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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!)
This 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 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.
- Free books are marketing, not sales. They attract people and introduce your work to them. They are like the free piece of cheese in the supermarket that they give away so that you end up buying a whole chunk. They also hook into the principle of reciprocity, as discussed in Robert Cialdini's book, Influence.
- You measure sales in volume sold and revenue. This is ultimately the point in what we do. It's important to spend time on the types of marketing that lead to sales and revenue. For example, writing your book description or back blurb as well as choosing the correct category and keywords are some of the most important things to do, and so often, authors would rather not spend a lot of time on this.
- Social proof is essentially the evidence that other people consider this product worth spending money and time on. Book reviews are obviously social proof, but you can also put evidence in your sales description e.g. 500 people have downloaded this, or something similar.
- You have to decide where to spend your time because there are SO many options. To analyze this, consider how each marketing tactic is related to your sales and how that plays a part in your author business. We discuss Facebook and Jim talks about using Facebook Ads to drive people to your email list as well as private groups vs using an Author Page.
- We talk about the sales funnel and how that results in book sales. You can see my version left and here. It all takes time to grow, but you have to bring people through the relationship process to the sale.
- Why podcasting is so fantastic for both of us, and how audio connects you with an audience in a faster, more effective way. We talk about when podcasting could be a good idea for authors, while acknowledging that it's a long term marketing tactic. It's easy to start a podcast, but it's hard to sustain it over the long term. Also, keep in mind your readers and how you want to reach them.
- Jim and I diverge on our opinion of length – both in audio and in books! I listen to a lot of long-form podcasts, for several hours, but it has to be on topic. I also read long books on my mobile phone. Jim prefers short form content, both in audio and books. He talks about the future of content on cellphones, about the potential of serial books.
- Physical events and the power of networking vs online conferences where you can learn from your own home. Jim does both and recently did Author Marketing Live Virtual conference, which has a ton of fantastic marketing content. I give some advice for introverts on conferences – make friends on Twitter before you go and use that to schedule meetings prior to going. Otherwise, you'll just be standing in the corner 🙂 Be generous with helping others and the social karma will kick in!
- We talk about where we are right now with the maturity of the self-publishing sector – how we're beyond toddling but we're still pre-teenage. Audiobooks have barely even started yet, with audio still being difficult to do, as well as having no real marketing opportunities. Jim predicts it will overtake ebook sales at some point, when the audio production is easier with automated voices with personality.
You can find Jim at JimKukral.com and at Author Marketing Club.
Transcription of the interview with Jim Kukral
Joanna: Hi, everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com, and today I'm here with Jim Kukral. Hi, Jim!
Jim: Hey, how're you doing Joanna?
Joanna: Hey! Great to have you back on the show. So, just as a little introduction to people who might not know Jim. Jim is an author, professional speaker and consultant at The Author Marketing Institute and he's also the co-host of the brilliant Sell More Book Show with Bryan Cohen. Which is one of my must listens actually Jim.
Jim: Thank you.
Joanna: Actually you filled a good niche there. It's a good marketing focus show and it definitely means I never have to mention anything around the news because you guys do it.
Jim: Well that's a good lesson in finding something in the market place if you're trying to do something. We looked at what wasn't happening in the podcast space and we said here is what we're going to do that's different. So that's a good way to break into a crowded market.
Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. There's only so much space on one's listening schedule for audio so you have to get your niche as you guys said. Brilliant. So because we've had you on the show before, we're going to go for some specific questions today because I had a bit of an epiphany and I know you'll laugh because you know this stuff.
Marketing is not the same as sales and I think some people get confused about this so I wondered if you can explain the difference and the relationship between these two things.
Jim: So this is in regards to selling anything or marketing for anything but in a book context, marketing is everything you do to reach and persuade prospects or readers okay. Sales is everything you do to close the sale. So marketing is the communication that you're doing to warm up a lead. So getting a person interested in you and the contents of your books is all the marketing that you do. The communication and the conversation that you're having with those people.
Then sales are those tactics at the end where you're getting somebody to actually click the button. Amazon is the best in the world at this right. Because they have the great call to action buttons and they do the great testing ad all that stuff and you need to be great at that well as in the author because you're going to have to start thinking about putting calls to actions in your books and writing your blurbs the right way and using social proof. So they're the same, they're totally related but they're totally different you're right.
Joanna: Yeah, for example I've had a question recently which is, “Oh my goodness I have all of these websites and blogs and I've started this thing and I've done this thing and what shall I do?”
The question I keep coming back to and I've had this myself because I'm just as guilty. What is the point of everything that we do? What are some examples of what is marketing and what is sales?
