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How can small, daily habits make you more successful as an author? How can you use the 80/20 rule in your author business? How can you create multiple streams of income when you sell mostly print? Marc Reklau shares his tips in the interview.
In the intro, my Kickstarter for Pilgrimage is live!; Spotify's promotion codes [The Hotsheet, FindawayVoices]; publishing 2023 [Carly Watters]; Writer Beware round-up; Hitting bestseller lists [Reedsy; my USA Today breakdown]; Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors; Nick Thacker's dictation course;
Today's podcast sponsor is Findaway Voices, which gives you access to the world's largest network of audiobook sellers and everything you need to create and sell professional audiobooks. Take back your freedom. Choose your price, choose how you sell, choose how you distribute audio. Check it out at FindawayVoices.com.
Marc Reklau is the best-selling author of 13 books on habits, productivity and happiness. He's also a speaker, consultant and coach.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- The importance of consistency to reach your goals
- Different streams of income as a nonfiction author
- Creating a series from your nonfiction books to increase sales
- How to make money in foreign language markets
- Taking your books wide to expand your income streams
- Why successful authors sell more books than struggling authors
You can find Marc at MarcReklau.com
Transcript of Interview with Mark Reklau
Joanna: Marc Reklau is the best-selling author of 13 books on habits, productivity and happiness. He's also a speaker, consultant and coach. So welcome to the show, Marc.
Marc: Hello. It's such a pleasure to be on your show, Joanna.
Joanna: Oh, I'm excited to talk to you. So first up —
Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing.
Marc: Yeah, that's a good story. Because actually, I never had it in my life plan to become a writer. But nine years ago, I was fired from my job, and I also had done a life coach training, so I was very naive, and I said, “Yes, I'm going to be a coach now and a consultant, and I will have many clients.”
But it didn't work out as I wanted.
At the same time, in my coaching training, I noticed that there are many, many exercises, that if you do them, they really work. It's just nobody does them, like 98% of the people don't do them. And it's like goal setting, or meditation or practice gratitude.
Then the idea of the book came up and I said, I want to give people the tools at least to have a happy life and to have a productive life. And it's really so obvious that you only have to do the exercises. Although doing the exercises and doing them constantly is more difficult than one thinks because we like to distract ourselves or something.
So that was the idea of my book, 30 Days: Change your habits, Change your life, which was actually going under the working title 101 Things You Can Do While You're Waiting to Win the Lottery because all the people I met, I lived in Spain in that time, and it was the end of the financial crisis, and all the conversations were like, “Oh, well, yeah, everything is bad. But well, now it's Friday, maybe I win the lottery.” And of course, most people never win the lottery.
So I was like, if you would do for one year, any exercise, or mix, like getting up early, writing 1000 words a day, do goal setting, I'm sure in one year, you will be in a better place than you are now, or in an even better place if you're already in a good place. So that was the idea. That's how I started.
And then thanks to three straight BookBub deals, it did pretty well, this book. And then it happened to me, what happens probably to most of us, so we will finish one book and you already have the idea for the next book. And that's how the last nine years went by.
Joanna: I love that. I want to come back on the waiting to win the lottery thing because I feel that that actually has a parallel in publishing, in that people are like, oh, well, this one book, if I just get the agent, if I just get the book deal, if I just get the film deal, or the TV deal, I will make a million, and I can retire.
And yet, as you said, it's actually the daily exercise of writing, finding readers, publishing.
Have you used that positive, consistent mindset as an indie author?
Marc: Exactly the way you said it, right.
So my goal was never to sell 600,000 books or become an international bestseller or sign a publishing deal in Japan. My goal was write 1000 words a day or write 2000 words a day. And I also have to admit that Amazon ads was a huge game changer for me.
Because before, I was, I would like to call it a poor author, nearly getting by, burning away my savings, burning away a life insurance. But then with the rise of Amazon ads, suddenly, I could multiply my sales by 20.
And it was the same thing, really Joanna, since four and a half years, I do one hour a day of an Amazon ads. But I do that hour every day, which is like managing ads and making new ads. And this brought the huge book sales that I have now.
