeah yes um and I get emails from people like hey, you're book is being shared here and you consumed them that this takedown notice and I just never bothered with it I, um growing up I loved used bookstores if we were on a road trip and there's a used book store like I made my mom pullover and my brother and sister have to wait while I went and like pawed through the books to find a book and I realized leader as an author that the publisher, the author they're all left out of that transaction they don't get any royalty for buying a used book, but is it hurting them? Absolutely not like I'm going to read their book and if I enjoy it, I'm gonna tell the people about it and share it. You just said that obscurity is the worst thing that can happen to you. I I think someone taking the time to whether or not they download the book is completely from matter if they'll put the energy and actually reading it that's a huge success for me I've gotten someone to read my book it's the hardest thing for a reader to do so I don't know how you khun I feel like they're doing me a favour to spread the worked around that having to exert any energy there's people out there like spreading my booked as many people as possible uh ninety percent of the people maybe hire who steal it won't even read it that's just the collecting uh mania that happens I think with piracy but for the people who do you know I have people e mail me like I really enjoyed your book how can I contribute so I put up button on my website like you've already read it no problem and then scott little you know jolly roger and cooking bonding takes you to paypal you can send me fifty cents if you want for what we know whatever you think it's worth and I dare him is the same thing uh I think that annoys the legitimate user and it doesn't deter slow down the illegitimate user at all so why add it? I didn't block post recently about how the focus should be on the reader and I use ah line from the ninety two presidential campaign about it's the economy stupid original is the economy stupid but people of change into it's the economy stupid I think all these publishing decisions come down too it's the reader stupid like what is best for them what's going toe improve there reading experience what's going to make it easier for them to get the material to enjoy it to share it you have that attitude everything else shorts itself out that's one of the things that I kind of get frustrated with when so many of the conversations break away from that and they're about like you know, how do we keep this the status quo and how do we keep this and how do we protect this and how do we make sure that these people that have been doing this for twenty years don't get upset and you know there's this great story clay shirky tells um about scribes and how they were so upset about the printing press that they wrote this book about how bad the printing press was but then it was so urgent they get the word out they had to run it on a printing press teo get to get the book out because it took too long describe it and you know again they were forgetting you know, the point of their job was to get to put words out into the world when they became better way to do that yeah and and I think that any time you know you look into history and anybody that thought technology and what how technology was making people's lives better they lost miserably and usually quickly and so I never want to be on that side of the fight I always want to be in the sight and the point is we want to connect with readers we want him reading our stuff and we should constantly look for ways to make that easier, not make it harder, right? Asking about the large publishing houses they're asking hugh directly, but I think you could answer this, too. Has your approach to marketing change now that you're working with the mainstream publisher, one of craig's biggest challenges as an author with houses like harpercollins, simon schuster, etcetera, is that they can't control the price point will give away free content. Yeah, that's been a huge challenge. I've tried to do everything the same, but there has been, uh, some road blocks or not, you know, we wanted, uh, a short piece anthologized, and it was great for everybody to be in this really impressive anthology would've been great for the publisher, for me and for the worked for readers, but the, uh, some lawyers were involved, he just couldn't imagine giving something away and how that could possibly be good for anybody. And so they gummed up and made such a a nightmare that we finally had to walk away from and lost an opportunity to get the book in front of people. I would have paid money to have the book anthologized, and they were trying to figure out how we maximize the money we get for this incredible opportunity, so you have to deal with some very you know laser like you know they're so used to doing things a certain way and they're you know neil game and uh was my hero for seeing that offering things for free could increase sales and get your work out to more people so I think it's hard to work outside the box when you're with the major publishing house they have rules and they see you as a competitor to the other materials lowering the price well we don't want to harm our new release which is at a higher price point by lowering the price on backless stop I don't want to give anything away because it's taking away money from another one of our authors this things get very tricky um another thing I was shocked with a major publishing house is they didn't want me to respond to every single media request they wanted to vet them and go through them so they can offer exclusive stories to some people and I just don't see the value in that because the more you get it's bitch better have your story in twenty small places than one big place in my experience and so I learned really quickly not to tell my publicist anything like people are responding to directly just do the interview say yes because if I send it to them they would they would almost always muck it up and I would never hear back and lose an opportunity for us so there are some things where, you know, I just have to tow say, look, this is who I am and how I want to operate and publishers know that going in and most of them appreciate it because they know you're getting some one is hardworking who has a good platform who engages with their readers and often times they know how to help