I came across a great podcast just the other day, where Steve Scott – an Amazon best-selling, self-published author – shares his experience and tips. If you’re writing a book, there’s some invaluable advice in this podcast, which shouldn’t be missed.
Steve Scott has mastered the art of regularly publishing business books that people genuinely find useful. So much so that he’s Amazon’s number one business author.
Each book brings in revenue, but some much more so than others.
“It’s the 80/20 rule,” he said. “Where 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your product.”
He’s created a lifelong, evergreen, income machine.
By perfecting his method in writing 68 books (and counting), he’s built a steady increasing income from his writing, which he states was more than $50,000 dollars in a recent month alone.
Most of Steve’s books are Kindle ebooks, with a few paperbacks thrown in for good measure.
However, Steve cautions authors against having a ‘get rich quick’ mentality, and it’s taken him a few years to get to that point.
“Do understand that this is a long-term business… if you focus on it, it is a profitable business model.”
Steve has a background in web marketing, which he’s used to build his writing into his own self-publishing empire. It’s this experience that has enabled him to dominate many of the ebook categories he’s targeted.
Here’s a few top tips that Steve shares on the podcast:
Choosing a topic for your book
Before you spend hundreds of hours (or more?) on your book, how do you know what to write about, and what will work?
Steve uses his “3 ‘P’s of self-publishing” to evaluate whether his book idea is viable:
- Personal Experience
Steve suggest that you “picture a Venn diagram” – you want your book topic to meet all three of the requirements. You want to make money, you want to be interested in the topic, and you need to have some experience to have authority to write the book.
Rather than write a general book that covers all possible variants, Steve focuses on niches within a topic, and writes an entire book on each niche. Using this method, Steve’s books are shorter than you might expect – often around 30,000 words. For comparison, typical novels can be in the region of 80–120,000 words.
How to tell if your book is potentially profitable?
To research whether his book idea will be profitable, Steve uses Amazon’s Best Seller’s Ranking (BSR) – each book has a BSR ranking, listed on its product page.
“I use the rule of 30,000,” Steve explains. “If you can find a couple of books [in the same niche] that [have a BSR of] 30,000 or less, that’s a good indicator that this is a good book idea. I know it’s going to sell. And that’s around 5-10 copies [sold] a day.”
How to find people who have good insights and expertise?
Even if you have expertise to write your book, Steve recommends researching additional knowledge experts in the field that you are writing in. There are plenty of places online where you could find experts, and Steve singles out the website HelpAReporterOut.com where people are willing to share their expertise (you may need to pay for this input).
Learn about marketing
Podcast host James Altucher, himself a best-selling author, emphasises the importance of marketing your own book.
“You have to be a marketer now, if you want to be in the self-publishing business. You’re essentially your own publishing company, you’re not only the writing department, you’re also the marketing department … I think a lot of traditional book publishing departments don’t know this information, so they’re getting blown away by self-published books.”
“You have to be able to do the grunt work, and learn about marketing. Test maybe ten things, and one or two will stick.”
Choosing a cover and title
Steve advises that a good cover, title and description plays an important part in a book’s success: “If you get that right your job will be way easier.”
Steve goes as far as polling his Facebook groups with suggested titles and covers, to see what people think, “looking at what the comments are”. He narrows down to two covers and two titles, then uses www.pickfu.com – a website that runs a poll to random participants who are, in Steve’s words, “brutally honest about what they like and don’t like”.
Reviews are essential to the success of any Amazon title, and Steve underlines the “daily grind” of encouraging readers to leave reviews. And he cautions against using book review exchanges.
1000 True Fans
1000 true fans is an influential article and idea by Kevin Kelly, which Steve Scott refers to during the podcast. The concept is based on building a lasting, sustainable business or movement on the back of just one thousand raving fans. Steve has clearly built this into his thinking, and it’s working.
Steve Scott’s self-publishing method
Steve summarised his self-publishing method into these essential stages:
- Picking a topic, writing the book (as described above) – unsurprisingly, Steve has written book on this topic.
- Technical aspects – editing, cover, formatting, Kindle, uploading
- Advertising and marketing – Steve outsources some of these tasks to a virtual assistant, who he found via Virtual Staff Finder
- Constantly building an email list – so you can market your new books, and grow your audience
- Self-education – Steve is always learning. “Don’t assume what works yesterday, will work tomorrow”
There’s lots more great advice in the podcast from Steve, and from podcast host James Altucher, including using lead magnet pages (offer freebies in exchange for email signups, to build your email list), book launches, Bookbub, sponsored ads on Amazon, and using categories wisely to increase visibility.
I highly recommend you check out the podcast. Listen to it twice (I did!).