On the show with me today is Dave Chesson; the guy behind Kindlepreneur, a website devoted to teaching authors about book marketing. Recommended by Amazon KDP as the place where you can learn how to “optimize marketing for your books,” Kindlepreneur has grown to be one of the largest book marketing websites on the web….and when it comes to sharing best practices for book marketing, Dave did not disappoint.

If you have ever wondered about the feasability of writing business books, children’s books, or fiction books of any kind for the Kindle platform, you are going to absolutely love today’s interview!

Full Transcript

Trent:                  Hey there everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the bright ideas podcast. As always, I’m your host Trent Dyrsmid, and I’m you here to help you shine a light on what is working in e-commerce by sharing with you the tools, the tactics, and the strategies that are working for today’s most successful entrepreneurs. On the show with me today is [inaudible] by the name of Dave Chesson. Hi Dave. Dave is the guy behind Kindlepreneur.com a website devoted to teaching authors about book marketing recommended by Amazon KTP as the place where you can learn how to optimize marketing for your books. Kindlepreneur has grown to be one of the largest book marketing websites on the internet. Having worked with such authors as Orson Scott card, Kevin J. Anderson, Ted Decker, and more, his tactics help both fiction and nonfiction authors of all levels to get their books discovered by the right readers. Dave, thank you so much for coming on the bread ideas show. Are you ready to share some bright ideas? Sounds good to me. All right, so let’s start at the top. Uh, maybe in your own words. Um, kind of who we’ve, we’ve covered who are you, but what do you do?

Dave:                  Well, uh, you know, I actually, we create content on Kindlepreneur to help authors basically figure out how to get their books in front of Amazon shoppers. I mean, you can run into some amazing writers out there. They can create the best book. But the problem is, is that if nobody can find it, that person will never succeed. So a lot of it’s just understanding what goes on. How does Amazon choose one book over another? Why does Amazon decide that this book is the one they show to a customer instead of this one? And once you start to really peel back that onion, you find that there’s a lot of layers and there are a lot of things that successful authors and publishing companies and sell publishers are doing. Whereas a lot of the ones that are trying aren’t figuring out or understanding. So we just try to pull back that curtain and help them understand.

Trent:                  All right guys. And so here’s what we’re going to do in Dave and I’s conversation. We’re going to talk in the, in the beginning a little bit about his company and his overview and how it helps authors. Then we’re going to talk about some of the marketing tactics that he’s used to make the company successful. And finally, we’re also going to talk about people and processes because no matter what type of business that you run, if you want it to grow and be successful, you’re going to need people and you’re going to need processes. And I always love to dive into that. So Dave, when did you start Kindlepreneur?

Dave:                  Well, it was bout six years ago. Uh, I was in the military and the Navy had just deployed me out to Korea, uh, to sit on a South Korean base. So there was no other Americans, nobody spoke English. And I was the Chinese specialists, so I didn’t speak Korean. Um, and it was kind of a sticky situation. I was also sent there without my family. And I have, I currently have three kids, but at the time I had to, and my wife kind of gave me this look and she said, why are we doing this? And I was like, well, what are you doing this for? Like, is there some goal? Is there something that you want to accomplish? And I was like, no, I don’t really want to be an animal. Good Lord. No. And I don’t know. And so we started to really look at like what life was like and what we wanted to do and what the definition of our family success was.

Dave:                  And it was not in the military. So that’s when I started looking for some way for some guy on the other side of the world surrounded by people who don’t speak English and has a really crazy hectic time schedule. Like, how do you build something, you know, um, how do you build a business? I can’t do brick and mortar. I can’t do shipments like it. All of a sudden I found cell publishing, I found the ability to write books and put it on Amazon and Amazon would sell it for you a while you slept no matter where. So I actually ended up writing my first book while onboard a South Korean warship, uh, patrolling, uh, near the DMZ. And we, uh, there was, it was actually back in the time where, uh, North Korea had just fired off their first ballistic missile that was tested successful. It was actually my ship that, that tracked it and came back and said, no, they did it.

Dave:                  They did it. So, I mean, I’m writing my book while this is going on. So I mean, it’s truly a Testament you can write anywhere. And, uh, when I did that, that book just really started to, to gain momentum that it was making sales. And, uh, I asked myself, why, why, why is this book working? And so I dug even deeper and I started to analyze, um, you know, what was happening. There was some other book that was beating mind, but I had better reviews. Why, what’s going on here? You know? Uh, and so I started to apply that knowledge and write another book and another book. And it was from that point on that I realized, nobody’s talking about the things that I learned. And so I created Kindlepreneur to try to, uh, to teach other authors and help good writers be able to beat out some of the stuff out there that needs to be.

Trent:                  Alright. So you did a big dump of info there. And I want to unpack some of that because when you said, well, I set out to write a book, I don’t think a lot of entree would be entrepreneurs think, well, Hey, I’m going to write a book. So what kind of book did you write? I don’t imagine it was a novel.

Dave:                  No, no. I um, definitely not fiction myself. My thing was, was that a, I’m not a, I’m not an incredible writer and matter of fact, I actually have dyslexia. So to be able to sit down and write and poke was probably the furthest thing I ever thought I would do. I went into becoming a nuclear engineer for the whole purpose of not having to, to ever write anything. So you’re right. It’s kind of a weird thing that I just decided to jump on it.

