The Everyday Author

For authors who can't quit their day jobs...yet

Category: Marketing (page 1 of 2)

Guest Post: 2018 Author Marketing Tactics (Facebook, AMS, email, etc.)


Note from D-Sidd: I stumbled across the post below from Matthew Kadish in the 20Booksto50K Facebook group. It’s PACKED with fantastic information that anyone can apply immediately to improve your 2018 author marketing. I wanted to make sure this great advice got out to a wider audience, so I messaged Matt and he was kind enough to let us run it here on Everyday Author. This is one you’ll want to bookmark!

2018 Author Marketing Tactics

Hi everyone. I know we recently had a lot of people post their end of the year income figures here and sometimes newbies can find those big numbers intimidating. After all, when you’re only making a couple bucks compared to other authors who make six-figures, it can make you envious and/or frustrated.

I make 5 figures a year off my books, which isn’t up there with the “big names” but I also only have like 6 books out which allow me to earn a full-time living. So if I had a catalog of 20+ books like most of these rich indy authors do, I’d probably be making a healthy 6 figure income as well.

The reason I’m able to make 5 figures a year off of only 5-6 books is due to my marketing efforts. Things like building an email list and driving converting traffic to my series’ Amazon pages are a big factor in having success with few novels. So if you’re an author who only has less than 3 books out, or are only making a few hundred bucks a month, then I guess this post is geared toward you.

Here are some of the marketing tips that served me best through 2017. I hope by sharing them I can help others get started in the new year on that path to making 5 figures or more off their writing.

#1. Always have a marketing plan. Too many authors just start throwing money at marketing but they don’t have any plan behind doing so. This is a great way to burn through cash and see little to no return. You always want to have some sort of strategy when spending cash for marketing purposes. It could be as simple as “make 10 sales a day” or “earn $10 a day in profit” or even “get below $0.10 clicks on my ad.” Whatever it is, you need to have a clear set of marketing goals before you start throwing money at something. When you know what you want to achieve, your marketing dollar goes way further.

#2. Allocate your marketing dollars wisely. 2017 was the year I completely gave up on Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) ads. I spent months testing the service, crafting all types of ads, and found the following to be true: AMS is too saturated. It’s too hard to scale. It’s too difficult to accurately track your ad spend and conversions. In short, I determined that AMS is a poor use of marketing dollars and a waste of my time. That’s not to say they can’t work, but I feel that money is better spent on a more robust ad platform such as Facebook. AMS is easy to do, which is why pretty much EVERY author uses it. Not every author uses Facebook, though, which makes Facebook way more responsive. Plus, their statistics are more recent and complete, so you know how best to adjust your campaigns and maximize your ad spend. If you’re doing AMS and it’s working for you, that’s great. But if you’re not doing any marketing, I’d recommend focusing on Facebook before you spend money on AMS.

#3. Focus on building your email list until you have more than 3 books out. Spending money promoting your books can be a losing endeavor until you have enough of a back catalog to pay for your advertising. If you only have 1-3 books out, I’d recommend your focus be on building an email list from your marketing efforts rather than getting sales. The reason for this is because an email list builds value over time and allows you to market to those people for free at any point in the future. In short, email lists make your marketing dollar go further. Once you have enough books published to make direct ad traffic profitable, only then would I recommend sending traffic directly to your Amazon page. You can build your list through mailing swaps with other authors, putting your opt-in information in the front and back matter of your books, and by sending ad traffic directly to a sign-up page (something which you can now create in Mailchimp so its super easy to do).

#4. Advertise globally. I think a lot of people get so focused on getting ad traffic from their own country that they forget there are lots more people in the world. I recently expanded my geo-targeting for my Facebook ads to group together the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (basically the English speaking countries) and found this dramatically increased my sales than targeting these countries separately. The reason for this is because I learned that all the customers in these countries tend to use the main site instead of their country-specific stores. So I can send all this traffic to the same destination URL in my ads, which greatly increases the audience size my ads can reach. And as a benefit, I get “run off” sales in the Canadian and Australian Amazon stores. I also break out the UK into its own individual campaign since UK customers tend to buy from the Amazon UK store. The UK is now my second largest source of sales.

#5. Publish across multiple formats. What I mean by this is don’t limit yourself JUST to digital ebooks. Take the time to also publish paperback versions of your work as well as audiobook versions. I don’t make a lot off my paperback sales, but I do pull in a couple hundred bucks a month from them for no extra work or expense. If you don’t have a lot of books published, take what you already have and multiply it to try and pull out more profit. This year I plan to focus on creating audiobooks and I’ll see how much that will pull in monthly (I know it’s a growing market). But since I already put in the effort to write the books, it doesn’t take that much more effort to convert them to other formats.

#6. Be an Amazon Associate. Sign up for Amazon’s affiliate program and use Amazon affiliate links in your ads. This helps to generate extra income off of ad clicks because you also get credit for all purchases one makes after clicking an ad. You won’t be able to retire off the money you make as an associate, but every little bit helps.

#7. Treat men readers and women readers differently. Believe it or not, men and women do not respond to the same marketing material in the same way. I found I was able to get much cheaper clicks and conversions when I broke the genders up into their own campaigns and tailored them to the specific genders. So if your marketing budget is $10 a day, serve up $5 to a “men only” campaign and $5 to a “women only” campaign, and make sure you optimize your ads for them accordingly instead of just serving a single ad to both sexes. You’ll be amazed when you see the different things men and women respond positively and negatively to.

#8. Split test all aspects of your ad at least once. Facebook now allows you to run split tests within its ad manager. This was a HUGE benefit for me in 2017 because it allowed me to optimize my FB ads like never before. Instead of getting between $0.30-$0.50 a click, I now average between $0.05-$0.08 a click, all because I took the time to test out all aspects of my ads. So you’ll want to split test: Ad image, ad text, headline, article text, and the call to action button at least once. This will give you the best possible converting ad to run. When you only have $5 or $10 a day to spend on advertising, you get WAY more bang for your marketing dollar when your ad costs $0.05 a click as opposed to $0.30.

#9. Use Facebook Ads to optimize your Amazon landing page. Though Amazon doesn’t give us conversion data, you can actually use Facebook Ads to optimize your book’s Amazon product page to try and get the conversion of your books higher. You can do this by split testing your book’s cover, headline, title, and blurb in a Facebook ad. You’ll be surprised to find how many more books you sell when you take the time to optimize your Amazon page. I tested out 5 different blurbs in a FB ad for the first book in my series, and used the one that performed best from my ad, and saw an instant increase in sales from doing so. The logic here is that if people like it in an ad, they’ll like it on your sales page. So if you’re having trouble making sales, try this method out and see if you can’t increase the response rate of your Amazon product page. (Note: This works for other storefronts too!)

#10. Be patient. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in finding the quickest way to make more sales or make more money. But when playing the marketing game, remember it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. If you have a monthly marketing budget, stick to that and don’t burn through it in the hopes that you’ll make money faster. After a book is completed, it’s available to be sold for all eternity. This means you have plenty of time to market it and try new things. The worst thing you can do is become impatient and burn through your budget by experimenting with stuff that isn’t guaranteed to work. If you do want to experiment, do so little by little. Over time, you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. When that happens, you’ll be able to focus more on what actually works and get more value from doing so.

#11. Don’t compete with other authors. I know it’s tempting to brag about rankings in the book lists, launch day income, or to talk about how you’re able to write 100,000 words a day and publish a billion books a year, etc. But remember – this is about YOUR success, not other people’s. Don’t get wrapped up in what someone else is doing, just focus on doing the best YOU can do. With me, I simply focused on optimizing my advertising campaigns and marketing funnels while continuing to write new books. I kept my head down and didn’t get wrapped up in competition or getting jealous/envious of other authors. Know that eventually, success will come if you continue to work at it. You don’t have to be making “Michael Anderle” money to be a successful author. Don’t get discouraged when you see other authors making more money or being more popular than you. In time, you can achieve that as well. Use other people’s success as inspiration to keep trying to succeed, rather than as a call to compete.

#12. Take the time to set up your marketing after you finish a new book. I know a ton of authors who could be making SO MUCH MORE money than they currently are if they just took a little bit of time to set up their marketing systems before they dive into writing another novel. I know the key to making six figures as an indy author is to publish more, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a week or two off of writing to focus on marketing. After all, marketing is what allows you to make huge profits! And once you get your marketing set up, it takes hardly any time to manage it. Because marketing is so important, you shouldn’t neglect it – especially if you dislike doing it or don’t understand how! It’s like the difference between being given a fish and learning to fish. Learning to fish will feed you the rest of your life as opposed to that one time you were given a fish. Learning to market will extend the life and profit value of each book you publish, so take the time to not only lean how to do it, but to set it up between writing new works and let it work for you.

As an extension of this tip, don’t simply hire someone to handle your marketing for you. Take the time to learn how to market on your own before you take such a step. The reason for this is that you need a frame of reference to judge whether or not the person you hire to market your work is actually doing their job correctly. All too often, hiring a “marketing manager” is a waste of money, because they will do the bare minimum and often do it incorrectly in exchange for their cut of the ad spend. Don’t fall for this trap! It’s always cheaper and more effective when you market your own work.

