Selling on Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (Self Publishing Podcast #147)

Finally, the episode we’ve all been waiting for, the show Johnny and Sean have been teasing us about for weeks, the unveiling of a project that has, until this week, been known only as “The Beyonce.” Invasion is here, and it’s not only the latest and greatest story to spring from the creative Engine of Platt and Truant, but it’s also a revolution in just how optimized a book launch can be.
In the episode, Johnny refers to Invasion as the match that just might light the fire of S&S’s overall optimization, the first of several projects we can look forward to over the course of this year that will set the S&S catalog ablaze.
And we get to see it all unfold! Invasion was introduced to the SPP community almost as a kind of case study, where we’ll get regular updates of how the series sells and succeeds in attracting fresh readers, sending sales of other, also optimized titles, skyrocketing.
If you’re not a Platinum Reader (And if you’re not, why the heck not? Click here to become one now!), then you may want to buy Invasion from one of the below retailers:

In what way is Invasion optimized for success, both short term and long term? What makes it different and superior to the average book, even to many of Realm & Sands’ previous titles? (As far as optimization goes; not to say R&S hasn’t put out other amazing reads, like Axis and The Beam) Here are a few of Invasion’s major features that went into maximizing it’s launch potential:

  • It’s a page-turner, as opposed to R&S’s usual, verbose, thoughtful style
  • It’s a genre that normally sells great—alien invasion—instead of a confusing category (like Unicorn Western or Dream Engine’s “Steam Punk Lord of the Rings”)
  • It has a kick-ass cover
  • It was set up with a pre order, which also allowed early reviews because the paperback was published ahead of time
  • It will have two sequels, each a month apart to maximize algorithm magic