Dave:                  But what I have learned though is is that when you know that there are people out there and they’re hungry for the subject, they are hungry to learn this one thing, but there’s no competitors or there are no other books on the matter. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway in order to meet those people’s needs and to satiate their desire. You don’t have to be the greatest book cover designer when the other book covers suck. Right? And so I started looking into Amazon and trying to understand what was it that people were searching for on Amazon and not finding a solution where was there a market gap? And so one of the things I found, my first ever book was centered around a language learning process that’s out there. And I’d used it when I was studying Chinese for the military. I used to be fluent in ma and in French as well. And so I started to compile this book together that was focused on this type of learning that people were trying to find a book on. But there just wasn’t any out there except for one other one. And that way it would allowed someone like me to come in with a bit of experience and a lot of research to be able to, you know, um, take that information. And like I said, you don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway in order to make the sales. And I, that was my first aha moment in writing.

Trent:                  So to put it in terms of the physical products, eCommerce business where a lot of my audience is, you are looking for a, an underserved niche where there was demand.

Dave:                  Exactly.

Trent:                  And what I mean was it a keyword research process? Like how did you actually do that research?

Dave:                  Hardcore. So yeah, I was a keyword research. It was a, first off it was using Amazon’s suggestions. Um, it became very evident that this type of learning process with something that people were really typing in, there was only one book that showed up in my clear indication that there was an opportunity to hear was this person didn’t even spend any time to create a nice looking cover. I mean, this would be the equivalent of you coming to a product and seeing that the product sells really well, but maybe didn’t even take a time to have a clear image, right? Or to have different images of the product and you look at their book description, you know, or their product description. And in this case, the person threw together one giant block texts. I’m like, all right, if this product okay is selling this well on Amazon, thanks to their Amazon bestseller rank and they haven’t put in the effort to do anything, then all I have to do is do better than this. So I had a great cover mate. I had a book description that truly was HTML formatted. I had a a in [inaudible] and I would definitely say the book was better. But who knows that you don’t know that until you buy the product. But if you can beat all of those particular things, then you win the market and you don’t have to fight tooth and nail and you don’t have to, um, you know, do dirty tactics or crazy tactics. You just have to do better. And that’s it.

Trent:                  How long did it take for your book to have a better bestseller ranks than the one that you were going after?

Dave:                  Yeah, well bestseller rank was really easy considering that, uh, when it comes to language learning, there’s so many different sub sub sub categories out there that the number of sales one would need to make in order to be number one is pretty minimal. Uh, matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that book has maintained the bestseller rank for, I would almost say 95% of the time over the past six years.

Trent:                  Okay. So you started one, one book. You’ve obviously written many since then. For folks who are listening, who’ve there’s this like the first time they’re being exposed to this idea of building a publishing business, how big can it get were where are you at these days?

Dave:                  Well, with regards to publishing, I kind of focused on my own books. I never actually scaled out the publishing industry in that respect because for me, I’ve just never really had an eye for great writing and I won’t even, uh, you know, attributed the ability to read and be like, Oh my gosh, this guy’s amazing. We can take him somewhere. I’ve always been more about opportunism in the, the market itself. Uh, instead though, uh, it was from reading comments and people just absolutely loving the content that I was writing on Kendall preneur that I said, you know, all right, let me, let me continue to experiment with my books and then I’m just going to write these articles showing what happens when I did X, Y, andZ and I got this result. Uh, and so that really became the branding behind Kindlepreneur and it was from the growth of that website that we actually built our own software of called publisher rocket. That really helps with the process. And so I actually transitioned from writer into kind of authority website and then ultimately to a software company.

Trent:                  Okay. And so I’m guessing you probably don’t publish books any more than you’re just helping other people do it now.

Dave:                  No, actually I still probably do one book a year myself. Um, just because like I said, I really want to stay on top of it. I love to use my books to experiment. Um, I can do some controlled experiments here and there. Uh, we just did one experiment to prove how Amazon takes your suggested keywords, whether or not you should fill all 50 characters or you know, do they index all different variations. I mean, we just played around, um, and it was great and the book sales are still great, but you know, uh, like I said, I like to use them for quest for knowledge more. So.

Trent:                  Yeah. So I want to talk a little bit about the parts of the process and your, I’d like you to rattle off your kind of your favorite tools and resources for each part of that process. For people who are listening, who think, Hey, I want to go publish a book and I want to do it now, I want to know what to do. So your keyword research, figuring out what you should write about. Um, what’s your favorite tool?

Dave:                  Yeah, I’m a bit biased. I’d have to say publish rocket. We designed it for that sole purpose. One of the really cool things is we actually created a way to tell people how many searches per month on Amazon are actually made. And so that way you can see what people are typing into Amazon, how many people are typing it in, and then how hard would it be for you to show up at the top of Amazon for it.

Trent:                  Okay. So now I know what I want to write about. Um, are there tools like maybe scribe to help me actually take the friction out of writing the book?

Dave:                  Yeah. You know, you can really, um, Google docs is really a great thing. I mean, it’s free, but more importantly as you collaborate or when you go to hire an editor, to be able to have them do it inside of Google docs is terrific. I though love to use Scrivener, um, [inaudible] not scribe. Yep. Yeah, Scribner is excellent. I’ve used it for my thesis to you name it. Um, but when you start to compile large amounts of information, when you’re trying to make sure that this, that the structure of this chapter is there. I mean, hands down my favorite program in that respect. However though, while Scribner has the ability to format your book for both E pub and.mobi, so basically making it that the book you write will then show up on Amazon, Barnes and noble, iTunes, Cobo all the different versions.