you and howto augment things and give you some training and sometimes they know they just need to get out of the way I think two things I've worked with um at least a division of every one of the major publishers um and including the amazon publishing and there's a couple of things I've learned that process to first of all going to with your eyes open don't ever sign anything if you don't really know what it says um have a if I recommend anybody that's going with the traditional publisher of a book agent because I've seen, um I've seen authors basically take whatever was put in front of them because they were so excited and they're afraid they you know, if they've got agent involved it would muck things up and they ended up signing away lots and lots of rights one went off there right before, you know, leading up to the book coming out they said, okay, we want to do I want to create on on their own dime they want to pay to create a video siri's around it in a series of like pdf surround it in this kind of thing and the publisher was like that's fantastic, you should do that just know we're gonna own it when it's done because when you signed it, you signed, you know, everything that has to do with this book, they don't, and they didn't know that going into it, so just go into it with your eyes open, and I do agree to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Um, I have lots of stories I can't tell because it's proprietary information where we wanted to do something, we had opportunity set up, and we just got cut off at the knees when we brought the publisher into the process because of all of these things there's there's a lot of inertia going in and there's a lot of really good people working for publishers that individual people I work with her fantastic people, but the system's pretty broken right now, and it can be hard to do some interesting things like, you know, this kind of stuff that he's talking about, so if you are, you know, working with the traditional publisher and you have some ideas about what you want to do and you're going to try some outside of the box things just doing and um and most of the time they will never even know that you did them and if it ends up selling books they're just be happy but you know it and it comes back to like um if you're going to do something that is like on the edge of what their legal department would appreciate and um and you tell somebody the publisher there now responsible for that if everything blows up they're going to be like well, who knew about this and they will know about it and somebody's getting fired because the legal team's pissed and so if you just do something and don't ask permission then it's like okay, I'm sorry and it's like nobody has to like put their job in jeopardy to tell you you're allowed to do it so those are the two lessons I've learned is go into it with your eyes open make sure you get a lawyer or a good agent toe look at everything that you sign and then once you're once you're working on stuff if you're going to try some stuff that is like new r that kind of stuff just just do it and ask for forgiveness instead of permission people in trouble I mean the reason I kept my digital rights and made that such a huge part of our negotiations so we did a on ly deal with simon schuster that I don't know had been done with big six publisher before and my primary reason, it's focusing on the reader and the price point, and knowing that I would not be able to give away the book or keep it a soon as I signed a regular deal, the price would go up two or three times, and I would kill my sales, and I was terrified of that much rather make less money per book and have a broader reach. And so those are the things you have to be aware of going in, like and miss people going into a deal, maybe don't already have the book published, it doesn't apply to them, but for me, I was having success, you know, going a certain way, and I don't want to change that just know what you're getting into, you know, and do your homework. Yeah, a lot of time, you know, we have these blind spots, and I've seen a lot of people kind of have these blind spots when it comes to publishing is they think, well, this system is set up a certain way, so I'm just going to step into the system and do my thing, and they don't realize that they can, they can control some of that, and they can negotiate, and they can have some control over what's going on, and you know it's important to ask those questions and if asking a few questions and bringing a third party and to make sure you're not getting screwed scares them away you're better off but in most cases that's not going to scare people off and you don't mean that you're working with usaid work um yeah so steve did you have a question okay uh along those same lines okay writer so is giving free books part of the marketing strategy then I mean doesn't help drive sales to people still buy when it's no longer free and in fact I will you know I'll come right out and ask tim they're giving away your book today and yesterday it is available for free on amazon right now would like way to us and actually right after the last session right before lunch I checked and I've actually now given away more copies and I sold which is exactly what I wanted um here is so I had said I've sold about twenty five hundred copies and when um and said the fact that I've now given away twenty five hundred copies means five thousand people have my book that didn't have it before and a huge majority of those people don't know me didn't know who I was before this this you know I've been the guy behind the scenes for years now and this is me trying to break out of my own obscurity right? So um so I am much more interested in somebody if they download my book for free and read it that's only good for me they're going to tell other people they're going to leave reviews please leave reviews only five star reviews on and don't tweet out your bad reviews just that hurts my feelings and uh yeah I don't tag me and this this is for you but you know they'll leave reviews they're going they're going to contact me they're going to sign up for my email list um you know, that's only going to be good for me and sure, you know, you know, we did this with an author one time one of my self published clients in we gave away in like forty eight hours like over ten thousand copies of the book and he was mortified he's like because