During the show, Johnny mentioned an “open letter” from Amazon about self pub best practices. You can download and read that letter in PDF HERE.
If you listen to this week’s show and you’re not jumping up and down in excitement, then your just not paying close enough attention. This whole project is a major game changer, or the start of one, anyway.
We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Self Publishing podcast episode number 147
This episode of the Self Publishing podcast is brought to you by 99 designs, the online marketplace that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at 99designs.com/SPP, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.
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 smell like team spirit, 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 the face of indie publishing. Join us and our trail blazing 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 yeah so it’s Friday, this is an exciting Friday this is fun. I think we are going to get onto topic pretty quick today. So those of you who normally skip to the 30 minute mark. I will mention…
Sean: Don’t.
Dave: No.
Johnny: Right don’t do that today. I will mention just before we begin that so just so don’t forget that if you’re– we are down to the last minutes– well last days for the Colonist summit if you want to…
Dave: To enroll.
Johnny: To join us we are down to three remaining slots, so if you are interested in joining us in Austin Texas for a couple of days April 18th and 19th all the details are on Sterlingandstone.net/colonist. It is Sterlingandstone.net not Self publishing podcast, is that right?
Sean: Yeah that’s right.
Dave: I don’t know.
Johnny: All right do you want to do us something cool before we get into our announcements or not?
Sean: Yeah actually I’ve been really excited about it…
Dave: Oh God.
Johnny: Yeah we have to cut Sean off on this too because Dave Sean and I had a call where I was like, do you have literally it will take 10 minutes. Literally 10 minutes, Sean used eight of those minutes with me cutting him off to talk about this. Well he was in a rush.
Sean: Okay everybody wants me to shut up about this; I’ve already talked about it to Dave and to Johnny and to my whole family. I think the only one of the all these people who is interested is my daughter Hailey.
Johnny: I’m interested; I’m just not interested like I get to the point where I’m interested enough.
Sean: Yeah so but I love this. So everybody knows I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books and stuff lately since like last September. And once a month or so I listen to one of these– they are called the Great Courses and they have on Audible. And they are like college lectures and…
Dave: Oh I was totally interested in this. You and I had like an hour of conversation.
Johnny: Yeah I love it that he is taking our– we don’t want to hear about it any fucking more as we are not interested.
Sean: Right, right okay. It’s interesting but it feels like shut up already. So I listen to one on myth in Human History and another one on fiction story telling. They are cool. They are really, really cool. But this last one that I just finished is my favorite, not only great course, it’s probably my favorite thing I’ve listened to all year so far. I really-really loved it. And it’s called– hold on let me get the exact title, The Secret Life of Words English Words and Their Origins. And it’s an 18 hour course and it’s just fascinating. And I think probably pretty much every one listening to this would just love it. Because and that’s very poor generalization I realize, but we all make our living or want to make our living with words, right? Words or ideas…
Dave: Maybe you do, I’m old now, and my dream job is stripper.
Sean: Well some day.
Johnny: Someday you will be a stripper.
Dave: When I gain more weight.
Sean: Remember the friends where Danny Davis does a stripper?
Dave: It’s awesome.
Sean: So it’s just– it’s really, really fascinating, and I don’t want to go on and on about it. But if you have an audible subscription and you are already a member, it is so worth– I think it’s normally like $45 or something. But its one credit I mean you just use that credit for it.
Dave: This episode of the Self Publishing podcast is also brought by Audible.com the best.
Sean: It’s just…
Johnny: Those people should get Beam episode one for free.
Sean: It’s 36 lectures and each lecture is 30 minutes or 15 if you are listening to it twice speed. But it talks about like taboo words and slang and old words. Did you know that the F word is from the 1600s like that’s so much older than I expected. It talks about…
Johnny: No thou shall fuck that.
Sean: There is this whole section that I just really, really loved about ums and uhs and wells and sos and you know those words and their called discourse markers and how they are not actually fillers as many people think, but their ways for us to emotionally manage a conversation. And I just so I love language, I love language a lot. And I don’t just love the precision of words but I love you know the choice of one word or for another. And I just– I want to listen to this again. I just had so much fun with it. So…
Dave: I’m I alone here in thinking that giving Sean this book is like I don’t know handing heroine to a drug to addict like a big box of heroine.
Johnny: Right, box of heroine.
Dave: Like all you need is a box of heroine because you know it comes in boxes.
Sean: That’s how I’ve always seen it just stack high, right?
Dave: Yeah.
Sean: Dave takes heroine like [inaudible] [0:05:32] is.
Dave: May cause problems.
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: So do genres.
Sean: We are driving to California this summer with Melissa and this on the way. I’m not even kicked off.
Johnny: I have this picture of right I have this picture of Sean’s family dynamic because he’s fooled us because we only get it through his filter. So he has fooled us into believing that everybody is totally un-bored with operation Sean whatever it is. Yes and Cindy wants to listen to all the books. You know Hailey wants to have all this stuff red doer and everybody wants to listen to and I have a feeling like they are all secretly like oh God should we tell him that we don’t want to listen to this bloody fucking hour audio book.
Dave: We’ve seen his family in action, they are happy.
Johnny: Yeah, but he’s got them scared.
Dave: Yeah I bet Sean and his family when they are on a road trip they fucking sing songs I bet. I bet they do nothing more.
Sean: We do sing songs.
Dave: Oh fuck you!
Johnny: I’ve done that.
Dave: No, no I have never done that, will never do that. If you see me and my family driving on the streets singing in the car, call a police or something wrong.
Johnny: That’s your distress code.
Sean: Seriously what would you rather do complain? I got pulled over for speeding…
Dave: I don’t talk while I’m driving.
Sean: Oh my God.
Johnny: Don’t talk, don’t talk daddy is behind the wheel. Don’t talk.
Dave: I mean disown.
Johnny: You know that road rage he invented it. They just call it except in Dave they just call it rage. Do you have a something rageful to go today or no?
Dave: Something cool, well something cool something not cool, House Cards back on Netflix today, I’ve not yet watched it so something not cool Leonard Nimoy passed away today.
Johnny: Oh I did not know that, that sucks.
Sean: I’ll remember a moment of silence.
Dave: Yeah I know you two know no shit, but yeah he passed away.
Sean: I do know that that dress is golden white bitch.
Johnny: I love that Dave was pitching in moment of silence on a podcast that Sean’s on.
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: Sean paused to breathe. That’s his sign of respect.
Sean: Not as close as I get.
Johnny: My something cool is it isn’t actually the first time I ran across it, but I ran across it again and it sort of reminded me, it knocked the balls loose in my head or whatever like– is we got Big Heroes six on DVD because it just came out on DVD. And have you guys both seen that?
Sean: Yeah it’s awesome.
Dave: Oh my son did. He went with some other kids; I did not go at that time. I wasn’t awake. So I wanted to…
Johnny: You– he wasn’t awake. You want to go to a movie? No.
Dave: It’s one in the afternoon, that’s way too early.
Sean: That’s so awesome.
Johnny: The reason that I think its cool is because I just continue– I know that that’s branded as Disney but let’s be honest that’s Pixar like come on man Disney…
Dave: No it’s not.
Johnny: Well it’s under Disney’s brand but it’s like written executive producer John Laceda [crosstalk] [0:08:26]
Dave: Johnny you are going to get into this discussion with a couple of Pixar’s or snobs here so.
Johnny: But whatever then.
Sean: I hear everybody saying it’s John Lasseter. John Lasseter runs both animations studio now. If you can totally feel the pix are influenced in the last couple of Disney.
Johnny: Well I guess I’m going to like not the Pixar has that long of a legacy, but like legacy Pixar is if– and I guess I didn’t really get this until I was watching like we saw one of the Madagascar movies with the kids and we saw the Penguins of Madagascar movie and like those are kind of fun family animated movies, but they are so disposable. They are just like…
Sean: Yeah right.
Johnny: That was fun and you move on. And I’m just so impressed by how a movie like that and just about all the Pixar movies is just such– it’s a really– Dave you should watch it. It’s really, really good.
Dave: Oh I will.
Johnny: It’s a…
Sean: The tension to detail is magical.
Johnny: And it’s just really-really solid story telling like I could see it through the eyes of a story teller since this is what we do. And it’s like you really care. Like it’s a moving movie and it’s a stand up and cheer sort of a movie too. And it’s just so cool. So it was interesting to see that again and just be impressed. One of the things that I said to these guys I don’t think I said to Dake since he hadn’t seen it is the movie is set in San Fran Yokyo, San Fran whatever which is a hybrid of San Francisco…
Sean: [inaudible] [0:09:52] make him so happy.
Johnny: And Tokyo and they never explain it at all. And I just love how bossy and confident that is that you are going mash up two cities and have like Japanese architecture and on the Golden Gate Bridge and these very Tokyo sorts of things in the midst of an American city and you know a lot of the people are Japanese heritage obviously that are in the movie.
Sean: Well yeah this is an existing comic book.
Johnny: Okay I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. So…
Sean: But the fact that they did it so unapologetically is definitely awesome.
Johnny: I was waiting for them to apologize– not to apologize but to explain.
Sean: To explain yeah they never felt the need to do that which is just, its confidence story telling. And their attention to detail is really, really just onspiring. You know I know they told the story in Creativity Inc, but for Monster’s Inc this is just the finest example of the detail and love that they put into their films. You know that sequence in Monster’s Inc where Boo is running around the room and she is…
Dave: Oh yeah yeah the first one okay.
Sean: The first one yeah. She is running around the room all crazy, they just got back from the sushi restaurant and she is running everywhere and she knocks over this big pile of CDs and there is 90 of them. And Mike Wazowski says, oh those were in alphabetical order, right? Do you know this part?
Johnny: No I don’t remember.
Dave: I don’t remember.
Sean: All right well anyway they really were in alphabetical order. And every single one had a cover. They made CD covers for every single one of those CDs even though…
Dave: That’s something I would do.
Sean: Right. You see a fraction of a fraction of a second. She backs the stack and they go everywhere and oh those were in alphabetical order but they really were in alphabetical order and there really was a cover for each of the CDs in the stack. Like that’s just Dream Works is very hurry up and render. And yes like I love Kung Fu Panda. I think Kung Fu Panda is great. But it’s just like Johnny said it’s not enduring in the same way like…
Johnny: They are like classics. And I remember feeling this the first– I suppose it would have felt that way with toy story but I remember the incredibles was where it kind of really hit me. And I was like there were long periods of time where– not really but I kind of forgot that it was animated. And you just start seeing– and they talk about that in Creativity Inc. I think that that’s a good read for anybody who likes this show.
Sean: We should transition but…
Johnny: Yeah.
Sean: I almost pitch we do creativity Inc show one day.
Johnny: Oh I’m never going to get through that audio book though like I’m going to have to read it. I don’t like the audio book narrator, he sounds very a little too foxy for that read for me.
Sean: Have you listened to it at tri speed?
Johnny: Maybe I should.
Sean: It helps, its helps a lot.
Johnny: All right. So do you want to transition then? And when I say transition I mean let’s go from being men to women.
Dave: Yes and then waiting.
Johnny: Yeah I’ve been excited about today show for a while. I guess if you are not on the Realm and Sands list we should probably talk about– we need to set it up, right?
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: Yeah go ahead I don’t know what you mean by set it up. Do you mean what it was that we did? What was it– The Beyonce…
Sean: Well right because we haven’t talked about this at all, yeah The Beyonce. So we haven’t talked about this at all. Realm and Sands but you know all of us Dave too– all of us yesterday launched a book. It’s called Invasion, and it’s…
Johnny: And this is– is this one right here so I have the hard back which I’m totally in love with.
Dave: Oh that’s beautiful.
Johnny: Isn’t that nice so it’s really– by the way I think I mentioned this before but I think that hard backs should almost always have gloss, I’ve decided that now. There are a few exceptions but the hard back I think definitely need– now the paper back is flat. And I think that it’s– I think this is the way to go. I think that gloss for hard back and I think the paperback matte. Anyway go ahead.
Sean: They look almost the same in the picture.
Johnny: Well yeah I guess you probably can’t really tell, but there is light glinting off of on one of them, yes?
Sean: Yeah okay. So we didn’t talk about this at all. We didn’t talk about it to our list…
Johnny: And for us with our mortal mouths, that’s a lot.
Sean: Right. This has been– I mean with the Platinum readers got it. I don’t know what three weeks ago about now, is that right?
Johnny: I think so.
Sean: Pretty much when we finished. You know we came up with this plan late last year and we called it The Beyonce, because Beyonce got into– she did this– basically she just dropped an album last year and…
Johnny: With no preamble, it was just like boom here it is, ready to go.
Dave: Yeah but she is not back.
Johnny: No.
Sean: Right she is not back. I’m going to let you finish. So that was really cool and we thought we want to do that. We want to try something. We want to call it The Beyonce and we are going to do something where we just write it ahead of the time. We don’t talk about it on the show and we just put it out there. And at the time that we first kind of were originally architecting this idea we thought it would be a Kindle Select property that we would kind of lean into the algorithms, and see what we could do without a lot of fanfare. You know we would use our list, but really that’s the only vehicle in there, and there wouldn’t even be a lot of you know early launch stuff, we would just put it out there.
Johnny: The reason for that too is that we’ve been very-very let’s go wide. Like that’s been our line from the beginning. And I’ve called Select the abusive boyfriend because you know we keep going back to him like we swear, hey I won’t hit you this time baby. And so it’s very…
Sean: He buys us pretty things.
Johnny: Right, it’s you know it’s…
Dave: He doesn’t always hit me.
Johnny: So he and he is always sorry.
Sean: He wouldn’t hit me if he didn’t love me so much.
Johnny: So okay that’s enough of that. So the…
Dave: Let’s keep fuckering.
Johnny: So the point is that we always like the idea of going wide but then we keep– there are a bunch of people who are talking to us about you got to go slack like you get a lot more…
Sean: I made $32,000,000 last month Select…
Johnny: It’s very tempting especially since adding the Kindle Unlimited yes you make less, but those borrows kind of sales in the algorithms…
Dave: And the advertisements.
Johnny: Right like there is just a lot. And if you did like a Bookpub ad you can lower it to 99 cents and keep it at 70% royalty etcetera, etcetera. So we wanted to take advantage of sort of the running start that Select gives you because people can borrow it which is an easier transaction, it doesn’t cost too many extra money. And you get the algorithm boost. So we were kind of like hitting ourselves a little bit, but it felt like why are we fighting with one hand tied behind our back, we should do this. So that’s the mentality we went into this with and then I’ll let you resume Sean.
Sean: Yes so we just– we had decided you we are going to– E-Series books clearly do a really good job at you know at moving units. And so we thought okay we want to do a series and we wanted to go to a more popular genre, and it’s just it was very intentional. So we decided we would write three books, they’d all be Alien Invasion. They’ve come out you know right after another. And boom, boom, boom. And this is– so we’ve eluded a few times on the show as to how we delayed Beam, right. The Beam keeps getting delayed. Well this is why we delayed the Beam because we wanted to…
Johnny: One of the reasons.
Sean: One of the reasons. And we wanted to delay it so that we could write because we are not just writing one book here. The Beyonce is not one book, it’s one book but it’s going to be followed by another book and another book after that…
Johnny: And that’s not the end of the series, that’s just the end of this phase of it.
Sean: Right and probably around Book three see I will come in with not at the same time but I mean in the timeline of the story that we are telling. See I will come in with you know like a sideway story that takes place in the same world. And that’s kind of cool that we are going to you know share our world between Realm and Sands and the Inkwell. So that’s really cool. Now so that’s all the background. That’s what we did as of yesterday we launched. It did not end up being a Kindle Select title. We actually went wide with this one. We launched The Beyonce all at once on Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Apple. And it was our widest launch so far, and it was really awesome. So that’s all background. And then now there is all stuff the takeaways that go on after that.
Johnny: And that was a tough decision to make too, the reason that I gave that the preamble about we decided to reluctantly go Select is we really kind of ward with the idea of do we want to– because it was a chance to kind of put our money where our mouth is. It was a chance to say, “Okay, well we believe in the franchise, we believe in the marketability of this title,” because it is a more popular genre. It’s– we love Unicorn Western, but it’s not something people immediately recognize and will pick up because they are like, “What the hell is this?” But Invasion is, and so the idea of going wide with that was once kind of exciting because it was a chance to see what we could do on other platforms, but it was also intimidating. It was not a decision we made lightly I guess. So Sean just sort of said, “We decided to go wide,” but it was not a light decision and maybe this is…
Sean: It was a hard decision, you know, we had to really wrestle with it because we basically engineered something to work– just to harmonize really well with algorithms and then we decided, yeah that’s a short term game but we are really– we had to be true to ourselves ultimately and that meant thinking long term.
Johnny: Maybe this is a good point to mention this is not advice, this show.
Sean: Yeah right. Okay, and we really want to hammer this because there is a lot of things that we are going to talk about today, they are just flat out aren’t advice. This is very unique to our experience. Some of the tactics and some of the strategies here really are unique to our situation and to our outcomes that we desire. So I caution everybody listening to this to just really– you’re going to have good ideas. This is that kind of show. We know we’ve teased the show for a few weeks.
Johnny: And we are going to be talking about it for a long time too.
Sean: Right. This is kind of day one of the Beyonce and you’ll see it over the next few months. We are going to keep checking in, we are going to report how we are doing but this is kind of the core idea behind this podcast– is, that’s it’s our experience right from the very, very beginning since before Johnny wrote, “Fat Vampire” and CI had our serial stuff going down every week. At that time it was very much– we are going to get together once a week and we are going to talk about what is and isn’t working for us and that’s very much what this is.
And while we are really excited to talk about what is and isn’t working and why we made the decisions that we made with the stuff that we are doing right now and in the next few months, I think it is very important to say that yes, you are going to get ideas and that’s why we are talking about it out loud. We will want to help in that way, but it’s kind of dangerous because like there is especially one element and we will talk about it in a few minutes but there is one element here that we really are kind of nervous to talk about out loud because people– no matter how much we caution against it, there are going to be some people who do it the wrong way.
Dave: They are doing it anyway though, so I wouldn’t worry about that.
Sean: Well yeah, but there are some people who hadn’t even thought of this yet and then they are going to be like, “I can be an asshole too.” And it just– it pisses in the pool and we don’t want anyone pissing in the pool and I am afraid and I know Dave and Johnny go, “Johnny said it 92 times in the last week, oh but what if?” And he’s right, you know, there is a chance here that people are going to hear this wrong and do the wrong thing. So we just want to caution that.
David: And I also want to say that I think for 98% of people considering Kindle Unlimited at the moment that that’s probably the way to go, and if this were a Collective Inkwell book I probably would have pushed to go Kindle Unlimited. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to go wide.
Sean: And if this has been a Collective Inkwell book we would have done Select and that’s okay because…
David: And we will…
Sean: But…
David: There is a lot of Sci-Fi in post apocalyptic authors that are just cleaning up on Kindle Unlimited. I mean, you could just look at the top 20 list and they are all making bank and they are doing very well. So keep that in mind as well when you are considering your options.
Johnny: And I would just add as a suffix to that, I think that episode 144 or 145– I don’t remember called using Amazon instead of using Yu or something like that. Listen to that because if you use unlimited in Select, don’t use it in– your strategy– don’t make your strategy, “Here’s my book.” Like you need to have an exit strategy because I’ve said this a few times and it’s kind of ridiculous but it’s not as unrealistic as people being good for a change, right Dave?
Dave: Yeah, that never happens.
Johnny: But Amazon could– they could change the game, they could stop selling books. Now do I think that’s going to happen? No, but Kobo, Barnes & Noble– they are not going to stop selling books. That’s what they do. Amazon does everything.