So now I'm a six figure author, multiple six figure author, but it really started four and a half years ago when I said, okay, this mindset, do something every day. Even if it's an hour or two hours, it will multiply with time.
Joanna: It's interesting, like you said, the exercises. And to me, it's also including physical movement.
I wear an Apple Watch, and I actually really love closing my rings on my Apple watch every day. And there's one for exercise, one for movement and one for standing.
And when you actually track these things, you realize sometimes even just standing up once an hour is something that unless you have reminders about, it can be difficult. So like you say, these kinds of daily practices, these daily exercises, can make all the difference.
Why do we find it so hard to do things consistently?
Marc: I think it's because we want short-term gratification. We don't look far along ahead.
It's the same thing, like, we say, okay, now I'm going to walk 10 kilometres or 15 kilometers a day, but after three days, our legs hurt, everything hurts, and we say, okay, I'll wait until next year for the New Year's Eve to make a new goal. But actually maybe walking two miles a day would be easier on us, but if we do it for a year, at the end, we have walked more. And this works like everything else.
Also, like, we say, okay, I will save 300 pounds this month of money. And then the end of the month comes and you see, oh, no, it's not real, this month, it won't happen, so it will be next month, and then it never happens. But if you would say, I save one pound a day, then it's 30 pounds a month. It's not as spectacular as 300, but you actually have it. And then in a year, it's 360 pounds. You understand what I want to say?
So this little by little, it works everywhere. It's really amazing. And it's so sad that we don't get it because our brains are probably wired the other way. But once you get it, it works everywhere. It works with a diet, it works with gym, it works with writing books, so not writing one this one big book, but write 2000 words a day, and in a year, you probably have three books. I probably have because I write very short books.
Joanna: Yes, well, let's come to your business model. Because like you said, you write short books, you write these habit books, productivity books.
And you don't have to write long books when you have a niche in nonfiction. And of course, for fiction too, there are models where people write shorter books. But tell us about your different streams of income.
How does your business work together with all the things you do right now?
Marc: Yeah, I'm kind of a strange guy because normally nonfiction authors, especially coaches or consultants, they write a couple of books, and the books bring them clients for their business. And for me, this never happened.
So I tried everything. I tried the online courses, I tried coaching, consulting, conferences, speaking, but it never was enough to have a good life.
And then when I was burning away my savings and my life insurance, I said, okay, and I went really, really, really deep. And I thought what do I really, really, really want to do?
And then the answer was: I want to sell many books, I want to live off book sales. And then I got kind of obsessed with it. I studied people who sell lots of books, which mostly are fiction writers, not nonfiction writers. I found our friend Mark Dawson, did the advertising course, and suddenly, I sold many books.
And now I do a little bit of speaking, I do a little bit of consulting, but it's like 10% of my business. I can really afford to say no many times. And then the fun thing is, because of multiple income streams, you wouldn't think that about 93% of my income comes from IP.
Amazon is about 50 – 60%, IngramSpark for the paperback distribution, audiobooks is growing every year. I have international rights that I was lucky to secure, like over 30 international publishing deals.
And also direct sales, little by little the direct sales. So it's like atypical for nonfiction person that still 90 – 95% come from my books. But it's okay with me.
Joanna: That's brilliant. Well, let's then address why your books do sell. Now, you've mentioned the ads. But we all know that ads don't make a difference if you don't have a good product.
So what are the things that you did to make sure your products, your books, sell when you do ads?
What are the things you would recommend for nonfiction authors who want to follow the same model?
Marc: Actually, I copied Mark Dawson. Very easy.
So I took everything he teaches as a fiction writer, I could apply it 100% on nonfiction, and it works.
So of course, you need as always, as you talked many times on this podcast, you need a good book cover, you need a good proofreader, a good book. And then basically for me, everything that was taught about ads by fiction authors works for nonfiction too.
I was lucky also that most of my income comes from the Spanish market, strangely. So I translated my books to Spanish.
