Forging Unbreakable Bonds with Readers Who Love You (Self Publishing Podcast #135)

Released On: December 3, 2014

This week, the guys talked about how to bond with your readers. This is definitely one of the top ten most useful episodes of the year, in my book, so you should absolutely check it out.

There is a lot of emphasis these days on producing more and writing faster, and indies often focus on two main tricks to sell more books: price and promos. But also incredibly important is finding ways to connect with your readers, to slowly win them over, build a lasting relationship, and make them your true fans. How do you do that?

The guys talked about a few fantastic ways they’ve used in the past, such as:

  • Author’s notes
  • Development diaries
  • Author-read audio recordings
  • Newsletters and autoresponders
  • Giving bonuses and finding other ways to surprise your readers (in a good way)

Even if you have very few readers really following your work right now, and even if your writing time is limited and you feel you don’t have time for all that extra work, coming up with ways to bond with readers is an essential part of building your tribe, which will be nothing but profitable in the future.

Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing Podcast episode number 135.

Dave: This episode of the Self Publishing Podcast is brought to you by 99designs, the online market place that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at 99designs.com/spp, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.

Welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, where if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself. And now here are your hosts, three guys who sometime shower together, not that there is anything wrong with that Johnny, Sean and Dave.

Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors as we attempt to change the face of Indie publishing. Join us and our trailblazing guests as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment and occasionally screw up. I am Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. Wondering if I should repeat the explanation of the shower reference and my hair just out of the shower, which makes me look like I’m a gangster in a gang movie, which would be ridiculous.

Sean: No I think we can leave that out, but I do think that it is amazing that as much as we are growing…

Johnny: I felt the need to try and straighten it somehow, so go ahead.

Sean: As much as we talk about like iterative growth and all of that, we still have the same tech problems as we had when we started this show two and a half years ago. We’ve not grown in that particular path.

Dave: We’re keeping it real yo!

Sean: Apparently.

Johnny: Unprofessional equals real.

Sean: Yeah.

Johnny: Yeah. So I’m really– I don’t know how this is going to go today. This has been the weirdest day, the day started off with sitting down to write and after some…

Dave: [Inaudible] [00:01:44] started wrong.

Johnny: Very odd.

Dave: Like the last thing you know.

Johnny: So I said I don’t know what to do here. So I spent half an hour trying to figure out what– how I was going to approach the current scene in the Ruby room, which is the third Dream Engine book that we’re doing for Fiction Unboxed 1.5. And so I puzzled for half an hour and then I slacked Sean and I said I guess we should have talked about this one little tidbit that we didn’t discuss in our story meeting yesterday, got five minutes?

Sean: It was the funniest thing.

Johnny: And then no because Sean’s hub place is tiny and his family wasn’t awake and so he couldn’t talk. So we tried to do it on slack and wasted an hour there, and then we both wasted time because we couldn’t actually get anything accomplished waiting for Sean’s family to wake up. And then we had an hour and a half story meeting and didn’t write anything and we’re no further along, well we are further along like I like how what came out, but which is very-very not a productive day.

Sean: It’s been a stilted start of the day too and it was that thing where because the loop had been open. I couldn’t even focus like I– the other thing I was doing was beating that robot proletariat which is totally different from Dream Engine, no intersections there whatsoever. I should have been able to just compartmentalize and go into that space, but I couldn’t. I was trying to solve a problem in my head with what we needed to do in the ruby room, and so I’m just thinking about that and I can’t get into my work. It’s been an off morning or off day, but I am glad that we did it because you know and we talked about that on the video too. We had– there’s been surprisingly lack of drama during 1.5 because things…

Johnny: We actually added the third book because there wasn’t enough drama and we said the people, who signed up for 1.5 are only watching us write the Nightmare Factory, which is the second book. So we said well let’s just give them the third two because there was no drama, it was too easy.

Sean: Yeah, we wanted to make sure that everybody felt like “oh well that was worth, it I’m glad I did this,” and we didn’t feel like we were giving them that because it was so straight forward. So these last couple of weeks have been those emergency story meetings they’re happening, so that’s good.

Dave: Is the ruby room based– is it named after a strip club room.

Sean: No, but there is a story, when we were in…

Johnny: We don’t bother coming up with new references. We just reuse our old ones; it’s been a year and a half since we used this.

Sean: Yeah we’re trying to recycle this one. The first time Johnny and I were together in Austin together before I lived there in south by southwest. We were meeting Tucker and he told us to meet him at the red room, and like everybody knew what this place was. And so but we didn’t know, and it was on west third but we were like in east third, and numbers hadn’t started over yet and I just didn’t know, I just went to third.

Johnny: Was much more complicated than it should have been to find a restaurant that people knew called the red room.

Sean: Yeah and so we’re looking everywhere and so we find this place that is approximately where it should be, and everything inside is red. So we go up to the hostess whose total just snotty hair piled up. She’s just snotty and we’re like is this the red room? And she looks behind her and all the red and then turns back and goes apparently, and it wasn’t the red room. So like three hours later we find the red room.

Dave: [inaudible 00:05:27] Austin.

Sean: It’s like a little wine cellar somewhere and you know and so anyway in Unicorn Western we had this whole thing, where they had to find the red room at the very end in Unicorn Western 9. And then so it was a repeating stroke in the Ruby Room they had to find a room and I thought you know what that room should be red, then I thought oh there It is the ruby room that’s the name of the book.

Dave: Is it full of hipster douchebags?

Sean: There are no hipster douche bags, but there is lots of clockwork.

Johnny: No but oh my God was that an interesting process to illuminate our own– like the doing unboxed has been like I’ve learnt a lot about how I write which is very strange. So anyway that’s been interesting, but the day before thanksgiving as we record this. It’s just like I was hoping to bang out one more solid day, and then I try to go to chipotle with my kids because you know and every fucking high school kid is off today, and of course they go to chipotle. So I’m kind of sad we don’t have a Better Off Undead, so that I can bitch but hey what are you going to do?

Dave: You know have a Johnny carina’s you can go to?

Johnny: No I had never heard of that chain before we jumped in on that.

Sean: I’ve driven by, there’s another one going in the other direction, the one we all went to together and I’ve driven by it twice now, and I just laugh like it tickles something deep inside me.

Dave: Going now with two Johnny carina’s.

Sean: Yeah, we’re moving there.

Johnny: So just housekeeping thing for those of you– first of all we’re at an odd time. So I’m thinking that there’s nobody actually here although I do see a few people, so maybe…

Dave: Anita and Garrett are here.

Johnny: All right good, Anita and Garrett thank you for being here.

Dave: Hey Anita and Garrett.

Johnny: Garrett loving me right now for the current option on the table to change the format size of the…

Sean: Oh that’s it; you see it in the back, its right behind Dave.

