Episode # 44 – Increasing Your Inventory and Outlets with Michael Rank (and how to become a writer!)

In Book Covers, Business, Editing by Julius S5 Comments

Michael Rank cover

Michael is doing a PhD in Ottoman history and is living in Turkey, he was working a part time job teaching English, trading hours for dollars and wanted to move away from that and create a product that people would purchase. We talk about how to become a writer even if you have little practical experience of writing books before starting.

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From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa: A Crash Course in 2,000 Years of Middle East History

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Internet Business Mastery – Excellent podcast for developing a business mindset around your writing.

Odesk and Elance – Perfect places to find someone to help you out with the formatting of your book.

Fiverr – Where Michael gets his book covers done (and they look good!).

Content Reserve – getting digital books into US libraries.

Udemy – Video courses. Michael is taking one of his books and turning it into an education course. Lot’s more in this in the recent Bryan Cohen episode (http://rspcast.com/bryan).

Show notes:

Falling into Writing

Michael originally wanted to create a business based around “5 minute courses” and when that didn’t take off he wanted to do something else with the content, so decided to repurpose it into the ebook form. Sometimes learning how to become a writer happens my accident as it did in Michael’s case.

What Titles Work

Michael found that finding out what the audience wants is super important. At the start he created some books that did really well, and others that didn’t. After making the mistake of just relying on what he thought people would find interesting, he started reaching out to his audience and asking them what they wanted. (This has come up in previous non-fiction author interviews). Michael had an email list which he had built by having it on his author website which was linked to in his books.

These days he would recommend that a non-fiction author doesn’t even worry about that book at first, but instead builds an audience and from there simply asks them what they want, and then creates that. This is talked about often the Internet Business Mastery podcast.

Book Covers

Michael gets his covers done on Fiverr.com and finds them to be effective. He found a designer he likes and stuck with them, generally sending them a cover he finds to be good and telling them to make something similar.

Increasing Inventory

Michael saw a lot of success with his first book after it was linked over to by a popular political blogger (he had submitted the book to them). This was great for a couple of months but then sales started to slide significantly and he realised that a writing career wasn’t a one book thing. He started increasing his catalogue by writing more books, but also doing translations.

For his translations he would hire several people for 500-1000 words and then get someone who knows the language to say which one was best. For a 50,000 word book he paid $700, which is very reasonable because the translator was just breaking into the market. He saw a return pretty much immediately in the German Amazon store, but not in the Spanish one.

He has also done audiobooks and puts his books into libraries (in the digital format). He is basically just looking for ways to get as much content out there in as many places as possible. The libraries purchase a number of copies from you if they are interested in you.


Michael is a podcast and host of the “History in 5 Minutes” podcast. He got a lot of listeners to this simply through exposure in podcasting platforms like iTunes and Stitcher, he now uses is as a way to find out what his audience wants (through a mailing list) and also as a marketing tool (he gives away a free book when people go to his website).


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 44 – Increasing Your Inventory and Outlets with Michael Rank (and how to become a writer!)
  • Tim

    Simon, I like the graphics you’re using for each episode. Very cool, man. Another solid episode.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Tim, I wonder where the idea for those came from ;).

      • Tim

        Gary V! haha

  • Mat Morris

    Great episode! I had a bit of a jaw-dropping moment when he shared his first month’s sales from ~December ’12. Those are definitely way above what one can normally expect off the back of only 1 book in its first month! This is both a congratulations and a reality check for any newcomers. 🙂

    • SimonRSP

      No kidding, pretty amazing stuff.