A New Mad Challenge! — Marketing a Book on Youtube

You know how I like a ridiculous writing challenge (see last year’s disastrous attempt to sell a thousand copies of The End of Magic by burning money on Amazon ads), well here’s the latest… As you may know, my new book The Crow Folk will be published in February 2021, and I’m going to be using Youtube to drive awareness/pre-orders and good vibes.

I’ve been spurred on by my old chum Jeremy Mason, a filmmaker of great talent and experience, who has been dabbling in the dark arts of Youtube Marketing. He will be my guide and we’ll be chronicling this in real time over the next three-and-a-bit months.

If you’re a writer who wants to use Youtube to build your readership, then grab your popcorn and join us on this adventure. It could end in glory, or be another of my celebrated car crashes…

Transcript:

  • [Jeremy] If you are an author, an aspiring write or a business owner, then this is the series for you. It’s a four-month challenge, me, my friend, author and screenwriter Mark Stay, have set for ourselves. And it’s this, to put some of our money where our mouths are and really leverage the power of video marketing like I’m always banging on about, and running an actual campaign for Mark’s latest fiction book, but unlike the book, this is in real life, in real time, cataloging the massive learning journey of bringing Mark’s new book to market. The highs, the lows, the blood, sweat and tears, the unvarnished truth. This is video marketing in action in a real life case study. There are loads of transferable lessons and knowledge no matter what products or services you sell, whether you’re an author or in business or both. In this episode, you’ll learn the inside track on how Mark has learned from his previous experiences, what he will and won’t be doing. We also look under the bonnet at publishers based on Mark’s 25 years’ experience and learn about how they approach marketing new authors, and we also unearth how authors and writers can use YouTube to help their marketing efforts. So, welcome to Episode 1 of the snappily titled, “Book Marketing Challenge.”
  • Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. This is a kind of series, I suppose. It’s very organic, this. I’m joined by Mark Stay, a very good friend of mine, who I’ve known for a long time. Mark, how about you introduce your fine self and what you do.
  • Okay, I’m Mark Stay, I am a writer. I write screenplays and books and occasionally, they happen. You know, ’cause lots of writers write things that never come to anything, but every now and then, something of mine actually turns into something, which is wonderful. I also worked in publishing and book selling for over 25 years and I’m the co-presenter on a podcast called “The Bestseller Experiment,” where we try to inspire writers to turn their writings into things that actually become things, like books and films and what have you. So, that’s me.
  • Excellent, that was a very pithy summary, 12 words or less I was after, but never mind, we can gloss over that. So what on earth are you doing thinking about video marketing then? Why do you think it might change your life in 12 words or less?
  • I’ve tried everything else. I’ have published a book a couple of years ago, called, “The End of Magic” which was published by Unbound Publishing, which is a crowd funding thing. And with Unbound, you raise the money yourself, you get a wonderful book. It goes to Amazon, it goes into High Street bookshop in the UK. But Unbound don’t really have a marketing budget for authors on their digital list which I was on. So you’re kind of thrown to the wolves. You’re thrown out there, and you have to market it yourself. And having done “The Bestseller Experiment”, where I co-wrote a book with a chap called Mark Desvaux. And we self-published that, and self-marketed that as well. So, I’ve been out there, and I’ve done the Facebook advertising, I’ve done the Amazon advertising. It hasn’t really worked for me in a big way. It just cost me a lot of money, with not much in terms of a return on investment. But the biggest lesson I learned from that was to do this successfully, you need a series. ‘Cause just marketing and selling one book is really really hard work. But if you have a series, it tends to be your first book is a loss leader, and the books after that tend to once you get people interested in book one, you can then sell them books two, three, four. So I have a book coming in February 2021. It’s called “The Crow Folk”. It’s the first in the series. You see I’ve learned. I’ve learned my lesson there. It’s first in the series.
  • Is it a series of 45 though, I think, isn’t it?
