Self-Publishing Goals for 2015 (Self Publishing Podcast #139)

The first episode of the new year, we’re starting things off right by talking about goals for 2015. The guys really shaped the year to come (until something shiny distracts them and everything changes) by laying out some benchmark outcomes and concepts.
The new word for the year is either “harmony” or “optimization,” at least for now, since it will likely change a few times in the months to come. Now that S&S has a massive catalog of titles to play with, in Johnny’s perfectly articulated words, “it’s time to make our books work for us.”
A few things you’ll probably be looking forward to especially:

  • A return to form for Collective Inkwell, meaning more words and more amazing stories
  • Fiction Unboxed 2, which the guys are promising will be game changing and jaw dropping
  • A return to fiction as the main focus for S&S

That last one is good whether you read their fiction or not. We’ll all likely see a huge improvement in the usefulness of SPP if the guys are producing more fiction and promoting it more. After all, most listeners are fiction writers, so if the guys do more cool stuff with their fiction, we’ll all benefit more from lessons learned from their experiments, failures, and successes.
All in all, if you’re not excited about SPP and Sterling and Stone for the new year, what’s wrong with you?
Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing Podcast starting the New Year off right episode number 139.Dave: This episode of the Self Publishing Podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the online market place that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at 99Designs.com/spp; enjoy your free power pack upgrade valued at $99.
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 hosts three guys who sometimes use their powers for good instead of evil; Johnny, Sean and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors as we attempt to change face of the Indie Publishing. Join us and our trailblazing guest as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment and occasionally screw up. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. And I just like to say for all of us for the sake of just setting the pace Dave calm down. Calm down Dave.
Sean: See I was going to open with that. Yeah Dave is just a bundle of energy. You know what’s funny is so Amy sent an email this morning, it might have been slack I’m not sure. But she said something like you guys you and Johnny need to drink Red Bull, just to get on Dave’s nerves because it was already I was like weee I love 2015, this is the best year ever. And she said happy first SPP, I think you guys need to drink Red Bull and Dave will just hate you all.
Johnny: Dave already hates us all.
Dave: More than I already do?
Johnny: Is that a change or something [crosstalk] [00:01:40]
Sean: That’s not really possible.
Johnny: Yeah, well how was everybody’s Christmas? I know we’ll probably get to this on BOU but I just have to– since we’ve taken two weeks off it feels very strange. No meetings, no of course we’ve been chattering back and forth then anyway but…
Dave: I didn’t think we were doing BOU today, are we?
Johnny: Would be a shame if we didn’t, but it’s up to you guys.
Sean: Yeah I asked Johnny if we were, he said YES! With an exclamation point.
Johnny: Well I just I mean I guess we don’t have to. I was actually just listening to– listening back to the episode I don’t know before we broke and you said something about your family was going to be home, so maybe you couldn’t do BOU.
Sean: That’s right, that’s what I thought.
Johnny: But I thought we had decided that we– I mean whatever. We’ll go with what you…
Dave: We can do a lain version of it.
Johnny: Well I think it’s settled.
Sean: What’s the point of that though?
Dave: I think a…
Johnny: No you know this is like when you say you are trying to jog and you say well I just go and run around the block and then the theory is that you’ll get into it. So let’s agree to do the lain version, and then you’ll know that it will turn bad.
Sean: I’m sure Dave’s all relatives are something to you know make his anger brew, but no so I thought there was no meetings, but yes on BOU.
Johnny: Well I guess that the meeting that we sought of agreed to was– I don’t know. I’m sort of done.
Dave: So much for resolution.
Johnny: Well but what’s…
Sean: But how…
Johnny: What?
Sean: No, no go ahead.
Johnny: Well I didn’t I mean it was so not a break for me, but it doesn’t matter because like this is what I would do and this is what I want to do anyway. So like I just– I got up a little bit later a lot of days I wrote less and I didn’t do like I don’t know I didn’t do a lot of the little things that I sort of I normally make myself do, but I have been working every day except for Christmas. And kind of maybe sometimes a little harder than I’ve been in terms of detail like we have a lot of new stuff kind of going on, so it’s been great. It’s been an amazing two weeks for me anyway.
Sean: Yeah for me it’s going to be hard to get back into the rhythm because I have been working, I worked every day. But I don’t have any rhythm whatsoever. My children are home and I’ve been waking up later.
Dave: Children ruin everything, don’t they?
Sean: Well Dave [crosstalk] [00:04:17] you remind me of distraction, but I wake up later and because my office is our bedroom I don’t want to just go and start working. So I leave my Mac Book Air right now.
Johnny: I was laughing at Dave smirk over there.
Dave: I’m imagining sharing a bedroom with Sean and like how I would be sleeping and then Sean be up 5:00 in the morning, hi honey.
Sean: It’s not fair; it’s like throwing shit out of me.
Johnny: It’s much funnier to imagine you having your office in your bedroom. And what that would work like.
Sean: That would be awesome. So I take out my laptop and my laptop has exactly one hour battery life. That’s exactly how long it will last. Right and it’s an…
Dave: Wait what kind of laptop is that? Mac Book Air with one hour battery life?
Sean: Yeah…
Johnny: You know they make these things that plug into the wall too, it extends the battery life greatly.
Sean: No, no I’m actually happy with this because it’s…
Dave: It always does one hour?
Sean: No it has 10 hours but it’s old. I need to go take it in to get a battery but whatever.
Johnny: It can’t happen.
Dave: You need the Apple to force you to go them to get a new battery, it fucking sucks.
Sean: Yeah that works.
Johnny: Happy New Year everybody.
Sean: So it’s kind of cool because I wake up and this has been the routine all week. I wake up, I go I’ve got one hour. And I just work for one hour until Ethan gets up and then we hang out for a little bit. And then Cindy goes to her yoga and I hang out. And it’s just like I’m not getting into work for like a while, and so even though like I’m always occupied pretty much every moments since I wake, I’m not just not getting that much stuff done.
So I’m looking forward to next week when I can actually have rhythm and flow again because I do like my schedule. I do feel like I’m much more productive when I’m minding the clock.
Johnny: I’ve been taking my laptop out into the other room and just doing a lot of stuff well I’m sitting in a chair with my feet up. It makes me feel like I’m on vacation, but I’m still doing stuff. Like I’ve just been doing a lot of Adman sort of things that are brainless and that is okay to have a TV on and stuff. And so it’s been a great break for me.
Sean: So are you excited to start back to the grind or…
Johnny: Yeah I’m because I need boundaries and one of the things is I think I talked about this on a BOU. I either give myself permission to do whatever I shouldn’t do or I don’t, I’m very binary. And so right now I’m in giving permission mode and everything falls apart. Like I don’t have a little bit of discipline, I either have super-super discipline or I’ve no discipline. So it’s been…
Sean: Yeah I’m a lot the same.
Johnny: Cookies and of course I live in Ohio so it’s been very shitty out and so it’s just very cluster phobic like we don’t want to leave the house, and then that perpetuates and I eat more shit and I’m a diabetic so my blood sugar gets fucked up and then I say okay I need to do better and then I do for a little while, and then I eat more cookies and then I don’t move and it’s just…
Sean: You are on vacation, you are like Dave. No I have too. I’m terrible I’ve eaten like [crosstalk] [00:07:32]…
Johnny: Wait hold on I would like to follow that progressions. So on vacation you are like Dave and then Sean says no I’m too. I’m terrible.
Sean: No it’s true. A couple of days ago we went to a Chinese buffet for dinner. And I used to love buffets and I’m just not a buffet guy anymore because I would rather have…
Johnny: I hate buffets because you can’t– you want some of everything and then you make yourself ill.
