Ep 036: “Tooting Your Own Horn”

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Welcome to the 36th 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!

“If you are self-publishing… You have to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be a marketer, you’ve got to be a networker.”– Tim Knox

Tooting Your Own Horn

In this episode, we interviewed author and podcaster Tim Knox, who shared many great tips on marketing, writing, and getting the word out about yourself and your books.

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He’s an entrepreneur, speaker, and talk radio host whose quest to learn the secrets of successful writers led to the launch of his popular blog and podcast interviewing authors. Featuring discussions with writers across all genres and success levels, he extracts the strategies, methods and tactics they use during their writing, publishing and marketing process to help others replicate their model for success. Here to share his own story is the bestselling author of Angel of Mercy and Everything I Know about Business I Learned from My Mama, Tim Knox.

How did you get involved in the book marketing industry?

“I got involved in the industry because I was, like a lot of your listeners curious as to what to do with the book that I had written. I wrote a book back in ’05. It was a small business advice book called Everything I Know about Business I Learned from My Mama and back then there really wasn’t all this self-publishing that you have today. I had to do it the old fashion way. I actually found a convention where some agents were going to be speaking. I took copies of my manuscript. I actually put them on little business card sized CD’s and went to the convention. I met several of these agents, I pitched them my book. That was on a Saturday. On Monday, I got a call back from one of the agents who wanted to represent the book and within 3 days we had sold that book to John Wiley, which was the largest business book publisher in the country.”

He then began to talk about his next book and his struggles:

“I got an idea for a novel and I wrote it. It’s called Angel of Mercy. I did what I did the first time. I sent out query letters, tried to find an agent. I could not find an agent to give me the time of day. I have enough query letters to pay for your bathroom Shawn. I started researching, “Ok, what do I need to do?” I was hearing about self-publishing, of course I was hearing about Kindle and all that but I really didn’t know what to do. So, I went on the internet and tried to find shows like yours. I couldn’t really find anything that told me exactly what I wanted to know. I had some friends who were authors and I just reached out to them, and we did some Skype calls and, “You know what? This is a very interesting subject here, maybe I can turn this into a podcast.” And so, a year later, I was interviewing authors.”

What do you do to help authors?

Here are a few of the things he does:

“The primary thing that I do is the Interviewing Authors podcast, which is a free podcast. The authors, we do have requirements to be on the show such as; we require multiple books sold in the last 3 years. We require a track record of sales and we had to implement that Shawn, because quite honestly, we were being inundated with requests from authors to interview them. I can’t interview everybody. The point of the Interviewing Authors podcast is not to promote a specific book. It is to talk to authors about how they do what they do. Now, we do have a marketing form of the program, and that is, we call it the “Interview You” series, which is a, where an author can actually pay us for our marketing services. We do an interview, we produce it just like a show but it is more book specific. It’s not there really to give the author, “here’s how I did it” information it’s there really to plug a book. So, we do that, we do “Interview You”.”

What are some challenges that you see authors facing?

Tim gets right down to one of the major challenges:

“The things that I hear the most are, “I only want to write, I don’t want to do all these other stuff.” Well, unfortunately, unless you are a New York Times bestselling author, if you are self-publishing you’ve got to do all that other stuff. You’ve got to be a writer but you also have to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be a marketer, you have to be a good PR person, you’ve got to be a networker.”

This is huge. Many authors are stunned at the marketing it takes, but with any product, people need to know about it. There are simply too many books for people to just randomly find your book on Amazon. You need to promote your book, network with others, and connect with readers in order to get the word out. ONLY THEN, will you be able to get additional exposure from Amazon and other marketplaces.

Another struggle is finding time to write. here is what Tim has to say:

“Well, to do what we’re talking about doing you have to write consistently. The one thing that I’ve heard from just about every author that I’ve interviewed is, “You have to treat this like a job because if you don’t, it becomes a hobby and chances are you’re not going to make much money from your hobby.” You have to commit, you have to say, “Ok, I’m going to write every day even if I have to get up at 5 in the morning and write for an hour.” John Grisham wrote on his lunch hour. He got up early in the morning before his kids got out of bed and wrote and he was committed.”

He finished it out with this, which has become a recurring theme on The Author Hangout:

“You can have the greatest product in the world and the greatest book in the world. If you lack the ability to market that book, no one’s going to find it. And so, you’ve got to get good at marketing and luckily marketing is a skill that can be learned. There’s a lot of information out there on how to do marketing.”

What one marketing tactic is really working well for you and the authors you connect with?

“One of the tactics I have used successfully… is “tooting my own horn” by that I would mean, I was doing podcasting, I was doing television spots. I was really relying on media to get the word out there because I think that people love a good video, they love a good podcast and so to use those mediums effectively I think makes all the difference in the world.”

If you started over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?

This is huge:

“First and foremost, you’ve got to write. Don’t just write a book and then spend all your time trying to market that one book. You’ve got to keep writing. Again, I keep referring to Hugh because he’s such a brilliant case study here. He would write a book, he would put it out there and immediately start the next book. He didn’t spend a year just trying to market one book. He was writing the entire time. I think that’s a mistake that a lot of authors make, is they write their book, they put it out there, it doesn’t do anything and then they spend a ton of time trying to figure out how to sell copies of that book but then they have nothing to come in behind it. If I buy your book and I like your book I want to read something else you’ve written and if you don’t have anything else, guess what, I can’t give you money. I can’t buy more books from you.”

He also talked about reviews:

“Getting reviews for your book. It’s vitally important that you try to get good reviews for your work because if someone goes to Amazon and sees your book, 9 times out of 10 they’re going to click on those reviews to see what other people say. People believe other people before they believe you. You’ve got to work on those reviews.”

Do you need more reviews? Click here to learn about our reviews service Reading Deals Reviews.

He shares many great tips in addition to those two, so be sure to listen to the interview to get all of those great tips.

How can people connect with you?

“Sure I am not hard to find. My primary site is http://www.timknox.com/. You’re going to find a lot of video there. You’re going to find a lot of podcast, a lot of audio, a lot of columns. That website is geared more towards small business and entrepreneurship. http://interviewingauthors.com/ is the blog and the podcast where we’ve interviewed 100+ authors now.”

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