And when Spain started with the Amazon ads, it was a lot easier than in the US because there was not so much competition. Then another game changer was me advertising my Spanish books in the US, and that's right now where most of my income comes from.
A nonfiction author can buy any course of a fiction author and copy. Copy is not literally copyright, but you copy. Like I looked at what does Mark Dawson do, and I did the same thing for my nonfiction.
Like also with the newsletter, of course, the autoresponder, but really, most comes from ads. And I'm doing my ads like without text or something in Amazon, so just the easiest way. Just like sponsored ads, 100 keywords that of course I research, and run it.
[Check out Mark Dawson's course, Ads for Authors, here.]
Joanna: Well, there are so many interesting things there. I do want to add that you're writing in a series and writing in a niche.
So all your books are really aimed at the same people, right? So you put them in a series.
Marc: That's also great that you said it because even that I copied. Because I thought I have 10 different books because one is about self-esteem, one is about people relations, one is about habits, one is about productivity.
But exactly, the series is perfect. So I just put them all together in the Change Your Habits, Change Your Life series, got a nice series page for them, and there are now 10 books on it, and that helps.
So if you are a nonfiction author, I'm sure you can find one common denominator. Probably it will be self-development series or personal growth series. But it's important, as you said, if you can put it in a series or two series, it will be even better because what we always say, one book sells the other.
And what for us, for nonfiction writers, is even an advantage is that when fiction writers always they run ads only to the number one in the series and then go with a read through. Who will read book number one, who will go to book two, three, four, five. For me, it's like in my series, you can enter everywhere, so I'm running ads to all my books.
Then the fun thing is, so for example, if you have a Middle Eastern man that probably wouldn't be like tempted to read a book on self-esteem, right? But maybe you wrote a book on habits, and he liked it, and then he says, “oh, this guy also has a book on self-esteem. Well, I'm going to read it.” And that's how, for me, readers come in from everywhere.
So I'm sure, and I'm just guessing that, but still sure. I don't know if you can guess something and be sure.
Based on experience, people come in and read a productivity book and then buy all my other books.
But they would never have entered with the habits book or with a self-esteem book, or maybe they say I get along with people, I don't need to read a book about personal relationships. But once they get in and they see, oh, this guy has ten more books in this series, then they start reading the other books.
Joanna: Absolutely. And I mean, that's true for me too, my Books for Writers series. And once you start in a niche, and again, it doesn't have to be self-help, like, for example, my book on Pilgrimage originally, I thought I was going to do multiple books about different types of walking. And I may still do that, I may still do other books that hit that travel niche.
And for people listening, you can use a series name, and it doesn't need to be like fiction, right? In fiction, it's like, okay, this is my ARKANE thriller series.
But with nonfiction, like my series name is just Books for Writers. So it's just something that groups stuff together on the retailers. That's important. But I want to come back to you said the Spanish market in US and elsewhere is one of your biggest earners. Now you're German, so do you speak Spanish?
How did you decide to do Spanish translations?
Marc: I speak Spanish. So for me, the fun thing is that I speak English like I speak English, and I speak Spanish more or less the same. And the thing is, I write the books. So I write the books in English because most of my input comes in English. But of course, I then need very good editors and proofreaders to make it nice.
In Spanish, it's the same thing. So I would translate the book nearly literally, and then I give it to Spanish proofreaders. And the editing is already done because my process is I write it in English, I get a book polished in English, then I translate it to Spanish, so I usually don't need an editor because it's already edited. So I just need a Spanish proofreader editor, just to get the typos. And it works.
It's funny, in English and Spanish it works 100% with more or less literal translation or with a feeling for the language that I have because I lived there for 17 years. But for example, I'm German. My German books are an absolute failure. They're not selling.
Joanna: That makes me laugh. Do you know why? Maybe it's because you're actually not very German.
Marc: Probably, first this one. Secondly, I think my German, of course, is 20 years, because I've lived away for 20 years. So I probably maybe speak another German, and I speak this happy positivity. I think it's also another thing that sells in Germany, they are more serious people.