Sean: Right. No it’s like at this point of my life I prefer quality over quantity. No-no-no, yeah quality over quantity, but I was not on the quality train at all. And I just kept thinking of Joey in the Vegas episode now here is where I want my money back. So I’m going up I did it 9 trips up to the buffet, it was fantastic. And then of course I ate and I made myself sick. And I know the whole time I’m going for more I’m going to be so sick, but it’s delicious.
Johnny: That’s the worst when you know that you are doing the wrong thing. You know you shouldn’t do it. You know this is the moment where I decide not to do it and then you fucking do it anyway. That’s the price.
Sean: Right and it’s like it’s the holidays. Totally fine so you are going to pay.
Dave: That doesn’t mean you have every day.
Johnny: Every day is a vacation.
Dave: Exactly.
Johnny: But I bet you’ve been working a lot just because you like the massacres and love it, that’s my guess. Have you been working harder than usual just so you don’t enjoy it, is that the way it works so you can avoid people?
Dave: No I’ve actually been spending time with my family getting very little work done yeah. The work I’ve been doing for the most part is been like scatter short, like I’ll sit around and start writing…
Johnny: Literally.
Dave: Yeah and then my son will come in and ask me or tell me something about Stampylonghead. Thank you Stampylonghead by the way for making so many videos of…
Sean: Who is Stampylonghead? That sounds like a porn name.
Johnny: Porn name.
Dave: No it’s just like one of the biggest You Tubers that does my crack videos, so they’re actually like say for kids, it’s entertaining. It’s a British– I think he is British anyway guy, very entertaining…
Sean: Like he is just trying to get you to like him.
Dave: My son absolutely yeah. I mean he is British I like him anyway. My son actually loves him though and just comes in my office like nonstop telling me what happened on a Stampylonghead video, it’s absolutely insane.
Johnny: So before…
Dave: I’ve been doing a lot of cover work. Sean’s been like sending hey did you do a cover and I’m like pound it out you like wow that’s kind of fast. Like I’m doing anything?
Johnny: Yeah, well okay so quick cover note actually before we get into the topic just because I thought of this and I don’t know if anybody cares and we’ll see. But one of the covers that we asked Dave to do recently was Write Publisher Repeat. Do you think people are interested in this?
Sean: Yeah I definitely…
Johnny: I don’t know how this is going to work, but I love the cover for Write Publisher Repeat that Dave did, it’s wide has orange text. It’s not too heavy of a cerephone and then it has a pencil horizontally through the center. And I love the cover.
Sean: It looks a lot like a Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow.” It looks a lot like that cover.
Johnny: So we– I just love the cover but I was looking through the rankings and stuff like I’ve been paying a lot of attention to lists and so far these past two weeks. And I happen to look at the lists that it’s ranking on and Steve Scott’s “61 Ways to Sell More Nonfiction on Kindle” is in that cluster with us and there is a I think that “How to Make a Killing on Kindle” which is a black one and Nick Stephenson has a fantastic book called “How to Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” it’s in there and these all have bold covers.
Like they just jump out at you and ours was getting lost, like it was almost like you wouldn’t be able to tell there is no book in there. Why is there this wide hole just because of the smaller size? And so we asked that Dave could add some punch to it, and so he added some colored bars and stuff in it, that the cover actually isn’t live yet despite the fact that I put it up several days ago. For some reason recently Amazon takes days to update a cover a lot of times, but my hope is that just that you know cover has to jump, a cover has to pop, and ours was not. And my hope is that people browsing those category lists will notice it who weren’t before, so we’ll just see if that makes a difference.
Sean: Yeah I think this is a really good lesson too because if you know what book you are looking for, then it’s not really an issue. But if you are hoping for that Discoverability which is a huge-huge-huge thing for authors, right? It’s pretty much the biggest thing that we need to worry about is getting new readers to our work. And it’s really easy to lie to yourself and think my cover looks great or it’s doing its job. And this is true with the web design too.
You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know what the average you know reader or visitor to a site what their eye is actually doing. And you know covers– it’s not it’s hard, because it’s not like you can split test covers, right? I mean you can do it on your own site, but you can’t do it on Amazon and you can’t pay to have two covers and figure out which one you know is best and then continue to AB that, like that’s not really practical. But every once in a while to really you know take the time to look to see how your cover looks amongst the others on the pages and if it is drawing the eye that’s important.
And ours you know ours was admitted they’re getting lost. As a print book you hold in your hand it’s beautiful, but that’s not the environment it was living in. And so you know that’s a good way to goof sales. You know and it’s also one of those things where people can become blind to it. You know if it’s showing up in a lot of Also Box and people their eye is just blind to it at that point. But then all of a sudden you know it’s black and orange and it looks different and you know their eyes is going to catch that that’s different. And then maybe they’ve already decided without even knowing why you know the human brain is a funny thing.
Without even knowing why this customer has decided they don’t want to read Write Publisher Repeat for whatever reason you know whatever, and they decided that six months ago. So now every time it shows up in Also Box it’s just kind of in their eyes weigh, but all of a sudden it looks different. It’s black and it’s orange and it draws their attention and they click on it without even knowing why, and they read the description and all of a sudden it tickles a different nerve than it did six months ago when they decided it was not for them.
And maybe we’ve earned a buyer that we wouldn’t have otherwise even though that has already seen the book and formally decided not to give it a try. So it’s always worth it.
Johnny: And for the record I actually like the original cover quite a bit better than the revision, but it’s I think that like Sean said the brain is a funny thing and if you are– even though like you could say logically somebody knows there is a book there logically. But there a lot of people would kind of tune off; they’ll be like this one over here, like Nick’s cover is really dynamic. Like you look at that and you are like oh look at that cover.
And if ours is next to it like they click on that one and then they forget about ours and that can happen. So we’ll see but we rank very well in a few categories. And if people are browsing the categories and they are passing it over because of the cover, so I don’t know.
Dave: It was too wide before.
Johnny: Yeah and Amazon’s pages are wide and so it just kind of got washed out and that font that I really like it just– I like it at full size and I like it at our thumb nail size on the page, but in a list it’s even smaller. It’s like a 100 pixels or something. And it gets too thin and you just can’t see it, so there you go. All right so do you want to– today we are going to talk about our goals for 2015 which for me have sort of evolved over these past few weeks, but do you want to do some of these voice mails first?
Dave: Yes.
Sean: Oh yeah.
Johnny: I like how I asked that and if you guys said no you look like assholes.
Dave: You don’t want to hear from people who have questions first, no.
Sean: I like voicemails. I like voicemails so much because they are the opposite of email. You know where you get a question and you are answering them one at a time. And you know voicemails are great. You know you get a question and they help a lot of people with one answer and I just love that.
Dave: Don’t you love people that ask like six hours worth of questions?
Sean: Yeah it’s one of the things I have to do better about this year, and Amy has been not only been helping on a regular basis, but by encouraging me to look dude you got to stop doing that. Because like I’ll turn down very high paying consulting work and I have for two years now. I haven’t taken a single dollar for consulting at all. And the reason why is because when I was doing it I wasn’t building my business.
I wasn’t building our business and I was just not interested in that. And yet I’ll answer very long detailed you know very excruciating emails. You know one on one just because I feel bad not doing it, and it’s so dumb. This is great. Helping people is something I’m very interested in, but the one on one email and it’s hard. And it’s not scalable.
Dave: In the early days of Collective Inkwell I was doing a little bit of web design work. And I will get email from people all the time asking me like questions just insanely complicated questions about web design. People that weren’t paying me, people you know they knew us so hey I can ask you for free stuff. And it was like really simple shit that like I spent you know I spent tons of hours learning this stuff on my own, but they can’t be bothered too. That’s kind of a shitty attitude.