  • Yes, it is actually first of 400 books in a never ending series. Well it’s a three-book deal with Simon and Schuster in the UK. And it’s a series called “The Witches of Woodville”. So the idea is I’m offering this new adventure. I’m not gonna try the Facebook advertising, ’cause I’m leaving that to the publisher essentially. But the YouTube thing I know, we’ve had conversations about this, about how you can make this work for yourself. So I’m at the stage where I’ve got a book coming in February, and I’m gonna start doing stuff on my YouTube channel, where hopefully I can generate some interest in the book in the first book in the series, and drive pre-orders and get people reading and get people buying the book.
  • Brilliant, okay, so that’s a really kind of good ‘in’ in terms of, talking about goals, ’cause obviously, the first thing you wanna be doing in terms of any marketing really, is to take a step back and go, “Okay, what are my actual goals? “What is the reason for, “in this case, obviously, “what are the reasons we’re making, “we’re gonna make these videos.” So basically, what you’re saying to me is it is a complete sales thing. Now, obviously, you’re yet to publish. So are we talking about initially kind of capturing names and email addresses? Is that a lead generation type campaign? Initially explain to me in your head where you’re at with that.
  • There’s two stages. One is to generate and drive pre-orders of the book. So the publication date is 4th of February 21. So between now and then I’d like to generate pre-orders and sales. Having worked in the publisher, those are quite key. So I was the Amazon account manager at Orion Publishing, and every Monday I’d send various sales reports around. And one that would get everyone very excited was the pre-orders report. They’d be, “How many pre-orders for this book, that book?” Usually, it was the key brand authors because you could test those. So someone like Ian Rankin or Michael Connelly or Joanne Harris has a big book coming out. You can look at what their previous books had done, and see if they’re trending ahead or behind of what they previously pre-ordered. But then with debut authors, which is essentially what Simon and Schuster is treating me as the numbers would be much, much lower, but it will give them a guide, and they can extrapolate from that how many sales we might expect on day one. So that will be the first thing but further down the line, I had a conversation yesterday with the guy called Simon Appleby who creates websites for authors. He specializes in authors and publishers. And so he’s putting together a website for me. And that will go live in about five or six weeks. And that will help generate newsletter leads for me. I already have a newsletter as an author and sort of writing dare I say, expert, but so people follow me. And-
  • I think you’re an expert. I don’t know what you’re an expert in. But you’re definitely an expert of some sort rather
  • Exactly. And so I have that as a separate thing. But certainly for “The Witches of Woodville” and the ongoing book series, I’m doing that as a completely separate thing, as an experiment just to see, how I can generate leads for that as well. That’s stage two, it’s a bit further down the line. But that will be what I’m doing too.
  • So typically, so when used to work at Orion Publishing, I mean, how much time did they devote to kind of like you say, with a new author, which is exactly like you say, which is kind of how you’re gonna be treated. How much time would they devote to sort of sitting down and working with the author? I mean, how did it work in that way? I mean, obviously, I’m not familiar with the publishing niche at all, I’ve got no experience in it. But so it’s this whole kind of thing is a little bit of an experiment with us to try to bring, the kind of video marketing bit and the publishing bit together and see what happens. And obviously, hopefully, by doing so, sell a shed load of your books, your excellent books. But yeah, how did it typically work in Orion? And was there any kind of, I’m imagining there would have been some kind of process that the marketing team or whoever will have gone through with new authors. Have you got any sort of information on that?
  • Well, there’s new authors, and there’s new authors. I mean, if you’re a new author, and they’ve spent a ton of money on your advance, then obviously the stakes are very high. So they have to make that book work. And then there are authors further down the line, who get less of an advance, who perhaps will get less attention, and that’s just law of the jungle, it’s just how it works. If you’re the thrilling new debut author whose book went for half a million pounds at Frankfurt, and was subject of a heated auction, then everyone is very excited, and they’re gonna have to make that work. And then that’s when they produce, all kinds of extravagant stuff and make all sorts of scary promises to the author and agent which have to be met. So when you go into a marketing meeting at a publisher, that’s book number one, along with the big brand authors that are kind of ongoing income. Those further down the line, it can be a very different story. I read somewhere that it averages out, for a debut author gets like 300 quid a year spent on them. Which is-
  • Oh, wow okay.