Dave:                  I’m not a fan of the format or, and so I love to use a program called Belgium a vellum. It only works on Mac though. I keep telling the designers they really need to change that, but there they’re not. But it’s a beautiful thing. It can make your book look really awesome. Um, it’s very intuitive. So I do that. But I’m telling you, if somebody, you know, budget a conscious, I would say Google docs is enough. And then maybe find somebody to format your book for you. One thing I would definitely recommend to people to who is that editing is a great thing. Nothing will kill your book more than, uh, you know, missing some things. But if I were to take all my money from my book and say the most important thing is it’s the cover people judge a book by its cover and let’s face it, if your book, if your cover is much better than somebody else’s, um, that book’s probably going to get the sale over yours. So, but other than that, that’s really it. Uh, there’s not too many tools that are required in self publishing. Amazon makes it very easy for you to load up your book and all of a sudden you can have print versions and ebook versions and it’s really simple.

Trent:                  And how do you spell vellum? So I can put in the show notes.

Dave:                  V O L L. U. M.

Trent:                  Okay. And when I want to hire an editor and I want to get someone to design my cover, where’s your GoTo site? Is it Fiverr or Upwork or are there other places specific to writer? The writer niche.

Dave:                  Yeah, there are a couple out there, but I’ll tell you this though, if anybody out there listening goes to Google and types in book editors, I, we have an article that should rank number one on Google for that, but you can find a giant list of editors that we’ve added. It also, we actually forced them to say how much per word, um, because some of them like don’t tell you that until they see your manuscript or something. Uh, but, uh, they also have their special specialization. So if you’re a science fiction person, I would definitely not hire a romance editor. Um, same thing with, you know, nonfiction. Uh, if the person does only fiction, don’t hire them. If you’re a nonfiction book, so check that list out there. You can find some great editors, um, that are affordable and are going to come in with like $20,000 bills.

Trent:                  I’m looking for it right now. You’ll have to give me, Oh, there we go. Kindlepreneur okay, I’ll include that in the show notes as well. All right. Uh, one last thing for people who want to listen to podcasts that are specific to writing on Kindle, do they exist?

Dave:                  Yeah. So Mark Dawson has an amazing podcast, um, called self publishing formula. Man. I mean he’s devoted to that thing and he, he’s a, he’s a world famous writer himself. Uh, I would highly recommend that one, especially if you’re looking at the full picture of not only just marketing but writing. Uh, I also have my own podcast too, um, called the book marketing show podcast. And each episode is actually just a lesson. I almost, I designed the podcast because so many people are like, Hey, I love the articles but I don’t have to time the time to read them. So I was like, all right, so let’s make an episode that’s specific to each lesson and so people can learn on the go.

Trent:                  Okay. Love it. All right, so now we’re going to shift into Q shifting music, doo doo, doo doo doo for to shift into the marketing section of our discussion. So, um, walk me through it. Cause I, I did, I’ve written one book myself that was self-published and it was a good exercise for me. I don’t know that it was a, you know, gonna win any prizes or anything, but nonetheless, the feedback was decent, but I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time. Um, so I imagine like with everything, there’s a process for writing a book. Can you give us some, you know, and now that you’ve done this a number of times, w give us an overview of what that process might look like.

Dave:                  Sure. Well, I think the beginning of the process really depends on the person and the assets they have. Now. For example, you, uh, have a popular podcast. You have followers, you have a certain style, you have a certain area. I would definitely not recommend to you to go outside of that lane because you can use the established relationships and establish Goodwill that you’ve created through the content you’ve made. So therefore provides something that’s within that. Now. However though, if somebody doesn’t have that, they don’t have a website, they don’t have traffic coming in already or so then to that person, I would say that, you know, if you’re really trying to get started in self-publishing, you might want to start by looking at what is what exists on the market or as in where there is an existing market where people are searching for that sort of thing and that you can come in and provide a good enough book on that subject, then I would definitely recommend that. So again, just to recap, like look at what’s going well for you inside of your business and see what’s the best you can do to align with that. Otherwise over here, look at what’s going on in the market and see where you can fit yourself into the market and create something better.

Trent:                  So in the second part of that, you could use your software in the search tools to help identify that. For someone who has an audience like me already, would the strategy be somewhat different?

Dave:                  I think essentially,

Trent:                  And I’m just curious as to how it would be different.

Dave:                  Actually it would be the, uh, the same strategy just with a bit more of a narrow search with your case. So for example, uh, I was working with an author and she is a really big in the art community, especially in selling art. And she was writing a book or she was wanting to write a book that was finally, you know, how to sell art. And when we did our research, you know, using the program, we saw that more people were actually typing into Amazon how to sell art online. Then we’re just typing in how to sell art. She was not even going to bring up the online aspect. Now I’m not saying that that was wrong in all, but when that large amount of people are specifically looking for online and you don’t even talk about it at any point in your book, that’s not only going to hurt your sales, that’s gonna hurt your reviews because people are just going to get pissed that they paid money for this, this book.

