If you write non-fiction, you can turn your book into multiple streams of income that take your business beyond the book into courses, speaking, affiliate sales, sponsorship and more. In today's show, Jim Kukral and I discuss some of the different ways you can build a business around your book.
In the introduction, I talk about Audible's new Romance audiobook subscription model and share my hopes for what that means for the other genres in coming months/years. Plus, indie authors now have a new free ebook formatting tool in KDP Create, which joins Draft2Digital's free ebook templates, and the Reedsy Book Editor for great quality, free tools for PC or Mac. Personally, I am still a fan of Vellum but it is Mac only.
I also mention good quality free or cheap ebook cover design with the new Adobe Spark as well as Canva's tool. MIT releases an AI writing horror – and I talk about why I am looking forward to the ‘centaur' model. Plus, I give a personal update on my travel recovery and writing situation.
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.
Jim Kukral is the author of 10 nonfiction books and has been in internet business for over 20 years. He runs Author Marketing Club and co-hosts The Sell More Books Show with Bryan Cohen and his latest venture is www.BusinessAroundABook.com.
- Using books as part of the entrepreneurial journey
- How to find problems to solve to write books about
- The current value of Search Engine Optimization
- Authors' best current options for driving sales
- How to make money with professional speaking
- How to get started offering consulting based on your expertise
- Wearing your CEO hat for your creative business
You can find Jim Kukral at businessaroundabook.com and on Twitter @JimKukral
Transcript of Interview with Jim Kukral
Joanna: Hi everyone, I'm Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com and today, I'm back with Jim Kukral. Hi Jim.
Jim: Hey, how are you doing Jo? Good to see you.
Joanna: I am good, and actually, it's been a while since you've been on the show. So, just a little introduction in case people don't know you.
Jim is the author of 10 nonfiction books and has been in internet business for over 20 years. He runs Author Marketing Club and co-hosts “The Sell More Books Show” with Bryan Cohen and his latest venture is businessaroundabook.com, which is very cool.
Jim, start by telling us how have you used books specifically as an integral part of your business journey over the years.
Jim: Well, absolutely. The nonfiction book business is based upon the fact that you're solving a problem. Fiction is entertainment and solving a problem is nonfiction, and those are the two reasons people use the internet, to solve a problem or to be entertained.
From a nonfiction book perspective, that's the whole point. Somebody wants to get a solution to something, they want to learn more about something, they want to know how to do something.
So, you write a nonfiction book and you put it out there and people will come to you and they'll say, “Oh, well, that was very helpful. Can I hire you to actually help me do it?” Because one of the biggest rules that you learn in business is you can tell people all day long how to do something, but the truth of the situation is Jo, they want somebody just to do it for 'em.
There's a tiny amount of people who want to sit down and do the work, but most people just want to have somebody have them do it for them. So, that's the basic cool concept of Business Around a Book and nonfiction books.
And that's why everyone who writes a nonfiction book should be focusing on the same strategies, writing great content in book form, and then using it to generate sales or products or leads or whatever in a different way.
But then again, you've got guys like Steve Scott who are writing nonfiction books where they don't really have a back-end, right? They have content to give away, but as far as I know is Steve Scott doesn't do consulting. Steve Scott doesn't do many speaking gigs and things like that. So, he's making money directly just from the sale of his books, which is admirable. So, there's two ways you can do it.
Joanna: Steve has courses now I think, Authority Pub. And we'll come back to the monetization. But just focusing back on your journey, you did a book with Wiley, which is how I found out about you years ago back when I lived in Australia. “This Book Will Make You Money.”
Jim: “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money.” I did this with Wiley. I think it's 7 years old now, a 75,000 word book.
It was my first foray into traditional publishing. It's the genesis for my business now. I don't wanna start that whole argument, but I firmly believe that for a nonfiction author, it still makes sense to traditionally publish if you can get somebody like a big publisher to sign you on, because if you're going to do speaking gigs and things like that, event bookers and people like that still like to have that hard cover book.
They still like that whole thing about it. But in a general sense, I think if you're just trying to get things done quickly, self publishing is probably the way to go. So, yeah, so that's why I started with traditional publishing and I have self published since then.
