Creating a New York Times bestseller with Joanna Penn and David Gaughran (SPP #131)

This week the guys talked about something new and exciting they’re doing. Sean and Johnny have teamed up with David Gaughran and Joanna Penn to shoot for the New York Times bestseller list.
Learn all about their box set… WHICH YOU CAN BUY HERE …and how they just might make the cut and forever become “NYT bestselling authors” for the rest of eternity!
Now, there isn’t a lot viewers can directly lean from this, unless you also plan to team up with other writers and make a box set, too. But some of the basic principles are extremely valuable. Listening to these five talk about their business strategy and mindset will do nothing but help your self-publishing business.
Plus, you have to see David Gaughran’s amazing beard!
If you want to be absolutely awesome, go out and buy the box set now! Not only do you get three amazing books for indie authors, but you also get a bonus hour of the authors talking about their business! Think of it as SPP 131-B (B as in BONUS).
Here’s the video version of the episode:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing podcast episode number 131.Welcome to the Self Publishing podcast, where if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself and now here are your host’s three guys who spend most of their time up in the trees Johnny, Sean and Dave.
Johnny: Hey, everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors in the attempt to change the face of any publishing. Join us in our trail blazing guest two of them today as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment, and occasionally screw up. I am Johnny B. Truant and my co-hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright and joining us today is Joanna Penn and maybe joining us today will be David Gaughran.
Sean: And Dave’s empty seat.
Johnny: Oh good, starting off on the right– oh hey Dave we didn’t do…
Joanna: No Dave’s not mad, oh there he is.
Johnny: We didn’t do the pre roll spontaneous discussion; you want to do it right now?
Dave: Yeah, should we start over or no?
Johnny: No we are already going, go ahead they like our crappy adreads.
Dave: This episode of the self publishing podcast is brought to you by 99 designs, the online market place that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at, enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.
Johnny: I feel like I should start the music again.
Sean: Yeah, we should be ashamed of…
Johnny: So what’s really fun is I was listening to Joanna’s show just recently, and I noticed that you’re doing 99designs sponsorship, and I was like what’s in her professional…
Joanna: I think they are everywhere.
Johnny: Listen to how professional her ad reads sound you know they sound pro, and so we actually– we got the people from 99 designs told us that apparently our ads do good because they are so terrible so…
Dave: Do well.
Johnny: Exactly, that’s how terrible they are, they do good instead of well, and when we were setting this up with Joanna and David, I said do you want to come in on at 2 or do you want to come in at 2.30 on a normal guest slot. If you come in at two just know you’re going to have to sit through our horrible ad read, and David said I’ll try not to step all over the ad read, and I said no please do, please do can, you please step all over the ad read.
Sean: That makes them golden.
Johnny: There you go, I feel like we should wait for David to talk about this, but I guess we can’t, can we?
Sean: We can talk about the local sports team.
Joanna: Hey, I will talk about an event, it’s funny with 99 designs early ad reads but I basically I’ve just done an illustration which is quite different you know a lot of people have done book cover designs, but I’ve actually done an illustration of the key to the gates of hell.
Johnny: Oh, that’s cool.
Sean: Dave would like a hobby, like spare time.
Joanna: Well that’s the point because if you think that you need like stock art for your book covers, you can’t get that stock art so…
Dave: You have to go right to the source.
Joanna: Yeah, exactly so I got my demonic designers to do that, so that was kind of…
Sean: Is that in the process right now, or do you already have a result?
Joanna: I’ve got a result and I’m just totally thrilled with it. What was even cool from the creative process point of view was I was doing the competition as I was writing the book which I’ve just finished, and so I was like I don’t really know what the key looks like, so I’ve just gone and just…
Sean: That’s awesome.
Joanna: Make it up, whatever you think the key looks like, the key to the gates of hell let your you know black little minds go and the one I chose and I actually rewrote that bit of the book.
Sean: That’s awesome.
Joanna: It is real, it’s really-really cool and so creative and it just opened my mind to the possibility of working with an illustrator aerographic artist and obviously Dave you know about this because you are…
Dave: Of course I know everything about everything.
Joanna: But that it was fantastic, I really enjoyed that process, because I’m not an illustrator at all but it was really cool I enjoyed it. I definitely do that again if it was a book title that doesn’t really lend itself to stock photography.
Sean: Yeah, that’s really cool.
Johnny: I mentioned in the– Sean and I have begun– we said that Fiction Unboxed 1.5 won’t be live and so we’ve already began and we had a discussion just recently and I just mentioned that Ray chase’s reading of one of our characters, the voice he gave him Willoughby totally– not just totally but it changed the way that I wrote Willoughby, like in this book I’m like I hear the nature of this guy in my head from Ray, and we added a grizzled military guy for him. So it’s like a different medium is all media all influence each other.
Sean: Yeah, when I’m editing Glues dialogue I just hear Ray, I can only hear Ray I don’t even hear Johnny writing this character, I hear ray delivering the lines which is pretty funny.
Joanna: I think there is some– this collaboration I mean all this users collaborate with normal writing but we’ve been doing translations and doing audio books like you mentioned. I’m just more and more excited about how we can collaborate with other creatives to come up with different things you know. Well, just in terms of gain designer, we talked about getting designed Sean, but you know thinking about like what else we can do with our properties. I do think that collaboration is the only way forward, and I was in a screenwriter’s festival last weekend talking to producers and things about auctions, and just being with screenwriters and the guy he did the Silence of the Lambs won the Oscars for Silence of the Lambs, Ted Tally.
Sean: Jonathan Demme?
Joanna: oh no-no, Ted Tally is the screenwriter, Jonathan Demme was the director right?
Sean: Yeah.
Joanna: It was so fascinating hearing the screenwriters talk about collaborating with authors and how some of them are just complete dicks and other people like Harris lovely and brilliant and yeah so I just think anybody who doesn’t collaborate with a coauthor which I don’t at the moment, should be thinking about collaborations with other creatives in whatever way.
Sean: Yeah, it makes you work better, it just it does, it makes you think things you wouldn’t have thought otherwise. I don’t know that I have any interest at this point in writing a book by myself unless it was a personal book or something of that nature.
Dave: Which you can do alone like the palms and stuff like the Doctor Seuss like stuff.
Sean: Yeah, that’s true.
Johnny: But Sean is also…
Dave: [inaudible]
Johnny: Sean’s also a collaborative slut too.
Joanna: Yeah.
Johnny: But I was the guy who…
Joanna: He will deal with anyone.
Dave: He will.
Johnny: He will, I was the one who didn’t even understand collaboration and I was asking myself this question recently, it was actually when I was listening to and how masturbatory is this right? Like I was listening to Joanna’s show and I’m like oh well I’ll just pick the most recent one and it was the one with Sean, like really I had to listen to my own collaborator on this like. But when you guys were talking about collaboration it just reinforced some of this and I was like would I want to write another book because it just seems like I don’t know, I should have my own solo books, and I just have the Fat Vampire and Daily Pimps and kind of no, like I kind of don’t want to, I would but I don’t want to really right now.
Sean: It’s not as much fun you know if the process goes faster and I feel like the work is better yeah, totally off the side, but I think this is really funny comment about our most recent podcast Joanna, I got the transcription back.