#13. Don’t spend money boosting Facebook posts unless you have a healthy Facebook Page following. I know some people confuse “Facebook Ads” with “Boosted Posts,” and they really are two different things. Unless you have an active Facebook page with a large and active following, boosting Facebook posts is a waste of money. Creating a Facebook Ad, however, allows you to target people who aren’t already aware of you, and funnel them toward a specific goal, like a newsletter opt in page or your Amazon product page. People who get frustrated with Facebook often tend to waste money on something like boosted posts and then complain “Facebook advertising didn’t work for me.” Don’t fall into this trap. Always remember to spend your marketing dollar wisely and learn the ad platform you use backwards-and-forwards.

#14. Don’t get wrapped up too heavily in social media. Though I enjoy social media a great deal and love interacting with fans and fellow authors, I’ve found that efforts to market through social media for free is way too time intensive to be worth the results. If you can afford to pay for advertising, do that instead. The time it takes to post to twitter and facebook regularly enough to gain a following isn’t worth it when you could be using that time and effort to write a new book. If you enjoy doing social media casually, by all means, do so. But for marketing purposes, it’s far more efficient and profitable to simply pay to do so. (The one exception to this may be Instagram, but I’ve yet to test it enough to be sure.)

#15. Be diligent in stopping what isn’t working. An easy trap to fall into when marketing is to spend money on things that don’t work and to keep spending money on such things. Always find ways to cut marketing costs if you can and be ruthless in judging what wasn’t working and STOP DOING IT. An example of this is I found that women under the age of 35 cost the most to target and made the least amount of sales. So I adjusted my ads to only target women age 35 and above, and instantly, my cost per click dropped and my sales increased just by optimizing my ad spend to focus on the demographic that actually converted. Another example of this was I was using Twitter ads to drive traffic to my series and was spending about $100 a month to do so. Not a whole lot of money, but I was getting zero sales and zero newsletter signups from it. So I stopped advertising there and used that $100 to increase my Facebook ad spend. It’s easy to get lazy and just ignore the different ways you can waste money while marketing. You gotta pay attention and be diligent about protecting your ad dollar.

#16. Email your mailing list regularly – at least one a month. I know many authors only email their lists about new releases, or don’t know what to send their list so they just let it sit dormant. But it’s SO IMPORTANT that your list hears from you on a regular basis. Not only does this help create a relationship between you and your subscribers, but it also increases the response rate and decreases the unsubscribe rate of your email lists. Most of my newsletters don’t even sell anything. I’ll just send out one a month telling my subscribers what I’m up to and encouraging them to interact with me through email or Facebook. It’s helped me to create a very responsive mailing list.

#17. Manage your email list. This is very important, especially if you’re spending money to build that list. By managing your list, I mean actively separate the people who open and read your emails from those who never open them. In Mailchimp I have a separate list for “responsives” and “unresponsives.” This is important because not only can I get better responses to new releases this way, but I can also save money in Mailchimp by deleting my unresponsives from my account (after backing them up on my hard drive, of course). I also use my unresponsive lists to create lookalike lists in Facebook to target ads to, so they’re not completely useless.

#18. Educate your readers on how to read your books! What I mean by this is that I’m all-in on Amazon, but I always get asked by people who use iBooks or Google Play or Kobo how they can read my books. So I added an automatic email to my newsletter sign-up that teaches them how to download the Kindle app to their preferred device and read my books on it. You’d be amazed how many Apple and Android users didn’t know about the Kindle app! They just used the default book store on their devices – iBooks and Google Play. But with just 1 automatic email, I’m able to get more sales by educating my potential readers on all the different ways to read my Amazon-only ebooks.

#19. If you don’t have the money to buy ads, put in the effort to market them for free. When I worked in Hollywood, I discovered the concept of the “Production Triangle.” This says that you can have something cheap, fast, or good, but you can only ever have just 2 of these things for any one project. That means if you want something fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If you want something good and fast, it won’t be cheap. And if you want something good and cheap, it won’t be fast. Well, if you don’t have money to market, you have to go with the “good and cheap” method, which means it won’t be fast. You’ll have to spend a lot of time and effort promoting your work on social media, finagling email swaps with other authors, doing guest blog posts, and any number of other free publicity methods. But you MUST set aside time to do so until you are making enough to afford to market your work.

Always reinvest your profits in yourself. Whatever money you make off your books, keep pumping it back into your marketing until such time as you have maximized your marketing spend without losing money. Don’t pocket cash you can use for marketing if you don’t have to. Think of it as investing in yourself. To do this, you have to be willing to forego short term profits to build your business, but don’t be afraid to do so. If you still have a day job, keep doing that job until such time as you’ve achieved marketing optimization and are making profits off your books. Authors who don’t invest in themselves and their work quickly get overwhelmed with the lack of progress and can give up. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t be afraid to spend any profits you make on growing your business.

Okay, wow, this is a long post! I could probably go on, but I’ve wasted enough of your time by now. I hope you guys got something out of this novel-length post. Happy new year, and here’s to a prosperous 2018 for everyone!

State of the Author 2017 (& lessons learned from four years as an author)

And we all thought 2016 was crazy, eh? Visiting the Everyday Author in preparation for the post I was surprised to find our last piece of content here was back in April. That’s a pretty good microcosm for how the year went: fast. (If you want to check out my 2018 Author Resolutions you can find them here)

I’ll go into more details later on but for now, just know we’ve got a full slate of new Everyday Author content on the way! And now that the Gryphon Riders Trilogy is out in the world, I’ll be wrapping up the Bestseller Quest series as well.

It’s been a whirlwind. Looking back, I’m still a little surprised at everything I was able to squeeze in. I find it hard to believe that it’s been just a year since Undaunted released the Lone Wolf Anthology and I sat down to finish up the outlines on the Gryphon Riders Trilogy. I’m immensely glad I did it but not sure I’d want to do it all over again (at least not right away).

2017 quick recap

I wrote last year about taking a break from crazy production schedules to hone in on some other areas. Well, 2017 was back to the old grindstone BUT with the added benefit of bringing everything I learned in 2016 to bear. I successfully wrote, revised and published all three books of the Gryphon Riders Trilogy and they were BY FAR my best launches to date. All three earned back their production costs AND — I haven’t drilled this down to the dollar yet but it’s looking pretty good — helped me cross the threshold overall into profit for the first time in my author career.

I learned I could accomplish more than I would have thought possible before (it didn’t kill me but it was definitely touch-and-go at times). This year wrung me dry and I’m still recovering. Maybe I pushed a little too hard but if you don’t test your limits, how do you ever improve?

2017 by the numbers

  • Estimated rough draft words written (books only): 215,000+
  • Estimated words published: 319,000
  • Estimated words revised: 225,000+
  • Books published: 4
    – Lone Wolf Anthology
    – Windsworn
    – Windswept
    – Windbreak
  • KU Pages Read: 892,794
  • Giveaways (free books downloaded): 10,000+
  • Books sold: 2,130+
  • Yearly earnings: $9,800+

What went well


I’m lumping a lot of things together in this section because my production model as a whole took a huge leap forward in 2017. Without the team I had, there’s no way the Gryphon Riders Trilogy would have been released (mostly) on schedule and the overall quality of the books would have suffered as well. My process is to write the rough draft and then usually take a breather by moving on to the next book. By the time I go back to do the second draft I’ve had a decent break to let things marinate. I do a second pass and then send the book along to my production team: 2-3 fellow authors who give it a read, fix basic typos and point out any areas or confusing parts. After their changes, the book goes to another reader for final proofing (who also has editing expertise and gives it a final polish. Once I deliver the book to the production team, it’s usually ready to publish within 10-14 days but we could get it down to a week if time got tight.


I was able to get through quite a few more books this year — audiobook, ebook and print. Having a book going in each format helped me read more and mix things up. I could listen to audio in the car, read ebooks on break at work or in small bites here and there and still sit down with a paperback in the evening to unwind. To tie in both this section and the one above about production, I highly recommend the book Creativity Inc. by Pixar Founder Ed Catmull.

What didn’t go well

Staying on track with revising

Pretty sure I’ve talked about how much I despise revising books. I think I’m better at knowing how to polish a book to reach its potential but I’m still not any faster at it. Luckily my production team (mentioned above) really helped carry me here as I only had to do one and a half passes for each Gryphon Riders book (a second draft and then final edits based on their feedback). Windswept had a few areas I had to rewrite but it still shouldn’t have taken me three months (August – October) to polish 60k words. I also got down to crunch time with Windswept and Windbreak which meant that the latter parts of each book were rushed to meet the deadlines.


It’s become a theme to talk about biting off more than I can chew every year in these posts. This year, however, I took a different (although doubtfully better) approach. Once I got in the zone writing and later revising Gryphon Riders, everything else pretty much fell by the wayside. The good news was I was able to really hone in on finishing the books and setting up successful launches,. The bad news was Book Review 22 and Everyday Author suffered from my lack of attention. Next year I

4 lessons learned from 4 years as an author

I originally called this section “lessons learned from four years in self-publishing” but then I realized that I really don’t consider myself a self-published author anymore. Although I’m still an indie, I’ve started thinking of myself more as just an author in general. Overall, I think this mindset has been adopted by many authors in the indie space. We’re evolving past “self-publishing” especially when you consider many of us have production teams (see above) and are collaborating more than ever to meet reader demand (see below in 2018 predictions).

