Tackling Book Marketing the Hard Way – Part Two

In part one of Tackling Book Marketing the Hard Way, I gave an overview of the three publishing courses that I’d narrowed my list down to. In this post, I will focus on what I would want to know about the course I finally chose. Or, at least the parts of it that I’ve completed so far.

Which brings me to my first point.

I love the homepage. It’s clean, it’s simple, it’s direct and to the point. Just: Here is your library of courses (paid and freebie).
I’ll be covering Nick Stephenson’s course, “Your First 10,000 Readers,” seen below.

Clicking on the Play icon opens Nick’s five-minute introductory video. Notice that the left sidebar lists other sections of the course and that under the video is a link to the next one in the series.

“Your Core Training” is where the real meat of the course begins, and this section is divided into six modules as seen below.

Inside each module, there are multiple videos ranging in length from nine minutes all the way up to 70 minutes. Most include a PDF download as well.

One thing I really appreciate about the videos is that each one has a check box that indicates when you have completed that lesson. Nothing kills my interest faster than searching through a long list of lessons trying to figure out where I left off. Except maybe a long list of coded generic lesson names like “Lesson five, part 3B-1A” or something equally obscure.

When I see that kind of non-user-friendly course organization, I ask for a refund. Who wants to muck through that kind of list style? I want to know what I’m looking at and I want to know I’ll be able to find it again quickly when I want to refer back to it. Nick does a nice job of making that possible with the layout of his course. I do wish, however, that those checkboxes had been included on this initial module page as well so that I would be able to see at a glance that I have completed all of the lessons INSIDE each module. But that’s a small thing since the module titles give me a pretty good idea what they’re about and I can remember if the last lesson I worked on was about driving traffic versus engaging my audience.

On to the modules.

In Module One we learn about how online retailers work, what it takes to get front-page coverage, and choosing the best pricing strategies. Then Nick discusses the pros and cons of signing up for KDP Select exclusively, versus branching out with other online retailers. My favorite part of this module was learning that book retailers’ sites are basically big search engines, like Google. For some reason, that realization helped to make Amazon seem less scary to me, although it did conjure up painful memories of the not too distant past when I was wondering what the heck “SEO” even meant.

That brings us to Module Two where we find four more videos: The first focused on Keywords and categories, and the second on driving traffic. Keywords and categories have been my nemesis, since day one of my online publishing journey.  Until this course, that is. Nick cleared all that up for me with clever tricks for finding the best keyword choices using Amazon’s search bar.

I think the biggest takeaway for me in that lesson was that a “keyword” can be a “keyword PHRASE.” It was fascinating how utilizing that one tip moved my book “Dust of Earth” up about four thousand places in the rankings, in a matter of minutes, because it’s all about relevance.

Before watching this video, I thought my keywords and categories were supposed to be about my book. After watching this video, I realized my keywords needed to be about what is relevant to readers. Which, of course, needs to be relevant to my book, too. But I wasn’t bridging the gap between the two in a way that stimulated the search engine in my favor.

There’s also a thirteen-minute video about slow, organic growth versus fast, paid growth. Nick explains how to utilize both to improve and maintain your place in the rankings. Essentially, you plan your pricing and marketing strategies so your book exhibits slow, steady growth for a week before your paid sales boost hits, to achieve longer-lasting results. And he explains how to do that in easy-to-follow steps.

And finally, there is a video on building a Dream Team (Launch Team), why you need one, and how to get one.

Module Three is all about building your mailing list, optimizing your website, automating your email sequence, and engaging your audience. I admit I struggled through this module with my ‘resistometer’ on high alert because there are an awful lot of free books out there. As a rookie in the world of indie-publishing I have two books out and one on the way. The last thing I want to do is give them all away. I’m attached to them as if they were my flesh and blood. It was hard not to think that anyone who isn’t willing to pay a lousy ninety-nine cents or two dollars and ninety-nine cents for books, doesn’t deserve to read them. Not one page.

Or so I thought. Because, you know, they’re MINE.

I was wrong. But it took a big leap of faith on my part to give it a shot and see what would happen. I was okay with giving away “Days of Chaos,” since I had written it with the intent to make it free or super cheap. I had also written it in about three and a half weeks, so I wasn’t that attached to it.