Joanna: And obviously now, we can do hardbacks with IngramSpark, so I just like to mention that.
But talking about the business, how is the business? Because you and I, we are going to talk about money because there's not many people who seem able to talk about money in the writing phase.
But in terms of the practicality, how is the business version of publishing with a traditional publisher different to the business of self publishing?
How is the revenue different and the cost different? And is it actually even a business using a traditional publisher?
Jim: Yeah it is, because if you take the mindset of the Business Around A Book and you use the book as the lead generator. However, I do know many nonfiction authors who write books in the nonfiction space who make a lot of money selling their books, and you have the tiered level people.
You have the Malcolm Gladwell people, the Seth Godin people, they're up here at the top, and then you've got the mid-tier people like Chris Brogan and Scott Stratten, and people like that who write books and they sell books. Joe Pulizzi who owns Content Marketing World.
They sell books, but they don't sell 100,000 books. They're selling maybe, you know, 10,000, 20,000 books in a year. And the problem with the traditional publishing model when you're only selling 10,000 to 20,000 books a year is you're not making a lot of money directly from the sale of the books.
So, that's the majority of people who are not Seth Godin's and Malcolm Gladwell's. When I look at the business situation of traditional publishing, it's more likely that you're going to make more money selling your book or indirect sales from your book than trying to be one of those big-tier people. So, that's really the business.
And by the way, it's more difficult than ever to get a traditional publishing contract now. When Attention came out 8 years ago when Wiley approached me they approached me and probably 150 other people in my space, the blogging, affiliate, search community, and they signed every single one of us.
Because they go with the venture capitalist model which is: we're going to sign a bunch of people and hope that one or two of them turns in to be the next big hit. And obviously, my book didn't sell as many copies as I hoped it was gonna sell, but however, this book has generated an income for me and my family for the last eight years based upon the consulting that I've done out of the book. And so, that's the beautiful part about it.
Joanna: And it is interesting because now like you say, 8 to 10 years ago, they were going off to the bloggers and now it's the Instagramers, Youtubers, that you see in the shots.
It's interesting right now in America, one of the top selling books is a poetry book based on a Instagram poet, Rupi Kaur. And she is selling more books than anyone. It's incredible.
Things have changed in one way, but not in another. Traditional publishers still want people with a platform, right?
Jim: More so than ever. When I got signed on with Wiley, I had I think 20,000 Twitter followers at the time. I don't use Twitter anymore and I did have an email list. Then, that was part of why they signed me, but not the big reason.
Now, it's like the entire reason you're getting a contract. I mean, obviously, yo'u've got to have a good book. But, I think they'll overlook the flaws in your content if you have a following.
And when an agent or a traditional publisher goes and looks for somebody now, they're looking for email list counts, they're looking for Facebook following, they're looking for Instagram, they're looking for whatever, all of these different things.
And that's why I always tell people if you're looking to build a brand around yourself and actually get a contract like that and actually get a book deal, you're going to have to have that stuff. Because they're just not going to take a leap of faith and sign an unknown person on without having a platform that they can leverage.
And that's the craziest thing about me with traditional publishers is like if you already have that platform, why would I go sign with you? If I already have 20,000 Instagram followers and all these platforms, why do I need them for? So they can print a hard copy cover of the book? So they can be in some nonexistent bookstore? I just don't understand that concept.
Joanna: Just circling back, so right at the beginning you talked about nonfiction authors having to solve a problem.
How do people know what the problems are that they should be looking to solve with their book?
Jim: When I did consulting and I still do, when I go into a room of people who have a problem making sales, and then we say, “Okay, how do we get this done?” And I go to the sales team. That's the first place I go, and I get all the salespeople into this room and let's write down the top 50 questions you get asked every single day.
And maybe they only come up with five or maybe only come up with one. And then I go, “All right, every single one of these is a chapter in your book. How do you fix this? How do you solve this? How do you overcome this?”
And that's all it really is about is writing a great book content or blog or whatever is determining where the biggest problems exist. I always like to put it into the pain point argument. You've heard me talk about this on “Sell More Books Show,” I write about it in my books.