1. If your book isn’t selling, the reason probably isn’t that complicated

Assuming this is a new-ish title, it really comes down to one of four things: your cover, your description, your other marketing efforts or your writing itself. If sales aren’t where you want them to be, take an objective approach (this is a lot harder than it sounds but you’ve got to take off the rose-colored glasses). Pick the one you think is the weakest. Maybe your cover doesn’t fit your genre or maybe it’s not up to professional standards. Maybe your description just isn’t converting readers. Maybe your book isn’t in the correct sub-genre or you could find a new category where the competition is easier. There’s also a chance you just need to level up your writing with more practice or by employing a trusted developmental editor. Or maybe you just need to give it another polish.

If you’re not sure where to start, try to figure out where you’re losing readers at. When you run a promotion or ad if you’re not getting downloads or purchases, check the front door: the cover, description and price. If people are downloading the book but not buying the next in the trilogy, or if they’re not leaving reviews or leaving poor reviews it might be a case of the wrong category or the writing itself.

It’s not easy to sell books but it is relatively simple when you break it down into these elements. If you’re looking to do a relaunch of an old title, I highly recommend Relaunch Your Novel, by Chris Fox (affiliate link).

2. There’s room for everyone

When you take a look at the fan bases and platforms of the uber-successful authors out there, it might feel like you’ll never get a piece of the pie. Here’s a secret: readers read. The ones Michael Anderle calls “whale readers” read a lot. Here’s another secret: readers read faster than writers write. If you’ve got an all-around quality book (remember, be objective and don’t kid yourself here) you can find an audience. When you check out the Top 100 books in your category, you’re not looking at the competition, you’re looking at your allies. Reach out to those authors. Ask how YOU can help THEM. See if they’re interested in a cross-promotion of some kind or just get to know them. What you might consider a competitor could, in fact, be the person who helps you take your author career to the next level. Avoid a scarcity mentality.

3. It can be done (be patient)

  • I published my first book and a short story in November 2013. It took me — I don’t even know for sure — eight years or something to write and a year to revise. I made $26.87 in the last two months of that year.
  • Year one: I spent most of 2014 writing the second book in the series and revising the first. I didn’t publish any new fiction. I made $33.95 that year.
  • Year two (2015): I published Return to Shadow (book two in my Teutevar Saga) as three books. Then I combined them into one later that year because sales sucked anyway. I made $60.46
  • Year three (2016): I published a prequel novella to Teutevar Saga, wrote a separate standalone book with another author and released an anthology. I made $105.24. I had listened to the podcasts. I’d been to the conferences. I read the books. I knew I had to change something or I was going to burn out and call it quits.
  • Year four (2017): I produced faster and released tighter, simpler stories (they were also my best-written work). I followed the rules of the indie author “elite” to prove once and for all if it was possible for some regular dude to find real success. As I reported earlier, I made over $9,800.


Am I quitting my day job and going full-time? No. But 10xing my income is a pretty awesome personal victory. Now I have the experience and a real foundation to build on. Better yet, I’m finally in the black overall for my author career, production costs and all. Going forward I’ll be able to use actual profits to expand into audio and higher quality covers.

Trust me, if I can do it, you can too. Just hang in there.

4. Pace yourself and stay focused

This goes hand in hand with being patient. It’s easy to look around at the lightning-fast pace some authors are cranking out books and feel overwhelmed/discouraged. On the flip side, it’s extremely hard to just do you and stay at your own pace. But that’s what it takes. Learn what you can from others but ignore their specific circumstances. You do you. If you’re serious about being an author, you’re in this for the long haul, not 2, 5 or even 10 years. You’ll accomplish more than you think if you put your head down and do the work. I’m always striving (and often failing) to find balance. You can’t go nonstop forever and the faster you’re going, the harder it’s going to be to recover when you hit that wall.

On the flip side, it’s hard to make meaningful progress when you don’t stay focused. Chasing new ideas is a major reason why I struggled so much in my first three years as an author. Here’s a short list of “side gigs” I dove into without thinking it through. Some are still going but many fell by the wayside. None have netted as much money as writing books

– Founded a publishing company which has now morphed in a production studio/author co-op but is still going
– Started this blog (Everyday Author). It fell by the wayside this year but I’m sticking with it.
– (Briefly) started a book recommendation site with a fellow author
– Launched a movie review blog with a friend (still going)
– Launched a t-shirt company with a couple other friends (sucked a bunch of time and never amount to much of anything)
– Found a publicity company for indie authors called Book Review 22 (the second best venture)

Too. Many. Directions. Most are way out in left field, too. The ones I’m sticking with (Undaunted Publishing, Everyday Author, Book Review 22 and Flick Hit), I’m doing so for very specific, strategic reasons. My writing projects are much more intentional now, too. Be patient and keep your eye on the real prize.

2018 predictions


Successful indie authors have always gone against the publishing norms but now companies like Sterling and Stone and Michael Anderle’s LMBPN Publishing are creating a whole new production model focused on collaboration. For the vast majority of authors, the only way to release multiple books per year, including a book every 3-5 weeks, is through collaboration. It’s the only sustainable way to keep up that insane pace. In 2018, I believe more and more authors will start coming together in these cooperatives and publishing groups to share a larger piece of the pie. But not just authors. Editors, proofreaders, cover designers and marketers will be integral parts of this collaborative movement as well. Forming a collaborative production team was a major reason for my success in 2017

Next big indie steps (film, tv & more)

It began with The Martian and snowballs every year. With so many entertainment outlets, more indies with established audiences will get deals to make movie and television adaptations of their works. Down the road, I can see this spilling into video games, virtual reality and… (cue mystical voice) beyond.

More authors leave Amazon’s exclusivity

Whether we’re talking about rank-stripping, smaller page-reads payouts or Amazon favoring their own books over others, more authors are going to get fed up of the might Zon and go wide. On the flip side, the authors who stay (and manage to avoid the numerous rapids in the world’s mightiest store/river) will continue to make more $$$ in the short term. Decisions, decisions…

Your First Six-Figure Launch review

Note: The Everyday Author team was not provided any compensation by the course owner for this review.

Are you ready to share your product, book, or idea with the world, but unsure of exactly how to do just that?

Nick Stephenson (known for the book Reader Magnets and the Your First 10k Readers program) outlines his method of launching your book or product in his course, “Your First Six-Figure Launch”. This detailed course breaks up your launch sequence into three simple phases: Pre-Launch, Launch, and Post Launch.

When thinking about launching your book, it’s common to solely focus on the Launch phase as this is where the majority of sales come from. However, many people forget the importance of the Pre-Launch and Post-Launch phases, which can more than double your sales, according to Stephenson.

Let’s take a look at each of these phases.


The Pre-Launch phase prepares people to buy your book. As 90% of customers are not ready to buy the moment you decide to launch, a sudden mass Facebook post that your “Techno-Thriller comes out TODAY!” will not entice as many to purchase your book as giving them a heads up before it launches.

This stage of the launch sequence is all about leading people up the mountain to get them from where they currently are (not ready to buy) to where you want them to be (ready to buy). Your audience should want to learn more about your book before you ever give them a price or information about where to buy.

Stephenson gives a few tips on how we can create interest among our audiences.

  • Identify your customer’s pain points. What is your product or book going to fix? Will it entertain, inspire, motivate? Why would people buy it?
  • Acknowledge your customer’s “as-is” state. What negative factors are they currently facing in their lives?
  • Demonstrate their “after” state by showing them it is possible to get away from their negative “as-is” state.
  • Show them how your book can fill their knowledge gap between where they currently are and where they want to be.
  • Share “The Hero’s Journey”. Tell your customers your story – how what they’re facing was a problem for you too, but how you overcame it.
  • Prime the sale. Don’t tell people specifically what your product is, but mention that there is going to be a product on the way that helped you (your story) and will help other people get from the before to the after.
  • Overcome objections before your customers know they have them.

All of the above information can be shared with your audience in a variety of ways: a series of blog posts, podcasts, video training (which can be super effective for non-fiction), Facebook ads or any other medium that resonates with your audience.

If done properly, the Pre-Launch phase can help you connect on an emotional level to your audience as you tell YOUR story. It also helps to prove your expertise, to teach your audience how to get from where they are now to where they want to be, and, ultimately, to prime the sale.


The next phase is your actual launch.

Stephenson describes two types of launches: the Private Launch and the JV Launch. The Private Launch is the best option for your first ever launch as it will only go to your email lists. On the other hand, the JV (or affiliate) Launch will put you in front of affiliate’s email lists. The JV Launch is reserved for after you have already proven that you have a winning formula or product that is perfect for your affiliate’s audience.

Regardless of which type of launch you use, it’s important to send out multiple messages during your launch so that your audience has ample opportunity to consume your pre-launch process and to get all of the information. Each message should be valuable, inspiring, and teach the reader something so they value receiving the messages rather than tire of them.

The Launch phase helps you get your audience to the top of the mountain (where you want them to be). This phase:

  • Outlines your promise of how your product will solve your audience’s problem.
  • Removes risk from purchases by offering money back guarantees and support systems such as forums or community groups.
  • Combats procrastination by noting “limited time availability”, bonuses, and discounts to show scarcity of the product during the launch and promote early sales.
  • Reveals the price after (and only after) your audience understands the value of the messages shared in the Pre-Launch phase.


