SPS 009: Eliminating Distractions & Practicing Deep Work to Finish Your Book with Cal Newport

Welcome to episode 9 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Cal Newport an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, he also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world at work. His most recent work Deep Work argues that focus is the new IQ in the modern workplace, and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable.

Previous work by Cal includes three popular books with unconventional advice for students, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You a book that debunks the long held belief that following your passion is good advice. Today, we are going to dive into the deep work methodology. If you have ever tried to write a book, then you know that the hardest thing in the process is the actual focus and getting to the finish line. On this episode, Cal shares his principles behind having the focus to accomplish deep work and his writing process with us.

You can find Cal here:
Cal Newport
Deep Work
So Good They Can’t Ignore
How to Win at College

Show Notes

[01:47] Cal’s first book was How to Win at College and he wrote it when he was a senior in college.
[02:29] Stop talking about writing a book and do it or move on.
[02:58] Cal tried to make writing his first book easier by choosing a format that was short rules with counterintuitive titles.
[03:41] How Cal would wake up early and write 1 chapter every morning.
[04:13] Importance of chunking and creating an early morning routine.
[04:37] Lessons learned, books need social proof included in the book.
[05:43] Being on a tight deadline helped with the writing process.
[06:46] Cal learned early on that writing a book is like a job and the work just needs to be done.
[07:51] Find time for writing and write all the time. Build up your writing muscles.
[08:29] Don’t mix planning and writing.
[09:12] Productive meditation. Walking and thinking about what you are working on or each chapter.
[11:45] Cal spends about a year to get his book ideas. It takes a lot of mental work to come up with a great idea.
[15:05] The hardest book that Cal wrote was probably his first book.
[16:54] Principle of deep work is that the ability to focus is like a super power. Long focus sessions produce massive results.
[18:18] The ability to concentrate intensely is becoming more and more valuable.
[19:00] Cultivating the ability to work deeply will have massive value.
[20:20]Pomodoros and practice can be active training for concentration.
[21:11] Building up an addiction to novel stimuli will inhibit your concentration. Learn to embrace boredom.
[22:58] Writing is an intense cognitive activity. Treat your brain with respect.
[24:08] Cal has never had a social media account. He wants to trust himself to get a lot of value out of his brain.
[25:05] If you want to be serious about writing. You have to be serious about your brain.
[25:17] Work deeply and put routines and rituals into your day.
[25:45] Embrace boredom and free your mind from the need for novel stimuli.
[25:51] Quit social media if you are going to be a craftsman, you have to be selective about the tools in your life.
[26:25] Drain the shallows minimize non-deep work so that it doesn’t take over all of your time.
[26:57] People think quit social media is the toughest, but it’s not hard at all. Embrace boredom is actually the most difficult.
[29:12] Take the next two weeks and block out 4 hours each week. Treat this time like an appointment. Use this time for focusing intensely on one thing. This what deep work feels like.
[30:54] Find an activity to train your brain.
[31:14] Take one step that proves you take focusing seriously.
[32:22] The marketplace values things that are rare and valuable.
[34:23] Producing value produces autonomy busyness does not.
[35:03] Minimize non-deep work and deep work is where the value is at.
[36:28] The goal is to find satisfaction doing deep work. The right mindset is the foundation and the work will follow.

Links and Resources:
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
Cal Newport
Deep Work
So Good They Can’t Ignore
How to Win at College

SPS 008: Creating a Thriving Business, Blog, and Raving Fans with Ruth Soukup

Welcome to episode 8 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Ruth Soukup, a blogger at Living Well Spending Less, the founder of the Living Well Planner, and the author of Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. Ruth encourages more than a million monthly readers of her blog to follow their dreams and reach their goals through easy to implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter the most.

She lives in Florida with her husband Chuck and their two daughters Maggie and Annie. Ruth began thinking about writing a book when she was blogging full-time at Living Well Spending Less and her husband was staying at home with the kids. She wanted to encapsulate the knowledge from her blog into a book and she came out with her first book which was How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul. She had no expectations when she put this out there as a Kindle book. The first version did better than she had anticipated, so she put out a second version that was longer and included a paperback version.

The success of her first self-published book gave her the confidence to create her first traditionally published book. Although, the creation process for Living Well Spending Less was much more personal and difficult. We talk about the book creation process. The importance of having an accountability partner. How books can lead to other opportunities like products, courses, consulting and more. Enjoy the interview as we deep dive into Ruth’s writing and business success.

