SEP Episode 42: Smarter Self-Publishing Strategies with Eric Zartan

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan

Hello and welcome to the Story Engine Podcast. Today on the show, I have Eric Zartan from zBooks.co, and Eric is a self-publishing genius. And since I’ve got a book coming out soon, and publishing has been on my mind a lot lately. I wanted to blow off some intellectual steam and have a good conversation with a brilliant mind on book publishing, getting your book ready for self-publishing, marketing your book, and using your book as a business tool. Eric Zartan can dive deep in any direction in knowledge on any of these. So if you are a business owner and want to create a book to help market your business, or maybe you’re just an author wanting to build a business around your books, Eric Zartan is the guy for you.

 

Podcast

Smarter Self-Publishing Strategies with Eric Zartan

Hello and welcome to the Story Engine Podcast. Today on the show, I have Eric Zartan from zBooks.co, and Eric is a self publishing genius. And since I’ve got a book coming out soon, and publishing has been on my mind a lot lately.

Key Takeaways

[3:05] The profound incident that led to Eric’s vocation

[8:52] How Eric started his business

[11:25] Killer tips on how to format a book

[14:39] The differences between formatting ebooks and print books

[17:51] Strategies and tactics for self-publishing

[21:53] How to get started in self-publishing and build a customer base

[27:34]  How to sell your book on Amazon (and two amazing secrets!)

[38:44] The different ways you can promote your book

[48:34] Techniques on how to validate your work before publishing

[56:49] The number one thing you need to learn before you start publishing

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

zBooks

Free eBook: The Power to Publish

zBook Templates

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Jack Hamm: How to Draw Books

How To Format Your Manuscript For Kindle

Draft2Digital

Buck Books

BookBub

Kindle Book Review

Jeff Walker

Book Zeal

KDSPY

KDP Rocket

Teachable

Udemy

Skillshare

Gumroad

Launch

Videofruit

Dave Chesson

WP Curve

 

Transcript

Kyle Gray:                 

So without any further ado, let’s turn it over to Eric. Eric, thank you so much for joining us today.

Eric Zartan:               

Thanks, Kyle, for inviting me, and it’s so good to talk to you again, and thanks for putting me on the team to launch your book. I look forward to it. I’ve already seen it and it’s awesome, so thank you for the awesome resource.

Kyle Gray:                 

Well, I really, really appreciate that. You’ve been a huge help to me already, just by helping me get an early readers copy of the book formatted and sent out to the launch team, which has been amazing. I’ve gotten a chance to see your expertise around the publishing area at a few different points on this, and since I’m a couple of weeks out from launching this book, I thought it would be a really fun time to have you come on the show and talk about what a good self-publishing process looks like. I can then share a few bits of information on what’s going on in my own publishing process as well. But first, to do you justice, to hear your story, to properly invite you onto this show, I have to ask you this question, which I’ve asked every guest. Tell me a story about a defining moment in your life that really brought you to where you are and who you are in doing what you’re doing today.

Eric Zartan:               

How did I know you were going to ask that? Because I’ve been listening to your podcasts, my friend, and okay I’ve got one or two. I’ll give you the first one very, very, very profound moment. I was in the fifth or sixth grade. What are you? 10 or 11 years old, and I had a really cool teacher. His name was Mr. Brown, and he was from the East coast so he talked like this. He had a car, and everybody loved him. It was a really cool teacher and one day he said, “Okay, kids. Now you’re going to teach the class.” And we were all, “Huh?” And of course, 20 to 30 kids, he had to pick a few, so one for English, one for History, one for Math, one for Art, and he chose me for Art. I guess he already noticed I had some good art skills or something, which I did. And so when it came to my turn to teach the class, I went up to the chalkboard, and I taught the class how to draw a cow. Making a box for the cow, and putting the one box on the other. Then you have some circles, connect them all, and you make a cow. And it was really cool. It worked. But then something amazing happened, something crazy.

Eric Zartan:               
So the first thing that happened was after each hour or class, then you had to grade the papers, and I really didn’t want to grade the drawings. Art, it’s like I really didn’t … but I had to. So there I was standing in front of the class and grading the drawings that the kids had done, and one kid was standing over my shoulder and just like … his name was James and he was bugging me the whole time. “Oh, you’ve got to give me an A. You’ve got to give me an A,” and he was pissing me off so much, so when I got to his paper, he was literally breathing down my neck, so I gave him a C. He erupted, and he threw himself on the floor like a three-year-old, and the whole class and everybody was going… what the … oh, man, it was funny. But anyway, then something even more profound happened. One of the girls stood up and I’ll never forget. Her name was Kendra and she said, “Eric, where did you learn how to do that?” And I said, “Books.” And then she had this epiphany. “Oh, you have books,” and I said, “Yeah, I have books.” And she said, “You can just do that because you have books,” and this girl really had a problem.