The Post Launch phase is often forgotten after all of the hard work put into the Pre-Launch and Launch; however, your launch does not end with your launch deadline. After all, you do want to keep the new customers you worked so hard to get (as they are 10x more likely to purchase from you in the future) and continue to reach out to those who just weren’t ready to buy yet.

After the launch deadline, those who purchased your product enter a “buyer’s sequence” where you follow up with them, make sure they’re happy and ultimately can send information about future products.

Those who didn’t purchase your product enter an alternate sequence where they receive other content (articles, blog posts, etc.) to keep them engaged with you and your product. At a later date, you can invite them to join a webinar where they receive the offer again.

The Post-Launch phase helps to reduce refunds from buyers suddenly having buyer’s remorse and encourages advocacy in you and your product as well as assisting customers to spread your product by word of mouth. Most importantly, the Post-Launch gives non-buyers another chance to buy later.

The Perpetual Launch

Once you have your first launch under your belt, you can relaunch your product again and again to new people completely on autopilot – what Stephenson calls the “Perpetual Launch”.  The Perpetual Launch is advanced but allows each person who opts into your sequence to automatically receive the pre-launch content (videos, blog posts, etc.) and be sent the offer with a countdown timer for availability. Those who purchase enter the same “buyer’s sequence” that everybody else did.

The bottom line

Writing a book that readers will enjoy or derive value from is less than half the battle. No matter how or who you learn it from, marketing is a vital step to advance your author career.

Launching your book or product is simple with Stephenson’s course which includes detailed, transparent information full of examples, timelines, and resources that he actually used during his launch. At this time, “Your Six-Figure Launch” is not open for enrollment, but authors looking to learn more about Stephenson’s marketing strategies (and receive notifications when this course opens again) should sign up for his mailing list at Your First 10k Readers.

Guest Post: 7 Priceless Content Marketing Tips for eBook Promotion

Book promotion involves more than landing interviews with authorities in your niche. Today, content is king. 70% of marketing professionals plan to create more content this year than last; this is because it’s the least expensive, most effective promotional method.

So, if you ever want to be able to quit your day job, you need to create a content marketing strategy. Here are seven tips to formulate a plan that will optimize your ebook sales this year.

1. Know Your Target Reader

The first and most important action to take when brainstorming is to get to know your target reader – truly understand them. Note that your target readers are not likely other authors, so writing for this market isn’t going to provide much in the way of establishing a fanbase. Instead, zero-in your efforts on a group of people who are likely to go bananas over your work and focus on them.

Once you have an idea who to target, find out where these readers hang out online. After you discover where they are, join them. You are there to interact naturally as well as find out what their pain points are. By solving their problems with your online content (blog, YouTube videos, etc.), you will provide value and draw positive attention to yourself.

2. Set Realistic, Measurable Goals

Once you know the pain points of your readers (these are the topics you want to cover in your content), set your objectives that you can measure. Every promotional strategy has goals – you use them to stay on point and measure the effectiveness of your overall strategy.  

3. Leverage Social Media to Promote Everything

If you create a new video, send it out across Facebook and twitter. When you post an infographic on your blog, share it on Pinterest as well. You want all of your content to be seen across the web, in as many places as possible. The trick is to direct people to your content online, then have a trail that they can follow to discover your ebook.

4. Brand Your Images and Infographics

Your ebooks and website are branded, right? Well, all of your promotional materials should be. This doesn’t mean that you need to include your logo on every single blog image. You should use a color-scheme, fonts, and image filters that are in alignment with your brand. As followers get to know you, they will recognize your brand in a sea of information, bringing you one step closer to a successful career as an author.

5. Host Your eBook on the Right Platform

If you’re planning on leveraging the millions of members on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or NOOK press, then you already trust that these sites are setup for ecommerce – it’s all they do. But you may have been building a following with your Blogger or WordPress account, until this point. If that’s the case, and you plan to host your ebook on your own website, use a platform that’s designed for ebook sales. This will save you a ton of effort later, and you can easily import all of your old blog posts and images.

6. Utilize Email Marketing

If you’re not already using email marketing, that may signal that you’re not interested in creating a weekly or monthly newsletter. That’s fine; though it’s helpful, you don’t have to. Technology allows you to automate your email marketing to become a nearly hands-off tactic for building relationships with your fans. Even free and inexpensive email marketing platforms allow you to create RSS campaigns that automatically send subscribers your new blog posts.

7. Be Prepared to Alter Your Plan

If I’ve learned anything working in the marketing industry, it’s that testing your promotional tactics is critical for success. Sometimes, something as seemingly trivial as the color of you call to action buttons will improve book sales. So, take some time, every couple weeks or so, to measure your campaigns and see if you’re close to meeting your goals or not. If not, adjust your tactics until you find what works.


Now you have a small arsenal of knowledge to help power your ebook promotional strategy online. Learn everything you can about your target reader and set goals that help you solve their problems. Use social media to promote your ebook with recognizable, branded content. Make sure your website is set up for book sales and generate leads while you build relationships through email marketing. Make changes to your plan as needed. What other content marketing tips have you used to promote your work? Share your experience in the comments.

Ashley Kimler is a full-time communications specialist and content marketing dynamo at Heroic Search. She is also a part-time, aspiring authorpreneur with one children’s picture book title currently available on Amazon KDP. Follow @ashleykimler on Twitter to see what she and her team get into next.

Guest Post: Making the most of Amazon Author Central – Dave Chesson, Kindlepreneur

The pressure of working a day job alongside a fledgling writing career causes many authors to overlook great opportunities to establish their brand and reach more readers.

Because it can be such a challenge to find hours in the day to give writing projects the attention they deserve, any available time is often spent solely on writing, and not on a long-term approach to building an author platform.

Due to these time pressures, it’s essential to focus on the marketing activities that will provide the most benefit for the least effort.

Amazon Author Central is a perfect example. Once you take the time to establish an Author Central page, you have a valuable marketing asset located directly on the world’s busiest book retailing platform.

When it comes to Author Central, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Apply the following ideas to your own page to create something that will truly benefit you in the long-term.

Carefully Customize Your Author Bio

Many writers find creating their author bio to be far more difficult than expected.

It’s often assumed that writers have no trouble describing themselves in the right way for their readers. However, ask around and you’ll soon see that many do struggle to find the right tone and wording.

It’s generally a good idea to keep your author bio between 100-150 words long. It’s far better to have a succinct, effective bio than a lengthy manuscript that bores and repels.

Aside from the length of your bio, it’s important to use appropriate language for your intended readership. If your books are serious and academic, your bio should match this tone. If you write for a particular demographic, made sure the language used is appropriate for them. If you’re not exactly sure, look at some author bio examples from other writers in the same genre.

The reward for crafting a careful bio is the chance to form a connection with readers. People are far more likely to take a long-term interest in your work if they relate to who you are as well as what you write.

Match Your Photos To Your Audience

While a picture may not be worth a thousand words, it’s definitely more attractive and attention-grabbing to have one than a plain text page alone.

Similarly to your author bio, your author photo is something which should be chosen with your audience in mind. When you create a book cover, you probably do so in a way which you feel is right for your audience. You want your book cover to communicate the genre and feel of your work.

Your author photo works in much the same way. If you write about serious subjects, such as history, a lighthearted, fun photo will probably feel incongruous to readers. Conversely, if you write children’s books, you won’t want to have a serious, solemn picture.

You might instinctively know the type of photo which will best connect with your readers. If not, take some time to browse around authors you admire with a similar body of work to your own. You may notice some trends or commonalities between photos which inspire your own choice of picture.

Add Editorial Reviews

One of the trickiest, but most important, aspects of success for new authors is taking the right approach to reviews.

Getting readers to leave an honest and informative review is an important way to set your books on the path to success. However, Amazon reviews are far from simple. Sometimes, competitors may attempt to sabotage your book by leaving malicious, false reviews. In the case of positive reviews, some customers assume they are fake and don’t put much weight in their opinion.

Amazon Author Central offers a valuable way around this problem. After you create your Amazon author page, you have the option to add editorial reviews to your profile. A review from a trusted, authoritative editorial source is worth its weight in gold.

Adding editorial reviews to your Author Central page is also a way to use your time more efficiently. If you publish a book with a solid set of editorial reviews, you are less at the mercy of the whims of Amazon customers and potentially malicious competitors. This means you have to invest less effort in sourcing reviews as the editorial reviews do the heavy lifting for you.

Consider International Opportunities

International book marketing isn’t right for every author, but it’s definitely worth considering.

International stores on Amazon have two major advantages – there is less competition, and they are often growing at a fast rate.

If you decide that you want to try and reach an international audience, crafting a customized Author Central page for that particular market is a great way to go. For example, you may wish to use alternative book covers that are more in line with the national expectations of a particular market. You could also alter your bio to make sure that the language used is unambiguous for readers in foreign markets.

Help Your Content Reach A Wider Audience

If you create content, such as blog posts or videos, related to your writing, Author Central can help that content have a wider reach.

Author Central allows you to link blog posts and add video content directly to your page. This allows browsers to explore your ideas without having to leave the Amazon platform.