And they think they are the smartest people in the world, so why do they need to read a book on improving themselves, right? Things like that. Also, the German market is, also, for self-help and personal development, I think it's difficult.
So when I translate the title, nearly literally, from English to Spanish, it worked. I did this in German, it doesn't work.
But I also don't want to change it anymore because I'm like, no, I'm not going to put any more work in my German series because it's like 2% of my sales. And the funny thing is those Germans, they are really strange because they buy my English books. So I sell a lot of English books in Germany, but I don't sell German books in Germany.
Joanna: I love this because I feel like some people think it's, ‘oh, it's all over for me because indies been around so long, there's so many books.'
But in these other language markets, it's like 2008/2009, all over again. And there are so few books in these other languages, in digital, in audiobooks, for example, that this is a growth market. So I mean, I guess it's difficult, though. You speak Spanish, so you do have an advantage there. But how did you get those other deals?
You mentioned 30 international rights deals. How did they come to you?
Marc: That really came to me, because if you are long enough on top in the Amazon charts, they will notice you. So that also took a lot.
So I was on top of the US charts in sales already in 2015, and then in 2017 and 2018, the first international deals rolled in. I also had two agents, but it didn't end well. I'm just too freedom loving. I'm a very bad client because when I am in charge, everything goes fast.
And then suddenly, my international publishers that I already had, and then I had to go through an agent, they said, “Marc, it's all taking so long, what's going on with you?”
Then oftentimes, I like to pay to an agent 25% when they bring me a new client, but if the new client already comes to me, then I don't like to share 25%. But of course, if you sign the contract that you will share, then you share. And also another reason, I think 80% of my money that I made in international rights also I made myself. So I said, okay, I don't need an agent. And I just let it go.
At the end, I will always concentrate on, in this case, on Amazon, of course, or even I don't know, because I'm wide just with eBooks since a couple of months. But surely, when you are in the Apple charts app, or in the Kobo, or whatever, they will find you. And it's really not like that anymore.
So in foreign countries, like Japan, or China or whatever, they never cared that I'm an indie, right? In Germany, for example, they still look very like if he is self-published, he doesn't write good books. Maybe in Spain also they think that, but I didn't get that from Japan. And it was really they discovered me and they were discovered by book in the Amazon charts and then reached out.
Another thing that I want to say to international publishing deals, is it's amazing, but 80% are disappointments. They never take off. Like, it happens sometimes.
But the 20% I have Japan, India, and Thailand, they cure the pain of the other 80% because they bring me lots of money. The others, they bring me headaches. So I would always say to every author, I mean, do your due diligence, Google those people that contact you, and then say yes.
Also what I want to say, I license the rights of my languages that I can't control. So Spanish, German, English, Italian, French, will always be mine, because I can control them on Amazon with Amazon ads.
But all the other languages, I don't care. I sell them and then it's also like a lottery ticket, right? So you get paid a little advance, and sometimes you never earn it back and sometimes it takes off. So in Japan, for example, I have 90,000 copies sold. So that's fantastic. But I have at least 20 markets where I never outearned my advance.
Joanna: I think you're so right. This is another difference between countries, hilariously. I mean, we hate cultural stereotypes, right? We don't like the stereotypes, and yet there is some truth in stereotypes.
You mentioned India there for the self-help and Japan for self-help. These genres do really well, and others don't. And for me, too, self-help books do well in certain markets and not in others. But we don't learn these things unless we try.
I do want to ask you because English is not your first language, obviously. Your English is amazing.
Marc: How dare you! (laughs)
Joanna: I love your accent. But a lot of people listen to this show for whom English is not their first language. And I often get emails from listeners who say, “Spanish is my first language,” or “Portuguese is my first language,” or whatever, “and I want to break into the English language market.”
And I often reply to them and say, “That's great, but how about you focus on your language market because that's probably only starting now.”
So what would you say to those people for whom English is not their first language?
Should they start self-publishing in their own language? Or should they also try and break into the English language?
Marc: It depends. So for example, if they're Polish, Norwegian, Swedish, or whatever, and speak like me, go for it in English.
