Listen in as John Carlton talks about the growing digital publishing industry and shares tips on how to get your first Kindle out there
Topics discussed in this podcast:
01:52 – John gets into Kindle publishing
02:49 – The massive switch to digital books
07:37 – Reusing content in multiple ways
10:32 – Publishing is a marketing tool
15:23 – Evergreen content and the magic of podcasting
21:00 – Be your own media mogul
30:29 – One mistake John had with his first book
32:48 – Digging into the technical stuff
38:38 – Proofreading and formatting
45:49 – Dealing with good and bad reviews
49:59 – Getting your word document published on Kindle
52:23 – The human side of Kindle
53:50 – How to market your publication
58:46 – What’s next for John
01:01:15 – Where can you find John?
01:04:12 – Check out Karmas Relent on Facebook
If you want to be successful in life, you make two lists… [Click To Tweet].
The ride is too short. Life is too short to not have fun- John Carlton. [Click To Tweet].
To make a good podcast or write a good book or have a good career, it’s really important to know what you’re willing to do [Click To Tweet].
James Schramko here. Welcome to another SuperFastBusiness.com interview. This time I’ve got a really good friend of mine back for another interview; we’ve done a few before. I’d like to welcome John Carlton.
John: James, how are you doing?
James: Good. How do we bill you these days? Used to be “the most ripped off copywriter ever.” Are you now like a publishing mogul or something?
John: No, I still prefer “the most ripped off marketing guru in existence” just because my stuff has been ripped off a lot. But that was just me positioning myself in front of the pirates, so they didn’t get all the joy out of it.
I couldn’t stop the piracy so I thought I just take a little juice out of them. But, yeah, I’m actually kind of semi-retired which for me means working 30 hours a week instead of the 70 I was when I was running a full-time business.
So I settled back and I started doing more writing, and my passion now is very much in writing for wider and wider audiences. So the blog was good up to a point. I had a newsletter that some people still remember called The Marketing Rebel Rant from about 2001 until 2008 or 2009 when I put that to bed and moved over full time to the blog. And now I’m into Kindle publishing.
It’s a glorious time to be a self-publisher, and the tipping point just happened recently. We’ve just gone into this world where Amazon, God bless them, has bought up CreateSpace and created this amazing paradigm for people to get published digitally up for Kindle and get published with printed books that will be printed on order.
In other words you can now have a printed book now with CreateSpace which is a physical publishing arm of Amazon. You don’t have to print out any books beforehand. They will print the book when they receive an order. They’ll print it, they’ll ship it and you pay them a certain amount… not very much. Not as much as the traditional publishers used to get and suddenly yes, you are a publishing mogul with your first book.
James: Yeah, that’s cool. You see some of those terrible shots of people who have stacks of books in their garage. They have to take some huge print run as their upfront expense and then they have trouble distributing it. But now… I guess it’s the distribution model that’s changed with Kindle.
John: Exactly! And the distribution and the printing thing and the… of course the more wider acceptance of tablet-style reading formats. More and more people are OK with Kindle or NOOK, whatever it is that they chose and Kindle is going to win eventually of course, but people are now very casual about reading digital books and download. And their library now mostly consist of digital books.
Sometimes they will buy the physical books just to have it, you know, so they have a physical library. They want the physical thing in their possession. I know that while I published my first book, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together” just for Kindle for the first few months is now ready in print and a lot of people have put off buying it because they wanted it in print.
A lot of people read it and they still want the print version just because. So it’s an interesting world. So the distribution is all of the old formats of distribution. In other words, like I just found out “50 Shades of Grey,” you’ve probably heard of that book. That started out as a self-published book.
Sold about a quarter of a million copies, caught the attention of the regular publishing world and they got published by a big name publishing house and I can’t think of the name of it. And so they covered all of the areas. It was digital. They printed their own, shipped them out and they got picked up by a regular publisher.
So the distribution channels included anything that would go from Amazon, you know, Quick Buy, and it’s immediately downloaded on your Kindle to you could ask for a regular copy to be shipped to you through Amazon to going to bookstores and finding it available there. So all that is still possible.
But for entrepreneurs, big one is Kindle and the ability to have books printed that you could buy for, I think, I’m guessing here James because I’m not positive, I think as low as like three bucks, you could get a rather large book printed and sent to you as the author and then you can have a stack of them that you could give out at events or use as your calling card, which is the main reason a lot of people want a book written in the first place.
It’s like street cred way beyond “wow” factor. And my print book… excuse me… my book sells for example for $9.99, I think for Kindle. And if you want a printed copy, it’ll be $25. You’ll have to spend a little more. And I’m not going to push the print quite as hard but people want the print so they’ll have it; and I’m going to buy some print copies to just send to colleagues, to have around, and sometimes you.
If I do speak at an event where it is relevant for me to giveaway books, I may giveaway a whole bunch of those books. Because within the book that I have, there are calls to action throughout the book, independent of the content. So it’s pure content, at the end of each chapter I throw in a little call to action to head over to my blog to buy my other books or get a hold of me for consultation or whatever. That make sense?
James: That’s nice. Yeah, you’re catering for each of your markets. But so far publishing a book is going to increase your authority. It’s something that everyone can do. You might as well be going for Kindle.
I actually published something early 2012 about the trends and some of the things that were interesting to me were the people who use a Kindle book read far more frequently; 86% once a week versus 51% of book readers. And there was all sorts of other stats. But I was a slow convert now and I moved across because we didn’t really have Kindle here in Australia but I started on the iPad.
Now they’re prevalent and you can buy them everywhere but I’ve actually… If I were going to buy a book on Amazon and they don’t have it in Kindle, I actually won’t buy it anymore and that’s a big turnaround for me and I’ve got a couple of thousand books sitting in boxes and shelves and stuff.
And they’re now more of a hindrance than an asset and you can buy the great classics on Kindle these days. I noticed you could buy the Robert Collier, that little blue book in Kindle version.
We’ve watched some of the other people in your network like Bond Halbert and you. These Kindles are coming through and I can only see it growing. So I’d love to talk about the steps involved. So, on a side note while we are on the topic of publishing, I think a lot of people are donating their absolute best content to platforms like Facebook.
