Episode 187 – Piracy, MailChimp, and Consistent Sales

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Question of the Week: Given Amazon’s recent rank stripping of promoted books, do you think you’ll do fewer launch-style promotions and go for the slow and steady approach? Why or why not?

With Amazon’s recent rank stripping, should authors focus on a slow and steady promo effort rather than starting off with a bang? After thanking their patrons Guerrilla Tactics Against Passive Aggression in the WorkPlace, 31 Days of Wisdom, and Wanderer’s Escape, the dynamic duo of Jim and Bryan jump into tips about authors not feeling like imposters, keeping motivated during NaNoWriMo, and adjusting MailChimp settings. New items featured John Grisham’s biggest financial mistake, reading easier on mobile phones, Amazon cracking down on rank manipulation, Twitter locking authors out of their accounts, and why pirated books may not be as harmless as some think. Question of the Week: Given Amazon’s recent rank stripping of promoted books, do you think you’ll do fewer launch-style promotions and go for the slow and steady approach? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • Why indies authors need to ditch their imposter syndrome
  • How authors can stay motivated and win the NaNoWriMo challenge
  • Why authors should adjust MailChimp’s new default opt-in settings
  • What one financial mistake cost John Grisham millions of dollars
  • How the new Kindle app design makes it easier to read on phone
  • What authors can do in the wake of Amazon’s rank manipulation crackdown
  • Why Twitter has locked some indies out of their accounts and how to avoid it
  • Why pirated ebooks may not be as harmless to publishing as some think

get show updates

  • Chris Syme

    Really good and thorough piece from Derek Murphy. Haven’t been a fan of the “rocket” launch for a while as it is counter productive to long tail sales. I do see the need to do it if you want to make a bestseller list, but methinks that tactic is going the way of the dodo or evolving into some other bunch of tactics. I am sympathetic with both sides. I want Amazon to help promote legitimate books and punish the “bad guys” but as Derek pointed out, this is practically impossible to do when using machines for flagging offenders. Amazon is a customer-first, seller-second platform and whether we like it or not, we’re on rented land. In 2018 I think those authors who can adjust quickly and be marketing strategically for the long run– not the short burst– will be better off.

    Also–I don’t want to be Downer Debbie–but all of the Twitter tactics I’ve seen people penalized for were short-cut hacks or outright violations of platform rules. Know your platform, know the rules, be careful of trying to game the system. We can’t rely on app developers to follow all the rules.

    • Bryan

      Not a Debbie Downer at all! Thanks, Chris :).

  • Lavie Margolin

    Go for it all, at all times. I have an author friend who wanted to go for the slow burn route upon re-release after promoting the originals hard previously. The new books never got off the ground. You never know how things will turn out so push at all times.

    • Bryan

      Oof. Yup. Gotta push hard at some point. Thanks, Lavie!

  • I’ll promote as normal, because there’s no telling how or when amazon will bring down their hammer. No sense in trying to guess what random thing they’ll decide to penalize.

    • Bryan

      Next week, all books with the color blue on the cover are BANNED!

  • OMG a shoutout on the show and I get to see Bryan this weekend in Vegas. It also seems like I have to invent a new drink called “Zombie Porn” lol

    Seriously like Chris says below the people getting banned are far and few between and if you know what you are doing and pay attention to the rules you will be ok. I am a big automation guy but even I have to watch exactly when and where the tweets come from and stay up on their rules as should you.

    • While you’re teaching the bartender new tricks, see if he can dream up a Bigfoot Porn cocktail too!

      • Bryan

        Ooh, good idea! 🙂

    • Bryan

      Awesome seeing you, Vinny. Thanks for letting us know that this isn’t a widespread problem :).

  • Kirsten Oliphant

    I get really tired in launches. So I’ll likely keep on as I go already…which means get really excited and then right in the middle of when I should be promoting, I get weary and write a new book.

    Note on Twitter: One issue with Twitter accounts being shut down may have been auto DMs. I’ve heard that Twitter is cracking down, because they actually violate TOS. (And are just the WORST. Like, in the circle of hell below the automatic popup with passive aggressive language.) BUT Twitter just announced they are moving into bots like Facebook messenger bots…so I guess they just want to CONTROL the auto DMs? Ugh. Maybe news for next week. 😉 https://www.cnet.com/news/twitter-facebook-bot-battle-customer-service-automated-messages-in-dm-direct-message/

    • Bryan

      Auto DMs are just plain stupid. Using ads in there will be very annoying. I get tired during launches too :).

  • I’ll still be advertising as much as I can afford. I’m still very small time, and don’t have the luxury of complex marketing plans. That said, when my new book launches I may advertise on one site per week across the first month, instead of all on the same day, but that will be limited more by my budget than marketing data.

    • Bryan

      That absolutely makes sense, Jonathan. Thanks!

