For this week’s RSP I have the pleasure of talking to Nick Stephenson. The author of the Leopold Blake books, and most recently, Supercharge Your Kindle Sales. Nick has recently tweaked some parts of his books to quadruple his sales, we talk about how he did that. We also chat about reader retention through effective newsletters, and why you shouldn’t pay too much mind to the authors who are really crushing it.
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Nick works comedy into his books. He says that he is naturally fairly sarcastic, and that translates well into the written from. Works well with the seriousness of the book.
Currently he is writing solely Leopold Blake, planning to move into a new series now. Moving onto something more character focused, hoping to attact new readers. Same universe, but none of the main characters are coming across to the new series.
By expanding into a new series Nick is hoping to find a different crowd for his books, as well as sell something new to his past and loyal readers.
Nick gradauted into the recession in the UK with plenty of debt from studying law. He made an attempt at the legal world but didn’t really enjoy it, so moved to work in marketing.
He had always wanted to do something creative and work for himself. At the time writing wasn’t a viable option but ebooks suddenly made that possible. Before publishers had all the control and he would have just spent ages quering agents, but that changed and Nick realised that he could make money from writing books.
He spent 8 months writing the first novel, 2012. it sucked. Talented editors fixed it. Six months was spent rewriting. He went through several beta readers, where he swapped his work for theirs, it then went to an editor, a copy editor, and a proof reader.
Today the process is different, 1500 words a day. Three months, including editing. Fixing style issues etc. Efficient and productive.
Nick says there isnt a typical journey. You shouldn’t compare yourself to the people at the top of their game, they’ll make your sales look small. You don’t need to be selling as many books as the major players to be financially successful.
March 2013 was when his first book went out. His free books got his a lot of traction when KDP Select was still doing very well. That gave him a great start.
Whenever he releases a new book he sees an overall uptick in sales, regular book releases seem to be a key to success.
Supercharge Your Kindle Sales
Nick wanted to create a book that was inbetween the inspiration of Joe Konrath and the Wikihows of the world, showing you how to upload a book to Amazon. He wanted a guide sitting in the middle helping those who wanted a bit more information.
Nick had been blogging since starting his journey, detailing what was working. He started when he first started writing even when no one was reading. More traffic coming now as he is doing better. He is sharing all of his experiment and data on his blog.
His writing about keywords and optimization was particularly popular and people started saying that the information was valuable enough to be put in a book and sold. He did that.
The book deals in part with keywords. Nick had entered generic words like “thriller” into these boxes. These seven keywords should be not broad as he was doing, but rather very specific. He did some keyword research by typing into the Amazon search bar some generic words “mystery thriller” and looked for more specific ones.
In the searh results he didn’t want too much competition, but there should also be a fair number of results. As well as adding these to the seven keywords Amazon asks for, he also put them in the description, and the title and series title when he could.
Nick had previously run six BookBub campaigns, and the sales had always dropped off after a while. Since updating his keywords the drop off has been no where near as signficiant. The only changed factor was the keywords. The data indicated they caused his sales to quadruple.
Here’s some data that Nick gathered:
An average month including BookBub free promotion pre-keyword change:
After changing keywords:
Another author using these techniques:
Once a reader has your book, you now need to get them to get more of your books. The best way to do that is through an email newsletter.
Getting a readers email adress is vital. Amazon aren’t reliable in getting the word out. As many authors do he has a link in the back of the book, which leads to a signup page. He offers a free novella to those who signup.
However he lets them opt-out of the list, and only get the book. This keeps his unsubscribe numbers down, and keeps him on good terms with MailChimp (if you get too many unsubscribes they can ban you).
His list of 5000 ensures several hundred sales on day one of the books launch. Great for book launching and getting Amazon’s attention.
Always be thinking “what can do do for the reader?” Have a conversation with the subscribers. Promos, giveways, let them know what they are getting into.
Nick is always tweaking things and optimising his sign-up and email process.
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