Dave: You don’t have even have to use that dramatic of an example though because, you know, just a year ago, or maybe a year and a half, a little bit more, Kindle Unlimited– not Kindle Unlimited but KDP Select, was– it did decrease its value. It was a shit for a while. So it could happen again for other reasons, so it really is watching the market place and I think what guys did I think it’s great long term, short term. I think most people, you know, depending on the genre that would probably go the other way. But…
Johnny: Building your list.
[Crosstalk]
Dave: I think you guys are bold enough to do it.
Johnny: Building your list.
Dave: Building your list.
Sean: I think Dave’s right. I think probably anywhere from 95 to 98 out of 100 authors, if you are new, if you only have a couple of books out there, if you are new to this, if you are in your first year to doing it then probably– especially if you are in heavy genre, right, Select is probably the right thing to do right now if– but again it’s all outcome if short term revenue is your number one goal then that still it, but for us it’s just not our number goal.
Johnny: Nor has it ever have. Nor has it ever been.
Sean: Nor has it– right. Nor has it ever been. What is our number one goal right now is optimization and so that’s– I guess that’s a pretty good transition to talk about but before we get into that, do you want to talk about covers…?
Johnny: Now hold on a second, before you say anything Sean; I want to know how 12 is going. Going well Dave?
Dave: Twelve is going to do well. It’s– we are finishing up the last chapter now and…
Johnny: And I like that fact because you are never going to be able to get a cover for it.
Dave: Yes, you would think that but that’s not the case.
Johnny: Holy shit!
Dave: Originally I was going to do the cover; I had this beautiful idea that I want to do. I’m actually juggling between two ideas now which…
Johnny: When you say a beautiful idea you mean like a child being drawn and quartered?
Dave: Yes, exactly.
Johnny: Oh it’s poetic.
Dave: But even more beautiful, yes. But I have these two ideas and what I am going to do is I’m going to go our friends at 99designs.com/spp and I’m going to present these two ideas that I have and see what their designers come up with because just like our Dark Crossings book, that was a cover that I had this great idea for, but I could not make it work. Everything I did absolutely sucked.
Johnny: Now whoever did that cover for Dark Crossings collection was fantastic. It’s too bad, that wasn’t 99designs.
Dave: That was 99designs.
Johnny: Oh my God.
Dave: And it is a beautiful cover and it looks even better in print– Oh God. But yes, we are hoping for the same thing with 12 and that is an example of us putting our money where our mouths are. We don’t just talk about 99designs being great, we’ve used them several times and I am trusting them with one of my favorite books that I have written yet, which Sean of course, co-written and this cover, the designers will take a crack at it and we’ll see what they come up with and worst part is, if they can’t come up with an idea then I’ve got nothing to lose.
Johnny: Nothing to lose. So start your custom…
Dave: And then I’ll just do it myself. I’ll draw a print.
Johnny: Right, because you have nothing to lose. So start your custom design today at 99designs.com/spp and using that link, we’ll give you the free power pack upgrade which is valued at 99 bucks and we will give you on average 185% more exposure, more entries in your design contest which gives you more choose from, so 99designs.com/spp.
Dave: And hopefully this time next week, I’ll have some covers for you all to see so you can actually see the process in action. I think that will be fun.
Johnny: There you go. So continuing…
Dave: Where were we?
Johnny: Sean was talking about optimizing– I think you were going to go off on a thing there.
Sean: Yes. So…
Johnny: And just to keep in mind, I can definitely change this but I did title it about selling on Amazon, Nook, and Kobo. We will go into that.
Sean: Yeah. So I think that our number one goal this year has been optimization and if you look at our timelines across the company we have always, always had both long term goals, we’ve always put them before short term goals, and we’ve also really followed our hearts and our creative desires. I don’t think it’s any secret that with CI our major creative driving force there is Dave’s desire. You know, we would do the things that he wants to do and that’s how– that’s kind of the engine there. And with Realm and Sands I think that our driving engine is balls like, what we do want to do?
Dave: Johnny’s Balls
Sean: And I think that creatively we really get off on that, you know, can we write a book in 30 days? Well let’s find out. I think that that’s really, really fun. Can we write a book…?
[Crosstalk]
Dave: Are we ready with Unicorn Western?
Sean: Yes, right. And it’s– I think– I wonder what the world would be like or what our creative world would be like if we hadn’t started with Unicorn Western, because it really just kind of set the tone for what we would we do. And so we’ve always, always, always done what we want to do and we’ve really turned kind of…
Johnny: And taken a lot of criticism about it too honestly like the idea of…
Dave: I’m sorry. I have to speak my mind.
Johnny: We’ve priced for the long term, we’ve written cross genre for the long term, we’ve written stuff that people say, “Well why didn’t you do something more commercially popular again looking at the long term?”
Sean: Right.
Dave: Can I say– I want to interject something about criticism here. I was talking to Carlson Claire and he was telling me…
Sean: I’m sorry.
Dave: Yeah, I know but he was talking about cricket for like five hours, but anyway, he was telling me a story about– he had a book that came out Six Cycle that came out around the time Yesterday’s Gone did and he got from some indie writers– he got criticism for the fact that he and Darren had used professional cover designer and they had gotten…
Sean: What?
Johnny: What?
Dave: They got criticism basically because they invested a lot of money and basically the people–
Sean: Oh, because they treated it like a business.
Dave: Yeah. The people that criticized it said basically they weren’t being indie authors anymore and I was like, “That is the dumbest shit I ever had.”
Sean: That is the dumbest shit I ever had.
Dave: So I think there is some people out there that they feel like there is an unfit– like you’re basically buying success I think was the word to use. They were saying like…
Sean: No, you’re buying eyeballs ass-hole.
Dave: Yeah. If you invest money in your product somehow you are gaming the system and that is bullshit because that is what professional writers do. They invest in the book and it doesn’t make– you know investing in a good editor or in a book cover it just makes– you know, if your book sucks it so sucks. It doesn’t buy shit; it allows you to compete with people that are there…
Sean: [Inaudible] [0:31:20]. You’re buying Axis to traction is what you are buying and that’s just smart. Look, anybody who is criticizing, spending money on a cover or on an editor– they are just– their odds of success are severely diminished and it’s just true.
Dave: I can guarantee that they will never find success.
Sean: People are not going– well it can happen…
Johnny: Or happiness…
[Crosstalk]
Dave: I’m more likely to smile than that’s to happen.
Sean: So I don’t even know where to go with that. That’s just idiotic. I mean for us, we’ve done the opposite. We’ve– the way we think about it, I think Dave desperately wants to think about it this way too but he has a little more fear, right? And Johnny and I are almost– we are almost stupid with the amount of lack of fear that we have.
Dave: Not almost.
Sean: So we are a good balance together but– okay. I’ll talk personally. The way I see it is that we are buying very cheap stock in ourselves right now. So the more that we do to think long term and to be known as story tellers and to spend money that we are not making back yet on editing and on covers, and on ourselves and, you know, how we– the stories we choose to take our time writing.
That’s cheap stock because some day our catalogue is going to worth a lot more than it is now and right now it’s the penny stocks and they are not going to always be penny stocks and it’s the same with Dave. When I say, “Let’s write whatever you want to Dave,” that’s because I believe in Dave and I feel like I am buying very cheap stock in Dave.
Dave: Aaaw. You’re the one.
Sean: And so– whatever makes people don’t want to buy covers– like that is such a broken mentality. That’s like saying, “Yeah, I don’t need to buy studio time. I could just record on– with a tape recorder in my bedroom and my album is going to sound good enough to sell.” No it’s not dick face, it’s just not. You have to…
Dave: And I was thinking about this and there is– there is two things here that I can understand if somebody doesn’t have the money to do yet and they are going to do their best and that’s one thing. That’s a different thing.
Sean: But to criticize other people…
Dave: Yes.
Sean: Who are doing it the right way, that’s wrong. That’s a mindset that I just can’t understand it. I’m with you. If you can’t do it, that’s okay to say, “This is the very best I can do right now.” I’m working two jobs and I am riding in the 25 minutes that I have each night when I put my kids to bed and all I can do is put– type over a stock photo that I paid $10 for. Like I’m okay with that totally but to criticize somebody else who went out and got pro-cut– the Six Cycle cover is awesome and to criticize that, I think it’s wrong.
Anyway I don’t mean to digress but basically we’ve really over, you know, 2012, 2013, 2014– that was really about getting our work out there, building ourselves a story, building muscle. We have a lot of storytelling muscle at this point and that was really important. And when we were closing out our year last year and we said, “Okay, what is 2015 really about for us?” And it became, “Okay, it’s about optimization.” Now we have our library, we have our catalogue and we need to go through these titles, one by one by one across everything through Lexi, and Guy, and CI, Smarter Artist, LOL, Realm and Sands.
Everything needs to be evaluated per title, product descriptions, categories, keywords, cover everything. And so we were doing that but what makes Invasion unique is that it was a new title and so it was our first chance to pre-optimize, right? So normally we are going and we are saying, “Okay, we wrote this stuff and it’s not really optimized.” We basically spend a couple of years just getting shit out as fast we can. We basically were writing, publishing and repeating, right? And now we are optimizing, now all that stuff is out there and we are making it work for us so we don’t have to work as hard. And so Invasion was a chance to optimize ahead of time.
Dave: That’s for Johnny and not you.
Sean: And so I think that we did that. We did it with the cover, we did it with the story that we wanted to tell, we did it with the way that story was going to be told and we could break down each one of those things. So where do you–I know–I don’t want to ramble guys but where do want to start on any of those things? And then we need to talk about the benefits that we got from this actually launch so far and what we expect. So there is a lot to talk about here.
Johnny: I’m not sure where to begin on that but its– yeah, I don’t know where to go with that. You were talking about optimizing; you’d better close that loop because I’m not exactly sure…
Sean: So the first thing to note here is that we’ve decided to write– we’ve never really cared about, okay, how many books are we going to sell on this project, right? So Axis is a really good example with– actually Dream Engine’s even better example. We started with Dream Engine and it was about, can we write this book in 30 days? What genres is it going to be? All of that, and never was any part of the consideration when we kind of pitched it to the group watching us. Was it, what genre is going to sell? Like that was never, ever part of the equation.
