How To Use Audio And Podcasting Effectively To Promote Your Book With Viv Oyolu

One of the best ways to stand out as an author is to have some aspect of multimedia in your platform. With the growth of streaming audio through smart phones and soon to be implemented in cars, it’s time to learn how to incorporate audio into your book marketing. Today I interview Viv Oyolu, The Audio Marketing Expert.

In the intro, I mention that I am currently away in the US, speaking in Charleston at Pubsense Summit and then heading down to Savannah. I recommend a book I am finding useful: Better than before: Mastering the habits of our everyday lives by Gretchen Rubin.

99designs-logo-750x200pxThis podcast episode is sponsored by 99 Designs, where you can get all kinds of designs for your author business including book covers, merchandising, branding and business cards, illustrations and artwork and much more. You can get a Powerpack upgrade which gives your project more chance of getting noticed by going to:

viv oyoluViv Oyolu is a radio presenter, podcaster and an audio marketing expert. She works with authors, businesses and entrepreneurs to increase online visibility and engagement with audio. Viv is now the author of How to use podcasts to promote your book.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube here or read the notes and links below.

  • Viv has a marketing background but always wanted to be a radio presenter. Eventually she did make it on air with the Dream Corner show interviewing female entrepreneurs. When the radio station went offline, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She started interviewing guests around London and then online via Skype, starting her own podcasts and specializing in audio especially for book marketing.
  • How audio will continue to grow as a medium with the launch of Apple CarPlay and Google Auto and how this will make podcasting more mainstream.
  • Why audio enhances an author brand and helps you stand out. Humans connect through voice before words on the page. An audience will connect with you directly when they hear your voice or see your face. It’s a very personal aspect to be in someone’s ears for hours every month. It facilitates that ‘know, like and trust’ aspect which will lead to connection with fans – and ultimately will lead to book sales.
  • Audio can also expand the content in your book, and you can go deeper into aspects that you want to talk about more. Audio is sideways marketing, where you can give loads of value to the audience and people can buy or give if they want to. It feels good to podcast and share via audio. It’s authentic and possibly the least scammy way of marketing!
  • Getting over your voice and tips for performance. We all hate our voice and the way we look! You just have to get over it! Viv did some voice coaching to correct a high pitched tone, but I’ve never done that (although I have thought about it). We give some tips about performance – you need to use your energy in your voice, your passion. You need to smile and communicate expression that way. It’s a bit like speaking in public, you need to be 150% you.
  • Planning and pitching. Are you raising awareness of your brand? Or are you talking specifically about one book? Decide on your objective and then decide on the target audience. Break your book down into the various elements – either topics (for non-fiction) or themes (for fiction) and then research the various podcasts that cover these things. DON’T pitch podcasters who are not interested in your topic! Make sure you are targeting very well and offer the podcaster some talking points. It’s very unlikely that they will read your book – they may skim it, but you need to make it easy for them.

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Author Entrepreneur: Increase Your Revenue

There’s a learning curve for all indie authors, which I have covered before in the arc of the indie author.

piggy bankBut once you get the hang of the process – writing, editing, publishing, marketing – then you start to think about the business side.

If you want to make more profit, then increasing your revenue will be next on the list.

Derek Sivers sold his company CD Baby and now sells ebooks about starting a business in foreign markets at I read this interview with him and he talked about how to increase cash-flow in a business. It struck home as true for authors as well.

There are four basic ways to increase your revenue:

(1) Increase the number of customers you serve

There are a couple of ways to do this:

book browser on iphone

Book Browser function on iPhone Kindle app. All KU books shown.

a) Use KDP Select and go exclusive to Amazon in order to take advantage of the enhanced visibility on the platform that way. I noticed that the Kindle app on the iPhone changed recently to add a Book Browser function, which is entirely dominated by Kindle Unlimited. The emails I get from Amazon are also increasingly KU dominated. As a READER, I have tried KU and didn’t like it – mainly because I like owning the books and don’t want to borrow them – but clearly it is a very popular service. If you’re a new author with only a couple of books, this is definitely the way to go, and many authors are exclusive with all their books. Here are the pros and cons of exclusivity.