Jim: Well, here is the alternative. People don't want to do the marketing and the sales right, because in the old days how it worked was you got your book in a bookstore hopefully and people came in and bought it and the other people did the marketing for you. And there's this huge objection that a lot of authors still have with the concept of that they have to do it themselves.
Once you get over that you realize that you have to become an authorpreneur and you have to go out there and do this marketing thing . It's writing your great blurbs and selling direct and doing all these things you need to do. You cannot do it. If you don't do it you're not going to have much of a chance of success. And the beautiful thing about this industry where we are right now is we all have that opportunity.
So get that romantic dream out of your head about how it used to work where you just wrote a check to yellow pages ad here in the United States and people just buying your listing and then calling you on the phone , it doesn't work like that anymore.
You have to have conversations with potential readers, you have to build your brand as an author because people buy from people they know, like and trust, right.
That's the determining factor why someone is going to choose to download your book. Not just the cover which is a marketing tactic, not just a blurb which is a marketing tactic. It's that conversation that you're having with people and creating content like this or content in blogs or free books or whatever it is is going to create that conversation with people and help you build those true fans.
Joanna: That's interesting for example you just said there free books, free books are marketing not sales, would you agree?
Jim: Well yes. So I consider sales like a landing page. A call to action download now button. I consider that, I consider marketing the tactics to get somebody to that point. So you have the sales funnel. So classic sales you have a sales funnel and you want to lead somebody down to the bottom of the funnel based upon all these marketing things you do, you get them in the funnel and at the end you're at the closing stage where the sale happens. If you're in someone's office trying to get a contract you hand them a pen. You say, “Hey, here is a pen are you ready to buy?” That's the sale part of it. So they are the same but they're different.
Joanna: Okay. Then I want to take it a step further. In my head, I equate sales with revenue.
Joanna: So if it doesn't create revenue, it's marketing.
For example this podcast it maybe that at some point somebody listening may give either you or I money in some form. But what we're essentially doing right now is marketing.
Jim: It's the conversation we're having with each other that is being broadcast out as a content marketing piece and building the brand of ourselves to people may say, “Oh I saw Jim on this podcast, I saw Joanna , did the podcast and it was helpful to me.” The whole premise of content marketing is to create content that is valuable and helpful to another person in exchange for that person giving you their trust and then hopefully that sale down the road.
Joanna: Absolutely. So where I feel that often I've gone wrong and I know other authors have gone wrong is spending . . . okay say we only have X amount of time, well we all do have X amount of time a week. We have to get some balance between what is marketing and what is actually sales. So for example one of the most hated jobs of an author is writing the blurb or is . . . that's awful work. It's terrible and yet one should do that. I've recently thought I should redo my descriptions and that to me is like a salesy piece of work.
Joanna: As opposed to marketing but it's a must do. So you think have forgotten about the sale and have got too much into like Facebook and Instagram and blah blah blah?
Jim: Yes, and that's one of the biggest flaws I see with most author pages whether it's on Amazon or Kobo or Smashwords right. Here's the problem. You're not a sales copywriter. Sales copywriters is a special skill. There are people who make 10, 20, $30000 just to write a one page sales letter. You know why? Because they use the right words and the right social proof and the right actions in those words to help convince somebody that they need this product or service. Again number one you're not a sales copywriter. You wrote a book on architecture or romance right, so you're not a sales writer you're a romance writer. Number two you don't have the expertise or skills to build that and you may not have a lot of money to pay somebody to write great sales copy. I struggle with writing sales copy and I've been writing copy for 20 years. So hard to do.
But what I suggest you do is go look at other books that are doing a really good job at it.
And take some of the pieces and things what they're doing in their blurbs and build those in. A great one I've seen is where people say over 30,000 people who love romance have read this book right. You can even make it five if you've only sold 500 copies. Over 500 people who love vampire books love this vampire book. That's a great sales copy line. That's a great social proof piece built right in your sales copy and a lot of people don't want to do this kind of stuff because it feels sleazy to them because I'm an artist. I wrote a book, I've created a song or whatever it is but the truth is is in the sales piece of all these, you have to be able to do those types of things because at the end of the day that's what it comes down to is people you build trust in them and they're ready to click the button and they need that little psychological push in their brain to get them to the sale.
Joanna: You mentioned social proof which is an important part of any kind of sales process. Maybe you could explain what social proof is to in the context of authors.
Jim: Social proof is the best way to explain it is this. Let's say you're out in a city and you wanted to go and have dinner. You're walking down the street and there's two restaurants right across from each other. The first restaurant you walked up to has no way you can walk right in and eat and you're like I'm really hungry I want to go eat. But before you walk in that restaurant, you look across the street. There's a line of people 50 people deep and they're all waiting to eat at that restaurant and in your brain you say to yourself hmm I wonder why there's 50 people waiting to eat there. That place must be good. That's a perfect example of social proof. If everyone else is dying to get in there and wants to be part of that it must be amazing and that is a psychological sales trigger that goes off in a person's head when they make any type of decision whether to purchase anything online.