  • As someone who just did a free promotion a few days ago (thanks in part to Jim’s Book Marketing Tools!), sure, I would much rather have had 10 downloads for 170 days than the 1,700 downloads I got in one day. But how?

    I’m a fan of Derek Murphy’s and I know he’s right, but there has to be a happy medium somewhere. In fact, how’s this for a new service idea: how could a company who normally does these big one-day promotions spread it out? Could they somehow email their thousands of fans over a period of ___ days instead of all at the same time? Sure, we’d need to coordinate on our end to make sure our sale pricing is in parallel. Anyway, that’s my thought.

    Of course, I’m working on everything Derek is talking about at the same time, but the occasional burst is helpful, too if only to hope someone (e.g. Amazon, a new reader, etc.) takes notice.

    Great show as usual! Good luck in the election, Jim!

    • Bryan

      “But how?” Great points, Bradley. If the companies available to us could find a happy medium, we could make this happen. Then again… Amazon doesn’t really want those companies to succeed either. So maybe this is all part of the plan…


  • Lora Edwards

    I am using the evergreen approach, slow and steady, that way I will know if I have a good sustainable income. Big spikes in book sales are not going to help as much as steady income. Love the show!

    • Bryan

      Thanks for listening, Lora!

  • Karen Fraunfelder Cantwell

    This has nothing to do with the questions of the week (although, I will say that I stopped doing big launches long ago because they are a pain) – but first I want to say that I listen to your podcast every week. Wednesday is my favorite day because I know The Sell More Books Show will be waiting for me on my podcast app. Now moving along for my real reason for commenting: I was watching Stranger Things and every time Hopper (actor David Harbour) was in a scene, I kept thinking, “Who does this guy remind me of?” That voice is so familiar. For several episodes I struggled with this, until finally I realized… he sounds just like The Jazzy Jim Kukral! Not sure if anyone really cares about this epiphany of mine, but I had to tell someone!! Have a great weekend and thanks for all you do.

    • Bryan

      Hahaha! That’s great, Karen. I definitely hear the resemblance :).

  • Blaine Moore

    I will continue to do business as usual. Most of our early sales come from email lists anyway, and we don’t generally get into advertising or other promotions until we’ve gotten enough organic reviews from existing fans. Generally, that’s coming close to if not after the 30 day mark anyway.

    • Bryan


  • If they shut down my twitter one less thing to worry about 😉

    • Bryan

      I know, right?!

  • If for some reason you were bombarded with fake email subscriptions, its a simple matter to delete them.

    • Bryan

      That is so true, Mac. Good point.

  • Crissy Moss

    I’ve never figured out how to do one of those big launches. I’ve tried figuring it out, but I don’t have a huge email list, and I haven’t figured out how to get that to grow either, so I haven’t done it. Would I like to do it at least once? Yes. I would love do do almost anything to get more sales of my books. But I am doing the slow steady thing and my sales go up every month by a few books, and right now I’m happy with that.

    Also, Bryan should totally try a Fruity Redneck. It’s really good, and pink.

    • Bryan

      I’ve never had a Fruity Redneck! I’d be down :).

      • Crissy Moss

        It’s mostly pineapple juice and alcohol. Careful, it’s deceptively strong.

  • Laura Martone

    I must admit… while I’m heartened to see Amazon trying to tackle the widespread scamming issue, it disappoints me that they’ve chosen to use a sledgehammer instead of a chisel, but unfortunately, it’s not an unusual technique for the corporate giant. That said, I’ve always preferred the slow and steady approach – even when it comes to our mailing list, Daniel and I put more stock in the fans we’ve gleaned from the CTA in our books than those gained through services like Instafreebie and Ryan Zee Promotions. But, as usual, I’ll defer to Dan when it comes to marketing… I’m just the writer and proofreader, after all! P.S. It was wonderful to see you in Vegas, Bryan. I only wish Jim had been able to come, too. And of course, I can’t wait for your Chicago summit in May – yahoo for Project Cinderella!

    • Bryan

      Awesome seeing you too! Vote for Cinderella! 🙂

  • Aeryn Leigh

    Long time listener, first time caller.. err.. writer! After recently being foetal under the couch, enduring my first book-in-series launch (don’t know how you people do it, you’re all so blase!), as a brand new author, the idea of *no book launch* makes me want to run straight back to the furniture calling for my Momma.

    After ten months of soaking up all the indie podcasts/forums/books that I could, including the SMBS podcast (great for the work truck in my day job), apart from the No. 1 piece of advice everyone says (‘IT DEPENDS!’), having FB shutdown my ad account pre-launch, and other minor teething-problems (sic), even with this Amazon Russian-roulette hammer of doom hanging over our heads – my plan remains the same. I will be still be shooting for the moon next launch in December for my Book 3. When I have three or four books out, then I plan on aiming for a more steady burn.

    • Bryan

      Hey Aeryn! I think fitting in a shoot for the moon launch is a good idea, even if it elicits the fetal position :). Thanks for listening and posting!