b) Publish on multiple platforms and take advantage of a completely different audience who shop elsewhere. This is my preferred approach. Although Amazon’s KDP Select program offers benefits, it limits your sales to people who buy on that particular platform. Amazon may also dominate in the US and UK, but Kobo dominates in Canada, and iBooks dominates in many other global markets. In 2014, I published Pentecost and Desecration-Verletzung in German, kobo writing life map March 2015and in Germany there is a challenger to Kindle in the Tolino reader, which has 40% of the market so is not to be ignored when publishing. I’ve now sold books in 65 countries – the pic left is my sales from Kobo Writing Life. It makes me happy just looking at it!

c) Use marketing and building your platform to attract more customers. There are a LOT of different marketing avenues for authors. I suggest focusing on the one or two methods that you enjoy and make it sustainable for the long term. Whatever you do, make sure that building your email list is a key focus.

d) Publish in multiple formats and multiple languages. If you only publish in ebook format, you will only attract ebook readers. By using print on demand as well as audiobook formats as well, you will reach different customers. If you publish only in English, you will only reach those readers. Indie authors are now branching out into self-publishing in foreign languages or selling rights to those markets.

e) Expand your streams of income. You can increase the customers you serve by adding to your portfolio of services and products. For example, I serve a different customer base through public speaking and live events, and others use online video or audio courses to reach new customers.

(2) Increase the average size of the transaction by selling more

  • This can be done by having multiple books that customers might like within product lines. If a customer buys one book and enjoys it, they are likely to want more. This is why many authors write in a series, and why many Arkane Thriller Boxsetpublishers prefer books in a series, or within a similar brand.
  • If you have more books available, the customer may buy more. The power is in the backlist, which is why being an author is a long-term game. At the London Book Fair 2014, I talked to Barbara Freethy, who has over 35 books and, as I write this, is the bestselling KDP author of all time with over 4.5 million books sold. She mentioned that when someone new discovers her books, she sees an overall effect as they dive into her backlist.
  • Bundling is another way to do this. You can do ebook boxsets as a single author and charge more for a single transaction, which is also a great deal for the customer. For example, I sell ARKANE Books 1-3, Pentecost, Prophecy and Exodus, in a box-set for $5.99. If bought separately, they would cost $9.98, so it’s a good deal for everyone. All you need to do is create a file with multiple books in, and get a cover designed that looks like a boxset, which you can get from Fiverr.

(3) Increase the frequency of transactions by customer

This can be done by releasing books and products more often, so that loyal customers return. It’s also important to use an hm wardemail list to capture their information so that you can tell them when you have a new product available.

  • Some authors are doing this through serialization and novellas. H.M.Ward’s Ferro series is a good example of this, currently with over 18 books in one particular series with many of them 20,000-30,000 word novellas.
  • Others are doing this through co-writing. For example, Jeremy Robinson’s Jack Sigler Chess Team series has several co-authors writing in his world.

(4) Raise your prices

There are a couple of ways in which authors are doing this:

  • price comparisonCharge more for all books. When you’re first starting out, you often need to lower the barrier to entry so that people will try your books with little risk. But as you become more established and more people are aware of your books, you might find that people are happy to pay more. For non-fiction in particular, if you can help people with a problem, they are more likely to pay more. Amazon KDP now has a pricing feature on the publishing page which will analyze books like yours and suggest a new price point. You have to be selling a decent number before it shows any data. As right, it suggests that my Business for Authors should be at $9.99, but I still keep it at $7.99 at the moment.
  • Make the first book available for free and then raise the price of others in the series. If you do the math right, you’ll see that you can make more money this way than using a 99c entry price point.

Do any of these ideas resonate with you? How will you increase your revenue? Please leave a comment below.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons piggybank by Images Money

Optimizing Kindle Categories, Email List Building And Facebook Marketing With Nick Stephenson

Sometimes one little tip can help you tweak your book pages or your author business to become more successful. I’ve learned some cool things from Nick Stephenson recently and in today’s show, we go through a whole load of things you might find useful. [But remember, the most important thing is still … write more great books!]