Sean: Yeah one thing too that’s hard is when they’ll say something like well I know that you are going to cover this in an upcoming almanac, but I’d like an answer now and that’s hard because it’s like…
Dave: I want you to spend six hours telling me now.
Sean: Right and an email like that seriously can’t take a half hour to answer it. Like if I’m doing a thorough job and I’m answering all these questions it could take a half an hour and I can get three or four…
Dave: Your time isn’t worth anything.
Sean: So anyway I’m definitely– we are trying to find new ways to answer questions like we are getting regular questions in a very regular basis where they can help multiple people at once. And that’s why I like voicemails. So that’s why it’s yeah it’s a voicemail but it’s not so wonderful I love them.
Dave: What you should do is say from now on when you email us we will read it on air as a voicemail. You know as long as it is not personal. That way we can help more than one person.
Johnny: Well the problem is how many we get.
Dave: Well yeah, but we can pick the once we think will help the most people.
Sean: Well they could go into ask us anything. And we just answer them. Well we have but then problem I feel like we are putting people off you know, and it’s just we have to find that sweet spot where we’re trying to help as many people as we can.
Johnny: We air on the side of being nice. Amy keeps telling us stop being nice. No she doesn’t say that, but she says you have lots of ways to spend your time.
Sean: Yes our head of customer service keeps telling us to stop being nice.
Johnny: Our studio manager.
Sean: It’s true.
Johnny: All right. So the beauty of these voicemails I’m realizing is we’ve already answered three. So we only have one left which is great. So we are doing great guys. We are already not [crosstalk] [00:19:15] ball out of the park. So here is a question about podcasting actually.
[Inaudible] [00:19:22]
Sean: What did you listen to that?
Johnny: So no I just have to point out I hadn’t listened to this one first. So I’m enjoying for the first time along with you, okay so let’s continue. I think that deserves a replay.
Dave: I’m hoping this won’t go off into this tirade of offensive thing.
Johnny: Well I’m hoping that Jacob would have not put that in, like he would have said let’s not include this one. So let’s find out, okay here we go.
Male voice: Reception this is [inaudible] [00:19:50] call for the Self Publishing Podcast [inaudible] [00:19:53] bitch. Well I’m talking to Johnny, Sean and that sexy Justin Bieber haircut having motherfucker Dave. [Inaudible] [00:20:02] I’m calling to know whether you have any advice on podcast and specifically what’s a good way to promote podcast and do you think that most writers should have a podcast? Thanks and have a nice day.
Johnny: You love beard?
Male speaker: Yes I love Dave’s beard, he reminds me of my mama [inaudible] [00:20:21]
Johnny: Jesus Christ! Welcome to all our new listeners for 2015. Let me just answer the first part of that and say no I don’t believe every writer should have a podcast, not even close. That would be…
Sean: Yeah I think most writers should not have a podcast. I think podcast are…
Dave: Or if you are going to make Justin Bieber jokes, then you must have a podcast.
Sean: I think podcasts are actually really-really over saturated. But I also think that there are– having said that we plan on launching two more podcasts this year.
Johnny: So if you are not us, then fuck off.
Sean: So I think that I have started listening to podcasts for the first time just these last few months and I think I like seven or eight that are in my regular rotation now.
Dave: You are a python.
Sean: And I really like the format a lot. My daughter started listening to podcast over Christmas break. She listens to Sota online which is an anime disgusting group that she’s really into whatever. But the point is like I get why they are awesome because they could really be niche and that’s great. But until you have a fan base or something specific to talk about or just a really specific tangible strategy that you are trying to implement a podcast is most likely a diversion.
So I think that both our podcasts you know that we have coming out this coming year they are very specific with what we are trying to do. And I think that the answer why most writers shouldn’t have one is actually an answer to your first question which is how do you promote one? They are really hard to promote. There is a lot of competition and you are asking somebody to give you your time, and I think that it’s really hard to grow that audience if you don’t already have a small audience to start with.
So it’s much easier to go from one to two than zero to one. And so I think that’s it’s probably a good idea to kind of to wait you know and I don’t know. If you are just asking if you should have a podcast the answer is probably no. If you have something specific to say go ahead Dave.
Dave: Well I was going to say if it depends on what you want to do with the podcast. If you want to rumble and like do Better Off Undead I would just not doing it unless you already have an audience, if you want to fill a hole that is not currently being served much like Sean’s mum.
Sean: Wow that was uncalled for.
Johnny: Welcome again to our new listeners.
Dave: I was speaking to our caller. He likes that kind of [inaudible] [00:23:10].
Johnny: Yeah.
Dave: Anyway I like if I give you…
Sean: There is Steve, no one in his audience.
Dave: Yeah so if you want to talk about like a show that is really good out there that you know there aren’t a lot of podcasts devoted to that you really love. It’s like sort of a cult show and it has like the same like say X files just you know an old show, but like say X files is out right now and that was like the book you’re writing, you could do a podcast about that and kind of attract the same sort of readers to it if you really have like a love for the topic. That sort f thing I will definitely consider doing. If you are just doing something just about you and people don’t know you yet, that’s a harder sell.
Sean: Yeah I agree and I would also add that again it’s about your outcome. You know I mean I’m answering these questions specifically on you saying how do you promote a podcast? So I’m assuming it matters to you how many people are listening, and that’s where you find justification for the time. When the three of us started this podcast, we literally did not really care how big it got. It was a matter of look we are doing this stuff; we are talking about this stuff. It’s a live master mind for us and in a way it’s almost just us kind of capturing you know our bullshit. And it evolved into something else you know we changed along with our audience and I think that that’s a good thing.
But I think there was a long stretch there where we all agreed, look we would do this just because, like we would just do this because it’s helping us to grow. You know it’s helping us thrive as artists by having these out loud conversations and talking about what is and isn’t working in our business. And if there is something there where it’s creatively feeding you, or it’s you know it’s a good excuse for you to talk to people in your community, or it’s a good excuse for you to talk to people that you want to learn from.
Like there is a lot reasons to do a podcast that aren’t about you growing your audience. You know maybe it’s you thinking out loud and that’s enough, but you have to know why you are doing something, don’t just do it because oh I’ve heard that writers it’s a good idea for writers to have a podcast because I think that’s erroneous.
Johnny: Unless you have just a crap ton of time and you are a full time author, for most people an hour that you spend podcasting is free enough for a lot of people especially starting up it’s going to be more than an hour’s worth of work to produce a podcast– is an hour that you a spare hour like an hour that you don’t have a lot of those hours and you are spending it on podcasting instead of spending it on emailing your list or refining your calls to action or writing a better book description, or in other words I guess what I’m saying is you don’t have an endless amount of time to work on your books probably. I mean I know we don’t and we are full time authors. And so for most people that time is better spent somewhere else so…
Dave: I’ll read a couple of comments.
Johnny: All right.
Dave: Kate Morgan says I have this picture of Dave hunched over his computer on Christmas, refusing to use coal like Scrooge. And Quotidian Light says Sean I want to thank you again for helping me with my email. It was a huge help and I appreciated it. My phone computer wasn’t playing nice with the voicemail system and you replied so much faster than I ever expected. You are a blessing.
Johnny: Get ready for a ton of apology emails.
Sean: No my pleasure you know. And that’s the thing…
Dave: You are a horrible man.
