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How to Make Your Ebook a Run-Away Success: An Interview with Jim Kukral

Would you like to publish an eBook that’s a runaway success? In this interview with Jim Kukral, you’ll find tips on how to market eBooks successfully. Some tips will surprise you! You’ll also learn about an amazing free resource for writers, the Author Marketing Club.

Jim Kukral is a best-selling author and top Internet entrepreneur. He teaches the Internet Marketing Certificate program at the University of San Francisco and is one of the top experts on Ebook marketing. Jim has recently started the Author Marketing Club which has created a buzz among writers.

The following interview is with Mary Jaksch, Chief Editor of WritetoDone.

Mary: What is the Author Marketing Club and how can it benefit writers?

Jim: Most authors just can’t figure out the marketing end of things.That’s why I created the Author Marketing Club as a free resource for authors.

If you’re an author who has a book out, or you’re thinking about writing a book, there are a lot of things that the Author Marketing Club can help you with.

You can learn how to market an eBook, and connect with other authors. If you want to get reviews for your book, you can post your book on our site, and our readers will write reviews for you.

The Author Marketing Club is a free resource – there’s no charge for authors or readers to take part. It’s a one-stop shop for authors who want to sell eBooks.

You can join our daily email list that goes out to all of our readers and authors. It lists all of the Kindle books that our authors publish. So, you can submit your book and get to all of our members.

Here’s an example of how this works: if you’re part of Amazon KVP Select, you get a free five-day promotion. You can come to the Author Marketing Club and submit your book and say,  ‘My book is going be free next Wednesday.’ We’ll then send it out to our authors and readers to give you that extra exposure you’ve been looking for.

Mary: What is the biggest barrier that stops people from writing books?

Jim: There’s a lot of fear involved. Writers often think they can’t do it.

For hundreds of years it’s been only the publishers who decide what can be published. That has kept people with very good information or stories in their heads from moving forward and creating a book.

Over the last couple of years, a gigantic shift has happened:  now anyone can take the information in their head, and not only put it on blogs and websites, but also publish it as a book.

Now you don’t need a publisher to tell you that your book is good enough.

You can publish your eBook on Amazon overnight for free. There are no gatekeepers any more.

Mary: Writing an eBook is a lot of work. Is it worth the effort?

Jim: Absolutely! I’ve been at meetings where a customer or potential customer asked me a question, and I’ve reached into my bag, pulled out my book, and said: ‘You know, I actually answer that question in my book.’  I then flip it open to the page and hand him or her a copy of it. That has helped me get a lot of clients.

You can also leverage an eBooks for your career. Imagine walking into an interview, and handing your potential employer not only your resume, but you also a copy of your book, or sending them a link of your book on Amazon.

If you can say, ‘I’m so interested in this field of work, I actually wrote short book about the topic,’ you can be sure this will wow your potential employer!

Mary: Can you really make an income from writing books?

Jim: You can. You have to imagine what it’s going to be like in a few years when there are as many e-readers as are MP3 players.

Think about the potential of owning the rights to a digital book. You can sell copies of it for the rest of your life. Because everyone will be able to find you and download your book.

Right now you can make a 70 % comission on Amazon. Of course, you need to promote your book and do enough marketing to get the word about your book. That’s where the Author Marketing Club comes in handy.

If you’re a fiction writer, it’s much easier to make a lot of money. People love fiction books because they are pure entertainment. The non-fiction market is a lot smaller. But, as I said before, you can leverage non-fiction books in many ways to make money.

Mary: How can you promote a book if you’re not a marketer?

Jim: You’ve got to learn about marketing. Here are some simple steps:

Step 1: The very day when you have the idea of the book in your head, sit down, give the book a title, and write down who the book is for.
Step 2: The next step is to create a book cover. You can get that done  on Fiverr.com for only $5.
Step 3: Place the image of your bookcover on your blog, on Facebook, or wherever you tend to hang out. You can say, ‘Hey, I’m writing this book,’ and build anticipation. It’s like the way big movies do it. You can see the trailer long before the film is ready for viewing.
Step 4: Create a short video or blog post about your book idea with an email signup form. Six months down the track when you’ve actually written the eBook, you’ll already have a group of customers waiting for it.

Here’s the take-home tip:

Start marketing a book before you write it.

The reason most authors fail, is that they write a book and then start to tell people about it.

Mary: What are your three main tips for writers who are considering writing an e-book?

Jim: Three tips? Here they are:

Tip #1: Write to entertain or to solve a problem

Tip #2: Start marketing as soon as you have the idea for a book.

Tip #3: Get it done.

There is a goldrush on Internet right now, where people can take their books and put them out there to build entire careers.

If you join the Author Marketing Club, you’ll find help along the way. As I said before, it’s free!

Jim Kukral is a top Internet entrepreneur, best-selling author and marketer. He teaches at the University of San Francisco for the Internet Marketing Certificate Programme. Check out his new venture, the Author Marketing Club.

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33 thoughts on “How to Make Your Ebook a Run-Away Success: An Interview with Jim Kukral”

  • Great interview!

    Marketing is one of those things that also no longer has a gatekeeper, with free blogs, Twitter, etc. It’s hard to reconcile in my head marketing prior to even writing the book….I can’t tell you how many unfinished books I have! Of course, a concrete deadline does tend to lend motivation.

  • Bill Polm says:

    Great recourse and info, Mary and Jim. It’s getting more exciting by the day, the Internet and its potential.

  • Ben Holt says:

    One thing in particular stands out:

    Jim: Three tips? Here they are:
    Tip #1: Write to entertain or to solve a problem
    Tip #2: Start marketing as soon as you have the idea for a book.
    Tip #3: Get it done.

    Love it. Know your direction, let people know what you’re doing, deliver on your promise. This is a general formula for success in *so* many endeavors.

    After my new blog launches this week, I’m working to finish my second ebook. I’ve bookmarked this post for reference. Excellent post, Mary and Jim, thanks!

  • I really enjoyed this article. I am about 1/3 done with my book, so this was very timely reading.

    One issue I am wrestling with, and I don’t want to sound rude saying this, is I keep feeling like it would be a failure to have to market my own book (beyond marketing to get an editor and publisher). I know that is becoming more of an old-school concept, but I can’t help feeling like I wouldn’t be good enough if I couldn’t get a good publisher to back me.

    I guess the real question I am dealing with is this – should I still put in a strong effort to get published the traditional route first? Or, are you saying it is best to just start self-market first, instead?

    • I’ve been published by two smaller traditional publishers. The problem is that the smaller guys don’t have much in the way of funding for promotional resources, so you end up doing most of it yourself–if you want to sell much. I learned this the hard way and too late.

      Plus, you give up most of the control when your turn your work over to someone else. With smaller presses, you may have some input; with larger ones you have none. Even big name authors are rarely afford the chance to have input.

      On top of that, we’re all aware that the big publishers are more interested in making money than in bringing quality writing to readers. In the past several months I’ve read at least 3-4 superb self-published novels that likely would never have seen the light of day by the traditional route. One of them in particular was so well done (Rex Rising by Chrystalla Thoma) that had I not known otherwise, there is no way I could tell it was self-published. From cover, to the writing, to the editing–everything was perfect.

      My opinion is that the time you’ll spend sending out dozens of query letters (and believe me that getting a query polished takes a LOT of time and effort) could be better spent writing and marketing (which you’ll have to do anyway because the Big Guys won’t do much for a newbie). Do it yourself and get your name out there. Even if you don’t sell all that many copies, you’re still likely to end up with more money in your pocket than a traditional publisher will give you–assuming you can land a big one.

      Finally, the nice thing about self-publishing is that you have extra control over your marketing. You can change the price and run specials. You’re also free to give books away to as many potential reviewers as you want.

      • Thanks for that Rick. I can tell I still have a lot to learn. I had no idea the restrictions placed on authors by big publishers (at least not the extent).
        All I ever hear about are when an author gets a six-figure deal or the fun anecdotes about writing a hit book. I would love to hear more about the negative aspects of publishing options.

        • Christopher,

          Check out the blogs of J.A. Konrath (Newbie’s Guide to Self-Publishing–jakonrath.blogspot.com), Kris Rusch (www.kriswrites.com), and Passive Guy (www.thepassivevoice.com) and you’ll get an earful. This six-figure deals are extremely rare. And check out my own blog http://www.writewell.silverpen.org that I co-author with Scott Gamboe for our modest tips on writing. There are plenty of other blogs out there that you’ll find by checking out these blogs. Best wishes to you!

          –Rick

  • I’m glad everyone enjoyed the interview. It was my honor to do it!

  • Great post. Way too often new authors think about marketing and promotion AFTER the book comes out, but as you pointed out, you need to start marketing as soon as the idea of the book becomes a ” fetus,” so to speak.

  • Great tip about designing and putting up a cover image before the book is even written! Going to try that — thanks!

  • Liz says:

    Hey Mary and Jim,

    This is an interview that can give would be writers some hope. I have to agree with Jim that people’s biggest barrier is fear. People don’t believe they’re qualified to be writers, or perhaps they have confidence issues. But the internet opens a whole new world to writers and we should be taking advantage of that.

    I’m a big advocate that if you have something worthwhile to say or you have a talent to share with others, work on repressing your fears, get the confidence and let us read your book. There are resources that make it so easy now, so take advantage of that :-)

    Liz

  • I published my book “101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting” on Kindle and it has sold only about 25 copies in six months.

    Yet my “The Joy of Not Working” that is only available as a print book and was self-published over 20 years ago still sells almost 5,000 copies a year.

    The difference is in the marketing on many levels. The importance of marketing can never be overstated. An ebook will never sell by itself. The book also has to be a great book to create word-of-mouth advertising, which ultimately is the best promotion available.

    As a self-published author who has had 700,000 of my print books published and sold worldwide and who has earned well over $1 million from my self-publishing and writing, I can say that there is a lot of truth to the following quotes — particularly the first and last one:

    “Nothing sells by itself.”
    — Ellen Chodosh

    “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”
    — Seth Godin

    “There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to get sensible men to read it.”
    — C. C. Colton

    “Even the most careful and expensive marketing plans cannot sell people a book they don’t want to read.”
    — Michael Korda

    In short, today way too many bloggers and sellers of online courses on how to write and promote ebooks make it sound way too easy. I think that people who blog and write about self-publishing ebooks should also cite the tens of thousands of people who have published on Amazon’ Kindle and ibooks and have only sold 10 or 20 copies in a year — or in the lifetime of the ebook.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Prosperity Life Coach
    Author of the self-pubished “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 150,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  • To the point about marketing the book before it is done, that is a great idea. A spin off on this is to write an ad for the book before you start writing the book. The ad won’t be used of course, but thinking through the selling points and who will read it will keep you focused on those points as you write. You are more likely to have a book that is a sales success if you do this kind of thinking. OK, thanks and good luck, Edward Smith.

  • “Start marketing a book before you write it”: Reading that was like having a light-bulb go off in my head – or, more like, getting hit by a truck full of light-bulbs, smack in the face.

    I put my first eBook, “A London Tale,” on Amazon a few weeks ago, and it still has only three sales (one of those is my mom). I didn’t do an ounce of marketing before I put it up, and I haven’t done much since then because it feels like I’m running hurriedly to catch up, and other people have done so much more.

    After reading this post, I’m ready to jump-start a book idea that I’ve been sitting on for several years. To do today: think of a title, start making a video trailer, and scope out someone to make the cover. Thanks!

  • Molly K says:

    Thanks for this article! I really enjoyed your simple tips on starting to market your book before you write it, especially the advice on placing the image of your bookcover on your blog or on Facebook and say, ‘Hey, I’m writing this book,’ to build anticipation. Thanks again!

  • Amy E says:

    I was looking over the Author Marketing Club site and am interested in joining. To register as an author, the terms say you must be an author with a digital book. Where is your contact information to ask questions before you violate any terms just by signing up? What I mean is can aspiring authors or people with ebooks in progress join as authors? Can you be both an author and a reader? Again where is the contact information to ask questions? It seems to me that any group site that cares about its members would have this information pretty handy and not hidden or nonexistent.

    • Contact me anytime at info@authormarketingclub.com

      The terms are just terms… loose rules at best. You have to have them, but really, who reads them and who enforces them? Nobody. I never would.

      • Amy E says:

        Thanks for letting me know. I have had the bad experience of the boot from a terms condition that wasn’t read thoroughly, it’s a bad feeling, especially when it is unintentional. I’ve learned the hard way to respect the terms because they can be enforced.
        I really enjoyed this post. Glad I found it. :)
        I like to see hope for more people as authors. There a lot of good ones out there who fear publishing and this makes it seem reachable.
        Amy E recently posted..Making Money Online From Home, Can It Really Be Done?My Profile

  • Thanks for saving me from making the same mistake that most writer do. I intend to write an e-book and I was thinking to start promoting once I finish it. Now, I will create a marketing campaign while I finsh it.
    Thanks again!

  • I wrote a book called The Broken Christmas Tree. it’s up on Amazon. i started marketing it over a year ago on my personal Facebook page. I had the cover created and posted it on my Facebook eight months before I was finished. I had folks wanting the book even before it was completed. Talk about a motivator. If you put it out there, you must deliver. When you tell people about a book, and you know they are waiting on it, that is the drive to get it done. But keep in mind, do it well or when they read it and it’s not of quality, then your fan base will diminish. I need to get the cover for m next one created and post it..I need something to drive me to get my Sci-Fi Tokus Numas done or rather rewritten for readers.
    D. W. Rigsby recently posted..October 22, 2014 – Letter To DannyMy Profile

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