Episode 42, Parts 1 & 2 – Nick Stephenson on Getting More Readers

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In the first part of this massive two-part episode, Bryan and guest co-host Nick Stephenson discussed tips related to masterminds, high page rank blogs, and his Nick’s own mailing list tips for fiction. They talked about Nick’s strategies in depth, including what he emails his readers and how he rewards fans for joining his mailing list. We also chatted about the #5 news story about Nielsen’s print book stats and Seth Godin’s chat at Digital Book World. Check out part two for the rest of the episode.

In the second part of Bryan’s chat with author Nick Stephenson, the two Chatty Cathys discussed the Trajectory book discoverability service, Apple’s claim of one million new iBooks users per week, Nick’s explanation for some authors failing, and Hugh Howey’s protestations that the sky is not actually falling. The Question of the Week: What’s the #1 struggle you’re having with your author career?

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MP3 Direct Download (Part 1)

MP3 Direct Download (Part 2)



What You’ll Learn: 

  • What Nick Stephenson does to get more readers
  • How a mastermind group can help you achieve goals
  • What Derek Murphy is doing to help indies get traffic
  • How Joanna Penn used Nick’s strategies to grow her list
  • What Seth Godin thinks publishers should do going forward
  • How Trajectory could change the discoverability game
  • The ways you can get traction on iBooks
  • More about Nick’s new course for gathering readers
  • How Hugh Howey stops worrying about the sky falling


Question of the Week: 

What’s the #1 struggle you’re having with your author career?


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  • Hey Bryan, great show as always. Nick as Jim worked well, but he needs to lower his voice more 🙂

    So you mentioned changing the format. I LOVE your current show format. The news is always interesting to me, and the tips are good, but I understand wanting to change things up and keep them fresh. Perhaps you could alternate on a weekly basis? So the news needs to be fresh, so keep that weekly, but tips could be extended over a fortnight or even a monthly deal. That would give you room for a new feature.

    Do you know yet what the new feature would be? I ask because you never know, it might be so good we’ll ask you to drop the tips entirely for the new shiny thing!


    • Bryan

      Hey, Mark! I was thinking of doing NPR style investigative reports on various other platforms like Page Foundry, Txtr, etc. to see where authors can get a foothold there.

      That’s a great question. I’ll see if I can’t get Nick over here to answer.

      • Cool. I’m in Page Foundry and Tolino etc, but I have no idea if they have special needs. So, good idea.

        • Bryan

          Thanks! It’s weird, I don’t see Tolino on my D2D or Smashwords. Maybe it’s a UK thing?

    • Nick_Stephenson

      Sh*t will happen that’s not your fault, of course. But, Mark, you’re still going strong! That’s where you’ve set yourself apart from all the “blame KU and give up” folks 🙂

      • Yeah Nick, but you know how this job is addictive? When I was only making a $100 a month, I wanted $200. When I was making $5000 I wanted $10k! So when we are doing well, and then only half as well despite doing all the right stuff, we want to know how to “fix it”

        yes I am still going strong, but I’m trying to “fix” what KU broke and resume my previous progress. KU caused me to step back a year in time (in income terms) and I want to reverse that.

        I suspect from your reply that like me you don’t have the solution. Write more books, publish more fast, seems to be the only answer left.

        Thanks for a great episode btw. Love your vids too 🙂

        • Nick_Stephenson

          Mailing list + diversify = more control and less risk. Just having more content won’t help all that much if something comes along and tanks your sales.

          BUT having a built-in platform that will follow you definitely will.

          And yeah – always “the curse of more” when you start seeing numbers!

  • my biggest struggle is time. I work full time, I squeeze writing in every free moment I have. I followed Nicks email tips, last week and went from 0 sign ups to 55 in 1 week!

    • Bryan

      Congrats on the results from the promo. I’m right there with you on time.

  • jasonmbrooks

    My biggest struggle is the amount of time I have invested into helping other indie authors develop their platforms and publish new books in print, ebook and audiobook formats. While I’m being paid for my work, my creative side is screaming for me to bring my current projects to a close and focus on my work for a change. I still have a second book to write in my series and a ton of marketing to do on the first. I have nobody to blame but myself. I just need to learn to say no.

    • Bryan

      Definitely a hard thing to do, Jason. I’ve been saying no more lately and it’s been helping. I still don’t think I say it enough though!

  • Kacy Kazmierczak

    I find the biggest struggle I have is balancing time spent consuming art and making art. I get so many writing ideas from reading, particularly of the “I would have done that differently” variety, that I can’t wait to get back to the desk. Yet, when I am writing, I often wonder how others have handled a particular story problem. Its so difficult to decide the appropriate amount of time to devote to reading and writing.

    • Bryan

      Definitely tough to balance. I turned my reading into marketing by starting The Split podcast. Maybe something like that is in order?

  • Great show! I’m back flying to Tampa and boy are my arms tired. ba-dum-dah! I’ll answer the question. For me, I write non-fiction, my biggest struggle is writing and coming up with bigger concepts. Seth Godin and Gladwell do it so well. I write more “how to” stuff, and the higher level concept stuff just doesn’t come naturally to me.

