Welcome to the 46th episode of The Author Hangout, a podcast designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!
“Marketing transcends beyond books. Everything is about marketing. As an author, you’re not just marketing books, you’re marketing you, and you’re marketing yourself.”– Tom Corson-Knowles
Book Marketing Success
In this episode, we interviewed bestselling author Tom Corson-Knowles, who shared some great insights into his own book marketing success. Since he has taught over 14,000 authors how to self-publish and market their books, he shares some of the top insights he has to help you become a book marketing pro!
Listen to the Show / Podcast
- FREE: The Ultimate Author Checklist for Online Book Marketing
- eBook Training School – Tom’s free video course
- Publishing Profits Podcast – Tom’s Self-Publishing Podcast
- TCK Publishing – Tom’s blog and publishing company
He’s a serial entrepreneur, blogger and international bestselling author with a passion for teaching new and established authors how to attain success on Amazon Kindle. Besides launching eBook Publishing School.com, a popular video training program for budding authors, he also founded TCK Publishing a leading eBooks publishing firm that provides marketing support for clients. His bestsellers include The Kindle Publishing Bible, The Kindle Writing Bible and Secrets of the Six Figure Author. Here to share his incredible story is the master of successfully writing, publishing and marketing eBooks, Tom Corson-Knowles.
How did you become an author and publish your first book?
Here’s Tom’s story:
“I saw my classmates working 100 hours a week, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, had no social life…they were basically high paid slaves. They were miserable. They would call me in tears they were so miserable and I realized if I stay on that path now my life is going to suck. It’s just not going to be the kind of life I really want to live. That inspired me to write a book, which was really just for me. I didn’t initially plan to publish it or share with anyone. It was really just for me to write a manifesto of what I wanted my life to look like. What success looked like to me because I have seen really clearly that Wall Street was not the kind of success I wanted. That lifestyle was not the kind of success I wanted. So I had to really get clear. I didn’t know at that time, when I started writing, I didn’t know. I just knew that that was not what I wanted. So I wrote that personal manifesto just for me to really get clear on the kind of life that I wanted. Because I knew it was that time in my life where I had to choose how to make money, how to live and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t make a big mistake and go down the wrong path and then regretting it later. So that’s why I started writing the book. It kind of evolved, I wrote it over a couple of years and shared it with a few friends and family member, and the typical story they all encouraged me, “This is great, you should get it published, you should find an agent…” so I spent several years, about 6 years, trying to find an agent, trying to find a publisher.”
After trying to reach out to publishers, here’s what happened:
“I never got a letter, no response, it was just like crickets. I never heard anything back from anyone in the industry and that was so depressing. Man, my book must be so bad that no one even cared enough to respond to me. So I pretty much gave up on that dream for a couple of years, for about 6 years until 4 years ago someone just off hand mentioned, “why don’t you just self-publish your books on Kindle” and by that time 4 years ago I actually didn’t have just that one book. I had 10 different manuscripts on my computer that were all in various stages of being written because I just love to write. I would write even if I wasn’t paid for it because I found it was a great way to first of all learn, I love learning and to just express my ideas and clarify my ideas. I had all these manuscripts at different stages half written and so forth and my friend just said, “why don’t you just self-publish on Kindle”. At the time I had no idea what that meant.”
After realizing that traditional self-publishing wasn’t for him, he stumbled on KDP…
“That’s how I got started and I checked back on my account a month later and I saw I had 14 sales. I was jumping up and down. I was so excited. That was a life altering moment for me because I knew immediately, if I can sell 14 books…and by the way, I didn’t tell anyone that I published my book because I was so embarrassed that I had to self-publish my book. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t do any marketing. I certainly didn’t want my friends and family to know because I was embarrassed that I had to self-publish my book. But when I saw those 14 sales, I immediately realized, “look, people want this stuff, they like this stuff, they want more” and imagine if I treated this like a business, instead of a hobby. If I treated this like a real business and started writing more and publishing more and getting my message out there, imagine the impact I could have. Twelve months later I had my first $12,000 a month from eBook royalties alone just on Amazon Kindle.”
What is your most recent book or project?
“My main focus is education. I think people who are educated, who have the right knowledge, the right ideas, they’re the ones who are going to be successful. Everything I do really revolves around giving people the right knowledge and ideas and strategies that are working right now for success. The only way I know how to do that is by trial and error and figuring out what works for me, figuring out what works for my clients and then sharing that with other people. I share things through my blog. I’ve got a YouTube channel. I have a ton of free contents on there. I’ve got my eBooks publishing school with my free video training course. By the end of the second video you can have your eBook published on Kindle and then done. If you have no idea how to do any of the technical stuff I’ll show you all that on the videos. I have a podcast show, a The Publishing Profits Podcast Show where I do something very similar to what you’re doing Shawn. Where I interview successful authors and see what’s working for them. So for me it’s all about education. Everything in by business is about education. I also have a publishing company. We have publishing clients and so authors come to us…how I created that is, I created a video course to teach you how to self-publish on Kindle. It’s available in Udemy. A lot of people have heard of it, it’s called How to Become a Bestselling Author on Amazon Kindle and we’ve have over 14,000 students go through that course. The reason why I created the publishing company is because half of the students who went through that course has said, “Tom, I love the course. I love everything you teach but all that technical stuff and all that marketing stuff, can you just do it for me?” I was shocked. Back then I didn’t have any dream of starting a publishing company. It was just me in my room writing my books, publishing and sharing my information with people and I realized that a lot of people just aren’t…I’m very entrepreneurial, I’m very high energy.”
