Self-Publishing Success: Transcript
So this is self publishing success. And I’m saying what worked for me what didn’t work and what I would do differently. If I were to start this whole journey over again, just a little bit of an introduction to who I am. One of my my main writing persona is www.erickmertzwriting.com. This is the front page of my website. It is true. I provide ghost writing. I write memoirs, screenwriting, I do consulting, and I do some copywriting. I’ve been in this business exclusively for 10 years. And as a ghost writer, like I think I started maybe, boy, like 22 years ago. It was a really it was I stumbled into it by accident. I didn’t know I was going to be a ghost writer, somebody I met someone at a conference who said, Hey, have you ever thought of ghost writing? I said, Yes. And here I am. 22 years later. A lot of what I taught a lot of what happens in this business is a connection. And so I’m going to talk a lot about those kinds of connections and things. It’s a big part of what we’re gonna talk about. One of the things that I do as an independent author separate from my ghost writing business is I write paranormal mysteries. So I do what’s called Patreon. One of my Patreon, one of my publishing Ventures is strange air stories, I put out a monthly short story. So if you’re if you are on Patreon, you can check it out. There’s free trials, there’s a free story on there, too.
So I think our goal is authors is to write high quality fiction that satisfies reader expectations and keeps them coming back for more. Okay, a lot of what you might see if you’re looking at Facebook groups about self publishing or reading blogs about self publishing, a lot of people talk about sales, they talk about the 20 books to 50k movement is really big in self publishing. I like to focus the conversation about creating a good story, a good series, a great character, those kinds of things that we all as authors. What made us want to be writers? Okay, what are that’s that should be our goal. All right. I think everything that we do as authors comes out of creating the good work, okay, you can’t market work that doesn’t satisfy readers. So that’s why I come back to this as being what is truly the Northstar of being a writer. I think sales and accolades are part of successful self publishing. I think if you are going to jump into this as a let’s maybe not call it a career, but just as a side hustle or a way to grow your author business. Yes, we should, we should consider sales and accolades, but they come as again, a result of good reader relationships. I’m not going to talk about Amazon advertising. I’m not gonna talk about marketing or social media. And there’s a few reasons for that. First off, all of those things are changing so rapidly, that anything I talked about today, on what June July 16 By September 16 would probably be different. These are the parts of the business that are not I don’t know I would say are not evergreen, yes, you are going to have to engage the Amazon advertising, machine marketing and social media are a part of it. But they changed so much. We’re going to talk about concepts that are fundamental basics, you know, what you need to know, in order to, again, create that that healthy reader and writer relationship. And yeah, everything is we’re creating a relationship with that long, that long lasting relationship with your ideal reader. And I didn’t put this in the slide, but I think it’s something it’s sort of like the precursor to all of the mistakes that I made as a self publishing author. And that is like thinking, I didn’t think about who my ideal reader was, until a little later on in the game than was would have been ideal. It’s important early on to think about who is your ideal reader, okay, if you write military sci fi, which is a big, big sub genre, it’s enormous. I was just reading how like how big those sales are, for some of those authors, you’re writing a book, your ideal reader fits a certain type, it’s different than a cozy mystery, which, you know, has a 50 Something female protagonist in a seaside town, think about who your ideal readers are, who your friends are, that read the same books that you’re writing, and start to form an idea of what your ideal reader looks like. So let’s just talk a little bit about what self publishing is. So some people might be unclear of like some of the gray areas around it. The general definition is that self publishing is the process by which authors independently produce and distribute their own written words, books, ebooks, and other forms of written content without the involvement of a traditional publishing house. Now, if you look at one of my books, which I hope you do, you’ll see longbranch productions, that is my publishing company. But I am not publishing other books at this time.
Self-Publishing Success: Transcript continued
Everything I do, I write it, I edit it, I do the book layout, I do the marketing launch cover, I do all of that myself. I like to broaden this definite definition a little bit by saying that this includes things on your blog, right? So if you’re putting out a serialized story on your blog, and you’re using that to bring readers in that self publishing, that’s part of the reason I’ve had that Patreon slide in there, that is self publishing. So once you put something out there in the world, you’ve published it, right, every one of those stories that I put out on Patreon is published, I cannot take that to a traditional publisher, and tried to sell them the first, first publication rights because I’ve already published it. So that is me taking on that responsibility. I really believe that self publishing is, it should feel empowering. But the next definition sort of like, can intimidate people because it it you are in, you are in control of the entire publishing process. Like I said, writing, cover design, editing, formatting, and distribution. It can seem like a lot, but it is ultimately empowering. If you if you really look at the process of what traditional publishing looks like. And we can talk a little bit about that, like, compare some of the sort of timelines and expectations around the individual steps. But for me, it feels it feels really empowering, that I initiate the conversation with the cover designer, I give them my feedback and say, No, I don’t want that color, or I want more of this. For some people, that’s intimidating. But for me, and I think for a lot of people, it feels really good that I’m not sitting around waiting for someone else to do those things. And I have the control to say yes, and to say no. It allows you to retain creative control. If you retain your ownership rights, which if you are developing a business becomes a really big deal. And you do in a lot of cases end up with a larger share of royalties generated by your books. Now, something I didn’t say before I should have said, there’s a lot of information in here and there’s a lot of vocabulary, so if anything is unfamiliar, please stop me. If if I’m if something is unclear, you want me to elaborate on something. Feel free. Okay. I would love to hear like any questions I don’t. I can monitor chat as well if if that’s more comfortable, but especially around vocabulary, there’s there can be some things in here that might seem unfamiliar. So traditional publishing so we have something to contrast self publishing with. traditional publishing is the traditional method of publishing books through established publishing houses in this model. at all, you might be familiar authors submit their manuscripts to a publishing house. They evaluate them for commercial viability, literary merit, and market appeal. That’s where you know the all the conversations about the slush pile, agent, editor, all of those things happen. If your book is accepted in the traditional model, the publishing house takes on the responsibility of editing, designing, printing, distributing the books, throughout the whole sort of ecosystem for books, bookstores, libraries, and retail outlets. All of those are accessible as independent authors. But the idea is that a traditional publisher has established relationships and it has an established rapport with distribution channels, and it makes that easier. You know, your results may vary if you go the traditional route. traditional publishers typically employ teams of professionals, editors, designers, marketing experts who collaborate with the author to ensure a high quality final product. Again, your results may vary. I just talked to a former client who decided to go the traditional route with her book, she is having a great experience with Portland’s corps of books, she’s really, she really loves what they’re doing. I’ve also spoken to other people gone other places, they haven’t had such a positive experience. So you go the traditional route you do it is publisher dependent on on, I guess your comfort level of what you get out of it. The treated the traditional publisher also handles tasks like copyright and negotiating contracts and promoting the books. Internet traditional publishing, the publisher assumes, oh, sorry, jumped on. They assume financial risk and typically pays the author in advance against royalties and a percentage of the book sales. And again, that is all your results may vary type of stuff, because advances and how much you have to sell to earn out your advance to different by publisher. And that is all again changing very rapidly as the marketplace is becoming starting to balance out between self publishing authors and, and traditionally published authors. You may have heard of hybrid publishing, I thought it was important to acknowledge this. This is a model that combines elements of traditional and self publishing. And hybrid publishing authors will collaborate with a publishing company that provides a range of those service services to assist in the publishing process. Unlike in traditional publishing, where the publishing house takes on the financial risks and cover the costs involved with editing, design, production distribution, most hybrid publishers require authors to contribute financially to the publishing process. Some people may have called this vanity publishing in the old days. So authors will pay a fee to invest in a publishing package that includes all of those services.
This will not be included in the slides. But this I will just say these, this can get very expensive. I had a recent client of a recent almost client who came back and said, who had told me she was going to go hybrid, and decided not to work with me as a consultant, she came back and told me kind of what she was looking at paying. And her cost to publish a book was almost twice what I would have consulted her through and she at the end of it was frustrated enough that she was starting all over. So again, your results vary. There’s some great hybrid publishers out there that I’ve heard about. But it is still a model where the publisher is taking some control of the book and some control of the royalties, and asking you to pay for that. So I, for me, I think it’s always a just something to be very cautious about. They typically provide professional services similar to those offered by traditional publishers, but the degree of author involvement can vary. Authors retain greater control over the work and have more say in the decision making process, such as cover design, editing changes, and marketing strategies. And again, this is the essence of you know whether or not this would work for you. Again, some people have really good experiences with this and some people don’t. The idea is that hybrid publishing aims to bridge the gap between traditional and self publishing, offering authors a middle ground. The other definition of hybrid publishing that I didn’t make it onto this slide, but I thought I would add is that thinking of your whole writing career, okay? If you are, you can look at your whole body of work and decide, I’m going to self publish this series of books, because it’s a really narrow market. I know I can reach them and I’m going to self publish these, but maybe you also have short stories that you know, that would fit with a traditional magazine or a traditional publisher. You’re not excluding one when you choose the other. You can work as an independent author Self publishing books, a series of books or a standalone books, whatever you choose to do, while also seeking traditional publishing in for things like short stories or other work, I know plenty of people who who bounce between the two. And that’s just knowing the market for your work knowing you know what sells and what people are looking for. So here’s some stats and facts about self publishing. self published books have been gaining a notable share of the book market. According to statistics, self published books accounted for 23% of all ebook purchases in the United States and 2020. I think accounts for far more than 23% of all published books. But the purchases 23% is a pretty good number, considering that number was about half that three or four years before, the number of self published books has been on the rise in 2020, self published books 1.6 million reported by backer and that’s a lot with self publishing platforms, authors can earn up to 70% or more of their books, royalties, depending on the distribution channel and pricing, we’ll talk about that. Another thing that I wanted to put in here, and this can either be a cautionary tale or motivation, the average self published book sells $200 makes $200. That’s what the average person average book makes. Now, in my experience, the authors that follow the things we’re going to talk about, have a far better chance of beating that $200. In fact, they always beat that $200 It’s the authors that put a book up on Amazon, press Publish, and say, Bring the readers to me that don’t make that money that bring that average down. I can tell you that my books make on have made all our beaten that they’ve all beaten that by a lot. They’ve all beaten in advance I would have gotten on publishing them. And part of part of the reason why is that I’ve learned from my mistakes. Here’s some more facts about self publishing that I just think we need to acknowledge that this there’s a lot of really big success stories. 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James was originally self published as an e book in 2011. I’ve read it, it’s not the it’s not my cup of tea. It’s not the I wouldn’t say it’s the best written book in the world. But it proves that if you find the market for your book, you can not only make you know, she made millions, you can get into filmmaking and film production. A lot of people look at self publishing like, well, it’ll only be a book and there’s no way to take that book anywhere else. But if you look at 50 Shades of Grey and The Martian by Andy Weir, another self published book that started on an even smaller scale than Amazon, he serialized his novel on his website, gained a dedicated following got reviews. And it turned out to be one of the better science fiction movies of that year of maybe that decade. It was excellent, all from a self published on his website. And the joy of cooking, it’s on my shelf upstairs. I mean, 1931, it was a self published book. And it was an incredibly impactful book when it came to popularizing cooking. And it continues to be something that you can find at a bookstore you can find people talking about, I watch cooking channels all the time, people refer to the joy of cooking. So if someone says, Well, self publishing, you know, I want people to read my book, art of getting people to read your book, is creating a good book, and getting it in front of your audience. So let’s talk a little bit about self publishing success. Why did I choose to look at this through the lens of mistakes? Right? When I brought this up to my wife, she said, Oh, that’s kind of a negative way to look at it, right? Like, you’re gonna talk about all the mistakes you made. But here’s what I’m gonna say about about that. This will always be a process of trial and error for you, whatever journey you take, whatever, whatever route you take with your books. There is an element of trial and error to all of it. And I say that because you’re you can read blogs, you can read web, you can read websites, you can subscribe to services and coaching, you can educate yourself, and you can get every how to offer to you and your results and your your results will vary. I’ve said that like five times, like your results are gonna vary, what works for me, might not work for you. You can take the advice that I give you and follow it. And you might find that like some version of that work, okay, so no matter what you do, and I would say this for your whole, your whole education in this area. Nothing is gospel, nothing is set in stone. You know what I’m going to talk about mailing lists, maybe mailing lists For me, it’s the bedrock of of reaching an audience for you, you might find a different way a different spin. So there is always an element of trial and error. So I’m going to tell you about what kind of like the mistakes I made and how I figured out a better way to go about them. The first mistake is you don’t know your story. Okay, this comes down to the writing part of it. So for me, I write what I call the strange air series of paranormal mysteries. And the little backstory on that as I was writing this series, I went back and looked at my archives, I’ve been writing this series, for about 15 years, I’ve been throwing ideas into a box, time and time and time again, like, and it all accumulated. And when it came time to write, I just started writing. And I got really excited because I had the time and I had the space. But then I put, I got ready a book ready to publish. And I went back to the box, and I thought, Oh, wow, there’s more, there’s more. And I didn’t know the whole story of my, of what I was writing, until long after I’d written the first draft of the first book, the first draft of the second book. So I spent a lot of my time, sort of, I don’t know, it was kind of an awkward phase of like rewriting and re sequencing and re putting things together. Because I didn’t really know what my story was, I didn’t take time to put it all together. So if you’re really looking at getting out there and put, especially if you’re putting a series out there know the whole story. Now, why is this a mistake? This is a mistake, because I don’t know who’s familiar with the plotter versus pantser debate? Does anybody talk about that? Are you a plotter you a pantser is if you have to be just one. I, I really think that most young authors don’t really have the strong enough storytelling skills to make it up as they go along. And I include myself in that. plotting your story before writing it, it takes longer upfront, right, I spend anywhere from a month to six weeks plotting out the next book, linking it to the previous book.
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But in the long run, I have found the plotting your book offers the more direct path to getting that book done, you might spend more time upfront doing it, but you’ll know your story, you’ll know it inside and out, you’ll know it much better. And when it comes to writing it and rewriting it, you won’t be scratching your head like what often happens to me as an editor or a story consultant is I’ll meet an author who’s written the first draft of a book, who’s gotten comments back from either their BETA readers or an editor or someone else. And they’ll say, Well, I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what to do with this comment. I know it’s missing some story, but I don’t know what to do. And that’s a product of just not knowing the whole story, getting in and writing that first draft without really thinking about it. So save yourself a little of that agony in the either the first draft blues or what I for me, it’s the second draft blues, like know your story before you go in because it’s it can really hang you up. If you don’t. I think it causes us to lose momentum, right? If you if you are a risk writer, I’m a pretty brisk writer, when I don’t give myself the time to plot and I’m like, kind of pulling my hair out about where something’s supposed to go, what fits where I lose momentum. And if you’re trying to write a series, wanting to put out books on a regular basis, if you have that inclination, losing that momentum can cannot just stall the book you’re writing, but it can stall the development of that bigger property that bigger series. So give yourself some time. And I think that talking about reader relationships, I think a reader can smell it when an author doesn’t have a good sense of where the story is going. My I think that the like, I think any reader picks your book up. And if you if the story is kind of aimless, and there it’s meandering, and it’s figuring itself out, a reader is going to find that out. And they’re going to know it could cause them to drop off of reading your series or even finishing the book. So for me, the remedy is read within your genre and sub genre, that’s going to be the advice for a lot. I’m gonna say that almost every slide, but read widely within that genre, and sub genre. Because it’s going to tell you it’s going to first off, it’s going to give you ideas of what people other people are writing, what the pace of books are, what the length of books are, are. If you’re writing something that’s like an ongoing mystery is going to help you understand how a mystery series resolves within the book versus the series. And what I mean by that is I write a mystery series where each book was So each book presents a small mystery. And then it’s part of a bigger mystery. So I have to be really mindful of what is my protagonist solving in the, to the solving the mystery in the book? Yes. And what is it contributing to the series arc. So everything has to progress on two tracks. If you’re writing a series read multiple books in your series, so you get a sense of that. If you’ve read something like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Jim Butcher is excellent at setting up a mystery inside a book, but and then planting seeds for the next one. So you’re always getting that satisfaction of a of a story well told, but also an anticipation to for the next book, he’s a master at that. I highly recommend if you’re if you’re new to this process of writing, and especially writing series is get together with a writers group or a critique group. If you have the funds, maybe a developmental editor to help you lock in the plot of your book, I’ve been working with the same writers group for I think we’re on six years now. They know my characters, they know my story, they know the overall mystery. They know what I like what I don’t, so they can help they help me. And actually, two of three of them are my read like in my reader, what I would call my reader group, like people who would buy the books, if they weren’t reading them four or five times, they might buy them. So there but then there’s also people in my group who are not part of my, like, they like one of the guys doesn’t like paranormal at all. So he’s always offering that the point is develop a group, find someone who can help you get that story locked in, have an idea where your series is going, okay? Now, this can seem intimidating. Because if you maybe you want to write a five book series, but you want to write the first one, maybe you don’t want to plot out five books, you don’t have to know every beat for every book. But you do have to have an idea that if at the end of it, your hero slays the dragon, you have to know, you have to know that’s where it’s going. Because you’re going to be wanting to point the ship there the entire time, I have a good friend who is on she’s on Book number five in a series, it started out as a three book series. But as she started writing it, Book Two, allowed her to stretch the series out a little longer, she’s still going to finish this series in the same way on the same note, but she’s going to take a little longer time to get there. And considering her readership, she could probably go 10 books and people are going to love it. So just have an idea. Right? If someone if the if the dragon needs to be slayed at the end of it, just know that and know you’re gonna get there. And I would say early on in the process, employ BETA readers who can give you honest feedback about your book. And I separate that from your writers group and your critique group, because beta readers are reading the whole book, all in one sitting. They’re usually like your fans or your friends or there’s people that like they’re just reading it like a reader. And that’s it separate feedback from a writers group, right? You’re my writers group reads 8000 words a week, so are sorry every other week. And that’s kind of an unnatural reading pace. That’s two chapters, and then two weeks, and then two chapters, and then two weeks. So they lose a little bit of momentum. Right? They’re not reading it like a reader. That’s why I always go back to beta readers. And just, yeah, you read this in a weekend and you couldn’t put it down. That’s what I need to know. So that’s that’s feedback you need to hear that helps you keep locked in on your store. Anyone have any questions?
Alright, so issue. Mistake number two is ignoring the market. And this is my favorite one to harp on. Because I was terrible at this. This was the worst thing. For me. It was the most humbling experience that I as I read a lot, you know, this is just science fiction and fantasy and horror, like upstairs are all the other genres. Like, I thought I knew the market, but I didn’t. So we’re gonna talk about why is that a mistake? There is no book that is for everyone. So if you’re writing a book, you’re hatching a story, and you’re thinking of your ideal reader, and you say, this book is for everyone. I would say go back to square one on understanding your audience. And I say that because time and time again, when I meet someone who says they don’t like, like, has this idea that their book is universal. It it really is just, it’s an unfocused book. And think about those most popular books out there, Harry Potter, not for everyone, right 50 Shades of Grey not for everyone, Lord of the Rings every every book that seems like it has universal appeal. There’s there’s a group or a subsection, even the people in that genre that won’t read it. I know fantasy authors are just not going to read Game of Thrones, which pains me, because I love that series. But it’s not for them. They like a different thing inside and fantasy, I’m sorry. So understand that. Your book is not for everyone. Readers bring expectations to books, a lot of expectations, two books. I actually like there’s like, there is nothing like a reader scorned out there. And if you don’t meet reader expectations, it can really upset some people. And that leads to a lot of negative consequences that you as an author don’t want. Namely, negative reviews. So understand that when a reader is bringing an expectation to a book, it’s like, it’s if I’m going to read military science fiction. And this is the way this book is being presented to me and I get something else. They’re they’re not going to be happy. Some authors are a little some sorry, some readers are a little more forgiving. And some readers are a little broad, you know, they have broader tastes. But there are some people out there who strictly read within a sub genre. If you get into any of the groups on Facebook, or any of the groups on Reddit that talk about you know, sub genres, you’ll find some see like people are very serious. So yeah, readers break through the general genres such as science fiction or mystery. Those are the big ones, the big genres, they put them into more refined sub genres. So again, think of space opera, cozy mystery. cozy mystery is very different than psychological mystery. It’s very different than, you know, gritty, you know, small town murder mysteries. Those are very separate cozy mystery readers. They may, they might hang out near each other, but they don’t sit at the same table in the cafeteria. So make sure that when you’re, when you’re thinking of your book, really focus in on what the sub genre is. I use cozy cozy mysteries. The big example to me now because I really, like I want to write a cozy mystery and I went on a YouTube Bender watching videos about cozy mysteries and what the tropes and everything and it was very, you know, these people were very serious. They know the tropes, they know everything about it, they know what to expect, you have to give it to him. When you know your market, it allows you to position all aspects of your book properly, right? So if you know what cozy mystery authors are looking for, that’s the key to the right cover. That’s the key to the right blurb. It’s the key to writing this the correct the proper story itself. So if you don’t know that you can’t provide those things. When readers want to expect one thing and get another you get bad reviews. And this is something that I I wish I would have known. They assume the mistake is yours, not theirs, right. So if they pick up that cozy mystery, thinking it’s going to be a psychological mystery. You know, if they think it’s going to be sound to the lambs and they get something else. They’re not going to think the mistake was there, they’re going to take that out on you in a review. Now my personal anecdote is I write paranormal mystery, right? So I write in the vein of like, X Files and unsolved mysteries. You know, this is that’s what I write. When I started marketing my books, I marketed my books as paranormal mysteries. Paranormal mysteries, are Twilight and there are a lot of bare chested hunky guys that are werewolves and things on the cover, not my books. And so when I was putting my books next to those books, I got a terrible response. Like when I did marketing with other authors, I wasn’t getting downloads. I wasn’t getting signups I wasn’t getting sales. Why? Because I didn’t know the difference between those words those words are, they might seem like they’re synonyms in your head going in. But you need to know the difference because your reader knows the difference. I tried to market my first book as a as a supernatural mystery and just it bombed. It’s a good book, but it bombed because I used the wrong word. Once I started marketing it using the right word, putting it in front of readers using the correct word. Everything changed. I started to see better reviews better responses. I started getting those emails from my from readers that said, Oh, I love this. This was great. kept me up at night. I thought it was great. So those those little things make a huge difference. All right. So the remedy Why am I not moving so The remedy is researching the books in your category. So I just had to shift my desk to sitting down. When you research books in your category, you can see you’ll see the difference, it will become as clear as day the difference between paranormal, supernatural the difference between cozy psychological, look at those. And again, understand that readers if readers are coming at it with the hardcore expectation, I recommend listening to podcasts, watching YouTube channels and reading blogs, really find out what the reader conversation around these different subcategories is. They’re out there talking about what they like, they’re out there talking about what they don’t like. And that information is readily available to us. And I would say, Go on YouTube, search your genre, your sub genre and find a book blogger or a book YouTuber that’s talking about it. And just listen to what they have to say, I listened to a woman I watched her YouTube channel called shades of orange, I have learned so much about marketing, and how to reach my audience from her just by talking about what she likes. A real key here is looking at both independently and traditionally published books within your subcategory. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re doing something like fantasy, right, and you look at the way, if you go look at fantasy right now on Amazon, I think in the top 10, you’re always going to see, you know, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, probably the newest book by someone like Leigh Bardugo, or something like that. Those are traditionally published authors, okay, they’re the ones who are getting to the top of those sales categories on the muscle have historical, you know, prestige, like Tolkien or, you know, cultural relevance like Jr, Martin, or just, you know, Leigh Bardugo, being an amazing author writing really great stuff. I would say, read the traditionally published classics, they’re great. They’re great. But also be sure to look at what books in the top 10, top 20, top 50 in your category are big sellers. What is that author doing? No, no. And actually read, go further down, look further down the list, maybe in the top 500. And look at the difference between how those authors are positioning themselves. That’s a big key to what you should do when it comes to those things. I say don’t just imitate, steal, do what works, you know, look at what works for highly successful authors and your subcategory and do the same thing. Yeah, and read from those two, right read from science read from the traditionally published and the self published authors in your sub genre, because they do things differently in stories. And I’m sorry to say that like, I think that if someone were to self published The Lord of the Rings today, it probably wouldn’t do very well, because it’s just written differently than fantasy books are written now. I know I probably I could probably be convinced otherwise, because it’s it is a tremendous series. And it’s, you know, invented genres, maybe. But the point is traditional published books are there because they have that sort of like legacy in the market, independent authors can’t do the same things. You want to do this because once you know the market, you can get your books to the right readers, the right authors and professionals using the right sub genre, we’re gonna talk about relationships on a later slide. But if you’re going to like cross market, and you’re gonna want to, you know, connect with other authors in your sub genre, like you have to know that sub genre is. Alright, mistake number three, improperly improperly priced books. Now, again, marketing and money are not the sort of foundational things that I’m really focused on for in this. But it’s important to know that if the goal is to get your books to readers, that improperly pricing your books creates a barrier it can keep, it can keep your ideal reader from reading your book.
Self-Publishing Success: Transcript Continued
So why is it a mistake, properly priced books, proper book pricing converts to better sales, it’s just there’s nothing nothing worse than like having a book that should be priced, you know, higher or lower, and that it puts people it can put people off. Pricing books too high creates a barrier for readers who are unfamiliar with you. Okay, if you, you may write that great book and you could have some tremendous reviews. But if you’re a 999 book and no one’s ever heard of you, that’s a pretty big hot that’s a that’s a barrier to entry on your market. So you might want to read similar pricing, it’s a mistake also to price a book too low, especially if you’re writing fantasy, because it creates perception that the book is not valuable enough. So you really need to understand what the going rate for. And there’s a lot of factors, the going rate for, for authors of your experience for an author with the number of books you have in a series for the length of the book, okay, and just how much you’re willing to like and kind of, you also have to take into consideration kind of your own need to make money. Like, for a long time, I had books on Amazon that were just perma free, because it was easy. It was a way to get readers and I got a lot of really good readers from pricing books that were permanently free. I don’t do that anymore, because I’ve just remarketed myself in a different way. But it’s just it’s something to consider. The math says that royalty percentage is based on the books less price, okay? You make more royalties when you price, the book or the and this goes for audiobooks, print books, this goes for everything, when you price it the way the platform wants you to. And Amazon specifically creates an incentive for authors to price their books within a certain range. And then I know that I’ve just seconds ago said when you price a book too low, it can create the perception that the book is not valuable enough. But I also think you shouldn’t underestimate the value of using free or discounted books in your pricing strategy. So there is if you’re an established author, you may want to reconsider that. But if you’re new, and you just want to get people into your series, consider it consider a free perma free or discounted book as part of your pricing strategy. So what’s the remedy to improper pricing? I think I’ve said this in every slide, maybe I should rewrite these but like research the books in your category, how they’re priced like you, there’s so much information that you can find just cruising Amazon and your category. price and price expectations differ widely between genres. Now the two genres that I sort of use as an example here are fantasy, and romance, right? And fantasy books need to be longer. So the the reader expectation for what you would call like an epic fantasy book, I’ve seen as the lowest I’ve seen is 80,000 words, and then it’s up from there. Right? So you really it’s a longer book, readers expect to spend a little bit more for a longer book, right? A reader is going to look at a longer book and say, All right, I can spend 399, for this romance. The pricing for romance needs to be lower, because romance readers, God bless them, they read so much. It’s unbelievable. I actually had coffee with a with a romance writer last year, who told me that she had a staff of like six or seven people because she put out a book every two weeks. And she was selling five to 10,000 copies of each book that she put out. How did she put within the first month like her first month’s sales for each book were enormous, because she’s a factory. And it works, right? She has a team, someone who does the covers, and someone’s who’s editing and someone who’s. It’s amazing. But she prices her books really low because she wants people to feel comfortable buying them up as really quickly. So different price expectation. Then I used her example, when I did research on this, romance books are just a little cheaper, because people burn through them. One of the things to consider and probably if you want to properly price a book series is consider a graduated pricing of your books where the early Series books are cheaper. And the later books in the series are more. Now the reason you do this is that someone’s finding you online. Let’s say you’ve let’s say you’re on Amazon and use the right keywords and you come up in a search for I’m gonna try to find a genre that I haven’t used yet. Let’s say portal fantasy, right? You’re writing a portal fantasy, somebody finds you book one in a series, it’s 99 cents. That’s a low barrier to entry. someone buys that book, great. Oh, look, they’ve got four other books. The next one is 299. The one after that is 399. What you are looking for as an author ultimately is sell through, right, that’s how you start to make a little bit of money is you lose maybe lose money