Sean: That’s what makes it difficult is that I genuinely like helping people and I like those exchanges. And I like knowing that something that I did helped to propel somebody else or you know give them a little bit of juice with whatever the question was. The problem is you know there have been days especially this last year, there were days where I spent the majority of my time in email. I would do just four or five hours in email. And it’s…
Dave: There are people that don’t help themselves. They like asking really simple shit that you know they can get if they fucking use that little thing called Google.
Sean: Yeah that is absolutely true.
Dave: If they can’t respect your time then you really shouldn’t respect them but…
Sean: That is absolutely true, but that’s not– I won’t go out of my way for that kind of email. I’ll go out of my way I know exactly what– Quotidian’s email was perfect like she had perfect respect for my time. She had a specific question that she knew I could help answer and it wasn’t like I did like I get emails that are like bullet point list like you know in order with very detailed specific– the kind of thing that basically it’s a consulting call.
You’re asking for me take you know a consulting call and distil into an email, which even takes longer than a consulting call ,and to do it for free and to do it one on one and that’s just much-much harder to do and I need to write more this year. I need to produce more this year and so I need to find ways to intelligently scale the same Q&As, but you’re absolutely welcome it was my pleasure.
Johnny: All right, so my question since we’re recording this in January 2nd and I think we all three have definitely made all sorts of New Year’s resolution.
Dave: Oh yeah.
Johnny: And it always evolves, right like we’re going to write more books.
Sean: Dave is a ninja about his resolutions.
Johnny: Going to write more books is definitely one of them. I just wanted to check with you guys on something because I can write the books, but there’s nowhere that I can get good covers and so can I just put up a book with no cover is that…
Sean: Even with Dave’s you need to give them so they show up and a year later.
Johnny: What?
Sean: You know with the Write Publish Repeat.
Johnny: Stay out of the ad read, I mean no stay out of this spontaneous discussion.
Dave: If only there were a place– wait there is a place 99designs.com.
Johnny: You forgot your role there, you thought you were the guy who was going to say if only there were a place, sorry I’m that guy today, go ahead.
Dave: No this is the New Year and if you want to take your writing seriously you want to get a professional cover, and if you don’t already know a designer that you have lined up or whatever and you don’t know where to go, I suggest 99designs.com because they have a stable full of designers that can help you get a professional quality looking book cover. We’ve used them several-several times and every time we’ve been blown away. Every single time we’ve used them we’ve never had a situation where we even had an easy choice to make, we’ve always had multiple choices to make.
Basically you go there you say hey I have got this cover I want to do, this is what it’s supposed to be like, you give them you know a little bit of what your story is about. You might give them some sample images, these are other covers I like, I want something you know kind of along this style and you know like within the first– you can get it done in about a week, and a bunch of designers will compete to give you like the cover that you want, and you get to chose among the best and…
Johnny: And if it’s terrible then you’re only out 300 bucks and who cares?
Dave: No-no you’re not because with 99 designs…
Johnny: No.
Dave: You have absolutely nothing to lose.
Johnny: No, thank God.
Dave: If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it.
Johnny: All right, can you use it then, what if you don’t like it can you just use it and then not pay for it? I don’t think you can do that.
Dave: No you can’t do that because they do have assassins I believe that will hunt you down and murder you.
Johnny: All right there you go 99designs.com your place for covers or assassins. So start your custom design today at 99designs.com/spp, and you’ll get a free power pack upgrade if you use that link valued at 99 bucks and the power pack upgrade makes your contest to stand out from a crowd, bold the listing, and give it a prominent background and on average you’re going to get around 185% more designs, and frankly if you aren’t using the power pack upgrade you’re some sort of subhuman animal, so…
Dave: You’re a bastard, really you are.
Johnny: Yes you are, so do you want to move into the topic at hand here our goals, I know that we…
Dave: It’s only 36 minutes in, are you sure you don’t want to wait another 20?
Johnny: That’s the MO; you’re acting like that’s a typical. We have a lot to catch up from.
Dave: I thought we will be more work focused for the New Year; get into the topic a little earlier.
Johnny: But everything that we have already covered was pertinent stuff that is…
Dave: Yes.
Johnny: Like there was a little of bullshitting.
Dave: Stampylonghead.
Johnny: All right, that’s when people show up I don’t know.
Sean: He has to complain though; wouldn’t you be sad if Dave didn’t complain? If one of his resolutions was less complaining in 2015, wouldn’t you call it bullshit?
Dave: I would like to be happier.
Johnny: I would have to be sad.
Sean: Yeah there’s none of that there’s none of that, Dave’s misery is our pleasure.
Johnny: So there you go, we did do a post on our goals but my focus has changed a lot over these past few weeks, so I don’t know who wants to begin the goals discussion. Sean you wrote the post.
Sean: Well I know Dave probably thinks this practice is really cheesy, but I kind of like the idea of you know you pick like a word for the year right, and I think that…
Johnny: Oh we can’t say iterative anymore, can we?
Sean: No.
Johnny: That was last year’s word.
Sean: Last year’s word was iterative, and it really was an iterative year you know we really did…
Johnny: When we say the word of the day can we all go AAAAAAAAAAAA!
Sean: Oh I forgot what it takes, that show was tight. Good stuff, yeah it really was last year’s word was iterative and I think that we followed it to a tee and we really followed you know the principles of the lean start up basically where you ship something and then you just try to iterate it to be better and better and better. Last year was amazing, last year was the year even though Sterling and Stone existed as a concept and a name before last year, last year was the year where we were like all for one and one for all and harmonized everything and put it all under you know one domain, and we need to get a lot better at that, but we moved toward it last year in the most wonderful way.
And I know I’m all ready for Dave to roll his eyes at this year’s word, and it will probably change, but right now I think the word is harmony. You know I think we have all these elements and we really want them seen in the same key. You know that’s really-really important having the prosperous year that we want to have because we have this going on and this going on and this going on, and we have all these ideas and we have all these things started, but it’s really time for them to sing in chorus.
Johnny: I know I’m not the only one who wants to know what Dave’s, what Dave would have picked for the word of the year.
Sean: Dave what’s Dave’s word?
Dave: Nah.
Johnny: Nah, put it on a t-shirt. I don’t think I would’ve picked harmony. I appreciate harmony but I don’t know what single word this would be, but for me I know we said that I know especially with Realm and Sands, the 2000…
Sean: Optimization maybe.
Johnny: Optimization might be a good way. Let me describe this in a little more verbose way and We’ll see. 2013 especially for Realm and Sands was production like; there was produce-produce-produce. Last year was iterative growth and improvement, but not harmonized, it was just like let’s improve this a little, let’s improve this a little and because there was so much to improve it wasn’t harmonious, it was just like let’s you know see what we can do and there is so much, but for me this year it’s like we have just a shit ton of product. And so now this is the year we make it work for us, like this is the year where we say okay let’s really focus on it’s still improvement for me, but I don’t know I don’t know how to encapsulate.
Sean: I think optimization is a good word, I think optimizing what we have, but it’s these two things. It’s optimizing, but it’s also getting everything we have to work together because what we’ve done is really-really difficult you know, and a lot of people wonder why we don’t just write in the same genre and hammer it over and over and over, so that we can you know maximize our revenue, and it’s because our company hasn’t been revenue driven. And this year we need to drive a little more revenue.
We need to be a little more specific about that, and so two things have to happen. We need to optimize everything but we also need to get everything working together because having six different lines is not an easy task. On paper that’s a ridiculous stupid thing to do, and so if we optimize them and we make sure that they are all working together, things like our autoresponder– getting that going that is a very sweet example of optimization and harmony because it’s a way of blending all of our different imprints into one cohesive message for our ideal reader and optimizing as we go. So I think those are different words, but I think that they work really well together.