he's counting the money they lost all lost yeah, but it's not you know, like, you know, these people are getting the book that may have hesitated, you know, because there was money even ninety nine cents, you know? Well, severely cut I mean, people interact with it and so you know, it depends on your game, you know? You just released it dust you didn't release it for free because you have a platform you know, people are willing to pay for you don't need that breaking out of obscurity that authors that are just getting started too, so I'm willing to give away content for free because I know if if that's going to grow my email lists right that's giving content out into the world that's doing it through a platform that I don't have access to without a book I can't get to amazon people without a book um and all of that's going to be good because I'm in it for the long game, not the short game if I so maybe I lose, you know, a few hundred dollars that I might have made in sales over these next two days I'm going to get that back in spades down the road from those people that are reading the book and spreading it and this experiment's been done. Neil gaiman mentioned earlier he convinced his publisher two he had american gods, which wasn't his best seller and he said let's, just make it free on a website and then like how much of it is I know the whole thing let's make the whole thing for your website, his publisher that is on his mind, but he had the leverage to insist and he got a thirty day window ok, we'll do this for one month and they're thinking of all the money they're gonna lose so sales of the physical edition of american gods went up three hundred percent and during that month and he was like, this is incredible like we're going to keep this free writing like no, we're doing this for thirty days we get rid of this and so they took it off free the sales went back to where they were so it's we've had we had controlled experiments and other people a lot of self published authors uh used kenny p select as an opportunity to do that's what if I won't give away? Yeah and it's not as powerful kdp select it's um kendall direct publishing yeah it's kind of amazons wayto published director kendall and it is not as powerful as it used to be, but he used to be where those free days got you all these extra downloads and when I went back on sale you're visibility was much higher and you would see ah bump in sales afterwards you see a bump in review so often you know, bad reviews, but it would still you're getting some feedback and you're getting people to read your work so it's it's a powerful tool from people as bigas neil all the way down to people like me starting out because even is biggest neil or as biggest hugh howey like how many books have you sold like overall now about a million okay, so million books that means out of seven billion people on this planet you're still got some work to do to get your name yeah, I mean and that's true I mean, if we went back to all the people in our lives and said, you know who hugh how he is they say yeah and so it's like, wait, no don't read well, that's true too, if you already have got a small segment of the population you go after, so I mean so hugh, even with his success, is still fighting obscurity and that's neil what's the name you never heard a neil gaiman I've read his books. Yeah, okay, I couldn't remember the game, so that was the point right there was he was he ready player one or reading me hey did sandman comics and then I don't know I haven't aligned he's getting the american gods incredible. Yeah, well, you know, I keep seeing the reviews on and I keep but it's like that's a whole nother way went back and forth over books last night if we don't get started, but you know, so even these people that are that are successful, they're still fighting obscurity to so doing some things to get their name out there to people that, you know have hesitated on picking up the book, but well, I'll give it a try because it's free you know, and writing is a way of guaranteeing obscurity, I mean, you'll have best friends and relatives like de friend you on facebook as soon as they realize you're here writing a book, and you know what? They want to see the post ticket to get wayto lose friends and the u k doing a book tour, and I went into a bookstore with my mother and said, I just want to see if my books here, she said, you couldn't book out seriously let's, just talk about some guidelines here about pricing is livia's asked a question, saying, how do you figure out what your pricing structure should be for your debut genre? Fiction? She's also asking is dusty freestyle work? We've already discussed that that is true, but how do you work out a pricing structure for self publishing? I don't know if you have any answers, because I I wrestle with this with my own stuff. I the good thing is that it's fluid, no decision you make is permanent and you can experiment. I had like the wool on the best, I think was like three, ninety nine, and I had e mails from people saying, look, almost didn't take a chance on this, despite the reviews, because it's so cheap you need toe charge more, so I would put it for ninety nine and sweet for people to complain that was too expensive and I would get more email saying hey it's too cheap and now it's five ninety nine and don't get hate mail about how my work is too cheap so I've stopped and I it's experimentation is definitely a fluid thing um you know one thing to keep in mind when you're self publishing is when your self publishing through kindle if you price it um below two ninety nine you only make thirty five percent royalties if you price it between two ninety nine and nine ninety ninety makes seventy percent so that goes that plays into it too high priced mine at three ninety nine and here is the science behind it. Okay, I heard from a friend that that was the price that was selling the best right now that's what that, uh smash words mark coker did a survey and I was the number that that ended up being like the golden pressure point you know, my my thing is is I want a price it I was tryingto honestly walk the line between um I wanted prices low because I know I can sell more books at low prices and I can't hide books high prices so I wonder prices low enough we're like it was a no brainer for people but not so low that it hurt my pride yeah, and so, you know, like, you know, so there's an emotional thing in