Mark Dawson is the British author of the John Milton series (among other works) which in the last year has really taken off. We look at his (rather complicated and very effective) structure for getting people into his different books, specifically how he uses permafree and newsletters to get people to cross series.
Most importantly we talk about how to write even if you don’t have the time. Mark works a full time job and has a young family, so we look at how he manages to write so many bestsellers (the clue is in the title).
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Amazon Profile – Mark’s self published and traditionally published books on Amazon.
Website – A stunning example of an author website.
ListBuilder from AppSumo – Great tool for building your mailing list.
Mention.com – Find out what people are saying about you and your books online.
BookBub – Great promo channel, Mark gets rejected as much as he gets accepted.
Darren Wearmouth’s episode – Mark took several of Darren’s launch strategies for his latest book launches, to great effect. Darren is another indie publishing pro who also has a full time job while putting out bestselling books!
MailChimp – You can use this to send out email automatically to people who join your mailing list. A mailing list is totally essential for any self publishing author.
Mark began in the traditional world with a deal with Macmillan. He wrote two books and then started to work on a third which was “crap.” He found it very easy to find an agent for ‘The Art of Falling Apart’ and very quickly it was picked up by Macmillan.
The second book he wrote ‘Subpoena Colada’ didn’t draw the same interest and this knocked his confidence. It took many years for Mark to “get his mojo back,” and there were many years when he was writing, and the self-publishing world brought him back and now he is having more success than ever before.
He has shopped around one of his new series with his agent, but they weren’t picked up for a number of reasons. Mark didn’t mind at all and went the self-publishing route.
He does see the value of a publisher when it comes to things that he shouldn’t be worrying about, for example, foreign rights.
Mark writes series. In the back of the prequl novella he includes the first chapter of the main book. This has to be better edited than the main book, as you don’t want the reader to think that the book won’t be perfectly edited. There should then be a link to where the book can be bought – there should be very few points between this, so go straight to the Amazon page with the one-click buy option.
The structure of this is a bit complicated, so a diagram will describe this best (also look at those covers):
This diagram took quite a few follow up emails to get right. I was initially confused as to why the books on the left are leading to the current final book of the series on the right, rather than to one at the start, which most people would do with the hope of follow on buys. The reason is that the final book has the best stand alone quality – and Mark believes that the quality of the work will be enough for people to read the other books in the series.
Getting Attention from Amazon
Mark says that it is super important to get a push at the start as this will get you Amazon’s attention and they will start promoting your book themselves. This will be a huge boost to your sales and is the reason that Mark does launch promotion.
Mark emails his mailing list, runs a discount ($2.99 as he wants 70%), and does some promotion with the usual channels, BookBub, ENT. He still values his own mailing list over those channels though.
Mark’s cover are stunning but he can’t share who is doing them because they work for a major publisher (and have designed for Stephen King and John Le Carre).
Going Full Time
While Mark is currently making enough month-to-month to write full time, he currently needs the stability of his day job income (he has two young children). He is also well aware that Amazon can just cut his income at any point from 70% to whatever they fancy.
Prepare for Financial Success
Mark made the mistake of not sorting out his tax structure before his books became successful he has a much higher tax bill as his books are now selling very well. If he had set this up before the books went live he would have saved himself a huge amount of money. It is not expensive to do and an accountant will often give you a free consult.
“If BookBub offers you anything, take their hand off!”
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