What do you really care about? Rankings on Amazon or money in your bank account? In this interview, David Chilton shares how you can sell books in bulk to companies resulting in a big pay-day — but no ‘bestseller' tag. This is a fascinating discussion that will challenge your definition of success and — hopefully — result in more income from your books.
In the introduction, I talk about some of the impacts of the coronavirus on publishing, authors, and bookstores. Publishing Perspectives has some good coverage, including this article on the impact in Italy. Plus, The New Publishing Standard is covering a lot, too.
Plus, I'm on the Choose FI Podcast talking about how I started my creative business in the wake of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis, and the Self Publishing Show and the KWL Podcast talking about Audio for Authors. And if you want to make another income stream, check out my new mini-course, Turn What you Know into an Online Course.
Today's show is sponsored by Draft2Digital, where you can get free ebook formatting, free distribution to multiple stores, and a host of other benefits. Get your free Author Marketing Guide at www.draft2digital.com/penn
David Chilton is the author of finance books, The Wealthy Barber and The Wealthy Barber Returns, as well as being a venture capitalist on Canada's Dragon's Den. His self-published books on finance have sold over 5 million copies. David now has a number of courses out on bulk sales and nonfiction book marketing, which we're talking about today. You can find them at my affiliate link: www.TheCreativePenn.com/bulksales
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- Self-publishing in 1989 and how things have changed
- How the competition for people’s attention impacts book sales
- What are corporate and bulk sales?
- How digital sales can drive print sales
- How to approach people about bulk sales (even if you’re an introvert)
- How contracts work with bulk sales
- Why TV isn’t the best marketing tool for books
- The mindset of those who succeed over the long term
You can find David Chilton and the courses at TheChiltonMethod.com and on Twitter @wealthy_barber
Transcript of Interview with David Chilton
Joanna: David Chilton is the author of finance books, The Wealthy Barber and The Wealthy Barber Returns, as well as being a venture capitalist on Canada's Dragon's Den. His self-published books on finance have sold over 5 million copies. And David now has a number of courses out on bulk sales and nonfiction book marketing, which we're talking about today.
David: Thank you so much for having me. I love to hear the accent. I just watched ‘Line of Duty' on Netflix. So I've been hearing a lot of British accents. And no, it's great to be here.
I love book marketing. I don't do a lot of it anymore. In fact, I put the course together that you referenced a few years ago, because we were being so overwhelmed with requests from self-published authors to give them some guidance.
I thought I'd put everything I knew in a course and put it out there. So I'm glad it's going over well, and it's a thrill to be with you. I know you're one of the biggest influencers in the whole industry. You've helped a lot of people and you should be proud of that.
Joanna: Thank you so much. Well, my Canadian friends tell me that you're super famous. So I'm very excited to talk to you. But you self-published your books before it was trendy to do so.
Winding the clock back, why did you decide to do it yourself back then?
David: What's interesting is, there have been a lot of articles written saying that I couldn't get the book published. And honestly, I wish that was the case because it would be more dramatic and it'd be a better story, but that's not the situation.
I ended up going to Fitzhenry & Whiteside, a Canadian publisher then, and Harper & Collins, Harper Collins. And they both said yes. They both liked The Wealthy Barber, but they wouldn't give me control over the corporate sales market, the bulk sales market.
I knew the publishers weren't strong in that area. It was something I wanted to emphasize, make it a key part of the marketing. And the margins are good, obviously. So I held back and said I'll self-publish it and I'll put it in the bookstores myself, and didn't really know what I was doing. I read John Kremer's book, ‘1001 Ways to Market your Books.'
And I started knocking on doors. Initially, I couldn't even get into bookstores, but then it got traction, the book, its second year. Key to note, it was the second year.
Then it took off and went on to become the top-selling Canadian book ever. And then we launched down in the States and it went well down there, and it got turned into a PBS show. And it's been a lot of fun.
Frankly, I've only had one good idea in my entire life, but I had it when I was 25, thankfully. And I'm not that sharp a guy, but the book marketing end of things I really enjoyed. I ended up enjoying that more than my specialty area, which is personal finance.
And self-publishing, of course, is a great spot for creativity and experimenting and trying different marketing initiatives. And we did a lot of that, then taught a lot of other people how we did it. And it's been a great, great experience. I've met so many wonderful people over the years.
Joanna: What year was it when you first published?
David: I published in 1989. I self-published The Wealthy Barber that year. Brought it out in the States. Partnered in a very unique way with Prima Publishing. They ended up getting taken over by Simon & Schuster down in the States.