In the intro I mention my lessons learned on my 40th birthday, how excited I am about Oculus Rift and the rise of VR, Apple CarPlay and Google Auto for audiobooks and the power of Inbox Pause.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you for your support!

nick stephensonNick Stephenson is a bestselling thriller author with the Leopold Blake series. He’s also the author of Supercharge Your Kindle Sales and creator of the fantastic Your First 10,000 Readers free video series and course.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube here or read the notes and links below.

  • How Nick got into writing novels via a law degree, how he moved into marketing and online business and then decided to help authors apply marketing skills to the book business. We talk about longevity and writing until the day we die!
  • Tips on sorting out your Kindle categories and keywords. We’re aiming for advanced tips here! How to get into browse categories, using keyword phrases instead of keywords, look at books that are similar to yours to discover new sub-categories, the importance of the right categories for getting good reviews, using an Author Q&A in your book description to add value for the customer as well as add additional keyword juice. I also mention a Kboards thread on keyword stuffing that we mention but don’t personally recommend.
  • 10k readers

    Click to get Nick’s First 10,000 Reader video series and ebook

    Email list building and management. How email marketing has been around internet marketing for many years, but it’s still a relatively new concept for authors who just aren’t used to direct contact with readers. The importance of owning the relationship so you aren’t reliant on another company for sales long term. Build your own BookBub! On transforming marketing from spammy to building real relationships.

  • On traffic and conversion. We discuss the changes that Nick helped me make to my fiction email list. This included changing the offer to something of higher value, using a more obvious visual for signup rather than just text. Capturing reader interest as opposed to directing everything to the book sales pages. On personality types and cultural differences in feeling happy with sales. Hope marketing vs being in control. Here’s the rollercoaster of being a writer post I mention.
  • Facebook pay-per-click advertising. Paying for traffic can be a good idea if you want to spike readership. Facebook advertising has become incredibly well targeted over the last few years. You have to test your adverts so you don’t waste money – be careful! We also discuss Amazon’s new pay-per-click advertising that is available for KDP Select authors. As of today, people haven’t had great results but we postulate that it will be improved over time, as Facebook’s has been.

You can get Nick’s (fantastic) free video training at

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Solving The Discoverability Problem: Virtual Reality And The Future Of Publishing

“if Oculus Rift achieves its potential, it will change more than just a game, but entire industries.”

From TechcrunchoculusriftCC, 16 March 2015

This is how I feel about virtual reality, Oculus Rift and all the other tech possibilities, about High Fidelity and the future of education, about how virtual reality will be the next shift in media – and will impact publishing in a similar way to the ebook revolution.

This article first appeared on The Future Book yesterday (16 March 2015.) And before everyone freaks out at the next new thing, I believe this will happen on a 2 – 5 year timeline, so it is not imminent! But something to get excited about (if you like this kind of thing!) I’ll keep you up to date on it over time.

Customers will always want books, in that they want entertainment, inspiration and education in some kind of packaged format, but how they shop is changing and how they experience the world is changing too.

Imagine walking along a street of bookstores, each one with an enticing window display of eye-catching new covers that appeal to readers of a certain genre. You walk inside one with the dark, brooding atmosphere of the crime/thriller lover and find yourself in a bookstore with shelves of books configured just for your tastes. You’re drawn to a cover, pick up the book and start to read. You turn the pages, feeling the quality paper, smelling that new book scent. You continue browsing and when you’re ready to purchase, you choose your format and the book is sent to you in the format you choose.

Then you take off your VR headset and carry on with your day.

