Dave Chesson is the creator of Kindlepreneur.com, a website devoted to teaching advanced book marketing which even Amazon KDP acknowledges as one of the best by telling users to “Gain insight from Kindlepreneur on how you can optimize marketing for your books.” Having worked with such authors as Orson Scott Card, Ted Dekker and more, his tactics help both fiction and nonfiction authors of all levels get their books discovered by the right readers.
But that's the official bio stuff. The stuff that really matters, at least to me, is that he is the wisest person out there today when it comes to successful indie publishing. Basically, he does the work so that the rest of us can utilize his techniques and systems.
You can read the full transcript of our conversation below but the main takeaways are this: if you want to successfully launch a book, start your launch work the day you start writing; to cut down on haters, show readers you're human; and the right keywords and categories on Amazon can make the difference between bestsellerdom and obscurity.
Enjoy this episode and by all means, employ the techniques! Also, if you like it, please consider reviewing (or just rating!) I'm putting so much into this pod revamp and would be so grateful for any and all support.
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DAVE'S TOP 3 TIPS
[TAKEAWAYS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH]:
When you go to start writing your book, start building relationships with people who can ultimately support you and your book—influencers, authors and the like. Try to help them out or allow them to get to know you because you've supported them through comments and responding to their posts so that they know who you are by the time you ask for their help.
List the book in 10 categories instead of 2 (refer to Dave's blog post for help on how to do this and using his software, Publisher Rocket, is invaluable here)
because you have one strategy that's in effect for the first couple of days. Like almost like kind of like project management where you've got a schedule. And you're trying to, instead of doing everything on day one, spread it out so that your book continues to have constant sales and not just one giant spike.
Anna: Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur, the host of the Book Marketing Show podcast and knows more about launching books than anyone I've ever come across. So thank you, thank you.
Dave Chesson: No problem. I'm really glad to be here.
Anna: So, let's talk about your journey here. Highly unusual journey, I would say, for a writer. You came at publishing—well, let's talk about how you started off, in the Navy, not what anybody would expect necessarily, and how you came to decide to do this and how you came to where you are now.
Dave Chesson: Well, actually my entire life, I never really thought I would ever be a writer. It's just never been in my code or my DNA. I actually suffer from a form of dyslexia. And so I grew up as being that kid who seemed to, you know, I got A's in every other class, but when it came to English, man, it was like I would be crossing my fingers hoping for like a D+ or a C-. So, I really just thought I was never meant to write. And that kind of progressed throughout life. I mean, I'd always had a desire to write and his, as many of our listeners are probably in the same exact boat where, you know you want to write, you have this book in you. But for me, on the other hand, I just couldn't sit down and write whatever I wanted and just be, you know, loved and followed.
I would try this, I'd be like, “Oh man, here's this motivation, I'm doing this P90X thing. I'm going to write a blog about, you know, the trials and tribulations because I know I'm going to do this right. And so people could benefit from that.” And no, I think only my grandmother listened to it and that was about it. Or Reddit. And I was like, ah man, come on. So, my thing was is that I was, I was in the military and you know, throughout the years I had tried a little bit of blogging and writing and never found any traction whatsoever. But the military just sent me to Korea without my family. And so, you know, I had to go and spend two years without my wife and kids, and my wife had this really good question. She was like, “What are you doing all this for?” I was like, “A paycheck?” She's like, “No, I mean like why are we making all these sacrifices?” And I said, yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I didn't have a desire to be an Admiral in the Navy. I didn't, you know, I was just going to go through 20 years and maybe collect a retirement paycheck or something like that and then look back at it and just realize, wow, that was, you know, a lot of lost time with my kids and you know, nothing really to show for it. And that's when we started to talk about an exit strategy. You know, something that would allow me to get out of the military but not go from one nine-to-five traveling job to another nine-to-five traveling job.
And that's when I really started to discover a bit more about writing and kind of learning about, you know, the market. A great example that I tell people is say you go to this party, okay. And you know, nobody at this party it's just you, but you find out that everyone in this party really wants to know or talk about a certain TV show and you just happen to have done your research and you know all about the TV show and you can talk about it. It doesn't matter who you were, doesn't matter how great your oratory skills are. If you can converse in an intelligent manner on that TV show, everybody will want to listen to what you have to say. So when I started to apply that to my writing, this dyslexic, challenged, not so interesting person could all of a sudden be a center. And that's when my writing really started to take off.
Anna: Now you have how many books out there?
Dave Chesson: I have nine.
Anna: And how many names do you have that your books are under?
Dave Chesson: Nine? Yeah, it was when I first started writing, I was still in the military. I was actually doing military diplomacy and I didn't want to have to deal with the whole, you know, putting all the blurbs all over the book saying these are the opinions of Dave Chesson and do not reflect the United States Government in any way, shape or form. And to tell you the truth, especially with the positions that I ended with, it was a very good move. It would have been very problematic. And sometimes authors out there, you know, you don't want to mix your personal life with your professional life and vice versa. And sometimes you want to write about things that you don't really want, you know, being connected with. And you know, there's a whole genre out there that I'm sure all the listeners know what I'm referring to and no, I didn't, I didn't, I didn't write in that, that wasn't it.
But the thing was that there's a really good aspect for that. But when I got out of the military, I kind of kept this, I decided to keep writing under different pen names because every time I come out with a new book, I don't get to rely on the fame that I built from Kindlepreneur. Or the growing following that my other pen name got. I have to start in the trenches as a no-name author with no platform, no giant social media following, no email, nothing. I have to start from the beginning. And this has caused me to have to really hone my skills and make sure that, you know, I'm at square one like everybody else just beginning. And it forces me to also stay up to date. I can't just send out an email blast and enjoy, you know, hundreds of sales and send out another email blast and easily get 50 or 60 reviews just like that. I have to work and figure out how to do it without those things.
Anna: See, this is so interesting to me because as somebody who devours every word you write and every podcast you release, we would all buy your books, even though they're under date, even though they're not my topic, I would do it to support you. Why would you make your life so hard?
Dave Chesson: Because that's the thing is, is that when you look at it like a lot of other websites from, from providers, a major majority of their sales come from that following. And that is cool. And by the way, every author should work towards that. Okay? Because when you build your platform, you build your email list and that next book gets so much easier. And like you said Anna, for me, people have experienced what I've done right. And that they know that if I'm going to put something out there, it's going to be good. It's kinda like, you know, when you go to the store and you're looking at a whole row of books, right? Notice that the more famous an author is, the bigger the name gets, right? And right now, Stephen King's name is way bigger than the title of the book. I almost have to squint to figure out which book it is. I just, cause it's Stephen King, right? Well that's because when I see the word Stephen King, I automatically know it's probably a great book since he's never let me down. I know what kind of genre is, unless he's going off on his Green Mile or his Shawshank Redemption, you know, but I mean really it is what it is, right? I know what I'm going to get.
I don't really need to pay as much stock into the cover image or the title or anything like that. I just know what I'm getting. Same thing with, when you have a following, they just know what they're getting. So I would say to listeners is 100% work towards that. But for me, my biggest thing is, is that I've been working with big time publishing companies, really famous authors, and yes they have those tactics, but what's really made me unique is coming in and saying, that's cool, you guys have been doing that good, but here's a much better way of doing it in the digital age, you know, and here's something that you guys haven't even thought of. So in a way it's kinda like you know, helping me to sharpen my skills and helping me to stay on the cutting edge of what's new in Amazon. You know, immediately a new feature comes out—great. I need to figure it out because I need that.
Anna: So let's say that, I mean that is so inspiring to anyone listening cause I work with so many authors and they say, well, I don't have 10,000 Instagram followers. I don't have a list. I don't even know what you mean when you say list. So what would you say an author who doesn't have those things, how should they do a launch and how early should that work? Start before the book comes out.
Dave Chesson: Well, the funniest, I love that last part of your question because this is usually where I start with is that when it comes to your launch, okay? When it comes to marketing in general, the day you decide to put finger to keyboard and hit that first letter is the date you need to start marketing. Okay? Marketing is not this point where it's like, I'm going to sit down and I’m going to write my book, I'm going to be in my own, you know, cave here with no understanding what's going on. I'm just going to write and then when I'm done, I'm going to go and start this marketing thing. No, that's how, that's why most launches fail. Because the author does that. Instead, what I think is this isn't about trying to sell a book that you haven't written yet. This is about understanding your market. Okay? When you start writing a book, you need to start understanding who your target market is.
And yes, I get it, maybe you are your own target market, but seriously, get into the heads of others. Understand what they're doing. Start building relationships with other people. You know, either your target market or other authors in the area. Don't just come up to them and say, the first thing you say to this person is, “Hey, you're a really great author! Hey, would you mind promoting my book?” Like, that never happens! That only happens when you have built a relationship with that person over time and continue to have given to them. Be there, give them reviews, be a positive influence, reply to their emails with just positive statements. That's how you get stuck in, in their head. And all of a sudden when the time comes and you're like, “I've learned so much from you. By the way, I just wrote my first book. Hey, by the way, finally, after all these times, I've hooked you up,” without saying that last part, but in your mind, you know, “would you do this thing?” And you know what? That person will. But that started the day you started to write your book, not the day you went to launch. So again, there are a lot of things that come in prior to the launch. And I think one thing I think would be really beneficial for this episode is looking at the things you can do before the launch. So, one thing we talked about already is: Get to know your target market. Find them. Are they on forums? Is there a special Facebook you know, a Facebook page or a Facebook group? Groups are better. Become a voice that talks not about your book, but about helping and asking questions, setting surveys, dropping funny memes, you know, that they would resonate with.
That's, again, a lot of this is non-fiction. For the fiction people, just getting inside the heads of, of, you know, the, the other authors or the crazy readers. Because let me tell you, they will tell you what things they hate to show up in a book. But the point is, is that you're already there and you're already listening and you're communicating. You're building a relationship, okay? So, find them. Next, is specifically find the other authors in your area and get to know them. The other authors, okay, they're not competitors—never make that mistake. They are not competitors. They are your friends! Because here's the thing, nobody can write a book, a brand-new book, every month. So they're always looking for things and they want to get to know the area as well. So get to know them. Some of the favorite strategies I've kind of already said. Get on their email list. Hit reply to every email they send you. Because let me tell you, when they start to see this, one person's legitimately saying, “Hey, great this, I like that, that's awesome,” et cetera, your name just sticks in their head.
Same thing with social media. Start tweeting with them. Start, you know, responding. Just engage with them so when the time comes, they know who you are without you having to introduce yourself. Another thing that you can start to do too is you can start to look, do some market research. You know, for example, you can to Amazon and start understanding what it is your target market types into Amazon when they're looking for your book. You can do this on the Amazon queue, or excuse me, the Amazon search box at the top. When you start to type something in there, Amazon tries to auto-populate it with what other people have typed. This can kind of help you to understand the words your market uses when searching for your kind of book.
A great example where this research can help you write a much better book is, I was working with an author who had a book about how to sell art. However, though, when we did that keyword research, like looking into what people typed, more people were typing in the phrase “how to sell art online” than those who were typing in “how to sell art.” And this, this gal was even covering the online component of it and she realized, “oh my gosh, the market wants to know this more than just the more broad subject!”
So she immediately added an entire half, an extra half of her book, to just the online sales component alone. Now imagine if she had just written the, the how to sell art, okay? Got it on Amazon, got it in front of all those people who really cared about art and didn't even cover the one thing. She probably would've gotten some scathing reviews because people were let down in what they were thinking. The author was in a completely different mind frame than the market. So that really helped her, and I think that saved a lot of her sales as well as her reviews.
And then finally too, you know, she also knew what really triggered her market more, so she even created an email opt-in that was specific to how to set up the best account on the three top online art sales platforms. And her email conversion was through the roof. And so, when she got into the mind, she made a better book, she was able to connect more with her market. So again, I would say that doing keyword research before you write your book and help you to understand what areas you should cover. Maybe perhaps some of the, you know, the way that you can maneuver your book to really fit an existing market—that's another way. But yeah, I think a lot of it really comes down to once you start those three things, I think you'll start to understand and see more opportunities on where you can get involved in your area. Every subject, whether you're fiction, non-fiction, or specific nonfiction, they all have different things to them. Some might be really Pinterest-heavy, some might be this, but if you start those things we just discussed, you'll start to learn even more, and you'll be able to grow out so that you'll have more of an influence upon launch.
Anna: Oh my God, that was so good and so much to unpack that. I'm going to my brain, I'm memorizing what I have to ask you and I'm going to work backwards. Now, about the, the lead magnet that she created. How many CTAs would you recommend putting in a book? And what I mean by that, for anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, is it sounds like this woman created something she knew the audience of this book would like, and she wanted to get them on her list, so she put opportunities within the book to do that. And anyone who doesn't know, this is such an advantage of publishing yourself, because traditional publishing will not allow you to do that. So, how many times would you recommend?