Johnny: Well yes, but that you wanted to hold it in your hands and look at it okay, whatever. We don’t need to go down that path, but I forget what I was saying– but it must not be relevant, oh I know what it is. So if you’re finding like “why didn’t I find this when it was on?” It’s because we recorded it at a weird time, because we didn’t want to do it on black Friday, but in 2015 like just starting with the first one in 2015.

Sean: Oh look at you reminding people of this right now, that’s awesome.

Johnny: For the live show– I got notes and shit, we’re going to record it 3pm eastern. So it’s an hour later. Currently we do on a normal day, we do 2pm eastern time for the live show on Fridays. And it will now be 3pm eastern on Fridays, and that’s just to for scheduling things to equalize out Sean’s schedule and his central time and all that, but just know that in 2015 we’ll be moving that back and we’ll try to remind you another few times.

Dave: Which means Better Off Undead will be even later.

Johnny: Yeah, but then we won’t have a story.

Sean: But we’re not doing that…

Johnny: We are not doing any meeting and it will be our last, like it will be the best way, it will be a suitable way to end the week with just…

Dave: Me bitching.

Johnny: Yeah, pointlessness right?

Sean: Yeah, I’m actually looking forward to that new schedule a lot.

Johnny: So that’s-that’s just a note– I don’t know if there’s any other sort of admin sorts of things. I do have a couple of voicemails and then we should be totally caught up at least on the ones that have been delivered to me by Jacob.

Sean: Oh that’s awesome.

Johnny: Okay do you want to do these voicemails?

Sean: Sure.

Johnny: Alright, the first one is about reviews, no name on this one.

Female Speaker: Hello there I have a question. I published an eBook on my site and it’s been an offer for a few years and I’m going to put it over to Amazon, and I was wondering what may be the repercussions if I sent out an email to everyone who’s already bought it, not on Amazon and ask them to leave a review about it on Amazon. Would that look fishy because the book was just published and now there’s a bunch of reviews. Should I wait a certain amount of time, should I not even try to get those people to review it because it looks bad to have people that didn’t actually download it from Amazon reviewing, I look forward to your answer, thank you.

Johnny: A review is a review unless they somehow tainted reviews.

Dave: So you’re thinking logically and that’s your first problem because Amazon customers…

Sean: I’ve got to agree with Dave on this actually.

Dave: Amazon– there’s like certain segment of the audience of Amazon reviewers that like they are suspicious about any and this type of thing.

Johnny: I don’t know anyone like that.

Dave: New book. But if a new book comes out and like day one it’s got like 50 reviews and no…

Sean: With no verified purchases, see that’s it’s…

Johnny: But do you really think that– I mean I could be totally underestimating her, but for an average indie author do you really think it’s going to be that many that fast. It’s not going to be like a big name info marketer thing which is what I think you’re talking about where suddenly…

Sean: No there are some variables here for sure that we don’t know, but if I think Dave is talking about two things that kind of [Inaudible] [00:10:36] you’ve got you know immediacy of reviews. So like let’s say that the publication date is December 5th and on December 9th there are 31 reviews and 29 of them are not verified purchases. That looks– if anybody who is actually evaluating that data, it doesn’t look good, they don’t know that you know– they don’t know the specifics about where that came from or anything like that, that she had an existing book, an existing relationship, but to Johnny’s point I don’t think most people are scrutinizing it that much so…

Dave: Here are some things you can do to alleviate that issue. One you could sell it very cheaply like for a few days and let your list know, and maybe some of them will buy it or tell other people.

Sean: You could create a picky bonus that says look reviews– just explain it like answer the objection and say you know reviews are really important, but you know verified purchases matter a lot more. So I’m making this really cheap so if you’ve already bought it you can buy it again, so here’s a little bonus that if you buy it, that the bonus is in there.

Dave: Or you could also like if you have like you know some people you know or you can buy them a copy and I think that would be a verified purchase.

Johnny: See that, I wondered about that, we asked about that before do you– nobody knows that huh? Because we did wonder about that.

Dave: I’m pretty sure it does, I mean the worst that happens is you buy it and it’s not but you don’t buy so many…

Sean: Reversed.

Dave: Reach a bank, yeah.

Johnny: So that’s kind of sending out a review copy. It’s like contacting your publisher and saying “hey can you send us some review copies.” That’s the same basic concept there, no comment on that okay, good it sounds like suspicious there or something.

Dave: Another tip if you are buying like multiples of books– I guess there was one time we bought I think like 10 books or something, like is gifts to people. I don’t know if they won a contest or what it was, but I read online somebody’s advice and I went ahead and did it which is basically buy a gift card for yourself and then buy the books using that gift code because if all of a sudden there’s like 10 transactions from Amazon or more, your credit card company might call you up or whatever, so yeah.

Johnny: Okay well that’s something to keep in mind all right. So here’s the other one, this is the only other one then I wrap today with what I have, so this is from…

Sean: Yeey.

Johnny: Nick Axis on covers– well I think I might already know what I’m going to answer to this one without playing it, so let’s find out.

Nick: Hey Johnny, Sean and Dave, my name is Nick. My question is I have a book cover designers/artist that I’ve had for probably the last year and half who I did not get through 99 designs unfortunately, but…

Johnny: 99designs.com/spp.

Nick: I use them for many projects both in fiction and in other stuff, but for my latest book that will be coming out later this year, I gave him some actor images just kind of to use as a starting point something to give him an idea of what I was picturing in my head, but then the illustration he gave back to me was wonderful illustrations of those actors rather than using them as a starting point as I suggested. Now it looks great and I’m reluctant to ask him to change them.

So my question is should I ask him to change the likeness of those characters just so that they don’t look so blatantly like the actors that I sent, or should I just kind of say “you know what I’m an Indie publisher who, or an Indie author who doesn’t see a lot of sales and a lot of– what would you call it, like people won’t see my book that often. So should I just kind of let it slide,” whatever input you have would be great thanks. Thank you for everything that you do, keep up the great work with the podcast and yeah thanks.

Johnny: I don’t know whether to first address the burning need to not use that image, or the resigned to nobody is going to buy my books?

Dave: He already knows nobody is reading this anyway.

Johnny: Like dude we love you, but please don’t plan for failure like that’s not a good idea. That’s like the ultimate pre-nup of the publishing world, like nobody is going to care. No I would not do that if it’s noticeably like you said.

Sean: Yeah you know like I think a good example here is we have the Dream Engine cover. You know like we gave our cover artist we said who we were casting but I don’t think our cover looks like that person, at least maybe if you look really-really closely, but I don’t think so.

Johnny: People in the world look like other people in the world like just how it goes.

Sean: Yeah, but if it looked exactly like her and that was one of Erin’s questions you know she said how close she wants this to look like this person, and I said well not I don’t, just use it to inform like it’s a touch stone, and it really should just be a touch stone. If your artist really nailed it, and if you showed it to 10 people and eight of them said “hey you know is that Lindsay Lohan?” Not that that’s who it is, but you know then you’ve got a problem there because it does look too much like that person.

Dave: And by the way Lindsay Lohan is either suing or has sued Rock Star for having a character that kind of look like her in Grand Theft Auto 5 so…

Sean: Are you serious?

Johnny: Oh like she’s never done a carjacking, I mean let’s be realistic here folks.

Dave: It wasn’t even like a main character, it was like background, or I don’t remember which character it was but…

Sean: Oh come on.

Johnny: Can I get a definition of narcissism? Can I get that one?

Sean: Wow! Come on.

Johnny: Well.

Dave: Put something in chat I don’t know if you want to talk about that or hold that in wait?

Sean: We can talk about that.

Johnny: We can talk about that.

Sean: That’s like a voicemail.

Johnny: Yeah and we did want to…

Dave: [inaudible 00:17:03] so we can read it.

Johnny: Yeah.

Dave: Okay, I’ll go ahead and read the question and we can just talk about it. Jennifer Bran said I got the Indie power pack recently, thanks for the 99 cent bundle. Earning oodles of indie goodness, my issue I’m writing a six book contemporary romance series saga, not serials or novellas full length books, about 95,000 words each. Weighing to writing book five now hope to finish by the end of the month and write book six next month. Plan to write the six publish in 2015 and then do three more books seven through nine if I’m not sick of my world.

I posted a similar question on [inaudible 00:17:43] blog and David Gaughran was kind enough to respond. Slack the first three for release and the remaining three released at maybe 30 day intervals, but I’m wondering about your take how to publish the timing all six at once, or make one free then put up the rest to follow readers to the rest, see I have been reading your stuff or preorders or what, so that’s basically the question in a nutshell.

Johnny: Yeah, I had a few initial thoughts on this, they’re based on reader behavior than anything else. And I personally I’m beginning to feel– because Realm And Sands did this in the end of 2013 and we just everything and I think that it hamstrung us a little bit because it’s like people didn’t have a chance to get used to one series and then anticipate it more.

Sean: Yeah we build no anticipation.

Johnny: And I think that there is something to be said for that now what was– when you were saying that the New York Times recently had something where supposedly– was it you Sean or maybe it was in one of the beats or something that I have read where supposedly the rhythm is supposed to be like ideally for everybody across the board not just Indies once every three months or something like that.

Sean: Yeah, it was three to six months which is kind of amazing considering how it used to be so much more protracted. But I think that’s what we’re seeing is that it’s not just Indies who are writing faster now. I think because Indies are writing faster, it’s driving the whole industry faster and people are impatient. Readers are impatient; I think it’s the whole cultural thing too. I don’t think it’s just in you know in books, we want to watch our– like for me I don’t like watching appointment television anymore, like I like serialized TV, but I prefer to wait until the whole season is over so I could just not have to wait, like watch everything and binge. And I think if you have to wait too long I think that there are other people who are providing their entertainment where they can get quicker.

Now certainly that’s not universally true, and I think that some readers are more patient than others, but if you see that inching closer to three to six months you definitely want to be on that side, I personally think. And we’re exploring this right now because you know we’re finishing two dream engine sequels right now, and they’re going to both be in the bank and we have to figure out you know what is the optimum time in between those you know.

Dave: Yeah, I like Gaughran’s suggestion, release the first three and then stagger the others, I think that’s good.

Johnny: Yeah.

Sean: Makes sense, yeah.

Johnny: So…

Sean: And I would just trust him anyway, like he’s he really studies this stuff you know he’s much more mathematical about it than we are you know I think that…

Dave: What about the first one is Perma-free, do we all like that idea?

Sean: I do like that idea I do think that Perma-free is– has definitely dimmed you know I don’t think the results are what they were a year ago. I think that everybody is doing it A, and B it’s a lot harder to find that stuff than it used to be you know with Amazon you know they used to have those charts were just organized a little bit differently. And so I think between those two things I do think that there is some weigh in there. I think that I don’t know it’s so hard because you can’t play the shenanigans. The thing about Perma-free like it would be really great if you could just flip something to free, but you know that would dull a lot of the shine from select, so I understand why you can’t but that would be a game changer.

Dave: You can go on select and do the select free, and then wait up the 90 days then do Perma-free if you want, and you know worst come to worst on Perma-free you can always just raise the price on whatever other site you have it on…

Sean: And then report it.

Johnny: And then report it, yeah you can reverse Perma-free pretty quick. We’ve had stuff– I mean we have stuff that every– we can count on it every single time but we will automatically be matched every time and then we just have to notify them, because if we do a promo– like you do something for Book Pub. So you lower everything to 99 cents and then you raise the price across the board, like if you’re selling anything at all, then chances are it will be price matched and it will have to tell Amazon like “hey I actually wanted it 4.99,” or whatever and now I don’t want it at 99 cents every time. What did you think Dave? I don’t know if you have read this, but I know Sean has– reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s book on Discoverability and she has a much more almost traditional– not traditional but I guess a more steeped approach to pricing and…

Sean: She is not into Perma-free at all.

Johnny: Right, well she was reserved, she was skeptical about Perma-free.

Sean: And I liked her arguments actually I didn’t disagree with them, I just think it’s one of those things where you kind of have to look at your business and really say what am I trying to accomplish in my business? Because we’re all different, and we’re all trying to build different things, and whether you are a one book author or a three book author or a 50 book author, and the timeline that you want to do those things there are very different strategies. But she is definitely like a long term player, like I’m going to make a book and it’s going to have a very-very long life and it makes sense to– like she is almost the opposite like a book should never be more expensive than the day it comes out, right?

We’re trying to make sure that you know our core readers get the best deal, like it’s part of– but that’s just a philosophy thing. I actually don’t think she is wrong as far as consumer behavior and all of that, she is actually dead right. But I think philosophically Sterling and Stone is more on the side of we love our core readers. We want to treat them well and when a book comes out we want them to never pay more for it than that first month. Like not only are we trying to get traction in that early time, we’re trying to you know bond with our readers and say look we care about you. Where her argument is more of the traditional publisher argument where the book comes out, it’s new, you know it’s a new release. It’s new on DVD, it’s whatever, it’s new. It’s more expensive now and it will be in the discount bin later when people care about it less.

Johnny: Yeah, go ahead Dave.

Dave: Well I’m kind of predisposed to that to charging full price right away. Usually we’ve done sales in the beginning sometimes not making it too cheap though it really– if everybody buys it; yeah you might go up in the rankings…

Sean: But it’s a crap shoot.

Dave: It is. There’s so many ways to– I know some authors you know they’ll do the sell price then they will raise the price, then do like more sales later on and that’s probably a great way to go, I don’t know. It’s difficult if all the pieces aren’t in place to do promos, then you kind of– like okay Yesterday’s Gone season five, we sold– a lot of them are preorders. We sold a lot of them on our website directly, a huge chunk and I know this took out of our Amazon numbers a lot, so we weren’t going to climb high in the Amazon rankings anyway. So to release them on Amazon for like 99 cents or something, I think would’ve been a huge loss.

Sean: Yeah.

Dave: We wouldn’t have made– it’s not about getting as much money as you can. It’s about making enough money to you know keep the company– to be able to keep writing. So you have to value your stuff fairly I think, I don’t know there’s so many ways to go with this discussion so…

Johnny: Yeah. I’d actually I’d like to have her on again because I’m just really I’m enjoying the book so– not that I’m surprised by that, but it’s…

Sean: No, I like the book a lot actually more than I expected to.

Dave: We’ve actually gotten emails from people that say that are– say and this is a weird thing to hear from a customer, but why are you only releasing it for 99 cents, I’d rather pay full price and support you all. We’ve actually gotten a lot of email like that, now I don’t know if this is true of all people or just some of the core readers. I think a lot of people they want you know as cheap as possible, because you know we all have bills to pay and you could buy more if something is cheaper, but I think people that really support your work will pay full price for it, and we saw that and we appreciate the hell out of it, you want to– I don’t know.

Johnny: One of the things that…

Dave: Stanley.

Johnny: One of the things that Kris says, Kris Rusch is she makes a bit and I’m not vouching for whether this is right, wrong whatever, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense is she talks about the different kind of readers and she argues that most Indies tend to focus on the discount readers. Which is not wrong and it works for them, but there is this whole other huge group of readers who it’s never going to materially influence their decision whether or not to buy a book. And if you do it during a sale, then it’s like then you get the people who might not already know about you to give you a chance because it’s cheap, but as far as your core people she’s like– and I don’t know that I agree totally with her thoughts on eBook pricing especially since we are competing with all the indies, but she’s arguing for like six to ten bucks for everything, like shorts should be 2.99, and I remember disagreeing a little about…

Sean: Yeah, I didn’t agree with that.

Johnny: I remember disagreeing a little bit about that when they were on, when she and Dave, but…

Sean: Yeah.

Dave: And I think a lot of people would look at their book shelves, if they’re not super high I know you know and they fluctuate. They might think well you know if she sold cheaper the books would sell a lot better. Maybe that’s true, but I think there is something to be said for selling– selling you know enough not– I don’t think the end goal is to sell like a zillion books at 99 cents. If you can sell you know to your audience and your audience will support you, and I think stuff like video games and albums and stuff like that, you never see them come out day one super cheap. If you want the newest game, you’re going to pay 60 bucks on the first day.

Sean: Yeah.

Dave: And that’s expanded.

Sean: It has always worked, it’s– what’s changed that is the Indie culture because we can do things differently and so we have, but there is something– you want to find that line because you do want to respect your audience. You do want to give them the best deal, but you also want to protect your work and you know preserve the integrity of your pricing and you know we’ve definitely done that. We’ve definitely made decisions that are not in our short term best interest. Look we would sell the maximum number of copies. It’s more about preserving the integrity of the line and knowing what we want to do with it years from now, and kind of setting precedent now.

Dave: Yeah and we– one great example of this is Crash, we sold that– didn’t we sell that super cheap on the first day? I thought we did.

Sean: Yeah we did.

Dave: And to me if the book…

Sean: Yeah and that specifically one of the books you are talking about Dave, that people emailed you and said why did you– why are you charging 99 cents for this? I want to pay 3.99 or whatever it was, like people wanted you personally, they wanted Dave to capture more for that.

Dave: And Crash isn’t a book– it’s like a feel good hit of a summer. So it’s never going to be a book that sells a million copies you know unless they make a movie or something. It’s not one of those books, so to release it at 99 cents I basically– because it wasn’t going to climb much higher unless we do some sort of promo or something, but it was even– that’s dicey. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. And it’s hard to get ads with certain places for a book that’s not even out yet, so there’s all this things in play.

Sean: Or a novella too, it’s a little shorter.

Dave: The novella too. So it’s shorter. So all of those things basically worked against us, I mean we sold a nice amount of copies, but would I have liked to make more? Yes certainly because I don’t– I think if the same amount of people would’ve bought it regardless, because they wanted to buy the book. It wasn’t an impulse buy; it was they already knew the book they wanted to buy, so basically giving it away only cut our arms.

Sean: [inaudible 00:31:04]

Johnny: And that’s what Kristine Rusch says too. She says your core people– her principal is she says don’t discount to try to get somebody to buy a book, somebody who already is going to buy the book or already would be interested. It’s more about attracting new people by doing that. So I would tend to agree, but as Sean said the philosophical difference of you want your key people to get it cheaper, or something like that, you just you need to have a strategy I guess.

Dave: And I know some people like Jason Gurley basically if you’re on his mailing list you get every book free, and I don’t know exactly how he pulls it off, but you know he’s able to do it and he you know again I’m not saying not to do it. I’m just saying when we’ve done it in the past it really hasn’t worked out super well for us, if other people are able to that’s for game offs.

Sean: I think the key takeaway here is what we always say which is don’t just do things blindly. Do them because you understand why you’re do them and what outcome you want to achieve. If you just do something because “oh I just heard this author did this and it was awesome,” then you’re probably going to do something that isn’t in the best interest of your personal writing business. You know writer Inc, you know whoever you are, but if you think this is the outcome that I want. So don’t think about what you should do first, think about what outcome you want and then you know ask your questions you know reverse engineer your outcome instead of just going blindly in with a strategy I think.

Johnny: So there you go, all right speaking of strategies, maybe we just begin by– hold on I don’t want to begin there– where do I want to begin spontaneously, I can’t find my spontaneous discussion.

Dave: You might want to ask me about the book cover.

Johnny: Oh I should ask you about that, no in all seriousness so this actually is obviously this is the part where we talk about 99 designs, but we are…

Sean: What?

Johnny: We are doing a cover and I genuinely like this is– Dave didn’t need to highlight this question. I genuinely was curious about it. We’re doing a cover for Leflore Debunk which is the Lexi Maxwell book that’s basically just me and Sean with Lexi getting final cut, so Dave how…?

Dave: Sean just remembered.

Johnny: Is Sean– blame Sean, so how is that contest going because we are doing it through 99 designs?

Dave: It’s going great; it didn’t start off great I will say, basically you guys…

Johnny: Whose fault was that?

Dave: It was you guy’s fault.

Johnny: There you go, that’s what I’m looking for.

Dave: You guys came up with a concept and it was a very narrow concept. It was like I forget exactly what it was something white flowers on the cover, and that was it. And we put it out there and we got like a million different white flower and Sean is all picky about the flowers, like that’s not a flower and it will never be a flower.

Sean: I don’t recall saying that even once.

Dave: [Inaudible 00:34:25]

Johnny: No, he did though he was– you’re like he did it unless Dave is exaggerating it, but it was like well I really like that cover, but I wouldn’t chose the peony I would charge the lilac.

Sean: I’m not allowed to have an opinion about it?

Dave: No.

Johnny: No, that’s just ridiculous.

Dave: So anyway we got a cover from one designer that we really-really liked and we showed it to some friends of ours, and they didn’t like it quite as much. They didn’t feel like it screamed romance, so…

Johnny: It wasn’t just that it was that they said they wouldn’t pick it up, which is like for a book cover, that’s kind of an important– I wouldn’t pick this book up like maybe and somehow it was couched a little bit like well maybe I could be talked into it or whatever, but that’s not the way…

Dave: Whatever works.

Johnny: Right, it wasn’t that they thought it was a bad cover; it just didn’t ring with them.

Dave: So we really liked this one designer. The same one– and we looked at her other stuff and she’s done other stuff more like what our friends like, and then okay why don’t we just okay we’re going to make her the winner, but we’re basically going to get you know some other concepts done. So right now she’s working on some other covers, and I’m very confident that she will do very good at this. And that is– that’s the cool thing about 99 designs is every designer that we’ve worked with so far, they’ve been very culminating and helpful in helping us to create the perfect design.

And what we’re going to do next time and this is what I encourage you to do if you’re going to do a book cover on 99 designs. Don’t come up with just one concept for your book– for what you want the cover to look like. You do this sort of thing where you’re like say what you want the book cover to look like, what the story is about, basically the description for the designers that are competing. Don’t just do one, do a fuse. So that you and your audience or friends or whoever is going to help pick this cover, they have a few options to chose from and it’s not quite so narrow.

And that is another cool thing about 99 designs is that you can create an audience poll, get your readers involved or get other writers involved that you trust their opinion. It’s just a great thing to do. So if you’re looking for the perfect professional quality cover for your book, 99 designs has community of more than 300,000 designers that has you covered, and the best part– do you know what the best part is Johnny?

Johnny: Well, I know that we were really looking at losing a lot.

Dave: Yeah, we were looking at losing a lot, but-but with 99 designs there is absolutely nothing to lose so 100% money back guarantee.

Johnny: So start your custom design today at 99designs.com/spp, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks. Now you probably just like hearing that rope like Johnny says that every week, but we initially forgot our own power pack upgrade and had to be like “okay can you reverse engineer that and go ahead and add that like you know.” So yes you want that because then you get the exposure, and they make your listing stand out, and they bold it, and it makes a big difference, and how many things you get how many submissions. So 99designs.com/spp, and I think we may be throwing a lot of money at 99designs.com coming up.

We were talking just like we need to get logos done. We have several book cover ideas, and so they may be working hard for us here soon. There you go, so moving on to the topic we titled this Forging you know Unbreakable Bonds With Your Readers and having them love you, but it’s– this is about like communication with readers and just to enroll everybody here, it’s I don’t know the actual stats, Sean probably does this sort of thing, he knows, but it’s many times easier is like a marketing truism to keep a customer.

Sean: Seven times easier.

Johnny: Seven times easier to keep a customer you have than to get a new one. Seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer basically, than it is to keep somebody you have. So if you have a customer who loves you, first of all that’s that group we were talking about who they didn’t care about the price of Crash, they wanted Crash, so like they don’t think well…

Sean: They were willing to email Dave to tell him he should raise the price.

Johnny: Because dude think about this, like I just…

Dave: That doesn’t happen if your customers don’t love you, you never heard anybody ever email Wal-Mart and say I’d really wish I paid more for that DVD player.

Johnny: So I– I forget what I was going to say already, so the– damn it Dave. I preordered, I got– I know what I was going to say. I got– I haven’t read it yet. I got Rysa walker’s book– Sean has already read it, Times Edge I think is the second in her series, and I’d read Timebound which is the first one. So I knew I wanted to read the next one and I’m just trying to imagine myself going, “well I want to know what happens but I’m not willing to pay five dollars, maybe I’d pay 99 cents,” like that just no– like if you want the book you want the book, and so there you go, but that it does mean that your readers like they don’t ideally love your work, they love you. Our readers of fiction and nonfiction are incredibly supportive, and so we wanted to talk about some of our best strategies to build those bonds, because you want the thousand true fans and this is how you form those relationships.

Sean: Yeah, we found this even I mean taking away, I think anyone in customer service understands this stuff, this is– it’s not even the customer is always right because I actually don’t believe that. I don’t believe that at all, I believe that sometimes you have to fire your customers because they suck.

Johnny: Yeah a lot sometimes the customers are wrong folks, that’s how it goes.

Sean: Yeah like I’m not you know when we had the flower shop and I was in charge of the weddings and I was not tolerant of [inaudible] [00:40:41] at all. I would call them up and the first time I did it my heart was beating so fast and I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I was very-very nervous, but this bride was driving me crazy.

Like she was just driving me crazy and I’m like and her wedding was very expensive and we stood to make a lot of money, but it just wasn’t worth it to me. And I called her up and I said, no we are not going to do your wedding. I just said I’m not– I don’t feel like– I mean I put it on me, it’s not just me, it’s you. I said I don’t feel like I’m equipped to do the job that you…

Johnny: It’s not me it’s you, did you tell her that?

Sean: No-no I meant the other way round. It’s me, it’s not you. You know I’m not equipped to do the job that you want me to do. You are making me…

Dave: In fact now [inaudible] [00:41:24].

Sean: You are making me feel like I can’t do the job and I like dealing with brides who I know that they are going to be happy. So this bride– she was like no you got it all wrong. You are the only one, I can’t imagine anybody else doing it. And from that moment on it changed the relationship, and she was a dream bride after that. And it gave me the confidence…

Johnny: Did you propose her wedding de blunk?

Sean: And it changed the relationship, and it gave me a lot of confidence and that just became like brides had a few strikes, like once they got to the bride’s over point I was like no we don’t need to do this. And it was for parties and regular customers, but we also– we would have like the crush customers too where they would come in and they would say, hey you know like this is worth more money.

And it is really kind of intuitive to have your– because my father and I have very different business philosophies. My dad always wanted to compete on price, and I always wanted to compete on service. And you know I want to carry the best flowers in the world and charge whatever we need to charge because I feel like especially when Trader Joe’s moved in if you compete on price you know do you really want to win that war?

Right because even if you win you’re scraping and if we compete on service, that’s something you want to win. You want to be the flower shop with the best service. You want to be the author who readers love. And so I think when you know we’ve talked a lot about this, this year about the things that we are doing now, and especially things that we are doing now to build for later. How can we really improve the relationship with our reader?

And I think that whether you write one book or a hundred that’s something that every author can and should do. You know think about what can I do because we are all different, and we’ll talk about some of the things that we are doing, but again it’s like what we are saying earlier, don’t copy what we are doing, think about what outcome we want and how that similar to the outcome that you want and what assets you can develop, and what relationships you can work on to develop those same outcomes.

Johnny: There you go. So where do we begin? I mean we have a lot of strategies, the things that we do in terms of giving away that you know promo copies stuff like that, but I just let’s begin with something that’s so obvious I shouldn’t even have to say it, but Oh my God everyone endured it so many times that I feel I have to say it, and that’s to actually respond to your email and social media because it’s amazing the number of times that people will say things like, Oh I can’t believe you responded.

Dave: Yeah.

Sean: Yeah.

Johnny: At all stages like it’s not like– first of all we are not famous now, but like compared to where we were a few years ago anything it was even less and at all stages. You know you have some sort of a public presence, and then somebody contacts you and I’m just like are people that big of assholes that they don’t respond to things? So…

Sean: Maybe they just get a million emails and can’t possibly go through them all, I mean but you guys get a ton of email too.

Johnny: Well, but again I’m going with…

Sean: I imagine Stephen King gets like millions of emails that he can’t even…

Johnny: Well, but I’m not talking about Stephen King though.

Dave: Right.

Johnny: I mean this is you know.

Sean: I think you have to do that. I think that the moment that you– it’s the hardest thing. For me it’s the hardest thing because it’s not scalable, and I know that there‘s going to come a point where I will have to turn that off or figure something else out that I figure right now when we are still in the thousand true fans you know cultivating stage. Every email needs to get handled and I had a freak out last week because my emails were showing– Google has been really bitch slapping me around quite a lot lately. And last week we had this whole thing where my Gmail was showing emails as sent, but they weren’t sent. They were just going into the vapor somewhere and so…

Johnny: I can’t believe I almost got up doing vapor.

Sean: And so it was horrifying because I had to go through one by one and see what I actually sent and what hadn’t and I do I take a lot of pride in the fact that I do answer all of my email. And it was really sucky to not know whether I was, and I thought oh people are going to think I’ve been an asshole, I’m not responding to them and you know it’s a small thing but I think it’s a big thing that does matter. I think that people they want to feel like you care.

And you got to think like this is one of those things that we have an advantage over traditional publishers. Like we are out there, we are connecting with our readers. And that’s never really happened in publishing before. You know if you were– you know when I was growing up reading Stephen King books you know the id– even if I wanted to reach out to him and he was like a much smaller author or you know any small level author it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be Stephen King. If you wanted to communicate with your favorite author, you would have needed to find an address in the back of the book to their publisher and send that you know…

Dave: And have some break in and make a bet for that.

Sean: It was just a it’s a much-much different thing, and I think that you know we are really lucky that we have the ability to communicate in the way that we do, and people can reach out to their authors now on Facebook or on Twitter or on email. You know we have links to our social media and to our email in the back of every single book that we publish.

And you know non-fiction and fiction and quite a few people do take advantage of that, and I don’t mean taking advantage of you know taking the advantage of it, but they capitalize on that. They do send us email. And to ignore it, it would be so wrong. And I know that we won’t be able to you know personally answer every email forever, but it should never be ignored. At some point we need a different solution, and may be like monthly author hangouts or something.

You know you have an auto responder that goes to that address and it says, hey thank you so much for emailing me, I can’t really deal with the volume, but I do fan hang outs every single month, sign up for the next one here and you know. There are ways that you can do it but to ignore it is inexcusable.

Dave: One of the things I like to do is a bonding thing with the readers. In this I completely you know [inaudible] [00:48:24] Stephen King. And see author’s notes, I used to love in the back of Stephen King’s books the notes that are not the story, but also about him. And we get so many emails from people about our author’s notes, and it’s just it’s very touching in a way that– it’s cool that people read our books and they enjoy them and I love that you know as a writer that’s all you’ve ever wanted.

But to also have people like comment on the author’s notes in like they’ll share like experiences like you know I went to– like we did a short story called Monsters which was about bullying and I talked about that. Then I got so many emails from people like share their experiences with us on that. And that is something that is just– it’s– to not do it would be I can’t imagine how many people would have the same feelings for us in the connection with us if we didn’t do authors.

And if we just wrote the story put it out there and there and that’s it. To me that’s almost a cold experience. A lot of writers do it and I like a lot of writers do it, and I’m not saying you know that it’s ruin, but I think if you like doing authors notes I think it really helps your book and helps your relationship with the readers. And for those readers that don’t like author’s notes– I’m sure there are some out there, and they don’t email me and say, hey why you put all those notes those notes in here, I fucking hate them. I don’t want to know anything about you, I just want the story, but if you are like that, then you just don’t read the author’s notes. The author’s notes is like a nice little bonus for people that want to like talk to you kind of share with you afterwards.

Sean: It’s zero loss. Its zero loss and I think that it is good personally too. I mean when I finish something to kind of reflect on it for a few pages. I think it’s a valuable exercise and so you know I think that there are– it’s impossible to– I think there are some readers who flat out feel cheated if there is no author’s note.

Dave: They bought books because we’ve set the expectation.

Sean: Yes. And so you know it becomes important and you want to– and that’s a tricky thing too because you don’t want to set expectations that you can’t always meet, and sometimes you do that especially when you experiment a lot, but if want to talk about things that we’ve been doing we always do author’s notes.

One thing that I started very recently doing is you know– actually this started during the Dream Engine final polish because we were doing that live, I thought okay I read that loud and you know record it because I read it out loud as part of the polish anyway. So out loud readings of our stuff that you know because there are me reading it, they are going to suck compared to you know like a professional narrator.

But some people like that. The same people who like the author’s notes might like to hear the author read the book. So that’s another way to bond with readers. Development diaries is something that we’ve been doing. We’ve also been doing– and this is new too and I really-really like this. We’ve been doing– we call them whatever the name is Unboxed, right. Just because it’s consistent with what we’ve been doing, like Yesterday’s Gone Season 5 Unboxed we did a Crush Unboxed. No we are going to do a Crush Unboxed. It got cancelled a couple of times.

Johnny: We tried twice.

Sean: But we will be doing a Crush Unboxed. We did an Axis of Aaron Unboxed, and you know that’s really-really cool because we can sit there and talk about the books, but they are for the people who have already finished…

Dave: We didn’t do Yesterday’s Gone one of that, we did the pre…

Sean: We did the pre one…so we need to.

Dave: We should do the Development Diaries though.

Sean: Yeah either one of you can talk about those because I know Dave is doing one for the current project, and Johnny has done for our last two and is doing it now.

Johnny: I have done it for three or four now.

Dave: What was the book that both you and I have read Sean I forget, fuck I can’t remember. I’ve never read Fuck I Can’t Remember.

Johnny: I have read it, it’s fantastic.

Sean: The diary of the book.

Dave: Oh I know I know, it was Steinbeck.

Sean: Steinbeck writing about, writing East of Eden is what it was.

Dave: Yes. It was his daily diary– basically it was his journal to his editor, or basically like everyday he stopped you know when he was done writing or may be even before I think sometimes…

Sean: I think it was before, like this was what I want to accomplish today.

Dave: Yeah and he would write to his editor, and basically they compiled all of this into a book. I fucking love that is [inaudible] [00:53:33] it gives you like an insight and you guys started doing it. And Johnny was doing it, and I haven’t read it yet, but I just I love the idea behind it so much. And I think it’s something that a lot of you know not only when your co-readers like it, but I think other writers would like it just because it’s like a shared experience like what you are going through as writer, and there is a lot of identifying things.

Sean: Yeah I think I talked about this on the show before, but may be not but when I read the East of Eden diaries from Steinbeck, I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t even want to be a writer. I had a flower shop. I was not thinking about being a writer at all. But it was– I hadn’t read a lot of Steinbeck and Barnes and Noble had just redone this whole like Barnes and Noble branded version of all his books. And they were very pretty with like [inaudible] [00:54:30] so I bought the whole collection.

Dave: Shut up.

Sean: They had flowers on them and they were elegant and I read everything. I even read Travels with Charley, like I went through his catalogue, but nothing like East of Eden just like ripped my soul. I loved that book. I loved that book and so I wanted to know more about it. And I might well fine I will read about him writing about it. And that was not bought as a writer, it was bought as a reader. And I think that Dave is totally right that kind of thing can serve two purposes.

It really is the DVD extra’s. I think when you are watching those DVD extras and you see like them building the sets for the two towers, and you know like all the miniatures and all of that, I think there is two people who are watching that. People who love film and who you know are interested in…

Johnny: Like you mean literally two people, doing all that for two people.

Dave: Actually I want to say something about that. If you don’t have a large readership yet, don’t think that you can’t do this because even if just five people like your book I mean obviously if you don’t want to spend the time do this don’t do it. But if you are writing the journal anyway definitely share it because if only five people love your book, then those same five people might also love this. And you never know how big your audience will be later down the road.

Johnny: I actually I made that joke but Dave just said something that I was going to say too basically. And it’s there are several different kinds of readers who may be paying attention to you. There is the people who kind of are aware of you and they might pick you up and they might read you up, but then they are like whatever. And then there is people who are already you know they are really they are in your camp.

And the goal of these DVD extras and stuff is to take people who may have been sort of snagged by– I think Axis is a good example because I feel like that has a good hook. I feel like that’s the kind of book that sticks in your head and resonates, Crush is that way too. And so when somebody is done like you want to capitalize on that and you want to take them from the casual camp if they are there into the true fan camp, like this is a strategy for building true fan relationships.

So not everybody is going to care about your author’s notes, not everybody is going to care about your development diaries, but it’ so worth it for the people who will care about those that it’s almost worth doing just in of itself because you know I wish I had some quantifications on this, but I get to think terms of your long term career as a writer like somebody who is true-true fan.
I hate to reduce it to dollars and cents, but like its business sometimes it is dollars and cents. So that person has to be worth way-way more in terms of your long term career than a casual reader. So why not put a ton of extra effort into nurturing that relationship.

Sean: Yeah, I totally agree with that.

Dave: And what we are doing with the Book 12 that we are writing right now is I’m doing the development diary on that, and I’m pretty sure we haven’t talked about too much, but what I think we are going to do is the call to action at the end of the book you know in addition to [inaudible] [00:57:40] is also if you want to know how this book was made, you know get the development diary for free by signing up for our mailing list. It’s a great give away.

Sean: Yeah and the thing that I really like about that kind of offer is that it’s so in alignment. So I think that you know people read the advisor, I need a list I need a list I need a list. You need to give something away, and it’s not enough to just give something away. If you can give something away that is in perfect harmony with what that reader wants, then that’s really a good offer. So like the Axis offer right now is it’s designed to get reviews. But we did an Axis Unboxed video and we did the Development Diary, and the audio re-reading Axis.

It’s a lot of stuff, that’s a lot of DVD extras and the whole point is, hey here you can get this extra stuff. And you know we didn’t have to make those things, but I think that there is a lot of value there. I think that there is value in doing things just for yourself anyway. Now if it was just for me, I wouldn’t have recorded all of that. That’s a lot of extra work, but the Development Diaries for sure I think that there is value just as an author and sitting there and talking to yourself for a few minutes…

Johnny: It’s value to me for writing those even if they never see publication.

Sean: Yeah, right and I think that to just add it into your routine you know it’s hard. Like granted it’s hard, like let’s say you barely get to write anyway and you are lucky to get 20 minutes a day and between, like after the dishes are done and you know your kids are brushing their teeth and like that’s all you get to write, then it’s kind of hard to justify time for a Development Diary.

But you know as you get better your craft and as you are able to devote more time to it, it’s not all about just getting the raw words out you know, it’s about doing the other things too that you kind of crystallize your work and give them value to both you as an artist and to the people who consume your art.

Johnny: The thing here that is maybe clicking for some people and it just may feel like a little off is this is what we would normally say it feels like a 20% activity. So with the 80, 20 rule you could say well you know well Development Diaries and DVD extras and High touch email and creating bonuses and all the stuff, and blogging my processor whatever, any of those things you do it will be easy to say, well there is a clearly 20%.

And I need to move on to this later, but to Dave’s point earlier is I would argue that it depends and since this is something designed to increase relationships with people who already love you or to win people who kind of love you, they think they might like you over even further, because it’s building a true fan base rather than just a fan base marginalacly [phonetic] I would argue that it moves beyond 20% just because, because that group is so valuable.

Those people are your champions; those people are the first to review your good new book, the first people to comment on your blog if that matters to you. They are the first people to buy your new book. Like those people are so valuable that I would argue that to the extent that you are able to do it, to give them a little bit of you, you should.

Dave: And because it a 20% thing I think a lot of writers don’t do it. They do see this as a waste of time, and I think that could be to their detriment.

Sean: To a part.

Dave: Yeah because this is something that we are doing that you know not a ton of other people are doing and it helps us bond with other readers. Our readers you know I’m not saying you know you are liking competition with every other writer out there because I fully believe in like the whole coopetiton thing like we support other people, and we promote their stuff and talk about their stuff. We are all about that.

But when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of your readers, you want your readers to think of you. And this is something that you can do to do that that other writers aren’t doing. And they will be more excited about your book coming out because they know a little bit more about you. They are becoming like a better friend in a way.

Johnny: You want to be top of mind, yeah.

Sean: And you know another thing about this is it really helps with your emailing list if you are wondering well what the hell do I email about. If you have these other things that you are giving away, then you have you know another reason to email your list without you know being all spammy and shit, like okay my book is coming out that could be like one email, and then another email is you know I have a Development Diary that I did for the book you know a week or two later, it’s free here you go, this is a thank you for being you know fan or a reader.

Johnny: What are some of the other things that we have been doing that just giving? I know there are some things that are coming up and I don’t necessarily want to talk about those.

Dave: We’ve given free short stories, I mean Dark Hostages 18 of them. And we’ve given a lot of those out to our readers on the mailing list, but we’ve given four books out I know you guys have done that too.

Johnny: Surprises. It’s kind of like it’s very much like dating honestly or being in a new relationship is you know if you are dating, or if you are in a relationship it’s nice to surprise you know your partner sometimes.

Sean: That’s why I sent that picture of my penis to the mailing list last week, surprise!

Johnny: So surprising.

Sean: I was surprised.

Johnny: But there is delivering on what you promise. And then there is over delivering. There is going above and beyond in the context of relationship, it would be just to be nice. Just to deliver a little bit more, and I think that that’s the sort of thing you need to think, but it’s slipping my mind a little bit. What are some of the other things that…

Sean: Dave [inaudible] [01:04:05] with an argument and that goes a long way for him. Right now surprise is such an important part of this whole bonding thing in this big sixty part auto responder that we keep talking about. There is actually blank spaces in the auto responder that says like really cool bonus here. And I’m not even really sure what it is other than I know that we want to put those things in there, and you know some of them are not created yet.

They are not you know or we have them but I’m not sure where they fit in, but I know that okay it’s about time there has been these number of emails and you know it’s time to deliver some kind of cool thing that they are not expecting. And then may seem mechanical to some people you know you may be hearing that and thinking, well it’s not really a genuine surprise you know if you know you are scheduling it on an auto responder, but it totally is. I mean you know I…

Johnny: Yes because we don’t have to do that.

Sean: Right.

Johnny: You know.

Sean: I make notes to myself to okay go buy Cindy flowers, because like I’m busy I may forget, but I want to be able to surprise her and there is nothing wrong with making myself a note to do it because I know it’s important in the relationship. And so I think that’s the same thing you have a relationship with your reader, and it’s okay to send yourself notes you know or whatever the equivalent is there. It’s that you want to go the extra mile because not all authors are. And the traditional certainly aren’t, and that’s a trick that you have in your bag that they don’t and you really– that’s a more important trick to play what I think than pricing.

Johnny: I’m glad you mentioned the auto responder because that is a way to leverage email a little bit, like we said you can’t have that high touch email communication forever, like if you going to grow. But an auto responder is a fantastic bonding tool because it catches people up like if they don’t know you like the Sterling and Stone auto responder will take people through our story like those of you who have been with us for a really long time if we joke about the origins of Unicorn Western which all three of us were part of like you are going to know that story.

But if you haven’t been and you are brand new just because you are encountering us now doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have appreciated what occurred back then, and so an auto responder is a good way with those automatic emails over time of they get to experience your story as if they had ended at the beginning.

If they are at all are right fit for you, if they are anywhere on the spectrum of true fan, they are going to want those things. And they are going to want to re-experience those and it is like Sean said I can see how you might think what scheduled emails so it feels mechanical, but you don’t write them in a way that feels mechanical, and you aren’t trying to fool anyone, like it’s not like hey I didn’t write this, like it’s clearly an automatic email, but it shouldn’t dampen the spirit in which you wrote it.

Sean: Right.

Johnny: One of the things that– I think that anything you can do that is above and beyond I don’t– Dave’s reaction to this one when he heard about it I thought was amusing, but when Hugh Howey publish his book Sand, do you remember this Dave? He was made of YouTube video where he was sending out copies of Sand– the paper copies and he would sprinkle some sand in it, then Dave is like I would be pissed if there is sand in my book.

Dave: I would think he was sending me dirt, asshole.

Johnny: Like Hugh is always doing little things like that. Little you know people order his books from him, I don’t if it’s all the time or sometimes, so he’s doing something with them. He is signing them, he is adding sand…

Dave: Hugh and Sean are very much alike in their whole kindness and being the good husbands/ author, very thoughtful people.

Johnny: Oh come on, she can’t do everything wrong.

Dave: I’m not– fuck you, I didn’t say she did.

Johnny: Just not loading the dishwasher.

Sean: She is terrible at that.

Johnny: No.

Dave: It’s her whole family by the way that they can’t load a dishwasher. Her mother and her sisters, they all like put plastic on the bottom, I’m like I think it’s hereditary.

Sean: I think it is.

Johnny: So any other things to add before we are done?

Sean: No I think that’s it.

Johnny: All right. Well we aren’t going to have a Better Off fan day today if you normally stick around, if you normally a glutton for punishment, we are not going to have a better off Undead…

Sean: You are welcome. It’s our way to say thanks to you.

Johnny: Although there is one coming up where Dave is going to discuss why he wanted to be a cop which I’m very excited about.

Sean: That’s going to be good stuff.

Johnny: Very-very excited about that one and no updates on the Big 9s, so we still don’t really know, we are trying you know to get our Big 9; J.J. Abrams, Clyde, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John August, John Green, Louis C.K., Chuck Palahniuk, Kevin Smith, although we do have a very tentative plan where we may be able to contact Kevin Smith. So thanks to Thomas for tipping us…

Dave: We had some interesting suggestions from our audience on [inaudible] [01:09:26] they would be super sneaky and I’m like no I’m no doing that.

Johnny: So, but keep the ideas coming if you have any other ideas how to get those people on SSP, then we can all hang out together.

All right well this has been Self Publishing Podcast, thanks for tuning in. Today is launch day of the Fiction Unboxed book; you may want to check that out. If we weren’t fast enough you may still be able to get the Write Publish Repeat conversations bonus, but that’s coming down in any way so maybe you missed it with the pre-order. If you want to check out our advice without the off topic bullshit, be sure to pick up the Write Publish Repeat the no luck required is self publishing success is selfpublishingpodcast.com/wpr, and we’ll see you next week people, thanks.

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Join the Conversation!

  • Jason Fuhrman

    What’s the title of the Chris Rush (sp?) that they were talking about?

  • Great show! I’ve always loved King’s author notes. They are a nice way of wrapping up the book, and gives me a bit longer before it ends. Never thought of doing something like that myself. 🙂

  • The development dairies jogged my creative process.
    I’ve toyed with the idea of doing Annotations for each chapter of the books I write as a reader bonus and to make for an interesting re-read (because they will likely contain spoilers).
    I also thought about how those annotations (or, in your case, development journals) might help your author-editor relationship. Would annotating your work help your editor help you make the book closer to the vision you seek?

    • Possibly, and I could really see that if you’re writing solo. But that’s our job to do that for one another, so I’m not as concerned about Jason filling that role.

  • Greg Thomas

    What a fantastic episode. Really great discussion, guys. This one’s definitely going in the saved queue to listen again.