Self Publishing Strategy for Success

by | Nov 23, 2011 | Archives

Here is a self publishing strategy for success.

This is an excerpt from our latest lesson of  “Self Fulfilled 202 How to Publish eBooks”

Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle

Lesson Seven:  Strategy

This lesson deepens our look into strategies for creating a business of publishing and selling eBooks.


Here I am working at home in the Florida winter.

gary scott

Here I am working at home in the North Carolina summer.

Part of Merri’s and my strategy is to work from home.  Having a home based business has been part of our strategy for more than 20 years.  Having a home base saves time… saves expense and allows many home expenses to become tax deductible.  Plus since our children are grown and on their own… home is a place with few distractions… where we can write undisturbed.

In short our strategy fits the way we live.

Our strategy is one of producing a high volume of content created at a low cost. This works for us though I dare say that Dr. Spencer Johnson who wrote “Who Moved my Cheese” might beg to differ.   He wrote a tiny book “Who Moved My Cheese”… with little content… but earned really big bucks.

This small tome was a New York Times business bestseller since its release and remained on the list for almost five years.  Over 20 million copies have been sold.

In other words, different strategies work for different folks.  This lesson looks at our strategy and introduces a case study of the strategy of John Locke a very successful ebook publisher.

Locke’s strategy differs from ours as does Dr. Johnson’s.  Hopefully seeing three strategies and how they evolved will help you create a strategy that works for you.

Spread the Word – The Most Simple Idea


Like a ripple in a pond you need to expand a simple idea.

Every target book has at least one big idea and a simple for its readers.  More on target books in a moment in the John Locke case study below.

You, the writer, have the initial ideas.  You share them in your publication…. but the publication is pretty useless until it is read… unless your main goal is to get the thought out for your own sake.  Many writers write for this reason… to express themselves for themselves and perhaps just a few readers.  If so this is okay, but we’ll assume here that your goal is to make a profit as well.

If so, you need a marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy must have a way to expand the one simple idea in hopefully a big way.  Call it the energy…the buzz… the marketing idea… the sales message… the highlight… the attention grabber… the viral idea or whatever you want.

Regardless of the name you give this key, your marketing success depends on your ability to spread some simple word or idea.  This is what you want people to write and talk about.  This is the word you want to spread.

Dr. Spencer Johnson’s word is “simplicity”.  He understood that business needs increasing simplicity in an increasingly complex world.

Dr. Johnson specializes in simplicity.  In fact he has been referred to as the best there is at taking complex subjects and presenting simple solutions that work.

One of his famous quotes is  “Look at what happened in the past,  learn something valuable from it, use what you learn to improve the present.”

We can take this advice from Dr. Johnson in creating our own strategy.

Below are some quotes and thoughts from one of Dr Spencer’s talks:

Simplistic is naïve and not enough.  Simple is enough and nothing more.”

Don’t confuse activity with productivity.  20% of what you do brings in 80% of your results. So identify the other 80% of what you do and spend less time doing it.

Learn to respect the simple:

Some teachers make things complex, so you think “Wow, he’s smart!”
Great teachers make things simple, so you think “Wow, I’m smart!”

Jack Welch, former head of GE, added this comment about Johnson’s work in a Harvard Business Review interveiw: Insecure managers create complexity…real leaders don’t need clutter. People must have the self-confidence to be clear, precise, to be sure that every person in their organization – highest to lowest – understands what the business is trying to achieve.

Johnson is not a self publisher… nor did he build his fame around eBooks but the way his publishers spread his word “simplicity” is so clear that it is included here.

They pushed the book to CEOs who bought enough to get it on a best sellers list. The best sellers list spread the word more.

Imagine that you are the nucleus… the central communicator and that you have to get your big idea (or ideas) out to a mass of readers.   To start this process you need to capture the reader’s attention with a thread of energy that ripples out and acts as a cable the reader can use to reel in the rest of your message (in other words – buy your publication).

communication-idea-image explores group and mass communication.

