A Simple Marketing Strategy for Beginning Authors

A Simple Marketing Strategy for Beginning Authors It came to me as a simple way to leverage all your books and explain the three-book marketing system others have alluded to. This just puts some...

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How to Publish Public Domain Books and Profit Nearly Forever – Part 4

How to Publish Public Domain Books and Profit Nearly Forever – Part 4 The way to market public domain books is to add value. You want to leverage all possible versions of each title in order to...

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How to Publish Public Domain Books and Profit Nearly Forever – Part 3

How to Publish Public Domain Books and Profit Nearly Forever – Part 3 By now, as you’ve followed my articles, blogs, books, and podcasts, you’ve seen a remarkable evolution in...

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Self-Publishing Secrets Every Author Should Know

Self-Publishing Secrets Every Author Should Know I stumbled across these while researching and testing. I haven’t seen them anywhere else, and they they are extremely practical ideas. First,...

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The Beginner’s Book Launch – How to Survive and Prosper

The Beginner’s Book Launch – How to Survive and Prosper It’s time I collated all the material on book launches to sort out how to do this and give myself a plan I can follow. The...

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Courses – The Final Frontier of Book Publishing

Courses – The Final Frontier of Book Publishing To boldly publish where few authors have gone before… Most people have heard and swallowed the hype that ebooks are all there is to...

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Hub and Spoke Marketing For Books

Hub and Spoke Marketing For Books On tallying up all the distributors I’ve been able to find, one point emerged: there are distributors at every level and for every version of your book, who...

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The Care and Feeding of Book Distributors

The Care and Feeding of Book Distributors Like the first rule of publishing, that books are containers of ideas (and not one set format) book distributors have to be studied with the idea they are...

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Got Your Ears On? Here’s Great Audiobook News…

Got Your Ears On? Here’s Great Audiobook News… What changes a couple of years make… There is finally an alternative to ACX, which allows an actual improvement in audiobook quality...

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BitTorrent Bundles Becomes the Ultimate Book Distributor

BitTorrent-Bundle - New Awesome Distributor for eBooks

BitTorrent Bundles Becomes the Ultimate Book Distributor

I’ve spent some time discussing (and dissing) Tim Ferris for having to promote his work on BitTorrent because he published through CreateSpace instead of Lulu. But you can’t fault the results. As a note, we don’t know how much he spent on promotion to get that. Which means the jury is still out for indie author-publishers.

Meanwhile I had an update:

A couple of years ago, I created a bundle with an email gate (submit your email to get the downloads.) Then I moved on to other areas.
I went back to the bundle I created and found a few things. Now, during the time I had this, I didn’t recieve any emails or notifications from BitTorrent. In fact, the promotion link I had went down, so I assumed something bad might have happened. But it was the reverse. Over two years, I had accumulated an email list of 122 emails. I had a lead generator and wasn’t using it.
With no way to integrate this with any other system directly, you have to download your CSV file regularly (daily?) and stay on top of this to make sure you harvest the interest in that bundle.
As well, the smart move is to have Lead Magnets inside any digital file you upload so that they can then opt-in directly.
So the trick is in 1) using this as promotion for an active promotion campaign and 2) staying on top of it.
I still don’t know why the promotion link went down. It’s simply greyed out on the site, and nothing on the bundle anymore, so the first assumption is that it a) somehow is too much of a drag on their technical resources, or b) is time-limited to avoid that.
Just recently, I bought a pay-what-you-want package that covers Pay What You Want. At first glance, this guy is a typical money-promises-in-your-face Internet Marketer. (I don’t particularly care for those approaches. “I made [X] dollars in [Y] days/weeks, by/with [click-bait action]. Or – “I made $23,456.78 in only 12 days by just eating Twinkees.” See? Scammy.)
However, this book is well researched with real examples that can be verified.
There are ways to do Pay What You Want (PWYW):
  • Gumroad (a bit difficult to integrate on several platforms)
  • Payhip
  • BitTorrent Bundles.
  • LeanPub (for orginal books.)
All of these have to be integrated into your site, or you have to go outside to get access. Since a site will generally send a buyer outside to Amazon or wherever to buy, that’s not a particular problem.

How does Pay What You Want Work?

