Steve Scott Interview: 20 Questions With A Kindle Publishing Master
Hey again guys, welcome to yet another expert author interview!
Today we have an author who to my mind, is probably the biggest name in the “Kindle self-publishing help” niche, with regard to finding said help on Amazon.com itself. If there is an angle in this industry you need education on, this guest has likely written THE book. (Apart from keyword research one… Just to be clear, I did that one, not him. Yaaa! In your face Scott!)
It’s refreshing that our guest is also willing to let us in on the secret that he is not a “big tools guy” a little way into the interview. I say more power to ya, it takes a brave man to finally come out on a big interview like this, we all still accept you buddy!
After doing some homework on our guest for this interview I’d like to say I know him inside out now, but that’s probably a bad idea after the above paragraph. I’ll just get to the meat of the interview.
Moving on… I’m not sure why I put up this facade for every interview as if the authors name isn’t plastered all over the title tag and URL, but anyway, here he is…. Steve Scott!
Who has been the biggest influence on you with regards to self-publishing?
The guys at the Self-Publishing Podcast. While they’re primarily fiction writers, the content they regularly provide can be used to build a successful author platform in any genre or niche. I specifically like the fact that they’re always trying new things and being honest about when things work and when they don’t.
What is the single most important tip you would give to anybody thinking of self-publishing?
Focus on a single niche or market. Most successful self-published authors take a catalog approach with their business. They consistently create content for a specific type of audience and turn each successive book into an opportunity to reach new readers. And as you build up a catalog of books, you have more to offer people when they first discover your brand.
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 have focused more on writing quality books, instead of sticking to a specific publishing schedule. Often, I felt it was more important to follow my timeline, rather than write books that solve every problem a reader might encounter. I would tell “Past Steve” that it’s okay to slow down the writing speed and create longer word count books that are chock-full of actionable content.
What is the biggest mistake you have made on your self-publishing journey?
Not working with an editor from the beginning. While I tried my best to proofread the content, it was no substitute for having someone go over the content and correct the language. Actually, I’m now at the point where I work with two editors and a proofreader. I’m willing to pay the extra cost because I know they catch 99.99% of my stupid mistakes.
Are there any tools you use to help with book publishing that you would recommend to others or are they the work of Satan?
I’m not really big “tools” guy. From the ones that I’ve seen, most software focus on trends instead of building a brand around a specific audience. Honestly, my preferred tool is creative thinking. I regularly take time to think about what else a reader might want to learn in my market. This habit is far better than using a piece of software because it helps you write unique books instead of publishing another “me-too” title.
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?
I have four pieces of advice:
Unless you’re a professional designer, don’t create your own covers
Be willing to invest in your cover—I typically spend around $200 for my covers.
Find good examples of what you like and show them to your designer.
Once you find a good designer, keep working this person and give them additional work. This is how you create a consistent “look” to your catalog of books.
How should you approach writing your book’s description, and why?
I use a three-part approach to writing the description:
Identify the problem.
Describe a possible solution to the problem.
Describe how your book solves that problem.
Honestly, this is a very simplified version of what the copywriting experts usually recommend.
What other areas of your authors central account should you concentrate on and why?
The only thing that I use from Author Central is the “Add Your Book” feature, which displays your book under a specific pen name. Besides that, I tend to update and edit my books through the KDP platform.
Do you have any tips to share with us about pricing books?
I really like the $2.99 price point for my books. Like I said before, I take a catalog approach to my business. Yes, $2.99 is a lower price, but I know that if a reader likes one of my books, she will go on to check out my other titles. So ultimately, I feel lower prices lead to more profit per reader.
For you, is self-publishing the easiest way to make money online at the moment, or is there something easier?
It’s definitely not the easiest method because it requires a lot of dedication. However, it’s a great income model for anyone who is willing to work hard. If you’re willing to take the time to understand what works with self-publishing and apply this on a daily basis, you can generate a reliable income.
What was the first book you ever published, and was it a success?