The LiveJounral has a blog worth reader that starts:   WHAT IS MASS COMMUNICATION?
Wikipedia: Mass Communication is the term used to describe the study of various means by which individuals and entities relay information to large segments of the population all at once through mass media. Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience.

Components of Mass Communication

Mass Communicators

Mass Messages (content)

Mass Media (format/technology)

Mass Communication (process)

Mass Audiences

Players in the Mass Communication Process

Communicators – Journalists, disc jockeys, screenwriters, advertising copywriters

Gatekeepers – Editors, producers, trade organizations

Regulators – Government, pressure groups

Here is looking at this complex process in a simple way… you need to say something that attracts as many people as possible in a way that they act (buy your publication) AND OR (at least) pass the message along.

Even Simpler

Get a list of focused interest.  Send that list a stimulating story that leads to action.

Simpler Still

Go viral.

In Dr. Spencer Johnson’s case, he recognized a market described in a  USA Today article entitled “Firms spend billions to fire up workers — with little luck – There’s no proof hot coals or speeches motivate the troops” by Del Jones.

An excerpt says: Companies are spending so much money trying to inspire employees that they have spawned an industry: the motivation industry.

It’s a multibillion-dollar business in which top gurus command fees of up to $65,000 for a speech. Billions of dollars of rewards are sold to companies — from T-shirts to exotic vacations — to be dangled in front of workers to boost performance. Other companies pay to send workers skydiving or walking across hot coals.

Trouble is, there has been exhaustive academic research trying to find out what motivates workers, and it has turned up almost no evidence that motivational spending makes any difference.

Even those getting rich motivating workers, and there are herds of them, often will volunteer that they may not be making a lasting difference. Spencer Johnson, author of the best-selling Who Moved My Cheese?, says he has long contemplated whether motivational stuff works. He’s decided that what inspires people remains elusive, that for every reader who is moved by his book, there’s likely one who sees it as childish drivel.

Fire walking’s influence

Magnacca says fire walking has a more lasting influence on motivation because of what he calls the “sunburn effect,” under the theory that doing something brave means more than listening to tales of bravery from speakers.

But Johnson believes research may one day show that the only long- lasting motivation will come from employees who bring it to work with them in the form of God, spirituality, or something else that causes them to “rise to a higher purpose.”

Johnson spread his word through corporate America. His publishers recognizing this need to motivate workers spread the word through Corporate America.

Times Business Book Review wrote:  When this slim volume made its first appearance 10 years ago, it was vying for attention with Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton scandal. Monica won. But Cheese slowly began to gain traction in corporate circles, even though critics dissed it as an overly broad parable that could be understood by a bright sixth-grader. A year later, it was No. 1 on the New York Times business best-seller list.

A decade later, it still shows up on best-seller lists. Indeed, Who Moved My Cheese? has become the best-selling business book ever, with more than 22 million copies sold worldwide in 37 languages. That’s bigger than Good to Great and In Search of Excellence, case-study-laden books that examine corporate success in detail. There is a cult of Cheese, populated by readers (some of them CEOs) who extol the virtues of the book and claim that it has changed their workplace and even their personal life. “I love that book!” says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a strategy consultant for a number of FORTUNE 500 companies. “I use it constantly.” The book helps him teach companies how to anticipate change.

But all is not quiet in Cheddar City. Cheese also ranks as one of the most despised books. It has been castigated as obvious, insulting. Many of its critics are people who have had copies of Cheese forced on them by overzealous bosses, sometimes even as they were let go. (Which means next year could be a big one for Cheese.) Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip and a chronicler of cubicle life, says, “Maybe a hundred people have suggested I mock it–which I have done.” Others have parodied the book (Who Cut the Cheese? and Who Stole My Cheese?!!).

Thus the word was spread.  In selling books there is no good and bad publicity… just publicity.

Johnson’s simple word gained the attention of CEOs.  Enough bought the book in bulk to get the book on the New York Times best seller list which spread the word further.   Then the lovers AND the critics stepped in and both spread the word even more.

The ideas behind all the marketing strategies this course will review are:

#1: Build a list.