You can find Ruth here:

Living Well Spending Less
Living Well Planner
Living Well Spending Less on Facebook
@RuthSoukup on Twitter
Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul
Unstuffed
31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero: Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life
31 Days To A Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind & Schedule
Elite Blog Academy

Show Notes

[01:39] Ruth’s first idea for writing a book and was based on her blog and was called How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul.
[04:00] This book taking off allowed Ruth to launch a whole new side to her business as she developed an online blogging course.
[06:10] How Ruth went from publishing a book to launching a course and consulting.
[07:04] The creation process of writing Ruth’s first book just kind of flowed for her.
[07:55] Living Well Spending Less her first traditionally published book was much more difficult because it was so personal for her.
[08:42] Writing her second traditionally published book was much easier.
[09:03] When Ruth’s focuses on how she can serve it makes the writing much easier.
[09:46] How Ruth got through the low points of writing Living Well Spending Less.
[10:56] Ruth’s accountability partner and the structure of their calls and their agreement, to be honest, and open.
[12:52] Ruth sets aside a couple hours each morning for content creation. During book writing time, she gets up at 4:00 am and goes to her downtown office to get stuff done.
[15:53] How Ruth realized that having products was more profitable than ad revenue.
[17:01] How the books lead into other money makers, although they make money and build credibility.
[20:23] Once someone reads your book, you are way more connected to that person, and it is a great way to grow an audience.
[20:54] How Living Well Spending Less had perfect timing with publishing because that was a busy time for her blog which really led to promotion opportunities.
[23:12] Downside of Amazon cross promotion is that the wider audience may not be as targeted, such as people not appreciating bible verses in the book.
[24:20] They promoted the book with a 12 Secrets email challenge. They filmed the challenge with two versions one for Christmas and one that was evergreen.
[25:58] They also emailed their list when there were book coupons available on Amazon.
[27:32] A digital bonus of a home planning workbook was also a great idea. They also offered website access for a different book called Unstuffed.
[29:22] Using Facebook Ads to market their books.
[30:57] Promoting books using 31-day challenges.
[31:57] Benefits of repurposing content.
[33:51] Using the back end of the book to get email subscribers and then subsequently promoting other products or courses.
[37:40] Different phases of working online. Finding your voice, throwing spaghetti against the wall, and refining phase where we know what works.
[40:02] Working online actually requires putting in the time and work.
[41:15] When someone asks you the same question 3 times create a product for it.
[42:22] Focus on what you have to offer and answer your reader’s questions and you can write a book.

Links and Resources:

Living Well Spending Less
Living Well Planner
Living Well Spending Less on Facebook
@RuthSoukup on Twitter
Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul
Unstuffed
31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero: Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life
31 Days To A Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind & Schedule
Elite Blog Academy
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

SPS 007: How to Turn Pro as a Writer with Jeff Goins

Today, I am joined by Jeff Goins. He is an author, speaker, and blogger. After working for seven years in the nonprofit world as a marketing and communications director, he now writes and speaks full time. He challenges people to make their messages matter through his blog, courses, and online events.

Jeff is the author of five books including The Art of Work, Real Artists Don’t Starve, You Are a Writer, The In-Between, and Wrecked. Today, we are going to focus on the writing side of things, and how Jeff’s success has really exploded with his writing and with building his tribe. Jeff started writing when he realized that being a marketing director wasn’t for him. Prompting from a friend made Jeff realize that he was a writer, and he just needed to write.

He wrote on his blog everyday, and the opportunities came. His success was a result of doing the daily practice of writing and realizing that he was a writer. Once Jeff began thinking of himself as a writer, writing is what he started doing. Thinking like a pro prompted Jeff to act like a pro. Listen in to hear more about Jeff’s story and his writing process.