And it's interesting, at the time this happened, so we're talking 29 years ago, I thought this would become a very conventional type of deal structure where I controlled the corporate sales, was able to buy books from them at just above cost, but they control the retail and paid me a conventional royalty.
I thought that deal, that structure would take off. I've only seen it five or six times since. Simon & Schuster is now doing a lot of that with their big nonfiction authors. But for the most part, it hasn't become what I thought it would, and it should, because a lot of authors are very good at corporate sales.
They've picked up on the potential in that marketplace. They know the industry players. They've got the credibility to make the calls. And we'll talk more later about how that opportunity is not being taken advantage of. But that's how the deal came out, started then. The book sold well for years and years.
And then I ended up helping two young sisters from Canada to self-publish a series of cookbooks. And they went on to set all kinds of records. They've sold millions and millions and millions of books, self-publishing the cookbooks, too. So the kind of marketing we've used, obviously, has been effective. I think we've put out seven books out of the office, and they've all gone directly to number one.
Joanna: And it's so interesting because I think you mentioned there that these publishing companies were not strong at corporate sales, and are still not strong at corporate sales.
Joanna: That's interesting. We know that publishing generally goes direct to the book retailers themselves. So that hasn't changed in the world of publishing. But what has changed?
When nonfiction authors come to you now, what are you suggesting that people do differently than you did sort of 29 years ago?
David: I think that the listeners are going to think, ‘Well, Dave is going to respond to that by talking about all the movements toward eBooks and how Amazon now is overwhelming physical stores. We have margin suppression, there are all these self-publishing platforms.'
But I'll tell you the single most important change in the book industry in the last 20 years is the amount of competition for people's attention. You've got Netflix, you've got blogs, you've got podcasts, you've got social media, Twitter.
In particular, Twitter and LinkedIn, are drawing a lot of readers from the old nonfiction buying set. It's making it very difficult. Some of those things can be harnessed as excellent marketing tools, but it is making it more and more difficult.
You look at someone like my father, maybe the most avid reader I've ever crossed paths with, he used to read four or five books a week. He's now reading one to two. And it's because he's fallen in love with British dramas on Netflix.
Joanna: Sorry about that!
David: No kidding. And that's what sabotaged the sales from his perspective. So it's very, very difficult.
Podcasts are an interesting animal in that podcasts are a great book marketing tool, one of the best I've ever seen. But they also compete directly with books now. I'll have friends who want to learn about a specific nonfiction area. Maybe they're about to start a new business in tech.
They used to go and buy four or five books about how to do that or what other people's experiences have been. They'll do some of that, but they'll also turn to podcasts now and drawdown from the incredible number of very, very good interviews. So it's a mixed blessing having podcasts around. So that's one big change.
The second one doesn't get enough talk. Readers read differently now. Readers want thinner books for the most part. At the very least, they don't want super thick books. There's always going to be exceptions like Tim Ferriss' book.
But for the most part, all the research says, ‘If you're writing nonfiction, do not overwhelm the reader with a huge book.' They definitely want short chapters. The amount of research on that is crazy.
And yet people still keep writing 30 and 40 and 50-page chapters. Don't do it. The reader doesn't want it. And one of your jobs, if you want to be impactful is, is to get people to read the book. Well, they're not going to do it if you give them very, very long chapters.
So a lot of these types of shifts have come in because there are so many of these opportunities. We've all got ADD now. And so you've got to navigate all of these new challenges now to produce a great book, and you're trying to rise above all the noise.
The last thing I would say is that it's never been a better time to write a great book, because word of mouth can prosper with all the social media out there, etc. But a good book, an average book, they're tougher to sell now than they've ever been.
Because you have fragmented media and you have so many other options and you have so many people self-publishing, many of the titles very good, many not so good. But to really flourish, you've got to put more time into the book itself. The best single marketing advice I could ever give you? Write a really good book.
Joanna: The definition of ‘really good' is in the eyes of the reader, obviously, but I do agree with you on this competition, and I know my own reading habits have changed.
For example, I listen to a lot of audiobooks at 1.5x speed. And you mentioned podcasts. Obviously, I have two podcasts, so I love podcasting.
What do you think about audiobooks?
David: I love audiobooks. I think they have tremendous potential in the corporate sales arena. I'll get back to that in a moment. But you have your book out on self-publishing, excellent book. That's the kind of resource we need.
