Successful authors know that writing a book is only half the battle. There is also the marketing and selling of that book, a process that can take longer than the book-writing itself, and which can be fraught with frustration.
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First-time authors with no name recognition and few resources often see their books make few if any sales. Brick-and-mortar and online bookstores are glutted with people trying to push their novels and how-to tomes. Frankly, without a marketing and/or PR agent, it’s next to impossible to get noticed.
Because of these challenges facing new and even seasoned authors, Nick Stephenson developed a training program and community called “Your First 10,000 Readers.”
This program includes a core training that consists of six video modules as follows:
Module 1: Rule the retailers
Video 1: Rule the retailers
Amazon, iTunes, Nook and Kobo operate more like search engines than traditional bookstores. To achieve top positioning for your book with these sites, you’ll need to understand algorithms, SEO and using metadata strategically.
Video 2: Merchandising
Sales channels outside of Amazon don’t implement search algorithms and metadata as much as Amazon does; instead, they promote books based on merchandising deals (e.g., “Deal of the day”). Non-Amazon retailers include Kobo and Nook; there are also distributors like Smashwords and Draft2digital. Nick explains how to reach out to these entities and establish “win-win” relationships with them so that you and they can mutually benefit from merchandising opportunities.
Video 3: Exclusivity vs broad reach
Amazon offers an exclusivity program called “KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing)” which features unique promotions including countdown deals, 5-day free book promos, and access to Kindle Unlimited. The hitch to using KDP is you cannot work with other sales channels (e.g., iTunes). Nick goes over what points you should consider with using KDP versus selling on numerous platforms.
Video 4: Pricing strategies
Pricing your book can be intimidating- do you price high for better profitability per book, or do you price low for high volume sales? Nick explains pricing strategies for Amazon, taking into consideration book royalties, sales volume, popularity and achieving bestseller status.
Module 2: Drive endless traffic
Video 1: Keywords & categories
Nick covers the processes of keyword and metadata selection that you should be using to narrow down your book’s audience. There are free and paid methods for accomplishing this objective, and Nick goes over both approaches. The free method takes more time to accomplish because you’re picking out suitable keywords, while the paid way takes advantage of KindleSpy and Kindle Samurai for more automated keyword selection and testing.
Video 2: Boost your traffic with Permafree
If you choose to give your book away for free, you can really take advantage of the extra traffic by working with top advertisers like Bookbub, Booksends, etc. to convert those customers to your paid books, or a paid version of your original book, following the promo. Nick discusses several ways of capturing the freebie traffic and converting it on a set schedule into customers that end up paying money for your book.
Video 3: Smart Promotion Tactics
Nick discusses the psychological tactics you can use to achieve improved book sales. Paid advertising, price drops, and other related promos can be combined to generate longer lasting traffic growth trends. Nick emphasizes how to time your promos so that your book gets at least 7 days of increased online interest, and to build up to your biggest promotion over that timeframe.
Video 4: Build your dream team
In this video, you are introduced to the concept of working with a team of authors within your writing genre to influence how Amazon features your promotions and cross-promotions. Recall that Amazon and other online sites feature “Also bought” lists of books…wouldn’t it be nice if another author’s book linked to yours as an “Also bought”? Nick discusses how to reach out to related genre authors and collaborate with them to cross-promote their and your books.
Module 3: Convert traffic into subscribers
Video 1: Your book funnel
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Email marketing is the best way to draw in new readers and future customers. This conversion tactic is essential if you wish to generate sales from committed fans. There are free and paid methods for creating a traffic funnel that results in an email list. The free method involves giving readers a free item (like book) in exchange for an email address. The paid method involves building a self-hosted website and using a subscription service, which may or may not include giving your book away for free.
Video 2: Optimize your author website
The best platform you have for converting visitors to subscribers is your author website. Nick covers different methods you can use to convert your visitors without forcing them to give up their email address. Various online tools are introduced towards this purpose, including DreamHost, WordPress, Mailchimp, and OptimizePress.
Video 3: How I added 16k readers via giveaways
How do you find thousands of readers for your book(s)? Giveaways! Nick talks about how you can structure your giveaways so that your target reader is actually interested in your book, not just the prize. He also describes how you can encourage your subscribers to bring in additional subscribers through viral sharing. Other tips include how to advertise your giveaway and to cross-promote it through other authors.
Video 4: Create an irresistible event
In this video, Nick describes the process he used to sell 300+ books in just one hour. How did he do this? By creating a unique, limited-time-only, and cross-promoted event. Nick talks about the various platforms available for creating and hosting such an event, what incentives you can offer to your attendees, and how to structure the event.
Module 4: Engage your audience
Video 1: Why readers don’t buy
There are four reasons why readers don’t buy: indifference, skepticism, worry and procrastination. Your job is to understand every one of these reasons and how to address/overcome them.
Video 2: Priming the sale
Once your readers are prepared for your book, they will not only expect your book, but will be waiting to buy it. How can you prepare your readers to buy? By offering your freebie item up-front…and gradually telling your readers that you have other items for sale. In a nutshell, you need to take your readers on a journey without being salesy and/or pushing a purchase too soon. And doing that is definitely an art form.
Video 3: Scarcity: the secret sauce
The idea of scarcity was first noted in video 1 as a way of getting reluctant readers to buy your book. Here, the psychological tactic of scarcity is explored in greater detail, and especially as a motivator for procrastinators.
