Today, I am talking with Nick Stephenson. Nick is a bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction. Plus, he teaches new authors how to find their first 10,000 readers. Nick is a good friend of mine, and when we talk we geek out on things like marketing and audience building. We are always on Skype sharing our best stuff with each other. So I thought I should have him on the show to share these things that he does so well.
Nick tells the story of how he never intended to be writer, but he knew he wanted to do something creative on his own terms. When Kindle books and self-publishing came along he thought it was a great opportunity to write a book. Even though his first book didn’t start out selling a lot, he was so encouraged that he wrote more books and even started teaching others to do the same. Nick says that if he can do it anyone can, and he shares a lot of amazing information today.
[01:42] Nick shares how he got started. Nick always wanted to do something creative on his own. Self-publishing on Amazon came along at the perfect time for Nick. The thought of writing for a living sounded really interesting to Nick.
[03:48] How Kindle books allow people to control their own output and the amount of work they do.
[04:22] The first month Nicks first book sold $200.00 then $500.00 the second month and then it trailed off. He was still so excited that strangers were buying his book. That he was inspired to write 5 more and then he started teaching authors how to write and market their books.
[05:47] How Nick built everything up from nothing. Working hard and working smart and knowing what to do next is the key.
[06:16] It took two years after publishing his first book until Nick was able to make a full-time limit on things.
[07:16] How important it is to have a marketing plan to actually get eyes on your books.
[08:01] Nick wanted to learn marketing and started following other successful publishers and adapted their approach. There really are no new ideas. Marketing has been around for a hundred years.
[10:37] It took Nick a year to figure out how to get traffic and readers. There is no shortage of readers in the world, you either have to pay for it or find it.
[11:42] Being smart and working for traffic. Nick tried Twitter and Facebook and then decided to go direct to readers. The huge database strategy worked for Bookbub, so Nick decided to do the same thing and build a list.
[12:56] When Nick’s focus was building an email list he realized he could send out an email and sell books.
[14:29] He started putting an email signup in his books. You have to give something to people in return for an email. His reader magnet was a free novella and it wasn’t called a newsletter it was called a reader’s group.
[18:15] He also used permafree books and giveaways to grow his list and promote his books. With the direct contact, you can run a promotion anytime you want.
[22:18] There were ups and downs, but the overall trend was upward.
[23:22] He uses a permafree book and cycles through free book promotions with his other books.
[24:05] He also did free promotions on Kobo and Smashwords and other booksellers.
[25:18] Free books are his top method. Amazon is still the biggest platform. Giveaways are another method he used. The last thing he has been doing is Facebook ads.
[28:34] There is a much larger audience with fiction. Make sure you use custom audiences and tracking pixels for Facebook ads.
[30:01] Nick has been having good success combining Facebook ads and book bundles.
[31:16] Build up your Facebook ads slowly over time, but keep an eye on your stats. Nick uses an eye-catching image and some text.
[33:21] With Facebook you can drill down the level of targeting.
[34:07] People on Nick’s list have read his books, so they must like thrillers which is what Nick sales. His first emails are friendly warm-up emails. Then he sends links to his books.
[37:20] Nick makes a small amount with his Amazon affiliate links which also helps with tracking.
[38:39] Nick learned all of the technical stuff from scratch. You can learn it on your own or find someone to do it for you or take a course.
[40:26] Don’t use technology as an excuse for not doing something that you want to do.
[42:13] Nick and Chandler both believe in paying people to help shorten your learning curve.