There is never enough time for everything we want to do as writers, let alone in the rest of our lives. In today's show, I talk to Nick Stephenson about prioritization and automation of author marketing, so we have more time to write … and to live.
In the introduction, I talk about some exciting developments in audio. ACX.com opens up to authors in Canada and Ireland; Audible announces a $5 million fund to commission new works from emerging playwrights that will be turned into audiobooks; and indie author Brian D Anderson gets a six-figure audiobook deal with Audible, as reported by Fuse Literary.
In personal news, How to Market a Book Third Edition (available on pre-order) is with my non-fiction editor and will go to the audio recording studio end of next week.
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Nick Stephenson is a bestselling thriller author with the Leopold Blake series. He's also the creator of the “Your First 10,000 Readers” video course, helping authors also make their book marketing, and will soon be expanding into software and many other exciting things.
>>> Join Nick and me for a FREE webinar on How to Automate your Author Marketing and Find your First 10,000 Readers. Wed 14 June at 3pm US Eastern, 8pm UK. Click here to find out more and sign up for your free place. If you register, you'll be able to get the replay. <<<
- Designing our businesses to suit our personalities
- How to say no to opportunities that aren't a good fit
- Working with a team and automating parts of your business
- Nick's three-step process for marketing your books
- Whether going exclusive with KDP Select affects this process
You can find Nick at YourFirst10kReaders.com and on Twitter @Nick_Stephenson
Transcript of Interview with Nick Stephenson
Joanna: Hi, everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com, and today I'm back with Nick Stephenson. Hi, Nick.
Joanna: It's good to have you back on the show. Just a little introduction.
Nick is a bestselling thriller author with the Leopold Blake series. He's also the creator of the “Your First 10,000 Readers” video course, helping authors also make their book marketing, and will soon be expanding into software and many other exciting things. But Nick, the most important thing in your life right now, you've just had a third baby.
Nick: Yeah, the house is literally crawling with babies at the moment. It's insane. Actually they've all gone out now, which is the best timing ever. I've shooed them off to go somewhere fun. So you shouldn't hear any screaming, shouting, hitting, dog wailing, or things crashing and breaking.
Joanna: Quiet time.
Nick: Yeah, it's brilliant.
Joanna: You probably wish you were having a sleep instead of being on the show, but-
Joanna: Since you're here, I think what's interesting about this is that you're a family man. You have three little kids and a lovely wife, obviously, who I've met. Lovely. And you're an introvert as well.
In fact I remember you told me once that you're just very happy to stay at home. You'd rather not do any of these author events or speaking or traveling or whatever. You actually just like being at home with your family, which is really cool, and many people listening feel the same way. But you've done incredibly well in the last few years.
How do you manage to run your business in the way that you want to, that suits you as a personality?
Nick: I think it's a real advantage in some ways, because you know how people will consider themselves, “I am an introvert,” or, “I am an extrovert, and this is the label that I apply to myself. Therefore I'm not going to do all these things that an introvert doesn't like to do.”
To a certain degree that's true, but I've always thought of it as like a preference. I feel that my preference is to spend more time with fewer people and spend a lot of time inside my own head and doing things, kind of quite a small sphere of people. That's not to say that I can't go to a conference and an event and put on a show and get up in front of people. It's just that's not my default position.
I did all that, and it was kind of cool, but it's very tiring for me, and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. You know, perfectly capable of going to a book signing or get up on stage or deliver a presentation or go to a party, but it's very tiring, and you think about it all day. So it's like, “I've got a live thing going on at 8:00. That's going to be on my mind all day, and then it's going to be on my mind all the day after,” and it's very tiring.
I wanted to find a way that I could get similar results by not having to go there. Do you see what I mean? And this is where the idea of automating marketing systems comes into play, because when you think about what does an author do to get the word out about their books? The kind of traditional viewpoint is that they'll go to book signings and they'll have parties and launch parties and their publishers will put these shindigs on for them and they'll do these TV interviews and all that stuff.
