Hey all, in todays interview we have another great Kindle publishing teacher, the Author of “Kindle Bestseller Secrets” and “Why Authors Fail” is going to give us his feedback on my 20 questions.
Once again we have a teacher who likes to impress upon us just how important the mental side of the self-publishing game is, and I’d also like to point out that our interviewee is in tip top physical condition, and has a surname that it’s virtually impossible to know how to pronounce… just like our previous interviewee!
Wow! So, we’re starting to spot common themes already!
Being in a healthy state of mind, while maintaining a healthy body, helps you in any calling, be it authorship or whatever. As I sit here drinking my pint of wine, I can honestly tell you this is fact! Just ask my psychiatrist, I quizzed him on the accuracy of my assumptions, and he was most insistent that I was right while I was shoulder pressing him near his balcony the other day.
“Mens sana in corpore sano.” To quote erm… some Roman geezer.
Anyway, this article isn’t about me. Its about a top notch author with top notch promotional skills to boot… I give you Derek Doepker:
And did I mention these authors are multi-talented so far? Smart people like me call them “polymaths,” which means they can do mathematics AND other things at the same time!
Go Derek! How about that guys!!!
Derek Doepker Interview
- Who has been the biggest influence on you with regards to self-publishing?
I started self-publishing before I had any major influences in the self-publishing world, but I give a lot of credit to Tom Corson-Knowles for assisting me early on in the process to go from struggling to successful. Thanks to his guidance and studying a lot of different marketers, I was eventually able to reach #1 bestseller status with my second book written exclusively for kindle.
- What is the single most important tip you would give to anybody thinking of self-publishing?
It’s hard to prioritize any one area above another since there are several key pieces that need to be in place, but I can look back and say much of my success has come from my relationships. I see other authors and people in my field as companions rather than competitors.
Because of this, I encourage any author or entrepreneur to spend time cultivating relationships and creating win-win-win situations where you, the other authority, and the readers all win. This can be done with guest blog posts, providing free content to their readers, and setting up cross-promotions.
- If you could go back in time and speak to yourself shortly before publishing your first book, what would you tell yourself to do differently?
I would tell myself to think from the reader’s perspective and not my own. Does my title and cover grab attention? Would I be intrigued enough by the description to want to read this? Will this stand out among other similar books?
Many times authors get so stuck in what they want to do that they haven’t spent enough time understanding what their audience wants. Understanding what your audience wants (rather than what you think they should want) is key to effective marketing.
- What is the biggest mistake you have made on your self-publishing journey?
Not seeking out the guidance of a mentor who specialized in self-publishing. I studied a lot about marketing which helped me out, but it was only after studying other self-published authors and learning their strategies that I saw success. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel if someone else has figured out the solutions already.
- Are there any tools you use to help with book publishing that you would recommend to others, or are they the work of Satan?
There are definitely some good tools out there. I use Kinstant Formatter for formatting kindle books and KD Spy for researching books on Amazon. I also love the site MerchantWords.com for keyword research.
There are a few other good ones I can recommend, however I would say that no matter what tool I use, it never replaces having to use my brain. even when the data doesn’t match up, if I get a strong enough intuition that something should work, I’m usually right.
- Any book’s cover is of course important, this we all know. What recommendations do you make with regards to creating, or outsourcing cover creation?
See it as an investment rather than expense. I’m lucky enough that I have an absolutely amazing designer that designs covers for only $30. It would be worth it to spend five times that much however if it means making ten times as many sales. When people cut corners to save a few bucks on a cover design, they need to ask themselves how much money they’re losing out on because their cover sucks.
- How should you approach writing your book’s description, and why?
There are no hard and fast rules, but some simple principles of marketing entail that it should answer these two questions.
1. Is this the kind of book for me?
2. Does it offer enough value to spend money on it?
How to do this is an entire training unto itself. The good thing is you can study which books in your niche are selling well and model what they’re doing right in their book description.
The simplest way to approach this is to imagine yourself as a book browser scanning books in your niche.
- Which descriptions make you want to buy a book?
- What is it about them that grabbed your attention and made you want to keep reading?
- How much did they reveal about the book’s content?
- How much did they hold back in order to trigger your curiosity?
Learn to ask the right questions and with time and practice, you’ll be able to model what other successful authors have done.
- What other areas of your authors central account should you concentrate on and why?
Since I write most of my own books from experience as opposed to outsourcing them, it’s helpful to have a bio so people can connect with who I am as a person. People don’t just buy a book, they buy from authors they know, like, and trust. Establishing this rapport through your bio can be critical to attracting new fans. I’m not just a guy that writes about fitness and authorship for fun, I write about it because it’s what I do and know from first-hand experience. When people know I actually walk the talk, it creates trust that makes my books more appealing.
- Do you have any tips to share with us about pricing books?
Generally speaking, I keep the price low at first to build momentum and get reviews, and then raise the price to normal once sales have settled. I will drop the price to .99 cents occasionally for promotions.
I also think it’s helpful to have shorter books at a lower price to attract new readers and more in-depth books at a higher price to generate a greater income.
- For you, is self-publishing the easiest way to make money online at the moment, or is there something easier?
It’s definitely one of the easiest when you consider the low barrier of entry in terms of cost. What I really like about self-publishing is you have the freedom to experiment. A cover doesn’t work? You can change it in a day. The title sucks? You can update it without reprinting hundreds or thousands of copies of a print book.