It’s best when you have pre-established relationships.
Failing that, or for new customers, it relies on the strength of your book (product) description and offer.
Another tactic is to offer tiered models or anchor your price in some way.
I would do something like –
  • Here is the price on Kindle: xx
  • Here is the paperback on Amazon: xxxx
  • Here is the hardback on Amazon: xxxxx
  • Here is link to all versions on Lulu with as much as 50% discounts: xxx
And the bundle I’m offering for PDF, epub, and mobi files you can pay what you want: ___
PS. Meanwhile, if you do buy the hardcopy version, email me the invoice and I’ll send you the download for free.
The point is to give them a choice to buy through Amazon’s shipping, which is really convenient, versus paying the author what you think it’s worth to you.
This can also act as a tip jar, saying that they can always come back and buy it again if they didn’t think they paid enough.
The point is offering choice.
Those companies I’ve read about have either saved their product from a marketing disaster, or made quite more than was expected.
It seems to work because you give the buyer more choice and more opportunity to contribute. You involve them in the purchase more.
Check this out, study it for yourself.

How BitTorrent Becomes Your Next Distributor

This takes a bit of planning, but not so much more than the others. Perhaps it will work better on a whole series than an individual book – like book collections.
You have two levels on BitTorrent Bundles – the free samples, and the pay what you want.
Obviously, a simple preview PDF and cover download, then buying the package of all the digital files would not be much of a scene. And this can be done with all the books individually in that series or collection.
For the entire collection, maybe you give away the first book in full as PDF, plus samples in PDF format of the other books in that series – cover, TOC, first chapter. Then they PWYW offer has all digital versions of all books, and their covers, and any additional items, such as book trailers.
The plan becomes:
0) Build your book with all versions with Calibre keeping track of everything.
1) Post your book to Kindle, iTunes, Nook, Kobo.
2) (optional, but recommended) Post to Hummingbird DM, e-Sentral, Espresso Book Network, plus your own site. Add any other distributors here, depending on your book-version.
3) Repeat for all books in that collection. Go through the usual pricing strategies of pre-launch, low price, higher price, next book for all of them.
4) Launch the bundle this way as well.
5) Then launch the book bundle on BitTorrent with all the extra’s.
Note: if your own site is integrated with Gumroad or Payhip, you can offer PWYW all along. Sending emails to subscribers about every book you publish there would be a good marketing scene. Also, making a podcast of the description (which can become a short book trailer and embedded) would reach people through that additional media.
In short, you start to wean yourself off Amazon, and your customers as well. Then you are using Amazon for what they are good for – paying lead generators.
– – – –
Do let me know how this works for you, or what you think about it. Leave a comment below the show notes or email me. Obviously, I haven’t covered all possible angles to this. I simply wanted to get this data out to you fastest.


See you next time…

The Hummingbird That Protects You From Amazon Going South

Hummingbird Digital Media - Democratizing Book Distributor
Because you never know when things will go to hell. Being prepared is a good option to keep open.
You’ve probably heard this pharse or some version:
“Plan your work, work your plan and always carry a spare.”
Another one you should also know is:
“Never build your house on rented land.”
These both describe the problem that authors have when selling on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and Kobo. These four sellers cover about 96% of all ebook sales internationally. But is that fair?
You are trusting that they won’t go south on you or cancel your account overnight. And meanwhile, the trolls at Kindle threaten to do it for you with almost every email. My KDP account was suspended a month or so ago (for a few hours) for nothing I had done wrong, but because someone needed to be blamed. It was all that stupid DMCA law they passed a few years ago. It allows a person to bully others without recourse.
That brought to mind that my own backups weren’t in place.
GooglePlay already has shut out most Indie authors from publishing there. Google needed a solution to their self-created problem of allowed mass uploading. Pirates became whack-a-mole, as they could set up again within hours. So Google shut everyone out, and closed down a lot of regular folks as collateral damage. (Corporations don’t have to care, do they?)
Similarly, Amazon’s biggest problem is that they are the butt end of lawsuits. It doesn’t matter if you are right as a self-publisher. Certain titles won’t be published in the U.S. And some won’t be accepted at all. (Go ahead and try to publish something with “Think and Grow Rich” in the title.) And then there are the DMCA bullies…
Worse, someone published a click-bait piece this week saying that Amazon could shut down its book publishing branch and would do just fine without it. And what about those six-figure authors who sell exclusively there? Sorry, guys. Should have seen this coming. Rented land and all that.
Amazon owns the land many people are building their business on. They tell you how high to jump and when.
I’ve been telling people for years that they are probably losing more sales than they are making through the promotions that KDP offers. It’s doubly true now since Kindle Unlimited started up. The horror stories about how self-publishing authors have lost a third or more of their income keep showing up. In some cases, it has gone as high as 70%. Meanwhile, scammers are making more money on the Unlimited program than legitimate authors.
What if you lost the ability to publish on Amazon at all? Then what?
Another point I’ve pushed is to have a domain and site of your own, to capture the emails of readers and develop relationships with them. Additionally, you need to be able to sell your own books from that domain. Yes, of course it’s in case of disaster, but also to give an extra reward to your fans.
How to do this is another question entirely.
As I see it, you can and should build your own storefront on your own hosting. It should be simple to set up and maintain. And you can offer anything you want for prices (as long as it’s private between your and your list and the Kindle Trolls can’t send their ‘bots out to spy.) There are a few solutions in this area.
The other approach is to find a distributor who will help you set up your own storefront and push your books for you. This hasn’t existed until just this last year. Let’s take up this last one first.