Joanna: Yeah.
Sean: This is awesome, so the transcription has done a great job, I’m very-very happy with it, but there were a couple of funny things in the– our next book is Axis of Aaron, but Axis it looked like Access to Aaron like right? Which is funny…
Joanna: Access, yeah.
Sean: Yeah, Axis but I really think it’s hilarious that our revenge thriller is called Mommas Day.
Joanna: Mommas day.
Johnny: Which is like a challenge, I kind of want to write a revenge thriller called Mommas Day.
Sean: You know who should be writing the revenge thriller Mommas Day, it’s Publisher Pete you know that’s going to happen someday.
Johnny: Well, so why don’t you just see– Dave did you want to play the part, you’re David so do you just want to play the part of David Gaughran?
Dave: Okay.
Sean: You did the accent, let’s hear the accent.
Dave: I can’t do an Irish accent; I’ll do a bad English accent.
Sean: Let’s hear that.
Dave: All the [inaudible 08:46]
Johnny: Sean, do your impression of Gordon Ramsay.
Sean: Damn.
Joanna: That’s terrible.
Johnny: I know.
Sean: That’s all I’ve got.
Dave: Terrible, very terrible.
Johnny: So…
Joanna: Oh, very good.
Johnny: All right so here’s the thing, so if you haven’t received our blast of emails or Joanna’s blast of emails or social media or the thousand other places we’ve already mentioned this, we’re the three of us meaning the SPP guys, Joanna and David Gaugron.
Dave: Hello.
Johnny: You doing okay over there, yeah?
Dave: Doing quite fine thank you.
Johnny: We should have Ray on to do it, we’re in a box set called the Indie Author Power Pack, how to– I don’t know the tagline exactly like how to…
Joanna: Right publishing market, come on what else is it going to be.
Johnny: I guess that makes sense. So it’s “Write Publish Repeat,” it’s– David’s is “Let’s Get Digital” and then Joanna’s “How To Market A Book.” So it covers like kind of the span and the whole point– so this is the Self Publishing podcast where we’re talking about this– well first of all I’ll make a short link I guess, I should do that, but check for it on Amazon. We want to talk about it in terms of like what the strategy is, like why we’re doing it, what it is that we’re trying to achieve, like what our goals are. Joanna did you come up with the idea or was that David– because you brought it to us.
Joanna: Dave. It was Dave and I mean his whole thing is he wants to hit the New York Times nonfiction list. Which given that I was in that box earlier this year when we hit the fiction list I think everybody just has kind of realized this can be done, because a lot of authors have now done it. So Dave came up with the idea of hitting the nonfiction list, which in principal should be easier because they split that list into about 20 subcategories. So essentially that was the aim and before you talk about it some more we should say even if you have all three books, there’s also an hour if you want more of us I mean of course.
Dave: And who wouldn’t?
Joanna: Who wouldn’t want more, yeah more of us, there’s an extra hour conversation as well as talking about really useful stuff. We also talk about our biggest failures and we talk about some very personal things as well that you may never have heard before. So, that’s extra and it’s only 99 cents, we should say that.
Sean: Yeah, its dirt cheap and we haven’t talked about this at all, but it’s kind of a big deal. If we do hit the list then you know [Inaudible] [00:11:16] and Dave feels a little bit bad that he hasn’t done as much, and he promises to do that.
Johnny: So, Sean can you?
Dave: What? No.
Johnny: Sean can you?
Sean: Any thought.
Johnny: Sean your thing cut out on– I’m recording the audio feed, so I didn’t hear you said, if we hit and then I was like oh you know the important part is what’s going to get cut out.
Sean: Well, it was all punch line, that’s all that was.
Johnny: Oh, okay.
Sean: I said if we hit the list then Dave’s going to dance to any song we want.
Dave: And by Dave he means David Gaugron and welcome David Gaugron.
David: Hello, hello.
Dave: Thank God now I don’t have to do the accent.
Joanna: Is that?
David: Sorry, I’m late.
Joanna: What has happened to your beard?
David: It has grown exponentially I think since the last time you saw me. That’s only three or four weeks, I think I was gone…
Sean: Are you calling from a dingy in the middle of the sea?
Joanna: Fishing.
David: It’s kind of a bit naval, isn’t it?
Sean: You need a pipe.
Johnny: You got aggressive facial hair.
Dave: And a fisherman’s hat.
David: Yeah, like old maybe.
Johnny: Well, okay so…
Joanna: Is it going to be Father Christmas? Really is like a Father Christmas level beard.
Sean: one of the best beard in the world.
David: Is only getting started, this is only getting started I think someone dared me not to cut it till I went home for Christmas, so I’ll see if I can– I’m kind of scared to see what’s going to be like in two months.
Dave: You really shouldn’t be that impressed because I saw baby pictures of David and he had this beard when he came out, so standard stock Dave.
Sean: Now, do you need all eight reindeer to get you home?
David: This actually like I grew this beard we’ve saved by 25% of our heating bill, so…
Johnny: So we were just before you popped on there we just we went on a detour you know I don’t know if you know this but sometimes Self Publishing podcast is off topic and…
Dave: No.
Johnny: So we went on a detour and we’re trying because we wanted to save it and we just started, Joanna just sort of began telling the story about how this all started and it was your idea. Let me get the link real quick, if you don’t have it. Again all three books exclusive content for 99 cents and it’s, all one word. So go ahead David, take us away.
David: Oh, you want me to tell you how this all kind of started yeah?
Johnny: Yeah.
David: Well, I hope I don’t repeat anything that someone has already said but…
Sean: It doesn’t matter.
[Crosstalk 00:13:53]
David: All right, well the idea, it’s actually Johnny’s idea that I totally stole, but I’m going to take 100% credit for it. I think it was just after Write Publish Repeat was originally released, Johnny suggested kind of vaguely the idea of doing a box together at some point. And I kind of filed that away and then I think it was in February or March, I saw someone on kindle boards who had hit the New York Times nonfiction eBook best seller list with a relatively small number of sales. I think it was something like 2300 sales in a week, and that got me thinking straight away because, I think the fiction best seller list even on a slow week, I think it might reach seven and a half thousand sales and then obviously in a busy week it could be several multiples of that.
But this was a much more achievable number and I started to think like this could be doable you know. If I could put together a group of people, an interesting box you know it’s possible. So like the way I thought the best way to approach it in terms of you know something that could be useful for both a beginner and for someone that has a several books. I was trying to think of right attempt for very simple terms what does a writer need to do, like the three main tasks facing a writer is the writing, publishing, and marketing. And I felt there are three really strong books out there representing– although they spill over to other areas kind of focusing on each part of that, and if I can put those three together, I think it would be everything a writer needed in one box and that’s the general the idea. And then I sent an email out to guys. I wasn’t sure if they’d be interested or not, but they all were pretty excited, liked the idea right from start.
Johnny: This was a fantastic idea I had, I’m very excited that you all got on board with my great idea that I didn’t remember that I had.
Dave: Usually Johnny steals my ideas so…
Johnny: Well, I think it’s worth looking at what the goal was, you know you’ve already obviously said it to hit the bestseller list, but I mean a lot of people are doing box sets right now, and I think that people have different aims. Like when Ed Robinson did his breakers box set, now he also did a stars and empire box set, multi author box set, but when he did his breakers box set and put it 99 cents, the idea was just to funnel into the fourth book, build his mailing list, that sort of thing. If you sell enough there’s money there even at 35% even at 99 cents, but we specifically had this discussion early on about what do we want our goals to be. I mean hitting the best seller list like why, we just want to be able to say it, like I like that you have been able to say it.
Sean: Well, it’s like an academy award, like if you’re an academy award winner, I mean Cuba Gooding Jnr. still gets to say that even if he was in Snow Dog’s or whatever that movie was, like it doesn’t matter, we could write space shuttle nine and we’re still New York Times bestselling authors. So I think there’s some social aspect.
Dave: No, I think they’ll come back and reclaim.
Johnny: You are no longer…
Sean: So I think that’s what it is, it’s something that you get to say forever. I mean clearly there’s not even at 99 cents and many-many-many sales, that’s not a lot divided between all the box, like there has to be that bigger reason to do it, and that reason is compelling and I think we’re all driven to do things that haven’t been done, or we haven’t done, that we haven’t personally done and it seemed like a really cool thing to do.
Joanna: I think there’s probably you know hopefully they won’t be changing the rules, but many of us suspect that maybe David can comment on this, but they might change the rules so box sets can’t make the list at some point.
David: Like today.
Joanna: But given how slowly traditional publishing and media moves you know they’ve had like a year, it’s been a year now since the first romance authors hit the list the first time, I think. So they’ve had time to go and change the rules, but so far that’s not happened, Dave do you know any more about changing rules?
David: It’s been a persistent rumor for the last 4-6 weeks that the New York Times has either banned box sets or is planning to or discussing it. One rumor I heard was that a ban is going to come in from the 1st of next year on both 99 cent titles and box sets.
Joanna: Yeey, so we should be good.
David: I don’t know if the box sets has actually hit the New York best seller list since this rumor started, so it’s an open question as to whether they are currently banning it.
Johnny: That will kind of suck, I didn’t know that there was a chance. [Cross talk 00:18:36]
David: But I think the same time the rumor came out was exact the same time that the New York Times cut the number of places on each list from 25-20. So that raised the bar, so then I think there were few people who were around the number where they thought they were probably going to get on the list and they didn’t, and I think maybe that started the rumor, but they didn’t realize the number of places had been cut, so you need probably an extra 1000 sales or whatever to get on the list.
Joanna: What about USA today?
David: Sorry?
Joanna: What about the USA today list, because that was kind of longer and stickier and easier.
David: It’s easier if you’re shooting for the fiction bestseller list because I think you only need 5-6000 sales to immigrate slowly and to hit the USA today, but the USA today doesn’t have the sub lists of– it doesn’t split it out into nonfiction and like when I was looking at all the lists it seemed like the easiest one to hit was the New York Times eBook nonfiction bestseller list, because it has that low raw total in ethic and relative compared to the fiction, you only needed around 3000 sales in a slow week as opposed to maybe 7 or 8000. But the USA today doesn’t break it down like the New York Times, there’s all sorts of lists travel, humor, and nonfiction.
Joanna: We should also say that you have to be on– your you can’t just be on Amazon, you actually have to be on more than one store, do you want to comment on that as well?
David: Yeah, I actually wanted to do with New York Times best seller list, no one is 100% sure and all you can do is study the titles that are hitting at amazing and draw some conclusions, but it appears that the New York Times requires 500 sales on a second retailer. Like aside from having to hit 7 or 8000 to hit the list or whatever is needed a particular week, you also need to have two retailers reporting to the New York Times that either you’re not exclusive on the retailer. And the retailers don’t tend to report numbers to the New York bestseller list unless you hit at least 500. Otherwise you will be spending all day reporting people that have sold two books. And the cut off point for some reason is 500 sales, and so if you sell 400 copies on Barnes & Noble and 500,000 on Amazon, you won’t hit the New York Times best seller list.
So you have to have a second retailer which is why we are trying to push Nuke sales a little bit as well because we figured that we were trying to push all of them, but we figured Nuke was probably the most likely to get over that 500 sale barrier. So yeah, it’s tricky, you’ve got to sell a lot in a week, and you’ve got to sell to more than one retailer. I know authors who sell tens and tens of thousands in one weekend and they probably sold double what was number one on the New York Times best seller list that week, and they didn’t make the list at all because they were all on Amazon [Inaudible] [00:21:23].
So yeah it’s funny like none of the best seller lists are really perfect in measuring what was selling best that week, they all have their own quirks and floyables and you know that’s one of the things you are up against as well, but I kind of like the intellectual challenge of trying to figure it out, the amounts required and coming up with a plan to just try and get it, like that’s half the traction.
Johnny: Do you know what I like is that you like the intellectual challenge of it. Sean and I, so David, Joanna and Felix Sullivan have been handling all– like most of the heavy lifting, like we’ve done our part, but they’ve been figuring out…
Sean: All of the heavy lifting.
Johnny: Scheduling and…
Sean: I can’t even make heads or tails out of the Facebook streams I get on there, and I just want to cry, like oh my God there’s so much.
Johnny: Sean just texts me, he is this– does this just seem really complicated and I say yeah it’s really-really complicated. I don’t know how we probably should’ve discussed this ahead of time, but how much strategy, do we want to talk about any numbers of our stuff or just keep that under the hood for now, because it isn’t out yet, this is still preorder period.
David: Yeah.
Joanna: [inaudible 00:22:38]
David: I’m okay sharing numbers; I don’t think there’s a problem with that. I think some of the finer details of the marketing plan are– because we haven’t done it yet. I think it’s better not to reveal, and we can talk about that afterwards when we’re doing– when we’re looking back, but I don’t think we can– or we can definitely share numbers. I think we’re coming up to around 3000 preorders, I think the last numbers that I saw going around since it went up, and I think it was first uploaded on the 22nd of October or something and some…
Johnny: Sorry.
David: Sorry, go on Johnny.
Johnny: What I’ve been trying to do is, so David refers to intellectual challenge of figuring out what to do, I’ve been exploring the intellectual challenge of figuring out what we are doing. So it’s going on, I’m like okay is this what we are doing. So I asked a question the other day and what’s funny is like we’re a third of the box set, but like whatever and so I was like so are we– is the idea with the presales that we just– because it isn’t on sale, it is not our reporting week, our reporting week is next week– is the idea just to get really visible now, so that during that week and then we have additional promotion, but is the idea to get to the visible point so that we are getting organic sales for the actual week, because if we got almost 3000 now…
Dave: And I want to piggy back on that, the presale numbers like all the numbers we sell this week, will they count for next week’s sales?
Sean: I don’t think we know that for sure.
Dave: Okay.
David: Yeah.
Sean: There’s a lot of conflicting…
Dave: Wow.
David: There is where it gets complicated. We know for a fact that preorder sales on a vendor like Apple will be rolled off and counted as first week’s sales by the New York Times. So even if you have a book on preorder for say eight months on apple and you sell 10,000 copies over that eight months slowly every week, they will count as first week sales and be reported to New York Times as first week sales. That’s why publishers love preorders, that’s why you see the biggest authors have the preorder of nine months even without a coma, they have to preorder up.