I think the closest we came to asking for any kind of leniency on what people would vote for was, hey we’d like it if we didn’t swear in this book because we want to read it to our kids. I think that was as close as we came to kind of any guidance or ask. And then immediately after that, we wrote Axis which was we don’t really care if this sells. This is a story that we want to tell and a way that we want to tell it. We want to write something that’s a little more literally, that’s a diversion from the other stuff that we’ve been writing, but with Invasion it was specifically we want to write a book that is already optimized before we even start.
So what kind of a book sells really well? Well, page turners and CI writes page turners, like CI is very good at that kind of rhythm. We never really focused on that at Realm and Sands ever and I think one of the things that drives Realm and Sands also is trying new things, you know really stretching our story telling muscles. We want to tell this kind of story, let’s try it and so it was a great idea. Here we want to pre-optimize something and how do we do that and what kind of new story can we tell? And so we decided, well we want to write a page turner because page turners we can, you know, hopefully we can write them fast, we can write them well. They could be exciting, they are the kind of things people talk about and so– okay, check, we are going to write a page turner.
And then we need to decide what genre we want our page turner to be in, and you know, so if we are pre-optimizing here, we want to go with a popular genre. So we chose Invasion which is Alien Invasion which is a very popular genre. Dave and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a– I mean, Yesterday’s Gone spoiler alert is kind of an Alien Invasion story, but we’ve been talking about doing something that’s kind of sideways from that for a while.
Johnny: Well, this came from our story bank.
Sean: Right. So The Invasion was actually one of the pitches that Dave and I gave to 47North when we pitched them– when they picked up Monstress and Z21 34. We had six pitches for them and this was one of those six pitches and so it’s…
Johnny: Yet another story I stole from Dave.
Sean: Is that three now?
Dave: I think it’s four.
Sean: The Beam…
Johnny: Unicorn Western, Fat Vampire, The Beam, and I think this will be the fourth, yes.
Sean: Fantastic.
Dave: I will say Invasion was one of those stories though that I never loved the idea of writing, it seemed very difficult for me to write the first part of it, the next part and like where it goes from here like I want to write that part but the first part…
Johnny: You can’t write the part where there’s hope…
Dave: Yeah that was intimidating to me to write the hope part, so I was glad that you guys did wrong with it actually and that gives me an excuse to write in the world after the hope is all gone.
Johnny: Can we just watch skip ahead to the part where all hope is gone, I think that a good way to look too is what Sean talked about setting the stage, and doing the right publishing or repeating before looking at this pre-optimizing, is probably a good way to look at this. Is we have a lot of stuff here at Sterling and Stone and because of what we’ve done in– as we talk in Write Publish Repeat it’s all to greater or lesser degrees depending on how optimized we are connected, so we’re doing more of that and we still gotten to the auto responder show which we do large so because we had to reinvent it.
Sean: Oh my God, so awesome.
Johnny: And that’s going to be a whole thing too, but that ties everything together too.
Dave: That’ll be a nine hour show.
Johnny: Well, it will be a multiparter. I am going to do a marathon.
Sean: Just like the other the auto responder…
Johnny: So what we done is to lay a bunch of Kindling everywhere and we needed an accelerant, so in order to light a match on this, we needed to do a bunch of things to start that process moving. Once we had gone wide we needed to start lighting the match basically and so a lot of what we’ve done in the first part of this year and some stuff that we’re not quite ready to talk about is, how do we light the match? Invasion was one of this; something that we knew could catch fire with the right push behind it. Another is we did the Book Pub promo for The Beam last month, and actually yesterday the same day as Invasion launch day, I did a Book Pub for the sixth book the full bundle for the Fat Vampire box set, because at Ed Robertson said he had done that with his full like the entire series for his fantasy novel of series, and it hung and it got sticky in the algorithms and hung in there and we wanted to get a lot more eyes.
Let me divert just a little bit before coming back to Invasion because we haven’t even mention that yet. The Book Pub promo for Fat Vampire did really well, the highest I saw it get in the Kindle store was 42 which I’ve never cracked top 50 before so that’s pretty nice and it did really-really well on the other platforms as well, and that’s one of the great things about Book Pub. I don’t know ranking in Kobo, Mark sent me something saying it was very-very high in Canada, I don’t remember like number two or number one in– I have to look sorry Mark and don’t even make fun of me. But I was watching my I can watch the Barnes and Noble because that’s US and it got to number eight in the whole store, the whole Nook store it was number eight.
Sean: That’s so awesome.
Johnny: And it did really well in Amazon, so when we have 2,000 in a day purchases of that then that is a way of we optimized front matter and we optimized back matter in that to send people to our list, God this is just like I am opening loops and I could go down any one of this topics.
Sean: I know there’s so much to talk about here.
Johnny: But in those we were getting a lot of good editions to our mailing list like a really nice inflow from the promo, because we optimized front matter for Fat Vampire that will ultimately flow to other things. The same is true of Invasion, where we optimize front and back matter in that too and so because we’ve tried everything together then lighting the match in this various ways, it is a way of lighting everything on fire. I mean this touches Unicorn Western, it touches Dream Engine not directly yet but it will once everything is tied together. So I just wanted to go down that road a little bit– oh I should mention just because I feel I should that after the Book Pub promo for Fat Vampire I did a Buck Books promo for that, and my God does Steve from Buck Books have a giant dick have you heard that? That’s the way he gets paid, he’s supposed to talk about how big his dick is, so there you go.
Sean: Wow, okay.
Johnny: I just hear these things this is what he told us to say, consider me paid.
Sean: I think that this I mean Johnny is right there’s so much here our list is smarter than it has been and we’re just about to implement the very-very long in production auto responder.
Johnny: The first part with the on very-very, yes.
Sean: Right, which will be the Realm and Sands one, but okay so where were we there. I am just– basically I am pre-optimizing that we had picked the page turning that we wanted we had picked the genre that we knew was good for traffic basically for a lot of traffic and then we got our cover before the book was ready to go so we had to make sure
Johnny: So we did the preorder on all those sites.
Sean: Right and then you can you can go to 99 designs when you have a concept for your cover and you explain what your cover is going to be and you have that cover in front of you while you’re writing that’s actually a pretty good way to write, we done that a couple of times now and the next project that we have we have another project that we have coming out next month which we’re not quite ready to talk about but will talk about soon and it’s another pre-optimized project where we had the cover a head of time and it became part of the story
Johnny: He’s not talking about the sequel to Invasion he’s talking a totally different thing.
Sean: This is something else, right this is something different something else. But really every step of this was pre optimized and I want to pause here and give another one of my warnings and I am sorry if these are redundant, but I think it’s important to say that the wrong way to go about writing your next book is to go and say okay what genre is popular, I am going to write a page turner in alien invasion say because that’s what they did and that’s awesome. Like no it’s not, because if you don’t actually want to write an alien invasion story or actually you don’t want to write a page turner then that’s not the right thing to do.
For us we had wanted to write a page turner for a while and we already had this existing story that we wanted to tell so it was a way of taking our desires and our assets and kind of putting them together, and if it hadn’t been Invasion it would have been something else, we would have found something else that because we’ve got a very-very deep story garden. We have a lot to profile and we have a lot of things that we want to do and a lot of different of different kinds of stories we want to tell, but you don’t to just this isn’t about chasing categories or keyword or anything like that, it’s really about thinking what your desired outcomes are and then looking for the right opportunities that are in alignment with your outcomes so at the risk of really redundant there. So you want to talk about why we kind of went wide next?
Johnny: Very appropriate, yes. Well, we’ve already talked why we want to go wide does it make sense to talk about results or what?
Sean: Yeah let’s talk about results and then just back up a little bit and just small precursor stuff before that, but I think [inaudible] [00:47:21].
Johnny: Okay, so right we still believe that long-term for us gain putting this disclaimer in place that going wide, and I think I definitely hear the argument for new people should go in Select and all this, but it still rankles me, it still makes me say, oh but whatever, build your mailing list. We won’t to enter into that discussion right now that argument which I am sure will turn bloody. But that said we did want to launch on to– we also hit Smashwords but we’ve never really get any actions on Smashwords, but we wanted to like I want a foothold in Nook, I want a foothold in Apple, and we already knew Mark from Kobo, but I wanted to make sure that we definitely did that. We launched wide, we did preorder for all of them, and here’s a little self pub trick for you by the way for Amazon.
Sean: Oh I’m glad; I want to do this, yeah.
Johnny: Okay, with preorder and this wasn’t something that we discovered, somebody sent us this tip; I wish I could remember who it was I apologize. If you have your book up for preorder Indies can’t take preorder reviews, you can’t do that, you can leave a review on something that’s a Kindle version that’s on preorder. However, what you can do if you have your paper back up in time to create so space and the titles have paired so that they show on the same page, you can leave reviews on the paper back and they will show on both versions on the page. So we gave the Kindle version early to our platinum readers, those are the people– is the link in the side bar @sterling.stone.net I think.
Sean: Yeah I think it still set to become a stoner.
Johnny: Okay so we need to that’s one more thing we’re going to optimize, we’re waiting for an author theme, but those are the people who are our members, and they get everything first weeks in advance in this case. And we asked them if they would help us up by if you read it could you leave a review on the paper back? Like you read the Kindle version and you leave a review on the paperback, it’s the same book, and a lot of them did. And so we were able to launch when it went live when it went from preorder– because by the way in case you’re not connecting the dots here like we wanted to Beyonce this and just drop it, but we didn’t literally do that because we needed this.