You are one of the first books on self-publishing to involve a chapter on audiobooks. Way more self-publishers should be looking at it. The millennial set much prefers audiobooks to physical books and to eBooks, and give people what they want.
They can listen to an audiobook and multitask. They can be working out and you see that all the time. They can be driving the car and you see that all the time. You can't turn aside that market.
It's the new way people are taking in information, as seen with podcast popularity. But on the corporate sales front, unbelievable potential. There are no printing costs, there are no delivery costs, there are no storage costs, no inventory.
And so now you're going to a company that has 1,000 employees and you've got a book on stress management and they think it's excellent, but you've got an audiobook version. They can come to you and say, ‘We'll pay you $2.50 per book.' With no cost of goods sold, that's a $2,500 profit to the bottom line, plus you've got all those ambassadors out there listening to the book and word of mouthing it.
The possibilities in corporate sales, by the way, have never been stronger because of all the new formats the books are available in, from eBooks to eExcerpts to audiobooks, etc., etc. It's an exciting field.
Joanna: It is. And let's get into that because I read that John Kremer's book like a decade ago as well. He's fantastic. But I had never thought about bulk sales in audio, especially digital audio. So you've really pricked my ears up there.
Let's go back to the beginning because many people listening, a lot of them will just sell an eBook and maybe a print on demand paperback on Amazon. That might be their thing. So they might not even know what bulk sales or corporate sales are.
Can you just explain what bulk sales is?
David: You're obviously very knowledgeable and you've phrased that question very well because there's a lot of people listening to this. And again, they've gone the eBook only route with print on demand available because they don't have the capital to front for an offset print run. I get that.
Plus it's tough to create that kind of demand. Because they don't have an offset print run book, they don't think corporate sales are for them.
But remember, this is a basic but crucial point. With the corporate sale, you get the order ahead of time and then you go print the books.
We now have all kinds of people who've taken the course and who had me help them directly who've sold 5,000, 10,000, 70,000. We had two different orders for 70,000, 110,000 Scott's saying in the background, from people who got out there, and we'll get to how in a few moments. And then they printed the book after.
They only had an eBook and only had a print on demand book, too. But when they got people excited about its possibilities in the corporate sale arena, then they went and printed it. And they had the order in hand, they had half the cash in hand, by the way, because most of those corporate sales, you get paid 50% upfront and there are no return privileges.
And really, it's a fantastic field. In all the businesses I'm involved in, you mentioned I'm on Dragon's Den in Canada for years, I've left now, but you're involved in so many different companies. I've never seen a better ROI on efforts than I see in the corporate sales arena of the book publishing industry.
For all the criticism this industry takes as being very difficult, the corporate sales opportunities are unbelievable. You're sending out 20 kits, you're making 35 follow up phone calls, and often you're getting deals for thousands and thousands of thousands of books.
And as I mentioned earlier with eBooks and with audio, digital books available, the possibilities are truly endless. I know I'm giving a long answer, but let me give you one example I think will excite you, excite the listeners.
My son came to me maybe seven, eight years ago and I had The Wealthy Barber Returns out. And he said, ‘Dad, I have a very unusual idea. I've got one of the online banks interested. And I'm going to make them a Netflix type offer. I'm going to say you have an unlimited number of downloads for the book for a flat fee.'
And I said, ‘Gee, Scott, I don't know. An unlimited number of downloads, that could cannibalize our other opportunities.' ‘Well, I'll cap it at a big number but it's going to be unlimited. They won't probably use as many as you're fearful they'll use, but they'll use a lot. And they'll give us a check.' ‘Well, how much is the check for?' ‘$400,000.'
I have no cost of goods sold here. I'm not going to turn that deal down. But here's the really cool thing about it. The book starts getting out there through those unlimited downloads, and guess what happens to our physical book sales? Guess what happens to our Amazon sales? All of them go up because it generates awareness.
It generates word of mouth, plus we were shocked at how many people got the eBook and said, ‘I want the physical book,' not just for a gift, but they wanted it for themselves. A lot of people still prefer physical books. Once they like the book, they want to turn to that.
In fact, as you know, in nonfiction, eBook sales have actually slid the last couple of years in most places in the world, and physical book sales have picked up as a percentage. The possibilities again in this field are endless.
I sometimes think we're the only people pursuing them. I really do. I've been flown in to speak to Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, you name the publishing firm, they've flown me down to the States and said, ‘Can you tell us what you do?' And we're a little two, three-person operation. But a lot of what we do is not that clever. It's just we're the only people doing it.
