Tag Archives: Mark Dawson

Steve Scott’s Six-Figure Success with Non-Fiction Books

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I love author success stories! And the minute I decided to focus on finding success stories to share with you on this blog was the minute I started finding more and more of them for you.

Several recent posts on this blog have focused on authors who have seen massive success selling fictional novels and children’s books such as Amanda Hocking, Mark DawsonLiz SchulteTimothy Ellis, and Sheri Fink. Interestingly, posts such as these led to comments such as this one: “An important difference in Fiction Writing as opposed to non-fiction — Readers buy for entertainment, not to solve a problem, so you can successfully sell multiple products to the same reader pool.” This comment seems to suggest that it’s somehow easier to sell multiple fictional products to a single readership than it is to sell multiple non-fiction books—that it’s easier to build up one’s readership based on entertainment genres rather than self-help/problem-solving genres. I’ve also since received a similar comment from another local “author marketing consultant” that echos this person’s presumption: “…our particular audience is business (in many ways a tougher market than fiction) and business types rarely write more than one book. … Writing a book and getting it published are the easier parts. Making enough money to live on or even to cover the time invested in the writing of the book, let alone make a significant profit on book sales is extremely difficult.

Of course, you know me by now. You know what I had to do next, don’t you? I had to go in search of a non-fiction success story to prove that it is, indeed, possible for non-fiction authors to enjoy the same success as the above-mentioned fictional authors, and I quickly found one such success story in Steve Scott. (You get what you focus on!)

I won’t cut and paste the entire post from The Creative Penn here. I’ll let you click on the link to visit their site and read it for yourself. But I will list a few of the commonalities that I see with all of the successful authors I’ve personally interviewed or read about or invited to guest post on this blog.

  1. All of these authors are prolific writers. They’ve all written several books and are releasing them one after the other, strategically, in order to leverage the success of each previous book’s release-date traffic. In other words, the best advice an “author marketing consultant” can provide to one’s business clientele is, “Don’t just write one large book. Break it down into topics. Create a series and release several smaller books within this series one after the other within six to nine weeks of each other. This will get you more bang for your buck by keeping the momentum of your release date going.”
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  2. All of these authors build meaningful relationships with their readers. These authors stay in regular touch with their growing readership. They maintain regular communication with them by replying to each and every comment they receive from their fans. They build a more personal relationship with these people by doing so, which really cements their fans’ support. Some of these authors even use their top supporters as “focus groups” or “beta testers” by sending out manuscripts to them ahead of time to inquire whether or not they like the book’s content or have recommendations on how to improve it before it is officially released to the masses. In other words, they get additional free help with substantive editing from the people that matter the most—their buyers.
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  3. All of these authors use email marketing and/or blogging to promote the release of new books. For authors, building an organic email marketing list or blog subscriber list is equivalent to building a near-guaranteed readership. This allows them to let their greatest supporters know when to expect the next book in a series which leads to more sales of all their books. And this increase in sales raises their online profile which, in turn, attracts more and more new traffic to both their back list and front list titles.

If it can work for one author, it can work for you. If it can work for fiction, it can work for non-fiction.

Yes, you have to work at it. Nobody said it was going to be a quick and easy fix. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you get what you focus on. Focus on success.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Amanda Hocking: Another Fascinating “Rags to Riches” Success Story

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’m always on the lookout for author success stories to share with my blog subscribers because this is a tough business that requires a lot of inspiration to keep oneself motivated. It takes motivation to get yourself to consistently take the types of actions you need to be taking in order to achieve the success you desire.

I believe you get what you focus on. You can focus on the difficulties and heed the warnings of business advisers who insist that 90% of authors will never see the kind of success that authors like Amanda Hocking and Mark Dawson are seeing, and that you should therefore set your goals much lower in order to avoid disappointment. Or you can focus on the possibilities by going in search of the proof, all around you, that what you desire is indeed achievable … whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

The fact is, many authors are earning fantastic livings writing books nowadays. Wouldn’t you love to read an article that tells you exactly how they’re achieving this? If the answer to that question is “yes” then you’ll enjoy reading this: What Makes a $100k Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know. What I appreciate most about this article is that it provides relevant data about the realities of this business while also showing authors what is possible if they’re willing to put in the time and effort. It encourages authors rather than discouraging them.

