Getting Attention And No Publisher Needed With Jim Kukral

I’ve spent the last 4 years learning about marketing from books and information products. It’s been a real-world education that I use every day, so today I’m thrilled to bring you Jim Kukral who is a specialist in this area, as we talk about book marketing.

Jim Kukral is the author of 5 books and a serial web-entrepreneur, as well as a professional speaker and specialist in internet marketing. His latest book is ‘No Publisher Needed: Crowdfunding your book. How I raised over $30k in 30 days.’  [Note: Affiliate links used in this post.]

  • Jim has been in internet marketing for 16 years. He’s been involved in all aspects including web design, affiliate marketing, search, Now he focuses on self-publishing and he loves to produce and market books.
  • ‘No publisher needed’ was written after he crowd-funded a series of books called ‘Business around a lifestyle’. The problems of marketing and sales are basically dealt with in this way. Jim thinks that anyone who knows something about something should transform it into a book (or other product). When you learn how to do something, you can teach others.
  • I promised to come back to crowd-funding as a question, but I didn’t! Sorry about that. [As I write, the book is free on Amazon Kindle] I read the book and it has some good information on what crowd-funding is and how to go about it. Jim didn’t use preferring to use his own methods to raise money. It’s based on the idea that people want to be part of something. The book also has ideas and tips on building a platform, and tackles the main issues people have about it – no time, no money, no knowledge. It then has a step-by-step guide on how to pre-fund your book and the options you can offer people, as well as what to do when the money starts to come in.
  • The broader indie publishing perspective. In 2010, Jim had his first Attention . The business of traditional publishing is too slow. You don’t own your work when you’re done with it. Bookstores are dying so the one thing they had is fading away. The royalties are also not great. Jim realized that it was a bad business decision to use a publisher for your book. As an entrepreneur, you can do so many more things when you do it yourself. Jim did earn lots of money from his mainstream book from consulting revenue and the cachet from having a hardcover book.
  • The stigma is disappearing and there doesn’t have to be a difference between traditionally published and print on demand books anymore. Jim really believes in self-publishing right now.
  • Is crowd-funding and effective indie publishing only possible when you have a large existing platform? Jim understands this objection. But anyone can build a platform. Yes, Jim did start with an email list which is critical for anyone these days. Even a small, targeted list of people who are interested in what you do is good. But the majority of pre-funding came from new people as it was shared with other people. Emotions create reactions and people only share when there is an emotional response. So Jim included emotion and story as part of the campaign. He told a story about why he was writing these books. That’s why it spread. [This is a great idea for all of us – how can you use your own story to sell your books?]
  • What are the must have marketing tools? The email list is critical – here’s how to build your own list using Aweber as mentioned by Jim. A great tip is to ask your customers what they want or need. [Yes, The Creative Penn annual survey is coming soon!] It’s also important to have a website/blog which you can have put your list-building on. You drive people to this site through all the other channels. People will find you in different ways. That’s how you build a platform. You need to start thinking like a marketer.
  • For authors who might be shy. You can make video without being on camera. It’s screen-casting. Jim talks about his Online Video Toolkit which helps you to learn how to do it. Video is the #1 way to really make a connection with people. You look the way you look. Get over it. Video is so powerful. [Google has also just redesigned YouTube so it is becoming more respectable and not just about comedy videos.]
  • The mindset of the marketer. There’s never been a better time in the history of the world to get your work out there. But the trade-off is that you generally have to do it yourself. In the old days, you just paid other people (or the publisher did it) but it’s too expensive and so doing it yourself is the better option. You need to do it when you start your own business, and yes, your book is a business. To be a successful artist, you need to think bigger than being just an artist. You have to decide if you really want success and then decide you want to get into marketing.
  • On fiction vs non-fiction for marketing. Jim talks about pricing and KDP Select. For non-fiction, pricing can be higher as that’s what people expect and they see it as an indication of quality. Fiction is different, it needs to be cheaper as people buy more of it. Get into the head of the consumers. Read Influence by Robert Cialdini [I endorse this too, amazing book!] Jim also suggests Consumerology. Start learning about why people buy.
  • Book reviews are critical for social proof. Book marketing begins at inception (for non-fiction at least). Write a synopsis, get a cover designed and a page up so people can start signing up for the email list. It’s got to happen right away. Before the book is available, get reviews. You can’t go into a launch without reviews on your landing page. One of the main purchasing decisions is that people look at reviews.
  • Creating a product vs. a lot of books on Amazon. You have to price Amazon books cheaper than full multi-media products so authors might consider different options depending on their strategy. Make sure you don’t fall foul to Amazon’s price matching which has affected some authors when they might have run a promotion on it and then Amazon discounts the price. Jim aims to release a lot of books himself over the next few years, and he believes shorter books are the way forward.
  • The biggest fail on marketing assuming they are doing it – authors don’t think like marketers. It’s not your fault. You weren’t trained to think this way. But you do need to learn, or you need to pay someone else. The cost of not being a marketer is advertising. Follow what other authors are doing and model their platform building activities. Write a blog about the business of what you do.
  • Jim also comments on KDP Select and says it’s a game-changer for non-fiction authors to get noticed. It helps you stand out with your ranking as you can get a lot of downloads and people will start reading it. It’s a great way to kickstart your book marketing. [I’m taking action on this and updating my non-fiction book, How to enjoy your job…or find a new one, and putting it on Amazon KDP. I’ll report back!]

You can find Jim at and and on twitter @jimkukral

His latest book is ‘No Publisher Needed: Crowdfunding your book. How I raised over $30k in 30 days.’

