book sellers

Q&A: Indie Book Sellers Say Exclusivity to Amazon Publishing Costs You

When it comes to selling ebooks, Amazon is by far the market leader. According to Publishers Weekly, “Apple and Barnes & Noble remain Amazon’s two largest competitors, although they trail Amazon by a wide margin.” However, millions of readers across the world still turn to other sellers like Apple’s iBooks and Barnes & Noble to buy books.

For an author trying to figure out this business—especially for the first time—it can be confusing and overwhelming to find out how and why to sell your book on different platforms. Sometimes it seems easier sticking to what you know. But, by eliminating all the other players and exclusively publishing on Amazon, you are essentially closing the door to many potential readers. What does this mean for the self-published author? It means that Amazon isn’t the only game in town when it comes to considering who can sell books for you.

In order to demystify these options, we decided to let you hear directly from book distributors Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Kobo so you can decide what’s best for you and your next book. You may be surprised to hear that none of these distributors think you should say goodbye to Amazon publishing. Instead, they advocate broadening your horizons.

In this Q&A, we explore what Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Kobo have to say about what makes each platform unique and how you can see more success using their platform in addition to Amazon. Also, take note of their best insider tips and tricks to navigating the world of indie publishing.

Here is just a little snippet from each of these distributors.

Authors should spend more time writing and less time tinkering with administrative tasks or tinkering with the upload requirements at multiple retailers.” – Smashwords

“Here’s the painful reality of ‘going wide’—it’s a long game. The advantage of being exclusive to Amazon comes largely in immediate gains…. But it’s a short-term strategy, and the most successful authors recognize that they should be planning for long-term.” – Draft2Digital

“The three ‘secrets’ to self-publishing success are: Practice, Patience and Persistence. Don’t drop in and out. Keep your titles available while continuing to write new material. Keep writing, keep practicing your craft, be patient because it takes time for people to grow a following on any platform.” – Kobo

Read on to get detailed answers to your pressing questions.

Question: What Makes Your Platform Unique? Why Should Authors Sign Up With You?

Smashwords

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. Since 2008, we’ve helped over 120,000 authors and small, independent presses release over 415,000 titles. Dozens and dozens of our authors have become international bestsellers and have hit the bestseller lists of traditional media like the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal.

Smashwords’ global retailer distribution network also includes distribution to public libraries through our partnerships with OverDrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Odilo and Askews & Holts.

We make it fast, free and easy to publish and distribute your ebook, and we provide free resources to help guide you along the way to becoming a more professional author. These resources include the Smashwords Style Guide (how to format your original manuscript to prepare it for ebook conversion); Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (41 tips to help authors reach more readers); and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (reveals 30 best practices of the bestselling indie ebook authors). We also provide free video tutorials.

Books sold at the Smashwords store earn the author about 80 percent of the list price as their royalty. Books sold at one of our retail partner stores will earn the author 60 percent of list as their royalty.

Although Smashwords does operate a retail store at Smashwords.com—where readers can download books in all of the most popular formats so that our authors’ books can be enjoyed on any device—95 percent or more of your sales will come from our global retail partners. Our biggest value to authors is through our distribution, though I believe some authors think Smashwords is only a retailer.

Draft2Digital

‘Going wide’ is a topic Draft2Digital is addressing a lot recently, especially with the introduction of their new Universal Book Links (UBLs). A lot of authors are struggling with the question of should they or shouldn’t they, when it comes to branching out from Amazon. The biggest reason Draft2Digital created UBLs as part of their offering through Books2Read.com: authors can use a single URL to promote their work, and Books2Read finds every store where their book appears online. Meaning readers only have to click on one link, and they’ll be taken to the store of their choice. Even if the author is exclusive to Amazon, the link uses globalization to direct readers to the regional Amazon store of their choice.

Draft2Digital’s uniqueness comes largely from their relationships. One of the first things most authors notice when comparing them to the competition is that they aren’t necessarily in all of the same sales channels. There’s some crossover, but there are also some missing faces. They are constantly expanding vendor relationships to include new sales channels. However, they are selective when choosing distribution partners because they are a company founded by authors, and they know exactly how much authors can struggle in all of this.

A founding principle of the company boils down to this: Find the biggest pain points for authors, and eliminate them. And if it’s at all possible (and it usually is), do it for free.