How big is your pain level? When you go into the hospital and you have a kidney stone and they say, “Are you a 1 or a 10?” And you say you're a 10. Your customers have that same pain point and they need a solution to their problem. If they're at a 10 and you solve it in the form, whatever content you give them a book or whatever, they're more than likely to hire you to help them fix the problem further. So, that's how I would answer that.
Joanna: Asking questions even if you have even a small audience or go on Twitter and find a hashtag and ask questions there. I just did a survey for my book “The Healthy Writer,” which is coming out. And we got nearly 1,400 people answered with the biggest actual physical pain point.
Sometimes you just have to ask, right?
Jim: Well, absolutely. And now you can take that content and put it right in your book, which is a tactic I've used before as well and news media do this all the time.
In the United States, news has stopped being news and it's more just about reactions. If you watch like the Channel 3 News here in Cleveland, and it's 6:00, like almost every story is, “Let's go to Twitter for reaction.” And then they have a reporter stand next to a green screen and it says, “Mike from Ashtabula says this.” And then, “John on Facebook says this.”
And I'm like, “Is this reporting?” Well, it is kind of because you're getting the feedback from the people and that's where we are in the world right now actually. When people have a problem or want to be entertained, they go online.
Google is the world's biggest problem solver, that's why people go to Google because they're the fastest and best problem solver. They determine the most results the quickest way. And then, they go to Facebook, they used to go to Facebook just for entertainment.
But now, Facebook's totally different. Go on your Facebook feed. Almost everything you see on there is, “Hey, I'm looking for a plumber. Hey, can somebody tell me how to do this?” Facebook has become that resource and that's the world we're living in now.
And frankly, that's the same approach you should be taking when you're writing your nonfiction books.
Joanna: So, that's interesting. And you and I both have done a lot of content marketing, which is creating blogs, or audio, whatever, with titles that relate to the questions people ask. If people don't know that SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the bedrock of this content marketing, but as you say, people are almost preferring social media.
What do you think is the state of SEO right now?
Jim: Well, I used to own a search engine marketing company that is now one of the top 15 search engine companies in the country, in the United States. They completely took search engine out of their title and it's now called online marketing because it's really not just search anymore, it's online marketing.
I haven't done anything with search engine marketing in 10 years because it's too competitive, it's too hard to rank, there's so much information on the internet. Trying to get your site to the number 1 spot on Google is an excercise in futility in my opinion, unless you make up a word or whatever.
I believe that authors focusing on search engine optimization is a waste of time, in my opinion. I think there are way more things that you can do that are more focused on actually driving sales of your books, and marketing, and building your email list than worrying about writing articles or those types of things.
However, I do know people who still do all those things and it does work for them. You do a lot of those things, but I'm just telling you from my perspective, it makes me die inside when I say I have to go write the top 20 tips to whatever article. I'm just like, “Oh, I can't believe I have to do that.”
I have lived that life. I don't want to do that anymore. I find more success in creating a short little video, or going on Facebook, or creating a short guide or something, but I guess it does work for some people.
Joanna: You are an author, you have books, but I would say you're not naturally a writer as in you don't actually choose to write as your like best thing.
Joanna: So for people listening, I do a lot of writing for content marketing and I like that over video. It's much more about the personality.
But what you did say then is that there are better things in your opinion for driving sales. So now, you have to tell us what are the better things for driving sales given all that you know from “The Sell More Books Show.”
Coming towards the end of 2017 what do you think is the best thing right now? What are some of the things authors should be doing?
Jim: The biggest success I've had is Facebook, and we can leave the advertising part out of it. Because it's complex and there's a lot of people who don't want to figure it out and they don't have the money to hire somebody to do it. You can read the courses. Leave that part out of it.
The basic concept of just talking to people on Facebook, or creating a group about your characters, or something like that is in my opinion one of the best things you can do.
And then the second part of that is email marketing. Email marketing is in my opinion the number one most important thing that you need to do as an author to build your list. We just did a story on “The Sell More Books Show” this week. And I don't know when you're watching this, but it was episode 184 or something like that and we talked about a guy who creates mini books on how to play guitar.