You can find Jeff here:
Goins, Writer

Show Notes

[05:11] How activity follows identity. We have to change our mindset about who we are before we can do that thing. Turning pro in your head.
[06:57] How Jeff went from writing blog posts to writing his first book.
[09:20] Jeff’s first ebook for side income turned into a surprise big earner.
[10:47] The writing process for Jeff’s first traditionally published book.
[12:12] When writing a book, ask who am I at the beginning and at the end. It’s a slower more gradual process than writing a blog post.
[13:06] Nonfiction books solve problems. Every chapter answers another question.
[15:00] Submitting a proposal and book outline. You want a book with other books like it, but with a unique message.
[16:42] Writing what most excites you. It’s OK to start in the middle.
[17:06] Jeff’s first book deal was a result of his ebook “The Writer’s Manifesto”, which he shared as a lead generation tool to build a list. He also reached out to influencers like Michael Hyatt. His list grew from 70 to 1000 in a week and kept growing. Then agent’s began reaching out to him. He ended up with a book deal in 8 months.
[21:20] Jeff’s ebook process was about his audience. With short practical steps.
[24:09] When writing books, you relearn writing with each new book.
[25:33] With The Art of Work, Jeff was able to weave in all of his previous book writing lessons.
[27:01] Creating something you would actually want to read.
[27:54] How writing a book forces us to grow as a writer.
[29:54] Having deadlines to create accountability.
[30:59] Carve out time every day for writing. Intentionally block out writing time.
[35:14] Writing blog posts while working on a book. The happy medium is to write on the blog, but most writing goes on the book. The more work you do, the more work you can do. Write in batches.
[37:27] 3 bucket system. Ideas, drafts, and edits. An idea in Evernote, then 500-word draft, then polish and edit.
[39:33] How the writing process is 3 different pieces.
[40:08] Distractions and clutter restrict creativity.
[40:59] The process of pulling order out of chaos.
[41:32] Start writing every day. That is the mindset difference between amateurs and pros. Write 500 words a day to work those writing muscles.

Links and Resources:

self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
The Art of Work
Real Artists Don’t Starve
You Are a Writer
The In-Between
Wrecked
Goins, Writer

Hustling My Way to 4 NYT Bestselling Books with Gary Vaynerchuk

SPS 006: Hustling My Way to 4 NYT Bestselling Books with Gary Vaynerchuk

Welcome to episode 6 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of VaynerMedia which is one of the world’s hottest digital companies, and the host of the #AskGaryVee Show. He is also the author of four New York Time’s bestselling books including Crush It!, The Thank You Economy, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, and #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneurs Take on Leadership Social Media, and Self-Awareness.

When Gary was fresh out of college he took his family’s wine business and grew it from a 3 million dollar a year business to a 60 million dollar a year business. He did this in just five years. He is also a prolific angel investor and a venture capitalist investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, and BirchBox before eventually co-founding Vayner/RSE, a 25 million dollar investment fund.

In today’s show, we talk about how Gary was approached by a publisher and got his first book deal. We also discuss Gary’s feelings on self-publishing, and what it means to Gary to build a brand. We also touch on business and book promoting tactics that Gary used to become as successful as he is today. Gary also talks about the importance of finding what you are good at and the important concept of “hustle” and just putting in the work.

You can find Gary here:

Gary Vaynerchuk Website

@garyvee on Twitter

Gary’s YouTube Channel

Gary Vaynerchuk on Facebook

Gary Vaynerchuk on LinkedIn

VaynerMedia

#AskGaryVee Show

Show Notes

[01:42] How Gary reacts to technology and the things going on around him. After finishing a speech at Web 2.0 about living your dreams in a practical way, Gary was approached by several publishers. He signed a book deal and Crush It! was born.

[04:11] Why Gary uses a publisher to get that big cash advance, but he is open to self-publishing in the future.

[05:24] The launch of Crush It! and how Gary promoted it in advance by building an audience, using social media, PR, and influencers.

[07:16] How you really have to put in the work of promotion a half a year before the book comes out.

[07:50] Investing in brand building was very helpful in promoting #AskGaryVee and building an audience.

[10:30] How Gary’s message of work is not all that sexy, but his charisma makes up for that.

[13:19] How people need to find the medium that works for them. We don’t have to communicate to the world the same way everyone tells us to. Try what works for you.

[15:01] How talking is a skill for Gary, so he takes advantage of that skill.

[16:08] The number one question people really ask about Gary?

[16:26] The top 3 drivers for sales of #AskGaryVee.

[17:19] How Gary did an 8-hour telethon where if people bought 8 books they were put in a big drawing. It was a big success. Even if people didn’t buy the books, Gary built and increased his audience.

[18:52] The jab, jab, jab philosophy is to give away content three times and then the right hook is the ask to buy. Give, give, give, sell!

[20:12] Mistakes authors make of not promoting early enough and being too sales oriented on social media.

[21:26] Hustle mode really works. Hustle to sell and write your books. Do the work.

[22:25] Mistakes made and lessons learned over the course of Gary’s book career.

[24:17] How Gary’s books fit into his business model.

[25:23] Triple down on your strengths and don’t worry about your weaknesses.

[27:31] Being fully yourself and finding your own system.

[29:12] How changing people’s lives is worth more to Gary than money.

[30:51] Having balance between the steak and the sizzle. You need to have both.

[32:37] Writing a book works, if you write a good book. Just write your book.