With anything there will be a learning curve. The great thing about self-publishing is you’re not punished too much if (and when) you screw something up as you’re going through the learning process.
- What was the first book you ever published, and was it a success?
The first book I ever published was a 350 page book called Excuse Proof Fitness and it was a flop. I could barely sell it to my own friends and family. Moving to Amazon helped make the sales process easier as people were more comfortable making purchases on the site. Not to mention getting a much better handle on marketing, and writing effective copy.
- How can people get started building income on the back end of Kindle books?
The biggest key is to build a list from your book. The saying “the money is in the list” applies to authors as much as it does internet marketers. As a fitness author, I offer fitness coaching for people on my email list which helps bring in addition income. Plus it allows me to help people on a level beyond what I can do with books alone.
- Affiliate links inside Kindle books, yes or no? Why do you take that stance?
I’ve found I don’t get a lot of clicks through my books directly to non-Amazon affiliate products. So even if you want to do it, from my experience sales generated would be lower. I would instead suggest focusing on driving links to a website and email list where you can build a relationship. From there, you’re much more likely to have success in offering additional products and services.
- Are there any “myths” or misconceptions about self-publishing (Kindle or in general) which you can dispel?
I don’t know how much of a myth this is, but like I stated before the idea of there being “competitors” is only an attitude. People will buy multiple books on any given topic. I’ve had a lot of success seeing other authors as people to potentially partner with rather than compete against.
- How realistic do you think it is for the average author to make a full-time living on Kindle?
Making a full-time living on kindle is very possible. The model is solid. The question is, does an individual have what it takes? It will take a lot of self-development, education, and practice for the “average” person to have success in any area – self-publishing or otherwise.
What helped me is I never considered or wanted to consider myself average. I had a “do whatever it takes to succeed” attitude which, from my perspective, isn’t the attitude of the average person or author.
So my answer is the “average” author won’t have what it takes because the average author sees it as a hobby rather than a business. The good news is that at any time an “average” author can decide they want to be and do more, and with that there are plenty of resources available to help the serious author become a successful full-time author.
- What are your minimum criteria for you to consider one of your books “successful?” (A certain amount of units sold per month? A certain amount of revenue per month? Well received and reviewed by the public?)
The subjective measure of success is “did this book positively impact someone?” The fluffy feel good answer is that if I changed even just one person’s life with a book, then it was worth writing it.
While I do have that attitude, I also like to see hard data in terms of sales numbers and know that I’m potentially impacting a lot of people. I consider reaching top 5 in a competitive category to be a success.
- How long did it take to get a big break, and what was the tipping point for you? Advertising? Someone of influence recommending? Or did you just go from “shit” to “hit” over night?
This is a hard question to answer. The time it took from when I started publishing on Amazon kindle to having a big break was about half a year. The time from publishing my first book in general though was a full year. The time from getting into being an entrepreneur to having a bestselling book took a couple years. The time it took me to learn all the things I needed to learn to be able to write that bestselling book was about ten years.
This is why stories of overnight successes can be misleading. From one perspective it only took me a matter of months to be a successful self-published author. From another perspective it took me a third of my life (up to this point) to get all the foundational things in place.
The turning point was when a lot of pieces came together rather than any one thing in particular. One thing I noticed is it had a lot to do with following my intuition in addition to what I studied from others as opposed to trying to follow an exact formula for success. In other words, I was willing to take a risk on something that felt right even though I had no assurance of success.
- How soon after seeing a book published do you expect it to start a regular sales pattern? (If you see patterns?)
From what I’ve seen with my most recent book “Why Authors Fail”, it took about two weeks for sales to stabilize.
- Would you like to tell us about your latest projects and/or new releases?
My newest book “Why Authors Fail” covers the difference between how successful and struggling authors think. A lot of people are looking for tactics or strategies for success, and that’s all well and good. There are plenty of resources out there for that including trainings that I’ve created.
However, most people aren’t a failure because they don’t have access to the right information. It’s because they’re thinking about things all wrong. If a person can correct their thinking, it can eventually fix a lot (although not all) of a person’s problems with self-publishing or any other endeavor.
- Is there anything I haven’t asked about, that you think aspiring authors should know?
I would say from a marketing perspective, I approach a book with the end in mind. I ask myself “how will I grab a person’s attention and make them want to buy this book?” before I ever write a single word. This means I work out the title and “hook” before putting the book together.
I believe many authors fail because they write a book and ask “how can I make this a bestseller?” instead of asking “what book will be a bestseller?” and then writing that book.
Some people think this means I oppose creativity. The answer is I don’t oppose creativity, but I believe creation can be combined with imitation to get innovation.
As a musician, I can write an endless variety of songs but still stay within the confines of a key, tempo, and other parameters that music listeners usually expect a song to have. So putting restrictions on yourself to be within a certain expectation of what an audience wants doesn’t mean you still don’t have a lot of creative freedom. Like most things in life, it is a balance of seemingly opposing forces.
That’s your lot for today folks!
I’d just like to say a big thank you to Derek Doepker for taking the time to give some great answers to my 20 questions, I know my readers will pick up a lot from your insights Derek!
Having witnessed Derek’s marketing skills first hand, I can confidently recommend you check out Derek’s courses and try to pick up as much information as you can absorb from this guy, here are the links to find out more: