When One Spoon went on hiatus nearly two years ago I unsubscribed from most of the marketing type lists that I used to be subscribed too. There were only two I didn’t unsubscribe from. One of the two lists that I remained subscribed to was Steve Scott from http://www.stevescottsite.com/. (The other one in case you’re interested was Marcus Sheridan over at The Sales Lion.)
And I’ve been watching Steve’s progress with great interest. And recently it seems that Steve has been everywhere being interviewed about his success with Kindle. Plus he’s also detailed his strategies and their results over the last year or so.
If you don’t know who Steve is a good snap shot of his success can be found on these posts:
And from those posts here’s an excerpted list of his income from the last year or so presented on a month-by-month basis:
- May 2013 – $10
- June 2013 – $760
- July 2013 – $375
- Aug 2013 – $265
- Sept 2013 – $2330
- Oct 2013 – $3015
- Nov 2013 – $4285
- Dec 2013 – $15,310
- Jan 2014 – $19,143
- Feb 2014 – $14, 146
- Mar 2014 – $16,623
- Apr 2014 – $13,787
- May 2014 – $61,751
- June 2014 – $50, 320
Now these figures aren’t the whole story, there are expenses (that Steve also lists in his posts), but I think they’re pretty interesting figures. And major kudos to Steve for being so transparent about his results.
Those four posts I linked above are definitely worth checking out because Steve lists his traffic and subscriber numbers as well as his income…and those metrics have experienced similar levels of growth.
(Paul’s Note: Steve has other books out there in Kindle land than the ‘habit’ books that he writes – this income just represents income from those habit books.)
So, I’ve been following Steve’s progress and reading all his posts and as I embark on something similar, here are the main lessons I think any would-be Kindle Publisher can take IF they’re planning to model what Steve’s done and continues to do.
Lesson 1: This Is Not A Route To Overnight Success.
If you look through the figures I excerpted you can see that Steve didn’t start experiencing major success until December 2013 – month 8 of his Kindle Publishing Business – when his income jumped from $3-4K a month to $15K a month.
And there was a similar leap in May this year – month 13 – to the $60k mark. It will be interesting to see if his income figures stay at these levels when he produces his next report, or whether they fall back a bit.
So whilst it’s theoretically possible that your first book might sell lots of copies – it’s statistically unlikely. Instead to try and duplicate the kind of longer-term success that Steve has had, you might want to look for the ‘rising tide effect.’
Lesson 2: The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats…
In listening to one of the gazillion interviews Steve has done recently he’s been asked about the big income jump to the $50/60K mark. And his answer was that his seventh or eighth book generated a lot more interest than his other books – and that that increased interest transferred itself to his other titles too.
A quick story from the fiction world here that illustrates the same kind of things. In the early 90s Michael Crichton was what is known as a midlist writer. So he’d written a bunch of novels and had only middling sales. In fact he had to work as a screenwriter as well to make ends meet.
This all changed with Jurassic Park. Not only did Jurassic Park shift truckloads of books, but it also got people who’d never read Michael Crichton wanting to read more of his books. Pretty soon his backlist started flying off the shelves too. And his publishers started reprinting books that had gone out of print.
You can do all the research in the world, but until you launch a book you’ll never truly know how it’s going to be received. And it might take you a dozen books before you write one that has this effect on your backlist.
But when you do, the rising tide effect will kick in…
Lesson 3…But Only If All Your Books Are In The Same Niche
If you write the dozen books I just mentioned in a dozen different niches…you WON’T be able to take advantage of the rising tide effect. Someone who reads your book on weight loss and really likes it isn’t likely to buy your book on speed reading or your book on how to attract members of the opposite sex.
So it’s important that you write books in the same market area.
If your books provide actionable information – and help the buyer achieve the result they promise – then it’s much more likely that a reader will read more of your books. Indeed in his interview with Pat Flynn, Steve said that he’d noticed an uptake in some of his less popular titles with the introduction of Kindle Unlimited in the US.
Lesson 4: Using Kindle Books To Build A List
In the posts on Steve’s site that I linked above he breaks down his traffic numbers. And Steve is great at using tracking to work out where people are subscribing from – and he uses his Kindle books to help build his email list.
Steve always puts a link at the start of his books to where people can sign up for his email list – and get a valuable report in return. Additionally, he puts that link at the start of the book so that people who read the sample have opportunity to sign up for his email list even if they don’t buy the book.
When a new book comes out, Steve emails his list. As his list grows, so do his initial sales. Which affect their rankings. And more people see them….and his list grows. A beautiful, virtuous cycle.
Lesson 5: Publish Consistently
To take advantage of the cycle I described in the previous paragraph, Steve publishes consistently. He focuses on shorter books that deal with a single topic in detail. This allows Steve to publish a book every 6 to 8 weeks or so.
The more titles Steve has, the more virtual shelf space he has on Amazon. Plus the more titles he has, the more chance he has to write a book that really connects with his audience and creates the rising tide effect.
In his last Income Report one of Steve’s big plans for the next quarter was to release two new books. I’ll be looking for reports on how well these have done in the next income report.
Lesson 6: Focus on Quality As Well As Quantity
It’s not just about quantity though. It’s important that if you are going to follow this kind of path that you focus on quality as well.
Several times recently I’ve seen people who are obviously modelling Steve in terms of several of his strategies. Only problem is they’re not offering the same quality of information that Steve does. They might make a splash with one or two books…but that splash will quickly die off. And they’ll find that they don’t get repeat buyers.
In all the threads I’ve read on marketing Kindle books – this applies to fiction as well as non-fiction – the emphasis on marketing over craft is probably 95% to 5%.
The biggest way to differentiate yourself from potential competitors is to write better quality books.
Steve also puts time and money into outsourcing covers and paying for professional editing. (I forget who writes his blurbs….but writing a good blurb is also something that you need to help you succeed.)
Lesson 7: Diversify Income
As well as making money from his Kindle books, Steve has also started generating income from other streams of income. These include the Amazon Affiliates Program, Audio books and print on demand books via CreateSpace
Now these sums are a relatively small percentage of Steve’s totals, but not everyone likes to consume information on a Kindle or via a Kindle app. It’s definitely worth experimenting with this.
Lesson 8: Systemize Processes
The last lesson I want to talk about is something that I’ve just relearned in relationship to my main business.
It’s very easy to think to yourself: I’ve done this task a few times, I remember how to do it, I’ll just get cracking.
But the more complex the process, the easier it is that you’ll forget something important. To avoid that Steve has created a 46 Point Kindle Publishing Checklist that he uses for each of his books. If you’re a subscriber to his list you should be able to get it for free. It’s also linked at the bottom of his interview with Pat Flynn too.
Now this checklist might have too few or too many steps for you. (Or me!) But use it as a starting point and create a process that works for you. And create a checklist so that you are sure you are not missing anything! Additionally as you start working through the checklist and ticking items off it can help build momentum towards getting the project done.
We’ve covered quite a bit of ground here. If you’ve written one or two books and are planning to write more, or if you aspire to achieve the kind of success that Steve has done then you should definitely take some time to read through the 8 lessons I’ve picked out from his success.
And then go and read the posts on his site. You should probably subscribe to his email list too as he shares a ridiculous amount of cutting edge information (what doesn’t work for Steve as well as what does).
Some other posts I recommend:
If you’ve got any questions, or any other learning’s to share, please feel free to post them below.