Johnny: Let me– before we go into the nitty-gritty here, let me just pull it back a little bit for the person who doesn’t say well I don’t have a shit ton of product, I don’t have six lines, I haven’t been iteratively…
Dave: I don’t have a word.
Johnny: I don’t have a word of the year is– optimization applies to– it’s a scalable concept. So if this is your year for optimization, if you optimize as you go then these things will still apply. So there you go, so do you want to begin with goals on the list or how do you want to do that?
Sean: Yeah I guess I can just go through these one by one.
Johnny: Please send the link in that chat if you would, I don’t have it.
Sean: Yeah that’s a good idea, hold on.
Johnny: Do you make New Year’s resolutions Dave? I don’t either so.
Sean: I actually totally do.
Dave: [Inaudible 00:37:17]
Sean: This is– New Year has always been one of my favorite holidays, I know it’s silly and I know most people think resolutions are stupid…
Johnny: You make goals. I have a hang up with the word resolution because it’s usually some bullshit thing that oh I should do this and that’s why I’m deciding because I’ve been told I should and nobody does it, it’s different.
Sean: Yeah, I don’t do it by that definition at all, but I do look at my year. I’m very reflective this time of year, I really think hard about how I spent my year and how I want to spend my new year and I mean I’d say ever since I was a kid. Like ever since really 18 I started seriously doing this every year, and I would say that every year it’s made a difference. You know I can look back on the last 20 years of my life and see a lot of tangible growth because I think I take the time to care each year, so I understand the objection to the word resolutions but…
Johnny: Yeah.
Sean: I tie it in you know I feel like it’s outcomes for me. You know like what are my new year’s outcomes. What do I want to see in 2015, and I start thinking heavily about the New Year you know at the end of the old year. So anyone I mean you guys know and I started stressing Jacob out you know like at the end of October really, and I’m like look we’re wrapping this year up. We need to start preparing for next year. These are all the things we need to do and there was that long Almanac post that was like 93,000 words that made Dave sort of open his mouth. I was like look this is all the stuff we have to finish before this year because next year is going to start and we’re not prepared.
But I think that it’s important to know where you are going because then you can you know you can build your mile markers into it right, and I think that that’s just really important. Whether you are doing– and it’s important to keep sight of that too as Johnny just said even if you’re just a one man band and you’ve got one book to your name and you don’t need a word not trying to optimize or harmonize and iterate, you still want to know where you are going, because you’re going to get there faster, and you’re going to get there you know with less headache, it’s not about avoiding mistakes because as you know anyone who knows me knows that I firmly-firmly believe that mistakes are prerequisite to success.
I think that you have to make mistakes along the way. So it’s not about avoiding mistakes. It’s just about optimizing your life and making sure that you’re tilting the mistakes that you make towards your eventual success. So anyway the first thing on this list is a return to form for Collective Inkwell, and I’ll let Dave talk on that for a moment before I bla-bla.
Dave: Well, essentially we in 2012 we wrote a shit ton of stuff. We wrote more than humanly possible it feels like, and in 2013 I think we were still writing but some of them was for 47 North, and it kind of messed with our schedule for a little bit. In 2014 it felt like I don’t know– I always felt busy, but I think we wrote the least in 2014, so we definitely need to pick it up. We need to– we need to close some stories out. We need to you know we have some new stories that we’d like to write, and we want to definitely write more this year.
Sean: Yeah I think that there’s two sides to that, I think for the Inkwell we want to– I think there is something that I really want to recapture and it’s two prompt. I want to recapture reader enthusiasm. You know that was there was a magical time in 2012 when– and it was because we were producing every week and we had readers just waiting for what was next, and that was exciting. Like that was exciting to be on that side of creation and have people waiting for what was next, like that was really-really cool. So we’ve got a couple of ideas to figure that out and I love these ideas and they’re right around the corner, and I think that Dave is fuelled by that kind of thing too.
You know when there’s not just you know yes he cares about what I think and he wants to you know please me and meet expectations and do all of that, but it’s also when there are readers and they’re fans and they’re chopping the bit for what’s next, that fuels him too and that drives him on a more creative level, and so I think that one can beget the next. You know I think that if we have fans who are you know eagerly waiting for what’s next we’re going to go a little bit faster, and by going a little bit faster we’re going to find momentum, and by finding momentum we’re going to harmonize, and I think that that’s a good thing. I think that when there’s creative chemistry between Dave and I it is magical, and it allows us to do great work in less time. And I believe that we’ll find that again this year and it’s just a matter of doing it and getting going.
Dave: We had a good start with the Barisio story.
Sean: Yeah we just finished the Barisio story which was actually really hard for me to write. You know normally Barisio is– Barisio started as pretty much the easiest thing that we wrote just because he was anything goes, but we’ve written him for five seasons and four stand alone stories. And so there is like a lot of baggage with the character now, and there is expectations and we don’t want to make him a parody and there’s you know the mythology here to, so and it was winter break like I didn’t want to write, so it just it was very hard to get out but…
Johnny: Pussy I wrote a bunch of Robot Ploretariat over break.
Sean: So yeah, so it was it was Dave and I at our best and it was really-really fun and the other project that we’re working on for CI that’s a big title coming out soon was great. And so I’m feeling with CI and I think that it’s going to be a great year for the Inkwell.
Johnny: And I can’t wait to see what happens when CI is a peak form while Realm and Sands and the other imprints are at their peak forms, like I think there will be a lot of harmony.
Sean: Right. No I think that it’s awesome because we’ve started everything. Everything’s started but now we’re going to see everything pop, and we’re going to see how those intersections are there and that’s very exciting. The second thing on this list is launch Fiction Unboxed 2; I don’t think we want to get into too much detail on that right now.
Johnny: Especially since I’m not sure what it is, so there you go.
Sean: That’s a good reason.
Johnny: I just know that there needs to be jaw dropping though because there was an idea that in its original form that Sean pitched and I said well that’s interesting and I think that’s cool, but Fiction Unboxed made people think that we were going to start drooling all over them. It was so crazy and this one wasn’t quite that crazy, and so I think that this– I know that Sean teases that he has something that’s going to punch people again.
Dave: Forcing me to write a book in a month.
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: Even though we’re fighting it will be happening.
Sean: No, because I think that that will somehow make a tear in the space time continuum and I’m worried about that, so no but the way this evolves…
Dave: I think the story needs to be awesome.
Sean: I had what I thought was a good idea because the reason we had 1.5 instead of Fiction Unboxed 2 is because like Johnny said Unboxed 2 needs to be substantial, it needs to be you know…
Dave: Iterative.
Sean: No it needs to be more than iterative; it can’t just be you know a slight version like it needs to be…
Dave: Needs to be harmonious.
Sean: It needs to be a totally new– because Fiction Unboxed proved a point. You know we had a point to prove and we wanted to prove that point, Fiction Unboxed 1.5 did not prove a point, it was just a continued, it was an iterative version of what we had already done in Fiction Unboxed 2.
Johnny: Fiction Unboxed 1 proved a point and fiction unboxed 2 beat the dead horse. How much harder can we beat this plane?
Sean: Right and we don’t want to do that, we needed it to be something new and original, so I came up with an idea and I pitched it to Johnny and he’s like that’s cool. We can do that, but then I pitched him something else and he like crapped his pants over it, he really-really-really wants to do it, but I don’t think that we’re ready to.
