What Readers Really Want, with Matt from Buck Books (Self Publishing Podcast #143)
If you’ve been faithfully watching the show for a while, then you might remember the guys wondering out loud about this mysterious website called Buck Books. They wondered what the company was all about, and they puzzled about how legit it was. (Because how do you take someone with the name Buck Flogging seriously, really?)
Since then, the guys have come to terms with the funky name and even funkier profile picture (seriously, go here to see the profile pic for Buck: http://archangelink.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/bucks-pic.jpg) and they’ve come to see Buck Books as a tool many authors should know about.
Enter Matt Stone, who came on the show to tell us about what Buck Books is and to share some insights into how to make a book more appealing to readers. There are some very good tips here, so don’t you dare miss the show!
Visit Buck Books Here: http://buckbooks.net
Visit Matt’s Other Site Here: http://archangelink.com
Here’s the video version:
Show Episode Transcript
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 are down with OPP, Johnny, Sean, and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing podcasts, the podcast that follows three full-time authors as we attempt to change the face of indie publishing. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co host as always, are Sean Platt and David Wright. I feel the need to say that this is not advice again after doing AMC live yesterday, and attempting to point out that that was part of our pre roll which it is not, it used to be before it got to…
Sean: This is not advice.
Johnny: This is not advice, you can all stop listening right now. All right, well it’s been a good show everybody.
Sean: How are you guys this week?
Johnny: How about them apples?
Sean: How about the sports team?
Johnny: I need to mention– hold on I had a bunch of stuff here, so I need to mention that and we won’t go into a lot of detail, because you guys are probably getting tired of it, but we have the early bird deadline for the colonist session of the colonist Summit in Austin, Texas the 18th and 19th of April. The early bird deadline has passed, but that does mean that we do now have payment plans, so if you’re curious sterlingandstone.net/colonist, and there are six spots left. So there you go. All right what’s new in the world of optimization?
Sean: Is that how you start all conversations?
Sean: What is new in the world of optimization this week– did we do anything? My weeks are running together…
Johnny: Do we want to mention– do we want to say anything about the results of the Book Pub promo?
Sean: Yeah sure, I think people really care about that.
Johnny: Okay go.
Sean: Well you’re watching the dashboard so much more than me. I think you probably have more insight into this.
Johnny: It went well. All right, so that’s about it, no I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty.
Sean: Start the show.
Johnny: No, I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of all that that stuff, but it went up to– it didn’t soar as high as some of the other things we’ve done. Again I would attribute that largely to the recently realized fact that we probably have the wrong cover on that book, and we will fix that before we do another promo. But it got to about– do you remember how high it got? It was it in– I don’t even remember at all. It didn’t make double digits, it didn’t get to the top 100 but it got close, I want to say like 150.
Sean: I want to say 179 was– that’s the number in my head, but I don’t know, but I do think that that is a very-very good example of a cover that is a pretty piece of art, but it doesn’t look like a book cover. It doesn’t convert– I see Dave has an I told you so.
Johnny: Well Dave has also been smirking at comments or something over there the entire time.
Dave: No, I was trying to tweet that we’re on but yeah I was laughing because I did tell you so from the very beginning.
Johnny: You told us about the cover? Did you, it just goes to show that I apparently never listen to you.
Dave: Oh yeah Sean and I had many conversations.
Sean: Yeah he tells us about everything; see that’s what Dave still doesn’t realize, if you hate everything it’s just like…
Johnny: You’re going to need to pick and choose the things that you tell us were doing stupidly Dave, because it’s everything then we’re never going to hear you when you’re right.
Dave: But then when the sky is falling you might…
Johnny: Even a broken hater is work, even a broken hater is right twice a day, that’s for the expression.
Sean: Right, so but yeah I think that it’s a nice piece of art. I still do love it. I especially love it up close, when you can see the texture and stuff but whatever nobody has seen that on a thumbnail and it’s not doing the job of communicating to a reader what it is. But I do think that the conversion is pretty nice from The Beam to Future of Sex, which does have a great conversion happy cover. So I think the plan at this point is to get beam season three out and run you know– and we’ll get new covers for…
Dave: Not yet?
Johnny: No it keeps getting postponed by other things that are quite important, so you’ll see.
Sean: Yeah. We were supposed to start that on January 5th of this year, that was the plan and that didn’t happen and we’re hoping for March. But just a few things have come up and that is Johnny was actually trying to reassure me yesterday during our story meeting. Not that it will get done, but that it won’t be as difficult as season two was because we’ve built a lot of muscle is what he said in that time and…
Dave: Well Johnny is good at building muscle.
Johnny: Love muscle.
Sean: No he said this book is like my abs and so yeah, The Beam season three hopefully will not because season two was hard, season one was hard but in a different way just because it was new for us or we’d written beyond you know before that was Unicorn Western which was so-so different, but yeah we’ve done a couple of million words since season two of The Beam. So there is a lot of muscle there, and I keep dreading it because it’s– I’m not dreading it. I’m very excited about it, but I also you know I know that it’s got to be hard and he was saying no don’t worry about it will be great
So hopefully in March we’ll get to that, but we’re going to re-do of the season one cover and the season two cover, get a new cover for three clearly so they all look good together and run another promo and I’m positive it will convert even better this next time.
Johnny: Yes so…
Dave: We have some comments.
Johnny: I was going to go on about, I’ll do the comments after the comments, the whatever that meant.
Johnny: I was– I’ll go on after the comments, I have more to say on the of the Book Pub stuff.
Dave: Tammi Labrecque [ph] I believe it’s how you say the last name, first time watching live, you bitches better bring your A game. We start with our D game, Tom Hinton says if you’re suppressing Dave, how can he say I hate you all and truly mean it?
Sean: That’s fair.