We just didn’t tell people, in last week’s show Libby Hawker congratulated us on our new book and I said wait-wait-wait that’s a secret, so people did find it and we did get quite a few preorders just because people found it, and bought it which is great but that allowed us to have reviews in place in Amazon, and it also we had preorders on all the other platforms we also through draft to digital for Apple. This is one of those things where I fell like it could go down a lot of side roads lets me mention some of the highlights of the results and then we can dissect whatever is it and Dave I know you have comments or questions, so we can go into those too.
Currently right now its sitting at 109 in Barnes and Noble, that’s in the entire store Invasion is, and we’re in the Nook firsts is the– I don’t even remember how you find it but it’s– we basically got some nice placement. On Apple we got a tweet from iBooks which is fantastic, we’re actually in the front page of the iBooks store, so if you’re watching live, if you go on the Apple Podcasts and you click on books and you scroll down to buzzed about, you’ll see Invasion right there next to the latest Divergent books and Harper Lee’s new book.
Sean: Harper Lee [inaudible] [00:50:59]
Johnny: Right so we’re good company right there, and so that’s going well we’re actually selling– if you combine the off Amazon platforms right now we’re actually selling better I think on Amazon, then on Amazon if you combine them. And Kobo’s promo they had a March promo if you’re– they have occasional promos they send out to authors if you– I don’t know how you get on those lists, but we’re not supposed to forward those I think you can email people and ask and you can submit your book to be in a promo. Kobo is going to have some promo next week. But to me it’s like validation of we decided not to go with Select but I am sure that we lost some money during this launch, I mean it’s one day old at this point but whatever. On Amazon but we feel we’re recouping it in places where we’re gaining new readers for all of our stuff because this is all connected. There’s something I was going to say before turning the mic over.
Sean: Right the point here is that if somebody finds you on Kobo, or Barnes and Noble or on Apple you got your whole entire catalogue for them to go through, now we’re not optimized our catalogue is not optimized on all channels and it needs to be, we’ll work on that but it’s not just– it’s not one dollar equals one dollar because a dollar gained on Barnes and Noble where that Nook reader will not find us otherwise they find us.
They find out they would not find us if they don’t ever look at Amazon they don’t read Kindle that’s not their environment whatsoever then it’s not one for one because we’re not losing a sale on Amazon in lieu of that, we’re gaining a Nook reader who is in I really like that let me see what else they have and at this point our catalogues is pretty deep. A new reader who loves us is really valuable, because they’ll go through and read everything and that can really add up you get a 100 new readers like that that’s a lot of revenue
Johnny: Let me close that loop before handing it back over because I just remembered what it was that I was going to say and that’s is don’t consider this as if we’re reporting and event this is an ongoing thing, so you’ll see our results over time like I said this is barely over 24 hours old at this point. But that said, on Amazon it was a full price launch so we didn’t even discount it, it’s a 4.99 book and it went up and it’s hovering around at two thousands in the ranking.
But what I think is going to happen and we’ll see this because that has a really-really hot cover and we’ve heard that more than anything else, “Wow look at that cover,” what I think is going to happen is it take a few days maybe about a week for the also boughts to populate. So that’s when I think we’re going to see a resurgence, I think we’re going a rise and then a little bit of a dip and then go back up, and then what we’re hoping obviously is that it continues to go up on the strength of the genre, and the cover, and the keywords, all that stuff, so there we go.
Dave: We’ve got a few comments here Christine Niles, the psyche to be here live and I am glad I finished Invasion earlier this week, so I know what the hell you’re talking about for once. Simon Kenton Says, “I just ran a survey among 25 authors, people who spend money on covers and addening marketing guaranteed success, but the people who spend nothing were guaranteed to earn less that 1000 a year although it is a tiny sample though,” he says. Sarah Negovidich [phonetic] I think I love this idea of terming investing in your book as my [tube stock] [phonetic] and she says also, “Too many authors aren’t willing to invest anything in their books and are shocked when they don’t make money.” Mike Underwood says, “There’s a ton going on here thanks for unpacking all of the strategy and tactics for Invasion guys, I am launching a Novella series this year and taking all the notes right now.”
Sean: You’re very welcome.
Johnny: That’s was easy and I thought there would be questions.
Dave: There’s stuff from earlier what we said but there’s no real questions so.
Sean: Did we answer the length one?
Dave: I did answer that somebody asked I can’t find it right now but somebody asked how long the Invasion books were, and I said 309 pages…
Johnny: It’s about 75,000 words and I think 308 pages in both hard back and paper back. One of the other things and this again I am realizing that the title is a little bit off, Tera wanted something to share a few days ago so I said, “Well we’re going talk about selling on Apple, and Barnes and Noble, and Kobo,” but that we’re always kind of talking about that we’re going to talk about that more and more but that said one of the things we did and the reason that I thought of like selling on other platforms with this is, we wanted to make sure we had a preorder for the second book in the series which is called Contact.
Sean: Oh yeah this is important
Johnny: Before the first one went live because it’s such a page turner, that I mean the most common thing we’re hearing is, “I couldn’t sleep because I had to finish the book,” that sort of thing.
Sean: I burned my cookies.
Johnny: I burned two batches of oatmeal cookies.
Dave: Did anybody ever say this about Space Shuttle?
Johnny: They said I burned them in spite. Like I was so angry after reading Redacted that I burnt a bunch of cookies.
Sean: No, no, no, one never has but…
Johnny: Sorry the preorder is up but we don’t have a cover yet, we will in a week or so we did a– people do cover reviews, actually the Harper Lee book has its cover coming soon if you look at that. But the reason I thought of this and I’ll just finish this and then you can say what you were going to say Sean is one of the tips that we have about selling on Apple and they sent us like an open letter that I will send Jacob when you get to this point in the show notes, remind me I’ll send it to you, you can post it with the show notes.
It’s sort of the best practices on Apple; they’re trying to reach out. But one of the things is that you– preorders are pretty much always a good idea in Apple because they, unlike Amazon, they save all that sales rank until launch day. And so if you have 100 preorders, then on launch day it’s like you got a 100 sales, right there. And you rise in the rankings.
We’re making a real point to that. And plus it disciplines us because you have a ten day window for Amazon where you have to have that book in. And we must have screwed something up, because they yelled at us about a preorder. And I’m like, “bitch we had that handle, why are you taking– they took it away for a day. You can’t do preorders because you screwed something up. You really can’t touch that. You need to have the final one in ten days before and it forces us to be organized, because like ten days we have to have it advance, we can’t be up to the wire.
Sean: Right actually…
Sean: So we kind did preorders for everything now.
Sean: Yes. So this is a very good example. We wanted to launch Invasion two on March 30th, and instead we moved it April 9th. And we moved it to April 9th because we need the buffer. It was because of that ten days, it was too tight. So I moved it to April 9th, and we’re safe on that day. But man, like we had to play ball. But it’s really cool, and the way Apple is setup, it’s like if you tap on– of course I did yesterday because when the children came home from school I wanted to show them. I said,” Harley go get your Ipad.” I wanted to show her with a couple of presses…
Johnny: I tried to show my mom, and she couldn’t find it. It was such a bummer. I just had to tell her.
Sean: Awesome. So you click it and Apple is very much setup for a series, so you click it and– it kind of prompted to get contact too. Like right now it’s not out for a month but you can get it right now. They were telling that you could put it up for preorder up to a year in advance. And they actually have authors who that happens for them. People do order a book a year in advance which is very kind of cool. For example Dave and I right now, we can even take orders for Yesterdays Gone season six. Which would stress Dave out I’m sure. But it would be energizing. It’d be really cool. Sure enough we started getting contact orders yesterday when Invasion went live. And that’s very exciting. That’s very cool. And on that…
Johnny: And we’ll probably put up the third one. Like we might as well as soon as we know for sure…
Sean: I think yeah. We’ll get the covers both at the same time probably and just do that. Here is another good example of how this year is all about optimization and pre optimization in some cases. Normally with Dave and I, we’re pretty much what are we going to do? Dave what do you want to do? And we kind of figure out how that harmonizes with desire versus publication.
Johnny: That’s part of the process as well.
Sean: Totally.
Johnny: What are you going to force to me to do now?
Sean: We’re doing Yesterdays Gone season six. That is official going into production. We’re going to start it pretty soon. That is very much a pre optimization decision because we know that we have this successful franchise and it would be– it’s the smartest thing to do. It’s a way to not just– releasing the six one will kind of reverse optimize the other five. We can get on Apple, and series do very well there. We’re going to optimize the covers and the descriptions and everything for the exciting five. But then get the sixth one optimized before we write it, and the idea of okay, we’ve done a really good job with our old catalog getting that stuff to market. And now we want to optimize it. We don’t want to just throw new out to market; we want to take what we’re learning by optimizing our old stuff and really inserting that into our new philosophies [only] of new putting new product together.
Dave: Simon asked if we’re optimizing for outside the US. Not sure in what ways he means.
Sean: Do you mean in like as far as pricing or translations, I’m not quite sure what that question means.
Dave: He said, don’t know, just figure out you guys might something up your sleeves.
Sean: Yeah, I…
Johnny: Let me inserting something about optimizing. I don’t know how to answer that either other than if you made sure the price ended in 99, which I have mixed feelings about all of that just to speak for future proofing reasons, but we can get to that in a minute. If you guys haven’t gotten Nick Stevenson’s free thing yet, you should because that’s where we solidified a lot of what we sort of feel and suspect a lot of this. And he talks about all the different platforms. It’s free. The short link is ‘selfpublishingpodcast.com/10k’. As far as optimizing outside the US the only think, I can like I said is, making sure the price ends in 99. But I haven’t been doing that honestly, which is maybe dump.