Sharing your external content in this way allows you to form a deeper connection with readers than through an author bio and photo alone. This leads to buyers becoming fans and long-term admirers of your work.

Author Central Recap

To make the most of the opportunity offered by Author Central, ensure that:

  • Your author bio is succinct and suitable
  • Your visual content is congruent with your author brand
  • You consider Amazon’s international reach as part of your marketing strategy

In terms of return on effort invested, Amazon Author Central is one of the best ways to form a connection with readers for time-stretched authors. It can form a valuable part of your wider book marketing efforts.

It’s your chance to show readers the person behind the books. Make the most of it!

A Kindlepreneur is a self publishing entrepreneur that is ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work marketing their creation. Ready to take action and promote their works, they are writers, marketers, designers, and strategists all combined in one. Want to learn more about how you can become a Kindlepreneur? Need help in taking the next big step in becoming a true Kindlepreneur? Then check us out!

Guest post: Automating Twitter for authors by Tim Morgan

Getting the Word Out – And Still Having a Life

As indie authors, we fill many roles, especially when we’re first starting out. We are the marketing department; the quality control department; the design team; and most importantly, the content creator.

Once you finish that book and upload it to your outlet of choice, you’re going to need to tell the world about it. This is something I see newer authors balk at, maybe because they don’t understand social media and how it works. Some try, only to walk away feeling like a failure when it doesn’t work out.

In this post, I’m going to share my secrets – approaches and tools to help you automate your social networking. If you automate, you can do more in less time – freeing you up to create more.

Wasted Time = Lost Money

Many of us start as creatives because we enjoy it. The process of making something from nothing exhilarates us. We’re energized when we create something new and original. However, if you want to move beyond your art as a hobby, you need to view it as a business.

Whether you go indie or you publish through a traditional publisher, you’re going to be the one who needs to care most about promoting your work. Promoting on social media can be a time suck and it can take time to bear fruit, so many people throw their hands up and walk away.

There’s a saying that in business time is money. Every hour you spend on social media is an hour less you have for creating new work. If you learn effective ways to automate that, though, you can set things on auto-pilot for a while so you can get back to creating.

Which Social Network?

I don’t have the space to explore every social network, so I’m going to focus on Twitter. It’s where I spend most of my time and I’ve had the most success. Some of the concepts like hashtags are the same across different networks – but they’re all very different animals.

One of the things you need to consider while you’re planning your social media strategy is where is your target audience. A Google search can pull up relatively current metrics on who’s using which social media platform. I strongly recommend HubSpot, they offer lots of free reports and guides if you give them your email address. All are highly visual and easy to understand.

Your Primary Focus: Good, Relevant Content

I can’t say this enough. In order to get noticed on any social media, you need to send out good quality content that’s relevant to your target audience.

What’s good content? Things your audience finds valuable. An author you like is running a free promotion? That’s good content. New movie coming out by your favorite director? That’s great too. You’re going to a conference? Fantastic.

Do you see a pattern here? The secret here is most of your messages shouldn’t be about you, they should be supporting other people. Every once in a while, I see some statistic that 2 out of every 10 tweets need to be about you, everything else should be about other people.

In reality, there’s no Twitter cop coming to give you a ticket because you didn’t follow that convention – just know if you overdo it you’ll lose followers.

How Often?

Some people tweet two or three times a day, some several times an hour. Either approach can be effective if you do it right. It’s all about who you want to reach: the internet is an always available, global system; people are constantly coming and going.  Tweets have a very short lifespan.

If you’re targeting consumers, plan your tweets around commuting times and weekends. If you’re after businesses, most of them are on during business hours. But in the end I don’t think you can tweet too much.

You should probably repeat your messages since people are always coming or going; there’s no law, but a good balance for me seems to be repeating after 8-12 hours.

Funny true story – when I first started tweeting, I was getting all kinds of followers in the United Kingdom. For a while I thought maybe my work was more appealing to people over there; then I realized I was sending out most of my tweets during the business day in the US – but if you were in the UK, you saw my tweets as you were going home.

Start locally, but don’t be afraid to think globally.

Effective Hashtagging and Tagging

For the uninitiated, hashtags are those words with a pound sign in front of them (#tag). These are used to aid discovery – I think they started on Twitter, but now are supported on just about all social networks. These help people find you. If you use a hashtag make sure it’s related.

Use them judiciously: some posts need a hashtag or two, some don’t need one at all. If you use them don’t use more than three or you’ll look like a spammer. (Yeah, I’ve done that and I’m not proud of it. Mea culpa.)

You can also use a popular hashtag to bring followers over to your product. There are no rules against this and it can aid your exposure, as long as it’s relevant.

Tagging is when you use an at sign in front of a name (@name). This is mentioning someone and will alert the person you tagged. Use these carefully as well; if you mention someone too many times you’ll get unfollowed or blocked. Once or twice a day is probably enough.

The Tools

Most of these are websites where you can do research and automate your messaging. They all provide free basic options as well as paid subscriptions that offer more features. HootSuite and both work across multiple social networks – paying for an account will get you access to more social networks along with other bonuses.

The Library – Core Strategy

When I started I kept trying to think of new tweets every week. It was tough and I often found myself blocked, and even worse – it ate up most of my Saturday mornings.

Inspiration struck when I heard Lynn Serafinn interviewed on The Author’s Marketing Podcast. Lynn talked about having a tweet library. I was thinking the same thing but thought it was nuts until I heard that interview.

Lynn created a library of tweets she uses for her messaging. She has a plan to rotate through them and had enough to not repeat a message for several weeks.

I went a little further: I use a spreadsheet of messages broken out by category (books, blog, film, screenwriting, etc). This way I can filter the sheet and pull up relevant messages. This simple method has saved me so much work and it cost nothing.

HootSuite – Schedule Your Messages

HootSuite is a web-based social message scheduler. It allows you to queue messages to be sent at a later time. Going to be signing at a bookstore? New book coming out? Review being published? If you know in advance you can time messages accordingly.

You can also set up messages that plug your books, other people’s books, or other things you find interesting.

HootSuite offers a free version with a limited number of social networks, with paid options that increase the number of networks you can manage. – Auto-Post Relevant Blogs

Who said you have to be the one coming up with all the content? lets you ping that blog’s RSS feed on a regular basis, posting new items to your social networks. allows up to four blogs free. – When is Your Audience Active

To maximize your chances of success, you need to figure out when people are talking about your topic. lets you see a graph of hashtag mentions over time. In the free tool you can see the last 24 hours; paid options let you track this over time.

Hashtagify – The Hashtag Thesaurus

Hashtagify is a visual representation of other hashtags related to a term you entered. If you enter the hashtag horror, for instance, Hashtagify will suggest other popular hashtags related to it. This is handy when you want to expand your reach but you’re stuck on new terms. A few minutes on here can free you up.

You can click on a related term and pull up other related hashtags as well.

The Result

At the time of this writing, I’ve been actively working with most of these tools for about four years. In the early days before automation, I was able to get a week’s worth of messages scheduled in about four hours on a Saturday morning.

After automating, I spend maybe an hour a week scheduling messages.

Don’t expect a big bang. It took a very long time for me to cross 900 followers; before that point things were really slow. After that things picked up significantly. I can’t tell you how long it will take; all I can say is it can take time. As you’re getting off the ground be patient, be persistent, and above all don’t give up.

Good luck, I’d love to hear if these tools help you, or if you have some I haven’t mentioned here.

Tim Morgan is a writer who masquerades as a software developer by day. He is the author of the novels WITCH CITY: CARDINAL, the launch of a paranormal detective series; THE TRIP, a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse; and IC9: A CYBERPUNK DETECTIVE STORY. Tim’s very active on Twitter (@tmorgan_2100) and he shares writing advice on his own blog.

You can find out more about Tim and what he’s up to at his web site:

Going big with your book launch with John L. Monk

The thing I like most about book launches is they’re one letter away from the word “lunches.” Other than that, there’s nothing at all that’s likable about them. All they do is disappoint … or at least that had been my experience writing four other books and selling them on Amazon.

The pattern is familiar:

  1. Cool idea.
  2. Tell our patient/suffering friends/family all about it while they smile and nod and tell us to keep our day jobs.
  3. We write the book.
  4. We launch it, and…
  5. It doesn’t sell. We keep our day job, and our friends/family pretend to ignore our brooding looks and streams of vile profanity.