Joanna: Yeah. Joseph was on this show.
Jim: Yeah, right. And so, people know about this. But, think about that for a second. He had like 37,000 emails at his disposal. And 37,000 emails, he could go on his phone and say, “I have a new book.” And hit a button and send it to 37,000 emails like that. That is powerful.
You know that Jo, because you do the same thing that I do, I build my email list. It's the number one thing I do to build up and to have more sales in any of the businesses I create because it's that instant, and they've been saying email marketing is going to die for you know 20 years, right?
Jim: But, it's not gonna die. People still like getting that info. Now you do have to do it in a certain way, but building your email list, I don't care if you're a fiction author and you write Pride and Prejudice vampire books, you still have to have an email list. And even if you only get 100 people in it, you gotta start some place.
Joanna: Yeah, I totally agree. I started a pen name which is still secret this year, and the list has 30 people on because all I did was put a link at the back that says, “Sign up if you wanna know about books.” But, hey, it's got 30 people on and like you said, you have to start somewhere and a lot of people hear the numbers that we talk about and they're like, “Well, it's okay for you, you've been doing it for years.”
We all started with zero, right?
Jim: Well, yeah. Absolutely, that argument doesn't hold water with me because I'm an overnight 20-year success story. And I get it, it's human to want to be able to have instant success. This is why people purchase products and solutions that are going to help you make $20,000 overnight in your underwear, from your house.
It's human to want to be able to do that and I get that, but in the back part of your head here, your brain knows that there is no lottery ticket. I hate this topic only from the fact that it becomes so preachy when you tell people that they've got to work hard. Nobody wants to hear that.
When I speak in front of a room of people, I have a speaking gig tomorrow morning, it's like I won't say like you've got to work hard in it, because everyone just tunes out. They get that blank stare and they're like, “Oh, oh he's just telling me I gotta work hard.” It's like, “Oh, yeah? What about the guy who I read about that got a million dollars in sales because he tried this trick on search.” And like no, no it's not happening to you. And it stinks, but that's just the way it is.
Joanna: I think that kind of tough love approach is difficult for many people, especially authors starting out, because I don't know what it is, but in the artist perhaps industry or maybe it's just common human nature is you think that the first book you do or the first blog or the first podcast, and you will be set for life.
In your experience, how many failures are there compared to successes along the way?
Jim: Oh my god. For every big success, there are 200. The businesses, the ideas, the marketing concepts, the money spent for everything I've done. But you have to just keep going.
I have this service called Happy Book Reviews, and the reason why I'm bringing this up is because some of the people who are signing up for that, we help them find reviews for their books. And some of the people who sign up for that, they send you their book and I read the book and it could be better, the cover is not right.
I say to them, “Look, we need to fix these things first.” And they're like, “Well, no. Let's just go forward with it.” And then they end up not getting reviews, or they end up getting a negative review, or they end up getting people just not interested in it.
And at that point, you have to say you have to change the way you're doing things there, but that's human nature. People want to throw things out there, and I appreciate that because when you throw things out there, you find out if whether or not something is going to work or not.
Joanna: Yeah, yeah. I think it's good and I think it's important. I got an email just today, “My first novel is out, it's not getting any reviews, no one knows it exists, and what shall I do?” And it's so difficult because my answer is often to be fair on a novel different to nonfiction I think, you will become a much better fiction writer if you write more books.
Jim: Right. They don't want to hear that answer either.
Joanna: No, because of the amount of time it took them to write the first one. It's difficult.
I want to circle back to The Business Around a Book thing, because you mentioned there doing professional speaking and I'm coming to America next week to do some also professional speaking. One of the things I've noticed and probably the number one mistake I have made with professional speaking is the audience I speak to. I love you all authors, but author gigs don't pay much.
What are your tips for getting paid decent money for professional speaking?
Jim: Well, you have to be able to solve problems in an industry where people that want those problems solved.
Obviously you're right. A good example is authors. I'm in the author services business not that type of way, but tools and training and things like that. I did my own show in Cleveland a couple of years ago and the space just isn't there. There's not a lot of money in the self publishing space.