Dave: Mike I think we said a couple of weeks ago, the Canada price is a little lot higher, so we lower them to be the same as the US prices just so it doesn’t make it too damn expensive.
Johnny: Sean a long meditated sip, and when Sean is taking a sip we’re always a little biting danger. Actually he must not be because he must be frozen or something. There was something, again I was going to say there and I absolutely can’t remember what it was. I don’t know.
Sean: I think that there’s so much here and clearly this will go on, and on, and on. We will be talking about this frequently. We’ve got another one coming out in a month, and another one a month after that, and each one should build both on what’s coming and what we’ve already done. I don’t know if we want to open more boxes today or kind of round up to a close, I know we’re at an hour. But I think it’s again…
Johnny: Well…
Sean: At the risk of being…
Johnny: A lot of this is too is meticulous levels of details that– you know who’s happy right now are the summit attendees.
Sean: Summit attendees?
Johnny: Yeah. John emailed and he said something and I said, “Well you know we’ll see you in person.” And I think it was him that I said we’ll be able to talk about this. There’s just a lot of nitty-gritty that I think those people are going to be really happy to be able to talk to us about. But…
Sean: It’s also the type of stuff where we’ve profess, we’re a little bit nervous talking about some of this because we don’t want it to be taken the wrong way. And have people go like ‘Alien Invasion eight’ or whatever. That could be bad idea. And when you have a smaller group like that, and you can make eye contact with everybody, and you can really articulate yourselves without fear of being misinterpreted…
Dave: You can let them see both your regular and decoy wallets.
Sean: Yes. Yes. I think it makes a big difference. I think the candor is at a different level. And you can make sure that every question is answered. It’s a very different atmosphere.
Johnny: I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that we need to know about– I’ll mention, since the topic of the show was to be selling out on other platforms, number one we’re sort of committing to this. I don’t know whether we said this earlier, but the other project that was pre optimized, we’re looking at a lot of commercial potential even after doing Invasion and deciding to go wide, we sweated. We were like, that one can’t, that one has to be select. It just has to be. And we’ve decided, no like that’s got to wide too. And these things are kind of a gut check, because we know that there’s a lot of juice to be had and borrows and select. But it’s a long term decision. It’s what we were saying before; we want to kind of put our stakes in the sand. And so you’ll see what happens with project too as time rolls forward.
Now this is something that I actually got from one of Nick’s videos where the selfpublishingpodcast.com/10k, this is actually in one of those videos, where he talks about key word stuff on Nook and Kobo. And Nook in particular, he did some searches– I don’t want to go through the whole thing you can check that out, but those– being found on those depends in search too. And actually one of the funny comments we heard from Nook was that with La Fleur de Blanc likes his title. Like, oh yeah you going to have problems with search because nobody is going to know what that is…
Dave: Nobody even knows how to fucking spell it, unless you’re Canadian or French.
Sean: Right and the new project that we have is pretty much the opposite of that…
Johnny: Go back.
Sean: And Johnny is absolutely right about the gut check here. Because as much as Invasion was kind of designed as a Select title, this other one still has Select centre on it. Like it’s so…
Dave: Mm.
Sean: It’s really supposed to be…
Johnny: A great way to put it.
Sean: It was really supposed to be…
Dave: I guess everyone is eating while they’re listening to this.
Sean: A select title. And it’s not because, like we said earlier we’re buying cheap stock in ourselves. And we’ll probably make this other title that we’ll talk about in a couple of weeks we probably would make more in Select. But only short term, long term we believe. So anyway next week we’ve got Donovan Scherer on and that should be really fun. And then after that we’ll talk more about this. This is big stuff, good stuff.
Johnny: Dave any final…
Dave: I did have one update.
Johnny: Yeah.
Dave: Well, we have one comment, Joseph Medina says, will I understand 12 if I missed one through 11?
Sean: Awesome.
Johnny: Which is to do away with the main part of the book and just go right to the sequel number.
Dave: Yeah.
Sean: It’s like that…
Johnny: This book is called one. This book is called two.
Dave: I did want to update though, I think I mentioned last week that we’d do a Book Pub promo on Crash and that went live earlier this weekend. It got up to number two in all overall number one suspense horror or Thriller horror or whatever, but it did really well, the problem was…
Johnny: What was the overall Amazon did? I saw a 90; did it get higher than that?
Dave: I think it got up to 60 something. I don’t remember, it got up to 90, so I was happy, and also we had a lot of…
Sean: Opt-ins?
Dave: Opt-ins for the email and that was awesome, and also a lot of emails from people that read it immediately, and loved the story. I like that because to me it’s like personal sort of story and that people emailed me about it. I like that when you connect with the reader, so that was awesome to hear from a whole bunch of new people that didn’t even know who we were.
Sean: One thing to know to note on that too is that we knew the Book Pub promo was coming out so we didn’t just let it happen, we updated the front matter. We updated the front matter; we made sure the list was there. And Dave usually groans about stuff like that, but he didn’t this time. he was like,” Let’s get it do.”
Dave: No, no, no.
Sean: And then he was like, “Okay are these good numbers?” He’s very much on top of it right now. and I think that that’s the whole Amazon not using you thing is you want to make sure that, if you have a promo coming up, really leverage it, and I think that it’s very easy for authors to just say ,” Okay, My big benefit on this is sales.” And that’s just such a small part of it. You can’t just be done with the sales. It’s how do I get more readers into my space that I can communicate with, and tell them about the next time I have book. Because…
Dave: I’m sorry.
Sean: No, no. GO ahead.
Dave: As you said, the best part about this was somebody had left a review saying how Crash was so awesome. And it didn’t have profanity and sex and something like. They thought that was a positive. And what they’re getting when they sign up for a mailing list Yesterdays Gone. So yeah, I wonder if they’re going to come back and read after that review.
Sean: It’s very possible.
Johnny: If you look at…
Dave: They tricked me!
Johnny: Actually this is– I’m glad that Sean mentioned that and the front matter. I know we mentioned it generally but with the– legacy of Fat Vampire is at 99cents it’s been over 2000 in the past under 24 hours, number of sales. And so that’s really great. But that’s the whole thing. When I need the [partial] before, the one to four, then I could count on people buying five and six. There’s a tendency to be like,” why does this count as the whole thing?” And I maybe to say – and when I say I mean we– Fat Vampire my name is on it but that’s a Sterling and Stone property.
But we kind of shot out wide like maybe we won’t recoup, by the way we already have. We’ve clearly recouped what was spent on the ad. But what if we didn’t? And the answer sort of if, well number one is mailing list sign ups. We basically said, “We have this promotion over here for this closed thing that kind of doesn’t anything to do with anything else.” Even the kind of vampire sort of creatures and other thing that we do, but there’s nothing like that it’s– Unicorn Western is probably the closest. But even that isn’t close. It’s the type of book. It’s like, “Do you like this?” So we have a signup to join our mailing list in the front and in the back. And if you look at the Fat Vampire – it’s called the big fat box, all six of them. If you look at that right now, it’s…
Sean: That’s awesome.
Johnny: On any of the platforms it’s on– although Apple is squarely about updating and I don’t know whether it’s updated in time. But the other three big ones, contains a link that says ‘get Invasion’ and so I don’t– we have no visibility there. But my hope is that trying to use– basically saying, we have this one promo for something over here, how do we get the most juice out of it? And this was one of the answers was just try to drive traffic over in the same way you would say, the sequel is discounted, or something, it’s where can we drive this traffic? Anyway well, that can be it if you guys are…
Dave: Oh yeah, yeah. You’re at 56, it’s cool.
Johnny: 42 is the highest I saw. But it’s been in the top 100 for about a day.
Dave: Wow! 857 pages for 99 cents, go get it. I read a lot of the first one and I liked it a lot.
Johnny: And those are…
Sean: Did you pass the wedding?
Johnny: Those are…
Dave: What?
Johnny: Those are easy to do you past the wedding scene. Those are digital pages too because there’s no print equivalent of the six. So like in print it would be probably be like 1200 pages or something like that. Actually let me add as a closing shot that I started to say something about Invasion in one of our story meeting. It was a comment that somebody had made about a character and Dave was like,” Wow! Wow! Wow! Hold on, hold on. Spoiler alert.” And I just kind of looked at him funny and said, I’m still reading out. “You’re reading it? You’re reading it?” So Dave is reading Invasion.
Dave: I am reading invasion and I like it.
Johnny: So that’s a coup.
Dave: I ought to read the story you stole from me fucker.
Johnny: Which one?
Dave: I think this is– Fat Vampire, I inspired you, but it wasn’t a story I was writing. This was…
Johnny: Oh my God I just realized that…
Dave: I actually plotted out the beats to the beginning.
Johnny: Until Cursed the only stories you’d touched, were the ones that were inspired by you or that I stole from you, right? Like you read the wedding scene in Unicorn Western, you read part of Fat Vampire, you love the first scene of The Beam, we all know that, and now Invasion. So that’s great.
Sean: Okay, wait, wait, wait.
Dave: It’s a curiosity though that I have. I’m curious like how something that either I inspired or that we’d started or we’re going to work on like, The Beam we’re going to work on, like how it changed from what I would have done. I like to see how different people treat similar material or…
Sean: All right Johnny, I have the next two Realm & Sands projects. Because we…
Dave: Oh jeez.
Johnny: Yesterday’s Gone, Yesterday is over. We don’t want to get into popular edition.
Sean: Yesterday is here. We pitched six things to 47 North and they picked two. And another one of them was The beam. And another one of them was Invasion. There’s two left.
Johnny: Let’s call these the remainder series. Dave sloppy second, all right so are we done then?
Sean: That’s what the box said [inaudible] [01:14:51]
Johnny: His sloppy seconds box said. So obviously keep an eye on….
Dave: Are we done?
Johnny: All of this stuff, yeah well we got to get Better Off Undead, there’s some important shit happening there. Keep an eye on all this stuff guys. I will remind you that the deadline for the Colonist registration to Colonist summit is March 15, and that there’re payment plans there. So you don’t have to pay all at once. But there are three slots left, if you want to get in on that, it’s sterlingandstone.net/colonist and I’m sure that this sort of stuff will be a large topic of discussion. So that said stay tuned, next week we’ll have Donovan Scherer. He’s our illustrator for filthy fairy tales and adult video for Lexis’s line and lot of other good stuff. So we will see you next week.