But “Dust of Earth” was another story. The Dream Team Network had to pry that book out of my fingers for a thirty-day giveaway and I’m still nursing the paper-cuts. But the 400+ new subscribers I gained (most of whom I have managed to retain so far) provided a nice balm to my bloody fingertips. Especially when they resulted in my first three “fan emails.” Ever.

I am now a believer in freebies.

Module Four is a big one with six videos including why people don’t buy, how to engage them, sales strategies, and getting reviews. Nick talks about scarcity as a strategy, social media, and getting reviews by simply asking for them.

Ugh, right? I know. I hate asking for reviews, too. It feels so…slimy.

Nick’s approach is very direct. Something along the lines of “Hey, I hope you enjoyed my book, would you mind leaving a review?” Of course, the way he says it I find myself looking for a link so I can go leave a review for him. Maybe it’s a gender thing. Handsome man with nice accent asks for something, and hormonal middle-aged female wants to hand it right over.

But as a woman…I have a hard time with that approach, so I solved it in typical female ways: I explain WHY reviews are important before I ask for them, or I apologize as I explain that I’m being shameless and asking for a review. Fortunately, I’m also a tomboy at heart so there’s a part of me that feels like “if he can do it, I can do it, too,” so I know I’ll get there…someday. I just need to sneak up on it for a while.

The final video in Module Four is about automating your emails, and I spent quite a bit of time viewing this one, along with similar videos in Nick’s Author Marketing Machine—only to decide I don’t want to do that yet. I’m still a new author and I feel at this stage of the game it is important to build a more personal relationship with my readers and it’s tough to do that with automation.

I receive a lot of automated emails in my inbox every day and I am always aware of the fact that they are automated. It doesn’t matter how friendly or personable the contents of that email might be. The mere fact that I know they are automated takes away from the connection I might feel to the sender if I knew they had been sitting there writing that email at least within the last twenty-four hours. Knowing they are automated makes it easy for me to ignore them because, to me, it feels like they came from a website, not a person. I don’t want my readers to feel comfortable ignoring an email from me. I want them to know that when I send them an email, it is really me sending it, on that day.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think automation is a bad thing. I can see the benefits and value of it, especially when you reach the point of adding hundreds of new names to your list every day. If I ever reach that level of traffic, I’m sure I’ll be jumping right on the automation band-wagon for some things. But I hope I never get so self-important that my interactions with my readers become entirely automated.
But when the day comes that I decide I do need to automate some things, I’ll have this video to refer back to for setting it all up. And I’m happy to report that Nick promises to update the course as things change in the marketplace.

So, on to Module Five: Launching Your Book. I’ll be re-watching this one in the next few weeks as I prepare to launch the next book in my series: “Drop of Water.” Nick touches on Launch Teams again, both building one and engaging the one you have, building buzz before Launch Day, and what needs to happen ON Launch Day to get maximum value out of your new release status.

Module Six is about Facebook ads. This is a big section with eight videos inside and I’ve only watched the first one, which is about using the Power Editor inside Facebook to create an ad campaign. At 70 minutes, this is the longest video in the Core Training and it is packed full of information. Other than the obvious “how to create an ad” aspect of this video, I was most interested in seeing how Nick chooses a target market, the criteria he uses, what he looks for, and how he analyzes the results.

That’s one thing that I have noticed is missing from a lot of the mini-courses I’ve taken: how to analyze the results and stats. It seems most marketing courses will point out that the stats exist and tell you that you should look at them, but they don’t teach how to analyze what you’re looking at to help you target your ads for best results. Without that information, it’s just useless numbers and percentages.

So, that’s as far as I’ve gone in the Core Training. However, I have skipped ahead to the Bonus section where Nick shares eight videos that contain things like the software and websites he uses for analyzing keywords, storing and delivering reader magnets, and improving landing pages.

He also includes a downloadable PDF of the email templates he uses to send out to his readers that we are free to use/copy/alter for our own email campaigns.

As I continue on with this course I’ll be sure to take notes so I can write a review of the rest of the course for you. In the meantime, I hope this brief overview has been helpful for giving you a general idea of what you can expect to find inside Nick Stephenson’s “Your First 10,000 Readers” course.

Do I think it’s worth the price?
Yes, I do. Because when I sit down and actually IMPLEMENT the things Nick recommends, I see results right away. I think I would have a much bigger mailing list and would be selling a lot more books if I disciplined myself to dedicate just one hour a day to follow the steps laid out in this course. The fact that I haven’t been doing that isn’t Nick’s fault.

 Sallie Olson

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