I created the “Author Success Stories” category on this blog as a place where you can read about the possibilities. The purpose is to encourage you rather than discourage you because, at the end of the day, if even one author can accomplish something that means it’s achievable. It’s possible. Focus on that, and you may just be the next success story that is inspiring others to do the same. You may become one of the pioneers who steers others in the right direction so that, perhaps one day, it will be 90% of authors enjoying massive success and only 10% who will never achieve it.

Which brings me back to Amanda Hocking, an extreme success story that first appeared in The Guardian back in January 2012, who went from obscurity (and essentially poverty) to bestselling status within 18 months of publishing her first book online. Amanda is now a self-made millionaire. Granted, there were several years of writing and work beforehand … as it often is with these “overnight success” stories. Amanda makes sure to emphasize that in this interview which I highly recommend you read. It is eye opening and inspiring. And most importantly, it shows what’s possible even after several disappointments.

Keep writing. Keep working. Keep the faith!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

3 Ways Introverted Authors Can Sell Thousands of Books

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Many authors out there lean a little more toward the introverted side of the personality spectrum; but don’t mistake their introversion for shyness or social awkwardness because these are all different things. Most love people and socializing. What separates them from the extroverts is simply that they expend energy in the same social situations that fill the extroverts up, and they rejuvenate their reserves when they’re alone. Writing is a favourite rejuvenation pastime for many introverts; and, believe it or not, that can be an advantage when it comes to the T-shaped book sales and marketing methods many authors are now using to sell thousands of books each year.

What is T-Shaped Marketing?

Possibly one of the most succinct descriptions of T-shaped marketing was written by Rand Fishkin and posted on the Moz blog along with a useful diagram: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few). This model may not seem particularly remarkable or unique, but it carries qualities that are essential to great marketing teams. … By having multiple overlapping T-shapes, a marketing team can invent and evolve remarkably unique and powerful solutions to problems.”

Now let’s take this description and apply it to authors. Basically, the stem of the T (the deep knowledge) refers to an author’s genre and the content of his or her book(s). The horizontal part at the top represents all the other creative and analytical skills the author can learn in order to sell more books online. The good news is many of these skills require prolific writing—something that already comes quite naturally to most introverts. Just how powerful are these tools in the hands of an author? You may be pleasantly surprised when you read the below three real-world success stories.

  1. This UK Author’s T-Shape Combines Social Media Marketing with Email Marketing: Email marketing goes hand in hand with books much like writing goes hand in hand with an introvert. Why? It’s because this type of marketing is about promoting, sharing, and selling information. And that’s exactly what a book is—an information product.
     
    All you have to do is Google the name “Mark Dawson” and you’ll likely come across a Forbes article titled “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” It’s an enlightening read. After a disappointing go at trade publishing that resulted in meagre sales of his first book, this author decided to take matters into his own hands and become an entrepreneurial self-publisher for every other book that followed.
     
    Through some trial and error, Mark learned how to significantly scale his readership and book sales. He grew his email subscriber list organically by replying to each and every message he received from his readers—the compliments and the criticisms—so he could build a rapport with each and every one of them. As a result, back in 2015, he already had 15,000 subscribers that converted to “near guaranteed sales” (his words) every time he sent out a mass email to announce a new book in the series. According to the Forbes article, another effective tool Mark combines with email marketing “…is Facebook advertising. Dawson is pumping $370 a day into Facebook advertising and he’s receiving double that in return on investment.”
     
  2. This US Author’s T-Shape Combines Cross Promotion with Anthologies: Liz Schulte is a self-published author with more than 20 mystery and paranormal romance novels, short stories, and audiobooks to her credit. Much like Mark Dawson, she is earning a six-figure income marketing and selling her books online; and she does it through a combination of prolific writing and clever cross promotion.

    Where some authors may view their competition as “the enemy” to be avoided, Liz viewed hers as an opportunity for shared success. She partnered with several authors within her genre, and this group now cross promotes each other’s front and back list titles through their respective subscriber lists, newsletters, and blogs. What a treat for all their readers who now have that many more great books to choose from—not to mention the added bonus for each of these authors who have basically quadrupled their individual readerships through the partnership.
     
    Not only does Liz write and publish multiple books every year to keep her fans engaged, but she is also one of several authors who contribute one story each to an anthology within their genre. This is yet another clever form of cross promotion that can be used to plug upcoming books to an extended audience while producing incremental revenue.
     