Joanna: I have a lot of questions, but I have three main questions.
First of all, I have a lot of nonfiction books but my nonfiction books are for a specific type of audience, so mine are for authors, for example. And I know a lot of people who write nonfiction but maybe those books are not right for a corporate audience.
So it strikes me that the number one thing you have to do is write a book that a corporate might want.
So are you suggesting we write into a corporate market?
If you want to hit an accounting group of people, you'd write something aimed at accountants?
David: Yes and no, in that I find when people write books just because they think there's a good sales opportunity, the books aren't very good. I think if they're writing, thinking about marketing as they go, that's one thing.
But they're meshing it with something they're knowledgeable about and something they're passionate about. That tends to be the mix that leads to success.
I don't mean to sound like a new-age motivational speaker, but it's true. But what you'll find fascinating is I see almost no books in the nonfiction space that I can't help the author with corporate sales.
Look at your particular case, you're writing it for a niche audience, you're writing it for people who are self-publishing. What you quickly think to yourself, ‘How do I get at them?' Well, throw in chat rooms and those types of things. That's good marketing.
But you also think, and this is crucial, ‘Who else is trying to get at them?' Maybe printers are. Maybe some of the people in the States who have, Lighthouse, and all those types of things in the States that do different things, or in Britain.
There are all kinds of people trying to get at the self-published author market. One of the ways you can help them is you give them access to your book, it educates, it increases sales. All those different types of things.
So if you look at the Chilton Method course, the course we're talking about, you know who's ended up buying some courses from us to give it to authors? Printers.
Because printers win when people sell more books, especially if they have a big corporate sale. There are always people out there who are also trying to partner with or get at your target audience. You're much better to go after those groups and use your book as a tool to help them to help their business.
Joanna: You've made me think about a lot of things now. Now my brain is heading off on all these ideas!
David: I'll give you an example that's very basic, but it really is interesting. We had a woman come to us when the course first came out. This is only three years ago, and she had written a book that she was trying to get into the hands of dentists' office because it was to try to take the intimidation out of going to the dentist for little kids.
She was struggling to cost-effectively reach out to dentists. She tried mailing lists, she tried literally going door to door. She tried it all. Nothing was working too well. They're busy when you get to the office, for example.
I said to her, ‘Forget that. Who else is after dentists? Go to some of the distributors that distribute everything from the toothbrushes to the toothpaste to the machinery and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.'
She sold, within one week of following that advice, she sold 8,000 books. One week, she got a corporate sale of 8,000 books because books are relatively inexpensive, when purchased in bulk, especially so, because of the discounts, but they have a high perceived value.
People like receiving books. So if you're a company trying to get somebody to pay attention to your new teeth cleaner and you're trying to go after dentists, you want to give them a little gift sometimes to open their minds, to ingratiate yourself to them, to deepen the relationship.
You want to put your logo on the cover of the book. And now the book is sitting in the lobby of the dentist's office. Frankly, it wasn't even a very tough sale. And my argument is those sales exist for almost every well-done nonfiction book, but unfortunately, nobody is pursuing them.
Joanna: Okay, so we've decided which book we're going to do. I know my audience is sitting there going, ‘You mentioned phone calls, and we're all introverts. We really don't like talking to people.' Let's say we've even identified people.
How do we go about approaching people and pitching people?
David: Well, the good news is we don't use the phone as much as we used to. I used to like leaving voicemails. And I found that one-way communication let me control the energy, let me control what was said, and it was quite effective. But admittedly, voicemail is not very effective anymore. People don't even tend to listen to them in many instances.
And you're right. A fair number of authors are introverts, although not as many nonfiction authors as fiction authors, but it's still an issue.
The good news is we've had our most success using kits. So we send out the book along with a very short letter. And if you look at all the things we've been able to accomplish with our book marketing, including garnering all kinds of media and all the corporate sales, we use the less is more approach. We pitch with short letters, we try to intrigue. And that is the key word.
We try to intrigue them, to whet their appetites. And here's the best piece of news going. When you go after media, everybody's pursuing the media. If you're going after a TV show, a radio show, a big podcast, they're getting hundreds of kits, they're getting thousands of kits.
When you get in touch with a company and you send a very nice book in a package, do you know how many of those they're getting? One. Yours.
They open it and they read the piece and they almost always, in 90% of cases, they take your next phone call or they take your next email. Now, in many cases, there's a rejection. You definitely have to play the numbers game here. But this is much easier than people realize to at least get your day in court. It really is.
So I go back to the cookbooks I mentioned earlier. Janet and Greta Podleski wrote a cookbook called Looneyspoons. Nobody had heard of these two sisters. They were out of Ottawa. No brand awareness, no nothing.
We sent a kit out to Nabisco. And we said, ‘We think we have great soup recipes. We should put the recipes on the side of the Nabisco cracker boxes,' back and forth. We got the deal.
Can you imagine two sisters working out of their basement in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who nobody had heard of, partner with Nabisco and going on millions of boxes of crackers? And you say, ‘Well, how were you able to do it?'
Because we tried. We made the phone call. We sent the kit. Now, we did a good job, and in the course, we detail exactly how we put that kit together, and the attention to detail matters, how we whet their appetites, how we intrigue them. And we lay all that out.
But again, for the most part, our success comes from trying things nobody else is doing.
Joanna: As you talk, I think I know why authors don't do this. It's because the traditional publishing industry, in particular, has educated authors to have a, ‘Pick me. Pick me. Poor me. I need anointing' type of approach.
Whereas what you're suggesting is very much, ‘Go out there and get stuff yourself.'
David: You do. And the funny thing is we don't do it through a super aggressive approach. I'm not great that way. We do it through playing the numbers game a little bit.
So if we're looking at, for example, companies serving the dentistry industry, for that woman, we'd send out six kits to six companies, not one to one. But also, you do it through having a good initial kit. Whetting their appetites, as I've said, intriguing them.
I'll tell you the best way to do it. I hate to be repetitive. It's having a good book. If you send them a book that looks professional, it's got a nice cover, a great title/subtitle combination, has a good testimonial on the front cover from a credible source, that opens up doors, it opens up minds, it gets people excited.
It's so important to create a good book. All those little things that you do as you put your book together, they matter. They really do matter. It's unbelievable how important covers are.
Joanna: My other question was about delivery. You mentioned there Scott did an unlimited digital eBook deal. You've mentioned downloadable audio for corporates as well. Now, I understand print book delivery.
How are you delivering digital files to a big company like that, and how are they getting them to employees?
David: This is what I love about this business. When we did the one deal with the bank, we paid a woman to work with their IT department to put a homepage up that they could go to and they could download our book. We gave her the files, the book files, and they could download in any format they wanted. For an Apple, for whatever.
She had it all there and I think we paid her $3,000. And the deal was $400,000. Okay, so this is a nice ratio. That's our only cost, by the way, and then we used her again on another big deal we did. Like these are not difficult to set up.
I'm incompetent when it comes to that kind of technology. But there are lots of people out there who do it and do it very well.
Interestingly, most corporate sales, you don't even get involved. You give them the digital files to the book, the audiobook, the eBook. They have people there who can do those types of things easily because they're big companies with deep pockets. And, again, deep teams on the IT front.
The physical book deliveries, as you said, are relatively straightforward. We often deliver straight from the printer, of course, because we're printing for that order, because you sometimes have a customized cover.
We did a deal last year. Greta Podleski brought out another cookbook, and we had Weight Watchers bought 44,000 copies. And you say, ‘Well, there's a million cookbooks out there, Dave. How come other cookbooks haven't sold to Weight Watchers?' Because we phone them.
I'm not trying to be glib, but the other people aren't phoning them. The other people aren't trying to get them excited. The other people aren't sending them 20 free books. That's what I did with that one. I got him excited. I did use voicemail in that case. By him, I mean, the president.
And then I sent 20 copies. And I said, ‘Instead of me trying to convince you how wonderful this book is, just give it out to 20 people in the office that are closest to you and ask them in a week or two what they think of it.'
They loved the book. Off we went. Huge deal. And again, I would argue, I can't understand why more people aren't doing these types of things.
Let's say it doesn't work. What have you lost? Twenty books and a mailing and a phone call. It's very little time, very little money. The capital involvement here is really low. And that's with 20 books. Most of the time, you're just sending one book for heaven sakes.
Joanna: I first heard about this method a number of years ago and I didn't do anything about it because I think I'm afraid of rejection, as you say, for a start. But also it does feel quite complicated, but I guess you're simplifying it in a way.
In terms of the contracts, are you just doing a basic nonexclusive contract with them with the deal parameters on. It's not a publishing contract, it's more of a sale.
David: It's not a publishing contract. In fact, it's a purchase order, a straightforward purchase order, 98% of cases. But, on occasion, you do get an exclusive.
So let's go back to Scott's deal, the unlimited download. They had an exclusive among Canadian banks. And so there was a one pager drafted by them that he signed off on to close that deal. It was nothing. But that's about as complicated as you ever see, by the way.
Most of these are just based on purchase orders. And even if there are a couple of specifics that need to be included, they're out of the norm. They're written right in the purchase order, and it's sent through.
This is not complicated, but you made a legitimate point. There's a lot of rejection. I look at some deals that I've done with maybe U.S. mutual fund companies back in the day of The Wealthy Barber, and I would have tried 25 and got 2 deals.
And so on the good news front, that's an 8% success rate and it led to making hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's pretty exciting. The bad news was, I had to put up with 23 people saying, ‘No.'
If you told me you're going to have to listen to 23 nos to get hundreds of thousands of dollars, I'm in. I'm okay with that.
I think that some people are going to say, ‘Well, I'm not going to get deals of that size.' Fair point. I mean, The Wealthy Barber was unique in terms of its corporate sales success. But remember, we're telling people, teaching people constantly how to do it. And they're getting deals for $2000, $8000, $11,000. As Scott mentioned, a couple have been much bigger, $70,000, $110,000.
Eight to 20 is a very common range. You get a lot of deals in kind of $8,000 to $20,000. Well, you sell 8,000 books, you're making $4 a book, it's $32,000. Think about what that compares to what most people make from their books.
I'm not saying any of this is easy, but nor is it that hard, and it's certainly not hard to try. It's not expensive or hard to try.
Joanna: Exactly. Do you know, I think the other issue is that many authors have the vanity metrics of the Amazon bestseller lists and number of verifiable sales through these channels, whereas basically those deals you're talking about, nobody sees those deals.
You don't make the New York Times list selling 100,000 books directly to a bank. You just get money.
David: No, and that's a legitimate point. You make a lot of money. But I'll tell you something, the indirect impact is huge. Because you have all of those people with the book in hands.
They either give it away, they read it, then they give it away. It generates huge word of mouth and does wonderful things for all of your other sales channels.
We saw this over and over and over again. Going back to the bank deal, they did a lot of online book marketing. And of course, that raised our profile because they wanted to give the book away, they had to draw attention to it. And we saw our sales go up. And we would see this, by the way, in areas all the time.
We'd have a corporate sale for the cookbooks and we'd see that area's Costco sales go flying up. So they feed the retail beast, whether it's Amazon or old-fashioned bricks and mortar. All of this helps. All of this raises your profile, raises your awareness, raises your word of mouth, and those are absolutely pivotal things.
Let me make a crucial point. When you look at the new online world, you've got millions of sites literally out there fighting for contact information. They desperately want to know who's visiting this site so they can sell something to them, so they can get in touch with them.
One of the best ways to incentivize people to give them that contact information is to give them something of perceived value, not some sort of cheap checklist you put together that's not particularly well done. A book. A book is a great piece to use, or an excerpt from a book, is a great piece to use.
So here's a good real-life example. There's a marketing podcast, and the marketing podcast is doing well. It's got hundreds of thousands of listeners. The host thinks, ‘Yeah, but I don't know who they are. I can see they're down, but I, we don't know who they are.' Well, how can you get contact information?
He goes to a marketing book that's well done, well-received, has strong testimonials, and he said, ‘For anybody who sends contact information today, you get an eBook version of such and such and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' And he sends it out. Pays $10,000 for the rights to do that. And now he's getting all kinds of contact information in.
How is the author winning? Well, he or she is getting $10,000. But they're also getting all the exposure on this remarkable podcast that has hundreds of thousands of listeners.
These are the types of creative things you have to think through. And again, in my mind, none of them are that tricky. I'm not giving you great insights here. You're not going to hang up from this interview and go, ‘Man, that guy is really smart.' I'm doing a lot of common sense things, but for some strange reason, almost nobody else is doing them even 30 years into doing this.
Joanna: It's true that not a lot of people are doing it. I'm chastising myself because, as I said, I heard about this like a decade ago and I have not done it. So you're definitely making me think about it again.
I do want to ask you, because we don't have too much time today, but you've been on TV and you've used traditional media for marketing. Now you have mentioned podcasting.
What are some of the other ways that you're recommending people do book marketing to a wider audience?
David: Okay, well, first off, not TV. And I'll tell you I really don't want the conventional authors trying to even get TV because it's tough to get. It takes a lot of time, you have to get to the studio, which often isn't in your city, depending upon circumstances.