#2: Create a simple message focused to that list.

#3: Use the list to kick start spreading the word.

Lesson Five of this course reviewed a bit of our previous strategy as we moved from printed publication to a web site publishing.  That lesson looked at some of the steps we have taken in the past… plus outline how we would add Twitter and social networking into our strategy.

The two driving forces in our marketing strategy are:

#1: Build the list with “Niche Pay Per Click”.

#2: Focus the list with “Authenticity”.

#3: Expand the list with Search engine optimization.

The key to our successful self publishing is our list and we use Pay Per Click to keep adding new names to our list.

Using Pay Per Click successfully requires three steps.

#1: Keep campaigns focused on a niche.  If you try to expand your niche too broadly it is hard to remain authentic and unique.  The John Locke case study below shows a good example of the importance of focus.  Locke created a strategy that pushed his sales from 63 copies in September 2010 to 369,115 copies in March 2011.

He was the first self publisher to have 1 million Kindle downloads. This attracted attention of big publishers but Locke refused to have his books published by big publishers.

Merri and I decided to focus on “International Micro Business” and “Funky Micro Business”  because the focus of “Small Business”  “Micro Business” or “Funky Business” were all very competitive phrases.  We decided to be known as the people who can help readers create a “Funky Micro Business” and an “International Micro Business”.

Any pay per click campaign we launch for our International Business Made EZ online course will include words “international” or “funky”.

#2: Keep the sales page (also called the squeeze page or landing page) focused to the phrases in the campaign.  If I were creating a pay per click campaign for Funky Micro Business, I would be sure that readers would click onto a sales story about how to benefit from a funky micro businesses and nothing else.   Though we have a focus on multi currency investing and Ecuador and natural health… nothing about these products would appear in the funky micro business sales page.

#3: Tie both the campaign and sale page into a thematic string that leads to a main message and website. The focus in our Pay Per Click campaign provides a good example.

First, our campaign is about Ecuador Living… not just Ecuador.  This campaign is zeroed in on North Americans and Europeans looking to live in Ecuador.   All the phrases in the campaign are related to problems and opportunities for potential expats and investors in Ecuador.

Our Ecuador pay per click campaign is not geared to Ecuador tourists for example.

The sales page here is self explanatory.  See how it leads readers to our website and the FREE Ecuador handbook.

The focus of the sales page is a thread that sews together the focus of the pay per click ad and leads to getting the reader to order FREE  The Ecuador Handbook

This is where our work really begins to let the reader get to know and trust us and to see the ways we can help.

The Ecuador Handbook is just the first step. Then we send a FREE email about Ecuador to the reader every day.  The goal of the email is to “in some little way make the reader’s life better”.

Our goal is to then maximize revenue by attracting:

A) Subscribers to our online courses on Self Publishing (this course)… How to Have an Events Business and International Business Made EZ.

B) Delegates on Ecuador real estate tours.

C) Delegates to our Learn Spanish in Four Days

D) Ecuador Living Club subscribers

E) Delegates to our International Business & Investing Seminars

F) Advertisers for Ecuador real estate sales and  rentals

G) Members to our International Club

However this revenue enhancing process starts with the marketing strategy.  Our strategy works pretty well with a low volume of new names because we have low costs and extensive product depth.  The prices of our numerous products range from $79 to $2,900.

What happens when you start with only one product and it only sells for 99 cents?

This is where we start the case study of John Locke’s success. After just a couple of years in business, he may be earning more with just a 99 cent product, than most other full time businesses.

John Locke Case Study

John Locke’s formula and marketing strategy has the same basics (list – word – spread) but his tactics are quite different.  See this contrasts so this can help you create your strategy.

I highly recommend  that you order John Locke’s ebook How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!   John  Locke’s blog explains how to place the order at and how he became a New York Times Best-Selling Author and the 1st self-published author to sell a million eBooks on Amazon Kindle.

Here is what Locke recommends as his plan:

Subscribers to “Self Fulfilled 202” can study the entire lesson at your password protected site.

Learn how to get a Self Publishing password here.