That’s what makes us different than any other distributor. We have authors on staff who know the struggle to find good resources and tools, without busting our budgets. So we want to provide those resources and tools. We generate our revenue entirely from a percentage of royalties, and we avoid charging authors directly for services, unless there’s just no alternative. That means we only succeed if the author succeeds—and that’s the right business philosophy for everyone.

Kobo

Kobo Writing Life was built for writers by writers. We have the world’s best dashboard for easy and simple analytics in understanding two things: 1) where in the world your books are selling and 2) approximately how much you’ve earned. (Compare that to the dozens of ways you have to re-filter your info on the Kindle dashboard just to see what’s selling and in what territory. It’s truly a feat of mathemagic to try to determine what your royalties are actually going to be. Lots of confusion and hidden costs too (such as the hidden processing costs for payment which means you’re NOT really making 70% even though you think you are.

KWL offers authors 70 percent for items prices $2.99 USD and higher. WITH NO CAP. IE, you don’t have to limit your price to $9.99 USD. We still pay 70 percent no matter how high you price. This allows authors to create larger box sets that provide value for readers without the author losing too much money in the process. Also, Kobo customers care more about QUALITY than bargain basement 99 cent novels. That’s a huge thing that makes for a longer term sustainable opportunity for writers.

Also, at the lower end, we pay 45 percent (between 99 cents and $2.99) rather than 35 percent

Authors should understand that Kobo sells into 190 countries and also partners with different retailers. In Canada, our ebooks sell directly on Kobo.com but also on www.chapters.indigo.ca – our Canadian retail partner (think of them like a “Barnes and Noble” in Canada. In the US we’ve partnered with the ABA so Kobo ebooks are also available through hundreds of indie bookstores across the US. In the UK we’re partnered with WHSmith and Waterstones. In France it’s FNAC. In Italy it’s Mondadori. In the Netherlands it’s BOL.

Most KWL authors sell about 75 percent of their titles through Canada and Australia. The breakdown is different for different authors, but Canada and Australia are two of the larger markets – and they’re markets that Amazon doesn’t have nearly the same foothold in. Compare Kobo sales in Canada to Kindle and you’ll see that Kobo (born in Canada and that’s our largest territory) has as much of the Canadian market as Kindle has of the US – I mentioned that Canada is our largest territory – but of note — Japan is now becoming a larger market than Canada – not hard to imagine given the population there and the fact our mother company Rakuten is headquartered there). Authors’ global sales through Kobo Writing Life are where they find new customers in new territories outside of the ones that Amazon is large in.

Question: How Can Authors Find More Success Using Your Platform?

Smashwords

Authors should spend more time writing and less time tinkering with administrative tasks or tinkering with the upload requirements at multiple retailers.

Smashwords’ biggest value to authors is through our distribution network. This is a HUGE time saver for authors. Imagine if you wanted to update the metadata on five of your books. You would have to go to each retailer, one by one, to update that information for each book. With a distributor, you update the metadata once and you’re done. The distributor does the heavy lifting for you. The same is true if you need to upload a revised edition of your book. If you work with a distributor, you upload the revision once and you’re done. If you decide to work directly with the retailers, you have to upload the revision one by one at every store and contend with every retailer’s unique formatting and upload requirements.

Authors who are enjoying the most success with us are distributing broadly and not opting out of any retail channels. As a distributor, we have a unique vantage point which enables us to see how each of your books are performing at each of the retailers. By contrast, the merchandising managers at the retailers can only see how books are performing at their specific store. When the merchandising managers at the retailers ask us to recommend titles for them to consider for upcoming promotions, we can quickly see how authors’ books are performing. If an author has opted out of some of our retail channels, we can’t see how her books are performing and therefore can’t make a recomendation. On the other hand, for an author who’s opted in to every channel, if we see that the title is selling well across multiple channels, then we can recommend that author’s book with confidence. We just responded to a request for romance titles from the mercandising managers at iBooks and were pleased to see that dozens of titles were accepted to run in the promotion.

Draft2Digital

Here’s the painful reality of ‘going wide’—it’s a long game.

The advantage of being exclusive to Amazon comes largely in immediate gains. For zero overhead, you can participate in the KU fund, and get paid just for the normalized page reads that come through. We’ll never argue that this isn’t a boon for authors. It is. But it’s a short-term strategy, and the most successful authors recognize that they should be planning for long-term.

Most of the authors I know want to be read by more than just a thousand or so folks who happen to own Kindles or read on Kindle apps. They want to have their work read and loved by people all over the planet. And sad to say, but Amazon only has 11 or so regional marketplaces at the moment. That covers a lot of countries worldwide, but not all of them.