So one thing you have done well is at least put your good pieces of content on your own website and it’s something that I teach with my OwnTheRacecourse philosophy. It’s like building your own asset and I think making Kindles and books is the next logical extension of that.
When you were going to assemble your Kindle, is part of your process to go and have a look at the stats on your blog and see which posts were more popular or more visited?
John: Well, it’s interesting you bring that up and let me just back up a minute and tell you where the content comes from. This first Kindle book that I had is the best 17 newsletters that I wrote between 2001 and I think 2008 or was it 2009? And I had over 60 newsletters.
All of them… when I wrote the newsletters, by the way, following what you would say would be a plan, was I tried to keep them as evergreen as possible, meaning very little in the newsletters would date them, except for changes in the technology. If I, you know talked about this “new” thing called AdWords coming out…
So when I went back, I would have to edit it a little bit, but because the newsletters were meant to be evergreen, meaning you could read the book 20 years from now, it’d still be relevant, because I talked about the human parts of marketing and the fundamentals of marketing in ways that will be relevant no matter when, you know, even if we’re down the line and Google Glasses are the way most people communicate.
You know it’s still going to be relevant. So I had those newsletters. Then I had the blog. I’ve got like six or seven years of the blog post. And I do have them rated by comments. Not so much by eyeballs getting on there. But for me, as a lazy way to do it, and because I get a lot of comments, the number of comments actually raise the profile of a lot of the blog posts.
So I can almost judge just by the comments and the interaction in the comments which ones hit a nerve and which ones didn’t. I didn’t have to go to Google Analytics for example.
And then I’ve got a lot of writing on my Facebook. As you know, I do very long Facebook posts and a lot of those I’ve actually channeled over to the podcast that we’re doing. The PI4MM.com which stands for Psych Insights for Modern Marketers that Kevin Rogers and I are doing. So, I guess the point I’m saying is that I’m reusing the content in multiple ways. Then the third book I’ll probably come out with will be of the best blog post.
So you asked essentially how do you define “best,” and the thing about doing the book is what’s great about self-publishing is that you can kind of ignore some of the rules. There are a lot of marketers in our space out there who are insisting that they know the secrets quote unquote of self-publishing and Kindle publishing, things like these.
I will tell you that right now, and this will date this podcast, James, but right now, nobody knows. That we don’t know what’s going on. I would recommend that you write the book to suit yourself.
That you… that we could talk a little bit about how to make that fast and don’t get tied in to any one book, especially your first one thinking, this is going to be the legacy that I’m, you know that defines who I am and how I’m thought of long after I’m dead and all that. Just get away from that. This is a tool. This is a tool for your credibility. This is a tool for your marketing. Publishing is tool for spreading the word.
Now I like to put out really excellent content. So my content is pristine, stands on its own and then I tack on calls to action just because it’s a wasted opportunity to help someone get further into my world if they like what they read and anything that I write.
And so that makes the book a little more direct response than a regular book that didn’t have a call to actions and a lot of traditional publishers frown on marketers doing that: putting in any overt calls to action to get the names back because the publishing world is in upheaval right now. It’s in total chaos.
And the classic publishers really don’t have much of a clue about direct response marketing which is, you know, setting up a lot of desire and asking for some kind of action and bringing in people into your world where you can build up your list.
So, entrepreneurs right now have a real advantage in this and now with the book you can control the whole thing. You control start to finish. So make it the way… write these books or create these books if you’re doing your first one, how you would want your first conversation to go with somebody that you have sitting in front of you.
Say somebody that was a prospect or was a long-time customer or whatever. Just make that conversation into a book form. It’s often…I mean you really could do phone calls that you’ve done if you do teleseminars or you’re on the phone with clients frequently or something. Record that stuff and get it down. There’s almost always good information.
If you’re a man of high integrity giving high quality content, no matter how you’re giving it out, whether you’re writing blog post, doing little Facebook snippets, as long as you keep track of that stuff, very quickly you can have enough for a book. And then you don’t need to call it a book by the way, James.
That’s another key thing I was talking with Brian Kurtz from Boardroom about this. He’s about to write his first book and so we were chatting about the ways to position it.
You know when I wrote my very first book back in 2001, “Kickass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel,” I called that a book and I wrote it by chapters and then I thought, you know I would’ve make it a course. It just… the book doesn’t give it enough “oomph” in my world. So I changed the chapter headings to section headings inside.
I added some workbook things in there. I did an audio version of the books that came along with this and started adding more like homework assignments. And in less than a day, I turned it into a course as opposed to a book. There are also guides, there are confessionals, there are all kinds of ways you can position what you do here so you’re not confined to what you think is, you know, THE Book, or A Book.
Mike Keenan famously when he was otherwise involved over the course of the last year or so, was having little time to devote to marketing. He had some serious issues happening and then he talks about this a lot. He was kind of facing the life and death situation. He still had time to slam out a couple of books that he then hands out to, at seminars, and people keep these books.
They love them. They’re very short, 30-40 pages, I think. I’m not sure, I don’t have them right here with me. But the books don’t have to be long. The content is much more important than the way it’s positioned or played out and you can be as professional as you want. With a simple hiring of a good designer, he can quickly give you a good cover and a back cover that you can then sandwich your black and white content in between.
And if you want to put photos in there, that’s fine, but regular, black and white content without a lot of photos, without a lot of complex art in there, can get your ready right away to have something ready for Kindle.
James: OK, so, a couple of points here: Firstly just backing up there about the evergreen nature of it. As I’m going through preparing a book, there is that balance. Part of it is well thinking, quite a bit of permanency to creating something like this.
You want it to be relevant in a couple of years because, gosh, if you’re putting up stuff a few years ago in the Internet marketing space, it’ll be completely useless now. So I’m focusing more on the core topics that I’ve been doing for a decade or more in business. So I’m making a business book.
John: By the way, Shrak, if you need to say something, you can always say, for example, in 2010 or 2013, let’s say you’re writing this right now, in 2013 AdWords is charging blank for this particular, you know, series of search engine topics or whatever. So you position it.