There are some startup companies, there are some medium-sized companies, but they're not these giant traditional publishing companies. So, you have to find and write in an industry where there actually is a really major need where you can go to the C-suite right? The executive suite, that's the sweet spot.
If you are creating content that helps those people solve problems, that's where you can do really, really well, but there are so many more things to it besides just having the book that's got to be good. You've got to have a good speaking reel, you've got to decide if you're gonna be a keynote or an informative speaker, there are two different types.
A keynote is an entertainment type of person who comes in, gets the laughs, and everything. There's a little bit of information in there, but it's kind of just like a show. Like Jay Berkowitz who does the Ten Golden Rules of Marketing, he's an informative guy and he'll come in and go through the 10 steps and do that. You're going to have to have a speaking reel.
You're going to have to have a really good deck presentation, and you're going to have to prove to people that you can deliver something that's going to make their audience go wild. And that takes time and it takes money to build.
I suggest going out and doing free speaking events and getting them filmed or honing your deck, go to speaking courses, and things like that. If you want to be a professional speaker and you're good at it, you can do really well with it.
I didn't. I'm good at speaking. I'm very good at going to stage. I've been on stage in front of 5,000 people, and I did a keynote presentation and I enjoyed every second of it. I get excited about it. However, I didn't like being on the road. My family is young, I have kids, and I wanted to be part of their lives in school, in events, in sports, and things like that.
So, I got away from it, and I said, “I don't want to be on the road.” It's just about a life choice what you want to do, but if you want to do it, you can do really well with it.
Joanna: I agree. And that's where you have to decide what you want your life to look like.
Coming back to say speaking is one of the big things that nonfiction authors use for revenue, you also mentioned consulting.
If people want to be a consultant, they don't need like any qualifications. How do you suggest people would get started with offering consulting?
Jim: You're a problem solver. People have a problem, so you're going to offer them assistance on how to do that. That's all there is to it.
I'm speaking tomorrow morning to a group of coaches. I've got executive coaches, life coaches, you name it. I'll tell them the same thing. People want to have their problem solved and you got to figure out what their pain level is. We already talked about all that.
I think the biggest tip I can give for somebody who wants to do consulting based around a book is first, use the book to generate the leads. The number one thing that I did in this book that generated a lot of business for me over the last 7 years was a very simple line at the end of the book that said, “If you want to have no obligation, no cost, 15-minute consultation with me, go to this website.”
It was connectwihtjim.com, and people went and they scheduled a time on my calendar. I did thousands of free calls. But 1 out of every 10 turned into a consulting gig.
Lead generation is the number one thing you've got to do with your book to build that up. You've solved their problem with the book, get them to do something. If you're speaking, you don't want to hard sell at the end, but you do want to say, “Look, I can help you.” You have to be a salesman.
I'm an elected official now. I'm a city councilman in a small town of 12,000 homes. I go door to door and I talk to people. This has been the most amazing experience in my life in terms of the sales. I have done thousands of sales because of the internet, but go to someone's home and knock on their front door, and tell them about yourself and what you can do for them.
That is a challenge and I've learned about how people react to those types of things and how to read people. And you have to be a good salesman to do it, but you could be very successful if you have the right calls to actions in place.
And here's the last part about this, you've got to have the right program, right? Consulting as a word, I hate that word because people hear consulting, they're like, “Oh, this is another idea person.”
Put something into a package. People love packages. They love systems. They love to know that, “I'm going to pay this and I'm going to get this.” So, have two packages. The gold and the premium, or gold and the platinum, and here's what you get in the gold and it costs this much. And here's what you get in the premium and it costs this much.
It's much easier to sell that than it is to just say, “Well, I'm going to charge you five grand and here's a couple of things I'm going to do for you.” It's much easier to sell.
Joanna: We should make a point then that being a salesman or a salesperson is not scamming or sleaze. It can be, but we're saying it's more about actually being a good listener.
What you're saying there is understanding people's problems and listening to problems, and the best salespeople listen and respond to those problems, right?
