In this letter, I want to share with you some of the most important insights, lessons, and information that we learned this year from our successes and failures since we started accepting our first clients at TCK Publishing in February. I’ll also be sharing some of our future plans for 2014 and some really cool new projects we’re working on.
TCK Publishing Mission Statement
Since 2013 was our first year in the publishing business, we wanted to start off with a mission that would help us align as a team and with our clients. Here’s the TCK Publishing Mission Statement:
“To build a sustainable ebook publishing company that helps as many authors as possible fulfill their dreams.”
We’ve had some great successes this year that we are really proud of. Here are just a few:
We’ve helped 35 new clients get published this year and published over 200 books.
A few of our clients have already hit $1,000 in a single month in royalties or more which is a great step toward our mission of helping authors earn a full-time income.
Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Promotions
On October 31, 2013, Amazon launched a new promotion program called Kindle Countdown Deals (KCDs for short). A Kindle Countdown Deal is like a KDP Select Free Promotion where the book is on sale for a short period of time. Free Promotions can last up to 5 days, and the book is free during the promotion.
Kindle Countdown Deals are much different than free promotions. The pricing can range from $0.99 to $8.99 (the deal price must be at least $1 less than the regular price), and promotions can last anywhere from 1 hour to 7 days. You can’t change the price of the book for 30 days prior to the start of the Kindle Countdown Deal (so you can’t just raise the price from $2.99 to $9.99 one day and schedule a $2.99 Kindle Countdown Deal the next day because that would be deceptive, creating a “fake” deal).
In addition, you can set multiple price increments during the promotion (so one day at $0.99, the next day $1.99, and so on). Amazon will even payout 70% royalties for books when the Kindle Countdown Deal price is less than $2.99 – so you’re effectively doubling your royalties from KCDs as compared to what we used to do in the past which was just lowering the book price for a short-term promotion.
You can also schedule Kindle Countdown Deals to start and end on specific hours whereas free promotions start and end at midnight PST no matter what (which is not really ideal for maximum sales which occur during the afternoon and evening between 3pm-9pm).
Amazon is heavily promoting this new program and for good reason. It just makes sense to sell books at a discounted price rather than free, because every business wants and needs paying customers, not just freebie-seekers.
Amazon also announced changes in their affiliate program in February, 2013 which discouraged the very large book websites from promoting only free or mainly free books. This change was the beginning of a shift for Amazon changing their focus on marketing towards paying customers instead of customers seeking free ebooks. I think the affiliate changes and the Kindle Countdown Deals have been brilliant moves by Amazon to continue to focus on growing their ebook distribution business, and this is a good thing for us and our clients because right now publishing with KDP Select is more profitable than publishing on all the other ebook distribution platforms combined.
Kindle Countdown Deals Results
We started testing the new Kindle Countdown Deals extensively right when they launched just two months ago, and we’ve seen some incredibly promising results. We’ve launched over 40 Kindle Countdown Deals as of December 15, 2013 and so far we’ve seen an average increase in sales of more than 10 times during the promotions.
You can read more about that in the post on how kindle countdown deals help authors sell more books.
We published our first audiobook in December for our client John Del Gaudio (available here). A huge thanks to Matt Stone and Rob from Archangel Ink for helping us record the audiobook. In fact, Matt and Rob have graciously offered to do audiobooks for all of our clients for a huge discount.
You can have your books professionally recorded and published with us for just $0.025 per recorded word (about $250 for a 10,000 word book or $2,000 for an 80,000 word manuscript). I’ve been wanting to publish audiobooks for the last two years but price was always holding me back because up until now, the cheapest quotes I’d seen from professionals was $1,600 for a 10,000 word book! Now, because of this great deal, we can start producing audiobooks for about ⅛th of the price.
If you choose to have us produce your audiobooks for you, we’ll take care of the recording and production, create the audiobook cover, publish it through ACX.com on Amazon.com and Audible.com, write the audiobook description, and manage the entire publishing process for you as well as link your audiobook page to your existing Kindle and/or paperback listing on Amazon. In addition, we’ll split all income from sales with you 50/50 as normal and pay out your audiobook royalties on the same schedule as Kindle and paperback sales.
We’ve recently made a big shift in how we deal with editing books. When we first started, the plan was to have clients get their books professionally edited and then for us to hire an editor simply to proofread books to make sure there weren’t any glaring typos or grammatical errors. However, what happened is that in some cases clients weren’t hiring an editor at all and in other cases, the editors weren’t finding any mistakes because the books had been professionally edited already, so it was a really inefficient and ineffective process.