Eric Zartan:               

And then I said, “Yeah, I got books and you can have them too. Do you want them? You can teach yourself to draw.” And then the teacher, Mr. Brown, he kind of de-escalated the situation and said, “Okay, everybody go back to your seats,” but at that moment, something clicked inside of me. I had my own epiphany. I said, “Something’s wrong with that girl. It looks like some people are born to fail and some people are born to win.” And I noticed at that moment that we were on both sides of the tracks. I was born to win and she was born to fail, and I don’t know if it was her DNA. I hope it’s not her DNA because I guess she can’t do anything about that, or your environment, or your parents. I don’t know but, man, somebody did a job on her and it wasn’t that she just wanted to learn to draw. It wasn’t even about that. There was something else going on there. She had a problem that somebody else could do it, or learn it, or the talent blocks, some kind of block. But like I said, I don’t know if it was her DNA, or her parents got to her, but it was a profound moment in my life, and it kept happening. It kept happening.

Eric Zartan:               

I had the two books from Jack Hamm, How to Draw Animals and How to Draw People, two books you’ll ever need on how to draw anything. And so I read them and used them, and so then the second time this happened. Later on when I was an aircraft mechanic in Long Beach, California. I became a kind of a specialist in hydraulics systems (Raychem Cryogenic Sewage Systems), and all I did was read the book. In my company, they were very transparent. They had the standard operating procedures on the walls, and everybody was supposed to read them, and I read the ones about the hydraulics. So then I started training people in hydraulics, and they always looked at me, and said, “Hey, Eric, how did you learn to do that?” And I said, “I read the book, dude. It’s right there on the wall. You’re actually supposed to read it.”

Eric Zartan:               

And it kept happening to me, and people kept looking at me like I had some kind of talent, and I said, “No, if you can read, you can succeed, and the book’s actually right there. You’re supposed to read it.” And they still don’t get it. They still don’t get it. If you can read, you can succeed. That is my new motto, and so began my love affair with How To books, and publishing,… actually not publishing yet, but reading, and writing, and How To books. It’s just profound. It still happens. Even now today, you notice some people are just programmed one way and it’s nothing special. I’m not special. I just read the damned book.

If you can read, you can succeed. -Eric Zartan Click To Tweet

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, well it’s cool now, and you get to work with a lot of people and actually help people create these books that will allow them to use their expertise, and allow them to teach people like you. So tell us a little bit about zBooks, what you do, who you help, and how you can help them.

Eric Zartan:
So as zBooks started out with me solving my own problem when I started self-publishing around 2014, 2015. There were not many templates or How To articles about how to format, just the first step, how to format your book for Kindle. I couldn’t find anything, so I figured it out for myself, and then I made a video about it on YouTube. Which is still probably my number one on the channel, and almost my number one video because it’s got such a long history. How To Format Your Manuscript For Kindle, and then I started getting like 12 subscribers a day. I learned a little bit about marketing and so I put my manuscript template up as a lead magnet and got about 12 subscribers a day for over a week without even trying. Then they said, “Aha, here’s something. Here’s something worth pursuing and I like it. It’s my thing and I can do it!” I’ve got passion behind it so I can never stop talking about it. Then everything blossomed from there. You know how you just go exponential into all the different techniques, and areas, and art forms, and publishing forms, and I started developing my blog into something real, and more lead magnets, and helpful materials in courses. The entrepreneur, infopreneur journey started then, and so that’s what it is.

Eric Zartan:
I’m evolving more into podcasts now and just my core products. Trying to do one thing less but do it better. And you’re a devil, my friend, because you turned me onto this story stuff and now I’ve got to redo everything. So now it’s going exponential with the storytelling process because I really love it. It’s so perfect for authors. You can sell without being salesy and that’s exactly what we need.

Kyle Gray:
Very cool. Well, yeah and thank you so much. It’s cool to see how just one good piece of content really helped define this whole business for you. And so tell us, so somebody who is totally new to formatting may not even understand or like book publishing, writing a book, or creating a book. What does that process really look like? Why do we even need to format a book and what do we do it for?

Eric Zartan:
Okay. So many ways lead to Rome. I like to divide in between fiction and non-fiction. Okay, but we’re not talking about marketing yet. We’re just talking about formatting, right?

Kyle Gray:
Just formatting since that was the video that was your kind of instrumental thing. It’s got to have some good information.

Eric Zartan:
Okay. So there are a lot of templates out there. I developed this template, and it also has a bunch of information in it, so it’s free to go and download it. The main thing to remember when you’re formatting books and writing your first book is you want to aim for one shot, one kill. When you’re writing your ebook, you should remember that you’re going to make a print book too and vice versa. You write them with both things in mind and you have to separate your pictures so that you have one size for your print book and one size for your ebook. There’s a lot of stuff to do actually, but it’s really cool nowadays. I have one big, killer tip, you just write your book in a template. Don’t worry too much about the spacing and formatting or anything because the space has evolved a lot, so take your template, download it as a Word document and upload it to Draft2Digital. Use their formatting platform, and just see what happens, and then you can tweak your template as you go, and it’s really awesome.

Eric Zartan:
So the Draft2Digital and Ready are putting people like me out of business because the formatting is so easy now. So when you’re starting your template, go get one like mine because there’s all sorts of information in it-

Kyle Gray:
When you say template, what does that really mean when you say writing in a template? So I wrote mine in Google Docs, but is there a program you recommend for creating the book and housing the book?