Johnny: Well in terror to be fair like it isn’t all excitement, it’s like what’s the matter with you a little bit so…
Sean: Right, so it’s crazy, the idea I have is crazy. So it’s officially kind of like Fiction Unboxed 3 because there’s just no way to do it right now. It’s so crazy but what was really funny to see his face because after I pitched that my original idea for fiction unboxed 2 he was like well-well, the kids didn’t care anymore. I was totally deflated and so I had to go back to the lab with that and I think that I found a way to make that idea really balls out awesome.
So anyway that will come later this summer and it is a full evolution, it’s a totally different point we’re proving [trumpet sounding] awesome and I think people will really shit their pants for it, it will be awesome. Schedule the colonist session and plan for this fall summit, we are really-really lucky to have Amy onboard, Amy is our…
Johnny: Oh my god these two ladies that have joined the company are revolutionizing everything.
Sean: Yeah, so we’ve got we’ve got Amy Schubert who is our studio manager and Monica Lionel who is a writer and just really-really great stuff happening there, and already we’ve got a hotel– do we want to talk about this now or kind of save it for later some of the details.
Johnny: Why don’t you run through a little just briefly just give a tease because we do have more goals to get through and we’ve been on air quite a while.
Sean: Yeah, so we’ll close the show with a few more details.
Johnny: Oh no I didn’t– just go ahead and go into it because we’ll talk about it more in detail, we don’t need to go into detail at all today.
Sean: So Amy’s really got the ball rolling here, we’ve got a hotel picked out, we’ve got dates which are April the 18th is that right? I don’t have anything in front of me.
Johnny: Yeah 18th and 19th, April 18th and 19th of 2015.
Sean: And it’s really awesome and what’s cool about it too is that you know when we did the summit like it really is about relationships, and when we did the summit Monica was there and Amy was there, and now they’re both part of Sterling and Stone.
Johnny: And Garrett was there who was already basically part of it.
Sean: Right and it’s really cool, there’s just so much value in persons stuff, which is why we kind of want to spearhead some of that, like we know Dave doesn’t go to stuff, and he had to be dragged over to Austin even though he had a good time. But Johnny and I very much see the value in Persons stuff; we try to get together in person as often as we can justify it. You know we’ll go to Denver in May; he’ll probably be down here for Southwest. It’s just you want to do those things, relationships get better in person. There’s just no substitute for eye to eye contact, and so you know that’s really cool and all the people who were there at the summit are coming to the colonist sessions, so that’s very exciting, that’s a continuation of something amazing.
Johnny: And it’s gratifying too you guys don’t care about this, but it’s gratifying to me because it means we did our job like if they’re willing to come back and pay again that’s pretty cool.
Sean: Oh yeah totally and I’m really excited about this, I’m very curious to see how it will– because it will be a different event like the things that we’re talking about doing will be different and we’ll do a show dedicated to it or a blog post dedicated to it. That’s all coming up but just the idea that we are going to launch the Colonists session because we promised that last year, and the summit was just too awesome not to do it again. So we’ll be doing that probably in late summer or fall.
So anyhow that will be really-really awesome, and I guess we will move on down the list. Four launch two daily podcasts, so this goes into what the– our voicemail was asking about podcasts. So I really-really strongly feel that if you have a podcast you really need to have a specific reason for doing that podcast, and for us we have very specific reasons for both podcasts.
The first one is we want to promote our fiction you know we love doing the Self Publishing Podcast and we love Better Off Undead, but neither one are really doing much to promote our fiction. SPP does in a very quiet– in the background way, but it’s really is for writers and writers are for the most part concerned with their own books. You know if they read our books is because they are curious, they want to see if we know what we are talking about. Can we really tell a story? Like so there may be a curiosity element there and there’s also oh I like these guys, I’m willing to try their fiction but those are both much harder sells.
What we really want is for people to be digging our fiction and they want to go get more, and so we want to launch a podcast that is basically fiction. Its fiction everyday and you know we’ve seen a lot of successes you know serial was the biggest podcast of last year, and when that launched I had a whole bunch of people you know phone me, email me, text me, like what the hell? Why don’t you have something like that?
And you know what serial did is much, it’s very professional and it was nonfiction based and you know from the NPR people, so it’s very polished and we want to do something, we want to do something amazing because there’s a lot of people who we’re not tapping into who would love our fiction, and they have a lot of time to kill on their commute. And so I think that being able to tap into that is a really good idea. And we had something going earlier in the year but it just wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t good enough we were releasing stuff that had already come out and they were my readings which my reading is not good enough to launch a podcast like that with the kind of pay off that we wanted to have.
And it was also we were releasing stuff that we already have, so this goes back to our first goal too, where we want CI to– a return to form for CI, and when we launch our podcast, our fiction podcast it’s going to deal with exclusive material that is the only way you can get it for a window of time is in the podcast. So if we have Gonners who love our stuff and Dave will sign up for the podcast, then that could really help fuel the podcast growth. But on the other hand we’re going to have people who are again waiting every– it won’t be every week it will be everyday because chapters will come out every day– who are waiting for what’s next you know, we’ll bring that water cooler back and that’s very-very exciting to me both on a business professional podcast level and on a creative Collective Inkwell story level.
So I’m really excited about that and then we’re going to have a Smarter Artist podcast which is a little more to the point. SPP is what it is and we bullshit for 30 minutes before we get to the awkward ad read and then to the topic, but Smarter Artist will be very to the point and a lot of you know we keep talking– it’s funny how circular all this is, we keep talking about finding ways to scale that one on one questions, so a lot of those questions will just go into the Smarter Artist podcast. You know so if somebody is asking you know “how long should my serial book be?” That’s a great question; we can spend a few minutes answering it. The next time that question comes in that goes into the podcast and you can send somebody a link to that video or that episode.
Johnny: It feels like a five minute a five to 10 minute sort of a podcast, not an hour every day.
Sean: Right, but it will be everyday and so we think that’s scale too, Apple Podcasts loves daily podcasts because they are seven times the amount of downloads. Assuming you have the same audience size and so both of those podcasts could hopefully grow very fast, one promotes the Smarter Artist and SPP and the other promotes all of our other fiction lines mostly CI and Realm and Sands, so that’s very exciting.
Johnny: I would like to move that we sort of skip through just mention five and six because they are ways out, five is draft our first screen play. Sean wrote that, I have no idea how to write a screen play but hey I’m onboard, but that’s going to take some doing, and I don’t know that we would be ready to talk about that yet but that’s– we want to move into more media down the road. And number six was to build an app which again is more of like I mean for us a year is a very-very long time, I swear it’s like dog years. Like we spend like a year in Sterling and Stone time or just in self publishing in general feels like a very long time.
And so by the end of the year for middle of the year if we’re thinking about an app, that feels a really long way away to me. So I just wanted to– no need to spend a ton of time on those. The next one is better meetings. I don’t have a ton to say on this one either, but we do that’s part of the optimization. That’s part of getting better at what we already do a little bit and having Terra Jacobs sent outlining social media stuff for us and getting the ball rolling. We’re going to need someone to continue that, but she’s handling a lot of that for us because we’ve been really not handling it at all.
Sean: She’s done already just such an extraordinary job just getting…
Johnny: Stuff we’ve just been letting drop, yeah.
Sean: Yeah.
Johnny: And you know with Monica helping us with our writing. I mean she is writing she’s going to do some fiction, but it’s really more like a marketing writing. Like a copy writing and so with Monica helping us with that and Amy helping us with customer support and things like planning the summits just being our– I don’t know how to describe it.
Sean: Studio manager.
Johnny: Yeah studio manager is really going to free us to just get better at what we do, but that’s part of the expanding team here, you’ve already kind of talked about harmony.
Sean: It’s actually on the list for harmony between imprints.