Dave:                  And you didn’t even bring up the one thing they wanted. So when she saw that information, she immediately changed it to augment, not that it was just about selling art, but she made the title how to sell art online. She made the book, uh, be more centered on the online aspect of it. And on top of that too, you know, I can’t tell you for sure, but I’m pretty sure her, her reviews were a lot better because she actually addressed the true need of the market. So starting off and saying, you know, I’m in this area, what is it that people want to know? Uh, what is, what pain points do they have? What solution are they looking for? What is the demographic? Those sorts of things you can start to discover and really hone in on a book that will have a much better chance, not only, uh, a much better chance with your followers, but the strangers who are on Amazon that are looking for that kind of content that will now get introduced to you and your work.

Dave:                  So it can hone in and help you to really understand where you can not only have a successful book but have it grow successfully on Amazon itself. Now with the other person, on the other hand, this is one of those where you know you don’t have a specific area because you don’t have pre established relationships or a platform. And in that case then you’re going to really to kind of sit down and you can start brainstorming. You know, you can start throwing spaghetti on the wall. But the really cool thing about publisher rocket is it will help you to figure out if that spaghetti stock or if it fell to the floor. Maybe really you can really start to see that, wow, that was going to be a bad idea. That that was a like that would’ve been a complete waste of time and money producing that thing cause nobody cares.

Dave:                  Uh, none of the books are making any money that, that rank for that. You know. Um, like for example I saw on on Amazon the other day that somebody, there was a bunch of books on how to tie a tie and I’m like, why, why? Like why would, okay, sure. Um, you know, and I think that that person was just using like Google information. It’s like, wow, hundreds of thousands of people type that into Google. If I write a book, you know, maybe maybe those same numbers doing on Amazon and yeah, I don’t think I’ve sold a book and in any year. So the point is is that you may think that there’s something that’d be really cool. You may think that there’s something existing, but you know, without a tool like rocket, you’re not going to know if that’s a good idea or not. And it can save you a lot of time, energy and blood, sweat and tears.

Trent:                  If you have a blog post or two that goes deeper into that particular rabbit hole, do send me the links and I’ll include them in the show notes.

Dave:                  We’ll do.

Trent:                  So now our fictitious offer is ready to publish their book. Walk us through what the launch, the launch process looks like.

Dave:                  Well, I’m going to step up, step back a bit. Oh, one thing, one of the biggest mistakes a lot of authors make is that they believe that you need to first write the book and then you market the book. I like to tell people that the day you decide you want to start writing as a day, you need to start marketing. Okay? Now what that means is like, you know, the process we talked about, which is checking the market and validating your book idea. Uh, that’s definitely a part of marketing. The other thing too though, is start to understand your market.

Dave:                  Go to, if you’re a nonfiction, start going to forums that are on your subject matter. Start looking and researching the competitors, the other books that you might be going against. Read the reviews that people leave. Oh my gosh, you can learn so much about what to do and what not to do just by reading those reviews. My point is, is that that research is not only gonna help you in your marketing cause you’re starting to understand the language of your potential shoppers. It’s gonna help you to write a much better book like we talked about with the a how to sell art. That was huge. It was a huge eye opener. She also created a content upgrade, uh, to get people on her email list that was specific to online, which is like her top, I think it was like her top five online sales stores or something like that.

Dave:                  Or she had a coupon that she offered to and I mean her emails subscriber rate was through the roof. The point though is, is that she understood that by her research. So as you write your books, start getting to know your market. And that in essence is marketing. Start to get to know the other authors, the community, start building a following, start building people to lead with you. You know, start creating your advanced review copy people. Because what happens is that when you finally write that book and you hit publish, you’re going to want a lot of things emotion before then. Um, having advanced review copies or as we call arcs, um, which is legal, you are an Amazon flat out said that arcs are allowed is where you send a copy of her book, uh, to somebody so they can read it in advance so that when you go to publish, those people can drop a review immediately.

Dave:                  On day one, your day of launch is a very big day because Amazon is geared up, they give a lot more favoritism to your book and how your sales play out, right? Right out of the gate. How many reviews come in is going to have a real effect on how much your book sticks and shows up more often in searches. And so that’s why you want to plan that you have people ready to drop reviews on the first day so that when you do all your other efforts, people will see a bit of social proof and be like, Oh yeah, well 10 other people have read this, you know, at least, and they gave it a five star or so. Okay, I’ll just go ahead and click it and read it. Um, the other thing that’s really big about your launch too is that you don’t want to basically use all your marketing tactics in one day.

Dave:                  You really, really want to spread it out over a good three to four weeks. The reason being is, is that we found through experiment that if you say for example, have 10,000 purchases on the first day and then none after that. Alright, so there’s book a and then book B has a total of 10,000 purchases over four weeks. Each book B will do far better than book a because book B, we’ll prove to Amazon that is a consistent seller and Amazon will give it more preferential treatment than the one that had one day of 10,000. They both sell the same amount of books, but book be proved that it is consistently earning and consistently relevant inside the market and they liked that much better. So being able to create a launch plan that includes the steps that you want to take. Um, this could be things like, you know, uh, making cohorts of your email list or you know, grouping them.

Dave:                  If you have 10,000 people on your email list, don’t send all 10,000 the launch, send like a thousand every four days. You know, letting them know. So you’re trickling out sales from each one. Another thing is Amazon ads is a great opportunity to where you can advertise your book on Amazon to shoppers as they’re looking for their next read. You can do a whole bunch of things. And honestly that’s, that’s really where kindlepreneur.com comes into play is explaining all of those different things that you can implement. So to recap on what we just talked about, the key is, is that you need to start marketing the day you decide to write. You need to have a plan because it will help with your longevity. And uh, if you guys would like to know more, like I said, the website itself was devoted for each one of those things.