TV audiences are fragmented. They don't tend to be book buyers to the same extent others do. So that's not a good place for most authors to put their energy. But you know what is, that gets no attention anymore? Radio.
You've seen radio audiences decline 10% to 15% on average, but that means they still have 80% to 85% of their old audiences. And a lot of radio shows have outstanding matches to book buyers or outstanding matches to your specific subject.
There's a trust there that develops with the host that often makes the person listening more inclined to go out and buy the book. Radio doesn't take a lot of effort. You can do it out of your house, there's no travel involved. We've now got things like you and I are using to do this interview.
So radio is underestimated. You've got to put your kit together, and we talk a lot about that in the course. So that's certainly one.
Podcasts we've talked about. In a lot of ways, they're a dream come true, because you've got these targeted audiences, people are passionate, they tend to listen more closely, which is why podcasts are getting a higher dollar of advertising per listener, because the people are listening more closely.
I love podcasts. But what's really interesting about that opportunity is the research is showing that the listener comes to really trust the podcast host. So if the podcast host not only interviews you but says, ‘This is a truly wonderful book. This book is going to make a difference for you.' Wow, can you ever high, have a high penetration rate of sales?
Here's another one I think is very underutilized by a lot of authors, is Twitter, but I'm not talking about your own feed. I'm talking about going after the influencers in your field and somehow, some way getting your book into his or her hands so that they can recommend it.
One of the most powerful marketing tools we have now is the mention. It's not the review. It's not a long blog post, it's a mention. It's when a trusted source on Twitter comes out and says, ‘I read Joanna Penn's book yesterday on self-publishing. If you're thinking of going that route, you must have it.'
That strangely is more impactful than a long blog. People remember it. And if they trust the person saying it, they go directly to Amazon and they order the book.
Most authors aren't even pursuing those mentions. They say, ‘I don't know how.' We talk about it in the course. It's honestly not that hard. It's fairly easy to find people if you really know how to research a little bit, or sometimes you just reach out.
With the eBooks of course, they don't have to give you their home address. You can send them an electronic version and they can at least look at parts of the book. We find one of the better things you can do is send them the introduction along with one or two sample chapters. It's digestible. It's not overwhelming. They don't feel obligated to read the entire book. They're more likely to ask for more or give you the mention.
Here's one marketing tool I don't believe in that you see a lot of people in the self-publishing field teaching is the way to go. They say you've got to build a following. ‘You've got to get on social media and build a huge following.'
It's harder to build a following on social media than it is to sell books. Okay, that's a difficult thing to do. And then they always give you examples and they've twisted the reality of the examples. They give you examples from people who already had followings and then put books out. That's different.
That's not the same as, ‘I think you should build a following after you've written your book and then make sure you try to build momentum and sell the books to the following.' That takes a tremendous amount of time. Harder to build a following now, by the way, than it was 5 and 10 years ago, because everybody is on social media.
What I'd rather do is go find the people who already have followings out there matched to my target demographic, and figure out how do I partner with them? How do I expose my wares to them? All those different types of things. That's what you're trying to do.
You look at with our course, ‘The Chilton Method,' you have a pipeline to people who want to learn more about self-publishing and book marketing. Why wouldn't I come on and talk to you? That just makes perfect sense. You're trying to help people.
Everybody wins when we do this type of thing. So there are lots of things I believe in and things I don't believe in. But I think that one is overhyped by the field. I know very few authors who post writing the book have built up big momentum, some big followings to take advantage and move the book too. That is a tough, tough task.
Joanna: I think you're right there.
Obviously, with your business experience, you've met a lot of people, you've worked with a lot of companies, and you've seen a lot of failures as well as success.
What is the mindset of the people you've seen succeed over the long term?
David: This sounds a little bit corny, but my son and I talk about this all the time. I think more than anything else, it's grit. Yes, a lot of the people are very, very sharp.
But I know a lot of people who've done well in business, well in publishing even, who weren't geniuses in school by any stretch, they didn't come from wealthy families, they didn't have great connections, but they had grit. They had determination.
If you're an entrepreneur, whether it's through self-publishing or any other field, you're going to have to deal with failure. You're going to fall down. Can you get back up again? Can you persevere? Do you believe in what you're doing? I think that's so crucial.
If you believe that what you're writing or what you're creating is going to help people, it's going to make a positive difference, you get a lot of your stamina, a lot of your courage, a lot of your energy from that belief.