Jim: Yes. And like I said, I can go on any sales call now or go door to door and within 30 seconds, I can tell if you're open to my message or not. And that's just through experience and time.
If I notice you're not into it, I can just walk away and move on to the next one because that's an important lesson. You're never going to convince the people who aren't interested in what you're selling to buy. It's a very difficult process. It's education. It takes a lot of time.
You've got to find the people who are already interested in what you have. If you're writing Pride and Prejudice variation books, and you're targeting them to horror authors, you're wasting your time.
Spend your time where your target audience is and where the people you know who are going to buy, and craft your messages and sales to them.
And again, sales get such a bad term because you have all these scammy, salesy type of people. Sales is just a mantra of promoting yourself. You don't have to be bombacious, you don't have to be outgoing, but you do have to be able to tell people why, what you have, what you've written is good.
That's why sales copy is way more difficult to write than fiction, in my opinion. Authors are great. You might be great at writing Pride and Prejudice variation books, but sit down and try to write two paragraphs of sales copy for your book or a book description?It's very difficult. You know this.
Joanna: Oh yeah.
Jim: And put the right calls to action and to talk about yourself to really hit them. It's extremely difficult and I've been doing this 20 years, and I still have to hire people to help me write my copy for my businesses and my books and things like that because it's very difficult to write.
Joanna: Absolutely. You mentioned there about hiring people and I did want to ask you because this is something I think about a lot at the moment is when you start your own business and authors when they put their first book out you're basically a practitioner.
You're like The E Myth book; you're the person who does the job and you're running a business.
And then, you have to start learning about running a business, and then you get to a point where the business starts growing, and I've booked time with myself next week to have a CEO day. I've decided I need to act more like a CEO.
I want your advice on the things that I as an author need to do to change my head to being a CEO.
What are the things that the CEO of a creative business should be focusing on to take the pressure off all the other things?
Jim: I have experienced in this with a company that had 150 people. I was one of the owners, so I wasn't the main guy, but I was the decision maker and one of the CEO type people.
You have to really think of a CEO position as the visionary person for the direction of the company. And you have to sit down and you have to write down what your goals are long-term for your business.
Is it to create 20 books? The company needs this amount of money. I wrote a book called “Business Around a Lifestyle,” and one of the basic concepts in the book is what's your number. People have to say, “What's my monthly number and how much money I need to make?” That's a CEO decision.
You may say I can make $5,000 a month to pay all my bills, to cover everything I have to do, and then have a little bit of money left over to go out to dinner or go see a movie or whatever. That number is a CEO decision.
Everyone should get out a piece of paper right now and write down what that number is and stick it on the wall behind your computer or put it on your computer or on your desk so you can look at it every day because now you know how much you have to make every single month to reach your goal. That's a CEO level type of decision that I think everybody needs to put forward.
The reason you do the number first is because then you have to figure out how to get there. How do I accomplish that? Well, right now I'm selling $2,000 worth of books every single month and if I wrote 4 more books, I could potentially increase that to 4,0000. Or if added a course, or if I created a new book, or whatever.
You have to be able to just write it all down and say, “Here are the things I need to do to accomplish to get to that number.” And that's how it makes sense for me. And that's why I think it's a CEO level type decision.
Joanna: I think what's happened to me is I reached my 10-year goals about a year ago and I'm still looking for the next 10-year goals. And I wanted to ask you about this because clearly, you know, you are now as you say working in local politics, which everyone must know is not a money spinner, it's doing it for serving the community.
Joanna: There is no other reason you would do this other than serving the community as far as I can see.
So, where is that balance? The thing in the Indie community right now seems to be more, more, more, and that's because many people haven't reached their number yet. Obviously you're looking for more until you reach that number.
When does the shift come when you want to change your angle to start serving the community more, even though you do that for your businesses as well.
Where was the tipping point for you?
Jim: It's a lifestyle change. For me, it was when I had an anxiety attack and I thought I was dying, but it was just an anxiety attack. That was the moment when I changed because I was working way too hard.
You and I have friends who really, really work hard. I won't mention their names right now, but they're working really, really hard, and I was in that position and I was doing too much. I had this anxiety attack and I realized that, “Oh my god, I can't continue this way with my life. I got small children. I need to live my life.”