Dave: I’ve always wondered why they do that so early.
David: And this is one of the reasons why Hashet was freaking out about losing preorders, and why those big bestselling authors were freaking out about it, because it’s really affecting their chance of getting to New York Times, and they’re probably on all sorts of bonuses on their contracts for hitting the New York Times and all that kind of stuff. But getting away from the Amazon hasha hashey [phonetic] thing, so we know for a fact that any preorder sales on apple will count to our tag one week totals at the New York Times. It’s an open question about Amazon because nobody is 100% sure on the side of Amazon and the New York Times, whether Amazon actually reports hard numbers to them, that’s one theory, Amazon actually does. The other thing– the other theory going around is that New York Times just takes some kind of average rank.
Nobody really knows for sure, so we have to come up with a kind of a plan that covers everything and covers every eventuality and gives you the best chance for success. So the basic idea in very vague terms with the marketing plan is to hit our own networks at the start and go wider afterwards, and hoping just to tickle the recommendation system into getting going by the time it’s launched. But there’s no formula here, there’s no master plan, we don’t know exactly what holds the press. Preorders are pretty early and we don’t really have enough data to know what’s optimal yet. So it’s really a giant experiment, we have no idea how successful it will be, that’s part of the fun you know.
Sean: No, that’s a lot of the fun.
Johnny: Let me just– if I can just interject really quickly and then I will let you get back to the actual content because like I don’t know is– if you guys want to see what happens with this, like if you– the SPP community has always been really awesome with helping the show and because we’re in one big experiment. If you guys have like communities of writers and stuff, this happened a lot with Write Publish Repeat, please share it. I mean it’s kind of an insane deal even if you have all of the books there is the exclusive content that’s new and it’s a fuck. And the second is if anybody is feeling especially cool, and wants to like Barnes & Noble sales which is what David said originally is those are– we need those too, so like if you have an Nuke account, you just want to throw another buck at the experiment, we would appreciate it.
Sean: Yeah, I’ll piggy back off that too, and just say thank you because we sent out our email and we got a lot of a lot of replies that were “oh I bought that when Joanna did it, I’m buying it again on another platform,” and that was really cool, or I have all three of these books, but I don’t have them in a bundle.
Dave: I don’t have them with that pretty cover.
Sean: People were not buying them because they needed a missing book in their collection, like that’s not why people were buying them. People were buying them because they wanted to support it and so thank you very much.
Dave: Well we got a comment right now, Kristy Mors says “Let’s Get Digital” is the only one I didn’t have, so of course I got the box set so…
Joanna: Thanks Kristy.
Johnny: And that was one of the original.
Dave: If you’re missing one of the three, now’s a great time to get it really cheap legitimately.
Johnny: And that was one of the original things people said was, people were going to have some of these books, but if you don’t have all three you’re basically getting a book for 99 cents even if you have the others, so that’s great.
Sean: And our audio, like that’s cool.
Johnny: And transcription.
Sean: Transcription.
Joanna: Fun yeah, and also like I did a rewrite of how to market a book which I just didn’t announce at all, so that is the new version in the box set, it’s got like six new chapters.
Sean: Oh letting you guys have that come on.
Joanna: Yeah, it’s like six chapters, come on it’s so good, but dude I think you’re right and the people listening are probably already bought it, but just to reflect because I’ve been in two other kind of big box sets this year. The one that hit the list, so I had two weeks New York Times, six weeks USA today and what Dave is saying about the algorithms that’s what did it. So the reason for doing this kind of pre-work is so that the algorithms then start to actually push it to people we can’t even reach. So that first book set, I think it was like 15-20,000 books in the week, but as you’ve said it’s got to have more to sell fiction and then– but eventually it sold over 100,000. Now none of us authors have that kind of reach that was because of those algorithms.
So that was you know exactly what Dave said, now the box set that I was in, which should have been a similar effect, same promotional plan you know some big name authors basically went– just paged out and what was so interesting is that you know a similar plan, similar author, similar type of books, total not the same result at all. Partly and who knows, so this is so interesting, all of this is just an experiment and certainly one of the big things and we had, I think we can talk about this is the timing and Dave had said originally…
Sean: Oh yeah this is interesting stuff.
Joanna: Yeah either we hit November, or we have to wait till February, was that right Dave?
David: Yeah, I was taking conscious of all the big books, all the big titles are out right now from the biggest names for the holiday season you know Walter Isaacson has a new book “Innovators In Silicon Valley,” that’s going to be a big seller and probably that they are going to hit the NYT list, but as you get closer and closer to Christmas the sales just ramp up, and it gets– and to hit the buck place like the 20th place on the NYT list just requires way-way-way more sales. So I figured like first week of November was probably the last realistic chance until things die down a bit in February, but we’ll see what happens.
Dave: I have a question in something I’ve been thinking about lately, is there a box set fatigue going on…
Johnny: Yeah, good question.
Dave: And also because we– “Yesterday is Gone” is serialized and we have six episodes to make up a season. So we sell them as episodes, but we also sell them as seasons. Now originally like when we had the box set up and it was like 5.99, sometimes we would have them on sale or whatever you know, it indicates value you know you’re getting all these books for 5.99. But I think with everybody doing box sets for like 99 cents and stuff, I wonder like A our box sets start to look cheap, and B if you have a box set like a 5.99 one which represents you know full season, do people look at it and say “why isn’t that 99 cents, Sean I’m not getting it?” Like is there some sort of– are the box sets starting to kind of look like 99 cent items in– are people starting to ignore them, do you think?
David: Box sets are still selling really-really strongly, so I’m not shooting it down completely like that definitely could be a thing and it could be a thing by as soon as January or something. There’s definitely a huge number of people doing box sets, they’re taking up a lot of space in the charts. Maybe Amazon will decide they don’t like them and start to squash them, maybe the New York Times will ban them or maybe readers will get tired of them, but at the moment it’s still a good way to do all sorts of things like give it a box.
Johnny: That’s great to hear because Dave actually brought this up in our meeting after the last SPP sufficient that we were like should we change our 3D images?
Sean: Yeah, it was a good victory for Dave too because he said it and we weren’t like that’s done, we were like maybe he is right, so because you do see so many of them and you do see…
Johnny: Like we do the opposite of what we wanted to do.
Dave: And more so for fiction and nonfiction. I think in nonfiction it’s not quite as common and it’s still– it looks special, but in the fiction list like when I see a repeated box sets over and over my eyes kind of just pass over them because I figure I probably already have some of these books, like if it’s authors I know and stuff like that, but I might be different because I am a different reader and I buy a ton of books so…
Joanna: Well, I think that different reader is the point and there are a lot of readers who love the box sets, but I would say as a reader myself I don’t like them because I actually you know the percentage complete on the kindle. You know I like to see where I am and I hate the fact that if I read a whole blue book in 12 book box I’m already like 10% through really annoys me, but also I think it’s that kind of bulk of stuff and I generally spend a lot of money on books which I’m and that kind of classifies me as a reader in that way. So I think it isn’t about the types of readers that they are out there, and I don’t think the box set is going to go away. I do agree I think there is a bit of a fatigue which is why we need to do this before Christmas.
