Ep 005: “Sell More Books: Your First 1000 Copies”

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Welcome to the 5th episode of The Author Hangout, a “Hangout on Air” 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!

Sell More Books: Your First 1000 Copies

Many authors sell maybe only a few hundred copies of their books. Others sell far less than that. Tim Grahl from the Out:reach group and author of “Your First 1000 Copies” likes to help authors get over that initial hump. He believes in reaching out to readers and engaging with them to sell more books.

We discussed how to do just that, as well as the ever elusive use of a mailing list for authors.

The Author Hangout – Episode 5: “Sell More Books: Your First 1000 Copies”

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How can somebody predictably sell more books?

“There’s 3 groups of authors… those that write and hope. They write a book and hope it will sell. There are those that write and buy. They write the book and hire a publicist and spend a lot on advertising. Then there are those who write and know. They know before they pen the first word of their book, that they have people who are going to buy.”

He then talks about getting to that point of being able to know to predictably tell, and how you need to have a direct connection with your audience. Watch the video to learn more about how to do this.

Also, don’t miss how you can protect yourself against future changes in the industry by building that direct connection to your audience.

Why are systems important to successful authors?

“First I want to define what a system is… Systems allow you to do something in a predictable way to get predictable results.”

He then explains a great story about having a system for keys in your house so that you aren’t running around the house looking for them.

“I look at anytime that I can systematize something… like a checklist. Every time I put a new blog post up, I have a checklist that I go through… That way I don’t have to remember what to do, forget things, do it halfway. I can do it over and over and get a predictable result.”

It is important for you to develop those systems in your self-publishing business. Watch the video to learn more about creating systems to help you get more predictable results.

Why is permission an important aspect to marketing books?

“Permission gives you that direct access. Permission is anything that allows you to communicate with your audience and drive action…”

He then tells a funny story about not getting hung up on what specific tools to use, etc… you have to see the video for that!

“Social media is not permission, because you can’t reliably get someone’s attention or drive action. The number one way is email… Once you have access to somebody’s inbox, you can reliably get their attention and drive action.”

Seriously, you hear it over and over and over… having an e-mail list is THAT important. Read our blog post about why it is important to build a mailing list and how to do it.

Some marketers say e-mail lists are not useful, email is dead, too many emails, no one opens them. What do you think?

This question from a viewer really got Tim Grahl to put a nail in the coffin of the e-mail list vs social media debate:

“They haven’t actually tested it. When we launched Dan Pink’s next book, I ran a split test which means I promoted something through one channel and looked at the sales, and I promoted something through another channel, and looked at the sales to see which one drove sales. At the time he had 200,000 Twitter followers and about 50,000 e-mail subscribers. What I found was somebody on an e-mail list was 24 times more likely to buy a book, than somebody that was following on Twitter.”

He also mentioned a specific tool you can use to track different marketing outlets for your own testing. Be sure to watch the video to find out!

“The people that are actually making money… are doing it with e-mail lists. It is the most reliable way to drive action online.”

He then talked about the results he saw when testing e-mail vs social media with over 100 different authors.

What are the key indicators that people should be watching out for when they are looking at their emails?

“The first one is just making sure you’re converting people to your email list. So, out of 100 people that come to your website, how many of those people are actually turning into e-mail subscribers? Once they are on the list, what I am constantly looking for is engagement with the list. How many people are opening the email? How many people are clicking the e-mail.”

He then explains what you need to do to make sure that your open rates and click rates stay high, so watch the video for these great tips!

Will this work just for nonfiction authors, or will it work for fiction authors too?

“A lot of people that read my book or read my emails will email and say ‘This stuff is for nonfiction writers, it’s not for fiction writers.’ Here’s the perfect response, because I have always said that this works for both. Michael Bunker writes Amish Science Fiction, and he uses everything I’ve talked about to make his books bestsellers. He’s becoming even more successful of an author, writing full time now. So, if it works for Amish Science Fiction, it literally will work for anything.”

Marketing is marketing, whether you are selling strawberries, Slap Chops, or books. Don’t let yourself get into the “That’s only for nonfiction authors” mindset. Find what works, and do it.

How do you build email lists for _______ (insert your genre here)?

“The first thing you want to do is use your book to drive people back to your e-mail. Make sure on the last page of your book, you’re inviting people to your e-mail list… The other thing is, the best way to build your platform, is to introduce yourself to existing platforms. A lot of times when authors get started, they shoot for that A-list. They want the biggest sites and the biggest authors covering their work. That’s really hard because EVERYBODY is trying to get those people attention.”

He then explains a great tip about finding other authors to connect with, so that you can introduce your fans to their books, and they can introduce their readers to your book!

He also explains why it is so important to have a clear call to action for your e-mail list to be a success.

How do you send “helpful” content if you are writing fiction?

This was a viewer question in response to Tim saying that you use your e-mail list to send useful information to those interested in you:

“There’s this really great quote from a guy named Hugh MacLeod. In the early days of blogging, when people were like ‘What do I write about, what do I write about?’ and he said, ‘Treat it like an adventure, an adventure worth sharing.’ What I have learned is that authors are interesting people. If you look at what you’re doing on a day to day basis, and you look for things that you find interesting… books that you find interesting, authors you find interesting, stories that you’ve loved, writing tips you’re learning. Use your platform to share your adventure as a writer. THAT is interesting content. That’s stuff that people are going to connect with you on. It gives you a constantly evolving amount of things to write about.”

He also talks about he comes up with ideas for blog posts and e-mail list messages from his readers. Watch the show to learn these additional ways to generate ideas.

What are you doing to do outreach that other authors just aren’t doing?

“I define outreach as ‘doing anything that moves people from not knowing you exist to knowing you exist.’ That is the first thing you have to do. Because if you have the perfect e-mail list, the perfect website, the perfect blog post, or whatever it is, and nobody knows you exist, it doesn’t matter. I am constantly looking for ways to move new people from not knowing I exist to knowing that I exist.”

He then talks about his 10k Experiment where he is trying to sell 10,000 copies of his book in a year and how you can follow along with that process, so watch the show.

He then outlines his main focus for doing outreach.

“Make it a priority. My goal is to do 2 things every week to promote my book.”

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