Dave: Robert Misner, who pointed out on twitter, thank you very much. He said you could optimize your Canadian pricing right Dave. So Robert tweeted to us earlier in the week said Collective Inkwell, your Canadian prices are a bit insane or something to that effect. And I looked and we were letting Amazon auto match all of our prices on our books and they’re pretty high. And I looked at other people you know that we’re running with and that their prices were matching the US prices and the Canadian prices were a bit higher than they used to be you know that whole economy thing and the dollar versus the Canadian…
Johnny: Well you know with Canada being in the European Union and having that value added tax I think that’s it, well because isn’t there American…
Dave: You are the expert.
Johnny: There’s American and other, right. I mean, no I was just kidding; I’m not really that…
Dave: I don’t think there could be a tee on that I’m not sure but yeah…
Johnny: I think it’s really unfair that we should have to pay a value added tax when we’re adding very little value.
Dave: That is true, if we have value added tax we’d have to pay a fee, but yeah we change our prices for all of our seasons, so I didn’t go and do like all those single episodes and stuff because…
Sean: Yeah, but that’s a really good example of something to optimize because you know you could be missing out on a lot of traffic, because I mean you don’t want to be too expensive. And if that traffic is coming to your page and people are curious, you may not just be missing out on the sale of that book, you could be missing out on that reader, you know if they don’t try you the first time, then you have lost them.
Johnny: This just goes to show you that there’s no way to win, okay because…
Dave: Thank you thank you for finally acknowledging that, I bother.
Johnny: I have been removing that, like we’ve been doing a lot of a lot of optimization lately and so I’ve been in dashboards republishing stuff all those stuff and I’ve been removing the price matching on everything, because it’s just like it’s so high maintenance to say like– because would be would be would have something fixed, like the British pound and then there would be– I don’t know currencies change is like every day I’ve heard that this occurs.
And so like there would be wildly off and so I just said fuck it, like I’m tired, I don’t want to come in and monitor my prices like just let everything match. If it’s off by– because the argument that I know Mark makes this– Mark Lefebvre at KOBO makes this argument specifically about KOBO and Canada is since the US and Canada prices currencies are usually very, very close or within a buck or so. If you have something that’s you know for 2.99 in America, and it ends up being 3.09 in Canada like go ahead and make it 2.99, so it you know it has that 99 cent thing or the other way around. If it’s 2.89, make it 2.99.
And so I’ve always kind of done that and so we did that and then you go back in and it’s like whoa shit its way off now, and they did that the VAT thing that fucks everything up. And so I’ve just been saying let everything match and I don’t give a shit because I don’t want to come in and monitor it, and now Dave is saying you’ve got to go back. So it’s you can’t win. There’s no way to win folks. All right so…
Dave: Well Canadians are understanding, so…
Johnny: No everybody though, it’s everybody like we were– because if it was close we would go ahead, I would.
Sean: Do you think Dave always taken up for the Canadians too.
Dave: I’m moving there so…
Johnny: If Dave wants to be further from us when we move south, we would– like I moved to Austin and Dave’s like okay well then I need to clearly go north.
Dave: Oh I’m going far as north.
Johnny: He’s going to be…
Sean: Dave is moving to the North Pole.
Johnny: He’s going to be on that 30 days and nights, like that’s he got real excited when he heard that, he thought it was a travel movie, 30 days and nights I’m sold.
Dave: I’m going there, big deal a couple of vampires.
Johnny: All right.
Dave: Fit right in.
Johnny: So let me just follow up on The Beam stuff two because one of the things like with a book pub promo, it’s almost worth doing it even if you have absolutely nothing else going on. Just because like they pay for themselves pretty much right away, like it’s– they just do and…
Dave: Yeah we never lost money on a book pub promo.
Johnny: Right and they pay for themselves usually within like the first day or part of the first day and you’re making sales. If you’re on multiple platforms you’re making sales on Nook and Kobo and Apple, you know 80 some sales on Apple and like we– I think we had eighty some sales on Apple, the rest of our history on Apple. So like having it in one day it’s like okay and– but what we did was we lowered the price of season two which is also up at like 15,000 right now, which you know like considering that it was much lower than that like that’s a really good rank that we’re 13 sales of that overnight, like I woke up this morning I was like season two sold 13 at five bucks, like that’s pretty cool.
Sean: I got that and slack with an exclamation mark.
Johnny: Because we haven’t optimized anything, we’re just like okay well lets it’s out there and Future of Sex and The Girlfriend Experience, which is the Future of Sex book two both continue to take along really nicely too which are related worlds and cross linked, like they’re in their also boughts. One of the things we wanted to do, we just sent to the to the Realm and Sands list, we sent The Beam promo because we’ve stacked everything up, we had a Buck Books ad, we’re going to have Matt from Buck Books on today actually, and in the 20 minutes or something 15 minutes. And so we have Buck Books, we have kindle books and tips; we had e-reader news today.
We had Book Pub had seven days of ads and then in the 8th day right before we raised the price like okay tell our list too, see stagger them out and hopefully we get that continued elevated price then Amazon kicks in with their promotion sort of thing. And so we e-mail our list and Lexi’s list got it too because the Future of Sex is in that world, and so those titles are tied together really nicely now in the also boughts. So one of The Beams also boughts a prominent one is the Future of Sex because we sent both titles to both lists, and a lot of the people bought both of them. And so that I think is getting some cross-pollination too back and forth, the Future of Sex also has The Beam, I think it’s first in it’s also boughts, so that’s something we’re trying to do.
Sean: Which now is a very big part of this whole strategy, like that was– one of our primary goals wasn’t just getting the sales and getting that elevation in ranking, but actually populating also boughts on both sides.
Johnny: Yeah this is in– I should probably mention this to Matt when he’s on, because we had a Buck Books ad for Future of Sex a while ago, and so all of Lexi’s also boughts for that were like time management and Paleo living. And it was like oh I think that’s because you know they’ve got the Buck Books ad and they bought the in so it was just like it was the least aligned also boughts.
So they are finally starting to populate in a way that makes sense, and but the one that I want most, the one that never happened before when we released it the first time was the Future of Sex I want to show up prominently in the also boughts for The Beam and it never did, because if you like The Beam you would like the Future of Sex as long as you’re not like offended by a few racy scenes. So anyway so that’s that. I’m really, really pleased by that. What else we got what else we got, I’m allowed to announce the thing that James sent us the first thing right like the– can we talk about this with The Beam and the audio book?
