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 YourFirst10KReaders.com.

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Marketing Vs Sales With Jim Kukral

We spend so much time as authors being concerned with marketing or discoverability, but we also need to keep an eye on how that actually relates to sales. Today I talk about the difference between the two, and much more, with Jim Kukral.

In the intro, I mention David Gaughran’s post about B&N NOOK and Author Solutions, as well as updating on my own creative work. (You guys keep me accountable!)

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: 99Designs.com/joanna

jim kukralJim Kukral is an author, professional speaker and consultant at the Author Marketing Institute. He’s also the co-host of the Sell More Books Show with Bryan Cohen.

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

  • How Jim & Bryan designed the Sell More Books Show to fill a niche in a crowded market. A great marketing tactic!

Why marketing is not the same as sales – and how the two are related

  • Marketing is everything you do to reach and persuade prospects. It’s warming up a lead. Getting people interested in you. Sales is everything you do to close the sale. The tactics to get people to actually click the button. People buy from people they know, like and trust – which is part of what is driving your marketing.
  • It’s really important to consider the point in everything we do. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your marketing should lead to the close of a sale.

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Book Trailers And Using Video For Book Marketing

I’m definitely a fan of multimedia as one aspect of marketing.

videoI’ve been doing audio podcasts and videos for nearly 5 years now and I think it can help stand out from the crowd since authors, unsurprisingly, mostly use text based marketing. I’ve also made my own book trailers before, for Pentecost and also for Desecration.

Trailers can certainly be a very different way to get attention for your book and today, I’m going more in depth on the topic with Jerome McLain from Book Frenzy Studios.

First, check out the trailer for Gates of Hell below or here on YouTube, which Jerome made for me. It’s certainly a cut above what I have been doing myself! You can find all the links to the book in ebook or print format here.

Who are you and what’s your background in video marketing?

Jerome McLainMy name is Jerome McLain, I’m a South Carolina native, married with two children, and an avid racquetball player.

My experience with video marketing began with me creating short product videos for a telecom company back in 2006. I’ve continued to work in video ever since shooting, producing, editing and optimizing video. I also consult for a production company that coaches authors how to turn their book into a tv show or film project.

Why is video an important part of book marketing?

I believe video is very important for 5 reasons:

  • The explosive growth and popularity of video allows an author to be seen by large numbers of existing and potential new fans.
  • Video can directly impact your marketing efforts because it is a “shareable” medium that can create immediate buzz about your book.
  • Video can foster deeper connections between authors and their readers by increasing the KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor which is critical to book sales.
  • Video helps keep your book top-of-mind as the reader is faced with the choice of purchasing your book over another title.
  • Video is cost-effective. Once created, it continues to deliver your message 24/7 with no further investment costs.

[From Joanna: I would add that video trailers can be particularly effective for translations, where you have fewer options for marketing if you don’t speak the language. I’ve done German, Italian and Spanish trailers using the same English video with translated words. So in that case, it’s great value!]

What evidence is there for book trailers actually getting attention and buyers for books?

A book trailer is a specific type of video marketing. Some video marketing stats that authors need to be aware of are:

Readers are 64% more likely to purchase your book if they see a book trailer that effectively promotes your book. (Source: ComScore)

Using a book trailer on a sales landing page can increase conversion rates by as much as 80% (Source: Unbounce)

Visitors to your author website stay an average of 2 minutes longer than on author sites that do not use video. (Source: ComScore)

92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others. (Source: Invodo)

Authors who use book trailer video in email campaigns can experience Open Rates [increases] from 19% to 300%! (Source: Forrester Research)

These stats show that if a book trailer is used strategically as a video marketing tool (rather than a vanity item) it can lead to increased awareness and book sales.

Besides creating an engaging book trailer, the most important thing I can recommend is Distribution. This means taking your book trailer and posting it to several top websites in your niche or genre. I believe this is a critical step that many authors either skip or don’t know.

Posting your trailer on YouTube or FaceBook isn’t enough these days.

You must strategically place your trailer in all online/offline places where book buyers hangout. I truly believe a widely distributed mediocre book trailer will generate more book sales than an amazing trailer that is practically invisible online.

What makes a good book trailer – and a bad book trailer?

A good script, creative editing and brevity are what make a good book trailer.

The trailer should visually hint at what takes place in the storyline rather than literally explaining all the details. A well edited trailer keeps the story moving and ensures that the trailer isn’t too short or too long in duration. Your music selection and quality of graphics are also important considerations for a successful trailer.