All that changed when I launched “Hell’s Children.” Thank goodness for Chris Fox’s book “Launch To Market,” which I’d read late in May before my June launch. After reading it, I was able to incorporate a number of tips and tactics to sell my book well for going on three months.
Here were some of the things I did:

  1. I picked a type of book that people are actually looking for, in a definable genre with lots of readers. In my case: post-apocalyptic. Additionally, it’s a YA book, which people are also looking for. People type “post-apocalyptic” and “young adult” into Amazon’s search bar all the time. When I run my Amazon “Sponsored Product” ads, these keywords get the most hits.
  2. I got a great cover from a top cover designer, and didn’t break the bank doing it. $150 bucks from Yocla Designs. She’s usually backed up 3-4 months, so be prepared to wait. I started writing the book last December, so I had plenty of time.
  3. Title … hmm … ok, to be honest, I’ve never been very happy with my title. After struggling for several months, that’s the best I could come up with. “Hell’s Children.” I wanted something more grand like, “Children Of A Lesser God” or “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil” or “The Sun Also Rises.” That said, “Hell’s Children” is sort of provocative. People have been clicking it. It’s doing its job.
  4. I asked 50 people from my mailing list if they’d like an Advanced Reading/Review Copy. About fifteen replied that they would. I also asked folks on Facebook in a post on my timeline, which got me about 20 responses (if I remember correctly). By the second day of my launch, I had 14 or so reviews.
  5. Following Chris Fox’s advice, I did a pre-order. Unlike Chris, I did mine over two weeks, and not one. The point was to generate “also-boughts” under other people’s books. This was to assist in building up my organic discoverability. People would look at other people’s books, scroll down, and then see mine there as something people had also-bought. The idea being they’d click my book and buy it.
  6. Still following Chris’s advice, I launched at 99 cents — in Kindle Unlimited. Chris jumped to 2.99 after a week, but I waited two weeks in order to accommodate an author friend who wanted to hit his list for me late in the second week (see below).
  7. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a lot of great friendships with other authors. For the most part, I’ve never asked any of them for anything. We just like each other’s cat videos or share information on cool authory things—podcasts we’ve heard, writing articles, etc. So it was with some trepidation that I actually asked some of them to read my book. Then, wonder of wonders, they all said yes. On top of that, many of them notified their mailing lists about the book, for the most part unasked for. This was some kind of crazy good fortune I’d never expected or even hoped for when I first reached out to all these great people, and I’ll forever be grateful to them for what they did. Having steady sales every day is what Amazon looks for when they decide to make your book “sticky” — keeping it visible to shoppers who type keywords into the search bar.
  8. Special point: one of my author friends — a top-tier sort of fellow — offered to boost a Facebook post to all his fans for me over a two day period. I paid him $50, which he applied in its entirety to the boosted post.These two days resulted in very high sales for me. About 145 on the first day, and around 120 the next day (going from memory — I may be off a little). So if you have any author friends with lots of fans (and your author friend likes your work), perhaps suggest paying him/her to boost your book. It’s a much easier ask than having someone hit their mailing list.
  9. Once folks started telling me they were hitting their lists, I created a spreadsheet and plotted out the first two weeks of my launch. I then took the dates they were going to hit their lists and plotted them into the little boxes under each day. For those days that were empty, I tried to do something. For example, I got a “Bargain Booksy” in one day. In another box, a friend talking about my book on Youtube. In another, Bookbub telling 80 people who followed my author profile (on their site) that I’d just released a book. In another box, I asked a top-tier author buddy if I could move his help to a different day, because he was doubled up with someone.The whole point of all this was to cover each day. I think when I was done, I had every day but one (a Sunday) covered in that spreadsheet.
  10. During the pre-order, I ran Facebook ads, which resulted in about 40 sales. Not that many, sure, and I spent about 5-10 dollars a day on it. But hey, it got me some also-boughts. That’s what I wanted. Next time, I’ll spend more.
  11. After my launch, I killed the Facebook ads after about the 2nd day — because my Amazon “Sponsored Product” ad had been approved!These ads rock. They don’t waste your money, and they move books. Also, they’re a great way to see what people are searching for, clicking on, and then buying. If your stuff isn’t selling and you don’t know why, create an Amazon ad (available to Kindle Unlimited members only, sadly). If you see 50 clicks on your ad and no buys, either your ad doesn’t match the product description, or the product description needs work. If you change one or the other and you suddenly start getting purchases, then you learned something very valuable.Note: be careful of the other ads — the “Product Display” ads. They’re more expensive, and they use up your money quicker. That said, they also sell books more quickly. They have their place, but they’re pricy. I like the idea of using them to fill holes in a launch, and that’s about it. I still have to experiment with them.

The Results:

After doing all this, for the first time in my author career (3 years and 5 books), I was able to stay in the top 1000 for the first month and a half, and I’ve stayed between 3000-4000 at the lowest as of the time of this article. It’s been great. The money came in at a very fortunate time. About a week after my launch, my wife was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and needed a hysterectomy. We were caught flat-footed. The money really saved us, because the insurance didn’t cover it all. More good news: my wife is now totally cured. The doctor thinks he got it all. We’ll be going back every three months for the next two years to ensure that’s the case.

I hope your next launch is as good or better than mine. If you’re curious about writing to market, pick up Chris’s other book “Write To Market.” I hadn’t read it when I decided to switch genres to post-apocalyptic, but I wish I had. It’s filled with great advice on finding and locating genres that are underserved—that have lots of readers and not a lot of writers. Hopefully you actually like these genres. I love reading post-apocalyptic books, so it was an easy and pleasant experience writing one. But you won’t be finding any John L. Monk romance books any time soon. At least none you’d like to read!

The benefits of going wide as an author – Kevin Tumlinson, Draft2Digital

There are times when you might forget that there’s a world beyond Amazon.

It’s easy to do. The KDP Select Global Fund makes being exclusive to Amazon pretty attractive, after all. It eases some of the burden on an author’s shoulders—you can earn a little bit just for the pages that are read, so that even if a reader doesn’t like the book, you still get something in the transaction. And there are other perks, as well—some authors find their core audience in the Kindle Unlimited ecosystem.

But most authors (and believe me, I’ve talked to a lot of authors) didn’t get into this business thinking, “Gee, I can’t wait to only be read by people who own a Kindle!” Most saw themselves standing behind a podium, sharing the stage with the likes of Stephen King or Lee Child or John Grisham. Most saw themselves hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists.

You don’t get to that level on one platform. Reaching that level of success means increasing your reach, making the effort to reach out on a global scale.

There are a number of benefits to ‘going wide’— branching out from Amazon.


Here’s an interesting tidbit: Africa largely skipped the desktop revolution.

While in the United States people were debating the merits of Mac versus PC, and computer manufacturing saw an explosion and a rapid evolution from desktop to laptop to mobile platforms, an enormous population in Africa had never even heard of computers. They had no notion of desktop publishing. No clue about the internet.

And then someone introduced the smartphone into the ecosystem.

Just like that, a revolution emerged. People who had limited access to water could now research how to drill for fresh groundwater and build windmills from bicycle parts, to power pumps and irrigation systems. And those who had no access to books suddenly had a virtual Library of Alexandria right in the palm of their hands.

Think about that.

From zero to a million, with the swipe of a finger, and suddenly a new and voracious appetite for knowledge springs up.

Amazon doesn’t serve that particular market. There’s no real profit to draw them there, just yet. African villagers don’t tend to have much (or any) money, after all. But as they gain access to the internet, they also gain access to the free resources online that allow them to build businesses of their own, to crowd source startup funds using Patreon and Kickstarter campaigns, and to participate in a global economy, using their innate industriousness and their wealth of time to get up to speed quickly.

Annnnnd boom. A brand new market, eager for knowledge, for stories, for anything that can help them change and improve their lives, emerges on the world stage.

It would be insane to not want to reach out and tap into that live-wire current, with intellectual property that has virtually no overhead, but can bring in tiny trickles that lead to big streams.

In other words, charge 99 cents for your book, and sell it to a few hundred million people, and you’re going to do alright.


Business is a funny thing. Even the very best business can fall to pieces without much warning.

My wife and I are fans of British television, and we recently watched the series finale of “Mr. Selfridge.” If you’re not familiar with the story, the gist is that the real-world, American-born Mr. Selfridge was the creator of one of the most successful department stores in all of the UK. Despite huge opposition, Selfridge built his store to be a new model for the industry—he literally redefined certain aspects of the business, including such innovations as moving the perfume counter out onto the main floor of the store, and encouraging shoppers to browse rather than forcing them to either buy or get out.

Selfridge had a few personal problems that eventually led to his being ousted from his own business—a move that took him from industry leader to sideline spectator in a single afternoon. He never saw it coming. Neither he nor his most loyal employees ever even considered it.

Selfridge, who was a paragon of business savvy for most of his career, saw his empire wrested from him with the dashing of a signature, and he never recovered.

The interesting thing: Selfridge’s was a diversified storefront. It had tons of merchandise in a variety of categories. But Selfridge himself had all of his eggs in the department store basket (for the most part—there are nuanced exceptions). And that was what led to him being vulnerable, to losing his authority over his own business, and to be ousted while someone else got to carry on with his name and his life’s work.

So let’s look at Amazon for a moment:

Authors who are exclusive to Amazon are beholden to its rules. And they have absolutely zero control over those rules—Amazon can choose to change its terms of service (TOS) at any moment, without warning and without recourse on the part of the authors. It’s happened before.

Recently, Amazon decided to crack down on an oft-ignored rule in the TOS, which prohibited the use of affiliate links in email. For quite some time, Amazon had simply turned its gaze from violators of this rule, and in that time several small businesses emerged, helping readers discover new authors and new books. These companies built their revenue streams based on Amazon’s affiliate links, and they did rather well.

And then, without warning, Amazon decided to start enforcing the rule. And just like that, dozens of small businesses were no longer in business. They’re primary source of revenue dried up in an afternoon.

Amazon had allowed the infractions to keep building up, because these services were funneling customers their way. But the moment it was no longer strategically advantageous to allow it, Amazon put a cork in it.

And here’s the lesson we have to learn:

Amazon will do what’s in the best interest of Amazon, always.