Whether it's consulting or books or anything. So social proof is very important. So when you're first starting out getting those reviews is part of that social proof. That's all reviews are, social proof. But writing specifically into your blurb is a great way to do that. To say look over 150 people in the last 30 days have downloaded this book and given four star reviews. In a customer's mind they're like okay other people who are like me must like it . This must be something I want to spend time and invest in.
Joanna: We mentioned a free book and the principle of reciprocity is something that people talk about . Cialdini's influence and other things. So because again having arguments about the free book. Giveaway thing and is that a bad idea which clearly is not. So that reciprocity the giving effect.
What are the other good reasons for doing a free book?
Jim: Well the free book is just such an amazing way now for you to get entry into a whole new market. There's millions of people out there looking to download free books. I would say to people what do you want the alternative to be? Before where there was zero chance of you getting discovered? Right ,big deal you have to give away a free book in a hope that you're going to get somebody that go that was a great and now they're going to download the rest of the catalog.
This is an amazing way to get new people interested in your brand. There's so much competition it's getting worse every single day on Amazon and all of the other sites. There's so many books and besides it the blurb, and the cover and the price and all those other things, how are you going to convince somebody to make the time an d investment to do that. Now content marketing is a great way to do that. Building that trust, building that like. That's one of the reasons but a free book it still such a great tactic and it's been proven by very successful authors that is an amazing way to build your platform and get readers.
You also mentioned going to a supermarket and there's somebody standing there with a whole load of cheese. You try a bit of a cheese and that free sample doesn't devalue the cheese.
Jim: No. That was the question we talked about on the show was the value of your book is not devalued because you're giving it away free, it's part of a marketing tactic. If you onto a grocery store and they give away something to eat and you eat it and it's good you're going well where do I buy it? It's the same exact concept when it comes to a book.
Joanna: I actually met a marketing guy at a publishing conference and this was one of the things that convinced me that I just can't talk to them anymore. This marketing guy when I asked him about sale how they measure the success of marketing in terms of sales and he said well they are not related.
They don't measure the success of marketing in sales. That totally blew me away because how else do you get the money to spend on marketing unless it's from sales?
Jim: That's sounds like a PR person.
Joanna: Yes exactly. So getting specific I have been challenging myself to try and measure the impact of my marketing on sales because again there's time issue. Facebook isn't my big thing okay. So I love Twitter, I don't like Facebook.
So can I justify leaving Facebook as a marketing funnel?
Jim: I don't think so.
Joanna: Oh really?
Jim : No. All this social media tools they might be different for different authors. I have found that absolutely private Facebook groups are a better way to do it than opposed to just hoping to reach all these people in your timeline. I just think that's an err because Facebook is not showing your content to everybody. However once you bring everybody into your private group it's almost a captive audience. Now they're seeing the updates in the group, they're getting notified more often and then what you try to do is, it's a marketing tactic and you try to drive those people out into your email list where you can communicate with them directly one on one.
So I think Facebook is a great way to do it if number one you're buying ads and if you're trying to drive people directly to your Amazon page via Facebook it's going to fail, I've done a lot of testing on that. However, if you're trying to give away a free copy of a book and get somebody on your email list that's an absolutely great way to use Facebook ads. Then maybe having those private groups. So those are the two things. Ads and Facebook groups that I think work really well on Facebook.
Joanna: Okay. So that's an example that's worked for you. I just think it's a very interesting question for people to ask at this point where as you said things are quite busy. If an author tried to do everything that you guys cover on the Sell More Book Show every week, it just wouldn't work. People are going a little bit crazy and I know that what's that guy Mark Schaefer calls it content shock or something and I think people have got this sort of, “Ooh my goodness what do I spend my time on.” So you obviously like Facebook, I love Twitter, I definitely can see people buying my books because of Twitter but is there a way for people to measure the success of marketing?
Jim: Yeah. You get the sales funnel. Look up on Google the sales funnel and you'll see what your goal is. Every author needs to have the sales funnel which is driving people in the top of the funnel through Facebook, Twitter whatever else.
Joanna: Free book.
Jim: Then in the sales funnel they're learning more about you, you're giving them more content and then they get down to the bottom point where it's like okay now buy the book. And that's the end of the sales funnel.
They either are going to buy it or don't and you're building people into the email list and all that stuff. You have to think in those terms and Facebook might work great for some authors and Twitter might work better for some authors. I don't like Twitter anymore, I don't think Twitter works for me at all but Facebook is actually working very well for me maybe LinkedIn if you're writing non-fiction books is an even better place to be.
So to your question of what I spend time on, unfortunately there's no clear answer where you should just go okay everyone go here. Authors like anybody it's not just authors. We all just want that can someone just give me the formula.? Can someone just sell me the PDF guide that teaches me exactly what I need to do and what buttons I need to push for everything just to be successful and I sell millions of books. Doesn't work that way. It's different for every single person.
Joanna: And it's going to be a long term view I think as well right.
Everything takes a long time you can't expect anything to work too quickly.
Jim: That's the other problem too is that most authors want it right now. I like to say I'm an overnight 20 year success right. I've been working on the internet for 20 years and I've been able to build this business over 20 years not overnight, it's taken a lot of time.
The same thing with you Joanna, you're building, you're selling more books, you're building this backlist, you're growing your business journey and Sean from The Self Publishing Podcast, Bryan Cohen, J Thorn. These are people who are creating this long term business from the work that they're doing now and you're going to see these amazing things at the end of that tunnel. It's taking a lot of hard work and time to get there to building an author business.
Joanna: Exactly over the long term. This podcast is coming up to five years. I was early in podcasting 2009 I started my podcast but you have recently doubled down on audio starting what two podcasts?
Jim: Yes. Actually I did a podcast years and years ago when YouTube came out called VideoNinjas. We were talking about YouTube and all that with my friend Steve. So I did a podcast for a long time. The reason I went away from podcast was I didn't think that the technology was currently there really wasn't working, you weren't be able to reach that many people with it but everything changed in the last couple of years because now everyone's got a smartphone it's super easy to subscribe and listen to them while you're at the gym or on the bus or whatever.
The other thing that's created the podcast that's made it so big is that cars now your bluetooth right in your car and you can just play in your phone or your tablet right in your car. So the technology has become so much better which it allows people to pay attention. But podcasts are such an amazing way to connect with people. I will tell you this right now, podcasts are my number one way to engage and build true fans right now because the audio and the video medium just allows you to connect with somebody on such a higher level than text on a page. It's unbelievable. I'm blown away by how many people come to me now through podcast that I do. All these comments, they email me and want to engage to me and talk to me based upon just writing blog posts. So if you haven't started a podcast yet, you really need to do it.
Joanna: What you just said,. I did for everyone's list. But there are cases when starting a podcast . . .
In my own experience of podcasting, I'd say that Podcasting and Twitter to be honest are two of the best things for my business. They've been amazing for me but again it's a long term thing and you do have to upskill, don't you?
Jim: It's easy to start a podcast in my opinion. I think you can get the sound going, get a good mic and just create a podcast that people want to listen to. Again, back to the content marketing argument, start a podcast that your readers want to listen to. Start a Facebook private group where your readers want to participate. If you write books about 17th century China, why don't you start a private Facebook group where you discuss things about that age. You're not in to just selling your book all the time but you're talking about that period of time.
People who are interested in that topic would love to be in that group and share photos and share articles and podcasts and be part of that. Then eventually they're going to go well Joanna writes books in that, she's got a book out I should go buy that book. Same thing with a podcast, start a podcast under that topic. Don't start a podcast about your book.
Don't start a podcast about your author business right. Start a podcast that connects with your potential readers.
Joanna: It's funny because obviously I moved into fiction several years after I started this podcast, several years after I started my blog. So I've changed my focus and people always ask me what would I do if I was starting again now. It's actually really hard. It's really hard to know would I podcast about dark fiction? I don't know. Because I know J started one and you're right it's easy to start a podcast, it's hard to continue with the podcast.
Jim: Well that's one of the keys to a podcast is the consistency, right. You're making a promise to somebody when you create a new piece of content and you're saying I'm going to deliver this to you over a period of time. If a very popular podcast Serial did five podcasts and ended it, they would have broken the promise and nobody would listen. They would be like what the heck happened? So you're going to have to continue doing over time.
However the return is there for you if you can connect with your audience you're going to build that legion of fans who really want to listen to you every single week. My other advice for you in creating a podcast is to keep it short. The attention span of people nowadays, we've talked about this before it's just so low and people want it now, instant, fast, deliver it how they want it and if you can't give it to them in that form that they want it, they're not going to listen, they're not going to watch or they're just going to go someplace else.
Joanna: Or I would say keep it on topic.
Jim: Oh sure.
Joanna: I frequently listen to podcasts that are two hours long. I love going deep on a topic with a person. So I listen to these long interview shows but it's got to be on topic. I think it can be long but on topic or short and to the point like yours is.
Jim: Okay. I prefer ones that are quick hitters. That's just how I prefer things and the people who work with me like those types of things but it works for everybody.
Joanna: Yeah I think it does. I am increasingly listening to more and more long form audio which is really fascinating. And I think you're right. You connect in a different way these people hear your voice and it's more intimate I think.
Jim: People buy from people they know, like and trust.
Who was that? Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Joanna: I think that was Chris Brogan in Trust Agents.
Jim: No it's an old quote from then.
Joanna: Before then.
Jim: Yeah. It's an old quote from somebody I forget. But it's somebody else.
Joanna: But it's true, yeah. Regardless.
Joanna: Regardless. That's why I like talking to you and I've told you before. I read one of your books years ago when I was in Australia but it was only when I interviewed you and got to know you by chatting that I was like yeah I'm a real fan of Jim.
Jim: Well, it's so important to have that face time with people and to have their personality in your ear.
It's so important and that's what gets people to want to be part of your true fan network. They will buy anything from you whenever you ask them to do it or do anything for you and that's so important nowadays.
Joanna: Talking about the audio. You've just recently had the Author Marketing Live event which was live but across the internet as opposed to live in person. So how do those two differ because that physical networking you get on an event versus learning online?
Jim: The first event we did was an in person event and those are great. I still plan on doing those, such a great way to network and meet people and build connections with people. Even beyond what we're doing right here physically shaking someone's hand or giving them a hug and having dinner with somebody or lunch is such an amazing way to build connections that can help your business, your career for life. Some of my best friends and business associates I have today come from going to shows and meeting people and building relationships.
So we did Author Marketing Live virtual simply from the fact that I found out a lot of writers couldn't get on a plane and travel and spend a lot of money so we did this virtual event where you can just log in and watch the videos in a format like this and learn from people. We have presenters from all over the world and we have people who came from all over the world to watch the videos and learn about the presentations. So two different things and it worked that well for both of them. I was very happy.
Joanna: It was great. I tend to agree with you. I think the physical networking events make a huge difference and in terms of a marketing budget I actually think spending some marketing budget on going to conventions is a really important thing.
Jim: Yes. Again like I said some of the connections I have have been lifelong friends who have helped me create who I am today and the businesses I have today from those. So find an event that's right for you whether it's for you genres or something, find a way to get there. Don't sit in your hotel room. Go out, meet everybody, talk to everybody, have lunch with people and build as many connections as you can.
You're going to be blown away by how those connections are going to help you.
Joanna: I would say one tip from an introvert like myself is this is why Twitter is so good for me because I make sure I contact people before hand. Like when I know I'm going to a convention I will be on Twitter looking for mentions of people who are going, I'll follow them, I'll find the speakers, I'll get in touch. I will basically stalk people who are going to the conference so that I can actually meet them and not be at a complete loss for words.
Jim: That's a great way to do it. Absolutely great way to do it. If you're trying out to reach out to an influencer, somebody who you respect and you want to meet that's a great way to do it as opposed to just walking up to them cold. Say hey look I'm going to be here too I would love to just say hello.
Jim: Here is a good tip for you. When you're at a show and you're trying to make a connection with somebody who is a bigger person that's very busy or a keynote speaker or something like that or an influencer in the industry, the worst thing you can do is come up to them and say hey I need ten minutes of your time. People like that don't have time. That's their biggest commodity is time. What you don't want to say is I need you to give me your time because they don't have it. But you want to go and say hey I want to thank you for everything you've done, this is really interesting what you're doing, I appreciate all that you're doing how can I help you?
Lewis Howes was on Author Marketing Live and Lewis brought that point up. He said I don't want approach people with a sales pitch. I approach people with what can I do for you? That's pretty much the exact same way that I go through with my businesses and everything I do. What can I do for you that can help you out? It comes back to.
Joanna: Yeah. That's why having a podcast is great right. Because we know that interviewing somebody like most authors for example I think the skill of being able to edit, record and edit a video and audio is a great skill for helping other people which in turn gets you kind of favors in return. It's amazing how many authors, big name authors do not have videos of themselves out there in the world.
Jim: Because a lot of them didn't have to. They're successful already but if you want to breakthrough nowadays it's very few people who have become successful just from writing the books and letting someone else market. Very few.
If you look at every Indie Author success story over the last five years, 99% of them are people who are doing and going the extra mile.
Joanna: They're probably aren't even 99 of them of the people who've gone big.
Jim: No. It's a small window absolutely.
Joanna: And this is a small window.
Jim: But the opportunity is there.
Joanna: Yeah. Just on that Author Marketing Live and you guys doing the show every week, I wondered if you see anything new in this whole space. Like you said you've been doing this for 20 years and you're a marketing guy and we both know, we hear the same things over and over and over and over again.
Do you see anything new in this space other than a new tool? What is interesting to you right now?
Jim: I'm big on the micro-books. I firmly believe that the future is in these devices. I said this before on multiple podcasts this is the one thing that people have within an arms reach almost 24 hours of the day.
Joanna: This is a mobile phone by the way for the audience.
Jim: Yeah. If you're at a job and you get up from your cubicle to go get a Snickers bar out of the machine, do you leave this on the desk? No. You put it right into your pocket. People put this right next to their head when they're sleeping at night right, it's there. This is always there and this is the thing that I think is going to change everything for authors.
My point is do you want to read 100,000 word book on that? I don't believe anyone wants to read 100,000 word book on their phone. I believe that people want shorter, faster things that they can read, get through quickly and this is just my personal opinion. I still think that there will be people who'll read longer things but in the society that we live in nowadays I think that people want fast, it's the Netflix economy. I want it now, I want to watch it when I want to watch it, how I want to watch it and I want to be able to hit the pause button and do it on the bus or at the doctor's office or whatever it is I'm at and if you're forcing me to consume it some other way where it's not convenient to me I'm just not going to consume it.
Joanna: I agree. I read mostly on my phone now and I do read very long books. I don't actually see the container anymore. There's no difference to me reading on the phone or the Kindle device because I only get the words.
You know what I mean?
Joanna: It's quite a different thing. But just on that. I just got interviewed just before we spoke by a teen, by 18 year olds and what was so funny was her incredulousness at the speed of traditional publishing. She could not believe that it might take two years or even six months to get a book out. I just laughed and said well if you self publish it's about four hours.
Jim: Yeah and again back to the Netflix economy that we live in now especially millennials.
Jim: I saw a report that I read a year ago I can't remember where it was from but it said that millennials will pay more, pay a premium price for something as long as they can get it right now and how they want it. So if they have to wait for it they're not going to get, they're not going pay for it.
So you can charge more for something if you can give it to them how they want it when they want it.
And that's the economy that people are turning into right now which is if I can't just get it right now, if I can't just get it easy and I can't get in a second and consume it how I want to consume it then frankly I'm just not going to purchase it.
Joanna: Yes. I guess my thought there is we've seen the Indie space really mature in the last couple of years really it's become a lot more mature. That speed aspect I don't think we'll see the death of big publishing in general but are they going to have to compete on speed as well as price?
Joanna: To keep up.
Jim: We're right in that in between pre teenage I think in the publishing. Where we're right now we are not matured by any means but we're not just learning how to walk either.
We're right in the middle of that stage between seven and 13 years old right now I would say. The technology is helping us get there faster, Authorearnings.com and those reports are helping us build a brand and the publishing right there and all the new businesses that are starting and are helping us get there faster as well.
At the same time there's so much competition coming in but at the end of the day people get so worried about that. So much competition.
If you're writing really good books and you're doing all the things you need to do, the upper percent of people who are serious about this and want to be successful will always break thorough over the people who are just trying to make a quick buck.
So the opportunity is there and I think that's probably the best way that people can really think about that.
Joanna: Would you traditionally publish again?
Jim: Only way that I would ever traditionally publish again is if they gave me a huge signing bonus that I would be stupid to not take. But even then you're only getting a percentage of it upfront, then you have to earn out on it and it just wouldn't make sense to me to do that at all and I would go against everything I kind of believe in terms of the publishing industry and how it works right now. I just don't see any advantage for having a traditionally published book except for a signing bonus I really don't.
Joanna: The thing is you are a speaker and a consultant, so it would make more sense for someone like you.
Jim: Well yeah. That's the other thing too is if you do speak professionally, there are still event planners, people who book speakers, who still favor people who have traditionally published books. So that might be the other reason why you might do it. But the lines are blurring now. There was a report that came out that said people don't care who published a book anymore, they don't care. It's not a sales psychological reason why somebody chooses to click a buy button. People just care if it was published from some big name publisher or somebody else, they just don't.
Joanna: What do you see as the next frontier then? I feel like in the last year we've kind of cracked audio books like with ACX as audio books of . . .
Jim: Yeah. I don't think the audio books have cracked yet absolutely not. Because it's still too hard to create them. Too hard and too expensive. We have not reached the tipping point on audio books at all. Number one ACX has not done anything really aggressive to offer discounted or free books which is what made eBooks explode so big because there are people that make free books and then a bunch of websites like Book Club and other people started promoting those things but ACX doesn't allow people to do any of that stuff so no one is going to promote their stuff for free.
Plus it's expensive to create an audio book, it's a long hard process and it's just the supply and demand people aren't going to invest the time and effort into it. The mass adoption of people until it's super lower cost and much easier to do. So I think we're still at the very beginning of the audio book market and I actually think it's going to overtake the eBook market down the road as soon as those things happen. The cost come down and it's easier to create. Now somebody needs to invent the next wonder kid needs to come out and invent a way so that it's easy to create those audio books or some kind of automated voice system where you could upload your script or your manuscript and choose a voice and it reads your book and it sounds like a real person. Can you imagine if that happened?
Joanna: Well that already has happened because that's what people get when they have Kindle to read to them and apparently the voice is now very good but what you don't get is the performance aspect of fiction. I agree it probably would work for non-fiction but for fiction there's a performance aspect.
Jim: Yeah but it's a robot voice. Imagine when you could choose 300 different voice or dialects for your audio book and upload a manuscript and it just made you an audio book.
Joanna: That would be awesome. So you think that would come? I guess there's no reason why it wouldn't because we've seen in the last few months the Skype translate. It will translate as you talk you'd be hearing in German or whatever that's cool.
Jim: I hope it comes. I wish I knew the technology to make that happen because whoever does that is going to be the next big business. But I do see that type of thing happening in the future if technology gets there. Question is it going to be five years, ten years or 15 years or 20 years we just don't know. As an author you just kind of have to roll with the punches and go with what you can do at that current moment and do as much as you can.
You alluded to this earlier which is there's so much stuff we just don't know what to do. That becomes the paralysis by analysis problem when you start saying to yourself well I found out that there's 20 different things I have to do to be successful as an author. I can't figure out which one to do so I'm just not going to do any of them. Or I want to do this ones but I'm so worried I'm going to fail with these ones that I just not going to do those ones. You can't think like that. You have to just create a list, sit down and triumph. The vast majority of them aren't going to work for you but you may hit that one where you're like holy crap, wow that's the one that got me noticed by this publisher, by this agent or by this up and coming website or got me this or the Today's Show or Oprah or something. You never know but you have to try.
Joanna: So what else do you see then? Do you see anything else other than the audio book?
Jim: No. I still think that we need a better way to solve the side loading problem. Side loading is when you click that button on Amazon and buy the Kindle book, the magic book just flies through the air and appears on your device and you can read it. Side loading is if you sell a book directly, how do you get that book from where you bought it directly if it wasn't on Amazon the person's device to read it.
Until we solve that problem and come up with another better way for authors to allow side loading to happen onto people's devices, we're going to be stuck with people like Amazon because they have to do that magic button to sell it. Again just like the audio book thing, if someone can solve that issue and make it real simple for people to side load a book on I think they can open a whole new world for authors selling direct to their audiences. An app is the way I thought might work in the future again but the apps are so difficult right now because they're so expensive to develop . . .
Joanna: And so many devices.
Jim: So many devices and every time you submit a change you've got to submit to them it's a whole big problem with the app market. So apps are always going to be here but until that cost comes down and that technology comes downs to a level where everyone can do it, it's not really a viable solution.
I really do believe going back to micro-book thread here that serials and shorter works of fiction and non-fiction are going to play big time in the future. I really do believe this. Thinking in like television shows, like Serial did this so very successfully. If you haven't listened to Serial yet you should just go listen to the first episode just to see how well it's done. The problem with that is the stories are great but they do such amazing editing with the music and everything.
Joanna: They have a whole team that was . . .
Jim: Or teams. Again you and me one person show we're not going to go in and spend 40 hours editing a 10 minute episode, it's not just viable for us to do that. But I do think that when we can get to a point where we can create shorter amounts of work in a serial format and say . . . cliff hangers here's what going to happen in the next episode. Here is a great example for you, have you ever played a game on your phone or tablet like Candy Crush or Clash of Clans or any of those games.
Joanna: I don't play games.
Jim: Okay you're not a gamer but these companies are worth billions of dollars and you know why they're worth billions of dollars?
Because they let you play the game for free. Then if you want to upgrade or if you want a special sword or if you want a new tower you click a button or if you want to skip a level so it's just 99 cents, we'll let you skip the level. Now if you're sitting at an airport and you're reading a book and you get to the end of it and there's a great cliff hanger and at the end of the book it says well you want to find out what happened to Sarah Jean, click here 99 cents you get episodes two, three and four. You're going to be like yeah, 99 cents no problem let's go. Because you're being entertained you don't care what you're paying for this entertainment. It's an impulse purchase.
Joanna: I usually think that it doesn't necessarily have to be a serial it can be a series so people will want to buy like I've just put out book seven in my Arcane series and people will buy all the rest of them.
Jim: But if you run the numbers. Okay let's figure this from a business perspective right. Run the numbers. It's easier to get somebody to buy more often for shorter pieces in my opinion than it is to get somebody to buy a bigger piece that may have taken them six weeks to read. They may lose interest during that six weeks, they may not just get back to it. If I'm consuming content the way I know people are consuming content now, they want it first and they just want to get to the next one. I mean there's a reason why those games are worth billions of dollars because you're sitting there, you're being entertained and you click a button and it says well I want to keep being entertained, I'll pay $1.99 or I'll spend $4.99 it's fake money because it's my phone. It's my phone right. I'm hitting a little button and just somehow I'm paying that money through my Apple Pay or PayPal or whatever it is. I think that same psychological effect will happen with authors who take that route out with books. I do think that that's going to be a big thing.
Joanna: Yeah and we're seeing some of that now maybe the failure of Kindle Serials was just a kindly of an early failure and it would come back.
Jim: I do think it will come back. It's just a matter of thinking more like a gaming company.
Joanna: Yeah I agree that gaming is a massive part and I've got a gaming guy coming on the show to talk about this because I really think okay let's in the gaming companies is a very interesting certainly for fiction authors.
Jim: Yeah. It is interesting and there's a lot of parallels and what game he's doing and someone will develop a really cool way for authors to do the same type of thing. Once you do that I think you can open up a whole new world for authors.
Joanna: Fantastic. Okay so where can people find you and AMC online?
Jim: So Authormarketinginstitute.com is the best place to go because you're going to find out where the events are, the academy courses, the club, the podcast all the things are listed there. Just go to Authormarketinginstitute.com.
Joanna: And the Sell More Books Show
Jim: Yes. Sellmorebooksshow.com as well. We do a weekly show there me and Bryan and every Wednesday we post up an new episode so you can listen to that as well.
Joanna: Brilliant. Thanks so much for your time Jim.
Jim: Hey it's great to be here Joanna. Thanks for having me on again and I can't wait to see you in person at an event hopefully soon.
J. Thorn says
Such a great conversation. I agree audio/video is where authors need to be and that sustaining it is hard. I’ve already started and quit one podcast 😉 Trying out different formats and show ideas is important, trying to find the right balance of time invested and audience reached.
Thanks for the shout out 😉
Jim F. Kukral says
It’s impossible to do a speaking gig without mentioning J. Thorn. 🙂
J. Thorn says
Sounds like a drinking game 😉
Joanna Penn says
Maybe I’ll try that with Jim and Bryan at PubSense Summit!
Bryan Cohen says
1,000 times yes!
AM Gray says
John Green writes great books, but would he have half the attention that he does except for the legion of followers on vlogbrothers who have formed that personal connection that Jim was talking about in his weekly videos. They promote him, buy his books, buy his merchandise and buy tickets to the movies made based on his books.
And I am totally kermit flailing in the ‘it’s-all-too-hard-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do’ swamp.
Serial fiction ties into a legion of people currently reading serialised fanfiction on all the different websites in small, chapter chunks. And they are reading it on their phones.
Joanna Penn says
I agree on the John Green phenomenon – the vlog brothers videos are amazing – and a serious amount of work. Good job he has Hal to help 🙂 But also, Fault in Our Stars was an amazing book with a killer emotional hook. A book that touches deeply will blow platform out of the water!
In the flailing sense – I would just do one thing well – forget doing everything and try to focus.
Tolulope Popoola says
Very interesting conversation here, and lots of points to take away. I can imagine doing short serials for the Kindle, and I’m really looking forward to a time when Audiobooks become easier and cheaper to produce.
Thanks Joanna and Jim.
Pema Donyo says
As always, brilliant podcast Joanna. I always thought of marketing as a process toward sales, but there is a clear distinction between the two. An author platform is built around a personality, and it’s important to sell our identities as authors just as much as we sell our books. Content marketing can be as stimulating as writing! Definitely appreciate all these marketing tips from you and Jim.
I agree about audiobooks no where near the tipping point. For one, you still have to be in either UK or US to even use ACX! 🙁 Which sucks and a huge oversight on their part.
Joanna Penn says
I think it will slowly expand to other places, as ebook self-publishing did. They will move into the bigger markets first – I would expect Germany next …
Richard Keller says
Joanna, I agree with you and Jim on the Facebook vs. Twitter issue. My publishing page on Facebook doesn’t have nearly as many followers as my Twitter feed. On the other side, our Facebook page for Northern Colorado Writers has nearly 1000 followers.
Jim, as to podcast expenses — I’m not sure if it’s as expensive to produce. I do a bi-weekly podcast with a $100 microphone and the free product Audacity. Yes, it’s expensive in man hours, but not for production.