Sean: I don’t think so.
Johnny: I can’t talk about the first thing? Okay, well I won’t, I’ll be safe then but there’s something cool going on Beam audio book.
Sean: I think we probably wait I think.
Sean: I don’t know. I can check the email real quick.
Johnny: Okay we’ll announce it– will mention next week then.
Johnny: If we wanted to…
Sean: Do you guys have cool stuff. Remember, like Joseph being awesome to share?
Johnny: I listened to the podcast where you mentioned that that would be a good idea, and when I listen to it I thought I don’t have anything and I’m going to forget.
Sean: Don’t you always have awesome stuff though. Maybe I’ll think of something else. My awesome thing is pretty simple, but I’ve started watching– I didn’t start I actually finished the whole first season of a show that I just think is really good. It’s called Masters of Sex and it’s a show time serial, and it’s just fantastic. It’s just really, really good. It started out kind of slow and I didn’t know if I had to get all that much.
I like the questions it asked, it actually doesn’t ask so many questions, it answers questions that were asked a long time ago, but it’s about the scientists Masters and Johnson who did a lot of the sex discovery and a lot of work that nobody else was willing to do back in 1954 is when it takes place and it’s just really-really interesting how taboo all of this stuff was to talk about, like you couldn’t talk about a female orgasm in public and you know we’ve come a long-long-long way to come, but the show is really just fascinating because it’s like a period piece of you like Mad Men you’ll really like this show, it’s the same kind of vibe.
Dave: It’s Mad Men with TNA.
Sean: It’s Mad Men with a lot of TNA, but it doesn’t feel gratuitous, it feels exploratory and it’s just– the writing is great, the acting is great, but the main lead, I’ve never seen her in anything else before…
Johnny: Are you talking about…
Dave: [Inaudible 00:17:14]
Johnny: Yeah, she’s she was. She was Jason’s girlfriend for a while in True Blood.
Dave: And she was in [crosstalk 00:17:21] by J.J…
Sean: That’s right.
Johnny: Was it J.J. Abrams?
Dave: Yeah the monster one, I forget the name of it.
Sean: [Inaudible 00:17:31]
Dave: No, no, no.
Johnny: The Godzilla one? The one…
Sean: Oh Clover field.
Dave: Yeah Clover field, she was in that, she’s been in a lot of stuff.
Sean: Well she is fantastic, she plays Virginia Masters and she is just– or Johnson, she is just so-so-so good. And anyway, that’s my share. I think it’s a great show, and if you like good writing and good acting and great beams and stuff that were real meticulous about the period, it’s just I can’t say enough nice things about it and I just finished that first season last night and I just loved it.
Dave: I’ve seen a few episodes and while it is a Showtime series with tits and ass, it is– it does characters very-very well, it’s very thoughtful, the few episodes I saw they touched on other stuff, they touched on issues of the day like race and stuff. It’s a really good show, I just haven’t watched it– it’s just one of those shows you’re like, you know I didn’t have time or whatever you know, it’s…
Sean: No I’m going to tell you, I’m not a spoiler I’m going to say why Dave didn’t like it, I know why he didn’t like it, why he doesn’t watch…
Dave: I object to nudity.
Sean: Because when I was asking him I said have you seen Masters Of Sex, do you think it’s worth watching because I love serialized TV, but I only want to watch something that is really awesome because I know that I’m a completist and once I start I’m going to want to keep watching it. And so I was asking him and he said well and I could tell there was something he wasn’t saying because he had nothing but nice things to say about it, but I didn’t understand why he wasn’t watching it if he seemed to like it.
And he said well I don’t know it’s based on real life, it’s a pick line, I know what’s going to happen, everybody lives. There is no drama for Dave because it actually happened which I think is hilarious, that’s one of the things that actually makes it more interesting.
Johnny: No you’re totally misinterpreting that, it wasn’t that it is real life and it’s actually occurred, it’s the fact that no one died.
Dave: I don’t like fact based stories because you know I know that there’s no way they can tell all of the facts, so it’s just– I don’t know it must be the journalists in me.
Johnny: It’s tainted.
Dave: It is, it’s tainted and I also I like the mystery of not knowing. I already know about Masters and Johnson and I don’t know everything, and I know a lot of those accounts are like fictionalized and stuff. If I want to read it, if I want history I want actual history, I don’t want a dramatization of it, that’s why I don’t watch lifetime.
Johnny: Well that’s why I liked Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter because it was…
Dave: That was fucking authentic as hell.
Johnny: So there you go.
Dave: I had nothing cool this week, I had strip throats so…
Johnny: That’s pretty cool.
Sean: That is something awesome.
Dave: So I got to sit in a doctor’s office for two and a half hours.
Johnny: Listen for that story on Better Off Undead I’m sure. I do have something but it’s kind of oblique and just basically plays off of Sean’s, but one of the things that I do and have been doing even more lately is trying to watch movies based on whatever I’m writing– not based on but in the genre of because I want to kind of steep myself.
Sean: Dave do you have a western movie already, I got to see that.
Johnny: But I did do…
Dave: Well actually…
Johnny: I did do that with Unicorn Western though not the thing you are joking about but the thing I’m actually talking about. Like I did watch all of those westerns just to get a feel for sort of the tropes and the rhythms and…
Dave: And the last unicorn.
Johnny: I rob watched a documentary on unicorns, no but I just find that it helps me to kind of steep; it’s almost like method acting for writing. Like I want to kind of feel those things and I think that that works really well. So I’ve been doing more of that. But what kind of a cool thing is that, it’s like really nonspecific.
Sean: Yeah no I totally agree with it. I do the same thing, and even when it’s only like remotely related. So when I was beating out Robot Proletariat season two, I watched a couple seasons of Downtown Abbey even though there’s like so little like really right, but…
Johnny: But it’s the feel and if I hadn’t already seen a few episodes of Down Abbey I would’ve done the same thing.