Dave Chesson: Yeah, that's a really good question. In non-fiction, honestly, the best types are the ones that are in inner dispersed throughout the book. You know, for example, a lot of people when they do non-fiction, they might put at the end of the book and I'm like, well, congratulations, you're only reaching the small percentage that actually made it to the end of your book. The next step up is that you not only put it in the end of your book, but you also put it at the beginning of your book. And because that way people see it immediately. They know that there's other stuff that they can get with the book. The best sales tactic is to say that, you know, free upgrade, you know? Or make it feel like you're not only just getting this book, you're getting these other things with the book that are like either training material or aids, study aids, and stuff like that.
And then you're adding value to their life, which whether or not they actually sign up for it, at least you're planting the little seed in their mind that this book is more valuable than the others that don't. But another thing where I see people really do this well is where they have basically a giant collection of things that you can get with the book. And so for example, they may get inside a chapter and they're talking about this case study and they may have a call to action that says, “Would you like another case study on the subject matter? Sign up here to get it.” You know, if they're talking about some kind of a video, you know, “Be sure to sign up here to watch that video.” So they just kinda inter-disperse them.
Now, I would say that as a non-fiction author, you should only consider doing that many opportunities, okay, throughout the book, if you have a much higher thing to sell them, okay? So for example, I think it was, I can't remember the name of the book. Ah, it's escaped me, but there was one—oh, it was Ask by Ryan Levesque, right? Well Ryan’s got like a premium course, he's got a service, he's got affiliate, he's got all these things. So, he basically turned his very popular book into a giant email opportunity and you can't get through at least a chapter without hitting maybe one or two opportunities. And I'll say personally he does it a little bit too much to the point that I started getting a bit annoyed. But yeah, he, he ended up getting my email probably on the seventh chapter after a while. I mean it worked! Did he get a sale from me? No—not saying it's not worth it, because I know a lot of people that did it, they enjoyed it. But he's really pushing because the book isn't his thing. What his thing is, is this much higher-cost program, or what have you. When I worked with Pat Flynn, he had the book Will it Fly?
Anna: Yup—he got me through that book! Because he had that course that you probably advised him to do.
Dave Chesson: Yup, that was it! I'm telling you. So, what Pat did was he had this book that was Will it Fly, which teaches people, like, how to verify their business idea, right? How to validate it, will your business idea fly? And so ultimately, he then created this mini-course that is kind of like the video version of the book and it was like a study aid. So, you know, it's not like without the course, you can't finish the book—that might piss people off. But it's like more or less, like, this will help you with the book as you go. And he made it absolutely free. The other thing was, is that because it was a free course, he put at the front of the book. So, a lot of people could click on the “look inside” and sign up without even buying the book. That comes down to you and your choice.
However, though, what he basically said was one third of every person who bought the book signed up for the free course. And he had a huge email list built from this. Then he created a paid course, like, you know, the next step up. And he just—and this came from him publicly, so I'm allowed to share this—but he said that the day he launched that paid course, he made over $111,000 just to the email list that he built from that. From the book. That's it. Not his huge email list, just the people who had bought and taken the mini-course and then just on the weekend brought in six figures. So, there is definitely a strategy behind that.
Anna: And you know, you did mention if you don't have a product or whatever, it may not make sense, but what if you will one day? Why not gather these emails? Anybody who's listening?
Dave Chesson: 100 percent absolutely agree. The more emails you have, the easier the job gets. Actually, let me paint another story too. So obviously when you have more and more email, you have more and more clientele that you can proactively reach out to and get them to buy. Cool. Here's another thing too, though. If anybody out there listening has these aspirations of one day being a published author, right? Going through a publisher, I can do a whole podcast on the pros and cons on that, but one of the things that I've seen sitting in so many of these meetings and boards and discussions with the publishing companies is that really what they want to know is, are you going to make them more money? I mean, really, everything just kinda distills down to that. They may sign you, okay? But if they're not really sure, if maybe you're, you know, it's like, “It's a good book, but…we don't really know.”
You're not going to get any backing or help from them whatsoever. You're definitely not going to get money up front. You're not going to get anything. Basically what you're going to do is get a deal, they may help you put together some stuff—minimally, right, minimizing their costs—and then they're going to turn around and tell you, “Hey, you got 20,000 books to sell in the next three months.” And if you don't hit that mark, you'll never hear from them again. You also like, and yet they still control your book—that's where problems come. But here's the other thing, if you walk in and you have some reason for them to believe that they're going to get their money, or that this could really, that they're going to benefit from you? Oh yeah. You get, you get a bit of the red-carpet treatment, okay?
Because they know and the number one way to get on their radar is how much of an email list do you have? It sounds so ridiculous, but a buddy of mine, and I don't have permission to use his name since there's some personal information to this, so I'll talk around his name, but he had, I think it's over 200,000 email subscribers. And it's because he wrote a whole bunch of articles on Medium, became very popular in that respect, he definitely did some viral ones, and his email list was huge. He decided to write a book and here's the thing. They did not really care, even though he had been viral and some of those people on the board had read his viral posts—cool. That doesn't translate to book sales. Until they saw his email list size. To them, that number represented cha-ching, cha-ching, you know? Some dollar signs. Right. And three out of the five major publishing companies went into a bidding war and he got pre-paid up front $200,000 on his first book and he hadn't even written it yet.
Anna: I think I know who this is.
Dave Chesson: You might, you might.
Anna: Does his first name start with B? That's all I'm asking.
Dave Chesson: No.
Anna: Okay, okay. This exact same thing happened to someone else I know, go on.
Dave Chesson: Yeah, well, but that's the thing was, if he hadn't been collecting those emails, they would never have given him a chance. They might’ve signed him to something, but it would have been one of those previous stories I talked about. Instead though, they gave him the $200,000 upfront, he sat down to write his first book ever, they gave him all the best editors, the best, you know, the best time, because they needed to get their money back, right? Since they gave him money upfront, they want to get it back. They worked with him, they had their own marketing plan, they actually helped him lay out a plan, they did all these things. And yeah, they got their money back, for sure. And he still makes money after, after the fact. But the fact is that it was a much different experience only because of an email list. So anybody who's like, “Well, you know, I don't have a product or whatever.” Yeah, that's cool. Not only will that email list help you with the next book, but it helps you over time. And who knows, maybe you come up with a product or maybe on your email list, somebody tells you have a product you should make that make their life easier and then you get your product idea.
Anna: So speaking of email lists in the very first thing you said in this, in this thing I'm unpacking, we got to know each other because I was a faithful subscriber, still am. And I saw you made a mistake—I know you never make mistakes, you made one.
Dave Chesson: I make lots of writing mistakes (laughter).
Anna: And it was like a mistake in the email, I don't remember, it's like a tech glitch—and I wrote you never thinking you would actually see it. And I was like, “Oh, by the way, there's this error, whatever, and I just love everything you do.” And you wrote me back! And you were so kind, and then you asked me to be on your podcast. So what an example of—I wasn't trying to get in with you. I just was a fan and saw a, you know, a mistake. And I have gotten to know people like that myself.
Dave Chesson: And we can go even further with that. It wasn’t just that one time. It's not like you fell off the face of the earth after we had that conversation, either. You've been a constant person that I've seen, whether it was through Twitter or you know, replying or even commenting on my own articles, like, yeah. Constantly seeing that you truly are there. And then so when you, when you asked me to be on this one, I'm not, I'm not gonna lie—like, I have actually told about 90% of the people no, because of this time period, right? As we're recording, this is in November coming up on Thanksgiving soon. And usually I shut down all operations because I really want to be family-focused, so I say no. But when you asked me, I was like, “Yeah, I'll do that!”
But it was because of all of that time that you were always there. You didn't just do a single-serving friend. You were like, you were always—and so of course I'm going to do this. So again, like, yeah, this it in action, right there. And you'd be surprised, like you send an email, maybe it's your favorite author, like Orson Scott Card or something like that, you know, and you think he probably doesn't see these. Well, I'll tell you, he probably does. And so, don't think to yourself that person is too big, or whatever. If you're constantly there and constantly positive, they're going to care. And if they don't care, well then, they're not the kind of person you want to align yourself with anyways.
Anna: They're a-holes. By the way, listeners, same goes for reviews. So, when you write those mean things and you think it's not a real person that's going to see that, you're wrong.
Dave Chesson: Oh yeah, I've got a strategy for that. I actually—
Anna: Kill them with kindness, right?