The Virtual Reality Bookstore

With a VR bookstore, or street of bookstores, you could have:

  • Infinite stock with a display that changes when the same customer re-enters, meaning they are exposed to more product
  • Algorithms tailored to present people with new books, or books related to what they have read before and might like next
  • Avatar bookstore owners and assistants who can talk about their recommendations – the same personal touch you get in independent bookstores
  • A global reach with niche bookstores so any independent could set up a curated store and have customers entering from anywhere, solving the problem of foot traffic and high costs of running a physical bookstore
  • Stores tailored to nichesg. Apple style chrome and glass for tech geeks, candlelit rooms for Gothic, flower filled boudoirs for romance readers. And of course, less cliché environments too!
  • Libraries for reference based on the great libraries of the world where people can find digitalised versions of books that aren’t available for sale anymore. In my ARKANE novels, I have a portal that leads into the Bodleian Library where my characters consult ancient texts in a VR Radcliffe Camera
  • Virtual author appearances where people can come and hear authors speak in the niche bookstores – without the costs of actually getting the author there. Like a webinar but with the full immersion VR experience
  • The customer can browse the shelves, picking up books and reading them. They can feel the paper with haptic technology, and yes, they can even smell that new book smell. They can then click to buy in whatever format they like – print on demand shipped immediately (via the drones, of course!), ebook or audiobook format to their device. Or maybe the new VR format where you’re immersed in the story, particularly popular in the romance stores

I see a Harry Potter style Diagon Alley where as a bibliophile, I can go and roam, discovering new and exciting books. Since I buy books (digitally) almost every day, I’d probably be in there a lot!

The financial model

The costs will involve buying and developing a VR domain, and the algorithms that suggest virtual product need to be designed. Yes, there is a technical challenge here. But just imagine the upside:

  • Fewer physical stores – and those that there are can be run as ‘experiences’ and ‘destinations’ as per Apple/Google. The jobs will be in curation and management of the online stock as opposed to shipping, opening boxes, stocking shelves. But there will be many more curated digital stores that appeal to different types of readers. As an author writing in the thriller niche, I would definitely want to curate my own store, recommending books that I enjoy and earning affiliate income. A kind of Goodreads meets Penguin Random House’s My Independent Bookstore but in the virtual reality space where I can control the look and feel of my store. Many of us already do this kind of thing with lists of recommended books and affiliate links but this would be much cooler.
  • Lower costs and increased profits. Income from customers, either through some version of retail pricing decided with publishers or through an affiliate model. The opportunity for up-sell based on what the customer is interested in, as well as personalised recommendations. More books produced but using digital formats and print on demand instead of print runs meaning less wastage and pulping.
  • Global penetration into a market that is increasingly online. With both Google and Facebook invested in getting another billion people online, this won’t take long and virtual browsing customers can come from anywhere.
  • And just imagine the data you will be able to capture! All those juicy details about browsing habits and what people buy. You could test covers, using different versions for gender or age group or nationality. You could test price points, placement and even titles. The possibilities here are incredibly exciting for data geeks!

Virtual reality is (almost) here

You might think this sounds crazy but the technology is already here and the first wave will be mainstream in the next year. Forbes reports that the VR market is expected to grow to $407.51 million and reach more than 25 million users by 2018.

Yahoo reports that Facebook has Oculus Rift, Samsung has Gear VR, Microsoft has the HoloLens, and Apple and Google Project Cardboard also have developments in progress. Car companies are using VR for virtual test drives at car shows, and Sir Paul McCartney has launched a VR app for 360 degree concert footage plus immersive effects.

Gaming companies are taking it further, so players can use their hands in the game, a technological advancement where the body becomes the controller in VR space. And one of the biggest investments will be in education, taking MOOCs into the next level with virtual immersive learning.

But it goes further than tech because the virtual reality community has already been proven in SecondLife, an online world now 12 years old. I have a friend who makes a full-time living designing virtual clothing for avatars on SecondLife. She spends much of the year on cruises as the costs are incredibly low with digital product and she can work from anywhere. There are bookstores in SecondLife and there are authors who run events and retreats there too. The ecosystem is incredibly rich … but it’s not immersive. It’s not VR and never went mainstream because it was too early.

But the creator of SecondLife, Philip Rosedale, has now started High Fidelity, which is part funded by Google Ventures, and looks like it could be something like a SecondLife world in VR. They have just raised another 11m in funding to build deployable virtual worlds, to “quickly generate a virtual space to meet and interact with.” That sounds like it could turn into a virtual bookstore, or a virtual conference, an author group, a writer’s group and so much more.