But for example, I get a lot of emails from Spanish authors that want to translate to English, and I say, “No, don't do it. Concentrate on your Spanish books.” I mean, Spain is still el dorado right now. It's like incredible. As I told you, most of my money comes from Spanish books.
But anyway, any author should never limit themselves because if a guy who talks like me, and I write about the same way, can make it, everybody can make it.
It depends also on your proofreader and editor, they will make it fine. Even in German, when I send out my German manuscript, they came back red because it's just not my strong point to write without typos. But I also see the profession of the editor or proofreader, that's what I have them for, to make my books nice.
So if you're Spanish, go for a Spanish market. Italian, French, probably the same. And once you earn money with those books, because it's exactly what you say. I think Italian books in Italy, French books in France, Spanish books in Spain and the US go very well. French books in Canada also do well. So do the first step before you invest more money in translations.
That is one great thing that a friend of mine told me, because I translated one book to Italian and one book to French, and then I was whining to him, I was like, “I don't sell.” And he said, “Marc, translate at least four books.”
Because while everybody knows, we all know that in Amazon, or wherever in the English speaking market, one book is very difficult to become rich and sell many books. Four or five books looks already better, right? And why do we think that if we know that we need four, five, six, seven books in the US, why do we think that we can make a fortune with one book in France or Italy?
So I said, “Yeah, you are right.” And then I am now translating more books to have at least four or five books for those markets. And then I can see if the same effect comes. In Spain, where I have all my books, I can see that the sales get better and better.
Joanna: Absolutely right. And I'm the same, I have five books in German. And when I did one in Spanish, one in Italian — but now I've licensed my Italian. So there's loads of ways to do this. And for people listening, the point is double down on your strengths. For you, obviously Spanish was already a strength, so that's fantastic.
The other thing is with nonfiction that's brilliant with translation, it is easier, and short books as well, right? Because if you pay an editor or pay a translator, word count is the thing.
How long are your most of your books?
Marc: So the first two were like 40,000 words, and now I write between 20,000 and 25,000 books, and I even have a couple with only 15,000 words. So 20,000 to 25,000 words, 15,000 words.
So a long time ago, I wrote my last book with 40,000 words. So yeah, I'm now between 20,000 and 25,000 words.
Joanna: Which is brilliant. I've only got a couple of books that short. Your Author Business Plan is around that. I've really got only a couple that are that short, even of my nonfiction. So I hope people listening are encouraged because I think it's just brilliant.
So let's talk about some other things, talking about wide print. Now you emailed me last year to talk about an experience you had and —
Why did you take your print books wide?
Marc: Blessed be you, Joanna. I always wanted to tell you, I told you in person in London, thanks to you. Because in your talk, you talked about Ingram Spark, and I was always thinking about it, but I never did it.
And then you just gave such a fantastic presentation that I said, okay, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do what Joanna says. It still took six months, but thanks to you, I have made now in England 40,000 euros in the last two years.
Plus, when I contacted you, that was when Amazon closed my account, I think, of course by mistake.
But when that happened, I was so happy that I had my expanded distribution on Ingram because I didn't fall back from, let's say, 10,000 to 20,000 euros to zero, I fell back to 4000, which is what I earned with Ingram, audiobooks, and international rights.
So yeah, it's like a safety net. If I would have had all my eggs in one basket, I would have gotten very sad and depressed very quickly, and very hopeless. But in that time, because it was like two days, at least I was a little less hysterical because I knew this. So Ingram is now a pillar of my income.
Let's be real, like before I got my big break on Amazon, in my old jobs, in my nine to five job, I never made 4000 euros in a month. So I knew I can be fine with 4000 euros in a month. Of course, 10 or 15 is even nicer.
And yeah, I did what you said, so expanded distribution is now made by Ingram. So I guess I get paid like double per book, which is fantastic. And I'm a little bit more independent of Amazon.
Joanna: So a lot of people, I mean, me as well, to be honest, I don't make 4000 euro a month on Ingram.