So in 2019, when this information is six years old, you’re still saying, you know, in 2013 you position it that way. This is what was happening and then you could actually edit back in and go and in 2019, here’s that situation you know, progressed and whatever.
James: Nice. Well, I hope they’re still reading my book in six years from now. And the second thing is, glad you made the point that I think some people have spent too much expectation in a book. I’ve actually picked up students who have paid a god-awful amount of money, like $20, $30,000 to some expert who was going to get them their book and make them famous and they’ve printed it, it’s out there, the boxes are sitting in the garage.
They’re not famous, no one’s buying the book, and they’re lucky if they can speak in front of 20 or 30 people to sell their book at the back of the room for 20 bucks; or they have to give the promoter a box of books. It’s like this.. .it’s just a part of the journey but like someone else describe it, it’s probably like a golden business card that’s a very heavy, solid, validated business card.
It still works today that the whole concept of being a published author and while we’re on the topic of publishing, I am…. just before we go to the “how to” part, I am interested in just finding out how your podcast is going because I’m a massive fan of podcast. I’ve been doing it for so long. And it’s easier for me to talk than to write which is why I ended up podcasting before I made a book or a Kindle. How’s that going with you and K. Rog?
John: You know it’s going very, very well. Kevin came to me, just to let you know the actual background, he said, this post that I was doing infrequently but I do them, I called Psych Insights on my Facebook page was just the stuff that I’ve learnt from my 30-year career starting with a degree in Psychology and moving through understanding or trying to interview and working with streetwise salesman.
Like Gary Halbert and J. Abraham, guys who actually sold on the street who had face to face sales experience. And I was taking great pains to understand as to how sales happen face to face because I knew that once I can break that code, you can expand that and use it in any kind of marketing that you have.
So I’ve always been interested in the psychological aspects of this and Kevin thought, this would be a perfect podcast. Why not get those going? So I said OK if you do all the work, and we have Brian McCloud, who we call Brain with much respect, help him with the design and the implementation. I say as long as you guys take, you do all the hard work. All I got to do is sit down you know, once a week and participate in the podcast, I’m all for it.
And It’s been going very, very well. I would say the key is to, you know, Shrak I’ve told you about the two-list thing before. You know if you want to be successful in life, you make two lists. You make a list of what you want to do in life and you make a list of what you don’t want to do. And then for the rest of your life as much as you can, you don’t do what you don’t want to do and you do what you want to do. And you adjust that as you go.
To make a good podcast or write a good book or have a good career, it’s really important to know what you’re willing to do, what you don’t want to do, what you do want to do, what you’re willing to do for a short period of time until you get to the point where you don’t have to do it anymore. So have good people around you.
Find a good designer for the cover of your book. Find somebody who understands posting and doing all the audio stuff ready for podcast. I learned this from Dean Jackson who helped me get one of the first podcasts out back in, I think it was 2004 or something. It was way back there so I had early marketing podcast on iTunes because talking to Dean Jackson and being able to borrow his “geek” at the time. It worked out very, very well.
So our podcast… we’re getting ready to do number 4. It’s going quite well. We’re getting interaction in the comments which is interesting because an old… you know, an old school marketer like me really wants to get in the threads and the comments and that isn’t always the case in podcasts. It’s like the podcast is over with, when you’ve listened to the podcast and there’s not a lot of that posts, listening to that stuff back and forth.
I like that a lot so I really enjoyed it. To me, podcasting fulfills my dream of a kid in bed with the transistor radio with the covers pulled over my head listening to rock and roll late at night and listening to DJs on radio talk and do stuff… to me, that was magical. So for me podcasting gets that childhood love of radio, you know even though it’s online.
Publishing fulfills my yearning to be my own publisher which actually started at the same time. The 50s, early 50s, was a classic time for regular publishers. Guys like Hugh Hefner, for 600 bucks could get a magazine empire started because distribution was open. There were no monopolies. It’s just wide open and then that all changed by the 60s and that’s why the innovative new publishers started appearing.
It was hard to get a magazine going because of the distribution. Now all that’s changed. It’s all in its head. It can do a podcast and essentially be your own producer of a show, your own distributor of a show, and there’s all these things to help you through iTunes and through Amazon and the same with publishing.
So for anybody who’s had a dream of being in control, of being their own publisher or their own producer, having their own network, it’s all at your fingertips right now.
This, I can’t emphasize how exciting this is for anyone and if anyone out there is taking this for granted, I would caution them that things change very quickly and if your niche is underserved with podcast and or books, now is the opportunity to get in there. To move fast, and there’s ways to do that.
James: Yeah, I was thinking of Felix Dennis, Richard Branson… there were some of the other people who took on the publishing empire but it would have had to do a lot more than what you had to do these days to get traction back then. And then I’m thinking about other self-publishers in other medium.
And “Believe,” from watching the documentary and don’t shit on me for this but I did watch the Justin Bieber documentary and he was working his butt off on a street corner one minute and then publishing YouTube videos the next and got picked up and you know, everyone knows how famous he is now. That’s from just turning the recorder on and putting it in front of eyeballs.
And while we’re on that, I’ll do say a personal heartfelt thank you for helping my son become a publisher because you saw him playing Guitar Hero and you said to me, “Get him off that game and get him a real guitar.”
A few guitars later and a lot of practice, and surpassing his teacher, and gigging at bands every single week out there in pubs, he’s now got published tracks and he’s got his own T-shirts of which I’m sending you one this week.
And I have every, every sort of feeling that they could take it somewhere special even when they play up against six other bands, they really lift their game but that’s the difference between playing, which is the equivalent of someone just mucking around on Facebook versus going pro and getting the real gear and stepping it up a notch. And that’s like recording your best stuff into a format that’s in front of eyeballs like Amazon.
John: And also, just to play off that, I would caution anybody who thinks, well, all I got to do is get a little better and I’ll be ready. Most of the great guitarist that I knew while I was growing up, the kids my age who really were great guitarists, never got in bands.
They had some kind of perfectionist thing going on or they were just too scared and the guys who got in the band were the guys who just say, “OK I’m good enough to not embarrass myself,” and then you feel a little more comfortable and you start moving on. There’s a process you go through. You trust the process and you’re able to weather a few failures along the way.
This goes for writing, this goes for podcast, this goes for music, this goes for anything. Gary Halbert used to say the big ingredient in any kind of success is movement and that’s something that’s stuck with me for a long time because I believe that I just never been really able to understand it. And it was like, I was that guy when I was a kid who just said, “Hey! Let’s go do this!” and as I recall my childhood, it was, we were a democracy.
My little gang you know, we go do stuff and I never thought I was the one doing the leading. It’s just that I had the desire to go do something. I’m talking to those kids who are now grown men and they say, “Nah, It was all you.” You know we all get together and wait around for Carlton to say “Let’s go do this!”
And that all came from just the love of movement and a fearlessness because once you’ve tried something and you failed or you realize that there are no consequences for failure, that you were not near as great as you thought they were and there’s no embarrassment when you’re up playing in front of 30 people or one person or a hundred thousand people.
If you make a mistake, they’re on your side at a certain point and they’re there for a reason and the movement accomplishes so much and being willing to take a few mistakes in the beginning and you know, starting as soon as you’re ready rather than waiting for some imaginary perfect time where everything is going to come together.
You know your son is playing with different bands. He’s probably sitting in with people who you know, he’s just getting the experience. He’s not necessarily sitting there with people he wants to play with later. And by the way, to get better, you would want to sit in with people who are better than you so as you said, you got to raise your game.
You’re going up, you know, you’re in situations where the other bands are better than you but that may not be the case next week. If you pay attention, if you learn your lessons and start applying as you go, that’s movement.
James: Well here’s what they’ve…they’re so savvy with this. When they play on a draw card with six bands where the feature band goes last but they will watch every other band and then they’ll compare notes in the car on the way back. But the interesting for me is the change in the distribution in the music industry. It’s the same as the book industry.
Now these kids, they hire a recording studio, they record their tracks and they release them and get them out there and they get awareness. They sell their merchandise just above cost because they put out the music so they can play gigs because if they’re popular and the gig owner knows about them then they’ll book them and then they can earn income whereas probably in the old days, bands used to do gigs so they can sell records but that’s probably flip flop these days.
John: Yeah, It’s gone back and forth both ways. Bands in the 40’s and even the 50’s made their living on the road. Then as records started to eclipse, you know around mid-60’s or so when the Beatles started to actually say, “We’re not going to tour anymore. We’re just going to do recorded music.” And a lot of bands realize that was a better way to make money.
Old school bands like the Grateful Dead continue to make their money selling so when the record company big collapse happened because of iTunes and because of piracy and all these things, you know it’s turned back now so it’s kind of the old thing. There’s nothing new, you know, under the sun.
There’s nothing new in marketing. There’s just forgotten tactics or tactics that had to morph or go through a different kind of stage before they got back to the fundamentals. So you know bands that you know, it’s interesting that you mentioned Justin Bieber, the guy who really can perform.
For every guy like that who can perform, even as a kid or as an adult or you can go on America’s Got Talent. You probably have Australia Has Talent, those kinds of shows. For every person that can pull that off, there’s the artist who is a package. Who can’t really sing, is using what’s called the Auto-Tune.
So they correct their voice during the recording and they can’t sing live. They can only sing the pre-recorded stuff and they’re all about the dancing and the fashion and looking good and having an attitude and doing all those stuff… and that’s a viable marketing technique for some artists but then you get back to, you know, that’s why a lot of the artists who I know who wants to get published who want to go with the traditional publisher because for them, that is their image of having the most integrity and doing it in the most quality style of way and that’s not really true.
Now things have changed and you’ve got to look at other ways to do it. What difference does it make if you become successful because you didn’t do it. What was the right way 10 years ago? Why would that matter? What difference does it make? And so with movement has to be adaptability.
So movement has that inherent in the definition but you need to be adaptable and you need to move and you need to be able to move quick and you need to be able to understand what’s going on in ways that aren’t polluted by your previous thinking. You know there’s a lot of old school marketers who are getting shell shocked still by the Web.
And it’s like, really?! You know it’s been around for a long time and it’s worked for a lot of people and there’s no barrier because of age to understanding marketing to getting in with this.
The publishing book, self-published on Kindle. In fact a good number of the publishers are older marketers who realize that their content was easily adaptable that could be easily become an eBook or an audio book, but everything we’re talking about goes for audio books, too which is a different game.
You can read what you wrote or you can make an audio. You can record a series of your talks if you lean on TED-style talks. Do 10-minute talks and record 10 of them. Put them in an audio book and you’re just as good, it’ll sell in the same format in the same way.
James: Right. So, that’s really interesting, bringing this back into play. I mean if you wanted to get a book advance these days like in the old days, you would’ve got from a publisher. Now you can just put up a kickstarter and get people to pay you before you put pen to paper. I guess everything is…
John: Except why do we even need to think in that model. You can write a book in a weekend, you really can, because the thing about books and I use books in quotes now; Amazon or Kindle books.
My first book was a mistake. It was 17 chapters, 401 pages and I didn’t write it, I didn’t get it assembled until Amazon made this jump by buying CreateSpace and making it easy for Kindle books and the Kindle-reviewing public you know in the stratosphere.
After I put this book together now if I go to do a book, it will be much less than 400 pages but I want to have a real book in my mind so I created this book and it’s very thick and we encountered problems.
Lawton Chiles helped me with this. He’s a guy who’s in our group who understood Kindle, and helped me get the first one out because we kept running into problems because at 400 pages, to get that printed, it affected the software that CreateSpace adds to print these books and put us into different categories.
They’ve never encountered apparently somebody who had 400 pages. It’s not bigger than the average marketing book out there in Barnes and Noble but the reason I’m bringing this is up is that a lot of books now being sold as books on Kindle are as few as 10 pages long, 20, 30, 50 pages long. A hundred pages is I think about average right now and there’s nothing wrong with that. It depends on the content.
A lot of people prefer having smaller books and in Kindle, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a scroll. There’s no page count, you just scroll in through. So that’s kind of important to take away that sense that it has to look like a book because it doesn’t when it’s on Kindle. The cover matters.
The way you approach the table of contents, the way you approach each chapter, how you set things up and the content that you present is very, very important but the way it looks printed is not, even after you get into the printed side of it with CreateSpace. Does that make sense?
James: Yeah it does. And I want to get into the techie because I’m sure someone by now is saying, yeah, I got it. I got it. I don’t have to do my last work. I know that it’s a lead to something else. I know that I can get started now. I know that’s easy, John. What do I do? So I’m here with my computer. What next?
John: One of the things that I’ve been telling people is right now, just make a list and get as many subjects down with that list that could be a chapter. And how you define a subject that you have is going to be a chapter, is can you do 10 minutes talking on it or write 10 pages on it. So you get 10 chapters of 10 pages each, you got a 100-page book, you’re there. So try to think of an overarching subject that you want to talk about.
For you, it might be SuperFast publishing, it might be SuperFast podcast, it might be SuperFast marketing, it might be anything. Then you start making a list of all the sub-categories that you can go on for 10 minutes about and you make them up with 30, 50 or 4 subjects.
I mean how big that list is matters so you got to come up with 10, so you have to stretch to make it to a 10, then you really got a much smaller book or maybe your subject should really be a chapter within a book. If you’ve got a hundred subjects and they’re all good, then maybe you’ve got a series of 10 books there as opposed to one big book. So you let the subject matter kind of dictate where you’re going to be.
So again, Ted Talks are around 10 minutes, I think that’s wrong but they’re around there. A 10-minute talk is approximately 10 pages in writing a double spaced regular 8”x10” or 8”x11.5” piece of paper. That equals it in writing one page of dialogue equals one minute of film time. It’s pretty much that way.
I’ve done a lot of converting my writing into audio by reading what I’m writing and putting it in recording and having it in audio format so one page of doubled space equals one minute of talking so in your head, either do the talk or think about having a conversation with somebody about some subject and it can be 8 minutes or 5 minutes and some can be 15, and around 10 minutes, that would be 10 pages and that’s it.
That’s what you want. There’s a subject that’s a sub-category of an overall subject which would be the title of your book. You know, “Confessions of an Australian Internet Marketer Who Accidentally Scored His First Million When He Wasn’t Trying,” something like that.
That’s your title, then the 10 supporting things would be the number 1. Just how clueless was I; you kind of set up things. Then chapter 5 may be the details of finding partners and to say if you really want to work with them or not.
Chapter 8 may be venture capital, like all of these things might come in and the more subject you have to choose from, that you can go off for 10 minutes on, the better your book is going to be because you’ll start calling. Get it down to a hundred. You might be forced to have a 400-page book. Don’t worry about it but just right now try to get that solid 10 minutes of each chapter and make them riveting.
And with each chapter, this was advice that was just given by someone, is position the chapter formats at as I call it horror story engagement and resolution. In other words, you can start to use chapter. In other words, I like to write newsletters and blog posts and all kinds of stuff. Start off with a little bit of horror story.
Here’s what happened to me when I didn’t know what I was doing.. you know. Chapter 5, here’s what happened to me when I tried to use AdWords and I didn’t know what I was doing. I lost all… bla bla bla and then I started learning how to do it right.
I started listening to experts, I started following stuff, I started breaking down my mistakes, I started changing and then I began to find out what to do and here’s how I resolved that problem and if every one of your chapters is like then they’re also stand alone, if you ever want to reuse it from your books.
Somebody wants to publish a sample chapter of your book or you want to put a sample chapter up in Amazon to bring people in. It’s going to follow a format that brings them in that creates a little bit of drama and you’re telling a story.
It’s very hard to read a book chapter by chapter, page by page when it’s just cold facts and its talking myself and especially when you are being lectured at. If a book is just, here’s what you need to do… bla bla bla… There’s no background, there’s no context, there’s no drama, there’s no theater going on.
So the more you can do that.. you know James you and I have hang out in multiple different cities and we’ve hang out for evenings, for whole days, for weekends and you know how the stories go. You tell a good story, I tell a good story. Sometimes we swap stories, we’re doing stuff.
Think about how those stories are and why we’re still listening to the story even though we’re imparting information, I may say, James how did you figure out how to do this podcast thing and you hold up a finger and you go, well you know, let me tell you the short version of that story and if you want a longer version, I’ll tell you that.
You know, I tried this and this happened… and if you can write in that manner, then you’re really engaging the reader, does that make sense?
James: It totally makes sense. So tell me about…we’ve got the structure of the book. So we’ve got all the way to we want to do it. We’re doing it. We’re writing it. We’ve structured it. We’ve now got a document. I guess it’s probably a word document or something at this point.
John: In fact, they recommend that you write in Word.
James: Ok. So what do we do next?
John: Well, then you want to, first of all I recommend three proofreaders. So, it should be you, your partner, your assistant, your wife, anybody who regularly reads. And read for editing purposes and others may say this subject doesn’t make sense or this but more for the nonsense little things. You know, the misspellings, the left out words, the sentences that don’t make sense.
Have another pair of eyeballs and hopefully three other pair of eyeballs look at this, so you’re editing as you’re going along. Then, you want to package this thing. You want to sandwich it. So you got your content, you want to figure out a format. Easiest way to figure out a format – grab three books off of Amazon that you like the authors, maybe they’re in the same niche you’re in and just look how they did it.
Probably they have a center, top, bold, Times Roman font for the chapter heading. Sometimes they don’t have a title to the chapter. They’d say chapter three and then they start off. And see how they positioned it and how they do this and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, in fact, you shouldn’t.
If you kind of base your format on existing formats of combination of existing formats, that’s a good way to go because those books got through the grinder at Amazon and were accepted and sold well and made it. So, no sense to try and reinvent the wheel there.
So start setting up the format of the content then you got to start collecting other stuff. You should get a foreword by someone else. It can be a colleague. It can be your mother. It can be a pal. Or, if you’re in the business like you for example would come to me and ask me to write the foreword to your book. There’s no reason not to ask. All I could do is say “No” if I don’t want to do it.
But start thinking about guys that you would want to write a foreword. And the foreword is the third party endorsement of the book different than the testimonials because you should get testimonials too.
You should have, the back page of my book for example, is all testimonials so I got some heavy hitter guys too and they gave me long testimonials, I pulled out little blurbs, made sure it was okay with them and printed that on the back, so it’s third party endorsement. Just a string of testimonials. I’ve also got testimonials for the first four or five pages of the book so open it up, the first thing you’re seeing is people’s testimonials.
Then you get to the table of contents, then you get to the foreword which mine is by Joe Polish our mutual colleague, and I actually helped, I got involved with him writing it. But some writers understand how to write forewords and what you’re doing is introducing the writer and making it okay for the reader to say “Yeah, I want to get started. Let’s get going” so it’s professional support. It can be a page.
Usually there are three or four pages and they’ll tell a story. It’s a longer testimonial but it’s also meant to help the reader get the context of the book.
Then you want to have an introduction which would be by you which you’re explaining everything. The attitude and the receptive nature of the reader. You want to say “Here’s why I want you to read this book. I wrote it because….I wanted to teach or I wanted to share all this stuff or I want to do this” but here’s how we should do it. In my book, I said start at any chapter. You don’t need to start at chapter one.
And if yours for example, you need to start at chapter one then you would say that. You know, “Start at chapter one. Don’t read chapter three first, read chapter one first”. Well, for mine it was like “Pick a chapter, read half of it. Go and read another chapter. You don’t need to read this literally. I want you to be really relaxed about it.
There are lessons and stuff but you can go back and read it again” and I just kind of introduced and set up the context so that the reader who is juiced up and ready to go from these testimonials and this foreword is now feeling like all of his questions are answered. You know, how he should approach this book because books exist in different categories.
Some books are thrillers. Some are meant to be read linearly. Some are definite educational stuff that will ask you to do homework. Some are dependent on you reading chapter one then go doing something going back and reading chapter two or section two or whatever and others are not.
So, you’re in a position to tell the reader exactly what he should do and how to approach this and to feel real good. So it’s kind of like taking them by the hand and say, “You don’t have to figure this out. All you have to do is be in a receptive state. Read this thing and if it clicks with you, you’re off to a really wonderful adventure where you’re going to read this thing”.
And then, I put in, as I said, at the end of each chapter I just added a page that was separate. So the chapter would end, and then on the next page, the next free page, whether it was a left hand or a right hand page would be, and I wrote it in the third person, so it’s a “Would you like to see more of what John Carlton has? Just go over to his blog and bla bla bla”.
So, I had one page that had the blog, one page that talked about my coaching programs, one page that talked about my mastermind and another page that talked about I think at my other book that I’ve written and I traded those off so I had with five different pages and I put one of those behind every single chapter.
So, some of them repeated because I only had five things to offer and I think I may have even skipped one and just let one chapter go straight to the next chapter without any page explaining what else I have or whatever because I think we did that we’re trying to get it under four hundred pages to be able to avoid the formatting problems we were having. So, that’s how a marketer thinks.
He wants to package this thing so it looks like a sizzling bomb ready to go off and change your life and help the reader make this thing become a priority. So he has testimonials he’s got all these stuff even leading up to the book. For me, the chapter titles are like headlines and they should be treated like headlines even if you don’t write like an ad.
Even if it’s straight content. You’re telling stories or you’re relating information the person needs. The headline should still have curiosity value, it should be riveting, it should be something that somebody glances at it and if they’re in their target market, they can’t put it down.
They’ll, “Oh!” you know, they’ll curse you. You know, “Damn it Schrak, now I got to read this! I’m going to be up all night reading this.” Then the best testimonials I’ve gotten from readers is that “Damn you! You made me lose two nights of sleep reading this thing!” I mean that’s the biggest compliment you can get.
So, there aren’t a lot of things you need to get in there. You can throw in…the thing about self-publishing is you are allowed to throw in anything you want.
So if you want to do a preview of your next book in the back of this book, if you want to have a long letter at the end of the book saying “Thanks for reading this” you know, put your little call to action back there “If you’d like to find out more, I have a blog…” and just lay that out and don’t have the calls to action in between each chapter if that makes you uncomfortable for whatever reason I don’t know why that would.
I got one review on Amazon from the first thirty-two or so where a guy said “This reads kind of like a sales letter”. He misread it but he says “Carlton had the audacity to charge me for the book and then mentioned stuff he had for sale” which was not entirely true because some of those call to actions were to go to my blog or to join and get on my list and do things like that so it wasn’t all sales stuff. So he was purposely misreading it. He was a little angry at it but he still gave me three stars out of five.
James: What can you do with reviews? Do you have any control over that?
John: Amazon is a little hip to reviews. I actually answered that guy and clarified what I felt was a mistake he was making in reading it and essentially saying “Why are you so ticked off? You admit this is good stuff, why did the format…?” and Amazon wouldn’t publish that. They figured the author is under some binding made-up rules that they have where you can’t engage like that.
However, you could, for your second book, take some of the reviews off of your first book and put them into the second book to say “Here’s the reviews for the first book” and then you read those and those are like testimonials. They do review them. They are kind of weird about it.
There doesn’t seem to be a set of rules that they’re following but I believe almost all of the reviews that I got were put up there. You can’t have a negative review taken off. You can though, you should be allowed to go in. I guess they didn’t consider that one a negative review because it was still three stars so they didn’t.
I don’t know, they didn’t tell me why they didn’t publish my answer to him but other people I know like the Halberts had one bad review and gave them one star and it was ridiculous. So they went and they actually answered and somebody else went in and answered that and so there was actually a thread involved.
There was the review, there was a comment on the review. There was the reviewer going back to the comment or it got on. And Amazon asks, “Was this review helpful?” and you can actually tell as you’re reading whether where the good reviews are or whether they were helpful to other people or not and they’re kind of figuring this out.
So obviously, the more positive reviews, the better. But those should be believable and people are going to figure out if it’s your mother and your five cousins writing in and boosting this as opposed to real people writing.