Eric Zartan:
Actually, I recommend Google Docs too.

Kyle Gray:
Oh, great.

Eric Zartan:
Because when you’re writing a print book, for example, you can download it as PDF and there you go. You don’t even need any more software. So when you combine Google Docs with Draft2Digital, you’re almost done. As a matter of fact, that’s how I do all of my books now, so yeah. There are all sorts of things we could geek out on like single-column text, or one space after the paragraph, and chapter breaks and stuff. I think it’s a little bit too technical right now, and especially since you don’t have to worry about that in an ebook. So okay, let’s just talk briefly about eBooks and print books. The cool thing about eBooks now is that you don’t have to worry about the page breaks, the line breaks after a paragraph and the chapters. All you have to worry about is that you get all of your chapter headings to be consistent, like all heading one, or all bold. And then what you do is upload that to Draft2Digital. Then you will see that Draft2Digital formats everything automatically for you, so they’ll put a line break after each paragraph. They’ll do indentation for you and they’ll generate a table of contents for the e-pub. They have about 20 different templates.

Eric Zartan:
So they have, fiction and nonfiction. They have all sorts of cool things that will go in front and behind your chapters. I really don’t recommend them enough. Now, when it comes to the print book, what you see is what you get. This is the paradigm, totally different from eBooks. Now we’re talking about a fixed format PDF, so what you do when you’re with your Google Doc is you can make a copy of that. Now you have to make it look exactly how you want it to look. What you see is what you get and this is the cool part. When you make, let’s say an 8 x 11 or 6 X 9 book in Google Docs, you choose the fonts, and you make the page breaks the way you want them. The first line indentation the way you want them and you download it as a PDF. That’s exactly what it’s going to look like when you upload it to KDP Print. So actually formatting a print book is easier, it’s what you see is what you get paradigm. The main thing you have to realize is that you’ve got to make sure that all pics are 200 DPI and above, and you’ll be okay.

Kyle Gray:
Yeah. So I like that. That made a lot of sense and that was a really good kind of technical analysis of something. When I started with formatting, or I didn’t really know or understand what it was, or how to do it, it seemed like a magic process to me. And even just you telling me that it can be done in Google Docs is pretty eye-opening and empowering. It’s essential and you want your book to look good, be easily readable and all that.

Eric Zartan:
Yeah. You know I make all of my children’s books 8 x 11, normal paper size in Google Docs and no other software just download them as PDF and Google Docs, and those are my number one selling books, so you don’t need anything else, man. It’s really cool. If you want to get fancy, we could geek out but I don’t want to bore your readers on the technicalities on that.

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan with the quote "The simplest way to create a book is to use Google Docs and download as a PDF - Eric Zartan

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, so actually I want to take a step back and just get a broader view of self-publishing. When you are self-publishing and with some of the people you work with, is their strategy or is their goal to create this book to become a certain authority? Do they want to get royalties for their work? Are they trying to collect leads? What’s a common strategy that people are using self-publishing for these days?

Eric Zartan:
So I always divide it into two, nonfiction and fiction because with nonfiction, you have a lot of people with spinoff products and websites and where the book is just a piece of the puzzle, and then you have people that are very book-centric that are only doing books. So the best common tactic for both writers, fiction and nonfiction is just ask yourself, “Who has my list?” So there are many ways of thinking about it. You have to find your audience and you have to define your audience. A lot of people say you have to have a customer avatar. The most simple, effective way is just ask yourself the question, “Who has my list?” If you’re a beginning author, you don’t have a list yet. You have to build your list. So the best way and quickest way to the top is networking or influencer outreach. I like to call it networking and somebody’s got your list out there, and you can also pay to be on a list like Buck Books, or BookBub, or Kindle Book Review. You have to find the list that’s best for you. Isn’t that simple, but for nonfiction books, Buck Books from my buddy Matt Stone, that list will shoot you up to the top of almost any category you choose as-

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, yeah. Let’s take us back even further. So why do you want somebody who has a list? Is the ultimate goal we want to get to the top or do people want to … I guess somebody inside of fiction would just … they’re just trying to sell more books while other business owners may be using it as more of a marketing strategy, right?

Eric Zartan:
Yeah, so that’s actually the byline of zBooks is that the most effective resources for independent authors, so no matter which marketer or book guru you talk to in the world, it’s going to boil down to this. Build a list and sell something to them. Build your audience and sell to them. Build your readership and give them the books they need. So you wanted to take a step back though. What was your question again?

Kyle Gray:
That makes sense now. You summed it up nicely and that came together. And I guess kind of looking back, my list has mostly come from a readership. I’m interested in seeing how this performs, but then I’ve been thinking about who has my list in my own way and slowly been building relationships here and there to put my own book out, but it’s been kind of a natural, just creative process through making content, which I’m sure just like coming across people like you, which is one of the most beautiful things about doing these things that we’re doing. One of the things that I have a question for you about is kind of a specific launch question. And so I’m not sure … I’d love to hear how people typically launch and then since I do have a list so far of people who have been engaged readers and listers in the podcast, I have decided to give away the early readers edition for my book for free. You formatted it. Thank you for doing that …

Eric Zartan:
You’re welcome.

