Episode 303: David Nihill on Selling a Book to a Publisher After Self-PublishingMar 18, 2020
Originally from Dublin Ireland, David Nihill is the founder of FunnyBizz Conference, bestselling author of Do You Talk Funny?, winner of San Francisco International Comedy Competition, runner up in the Moth’s largest US Grandslam storytelling competition and the first-ever Irishman to have a special on Dry Bar Comedy. His work has been featured in Inc, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Fast Company, Lifehacker, The Irish Times, TED, The Irish Independent, Today FM, and on TV3.
He and I met through friends a few years ago and I was immediately impressed not only with his barely indecipherable accent but also with how much knowledge he possessed about marketing, books and how to make them successful. This impression was only solidified when, a few days later, he sent me an email packed with all the strategies he'd used to make his book so successful that he was able to then sell it to a major publisher.
In this episode, we go through all those ideas and more. If you listened to the episode, you know that I promised I would give you the email he sent out to his launch team, which you are welcome to copy and steal (he will never know, unless he's reading this, in which case I say hi David!) Anyway, check it out below the pod links.
DAVID'S EMAIL TO HIS LAUNCH TEAM:
5 Reasons You Should Be a Team Member with Benefits
I am putting together a launch team and your skills & wisdom are needed!
Do You Talk Funny comes out in just over 5 weeks (March 8th) with BenBella Books/Persius and I am looking for 50 awesome people to help spread the word. In return you will become a team member with benefits...easy now...not that sort. What benefits so I hear you ask. You'll get:
- A free advance PDF copy of the book.
- Access to a private ongoing Facebook group where you can get feedback on your presentation video or script from myself and other members.
- A free code to gift to a friend in need to take the e-course the book was based on ($99 value)
- A Special THANK YOU shout out
- A free drone, Tesla, and false advertising. This one might be mildly fictional but hopefully there is enough good stuff listed above to get you though :)
Only Requests Are:
- That you agree to read the book asap upon receipt.
- That you help spread the world about the book and launch offers on social media and in any way you can between March 1st and March 8th.
- That you write a brief book review on Amazon or Goodreads before or upon launch day.
- That you share ideas and any wisdom you have about how we might get wider attention to the book's message. All suggestions welcome.
How To Sign Up:
Thanks in advance for your wisdom and support!
P.S. I just put together a bunch of book launch bonuses. You can get all sorts of great stuff here just by pre-ordering a copy. If you are a Kindle fan however don't pre order. Amazon will run a special $3.99 promotion for a week on launch (much cheaper than the publishers normal $9.99 price). If you are an ibooks fan watch out for free codes coming out around launch.
P.P.S. This is not one of those annoying automated sequence emails. Even though it's Sunday and I should be out and about I wrote it just now, and even pressed send myself. Please write back with any questions.
Anna David: 00:01 Hi David.
David: 00:04 Hello.
Anna David: 00:04 I'm so excited to be able to A interview you, but B, do this by looking at an email you sent me a year and a half ago, which gave me advice on how to promote a book. Could anything be more meta?
David: 00:21 Very meta. I didn't know you were such a Maven of descriptor of stuff at that stage and you're like, Oh, I find this might be helpful. Here's a collection of lunacy because I've built up from talking to people smarter than me and it's in one email. Here you go, might be helpful.
Anna David: 00:34 Well, but I also thought when you sent the email that these were all your ideas and like I basically, I'm far less impressed with you now than I was when I received the email.
David: 00:47 Some of them are mine, I'd say, but very few, the most I think good ideas I've ever had come from someone smarter than me that told me I should try something. And then off I go.
Anna David: 00:56 Well, let's talk about what you did when you released your book and therefore your best launch strategies. Now I know that you were a student. Well, so who, who did your best strategies come from? I know Ryan Holiday was a big inspiration. You sent me some of those articles. Basically when you were putting together your launch plan for your book, what did you do?