So, you’re going to organically get reviews or a lot of people out there who like to read and they like to give reviews and sometimes they feel obligated to give a review, whether it’s positive, negative or whatever. I wouldn’t be afraid of negative reviews unless they’re all negative. In some cases it’s just people can read a negative review and still figure out for themselves whether they’re going to buy or not.
James: Well I’ve heard that in the case of unknown authors, negative reviews increase sales by 30% for the book because at least they’re known.
John: Yeah, yeah because what’s the old thing about PR. Just make sure they get your name right. You don’t care if it’s negative PR or positive PR just make sure they spell your name right.
James: I’m interested in the technical thing. I’m really interested in what is the process to get this word document which is well structured and compelling and you’ve got all the forewords and everything’s sorted. How do you actually put it in the machine?
John: Yeah, sign up for free in Amazon. Go to Amazon.com and go to Kindle. I believe it’s called KDP, I should have been prepared for this and I’m not. It’s Kindle Direct Publishing I believe. And I believe you could go to KDP or KindleDirectPublishing.com, sign up for free. You get in, there’s short tutorials, video tutorials. It’s very easy to get. There are a lot of people out there who sell themselves as someone who will help you get this done.
I did get my friend, Lawton Chiles, to help me out because he had been through it before and frankly, even though I knew how to do it, my time is just better spent doing more writing than the small amount of technical stuff that’s required to get the ebook done but I could have done.
And it’s not beyond a right-brained creative guy like me to do this, they lay it out. I’ve never seen technical stuff laid out better and more coherently and covering every single obstacle carefully and with an eye on. It’s kind of like a publishing for idiots.
John: They predicted that there’s going to be a lot of people here who have no idea what’s going on. Who are scared to death and they soothe you and they take you through. And it’s really just uploading it.
You have to upload the cover separately but you get multiple, free opportunities to review it before it ever goes live and you can make sure that…in the Kindle version, there aren’t page numbers for example because it is a scroll but you can still see it in a format where it looks like a Word document and you can make sure it kind of breaks where you want and things happen the way you want them and you add all the other elements.
So you got one long document, which is the book. The cover is separate and the cover does have a few technical things like it has to meet a predetermined format but if you do use a designer, they’re going to figure that out really easily and if you do it yourself, I mean Bond Halbert did it he figured it out in a couple of hours and he did a very simple straightforward cover that I think he worked up in Word and just did some reversals and stuff and got it up, it’s a black and white cover.
You can do color on the cover. If you do pictures or anything inside, it complicates things a little bit because of the formatting and the pictures are a different animal. They have to be inserted in a different way into the copy. You can’t just have a Word document with photos slapped in there, it doesn’t work that way.
You have to have JPEGs that will then be put in but it’s not “brain surgery”, James, it’s so easy that the only holdups you’ll have will be things like if the proofing takes a while if you make some changes but you’re allowed to do it and only for people who have gone through traditional publishing or done any other kind of publishing, they think this is still just amazing how fast it happens, KDP is right on top of everything.
If you write them, they’ll write right back to you. You can actually hook up with a human being over there. We had to call them several times.
James: Wow! An actual human. You can talk to a human in business. Wow!
John: It is so strange and so odd. And that’s what I say, this is like a magic time. They may get to a point where they don’t do that anymore. You know what, James, way back when in the last century in the 90’s, I used to get Gateway computers and I would get a new computer every year or two years depending on when if things would ramp up and I needed one.
And I just went back to Gateway and bought one through the mail and they sent it to me. And the reason I did is because the computer showed up, ready to go plug in, and the customer support was sterling, it was great. And then they got so successful that they decided they were going to cut corners and make more profits, and what did they cut? – they cut customer service.
Suddenly, you couldn’t reach a live person. Somebody in their organization kept saying “You don’t need a live person walk them through. Make it a tutorial or make it written down” and it was never what you needed. There’s always some custom thing that you needed done and they shipped me a computer that was incomplete and I had to wait.
And I was gone! It was just over for me. And I went to, I forgot who I went to and I started buying I think from Best Buy and when I moved to Apple, it was the best thing I ever did so.
James: Nice! Alright, well you’ve given us a really good overview. Now we’ve come into this discussion with the idea that you can publish your own stuff. We’ve got an idea on how to position it; how to structure it; how to actually launch it.
I guess the final part is once you’ve got it in the store, is there anything you should do? Is there a time window? Is there a giveaway period? I’ve seen some of these stuff happening, I haven’t done it myself yet.
John: And this is where what was being sold as Kindle Publishing Secrets three months ago. It was now given away for free online. So you can look up free reports and stuff on what to do in Kindle. Amazon gives you an opportunity to give away books for free for a short period of time every three months I think, and they lay all this out.
Now, this is not evergreen information because it will be changing as they’re figuring out. This whole thing is so new, they’re figuring it out but it works. It’s something that’s kind of new but it works. So that’s what’s great for authors who are publishing books. How you price it would be a function of looking at your competition in your niche, you do have to choose a niche.
I chose marketing, I chose business and entrepreneurs I think. They have some strange niche categories that you have to choose. Bond Halbert, for example, chose business/direct mail and that happens to be a small niche in the Kindle world and he was able to zoom up to the top and be a best seller very very quickly.
I bounced in and out of best seller status depending on if just mentioned my book again on my Facebook page and I’m about to go out and mention that the print version is available so my list is going to find out. Every time I hit them, it boosted and I shoot back up into the best seller then I kind of drift back into the midsection.
I chose $9.99 because $15 had some problems for whatever reason, less than $10, Amazon gives you very good royalty rate. At $10 and 1 cent it’s a very bad royalty rate. I don’t know why they’re doing that, it may change but you check what the pricing is. Check out your competition so you figure out who you’re competing with and look at the different categories and then go in and look at the top ten books.
Look at a bunch of the top fifty books just look at them and you can do free browse-throughs on Amazon for each of the books, you don’t even need to buy them all, though I would recommend you buy certainly the top ones.