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  1. says

    Another nice post. I find the idea of crowd funding quite interesting and feel it could become big in the future.

    I read a post yesterday on Jane Friedman’s blog about the idea of crowdsourcing and creating a kind of wiki type world for publishing books. I found the concept interesting, and think this fits in well with it. As self publishing becomes bigger and more ‘normal’ then more people will be drawn to it. Not just the writers themselves, but designers, web developers, marketers etc

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  2. Doug Lance says

    I don’t really agree with his final point. That might work for people who are established in the publishing industry, but for indies, their “insider” info consists of what pajamas they’re wearing that day and what flavor of coffee they’re drinking. I think a better way to build an audience is to just tell great stories. If you keep the quality up, people will come back for more.

    • says

      Hey Doug,

      One thing I know for sure with over 16-years of Internet marketing experience is that people want to buy from people. Readers are no different. They want to know what coffee you’re drinking and what pajamas you are wearing. That makes it more real for them to connect with the author. That’s how you build engaged and rabid fans.

      • Doug Lance says

        I agree with that, but in the fiction space there are much more effective methods of building trust. Just ask Joanna. She talks about her industry like crazy. She’s got one of the top writing blogs in the world. Yet, her novels aren’t best-sellers. Not because they’re not professionally edited and presented–they are. Not because they’re not well written, good stories–they most definitely are. But because her blog audience is full of writers, not readers.

        • says

          It’s true Doug, although my audience really isn’t that big. Not big enough to make a bestseller anyway. My list is only around 6000 people and not all of them buy fiction – and they’re more focusing on the writing side.
          I’ll be talking to Jim about the differences between fiction & non-fiction marketing soon.

  3. says

    I crowd-funded a series this past summer and while I didn’t raise all of the money needed, the amount I did raise made it possible not only for me to move ahead with publication, but to see that all things are possible. I haven’t looked back. And can I say, I don’ t have a huge following nor am I a public figure of any kind–just a writer out there with the rest of you.

  4. says

    Even after reading the piece, I believe that the person seeking the crowd-funding must have a developed platform for it to work. Frankly, the article was difficult to follow, but the topic is interesting. Thanks for the insights.

  5. says

    Hi, Joanna and Jim,

    One thing I wanted to ask you about is something you’ve mentioned in the past, Joanna, and also something you mention toward the end of the interview, Jim. It’s the recommendation that an author should start promoting his or her book book as soon as the idea for it comes to the author (and your specific suggestion, Jim, that the author should set up a dedicated page for the book). I’m an aspiring fiction writer and promoting the book that I haven’t even finished the first draft of seems counter-intuitive. Or maybe it’s just my nerves talking, especially as the work of writing the first draft is such a grind!

    Is this a piece of advice that you intended for the non-fiction work you mostly discuss during the interview, Jim?

    • says

      Hi Rob,
      I think for non-fiction authors it can begin before the book as most of them have a core business they are looking to promote e.g. Jim’s a speaker so he wanted a book to back up his keynotes. I wrote a book on career change and I should have been blogging on career change prior to that. etc etc …. so it’s easy for non-fiction to do that.
      For fiction, it is harder as your book will change and grow as you do but you can:
      * build a more personality based site
      * talk about your writing process
      * talk about your interests e.g. Victorian era which will turn into a steampunk novel
      You can just have a signup for a newsletter and people will join in if they are interested in you, then you will have a way to market the novel. I have a new site at where I’m doing this. It is brand new and I’m not doing much as yet but it is for my fiction specifically. I hope that helps.

      • says

        Thanks for replying, Joanna! I think I’m steering my website along those lines at the moment; I’m trying a two-posts-a-week schedule right now! I’ve also got an e-mail list via MailChimp but I need to put some time into learning its quirks and more detailed options.

        I’ve added myself to the mailing list, but I’m having a bit of trouble finding a feed link so I can add the site to Google Reader. Did I miss the link?

    • says

      I don’t see why you shouldn’t promote a fiction book asap as well. You have to think of it like a marketer. Like a Hollywood movie. They promote the movie before it’s released. You want to build hype and attention and anticipation for it. Then you launch it and people are ready to buy it.

      • says

        Thank you for replying, Jim, and I see what you mean; I was thinking “movie trailer” when I wrote that question. There’s still a question of just how ASA should P be, though.

        Or maybe not. New Line have put out a trailer for The Hobbit, which doesn’t even hit cinemas until the end of the year, and Disney put an “effects test” for Tron 2 / Legacy out TWO AND A HALF YEARS before the movie came out.

        Actually, you know, I think I’m waffling. Hell, I’ve already podcasted two “effects test” chapters (which I now know aren’t how the book is going to go) anyway. I think I ought to just suck it up and start centralising the data I’ve already released so people (and Google) can find it easily!

  6. says

    Howdy! This article couldn’t be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send this article to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

  7. says

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one:

    To get people to review your book on Amazon, the book has to be available for sale. So how do you have reviews on launch day as Jim suggests?
    If you send the book out for free to your email list in exchange for a review on Amazon, they can’t put it up there until the book is available.


    • says

      You can get people who got the book for free to add them on launch day :)
      But I don’t think launch day is all that important anymore – since the book is always available. I now have a soft launch period when I load the book on Amazon and keep it quiet from most people, just telling my small list of pre-reviewers, then about a month later, I announce the book is available to the masses :)


  1. […] A recent post on The Creative Penn discussed exactly this, and my visits to 2012 SXSW had me reliving that post, and create a few new ideas along the way. Imagine online communities where someone creates an idea and asks people to join. You offer your skill set, and in return get a percentage of the revenue. […]

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