David: 01:21 Yeah, I read there was a very good group that Pat Flynn used to run called Pat Flynn's first kindled book I think. And it was maybe 15,000 odd like kind of aspiring writers or published writers or people that were in and around the world of publishing in some way that were in that group. I know it was, I just joined it and it was extremely good to see people chatting through what they did that worked and what they did that didn't, I remember reading articles by James Altoshare, they were very good, on how he broke down when he launched his books. And I think one of the ones that really stuck for me from that was the whole make sure you record your audio book before you finish your actual written book because you will make considerable changes to it. And sure enough, when I recorded my audio book at a studio, did a lot of big publishing houses use, I just rented it independently. But the guy Larry told me, he never ever has someone recorded an audio book and not want to change something after that he's worked with in his 14 or 15 years of being there. So that was pretty sound advice to start with. Cause I would have thought, well the audio book is the last thing to do.
Anna David: 02:23 Well, but also so where in the process did you do it? Was it before it went to the copy editor? After it sort of got a development?
David: 02:31 Well, yeah, we had it pretty much. Okay, we're great on this, but don't hit print. Don't send it out. Don't publish anything yet. I'm going to go record this audio book and I think I'll have a few changes. And that's probably the only time you're forced and you're likely to read your own stuff, and you read it aloud and you're like, Aw, that is horrendous. Who wrote this garbage? And you're like, Oh I did. I better write it better.
Anna David: 02:54 Okay. But is that launch related? I mean in a way it is because you also do also recommend making sure the audio book is ready to go when the paperback and e-book is ready?
David: 03:03 Yeah, definitely. And I think that was one of the things I learned the hard way as well that when it's, I guess it's, it's different a bit if you're doing it with a publisher or without a publisher, but just the timelines, how slow and clunky something like Amazon can be is a little bit bewildered nearly when all of a sudden you're in a hurry, I'm launching this on a certain date and you realize, Oh, there's no way that audible is going to be able to pull this off in less than three weeks. So I think it's just having a better idea of those timelines up front would have helped me a lot. And it definitely helped me the second time around because I'm like, all right, I'm going to soft launch this without saying anything. I'm going to make sure it's up on Amazon. I'm going to get people on the launch team. I didn't think I knew anybody who might be on the launch team, but I think it would. That wording had come from something that I think it was Nils Parker, Tooker Max, and possibly Ryan Holiday, some work they had written now and put together around launching independent books. And it was like here, number one asset you can probably have is a launch team. These are people you don't know that they're interested in helping you, but will magically become interested when you just send an email out, no matter how small your list is and just to keep track of those people and make sure it's very, each email is independent whereas you're addressing it to them personally for follow-up and to make sure that those people, yeah they get an early copy of your book but make sure they come and true on their part of the bargain, which was to leave a review.
Anna David: 04:27 Well and you very helpfully sent me the actual email that you sent to your people, which I think is so useful that possibly I should include it in the show notes if you would allow me to.
David: 04:40 Oh yeah, no problem, cause it does have a picture of a cat with a rocket coming out of his backside.
Anna David: 04:44 It sure does. It's a really cute cat. And, it's called, you know, a Team Member with Benefit, a Launch Team with Benefits. And really I say with tons of respect, you're not offering them very much. You're just saying, Hey, do you get a copy of this book? You get to join a Facebook group, you get to give the book for free to someone else. I'm going to thank you. So I think that's interesting cause I think people would be interested to know you don't have to offer them your firstborn or that cat with the, you know, being shot up at the rocket. Like really all you're doing, but.
David: 05:20 They don't need a rocket cat.
