Episode 82 – Courses, Quotle, and Card Readers

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Question of the Week: What’s something you’re an expert on that you could teach a course about? How might you go about creating and promoting the course?

As Bryan dealt with the throes and joys of his Selling for Authors course launch (located at https://www.sellingforauthors.com ), the determined dyad took on the latest in indie publishing news. Jim and Bryan praised their latest Patron, Alan Frederick Hight, and his book Where The Leaves Wither ( http://eepurl.com/badxB9 ), and talked tips on card readers, Quotle, and Twitter giveaways.
The news includes stories on Ellora’s Cave, indies in libraries, Amazon’s future reviewer plans, Kobo’s new promos for authors, trad pub authors going indie, and the influx of high-end author courses. This week’s Question of the Week: What’s something you’re an expert on that you could teach a course about? How might you go about creating and promoting the course?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How Bryan’s course launch is going
  • Which card reader you should use for in-person sales
  • How a new app could help you share quotes on social media
  • What one trad pub author did for guerrilla marketing
  • How the Ellora’s Cave defamation lawsuit ended
  • A few ways you can get books into libraries and stores
  • How Kobo is stepping up its game with promotions
  • Why Dr. Phil and others have decided to go indie
  • The reasoning behind the huge influx in high-end author courses
Question of the Week: What’s something you’re an expert on that you could teach a course about? How might you go about creating and promoting the course?

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  • Patrick Stemp

    It’s pronounced “Udemy”.

    I could teach a course in Excel, maybe Excel for Authors. I’d probably use a service like Udemy. I have a lot to offer, but I don’t know how I could make it better or different than any other course out there…that’s the piece I’d have to figure out – selling my unique take on using it, or narrowing the focus to a specific niche of users (writers). Great stuff to think about. I’ve thought about selling a spiffed up version of my personal word tracker to writers who want to track their stuff but aren’t comfortable enough with Excel to build their own. Maybe some tools for tracking products (books) across all the platforms, ISBNs, sales data – which books are where and so on. It can get hard remembering where everything is. Lots of ideas 🙂

    • Bryan

      Thanks for clearing that up, Patrick ;-P.

      I’ve seen Excel courses do really well! Definitely a market for it.

  • Robert Scanlon

    I would teach Authors and Indie Publishers how to streamline, automate and systematize their work and business, so that they can enjoy more free time; less stress and more time for creative pursuits!

    It’s all too easy to either:

    a. Get distracted by the latest “must do” shiny thing (eg. Facebook Advertising), or panicked because you’re not doing it and everyone else is

    b. Succumb to the “it’s all too hard. The best way to grow my business is just to keep writing”

    In reality, writing and publishing/distributing and repurposing your work online is like any other business: it relies on inputs (your creative work!); throughput (the publishing process) and the goals and
    outcomes of the business.

    Automation and systematization focuses on removing or minimizing the biggest constraints experienced by most indie authors: That of your own time, and your own focus.

    I’m basically lazy, so I like to streamline and automate and shortcut wherever possible, while improving throughput and minimizing the impact on my own time.

    I realize there’s a lot of management-speak in here! The main aim is to help Authors do much more, using much less of their expensive resources such as time and willpower.

    I’d use an online platform in the same way as Bryan et al have, and launch in a similar fashion, having been an owner and user of Jeff Walker’s PLF since back in 2007, and before that running album launches in a former life in the music industry. I agree with Jim, however, that the binge/starve
    cycle of the twice-yearly internet marketing launch doesn’t make sense as a business model, so I’d rather hybridize (is that a word?). We’ve done this successfully with my wife’s yoga products (book & DVD; teacher training) many times, ie Initial Launch (with genuine scarcity of bonus products); evergreen sales of “standard product”; occasional promotional periods (with packaged deals); new launches of new products or revisited packages etc.

    I do like that “sideways salesletter” with videos for a course launch though! Seems to have worked over the last few years.