Johnny: Why don’t we move to nine because this is for me this is the dominant one and when I mentioned that my goals have shifted it’s not that they have shifted, it’s this, like this is the one that I have been sort of hyper focusing on, the totally eclipse of the heart right Dave, no total eclipse in Sean’s words of fiction.
Dave: [Singing]
Sean: A total eclipse of fiction to nonfiction.
Johnny: Are you interrupting Dave singing listen to him back there.
Sean: And I think this is really-really-really important because…
Dave: I love this song.
Sean: You know right now for us the easy button is absolutely anything nonfiction, and yet it’s what we are least driven to do. We are all story tellers, we want to tell stories, we want to tell as many stories as possible. We want to build worlds, like that is so exciting and you know we love the Smarter Artist we, we love that vertical, we love this podcast, we love the emails, we love all of it, but we want to be story tellers you know, and when we talk about writing a screen play someday is because eventually we want to see our worlds up on the screen and there’s movement towards that.
And so it’s a matter of optimizing what we have, so that it all works together and it is harmonized and all of our fiction is then ticking-ticking-ticking, because all we have done is we have just vomited all of these stories out into the world, and now they are there and we haven’t done a lot to optimize them, and now it’s a matter of getting everything to just kind of click into place, so one cog turns another cog, which turns the big wheel.
Johnny: And to that end you’ll hear a lot about this year, a large part of our audience is fiction focused and so this is good for you guys because you’re going to hear more of our experiments. Again just to ram this point home like we haven’t been revenue driven, and so as a result as Sean mentioned earlier there have been– we could have done things to enhance revenue streams that we’ve deliberately turned away from in the interest of building that wide city block rather than building the skyscraper right away. And I think this is the year where you start to see the payoff like you start to see us turning in the direction of how do we optimize what we have for sale, like this is where we start really saying okay now we are turning toward revenue driving. Like how do we very serious make money?
And we are going to experiment; we have a lot to experiment with now if you have a smaller catalogue you’re going to have to make choices that in an all fashion that we will make in an end fashion. So a good example is and I won’t go into this in a ton, but we’ve said we actually said in the deezy button post that we don’t like the idea of exclusivity wholesale at all. But that we do want to experiment a little bit to see if we can use Select a little bit, and so there are a few things we are going to try. In no way are we moving back and saying okay well now you know all of our franchises are going to go Select or anything like that.
But we have the inventory to try it, and Lexi’s line more than anything and so I don’t know I’m just very excited about the possibilities of that, the possibilities that come with the non exclusive lines too. We have some promotions coming up that I am very excited about, I could run in circles on this all day, there’s just a lot of stuff I’ve been doing over the past.
Sean: Well it’s because it’s the big one, it’s the one we probably care about most on the list. It’s one that will facilitate a lot of the other ones you know if we– it’s where most of our attention will be and it’s just it’s satisfying because what we are going to see this year is a big payoff for the few years that we’ve been digging. You know we really made sure that we had a strong foundation before we started to go vertical. We really wanted to be fat horizontal and you know I think we’ve done a really good job preparing.
And so 2015 is we’re finally going to get to see a lot of our trees bear fruit and that’s very exciting and we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we like hard work, we’re hardworking men. Like we enjoy the process, we enjoy the fruits, and watching fiction eclipse nonfiction is going to be lot of fun. Especially because we do have the inventory and we’ve spent a few years really getting it all out there and now everything is adding and adding and you’ll see a lot more addition than subtraction this year which is…
Johnny: And this is something that our hackings back to some stuff we’ve talked about before and I think it’s a lesson for– a good lesson for any writer is we’ve said one of the reasons that you need to produce more stuff, the reason you need to write publish and repeat is partially so that your footprint is larger and more people can discover you and you have more connections. Part of it is that the further that you are from something, the less dear you are to it.
So part of the reason we’re going to be able to do some of the experiments that we are is because we’ve produced enough to put some distance between us and that thing. Now I don’t want to go into a ton of specifics, but here is a good example that isn’t what I’m talking about, but it’s the type of thing I’m talking about is when Ed Robertson suggested that I make the first four books of my Fat Vampire series that bundle of 99 cents is for promotion, I really like what! Like that’s– for any it was like my entire catalogue at the time.
Like I have these four books, I don’t want to make them 99 cents even for a while because it devalues the work, and I’m going to lose sales during that period of time, and people are going to think I’m cheap and plus that was really my only income generator at the time. But now with distance between so much of our stuff and the fact that we just have so much and we’re using other peoples stuff like Lexi’s line and stuff, you would be freer to experiment the more work you put out there because you just say, well maybe I will make that first book permanently free, or maybe I will make it 99 cents for a big promotion or something where you wouldn’t have before, so you want that freedom to experiment.
Sean: Yeah something like Select hurts a lot less when you have the inventory; you know if you have…
Johnny: That’s a great example.
Sean: You know so what it’s 90 days of exclusivity on one title, like it doesn’t matter, let’s see what happens and then you can make informed decisions because you don’t want to, you don’t want to base your business around you know unsubstantiated hypothesis or emotion and for us the Select thing is a little of both you know. We really hate the idea of exclusivity just on principle, like that sucks because the more that we feed that exclusivity beast the worse it really is for the community long term, like it just is, we’re just giving them Poland.
Johnny: What’s wrong with publishing people?
Sean: Right and we want to not do that right, so you know if we’re looking for what’s best and we really always try hard to think what would be best 5-10 years from now, and signing up for Select, re-upping every 90 days is not what’s best 5-10 years.
Johnny: With everything that we do, yeah.
Sean: Right not just for us but for all of us, for the Indie community it just– it’s not good to let– to only grow within Amazons ecosystem, but it gets a lot harder to you know play and to not dig our heels in when we’ve got inventory to play with. And what we’ve really started to do this last month is to take our core pieces apart and say okay what can we do with this piece, now what can we do with this piece. Now how can we optimize this, we we’ve got product descriptions we need to rewrite, we’ve got covers we can update, you know we’ve got CTAs in the back that we can update, how do we optimize this?
Johnny: And how do we turn a tactic, something like let’s put this title in Select when we know that that’s a tactic that may conflict with strategy if we aren’t careful, how do we use that as part of a strategy, so…
Sean: Right.
Johnny: As an example if we have something in Select that does well because of the Select machine, like that is a Select suitable title and it does well, then we can use that to drive traffic to stuff that isn’t in Select or to our mailing list or something like that.
Sean: It’s possible to make tactics strategies bitch, but you’ve got to– but it doesn’t happen by accident and you can’t just assume that a tactic is going to serve your strategy just because you are using it, and that’s what we’ve really taken time to focus on in this last month. And what we are starting the year doing is to really ask ourselves the questions, why are we doing that? And what will it serve? And what do we have to do to make that happen? And what is our desired outcome? Just really important questions that you want to ask yourself even if you only have three books or two books or one book, like ask yourself these questions the why is just it’s too easy to skip over, and it’s dangerous to do that.
Johnny: This episode hasn’t had enough Dave, any new comments Dave, anything there?
Dave: Yes we do have comments.
Johnny: All right, let’s hear them.
Dave: La-la-la-la, okay Josh Hilden says my first SPP as a fulltime writer, no more day job, I can finally watch live, congratulations.
Johnny: I was just going to say congratulations to Josh, he tweeted that he is now full time.
Sean: Yeah congratulations Josh, that’s really-really awesome.
Dave: Missy Morgan says, so these ladies have saved your asses guys, yeey the females rock. Amy Schubert says, don’t tell them I said this, but I’m kind of a teen mom ha-ha.