Video 4: Social media mastery
The top 5 social media mistakes are: thinking it’s all about you, being a salesman, forgetting your posts are public, getting sucked into a time-wasting black hole, and not setting realistic goals. Nick’s advice includes focusing more on your email list than on spending excessive time on social media. He also introduces Facebook Ads as one advertising platform that could be quite profitable for you.
Video 5: Getting hundreds of 5 star reviews
Reviews are an essential component of getting readers to trust you and overcome their skepticism. To this end, you need to overcome skeptic and worrier buyers by getting good reviews. Also, reviews help your Amazon SEO. Nick explains how to garner reviews without paying for them or engaging in sleazy strategies.
Video 6: Your automated selling system
How can you automate your selling process so you have more freedom? Nick explains how to set up your autoresponder series using Mailchimp. He also offers up his own emails as a template if you’re not sure what to write to your subscribers.
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Module 5: The ultimate launch template
Video 1: Build your launch team
One great way to promote your book release is to do it through a launch team. This team helps generate dozens or even hundreds of reviews for your book on its launch day; lots of good reviews help your book excel at SEO and overall visibility on sites like Amazon. You can assemble a launch team from your email list by offering an incentive and setting expectations. You should treat these superfans with respect and not forget to be grateful for their help.
Video 2: Building buzz
Most authors fail in creating any kind of buzz around their new book. Nick emphasizes that you need to not only create buzz, but you should prepare for your book launch at least three weeks in advance. A key part of successfully building buzz involves preparing your launch team and setting expectations. Nick provides swipe copy for you in case you don’t know what to write.
Video 3: Your launch day template
Your launch day is finally here- so what do you do? Many things. You can lower your book price for a limited time, have a giveaway, offer a book bundle, etc. Should you do a giveaway, you can use it to collect additional emails. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to obligate the participant to purchase your book in order to enter your giveaway (i.e., you must make your giveaway a ‘no purchase necessary’ promo).
Module 6: Facebook: profit on autopilot
Video 1: Intro to Power Editor
Facebook Ads enables you to direct your traffic to customized landing pages and increase conversions (and sales). The platform for this sales engine is Power Editor. Using this platform allows you to control the conversion process and analyze your audience. This beats just paying to boost your posts, and knowing very little about who is converting (and why).
Video 2: How to track results with pixels
Facebook’s pixel helper is a plug-in tool that helps you see exactly who is engaging with your message and who is converting. This is enabled through different individual tracking and conversion pixels. Nick shows you how to use this tool and to set it up for maximum data output.
Video 3: Tweak your ads for better results
How can you maximize the ROI of your Facebook Ads? By tracking your sign-ups via Facebook’s reporting system and using that data to tweak your ads. Nick demonstrates, in incredible detail, how to narrow down your audience and select only those segments that are likely to respond to your offer.
Video 4: Ninja tips
How can you get an email signup and a book sale in one ad? Nick shows you his powerful ninja trick for accomplishing both actions using just one ad. Here’s a clue on how this is accomplished: he uses a promo.
In addition to the core training videos, you also get to listen to in-depth interviews that Nick conducts with published authors. These authors include Mark Dawson, Nick Loper, R.S. Guthrie, Michael Maxwell, Bryan Cohen, Joanna Penn, an Simon Whistler.
In these interrogations, the aforementioned authors go over how they successfully performed their own market research, launched a dream team, built buzz, etc.
Nick provides video tutorials for a variety of marketing activities that you will need to do in order to successfully sell your book. The videos include tutorials on the following topics:
- Anatomy of a landing page/How to build perfect landing pages
- Automate your emails with Mailchimp
- Store and deliver your reader magnets
- KindleSpy: get traffic with keywords & categories
- Automate Facebook Ads with AdEspresso
- Run successful giveaways with KingSumo
- Detailed keyword research with Kindle Samurai
The tutorials are quite in-depth and show actual examples of ads. For example, in this tutorial, Nick shows you how Facebook’s Power Editor can be manipulated to create and manage ads:
Another useful bonus that Nick gives you is his swipe files- in essence, these are copies of the emails and marketing messages that he’s used with his own subscribers and which he now hands off to you, to use as you see fit. Plagiarize them all you want- or switch up the messages to suit your tastes. These swipe files are a very useful benefit if you’re suddenly at a loss for (marketing) words.
There are also four group coaching calls that Nick provides for you. In these coaching calls, he does two Q&A sessions with his subscribers only, and two Q&A sessions with other authors and his subscribers.
The Master Classes
There are also two master-level classes that you can listen to and learn from.
Cover design and book page teardown
In this video, several students of the course offer their book covers and pages for critique by cover designer Mark Ecob and editor Rebecca Heymen. Lots of good advice and tips are provided by these two experts.
How to cold email and work with any VIP
You’re going to need a network of fellow authors and other influencers to successfully launch your book. However, you might be more than a little intimidated at the prospect of reaching out to them.
Luckily, Nick provides you with a video showcasing how master networker John Corcoran not only reaches out to VIPs but forms connections and gets results.
Private Facebook Community
Last but not least, Nick offers you the opportunity to join his private Facebook group, where fellow members (last count: 822) act as resources and help each other out. Incidentally, this Facebook group does not replace Nick; he will still offer his help if you email him directly.
The Bottom Line
I found Nick Stephenson’s “Your First 10,000 Readers” to be jam-packed with useful information and examples from Nick’s own experiences or those of his colleagues. No stone is left unturned when it comes to illustrating the information and then proving its validity.
Nick also provides real world data regarding his own book launches and corresponding sales, revenues, traffic streams, etc. This isn’t some guy who is merely conjecturing which technique or marketing message will work the best- he’s been in the trenches as a published author and has the experience to prove it.