There are huge emerging markets in regions such as Africa and Indonesia, where technological evolution jumped from stone age to smartphones almost overnight. Now we have English-speaking people in underdeveloped nations ravenous for information and stories. They’re consuming everything they can get onto their devices. And that means that those of us who are getting to those markets first will have first-mover advantage. There are entire nations who have never head of Stephen King or John Grisham or J.K. Rowling. To them, any given indie author could be the biggest megastar they can imagine.

So for success—what authors need to do more of is think strategically and globally. They could go dig up tons of research about these emerging markets—that would help. But the shortcut to that is to use Draft2Digital to go find those markets for you, which we do.

Authors should stop thinking in terms of “How do I funnel more people to my Amazon book page?” and start thinking in terms of “How to introduce my work to a few million brand new readers in emerging markets around the world?”

Kobo

The three “secrets” to self-publishing success are: Practice, Patience and Persistence. Don’t drop in and out. Keep your titles available while continuing to write new material. Keep writing, keep practicing your craft, be patience because it takes time for people to grow a following on any platform. And keep at it; even when times are tough and things are slow. The industry and sales go through different waves, different highs and lows. Being patient and being in for the long haul and continuing to write and produce top notch professional material are the keys to success.

One of the most common complaints from authors is that they only sell on Kindle and no where else. Interestingly when you check their websites and social media and newsletters you see them directly all of their links to Amazon. Then they wonder why Amazon is always the largest platform for them. Little bit of self-fulfilling prophecy happening there. Authors should include links to all the platforms and let customers decide where they want to buy.

What’s Your Top Advice for Authors Seeking to Make More Sales?

Smashwords

First, realize there is no single magic bullet to help you suddenly become a bestseller. Everything that you do right, every incremental improvement that you make can have an impact on your sales over time. The top three pieces of advice I’d give are:

  1. Have your books professionally edited. Books break out and become bestsellers based on reader word-of-mouth more than anything else. Don’t thwart your chances of success by not having your book professionally edited.
  2. Hire a professional book cover designer. As a reader, whether you realize it or not, every time you enter an online or offline bookstore, you’re rejecting dozens of books until that one cover catches your eye and pulls you in. Your cover image is both marketing and content, and must provide a promise to the reader you’re attempting to reach. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Ask yourself what it is they’re looking for, and deliver the message through your cover image that this is THE book for them.
  3. Write more books. Every book you write provides the opportunity for you to hone your craft. The more you write, the better you will become. Just as important, every book you release affords you the opportunity to cross promote your other existing titles. Once a reader finishes one of your books, they’re probably delighted they just finished a fantastic story, but they also may be wondering what they’ll read next. Don’t squander that opportunity. Ensure that backmatter of all your existing titles includes a list of all your available books and links back to your Smashwords author page and/or personal website.

Every year I have the privilege of attending publishing conferences around the country (and occasionally outside the country). As such, I also have the opportunity to listen to bestselling indie authors tell their audiences how they became successful. I’ve never heard of a bestselling indie author doing absolutely everything on her own. The two tasks that all bestselling indie authors tend to agree upon, in terms of who you’ll need to hire, include a professional editor and a professional cover designer. Big NY publishers are adept at finding good books and turning them into great books. If you self-publish, you’re taking on that responsibility.

Draft2Digital

There are two pieces of advice every author gets for improving sales: Build a mailing list and write more books. People groan hearing these, because they hear them all the time, and also because they are a lot more complicated than they appear. But that’s the start. That’s the general advice.

The specific advice, at least for Draft2Digital, is to start using our new (and free) Universal Book Links as part of your marketing push, and get yourself into as many markets as possible. Then start focusing your marketing on hitting those hot new emerging markets. Take out targeted Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, and Twitter ads, and aim them at these regions. Do your research and find out how regional tastes run, and write some books specifically to target those markets, if you can. And if you can’t, then craft your book descriptions and ad materials so that your book will appeal to those markets. Writing to market will make it much easier for you to appeal to these emerging readers.

These are all long-term strategies, by the way. It’s likely you wouldn’t see mega sales within days of releasing a book in Africa or Indonesia or anywhere else. It will take some time, and some work—mostly in terms of promotion and marketing. But if you’re continuing to produce new books as you do this, eventually all you’ll need is a tiny spark to get a big flame.