It was called “Make Money Online – 55 Ways to Make Extra Money Fast Using Your Computer.” I’ll admit the title is pretty spammy. But I’d consider it to be a success because it showed the potential behind Kindle publishing. While I put almost no effort into this book, for awhile it was selling 5 to 10 copies a day ($10 to $20 per day.) It was the seed of the idea where I wondered what would happen if I put a LOT of effort into writing quality books. And as they say, the rest is history.
How can authors get started building income on the back end of Kindle books?
Actually, my advice is to use “other Kindle books” as your backend. Whereas most people use smaller books to generate interest for a high-ticket item or coaching service, you can build a reliable business by recommending your other titles. Frankly, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get someone to purchase another book when compared to a $97 information product.
Affiliate links inside Kindle books, yes or no? Why do you take that stance?
In the past I’ve included affiliate links. But now I avoid them because I want readers to know that any outside recommendation comes from a genuine desire to help them solve a problem. Readers on Amazon can be extremely critical. So even if you absolutely love a product, even giving the appearance of being too self-serving could lead to a few negative reviews.
Are there any “myths” or misconceptions about self-publishing (Kindle or in general) which you can dispel?
Yes, absolutely. The one myth that drives me nuts is the importance of keyword research. Software tools that target keywords do have their place if you’re struggling to find a niche, but if you only rely on keywords, you’ll publish a series of books that don’t relate to one another. This isn’t building a business because you’re not connecting with a specific type of customer.
How realistic do you think it is for the average author to make a full-time living on Kindle?
It’s realistic because I know many people who do make a decent living through self-publishing. However, it requires a long-term approach. You can’t publish a few books and expect them to create a full-time income. My advice is to consistently publish books and connection to a specific audience. You really can’t put a “timeline” on when this happens, but if you apply the fundamentals and stay consistent with your efforts, you’ll have more success than the people who try to shortcut the process.
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?)
I’m a firm believer in the “baseball approach” to Kindle publishing. I’d consider a “single” to be around the five copies per day sales mark. And I’m happy with anything that’s a single or above because each single leads me one step closer to that home run. 🙂
How long did it take to get a big break, and what was the tipping point for you? Advertising? Someone of influence recommending your stuff? Or did you just go from “shit” to “hit” over night?
For me, the tipping point was staying consistent. Like I said in the previous question, I followed the singles-mindset from the beginning. So with each book, my revenue slowly grew and eventually I reached a point where I could live just off my Kindle earnings. Then on my 40th book (Habit Stacking), I hit that home run that tripled my revenue. From start till finish, it took over 18 months to reach my current level. Hopefully this will grow as I focus on improving the reading experience of every future book.
How soon after seeing a book published do you expect it to start a regular sales pattern? (If you see patterns?)
Usually it takes two months from the launch date for a book to hit a regular sales pattern. Before that, a book will sell a lot of copies, simply because it’s new. After that point, the sales will decline and match the performance of other books. I try to minimize what I call “book atrophy” by regularly running $0.99 discount promotions and using my email list to push older titles.
Would you like to tell us about your latest projects and/or new releases?
Right now, I’m mixing it up with the types of books that I’m publishing. Currently, I’m working on a few books that should be moderately successful. But I’d also like to repeat the success of Habit Stacking by putting together an extremely in-depth book that would be heavily promoted using a traditional book launch (something I’ve never tried before.)
Is there anything I haven’t asked about, that you think aspiring authors should know?
I’d say it’s extremely important for all aspiring authors to focus on building an email list. If you follow my advice (from the other questions) and publish on a consistent basis, you can use each book launch to add more subscribers to your list. So, in theory, your platform will exponentially grow as you create more content. Down the road, you can basically hit the best-seller status simply by harnessing of your email list.
Once again we come to the end of another great set of answers. In parting, I’d like to give a MAHOOSIVE shout out to the legendary Steve Scott for taking the time out of his excessively greedy incredibly busy schedule, and for putting up with my warped sense of humor. Thank you very much Steve, I appreciate it, and I’m sure all of the other authors who reads this will appreciate it too!