directly on that first book. But when the when the reader buys the whole series, you’ve made all of your investment back and I see that a lot of authors do this. It used to be 99 cents to 99 and then three, nine 89 For the rest of the series, that’s changing a little bit. But again, look at your series. And and this is another one of those things that anything I could put in the slide today might be different in three months when you do it pricing strategies change all the time, the royalty percentage with with Amazon remains the same. The best royalty percentage for ebooks falls in the list price range of 299 to 999. So, if you price your book Between 299 and 999, as an ebook, you will make 70% in royalties, minus the I think it’s they call it like the digital delivery fee, the fee that it costs to transfer the file. If you price your book to 99 or lower, you’re in a 30% royalty situation. So Amazon really pushes you to price your books in a certain band. And I don’t know anyone that I don’t know anyone that has a real problem with this. Readers or writers, I think it’s just understanding that if you I think the one thing that happens to authors I will say is that when you put your there’s some awkward pricing, like you’re not going to see a lot of books for $1.99, you might look for two 300 books. $1.99 just doesn’t exist, because nobody really wants to be at that price point. The other remedy to properly pricing books is being strategic, Amazon and all the other platforms gives you access to free days discount days use those things, right, I’m going to be giving away all of my books to you at the end of this, I’ll have a QR code because today I made my books free. Amazon allows me to do that. And it’s a way to market books. It’s a way to make readers it’s every author I know that successfully reaching readers is using they’re using those three days as a way to get there. In fact, whenever and that’s quarterly, right, so when you’re in Amazon, when you’re in KDP, you have a quarterly membership, alright, so they give you five free days, every quarter. I use them all at few times that I don’t use them. It just bugs me when I get to the end of a quarter. And I realized I had a free day left the bugs me because like those are they always lead to a lot of downloads always lead to a lot of subscriptions. It’s invaluable. Mistake number four, the wrong cover. Now if my friend Derrick Murphy who’s a big person in the 20 books to 50k movement was here, he would say this is the number one mistake this is the only mistake authors make because he’s a big believer that covers sell books. And I am inclined to agree that when it comes once your book is up in in an Amazon listing, the cover makes or breaks you. And I had some really awful troubles with covers. Because when I got my first cover done, I didn’t go look at other books in my category I got to cover that I thought was cool. The first cover for my first book was a barn. And there was all this like eerie light coming out of the barn, it looked great it was it was an image that I’d had in my head from the beginning. The trouble was, when I looked at other books in my category, it didn’t look like anything else in my category. It looked weird. And in fact, in a thumbnail. I don’t even know if you could tell what it was. Right? I would look at the book and I would see it and I would like I even questioned it a few times, I would actually go past my own listing when I’d be looking at rankings. And I’d be like, where am I? I thought it said I was here. Oh, there it is. Because I couldn’t. So don’t make that mistake, right? It’s a mistake, because it’s a first impression. If that person is when someone’s scrolling through Amazon, which I’m sure all of us have done your you get a little thumbnail, right? That’s your first impression. When somebody searches we think of a category haven’t used yet.
If they’re if that’s what your book is, and they get that they get the list. It’s a grid view, right? And your book gets that much space to get that reader, right they have the cover the title, and those two things like need to unite for your reader to oh, I want to click that. That looks great. That sounds great. I’m in. If that cover doesn’t connect, you’ve lost that opportunity. The cover of your book, print and ebook need to clearly convey the broader genre and the specific sub genre. If it doesn’t, nobody’s going to click on that because cover expectation cover is where the expectations begin. Right? It’s just it’s everything from colors to figures on the cover. There’s a great study out there that like mystery books in fantasy books the character on the cover is facing You right? They’ve got the sword or they’ve got their magical powers and they’re facing you. But in a mystery book, they’re facing their back to you, right? So there’s like, it’s a mistake, if you were to do it the other way around, right, I tried to publish a fantasy book that had the main character was facing away. And the first thing that the group looked at, my group looked at it, they said, This doesn’t look like a fantasy book cover, it looks like a mystery book cover. So there’s a lot of things that you need to know about that. And it’s a mistake not to know what that is, however powerful that images in your head for what that coverage should be. It needs to go through a bit of a vetting process before you put it up there with your book. Studies show that online book buyers look at hundreds of covers in the process of shopping. And that’s because it’s so easy to do. Right? They scroll, they scroll, they research, they play scroll they scrolled. So it’s a mistake not to stand out, because you have to draw that attention, right, you have to pull somebody out of that sort of shopping malaise that happens when we’re just, I don’t know, just looking at cover after cover after cover. It needs to stand out, it needs to get attention needs to draw the reader in. And then like I said, it’s the first impression that cover it leads them to click, it’s the first point of conversion for you. Once that person is searching in that category, it’s what’s going to convert them unless they know your name, you know, unless they’re searching by category, and they identify your name. That’s a that early on in the process. That’s unlikely to happen, but it’s possible. So here’s the remedy, right? And we’re going to just keep researching books in your sub genre. get online, get on Amazon, search for books in your category. If you don’t know what your cat, I should have said this early. If you don’t know what your sub genre is, if you’re stuck between the two, then I would the strategy would be search the big category. Okay, let’s say you don’t know what kind of mystery right, you’re still trying to figure that out. Go into mystery. Go until you find a book cover that looks like your book cover, then click on that one, that one will open up. And if you go down an Amazon page, it’ll show you the categories where it’s listed. And there’ll be the smaller categories in there. So you can find, hey, this isn’t science fiction, it looks right. Oh, it’s military science fiction. Oh, it’s colonization science fiction, you can find the subcategories on an Amazon page. So those are the smaller categories where it’s found. When you’re researching covers, look at the independently published books in your sub sub genre and get familiar with those. Ignore this is my advice. And I think I think a lot of the 20 books to 50k, folks, and a lot of the bigger successful indie author, consultants would agree. If you look at, again, if you look at the covers for something like the Lord of the Rings, where maybe it’s a very, it’s a plane cover, I could grab it, you know, maybe we can all look at it. But like, a lot of those covers are not. Again, they’re banking on the author name. they’re banking on the fact that you know, what Game of Thrones is, the independent author puts up a book with a cover of a sigil or, you know, maybe just a tap, like a lot of literary books will have a very text art cover feel, right? But if you do that, the reader that doesn’t know you looks at that and says, I don’t know what genre this book is, like, I can’t tell because it’s just word art, or it’s a weird symbol, you need to be in line on a cover, especially with the independent published books. Okay, that’s just that’s very critical. This one always drives me crazy. But it’s true. You have to stand out and fit in at the same time. So if in paranormal, sorry, in supernatural mystery, everything is like, I don’t know, if you look at this, it’s like a lot of, you know, bare chested men coming out of magical portals or, you know, it’s a lot of it. There’s a lot of like, you know, attractive people in sort of fantasy situations. It’s the biggest cover trope I’ve ever seen. And a lot of those authors, it’s just it you see, a lot of those books have very, very similar covers. So every one of those authors is fitting in, right, they know that if they’re going to write sort of a sexy sorcerer book, they have to have the sexy sorcerer on the cover. However, you have to find a way if that’s what you’re doing to make that a little different, right, maybe nobody’s published a dark haired sorcerer so you’re gonna go there or maybe, you know, there’s there’s another element of the story that you can bring in. The key is you have to sort of unite unique and you have to follow and lead kind of at the same time, it’s really difficult. Free, this is my best advice when it comes to cutters. And I constantly add to my desktop file of covers that I share with my designer, I have hundreds of covers, whenever I see one, I just downloaded into my file, when it’s time for me to get another cover. I grabbed the ones that fit and I tell my designer, hey, here’s what I want. These are covers that I like. And she uses those as points of reference. At this point, we know each other well enough, and so she don’t need to, it’s not as important for us. But um, your first few covers, it’s designer will love you, you’ll be the ideal client, if you just give them covers that you like that fit. And again, remember, it’s the independent authors are the most important ones, because they are the ones you’re working with, you’re going to be you’re going to be compared to until you become George RR Martin, then you can have the word art cover.