Johnny: Okay, so that’s funny because I almost made that reference and I thought she might be insulted by it, and I said no-no that’s good, like thank you Amy for going ahead and giving me permission.
Dave: Missy said I can totally see that they need discipline and your routine.
Johnny: By the way I would never argue with that, like the women in my life have always made me better.
Sean: Oh I’m only functional because of Cindy, sure she puts up with all my shenanigans but also gives me the fences I need, it’s perfect like I love women.
Dave: Missy says unrelated but love the painting behind you David, it’s awesome. Yes that painting is from my good friend who sent me the candied apples last year. This year she sent me something I wanted.
Sean: Finally got her shit together.
Johnny: Are you worried that the exposure of a painting that you’ve indicated is from a friend plus the factoid about the candy apples will allow somebody to triangulate on you through that friend and discover who you are and where you live.
Dave: No, not at all.
Johnny: And I’d like to point out that Dave’s office configuration has changed again too.
Sean: Of course it did, it’s been two weeks, what the hell?
Dave: I want like a rotating set.
Johnny: You should just make your office into one of those revolving restaurants, and then you wouldn’t have to change it, you could just move to the centre every once in a while and back up.
Dave: I would love that.
Johnny: Is that it, is there more?
Dave: Fucking comments on You Tube, suck they disappear yeah that’s it for now, I can’t find the other ones.
Johnny: All right, so I think we just have…
Sean: Yeah we’re on the last thing on the list which is– I’ll let Johnny do this one because it’s his and it’s exciting.
Johnny: Get Johnny to Austin, I like that that’s a formal company goal as well too.
Sean: It’s a formal company goal.
Johnny: And it does extend, it is get Johnny and Dave to Austin but it’s sort of like low hanging fruit. Like I couldn’t get there soon enough if once it’s possible and Dave is a little tougher sell I guess, but…
Sean: Well Dave is a tougher sell on everything.
Johnny: True.
Sean: But if you’re here it’s only a matter of time before he’s here, and so like you know.
Dave: Because I follow Johnny everywhere.
Johnny: I was going to make that joke.
Sean: It’s just the– it will be really-really awesome. So it’s about moving the team. It’s about building the team and but I think that that’s the number one next move is to get you know is to get Johnny to Austin. So yeah it’s an official company goal for sure.
Johnny: And I think that I do think that happens this year, I don’t know that necessarily that I relocate this year, but I think that the decision is made the steps are taken. I’m just thinking it takes a long time to like sell a house, like we own a house with land and that’s but I think the decision is made this year, I think we’re on our way.
Sean: So that will be really exciting. Dave, Johnny is right, this was a Dave light episode, so we need to hear some of your resolutions before we say goodbye just because– what do you have for this year? Professionally what do you want for this year?
Dave: I don’t fucking know man.
Johnny: Dave wants an eclipse of nonfiction by fiction, right?
Dave: We should really do the show like two in the morning; I could be in a much better frame of mind to the specific things that I want to do but yeah.
Sean: How about that’s your resolution, your outcome, your most desired outcome you want a daytime schedule that you actually keep.
Dave: Yeah I was on daytime very briefly but then Christmas break happened, so yeah.
Sean: So the time when your family is up and on the same schedule as you is when you fell off the wagon?
Dave: Yeah.
Sean: Is that an avoidance thing? Oh fuck they’re up, I’m going to bed.
Dave: No, it’s well I’m spending time with the family so I have to stay up to kind of balance, but then when I stay– see the problem is when I stay up to do work, the work I do that late I’m fucking exhausted and it absolutely sucks, so it’s really not even worth it, I’d be better off just going to bed.
Johnny: I have a proposal.
Dave: What?
Johnny: Dave I think this year you should move to Siberia. It’s cold, it’s dark, and the time difference would allow you to be on the air with us at 2am or whatever while its normal time for us, it’d be perfect.
Sean: That is a pretty good idea; you know what this should be the year of the nuture bullet for Dave.
Johnny: Yes.
Dave: The year I open it?
Sean: Yes, the year you open it.
Johnny: Let’s do an unboxing on Better off Undead.
Sean: I like that, all right so we’re done with [inaudible 01:11:13]
Dave: Yeah we can do the unboxing on Better Off Undead.
Johnny: All right, so are we done? Yes, yes.
Sean: Yeah looks that way.
Johnny: Next week we’re going to have Steve Scott, and the week after that we’re going to have…
Dave: Speaking of habits.
Johnny: He’s speaking of habits; yes he’s the habit guy. I read Steve’s book “61 Ways to Sell More Nonfiction Books on Kindle” over these past two weeks and it was great. Steve will tell you it’s a little dated he needs to update it, but only the tactical stuff. It’s great in general and Nick Stevenson will be the weekend after that the week after that, and his book is “How to Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” I believe and that was great, as well.
Sean: That was great; yeah I read that over the holiday.
Johnny: And shadowed also we aren’t going to have Simon Whistler on again anytime soon just because he’s been on before, not terribly long ago, but Simon’s book “Audio Books For Indies” I read too and it was great, so a shout out to Simon if you’re interested in audio books pick up his book, so there we go.
Dave: Curious of the person who did his cover also did Nick Stevenson’s, they kind of look similar.
Johnny: They are a little similar, they are both great.
Sean: Yeah really clear, it’s really obvious.
Dave: That was like some strategy of copying it, I would want it sold make on the show.
Johnny: I do know that Simon’s is a 99 designs cover because they…
Dave: Really?
Johnny: Yeah 99 designs is sponsoring RSP and Joanna’s show in addition to ours, so they’re really like cornering the market, but you should use our link /SPP.
Dave: Our link is the perfect link.
Johnny: That’s the best.
Sean: It comes with the power pack upgrade and a hummer from Dave.
Dave: What?
Johnny: You know they offered a vehicle.
Dave: That’s when you should’ve ended the show Johnny.
Johnny: All right so that will be the end and thanks for tuning in to this Self Publishing Podcast. I really need to read you our end of show CTAs because this is a little out of date. But for now if you like to get our best advice with all the off topic bullshit be sure to pick up Write Publish Repeat. The no luck required guide to self publishing success at selfpublishingpodcast.com/wpr and thanks for listening folks, and we will see you next week with Steve Scott.

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One Reply to “Self-Publishing Goals for 2015 (Self Publishing Podcast #139)”

  1. Jim Wilbourne

    When Sean offered me to email him in his video answer to my lengthy multi-part question, I was tempted to email him to get more thoughts. I resisted because I didn’t want to be a bother. You guys have a huge workload and I don’t want to get in the way of that.
    I think creating a FAQ with videos (to you new podcasts) and CTAs to buy WPR and FU to get further answers might be a good approach. This way you can give answers while making a promotional tie-in/up sale.
    I’ve noticed a lot of websites will have you look through their FAQ (split into topics) before you can get to a true contact form (“Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Email us here”). I think this might cut down on your simple questions.
    I agree with your podcast answers. I have something planned, but it’s further down the road. It’s basically a repurposing of a non-fiction book I’m working on… so It’s pretty much just an audiobook. The book is about the writing craft, so I’m hoping that it will help bring sales to both the non-fiction book and my fiction. I don’t think I’ll get to this one until late 2016, however.
    I also do a yearly theme. 2014 was my “Year of Creation.”
    2015 is my “Year of Foundations.”
    I like themes instead of a resolution because themes are more vague and you can frame your process from the mindset the theme provides. You can also carry these themes over years to come.
    I’m stoked to see what you guys have in store for this year!
    I haven’t gotten a chance to check out Dream Engine, but that’s next on my list from you guys. I also finished WPR about 2 months ago. It was really really helpful.
    Thanks!

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