    Do you think this is a viable career path for purist fiction authors though? I worry that the creative spirit of the indie author scene becomes inured to the constant course hype, and descends into cynicism (possibly warranted). Jim, perhaps you could have some course accreditation/ratification or quality control for Approved Courses on the Author Marketing Institute?

    • Bryan

      I think that purist fiction authors can do well on courses as a side hustle (James Patterson, Dean Wesley Smith, Mark D., etc.), unless being “purist” means kicking out all other possibilities.

      Being a purist of anything seems like a bad idea in this climate of opportunity :).

  • Hmm… It’s a difficult question, because I’m not sure there’s anything unique I have to teach anybody. My day-job involves optimising factory production using an in-house, custom set of tools. So the tools themselves wouldn’t be interesting for anyone outside the company. And on the factory optimisation, I’m not on a level where I’d be able to offer amazing insights to anyone.

    I could write yet another book on writing novels. There are already so many, because that’s something all authors can write about. So I’m not sure how mine would be unique, but it’s something I’ve thought about.

    I could write about moving to Norway, which I did ten years ago. That would be a very niche market though, I think. And again, I’m not enough of an expert on it. For instance, I wouldn’t know all the things someone has to do tax-wise, to move from any country other than Ireland.

    Other than that, I could write about being a father or going for walks. I’m just not sure there’s anything in my life worth mining. At least I can write about more interesting stuff in my fiction 🙂

    • Bryan

      Haha, I’m sure you’ll think of something. The father angle wouldn’t be too bad :).

  • Chris Shumate

    I thought about doing this about a year ago with a topic that I’m not an expert on, but I have extensive experience doing: putting together small group lessons for church studies.

    I don’t know if there’s a big need for it, but my approach was to do a free mini-course on how to put together a lesson from scratch. Then for the people who wanted the course but don’t have a desire to actually do the work, I’d sell the studies I’ve put together.

    Promoting it would be a bit difficult as my platform isn’t too large. About the only benefit I have is that I’m active in my church community and it’s a decent size congregation for the area I live in, but even that doesn’t guarantee any type of success.

    I have more to think through, but your comments and this episode has me wanting to explore that avenue again.

    • Bryan

      I think there’s definitely a market for this. I mean… how many CHURCHES are there in the U.S.? Definitely a market ;).

  • QOTW – I’m an expert in several things, but I find that people love to buy courses on how to make money (directly or indirectly). They don’t want to spend money on health, fitness, or feeling better unless you promise a magic pill.

    • Bryan

      Are you sure of that… I feel like I’ve seen some folks do really well with “health challenge” and “better eating” type courses. Maybe do a little more research? 🙂

      • True, but have you seen any that aren’t constantly and actively pushing the program in order to keep it selling? Also, what’s the price they are able to charge compared to programs that make people money (or teach them to write)?

        I do think they are a valid way to make money, but they seem to take more effort than other program types and sell for less money.

        I know quite a few people in the fitness industry with products like these. Some have both fitness products and products that help people make money in fitness. The ones teaching people to make money sell for 2-3 times more and take a lot less effort to sell.

        Also, people who want to learn things to make money buy multiple products and seem pretty insatiable, where as the diets just buy one thing and move on.

        • Bryan

          I’d heard about this one and it seemed pretty interesting. Great branding too:

          • thanks for looking out for me, @bryandavidcohen:disqus!

          • Bryan

            I’ve got your back, man :). I’d love to see you and your wife put something like this together.

      • HOWEVER, I’d love to be wrong, because my passion is helping people with their health so if I can do that I’m in!

  • Courage Knight

    My “gift” is being a great mother. I have an early childhood education degree with years of experience, and homeschooled my four kids. I had a great mom, too. I see so many young women today struggling with how to be a parent, and they just don’t seem to get it. I would love to help them, but I wonder if this is a course or a book that people would read. I feel it is something they “need” but maybe it isn’t something that they “want.”