Think about it this way: If you have one or two books, and suddenly German readers discover you, they will really enjoy reading your stuff, but then have nowhere else to go. But you have ten, twenty, thirty books (or more, go nuts!), suddenly your revenue is increasing exponentially. There’s more of you to be discovered, and more of you to explore. Your discoverability goes up by bounds.

And if you’re using UBLs, you don’t have to spend extra time making different sets of marketing materials to target different regions. You can use one link, and that will let readers worldwide find your work in the store they prefer. If they don’t happen to have access to the Kindle store, then they’ll still be able to find you in hundreds of other places online.

Kobo

To be successful outside of the US, authors need to think about their global pricing. Don’t just set a USD price and walk away. Optimize your pricing in the other currencies. KWL allows you to price in 8 currencies, and very soon you’ll be able to opt in pricing in 14 currencies; meaning you can make your price look good to localized customers.

Example: $3.99 USD auto converts to something ugly like $5.24. Authors who manually over-ride that to $5.99 aren’t just making the title look more appealing (a normal .99 price point) – but customers also round UP in their head to the next dollar anyway – it’s a pricing psychology thing – so a customer willing to spend $5.24 CAD on a book is just as likely to buy it at CAD – so you get an extra 70 cents in your pocket rounding UP to the nearest .99 Do the same in AUS and NZD.

Visit the KWL Blog for various different bits of advice from our team and from the global merchandising team.

Question: What Else Do You Want Authors to Know About You and Your Platform?

Smashwords

We think Amazon is the smartest in the business and would never encourage you to not have your books there. For the long-term success of your author career, however, I would encourage you not to go exclusive with any one retailer. Diversify. Make sure your books are everywhere readers go to find books. Use a distributor–even if it’s not Smashwords–to help you save time reaching a wider, global market.

Take advantage of ebook preorders. Even if your second book doesn’t yet have a finished cover image or a completed manuscript, at Smashwords you can set the book today as an “assetless” preorder and we’ll ship it for you to iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. You’ll need to upload the finished manuscript and cover art no later than 10 business days prior to your release date. At iBooks they’ll let you accumulate preorders for up to 12 months. Your readers reserve a copy of your book but their credit cards aren’t charged until release day. When it comes to bestseller lists at the retailers, they look at sales volume of course, yet the most recent sales are weighed more heavily than older sales. So, for example, sales in the last 12-24 hours are weighted more heavily in the bestseller algorithms than books that sold in the last two days or two weeks. Since iBooks allows you to accumulate up to 12 months worth of preorders, and each of those orders counts as a full sale, it’s like having a concentration of sales all hitting on day one which can cause a spike in your sales ranking.

Kobo and Barnes & Noble allow up to 8 months of preorder accumulation, I believe, and your book receives partial credit for your accumulated orders. Amazon does not grant credit for accumulated preorders, and as such your Amazon preorders can cannibalize your first day’s sales rank. Some authors choose to upload new releases to Amazon on release day so they can concentrate more sales on day one. Still, having an preorder listed at Amazon still provides the author the benefit of better advanced marketing leading up to release day.

Draft2Digital

The thing you most need to know about Draft2Digital, honestly, is that we’re right here in the trenches with you. Aaron Pogue, our President and one of our founders, is an indie published author. I (Kevin Tumlinson, Director of Marketing) am an indie published author. Most of our team is comprised of people who study self-publishing and the whole publishing industry day and night. We’re out there identifying exactly what pain points plague authors most, so that we can beat them up and give you back your lunch money.

Basically, we went and built the tools we need most to make it as authors, so we know other authors need them as well. And our focus is “make it easy.” Making things easy for authors is what we do, because we can’t stand how complicated things can get. We want to take care of all the garbage that weighs an author down, so they can focus on the one thing they really want to do: Write books.

We’re expanding into new sales channels all the time. We’re adding new cool feature all the time. We’re making new inroads and building new relationships within the industry, all the time. Everyone who is part of the D2D catalog today is seeing the growth of the company, and they’re going to benefit from all of it. There’s a reason why our authors are so loyal to us, once they come onboard—because we’re unfailing loyal to them.

I guess I could sum it up with one phrase then, aimed at every author, everywhere: You are not alone.

Kobo

First thing that authors need to understand is that Amazon is, by far, the world’s largest online bookstore and has been in existence for about 20 years. They were (behind Sony) among the first to come to market with an ereader and in the market longer than anyone else, so it’s far easier to gain traction on the platform that everyone knows and goes to for “books” (even, though, of course, Amazon is an everything store and books were just one of the first items they started selling.) Gaining traction on other sites takes two important things that aren’t as common in a lot of indie authors (particularly those who give up easy and early and drop off the distributing wide path) – TIME and PATIENCE. It takes time to grow on different platforms.