See what they’re priced at, how long they are what kind of subjects they cover and see if there’s any direct response stuff going on in there because you’ll be going into the same market so people, you don’t exist in a vacuum there.
One of the great things, by the way, that Amazon does is to say “People who bought this title also bought…” and they’ll have a lineup of books based on what people’s buying behaviour was.
This is great for you when you get in there because if you have any kind of network at all and somebody else has a book, and you can make deals with people and….you’re not going to get affiliates to help you sell a five dollar book, because there’s just not enough sharing in there.
But you can do some cross selling with people on blogs and you do stuff so that pretty soon you appear in that, so when somebody else buys a book on Internet marketing, they’ll say, people who bought this also bought, you know, James Schrakmo’s, uh, Schramko’s, sorry, book on…
James: Just when the listeners are probably going to wonder what’s going on here.
John: Well, that’s an old story. I tried to convince Schrak to change his name. I thought Schramko was a more cool name, but I couldn’t get his family to go along with it, so… Anyway, so the marketing side of it is kind of wide open, but you can take advantage of your own distribution networks.
Start writing blogs for other blogs. Use all of that social media stuff. Just start announcing it. Get people to share on Facebook, and do all these stuff. If you have no social media presence, you have no blog, you have no connections, you have no colleagues, your Kindle book may not go anywhere.
Guess what? You still got the book, and when you print it, you still got to print a book, which is your calling card, which moves you to a position of higher credibility, and maybe you got a higher hill to climb, but you can get moving, and like I said, there are books being picked up by the traditional publishers, who can take it to another level, still, now, even though it’s a flailing dinosaur business model.
Regular publishers may be gone this time next year. All of them, gone. Because this thing is so revolutionary. Does that answer all your questions? Did I miss anything?
James: Yeah. I don’t think you’ve missed anything. I think we’ve solved the world’s hunger problems and…So I guess it’s a close up on that, John. What’s next for you in your current phase where you’ve got the time to produce stuff. Are you doing it because you’re enjoying your craft? You’re doing it as a more…more than…as a money machine?
John: Yes. I was born to do this. No, it’s not a money machine. I was born to do this. I’m not even paying attention to the money at this point. I’ve kind of got my little stash and I could be fully retired if I wanted, but I love this biz.
And like I said, both the podcast and the publishing world has opened up old desires in me, so I’m not even keeping track of the money coming in, although I enjoy being a bestseller every once in a while, and I’m going to continue doing this. I’m going to try to sucker you into coming on to one of our Psych Insights for Modern Marketers podcasts, and I certainly want to be on in all the marketing things that you’re doing. I’m still enjoying that.
I’m speaking at a couple of events a year, but I’ve cut way back on that because I’m just not travelling much anymore and I’m devoting more of that time to writing, and Facebook has become a new kind of mini-blog for me, so I’m doing like a blog post a month. I have guest bloggers coming on too.
But I’m spending a lot of time on Facebook and having a lot of fun with that, even though I’m limited to 5,000 friends and I think I have a few hundred other subscribers. But I might try to jack that up, and max that out, and just take advantage of this. Take advantage of the opportunities to share and get the books out. And I’m not worried about having a launch type of thing for my books.
If my books are hovering there for a while, and just depending on my marketing, I know that at any time I want to I can get involved in the launch process and I can start bringing other people in and really try to amp that up. I don’t need to do that. I just want to get successful enough where I understood it, and now I’m kind of concentrating on getting a library up.
I have so much content, just to repurpose as books, and I have a number of new books I want to write, and a number of new markets I want to try to get into. I’m just bubbling over with advice and I think the world is a lesser place for me not spreading it as far as possible.
James: Fantastic! Now where can our listener go and have a look at these books or your blog or podcast?
John: Well, the best place to get into John’s world is john-carlton.com. J-o-h-n dash c-a-r-l-t-o-n.com. That’s my blog, and that’s like the central clearing place. You can sign up for alerts on the blog, and make sure you hear about other things when I email, and there’s I think six or seven years of free archives. The blog is free. And those archives are really good. Just taking a stroll through the archives will set your mind on fire.
And I have my book offered there, or you can go straight to Amazon and look up either my name, John Carlton, or The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together. And yes, I did take a little bit of a hit by having the word “shit” in the title. People tried to talk me out of it, and you know this is more the key of I’m doing what I want. So I am speaking the language I want.
Yes, I’m going to lose some of middle America who bristles at this, and that’s not me. When I developed who I was, kind of back in that initial stage of developing the subjects I’m going to cover, who I’m going to be…You know, my natural personality is kind of a rebel, hardcore guy who’s going to get in your face and tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not. And I’m not afraid of swearing and doing stuff, so I went with that.
So some people are saying The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your S and then you know, asterisk asterisk asterisk together, you know, they’re a little shy about that, which is fine. But the title is very important, so spend a lot of time on that. You don’t need to be a rebel like me, but if you are a rebel, you definitely want to play with that.
So go to my blog, john-carlton.com. I have the…PI4MM.com is the podcast we’re doing, that’s Psych Insights For Modern Marketers. And just having a blast and getting some really good feedback from my colleagues and from people who are listening, and I’m just having fun, James, and it’s really…Hanging out with you is always fun when you come over. The ride is too short. Life is too short to not have fun.
So, the urgency behind the marketing needs to give way to the urgency behind just hanging out and having fun and doing stuff for you. Doing stuff that you want to do. And I think all of us, when we get good at what we do, the next step is almost always teaching. That you want to give advice.
You want to share what you know, you want to help others shortcut the process or at least not go down blind alleys that’s going to hold them up. So like I say, a lot of my advice is free, like on the blog. The podcast is free, and the book costs ten bucks right now, although the print version will be twenty five bucks. That’s about all I got to say, I think.
James: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for coming back, being on the show again. As a little bit of fun I think what I’ll do is play out the podcast with a tune written and performed by my son based on his guitar skills which you encouraged him to do a few years ago. So It’s a perfect example or metaphor for publishing and I hope to get back on the show soon.
John: Okay James, that was great, I had a lot of fun.
James: Alright! So playing out here with Jack Schramko, from Karmas Relent. Check out their Facebook page.
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