  • If you do any kind of Facebook advertising or whatever that can go in a moment. To be honest, some of that can be, it can be dynamic spending. So if you’re someone who is in that 300 a year tier, and suddenly you take off, then they’re gonna start spending more money on you. So they will have budgets allocated to those really, really big major brand authors and those big exciting debuts, but there’s always a pot for the breakout authors, the ones who can break through. The thing that I’ve learned is, you don’t sit on your hands waiting for your publisher to do things for you. Just as you don’t sit around on your hands waiting for your agent to do things for you. You have to go out there and hustle and make things work and happen for yourself. So that’s what I’m sort of hoping to do with this. So yesterday I did a cover reveal for the book. Had a great response for that. Hundreds of likes and stuff on Facebook and on my blog or what have you. But even so, if I get 20 pre-orders out of that, I’ll be over the moon ’cause it’s just how that ratio works down. One or 2% of everyone who follows you, clicks and actually pre-orders the book, then you’re off to the races. So these aren’t big numbers, yet, this is all part of an ongoing process. And so I’m hoping that putting videos on YouTube will get me a whole new clutch of readers and people who might be interested in the books and get that ball rolling. So we’re in October now, book is coming in February. So the plan would be to start generating the pre-orders that will get the attention of my publisher and make them think, “Oh, actually, “this might be bigger than we thought it was. “Let’s start putting some.”
  • So that’s part of the strategy as well then in your case, is to sort of obviously get sales in absolutely, but it is also a thing to say actually as an author, talking to your so in terms of audiences if we think about it in those terms. Part of it is obviously to people who will genuinely love your your work. And then there’s another sub-sort of audience, which is your publisher going.
  • Yeah, it’s like-
  • I am actually putting an effort in and I wanna make this work. So maybe give me some more resources.
  • That comes from having worked for a publisher, ’cause I know how it works. If you’re an author in the mid list, as they call it, it’s like being the middle child in an enormous family. And it’s like you have to get attention. You either start smashing windows, and setting fires.
  • How did that go for you
  • Yeah, that’s not good. You become the problem child then. Or you start getting A’s in your homework and bringing home a little certificates saying that you’re the swot in the the class. And that’s probably the the way I want to go this time. So yeah, it is you have to get their attention. And I know that publishers will look at the reports and go, “Oh, another spike in pre-orders. “What’s he doing?”
  • Oh, that’s good. So is that in your opinion then is that sort of an open door let’s say to collaboration to try and sort of collaborate with the people who are in-house doing the marketing, and then establish where their not blind spots are, but the areas that they may be not concentrating on initially for whatever reason, and then plug those gaps? Is that what you’re saying?
  • I think you need to be progressive, you have to be best foot forward. So for example, yesterday, I was in Canterbury, which is one of the cities nearest to me. I went into Waterstones, in Canterbury. I got chatting with the events manager there, and I’ve got an email address. And I’m now gonna send that to First of all send it to my editor at Simon and Schuster, who will then forward it to the publicist. So this is before they’re even thinking of me as ’cause things go, publishers work to a critical path. So I’m not quite on their radar quite yet. But I am not waiting for them to do things for me. I’m saying, “Okay, I’ve done a cover reveal myself. “I’ve emailed it to everyone on my mailing list. “I’ve put a thing on Facebook and Twitter. “I went into one of the biggest local bookshops “spoke to the events manager about possibly doing an event.” So already they’re going “Oh, right. “He’s off. “He’s doing stuff. “He’s not someone we’re gonna have to push.” ‘Cause, you know how I’m like, I’m not exactly a shy wallflower.
  • those words are not words, I’d necessarily use in a sentence with you, no.
  • I mean, and some authors will find this difficult, but I do think you can’t sit around waiting for them to do things for you. You need to be proactive. And I’ve been to my local indie bookshop as well, been in there spoken to them about things like that.