For a brief time, that may line up with what’s best for you as an author, as well. Certainly, having access to the KDP Global Fund is a perk for authors. Many authors have businesses that rely on that income, even up to 100%. But the program itself is a loss leader—meaning that Amazon really doesn’t make any money directly from eBook sales. They use that business to keep funneling customers into their more profitable revenue silos. Eventually, however, that will stop.

I’m not Nostradamus. I’m not gazing into a crystal ball or reading tea leaves or consulting the spirits. I’m looking at Amazon’s history when it comes to businesses like this one, and I’m considering the fact that at a certain level there will, by necessity, be an equilibrium, and the bubble will burst. Overnight, those authors relying solely on Amazon will lose their primary revenue stream, and they’ll start right back at zero.

Exclusivity with Amazon is a nice revenue booster. No question. But while you’re building that business, you’re not building the backup you’re going to need. Authors who have been in the Amazon ecosystem for years have spent zero time building up a presence and a platform outside of that ecosystem. So when it crashes, it’s game over.

The smarter play is to think in terms of the long game.

If you leave KDP Select, you will reduce the level of income you’re getting, no doubt. It’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get back to that level in the ‘outside world.’ But what you’ll build, by going wide, will be much more stable, much tougher, and much less prone to collapse than relying on Amazon alone.

The smarter business decision is to go wide.


There, I said it.

Being in the Kindle Unlimited library has a huge perk: More money, faster.

I’ve been there. I’ve seen my revenue quadruple in a month, because I pulled titles from other storefronts and went exclusive. But I also saw a lot of my readers—subscribers on my mailing list who were loyal and trusted me to provide great stories—write to tell me that they were incredibly frustrated that all of my new books were only on Amazon, which meant they couldn’t read them.

Bad press. Bad reputation. It made me suddenly very small.

Like a lot of authors, I got into this business to go big. I wanted name recognition. I wanted invitations to speak at conventions and banquets and award ceremonies. And now, as a KDP Select author, I was doing alright financially, but not meeting any of my other life goals.

I was still a nobody on the global scene.

I’m not exactly Lee Child now, but I can say that my platform is a bit more diverse, and my reach is a bit longer. I have readers in hundreds of different countries now, including several that Amazon hasn’t yet touched. And as my work trickles and crawls and spreads, the cumulative effect starts to make a big difference in my income.

Ultimately, there’s a bit of a ceiling on the number of readers you can reach, in a given amount of time, on Amazon’s platform. And that’s because, unlike out in the ‘wild,’ when you’re locked into one ecosystem you inevitably face competition.

I tell authors every day that there’s no such thing as competition in the publishing industry. If someone picks up the latest book by James Rollins, they aren’t choosing his book instead of mine. They’re choosing his book for now. I still have a shot at capturing that reader, who may enjoy reading both Rollins and Tumlinson.

There’s no competition, because reading books isn’t a zero sum game. If a reader chooses one book, it doesn’t destroy all the other books, so that they are never an option.

If there’s competition for anything in publishing, it’s competition for attention. And on that playing field, ‘clever and creative’ can put you on equal ground with ‘spends the most money.’

So on the whole, there’s no real competition in the publishing industry in general. But in any given specific ecosystem, competition is a natural byproduct of exclusivity.

In biology, all life forms in a closed system compete for resources. That’s the nature of a closed system. It’s inevitable that I will compete against another author for placement, for attention, for the limited time and limited money that a reader has to spend. And where I could be on more or less equal footing out in the ‘wild,’ due mostly to the diversity of readers, when I’m in an aquarium I’m limited to only what Amazon is willing to feed me.

Give me wide open spaces.

A wider pool of potential readers means far more opportunities to capture interest. There are fewer limitations, and more avenues for revenue.

To put it bluntly: The world outside Amazon is much, much bigger than the world inside Amazon.

By it’s very nature, going wide offers more revenue potential than exclusivity—given time.

That’s the thing that really sticks a lot of authors. There’s simply no denying that the way to fast income is through Amazon. You’re marketing efforts will gain much bigger returns in a shorter timeframe. That’s really attractive.

The only promise that can be made, however, is that given enough time your global distribution can outpace that exclusivity. If you can be patient, and use that time to build your platform (including your mailing list, your ad campaigns, and any other resources that let you talk to your audience), you’ll eventually net returns that make it all worthwhile.

PRO TIP: Use the time to write and publish as many books as possible. Even without any other marketing, having a huge library of books available will help you increase your income—first incrementally, and then exponentially.

The more you know.


For those of us who built our revenue streams on the back of Amazon, it looks kind of bleak when we consider moving. But there’s a way to do this strategically that will help ease the pain while still protecting you as you grow your platform.

Let’s break it down into easy steps:

  • Determine your 80/20—You may be familiar with this phrase, but just in case, what you want to figure out is what 20% of your books is bringing in 80% of your revenue. If you don’t happen to have multiple books, the answer is “my book.” And it’s more of a 100/100 rule at that point. But that’s ok … this plan is still going to work for you, with slight modification.
  • Move the other 80%—You know what makes you the most money, so let’s keep that 20% of your work right where it is. Keep the marketing going, and keep the revenue coming. Take your less productive books out of exclusivity, though, and move them into a broad solution. Now you have a body of work out there for people to discover, at least, and that’s a start.
  • Write more books—This is just the Prime Directive for authors, frankly. Write more books. Then write more. And finally, write more books. But now, as you publish, put those books into your broad solution, again and again. And if you only had one book at the beginning of this, all you’re really doing is skipping the second step. More books means more revenue opportunities, so keep it coming.
  • Promote your new platform—Place Facebook ads, share Universal Book Links (UBLs) on social media, go on podcasts, do guest blog posts—do all the things you can think to do to tell the world your work exists, and encourage everyone to go read it. The best marketing advice you’ll ever get is “go to where your customer lives,” which means “focus all your effort on reaching your customer/reader where they spend the most time.” Do that. Over and over.
  • As wide revenue increases, move the rest of your books—Do it one at a time. As you replace the monthly income of one book, move it to wide distribution. And keep doing that until all of your books are wide.
  • Use exclusivity as part of a strategy, not as your business model—You can launch a book as exclusive to Amazon, and utilize their promotional tools. You can benefit from page reads, and garner tons of reviews. But use that exclusivity like a surgical instrument. Just like any good marketing campaign or product development strategy, you should plan for obsolescence. Use exclusivity as a tool for making more money faster, and then get your book out of that small pond and into the greater ocean as soon as you can.

And that’s it. That’s how you use Amazon exclusivity to your advantage, while continuing to build a wider, more stable, global platform for your work.

It won’t be as easy, I’ll admit. It will feel frustrating, as you see other authors making a lot more money, a lot faster. But in the end, you’re trading in short term gain for long term success, and that has always been a winning strategy for any business.


I’ve specifically avoided mentioned Draft2Digitial to this point, because all the advice above is completely unbiased, and unaffected by this little ‘pitch’ at the end. You can stop reading right up to this header, and you’ll have gotten some world-class advice for phenomenal author success.

Go ahead … go … it’s ok. I still love you.

But if you want make this whole thing a lot easier, then stick around for a second.

Draft2Digital helps you go wide by making it ridiculously easy. Upload your manuscript and your cover file, enter a bit of information, and hit ‘publish.’ And the world belongs to you.

When I was invited to become the Director of Marketing for D2D, I already knew all of this about the company. They have set up this business specifically to help authors to overcome some of the biggest, gnarliest pain points around. And they do a phenomenal job of it. I was a fanboy for years before I became part of the team.

Recently we introduced Universal Book Links, or UBLs. These are available free of charge at, and they give you some nice perks, including:

  • The ability to create a unique, customized URL that leads readers to every online storefront that carries your book. One link for you, every store online for them.
  • The ability to see data about how well your links perform, including the stores that more of your readers prefer.
  • The ability to instantly update your existing links with brand new storefronts, so that your links never expire. Use them on everything from email campaigns to printed materials, without worrying that they’ll one day stop working.

There are more benefits, and more uses, but you can already see how handy these things are.

And they are FREE. Always. Even when you register for an account, they’re free. Just like that.

So check out Draft2Digital for the ability to instantly go wide with your books, and check out Books2Read to start creating Universal Book Links (or UBLS as we call them) for promoting your work and making yourself more discoverable. These are some of the best decisions you’ll ever make for your author business.

But regardless of whatever else you do, start making plans to go wide and exist the exclusivity of the KDP ecosystem. Trade short-term, limited success for long-term, unlimited growth, and you’ll find that you’re in a better place than you could ever have imagined. And short of a global boycott on eBooks, you’ll  never have to worry about waking up to the nightmare of your business being shut down by the whims of someone else.

Kevin TumlinsonKevin Tumlinson is a self-published author with more than 30 novels, novellas, and non-fiction books in his catalog. He is also the Director of Marketing for Draft2Digital—a company absolutely bent on author success. Find out more about Kevin and his work, plus get three of his best books for FREE when you register at, and get a start on going wide with your own work at

How to get book reviews: Book Review 22

It’s a conundrum that’s frustrated authors since books were first sold on the Internet: you can’t sell books without reviews and you can’t get reviews without selling books. The question of how to get book reviews is more vexing than the old chicken and egg scenario. What are we supposed to do then?