Anna David: 05:21 They don't need a rocket cat to agree to read your book. So, how many people were you able to get with this awesome email
David: 05:29 I think I said on there I was limiting it to a hundred or limiting it to 50, but realistically I think I had 110 on there, 120 and then a few drop out and go missing. And, you know, that's fair enough. Life gets in the way of reading the books sometimes. Yeah, I do remember it was a business heartening when you'd follow up and like they would tell you the real reasons why they haven't read your book yet. And that could get, it was like my cat got cancer, I lost my shoes, my job, you know, my dog left me, it does become like the most mental list of excuses I'd like. Yeah, sure. You know, you never know what's happened in somebody's life. But yeah, some of them are pretty comical. It was, they definitely made this up and some of them were being very genuine. You know, a lot of people just don't have time to read a full book. And I think a key part of asking them to be on that review team was also letting them know that they don't need to write a very lengthy detailed review. They're realistically somebody else will do those ones. They'll get up voted by the community. You just need some form of review and just to let it know, let people know that, Hey, you can always edit your review in the future. So if you want and it makes them feel comfortable to write a review on me and my work and how it might've helped you and how you ended up on my email list in the first place. And then when you get round to reading the book, just go back and edit it.
Anna David: 06:42 That's such great advice. I've never heard that.
David: 06:46 Yeah, it was, it was very helpful because I was thinking of myself when someone sends me a book and then I'm like, well, I didn't really want to read this book anyway. And now they're like, Oh, could you leave a review? And you're like, Oh, I haven't read that yet and I don't have time and I don't really want to, but you don't want to say any of that. So you just kind of ignore any requests they send your way. Whereas this, they make it known here, listen, we're friends. You had some interest in my work somewhere that I assume you thought it was halfway decent. Could you write the review on that? And you know, if you don't feel good about writing a review for a book that you haven't actually read yet, and then you can just go back and edit it.
Anna David: 07:17 What's also interesting about your email is that you break down that for people don't, if you're a Kindle fan, don't preorder. So you, a lot of people think you either have to have a launch team or offer preorders but what you actually did is people could pre-order but only the paperback. Correct?
David: 07:38 Yeah, only the paperback.
Anna David: 07:40 And so the launch team was just for the e-book, but they both go on the same page. But you know the reviews?
David: 07:47 So it's the exact same thing. The only difference really is if you're under pressure for a publisher to try and go for a bestseller status right out of the gate on the first day of launch, you really do have to work Preorders. And preorders are a tough sale because they're like, buy this thing that you might get at some stage in the future. But I think with Kickstarter and all these projects we have at the moment where we're used to paying for something, we don't actually get, I mean look at half the people who bought Teslas when they launched their lower budget version, like want to buy a car now and get it in a year and a half? Well not really. That doesn't seem like it makes sense. I want it now, but I just always tell them that going to be a harder sale to get someone to do a preorder on a book and I was like, let's give it to them when it's available to consume immediately. So I didn't want, I figured this would be a slow burner cause public speaking, what I wrote it on is not exactly the world's sexiest topic. It's like there's no way out of the gate all those people are just going to rush to it and go. Yet this topic that I normally stay away from, I want nothing more than to read about it right now
Anna David: 08:42 when you write about it, it's very sexy though. Come on. And I'm not just talking about the audio book, I'm talking about the book. Now here's a very creative thing that you recommended in this email. SlideShare, so talk about how that can help launch a book?
David: 08:59 Yeah. It's funny if you had said to me like there's people out there that will voluntarily spend their time looking at the presentation that you're not going to be there for it. You're like, how about I just send a slight, imagine you were speaking at a conference and you're like, they're offering you an amount of money. Like you know what, for half the price, I'll just send you my slides and your audience can sit there and nobody visible will control the presentment of those lights and they can just watch it. They'd be like, that's a horrendous idea. But funny enough, that's exactly what SlideShare is and people are on their voluntary consuming quite a lot of information and the view counts on there can be pretty huge, and you can leave this sign up trailer for, you could use something that leads into your funnel on there as a signup at the start or at the end of it. And I think I've over 2 million views on that SlideShare I put together. I did hire a designer to help me. I put out the content, I made a kind of DIY design myself and then I got somebody off Upwork or oDesk cause it might've been at the time and I think I paid him like 150 bucks maybe to design it and make it look good.
Anna David: 10:00 I'm looking at it right now. It looks pretty good. So just so people can even understand what you mean. So basically you make us a slide deck like in PowerPoint or whatever program you want, and then you upload it onto this site called SlideShare. And then this does not work for fiction probably because it's very odd to have a slide deck about a novel. But if it is a nonfiction book, you're basically breaking down the information that's in your book, correct?