  • I think like you say actually picking up on the on the piece that you just said the little comment you just made there about, it may well be way out of your comfort zone. And I think actually there’s always elements of I mean, for example, sort of starting this YouTube channel for me, as a business owner, as well, and effectively, that’s what you are right? As an author you have a product, which is the book, and it’s is basically down to you to get that to market. And you may or may not have a bit of backup with a publisher or whatever setup you’ve got. But there is that sense in which like you say, you’ve just got to bite the bullet and do stuff and just get yourself out there. And in the same way that arrow is sort of dithering for so long about, “Oh, well, I really should do a YouTube channel.” Oh, but I didn’t really wanna be on camera and oh, what am I going to talk about? And all this kind of thing. I think you just have to take the bull by the horns and get on with it. And actually, I think what I found is that, the more you do it, the I might say this, but it feels much more natural now, two, three or four months ago when I started, put it that way. And I think that’s the thing. I think there is always there are always gonna be reasons whatever you do, whether you’re an author, whether you’re a business owner, whatever business you’re in, Whatever niche you’re in, there’ll always be a reason why you shouldn’t. But the thing I always say to people is, “Just get started.” I mean, in terms of video, like literally grab your phone, if you’ve done your planning and you know who you’re talking to just grab your phone and start. You’re never gonna be amazing at it first off. And actually for you, Mark this is not your first rodeo, which is great. And actually, you’re coming to it again, like you say with the benefit of experience, in terms of, your previous book and your experimentation with, the various kind of Amazon ads and all the sort of other things that you did. Talk to me now about your YouTube presence. So where are you at with that? And sort of talk to me about Talk to me about the idea behind why you set it up? What’s its role for you? And also just, the kind of stats side of it for the statos that are out there.
  • All right, well, let me bring it up, ’cause they’re pretty poor. You will be delighted to hear. I set it up not long after, ’cause I wrote a film a few years ago called “Robot Overlords”.
  • An excellent film. Everyone has to go and watch that. It’s got very good behind the scenes bit as well in it. It’s- In fact it’s renown for that, right?
  • Everyone loves it for that. So yeah, gosh, it’s been I’m looking at now five years ago. So we started doing sort of EPK stuff, Electronic Press Kit stuff. And Mr. Jeremy Mason here was doing that. And I’ve never looked better in my life, the lighting, the focusing everything was amazing.
  • I mean, some of the focus worked, didn’t it? It was amazing.
  • I am naturally this fuzzy. So it makes for a very difficult job for you. But weirdly, I set it up just five years ago. And I did the film tie-in novelisation. So there are, stuff on here, of me talking about the book. And behind the scenes and there’s trailers. We got a cast to read an extract, which is really good fun. So I’m looking at that now. But it’s I’ve got 20 subscribers. So we’re starting from very low base. We’ve got other videos on there, weirdly, I put a video three years ago, called, “What is the Woodville Project?” which was a teaser for this, that’s clearly when that first started happening. I did various videos for “The End of Magic”. One was a fundraising thing, where I did a little trailer to teach people about that and get people to to back the project so there was some of that. But I never really did it as a, I never really went wholesale. Funny enough, my wife is a brilliant YouTuber, and she runs a thing called “Claire’s Allotment” on YouTube. She’s got nearly 22,000 subscribers .
  • You see, there you go. At that point you’re going, look at Claire and go, “Right okay, that’s what you wanna aim for.” And here are you and I, in the 10s of subscribers.
  • Exactly, see well she started in October 2007. She’s had nearly 6 million views.
  • That’s amazing. And she’s nearly 550 videos. But what she’s doing there, she’s being incredibly useful. She’s telling people how to grow their own, and demystifying that process. And I think that’s key. I think the key I learned from Claire is, be useful, offer something, offer a unique perspective on it. She’s interesting and she’s quite seasoned. I know, you’ve spoken about getting videos up on a regular basis. What she does, obviously, there are times of year when she’s busy, she’s now coming up to the time of year where it’s actually becomes quite quiet, she’s harvested stuff and it’s more about tidying the gardens. So she’ll be putting out fewer videos between now and say, the spring when it all starts getting busy again. But I think when you get to 6 million views and 22,000 subscribers, you have that luxury. I think when you’re starting out, certainly from having spoken to you and looking ahead, I need to start putting out content pretty quickly and on a regular basis
  • Yeah, I mean, the thing with YouTube, well, to be honest, any kind of social media that you’re trying to sort of leverage for a sort of a marketing purpose if you like, is that you’ve got to be consistent. Now, I mean, it’s quite onerous in terms of work level to go right, say for example, we, I create two videos a week and I have done since beginning of lockdown which was in March in 2020. So it’s been going for about six months or whatever. And it’s starting to get traction, but that’s you’re putting in an awful lot of work. And there are definite times where and that still happens now where you’re sort of putting all this work and putting all the research in, because like you say, you’ve got to create content that is useful, it’s got to be, people have got to be able to watch it and take golden nuggets of information out of it, that are actionable. And that’s always, at the heart of what I do, it’s not an ego trip at all. It’s genuinely wanting to help people kind of get under the bonnet of video marketing, and if I can do anything to help that’s brilliant. But you’ve got to, like I say, you’ve got to kind of almost plan and go, okay, you could do it on the basis of one video a week, it’s just that the curve will take a lot longer, to start happening. And I would suggest for your, given that your launch is in February, actually and also that you’ve got the bonus, as well of the fact that you’ve got your podcasts, you’re kind of established in your niche very well, already. And you’ve got a digital footprint, which is fantastic. It’s just not particularly on YouTube at the moment. But you could, I would imagine quite quickly use that kind of audience and sort of port them into your YouTube world relatively quickly. But there has to be content there that they’re gonna find useful, frankly.
  • Yeah and this is, like you say I’m quite lucky in that I’ve got a bit of a head start. But I think there’re a lot of authors out there. And this again goes across all content ’cause we talk to authors about starting a blog or a newsletter. And they’re like, “Well, what do I talking about? “I haven’t finished a book yet. “I haven’t published a book.” We always say to people, “Look just chronicle your journey. “Believe it or not there are writers all over the world “in the same spot as you “who are one step behind you.” They do say the best teachers are the ones just one step ahead of the student. Because there’ll be saying, “Well, okay, “I’ve been writing this today. “I’ve had a difficult chapter. “I’ve had to overcome these hurdles, “I’ve had to go back and completely rewrite this thing.” Believe it or not, that stuff is interesting to someone, and it will take time for you to find them and make that connection. But if the podcast has taught me anything, waffling on about writing can actually, attract people from all over the world, who want to know more. And that’s how you build up your community, a community of peers, and people who have similar interests. So don’t be too worried if you’re thinking, “What do I even talk about?” And certainly from my videos, they are gonna be short and sweet. We’re talking a few minutes here and there of just little nuggets that over time will build up and become something, hopefully, ’cause YouTube has this thing where you create playlists. So we’ll create themed playlists maybe. We start noticing there’s a theme. So there might be ones on just the book or me reading excerpts from it or talking about, ’cause I’m reading the proof pages at the moment. So I think that’s a video. It’s something a little bit behind the curtain stuff that people might enjoy. So certainly years ago before I started blogging or anything I remember the author Joe Abercrombie did very good blogs, just about the whole demystifying the whole process of getting a book published. And he’s now one of the biggest fantasy authors out there. And I think that certainly helped him get, bring him to the attention of people who, avid fantasy readers, but also writers who are thinking, “Oh, let’s peek behind the curtain. “Let’s see how this is done.” So stuff like that. Anything like that is really interesting to folk.
  • Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think and this goes to, and obviously we’re talking to we’re talking specifically now about sort of authors and books and publishing and stuff, but I think it goes for any niche. I think there’s a sort of thing called the burden of knowledge, where you and I we’ve been doing what we do for a long time. And there’s the assumption that comes with it that whenever you kind of meet someone or whatever, that you assume a certain level of knowledge, because it’s what you do all day every day and actually like you say, if you strip it back and you demystify it, and you literally start from like nothing and then literally like baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. As people who’ve done it for 20 odd years or whatever we’re gonna be going, “Surely no one’s interested in this,” but actually people are because there are some people that are brand new to it and I think kind of almost you’re doing them a disservice by not giving them that really kind of nuts and bolts foundation type stuff. So whether it be like we’re talking about with books and writing and all the rest of it or whatever your business niche is, literally go right back to basics and then start mining that seam for sort of information and ideas as to topics you can cover. There’s nothing, there’s also this thing called your vibe attracts your tribe and I hate but I’m really sorry Mark, you’re gonna hate me for constantly speaking in these ridiculous marketing-
  • I can’t even argue anymore.
  • I’ve changed. But there is a thing, ’cause the other thing that happens a lot, I think is that people start, they don’t know what they wanna talk about. And then they start kind of almost obsessing about the demographic side of it going, “I need to go after these people. “These people are my market or whatever.” And the danger with that is that, really it’s all about authenticity. And I mean, I think with us we’ve got the benefit. We are now literally almost cruising into our early 30s. So we’ve been doing it a while and so it kind of matters a bit less for us, do you know what I mean? I think but that’s my perspective. But no, there is a whole thing about authenticity, stripping things back going back to basics.
  • Yeah, the going back to basics thing, I think that’s very much the success behind Claire’s gardening YouTube channel because, it came about ’cause she kept getting emails and phone calls from people asking for gardening advice. She’s very good in that she assumes no knowledge, so that she will always talk about little things like, how far do you put the seed into the soil? You go on the “Gardeners World” on the BBC, they assume you have all this basic knowledge. They assume you’re keeping up with it. And Claire comes to it as if to say, “Look, if you’ve never even so much as looked at, “planting anything before, “come with me and we’ll go on this journey together.” So even her most up to date videos, you still get all that basic information. So people can jump in at any time and feel like they can ask there’s no such thing as a stupid question. They feel they can ask the basic questions, and she’s happy to answer those. I think if you’re going with that kind of attitude, people will be happy to come to you and you become their fountain of wisdom. You become the source of information. So I think you’re absolutely right about that basic thing.
  • And in terms of your podcast, I mean, how did that start? And are you thinking in any sense of another horrible word, marketing word, but leveraging those people that audience to so this is gonna sound really crass, but effectively sell a few units of your book.
  • Yeah, well that was “The Bestseller Experiment” came about. Again, it’s just after “Robot Overlords”. Our mutual friend, Mr. Mark Desvaux, who lives out in Vancouver Island in Canada. We both known him as teenagers, mutual friends and he got in touch after “Robots” and said, “Oh, this is great. “You’ve got a film and a book out. “This is amazing. “I’ve always wanted to write a book, “but I’ve never got beyond 20,000 words.” And he would always get to that kind of sticky point where you have to funny enough, we found this on the podcast, a lot of people have this. They get about a third into the book and it’s the point we have to start making really important story decisions. Because opening, starts opening a book, starting a book is actually quite easy. Getting to the end is really, really difficult. One thing led to another we said, “Well, let’s start a podcast “where we talk about that writing journey. “Let’s write a novel together. “Let’s co-write a novel with the intent of “finishing it in a year and self-publishing “and getting number one a Kindle chart.” And there are loads of Kindle charts, so it doesn’t have to be the main one. And the most important thing we said, I think, which is why the podcast has done so well. Is we said but we challenge our listeners to do the same. Someone out there will have a half-written novel or an idea for a novel, take it out the drawers beat us to it. Basically write your novel in 12 months beat us to it get it out the charts. And loads of people did. They absolutely did. I mean, I’ve got a big, there’s two huge piles of books here. Look, all these people, right?
  • That’s incredible.
  • Hadn’t had a book published before the podcast started. And those are just the ones with physical paperbacks. There are more who just self-published an e-book or what have you.
  • That’s incredible Mark. That’s such a great, I mean, talk about helping people.
  • Three-book deal with Gollancz. Mike was great. He said he was on the verge of giving up writing completely. He heard our interview with Joe Abercrombie started writing and had a three-book deal with Gollancz. He did a panel with Joe Abercrombie, at the Gollancz Fest a couple of years ago. So we’ve got award winners. So we’ve got Ian Sainsbury here he won the Kindle Storyteller Award last year. Lona Cook here, she won the RMA Award for Best I think it was Best Debut. So we’ve got all these incredible authors just knocking it out of the park and that’s been the most wonderful thing about the podcast, but it’s going back to the crass leverage.
  • It’s just dreadful, isn’t it?
  • The idea was that, through building our listenership, we were also building a readership for our novel. So every week, we interview authors or people who work in publishing and talk about the process of writing the craft of writing, the process of publishing, demystifying all those things. But we also Desvaux and I we also gave updates on the writing process and how we were getting on or not, as the case was. The ups and downs and the problems that we encountered. So people became invested in the book, and to see whether or not it would work or if it would crash and burn it would be a hit that sort of thing. So yeah after 12 months, this is three years ago now. The podcast is four years old, and we published the book after the 12 months. And the launch day was massive. Funny enough, we did use YouTube on the launch day. So “The Bestseller Experiment” does have a YouTube page and we did various sort of live YouTube events. I think this is before Facebook Live was a thing.
  • Yeah, I think I seem to remember. Yes, you just stripped it across YouTube, didn’t you?
  • So, yeah we had a big launch day. So it was like “Live Aid”. I started in London, and then we moved across the Atlantic and Desvaux took over in Canada. Not quite. We didn’t have Phil Collins on concorde.
  • I don’t I remember you wearing a white suit like Freddie Mercury. I mean, there’s always the next launch, right? There’s always a next launch.
  • Exactly, but we got to number one in 10 categories worldwide which was great. The weirdest, most surreal moment, we are in the UK fantasy humor chart. And we were number one. And Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett were number two with “Good Omens”. And number three was Douglas Adams. Now you know those are all my writing heroes. So it was a weird, surreal, and we tweeted Neil Gaiman and he retweeted us and it was just wonderful, wonderful day. So that because it worked, so big spike in sales. because that worked the podcast has gone on, and we’ve just had all these people writing their books and carrying on. So yeah we did leverage it for sales. We saw that spike. The book ticks along now. But again, it’s a standalone book ’cause Mark Desvaux and I agreed, for the sake of our friendship, never to work together again.
  • Just just as a sort of a disclaimer, not a disclaimer, but as a caveat, you are still friends. Like you still do talk to each other. You haven’t split off, there’s not been a massive hissy fit. And creative differences with people stumping off in various directions.
  • No we’ve gone on to launch the Bestseller Academy, which is for people like this, who want to go on and make a career of their writing and want to learn the craft of writing. So that’s been a hit that launched just a few months ago. Huge success sold out. First semester if you like completely sold out. And we’ve got a great bunch of people working with us. That’s great fun. But yeah it was, it’s been terrific. But we started with the basics. And yes, we use that audience to buy our books. So I’m hoping to kind of replicate that in a mini form. with my book.
  • And how I mean-
  • Going on shops in February 2021.
  • Oh obviously and some bad book shops as well probably.
  • Yes, good and evil bookshops.
  • Exactly. What I was gonna say, I think it’s absolutely brilliant that people have literally taken your kind of all that really good valuable kind of information that you’ve been pumping out, and then well without putting too fine a point on it, but they’ve kind of pretty much changed their lives, in some sense, in certainly their writing lives. Was that something that you went into it with that sense of actually really wanting to help people? Or is that a been a byproduct of it? And how important do you think, How important do you think the helping people element of content, if we can call it that, how important do you think that is?
  • It was essential, absolutely essential, because otherwise it’s two white blokes waffling on a podcast about how brilliant they are. Which the world-
  • Welcome to white blokes talking about how fantastic they are.