Trent:                  Facebook groups. So they play a role in that advanced marketing and helping you launch. Cause I know when the physical products world, that can be a really great asset if you use it correctly.

Dave:                  Facebook groups can be. Absolutely. And, and one thing that really comes to an individual authors, a marketing plan is what are your strengths and weaknesses? Like, let’s face it. Um, I’m not much of a social media guy. Never have been. So I, I, it’s not a part of my marketing plan. However, though certain things are are absolutely within my lane, I tell people that it’s best to do the things you’re, you’re better at because you’ll get more out of it. If you try to do everything and you just slightly do everything, you’re going to get a lot less than if you focused on a couple of things that you’re really good at.

Trent:                  Okay. So now we, uh, dive into the gray end of the pool. I think it would be remiss if we didn’t talk about this. I know in the physical products world there are all sorts of gray and black hat strategies that people are using on Amazon. And some people say, you know, Hey, I would never do that. But others say, well, you know, if all of your competition is using gray hat strategies and you aren’t, how are you going to beat them? So I don’t want to skip over it. But, um, so let’s talk a little bit about, uh, what, what type of gray hat strategies do you see people doing to launch and rank their books?

Dave:                  Yeah, there’s, you know, the good thing is is that uh, there aren’t too many gray hat strategies out there, um, because it’s, you know, a lot of it, I hate to put it this way, is that a lot of authors out there usually aren’t very technically hardcore or advanced. Um, so whereas like when you’re talking about physical products and you’re talking about supply chain logistics of branding, let me tell you, you got some brilliant minds in there. You got some hardcore analytical people that are going to find ways to, you know, find that little competitive advantage over top of it. Um, that being said though, there are a couple of practices out there, um, that some authors have used an Amazon’s really started to crack down. One of the things is, is kind of a cheat that people were doing in Kindle unlimited Kindle unlimited as a program that you can sign your book up for where you promise that your ebook version will only be sold on Amazon in return.

Dave:                  Um, they give you, there’s a whole bunch of things that kind of come with it. But the way that this works is if somebody, if a shopper is signed up under Kindle unlimited, they can download your book for free and you get nothing for that. However, though, Amazon takes this giant pool of money that’s collected for the Kindle unlimited program and they basically pay you by the number of pages that people read of your book relative to the total number of pages. So say for example, one 10th of all pages happened to be your book and far for edge, but just just for math simple math purposes, one 10th of all pages were from your books. You would get one 10th of the pool of Kindle unlimited. Well, if you’re getting paid based off of the number of pages, authors started to do this thing where they would sell the book and they would put like this giant book in front of it and then you could click a link to advance all the way to the bookie bar.

Dave:                  But when you do this, Amazon saw that you actually, you just read 300 pages, right? Um, another hack that was out there too is a lot of people like a joke books started to become a real big one as well. And so they would make the book like nine 99 on Amazon, but if you’re on Kindle unlimited, you could download it for free. And the way that they would design the book was the joke, you know, the knock knock who’s there, you know, it’d be on the one page and you have to flip to get to the funny part, you know. Um, same thing with riddles. People write these real books. So people were just picking up the book for free, scrolling through chuckling, ha ha. And then, you know, 500 pages later, you know, that person was raking in the dough, Amazon though crackdown hardcore on this. And there were six particular authors who were making seven figures from it. Um, and they just banned their accounts. And I mean, it sent a ripple. Yeah, it’s, it’s been incredible. So there’s a couple of things like that.

Trent:                  What about, so in the world of physical products, you can run promotions, giveaways, manufacturer, rebate programs, all sorts of things because to to to create sales velocity where it doesn’t organically exist yet in that of course the algorithm looks at that sales velocity and thinks, okay, well we need to push this particular product higher in the search results because it’s selling this. Does the same type of stuff say a happen in the Kindle space? I would, I would assume it does?

Dave:                  Yeah. If you’re signed up under Kindle unlimited, that program that we talked about, Amazon gives you a lot more. Um, and another term for it is Kindle select. They’re technically different, but they’re pretty much the same. Um, the, when you sign up for that program and you give them exclusivity, you can do things like a Kindle countdown where you know, it goes on sale for a certain number of days. You can also make your book free for a period time period. So you can make it absolutely free. And the reason why some people will do this is that they can use it in book promotion sites. It can be an opportune time to convince people to give you a book review because it is free and it’s a verified reviews since the person downloaded it. Um, there’s a couple of like other benefits that are out there. We can’t give coupons. Um, but there are ways now in the print world that you can do that. And so, yeah, so there are a lot of opportunities just like it, it’s just kind of a bit different than what you’re, what you’re describing from the FBI.

Trent:                  Okay. And you talked about reviews earlier and you talked about the advanced review program. Are there other ways to get reviews? Like in the physical products world, you send out an email after somebody buys your thing and you know, Hey, do you like it and come give me a review? And they, you know, it’s working less and less and less effectively over time. Uh, what type of tools are available to authors?

Dave:                  Well, one of the big things about, uh, or big benefits to authors is that when you sell a book, people are reading your stuff, right? And, um, what’s really neat is that authors can really start to offer some content upgrades. Hey, click here and sign up from an analyst and I’ll send you X, Y, and Z for fiction authors. You can write a prequel of free prequel and give it away or a side story to the.