Lots of people would love to know how to sell more books through IngramSpark.
So how are you driving those sales? Or is it just because people are buying those at bookstores and things?
Marc: So I have to say the 4000 is — So Ingram is 2500. There's 1000 on audiobooks and 500, on average of the whole year, of international reads. And I have no idea, they just took off.
So what I did is when I went on Ingram, I wrote to my newsletter, I have about 25,000 subscribers, and I told them, “Look, I listened to you. I know that many of you don't like to buy on Amazon. So I signed a new distribution deal with Ingram, and now you should be able to buy my book in any bookstore or have it in a library.“
Again, it took a bit. So it started with making 300, and then 400. So it was again, it was a span of two years, but you can literally see the buildup.
So I don't know how it works, probably when the bookstores order it, probably also word of mouth. And of course, probably also, I was running a lot of ads on Amazon. And I also have to say 80% of my books are paperback sales. So I'm sure many people also bought the Ingram version or whatever, but I can only guess how it took off like this.
Joanna: I mean, I think you're right. And this is what's so difficult for people who decide to go wide, whether it's with eBooks, audiobooks, print books, is it's not immediate. You don't go like, ‘oh, I'll turn on my wide distribution,' and next week I'm making the same amount of money. It does take time to grow all these other platforms.
I mean, as we're recording this at the beginning of 2023, and —
Therehave been a lot of authors who have lost their accounts, whether that's for a few days or a few weeks.
Most of the authors, like yourself, get their accounts back. But the stress.
Marc: It's incredible, really. Yeah.
Joanna: Yeah, you think it's all over, right? I mean, it's the end of the world.
Marc: And it's still a stress for me, although I have now one strike. When it happened, I was nearly relieved because I was always fearing it. And then when it finally happens, then that's it, it happened.
For me, it changed my business model. You know, I told you before, I was investing 10,000 to 12,000 euros in Amazon ads every month. So that's pretty risky because we know that if you lose your account, they probably don't pay you your royalty.
So at any point of time, Amazon was owing me like 50,000 – 60,000 euros while I was paying happily 10,000 – 12,000 every month, and that was just too much. And then I turned off 80% of my ads. And now I'm only spending 4000 a month on Amazon ads, and I'm actually having better net results, which is amazing.
But something has happened because I wanted to depend less on them, but now I still depend on them because I've got a great safety net. But on the other hand, I say okay, 4000, that's okay. Because when I turn off my ads, and I just don't pay the 4000, it doesn't hurt as much as 12,000, for example.
It shouldn't be like this that I have to have this thoughts. But I guess that's the way it is, you know. So that's why I also want to become more independent because it's not nice when you make — you shouldn't do it — but I make decisions not based on fear.
Because the closure of my account was so far unbelievable that I was like, okay, what do I do now? Because it was like, “Yeah, you, Marc Reklau, you are trying to imitate Marc Reklau.”
And I said, “No, no, I am Marc Reklau. I am Marc Reklau.” There is only one Marc Reklau in the world, although they are two, but okay. And then that was it. So that was probably that the guy had a bad day.
I sent them passport copy and everything, but it was just not nice. And because when they get you for something, so you copy something, it's more understandable, but if they just say, “So, Joanna Penn, we will close your account now because you are impersonating Joanna Penn.” I mean, that's crazy.
Joanna: Yeah, and I mean, for people listening, it's nothing new on this show. I've been saying for years that you should have multiple streams of income. And that means different retailers, as well as more than one book.
And then if you do depend on one retailer, put money away so that if something happens — and look, it's not if something happens, it's when something happens. And that might not be a closure of account, it might be COVID, that hit me really badly. It might be life happens. Something's going to happen at some point, right.
Marc: Yeah. And I was so happy because the thing was, when it happened, it was in August, I went to your podcast, and I copied and pasted every podcast where you ever in the last two years talked about going wide, I copied it in a Word document.
And every morning I was doing my walks along the Danube in Budapest listening to your podcast, and then like already thinking my next steps. And then saying, okay, I have to go wide, and I know already what will be the next thing because you are always two years or more ahead.