Johnny: Before it gets fatiguing, you know I actually have something to piggy back on that is if we were to change the 3D covers. I mean Dave have you been watching the clock, do you realize what time it is?
Dave: I think I do know what time it is. It’s time for a completely spontaneous conversation about book covers.
Johnny: Well, it’s actually not that spontaneous because look what we did there, but I was thinking you know we talk a lot about doing this self publishing yourself, but how can indie authors compete with traditional publishers, when it comes to book covers, they can’t, they should just give up, right?
Dave: Yeah, they should, they should just go home. We actually have some comments on You Tube regarding…
Johnny: That’s not on this script that I am reading.
Dave: I know I’m throwing this script out, we have some comments on You Tube and one of them says– Paul Jennings says “Hmm I wonder where I could find someone to design the cover for my latest book,” and Hamster Wheel says “no one does that anywhere at all, you have to draw one with crayons and take a photo of it.”
Johnny: Has anyone mentioned that how much you have to lose?
Dave: Let’s face it guys and girls, there is no excuse for a crappy book cover design, none at all, not with 99 designs…
Johnny: What if you hire a hobo?
Dave: Well, I don’t know what to say to that
Johnny: And that’s your excuse?
Dave: It’s not in the script. There no excuse, okay.
Johnny: What if your beard has gotten so nautically large that you can no longer see to design your cover.
Dave: Then you need somebody like the designers in 99 designs who are waiting to create a perfect cover for you; the process is super easy as Joanna will admit it too, yes?
Joanna: Absolutely.
Dave: Yes.
Joanna: Brilliant.
Dave: And we’ve used them for book covers and logos and have always been impressed with the professional quality and the speed the designers deliver. Usually in about a week or so, you start out by filling out an online brief with details about your project, then dozens of designers to compete to deliver you the best design. And you can even run polls to get your readers or customers involved in the process of choosing your design, and that really helps people get– they are aware of your book before it’s even out, and you’re part of the process and you know it really helps a lot. So I highly recommend…
Johnny: Get to the part where what you have at risk for this process.
Dave: Okay, I highly recommend 99 designs…
Johnny: Because that’s really the deal breaker for me.
Dave: Okay and here’s the thing, with 99 designs you have nothing to lose, absolutely nothing.
Johnny: Wow, that’s a tidbit of information I’ve never heard before. All right well, start your custom design today at and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks, which will make your design contest stand out, bold your listing, highlight it, all that stuff you get more entries. So and get started. No interruptions from our guests on that, you guys I thought you are going to, you think you’re really going to mess us up, Ed Roberts would do it.
Dave: They were blown away by that bad ad read.
Johnny: The best…
Dave: We are watching a train wreck in progress right now, let’s not say a word.
Johnny: The best ad things…
Dave: I was thinking you know somewhat how to do it.
Johnny: The best ad things ever were Ray Chase doing the ad read with Breasio and Ed Robertson. When we were done with one he said “wow I remember when you guys used to be Indies.” All right, so getting back to the topic, one of the things that’s been a theme with everything that we did is, so if anybody tweeted about like wow the Indie Author Power Pack, it’s awesome, start you know with @davidgaughron, @thecreativepenn, @jonnybtruant, @seanplatt, @dave whatever, and wait I can’t say whatever when I get to Dave the @thedavidwwright.
Joanna: Davidwwright, it’s far too friminal.
Johnny: Right, so at that point you have no room for a message, and then like I wouldn’t reply like I would say “wow this is amazing, thank you guys,” and they wouldn’t reply and the reason is because we were last, and we were told not to not to talk about the power pack until it was our turn, does one of you want to cover why it was important that we space things like that?
David: Again we’re going into guessing territory with how preorders behave because we are such a small sample size that we’re just kind of starting in the dark, but the general idea is basic of the algorithms since people trusted book bans and trying to get everyone to buy at 2.30pm exactly to try and zoom up the charts at the algorithm prepares and sustains level of sales rather than something which spikes quickly and fades away. So the general idea was just to spread out when we had our various networks throughout the preorder phase.
So we don’t have one large big spike and then on top of the drop box it’s nothing, it’s much better to have a smaller spike but to hold it steady for a longer period. And if the system sees us, if the system sees that you have a sustained level of sales, it will step in and start selling the book for you, but if it sees it’s an artificial one day spike it will just let it fill just touch rocks to it and that will solve that and into the nether regions of the rankings.
Johnny: So the idea was we weren’t supposed to dilute our bump by blowing the load early basically.
David: Exactly, exactly, exactly.
Johnny: So do you have an idea how long that period needs to be now as your best guesses as to when they start; I mean it’s the email blast we want, right? Like if we want them to send those emails.
David: Yeah, well there’s speculation that there was a kind of a major tweak to the algorithms possibly back in May or something, but we still don’t have enough data yet to figure out exactly what happened. I don’t think the fundamental has changed too much in that and the system prepares a sustained level of sales, but I don’t think it’s the exact same as it used to be where all you needed was four straight days of solid sales and the system would take over. Some things seems to have changed on upfront, but I don’t know exactly what yet, but it seems that the bar seems to be raised higher like whereas before you could have a relatively small number of sales per day like 25 sales per day over four days and the system would step in and start selling your book for you at a certain level around that, and what I’m seeing now is that it seems you need to have a better performance and a more consistent performance to trigger any kind of recommendations from the systems, but I couldn’t say more on that in detail, I haven’t even figured out yet to be honest.
Johnny: And I think that that as far as the algorithms it seems like that’s kind of happening like we’ve been promoting for about a week, I think was the first post about a week ago?
Sean: Yeah.
Johnny: And so over these last few days like with our promotional calendar, I think yesterday there wasn’t anything really big and I think today there isn’t really anything big, but still I mean I have been watching the sales like a hawk, but we do seem to– we aren’t dropping, like we’re holding that level and that seems to me to say well maybe that’s right.
David: Yeah, that’s definitely a very good sign like we’re not completely blowing things whenever we stop directly promoting the title and then when we step away it doesn’t seem to be collapsing completely, it’s dipping a little bit, but that’s a very good sign for next week. It’s too hard to say until it actually happens what level of Amazon systems will step in and start emailing customers and recommending our books for Christmas. We won’t know until it happens, but I’d say things look pretty good for some level of love from the algorithms next week but…
Sean: That’s a staggering amount of guess work.
David: It is yeah, there’s a lot of if, ought, caveats, but I kind of like that, I kind of like operating in logic rather than– because if it wasn’t like that it would be very easy to figure out, it would be very easy for people to game and it be– I think Amazon too would just be introducing more and more complexity in the system probably like people like me and Ed Robertson and Felix Sullivan and like everyone coming up with like all the romance authors coming up with these brilliant algorithm focused marketing plans. I think they’re actually starting to put in like random elements too just as people love to sense.
Joanna: Yeah.
David: But yeah it’s kind of like an arms race in both.
Sean: Because even if you guys did it that would be awesome, but you know that they would be just a lot of crappy Kindle gold rush type stuff out there that would you know milk those algorithms whenever they figured them out, and that just ruins it for all of us because it keeps– not only does it keep good stuff down and get crap up at the top, it erodes trust with buyers you know because if book lovers and they can’t find their favorite books because they have to sort through garbage, they just aren’t going to buy, like it’s not worth it.
David: Exactly and like the analogue here with Google and search you know regular changes to the search ranking algorithm. It’s not that different, I think like I wouldn’t be surprised if Google aren’t too annoyed when some kind of like white hat guys figure out a way to position their websites better. But as soon as everyone cuts on for the same thing and start using same strategies then it becomes useless for a discovery tool. And books aren’t that different like you can see Amazon are always looking things and always tweaking things like the most obvious time was right after the launch of select when they gave people this massive spring board even with a small number of free downloads you were going up the charts quite a lot.
And I think they realized it was a little too powerful and it was introducing perhaps a little bit too much strain in the best seller list. So they toned it down, and I don’t think it really matters what Amazon’s plan was originally, they are always kind of looking at the charts and how customers are responding to it and looking at the data, and are not afraid to change things completely if they feel that customers aren’t responding to the last change they made.
Johnny: I feel the need to position this conversation because as I’m listening to this and David understands way-way-way more of this than we do, but it makes me think like– I think the wrong message here is, okay I want to sell books, I’m going to write down that exact numerical thing that he just said, I’m going to do it, I think this is a good way to look– we want to say we want to draw that line between tactics and strategies, and this is a tactical– this is tact heavy because we have a very specific aim, but I think that you need to say what can I glean from this discussion, and what is something that would be like trying to game Google, like we’re doing this and we want to get the most out of it as opposed to here’s a loophole, let’s copy exactly what somebody else did and just throw whatever into it to turn the crank machine.
Joanna: And as I mentioned earlier my evidence is that you try and do the same thing and it doesn’t work the second time. So we’ll just have to see what happens. The other thing that’s important to note is we are all basically “losing money” on this because all our individual books sell very well you know this is Dave’s new version of “Let’s Get Digital,” and my new version of “How to Market a Book,” and your “Write Publish Repeat” continues to sell really well, but we won’t even when we sold 100,000 copies of the box set back in February or whatever, we made not very much money each, in the same way so this is not a income play, this is more of a marketing in the New York…
Sean: It’s a portfolio move, it’s a portfolio move.
Joanna: You don’t have to decide on what your strategy is if it was a making more money strategy it would be completely different.
Sean: Right, it would be a terrible making money strategy.
Johnny: Yeah, I actually said I don’t care at all about making money on this.
Joanna: Yeah.
Dave: Is it the box set staying at 99 cents or is it going up to another price, or is it a limited time thing, what’s the deal with that?
David: I think it all depends on what happens next week, it’s hard to say until we see if we hit the list or if we just about missed it and it looks like sales are holding off. It’s really hard to look past what happens past next week, because that will change everything either way. I don’t know, I don’t think we have a plan B really, I think it’s all or nothing next week.
Johnny: Well the other thing to keep in mind is that even if it falls flat, there is a way to win, like I think that that’s the beauty of this is it is exposure and we all have CTA’s in the backs of our individual books to join our list, that people are going to learn about us. You know David is a self publishing authority, his blog is you know as informative as his books and so like people are going to become more familiar with all of us, we are going to get some SPP listeners, we have Fiction Unboxed on preorder and I’m watching those preorders come in too just because people are following the chain. So it is a multi master sort of thing, we have our main goal where we want to hit the list, but I don’t think there is any way to truly lose which is what’s so nice about it.
Dave: And I want to give a big shout out to Dave because I have been following his blog from very early, I don’t even remember when I first saw, it was really [Inaudible] [00:47:30].
Sean: What we did yesterday is gone for sure.
Dave: And as a former newspaper reporter, I totally admire and respect the way he approaches stories on his blog, he researches stuff, he goes after people with absolutely no fear of like pissing people off and burning bridges with hand grenades.
Johnny: That’s because nobody can find him. Where is Waldo? Where in the world is David Gaughran?
Dave: If you are not reading David’s blog then you are missing a lot, it’s just fucking awesome and it’s is it still that I mean [crosstalk 00:48:16]
Sean: To a self hosted now?
David: Yeah, I finally got together the ten dollars for my own domain name.
Dave: Being a journalist doesn’t pay well though.
David: I actually have– I’ve just put up a readers site now on, and I think I’m going to leave the blog where it is, it’d be such a pain in the ass to move it now with all the links pointing out on everything else.
Dave: Yeah.
David: And I think I’m just going to keep that as my blog for authors and then have a more professional site on for readers in general, but yeah I think I might stay there. I think it’s kind of funny as well because people keep freaking out and email me going like you have to get your own domain name and all this stuff. I have to hold the blog back in any way so…
Dave: Right.
David: It’s kind of frustrating working within the free WordPress sometimes, like I can’t even install Google analytics on my site you know, there are a lot of restrictions but…
Joanna: You just got to hope author solutions doesn’t buy WordPress Dave, then you’ll be screwed.
David: WordPress I think they probably get the ads from adsense or something and I think you can pay 30 dollars to get the ads removed off your free blog, but I never knew this and it was one of my rants about author solutions, and it was only adsense ads popping all up like for…
Johnny: Does anyone else find it ironic that authors solutions name in itself is kind of paradoxical?
Dave: It’s like the final solution, Hitler joke yes. Kate Morgan just left a comment; okay just leave some money at Barnes & Noble pretty, sure I hit someone in the process.
Sean: Way to go Kate.
Johnny: So I’m going to let you guys lead sort of the next bit on this question because it’s– I don’t know like a lot of what’s going on here is proprietary and we can’t share it because it’s kind of not our intellectual property. Now that’s said– no I’m not talking about the content of the books, I’m talking about the strategy. So what can we, I mean the things that we can talk about, but the general promotional strategies that we are doing to get this going.
David: Because you are asking about the genesis of this idea, and this isn’t really promotional strategy, but just a mindset that that some indies don’t seem to adopt, like I think the very first genesis of this idea was when I think I had a guest post from Joanna on my blog, I think it was just after I released Let’s Get This Book and Joanna had just released How To Market A Book, I think a month later or something and I had her on and she did a guest post on my blog. And someone asked in the comments like do not consider Joanna’s book a competition or do you not consider each sale, so let’s get this like you know something like that.
And so I finally explained to them the whole idea of you know cross pollination and all that kind of stuff. There are people out there who do think that they are in competition with other authors and are surprised when authors come together and share their platforms, but I think that is a very small minded way of looking at the world, and there’s a whole lot more to gain from treating your peers as peers and colleagues and partners and otherwise rather that competition.
Dave: Yeah, I agree and as a nonfiction– most of my reads is actually nonfiction and I like reading different authors take on similar subjects, I don’t want to read just one book and say that’s it, I’m done I know everything I need to know.
Sean: I’ve learned now.
Joanna: Yeah, I mean that’s the same as like saying you can’t write another romance because somebody has done a girl met boy thing before, it’s crazy I mean people…
Dave: Yeah.
Joanna: The best way to do it, actually I was really pissed off at Frankfurt book fair because I was on a panel, the title was “Are there too many books in the world,” bloody leading question or anything.
David: Yeah.
Joanna: And that was my point there too, it was just like oh come on you know this is about creativity, it’s about collaboration, I used the word coopetition…
Sean: I like that word.
Joanna: You know cooperating with your competition, and no we all recommend each other’s books all the time, right? You know that’s about what we do, and it’s what I love about the indie space too. I was chairing a meeting for the ITW, the International Thriller Writers most of the group were traditionally published and when me and Nick Stevenson and another guy Mark Dawson, they were coming up with these ideas like box sets and stuff, these authors were like what are you talking about, that’s just so not in my comfort zone at all or anything that I’ve ever heard about. So this is a very indie thing and we should totally go embrace it and do more of it.
Sean: Because we have tools that the traditional publishers don’t have, or traditional authors don’t have and we want to capitalize on all of those because as we have talked– I mean there is one take away here for sure is that things are constantly changing you know. This is all very mysterious and shrouded as they would have said; it’s stabbing in the dark which is also the name of Dave’s autobiography. And so there’s so much to kind of figure out and it’s always changing and it’s cool that we’re doing this now, and this may not work next year.
The whole point is that things can change and change and change and we can change with it so much faster and we should be, we should be cooperating, we should be taking advantage of strategic thinking that makes sense even if it’s foreign or unfamiliar, a little bit scary. There is no guarantees here even if it works. If it works and we sell a lot of copies and we didn’t make the list, all we did is cost ourselves some money and some time and you know…
Joanna: Killed some people.
Sean: But that’s okay like this is all good, it’s all– we said over and over and over lately it’s all iterative, like we’re trying to iterate, we’re trying to be better this month and the month before and little stuff like this that could be big stuff is absolutely worth doing.
Joanna: Hey Dave what I mean like what about next year, box sets are on the way out, what’s coming in ?
Dave: Are you asking me or David Gaughran?
Joanna: well, either of you.
Dave: I don’t know, I’ve been putting negative things on theory; I don’t actually have any ideas beyond them.
Joanna: The other Dave then.
David: I actually have no idea, but it’s just off the top of my head it could be something like what the guys are doing with the Beam where we can have an open world and authors all write to try and get there also to line up together. Plus I don’t know I saw a very really smart thing recently Nick Stevenson the UK author and Matt Hedden a US thriller author, they both figured they had pretty similar target audiences and they decided to collaborate in a really-really interesting way and this is something you could see more of next year. I think they both put their books on sale at 99 cents at the same time and then they both emailed their lists and highlighted both deals and then they ran some kind of competition on both their blogs saying that if you buy both books, you enter into a draw to win some kind of [Inaudible] [00:55:43] or something. So they were putting a lot of pressure on their readers to buy both books at the same time so that they would appear in each other’s also box.
Sean: That’s smart.
David: I think we will be seeing a lot of strategies kind of focused on that kind of stuff next year.
Joanna: Yes simultaneous releases, I’ve been having those conversations as well.
David: That’s another great idea.
Joanna: Yeah you know if you just organize it, you just say okay in six months time we will all release a specific book around a specific thing in a genre on the same day, then that will impact the author board, lots of people could do that at the same time, that would be major to organize something.
Sean: Yeah.
Joanna: You know.
Sean: And that’s a really fine example of coopetition at its best, like these are books that should compete with each other, but no they don’t readers are readers and they readers hoard a little bit, they collect books that they’re not going to read yet, I mean that’s very typical behavior.
Joanna: Yeah.
David: One thing that I think is interesting, I think people often know that there is more of this kind of cooperation in self publishing world than in the traditional publishing world, and I’ve been thinking about this and I don’t think it is necessary that we are nicer people and they are assholes or anything like that.
Joanna: No we won’t.
David: I think it’s actually like structural differences in self publishing and traditional publishing, like self publishing is a model of abundance, traditional publishing is a model of abundance, the channels are endless. If we can sell cheaply and still make quite a bit of money, but traditional publishing is a model of scarcity, you’ve got four weeks and there’s only certain amount of titles that could be phased out in the Barnes & Noble. There’s only so many slots at an agent has, there’s only so many releases an imprint will make per year and when your books are 14.99 there’s only so many books that readers can buy at that price before they run out of money. So I think maybe that’s why there’s a little less of this kind of open source cooperation on the trad side because there’s just inbuilt competition between the players more than there is in the kind of free for all self publishing world where everyone can win at the same time.
Dave: Yeah publishers won’t work with one another like to try and organize like events like this like competing…?
David: Unless they want to write books, maybe organize together effectively.
Joanna: It’s also about commission, what was so interesting with this group of authors was we were like yeah we’ll put that one in a box set and we’ll just send some copies to readers and they were like, well I can’t do that, I don’t own my rights.
Sean: Of course.
Joanna: I don’t have permission to do this and the publisher is never going to do that even down to let’s just do a big giveaway for Christmas and send books to readers and you know one lady said, well I’ll have to ask my publisher to send the copy to a reader, and I was just like “whoa that’s just such an alien attitude” to have to ask permission to do something around giving books away, or using our copyright work in something we want to do. So that permission aspect is huge, and the empowerment that comes from owning your right.
Sean: And it’s painful when you have that and it’s taken away you know when you…
Johnny: Got any stories about that Sean?
Sean: Not that I want to get into now [crosstalk]
Johnny: He’s just mentioned it a bunch of times.
Sean: But it is true. It’s like we’ve been spoiled, we’ve been Indies. We know how to market our books and communicate with our readers and when there’s that barrier between the relationship that you want to have with your reader and this other entity who actually gets to say yes or no, and you have to ask for permission and 9 out of 10 times you’re going to get a no, it just it kind of sucks.
Joanna: Or ignored.
Sean: Or ignored yes.
Johnny: Did you– I got a permanent did we get into any specifics because we had the discussion about coopetition and stuff, did we get into any of the specifics of the marketing plan that we can talk about or do we not want to or shouldn’t.
David: Just in very basic terms the idea was to try and get sales going on Amazon just to the level where the recommendation engine would hopefully kick in from November, the week that we’re shooting for the NYT. And so we decided to hitch our respective platforms in the preorder phase and then go wider with marketing once the book was actually live. I think the kind of large bear is like if you have a reader who is excited to support you and all that kind of stuff there’s going to be no psychological barrier with a preorder because I think some readers and I am one of them is not crazy– I’m not crazy about buying preorders unless I know they are going to be coming out in a week or two.
Like if something is coming out in three months, I don’t like dropping the money until it’s you know nearly out, so I think when you are going wider with the marketing, like when you’re getting on reader sites and you’re taking out ads or whatever and you are meeting people who have no direct connection to you, they are not part of your platform, I think then you want to remove any slight little impediments that’s going to stop them from clicking that button. So that was the basic idea I think going wider when it’s live and then hitting your networks during free offers.
Johnny: So advertising and stuff.
Joanna: So we’ve got advertising, we’ve also got guest posts on Nuke and on Kobo and you know various other places. So all you know I don’t think any of this is anything new, right? What we’re doing is not new, it’s just coordinated.
Sean: I think it’s how it’s how it’s all strung together is kind of the secret sauce there. I don’t think there’s one element that is like “ooh no one’s ever heard of that before,” right? It’s Facebook ads and it’s all it’s got– by the way this was so annoying, so yesterday we posted on Facebook and we promoted the post.
Joanna: And it got rejected?