  3. This Aussie Author’s T-Shape Combines Abundant Publishing with Q&A Site Networking: Here’s an author who takes “prolific writing” to a whole new stratosphere in order to keep his readers satisfied. Think you could write and publish a new 90,000-word novel every 60 to 90 days? This is what Timothy Ellis does to consistently sell 3000+ books every single month. According to him, “The single best way of promoting any book is to release another book.” He’s personally written and published 34 since 2006 (an average of three per year and growing).

    The reason for publishing these many books, according to Timothy, is ranking: “Visibility comes with rank. I can only talk about Amazon’s ranking system, and it is very cut-throat. The single most important thing is release day debut rank. … After the debut, ranks begin to slide. About a week later, Amazon sends out emails to your followers, and this can spike you up again. But at about 20 days, you start being cycled downwards unless you have promotions which can hold your sales up. At 30 days you fall off the new releases lists. By 60 days, your book is gone into Neverland.”
     
    No money for promotions? No problem. Publish another book instead. That will keep your name and overall book series on top even as individual back list titles start to slide.
     
    Much like Mark and Liz, Timothy also has a mailing list and social media presence that he grows organically in a couple of different ways: first, by staying in regular touch with his readers; and second, by mentoring other writers and authors on Q&A sites such as Quora. He pays it forward by over-delivering on the value he provides to each and every person he encounters.

Authors Are Entrepreneurs

For some people, the very idea of authors selling their own books seems to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing “gurus” who lack the influence within the book supply chain that the traditional trade publishers have. For many, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of “the greatest literary writers” in the industry, trade publishers always do (and have always done) everything that is necessary to ensure their authors’ success because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

For those who balk at the idea that authors are entrepreneurs because they believe sales and marketing is the publisher’s responsibility—and that all traditional publishers do it for all their authors all the time—you are invited to pick up a copy of John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Thompson, 2012, Second Edition, Kindle Edition, p. 263-265) where this myth is busted by “The Big Five” trade publishers—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—themselves:

“As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.”

That’s the reality of this business. Unless a book takes off within the first three to six weeks (which usually only happens when the authors, themselves, already have a platform and are out there actively promoting that book alongside their publishers), then that’s the most time a trade publisher will spend on selling it: six weeks. Maybe even less. After that, it’s up to authors to sell their books completely solo … or let them die along with the rest of the ignored and forgotten back list titles.

Authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. And today’s authors need to be that much more savvy to stand out among the competition … or, as Liz Schulte does, stand beside the competition for everyone’s mutual success.

You’re not only a writer or self-publisher or trade author. You’re a marketer. You’re a salesman. You’re an online networker.

This is a Dream Come True for Introverts

For the introverts whose favourite rejuvenation pastime happens to be writing, T-shaped marketing is a dream come true. Don’t you think? Can you imagine selling thousands of books every month by doing what you love, what comes naturally to you, what you’ve already been doing for free for the past several years anyway? Mark Dawson, Liz Schulte, and Timothy Ellis are the real-world proof that it is indeed possible.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

[NOW AVAILABLE!] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

And it will be FREE OF CHARGE from March 22 through 26, 2017!
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[Thinking Outside the Box] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Online marketing—blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising—to name only a few kinds, provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

I invite you to click on this link because it will bring you to a diagram that depicts the T-shaped marketing concept really well: The T-Shaped Web Marketer. To quote the author of this Moz blog entry: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).” Your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).

Many of the most successful online companies of today used T-shaped marketing (also referred to as “growth hacking” which will be discussed in an upcoming blog entry) to grow their businesses when no venture capital was available to help them. AirBNB utilized Craigslist users as part of their growth hacking strategy. PayPal paid people for referrals. DropBox gave people extra storage for referrals. There are many more examples of this, as well.

I believe authors can do the same thing as these companies did to really put themselves and their books on the map. If you have any doubts about that, I invite you to read this online Forbes article: Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer. Mark Dawson was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his trade publisher sold for him, he switched to self-publishing for his next book and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead of a mere trade published author. This is T-shaped marketing at its best.

I hope today’s blog entry will whet your appetite enough to join me again for the next one. I’ll be talking about growth hacking in a bit more detail when we meet each other again.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.