David: 10:28 Yeah. So you're kind of giving them a synopsis of the most Poplar bits of content from within the book, especially if it's got a how to vibe to it or it's got a how to angle. Here are the 10 or 15 tips to make the biggest difference in the book. If you want to read some more off you go, but it just allows you to put some short, catchy content together, make it look good and maybe brand it in a way that it looks a bit like the book cover.
Anna David: 10:51 Yeah. And now I'm, and now I'm looking at the page and so on the page you put an option to buy the book as well.
David: 10:59 Yeah, and I have every, every link there. They're all live links to the different booksellers. And then on the next one it's like, Hey, do you want to get, these are 20 trade tips, but they're part of 80 tips. You can get that for free as well. So a lot of people go through and sign up or they only get point of LinkedIn. I find with SlideShare, nobody controls the comments properly. So if I don't go near those comments for a week or two, it's a bunch of like buy Russian people online, see naked hippos. Like it could say absolutely anything. There isn't any genuine interaction and comments on there.
Anna David: 11:31 I wonder why you're saying that when the comment that I'm reading right now says girls for sex in your area are there.
David: 11:37 I was going to write that myself, but then I thought that could be controversial. Let me let the robot some. That's the downside I found from it. But it does clock up a pretty huge amount of views and they have active members, but not as many as you think. And not that many on nonfiction tend to use it as a resource.
Anna David: 11:57 Okay. So yeah, I didn't even understand that. Even though it's SlideShare. Dot net is the site. It's a part of LinkedIn.
David: 12:04 Yup. LinkedIn or it will run featured content sometimes and if you get on their homepage, it can be like being on the homepage of Reddit. So I think my one was SlideShare Featured, so ones that are well designed with good information get featured by them and you can, I think you hit them up on Twitter at SlideShare Featured and you're like, Hey, I just published a new slide share. I think you might like it if it can be considered. There was a way they do it and you get in touch with them about it and then they featured it and yeah, it was next to Oprah and some other stuff there for a couple of days, and that really kicked it on its way
Anna David: 12:35 But you can't actually gauge how many books that sold?
David: 12:39 No, you could if you put the link in there specific to the purchase links, if you may, Bitly links and you track those links that are in there, you could track how many links came from there, but you couldn't track if they converted to purchases or not. But you could certainly track the actual traffic that comes your way.
Anna David: 12:57 Mmm, okay. And other things, so, so we don't know if that, if that Pat Flynn group still exists, but were there other Facebook groups or other communities that you joined in order to promote your book?
David: 13:08 No, that was the best one. I think I got a little bit lucky when I put my book out, the concept that I used was to test it as an online course before it became a book because I was such a rubbish writer and I had no idea what I was talking about with a lot of this. And I didn't know if it would resonate, and I didn't really want to put myself out there in a way, you know, I'm from Ireland. If you're doing anything mildly self-help orientated, they might not let you back in the country. Could be a 50 50, like did you write a self help? They're like, go back to America, Tony Robbins. But it wasn't meant to be a self help book, but once it went into that category, I was like, all right, I guess it is. I didn't really see it that way when they did, but I did mine as a course and actually because I wanted to be able to interactively chat with people. Now I was early on [inaudible], which I don't think is a great one for doing this anymore, but there must be some new online platforms for course content where you can, where you can have your content put out to a bunch of people without you having to do a lot of marketing that they're hungry to get new users. So if you're one of their featured courses, all of a sudden you can clock out a good amount of people or register a good amount of people.
14:14 And I'd say I got four or 5,000 pretty quickly on there and they were the ones I was [inaudible] to say, Hey, I made this course. I put it on Reddit as well. I made this course. I'd love your feedback as part of it. I'm looking for a few initial users to complete it and it got a lot of take-up on Reddit and it got to take up on Udemy and then I kept going back and posting and saying, Hey, does this make sense. What do you not like and what do you like? And when it got to the point that that was very well-reviewed. Then I was like, all right, I'm going to transcribe all this content into the outline of a book and then kind of work backwards from there, because I just didn't want day one to be sitting there looking at a blank page going, all right, start book. I was like, I'd rather take all the content, I have the [inaudible], get that transcribed and start with like 80 pages in front of me of content. And then like I need to build a story around this.
