Jim Kukral is our first exclusively non-fiction author, and as well as talking about the challenges and benefits of writing non-fiction, we talk about the future for indie authors and digital books in general. Even if you are a fiction indie author this interview is worth listening to as Jim is a marketing whizz for both fiction and non-fiction.
Attention! This Book Will Make You Money – Jim’s book with Wiley press.
ClickBank – Affiliate program which many high priced non-fiction books are sold through.
Write and F***ing Book Already – Jim’s book on getting it done. Perfect for indie authors who might be struggling to get started.
Author Marketing Club – A free and paid service popular with indie authors created by Jim. The free service has a aggregator of where you can advertise your book. The paid book has some more advanced services – for example they have a review grabbing service, which will locate Amazon reviewers who have reviewed books similar to yours. A great place recommended by many indie authors.
Bookalyzer – The ‘Klout’ for books.
Jim’s Journey into Self-Publishing
Started blogging back in 2001 and that was when he started developing content that he later repurposed into books. He writes entrepreneurial and marketing books that are there to help people. He did one book with Wiley and after that asked “What are they actually doing for me?” – the next ten books he did were all as an indie authors. He was also disappointed with the editing, it was essentially just a copy edit and not even a good one.
Before the Amazon platform and ebooks as we know them today existed, Jim was doing PDF ebooks that he would charge people for and offer the download himself. This is still something that goes on today, especially in the internet marketing world – although some are a bit dodgy, for example http://www.choosethesexofyourbaby.com/.
The Traditional Publishing Share
17.5% is what authors get, not for the shelf price, but for what they sell it to Amazon for, if the book is $15 on Amazon, maybe it was sold to them for $7. 17.5% of $7. Indie authors simply get a better financial deal – now all of his books are available on Amazon within the 70% window.
Marketing for Indie Authors
Jim’s background is in marketing, so he started writing knowing what it takes to sell a book. His genre is fairly niche and he knows he won’t make a fortune selling marketing books. He uses his book as the “ultimate business card.” Having books on Amazon makes you look good as a consultant or professional. Jim says that if you are looking to make millions from non-fiction you are probably on the wrong path – fiction is an easier place to make money if you are writing in a niche even as wide as marketing.
Jim believes that in the future indie authors are going to be selling books direct to their readers – avoiding even using Amazon. He says that instead of driving readers to Amazon, they will be sending them to their own site to get 100%. This isn’t something that will happen instantly and Jim believes that as people start using tablets and phones more to read it will be easier to deliver books through applications dedicated to an author. This would require a shift away from devices that don’t support applications. From here people will have the an app for their favorite indie authors and can simply make an ‘in-app’ purchase for the next book.
People use the internet to do two things: be entertained, or solve a problem. If you are writing fiction, you are looking to entertain people, if you are writing non-fiction, you are writing to solve a problem.
Deciding what to write – Make sure you can solve someone’s problem. Write the book for the person whose problem you are solving. Make sure the information is excellent and delivered in multiple ways. Work out who you want to attract to your book and then analyse their greatest problems. Write the solution to those problems and that is your book.
When Jim writes the book he is essentially pulling together notes that he has been working on for a long time, some of those are written down, some are just in his head. Everyone has their own process though and you need to find yours.
This starts for Jim even before he has started writing the book, he will post on social media that he is thinking about writing a book. Suddenly he gets lots of ideas and suggestions for the book, as well as building excitement about the book before word one has been written. Put up chapters for free in exchange for an email address – these will be very useful when your book launches. One of the most valuable steps indie authors can take in terms of marketing is starting, and then building their mailing list. The idea of indie authors figuring out what the market wants before starting on a writing project has been discussed on many other episodes and is very important.
As with writing, the key to marketing, is starting today. Get in touch with people, start building a platform – a mailing list, a social media presence, a blog.
There are pages on the internet where non-fiction books sell for a lot. These pages often are really long and have prices ending in a 7 (e.g. $27, $37) – these are the highest converting pages on the internet. People don’t expect books to be low cost as they tend to expect on Amazon. If you are not exclusive with Amazon, you can also go and put up your book on ClickBank and see if you can find an affiliate to sell it for you. One of the great advantages that indie authors have is that they can experiment with this sort of thing without having to talk to their publisher.
“Boy I could be making 70% of every book sold on Amazon as opposed to get a buck from everyone Wiley puts out”
“All they really did was put a hardcover on it and print thousands and thousands of copies”
“I firmly believe the future of every author is selling direct to your fans”
“The key here is this: You need to do it!”
“If you try and just keep trying, you’ll see results”
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