Trent:                  Sorry to interrupt you. So in your book you can put an opt in form and collect an email address and Amazon doesn’t have an issue with that.

Dave:                  A link to an opt in page. Yep.

Trent:                  Wow.

Dave:                  Yeah. And a matter of fact, some people will even put in the front matter so that when you click the look inside, they could just sign up from right there. A, I worked with Pat Flynn, uh, last year when he came out with the will it fly and he created a free companion course. Okay. And it was just a one hour course that kind of cover what was in the book but in visuals. And he offered it for free. And he saw that 33% of all people that bought his books signed up for his free companion course. So one out of every three buyers on. And that was a really great opportunity and we’ll get to the review aspect of that in a bit. But the key is, is that authors have a very easy ability to turn readers into email subscribers.

Dave:                  If you’re writing in a nonfiction book, one of the things you should be doing back when we were talking about that when you decide to write and start marketing, one part of the marketing is figuring out what would entice the reader to want to click and subscribe for something. So when I talked about that lady, uh, who did the, um, how to sell art, she created a list of her top 10 online stores, uh, to sell your art on. I think she also offered some kind of discount too that you could get the discount by signing up. You can put that throughout your entire book. Ryan holiday does an incredible job of this where just about every chapter has some link to, Oh, if you’d like to see the case study and extra case study, click here to download, you know, or, or if you would like to hear or see the pictures of this, go here to validate them.

Dave:                  Exactly. So the key is, is that you can start to get a whole giant, a number of email subscribers from your book, which can be great. By the way, if you run a business, you have services, you have other products that you’d like to sell, the book can be a gateway to that. But what’s really awesome is that once you have this, most of these people have probably read your book. If they signed up for your email list and you can then put in the autoresponder, just a quick reminder for them to leave a review. Uh, this is even more so, uh, beneficial when, uh, the fact is is that if they sign up for your email list, they probably like you. So you’re probably getting like five star reviews. One. One thing I do like to do by the way, and this is kind of a not so much a hack because it’s absolutely illegal, but it’s, it’s pretty cool is that um, I recommend to some of the authors to like use like kin King Sumo, which is where you can do kind of a giveaway.

Dave:                  And what you do is that to enter this giveaway, all they have to do is click this link and the link directs them directly to your books review page where like in straight up is the pop up for them to leave a review. Now after that you then say, that’s it. That’s all you need to do to enter is just click that link. Then you can say, Hey, thanks. You know, thanks for being entered. By the way, you were just, you know, you sent, and usually I’ll say this beforehand, but your sense of the Amazon review while you’re there, if you’d like to give a review, that would be amazing. If not totally understandable. You’re already in good to go. The reason why that is illegal move for Amazon’s part is because they do not have to leave a review in order to be entered.

Dave:                  Right? That’s the kicker. There’s no incentivize nation for them. They get nothing out of leaving a review. The point is though, you were able to incentivize them to at least look at the review page. And so when authors have implemented that, whether it’s in within their social media with a, uh, an email to their entire email group, um, they’ve seen huge responses, much higher conversion rates, and of course much better reviews. Most of the people are not going to enter in and be like, Oh, I’m going to leave them that one-star Oh by when you know. So that can be a great tactic.

Trent:                  Not only that, you could take that one step further and you could put a pixel Facebook pixel on that page and now you’re growing up pickled pixel audience. Then you could build a lookalike audience. Then you can run ads to your lookalike audience. I mean, you could just take that and hammer it from many different directions you want it to. Exactly. Um, are there strategies, marketing strategies that uh, new authors should avoid?

Dave:                  Well, I think it comes back to that one recommendation, which is don’t try to do, you know, um, if you’re really good at, if you want to be good at Facebook or you know, that’s the thing you’ve been doing, then do that. But if you’re, you know, brand new to everything and you’ve decided that you’re going to do book promotion sites, you’re going to do a tour or you’re going to do Amazon ads, don’t throw Facebook ads in there. And that, that’s a very complex thing that you have to really work on in order to see real results, especially with a low profit margin like you do with books. However, though, you know, if you concentrated on one of those or a couple of those things we talked about, you’ll see much more from your efforts. So just to recap on that, I would say choose a couple digging on them and do them right. Don’t try to do everything, especially on your first go.

Trent:                  And you mentioned Amazon ads in the world of physical products. Amazon ads are increasingly complex because of competition and costs continue to escalate. So you need to be good at it if you’re gonna hope to be profitable. I would imagine in the book space, the same thing has happened.

Dave:                  Not as hardcore as an FBA or in the physical product world because you know, profit margins aren’t that huge. Right? It’s not, you know, you’re looking at two 99 per purchase. Yeah. You know, maybe a bit more if it’s the audible version, that sort of thing. However, though it is one of those where I tell people flat out, you need to approach Amazon ads like it’s a skill. Okay. Um, you know, you need to build intuition in the market. And I strongly believe that the only way to build intuition is through knowledge plus experience. I see a lot of people that will take a course on Amazon ads and they’ll try one Amazon campaign and then they don’t see a positive, you know, and they just like done all that time wasted and you’re pivoting to something else. I’m like, no, no, no. Do you believe that your market exists on Amazon? Because let’s face it, if the answer’s no, then why did you write the book? Not okay. Right. Hey, is your market on Amazon? If the answer is yes, then guess what? That is a great advertising method, but you need to learn and imagine how much that skill is gonna help you on your next book and your next book. And your next one. Huh?