How to “Democratize” Your Self-Publishing

“Imagine a world in which anyone can sell ebooks and compete successfully with Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. That’s the world Hummingbird Digital Media hopes to make a reality.” [http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2016/how-one-company-is-democratizing-ebook-retailing/]
In the most recent Digitial Publishing World Expo, Hummingbird Digital Media announced they were ready to take on all bookstores and self-publishing authors who wanted a way to sell their books online in addition to everywhere else. The biggest problem independent bookstores have had was in trying to sell ebooks. Kobo had one option, but it depended on selling Kobo ereaders, and the profit margins were a bit smallish.
Self-publishing authors have a similar problem, of being discovered by readers among themillions of other books on Amazon Kindle. If you build your own storefront to sell your own books, you get crickets for customers. You want marketplaces offering your book to others, and put your books right up there with the big-name authors with all the respectability that comes with it
HummingbirdDM allows you to build your own bookstore and stock it with your own books, as well as those of other famous authors. You are essentially being treated as a Big Publisher, since your books go across their network, and you get what any of the Big 5 get when one of their books sell.
On the site they provide for you, you can rearrange the shelves to feature your books when your customers come in that virtual front door. Plus, you can run ads for your books and feature a series or a certain book whenever you want. And if those customers want to browse for other authors, you get a cut of whatever they buy. Again, we’re talking having your books right up there with big name authors who are signed with the Big 5 publishing houses. You get a cut on everything people buy from your site, as well as any of your books selling somewhere else.
Brilliant, really. Treating indie self-publishing authors as real publishers. What a concept.
This new operation is a partnership between an established wholesale book distributor American West Books (http://americanwestbooks.com/ ) and an 15 year-old Indian company Papertrell (https://www.papertrell.com/ ) This enabled a new arrangement, where 2700 publishers could put their books up and get them being sold by anyone who wanted to set up their own bookstore online. HummingbirdDM has been testing and tweaking this arrangement over the last year to find out what they had to do to make it work. (You can see a list of the 2700 publishers at: http://hummingbirddm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Publishers-list.pdf
The great part for self-publishing authors is as I said – you can operate your own virtual bookstore and feature your own books in it right at the top. Any sales you make are yours to profit from (somewhere around 12-23% depending on the publisher’s agreement.) This is because the standard agreement has the book publishers taking the first 50%, with you and HummingbirdDM splitting the rest, after creditcard fees and taxes are paid. The same thing happens in reverse – when your book is sold on HummingbirdDM bookstore, then you get that 50%. Of course, when you sell on your own bookstore, you usually get around 70%, just like Amazon (except you can charge whatever you like.)
The trick is that there aren’t a lot of other indie bookstores and indie authors on board right now. It just got announced in March at that Expo. The predictions by HummingbirdDM is to have about 2000 merchant storefronts by the first quarter of 2017. So it’s very much an early adopter scene right now.
However, it does give you a free option to get your books on an upcoming market place where you only have 200,000 books to compete with, opposed to nearly 2 million on Kindle. The more storefronts they get going, the more exposure your books will have. So it’s a good idea to get in now and also sell through this distributor.
Their whole catalog of videos is available athttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtWjNwpv5rOkGZ5t0D41_cQ

How this works:

You have to buy books via a browser. And then you download their app to your phone or tablet to view the books. It’s another ereader application. You have that book forever, but you have to read it on that app. All books have DRM built-in, which is apparently some sort of javascript file. (Too new to have anyone cracking it at this point.) You also can’t sideload other books you have bought elsewhere. This means that it’s going to be another universe-on-its-own for now. But another plus is that it will run on any device that runs IOS or Android.
Where you are going to get customers are from supporters of independent bookstores and fans of individual authors. Like an exclusive club. Getting your readers to buy in will give you the ability to alert them to changes on your site so they can go there directly – which will happen every time they open the app.
The point is convenience and having your book secure from pirating. So right now 4 out of the Big 5 are on board and are porting all their books and audiobooks to that platform. Hummingbird is even in talks with Smashwords to get their books to show up there. This is how big these boys are thinking.
Another key advantage is in list building and customer relationships – you get the emails of all the buyers from your own site. Uploading these to an email service (like AWeber, MailChimp, or others) then gives you a way to build audience – something iTunes, Amazon, Nook, and Kobo don’t give you. You still don’t have the emails of customers buying from other sites, but that’s considerably better than what you’ve been getting. You could use those emails to build and distribute a newsletter, for instance.

What’s the Press Saying?

Let’s quote from some of the press on this (links in the show notes):
“Hummingbird’s solution was to create a platform on which anyone can set up an online ebook storefront for free. Potential merchants can range from independent bookstores to nonprofit organizations and professional groups. Merchants get a branded storefront where they can sell digital books, and a branded app that allows their consumers to download ebooks and listen to audiobooks.
“When it came to getting publishers on board with Hummingbird, [Steven] Mettee [President of HDM] says, each publisher responded differently.
“‘Nothing is easy in this world. Some publishers immediately said, ‘Yes, we want to be involved,’ and others—for one reason or another—were a little tougher to convince,” explains Mettee. “Some of the small publishers needed some explanation. But, overall, we had a really good experience. Today we have more than 2,700 publishers’ titles in our catalog, and many of the publishers who were looking ways for sell direct to consumers are coming on board as merchants.’
Throughout the last year, Mettee and his team have been taking steps to make sure their platform is a seamless experience, fine-tuning it to make setting up a storefront as easy as possible.
Or as Mettee puts it, ‘as easy as setting up a Facebook page.'”
From Shelf-awareness.com –
“The program includes an app for reading and listening and a web-based storefront for the discovery, purchasing and downloading of digital media. The app is operating-system agnostic, meaning it works on iPhone, iPad, Android devices such as Nook and Samsung, and the Kindle Fire. Both the app and the storefront carry the brand identity of the organization or individual.”
From MisprintedPages.com –
“So what are the primary advantages to Hummingbird? ‘Authors (and publishers) get to dilute the control the three large retailers have over them; they actually make more when they sell a book from their own storefront; they make money for each sale from their storefront even if it isn’t their own book; and they get the reader’s e-mail address’ — a convenient way to build a ‘tribe’ of fans and stay connected with them.
“Mettee recommends that authors keep publishing their books to Kindle, iBooks, and Nook — “wide distribution is important for sales,” he said — but that they also apply to be a vendor on HDM and send readers to their storefront, essentially their main hub.
“‘Since whatever you put on your storefront shows up in your app each time the consumer goes back to continue reading,’ Mettee said, ‘they are again reminded of you and exposed to any changes you’ve made on your storefront.'”
That author (Stephanie Carmichael) tried it out and had her own customised storefront up without having to do any special training.
Stephanie Carmichael's HummingbirdDM bookstore
Other sites to gander at can be found at http://mymustreads.com/merchant-list/

My own efforts – still a work in progress.

Check out http://midwestjournalpress.papertrell.com – and you can see that I have some work to do.
On those banners, you can link directly out with them. I’ve done a banner at the top which is lead magnet for my membership-library. I could also send people to my self-hosted bookstore (while we’ll explore in a few minutes.)
Next are the collections. You can create a collection of just about anything. (This is handy for me, since I’ve got a couple hundred books up which can be collected in a dozen dozen ways.) Of course, you then can have the whole page with your own collections if you want. The other thing you can do is to move the categories out of the sidebar. This doesn’t eliminate them, it just makes them harder to find as categories.
The search bar starts working instantly. It relies on the meta-data supplied by the publisher for the book. This means that like iTunes and others, your own book will be referred by author and series. There are no reviews or ways for trolls to affect your sales (feel somewhat better now?)
Go visit some of these sites and play around with the search and categories. You can amuse yourself for hours. (Did you know there was Steampunk Science Fiction?)

How You Load Your Books.

While there is an overview at http://hummingbirddm.com/for-authors/ you have to sign up as a merchant at http://hummingbirddm.com/merchant-form/
Then you get a five page agreement to sign (lots of boilerplate in it.) Once that’s approved, then you’ll get an FTP account to upload.
You use a simple FTP program and rename the files like this: ISBN.epub, ISBN.jpg
The Excel spreadsheet is pretty straight forward. It follows the type of operation that OverDrive and e-Sensical use to upload books (and GooglePlay used to.)
So it’s pretty simple. Great to batch upload a set of books you’ve already published. Just export from Calibre and then rename according to ISBN. Then copy/paste your metadata into your Excel spreadsheet and upload.

Self-Hosted Sites – Simpler and Safer than Ever

The obvious solution for author-publishers is to have their own site, based on WordPress.
Over the last few years, WordPress has become much, much easier to maintain. Now the updates are pretty much automatic. WordPress is a free install for most web-hosts. Simple to set up.
Once you are there, the trick for a self-published author is to install WooCommerce (free) and a template that supports it. What this will do is to set up your site to run your own shopping cart and enable you to list your books. It’s pretty generic. Your books are referred to as “products” and you host your own digital files for download. There are a few bells and whistles you can turn on and off, but the setup mostly leaves you with what you need to get going. Set up your merchant account and your good to go.
One note is that you’re going to have to .zip your epub and mobi files to get them uploaded.
If you aren’t familar with WordPress, then there are plenty of helpful tutorials online.
My own site is a little different as I had earlier purchased a template from StudioPress (part of Rainmaker Platform now) and installed it, as it was WooCommerce ready.
So, go visit http://midwestjournalpress.com/bookstore/ and see how you like it. Obviously a work in progress. I’ll have to find time to get all my books up there, but you can see it’s pretty simple and direct.
It came with two options for selling because I didn’t use a straight WooCommerce theme. As I got more used to it, and started integrating Gumroad for a “pay what you want” (PWYW) option, then I saw I didn’t need to do both. The site is really designed to help people find out about my books and the various series they are in. At the bottom of each book page are buy links. One will be for Amazon, the next for Lulu, and the third for Gumroad’s PWYW option. The third sales option I have is to send them to Lulu for discounts.
The chief advantage of WooCommerce is to have an easily administered storefront of your own. Otherwise, you could set up pages on a Blogger blog and sell them there. That would make you manually edit every change. But it could be done.
For now, at least you have an example of how to get it done.
Now, note that with a simple StudioPress template, you don’t need to host your own files to sell them. Essentially, you are sending them out to Amazon, Lulu, and Gumroad. Of course, that means you aren’t stuck to any one seller. It also means that these places host your books, so your bandwidth will be smaller.
Gumroad’s “pay what you want” pricing, often results in a higher payment and overall revenue than setting (and guessing at) a fixed price. It is one way around Amazon’s “race to the bottom” scheme.

Your Cost of Doing Business and Your Return on Investment

Since you install WordPress for free, and WooCommerce plus it’s template for free, this still fits into the idea of getting started using what you already have to expand and leverage your income even higher.
By now, you’ve invested:
  • your own Internet connection and computer.
  • autoresponder service (MailChimp is free)
  • domain + hosting (can be gotten for under $200 per year, total)
  • and maybe a podcasting microphone (about $100)
The trick is to get all of this stuff making income for you.
Since you have the domain and webhost, you can simply install WordPress and start sending fans to it. There’s a little more theory of marketing involved, but the main point is that you can add your self-hosted website to your workflow while publishing and then devote some time playing catch up to get all your earlier books posted everywhere.
Your HummingbirdDM site will be easier to play catch up with, since it can be just a few upload sessions to get your books there. (Do a test run first with just a few to make sure it’s fine, then do some bigger and bigger batches until you catch them all up.)
You’ll then have added two more places your books can be found. All in addition to the main book distributors you already have.
The point is to make your life more free by increasing your passive income and leveraging your resources.
Luck to us all.
Until next time…

