Episode 177 – Bestseller Lists, Nook First Look, and Half a Million Downloads

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Question of the Week: Why do some authors spend time getting angry about fellow indies attempting to get on bestseller lists when they could instead learn from the marketing successes of box sets like Dominion Rising?

We’ve reached 500,000 downloads, and we couldn’t have done it without you! This week, Jim and Bryan discussed tips on ad copywriting, indie author mistakes, and writing by hand. After thanking their patrons Peaks of Passion, Where the Leaves Wither, and The Last Days Begin, the Walter Cronkites of self-publishing took on the latest news stories, including Australia’s trad pub matchmaker site, Smashwords Special Deals, Nook First Look, KU’s drop in per page payout, and the Dominion Rising’s exclusion from the New York Times Bestseller List. This week’s Question of the Week: Why do some authors spend time getting angry about fellow indies attempting to get on bestseller lists when they could instead learn from the marketing successes of box sets like Dominion Rising?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How gender-specific copy can increase your ad conversion rate
  • How to fix some common indie author mistakes
  • Why writing by hand can help you push past writer’s block
  • Why Jim thinks Australia’s marketplace for trad pub could be a good thing
  • How to use Smashwords’ new feature to make more sales
  • Why using a Google Doc is making Nook’s latest feature look unprofessional
  • How KU’s drop in earnings per page relates to Jim’s decision to become an entrepreneur
  • Why the New York Times left Dominion Rising off its list
Links:

Jim’s Author Marketing Club Promo
Bryan’s Box Set
The Author Co Pilot
Annie Adams’ Author Page
Peaks of Passion by Jennifer Evans Kochalka
The Last Days Begin by Chris Ayala
Tip #1: Make Your Book Shine
Tip #2: Don’t Stare
Tip #3: Slow Burn (1)
Tip #3: Slow Burn (2)
Tip #3: Slow Burn (3)
News #5: Australian Aura (1)
News #5: Australian Aura (2)
News #4: Spotlight on Specials
News #3: Your Own Private Viewing Party (1)
News #3: Your Own Private Viewing Party (2)
News #3: Your Own Private Viewing Party (3)
News #2: Waning Page Payout (1)
News #2: Waning Page Payout (2)
News #2: Waning Page Payout (3)
News #1: Total Eclipse of the Times (1)
News #1: Total Eclipse of the Times (2)
News #1: Total Eclipse of the Times (3)

Question of the Week: Why do some authors spend time getting angry about fellow indies attempting to get on bestseller lists when they could instead learn from the marketing successes of box sets like Dominion Rising?

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  • Lavie Margolin

    Lavie “the censor” here :). Writing a book is an emotional experience and sometimes we are successful and sometimes we fail miserably (I’ve been on both sides). When a book fails, we fail publicly and we can become emotionally charged. Anything an author does that is off of the beaten path or different than what we would have done, makes that author susceptible to our jealousy, especially when those that author is successful and we are not.

    • Bryan

      Great points. Jealousy is a huge part of this. Glad you didn’t take my thoughts on your QOTW answer too harshly :).

      • Lavie Margolin

        Yeah, it was no problem. I think the audience would have understood my point more if the person I was referring to was mentioned but it’s probably best not to go down that road on the podcast 🙂

        • Bryan

          Yup :). Radio Edit ;).

  • George Sirois

    Many writers equate paying to take part in a bundle to get on a bestseller list with paying to get reviews –
    basically buying their spot at the table – or worse, piggybacking off of someone else’s fan base. It’s natural to feel a lot of resentment for that, but I equate promotions like these with being either an opener for a headline band or the undercard for a main event fight. You’re there because the ones running the box set promotion believe you’re a good fit for it, not just because you have the funds to pay your part.

    • Bryan

      “You’re there because the ones running the box set promotion believe you’re a good fit for it, not just because you have the funds to pay your part.” I agree 100%. And that’s something Dominion Rising did so well. They got the right people on the bus and went full force into this.

  • QOTW – I don’t know about anger, but I think many view the methods of getting on the lists as trickery, and therefore those books are not representative of what the lists are supposed to be about.

    If the list has a box set of 25 books right above a single novel, it makes people wonder. I know that a single book by an indie or a traditional publisher can also be really pushed by coordinated fans and money, but the perception of ‘real book’ vs a big box set of ebooks is still a thing.

    As to the marketing lessons, I’d take note of the methods used by a single author, single book, sold at normal prices that got on the lists. These are things authors can look at to market their own books.

    On the other hand, multi-author box sets (some of which have over 25 authors working to push the books) are a huge value at a price point that has pretty much no barriers (or 99 one cent barriers) to purchase.

    I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s not as much to learn from it as far as marketing a single book goes. I also think that the lists will become more accepting of indies, even as they stop allowing box sets to hit the charts. Time will tell.

    • Bryan

      I’m thinking of adapting some of the techniques I’ve learned for single books. But not all of what we’re doing is applicable of course. Thanks!

  • I believe it’s a combination of jealousy and a mind set that assumes you must have gamed the system. I admit I have trouble equating sales of a large boxset with sales of individual titles. I also don’t put much stock in the value of such lists so in the end it means little to me.

    • Bryan

      Understood. Yeah, some value the lists, and some don’t.

  • It’s like knowing the Red Sox did not win the world series for 100 years, then one day it happened and it felt good. Sooner or later, an Indie author will have a run away best seller the NYTimes cannot ignore.
    Best Wishes to All

    • Bryan

      Go Red Sox! I mean, indies!

  • Spider McGee

    QOTW: Haters gonna hate. In fact, they’re contractually obligated to do so by the Hater’s Code. It’s very much like that old man who yells at the kids to stay off his lawn. But, in his defense, those kids are trespassing, and he’s the one that looks like the a-hole. That doesn’t happen much here in Texas, because WE HAVE GUNS. Take *that*, youthful scofflaws!

    But seriously, other indies shouldn’t be jealous. It should be like stand-up comedy, where everyone supports everyone and nobody steals. Except Carlos Mencia. ALLEGEDLY.

    Unrelated absolutely true note: I downloaded the first episode of Carlos’ podcast about two months ago. He got this great idea and said he was going to call it “Here’s The Thing”, because he says that all the time. That’s also the title of Alec Baldwin’s well-known interview podcast, and has been for many years. Good thing no one stole it.

    • Bryan

      I forgot about the Hater’s Code. Of course.

  • Craig A. Price Jr.

    The thing that most of these people fail to realize is that publishers buy who gets to be on the list all the time. They pay for posters, end caps, special promotional cardboard bookstands, then pay the bookstores to display them, with posters sometimes months ahead of time promoting the release. They’ve also done a lot of coauthor books with one big name to jump someone else on the list. All these people who are do against box sets, who feel it’s cheating, even though it’s a ton of work, don’t bat an eye at the publishers who actually pay bookstores to display certain products up front for it to become a bestseller.

    A box set is a lot of work. I’m involved in one that is scheduled to release in January. It’s a lot of fun getting to know the other authors and it’s also very interesting when so many put their heads together for marketing.

    • I think people who know this happens DO frown on all that.

      Before box sets became what they are today, indie and small publisher advice to get on the best seller list was to get tons of preorders, encourage lots of sales (through bonuses) during launch week, sharing by influencers at launch, and by and stack tons of email promos. That’s about as close as the little guys could come to big guys in traditional publishing.

      Even then, there were a lot of authors crying fowl, but they cried fowl on the Big 5 (or Big 6 back then) for getting on the list non-organically, too.

    • Bryan

      Definitely a lot of work. I need a vacation after being in two in the last few weeks :).