Links and Resources:

Gary Vaynerchuk Website

@garyvee on Twitter

Gary’s YouTube Channel

Gary Vaynerchuk on Facebook

Gary Vaynerchuk on LinkedIn

VaynerMedia

#AskGaryVee Show

Crush It!

The Thank You Economy

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneurs Take on Leadership Social Media, and Self-Awareness

Vayner/RSE

You also might enjoy:

kindle advertising

Kindle Advertising 101: Get Your Book in Front of Amazon Shoppers at Will!

Publishing your book on Amazon is only the first step.

The next part, and usually the hardest, is getting that book in front of the right book shoppers at the right time.

There are many ways to market your book, but there’s none easier and better than advertising your book on Amazon – where the shoppers already are.

Thanks to Amazon’s own advertising platform, authors can now create ads that show their book to the right people either in search results, or on the sales page of another book. 

It might sound difficult, but once you’ve read this article, you’ll be able to setup your very own Kindle advertisements in less than 10 minutes.

And the best part is that this book-marketing tactic can not only help you with your initial book launch, but can also help to revive book sales of previously published books as well. 

What are AMS Book Advertisements?

Amazon Marketing Services, or AMS, is a platform where you can tell Amazon you want your book to show up in certain search results, or on the sales page of another book, and that you’re willing to pay them some money for every person who clicks on your ad.

Yup, that’s right.  You only pay Amazon if someone clicks on your ad.  The best part is that you can set your own price which is usually somewhere between .02 cents to .35 cents per click.

And that’s it.  After setting it up with Amazon, AMS will start showing your book to their shoppers on your terms.

What Type Of AMS Ads Can I Create?

AMS offers two types of ad. This allows you to choose where exactly your ad will be displayed to Amazon customers.

Sponsored Product Ads

If you want to show up in the Amazon search results for a particular keyword, you should choose a sponsored product ad. If, for example, you choose the keyword ‘gardening book’, and someone searches for this phrase, they will see your ad alongside the other search results.

This type of ad is a great way of attracting the attention of people who your book would be suitable for, but who wouldn’t otherwise come across it.

Product Display Ads

If you’d rather your ad shows up for a particular product, rather than in the search results for a keyword, you should choose a product display ad.

Amazon allows you to specify particular products, or particular types of products, that your ad will show up alongside. If you know you offer a superior version of a competing book, you can advertise in this way to persuade buyers to choose your title instead of, or along with, their original search.

Now that you know the way that AMS operates, and the basic types of ads you can choose, let’s take a look at how to get started by creating your first campaign.

Let’s Create an Kindle Advertisement

The only basic requirement for advertising with AMS is to have a book published through KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing. The book doesn’t need to be a part of the KDP Select program.

To get going, log into your KDP dashboard. Choose the book that you wish to create an ad for, and click ‘advertise’.

The exact steps you need to follow differ depending on whether you choose a sponsored product ad, or a product display ad, as you will now see.

How To Set Up A Sponsored Product Ad

kindle advertising

  1. Choose a name for your ad campaign. It can help with tracking and monitoring, particularly if you have multiple campaigns, to choose a unique and specific campaign title.kindle advertising
  2. Select your daily budget. This is the maximum amount are willing to pay on any given day. Generally, it’s better to start small and scale up based on results.
  3. Choose whether you want your campaign to run for a fixed time, or to carry on indefinitely.
  4. Select between ‘manual’ and ‘automatic’ targeting. It’s better to pick the manual option, as you can choose the exact way to advertise on your work, rather than relying on Amazon’s automated choices.kindle advertising
  5. Choose the keywords you wish your ad to show up for. A lot of authors make the mistake of choosing a low number of keywords. To have the most success possible, the higher the number of relevant keywords, the better. You can pick from Amazon’s suggestions of keywords to target, or enter your own.kindle advertising
  6. Select the default amount someone will pay when they click on your ad, known as ‘cost per click’, or CPC. This amount will apply to all keywords initially, but you can make adjustments later on.
  7. Pick an effective 150 character elevator pitch for your ad. You need to write something that is attractive and engaging in order to have the best possible chance of someone clicking on your ad.kindle advertising
  8. Select an existing credit card linked to your account. If you haven’t already done this, you need to add one at this stage.kindle advertising
  9. The final step is to click on ‘Launch Campaign’. Amazon will review your ad to ensure it complies with their requirements, and get back to you in 1-3 days. As soon as Amazon approves, your campaign goes live!

