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Derek Murphy is the bestselling author of several books including his new novel Shearwater. Derek has a wealth of experience in the publishing industry as a professional editor, cover designer, consultant, keynote speaker, and as a bestselling nonfiction and fiction author.

This is our second time interviewing Derek. In episode 37 we talked about how to make book covers that sell books.

This time we talk about book marketing strategies and how to use the book giveaways alongside Facebook ads to quickly build your e-mail list.

Derek also had some interesting things to say about the difference between marketing for nonfiction and marketing for fiction books.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction: How the Markets Are Different

  • Fiction readers tend to read 10x more books than nonfiction readers.
  • Fiction readers are more loyal.
  • It’s much easier to convince a fiction reader to buy more of your books. If they like your writing they will want more of that experience.
  • The secret to making money in Kindle Unlimited is to keep your audience reading longer. The longer they read the more page reads you have and the more money you make.
  • If you put a book out permafree and it gets a high rank, Derek has found that if you switch the book over to paid the rank tends to be sticky. He switched over one of his books from free to paid and it has been consistently ranking in the top 2,000 books of the Kindle store for over a month. He’s making about $2,000 a month with that book right now—a book that started as permafree. Not bad for a free book!
  • Readers tend to get even more excited about fiction than nonfiction—your loyal fans will go out of their way to support you if you communicate with them and ask them for help.
  • Writing fiction requires different skill sets than writing nonfiction.

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Building An Author Platform: Book Marketing for Authors

While writing fiction is different than writing nonfiction, the skills required to market your work are universal. It’s important to take the long view if you want to be a professional writer. It takes time to write stories and build the type of loyal audience that will buy every book you write.

Giving away some of your books for free is a powerful way to market your work, especially if you’ve optimized your Amazon product page for keywords so that people can find you. A lot of authors say they refuse to give away their books for free because they don’t want to train their audience to expect free books. But many successful businesses give away free samples all the time.

When was the last time you tried a free sample at the grocery store? You may not buy the product right then and there, but you’ll be more likely to buy it the next time you see it, if you liked it, because the product is more familiar to you. The food company allowed you to try their product with zero risk.

When you offer your book for free, you allow a customer to try your book without risk. It’s much easier for you to find an audience when there is no barrier of entry to the world to create.

The key to building a platform without doing a lot of book promotion is to make sure that you put your books on the right “bookshelf.” This means choosing the right category and subcategory for your book and optimizing your product page so that people find your book when they search for keywords.

Once you have your book published on Amazon, experiment with tweaking your book description every so often by using different keywords in it. Your book description stays with your book forever. The return on investment of writing a better description is way better than advertising because as soon as you stop advertising there is a danger that your book will sink again.

Kindle Unlimited and Pricing

Derek has found that if you price a fiction book at $0.99 and offer it through Kindle Unlimited the rank will stick higher because more people will buy who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited.

The higher rank translates into greater visibility so that people who do use Kindle Unlimited will see your book more and borrow it. If the book is good they’ll read to the end and you can get much more money for that customer then you would if you price the book at $5

Because of the way the Kindle Unlimited works where authors get paid per page reads, fiction books tend to be more profitable than nonfiction books in Kindle Unlimited because fiction books are longer.

Book Giveaways and Facebook Ads: A Simple E-Mail Marketing Strategy to Build a Massive List.

Here’s an easy way to build a massive list of responsive followers.

1. Find 10 best-selling books in your genre.

2. Buy them with the intention of giving them away.

3. Setup a giveaway on one of the sites mentioned below in the links and resources section.

4. Start a Facebook ad campaign and target people who liked the books you bought. Tell them about the giveaway that you’re doing.

5. Make sure that in order to enter the giveaway your prospect has to enter their e-mail address.

5. At the end of the giveaway is randomly select a winner and send them their prize.

When doing a giveaway it’s best to keep it simple. Sometimes authors will do a joint giveaway and share the list. More often than not it’s more work for less benefit, because people end up unsubscribing from the majority of e-mail lists they subscribe to to enter the giveaway.

It’s best to do it yourself and use the list for your own benefit. It’s simpler and you will get a much better return on investment if you do it that way.

Derek will set up the giveaway on gleam, King sumo, or rafflecopter. Then he spends about $100 in targeted Facebook ads finding people who liked the books that are in his giveaway bundle.

If the price is good enough people will share to get a better chance at winning.

If you are an expert that offers a service you might consider offering your service as the prize. This will get a group of people who are interested in what you have to offer, and it’s a way of offering value without having to spend money.

Write to Market

Derek says a lot of writers are afraid of writing to market because they want their writing to be “good.” If you consciously choose to write books for yourself rather than for a larger audience, recognize that’s a choice.

It’s important to write books people want to read. The best way to know what people want to read is to study the market. Read reviews of books in your category. Get a handle on reader expectation. If you give a reader the experience they expect from your book they will buy your next book and every book that follows, until you don’t give them the type of story they expect.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

Publishing Proffits Podcast 37: Designing Beautiful ebook Covers that Sell — Derek’s blog where he talks about indie publishing and marketing

Shearwater— Derek’s best-selling mermaid romance

Derek’s Amazon author Central page

Three Sites Derek Recommends for Setting up Giveaways

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