Can you tell us about a time when you really struggled as an author?
Tom has some great advice for all authors:
“For me, marketing transcends just beyond books. Everything is about marketing. As an author, you’re not just marketing books, you’re marketing you, and you’re marketing yourself. Even when you’re doing something like writing a blog post that doesn’t directly sell a book, that’s still marketing. That’s still really important. For me, I’ve been doing this for 10 years Shawn, so by the time I started publishing I’ve been blogging for 10 years and creating videos online for 10 years. So, by the time I self-published my eBook on Kindle I had a little bit of following on my blog, I had a following on YouTube so I’ve kind of overcome those early challenges. I can tell you, when I first got started with blogging and with trying to connect with people online, I think one of my biggest challenges with marketing was I didn’t have a way to stay in touch with people consistently. People can come into my blog and they can sign up for the RSS feed but it really was just a one-way channel. It was just me writing on the blog, sharing with people and there was just very little feedback. I was getting very little feedback from people. Very few people were commenting on my videos, on my blog and I wasn’t really getting that interaction. It wasn’t until I started building my email list that that really changed. Then I started getting feedback from people. Feedback is so important. As an author, as a creative person, you have to have feedback from your audience to figure out how to do it better. No one starts out perfect.”
He finished with this:
“Most authors, they have no idea who their audience is, they have no idea who’s reading their books and if you have no idea who’s paying your bills, who’s feeding you, it’s going to be really hard to put food on the table because you’re not going to be providing them exactly what they want and the way they want it. So having that 2-way feedback is absolutely crucial for success.”
Shawn and Tom then discuss how important this feedback is and what you can and should do with it.
What one marketing tactic is really working well for you?
Tom touches on two great things:
“Email is crucial, #1. You have to do it, if you haven’t done it, do it. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Other than email I think there’s a couple of cool things you can do. Actually there’s a lot of things you can do…when I work with my clients, I want you to focus on one major thing, one major way to create content. Educational marketing, think of it not as marketing and sales and promotion, think of it as education. Because if people know enough about your book, about your products, about your services, about your ideas and they knew enough about it they would buy it, it’ll be a no-brainer. The problem is they just don’t know about it, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the information yet. Everything when I look at marketing I don’t think about marketing approaching sales, I look at it as education. How can I educate more people, how can I reach more people. There’s lots of ways to do it. I would say do something on the internet where it’s automated and scalable.”
If you started over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?
Tom had some great, quick and to-the-point tips:
“What I would do is I would create a daily action plan and I would make it mandatory that every single day I would have to do these things. Every single day I would write for at least 15 minutes. Every single day I would record or create one piece of educational content whether it’s a video or an interview or a blog post, I would create something educational that would go online immediately to be shared with the world. Number 3, I would start building an email list. I would have a website with an opt-in form and a free offer where people could go and sign up and stay connected with me on a personal basis.”
Tom also shared some great advice about these tips work for both fiction and nonfiction authors!
How can people connect with you?
“If you want to learn more about self-publishing, how to get your books published on Kindle I’ve got the free video training course for you at http://www.ebookpublishingschool.com/ . I also have the publishing show, Publishing Profits Podcast, that you can find that on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever else you listen to on podcasts. Also, my company publishing site and my blog is http://www.tckpublishing.com/. My contact info is on all those websites so if you want to reach me email me personally, feel free to reach out and I will do my best to respond and get back to you and any questions you have, any help you need, I’m here for you.”
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Get caught up on the other episodes of The Author Hangout that you may have missed:
- Ep 145: “Million Dollar Book Business”
- Ep 144: “Network Net Worth”
- Ep 143: “Learning to Hack Learning”
- Ep 142: “Making Of The Perfect Optin”
- Ep 141: “Coaching Breeds Author Success”
- Ep 140: “Gumroad for Authors”
- Ep 138: “Goal Setting Check-in”
- Ep 137: “Relying On Others”
- Ep 136: “Honest Conversations on Book Marketing”
- Ep 135: “Recognition of Hard Work”
- Ep 133: “Making Money Fast?”
- Ep 132: “Book Marketing & Book Launches”
- Ep 129: “Author Answers: Using KDP Select or Not”
- Ep 126: “Media Interviews & Book Marketing”
- Ep 124: “Goal Setting for Authors”
- Ep 121: “Authors Answers: DIY Blog Tours”
- Ep 119: “Author Answers: Choosing Comparison Titles”
- Ep 115: “Author Answers: Best Marketing Activities”
- Ep 113: “Writing Faster, Marketing Smarter”
- Ep 111: “Building Book Launch Teams”
- Ep 110: “Book Launches and Distribution”
- Ep 107: “NaNoWriMo, Writing, and Marketing”
- Ep 104: “Connect With Other Authors”
- Ep 099: “Maximizing Book Promotions”
- Ep 097: “Kindle in Motion & More”
- Ep 086 – How To Create an Irresistible Opt-In Incentive