So, it's a lifestyle decision that everyone needs to make. Now, it's very difficult to make a lifestyle decision if you haven't reached that number, because unfortunately, money is the thing that drives most of us and keeps us secure and safe because we want to be able to pay our bills and our mortgage and our car payment, and all those things.
There are lifestyle choices you need to make. I could care less about the car I drive. I have an old beater car. I don't drive a fancy car. I don't care. It makes no difference to me what kind of car I drive. I don't live in a six-room mansion. I'm not interested in that.
I'm interested in is going to my kid's baseball game and his basketball game and my daughter's choir concert. That is my number one interest. And then, I'm interested in the local politics in my city. So, those things are important to me.
The business for me at this point in my life is like in the background. I do it because I have to do it. But, I don't want to work as hard anymore. And if that means I don't make as much money as I should, then I'm totally fine with that. Now, in 20 years, I'm probably going to be upset. I'm going to be like, “Wow, I'm still broke.” I don't have all this money, but you know what? I wouldn't have missed out on it. So, it's a lifestyle thing.
Joanna: And you say some of the things you're not interested in. One of the things I know you are interested in is going fishing, which you seem to do quite regularly. And I think that's awesome, and again, one of the struggles I have and why I'm having a meeting with my CEO is saying no to things.
You seem pretty good at saying no, and I know a lot of listeners have a problem too.
What are your tips for saying no especially when you feel like you might let people down?
Jim: It's tough to say no when you're first starting. When you're getting started out, I said yes to everything; free speaking gigs, can you help me with this? I said yes to everything, but at some point, you do have to start saying no to things.
You have to start deciding which things are going to accomplish your goal. Again, go back to your pain level. A lot of people have the pain level, you're probably writing books, but you have a full time job, and how much do you hate that full-time job? Is it a 5 or is it a 10? Because if it's only a 5, you're probably not gonna come home at night and spend 6 hours writing books because you know that down the road, you're gonna make a lot of money.
But if it's a 10, instead of watching TV or playing video games, you're home every night and you're making something happen and you're learning about marketing, you're writing new books.
It's really everyone's own personal point in their life decision of where they are in their life and how high their pain level is. It's really totally up to you. There are some things that stop people from having success in those regards, like believing that other people just got success because they won the lottery or they got some special thing.
Those are crutches that mentally we all do as humans to say, “Oh well, everyone else was successful and they didn't have to work hard for it. So, why should I?” Or thinking that people are keeping you down or you just haven't learned the latest tactic or trick yet, or things like that, and it's just mental blocks that we as humans have in our heads and I've had them as well. And I've had to work my way through them over 20 years.
Joanna: And so much of these does seem like mindset, doesn't it?
Jim: It is.
Joanna: You talk about the strategies and tactics, at the end of the day, it doesn't change that much. It's like sit down, write, sit down, build your website, do your email list, and then repeat.
And then the mindset stuff is all the rest.
Jim: Mindset is important. We'd get back to the CEO argument.
If you're the CEO of your own business, your mindset has to be focused on your goals that you want to accomplish, and that's why I go back to that number. That number is really important because it helps me focus on where I need to go because as long as I reach that number every single month, that allows me to have this lifestyle that I want.
And that's more important to me than the money, but it could be totally different for somebody watching this. They can be like, “Jim, I want to work 80 hours a week and I want to make as much money as I possibly can.” Okay, well, then get your number and sit down and make it happen.
But don't make excuses. Don't come in and say, “Well, Mr. Robot was on and I wanted to watch America's Got Talent, and instead of figuring out how to promote my book on this forum,” or whatever. But, it's totally up to the individual.
Joanna: Yeah, I think you're right. And I might even share my CEO notes in the introduction to this interview when it goes out.
I'll certainly be sharing it because I think it's something that we need to do more as creator business people really.
Jim: This is the hard part about this whole thing is that the initial romantic dream of being an author that we've been sold since Gutenberg invented the printing press was you're in a country cabin and you write your novel. And then you get it off the typewriter, and then you put it in the box, right? Like on Missouri and you take the box and then you walk it over to the publisher's office and you hand it to them and they're like, “You finished it?”