Dave: You guys are writing with Lexi, you watch tons of pornography.
Sean: A ton.
Johnny: Yeah that’s why I watch it.
Sean: On the big screen.
Sean: I have one more little awesome thing, so I really want to write a screenplay this year and I don’t want to like bury myself in a ton of how to books or anything like that. I really just want to do it and learn by doing, but I do feel there’s a value in reading a lot of screenplays. So I read my very first screenplay this week. And it was– and I’m going to watch the movie tonight. So the first screenplay that I ever– that I chose to– and it was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to choose because I love so many movies, but I went with something that was done by a writer and a director. So the person who wrote it actually directed it. I thought that would be important because I’m really seeing a vision and it had to be a movie that I really liked and had I thought a very neat composition, and I chose Jerry Maguire.
Johnny: Oh my God I just watched Jerry Maguire a few days ago. I’d seen it once when it came out and watched a few days ago literally.
Sean: How did you like it?
Sean: Because it’s a fantastic movie…
Dave: I was asking Johnny why.
Johnny: Because it’s a fantastic movie, Robin and I it’s hard for us to find movies to agree on.
Sean: I love Cameron Crowe I think he’s a fantastic writer and I just I love that movie. And so and it was it was really well written. It’s the romantic comedy that’s just done so well and so I wanted to read that script. So I’d I got the PDF and I read it and then tonight I’m going to watch the actual movie and I’ve seen it a bunch of times, so like it was amazing to me I could see it in my head while I was reading the screenplay, and it’s amazing to me how precise that screen play is. I only noticed…
Dave: [Inaudible 00:23:48]
Dave: What did you say? I’ll get there, but I wanted something simple and I knew this was an [crosstalk 00:23:54] right, this is follows all the rules, Magnolia follows none of the rules so this was a good first one. I think I’m going to do Kill Bill one and two next, maybe [inaudible 00:24:07]
Dave: I knew it was going to be a Tarantino night.
Sean: We’ll his scripts are fantastic. I love them, but Jerry Maguire seemed like a good one and I think it’s going to be a really neat exercise to watch the movie after just finishing the screenplay and really compare it. But in my head– I know the movie pretty well and in my head I could only spot one difference between the script and the actual film.
Johnny: What was it?
Dave: Where everybody dies at the end?
Sean: You know the scene in the car with Ray when he like did you know the human head weighs eight pounds, that that’s not in the script.
Johnny: Oh really, it must’ve been an impromptu sort of thing. You know speaking of Jerry Maguire and Cameron Crowe, what would you do if you needed a book cover designed?
Dave: Wow of all the things.
Johnny: Well you know sometime in the mind works in– well I think that that was it, I think I was thinking about show me the money and I was thinking about how usually when you go to a designer, that’s the first thing they say show me the money and you never have enough because it’s impossible to get one as an indie, because it cost thousands and thousands of dollars.
Dave: No, not quite it is.
Johnny: And then you have got to bring out the clone and tell them that they complete you, it’s a whole thing and then you start arguing and they say you had me at hello.
Dave: That happens to me all the time seriously though; book covers– if you want a great book cover and you don’t know a designer or you have a designer…
Johnny: There’s nowhere to go.
Dave: There’s nowhere to go and you want it done quick, you don’t want to wait forever. Well, you’ve got the best place in the world, 99designs.com/SPP.
Johnny: So you say they’re quick Dave, they’re quick. I thought that– I heard that they’re really slow and really expensive and that you could lose everything.
Dave: No they are the opposite of that, they are built. They are built to deliver, they have I don’t know zillions of designers, is that is that possible?
Johnny: Well there’s got to be at least 99 of them or it doesn’t work out.
Dave: There’s a lot of designers and what you do is you have this idea for a book cover, like you know, like let’s say you wanted The Beam and you didn’t want it to suck you can wait there. You want your book cover to compete with other books in the genre, you want to look like it belong, like it’s a bestseller, go to 99designs.com you tell them what your book is about, you show them some examples of– you don’t have to show examples but you can, this is kind of what I’m going for, and then they have…
Sean: Don’t use The Beam as an example.
Dave: Don’t use The Beam as an example, but then you have a bunch of designers that compete to deliver you the best book possible. And you get to choose, you get to choose among a ton of great covers, and then you can bring your audience in and get them involved– help me pick the best cover. It can run polls and get the audience on board excited about your book because they’re part of the process, and the best part is it if you don’t like any of the covers you have nothing to lose, you don’t have to pay, you just walk away.
Johnny: Just walk away.
Dave: It’s not going to happen, it’s never happened to us before. Every time we had too many good covers, when we did Dark Crossings we had like three or four different covers. I wanted to do all of these and Sean is like no we can’t do them all.
Johnny: If you want to walk out…
Dave: I just choose one.
Johnny: If you want to walk out and you feel like you have something to lose, no you’ve got nothing to lose, you’re able to walk away with no risk, can you drop the Mic?
Dave: Drop the Mic.
Johnny: All right yeah [crosstalk 00:27:57]
Dave: Excited, happy.
Johnny: We’re so excited we’re talking over each other, so to get your– start your custom design today, go to 99 designs– I did that again. Selfpublishingpodcast.com, no oh my God I can’t work without my script.
Johnny: 90 don’t do any of those thing things, do none of those things go to 99designs.com/SPP, and if you use that link, you’ll get the free power pack upgrade, I promise if you use that one, not one of those other ones I started to say, you get the free power pack upgrade which gives you much more visibility. Gets you on average 185% more designs and they…
Johnny: Bold your listing and give it a prominent background and basically like if you don’t do that, then you’re just– you not doing it right, you’re doing it wrong, you’re some sort of subhuman, so definitely…
Dave: It’s like holding your baseball bat upside down.
Johnny: It is, that is what you do. All right I am going to attempt to connect us with Matt Stone, who from Buck Books and we’ve had a lot of initial success with Buck Books with– we did a promo for what is the one that we did originally, it was the Future of Sex promo and then we did another one for The Beam.
Sean: That’s where we got the paleo also boughts.
Johnny: That’s where we got the paleo also boughts. So this is a little clumsy because I’m going to contact Matt via Skype and we don’t normally do that. So normally we will do a hangout but this is the only ways he’s able to join us. So I just hopefully you guys are just going to have to suffer through it. So can I go ahead and do this and I’m going to try– hopefully guys I’m getting feedback from US.
Johnny: Is it bad feedback?
Dave: No, we’re good.
Johnny: All right, I like it because it’s like a call in, we get the audio.
Sean: This reminds me of trying to call my mom on BOU.
Johnny: Are you there Matt?
Matt: I’m in the house, what’s happening?
Dave: Yoyo, what up?
Johnny: Fantastic. This is awesome.
Matt: With my little headphone set up and all that stuff okay, now I’m really ready. It’s on now for real.
Johnny: All right. Well I introduced you as Matt Stone because you said that I could do that. Because I don’t think that anybody was going to buy that you are really named Buck Flogging.
Dave: Yeah I was going to cut bullshit on that.
Matt: Yeah Buck Flogging is a– you know just a poorly concealed pen name and one that I’m quite proud of. His accomplishments far exceed my own, but yeah I’m more than willing to be Matt Stone even though you know Buck’s clearly the elephant in the room.
Johnny: So speaking of…
Dave: No that’s me.
Johnny: So Buck Books– is that Buck Books, it is .com, right? I probably should have looked.
Matt: It’s .net; obviously that was a financial concern. I tried to…
Sean: Yeah we feel your pain; we are all .nets all over the place.
Matt: Yeah I did not want to spend like you know five figures to obtain that website address when I could get Buckbooks.net for about I don’t know 20 bucks setting a page for that. So anyway it is .net. Maybe someday when we take the world over we can switch over to Buckbooks.com but yeah .net for now.
Johnny: So you are using– it’s a Book Pub style model. It’s email subscription, you are gathering readers and then advertisers which it’s currently closed program for advertising and I believe you said you are going to open that up later. But for now it’s like you are gathering lists of readers and you are trying to do the– you are doing the Book Pub model where you gather the list and then you have access to all these people that want to read.
Matt: Yeah it’s similar model, it’s definitely partially inspired by Book Pub, and you know we get daily deals that we broadcast out to our email subscribers just like Book Pub does. A few things that we do different, we have vents and other creative things that we are going to be adding. We are actually going to sell audio books if we can get approved for micro payments, that’s taking forever. I don’t want to pay 33cents for every one hour transaction. So once we get that figured out, we are actually going to sell one dollar audio books. And they will have you know some other things going on in the future such as featured publisher, featured author, things that Book Pub doesn’t offer.
And the biggest differentiator of course is that we don’t charge exorbitant amounts to authors for promotion. We charge zero to both authors and publishers alike for promotion. And that’s definitely the biggest difference between us and Book Pub, that and the fact that they are huge but we are gaining on and quickly, so it’s pretty exciting.
Johnny: So we did our first Buck Book’s promo was one where you featured a number of our titles. I don’t remember watching the stats on that day. But I did watch them when you promoted Lexi’s title Future of Sex and it was quite good. I don’t remember the exact figures but I remember going wow, like Buck Books got some balls on them. Like it you know it definitely moved the needle on that. And so although this is probably a little bit of a cock tease because you aren’t accepting your subscribers right now. So what do you have to say to all the people who are pissed of listening?
Matt: No-no-no, it’s not our subscribers. We will accept anybody as a subscriber. We are not accepting– I mean we do accept submissions as well. We just hide it because we get absolutely bombarded. You could imagine it’s a free book promotion service. And you know everybody that has completed an English course and things that their writer is submitting books as per promotion, and we have to be very selective. And that’s probably– that trance obviously not going to change as we get bigger.
It’s going to become even more and more competitive to get a promotion. But you know we are looking to build relationships with authors; authors who like us are willing to promote and do things for us. And I mean fact of the matter is it probably will become more like a club in the future that you are either in or not in. And I hate to be that way, but that’s the cost of offering free promotions to authors. So that’s the story with that, but yeah we are still accepting subscribers. So come on over.
Johnny: But how do you– and I probably should clear this ahead of time. Because I’m just trying to think now because I may be putting you on the spot, right? So I’m just thinking of somebody listening to this like, how do we get in? Do we not for now or wait until, right. How do we wait to kill? How do we come back the Dave like angst that we are not in the club? Hope I’m not putting you on the spot.
Matt: Well I mean we are really looking for only two things. We are looking for great books so that our subscribers feel like they are getting an incredible value. And so that we keep our subscribers because we don’t want to be promoting bad books to them and then they get it and go, “Wow! I only paid 99cents to waste 10 hours of my time reading this horrible book.” You know we want to give them the best of the best, and stuff that’s usually priced a lot higher and stuff that’s high demand.
And we need to get subscribers then, so that we can continue to grow that benefits us. But it benefits every single author that will ever get promoted through Buck Books for now until the end of time. So you know we are looking to create relationships with people who have the ability to promote. But the quality of the book can trump all that. So and by quality I don’t necessarily mean that we look at every book and we read it cover to cover and go, “Oh that was a great book I think we will promote that.” I mean how our subscribers are going to perceive that value. So you know if it’s an author…
Sean: So it’s a conversion thing too, right?
Matt: Who people have heard of, if it’s got lots and lots of reviews or if it is just about a subject matter that we know our subscribers you know go crazy for whenever we promote. They will definitely be willing to promote a book even if we don’t get a single subscriber in return for that promotion. So that’s kind of how it works and you know a lot of authors probably would be left out, but at the same time I am very pro Indie and it won’t be the kind of party where the publishing companies take over. I still want to be promoting the best Indie authors in favor of what’s coming out of the big publishers.
Johnny: Go ahead Sean what you were saying.
Sean: Oh I was just talking about I think from where you are coming from it’s almost a conversion thing, right? So a book that is a well written master piece isn’t necessarily home run for you because it needs to have the right product description, and it needs to have a cover that’s going to excite your subscribers. I mean at that point you are more about making sure that the people who open the email are excited to continue opening your emails, right? That they see okay well this book is relevant to me. So the good stuff by that definition is stuff that is highly relevant to your existing audience I imagine.
Matt: Yeah, highly relevant to them and you know we watch sales stats and ranking stats and how those change on everything that we promote. And we can see not just based on a book’s listing title, cover, subject matter, genre, book description, reviews. And we can look at all those things and make a pretty good assessment about how the subscribers are going to respond to that.
And we of course we are going to be always paying attention that on an ongoing basis and trying to put the biggest crowd pleasers in front of our subscribers as possible, whether they are by somebody willing to send us some subscribers in exchange for that promotion or not. We have to keep our subscribers happy, that’s a big part of having success down the line with what we are doing.
Johnny: So Matt I’ve titled this episode, What Readers Really Want, so hopefully what you just said sort of segways into that. What are you finding about reader preferences and what does tend to convert and what people do tend to want?
Matt: Well, speaking back and I wanted to touch on this when you guys talked about the promotions that you did with us. Right now our subscribers don’t like fiction as much as nonfiction. And that’s because of how we’ve obtained those subscribers. So what we do is we put on events. Our biggest event that we’ve done for example was a Paleo Diet event nonfiction obviously. And we got all the big names in the Paleo world; the bloggers, the big authors. We got all these books that are normally 9.99 dropped to 99 cents. And we got tons of people over to check this event out. And we gather up 16,000 subscribers…
Johnny: Okay, so sorry about that everybody it just got cut off and Matt got cut off too. So everybody got cut off. But you were answering about how you got 16,000 subscribers and then that is where it got cut off.
Matt: Yeah it was through the Paleo event. So these subscribers by virtue of the fact that they came in interested in The Paleo event are people interested more in nonfiction than fiction. Now of course some people read Paleo diet books and fiction. So you know it wasn’t like we can’t sell any fiction at all, but just by virtue of how we’ve gathered these subscribers so far, we’ve done 12 nonfiction events. So our subscriber base is way more interested in nonfiction currently.
But that’s all going to change because we are launching our fiction side in early April and that’s going to go on to actually be a lot more popular than nonfiction I suspect, because we are going to wrap that up huge. And it will be a very-very viable platform for authors to promote their books. And we are going to be accepting and promoting a lot of books, probably at least 15 fiction books a day. So it will be a good place to be seen. And it will all still be free just like it is now.
Johnny: I am super…
Dave: This is a separate mailing list or a separate website?
Matt: We are to keep it altogether I know segmentation of list is a big thing that the people are adamant about doing. I kind of like having almost like a big news letter that we send out. It simplifies things for us tremendously and we can say, here is today’s fiction books and here is today’s nonfiction books. The fiction event today is science fiction or mysteries or romance or whatever it may be. The nonfiction event is self confidence, or Paleo Diet or whatever it might be that day. And then we have a few extra well you know things for them to play around with besides that so…
Johnny: I don’t know if you just got cut off again, Matt are you still there? Oh he is not there. All right so sorry for the second time everybody. I was just going to say I’m really pretty like I’m newly impressed that we got the results that we did if your list trends towards nonfiction anyway. Because obviously we’ve been featured three times and it’s only been fiction and it’s performed well each time. So apparently your theory about nonfiction people reading fiction is true.
Matt: Yeah well just in comparison to nonfiction books that we promote. The nonfiction books perform a lot better, but we are still getting some performance out of our fiction books. And we still are getting you know some results there, but it’s going to reverse itself probably by the end of 2015 and the big party will be at fiction and our fiction books will probably perform quite a bit better than nonfiction. There is a lot more fiction readers. And fiction readers are notoriously more veracious, and in the quantity of books that they consume as well. And once we can attract them and let them know about Buck Books then it will be a party.
Johnny: What are you… Go ahead Dave.
Dave: I had a question, I got cut off before. How did Buck Books come to be because it looks like you guys are part of– I forget the name of the pop show art Angel Ink or something…
Matt: Yeah right.
Dave: Did you guys like decide we can’t get featured in Book Pub all the time, we ought to start our own damn promotion site. Because I just thought a lot of people have that sort of how I came to be?
Matt: Yeah it’s a– I’ll tell you the quickest version that I can tell you. But basically I’ve been blogging for a long time. I wrote books, I sold them everywhere you could possibly sell them. I had affiliate programs, ClickBank, I sold books everywhere, PDFs on my site. And I hired somebody; my partner named Rob Archangel, that’s his real name…
Johnny: That’s awesome.
Dave: Best name ever.
Sean: I am so jealous. Does he have an English accent because Dave wants to get married right now?
Matt: He doesn’t have an English accent. He is from Brooklyn and has no Brooklyn accent. He is like completely devoid of accent. I don’t know what happened to this kid. But yeah he is awesome and you know he moved down to where I live. We are great friends now but you know long story short is he helped me get onto Amazon; create space, audio book, all those things. And even though we weren’t necessarily making more money doing that as opposed to what we were doing in the past, it’s a lot more fun and it feels a lot more fun to be able to publicly compete in Amazon and show all your reviews and it’s just a lot more fun than being sort of a secretive download my 1995 PDF and all those kind of stuff.
And ClickBank is– I just don’t like the vibe of ClickBank whatever. That’s what we do now. And Rob learnt how to do all these things, got good at it, we learnt a lot. And we decided hey man this is a great service. We should you know we should launch your own business. You could be publishing help guy.
So we did that and we started you know basically realizing that we needed a way to market the books. And so I was hard pressed to figure out something and a way to do that, so Buck Books was born. It was like it went from idea to actually happening in like a week, yeah it was crazy. I have a lot of experience and I’ve seen a lot of people do a lot of things on the internet successfully. And I have a lot of great contacts that I built over the years.
So that was the advantage that I had and what allowed us to basically hit the ground running and get you know a couple of thousand subscribers on our first day. And you know we set several books and the top 50 in the entire Kindle store with our first event. And you know I just started with a bang. And it’s really picking up steam now. I mean it’s wild and this year alone it’s going to be– yeah we are going to become a lot more relevant really soon especially when we launch the fiction side.