The book trailer for Revived by Cat Patrick is an example of really good work. Also, the trailer for Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is awesome. These are two great examples of trailers that make you want to know more about the book after viewing them.

Examples of a bad book trailers are everywhere. Most of them are not actually trailers but rather DIY slideshows.

There are some popular services that make creating video easier but I liken them to the early days of desktop publishing: just because you have a tool that allows you to create your own layouts, doesn’t mean you will automatically (or easily) produce professional results. They often use low quality graphics/photos, copyrighted music (don’t even get me started on that!) and poor music selection.

Poor editing makes them way too long and they just plod along to the bitter end. The main reason why they don’t work is that viewers’ tastes are more sophisticated these days. You are competing with what they see on network tv, cable, etc. Some examples of really bad trailers are here and here.

What are some tips for authors wanting to do their own book trailers?

First, I’ll cover some great sources of media for your trailer. For beautiful, high resolution images that you can download for free, visit www.unsplash.com. Another site along the same lines is www.gratisography.com.

Video clips for your trailer can be expensive but fortunately there are some really good free or inexpensive options. You can find free public domain clips at www.archive.org. You can find thousands of great video clips at www.videoblocks.com. They offer very high quality videos for a super low yearly subscription. For music go to www.freestockmusic.com. Just create a free account and download all types of music styles for free with no license restrictions.

Once you have your media, here are 4 basic steps to creating a trailer that has impact:

  • Write a script specifically for video. Start with your book’s synopsis. Its usually brief and provides enough detail without giving away the plot. Make your trailers duration is no longer than 90 seconds. A good rule of thumb to remember is 50 words amounts to about 30 seconds of video.
  • Find appropriate music. Music sets the emotional tone of the trailer and is just as important as the visuals. Wisely choose what goes with the story you’re telling with the video. Watch trailers in your genre to study what music selections were used.
  • Edit the trailer. PC users can edit using Movie Maker which comes installed with Windows while Mac users can edit with iMovie. A great resource to learn tips & tricks of editing video is lynda.com.
  • Distribute your trailer in multiple places. Although a great place to post, YouTube is now a crowded space that requires LOTS of work to be noticed there. That said, don’t put all your eggs in that basket. There are video distribution services such as oneload.com that, for a fee, will distribute your video to multiple, popular social and video sharing sites. This really increases the chances of your hard work being seen and traffic being led back to your site or blog.

[From Joanna: My book trailers are certainly nowhere near the quality of Jerome’s, but here’s how you can make a DIY book trailer like my earlier efforts.]

book frenzy studiosWhere can people find you online?

We just launched a new website at www.bookfrenzystudios.com. You can see examples of our work, watch client testimonials and contact us for a complimentary consultation on any video marketing services that we offer.

Do you have any questions about book trailers for Jerome? Or have you done a book trailer that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below.

Recommended Books For Writing, Self-Publishing, Book Marketing And Creative Entrepreneurship

These are some of the books I love and recommend for authors. I know there are gazillion more, but these have been the most useful to me on my own writing journey.

Books on Writing and Creativity

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen KingStephen King - On Writing. Insights about writing that will make you feel better about where you are. Even the uber-mega-stars have a difficult time! Includes timeless advice on ‘butt in chair.’

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamottbirdbybird. Includes life-changing opinions on first drafts and how bad they really are meant to be.

The Successful Novelist: A lifetime of lessons about writing and publishing – David Morrellsuccessful novelist. From the creator of Rambo, this book has some great comments on fame and money, as well as what really matters as a writer and in life. Here’s my interview with David Morrell about the book and his writing life.

Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the writer within – Natalie Goldberg.bones I love Natalie’s vulnerability and this book continues to help me when I feel like self-censoring.

STORY: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKeestory. Incredible for authors as well as screenwriters as the principles of storytelling are universal. I’ve learned so much from this book, and more from seeing him live. It’s also worth getting on audiobook as McKee is an incredible performer.

Story Engineering: Mastering the six core competencies of successful writing – Larry BrooksStory Engineering. This was the book that helped me write my first novel. Once the concept of ‘scene’ dropped for me, I was able to structure a story. Here’s my interview with Larry Brooks on the topic.

The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your creative battles – Steven Pressfieldwar of art. Will make you feel better about the struggles of being an artist and will give you hope that you can make it through to a finished product. Here’s my interview with Steven Pressfield.

Turning Pro: Tap your inner power and create your life’s work – Steven Pressfield.Turning Pro Steven Pressfield Probably the book I re-read the most. I have it in ebook, print and audio format and revisit every new year. If you want to be a professional writer, this book will kick your ass!