Kyle Gray:
… and you’ve gotten along with 100 other people now. And as I was doing this, I have to admit, there was a bit of fear. There was like this, “Oh, my God. I’m giving my launch a flat tire because now everybody’s going to get the book for free and maybe not show up for launch day. But what do you think of this and what are some other common ways to launch books?

Eric Zartan:
Yeah. Like I said earlier, many roads lead to Rome, so let me give you an example of a very successful author in the nonfiction space. Is name is John Haas. He’s a male nurse and he has a podcast like you, and he just talks about how to administer drugs and the different types of drugs and medicines. And so he’s built a list of 40,000 subscribers. So what he does is when he launches a book, about a month beforehand, he sends out the preliminary emails and there’s a lot of different templates like this and series like this. I like the Jeff Walker series. I can send you my Excel and that. I don’t want to get too much into that but it’s a very good series of emails that you could benchmark and it’s in his book launch. So then what you do is, and this technique is very good because Amazon’s algorithm has changed. Let’s say they’re flattening out the peaks of big launches now. They want consistency so what you do is when you’re a guy like John Haas, you have a list of 40,000 people, you segment your list into 10,000s and then the first week you send emails to the first 10,000 of your list and you tell them the book’s on Amazon now for $.99. Go get it.

Eric Zartan:
The next week, you send an email to the next 10,000 and the third week you send an email to the next 10,000 and so you space out your launch over four weeks, and you bump your book up yourself with your list and keep it consistently up in the ranking of your given category. So this is also fine art, finding the right categories that you can easily place your book into. At the same time, they have to be good categories. Not the cherry-picking categories. So I realize that not many people have a list of 40,000 people, so when you don’t have a list, what you do is you have to identify the lists you like and that you can get onto, and then one week you do a Buck Books launch. The next week you do a BookBub launch, so that’s the hardest one to get onto, but if you can do that. Then the third week you do maybe Kindle Book Review. The fourth week you do another one of your choices. There’s so many. Book Arillas for example, Book Zeal, for example, and this will work even if you don’t have a list, but be aware that you have to pay for these lists and so there’s a lot of organizing going on beforehand.

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan with the quote "If you don't have an audience list to promote your book, identify lists (using sources like Book Zeal) you like and get on those lists" - Eric Zartan

Eric Zartan:
Now a lot of people will say one year is not enough to launch a book. Some people go on podcast tours for a whole year before they launch their book, so many ways lead to Rome, and I like this lazy launch. I call it the lazy launch, the $.99 launch where you build your list as best as you can, network with people, and then you stack the different lists per week so that you can show the Amazon algorithm that you have consistent sales, and then you cross your fingers, you hit the button, and you do this for one month, and hopefully, Amazon’s algorithm picks your book up, and then it’s wow. That’s that magic entrepreneur word, autopilot. But there’s a whole lot going on before the launch and during the launch. And so that’s what I call the lazy launch. It’s the most effective launch. You just ask the question, “Who’s got my list?” You make the book. I’m really glossing over this. You should have beta readers before this. But the global view is each week you hit a successive list and bump your book up in the rankings consistently.

Kyle Gray:
And that’s almost what you want to be doing continuously, maybe a year leading and a year after, always being on more podcasts, always being more guest articles, always driving traffic to that, and that’s definitely kind of retrospective hat was really successful about the Story Engine was a consistent new content being created, going on different podcasts and promoting and sharing it was what kept it there and kept it flowing. That is really, really powerful and I do like the lazy launch model. My list isn’t quite 40,000 yet, so I don’t know if the segmenting would work, but I think combining that with the different lists that you mentioned and we should get links to those in the show notes. But that’s powerful for launch and I’ve used a lot of those same resources myself, and yeah, they’re things you have to pay to get on, but they work well. They do have people that are avid readers who are very interested in it, so it’s usually very much worth the investment, especially if you just want to get your book. Can you tell us a little bit about … you mentioned picking categories. And would you explain the different categories and how books rank within those categories? And what does it mean to be a bestseller?

Eric Zartan:
So there are two important things that most authors don’t know, even intermediate authors, but newbie authors for sure. In Amazon, and I’m going to talk about Amazon the most. And the principles are the same almost everywhere but I’m Amazon-centric. So on Amazon, you can rank for a keyword and a category, and it’s the keyword thing that most people don’t understand. So your job as a self-publishing author is to be number one in a category and it’s a good category, not just any … there are thousands of categories, and matter of fact, Amazon just changed their categories system again, so I’m hoping it’s for the better. It used to be that if you go to a category in Amazon, they only show the top 20 results. Now they have what’s called an … what do you call it? A perpetual scroll. You can keep scrolling in it. So this is really good for us authors actually. Okay, so number one, you want to rank number one in a profitable category. I have a free tool for that but the global view is you go to a category that you think you want to be in and you look at top ranking book and the bottom ranking book, and you look at the top ranking book first to see if its sales rank is below 10,000 because that will show you if this category is profitable and worth it or not.

Eric Zartan:
Then you look at the bottom ranking book, the number 20 book, and look at its sales rank. If it’s high like 100,000 that’s the barrier to entry. That’s good because everything above 10,000 is breakable, I will say. So this is a bird’s eye view of how to look at a category and prioritize it, and there are a bunch of categories. You’re just going to have to go look in Amazon at that sidebar, and hit the tabs and stuff because there are subcategories in categories, and there are tools to do this like KDSPY and KDP Rocket will greatly save time. But what you do is you look at the category that you want to be in at the top book and the bottom of the book. Now when it comes to keywords, what you want to do for it is rank for a profitable keyword, and this is almost impossible to do without the paid tools that I just mentioned. It’s almost impossible. You can use Google AdWords, the keyword planner to do keyword research, and I think there’s another free one for Amazon too. I forgot its name. I think its name is Sonar. But these are all freemium models. They only work for like five minutes and then you have to pay. So KDP Rocket and KDSPY are like mandatory to do keyword research on Amazon.

Eric Zartan:
So what you want to do is you want to find with the various tools keywords that are not being served. You want to find high profitable keywords that have low competition, and then you put these keywords in your Amazon dashboard in the keywords section. You also put them in your series titles because that’s my number one tip. Most people don’t know that you can make your book part of a series even if it’s not, even if it’s a standalone book, and you can use the series to put all sorts of good keywords in there that you would not put in the title or subtitle. So that’s your job as an Amazon author. Author, not Arthur. You want to rank for your category and you want to rank for your chosen profitable keywords, and when you do that, then that is the alpha and omega. We say in German, Sie haben bereits die Hälfte der Miete. You’ve got half of the rent already. Yeah.

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan with the quote "To rank within a profitable category on Amazon you must integrate profitable keywords that have low competition" - Eric Zartan

Kyle Gray:
That makes a lot of sense and I think that’s what really creates that consistent sales that Amazon wants and so it kind of feeds itself in a lot of ways and-

Eric Zartan:
I got another tip for you, a secret. A top-secret tip that most people don’t give up in podcasts or anywhere. If you run an ad, Amazon just started … they’ve revamped their dashboard and they have a fully automatic ad now, and I think I made a video of it on my Facebook Live, and what you do, if you’re a beginner, just run a fully automatic ad, and later on, you go in your ads dashboard, and it shows you how people searched for your book during this ad, and then, boom. You get the keywords that you know exactly work. It’s like looking into a crystal ball. It’s so awesome. It’s one of the main reasons to run paid advertising for your book.

Kyle Gray:
But are these product display ads? Because there are several different kinds of Amazon ads.

Eric Zartan:
No, they’re sponsored ads, the keyword ads. Now, this is the really cool thing about the new fully automatic ads. You don’t even have to write any copy. You can but you don’t have to, so you can really just … you pick a book and you say, “Run a fully automated ad,” and then it will target all the keywords, close match, and lose match, and all the products related to your book, close match and loose match, so you get four different kinds of rows in your dashboard, and then you also know automatically which books they were targeting and which ones are like you. And Amazon knows better than anybody else what’s profitable keywords are for your book. So it’s really looking into the crystal ball. When you go into your ads dashboard, you go make an ad and then you have to choose a product or sponsored. You have to choose sponsored and then somewhere down the line, there’s this check block for fully automated, and-

Kyle Gray:
I am running a couple of these and this is actually really interesting to me. And I have to say, even I think the fully automated campaign right now, the way I’m targeting it, these ads are really effective and very cost-effective too. Yeah, so I think that these are very very powerful.

Eric Zartan:
I find the ones where you put your copy in, so fully automated but you put your copy in better, but you got to test, and what most people don’t know is when you go now, when you click … so you have your ads dashboard, and you have your ad, and you can click on it. When you go into that ad, over to the right is a tab that says, “Advertising campaign information.” You go to that tab and you can download the keywords that people searched for. They show you exactly what they typed in Amazon to find your book, and they show you exactly which books they targeted for your book, and you download it as a CSV, and it’s just like gold information.

Kyle Gray:
That is amazing. Yeah, that is very, very, very powerful. That is a huge, huge tip so anybody out there with any books at all, just start getting ads just to get that information, and again, they pay for themselves as far as I’ve seen with the ads I’m running. Again, I make more in the royalties from the books from the sales than it costs to get the ads out there, so they self-sustain too so-

Eric Zartan:
I’m a huge fan of Amazon ads.

Kyle Gray:
It’s hard to really scale them up. I like I can run them profitably, but I can’t really turn the knob up to maybe if I increase my bids or something, but I think that’ll mess up the-

Eric Zartan:
You can’t do that with Amazon ads, but like you, I’m also a podcaster, and I interviewed an Amazon ads master. His name is Brian Burney and he’s on my blog, and what he does is you make multiple ads. So you can’t scale them up by raising the CPC, and some Amazon ads masters say you shouldn’t do that because then you ruin your statistics. Okay, but okay. That’s a little bit over my head too, but what you can do is you keep making multiple ads and so even if it’s the same book and the same copy. So yeah, you stack the ads instead of raising the budget, you have to stack them,

Kyle Gray:
Oh, that makes sense.

Eric Zartan:
Yeah.

Kyle Gray:
And that would cause a problem because, with something like Facebook ads, there’s an issue called frequency where if people start to get mad if they see the same ad two or three times appearing in their feed and so people have to … you have to adjust when doing that. But I don’t know if Amazon would get upset or people would get upset with Amazon if they saw just three copies of selling with story, one after another. I don’t know if they would ever allow that to happen.

Eric Zartan:
Well, they’re two different beasts. Facebook is a totally different beast. Totally different. You’ve really got to watch your budget on Facebook because they will spend it, and with your frequency, you want it definitely to be down below 1.5. 1.1 is very, very good. That’s how many times somebody saw your ad, and honestly, I’ve never had the problem with too much frequency, a high-frequency thing. I don’t know if I’m just lucky or I’m good at it, but with Amazon, what you do want to do, watch out for … what you don’t have to watch out for in Facebook is not to run all your books to the same keyword. So I have kids books, and strange enough, engineering, the keyword works really well for all of my kids’ books. So if I’m doing ad stacking, I won’t run all stacks to the same keyword. I’ll make sure that that keyword is only in one ad. Now with Facebook ads, you don’t have to worry about that. They don’t really have keyword ads, but with Facebook ads, when you stack them, you run a bunch of different audiences, like men and women, 40 to 45. You separate them, but there’s a much better way to do that now with video ads, and I don’t know how long you want to talk about Facebook advertising and stuff, and how deep you want to go down this rabbit hole.

Kyle Gray:
Oh, no. Not too much on Facebook. I’d rather keep it to Amazon but that was a good comparison, and yeah, you definitely answered questions. So as far as a continuous, ongoing promotion or using your book to grow your business for the people who are in that kind of nonfiction, How To, what are some of the most common strategies that people are using these days to follow up with additional products and services?

Eric Zartan:
Okay. Oh, you mean follow-up or spread the word and get an audience?

Kyle Gray:
Oh, let’s do spread the word and get an audience.

Eric Zartan:
Okay, so first of all, I want to avoid that word common. You don’t want to be common. You don’t want to do what everybody else is doing. So going back to the focusing question, “Who has my list?” Reaching out to other people, one really cool thing to do is a lead magnet swap. You go and you say, “Hey, man. I noticed your book, Navy Seals Dogs is doing really good, and I’ve got a book, Navy Seals for Kids. Why don’t I promote you to my list and you promote me to your list, and …” You can do so many things, so number one, when you’re doing this nonfiction stuff, your lead magnet should be a really good book, not just like the top five tips, the top five quotes. You want to actually make it a good book and deliver a lot of value. So one of my number one lead magnets is how to create a create space book, and it goes through the whole danged process. It’s a whole course in the book, and so you’ve got to remember that this lead magnet is the tip of your funnel, and it’s going to generate all of your sales and all of your readers, so make your lead magnet good. And at the same time, if you’re a new author, done is better than perfect. You don’t have to write a novel. Your lead magnet can be short, but make it good.

Kyle Gray:
I prefer that short. I think it’s nice if they’re like five steps to a really clear problem that you can put on one page. In-depth ones are good too but that’s one.

Eric Zartan:
Right. Right, right. Well, okay, this is the art. You’ve got to find that happy medium, especially in the beginning, it’s very hard. After a while, you know what you’re doing, and then so one of the best ways is a lead magnet swap and networking with other influencers who have your list, your audience.

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, and in the most basic terms, that means we’ll promote each others’ lead magnets and then either you would use that as a tool to then follow up with people and say, “Hey, do you want to check out my book? If you like the lead magnet, then you’re going to love the book.”

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan with the quote "To facilitate promotion of your book, find an author with the same audience and reach out to cross-promote each other's books" - Eric Zartan

Eric Zartan:
Exactly. Exactly, so when they get your lead magnet, your first mail after that has to be a really good quick win so that they really think, “Wow, man. This guy’s cool. He gives me so much stuff for free,” and that trains them to open your emails so that they’re happy to get your next email. Okay, so this is my thing. I hate it when influencers then start sending me their standard sequence and it’s just a link to a post on their blog. Then I unsubscribe. That’s my personal thing, so you want to make sure that your emails are rich, and especially the first one or two emails are super duper quick wins for your readers. I’m talking about besides the email that delivers the book. Besides the email that delivers the lead magnet. I’m talking about the first real email, and you really want to provide even more value there and then they’ll enjoy being on your list. And I’ve looked back in my subscribers.

Eric Zartan:
Sometimes I got the first sale after three years. Guys and gals have been on my list for three years. If you play the long-run, and this is super hard, super hard, and I don’t want to sound like some guru here, but playing the long-run is much better than going through that first quick sale and trick wire or whatever they call it. You’re an author. You’re in this for the long run and that’s how we should think about it.

Kyle Gray:
Absolutely. And I think that’s definitely how I’m seeing it more and more growing my own audience, my own list and starting to build relationships with a lot of these people and communicating and going deeper, and experimenting with different products. It’s certainly not worth it to just try and get a quick win and maybe make some extra … a little bit extra money when and kind of cash out on your brand equity and value. It is a really longterm play, like building a following with a book is something that you can turn into … you can have courses, but this can lead to things like Tony Robins has … he starts with books and goes all the way up to whatever, $100,000 … and that is one thing that I wanted to follow up with or that we almost touched on was some of the products and services that people enjoy creating beyond books. And maybe this is a little subjective. There are probably hundreds of different options, but what are some of the ones that you’re seeing that pair really well the book?

Eric Zartan:
So online courses, but I’m trying to do less of those because there’s so much rework. So if you’re a nonfiction author and you’re going to do online courses, you really, really have to do your research first because there are so many platforms. There’s Teachable. There’s Udemy. There’s Skillshare, and then there are your own websites. Usually, I recommend your own websites because they cost much less and you have a much huger margin. But then you have to manage the website, so anyways. Online courses are part of the holy trinity, so the holy trinity is a book, online course, and coaching. Now, however, however, we’re in the digital space, and what I’m learning with now with my own stuff is that a book, like a big fat PDF, you can sell for $20 and it’s like an online course, and you can link it to videos too. So this is where I’m going because I’m tired of maintaining websites, and so I have one online course with a dedicated website, and it’s really cool, but then there’s this other platform called Gumroad where you can deliver the PDFs and the videos in one shot and so a really super duper high valued PDF, around $20 plus videos is a really good combination now, especially for beginners that are building their funnel and their product pallet.

Eric Zartan:
Really good powerful combination. You don’t have to go full-blown online course. That’s what I did in the beginning, and boy am I learning, man. I’ve got so much rework to do now. Facebook and Amazon, they update their platform, then I have to update 50 videos on my online courses, not fun.

Kyle Gray:
Exactly. Speaking of create space is no longer around.

Eric Zartan:
Exactly.

Kyle Gray:
So I had it but I lost it. With … oh, another thing is you don’t necessarily have to build a whole huge thing before you launch it. Sometimes it’s better if you to think about instead of having a course, maybe have a one hour, two-hour live training where people can come on and get coaching with you, and then maybe out on the line, repurpose that into a product, but you can sell that beforehand and without having to prepare everything and start making offers and pre-selling, and getting success even before you launch the event, then testing things like that.

Eric Zartan:
Yeah, that’s a super powerful technique. I did it also and happens to be one of the launch techniques in Jeff Walker’s book called Launch. So I did this before I even got turned onto Jeff Walker. My favorite technique of all is publishing a book for free and making it permanently free, and this book then leads to like a $7 introductory thing, and then maybe a $20 to $50 online course. And so this is a really great technique. You make a book and like said, make it good, and you make it permanently free. And so this goes then to a different section of Amazon that ranks differently with the free books, but you’re getting free advertising every day. When I look at my free books on Amazon, they’re getting downloaded at least 50 times a month. That’s free advertising, and then I get sales off of the free book, so that’s the really elegant funnel, a free book on Amazon that has a link just to one or two things, nothing fancy. And then you can later on, you can augment that with paid advertising on the Amazon platform itself. And yeah, so did that answer your question?

Graphic for the Story Engine Podcast #42 with Eric Zartan with the quote "A possible way to get started is to create a good book and make it permanently free. This goes to a different section of amazon that ranks differently, giving you free advertising every day" - Eric Zartan

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, yeah it did, and that is a good strategy and again, an easy way to break into publishing and creating things, getting yourself out there.

Eric Zartan:
Oh, I’m sorry. I meant because what I did was … you were talking about how to create the first product. Well, you help some people first in the webinar or telephone, or a forum. You help them first and then you make the product and yeah. Okay so-

Kyle Gray:
But this is all very actionable and very important, especially for people who are just getting started, just trying new things. It can be dangerous to try and spend 100 hours building a high-quality HD video course and then realizing that you were teaching the wrong stuff…

Eric Zartan:
That is … I’m sorry. I have to interrupt you again because that was my number one thing when I first got started. It’s called the validation phase and you have to validate everything you do because who’s going to buy it? So there are many ways to validate and one of the best ways to validate is by publishing a free book on Amazon and … because then you see if you got the author right, if people are going to click to your then paid version. So you have to validate everything you do, and there are many ways to do this. A blog is a really good idea, or the free book, or going to people. Eye to eye contact and actually helping them. And then you help like five people, and then you make that into a product. And then it’s validated.

Kyle Gray:
One of the interesting somewhat things I did for validation, product validation with the Story Engine because I actually was … I set up in my Google Analytics separate events for if somebody downloaded one template versus another one success rate so I could see which … everybody was … there’s just one page where people go to download the templates, but now I could see different thank you pages, so I could tell that people were downloading one template much more than any of the others. And so where did I build my first course? It was addressing the next step with that template. It was like a logical next step and I’m already kind of dreaming up a couple of things, probably not courses this time based on our conversation we’re having, but maybe more kind of live trainings or interactive things where I can actually hop on Zoom and speak with, engage with people, which I think is something that I do really well and is part of the experience with me anyway. And so finding ways to make that more available to people and then saving me the time and hassle of creating a product that I may or may not work out.

Eric Zartan:
Yeah, there are so many ways you could go. You could do a mastermind. You could do a subscription model where they get a new video from you each month. Gumroad has a subscription function. I don’t know which cart you’re using. You could do so many things so I don’t want to … what do you call it? What do you call it? Focus you down to one thing that … there are so many ways you could go.

Kyle Gray:
One of the things that I’m really thinking about right now is a membership where I could have an opportunity to go deeper with the community, how high-level or as far as where I want the price point to be. Do I want to work with a large group of people versus a small group of people? I’m not sure. But a place where I can have a smaller community where I can engage with them a little bit more, I think is definitely something on my horizon.

Eric Zartan:
You know, one of my favorite validation techniques is quick and dirty. You send an email, two lines. “Hey, I’m thinking about doing a mastermind. You can pre-buy it here for …” then you choose your price. And see how many people sign up with your whatever … PayPal link. Validation is an art form and if you have a big list, then you segment the list, and you send your mastermind for $50 to 10,000 or 1,000 and you send your mastermind for $200 to another 1,000 people, and there are many, many, many different ways to do this. My favorite list builder, his name is Bryan Harris from Videofruit. That guy is a … that’s a rich list. You got to get onto his list. He’ll give you so many ideas and he has a really excellent article about how to price your products and how he used his list to validate his product and get the right price, and he needed a coach. He got a coach in there and he found out that he was just missing out on a huge opportunity. I forgot the article. It’s like, How I Lost $125 Grand, and I’ll have to find the article and send it to you.

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, send it in but we’ve got to put this in the show notes because that’s really interesting.

Eric Zartan:
Yeah. Yeah. But what I do want to say about validation, though is what I did is I went overboard of validation and I stopped selling things. I was having so much fun validating things and finding out what people liked, I also had a thank you page like yours with a heat map on it so I could see exactly where people were clicking, and then so the problem with validation is you can get false positives, so you really want to send … you want a list of like 1,000 people and 1,000 engaged people, so that means you actually need a list of 10,000 because out of 10,000, only 20% to 30% open, and then only maybe 10% click. So in order to get clarity and not a false positive, you need a list of about 10 grand, just thumb value there.

Kyle Gray:
And sometimes, the only true validation is whether they pull out the wallet for the price you want or not.

Eric Zartan:
That’s it. That’s what the PayPal link was about. Pre-buy my course for $100.

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It reminds me of one of the startup founders I used to work for, Dan Norris built a software as a service company and checked all of the boxes of the lead startup method. He was doing surveys. Everybody loved it, did the beta launch, everybody was into it. People were talking about it and then when he released it, nobody bought it, or maybe a couple of people bought it and his …

Eric Zartan:
Yeah, I hate that.

Kyle Gray:
… Software service founder dreams were slashed and he just tried to make this thing come alive, and then he ended up creating out of desperation WP Curve, which was actually the business that really became … it was the business that I worked for and it was just based on two weeks. He just kind of put something out there. He sent out the email, “Do you want to buy this or not?” I’ll fix your WordPress website.

Eric Zartan:
That’s interesting that you say that because when I saw his book on Amazon, the only reason why I bought it was because Dave Chesson wrote an … what do you call it? An editorial review for it, and I saw Dave Chesson, which I had recently worked with and wrote a guest post on his blog and said, “Oh, hey. Dave Chesson writes an editorial review for Dan Norris’ book,” so I bought it. And it’s funny because you worked for Dan Norris and the circle is complete.

Kyle Gray:
It is. It is. Yeah, I definitely have to credit Dan for a lot of my knowledge and marketing in publishing books. I have spent that time with him definitely.

Eric Zartan:
But you see, he got a false positive. He didn’t ask for the pre-buy because that’s where you don’t want people’s opinions. You want to see if they will actually buy. So he didn’t do that, did he?

Kyle Gray:
Yeah, well in that case. Yeah, and so yeah. He suffered that and learned that lesson the hard way. And then ultimately, ultimately went on to create WP Curve, which is … he’s probably, now his brewery is probably his true dream business, but the curve got him there. But anyway, that’s enough about that. But we’ve explored a lot and we’ve gone for a while in all kinds of areas of books, and book publishing, and book marketing, and it’s all been really, really good stuff. And so Eric, I want to thank you so much for joining us today. Do you have any closing thoughts?

Eric Zartan:
Yeah. Thanks first of all for having me on and if I was to start all over again, I would tell anybody infopreneurs, entrepreneurs, book authors to learn SEO first because you’ll kill two birds with one stone when you learn SEO and you can’t just go back and put it in. You can’t drop in SEO later, so if you’re in the online space, you should earn SEO first, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re selling physical products or books, so learn SEO first, and just if you persist you will succeed.

If you’re in or going into the online space, you must learn SEO. -Eric Zartan Click To Tweet

Kyle Gray:
Beautiful. Beautiful. Yeah, I agree and just piggybacking off of that, it doesn’t have to be huge books or huge courses or huge anything. They can be small products and small steps and just moving you forward. So really powerful stuff, Eric. Thanks again for having us and thanks for helping me with my own book launch, and yeah. Let’s get you on the show again and we can do a deeper dive into some of these other topics.

Eric Zartan:
Thanks for having me, Kyle and I look forward to your upcoming launch.

Kyle Gray:
Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show note and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling with Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.