Trent:                  Do you, if you have, do you have a blog post that talks about Amazon book ads at all?

Dave:                  Actually I have a full free course on that. Uh, you can find that@amscourse.com it’s a full free video course and no, it’s not an upsell to a higher price of course either. All right. I’ll put that link in the show notes as well. Yeah, we were, I was trying to write a post on like how to do Amazon ads and it was like 10,000 plus words. I was like, I think this is a better course. So we just made it nice.

Trent:                  Okay, so now we’re going to transition into part three people and process. So we’ve talked a bit about, people already talk about the importance of an editor, the importance of a book designer. Um, probably I think in our pre-interview you made a note of, or I made a note of format person that we talked about that at all, but you did talk about how to use the Scribner tool or sorry, vellum in particular for formatting. So maybe you don’t need a format person as much as you need a format tool, but is there on the people’s side of things, is there anything else that we haven’t yet talked about that we should?

Dave:                  Well, from the book publishing side, um, no, I think you’ve got your key components. The, the, the authors out there that are basically cramming out books, you know, they have a system, they have their one GoTo book designer that they’ve really enjoyed and they feel understands them in their market. They have their editor that they, you know, they can, they can live with. Um, sometimes, sometimes like your editors might be your worst enemy. They’re your best friend and they’re your worst enemy. Um, you have your process, whether you format your own books or you have that format or four, you, uh, they, a lot of them will also have like people who are there to assist them with the launch process itself. Uh, they might have an ads person and Amazon ads person doing the ads for them. They might have somebody who is working in managing the advanced review copy team.

Dave:                  This is all advanced what we’re talking about right now. But as people start to build this system, they will add more and more people to it. With myself, my biggest focus has always been with, with the software company. And you know, we actually have 19 people, uh, in our organization and you know, that ranges from programmers to, to, to support team members to content to advertisements, uh, beta testers and things like that. So it’s, um, but the key is, is making sure that no matter what, whether you’re in books or software, is that you have systems in place to maintain quality. Okay. There’s nothing worse than scaling and having somebody dropped the ball. Imagine, you know, you have your backup book cover artists and the person creates something that looks like clip art. You know, like no matter what, you just broke the entire chain of your system and your book will fail or you need to stop production and go back and fix that one thing. Same thing goes with, uh, you know, with our software is that we have people in support making sure that people maintain our standard. You know, and that’s, that’s a tough thing, but that’s crucial.

Trent:                  So when, when it comes to maintaining standards in my own business, I love me a good standard operating procedure, which is a fancy way of saying documented business process or checklist. Do you, do you find that authors, do they need that, that type of, that level of detail or do they just.

Dave:                  Oh, 100%. Yeah. Um, especially if you have that system. One of my friends, uh, has published I think 76 77 books or something and yeah. Yeah. And he literally has a checklist, like every book. It’s broken down by plus two days from launch, plus five days from launch, plus seven days from launch, do this, this, this and this, and you have to check it off. And then you send it back to him and he’s got a team of people that implement it. And we’re going to, he’s bringing in six figures a month from his books. So of course when I say he’s got a team, he’s got a team. Um, but you know, one of the things that I’ve really liked too that I’ve implemented it in all of my businesses, not just in publishing as well though, is that I have what I call the, uh, Dave Justin’s top 10.

Dave:                  And it’s not David Letterman is they’ve justice justify. Is that like a fun joke that we have? And for me, what that is, is that, uh, you know, how you see like the creed or the, the, the core mission of every business. I’ve always found those to be a bit useless because none of your people ever remember them. You’ll write this flowery paragraph and it means nothing to any of them. So I created this top 10 and I stole it actually from general Thurman who is in charge of the Korean peninsula when I was there. And this guy was hardcore like, awesome. Okay, I don’t, I, I, he was just amazed. He’s special forces. He was gruff and he had Thurman’s top 10 and I, and then I’m a Lieutenant in South of South Korea and I still remember most of his top 10. I mean, that’s how powerful this was.

Dave:                  And you have these rules of engagement with him. For example, number one, never speak in, uh, abbreviations. Break it out. And that’s because he has to rule the Marine Corps, air force Navy, and we all have our own acronyms, right? Um, and, uh, we all have our abbreviation. We all have our little sayings and he’s like, I don’t know all of them. And so he would have rule number one, never speak in acronyms. Rule number two, be prepared to fight tonight. Now let me just break out two of his 10 roles because I think they’re really a pivotal number one with acronyms. Like he was incredible because somebody would be giving a presentation. This poor Lieutenant commanders standing in front of the entire Korean, you know, and all of a sudden he’d be speaking and Thurman would go, what’s my rule number one? Come on people rule number one.

Dave:                  Oh, and the guy would be like deer in headlights. I’m like, Oh, what do I do? And then all of a sudden the captain would come over and be like, well, number one, like, Oh sorry sir, rules of engagements or not, are we very well get it right, but was crazy as I’m, I’m sitting in the crowd, like I’m doing a virtual VTC watching this and I’m like, Oh snap, he’s going to get to use an acronym. Don’t do what you just did. CC. Right. It was funny. It was, I was thinking as I said that, but the thing was was that here, here I am like how do you co he’s got 60,000 soldiers under his command, at least at the time. How do you get them to believe in what you’re doing? And his top 10 sticks with me 10 years later. The second one was important.

