This week I talk to “Kindlepreneur” Dave Chesson about using online marketing strategies to drive traffic to your books, tactics he’s used to build his own career, and his brand-new venture KDP Rocket.
Dave Chesson isn’t your typical indie author. He’s currently active military (on the eve of retirement to go full-time with his online writing/marketing career), was terrible in English in high school, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has a degree in nuclear engineering. He earns a good income from books he’s written under pen names, and he’s created a popular authority site called Kindlepreneur.com, a website that he’s built up to 30K-40K unique visitors a month in just one year.
Although he’s enjoyed his military career and all the travel opportunities that have come from it, he was tired of always having to be away from his family, so he threw himself into studying online marketing and SEO, developed websites and learned about driving traffic, and eventually parlayed that experience into writing and marketing Kindle books on Amazon.
By writing good books in under-served categories where people were searching for content, along with various other online marketing strategies, the books he created three and a half years are still at the top of their subgenres generating a monthly income of $1,100. Although his books are listed under pen names, he shares his knowledge and experience through detailed articles and other great resources on his website Kindlepreneur.com, and just recently launched KDP Rocket, a new tool that helps authors discover profitable book ideas.
Kindlepreneur grew out of Dave’s success with his own Kindle books. He’s put together an authority website that is, frankly, incredible. In his one-year anniversary blog post, he shares lessons learned his first year, and he reports that SimilarWeb estimates his website gets 87,700 engagements per month (30K-40K unique visitors). Today, four months later, SimilarWeb reports 110,000 visits/engagements a month.
Given that Dave was already doing well with his book income, what was the impetus for him to start Kindlepreneur?
“Having come from a strong SEO background and having done all this marketing and website building before even coming over to self publishing gave me kind of a unique perspective. And I kept seeing that there were a lot of tactics that most online marketers know about that nobody’s really applied to the Amazon market… There hadn’t been a very technical advanced approach to book marketing, especially how-tos, so I created Kindlepreneur for that reason. And for me, I didn’t want to be the guy that’s always hiding behind pen names, so this is my opportunity to really put myself out there and to grow even more, personally as well as online.”
Dave offers detailed articles on book marketing, as well as provides dozens of great resources for authors to learn about and apply to their own careers. There’s a lot of simple techniques that online marketers are very familiar with, Dave says, that authors can use to create books that will stay at the top of their categories and producing income. (Visit his website to learn more.)
Things Indie Authors Should Know:
- Book titles and subtitles are treated like the same thing by Amazon, so keywords needn’t be in the title if they are in the subtitle. The actual book title should be compelling and fulfill the readers’ expectation of what that kind of book should be. Keywords should be included in the subtitle in a natural-sounding way.
- Amazon does indeed index book descriptions. Many people falsely believe that book descriptions are not indexed because copy-and-pasted word-for-word descriptions pasted in the search function will not come up with their book, but that is because the software recognizes only nouns and items, not verbs and other extraneous words. It’s looking for “blurbs” that match more naturally what people are typing into the search box, not full sentences.
- The No. 1 way to get to the top of a category is to increase your book’s search-to-click-to-buy ratio. If people type in keywords into Amazon, find your book, click on it, and then buy it, they have just proven to Amazon that your book deserves to rank for that keyword, and the algorithm will move your book up in the rankings. This is how Amazon ensures that the best product is presented to the customer.
Next Big Thing:
KDP Rocket: Profitable Book Idea Research Made Easy
Dave and his team have just released a new application for authors called KDP Rocket, “an easy to use self-publishing software that will help you find kindle keywords and profitable book ideas by showing you how many people are interested and how much you can make with each as well as the level of competition.”
The software allows writers to research the average earnings of books on Amazon, Google searches per month, estimated Amazon searches per month, and it also provides a competition score between 1-99 to help authors determine how hard it would be to rank at the top of that keyword.
Advice to New Authors
The greatest thing authors can do is to choose one particular skill and master that. Most writers get into self publishing and they hear about Facebook and Twitter and Quora, and they think they have to do everything all at once on top of writing their books, which is overwhelming and leads to spinning wheels and discouragement.
Instead, new authors should focus on their product (book), build up their platform, and choose one particular path that will drive traffic to their books and commit to that instead of trying to do a little bit in everything.
- Book Idea Validation: Make sure your book fits readers’ expectations. You want your title, cover, and description to match readers’ expectations about the type of book they’re looking to buy.
- Research Keywords Before Writing Your Book: Knowing what your readers are typing in the Amazon search box to find their next read will help you craft a product that meets their expectations and desires making it much more easy to find.
- Build Your Tribe: Get thee to MailChimp and start that email list today. It’s easy. Stop putting it off! You have to have a way to communicate with your readers.
- Kobayashi Maru Email Opt-In Tactic: Dave recommends leaving a loop open in the story, a mention of something that happens offscreen that piques the curiosity of the reader, but isn’t essential to the story, then offering that as a free story that answers that open loop or question at the end of the book as an incentive for readers to sign up for your email.
- Craft an Awesome Answer to a Quora question related to your book: A great example of this is author Toby Downton’s response to a reader’s question here. , as coached by Dave. It’s such a genuinely helpful response written and presented so professionally that it’s been upvoted enough times to make it the first response that shows up. It’s gathered over 1,900 views, boosts the rankings of Downton’s books because Amazon sees outside traffic coming in to check it out, and will continue to do so because of the genuine awesomeness of the response.
What online marketing strategies have you employed in your own career, and what strategies have worked best for you?
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