Anna David: 15:01 Yeah. And my company, by the way, is going to start converting courses into books for people because there's all these people running around with all these courses not realizing that that material can easily translate into a book.
David: 15:12 Yeah. And I think you're most likely people to read that book are the ones that took your course in the first place. And I think if you knew some of the metrics on online course completion, people sign up to it cause they think it's a great idea, but it tends to be like 10% or less for the average person that signs up. So they would still read your book cause they haven't bothered finishing your course yet. So they're like, well I prefer books. I prefer audio books. I like reading. I don't really like taking online courses by myself and sitting there looking at a screen that normally brings me joy, true Netflix or something else. So I think there'll be your first readers and your first customers. And it certainly was the case with me when I did my launch, that that's where the launch team came from. That's where the early readers came from. That's where the biggest supporters came from. That's for the people that were posting on LinkedIn and saying nice things. They had all been, they felt like they had helped shape the content and they were right to feel that way because they did without them, I would never would have been what it was.
Anna David: 16:07 Right. Although by the way, I do think the statistics on people finishing books are just as dismal as the statistics on people taking courses, buying and not taking courses. Okay. I'm looking still at your list. Did you swap out at any point and you know, do a new version of your book that's on the list, keep the name, keep the reviews.
David: 16:30 Yeah. So what I did was I wrote the book, I self published it, and then I used the initial traffic numbers and downloads to pitch it to a publisher without any traditional book proposal. So I just kind of went around, I was like, Hey, this has 105 star reviews. It's been downloaded 19,000 times or whatever it was in the first week. Might this be of something that you were interested in working on if we took it down and rewrote it. So I effectively had two launches, had the launch when I self published it, and then I rewrote it, and I had the launch for when I actually published it.
Anna David: 17:03 Well, I resent the word actually because both are publishing it.
David: 17:08 Yeah, you know, but you know what, self publishing was better in every way, shape or form and more of an enjoyable experience. And to me it was more beneficial than any other form of publishing. So yeah, I didn't meant with no malice, I'm actually a bigger fan of that. But the weird impact was the published version did give me the chance to improve and have extra eyeballs on what I had. So it did ultimately create a superior product, but it didn't, you know, it gives you no real benefits other than some more eyeballs on your stuff in the creation stage, which sometimes is useful and sometimes drive you nuts. But it did sell way more copies in audio book format for some reason when I actually went with a publisher.
Anna David: 17:48 Oh, okay. Okay. Wait a minute. So you not only sold the print rights, but then you also sold the audio rights even though you already had an audio book.
David: 17:58 I didn't, I kept the audio rights. So when I talked to Fuddruckers, any of the ones that I chatted to or any of my friends that had been down that road where they'd already done self-publishing and then sold it to a publisher, most of the publishers are so focused, and it started to change a little bit now, they're being a lot more sensitive over where they can squeeze extra revenue out of books, but audio books were not their area of expertise. Most publishers were doing it at an afterthought and most of them on negotiation were willing to leave that out. So if you are doing a trade off or something. So yeah, they, I think the only way I agreed to do that deal was if I kept the audio book rights and then I had to redo the whole thing.
Anna David: 18:36 But you're saying, once the publisher released the book, then the audio rights, so then the audio copies sold more or no?
David: 18:45 Better for some unexplained reason because they should have been selling equally or better beforehand because I had done kind of hold a podcast tour around launch. I tried anyone's podcast. I did, I tried to get them to release them all at the same time. Certainly helps her in launch.
Anna David: 19:01 Okay. But hold please, let's walk this back one second because I can't tell you how many people say to me, okay, so if I publish through you or I self publish, I can always sell to a big publisher later. It is actually highly rare. It is incredibly rare. So even though that you did that and you had other people that you could talk to about that, I probably, you know, I talk about books all day, every day. I probably know four people ever that have been able to do that. You have to sell a shit load of books.