there too, but again for me, I got that question a lot is like three, ninety nine, you know, it should be more expensive than this and I'm like, yeah, but by three copies yeah, you really feel like it? Um, yeah, but for three, ninety nine, I knew there's gonna be a lot of people that are gonna buy that wouldn't bite at a higher price, and I'm more interested in getting my work out there right now and look a look a the ap market on smartphones and, you know, look at angry birds for ninety nine cents how many copies that sold do that? Does that devalue, you know, video games, there's programmers lino like, crying about their work, being sold so inexpensively? I don't think so they're excited that they can have such huge market penetration by making it something that if you if you buy a book and ninety nine cents and you only read two chapters and realize you don't like it, it's much different experience, then if you paid twenty five bucks for a new hardback eso at this price is I know people who instead of using the free sample feature on the's distribution networks, they just buy like ten books because it's and then they're they're gonna like one of them and they're going on vacation and they load up on ten books and I think publishers sell publishers in traditional publishers don't yet appreciate the value of selling books and no one will ever read um because it's trying to reassure the market where you know, I download apse that I end up on using twice and I don't feel buyer's remorse wasn't paid ninety nine cents for yeah it's like buying a coffee near last all they there's not roasted right well thought out and you don't and it's like a couple of bucks and that's the same for a book so I think when you prices low enough that it's an impulse decision you also remove some psychological barriers for new readers you know um I want to move into something um real quick here and I just want to do it for a little bit um you know, a lot of times I do coaching with clients and we kind of walked through like what they're doing wrong what they could be doing differently some new ideas for things we have time for that with me home way doing a photo session of everything I'm doing wrong way started to have this discussion earlier about we start to have this discussion earlier about uh what uh what he could be doing different right? And so even you know, the top authors in the world are constantly looking for ways to do things different, and so what I want to do is save some of this stuff, um, that I was going to tell him and do it here, so you can kind of see the process. I take people through the thought process I go through, and also kind of the pushback sometimes that I get from clients argue with me, and so and I also wanted to just point out all the things he was doing wrong live on creative lives, everybody could see it now, but he's, doing a lot of fantastic things, a lot of a lot of things were a lot of things I wish a lot of my authors would do, but I just want to open up a conversation with him and tried teo as much as possible do here in front of you guys, what I would do if I was on the phone with him, you know, talking about it. And so some of the things we've talked about, our using your email lists, right? So when we set up the website, we made the email list a lot more focus and scrounge a lot since then on dh, then the other day, you're in their deleting stuff, what we're trying to work on it, and so but we want to use it better so what do you thinking as faras like how we could use your email is better because you've only emailed it like one it's um since we started growing it right for the dust release yeah part of it and you've spoken the last session about the importance of inviting people in and I'm really not good at that I've I know I don't like spam and so I don't want to contribute to it and it sze taking me a while to get over the fact that the people who are following my newsletter want to hear from me and so I need to be more proactive about not worrying that they feel spammed and and provide new content for so that's something I should be um sending out a newsletter once a month like I gets from authors and I follow and not worry about how do you feel when you get those those e mails from authors that followed? I love them and I get to see like where they're touring and I'm having to realize that there are people out there who actually want to hear from me and that's difficult yeah comprehend well and that's what I try to think through is like their um I actually get frustrated when like I'm looking on amazon and I'm like, look up author I like and he's had a new book before month you know, and that's actually, if anybody amazon is listening, I would love that feature where I could say, tell me when this author has a new book come out so I could just get even, by the way. Um, so you've got to remember that your fans, the people that are interested in what you do feel that same way when they when they hear from you in that when you're using something like a blawg, it's more of a pull technology, you're you're relying on them to show up at your website over and over and pay attention to what you're doing. And the whole reason having email list is you're putting your email right where they're going to show up, and so, yeah, you know, what would you think if you did send out an e mail once a month? What do you think? You put it? Well, it would be nice to know I would do crazy stuff like since sample chapter's, whatever I'm writing at the time I've done that on my block and it's been popular, but if you don't like you're saying, if you don't visit often off those things get pushed down and you don't realize it, show them. Petrol cover are theirs I would love to get permission from like the comic book guys because I'm getting pages now the upcoming comic they're not supposed to show anyone and I would love to say like, hey, can I share this with my newsletter people knowing that it's going to go everywhere but gets a hand on it um but uh you know, I could do videos the same stuff I do in my blood but to make sure that people are checking it weekly get the content and that's one thing you could do if you're looking at ok I'm blowing on a regular blake basis, you know, at least once a week usually a few times a week um and if I'm sending out an email once a month really all you've got to do it's not even that much extra work you could just go back and