    • Bryan

      There’s got to be a way to Godin yourself! 🙂

    • As a Tampa Bay resident, I hope you liked the weather 🙂 safe travels.

  • Daniel Martone

    Another great show! It’s a Nick kind of day… about to listen to him on SPP.

    As far as the format, don’t get rid of the tips of the week, they offer us a lot of great ideas!

    • Bryan

      Nick’s the man! Probably won’t get rid of it entirely, we just might shorten it.

  • Daniel Martone

    The #1 struggle I’m having is being patient. The idea that we can’t really expect to see many sales until our 3rd of 4th book is out can be a hard pill to swallow.

    • Bryan

      Patience is very tough. Good point.

  • I think marketing is always going to be the biggest struggle for me, especially since I write in several different genres, including one that is a bit persecuted when it comes to marketing (erotica always gets slapped with a “NSFW” warning, even if the post itself is totally non-erotic, plus it can be hard to get books onto many of the free day websites). I always like to hear the tips of the week, since they give me new ideas to ponder, and I’m always trying new things, so that helps keep me on top of the latest and greatest websites to check out and test drive. Perhaps you could just change the “Tip of the Week” segment to shorten it by just saying what the tip is, and then telling people to check out the link for more details, if you wanted to avoid cutting it altogether. Or if the tip was to try out one of these other platforms you mentioned, and then went in-depth with for an interview, that would be great too!

    • Bryan

      Yeah, a shorter Tip section plus an interview sort of thing was what I was thinking. But I’ll play around with the idea. Thanks for the response!

  • Good shit, boys.

    I really enjoyed this, and I watched your first video already, Nick.

    Our first book (a man’s weight loss, fitness, and lifestyle book) did well at first, but our subsequent books did not. I think our mailing list of 900+ readers isn’t lined up well with the books we write, so we never even get a big bump when we publish or put a book on sale. Time for some strategery there.

    I look forward to learning from you.


    • Bryan

      Strategery! Thanks :).

  • I like the tip of the week, but I have to admit that the news and the tips are all one big blur of useful info. I often don’t differentiate them. I think that’s why Jim tends to play the tip sounds at news time and vice versa. 😉

    It’s ALL good stuff, though, so I hesitate to allow you to drop anything. 😉

    • Bryan

      Haha, thanks Roland 🙂

  • The number one struggle I’m having in my non-fiction author career is marketing. There seems to be so much to do, so deciding what to do first and what to concentrate on is frustrating. We have five books with more on the way, but we have no plan to market them effectively.

    For fiction (in which I’m still in the beginning writing and planning stages) it’s a little different. I have a million ideas, but I realistically know that what I choose to write first will be what I write – exclusively – for the next couple of years. I’m passionate about several genres, and picking which series to write feels like choosing one of my children over the other.

    • Bryan

      I was in the same boat with the fiction, but I picked one, ran with it, and ignored my other children for a while ;).

  • Great episode guys! Always something to learn from you all. I think my biggest struggle is visibility which seems to be a multi-layered issue. Is it due to my inability to connect with readers, lack of brand, poor marketing, minuscule mailing list? Over the next couple weeks/months, I’ll be following Nick’s Reader Magnet and keyword tips with a few new releases. (Thanks for the awesome tips and videos, Nick! Great job!) And Bryan and Jim, it’s your show and you can change it up if you want. 😉 Either way I’m sure it will be fab.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Kathy! Really excited to see what you do with Nick’s ideas. You’ve obviously got popular content out there. Add a mailing list boost and you may just be unstoppable!

  • The #1 frustration for me is balancing writing and all of the non-writing things I have to do (website, marketing, podcasts, etc.). I know I’ll get more efficient, but the learning curve is difficult.

    Also – in regards to KU… I hear people talk about lost revenue, but does that mean lost volume (reads)? If the exposure is the same or greater, even though the revenue is down, they can still build their mailing list with the new readers. If they have the appropriate long term goals, then the temporary decrease in income may not be bad if they are getting loyal fans on their mailing list. At the end of the day, as Nick says often, the goal is to have a direct connection with the customers.

    • Bryan

      Agreed with the direct connection.

      Yeah, the starting out phase is tough, but you will get more efficient over time and make it happen!

  • Perry Constantine

    Feels like every podcast I subscribe to has had Nick on recently. I fear he’s trying to conquer the world, one podcast at a time. You’ve been warned, people!

    To answer the question, the biggest thing for me is visibility and getting reviews. I’ve got a permafree book up now and despite having given out 5,000 copies, I’m still stuck at 13 reviews and about 11 people on my mailing list. But I picked up How To Supercharge Your Kindle Sales and blew through it. I bought a copy of KindleSpy the next day and began implementing some of the things Nick recommends. Hope it works out.

    • Bryan

      Nothing wrong with a little world domination :).

      Can you like to your permafree? I’ll take a look at it and see if there’s anything keeping it from conversion.

  • I struggle with being organized with marketing. It seems so scattered all over the place and I’m a focus type person. Plus I get fed up being on the computer all the time. Love you Nick and Bryan. I will find you Nick. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! 🙂