If you’re like me, you’ve scraped together a handful of reviews through a variety of tactics: dancing naked beneath the quarter moon in March, begging your mailing list and offering up a second book free in exchange for a review of another. There’s only one catch with the aforementioned moves (aside from the moon dance, that is): you’ve got to have an audience already in place to gain a lot of traction. Now we’re back where we started — how am I supposed to get an audience if no one will read my books because they don’t have any reviews? To be or not to be? That’s not the question for authors. We want to know  how to get book reviews. In just a second I’ll tell you the solution I found.

There’s one or two other things you may have tried, such as scouring the web for book reviewers that have reviewed books similar to yours. (Check out another great post we did about this: Go Pitch Yourself: A case for indie author public relations). Maybe you hired a “publicist” or “Book PR company” to do this for you. Either way, an email was sent about your book and now you’re in a line of to-be-read titles longer than Disneyland during spring break. Worse still, you probably spent countless hours combing through blogs, gathering email addresses and filling out contact forms for bloggers (or paid a so-called publicist or maybe an author assistant to handle this chore). This is precious time spent away from WRITING, which is what you’d rather be doing anyway.

Trust me, I’ve been in this boat — long enough they’re starting to call me the captain.

As an author living in this amazing era of publishing, it astounded me that there wasn’t a better solution out there. As a public relations professional by day, it made me sick to my stomach that “publicists” were charging authors an arm and a leg to write a worthless press release and blast it out to bloggers. (Here’s a little secret: bloggers could care less about press releases.)

On the flip side, I saw how many bloggers were being flooded with books. Not just great books or even good books, either. I started doing my homework and found out bloggers were getting review requests in droves. Many of the books inquiring authors wanted them to review were one of the following:

  • NOT in the genre the reviewer read
  • NOT professionally edited or even proofread
  • NOT finished

In short, bloggers everywhere are pulling their hair out because their inboxes are flooded with crappy books they don’t want to read. This makes it really hard for YOUR book to stand a chance.

Until now, that is.

Book Review 22 Logo FINAL

The results of my research led me to combine my two passions and careers (publishing and public relations) into a new company called Book Review 22. Book Review 22 makes the book review process awesome — for both authors and reviewers. It’s how you get book reviews made simple.

Instead of wasting HOURS of time researching, digging through search results for book blogs, authors fill out a short form with us and we get their books into the hands of reviewers who actually give a rat’s rear end  about reading and reviewing their book. We pitch your book for you to our extensive database of book reviewers and bloggers, leaving you time to do important stuff, like write (you can continue the moon dance if you REALLY want to, I guess). Check out how here.

On the flip side, we work with reviewers to condense all those emails they’re getting into one simple list every few weeks. We help weed out the garbage and make it easy for them to 1. Scan the book cover and synopsis (if a book wasn’t ready to be published, you can often tell from these two things) 2. By partnering with Bookfunnel, we’ve also made it a breeze to download a copy of the book. Reviewers only get pitched for books they actually want to read. What a novel concept! Here’s how it works.

I would have KILLED for a service like this when I started publishing two years ago. After a year of development I’m still just as excited about it: a simple way for authors and reviewers to work together in a win-win relationship.

We’re off the ground and pitching books right now. In the coming months, we’ve got a whole slate of ideas to make this service even better for authors and reviewers. For now, why don’t you give us a test run? Let Book Review 22 pitch your book and you can get back to the stuff that you really care about: writing books.

Author Origins: Justin Sloan

Justin SloanJustin Sloan is a video game writer, novelist, and screenwriter. He studied writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing program and at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Professional Program in Screenwriting. He has published such novels as Back by Sunrise and Teddy Bears in Monsterland, and non-fiction such as Creative Writing Career: Becoming a Writer of Movies, Video Games, and Books and Military Veterans in Creative Careers. Additionally, he has published short fiction and poetry.

Justin was in the Marines for five years and has lived in Japan, Korea, and Italy. He currently lives with his amazing wife and children in the Bay Area, where he writes and enjoys life. Learn more at

Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

On a snowy day in Washington, D.C., when I was in pain from a military related issue and not able to do anything aside from sit at my window, I decided to try to write a novel. While I thought I would take my time and try to finish over the next 50 years, I had it done in a much shorter time and soon learned that I was obsessed with writing. From there I started doing everything I could to learn the craft, from partnering with writer friends to write books and screenplays together, to taking classes and eventually enrolling in the Johns Hopkins MA in writing program and then the University of California, Los Angeles screenwriting program.

Somehow along the way I landed an amazing job at Telltale Games, where I get to write video games all day, and work on my novels and screenplays at night (if I can get my children to bed at a reasonable hour). It is a dream come true!

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job. What’s still the hardest thing to balance with everyday life?

For me the hardest thing about having a regular day job before was knowing that I couldn’t spend that time writing or improving my craft. It was eating me up inside! I would wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 am and write, and sometimes write on my lunch breaks. I had to feed the creative beast within. However, I’ll say the good thing about having a non-writing job was that all day long my creative juices would be struggling to emerge, so by the time I got home every day the writing just flowed. Now that I have a writing job during the day, there are certainly days when I come home and my brain has shut off its creative side and just wants to spend time.

The other big hurdle to writing now is that I have two children, and one is an infant. But of course my family takes priority, and they definitely make me a better writer. There are so many scenarios in life that you simply cannot truly understand until you have children. For example, there’s a scene in the movie The Fault in Our Stars where the dad picks up his teenage daughter to carry her to the car and then hospital – this may touch all of us, but when you have a daughter and imagine having to do that? Oh man, the emotions move in crazy ways.

Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

The main change for me (aside from what I’ve already covered) is that now that I’ve published, I spend a lot of time marketing – whether this is author interviews, podcasts, blogs about what I have going on, etc., and that definitely eats into my writing time. That said, we have to find our own healthy balance in this regard, and I’ve reached a point where I have a certain number of books out there and a couple more on the way, so I feel okay with putting in a bit more time on the marketing side, for now.

If you don’t mind, would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?

When I first published, I decided to self-publish because of the advice I was hearing from such places as the San Francisco Writers Conference or the Self Publishing Podcast, and the horror stories I was hearing from other authors about bad experiences they were having with small presses. Not all small presses are bad, of course, and I am going with one for my upcoming literary novel, but you have to do your homework.

I gained traction with some of the KDP promos and whatnot, to the point where my books were at number one and three in their categories, but I have since moved away from those types of marketing because I feel it cheapens your writing, in a way. Now it has been almost a year since I first published, and I just started seeing organic traction. My book Creative Writing Career has been number one in its Amazon bestseller category for two or three weeks now, and in the top ranks for a month or so before that, which I am pretty happy with. This was after having published two novels, two non-fiction books, a fantasy serial, some short stories, and excerpts from the non-fiction books. So the lesson learned is that (a) it takes time, and (b) having more titles helps discoverability.

What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?

My book Back by Sunrise is a fun pre-teen adventure about a girl whose dad gets deployed overseas with the Army and doesn’t come back, and how the girl deals with that grief through a magical necklace that turns her into a bird one night. Many people may see the book and just think it’s a cute story, but it came from a personal place – I served in the Marines and watched people be deployed, and watched my friend’s wives worry about what would happen if they never did come back. Thankfully, that never happened to my friends, but it does to people all over the world. Also, around this time I had a cousin commit suicide, and it was quite devastating. While I had written the screenplay before this happened, I couldn’t let the story sit on the sidelines any longer – my cousin’s death was what pushed me to adapt the screenplay into a novel and get it out into the world.

One of my readers contacted me and said that she used to be a hospice worker and that she thought this would be great for children dealing with grief. I hadn’t even thought about it, but of course she was right. By the time this interview goes live, I will have gone to a summer camp hosted by the Hospice by the Bay, called Camp Erin, where I’m doing a book signing (and the children and teens there get the book free). I’m so thrilled to be a part of this, and hope that I can continue to help others through tough times.

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?

Keep an open mind. When I first started writing, I had no idea it would lead to writing for video games, let alone on some of my favorite IPs (Game of Thrones and Walking Dead). If all you want to do is write novels, it’s much more of a gamble, and perfectly fine if you are okay with your writing being more of a hobby until it one day hopefully takes off. Regardless, continue to focus on your craft, but also keep getting yourself out there so you can build a community of people willing to help each other (and potentially, fans).

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to touch on?

I love sharing my story, but even more than my own I love sharing the awe-inspiring stories of those around me. This is why I put together my recent book, Military Veterans in Creative Careers. In addition to my advice (applicable to everyone, not just veterans) on making it as writers, actors, etc., I have interviewed a number of military veterans about their experience leveraging their past experience to land themselves in the careers of their dreams. If you only want to read my fiction, that is great, but consider checking out this book as well, if nothing else to pick up and find inspiration from time to time or to share with someone you know who could benefit from it. Every time I look back through one of the stories shared in my book, I can’t help but think how incredible the journey is to follow our dreams, and I wish I had something like this book when I was starting out to point me on the right path. Also, when this interview goes live, the audiobook should be out (Audible, iTunes, and Amazon), and the narrator has done an amazing job. His name is Scott Levy, and he has acted in movies, a Linkin Park video, and video games such as Battlefield: Hardline. If have any questions or have your own cool story to share, hit me up!

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