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6 Replies to “Selling on Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (Self Publishing Podcast #147)”

  1. Anma Natsu

    Such a timely episode as I’m prepping to release my first novel (hopefully this month) and have been trying to figure out the Kindle Select/Unlimited or no and the other platforms!

  2. Greg Thomas

    So, I bought the full ‘Fat Vampire’ series on Amazon and when I opened it, it went straight to the beginning of the first book, skipping the front matter. Are that many people paging backwards to the Table of Contents (I always do, but I’m weird) and then discovering your mailing list pitch? I doubt many have gotten to the back matter yet, so I would think the bump in your mailing list is from (right now, at least) the front matter. What am I missing?

    • Blaine Moore

      Greg, I can’t speak for S&S, but for myself, I don’t really worry about folks seeing my front-matter opt-in if they’ve bought the book, in that case I’d rather get them if they actually read the book and make it to the back-matter as being a better lead.
      For the front-matter opt-in, you get folks using the free sample download from Amazon or using look-inside that can then signup to your list. The leads aren’t as good, but hey, free leads.
      If you wanted to you could keep the front matter opt-ins and back matter opt-ins separate and send a separate sequence to try to warm up the front-matter folks a bit more or differently, although I don’t usually bother past tagging which link they signed up through.

      • Greg Thomas

        Thanks for the feedback, Blaine. I think the samples start at Chapter One also, but I get that people just sampling would never get to the back of the book, so it’s good to have it there for anyone that might page to the front matter on a sample. I guess it’s possible that different e-readers start the book at different locations based on settings that we have no control over. I primarily use iPhone/iPad Kindle apps, so maybe Kindle on different platforms start at the cover.

  3. Nicola Lane

    I would love to become a Platinum reader – but the paypal option is broken – I was told it was being looked into a week ago, can someone get it fixed please.

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