Dave Chesson: Well, no, no, no. I don't respond to the negative reviews like that. That never works out for anybody. Unless there's a gross mistake on their part and you're kindly letting them know that you know, like for say for example, like, “I can't believe you kill this character in the first chapter!” Then you kindly let them know, “I really wish you had gotten to the fifth chapter…wink, wink, wink.” You know? Like, that's cool, but not when the person is emotional. That never works. No. But here's what, here's a strategy I love to put at the end of my book. When it comes time that you finished the book, I actually kind of continue like it's a chapter, okay? Because—and the last chapter is kind of like my struggle. My author’s struggle. All right, now—this sounds so sales market-y, since we're talking about it—here it is. I humanize myself.
I will write about what brought me to point to write this book. You know, and the fears that come from it. You know, and I'm not gonna lie, I'll even put a picture, a candid picture, not a professional picture, of me and my family. Just reminding them that the words they just wrote came from a human being. So, I'll tell a bit of my journey in the struggle and you know what I had to go through to get this thing created for them. And then what I will do is I'll also remind them how important book reviews are. And that's because readers, we authors understand it, but readers don't, not all the time. And they forget. And so I'll let them know how important that review is for me. And I let them know that I will be there to read each and every one of them.
And when you do that, if the person's gotten to this point where they're actually reading this last part, it means they've enjoyed, to some extent, your work. And now, when you come in and you bring this forward to them, you basically make it feel like they're letting you down if they don't take that simple action and leave a review. And I tell you, when I added this to like one of my original, like—I did this strategy like two or three books later, but I went back to my first ever book and put it in there—and I swear the frequency of five star reviews tripled. Readers getting to the point of it and realizing holy moly, I really should. And I think that it just makes a much better experience as well. So I would want 100 percent recommend to anybody writing, add that section to the end and really give it a thing because that will really help you get more reviews and better reviews.
And I say better because, you know, we've all been at the point where we're like talking about somebody behind their back and then, and then when they come and they show up, we're like, “Oh no—hey man, what's happening? Cool.” Right? And we just change our tone. Well guess what? That dude or dudette just poured their heart out to you and they're going to go read your statement. That person might think twice about something that’s negative. Now they're not going to change a one star to five star, but it may be a three-star instead of a one-star. See what I’m saying?
Anna: Yeah, that's brilliant. Speaking of reviews too, where do you stand on advanced reader teams?
Dave Chesson: ARCs? Yeah. So Advanced Reader Copies and then Advanced Reader Team. In the industry they'll call them ARCs. If anybody's never come across that. I like ARCs, I think it's absolutely wonderful to build—and again, that reader team we're talking about that comes from building them up from the beginning, right? That's the people you met on the forum, that's the people you've been talking to on Facebook, that's the other authors in the industry, you know, who will then become a part of your team and then you'll probably do the same thing for them.
So again, those teams are only developed if you follow those strategies we talked about. And that's at the beginning. Those are incredibly important to give yourself a really big launch. And that's because you send out the book in advance, okay, so you have to trust them to an extent. You can use something like Bookfunnel to help control the allocation of books out there so that it doesn't, like, get pirated or something.
But you, you send the book out in advance to people, giving them an opportunity to read and then when the time comes that you launch it, you now have a known amount of people who have actually read your book, who can drop a review on the day of launch. Nothing looks worse than a book that just launched today and has zero reviews. Like even your friends and family problem won’t trust to buy it if it doesn't have reviews.
Here's a couple of tactics that I like to use with the ART team. Okay. I don't think we have enough time for me to go into the strategies to develop them, but when you do have them, one of the things I highly, highly recommend is that you create a kind of like Excel sheet where you have all of your ART team members listed and you basically mark when you last communicated with them.
Because what ends up happening is people will build this ART team and then they just treat it like one mass email. Man, if you're mass emailing me, is this really that important to you? No. But if you're personally emailing me? I feel on the hook. Now if I said I was going to be in your ART team, it means I have the intention of doing this. So just because you're being a little bit pushy about it, it isn't that you're being wrong. This person said they would, and you gave them your book for free. It's just, you're helping them to remember—that's it. So, personally talk to them, not mass email.
Second, I also like to remind them too that you didn't have to have read it. Like some people would be like, “Oh, I need to read every book.” No, no, no, no. So far, however far you are, just leave a review now and remember, you can always go back and change it.
So if that person comes back and says, “I'm not gonna lie, I got too busy, I can’t read it.” Okay, I tell you what, you know me in the industry, you know me because we talked on Facebook, you know, you know that I know the subject matter. Perhaps you can write a review on the book that is specific to me instead of the book itself. That way you're not lying. You're letting people know about the hard work I've done to get this information. You'll find that like, I honestly think that 50 percent of the reason why our team members will not leave a review is because they didn't finish the book and they think they have to in order to do it.
So, communicate that with them and let them know. And then it'd be like, “Oh cool.” Because if in the back of their mind they're like, “Man, I don't want to read this book right now, I’m busy, life is busy.” What you basically are letting them know is, “Hey, drop that review about me. And we're cool.” You go on with your busy self, you know? Like, things change, I get it, three months ago, you said you could, right now you're like, “heck no,” just two minutes and we're done. And then you don't have to feel guilty for like letting me down. That is huge. And then follow through on all of them.
A lot of people will build this ARC team, say it's like 50 people, and they'd do a mass email blast and only get five or 10 reviews and get pissy. No. Guess what? You got 50 people, talk to the 50 people individually, explain it to them and you will start to see 40, 45 reviews instead of the, you know, the five or 10 that you would get.
Anna: So good. So good. And, and okay, finally, because I know, you know, we're pressed for time. I could talk to you forever, but like, okay, one thing that you mentioned was people searching on Amazon. What you didn't mention is that you have created a product that allows people to do that, an extremely affordable product, that allows people to search categories and keywords and not just see how popular they are, but how much those authors are making. The ones who are leaders in those categories and those keywords. Can you, can you speak a little bit about that? Is there a, like, okay, if the author is making over like, whatever, over a certain amount, that's bad! Because you'll never compete. But if—you know what I mean, those numbers?
Dave Chesson: So, when I was in Korea and I came up with my first book idea, I use a whole bunch of Excel. I used to be a nuclear engineer, so I'm pretty numbers intensive. Total nerd, I mean, what can I say? I really would, I'd have this huge system because I didn't want to have to write an entire book, and pay for a really good cover, and editor, and formatting, and then marketing efforts, only find out nobody gives a rip. You know, nobody cares. I didn't even make it so—oh, by the way, I had to totally get over my, my hang up on my own inability.
So I developed this entire system for me to kind of understand what's going on in Amazon and then to make better calls. And that was when I later on in life, I actually met a whole bunch of programmers. I was like, “Hey guys, would you mind taking all of this and just packaging it into this? So it's like super intuitive?” And we had what I called the Muzzy factor. My grandmother, her name's Muzzy—well, I call her Muzzy, she's my Muzzy—and she was our, our “Muzzy tested, Muzzy approved.”
And the idea was, is that she keeps playing with it until you know, she actually understands it. So it was, that was the hardest part. So anyways, we so we designed the software and really it, that's exactly it. It tells you what it is that people type into Amazon, how many people per month type it into Amazon, how much money authors are making that show up for that keyword phrase.
It also helps you to find the best category for your book, and by the way, there are 14,000 different categories on Amazon. And the only way that—there's no list, there's no magical list anywhere, you just have to basically click, click, click and search and search and search and hope you had end up finding all 14,000 of them or something to figure out which one's the best one for you. So, we did the hard work and we listed all 14,000 of them out there. And these are actually different than the categories when you go to publish—that's a whole ‘nother subject. But when you go to publish your book, Amazon offers you this list and it's not Amazon categories, it's actually called bisects. So a, the real categories of or aren't, aren't even offered. And there's a way to get put in for them.
So there's a lot of really cool advantages to kind of understanding what's going on in Amazon, what's going on in the market. And we basically just bottled it up inside a software and that software is called Publisher Rocket. And we've made it only $97, and that's for life. So it's not a subscription fee or anything like that, pay for it once and you get to use it, and you get all the updates and new features that we constantly add, because I'm an author myself. And so, I'm always like, “Alright, how can we make this easier? What would be better?” And yeah, I got a programming team, so we just keep adding to it.
Anna: And so, if the categories are different in Publisher Rocket than they are on Amazon, how do you transfer that?
Dave Chesson: No problem. So yeah, so say for example, just to kind of quickly explain that is when you go to publish in KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon asks, you know, to list which categories you think your book is a part, you click and you'll see this giant, huge dropdown box that you select. Those are actually like international standard categories. Like, like it's the universally accepted categories that all marketplaces, except it's not really categories for a store, but think of it more like a supply chain logistics thing.
So when publishers get a book, they'll choose two bisects. And then when Barnes and Noble gets the book, they translate that bisect into a category that they have, because they may not have that bisect. And so—or the ma and pa shop only has 28 categories cause they only have 28 rows, right?
Well, there's 5,000 bisects. So obviously they figured out this, this 472 is a part of this category, right? That's, that's the whole system. So, when you go to publish, Amazon offers you the bisects, and then from there they magically put you into something, and it might not even be what you thought it was. So luckily, there is a process where and if you just go to YouTube and you type in like add 10 categories or change your categories, my video should show up number one. And you can watch the process, there's a special link that you click, and then it takes you to the special page on Amazon where you fill out this form, and literally it's like Dropbox, I show you over my shoulder how you do it.
And then you copy and paste what we call a category string, which is what Rocket shows you, into the form and say add my book for this. And within 24 hours, done. Or if you're in the United States, you can actually get Amazon to call you. Like I'm talking like less than a minute later, somebody calls you and you just tell them over the phone, “Hey man, my book is such and such. The ASN number is this and I want you to add it to this category string, this category string, this category string, this category string.” And within minutes of hanging out with them, your book has been included.
Anna: I've done it. I've done it for all my clients, it's amazing. They're real nice about it too, happy to do it! Okay, so to wrap up, your top tips for somebody doing a launch. Would you say start preparing the minute you start typing, and get your groups, both of influencers, for lack of a better word, and colleagues, use Publisher Rocket, you didn't say it, I did. So to wrap up, can we just wrap up with your, you know, summary of the tips?
Dave Chesson: Yeah. Well let's, there's two major things I'd like people to walk away with. The number one is like you said, when you go to start writing your book, start building those relationships. Start getting to know your market. That will pay off in the long run and make things so much easier and so much better. So do that. All right? Then number two is that when you get closer, make sure you have a plan. And I'm sure that through the other people you're going to interview here, you're going to hear a lot of great tactics. And there are a lot out there.
You choose the tactics you want, but have it planned out. Like almost like kind of like project management where you've got a schedule. And you're trying to, instead of doing everything on day one, spread it out so that your book continues to have constant sales and not just one giant spike. I would say that those two things, right there are the two big picture, most important things an author can do to really have a successful launch.
Anna: Okay. And let's just say release week—your actual launch. What are the top few things somebody could do?
Dave Chesson: Well, like I said before, it's about spreading out your, your objectives, right? So, if you have somehow collected—if I'm working with an author has 10,000 different emails, like emails, right? I actually will break up the email list into different cohorts. Instead of just one giant blast, I will maybe email one fourth of them on the first week or the first couple of days, the other fourth.
And so that way it's not just one giant spike. And then, well that tactics done, I guess. Instead, I'm benefiting from using my email list. And I'll also, two on my email list, I will reply or I will send another email to those who didn't open up the first one. Just in case, either it went to spam or they weren't interested in my subject header. And so that way I have a rolling effect of email over time. That's one thing.
Amazon Ads we didn't talk about, I think that one's a phenomenal one that should be a part of anybody's strategy. Because that helps your book for sure to get in front of people, that helps you to get sales and keep relevancy score up. But like, you know, if you, if you're building your tactics, maybe Facebook page has been a huge thing for you. Maybe not announce to your Facebook page or to your, to your friends in the Facebook page about your book until after a couple of days—because you have one strategy that's in effect for the first couple of days. Then maybe you use this strategy on the third day.
You can see where I'm going is that there will be a lot of strategies. Everybody's going to hear a part of a launch and that's cool. And there are so many. You choose what want to do, but you plan them out so they're spread out a bit, not all in one day.
Anna: So good. So good. Thank you, Dave, so much. Oh, by the way, do you still have that free course on Amazon Ads available?
Dave Chesson: I do actually.
Anna: Where can people grab that?
Dave Chesson: It’s amscourse.com. Made it as simple as one can remember in this case they're driving. Yeah, it's a full free video course showing everything I know. Matter of fact, before I go to work at a publishing company or doing any consulting, I send them the course and be like, “First, take that.” So that way I don't have to spend the first couple of hours while I'm on the clock explaining these things to you. So, I don't hold back on it.
Anna: And it's free?
Dave Chesson: 100 percent.
Anna: Well, Dave, thank you again and if people want to find you, kindlepreneur.com is that the best place?
Dave Chesson: That's the best one!
Anna: Thank you, thank you, and thank you for listening. You rock.
Dave Chesson: Take care and thank you for having me.
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