Joanna: And they give you a big check.
Jim: And then they reach into their desk, they write this big check. That whole romantic dream of authorship is still perpetuated by many people, and until you remove that from your brain and understand that the entire business has completely changed and it's up to you to be the business now, and it's not going to happen that way anymore, your chances are of you having success are very slim.
It's going to happen to a couple people one, two, three a year. It's most likely not going to happen to you and it's the harsh reality. So, just get that out of your head and realize how the business works now.
Tell us about what happens at businessaroundabook.com? What can people find there?
Jim: You know, it's businessaroundabook.com, and basically, if you're writing a nonfiction book or if you've written a nonfiction book, the whole concept is you want to build a business around it.
We've talked about it already a little bit, but there's so many things you could do to earn revenue from your book besides a sale of the book. I didn't make much money from this book directly from the sales. You know why? Because they sold this book through Amazon at a wholesale price, and then Amazon sold it at a retail price of 29 or whatever it was back in the day.
But I only got, you know, 70% of the commission for what they sold it to Amazon for. So, every copy of this book sold, I ended up making $3 maybe. So, unless I sold 100,000 books, I'm not making significant revenue.
However, the indirect sales of this book is really where the money came from. Your book can be turned into so many different things, courses, it can be turned into consulting, speaking gigs, just so many different things that you can do.
And that's what Business Around a Book is. It's just helping people figure it out. I have people who contact me and work with me, and they're like, “I'm writing a book on how to save Christmas.” It's like, “Okay, well, there are a lot of people who love Christmas, so how do we use the book as a lead generator, and then turn that into workshops in your local town or turn that into a course that you can sell to people in some other way?”
It's never been easier in the history of the world to create a product, a book, a business, a brand, and put it on the internet and instantly get business from that. And a book is a major way of driving leads for that type of business. So, that's what it is.
Joanna: Where else can people find you? What are all the other things you've got going on?
Jim: I'm the owner of authormarketingclub.com. We've got lots of tools and training. We've been around for seven years now. And we have over 30,000 members across the globe in over 105 countries.
We've got a free membership and a paid membership, tools and training there, video courses, tools to help you as an author.
And then of course, I have Business Around a Book, and then we have a new service called happybookreviews.com, which helps authors who are looking to get more reviews for their books.
It's not a paid review service. All we do is you submit to us and we put it out to people who have reviewed similar books or people who are interested in reviewing books, and if they review your book, then good. So, those are the things I'm doing for authors specifically.
I'd like to just point this out. The reason I do this for authors is because of the traditional book business. When I got into this, I realized that they didn't do any marketing for me. All of these businesses came because of a failure that I had when I signed with a traditional publisher and I had to learn how to do all these stuff myself and I learned all the problems, go back to that, all the problems that authors have when they're trying to market a book.
And that's where all these businesses came from and that's where my businesses are built on. I take the problems that people have and I try to authentically solve them for them. I know you share the same thing, it's all about actually helping people. It's not about sales. It's not about making money.
If I wanted to sell out and create junk courses or programs that are scammy, I could have done that years ago, but my reputation is everything to me. My core base is about actually helping people, and if that means I got to give away free information or not charge a lot of money for things, then I'm fine with that because that's just who I am and that's why my business has been successful.
Joanna: And we should mention you also have a podcast.
Jim: Yeah. Me and Brian do “The Sell More Books Show.” We're on episode 184 over 3 years now, and it's a weekly update news show where we talk about the latest and what's happening in the publishing world.
I think we just passed half a million downloads over 3 years. So, we're not a huge show. We don't get billions and millions of listeners, but we have a very small group of people who are writing books who are very interested in hearing about what's going on in the world of publishing. Check it out.
Joanna: Yeah, I listen every week and I'm a Patron of your show. It's a great show and certainly you have lots going on. People should check out businessaroundabook.com and sellmorebooksshow.com on AMC, and everything. And thanks so much for your time Jim. That was great.
Jim: Hey, it's always great to talk to you.