Dave:                  The second one was be prepared to fight tonight. That statement meant that at any moment we could go to war drop of a dime. We’re right back at war with North Korea. That statement represents that don’t ever take something offline or offline unless you have a plan that allows you to fight tonight, which means that if you like, here’s a little red flag that if all of a sudden you’re like, Oh yeah, that ship, you know it’s gonna leave port on and we don’t have a backup, you should have a little Thurman top rule number two flag going off in your head saying, I’m not going to be able to fight tonight. I might need to think about this or bring this up the chain because we’re not ready. Yeah, that’s instilling something inside your peoples. So I create my top 10 and one of the ones that I have is like for example, rule number one, always respond as if somebody is going to post your one response on the internet for everyone else to see.

Dave:                  That’s whether you’re in support, Facebook, you name it, you respond to an email under our business. You need to pretend that somebody’s just going to take that out of context and post it. Now tell me if it’s good enough. Rule number two, we never ever hit publish unless we believe it is absolutely the number one article on the internet. And a big part of that allows me to sit in a meeting after reading somebody’s article and just look at them and say, so you think this is my rule number two? And everybody in my organization knows exactly what that is cause we talked about it and the person will be like, uh, let me get it back to you tomorrow. Okay. Like that’s it and I can, I can also praise people. I was like, Hey, I want to give a shout out to, to Jenna on support cause I read one of her responses today and it was so rule number one, I loved it. They can translate that and they can give themselves just by knowing these rules, they can give themselves a go-no-go question. I think that that instills a level of quality that not only holds you accountable but everybody else and it’s something that really sticks with them.

Trent:                  Send me a copy of your top 10 if you will on, I’d like to include that in the show notes as well.

Dave:                  Sounds good.

Trent:                  All right, we, we’re going to finish up with five quick facts. Short questions, short answers. Here we go. What is your, either the current book that you’re reading or your favorite book on the topic of business or marketing?

Dave:                  Current and probably favorite is Lean Analytics.

Trent:                  Okay. What is your favorite online tool to run or grow your business?

Dave:                  A ref’s.

Trent:                  Oh, me too.

Dave:                  Yeah, I love that.

Trent:                  Yup. How many hours a week do you work?

Dave:                  Too many. Um, probably 60.

Trent:                  60 man. You are cranking it and you already covered your family situation. Married with three kids, I think you said?

Dave:                  Yep.

Trent:                  Okay.

Dave:                  One of them is in college.

Trent:                  Wow. You got started early.

Dave:                  Pretty much, she’s also really expensive.

Trent:                  Well I’ll bet my daughter is five so I have a few years. You have to save up.

Dave:                  No start [inaudible]

Trent:                  Oh, we already are. We are there. Um, what last one? What do you wish your younger self knew?

Dave:                  That’s a great question. I think if I can go back in time and give my younger self something, it would be probably the same thing that we’ve talked about a bit here, which is focus on one thing. Get really good at that one thing, and then use it to your advantage. Don’t try to do everything. Don’t dabble in all the different marketing tactics or different platforms. Choose one, be great at that. You’ll see a better return on your investment.

Trent:                  All right, Dave, thank you so much for coming and being on the show. Uh, I really enjoyed having you on.

Dave:                  Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Trent:                  All right guys, and make sure you check out the show notes because there’ll be a ton of links for you in there.

Questions Asked During the Interview

Company Overview
[04:30] When did you start?
[08:30] What kind of book did you write?
[10:20] How did you do keyword research for the book?
[11:45] How long did it take your book to rank well on Amazon?
[12:20] How big is your business today?
[14:06] What are your favorite tools for the book writing process?
[16:59] How do I find an editor and a cover designer?
[18:03] Are there podcasts for kindle publishers?

[18:56] Walk me through how you actually write a book.
[19:16] When you are ready to publish a new book, what does your launch process look like?
[24:53] How important are book reviews?
[25:49] How can an author get an advanced reviews?
[26:10] What does a book launch plan look like?
[29:33] Are they any gray hat strategies for launching and ranking a book?
[32:42] Do new book promotions work much the same way as they do for new physical products?
[34:06] How do you get reviews for a book?
[36:57] Should authors use King Sumo?
[38:45] What are some of the strategies that authors should avoid?
[39:47] How do Amazon book ads play a role and how do they differ from ads for physical products?

People and Process
[41:45] Tell me about the people on your team.
[44:06] Should authors rely on SOPs?
[45:04] Tell me about Dave Chesson’s Top 10

5 Quick Facts
1. What is your favorite business book?
2. What is your favorite online tool for growing your business?
3. Hours of work / week?
4. Family situation?
5. What do you wish your younger self knew?

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Today’s Guest

Dave Chesson is the guy behind Kindlepreneur.com, a website devoted to teaching authors about book marketing.   Recommended by Amazon KDP as the place where you can learn how to “optimize marketing for your books,” Kindlepreneur has grown to be one of the largest book marketing websites.

Having worked with such authors as Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Ted Dekker and more, his tactics help both Fiction and Nonfiction authors of all levels get their books discovered by the right readers.

Dave is also the creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors see what’s really going on in the book market, and thus pick better keywords and categories to help them sell more books.

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