Sean: It got rejected and I’m like fuck some of the stuff that slips through on Facebook ads are pretty sketchy right? Now it’s like it’s a perfectly fine ad, it just it was the post that Dave made, but there was too much text on it and so…
Joanna: Yeah.
Sean: They got rejected and we did whatever, it’s just like I don’t understand how Facebook advertising works because it doesn’t seem to be consistent.
Johnny: I get the feeling there’s a bunch of little Caesars in there, hahaha I have the power.
Joanna: Yeah.
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: I think Facebook advertising is all about trying to sell me shit that I don’t want, they are always trying to sell me like this info market courses from very sketchy people.
Joanna: [inaudible]
Sean: No.
Joanna: On Facebook we are all appearing on the March tour best seller which is on November the 7th.
Sean: Yeah.
Joanna: Right? November the 7th we will be there for some chatting, Facebook chats, anyone got the link handy?
Johnny: Hold on, hold on, I do I do, you’re talking specifically about the march to a best seller link.
Joanna: Yeah.
Johnny: Oh…
Joanna: There is a link on the sell more book shows.
Johnny: Yeah I should have, I think it’s march, it’s is what it is.
Joanna: There we go, because we’re coming to giveaways to that, like more far more giveaway including I heard a 30 minute consultation with Steve Scott and considering he makes his millions of dollars every month, having half an hour consultation with him is probably worth entering for, plus lots of stuff we’re giving away, but you know Steve’s the man of the moment. [Crosstalk 01:03:13]
Johnny: Steve’s interview on your podcast was awesome Joanna.
Joanna: Yeah.
Johnny: I really enjoyed Steve.
Joanna: Steve’s brilliant, I mean I’m a real fan girl for Steve now.
Johnny: So I just wanted to just pause really quickly to say I’ve flipped over to Facebook because I was curious about that promoted post and I just wanted to give a shout out to Buddy Got, he like just got married. Remember he said that last week, he was like I’m getting married that morning [Inaudible] [01:03:35] my wife care if I listen to SPP, so happy wedding buddy.
Dave: Did they get divorced immediately after.
Johnny: Because he made the mistake of listening to Better Off Undead. So here’s a question I have about indie preorders can’t do reviews with the exception of one they’ve sneaked by for Yesterday Is Gone, Sean and Dave wrangled one. But we don’t have one on the IPP and then Sean and I currently have two other preorders going, and those don’t have reviews. And so when we talked about going wide is anybody worried like even when it’s brand new, even when it goes live, it won’t have– on Monday, right like I think Monday is the go live day it.
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: It won’t have any reviews on it, so is there anything any concern there about trying to get some reviews in there right away.
David: Yeah I think we should all be asking our readers to buy copies of reviews across, I think with box sets it’s generally considered okay if you’ve only read one of the books out of three to copy that review across and then note specifically in the review like this review is just for that book or whatever.
Sean: Oh that’s good we can make.
David: That’s what authors generally do with their three teams and they ask them on Facebook and stuff like that, they just say if you have reviewed the book you can do me a great favor to copy a review across. And so that’s what we will all have to do that on Monday as soon as we are able to reach out to our reader’s announcement do that for us. I actually did it in my email and asked them to preorder because I forgot that they couldn’t review. So I asked everybody to copy their reviews. So I would like to apologize to all of my readers who tried to enter them and I was talking, but this is part of the learning experience for everyone including us.
Johnny: Well the– this show will be…
Joanna: [inaudible]
Johnny: The YouTube people all 29 of you as I am seeing this and whoever gets it before Monday, it’s still on preorder, but it will go on Apple Podcasts, Wednesday and that’s when most people listen. So we’ll be live, so if you’re listening to this and you’ve read one or two or three of our books, we’d really appreciate copying those reviews over to the Indie Author Power Pack, there you go. I notice a natural lull and if we run out, we’d probably be done right?
Dave: I was just checking comments but yeah we should wrap, we have a guest for Better Off Undead as well.
Joanna: Oh, who’s that?
Johnny: We hoodwinked Ray.
Dave: Ray Chase.
Sean: Ray Chase is our new regular on Better Off Undead.
Johnny: And the funny thing is that it’s a little passive aggressive too like hey Ray you’re coming on next week right? It’s like he doesn’t– I think he likes it you know, I think he likes it, but it may just be tolerating the abuse, I don’t know.
Dave: It’s what I do on the show so.
Johnny: That’s good, it’s Better Off Undead but it could be yes better off unRay. All right, so I guess the final call here for anybody is if you’ve read any of our books and this is live, if you want to help us out, we would really-really appreciate copying reviews over, we would appreciate any preorders or orders of the book that would really help and especially on Barnes & Noble, I mean Amazon is really important but like Dave has said…
Sean: Barnes & Noble is super important. If you don’t have one of the books in this then it’s a no brainer, but even if you don’t, I mean if you have all of them, then the transcript is awesome totally-totally worth it, and even if you don’t care about that, but you will listen…
Johnny: So the audio video and the transcript.
Sean: Yeah, and if you listen every week, like a buck tip is awesome, like it’s just awesome, it would really help us out because we want to hit the list and we want to talk about it and it will be cool.
Johnny: And for those of you who have writing followings or writers that you talk to or Google plus groups or Facebook groups, we would really appreciate spreading the word too because…
Sean: Yeah, that’s actually a better tip or just a tweet a mention of hey check this out, this is really awesome, I read this book, it’s fantastic, I read these books, they are fantastic.
Johnny: Do you want to give a Sean wow, could be like it’s all 99 cents [crosstalk] all right so…
Sean: And Dave’s going to dance if we hit the New York Times.
Dave: No, I’m not.
Sean: And we can pick this on, he said he’d like to do it to earn my fancy.
Dave: If Gaughran shaves his beard I’ll dance, how about that?
Johnny: That would be a crime; I don’t want David to shave his beard.
Sean: He can shave…
Dave: I said I don’t want to dance.
Sean: It will be back by lunch time.
Johnny: All right, so thanks for listening to the self publishing podcast, I’m going to skip our usual you know get Write Publish Repeat whatever and say check out the indie publishing at the Indie Author Power Pack, which is at, that actually will redirect to the page on the Sterling and Stone site which has all the links, Amazon, Google, Barnes & Noble. Spread the word please, our information gain is your information gain; we’ll share with you and let you what happened. Thanks so much everybody for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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One Reply to “Creating a New York Times bestseller with Joanna Penn and David Gaughran (SPP #131)”

  1. Elizabeth Barone

    I missed the pre-order period (because I’ve been hiding out in a cave of my own writing projects and having the time of my life), but I just wanted to say thank you for this boxed set. I bought a paperback of Write. Publish. Repeat. when it first came out because I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed SPP. (Please never change. You guys crack me up while helping me!)
    I’ve been meaning to pick up Joanna’s and David’s books as well, but just didn’t make the time or put aside the budget. When you guys ran that sale, I couldn’t make any more excuses. I bought a copy for myself and then gifted copies to two writer friends. Not only do I now get to read the other two books, but I also got to share with two new writers who I really believe in. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.
    This is why I’m proud to be part of the indie community. We can do cool things like team up with other artists whenever we want, without waiting for permission. Thank you for all that you do and share. Keep up the great work!

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