So surely in one to two years, I will also go selling direct. For now I'm concentrating on going wide, but that will be the next step. So thank you for being, how do you say, a beacon or a guide for the rest of us.
Joanna: Well, thank you.
I appreciate people who listen to the show and take action.
And you're one of those people. You mentioned Mark Dawson's Ads course, taking action on what he does. And that's the reality of what we do, right. I've always listened to people and watched other people and taken action. And it will be different for different people.
I started this show in 2009 because a guy I followed, Yaro Starak, he had a podcast and he was a full-time creator. And I was like, you know what, I can do that too. And people listening to you, I'm listening to you, going, “Hmm, I wonder. I think I should probably be doing better with some of my books.” So thank you for inspiring people.
But let's talk about money as well, because one of your books is Rich author, Poor author: 50 reasons why successful authors sell more books than struggling authors.
So even though there are 50 reasons in that book, I wanted you to give us a couple of tips on how to be a more successful author.
Marc: Well, I think the number one reason, and you mentioned it many times on the show, is the mindset. Business mindset, but also, simply mindset.
What do I want to say? Look, just recently, I had an email conversation with a Spanish author. And she was like, “Yeah, I have a novel. But I think I won't sell because I'm sure you with your nonfiction, you're doing better. It's easier to sell nonfiction.” I said, “No. Actually, the richest authors in the community of the indies are fiction authors who sell romance or whatever.”
So, okay, then she accepted that. And then she was like, “Yes, but I don't want to sacrifice my values. I want to write what I want.”
And I said, “You don't have to compromise on that.” But I also noticed that on every reason I give you to go for it, you give me three reasons why you won't make it. So I said to her, “Look, first of all, I believe that you can earn money with books because I've seen it.” Even before they said, oh, with poetry you can't sell many books. Well, there are many people selling many poetry books.
So first of all, you have to believe that you can do it. So that's mindset. And then the business mindset.
So what I see from people who write to me, they think there's this urban legend that you can sell 100,000 books with a cover made by yourself. And that's not true. So you need to invest money to make money.
For me, it was very funny because all the good things that came in my career as a writer was always when I did investments and investments that hurt. So my first BookBub deal, I was jobless, and I got 800 euros of jobless welfare every month. And I took 500 euros of those and got my BookBub deal, which was fantastic. I sold 1000s of books. Well, I gave away 40,000 for free, and afterwards, I sold many books.
Mark Dawson's Ads course, which is, for me, a life changer and a game changer, I couldn't even buy it. I couldn't even buy it at once, I took the 12 month plan, you know. But these are actions to say, okay, I have to invest something in my career so that something comes back. Yeah, there's urban legends that you can reach great success with no sacrifice. No, you can't.
In my opinion, in my experience, all the people that I know have gone through times of pain also, until they finally believed enough in their project, or in the book, and write more books. And then with a fifth or sixth book came the success.
So this is one thing I see is that people just do not have the business mindset, or the mindset, or they think they don't have to invest in a cover. Oh my, so many reasons, but now I can't come up with any new. But those are the ones I see most.
Joanna: Yeah, I think you're right. And it was the same for me.
We can't expect to have a thriving business without spending some money and some time.
And so as you say, again, it's coming back to that lottery ticket. A lot of people think that it is one book, sell the book, make a million, retire. And I remember thinking like that back when I wrote my first book, you know, 2006, 2007, that's how I thought it was.
But, I also say to people, that you can't control the lightning strike, you can't control the lottery ticket, but what we can control is these practices that help us progress month after month. And eventually you can control having a business, basically, by the work that you do.
Marc: Absolutely. So let's say, now, I was thinking goals, right? We make goals. Now, it's beginning of 2023. I make goals, I make goals for one year, I even have 10 years goals. But the goals for me that I look at everyday are my daily goals. Because if I don't do my daily goals, I will never reach those other goals.
So this year, I want to write three books, and we're coming back to the same thing that I have to write 2000 words every day. If I don't write 2000 words until February, it will get a lot more difficult to get these three books then. So the most important is these daily goals and really work every day.