Let’s look a few years into the future

We’re not competing against each other, we’re competing against gaming and on-demand film/TV as well as music. These industries are embracing VR and the immersive experience will take consumers even further from books. We need to embrace this technology and invest in where the online retail environment will be in five years time.

I’m super excited about the opportunity ahead and if you’re interested in VR for publishing and the future of books, I’d love to be part of cross-industry group to discuss this further. Let’s design the FutureBook!

Are you excited about virtual reality? Or are you still getting to grips with ebooks :) Please do leave a comment below and join the conversation.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Oculus rift headset by Ian Muttoo

Creativity And Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned By My 40th Birthday

I turned 40 yesterday and I am super thrilled that I have made this milestone birthday while doing something I love with my life!

It’s been a journey and I have learned a lot along the way … I’ve been sharing everything here since 2008 but here are some of the most important things I’ve learned.

First of all, looking back … what a difference 10 years makes!

Joanna Penn at 30

My 30th Birthday in 2005. Face painting in Auckland, New Zealand

On my 30th birthday, I was living in Auckland, New Zealand and newly divorced. The scuba diving business I had with my ex-husband, as well as our property investment was all gone, and I was back at my day job.

I was an IT consultant, implementing Accounts Payable systems into large corporates and small boutique companies (yawn!) – something I did from 1997 – 2011 in the end.

My two best friends were single at the time as well, so we hired a body painter and got glammed up. Cameras were clearly not as handy back then – no smart phones! – but the pics are still quite fun!

On my 40th birthday, I am happily married and living in London, England. I am a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author under J.F.Penn, with 6 novels and 3 novellas out in the ARKANE and London Psychic series, as well as a short story collection.

Joanna Penn

Happy writer at 40!

I also have 4 non-fiction books under Joanna Penn. I’m an award-winning creative entrepreneur, international professional speaker and this site, The Creative Penn, has been voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers multiple times. My best friends are writers and I am part of a community of creative entrepreneurs worldwide.

I am incredibly grateful of the opportunities that have led me here, and thank you to all of you who have supported me on the journey.

So how did I make such a dramatic shift? Here’s my lessons learned, in the hope they will help you too.

(1) Take 100% responsibility for your life

the success principlesI first read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles a little after my 30th birthday, and the 10th anniversary edition has just been released. I still recommend it as a life changing book and am re-reading it at the moment.

The first chapter, Take 100% responsibility for your life, still resonates with me.

I had what many would have seen as a successful life back then. I was earning very good money as a consultant, doing a high status job in one of the best cities of the world.

But I was empty inside.

That emptiness around my career remained even when I met a lovely man and moved to Australia. Which is when I read Jack’s book and decided I had to make some changes.

I had originally decided to change careers way back in 2000 when I went traveling, but I kept ending up back in the same job. My exam results led to a degree at Oxford, which led to a consultancy job, which led into the work I did – seemingly without any real conscious choice. I had ‘fallen into’ a job, as many do, and I needed to make a change.

Since then, I have changed direction several times – learning about blogging, online marketing, writing books, professional speaking and a lot more besides. But it all starts with deciding to take 100% responsibility, stop making excuses, stop blaming other people or your background or whatever and just start on whatever you really want to do with your life.

(2) Balance consumption with creation

Zen BalanceThis was the first major mindset shift and one I still make sure I keep in balance as a creative entrepreneur. Here are a few examples:

  • Make stuff instead of just buying stuff
  • Write a book, don’t just read books
  • Or read a book and put it into action in concrete ways
  • Record a podcast and not just listen to podcasts
  • Record a video and not just watch videos
  • Do an online course to learn something – and then immediately put it into practice and create something from those ideas
  • Spend time creating instead of watching TV, or watch TV and then use those ideas in your own work. Steal like an artist as Austin Kleon says :)

We all NEED consumption as artists – we need to fill our creative well, and learn from other media – but if you record the hours you spend in consumption instead of production, you may see why you’re not getting enough creative writing time in! Remembering this will help you turn your time into finished products.