The reason we can afford to pay 50% royalties to clients is because we run our business incredibly efficiently. So this was a problem we had to solve so that you can keep earning as much as possible from your books.
As of now, clients will be 100% responsible for having their books professionally edited and proofread before publishing. We’ll still be doing all the formatting, cover design, publishing, and marketing campaigns as usual.
Here are a few reasons why I think this is a much better long-term strategy for us and for our clients:
1) Clear responsibility is what makes business relationships work. Now that it’s totally clear who has responsibility for editing, the job will get done more efficiently and effectively.
2) When you pay for your own editor, you’re far more invested and interested in the editing process. There is no “agency” problem or conflict, and you don’t need multiple parties to agree on a simple change so it gets done faster as well.
3) You’ll learn more from the editor because they report directly to you and are accountable to you. The tips from your editor on how to improve and become a better writer will be far more valuable long-term than having a single book edited.
4) You’re in complete editorial control. This means your books will be written as you intended, without a third-party editor changing things that you think are crucial or important. We want you to be able to get your messages and stories out there as you envision them without forcing you to make changes that don’t fit with your vision.
5) You can treat the editor as a partner on your team and create a long-term relationship with someone who can help you improve your writing craft. It’s always great to have another experienced person on your team, someone to bounce ideas off of and support you.
If you’re still looking for an editor, we have a few we can recommend who have Master’s degrees and/or have many years of experience in the publishing industry and do great work for special rates for or clients, usually about $50 per 10,000 words.
We’ve made some great improvements in publishing this year and so as a gift, we’re expanding our offering for paperback publishing. In addition to all the formatting, layout, publishing, and marketing support, we’re also throwing in an additional 50 author copies of each book you publish as a paperback with us. After the book is live on CreateSpace, we’ll ship you 50 brand new copies of your book hot off the press to share or sell as you wish.
As always, you can order additional paperback copies anytime you want at cost.
Publishing your manuscript as a paperback with us is incredibly easy. Since we’ll be publishing your manuscript as an ebook anyways, you don’t have to do any extra work once your book is edited and proofread and ready to go. We’ll format it for paperback for you, and send you the formatted manuscript ready for print just so you can approve it or recommend any final changes. We’ll also design the full paperback cover for you front, spine and back and get your approval again before ordering a final physical proof copy for you. You can review the proof copy to make sure you’re happy, and when you’re ready, the book will be available for purchase on Amazon.com and we’ll send you 50 author copies of your book as well.
Publishing a paperback with us is still just one flat fee of $750.
We’ve found a few new amazing book designers recently, especially for fiction books. Check out some of our newest covers here:
We’ve been actively marketing on Facebook all year and here are some things you might want to know to stay connected with us on Facebook.
At the Free Book Club fan page, we promote all our books during free promotions as well as advertising some books for outside authors. Since we’re moving toward more paid promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals, this page might not get as much action over the next few years, but it’s still a great asset.
The Kindle Publishing Bible group is a special group just for readers of my books, and it’s grown to a membership of over more than 1,700 authors. The purpose of the group is to help authors connect to share ideas for writing, publishing, and marketing books. It’s a great community and everyone is incredibly helpful, so I recommend you check it out and connect with like-minded authors.
Note: The purpose of this group is for authors to connect, not promote books. If you promote your books on the group wall, your posts will be deleted and if you do so multiple times, the moderators will ban you. Having said that, there is a special file where you are welcome to share your books during promotions, free or paid.
At the TCK Publishing Fan Page, we’ll be announcing new clients and newly published books as well as educating authors and writers in general about the best practices for writing, publishing, and marketing books.
We just launched a new podcast show called The Publishing Profits Podcast where we’ll be interviewing some of the most successful, influential, and helpful people in the publishing industry including bestselling authors, editors, publishers, attorneys, marketers, consultants, writing coaches, and more.
The reason I started this show was so I could get access to interview some of the most influential and successful people in the publishing industry primarily for the benefit of you, our clients. So please subscribe on iTunes and listen regularly to learn how to take your career as an author to the next level: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/publishing-profits-podcast/id788984301
If you know someone who would be a great fit for us to interview on the show, send me a note here.
Client Tutorial Videos
I’ve been working on creating more tutorial videos for clients, but things are changing so fast that it seems like as soon as I record a video about marketing books, it’s out of date due to an Amazon change or update. I’ve counted seven (7) significant updates, announced and unannounced, from Amazon in 2013 that have significantly changed marketing results for Kindle books.