So in my self-help books, I really say, I dare to say, it goes for everybody, if you do the three most important things every day, if you say, “Okay, what are my three most important tasks every day to bring my business and my author career to advance it?” If you would do these three things for a year, in one year, you would be in a fantastic state. And those who listening to us, they can try to do it, and if they do it, I can nearly promise it.
The difficult thing is then to know which are those three things, right? So that's where comes in the focus, or also I like a lot the 80/20 rule because it's like this is one of the best rules in everything. I see it everywhere, and it's really also a good rule to not do unnecessary work. So usually it's like, okay, 20%, or let's say 80% of your sales come from 20% of your activities. So, which are those activities?
For me, it's also I can see that 80% of my income comes from 20% of my books. 80% of my ad money goes into 20% of my ads. So this 80/20 is fascinating, and you can use it to save time. So look at the same, 20% of the markets bring me 80% of my income. So where I'm really concentrating on is the US market and the Spanish market. Those are my bringers. So it's a whole new thing.
Also, in matter of time, having time, if I just check my Spanish and English ads every day, or if I also check the Canadian, French, German, UK, whatever, so you can find a lot of time with this tool.
Joanna: No, that's fantastic. And we could talk for ages. I love talking to you. But we are out of time.
Where can people find you and your books online?
Marc: Now, thanks to you, they can find me everywhere. I'm wide now with eBooks, with paperback, with audiobooks I was always wide because I liked the wide idea too. And it was actually you who, again, inspired me because we share the values of independence and freedom. And I'm like, yeah, why am I in KDP Select if those are my key values? Well, because the money was good, right. But now I'm independent. I'm free. And you can find me everywhere.
And as I said, I mean, I like to say there's only one Marc Reklau because there's such a nice song I learned in England 20 years ago, when there was only one Alan Shearer. So there's one Marc Reklau, but actually there are two, one with a K, and the one with a C, and if you Google me, yeah, it's all me now. The poor guy disappeared because now there's so much stuff. I remember when I googled myself in 2009, there were like 20 results on Google, and now there are hundreds of 1000s from Marc Reklau. You put it in Google, I show up. You put it in LinkedIn, I show up. Social media, I show up.
I have to say, my preferred way of communication is email: Marc@MarcReklau.com because I'm always like with one and a half feet away from social media. I really am because, for me, it's a time waste. I'm still there because I think I will start with Facebook ads this year and see if I can make a little bit more money. But the best way to get in touch with me is email or LinkedIn. I will never go far from LinkedIn because my girlfriend manages it for me.
Joanna: Brilliant. Thanks so much for your time, Marc. That was great.
Marc: Thank you, Joanna. It was fantastic.
I appreciate the transcript, as I don’t have the time to listen to podcasts. And I do love the convenience of highlighting a document. I learned a lot, got new ideas, new perspectives, and appreciate the interesting and helpful first-person experiences. Thank you both.
Marc, I am unfamiliar with your work, but will look you up–in English–so your interview here has broadened your reader base by at least one. The great ideas and stories you “gave away” make your books more attractive over those of similar authors.
Joanna, I have had your goldmine of a site bookmarked for many years, but due to family caregiver responsibilities, wasn’t able to use any of your advice or take advantage of your published works until now. I look forward to diving deep.
Thank you both for generously sharing this info as a free resource. Sending out good energy is a great way to get some back. The Universe is fair that way.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks, Sunny, and I’m so glad you’re finding our info useful.
Seamus Anthony says
Thanks both, I enjoyed this one. My kinda wacky vibe 🙂 and Joanna, thanks again for all the inspo. I have finally published my first fiction book and thanks to all the info you provide, I feel calm and focussed about doing a soft-launch and settling in for the long haul.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks, Seamus, so glad you enjoyed it!
Loving the German comments LOL. Grew up with German grandparents from Eastern Europe. Have an MA in German. Lived in Germany for three years. Born and live in Canada. Had a good laugh. Also enjoyed the rest of the interview!