Self-Publishing Success: Transcript Continued
All right, mistake number five, editing. Too expensive. I didn’t get my first book edited, folks. It just didn’t. It didn’t. And you know, I was the biggest mistake I ever made. Because once I found an editor that I liked, I realized I would have missed that that mistake could have been solved a couple of 100 bucks. And the getting the the book to market faster was not worth it. This is a mistake because readers as a ghostwriter and editor and I run into this a lot I hear people say, well, it’s just an independent, I’m just gonna self publish it that get that mentality out of your head, okay? When your author commits three to $5, to buying your book, they’re not saying oh, well, it was an independently published book. So the typos, the weird grammar mistakes, the lack of continuity. They’re not going to forgive it. They’re going to compare that book to every other reading experience. Every other reading experience, and it’s it’s unfair, I get it. It’s unfair, I don’t have the team. Even though I have a good team. I don’t have Stephen King’s team. Nobody, maybe nobody has Stephen King’s team. But you are being compared to every reading experience that person has. And I think if I can get up even higher on a soapbox here, I can say that, like we really owe it to readers, and our fellow independent authors, if you if to bring your book up to that standard, because we want readers to feel like independent books are as good and as valuable as traditionally published books. Right? It’s just in one week set settle on a lower bar than that discredits the movement that I think is really changing. Publishing and reading. Alright, I’m gonna sit back down back off of that high part of the soapbox. They’re not going to forgive those things. Again, this leads to lost readers. And ultimately negative reviews and the your good luck, you’re gonna get a one star review. You’re gonna get somebody that they hate. hated it. I love it. When I get I’m at this point, because it makes it it makes me realize that I’m reaching readers that aren’t my friends. The first one star review, I got heartbroken about it. But then I thought, well wait a second. This means I’ve reached I’ve started to reach outside of my direct friend group, right? I’m like, I’m really reading reaching other readers right now. But you don’t like as much as it’s sort of a badge of honor to get your first one star review. You look, you’re gonna get them anyway, don’t give readers the excuse to dislike your book. And if you wrote a great story, honestly, like, you’ll see books that are like, tremendous, like the books that get four and a half stars on Amazon or Goodreads as, as just a matter of course, they’re great review books, but then you look at sometimes they’re their reviews are all for just lazy things. So if you’re gonna go so far as to write a great book, get it handled, like just get it, get it, that last little bit of rounding and the shape that it takes to make that book. Excellent. So what’s the remedy? Okay, so there’s many stages of editing. And you need to know which stage you’re in at what time because sometimes people don’t know like, an edit. You’ve probably had this, like, at least engaged in these definitions, but developmental editors work on the story, right? This is what I do. I get the book, I say, hey, this character works. This one doesn’t. That’s a developmental editor. That editor is much more expensive than the next editor down. And that is your line editor. Or, well, let’s call it a line editor. I prefer that term. Line editors are a little less expensive. This is continuity and you keep using this word or stops To my one of my crutch word is it seems everything seems my line editor always goes in and says stop. It either is or it isn’t. Nothing seems like it’s on fire. It’s either burning or it’s not. So that’s what your line editor is going to help you with. And then your proofreader is is is dotting those i’s and crossing those T’s. That’s the top part of that funnel is more expensive. When you get to the bottom, it’s a little less expensive. If you have a writers group and you have some beta readers and you have some, you’ve worked out that content, you’re on draft five, and you’re bait you those people love it, you don’t need it. You don’t need a developmental editor, you know, you need a line editor. So research and compare the costs of line editors and proofreaders when you’re down to that stage, the editor there’s a editors guild, I think this editor, there’s an editors guild out there that publishes acceptable rates for these services. At this point, with AI becoming so prominent editors, blind editors and proofreaders the price is coming down and it makes me sad because it read nothing really nothing’s better than my line editor. But one more iteration of AI I may be moving on because it’s it’s important. You have to have a set of eyes. And that’s why I brought up Grammarly and pro writing aid. They really worked. Okay, pro writing aid for I think it’s $120 a year. It’s either, I don’t know, don’t quote me on that. It might be $240 Yeah, I just I just renewed my subscription. I don’t forget, I did don’t remember what I paid for it. But for 20 bucks a month, you can get the best. You know, in document manuscript line editor that AI can provide. And I know AI is a big bug in everybody’s ear about like putting people out of work. If you’re on a budget and you’re just starting out and you need to you want to get that book out, but you can’t afford the six to $700 that a line editor might cost you then at least do yourself a favor of getting pro writing aid. I don’t use Grammarly. I know people that swear by Grammarly. So you may want to use that I have a couple of beta readers on my team that like one guy, I have to always go back to him because he always hands me back my draft. And he he basically proofreads it. And I laugh I say, you know, Paul, do you like the story? Oh, yeah, I love the story. But you don’t use the Oxford comma consistently or something like he’s always finding those things. So again, readers provide can provide you some of that service. But before you know, if you’re still in the early phase of developing a reader team around you go with pro writing aid. And when it comes to layout and design, I was gonna do an individual slide in this, but I feel like it kind of comes into editing. So once your manuscript is done, you’re it’s it’s been edited, it’s proof read, everything is there, this is the book, you need to upload it to Amazon Well, or whatever other service you’re going to use. You need to have that book professionally laid out in a document that that that online platform is going to accept, right. And there’s a lot of design programs out there. I use something called vellum. And that that works for me, though, you need to find some some way to get that book up online. And I’m sorry, I use though I don’t know what the other tactic techniques are. But there’s a lot of ways to get the book up there. You don’t just want to throw the book up there in Word, because it’s not going to look right. And again, that goes to reader expectations. If a reader opens up their ebook, and it doesn’t look like the last ebook, it might cause them to close it. And I’ve seen some of those stats in my own books where when I wasn’t using vellum I was using. I was just putting up a PDF. I started to see a little bit of like, oh, people are opening the book, but they’re not reading it. And I think part of it is because the formatting didn’t look quite right. But vellum if you use Apple products is $299 It’s yours for life. It’s a beautiful program. I think there’s another computer computer competitor called Atticus that’s out there it might be less money. If you’re making the long term investment of doing self publishing get vellum, it’s or or Atticus I think vellum is only for Mac. I think Atticus is is forever for all platforms. Just go that extra mile. It does make a big difference. Oh, the mailing list. I’d said I wasn’t going to talk about marketing. But there’s a difference between marketing as in running ads and knowing SEO and a mailing list because a mailing list a lot of what I would talk about In marketing, and this is called it well, I, I want to focus on evergreen things, things that will always will always be important. No matter when you know, when you start this process, mailing list is the most evergreen part of marketing that you can possibly do. And I started way too long, way too late. I use the wrong tactics, and we’ll talk about that.