All of these changes have just reinforced one simple fact of marketing online for me:
The #1 best long-term online marketing strategy was, is, and will continue to be email marketing.
Even if all the biggest websites in the world like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter disappear, email will continue to be the best way to stay connected with your audience long-term.
I’ll be adding a series of video trainings on how to setup and manage your email marketing system as part of our free client training videos.
I highly recommend reading and applying the principles from 80/20 Sales and Marketing. Basically, the 80/20 principle states that 80% of your results in life will come from 20% of your activity. In other words, 80% of your book sales will come from 20% of your marketing efforts. The key is to find that 20% for you and focus on it.
But the 80% rule can be multiplied on itself. The 20% of the 20% activities will create the 80% of the 80% results. In other words, 4% of the things you do in life will create 64% of your results. You can take it to another level and you’ll find that less than 1% of what you do in life will create more than 50% of your results.
The 80/20 rule doesn’t just apply to business, it applies to almost everything in life. You’ll find that 20% of people in the world control 80% of the wealth. And 20% of rabbits will produce 80% of the offspring. Almost everything in life and nature follows the 80/20 pattern.
So what does that have to do with you?
Well, when you find that 1% marketing activity for you, the one that produces 50% of your sales, you’ll actually end up spending a lot less time on marketing. But, since you’ll be focused on that 1% activity that creates more than 50% of your sales, you’ll find your book sales steadily increasing even as you’re working less.
However, you’ll never know what that 1% is for you unless you try many different strategies.
That’s why I’m working on my new book which has over 50 different tactics for marketing and selling books. I’ll keep you updated when it’s finished.
In the meantime, please watch all the current training videos for clients where we’ll be covering all these marketing strategies as well at www.tckpublishing.com/publishing-checklist-for-new-clients
I’ve been asked to speak at a few Writers’ Conferences in 2014. I’ll keep you updated when dates and schedules are finalized so hopefully some of you can come join me.
New Marketing Initiatives
We’re working on some new book marketing initiatives that I’m really excited about. Here are just a few of them:
Ebook Marketing: Blogging Network
We’re working on creating relationships with as many book bloggers as possible. Many of these bloggers will only review books sent by publishers, so that gives us an “in” that our clients wouldn’t have without us. This initiative will probably work best for fiction writers as there are more sites specializing in fiction book reviews than nonfiction.
Nonfiction authors will benefit greatly from guest blogging. I created an entire system for getting traffic and sales from guest blogging. You can read more on that in The Blog Business Book for those of you who enjoy writing articles or blog posts. You can hire a virtual assistant to follow the system and research blogs for you, but you’ll probably want to write the articles yourself.
Book Marketing: Public Relations
We’re working on some really cool PR campaigns. I’ll send more info about that when it’s ready.
Author Profiles on the TCK Publishing Site
Initially, we started featuring profiles of our clients on the website but then got so busy with business that we couldn’t keep up. Now that we’ve added a few more people to the team, we’re ready to get back to it.
So, if you still haven’t published a post on the TCK Publishing site about you and your books, please send us your article!
You can see articles from other clients here here:
Your articles can be as long or as short as you want and you’re welcome to link to any and all of your books, websites, and social media sites.
Royalties and Payments
Many of you have asked for us to pay royalties more frequently than every six months as we have been, and we would love to! Even though it’s standard in the industry to pay out every six months, we want to do better in fitting with our mission of helping you earn a full-time income from your books because the more regular your income, the easier it will be for you to manage your cash flow. We get it, and we want to help.
There are, however, several issues we have to deal with before we can make that dream a reality.
First, we need better and more efficient sales reporting. With over 40 publishing accounts, it’s a lot of grunt work just to download sales reports and organize them, let alone calculate currency conversions and sales totals and send royalty payments.
That’s why we’ve hired a programmer who’s creating some amazing custom software just for us that will help download sales reports, compile the monthly reports into a master report, and then compile those master reports into individual reports for each of our clients, including converting all currencies to USD, providing customized reports by book, and a lot more amazing features so that we can better analyze sales data and help you sell even more books.
Amazon publishes their monthly sales reports on the 15th of the month so on January 15th, we’ll get the sales reports for December. When the new software is ready, we should have complete sales reports with royalties converted to USD by the 16th if not earlier.
Second, we want to start EFT payment processing. We’ve been sending most royalty payments by check for clients in the US or Paypal for international clients. We’d love to just start doing EFT transfers right into your bank account to get your money to you faster and help you save on Paypal fees. It’s going to take a little bit of work and investment on our end but once we have the new software, we will start initiating EFT payments for clients.
Our short-term goal is to send royalty payments every three months ASAP, and our long-term goal is to send payments every month.
Amazon doesn’t pay royalties until 60 days after the close of the month (so we don’t receive the cash from December sales until the end of February or beginning of March); thus, there will always be a delay of at least 60 days between sales and payments, but we want to keep it as minimal as possible.
New Royalty Option
We also have a new royalty option for clients who want to avoid any upfront fees. Instead of 50/50, we’ll be paying 25% of all net income from books to the author and will waive the $500 fee for ebooks. In the past, we didn’t want to do this because we wanted to treat every client the same, and it also posed some administrative problems. Furthermore, we just knew it would be a better deal for you to get paid 50% royalties. But many new clients have insisted that they would rather take a smaller percentage of royalties and avoid the upfront fee, so we’re trying to do our best to provide the best publishing options in the world for clients.
With the new software coming, it should be a breeze to pay out royalties at a different percentage for different clients.
We’ve been approached by several potential publishing partners, including other publishing companies, digital publishers, media companies, consultants, training companies, and influential authors that proposed some kind of partnership with us.
In some cases, we’ve had other publishers ask us to publish their clients’ books on Kindle. I really didn’t feel right with this because I think having an intimate relationship with the author has been a key to our success. Publishing and marketing books for anonymous authors through a third party just isn’t something we want to do, because ultimately this is a relationship business. Relationships come first. Money comes second. If you get the relationships right, there will always be more than enough money to go around.
Other times, we’ve had proposals for a relationship where the other party would refer clients, sometimes a very large list of potential clients, to us in exchange for a percentage of royalties. In almost every case, we’ve turned them down because it just wasn’t a good fit at the time.
Again, we just don’t want to be in the business of publishing and marketing books for anonymous authors whom we have no relationship or connection with. Since the beginning, I’ve always seen my job as much more than just publishing and marketing books. I’ve seen myself as a consultant, coach, and mentor as well, and I think those aspects of the business are crucial for creating long-term success. The more you grow, the more we grow. So we want to do our very best to help all of our clients grow.
Despite the lack of success with some potential partnerships this year, we have had a few great partnerships and some promising developments as well. I was blessed to be invited to speak at The Kindle Summit by Eleanor Prior in October (you can watch the recording here). It was a great event, and we had several new clients come from it. I’m looking forward to doing more webinars and virtual trainings in the future.
We also have one promising partnership in the UK which I have high hopes for. In addition to creating a steady stream of top notch clients from Britain, it’ll give us an opportunity to help partner with schools to donate our publishing and marketing support for student authors as well. When we sign the contract and launch that program, you’ll be sure to hear about it.
We’re definitely looking forward to more great partnerships in the future. We just want to make sure that any partnerships we enter into are good for everyone involved and align with our values. Specifically, we want to make sure that we always have a relationship with the author so that we can help them with their branding and marketing strategy as well as the planning process for future books. We don’t want to just become a “publishing factory” where we publish and market books for authors we don’t know and have no relationship with other than a financial one.
If you think of anyone who might be a great partner for us, whether it is a joint venture, writers’ groups, websites for authors, teleseminars, telesummits, live speaking events, or otherwise, please let us know!
I’ve read some really great books this year. Here are a few that I think will be especially helpful for authors:
The Perfection of Marketing by James Connor
80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
61 Ways to Sell More Nonfiction Books by Steve Scott
Finally, we’re looking for some clients who would like to record a short video about your experience so far publishing your books with TCK Publishing. You can use a webcam, iPhone, or camcorder to shoot a short video. We’ll post the videos on YouTube and/or on the website to help potential clients get a feel for what it’s like to work with us.
If you’d like to record a short video testimonial, here are some sample questions you’re welcome to answer in the video if you like:
Why did you decide to work with TCK Publishing?
How easy or difficult was the process of getting your book published with TCK Publishing?
How does it feel to be a published author?
Would you recommend TCK Publishing to other authors? If so, why? If not, why not?
You can email your video or a link to your video to Tom [at] tckpublishing.com.
We’re wishing you an incredible year in 2014 and look forward to helping your dreams come true.
To your success,