Opting in and out of a platform doesn’t help, because you have to start from scratch each time you opt in – continually crippling your own development of an audience outside the one platform where you lay all your eggs.

The other thing that authors from the US are typically unaware of is what is happening in the publishing world outside our borders. One thing I would challenge authors to consider would be seeing WHERE their Kindle sales are coming from. IE, the .com Amazon site? Perhaps also the UK site. Nook, of course, is now just .com and US. But iBooks has a lot of reach outside the US (as well as inside), and Kobo has a lot of reach outside the US market as well.

So, consider, when looking at your sales, what platforms sell better in what countries. And if authors are fine to sell only within the US and perhaps the UK, then KDP Select might be an option. If they want more global exposure to other customers (and in markets that are growing now the way the US was 3 to 5 years ago), then go wide and include Kobo in your sales channels.

kickstarter

Interview: John Lee Dumas on Using Kickstarter to Crowdfund & Market A Book

When most people think of a Kickstarter campaign, they think of a cool new gadget or an innovation seeking for backers to come to market. Well, one out-of-the-box thinker leveraged this platform in a different way. For John Lee Dumas, founder and host of EOFire, Kickstarter was much more than a crowdfunding platform. It served as a key component of an overall marketing strategy.

And wow, did it pay off! His Kickstarter campaign for The Freedom Journal—a gorgeous faux leather-bound journal that guides you in setting and accomplishing your goals in 100 days—was named the most-funded publishing campaign of all time (!!!).

Kickstarter was John’s crowdfunding platform of choice because he understood the value in using such a recognizable independent third party to help market and sell his books. John already had thousands upon thousands of subscribers. He also had the money needed to produce these journals. What he didn’t have—prior to his Kickstarter campaign—was validation that people would pay real money for The Freedom Journal.

During our recent Self-Publishing School Summit, John shared his biggest tips and strategies for using Kickstarter as an amazing tool to market and sell your next book.

Read on for John Lee Dumas’s tips on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign to sell your own book.

Assemble Your Kickstarter Book-Launch Team

John credits so much of his success to the year-long behind-the-scenes work he put into The Freedom Journal before launching his Kickstarter campaign. John put together a Grade A team, which included a logistics person, a designer, a crowdfunding expert to set-up pages and keep the campaign running smoothly, an editor and a social media guru.

In advance of the launch he also took the time to stockpile content. He made sure to pre-write marketing emails and social media posts. His pre-planning helped him focus on the campaign while it was happening.

John’s overall goal was to bring people on this journey and make them feel part of The Freedom Journal from the very beginning. For nearly an entire year, he teased about the impending launch and directed people to join him in his project. From his homepage to his podcast, his followers were asked to opt-in to be kept in the loop.

His efforts were so successful that by the time he launched his Kickstarter, he has already amassed more than 12,000 emails of people wanting to be part of the project.

If the first days and weeks of a Kickstarter campaign are successful for you, it’s probably because you’ve planned, prepped, and assembled a top-notch team to stand with you.

Launch Your Kickstarter Campaign With A Bang

In a Kickstarter campaign, the traction you get from your launch is everything. John says your goal is to get that initial momentum going. In other words, you want to create a snowball effect and take advantage of the rankings you can get if your campaign trends. The goal is to create an organic momentum that encourages others to back your project.

Here is what John did to help get that snowball started.

Tap Into Your Existing Fan Base. John made direct calls-to-action at the beginning and ending of every podcast.

PRO TIP: Direct people to a domain-specific website that shares information about your Kickstarter. You always want to collect emails and point people to your site, instead of directly to your Kickstarter page.

Communicate Consistently and Frequently. During his campaign, John did daily podcasts AND sent daily emails. He also sent newsletters.

Keep Active on Social Media. John used Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Blab to keep supporters engaged and informed about the campaign’s progress.

Invest in Advertising. John purchased ads on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes you have to invest hundreds of dollars per day to make thousands.

Utilize resources. This is when you have to call in some favors. John reached out to his influencer friends and asked people to share information about his Kickstarter with their communities. He offered to be a guest on other podcasts and guest post for publications.

PRO TIP: Be specific in your request and ask for the shares to happen right on or around your launch.