So it’s a mistake to not have a mailing list because a mailing list gives you something that nothing else can. Okay, I’m gonna, I cannot emphasize that enough. It’s an audience that you own and control. Now we’re living in a world where there’s so much social media out there, and a lot of people will say, I’ve got 50,000 people following me on Facebook, what do I need a mailing list for it, Facebook changes its terms of service, if you decide to write erotica, and Facebook puts you in that, that, you know, like, they don’t like that content, you’ve that your 50,000 People aren’t going to count. Okay, your mailing list is yours, okay? And it’s precious. And it takes a lot of work and time. But when you have those people, and those people aren’t, you can go to those people when you need things. It’s invaluable. This is the building of it. This builds the relationship with readers, it’s the backbone of content marketing. Now, content marketing is I don’t run a lot of ads I do every I market everything with content, okay, I, when I put out a new book, I usually put out a short story that goes with it to get people interested, I buy do Patreon stories, I’m always marketing a thing. If you like what I’m doing, and you’re on my mailing list, you’re gonna get a lot of little things to keep you interested along the way, it’s using content, instead of just throwing money at ads, the way to reach those content, the people that are interested in your content through your mailing list. Similar a blog is very similar, right? Some people who might successfully run a blog could argue that they have the same thing. And it’s true, right. So if you have a successful blog, maybe a mailing list is not a major priority. And this is a mailing list is important. Because when you have people that are on your mailing list, they’re connected to you. And readers buy books from authors they feel connected to. It’s just, it’s it is like it’s true every time. Like for me, every time I put out a mailing list, sorry, an email to my mailing list. Like I’ll talk about teaching, you know, here at this, I’ll get a response be Oh, wow, that’s so cool. I wish you could come out, you know, like, people want to feel connected to you, they want to feel a part of that experience. Now, some people could roll their eyes and say, Oh, it’s that social media thing where you’re posting pictures of what you had for lunch. And that’s silly. I don’t think you have to do that. And I don’t think you have to feel silly, but it’s a mistake not to connect yourself to your writing. Okay. And if you and we’ll talk about this in the next slide, but like, it’s a mistake to miss out on that opportunity. Because however great the cover is, or the concept is or have a great the blurb is you matter. More than all of that. It’s a mistake not to start early. Because cultivating that list takes time, like my mailing list, right now, I was gonna write down the number. It’s like 7000 people that took me four years to build, okay, four years and a lot of mistakes. But now that I’m here, oh, I wish I would have started earlier, I wish I would have started three or four years early earlier that that number could be doubled. When you build a strong connection with your readers, they become the most effective marketing tool you have, right? So I can just and so my mistake was when you build a mailing list, you have to incentivize readers write the people on your mailing list. I try to incentivize them with a serial story. And this goes back to the first mistake of not knowing your story. I use this like serialized mystery. I did like, I think 15 episodes that 3000 words each.
Self-Publishing Success: Transcript Continued
By the time I got done with it, I realized this mystery really doesn’t fit the whole series like I thought it did. And so a lot of people I noticed from that original push to build a mailing list from that serialized story started to drop off. So it’s like, you know, again, knowing your whole story, having a strategy is building that mailing list with an incentive that fits into your whole author marketing. Idea is super critical. All right, so the remedy, start yesterday, or today will give you today, okay. I can’t stress enough how important it is to just get on MailChimp. I use mailer light I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world. I think mailer lights a little easier to create, like the dynamic looking emails. MailChimp is a little tech heavier. But sign up for that email marketing tool, start with the cheap, you don’t need the expensive one, okay? Start with the cheap, it’s free. And then you build slowly, okay? Go out to your family and friends. Don’t be shy, just say, Hey, I’m starting a mailing list. You might not know when the book starts or when when the you might not have the cover, you might not think you have anything. But you want to start now. Because when you do, the last thing you want is to wait till you have a cover to show everyone to build a mailing list. Because that cover comes really, you know, it comes really close to release. And if you’re just starting here, you’ve missed out on all this time. So reach out to your family and friends, your Facebook people, whatever your you know, whatever your way of connecting outside yourself and just cast a wide net, just say, hey, in the early stages, it’s important I have a cookie, and I’m going to show it to you later. Like I have a free book that I give away to email, subscribe potential email subscribers, they download the book, when I get an email, and they’re into my pipeline. That’s a great strategy. We can talk about that if anybody has questions. If you don’t have a story written to give away, just then start with a family and friends and just say I’m starting this thing. I don’t know where it’s going. But I want you to be here. When you’re talking about email marketing strategy, identify aspects of your life or writing journey that make you interesting and relatable to the topic you’re writing on. If you’re writing nonfiction, this is such a no brainer, right? I have a colleague of mine, she’s a memoir, as she was writing a memoir about she’s a dancer. And for three years, she wrote mailinglists content about dance. And she marketed herself as just a person who likes to go out to dance. And so when that book came out, she had a huge mailing list of people that not only liked her are interested in dance, when she put out a book about her and dance. I think I think her first like, I think her pre sales were upwards of 1000 books, because she had done the intuitive connection between herself and her story. You might not have that if you’re a fiction author that’s really hard to do. Unless you’re a former FBI agent, you’re writing about a former FBI agent, and you’re willing to break confidentiality to talk about cases. I don’t know, I write about, I used to write a lot about Unsolved Mysteries, because I love Unsolved Mysteries, a lot of my writing sort of isn’t homage to the old NBC show I love, I love it so much. So I would just write about unsolved mysteries that I thought was were intriguing, and that just drew people in. So whatever it is, find something that connects to your writing, and just start using that, okay? People are gonna people don’t expect you to have 10 free books and three novels to sell. And like this whole intricate marketing plan, you don’t need it not yet. Don’t feel pressure, you don’t have to be the world class, email marketer. Okay, take away that pressure. My other, the other piece of that is like, if you got 10 people on your list, treat those 10 people the same way you treat 10,000. Talk to everybody, like they’re a part of your journey. Okay. I, I know the number on my mailing list, because it’s kind of, I’m at the stage where I’m using that to sort of gauge expectations for responses to things. But also, like, I still talk to them, like it’s the friends and family group that I started with. And that’s being genuine, that’s being yourself, and that’s just offering you, you know, them a piece of you. And there’s just nothing more invaluable than that.