The traditionally published authors get put on this kind of publicity track. I am thinking to myself all this time that this sounds awful. I cannot think of anything I would rather less do. So how can we get a similar sort of end result from doing something that doesn't require me to go out to all these places? That was the founding principle that led me to focusing on that, because that's what I wanted to do.
Joanna: Yeah, and we'll come back to some more of the details in a minute, but there are a couple of things. So one, this saying no, and I was at Crime Fest and you've been at Crime Fest last weekend, and as you say, very tired. It was funny because this guy said, “You look really busy at the moment,” and I'm like, “I am and that is my fault because I haven't said no enough.”
And there's almost this graph, isn't there? When you first start out you say yes to everything, because nobody wants you, so you just say, “Yes, yes, I'll do anything for free anytime. Just tell me and I'll be there.” And then there's a point at which you have to say no, and I think you reached that point. I'm still struggling with that point.
How do you manage to say no to all the things that I know people ask of you?
Nick: I always think to myself, it's kind of like a test. If I say yes to this, is it going to be fun? Am I going to like doing it? Is it going to get me more sales? Is it going to get me more readers? And if it's not going to do one of these things, then I don't go.
So when someone says, “Do you want to do this virtual summit chat thing where we'll spend two hours talking about blah, blah, blah?” I'm thinking it doesn't sound fun, not going to get any sales from that, probably not going to get any readers from that. So no, I'm not going to do that.
But if someone comes to me and says specifically, “I've got this thing I want to do. Here's exactly how it's going to go,” and I think it's going to do one of those three things, I'll usually say yes. But nobody ever does because people want you to come to their conference or to be on their show or to read their book and give them your opinion on it, and it's like no, I'm not going to do any of that.
So it's just being very, what's the word, disciplined with saying, “This is my time that I could be spending with my kids or I could be using to work on my business. Should I be spending it on this instead?” And usually the answer is no, so it's quite an easy decision sometimes.
I think I forgot about the compulsion to make people happy a while ago. It's like, I don't really mind if you don't like me. I'm going to have to say no, unfortunately. I try to be polite about it.
Joanna: Yeah, and that's the thing. I struggle with this all the time, and it's always good talking to you because you're one of my mentors around this, focus, which I struggle with. So this discipline and saying no.
Do you have discipline around the hours that you work? Do you say, “This time is family time”? Because one of the biggest emails I get every day is, “I only have X amount of time,” and most people with a day job and a family who are not doing this fulltime, as you and I both once did, we both once had day jobs that were not these businesses-
Do you have hours blocked out? How do you manage that time schedule that you have?
Nick: I think I could be a lot more organized, and I was getting to that point, and then the baby came and sort of tore it all up and was sick on it and all this kind of stuff. So it's just gone out the window, but I kind of think more in terms of what has to get done by what point.
If I have a task that needs to be done by next Wednesday, I have a vague idea of how long it's going to take, and I will block out some time between now and then to get it done. But at the moment it's a bit difficult to say, “Right between 10:00 and 12:00 I'm going to work,” because something might happen that I have to give my attention to somewhere else.
In a perfect world where the baby was looked after and happy, and the kids were happy to go to school and didn't have tantrums and all this kind of lovely stuff, it would be picking out these hours. But going back to the day job thing, I've found actually that when I was working a day job and I only had an hour before going to work or an hour at lunch and maybe an hour in the evening, that I would get more done in those three hours than taking a whole day now.
On Wednesdays for example, I basically get the whole day, sort of like 9:00 til 4:00 when I don't get any interruptions, and I've found that when I sit down from 9:00 til 4:00 I get very little done compared to when I sit down from 11:00 to 12:00 when I can just get lots of stuff done. So I find, if you have got a full-time job, embrace that to a degree, because you can carve out an hour and you can get so much done if you just sit down and treat that as your sacred time.
I've found that an incredible shift to having all the time in the world and getting much less done compared to that hour of focus. I think using that focus really helped me to then be focused later on as well. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Joanna: I agree. So that scheduling time, and I use Google Calendar now, which I'm always wanting to know what's happening, and you can plan years in advance, which I love.
But the next thing after carving those hours out is, many authors are looking to start hiring their first virtual assistant, their first team member, and I know that this is something you've done with your business.
There comes a point where, and I know some authors won't be here, but I know a lot of people who have a day job are thinking, “Maybe I could have someone for an hour a month,” like you can just start there, right?
How did you make that shift from doing everything yourself to hiring your first team members and kind of automating that side of your business?
Nick: It was bit by bit, because I still love to have a huge amount of control over the end product. If it's a book, I want to be choosing the cover designs and I want to be getting really involved with that and how it looks on the inside. Obviously I've written it, but then I want to go through the editing and all this stuff as well.
And on the nonfiction course side, I'm recording the videos myself and doing the editing and just doing everything website-related and everything, everything, everything. And I like that, but you can't realistically do that and do all the day-to-day humdrum stuff like answering emails and fixing things that break and all this fun stuff that is not fun.
I had to bring someone in to just do those things that I didn't need to be involved in, and over time I've found that I could give away more and more things as I became less kind of uptight about micromanaging everything, and it was a real journey going from bringing someone in and, “Your only job is to answer emails.” I said to them, “If the answer doesn't fall into one of these templates I'm going to write for you, send it to me,” and then over the months this person became more and more independent, and now I don't touch a large part of that back-end stuff, which is really cool.
They say the way that you run your business will change once the number of employees in your business, I think it's multiples of three. So the way you work, you can show one other person how to work that way. So there are like two you's. When you get to three people, it changes entirely and you have to come up with a new system.
We had to process, document, and systemize everything, get new software so that a new person could come in and take over that role. And it will change again when we get to nine people and 27 people. It's going to change over time. So don't be worried that when you're bringing in someone for an hour a week that it's going to be a bit of a culture shock at first, because you're going to have to spend time training this person how you like things done. And as they get more hours and you maybe bring more people in, you're going to have to adapt the way you work to suit those people as well, because you have a responsibility to them as well as to your customers and readers as well. So it's very interesting. Baby steps.
Joanna: I've done it a bit differently in that I have actually loads of people now, but who all do one thing. Like the podcast, this show, I think, four people work on this show now, and each of them has their smaller task.
Nick: Doing a great job, guys.
Joanna: Yeah, thank you for sorting this out. I obviously did it myself for years and did everything same as you, but that ability to let go. You have a big business now, you have a seven-figure business, right? So this is not you spending every hour that there is in the world working on your business. There has to be that point where you have to let it go, and you mentioned systems there.
Did you come up with the systems before you found anybody? Or did you go, “I'm so overwhelmed, I need somebody,” and then do it from there?
Nick: We did everything the long way, the manual way. So for example, when we first launched the author marketing course, I would send a series of emails with some videos and I would teach people these concepts that I'm trying to teach them. And then at the end of the video series it's like, “Take what you've learned from this and go into the world, or you can come and enroll in the course and we'll take you through it step by step and we'll give you much more handholding.”
That went really well, but I couldn't do that all the time. That's something I could do maybe once or twice a year because it's so much personal effort and it gets really difficult to write those emails from scratch and do it all and get involved. So we worked on a way to systemize that and automate that so that we can make sure people are still getting all the information, getting all the value, getting into the course and everything is working, but we don't have to physically touch anything.
So just silly things like the software we were using. We were using an email software that you couldn't tell whether or not someone had bought it. So it's like, okay, so they're going to keep getting the wrong emails and they're not going to get welcome emails, and this is basic stuff.
Why doesn't this do that? We had to build all these different plugins and additions, and in the end we just moved to a different piece of software, but it was just an example of that, something not working the way we insisted it did. So we moved, and of course everything gets more expensive because you've got the higher enterprise-level software that you need to use.