Johnny: I’m glad we know you.
Matt: Yeah, hey you guys are part of the club now.
Johnny: The– what are you seeing in terms– you said that right now people are more nonfiction than fiction, that’s going to change and all that. But what do you see kind of converts with– I mean either nonfiction or fiction. Like what are some transit people might be able to take away in terms of great covers or great blubs or the things that are getting clicks and sales?
Matt: Well this is– I mean this is what I love about doing this because I’ve seen hundreds of books come through. I’ve seen how they perform to the audience. And I feel like I’ve got this incredible education about what makes a book listing successful in order for people to respond and buy higher quantities of it. To me I think the biggest is you know I know you guys are fiction focused although you’ve had just as much success with nonfiction really with Write Publisher Repeat and your box set that you did and some other things you’ve got going on.
But I would say the biggest is honestly is probably subject matter or genre, because that would be you know this is really a general audience. And it’s going to become increasingly diversified over time. So the more crowd pleasing it is, the more high percentage– you know I use all the time this silly example of a book about raising sea horses as the ultimate non seller. So the ultimate niche topic that’s very specific is not going to perform very well. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with a book like that because there is always an audience.
And sometimes the smaller the audience the easier it is to find those people and market the book in creative ways. But as far as what’s selling I think those big crowd pleaser type of nonfiction topics like books that help you look better and make more money you know some of those real core human desire type of things, those books are very successful. In terms of fiction it’s a little too early to tell. Right now I noticed– one thing I’ve noticed is that reviews on fiction books are a lot more important than they are in nonfiction. So subject matter seems to be more important for nonfiction. The reviews and sort of the social proof is the bigger deal for fiction.
Sean: That’s super true for me as a buyer, that’s always the truth. If it’s a nonfiction book I need that answer and reviews matter, but with fiction it’s an experience. And if a lot of people didn’t like it I’m inclined to think maybe not, that makes perfect sense.
Matt: Yeah fiction is a big time investment. You have to– the books are longer, you want to make sure before you buy– it’s not even about the price. You want to make sure that you are not going to spend 10 hours of your life in a story that is empty in the end and makes you feel let down. Last thing when…
Johnny: Unless that’s set Collective Inkwell title and you are looking for that.
Sean: Are there things that are in the opposite whether they are things that always convert, are you seeing things that never convert? Like this is something you absolutely don’t do because people don’t click on this kind of book or this kind of cover or this kind of product prescription.
Matt: Well I would say anything with fewer than 10 reviews in fiction is you know unless they are all five stars every single one of them is pretty much unmarketable to our list at least. So that’s just a real– it’s crippling for a book to be so un-established like that. And that’s– you guys have written so much about the importance of connecting with your core readers and your core fans and building great loyalty with them, giving them all kinds of stuff for free. I mean you guys do a great job of getting those early reviews and getting established. I think in fiction I’m seeing that that is more important.
And in fiction so few authors are actually building a good base with their core fans and followers. It’s a huge business advantage and marketing advantage in the fiction world to do any of that because most fiction authors they are just not– they are not really doing much in the way of establishing that at all, and being able to communicate with those loyal readers when they are really something new and get all those early reviews and those early downloads.
Johnny: I have something I wanted to ask you about. So this is actually one of the first things that– because I think Dave made contact with some of your Buck Books first. And this is one of the things Dave mentioned first. And I’m just wondering as a click you know click bate sort of a thing or curiosity triggers. You do these blind items rather than like here– oh and by the way like just to see how Buck Books is doing it and just because they are awesome, like you should go sign up and see these emails that go up because I mean we’ve gone the Buck Flogging yet.
But what do you finding about the blind up– first of all why did you decide to do that? Like why blind items rather than saying here is the book we have. Here is the description, it’s like lo I’m going to…
Dave: Because it makes you want to click it.
Matt: Well first of all if you know the main reason of course is that we monetize the site based on Amazon Associates Affiliate Program. That’s probably 70, 75% of the revenue that the site generates. And it’s really important that we get people to click on our affiliate links so that we can get a percentage of everything that they buy on Amazon. That’s how the site makes money. That’s what fills our affiliate program. That’s what enables us to not charge authors anything. It’s really-really important.
Secondly just from an author’s stand point I think it’s much better for somebody to be looking at your listing on Amazon and make the decision of whether they want to purchase that book or not there, than it is in an email. So it just gets some one step closer to executing that purchase. And yes a few subscribers have complained, why don’t you just show pictures of the books and stuff like that. But honestly that’s not where I want people to make the decision about whether or not they want to buy that book. I want them seeing the listing, I want them to see the book description, I want them to see all those reviews.
I want to take advantage of Amazon, and how easy when that button that you have to click is visible on your screen when you go to you know actually look at the book listing. So that’s kind of why we do it and the ClickBank format.
Johnny: That’s a great point on that too is the whole– and it’s that the sliding thing with yes, once somebody said yes once by clicking a link they are more inclined to say yes the second time. And why would you try and sell the book in the email when everybody is already– they’ve already done that on Amazon. So that’s pretty interesting.
Dave: Well my question is if you are doing the blind items I understand why you do it. And it’s easy to do like the way you guys are doing, you’re doing like maybe five, six, seven books or something. But if you start doing like 15 books like you said with fiction, that click through is going to drop off quite a bit don’t you think…
Matt: Well we have several separate things, right? So events are really separate from our daily feature books. So again that’s one thing that differentiates us from Book Pub. Because Book Pub they send stuff out on emails, that’s pretty much end of story. With the events, we actually host events on the site. And our subscribers are only a fraction of the people that show up to see the books that are in that event. The other people that come over are people that are authors sent over that are participating in that event.
So if you wrote a book about a science fiction book for example and you are going to be in there with 14 other authors of 14 other science fiction books with 14 other email lists of fans, and then all 15 of those authors send people over to the same page on the same day to get that cross exposure. There everybody showing up is going to be interested in science fiction because if you are interested in science fiction author A, you are probably going to be interested in science fiction author B C D E F and so forth.
And then we have affiliates that promote as well. So we have over 1,000 affiliates who you know maybe it’s not appropriate of– they blog about the Paleo diet to send people over to science fiction event. But we will get some regular folks in who have websites that are related somehow and they can promote those events directly. Our events currently are actually performing better than our featured books and our email broadcast. So even if there are 15 of them I mean we’ve had incredible results. We’ve sent a book all the way to number one in the Kindle Store.
We’ve sent 30 books and at the top 100 already through our events. And like I said we’ve only done 12. So those work out really well. One event we even had 47,000 hits on the page on the day of the event. I mean it’s just wild. So that’s how that works. And it’s not as water down as you would think because it’s not just the subscribers that are going over to check that out on the day of the event.
Dave: Johnny had mentioned how we’d come to find about you. I forget what the event was, but there was something where we were– I think it was that thing we were doing…
Sean: It was the Facebook event.
Dave: Yeah the Facebook event and we are talking to readers and stuff and a bunch of people are posting questions on there and we were answering them. And somebody mentioned you know they were complaining about the ability to get ads and where else can you get ads and stuff. And an author was saying Buck Books is awesome and stuff, and then he was doing it in a way that was like sort of [inaudible] [00:55:33] actually, I was like why was just…
Johnny: Oh I remember this.
Matt: I was like is this guy affiliated with Buck Books because he was talking on such glowing terms and like I asked him around about way and eventually he said yeah he was. So I said okay and he is like Buck Books is you know they are going to be the next Book Pub or whatever. Just in such glowing terms like okay this guy is full of shit. So I made it like because you know how I am, so I go to the Buck Books website and I’m like I can’t even figure out a fucking submit to a god damn thing. So I was really pissed off.
So somehow like I don’t remember I was goggling and shit and I found some way to get a hold of you guys. Like what the hell is the deal here? So I asked and basically they said they are not really building their authors, they are building the leadership list side of it first. And yeah they like that stuff and they’ll be happy to feature us. I said okay so I’ll see if the proof is in the pudding and wait and see what happens. And we run something– I forget the first thing we did. And it went well and I was like you know okay it worked so…
Johnny: And the price was right too.
Matt: Yeah I think the first person that reached out was Michael. And Michael was from Poland and sometimes his communication is a little awkward. And but he is such a great guy; he is very persistent. And he was sending the screen shots like oh I’m getting David Wright interested in Buck Books and I’m like oh…
Dave: No, that’s not good.
Matt: Yeah, but then you actually followed through and contacted Stephen and then from that point on you guys were helpless because Stephen just completely honey dicked you with his giant 10 foot penis.
Johnny: Okay so perfect segway and this doesn’t need to be the last bit because we have a thing we get to get to right at 4:30 and we have BOU first. But I do want to ask you so after the honey dick comment of course if– first of all go to Buckbooks.net and sign up if for no other reason than to see the emails, because…
Sean: I know what this is.
Johnny: You have a character and his name is Buck Flogging which already sounds masturbatory, like I know it’s you know you transposed fuck blogging and all this stuff. But it’s like it sounds like you are flogging, right? And he’s like in a pimp chair with some woman behind him. And my favorite comment in– I don’t know whether Steve said it or you said it in– said that you got an email somebody was like Buck I’d click on more of your links if your emails weren’t so creepy. So but apparently that works for you, right? So I kind of like the tribe trimming aspect of this like we are not going to be like Book Pub, like Book Pub is not using Buck Flogging but it’s working.
Matt: Well here is the thing. I hate anonymous commercial solicitations, right? It just comes from an entity, it feels corporate, it’s not fun. And everybody always connects more with an individual, even if that individual is completely fake. But I will have you know that a lot of people do not think that Buck is fake. He mentions something about how Harry Mrs. Buck is. And all these women were writing in about, oh this is from this condition, and really should be on a low carb diet [inaudible] [00:59:10] it was hilarious.
Dave: Oh my God.
Matt: But yeah anyway Buck is great. Buck was conceived by the…
Sean: Can we talk about the recipe book?
Johnny: Oh my God! Are we allowed to talk about that, because that was a funny exchange too.
Matt: Yeah you can talk about whatever you want. It’s nothing a secret in Buck’s world.
Johnny: I didn’t remember– I don’t remember how it– but it’s like one of those things like you kind of when you are new to somebody, you feel them out, you are on your best behavior. And so you know like we are professional, like the first time Dave contacted me he was a pro and we all being pro. And then at some tipping point during this email exchange we realized that these guys are as depraved as we are. And so Steve sent over a cover of a cook book and it had a chicken on it. I’m sorry not a chicken a rooster and it was a chicken cook book, and the title was “How to Eat Cock” which is like the best cook book title ever.
Dave: Got it for my grandma.
Matt: You know how fucked up Stephen is. I don’t know I’m so glad I found this guy because he is so funny. Like what I– the original vision I had for Buck was funny. But he took it up like four notches. And he actually sent me that book in Paper Buck as a Christmas gift. That’s how wrong this poor guy is. And I pay him like basically nothing. I pay him a little bit to do all those stuff that he does. And he just insisted that I mention you know the giant side of his genitals and that’s really all the payment that he requires in addition to the you know few nickels that I send his way, so yeah I don’t know where I found this guy, but he is amazing.
Johnny: All right well I would…
Dave: I’ll just read one quick comment. Roland Denzel said you’ve built up some trust on the blind items. At first I rolled my eyes, but now I trust you mostly.
Johnny: We do need to wrap up, I could keep talking to you Matt, but we will have to move that offline where you could us more off color book titles.
Matt: That would be great. That would be great.
Johnny: So thanks everybody, thanks Matt.
Matt: Thank you.
Johnny: And everybody check out Buckbooks.net, great bunch of guys as far as we can tell. Maybe they are just fooling us all, but for now we like them.
Matt: Thanks guys, take care.
Johnny: All right, thanks for being with us Matt. Everybody check out Buckbooks.net and we will see you next week.
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