So this is the last of my mistakes. And this to me, my friend, like I said, my friend, Eric Murphy would say, it’s the cover. It’s always the cover. But for me, the biggest mistake that I made in this whole process is networking with other authors. I, and I’m almost like ashamed to say it, it kind of chokes me up a little bit when I think about it to be truthful because I went into a lot of my early writers conference and writer engagements with this sense of, Well, that’s another author. I’m an author I need to market with. I need to network with editors and executives and people that were above me. Well, here’s the here’s a fact. We’re all in this journey together. We’re not in this journey apart and that I find that I’ve missed networking with other authors is time that I don’t get back. And I’ve spent a lot of the last probably 10 years of my career catching up on that time, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get that time back. So it really candid way I think the people that are on this call or that are in the room with you, or that you’ll bump into that know you’re an author that you know, they’re an author, it’s a real mistake not to connect to that. Why I think that your fellow authors are the most invaluable resource on your uncertain journey to building a brand and a career. At this point, in my, in my career in my like creative life, everything that I get, I get it through a connection I’ve made to another author. It’s it’s, it’s uncanny. It really is. And I missed out on years of that, because I didn’t think that networking with people sitting with me at the conference table were as important as talking to that person that was taking pitches. Here’s, they’re not your competition. If you’re writing, even if you’re writing sci fi, space opera, and the person you’re talking to you is writing sci fi space opera, you are not competing. I love that T shirt that talks about equality. And it says it’s not pie. There’s enough, right? It’s not pie, there’s not there. Yes, there is a limited number of readers, but we’re not going to know one author is going to tap out like, you know, completely cornered the market themselves. They’re not your competition, they’re your ally. Right. In fact, I would say that when you look at that person writing the same thing as you, buddy up with them, like really buddy up with them, because they’re the person that’s going to ultimately go through the same, they’re going to be marketing their books the same way, they’re going to be struggling with cutters and readers and all those things in the same way that you are. So get with people love to help other people. This is like, I am like, again, the depth of empathy and your community. If you haven’t tapped into it and contributed to it. I would say like, you’re missing a really big opportunity. Again, everything I get I get from other people at this point, and I’m giving back. And it’s is the most valuable resource I have, you’re going to need support along the way. And you’re going to build a readership through your mailing list through all of your other things. But authors provide things that your readers can’t. When I need a blurb for the back of my book, I get that from another author. When I want a review, that I can take and put into an end and show my readership pic, I it comes from another author, arc reviews, Advanced Reader Copy reviews, right? The best people to go through for those are authors, because those authors know how important reviews are and how hard they are to get your connections. Like, you know, I’m developing a YouTube channel with connecting with other authors. It’s really great to do that kind of thing. Because, you know, now I’m in their mark. They’re marketing me to their group, and I’m marketing them to my group. Invaluable author swaps, right. One of the ways you build a mailing letters list is through swapping with other authors. My friend Gary and I do it every couple of years. He he takes me and introduces me to his readership on his when I have a new book coming out, he puts me in his mailing list. And when I have a mailing, when he has a new book, I put him in mind. When you connect with your readers, they trust you. Your opinion about authors, right. Oh, we like Eric. Eric likes Gary’s book. Let’s buy Gary’s book. Well, you want those relationships so you can be cross pollinating, too. And referrals right. I I need a lot of author services to keep my businesses running a lot of those got through authors like a lot. I meet someone who’s an author, they I asked them, Hey, who do you use for this? I got how I get those people. If you don’t use get get this through other people. These things can get expensive, right? If any Kirkus Reviews, people trust Kirkus Reviews, well, those costs $500 I think that’s even with the discount. They’re always offering a discount. I think they’re $500 with a discount. I would rather just have a relationship with a trusted author in my category and get that from them. Honestly, I think it means more to people because you know, Kirk, everybody knows Kirkus can charges for reviews, right? If you want to get Ark reviews, and you don’t have an art team, because you have a network with other authors, you can spend 100 $200 to build that ark team. Why? Why when you can be contributing to someone else? You know why? And I just think this mistake is the time for making good relationships as always right now. So the remedy is done. Look at your fellow authors as competition, you should think of them as your colleagues in this uncertain field. And things are, things are changing, we’re talking about things that aren’t changing much. These are very, sort of, again, Evergreen concepts, but everything else is just, it changes Amazon. Amazon is a finicky monster. And you need people around you who are dealing with it to sort of troubleshoot some things, right? It’s it’s difficult and everyone else is trying to figure it out. You should go to your go to your community to get that help. I love my mother in law, she’s wonderful. She was a saleswoman just could sell ice to an Eskimo type. But she had that mentality about connecting with people above you. That was her whole thing. I just don’t think that works anymore. Yeah, you definitely if you’re trying to meet an editor, or an agent, or a big way, get a conference or something. No one will, no one will look down on you if you go try to talk to that person. But if all your priority is trying to meet the bigwigs, you’re missing something. And I’ll tell you personally, not a pipe publishing port is an Oregon publisher. They’ve been in the news a lot. Well, when I met Ben Gorman, who runs that he was just a guy at a conference, we sat at the same table. And I didn’t connect with Ben at the time. So I thought, Well, Ben, just the guy writing, you know, funny sci fi, and I’m not writing funny sci fi. So I’m not. Well, three years later, he’s publishing books, and he’s on the news. And he’s, he’s this guy who’s championing all these causes. And I missed the opportunity to be connected to someone who was doing something special. So and the other remedy is this offer, make the offer, if you’ve never even if you’ve never done a beta read, or written a review, or even if you feel like uneasy about doing something, I would still reach out, okay, like, offer to do favors for your fellow authors, whatever it is, right? If you’re talking to an author, and they say I’m struggling with a chapter, offer to read it. I mean, that like, honestly, when, when people offer to help me like, it feels great. And I know they feel great when I say yes, and then we start returning those favors. I’ve got a, I have a person, we just share short stories every month. It’s just something that came up. We’re not even in a formal writing group. I don’t even I don’t even remember how it started to be honest. But now, I rely on her for everything. Like when it comes to short stories that are not in my series. So you never know what connection is going to really helped push you to being a better writer, a better author, a better brand. And so don’t miss out on the opportunity.