Exploding Sales Funnel Fraud

Exploding Sales Funnel Fraud

How to Resolve and Expand Your Audience Out Of Trust

The core value any online commerce runs on is trust.
Yet business schools don’t teach this. They are instead given all sorts of models to use which take them away from why they are there to begin with.
A business is a ongoing exchange of valuable services and/or products – usually in return for that commodity called money. (But not always.)
The major problem that business courses and online training have is that they are so busy teaching the How’s that they forget the Why’s.
Look at that definition above. It’s all continuing exchange of value.
That all has to happen in an atmosphere of trust. The seller has to trust the buyer and vice-versa. These are age-old principles, which tend to help us understand how it’s done these days in digital-everything.
The reverse of this is a scam, where whatever is promised is only partially delivered. (See my “Get Your Self Scam Free” for more details of this.)
There is no decent physical model to explain what happens in marketing.
Perhaps the stupidest or laziest one is calling it a “funnel.” That implies once people enter at the top, they eventually move down to the bottom and out.
This model doesn’t deal with the fact that people are leaving all the time because they don’t want or can’t trust the person or group they are dealing with.
A better model is a set of concentric circles. People start on the outside edge and gravitate toward the center as you improve your relationships with them.
The ideal flow of customers – and customers implies they are following a custom, or cultural habit – goes from less trust toward greater. Your clients come very closely in to you, and what you do, to absorb everything possible. When they’ve achieved the highest pinnacle of what you can offer, then they do one of three things:
  1. They move on to another mentor, or
  2. They go back through the material from the start, or
  3. They become evangelists for your material and bring new customers to you.

The Usual Suspects, the Usual Lies

Recently, I laid out how the Social Media has been pushed as the latest Shiny Object. I wasn’t so complimentary about it, as it was described as “Revenge of the Social Media Zombies.
audience, self-publsihing, social media, trustaudience, self-publsihing, social media, trustaudience, self-publsihing, social media, trustSocial Media, and even book distributors (like Amazon) are on that outer ring. People come and go, they even buy your books and you have no clue who they are or what they did for you.
That outer ring isn’t worth much of your time to deal with, as there are no reliable ways to build trust. You cast a wide net of content out there, and invite them closer in to you.
Next in would be to get them as subscribers to one of your feeds, so they could get your particular brand of content on a regular basis. This is your blog and podcast. Blogs are less reliable as most people don’t know how to simply subscribe to a feed and get your data regularly, so podcasts are further in.
The next closer ring is an opt-in email subscription, where they can get a regular newsletter from you. Here is where you can build your relationships more closely. At any time, you can communicate directly to individuals, or vice-versa, and improve your mutual trust.
Even closer in would be a membership, where they have to log-in to get your special content. Here you are able to track their interests more closely, and find out what people are clicking on within your own site.
Memberships don’t have to be paid, and it is probably best to have a free one at the outset. They do have to sign in and take that extra step to get your material. They have to demonstrate a little more trust. And you reward that with exclusive value.
From here on in, and closer, you’ll be able to offer tailor-made products to them. With their feedback, you can carefully improve the value of the content they are looking for. And, if this content is good enough, they’ll pay you for it.
Courses start showing up here. Especially when delivered with a Learning Management System (LMS). You can then open a course up which is delivered on demand, not on a time schedule. People can progress at their own pace, and you can send them tailor-made emails to encourage and debug them.
And this is where it gets quite interesting. Because the trust becomes mutual.
As the trust increases, you can offer ever-greater value, and your clients will start to exchange with you more frequently and in greater volume (you can set and get higher payments.)

Errors, Mistakes, and Misdirections

Most of the misdirections which are being spread ignore this trust factor.
For authors, this can be very confusing. Amazon pays for sales, but doesn’t build trust. Your buyers are completely anonymous. And you probably know more about your reviewers (especially the trolls) than you do about your buyers.
Like Social Media, there is tons of “free” advice about how to get sales on Amazon. A lot of it is spread by Amazon itself, who wants you to only sell on their platform.
Let me repeat – Amazon is the outer ring of trust. Right out there with strangers giving you odd looks.
Here’s how you use Social Media – post your content with invitations to join your mailing list. “Interaction” (like resistance to the Star Trek’s Borg) is futile. Always syndicate to as many social networks as possible.
Here’s how you use Amazon and all ebook distributors – post your content with invitations to join your mailing list. Never respond to reviews. Always publish to as many distributor platforms, in as many formats as possible. Always. Because they each have different audiences.
Do you see the similarities?
You don’t spend a lot of your valuable time where you’ll have nothing to show for it.
You can’t build lasting relationships by “interacting” on either social networks or book distributors.
The one exception – perhaps – is to run something like a private Facebook group by invitation only. That is tricky, though, since that platform can shut you down at any time, just as the book distributors can cancel your account at any time (like Google Play has done to many Indie publishers.)
Ideally, you’d run a personal forum on your own site if you want to interact with people on that level. Like social media, it depends on how valuable your time is (as in “what should you be writing or editing right now?”) You can get a return of money for monetary investments, you’ll never be able to get time back for time spent. Always invest money. Always spend time wisely.
This model tells you to spend most of your time building relationships with those closest to you. By giving them private and exclusive special offers, they’ll help you with reviews on Amazon and sending out tweets, plusses, and likes on your behalf. Those can attract attention and get people closer in.
But some percentage of your time needs to be spent on the middle ground as well. Guest blogging, and being a podcast guest are the ways you can build your audience by interacting with other’s audiences.
In these, that existing audience is given the opportunity to join your inner circles. They trust the site you are appearing on, and can start building trust in you. Appearing as a guest takes more time than simply doing your own thing – but the investment pays off better.
Again, here’s the breakdown:

Outer circles:

social media, book distributors
– syndicate content with offers to join your inner circles.

Middle Circles:

blogs, podcasts
– deliver regular, valuable content with offers to join, as well as appearing as guest (also with offers to join.)

Inner Circles:

free memberships, email subscription, private forums, free courses– give them more valuable content and invest in relationship building with offers to purchase. These can start inviting others to join.

Closest circles:

paid memberships, paid courses, coaching– this is very intensive relationship building. These can become your evangelists.
– – – –
I hope you’ve now started examining and discarding what you’ve been told about sales funnels and all the conventional wisdom around them. I know that this was a tough slog for years for myself and others, as there is just so much untested silliness being foisted off as Gospel these days.
Do test everything I say for yourself. Don’t assume it’s useful until you’ve tested it for yourself.
All this article is about is to lay out a common sense approach to timeless natural commerce principles.
As you uncover more of these natural principles for yourself, you should speed up your own progress toward the goals you’ve set.
OK?
See you next time…

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Originally Published at: http://livesensical.com/podcast/selling-books-online/exploding-sales-funnel-fraud/

How to Shift into Online Business Gears You Probably Don’t Know Exist

How to Shift into Online Business Gears You Probably Don't Know Exist
Imagine that you had a car that only had two speeds – reverse, and low. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? You’d probably be able to go faster backwards than you could forwards.
Yet this is the scene that most businesses have.
Because people aren’t taught the system which runs businesses. I should know. I’ve been hard at entrepreneuring for some 15 years now, and only in the last two have been able to fire my last boss and get some real freedom into my life. (However, the 16-hour days haven’t quit. )
It was finally this year, in the last couple of months, that the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.
I can tell by the amount of hype by marketers to exclusively use “social media” and “search engines” that most people out there also have no clue. And that noise has only gotten worse over the years.
I don’t have all the answers to everything. My own scene has been to keep throwing things into the fan as tests, then see what stuck to the wall behind as a result.
What I’ve found out what works out of “conventional wisdom” averages out to be 95% BS and 5% truly workable.
The tool I’ve found as most useful is to look for systems. Natural systems. Things that workdespite pandering politicians or celebrity endorsements or ads on the mainscream media channels.
Systems work throughout recorded history, through legends, through current times and enable you to envision a brighter, more prosperous future.