The Pursuit of Perfection and how it harms writers – Kristine Kathryn Ruschperfection. If you struggle to write, finish a project or with doubt in general, this book will help. Something for every writer.

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys To Creativity – Hugh McLeodignoreverybody. If you think it’s crazy to consider making money from something you love, look at how Hugh has transitioned from cartoons on the back of business cards to a huge online business. But first, you need to tap into your creativity …

Self-publishing

Let’s Get Digital: How to self-publish and why you should – David Gaughranlets get digital. The most comprehensive book on self-publishing. David is a campaigner for indie rights, so this book is completely transparent with no hidden agenda.

Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success – Johnny B. Truant & Sean Plattwrite-publish-repeat. A comprehensive look at the business model of high-output fiction writers. Includes how to write fast, publish quickly and get your book to customers. They also have a video course on Udemy that goes through the aspects of the book. Here’s my interview with Sean Platt and separately with Johnny B Truant.

Choosing a Self Publishing Service – The Alliance of Independent Authorschoosing a self publishing service. Written by authors, for authors with no bias towards any service, this goes through how you can evaluate premium self-publishing companies and how to do it yourself.

Self-Publishers Legal Handbook – Helen Sedwicklegalhandbook. Contains information on using images as an indie, what to watch out for in contracts with self-publishing services, working with collaborators and much more.

Book Marketing

How to Market a Book – Joanna Penn.how to market a book second edition Yes, this is my book (!) but I wrote it because I couldn’t find one single book that offered everything for authors in one. I’ve been studying marketing for years now and this is everything I have learned along the way. Updated Oct 2014.

Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world. A step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell – Michael Hyattplatform. This is for any small business and does a great job of going through all the aspects of reaching an audience through a platform.

Let’s Get Visible: How to get noticed and sell more books – David Gaughranvisible300px. Focuses specifically on aspects of book selling online regarding Amazon algorithms, categories and optimizing your sales page.

Discoverability: Help readers find you in today’s world of publishing – Kristine Kathryn Ruschdiscoverability. With 30 years of experience in publishing and now a mentor for indie authors, Kris brings immense experience with all kinds of marketing to this book. Insights on what really works online and off.

1001 ways to market your books – John Kremer1001 ways. A fascinating resource with tons of offline marketing tips as well as online ones to help you get your book noticed.

Author Entrepreneur

Business for Authors: How to be an author entrepreneur – Joanna Pennbusiness for authors. Yes, it’s my book again! But after 13 years as a consultant, I bring my business head to the creative world and share how you can make a living as a writer.

Make Art, Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on fueling your creative career – Elizabeth Hyde Stevensmakeartmakemoney. Jim Henson was a puppeteer and a multi-millionaire and this book explores how he ‘played’ with both art and money, becoming incredibly successful in both.

success principlesThe Success Principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be – Jack Canfield. The book that changed my life and helped me to escape the day job and become an entrepreneur. Lesson 1: Take responsibility for 100% of everything in your life. You are where you are because of your choices. From the day I read that page, I started to make different choices.

The Compound Effect – Darren Hardycompound effect. Writing a few hundred words a day doesn’t seem like much. Saving a few hundred dollars a month doesn’t seem like much. Drinking water instead of soda doesn’t seem like much. But all these little things make a huge difference over time. This book will help you see the magic of compounding – and I have seen this in my own life. In 2007, I had no books, no website, no online audience, no podcast, no twitter – just a day job I hated. Little steps every day since then have changed my life.

The Four Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich – Tim Ferriss.four hour work week Helped me with the inspiration and education to leave my day job for the entrepreneurial life. It was the impetus to start this site and realistically consider a lifestyle change. Tim also has a brilliant podcast with some of the most interesting guests around.

$100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau: Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love and create a new future100 startup. A more recent take on lifestyle design, opting out of traditional employment and how you can start an entrepreneurial venture for less than $100 – with LOTS of inspiring examples.

The Icarus Deception – Seth Godinicarus deception. Art isn’t a result. It’s a journey. Pick yourself and fly closer to the sun. I want everyone who has self-doubt about the creative process to read this book. It’s super inspiring – you can read some of my highlights from the book here.

Choose Yourself – James Altucherchoose yourself. A manifesto to ignore the middlemen and choose yourself in this age of opportunity. The corporate ‘work’ world is broken, the education system is a bubble waiting to burst – you need to take control of your life.

Manage your day-to-day. Build your routine, find your focus and sharpen your creative mindmanage day to day. From 99U. Creatives need time to play and dream, but also to knuckle down and sort out a production routine, a workspace and schedule. This has lots of small chapters on all things productivity related.