David: 19:29 Well or at least make it look like you've had a lot of interest in your book so you don't technically have to sell them. They have no way of differentiating, but whether you gave those books away or sold them. So if you'll have a launch where you have free available copies for the first 24 hours and then it becomes say what, 99 cents an a 1.99 and 2.99 so I think we had that incremental pricing strategy for the first week, but for the first day it was certainly made available for free to the people that same group on Reddit, the downloaded the course originally, so that clumped up a very large amount of copies and that was enough to keep it in the best seller category lists for maybe like two months around the topic. But my book, public speaking, it's a bit of a slow burn sale and there's no way that's a hot topic every day that people are buying books on. So the sales numbers to dominate that category, or at least to rank highly in it were definitely a lot less. And I was putting up some very high numbers compared to everyone else because it was free at the start. But to the best of my knowledge, they had no way of differentiating whether they are free or sold. And they were not asking for the financial breakdowns from Amazon. They were purely going on the rankings. In fact, it was top of the charts, the number of ratings, which I think most publishers said, we need at least kind of 100 five star ratings to show there's a good bit of interest there. And the rest, I think I just got lucky because everybody I knew that wrote a book that self-published sold it to a publisher. And there was only three guys that I knew who had done it, guys and girls in San Francisco. And that's the route they had all taken. So it didn't seem strange to me to be able to do that.
Anna David: 21:04 Everything about you is strange. That's not true. Just your, just your accent.
David: 21:11 I would probably play some from Ireland around now.
Anna David: 21:15 If they haven't been like I don't under, I like this guy but I really can only understand every other word he's saying. But they're piecing it together. But how much later? You might've just said this, was it six months after the release? When did you do that and did you get an agent I missed that part. Did you reach out to publishers directly?
David: 21:33 No, I reached out to a bunch of agents and I tried publishers directly and that was a bit of a mission. So I figured it would be a lot easier if I had an agent kind of batting down the door with the numbers on my behalf. And so I got an agent, I tried the best agents I wanted to try and get, I wasn't able to get, cause one of them had just signed up to release a similar book on the same topic with someone who would have been a competitive author to my one in that space. So I really did try and find the agents of the authors that I loved and I was like, these are the people that dominate this category. Are they all using the same agent or not? And a lot of the time it comes down to eight or nine similar agents around those business book topics, especially for the true bestseller ones. And so I tried, I wasn't successful on that, so I kind of was in plan B on everything after that where I was with an agent, I didn't really know someone might have recommended him, somewhere along the way. And then I was dealing with publishers that sometimes I didn't really know.
Anna David: 22:29 And how long did that whole process take of finding the agent, having the agent sell it, all of that?
David: 22:34 I think it was about three to four months maybe from first content. So it was relatively quick. It certainly wasn't the world's greatest deal as I think it never is unless you come to a table and you're like, Hey, I have 100,000 subscribers on my email list, [inaudible] X amount. But I think at that stage I was burned out with the marketing. I realized that they wouldn't do a lot of marketing, so I didn't care. It just gave me a chance to have a second book launch to redo some of the content and to have somebody bear the cost and a lot of the editing time of doing that. So it kind of, it just made sense all around for me to go, well, I don't care how it does, like, let's try. But I realized that they're going to tell me they're going to do a bunch of marketing and I know enough at this stage to realize they're not, they're just going to print a nice looking book and it'll look better than the one I made.
Anna David: 23:21 Yeah. It took me six books to understand that they were going to do actually nothing. And it kind of kills me when I hear people go like, Oh, I, I want to go traditional. I want to go on a book tour. I want my book in bookstores. And I'm like, I don't know an author has been on a book tour. I haven't heard of that in about 15 years. I mean, people send themselves, and I don't know, my books had, we're in Barnes and Noble for two weeks. Three weeks maybe?