The Entrepreneur System

This tends to explain how all businesses get started and why they fail. But you are going to have to test this for yourself and not rely on what I tell you. Sorry. Just the way life is.
1. Understanding Success as a subject.
2. Understanding how to persuade others.
3. Being able to produce something valuable.
4. Promoting your product or service.
Let’s use what we know about indie authors and self-publishing.
The reason most authors keep their day jobs is just those points above. It’s not just writing books and putting them up on Kindle at a low price. If you don’t understand what success is and how to get it, you’ll never learn how to set and achieve goals (only 2% do.) Not knowing how to persuade others means that your description for that book will never get people to buy it. How to produce something valuable is a lot more than writing a single book and hoping. Promoting your book is also much more than sending out some tweets.
Before any author (or any entrepreneur) can really succeed, they need to know what success is. The most common and most useful way to learn this is to study books that were written by people who studied others who were successful. Chief among these were Abraham Maslow, Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill. Earl Nightingale, Steven Covey, and more recently, Tony Robbins have been more modern-day examples.
You study successful people who studied success, and then distill what they considered was important. From this, you create your own success model to follow.
The second point after this is to be able to persuade others. Most of those above were known for their own ability to get people to act in their own best interests. While you can also note that through history, there have been a lot of people who influenced others to do bad things, the bulk of humanity has always been working to improve their conditions and those of people around them.
This is all “Golden Rule” stuff, which is also known as Cause and Effect. You can test this yourself. Go around and frown for a day at your job and to everyone you meet. You’ll make people grouchy around you and they’ll also leave you alone. Now, go around and honestly smile at everyone. They’ll want to start conversations, and you’ll find all sorts of happiness in your and their lives.
This is the core of Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
The next study to take up is that of the better copywriters. Also Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence.” All these copywriters agree: what works is to really just build on humankind’s natural habits. As a species, we really haven’t evolved much in our 10,000 years of recorded history. The core desires and motivations are still there. And that is probably why ancient texts like the Bible are still selling so well these modern days. Good copywriters can demand and get paid whatever they want, once they master the old texts which laid all this out in the 1920’s.
Third is to know your production model and hone it to a polished, sharp edge.
In Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi laid out the 6 simple points each of the many businesses he had studied all had in common where they succeeded. And those points (plus the one of setting goals and making them, covered earlier in that book) are the exact steps any author-publisher needs to take to build a truly working system and regular excess passive income.
It would be just as true if you were manufacturing cars, or buying and selling stock. You have to know your market and how it works, what it wants and how to get it to them. You also have to know how to deliver far more value than is expected. You have to go the second mile – and do this consistently for years and years.
You have to develop production habits that will see you through the rough times into the good ones, over and over. You have to build a body of work. There are very few one-shot wonders that had a great life after that single success. (Look up some Motown artists as examples.)
Fourth is Promotion.
This isn’t running advertisements. Currently, that has been made into a very bastardized version of the principle we are going to talk about. Once you see how simple it is, then you’ll see how to run ethical promotion.
For our use, although there are ways to run ethical advertising, especially via Facebook (currently – until they change it again) we won’t mention ads as a term because the majority of what’s out there builds dis-trust. People have trained themselves to purposely not look at ads, all in addition to their browser-installed adblockers.
The principle of effective promotion is this:
“Ask to get in front of other people’s audience and give then additional choices that they’ll appreciate.”
Related to that is to get that host to recommend you to their audience.
In chasing down the success of some of the top 6-figure authors, you’ll see they were showing up on other people’s popular podcasts in order to pitch their books. Amanda Hocking was commenting on the popular book blogger sites, who then reviewed her books to their own following. Wayne Dyer showed up on the Johnnie Carson show and got a huge boost for his first book, just like various comedians that got their start there. The Ed Sullivan show launched many careers on it’s own, as did American Idol, the Voice, and other talent competition shows.
How this differs from “normal” or “conventional” advertising is that people are willingly tuning in to find new entertainment, education, or inspiration. They’ve asked you to come into theirhomes.
On TV these days, you are trying to understand what is happening in the 15 or 20 minutes between interruptions, (some of which go on for 5 minutes in 30-second spots.) There is no continuity in these ads, except perhaps in how stupid they think we are.
It’s no wonder advertising is hated and despised. They don’t ask, they don’t give choice, they don’t give value.
The reverse happens when you’re a guest on a podcast, where you find out about the host and what type of information his audience is looking for. Then you deliver far more than was asked for. Similarly, guest blogging is writing articles for that audience which they really appreciate as you custom-tweak that article based on what they expect to see. Meanwhile, your article is then tweaked by the site editors to make sure it’s a good fit for that audience.
That is the key to promotion these days. Ask, be accepted, deliver value.
And that is why advertising has high fail rates and “content marketing” is replacing it. Meanwhile, selling ads is a convenient addiction for any platform that has to show a profit to its investors. Ask Facebook, ask Google, ask Twitter, ask Instagram. All social media is embracing ads and limiting organic reach – you can’t inform your followers unless you pay.

Why these four points work.

Because it’s a system, not another listicle to memorize. Not another fancy acronym.
These four points interact with each other to improve your result.
  • The more you hone your personal success system, the better your esteem and higher your self-confidence will be.
  • The more you refine your ability to persuade others, the more people you will attract and interest and enable to act on your offers.
  • This then leads to delivering a valuable product, whether it is a physical object or service, or a virtual product such as an online course, or ebook or other content. The better you refine this offer, the more exchange you’ll be receiving. This means more income.
  • But people never find the better mousetrap until you can routinely get in front of interested audiences to tell them. As you do, you build your own audience. Because of your own self-confidence and certainty, your own persuasion and empathy, your own high-quality delivery of valuable materials and services.
Test this all out for yourself. All of it. Don’t believe anything I say – unless and until you’ve found it to work for you personally.
In my opinion, the amount of your success and income depend on it.
If you have better ideas or examples, leave a comment below the show notes. Or drop me an email.
Thanks again for listening.
See you next time.
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