(3) The magic of scalable income and intellectual property

I’ve had several life-changing moments in my life as an author-entrepreneur:

  • Discovering print on demand and realizing that I didn’t have to pay for printing books. I could just upload digital files and Amazon would sell direct to customers. I didn’t need to hold stock or do any shipping or pay in advance. That was amazing! (especially as I had just paid for 2000 print books, which mostly went in the landfill). Here’s my video on that realization – it’s 5 years old and pretty hilarious!
  • The launch of Amazon Kindle and going digital as a reader. Realizing the potential of reaching readers globally through self-publishing to this new platform radically changed my business plans because the publisher was no longer necessary as middleman. I didn’t have to ask permission anymore. I could just choose myself and give it a go. Here’s another funny vid of me extolling the virtues of the first iteration of the international Kindle. You can see the packing boxes in the background as we were just about to move house in Australia. Again, it’s pretty embarrassing but good to see how far I’ve come since then.
  • Realizing that a book was not just one book. One manuscript can be turned into multiple streams of income through the exploitation of rights. Multiple formats, multiple country sales, multiple languages – and all possible as an indie author. When the penny drops, your head may explode! Read more on this idea here.
  • Understanding that fiction doesn’t age. Every story I write can sell for my lifetime and 70 years after I die according to copyright law. Stories touch people many years later, even generations later. Whereas I have to update my non-fiction every couple of years and I have withdrawn several since starting writing. Ditto for online courses, which date even faster. The best use of my time is therefore creating fiction. Here’s a video of me talking about this realization.

(4) Beware the shadow career

Turning Pro Steven PressfieldAnother book I re-read over and over again is Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.

He warns of the shadow career, which echoes our calling but entails no real risk. His example is,

“Are you getting your PhD in Elizabethan studies because you’re afraid to write the tragedies and comedies that you know you have inside you?”

Everyone has their different version of a shadow career – and it is hard to face up to.

For me, the constant challenge is: Are you blogging and speaking about self-publishing and book marketing instead of writing the stories that will make an impact on the world?

The former is easier than the latter and it is easily justified.

I love to help other people, and I still make an income from this site, my non-fiction and professional speaking – and I love all of it to a point – but I need to constantly re-evaluate my time in order to create the things that really challenge me.

Does this challenge you? Do you have a shadow career?

(5) The Compound Effect works

compound effectIt’s interesting that in reviewing the biggest changes in my life, the ideas often stem from books that I have read. I’ve never had an ‘in-person’ mentor, but I have had hundreds, if not thousands of mentors online and in books. You’ll find much of their wisdom interspersed in my own non-fiction books. Yes, I am a self-help junkie!

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is a great book, even if the basic idea is quite obvious.

Essentially, little steps every day in the same direction will get you a very long way over time.

If you keep chopping and changing, and if you give up too soon, you may have nothing. But if you hold to your course, keep making consistent steps towards your goals every day, then you will achieve far more than you think is possible.

This might be 500 words every day on your book, which is 182,000 in a year, which is three thrillers or a couple of fantasy novel, or six romance novellas :)

It might be one blog post a week, making 52 by the end of the year. Or taking one photo a day and sharing it on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, resulting in the beginnings of a platform by the end of the year. It might be 10 mins meditation a day, leading to a calmer, happier life.

It might be reading 10 pages a day of life-changing books – which has made a huge difference in my life, that’s for sure! You can find more of my recommended books for writers here.

I am evidence of this principle working in practice.

On my 30th birthday, I had no books, and no inkling of even writing one.

I had no website, no blog, no social media, no email list. I knew nothing about publishing or marketing. I didn’t know that I would end up here by 40. I DID have a desire to change my life, and I was willing to take massive action.

It was 3.5 years from the photo at the top of the page to when I started this site in Dec 2008. It was 6 years until I gave up IT consulting forever to become a full-time author entrepreneur. That may seem like a lot of time, or no time at all. But the point is, it can be done.

If you feel unhappy with where you are now, you CAN change things.

In this new world of creative opportunity online, you are empowered to write, to publish, to create, to reach readers directly, to make money online through a myriad of opportunities.

The only thing stopping you is you.

As for me, well, I have plenty of plans for the next 10 years. I hope you will join me for the ride!

Please do let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your journey and lessons learned along the way.