Keep The Kickstarter Momentum Moving

Your job isn’t done with the launch of your Kickstarter campaign. John says that thanks to the help of his Kickstarter pro, he was able to successfully keep the momentum going by releasing new offers and packages throughout.

Thanks to the amazing analytics available with Kickstarter, John could gauge what was moving the needle and adjust accordingly. He could also see which referrals were paying off with real conversions.

One of his biggest tips was to follow-up all sales of a physical product with a personal message and offer to upgrade. In his case, that simple step resulted in more than 500 people electing to upgrade from purchasing one book to a bundle pack of five.

PRO TIP: Keep your campaign going viral. John sent free Freedom Journal t-shirts to everyone who had appeared on his podcast as a thank you. The results were phenomenal as these influencers took to social media to show off their gift.

Whether you have a huge base of subscribers or not, with the right amount of planning and preparation, Kickstarter can be a critical part of your next book’s marketing strategy. Visit eofire.com/kickstarter to learn how you can crush your next Kickstarter campaign.

List building

List Building Tricks to Get 10,000 Subscribers Fast (Bryan Harris Interview)

We’ve all been there. One minute we’re sitting at our desk (or shower or in our car) when we’re struck by a genius idea that HAS to get out. We start to write and create without any thought to things like marketing or list building.

Bryan Harris, serial entrepreneur and founder of Videofruit.com, calls this “writing in a cave.” He says writers/entrepreneurs need to avoid the “cycle of guaranteed failure” by really thinking about what needs to be done leading up to your book. If your book is something that only your mom and grandma know about, then your book launch is in trouble.

Bryan stumbled upon his professional passion when he discovered the world of video editing and fell in love with the industry. Since then, he says that he’s been going crazy growing his new business.

Through his business trials and tribulations, Bryan has gained valuable insight on how to grow an audience and launch your first book. Bryan learned that a lot of strategies don’t work, but he’s developed some time-tested list building tricks that do work.

Bryan says you should “Think of your list as a group of people eagerly waiting to buy from you. If you build it and nurture it right, you will have lifelong fans.”

 


Debunking 3 Popular Myths

Bryan debunks three popular myths about growing your list and number of subscribers.

Myth 1:You have to have the perfect idea.

There’s the myth of waiting until everything is perfect to take action. The problem with this is that perfection is unattainable. If you wait for everything to be perfect to start a project, you’ll never start anything.

You don’t find customers for your product, instead find products for your customers. Get people and an audience first, then the rest will follow.

Myth 2: You have to be an expert in something before you can build your list and launch your book.

A second common myth is that you need to establish yourself as an expert before you launch your book. Don’t fall prey to this myth. We caution you about attempting to play the part of guru.

It’s far more effective to take a learn out loud approach. Take a topic and ask, “Are you curious about the topic? Can you share what you learn? Are you able to be humble, kind, and giving?” You can then share this information by phrasing it as, “Here are lessons you learned …” and your audience will respond.

Myth 3: You don’t have to have a lot of extra time.

Extra time is an imaginary construct. There will never be enough of it. Don’t lose the chance to achieve your dreams by waiting for the elusive moment when you have plenty of time.

Rather than waiting for an excess of time (which will never happen!), make an effort to do what you can, when you can. Commit to doing the right things in the right order, and little by little, you’ll make headway.

4 Tricks to Grow Your List (Plus a Bonus!)

Trick 1: Upside Down Homepage

An upside down homepage is the first step to getting your first 100 subscribers. Allocate at least five hours for this update.

What is the single obvious thing you want people to do when they come to your page? It’s not what you may think. It’s not the sidebar, not the social media buttons, not the menu — it’s the above-the-fold call to action!

Use this space to encourage people to subscribe, not to go to other pages. With this tactic, you can boost your subscriber rate from 1% (with a traditional homepage) to 13-15% (with an upside down homepage).

Trick 2: Pick Your List Goal

The single most important strategy to boost your list is to select your list goal. This will take you just two minutes to do, but it’s crucial. You have to focus on this to be successful!

Here’s what you do: Pick your number goal, then write this goal down on paper. Next, tape this on your wall to keep you accountable. Visual reminders help keep you on track.

Even if you’re a writer, ultimately you’re still an entrepreneur. Don’t forget what you are working toward! Don’t get distracted and you’ll later reap the rewards of your efforts.

Trick 3: Launch Team Strategy

Another key component to your success is your launch team strategy. You have 24 hours to implement this strategy.

Here’s how you tackle building a launch team. First, start with a group of people. You should make a list of five people you know. Then, personally invite these five people to join your list.

Next, you’ll then reach out to everyone you know. You want to make this process personal, so people will feel as though they are invited to something special. Personally invite each and every person who’s on your list.

Continue to write names and email addresses down on paper. Start simple and repeat until you run out of people to ask. Your goal is to get to 100 invitees.

Trick 4: Poster Boy Formula

The Poster Boy Formula should take just 30 minutes per week, but can yield huge results toward boosting your list.

Step one is to make a list of five products you purchase, blogs you read, or podcasts you follow. Write down one big win you’ve experienced from using their product. Let them know about your results and thank them. Also, share testimonials and link back to your shares.

The Poster Boy Formula can get you shout outs, inclusion on emails, social media sites, and guest posts. Ultimately, all of this goodwill can earn you subscribers.

Bonus Trick: Create a Smartbribe

A final trick to consider is to offer a “Smartbribe.” This tactic is simple to implement. Just install smartbribe.com as an enhancement to your current opt-in service. This easy to use feature asks people to share on social media in exchange for a bonus offer you create and “bribe” them with. This simple step can help grow your list even faster.

Bryan Harris offers his best list building tips and tactics to help you grow your list and earn subscribers. Before you know it, you’ll on your way to earning 10,000 subscribers FAST!

sell books

How to Write Words That Sell Books (Ray Edwards Interview)

Are you a writer that obsesses over every word you write? Is your desire for perfectionism and literary genius holding you back from actually writing anything at all? Well this is exactly how Ray Edwards, best-selling author, speaker, and host of a top-ranked iTunes business podcast felt until he realized it’s okay to break your English teacher’s rules. In fact, he says, all you need to write at your top potential is an idea and a path to get there. Finesse will only get you so far. You need to write the words that sell books!

Ray Edwards dons a plethora of professional hats. His impressive resume includes Communications Strategist and Copywriter. He also has an extensive media following with features on high-profile business sites, such as Forbes.com, SocialMediaExaminer.com , and Entrepreneur.com.

Ray Edward’s Epiphany

After years as a copy editor, Ray had a critical epiphany which changed the way he wrote. Ray realized that everything one writes is about the act of persuasion.

The proverbial light bulb went off and Ray realized that he could simultaneously write and sell. Figuring out that writing and selling weren’t mutually exclusive changed Ray’s perspective on how to write, as well as how he coached others to do the same. Using his new philosophy, Ray wrote his first book using the same framework he used as a copywriter.

Ray further extrapolated that the process and framework used for sales copy can be applied across the board — to blog posts, book chapters, even draft outlines of books.

Ray found that writing was an uphill slog when he tried to wear just “his literary hat.” Instead, Ray achieved writing success when he wrote the words that sell books. Ray surmises, “If you don’t put your message out there, your readers will never get the message.”

Embrace the PASTOR Framework

Ray created the PASTOR Framework for writers. In other words, you should strive to be “a shepherd with your customer.” It’s impossible to be pushy or sleazy when you have the best interests of the customers at heart.

To explore this concept in more detail, PASTOR stands for:

P – Person. How does it solve a problem? What pain you will help relieve?

A – Amplify (the pain) and Aspire. You must explain and amplify the pain (problems) you will resolve. Replace the pain with something to aspire to. Ask readers, what do they really want?

S – Story, Struggle, and Solution. What’s the story? What’s the struggle? How have you turned a solution into a system?

T – Testimony and Transformation. Tell other people’s stories of how they used your system to show transformation.

O – Offer. This is what you have to sell and how much it costs. Don’t focus 100% of your time talking about deliverables, spend just 20% of the time talking about deliverables.

R – Request for Response. You must ask for the sale to close the deal. This is where you should employ a direct call to action.

Ray found that the PASTOR framework works not only for sales copy, but across the board for all writing. This universal framework for writing persuasively can be applied to blog posts, chapters, and even outlines of books.

Write, Write, Write

Ray says he doesn’t wait for inspiration to hit before he starts writing. Sometimes it’s coming through you so you can’t stop, but sometimes you just have to write and get it done.

Ray reports that he’s at his best when he’s dictating. Ray uses REV.com to dictate his words, which are then typed up for him. Ray’s rapid writing method allows him to dictate faster than he types.

Ray embraces the method which works best for him to get the words on paper. He encourages other writers to work with the method which gets the words out quickly, and then keep going. Before you know it, you’ll have a complete book.