Just writing this list down has made me want to start reading them all over again!

What are your recommended books for writers in these categories? Please leave them in the comments below.

BookTrack: Why Soundtracks For Books Are Great For Readers And Authors

I just did a fantastic event in Auckland, New Zealand, so a big thanks to everyone who came! Plus a big thanks to BookTrack who sponsored and organized the event, as well as Auckland Libraries who hosted it.

booktrackSo what is Booktrack?

First up, watch this quick video to get the idea about what it is – watch below or here on YouTube

In order to learn more about this, I interviewed Paul Cameron, CEO and co-founder of Booktrack about the service. In this video, we talk about why he and his brother started the company and what they want to achieve, as well as the benefits for authors and readers. You can watch below or here on YouTube.

Highlights of our discussion include:

  • People often read in public accompanied by a soundtrack of some kind – either to shut out ambient noise, or to accompany the story.

Books are (currently) one of the only entertainment choices that doesn’t have synchronized sound.

  • Authors often choose soundtracks as they write, and share it with readers. For example, check out the Undercover Soundtrack on Roz Morris’ blog
  • Booktrack takes a movie style soundtrack and synchronizes it with individual reading speed via apps. You can create these yourself for free – and it’s super fun!
  • Booktrack has a LOT of music and sound available to use – you can’t just use any music because of copyright
  • I mention how soundtracks on film are designed to underscore emotional elements, and no film is complete now without a soundtrack. Booktrack is aiming to get to this point in the future.
  • Readers can find Booktrack on the app stores or online Booktrack.com – it’s free to use and try at the moment.
  • The company’s aim is to become something similar to Audible but without words – selling books with soundtracks direct to consumers.

budapest booktrackMarketing and sales with BookTrack

Book marketing is a constant challenge for us all and one way to stand out is by having more than just text available. If you can add sound to your words, it brings another atmospheric dimension to the reading experience, and may be enough to draw people into your book.

The easiest thing to do is to check out a few books. Here’s my prologue for One Day In Budapest, and Hugh Howey’s Sand

You can easily share the Booktracks on social media and email, and you can also use embeddable widgets on your website.

In terms of monetization, you can add a link to all the platforms where people can buy your book as part of the free aspect of the platform. In 2015, Booktracks will be available for sale, so could provide another revenue stream.

booktrack

Five useful tips for using Booktrack

I asked author D.C.Grant to share her tips for using the service. You can check out her book, Where the flag floats, here on Booktrack.

Dawn also has a book for authors, The Booktrack Author User Guide, which will help you if you want to do DIY.

flag floatsWhen you are creating a sound track for your book using Booktrack, it is called booktracking.

  1. Treat booktracking time like writing time – block off a period of time with no distractions, switch off email/ text message/social media notifications. Also limit or exclude other sounds, or work using a headset so that you can concentrate on the tracks.
  2. Booktrack short sections at a time. Don’t attempt to do too much all at once.
  3. Keep pen and paper handy, or a note-taking app like OneNote, to make a note of the tracks that appeal to you as you go through the results of your search criteria. It’ll be a certainty that you won’t remember the track that you liked on page 2 by the time you get to page 6.
  4. If you find the diversity of music tracks overwhelming, search for a composer whose music suits the genre/theme of your book and make that your ‘go-to’ composer when choosing tracks. For a showcase of composers and the type of music they produce, use the Booktrack Music Showcase.
  5. Layer your sound – start with music, then layer on an ambience track and finish with sound effects. Or layer two ambience tracks and then sound effects. Or a music track and two ambience tracks and no sound effects. The choice is up to you. You can layer on as many tracks as you like, but too many and things may get muddled! Play it back to make sure it’s not too much and that the sound effects don’t get overwhelmed.

Booktracking can appear daunting but there’s no better way to learn that to just jump in and do it! Have a go today.

BIO: D C Grant writes books for boys because she reads books for boys. Her favorite authors are Lee Child and Bernard Cornwall and with these influences she was never going to be a romance writer. D C Grant currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand but was born in Manchester, England and lived for twenty years in Durban, South Africa. She currently lives in a New York style loft apartment with a slightly psychotic cat called Candy.

Here’s how to make a Booktrack

You can find out more at Booktrack.com or on twitter @booktrack

What do you think about this? Do you ever listen to music/movie soundtracks when reading? Have you tried using Booktrack as a reader or as an author and do you have any tips or thoughts? Please leave your comments below and join the conversation.