David: 23:46 I got some good traffic with the bookstores. I was definitely in small numbers, but I was in a mall, like people were taking photos of it and magically finding a at an airport here and there randomly in Bangkok or it was in Barnes and Noble. It definitely, it got it into the bookstores, but they order it in such small amounts, depending on the publisher that how long is it going to be there for? Who knows? But it definitely helped get a few extra views from a couple of bookstores that were saying, Oh wait, we've had this book. We meant the other. We like it. It opened up their doors to do one or two events there, but yet the amount of overall support was shocking. It was, you can't even explain how disappointing it is when you learned that in your mind, this entity who's an expert on selling and publishing books, of course they're going to help me. It's in their interest, right? They must have a marketing budget for this and they had nothing. Even when I was like, I'm going to do a slide share and they were like, what's SlideShare, why would you do this? This must be a total waste of time. We wouldn't have budget money for that, but I think over some [inaudible] back negotiations, there might've been a marketing budget of maybe thousand books but, when I say a thousand books.
Anna David: 24:55 Oh wait, David, your voice is getting a little janky. Can you lean back a little bit? I think it's like not too much. Sorry. You're saying the microphone is being weird. You're saying such golden nuggets that I don't want to miss any of them, but yet it is amazing to me how little they care, how little the publisher seems to care. I always liken it to, like you've sold a movie to Sony, you are the writer, the director, the producer. It's a one person movie and they are with you. They are fired up, they have funded it, they are excited and then it comes out and they've totally disappeared. And you never hear from them again. And you're like, I thought we were in this together, what happened here?
David: 25:43 Yeah. And in their mind it's all very traditional. Like they are going to bring it to some book exposition somewhere and have it on a table and if someone shouts interest in it, it might turn up in some extra distribution channel. And in their mind that's the extent of the marketing. That was, Oh we had a copy of it. We gave some copies away. I think they had a list of journalists they were going to reach out to and just without writing to them in any way to tell them about the book, they were just going to post them the book and hope for the best. And that was a large amount of the marketing budget was the cost of just random. Just randomly posting books. Yeah. The cost of each book and the postage to go with the book. And that was their marketing strategy. And I was like, yeah, but are they interested in this genre of book? Have you written to them to tell them to ask them if they'd actually like it? Have you made contact? Do you know if this list is updated, where did it even come from? And it wasn't and it was nearly laughable and I was like, this is not going to launch this book in any way, shape or form. So yeah, it was definitely a bit sad when you find that out cause you're like, Oh I thought I was getting a team of people this lonely period of time I've already completed by myself in writing this now surely it's going to be great working with a team and there is no team. It's just you.
Anna David: 26:51 And are you open to talking about money? Like how much you were able to make on your own and then how much you were able to make with the publisher?
David: 26:59 Yeah. I don't like talking about money, just the Irish side of life, if I can avoid actual numbers. But yeah, the publisher, it wasn't that much and it just, it just leads to a weirdly recurring check that turns up every six months or so. That's the other part of how shocking it is. Do you find out their payment schedules are like a year and a half, you might see it like a year and a half down the road. They're so behind on the financial side of life and in no hurry to change that in any way. It was scary. So I was very glad that I left the audio book on Audible cause at least that gives me a predictable monthly revenue stream that I'm in full control. It wasn't massive, but I think it's done about 16,000 audio books maybe at the moment. Which is great. But I think the self published audio book only did 600 copies.
Anna David: 27:50 Interesting. Well so maybe they had behind the scenes shenanigans at Audible that they could pull?
David: 27:56 I don’t know, I, you know, I met a couple of people from Audible, I wrote to them and they used to be big fans of comedy and some genres and they did my book as a featured book for a bit. And then a website I had not heard of, but I liked the look of since called, Book Authority, did a review and they pride themselves on not going by the hype around books but by going on the actual download numbers and how many reviews the book has from readers on Good Reads and Amazon. And I think mine came out highest for storytelling and for public speaking. So it was listed as like the number one best book of all time in those two categories for audio books. And that made a huge difference. That was a massive spike in sales all of a sudden.