say, well, what's the best stuff the most popular stuff my blawg and then push that out to everybody on the newsletter yeah, let him know one of things I love from authors is knowing where they're going uh b for live events you know, I've heard from people like when you're gonna be in san antonio was like last week um and so you feel like you mission opportunity there, so yeah, so that would be one thing you're asking about your asking something about facebook earlier about having too many people oh yeah I'm gonna hit the limit what you have to switch over to a fan page but I don't want to do because I I feel like it limits the level of interaction where other people can post and reply and have a dialogue so yeah that's gonna be a fun challenge I guessed overcome yeah it's a it's a hard challenge with facebook because what he's talking about is your personal profile you can only have five thousand friends right? And it's always funny one pam slim everyone so I'll go and she has four thousand nine hundred ninety nine and like she made somebody mad on uh but you know, we made room for someone like you someone she kick somebody out um and so and so with fan pages really, you know they want from what I can tell facebook wants you doing the type stuff you're doing with your friend paige actually over on a fan page and there's some downsides to that. So what what do you know is different about this? I don't know the things I've heard of that you know they're limited on what they can post on your wall it's toe so that you could control the content, but I don't know if they've changed the permission structure to open that up more on dh how the the conversations can be threatened I believe where people can uh, replied to each other I think it just for me it de personalizes hey, I don't want it to be, uh, like, like me and follow this I want to be you and I are friends, we're on equal footing. Yeah, and I think that when you make the fan page, you'll lose some of that. Yeah, and that's that's really the hard thing and really there's no good answer to that, um, is that once you hit that five thousand mark, you've got to either just say, hey, I'm sorry I'm done, and they did add that feature where people can subscribe so people can click subscribe and they're not your friend, but they're keeping up with all your updates and so that's one option and there's really no good options that's one option we could get a myspace way talked about my space a little bit and, you know, that's one option and another is the fan pays. The other thing is is from what I can tell and from what I've read is fan pages don't have they're not as likely to get in people's new speeds as friend updates on dso that's another downside and so you know, one suggestion is to just go through and, like unfriend all the ugly people and just leave them out that way. You have room for, um I'm glad you guys caught that was a joke. It was horrible and I don't have any ugly thing. So that's true history. So really, I don't all from the crowd e I think there's really no good option. So I think the biggest thing is just if people want to ask him to subscribe and you'll try to pay attention to them as much as you possibly can. But there isn't a good option and that's, a lot of what we talked about yesterday is that's one of the downsides of building your platform on somebody else's plan exactly because they could they could if they wanted to, they could change it and say, okay, now you can only have twenty, five hundred, then what you gonna do? And you mean facebook could change their analyses? I can't no, yeah, on a day to day basis. And so what I recommend in those cases, too, is to let anybody know that the best way to stay in contact with you is to watch your belong and sign up for your email list, and especially if you're sending out stuff on a regular basis from the email list be like, I'm so sorry. Uh, you can subscribe, but really, the best way to know what I'm doing is to sign up for my email list anyway, and you're much more likely to stay in touch with them because if it goes long enough on facebook where they haven't interacted with anything you've done, it'll drop out of their newsfeed will notice ian anyway, even though your friend id them well, thanks, coach, I'll do better next time. Yeah, yeah, so, um, but back to the email list, I really want to do this so that you have to stick with it now because you're saying in front of people, uh, no, I think that would be good to send out something at least once a month. Um, so let people know what's going on, I think you'll get really good feedback from, especially if you're doing these things where you're sharing some stuff that you can't, you know, share publicly on your blood, but it feels more comfortable and kind of this back channel of an email list, and you're going to make them feel more special. So I think it also builds that connection of like, as people sign up for the email list, it allows them tio build that connection with you and as they start getting this cool stuff that they haven't seen on your blog's yet you know, it'll give them that connection. That, um, that they're getting something special by being connected like that. And you'll see them stay connected long term. Take action on everything that you do. And then when you have another book come out, they're much more likely to get it and share it and everything. I hate even sending that e mail out. But, yeah, you got some work to do on me.

Class Description


Self-publishing has turned authors and photographers into business owners. In this new era of publishing, you are your own startup and your book is your product. In this workshop, self-published author and book marketing expert Tim Grahl will teach you how to help your book find its audience.

Book sales depend not only on the quality of your work, but also on the strength of your marketing. You will learn how to develop a strategic outreach plan to engage your current audience and introduce yourself to the right new communities. Tim will also show you how to develop a reliable email list, use content to drive sales, and negotiate with publishers.

Whether you’re publishing a novel or a coffee table book of lush images, Tim will give you the marketing playbook your talent deserves.

Reviews

Sonja Dewing
 

Loved it! A lot of great tips on what needs to be on your author page, even some helpful plugins for WordPress! Love the extras. Well worth it.