How To Set Up A Product Display Ad

  1. After clicking the ‘advertise’ option on the book you wish to create a campaign for, select the ‘Product Display Ad’ option.kindle advertising
  2. Amazon offers two choices for Product Display Ads – ‘by product’ or ‘by interest’. ‘By product’ allows you to choose the exact products you want your ad to show up for, whereas choosing ‘by interest’ allows Amazon to select products for you on the basis of a theme or topic.kindle advertising
  3. Decide whether to allow Amazon to associate your ad with similar products to the ones you have specifically selected. This is a good way of associating your ad with products you haven’t specifically heard of, but that have been bought by customers of those you have.kindle advertising
  4. Title your campaign
  5. Select an overall budget as well as a CPC (cost per click) amount.kindle advertising
  6. Produce the copy for your ad. The 50 character limit for the headline and 150 character limit for the body necessitates succinct, impactful copy. 
  7. Select ‘Submit Your Campaign For Review’. Amazon will get back to you within 1-3 days depending upon whether your campaign meets their guidelines. 

If you want to watch me carry out the above processes, check out my free Kindle advertising course. You will see a screen capture video of the exact steps you need to follow as well as my advice.

How To Get The Most From AMS

You can skillfully use AMS to reap benefits beyond increased book sales alone (although they are, of course, awesome). There are three advanced approaches to AMS that allow you to get a lot more bang for your buck.

Promote Other Versions Of Your Work

Offering multiple formats of your book effectively allows you to get several adverts for the price of one. When someone clicks on your ad, they are taken to your book’s Amazon sales page. If you offer various formats, such as a paperback from CreateSpace or an audiobook for Audible, browsers will be exposed to those options and this leads to more sales.

Introduce Readers To A Series

If you’ve ever become hooked on a book series, such as Harry Potter, you know that reading the first book alone is never enough. Readers who love the story and characters in the initial installment can’t wait to get their hands on the next editions.

If you use AMS ads to draw a browser’s attention to the first book in a series, you stand a great chance of creating a fan who will willingly buy the other books in your series without further prompting.

Nathan Van Coops even goes as far to use AMS to promote the first book of his series In Times Like These, which is permafree.  The amount of money he ends up making from the subsequent book sales, and other forms of book, outweighs the ad cost for the free book. 

Get More Email Subscriptions

If your book offers a content upgrade like a free book, or checklist, then AMS can help to increase your email optins by increasing the number of people who get your book.

Pat Flynn, of Smart Passive Income, used his book ‘Will It Fly?’ to generate email optins.  By offering a free course to go along with his book, Pat saw 33% optin rate.  Although Pat has a large following, AMS has allowed him to increase his reach, create continuous sales, and grow his email list daily. 

Market Other Products & Build Blog Traffic

You can use AMS to create funnels towards other products and services you offer apart from your books alone.

Some books encourage readers to visit the website or blog of their author. If you advertise a book which has this purpose, you can drive relevant customers to your external work that may never have otherwise found it.

Ryan Cleckner’s  Long Range Shooting Handbook’ is a perfect example of this concept in action. By advertising it through AMS, he drives more people to his book, which inturn drives traffic to his post on how to get an FFL. This results in increased sales for his courses – all for the price of an AMS click.

How to Improve Your AMS Ad Skills

AMS book advertising can be a wonderful skill for authors to use in order to sell their previous, current and even future books.

And while I strongly believe that AMS is a great opportunity, the more you know, the better your ads can be.  The better the ads, the more profit you’ll gain. 

So, to help you improve your AMS book ad skills, here’s a completely free course on AMS that will not only show you what we discussed above, but will also go deeper into creating profitable long term ads, that will continuously bring you book sales.

Kindle Advertising Summary

Hopefully by now you understand the immense potential of AMS and why I love it so much. After all –

  • Only AMS lets you advertise to the most relevant and profitable people possible – interested Amazon customers
  • Setting up a campaign is quick, easy and affordable
  • You can show your ad in Amazon search results through Sponsored Product Ads
  • Product Display Ads allow you to reach people interested in particular products
  • AMS can generate income through more than just book sales. You can increase traffic to your external offerings and generate additional revenue as a result

As with all advertising platforms, earlier adopters often have better results. If you delay getting started, you will have increased competition and a tougher time when you finally do.

If you want to delve deeper into the best strategies and tactics for Amazon advertising, check out my free Kindle advertising course. It contains hours of high-quality video, as well as notes and quizzes, to help you understand the full potential of AMS and put the best ideas and strategies to work for your books.

I’d love to hear your experience with Amazon Marketing Services in the comments!