If your business is doing well and you are looking to grow it even more, then publishing a book may be the right next step for you.
Terry Whalin has been in the publishing industry for decades and he knows everything essential about the process. He is a prolific author himself and now an acquisitions editor at Morgan James. Listen as he talks with us about the book business, Amazon books, his latest title, and how he's currently marketing his book.
In the interview:
With decades working in publishing and 60+ books to his name, Terry Whalin is undeniable an authority in the field. Today he acquires books for publisher Morgan James and has a new title of his own out, 10 Publishing Myths.
In this episode of SuperFastBusiness, it’s our privilege to plumb Terry’s experience on such topics as how to sell books on Amazon, how to get a book published in the first place, and the benefits of being an author.
Some very strong reasons for becoming an author
James is of the opinion that a book is essential these days, more important even than a university degree. Certainly, having one has profoundly impacted his business.
But he wants to hear it from Terry: How important is it to actually have a book?
A book is a very important tool, says Terry, because it shows that you are really an authority or an expert in your particular area. It validates many aspects. And the mere fact that you’ve put the effort into making a book is an impressive thing.
At Morgan James, they publish a lot of business, self help and how to books, books written by experts and speakers. James wants to know: say an entrepreneur publishes an information product or a course – should they have a book?
Well, yeah, says Terry, because a book will get places that their online course or their information product will never reach. And it’s very important who you do that book with. Morgan James, for instance, is known as the entrepreneurial publisher. They’re regularly publishing books that get on the USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times list.
James’s own self-published book sells on Amazon and Audible. He’s noticed, too, that some bookstores are starting to order it in bulk. Still, he imagines he’s missing out on the distribution and reach that a publisher could offer. He might, he says, consider the publisher route with a future book, though the front end profit never really worried him. Thinking you’ll get rich off a book, he thinks, is a big misconception.
What someone like Terry can do for your book
It is, says Terry.
However, he can help James with the publisher option whenever he’d want to do it, because they print in Australia as well as the UK and America. Amazon is a big customer of theirs, but only 24 percent of their business. Morgan James is on a total of 1800 online bookstores.
Authors pitch them to be taken on, and a sorting process determines which of roughly 5000 yearly submissions will make the cut. They only do about 180 to 200 books a year.
One of the things the publishing house looks at is the reach an author has. If you have a podcast, an email list, a blog, a way to reach people, those are points in your favor.
That said, if you don’t have a big audience, it’s still okay, says Terry. The important thing is you have it started, because they really can’t bring an author from zero up. If you have the start of a Twitter account, an Instagram, a Facebook, and LinkedIn, then they can help you increase it. It’s very hard to take somebody from nothing forward.
How to avoid the garage full of books
In terms of payment, asks James, do they ever advance money, or does the author pay them? You hear of people with the garage full of books, because they had to print 10,000 copies…
No, they don’t want that, says Terry. For the nonfiction titles Morgan James publishes, they let the author keep all the intellectual property. Their contract is simple. They produce the book in eBook and audio book; in those two forms, they do a 50:50 split on the royalties.
For the print book, they start out at 20 percent. It’s a heavy royalty they pay. They don’t pay big advances at Morgan James. But they do invest a lot into every book that they publish. They’re making some great books, selling in airports such around the world.
If the book is sold on Amazon, Amazon pays the publishing house, and the publishing house forwards 20 percent of the profits to the author. Morgan James does the printing and the distribution, so the author gets the full 20 percent of the retail price.
Self-marketing versus exclusive distribution
Does Terry’s company allow authors to market their own book themselves, if they own all the rights? Or do they request exclusive distribution?
They would have exclusive distribution for the bookstores, says Terry – the online bookstores, or the brick and mortar bookstores. But the author is free to do a book funnel like James does using 10XPRO. Russel Brunson, for instance, is one of their authors, and he has Facebook ads all over the place offering free copies of his books.
What’s amazing is that Russel gives away, through those ads, about 100,000 copies of each book. And some people see the ads and decide they’d rather buy on Amazon or their local bookstore. They don’t realize that Russell sells 108,000 copies of his book through bookstores and makes royalties on them.
“People like to see ads to believe something is mainstream.”
That reminds James of the people who’ve said to him that they’d never heard of 10XPRO. They doubted a new kid on the block would be a good platform for them. What they didn’t know was that 10XPRO had been around for a decade. It’s a case for branding, says James. People like to see ads to believe something is mainstream.
Like Russel, James plans to continue selling on Amazon. It’s how he himself consumes. He is aware, however, that some people prefer buying direct, and you can include bonuses and have a deeper relationship and give people coupons and things with that option.
The promotion route Terry’s taken and how it’s working for him
What about Terry’s book funnel? He has a blog, thewritinglife.ws. And he sells his book, 10 Publishing Myths, for $10 on a 10XPRO installation. The link is bit.ly/marketing4books. How does he go about the promotion?
Terry is using 10XPRO to promote his book, and the $10 from him includes the shipping and $200’s worth of bonuses and such. It’s going really well, he says.
Not everybody buys the book directly from him. They may buy it from Amazon or BarnesandNobles.com, or wherever they buy books. But when they buy directly from Terry, he captures the lead.
Like everybody else, he says, he could always use some more book sales.
Get on a podcast here or there, recommends James.
Terry agrees. It was in 2007, he says, that he realized he had to actively do something to sell his own books. It was at an event of Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Mega Book Marketing University, it was called, and Mark had invited Terry as an agent.
Terry took pitches, but had occasion as well to hear the speakers. Jack Canfield, who wrote The Success Principles, was one of them. And his first principle was, I will take 100 percent responsibility for my own success. And Terry was hardly doing anything to sell his own books. He thought his publisher was selling them, but he had the negative royalty statements to prove that they weren’t.
Terry now has a Twitter account and LinkedIn and other ways of connecting with people, helping them find him so they can find his book. And he wrote 10 Publishing Myths partly to help authors have the right expectations and take responsibility for their success.
The huge importance of letting people reach you
Terry’s Twitter account, @terrywhalin, is 195.6 thousand followers strong. And it has a banner linking to his site and his email address. Smart, says James. He puts his own email address everywhere. If people are interested in something, let them email you and have the dialogue. He teaches this in Conversational Conversions.
Terry agrees. He put his email in his Twitter profile after hearing that the feature writer years ago at the New York Times had his email address in his Twitter account. If someone had a hot idea for the New York Times, he wanted them to be able to reach him.
Too many marketers, says James, are doing whatever they can to distance themselves from a customer. And they’ve got it all wrong. It should be exactly the other way around. He imagines it might be attractive to a publisher if their book author was accessible to their audience.
Title versus content: which carries more weight?
The title of the book versus the content, says James – what’s the balance, or how important is it either way? Some people say the title’s everything, no one reads the book. Other creative sorts care less about sales than the aesthetics of the book – a certain amount of words to achieve the perfect look and heft.
Then there are pragmatists like James, who want something good but feel no need to slave over it for five years. There’s not an excess sentence in his book, but neither is it a pamphlet.
There’s a balance in it, says Terry. The title is very important, because it grabs people, but the book has to have substance to it, to take up shelf space, but not too much. At Morgan james, their ideal length for a nonfiction book is around 200 pages.
Are there tricks to becoming a New York Times bestseller?
James knows of someone who spent $100,000 with his publisher to buy his book and rig the bestseller results. It takes away from the meaning of a bestseller, he thinks.
It is shallow, says Terry, and there is a strategy to be able to do that. There’s also an organic way, but it is possible to manipulate the list a little, and it takes some financial resources to do. He can’t give away trade secrets. Just know, he says, that there’s a sort of balance in the process.
How one-star reviews can be a good thing
Does Terry read the comments on his own book?
He does, and he thinks the one-star reviews are really a good thing in some ways, because they validate all the five-star reviews, is the way he looks at it. So it’s good to have a few people that don’t like your book.
James has heard that Cialdini’s book, Influence, was not popular in the first six or seven years, and it became very popular later. Has Terry seen instances of sleepers coming to life?
“Sometimes it takes a while for a book to catch fire.”
Sometimes it does take a while for a book to catch fire out there, says Terry. At Morgan James, they don’t just give you three or six months for your book to catch on. They want to keep working with you. They’re still actually coaching and helping authors that came to them in 2005. So they’re in it for the long haul to help you be successful with your book.
Do you recognize these bestselling authors?
Morgan James have published quite a few bestsellers by household names. Launch, by Jeff Walker, for instance, which he drove to the top of the New York Time list and is translated into 20 languages. The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard; Bryan Kramer’s Shareology. They have a whole number of books published for entrepreneurs.
How book publishing companies prepare for a promotional podcast
When a publisher’s author appears on a podcast or podcasts to speak about their book, what’s the usual way they would prepare? What kind of material might they provide the host?
A PDF copy of the book would be useful, says Terry. The book cover, a list of questions. They would naturally want the host to have that ahead of time to facilitate an effective conversation.
Some of the myths surrounding book publishing
To finish up, what are a couple of the myths Terry addresses in his book?
The biggest, he thinks, is that a book will make a lot of money. People think it’s the book that’s going to make money, when really, it’s the authority that they get from their book, and maybe the program that they have connected to their book – that’s where the money is, it’s not necessarily the book itself.
James agrees, having had people come to his high-level program straight off his book. He mentions in particular gifted bass player Scott Devine, who wanted into SilverCircle straight after reading Work Less Make More.
Another myth, says Terry, is, I can’t call myself a writer unless I publish a book. There are many other ways to write out there besides publishing a book. Or, first-time authors never get published. That’s another myth out there.
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