I had to hire a team to run that, so I actually have a team who handle my email marketing software behind the scenes. You will never see them. You will never see a word that they've written in your life, but they're back there and I have to pay them and I have to pay different people to do different things. But it's all worth it because it allows me to have more fun, make more sales, and get more readers. So it's all worth it.
Joanna: You and I have known each other for a good number of years now. I want to say like five years, I think.
Nick: Probably something like that.
Joanna: When we first met and you were writing your first book, you still had a day job, right? I think you only had one kid.
Nick: It's like I've always had a child of some description.
Joanna: Yeah, you have. But I think what's interesting, with people talking about the maturation of the author space, and I see this with the SPP guys, we see this in the level of discussions in the author forums around different marketing tactics and things like that.
But the development of your business as you said, and my own business, as you say, is incremental year on year. So people listening who are kind of just at the beginning, you don't go from first book to seven-figure business and loads of employees.
Nick: Actually, to kind of go back to what I did the first time I started a business, I thought I had to have all those things before I even had a product. So the author equivalent of that would be, you want to write a book, so you hire a VA, you hire a cover designer, you hire an editor, you get a website, and you spend all this money before you've written a word.
There are so many people who do that because you think that to be successful in business, you have to look like a real business from the get-go. So let's get it all done ahead of time so that when we release our first book we look like a publishing company. Don't.
Joanna: Yeah, not necessary.
Nick: Don't do that. It's bad.
Joanna: Not at all. And that's where we'll come back down to now, the people who are starting out, because you've got a team, you've got these systems in place, but what you recommend for authors is going down to the automation at a much lower level. Now, it's still the same principle.
It's, like you say, having more fun, which we'll say is writing more books and things like maybe you want to be emailing with your readers.
What are some of the aspects of that automation that authors can put in place even if they are nearer the beginning and the software they can use that isn't going to need a whole team to run?
Nick: The one thing that I try to teach everybody is the principle I call reader magnets, which is something I shared with you when we first put it in place and we were seeing some results. I went out and pimped it around a bit. It's a very simple idea.
You want to get people off of Amazon and Kobo and iBooks and all these other places, not that they're bad, but that customer belongs to Amazon. So someone who downloads a book on Amazon, that's Amazon's customer. Amazon can decide what kind of stuff to show to them, and their interaction with you depends entirely on Amazon.
Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but if you want to be able to control your audience and who sees what and how many sales you're making, you're going to have to build an audience of your own, and that means having an email list, essentially. I mean there are other things you can do, but an email list is the easiest thing and the most effective thing long-term.
So the idea is simple, in your book that's on Amazon, put a little link in there and a graphic that says, “Do you want to get more cool stuff like what you're reading now? Click this link,” they click the link and they can sign up to your email list, and in return you deliver them the cool thing that you promised.
So an example would be like you're writing a series. Book one could then say, “If you want to get book two for free, come join my readers' list, or you can buy it full price for $3.99.” And so most people who like the book are going to go get it for free. They're on your email list, and that's an email list full of people you know like your stuff.
That's the easiest segmenting in the universe. And that's the very basic concept that I try to get people doing from the get-go, and most people aren't doing it. Most people, when you talk about marketing they start obsessing about getting on Twitter and sending out links to buy books and same on Facebook and going on forums and saying, “Hey, I just released a book. Can everyone buy it and leave a review, please?”
And they immediately get banned and kicked off, and they wonder what happened. But it's as simple as getting someone off Amazon, onto your email list, and sending them cool stuff. And you don't even have to spend money on software to do all that stuff. I mean we recommend MailChimp at Mailchimp.com. It can do pretty much all of that without you having to pay anything. So nothing stopping you, and you can get it all set up and ready to go in a few hours, and you're good to go.
Joanna: And actually the other thing I was thinking the other day was, again, when I first set up my email list back in the day, back in 2008, it wasn't easy. Things weren't easy, but I literally think there's no excuse now because there's so much software that makes it much, much easier for authors.
There are so many tools that we can use that make it easier, that the resistance that people have, and I think maybe you could talk to this in terms of mindset, people have a resistance to the things that are hard. And it seems hard to someone who's never done a website or set anything up. You rewind back to the time when you were like, “Oh my goodness, WordPress? What the hell?”
What would you say to people whose mindset is, “I'm just not technical, all I want to do is write”? I still hear this. You'd think that by now everyone would be on the wagon, but they're not, as you say.
When people feel that resistance, and I have it too, what would you say to them?
Nick: This is something that we deal with, because I do webinars, like live teaching where we get 500, 1,000 people to sign up for these trainings that I do, and it's the same thing every time. You ask a question at the beginning, “I just want to write, I don't understand technology, it's all very confusing, I don't understand.”
By the end of it they're all going, “Oh my god, I never thought of it that way, that's amazing, I'm going to go do this.” It's just a case of leading people through that mental process of, Okay, I'm not just going to throw technology at you and software and all this automation stuff from the beginning. I'm going to take you on a bit of a journey.
I'm going to tell you a story about how this works from where you are now, which maybe you're writing a book or you've written a couple of books and you don't know what to do, to the point where you can see in one glance people getting your book, downloading, leaving reviews, sales creeping up month after month after month. That's where we want to get you to. So the story I tell people is, this is what most people believe, and the thing I always hear is, if you go on an author blog or forum or whatever people always say, “The only way to get sales is to write more books.”
That's all you need to do. Just write more books. This has always kind of grated with me, because in what industry does just having more products relate to sales? Think of it like you're a shop on the high streets. Nobody is coming in, no one's buying anything. Do you order more stock? Do you expand your warehouse? No.
When the bookstores are going out of business because of Amazon and Kindle and all this stuff, do you think they just ordered a bunch more stock in and thought, “Well, we've got more books, so we'll sell more”? It doesn't work like that. If there's no audience there, it doesn't matter how many books you have, because no one there is going to read it.
You have to think in a way of getting that audience while you're writing more books, because if you have that audience, more books is going to help, but you have to have the audience in the first place. So I always start off saying, “This is a big thing that people believe, and it's a complete myth, and this is why,” and I take them through basically what we've just said and I say, “Well, instead of that, how about we think about the audience itself? How do we grow an audience?”
Then I explain, “Think about where your readers are. In terms of eBooks, 60% of them are going to be on Amazon and 40% of them are going to be spread across the other eBook stores, as an example. The percentages might be a bit different.
It might be 80/20, whatever. Most people are going to be there. So if people are on Amazon, we want to get them off Amazon and onto your mailing lists so that you can then contact them when you have something to sell later. I just talk them through this. We create a three-step process.
- How are you going to get more traffic, more people seeing your book on Amazon and the other stores?
- How are you going to convert that traffic into someone who signs up to your email list?
- And then once you have that email list, how are you going to turn those subscribers into paying fans? How are you going to sell to them without being like a sleazy salesman?
Because that's another big thing as well. An example of this is someone who says, “I hate the idea of selling.” But there are different ways of selling. You're not trying to convince someone to buy something they don't need by trickery. You're introducing them to something they want and it's just the way that you do that.
An example I use is being at a restaurant. We actually went to a restaurant for someone's birthday, sat down, the waiter brought us the menus and then just left. They knew it was our birthday, didn't offer champagne, didn't offer drinks, came to take the orders, didn't ask for any side dishes, didn't come back to dessert or anything like that.
In that context that's considered bad service, but it's selling because people want those things. So you just have to get into that mindset where the way you sell is by giving people what they want, not by tricking them.
And that's how we try to get people's mindsets to look at it that way, what kind of language you need to use, how do you build trust, how do you get people excited. Because many people, if they build an email list they'll send out an email going, “My book's ready. Buy it,” and then they go, “Well, no one bought my book. This email list is rubbish. It doesn't work.”
There is a process to follow to build people up towards it and to treat them with respect and build trust and build that brand so that you get to the point where your book is nearly going to be released and people are emailing you going, “Where's the link? I want to buy the book now. Is there a preorder? When's it going to be out?”
That's what we want to get to, and that's the story I tell in the live trainings and the recorded ones that I have, because so many people think that it's just a technology thing, and it's not. Technology is a tool. It's disposable. It doesn't matter what you use.
It's the principles and the understanding of the readers, what the readers want, how to fit that into your lifestyle and what you want from your business that's more important, and that's the journey that we take people on. And by the end of it most people think, “Actually I've never thought of it that way. This makes perfect sense.” And a lot of them go out and start doing it, which is really cool. So it makes me happy.
Joanna: Yeah, well a couple of things on that note, because obviously the reader magnet is…You do have a focus on a permafree book that then leads into the reader magnet on your website that they sign up for. What about people who are in KDP Select? Because this is a big thing right now for many people, is the focus on KU and how to build an email list if you are using Kindle Unlimited. In that sense having more books and then just rotating through the five days for free, that could be the answer. I mean it's not permafree, it's just five days.
What do you say to people who make that choice around exclusivity?
Nick: That's exactly it. The example that I give is, we've got that reader magnet, that offer inside the book that says, “Hey, if you get off Amazon and then come over to me, I'll give you this free book or free chapter,” or whatever it is. That's the concept.
But what we want to do is get as many people as possible doing that, right? So maybe one or two people a day do it. Maybe we want to get that to 10 or 20 people a day. The way we do that is by increasing the amount of people seeing the book in the first place. So there are more people seeing the book, more people opening the book, more people taking you up on your offer, joining your mailing list, etc., etc.
The suggestion is, and my recommendation is, to use permafree. You've always got a free book that's always being downloaded, that's always got this offer in it. And because you have a free book, it's being downloaded 50-100 times more often than a $0.99 book. It makes sense because you're not making money from the download.
You will make money from it later because you've got 50-100 times as many people on your mailing list. That's great, but that's just one tactic. We're taking the principle and going, “This is one tactic you can use.”
Another example is Facebook advertising or Amazon advertising, Google Ads, blog ads, doing blog posts, whatever. The point is to have something to get people on your mailing list, and that will make a big difference. So if you're in Kindle Unlimited and you can't have permafree, there are a couple of options. You could, like you said, use five days a month.
Joanna: Every 90 days.
Nick: Five days every 90 days as part of your terms. You could tie that in with some paid advertising to get more people, get more ranking. That could work.
If you've got more than one book you could, like you said, cycle through that. You could have a mix. So if you've got five books in your series, you could have four of them in KU and then have one of them on all of the stores and make it permafree.
It's going to be a bit weird if you're on another store and there's only one book there out of five, but you could get them onto your mailing list and get them other ways of getting those books. So it's just that free gets you lots of traffic. So that's a really cool way of getting more people on your email list, but it's just a means to an end.
It could be any tactic that's going to get you more traffic, is going to be cool. Noise Trade is an example of a site where you can upload your books and it will get emailed out to their readers, and they can download it for free. Again, have your offer in there, get them over to your mailing list.
Same with Instafreebie, same with any one of a dozen other paid promotions out there. There are lots and lots of options for you. As long as you remember that core principle, get them off Amazon, or wherever they are, onto your mailing list, and then turn them into buyers. That's what we want to do.
Joanna: I've seen some backlash, I guess, in some of the author forums, “I have a massive list and nobody's buying. Have we reached peak email list?” on some of the, like Instafreebie for example. And again, this is totally anecdotal. Some people are reporting this. I'm certainly not, but I don't know whether this is just a mindset thing, people are just finding ways to have issues.
Is it the quality of the connection they're making with that email list?
Nick: Yeah, it's a mix. It all depends on the specifics. If someone spent two months building up an email list of let's say 500 people, and they send out an email and 10 people buy their book then that might be really disappointing for them.
But if they've got a mailing list of 20,000 and the same percentage of people buy, that's really exciting. It's all a numbers game, and I'd have to understand what did you do for your launch, how many emails did you send, did you bother to get people excited, did you overcome their objections, did you look at what their buying habits were, did you track the number of clicks and opens, are they more than usual, higher than usual, lower than usual, what went wrong, actually are your expectations wrong?
If you made five sales from a mailing list of 50 people, as an example, 10% is not bad. That's pretty good. So actually just alter your expectations.
That percentage should hold up as your list gets bigger. What genre are you in? There are many different things to talk about, but email marketing has been going on for 30 years, and it's not peaked as an industry. So it's very unlikely that the independent author community has somehow magically peaked on its own as a subgroup of the industry as a whole.
But you just have to remember that in the same way that throwing out a link on Twitter or Facebook isn't going to get you very far, just emailing someone out of the blue and saying, “My book's ready, go buy it,” isn't going to work overly well either. So it all depends on what relationship have you built with that audience, where have you got that audience from? Did you just buy an email list off someone?
That's the worst possible example. That'd be awful. You're not going to get any results. If you're getting them from, Instafreebie is a good example. Instafreebie have a set number of people who download books, and many people have reported that by their fifth or sixth promotion they're getting the same people coming back again. That's one issue, but Instafreebie is growing and this could be a way to reengage people who have been on your list a while but aren't active.
There are lots of ways that you can use these tools to improve the engagement and click through rate of your audience. One example from a recent book launch we did was we offered bonuses for people who picked up the book during a certain timeframe, because one of the big things is procrastination.
If I say to you, Joanna, there's this great book out and I send you the link, chances are you don't go, “I'm just going to buy that right now.”
Joanna: No, I'll probably sample it. I'll download a sample and it will sit on my hundreds of samples list.
Nick: Exactly, but if I said, “Joanna, this book is really cool, and if you buy it now they're going to give you another three in the series, but you have to buy it in the next 24 hours,” you'd probably just buy it to make sure you got the bonus and then look at it later.
But the key thing is that you're taking action now, and so many people miss that out. They send an announcement email out going, “Book's available,” but they don't say why anyone should buy it. It's just, “Here is a book,” versus, “Here are all the reasons you should buy the book, and if you do it now, I'm going to give you some cool stuff, so there's a very good reason why you should buy it now.”
Maybe it's a price promotion, maybe it's got a special bonus in it, maybe it's a combination of the two. And we've seen double the difference between people who do and don't do that. So very useful, and that's just one example of the way that you could be using email to sell better.
When someone says, “No one bought my book when I emailed out,” it's like, well, let's qualify that slightly and look at what you did, because there are many reasons why that might be. It could be anything, but I don't think email's peaked. Not at all.
Joanna: Excellent. I'm glad about that. Well, then we're almost out of time, but you work with a lot of internet entrepreneurs in other niches, you have a lot of connections with people who have some pretty big internet businesses, and I wondered, like you said about email marketing and a lot of the principles around marketing, these things don't change.
The tools change. Before email it was direct mail, as in the post. And obviously people are returning to direct mail in the post because that stands out more in this kind of market, but with the people you're seeing in the internet marketing space. I've heard people back on the video thing, like, “Hey, video is a thing.”
Is there anything that people are excited about for 2017? Or anything that you're considering for the next year?
Nick: One of the things is, messenger bots is a big thing. I don't know if anyone watching this has seen them, but it's where you see an ad on Facebook, and instead of them sending you something via email, it actually sends you a message inside your Messenger, which is kind of cool if you want that message of course.
We are currently experimenting with that to see if it's going to make any difference. Chances are it will, because the open rates and click rates are a lot higher for Messenger than they are for email, but then again this is a tactic. It may well be effective for three months and then fall of a cliff. We don't know, but the key thing is it's effective right now. So let's try it out and see if it's worth hanging onto.
That's one example, but again it's the principle of getting direct communication with someone and delivering them something cool and building trust. It's just the method of delivery is slightly different. The principles will always be the same.
Joanna: That's really interesting, and everyone's like, “Ah, bots. Do I have to do bots?” I mean I don't even look at my blooming Messenger. So just so everyone knows, that's not something I'm jumping into, but it's interesting because one of the things I regret is not jumping into, say, Facebook advertising earlier or Amazon ads earlier.
I think there is an early adoption advantage, almost. Certainly people are finding that Facebook ads are a lot more expensive now, but it's never too late, is it?
The best day to start building your email list, if you haven't already done it, is today.
Nick: The thing is, if something is going to last for a year and then get too expensive, I'm not going to regret not doing it, because it's not a long-term thing. I don't believe Facebook ads have gotten to the point where they're unsustainable. I think they're a great way of reaching people no matter what business you're in.
But let's say it was effective for a year, and then it wasn't, and I'm sitting here going, “Oh, I could have used it for a year,” well I don't care, because I'm looking at my business for the next 40 years. That's not going to plague my mind too much if it's only going to last a year.
This is why I don't worry about BookBub too much. Now they're bringing in more ways for you to use them all the time with the advertising. You can use pay-per-click advertising now, and that's much more sustainable. I don't like the idea of Bookbub…And this was the thing for people, was Bookbub was the only time they ever made any sales. And if they didn't get accepted into Bookbub it was like a disaster, this month's just out the window.
That's not a great place to be in either. Same with Facebook. If it's not sustainable, then don't worry about it. But I believe that Facebook is, and a lot of the big boys of advertising are very sustainable. So nothing to worry about. Experiment. Don't get too obsessed with it.
Joanna: Exactly. Yeah, I think that's the overarching message, isn't it? It's like, some of the mindset and the strategies are longer term things, the principles. The tools will always change. Who knows what will happen in another five or 10 years' time.
Nick: It will be telepathy.
Joanna: Yeah, it will be telepathy. I hope not.
We are going to do a webinar together, aren't we?
And we always have fun. We have a bit of banter as well as teaching. Tell us about that.
Nick: It's very important because, being an introvert, I don't always do very many live webinars. I do a lot of webinars, and then I use them as prerecorded ways of getting the message out to more people, but I don't do live appearances all that often.
You and I are doing a thing, definitely the first one of the year, and most likely the last one of the year as well. This is probably going to be the only live webinar that I do this year. So it's going to be special for you and for Joanna's audience as well.
When we talked about that story that I tell, taking people through, “This is why we do it the way we do it, here are some examples and specific ways you can start building an audience without going crazy or getting obsessed with technology and start seeing results,” that's the story we tell in training.
I give specific examples of the software you can use, free software, and we go through the principles and I go through exactly what to do at what stage to go from no readership to building an audience kind of in the background. So it's building up while you're working on something else, whether that's writing a book or having babies, whatever it might be.
I want to get that working for you automatically. So that's what the webinar's all about. It's called, “How to Find Your First 10,000 Readers: Automate Your Author Marketing.” And Joanna's going to have a link for you, I think. Tell us where the link is going to go.
Joanna: Yes. So if you go to thecreativepenn.com/nick17, that will be in the show notes and everywhere and like on the screen and whatever. And people often come, again, because they enjoy our banter. I tend to have a glass of wine, Nick does all the work, and then we both do Q&A afterwards.
Really fantastic quality information that you can action right now, and then also that live Q&A together. So that is on Wednesday, 14th of June at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. UK. And yeah, sign up on thecreativepenn.com/nick17. Right, so Nick, thank you so much for your time. As ever, it's been awesome and you and I could just go on all day, but we'll save it for the webinar.
Nick: It's always good with a glass of wine.
Joanna: It is, indeed. All right. Thanks so much for your time.
Nick: Bye, Jo.