Anna David: 28:40 Yeah. I will say my self published book made Book Authority's list of best addiction books and none of my Harper Collins books ever did. But yeah, Book Authority is a great site.
David: 28:53 Very cool. And the books it picks as number one or genuinely when you look at them, they are the highest rated and the most downloaded usually. So it was nice. I think I used that to go back to the publisher and go, all right, if I'm getting listed as number one in all these things, why am I not in all these bookstores alongside all these ones that I'm actually outselling and ranking and higher reviewed than online and yet they'll just ignore you forever.
Anna David: 29:15 Yeah, and they were like David, David who, Oh.
David: 29:20 You know what was most disappointing was when I had the editor, when I had my own independent editor, the nicest thing of putting out a course was charging people for the course first, so that I had enough money to go and buy whatever editor, well in budgetary reason, but it allowed me to reach out to editors I really wanted to work with. So I got one that loved comedy, was passionate about the topic, and we wrote it together. And I didn't need to remind him of anything like he was as invested in the book as I was when we were having back and forth country. I didn't need to explain anything. He just knew. It was like two minds that were very focused on one topic even though he of course would have had other projects on the go, but when I went with the publisher it was like reminding somebody what the book was every time I wrote an email to them and their feedback was, it was bonkers. It just made no sense. I said, how many books are you working on at the moment where you don't remember anything about what you've been telling me about mine? And it was a real stroke, on book design with a publisher as well. That was a real struggle. Like you assume that they know something about doing book covers.
30:17 But they knew nothing, they were sending me pictures of chickens every week. It was a chicken in a different position. I'd say I'm not putting a chicken on the cover of the book and they'd send me back another picture and they would've had changed the chicken from a horizontal to vertical position. And that was the big difference. And I'm like, I told you no chicken. Then the chicken came back with a shirt on him. I was like, which part of no chicken are you not understanding. Then they put glasses and a tie on the chicken. I was like, you're really into chickens? And then it became a whoopee cushion. I was like, no whoopee cushions, no chickens. And I really had a lot of argument forward and back with them onto what the optimal book design. So I hired someone myself to do it. I tested it and Pat Flynn's Kindle group and I got maybe 350 people I think commented on it and voted on the different covers. And needless to say, the chicken was not performing top of the list there and that was the only way I convinced them to go with my book. I was like, here's the numbers. Nobody wants your chicken on there. It doesn't make any, I assume that they must know what they're doing, but it just became clearer. No, they don't.
Anna David: 31:16 Yeah. With one of my books, my last book with Harper, I hated the cover and I hired an independent cover designer. It was gorgeous and they didn't agree and we went with their cover and there was nothing I could do about it.
David: 31:27 Yeah. They were hard and fast. Like even my agent, everyone was kicking in like, who are you to talk about this? We are masters of this area. And I was like, I'm just, it wasn't until I just showed them the numbers that they all went, okay, whatever. Like we'll let you get your way on this. But the numbers were so strong against all their covers and were so strong. Even I tested different color variations, tested everything I could test and I couldn't have done that without any of those online groups.
Anna David: 31:54 Well, David, this has been delightful and most informative. If people want to find out more about you, slash get this book, tell me where they can do that.
David: 32:07 Yeah. Yeah. I mean you can get the book, hopefully anywhere they sell books these days. It's called, Do You Talk Funny? And if you want to find out more on me, I have, my site is David Nihill.com. And links to anything and everything I think I've done on there [inaudible] I've spoken somewhere are probably all there
Anna David: 32:26 Excellent. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you guys for listening. By the way, if you've got anything out of this episode and I assume you did because wasn't he delightful? There is no harm in writing a review. You heard us talk about how great a book review is. A podcast review is just as great, if not better. It would mean so much to me. Just a five star rating. That doesn't take any time at all.
David: 32:47 You don't care if they make it to the end of the podcast to leave their review right. First, write one for you personally, as we've said there and on you go.
Anna David: 32:55 Exactly. Exactly. Okay, David, thank you and thank you guys for listening.
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