So there's a mental toughness, I think, that has to be there in order to succeed. The good news is, it pays off. In the book business, the book marketing business, in particular, there's something I've noticed for 30 years now.
As you get out there and you try to build traction, it's tough. Getting that first big media coverage, getting that first big special sale, one is one, two is three, and three is seven. And that's something I say to authors all the time. If you can get the first one, you'll get the second.
But when you get the second, the third one comes quickly, and when they get the third, all of a sudden you've got seven, and now you've got momentum. But most people give up before they get that first big one. You've got to keep fighting. And it's not easy, but I think grit is probably the biggest, biggest determination of people's success.
Joanna: That's fantastic.
Final question. I was looking at your Twitter stream @wealthy_barber.
I saw that you might be writing a new book. I wondered if you can tell us anything about that.
David: The funny thing is it's not on finance. I did an interview recently with one of the big paper chains here in Canada, newspaper chains, and the fella said to me, ‘What is it on?' And I jokingly said, ‘It's seniors erotica.'
Joanna: Very popular.
David: I was going to say it's ‘The 50 Shades of Grey Hair,' or ‘The Horny Barber,' whatever. I had lots of titles I could throw, but he thought I was dead serious. And so he had some kind of straight-laced comeback, but it's not seniors erotica. Not that I'm above that. I'm clearly not.
It's a book more on life lessons. And I'm not saying a whole lot about it now. A lot of humor. I put a lot of time into it. I'm enjoying it. I'm not self-publishing, for the first time, because I'm so busy right now with other projects and Dragon's Den investments I've made that I'm doing with Simon & Schuster in this particular case, but I'll control the special sales market, obviously.
I'll have the same type of deal I did with Prima all those years ago in the States, and I'm excited about it coming out, and still enjoying everything.
It's funny. Every day I get up, I can hardly wait to tackle the different challenges and get at things, and I think the fact the business is hard is what makes it fun. If it all fell into your lap, was easy, none of us would enjoy it as much.
Joanna: Oh, no, absolutely.
Where can people find you and your books and the course online?
David: Well, this is a funny answer but I'm being truthful. I don't want them to find me. And I put the course out and I actually say in the course, ‘This is the first course in history where we don't want you finding us.'
We don't want you buying anything else from us. In fact, I don't make any money from the course. I donated all the material to the distribution company and my son's gotten involved with that.
Scott: And we'll always return emails and calls.
David: And he always returns the emails and calls, but I don't, because I did all this to help people, but also because I was being overwhelmed with requests. But ‘The Chilton Method' is available. I think you're going to post a link to it and people can go and get it. It's a very inexpensive course because it wasn't about making money. It's $199 or $195 U.S.
You can find The Chilton Method courses at my affiliate link: www.TheCreativePenn.com/bulksales
Scott: $195, 175 modules.
David: Okay, 175 modules in the course, by the way, 17 hours' worth of book marketing. But I think what people will like about it is it's funny. There's a lot of humor in it, a lot of very interesting examples that we walk people through.
You can see the testimonials not only from users but from some of the most well-known people in publishing. The lead editor at Simon & Schuster, all kinds of people. Judith Appelbaum, who used to be the biggest name in our field.
And they all say it's the best of the courses. We're very proud of it, we really are. And much more important to me than the feedback has been the results. It's great that people have used the course and been able to get corporate sales and major media, and all those different types of things.
I think you'll love it. You know as much about this field as anybody, and I think you'll watch a lot of the videos, including the first 38, which are on putting your book together, and you'll think, ‘Wow, I never really thought of things that way.'
The very first module in the whole course says to people, ‘Never put your acknowledgments at the front of a book,' and it walks through why that's a big mistake and why you shouldn't do it.
And the second one is how people waste the dedication page because it's a great opportunity to connect with the reader, but most people have boring dedications, which you should never do.
Those are the first two modules. They're relatively short, they're punchy, but they really will make you think differently about book construction, book marketing, everything.
I'm excited about the whole thing as you can tell, and I think your listeners again can link to it through you. And I think they'll enjoy the course immensely. And the corporate sales part, in particular, gives them the information they won't have thought of before and opens up all kinds of possibilities.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thank you so much, David. That was fantastic. It was great to meet you. Thank you for your time.
David: I can tell that you're British because you're the first person to ever call me brilliant. Only a British person would use that term when describing me. Anyway, it was very nice talking to you too and keep up the good work.