Write Down 10 Questions

Ray has found success in writing quickly with his Top 10 Question format. He tells writers to write down their own Top 10 questions.

The first step is to write the full introduction. Following the introduction, each of the ten questions will become a chapter. Finally, you’ll wrap up with a conclusion and a direct call to action.

Use the PASTOR method to outline this. Then dictate as fast as you can. Send it off and get the transcript back. The draft will be a mess, but you will be shocked to find that you wrote 100 pages in a day. Ray shares that when he first started using this method, he knocked out two entire books in a weekend (!!!).

Conclusion

Sometimes it takes a shift in paradigm to see what is possible. You have plenty of material in the “treasure chest” in your brain. You just need to get it out, no matter the process. Ask yourself: “Do you actually want to write, or do you merely want to want to write?”

With Ray’s tips, you have the tools to succeed and finish your book. What are you waiting for? Write the words that sell!

Learn Scrivener

Tips and Tricks to Learn Scrivener Fast (Joseph Michael Interview)

There are many untapped powers and hidden benefits of using Scrivener. This tool is a magic wand for writers! Whether you’re a novelist, blogger, or author, there are various tasks which Scrivener can streamline to make your professional life that much easier. Joseph Michael is a Ninja Master at using Scrivener who recently shared a one-hour condensed primer on how to learn Scrivener fast at the Self-Publishing School Summit.

Joseph’s passions are his faith, his family, and helping others achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Recently, Joseph realized a lifelong dream when he left his nine-to-five gig to make the leap to his own company. Heading up his own start-up allows Joseph to work remotely from any location, so he can spend quality time with his wife and children. Joseph teaches the subjects he’s most excited about; entrepreneurship, marketing, and business. Joseph’s easy-to-follow instructive style and down-to-earth demeanor have earned him fans and teaching accolades.

5 Reasons Why You Need Scrivener Now

In this video, Joseph tells us why we should take the time to learn Scrivener:

  • No More feelings of inadequacy
  • Helps You Finish
  • Lifetime Access
  • Nothing to Lose
  • Time is money

Tips and Tricks to Learn Scrivener Quickly

Here are Joseph’s four ninja tips and tricks to help all writers learn Scrivener fast.

1. The Basics of Scrivener

No matter where you are in your writing journey, Scrivener can simplify the process. It’s easy to import what you’ve already written and take it from there.

You can import Word files and break your drafts into smaller chunks, or chapters. You can pin sections to an online “corkboard.” With quick clicks and dragging content, it’s easy to manipulate, segment and outline your work. Basically, whatever you need to do to organize your outlines, research, and drafts, Scrivener can assist you.

2. Use Scrivener to Organize

Scrivener’s tools make organization automatic and fool-proof. Helpful features allow writers to color code text for each character, scene, or point of view.

Scrivener also makes pre-writing prep a breeze. The tool allows writers to sort in outline mode or add comments and annotations to their outlines and drafts.

Many writers find the chore of organizing research challenging. The tool allows writers to compile all the burdensome, bulky research in one place. Reference folders organize saved images and websites with external referencesresources for easy access.

3. Use Scrivener to Boost Productivity

Scrivener helps writers shut down procrastination and focus on the task at hand — writing.

Scrivener allows writers to set custom targets for themselves. You can opt to set a target number of words for each scene, so you know what you need to complete before you call it a day.

If you’re someone who works better with deadlines than word counts, Scrivener’s got you covered there, too. You can elect to set and display project deadlines or specify days of the week to write. You can even use Scrivener to show stats about word frequency, to help boost your creativity.

Since distraction is the death knell of any writing goal, the program allows you to save your work, and block out online distractions such as Facebook and Twitter.

4. Use Scrivener to Compile and Format

One of the most expensive and time-consuming aspects of publishing a book is the process of compiling and formatting. Scrivener can make this process easier, more efficient, and less costly.

Scrivener allows you to create and utilize various templates. You may also export to any format you need, and your draft will be ready to go. You can even get your draft ready to upload to Kindle.

Editing may be the bane of any new writer’s existence, but Scrivener can make the sometimes daunting process of editing more streamlined and friendly. Simply amend what you need to, and use your saved settings to compile as many times as you want.

Conclusion

Many new writers need help with organization, staying on track, formatting and editing. Scrivener’s tools make it simple to streamline each of these tasks to complete the goal — a finished book! Take advantage of how Scrivener can help you, and you’ll be that much closer to seeing your name on the bestseller list.

Visit LearnScrivenerfast.com/bolt to learn more.