  • But if you don’t put something helpful out there and inspire people, and it’s weird because as in the first few episodes, we were kind of in isolation. Then we started getting emails in from people saying, “Oh, I love that, “and I’m starting to write again.” I was like, “Oh, that’s good.” And then by the end of the 12 months, we got people beating us to publishing our own book. So and that helps word of mouth. People start to talk to each other. And talk about marketing, word of mouth is the marketing money can’t buy. So we’ve got people talking to each other, telling each other about this podcast with these two white blokes waffling on, but occasionally they say something really useful, or they have interesting people on who’ve had proper successful writing careers. and have some wisdom to impart. So, we now have the the podcast is still free, still available everywhere. It’s this huge library of wisdom about writing. So it was absolutely essential, because I think if we didn’t do that, it wouldn’t be half the success it has been or even a success. It might have stopped after just a few episodes, frankly.
  • And how do you think? Or are you? Have you given any thought to how you can translate that kind of, imparting value information, all that sort of stuff, into have you had any thoughts about how that is gonna work for the new book at all?
  • Yeah, I think, it’s a slightly different thing, ’cause I’m not writing a book about writing a book. I’m doing this completely separate. So the podcast is still ongoing, we still do that thing every week. So I don’t want that to be too big of an overlap. And the thing I’ve realized, of course, if you build up our listenership was writers, who want to learn how to write. And some of those are writing crime, or romance or horror or whatever, some are writing memoirs. So only a certain percentage of those are gonna to be interested in our book, which is called “Back to Reality”, which is kind of time travel body swap comedy adventure thing. So not who everyone who listens to the podcast has bought the book. So only a small percentage of them will actually convert into sales. And likewise with this, I think, there’s some, I’m trying to generate interest in a book, which is a kind of cozy folk horror comedy, Terry Pratchetty thing set in World War Two, so only a certain amount of those will really be interested. So it’s a matter of putting content out there about the book and the process of creating a book. So I’m gonna attract people who might have no interest in reading the book. But if you keep them in the room long enough, it’s like a casino. The house always wins . If you keep them in there will be certain amount that will go, “Oh, I’ll give it a go. “Actually, I’ll give that a go.” So it’s a slightly different process in that I’m not selling a skill set. I’m not offering secrets of how to be a best selling author or anything like that. I’m inviting them into a world and my process. And I think that might be of interest to a certain number of people who will be interested in a certain kind of book. Now that feels very niche. But one of the things we have discovered on the podcast is Desvaux loves saying this, “Niche is the new big.”
  • I love that.
  • Well, there’s 7 billion people on the planet and if you find a niche, and you find your tribe as you were saying, they will glom on to you, and stick with you through thick and thin. So I think if don’t try and be like everyone else. I think, be yourself. Be that idiosyncratic person. And you will find others like you across the world. Fingers crossed.
  • Yeah, no, I totally totally agree with you. And I think that’s incredibly, incredibly important. Whatever content you’re creating be it video, be it blog post, writing books whatever you have just got to be honest and real. I mean I know it sounds really trite, doesn’t it? But I can’t-
  • They love it. One of the things people tell us about the podcast is the honesty. And we’ll be completely upfront with all the mistakes that we made, the failure. Again one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is failing is learning. You fail at something but you learn from it and bounce back. And people really, really appreciate that kind of honesty. I think if you try and put a sheen on it, I mean, obviously, they’re a big influencers out there who are living bullshit lives that we know aren’t real. But that’s for them. They can do that. ‘Cause you see that that bubble always burst frankly. I think if you do keep keep it real. I think people appreciate that honesty. And in the long term, it’s a slower more gradual curve to success. But you get that success organically. Here’s a little thing. I did experiment when I was doing “The End of Magic”, I did experiment with all those newsletter groups, where you go on there, and you say, “Okay, I’ve got a fantasy novel, “I’m gonna pile them with all these other fantasy novels. “I’m gonna put it on offer for 99p, “and get lots of email addresses off that.” And I’ve got lots of email addresses off that. But the click through rate is piss poor because they’re actually not they had to give me their email address to get free short story. But how many of those have read it? How many of those have, so every time I put a newsletter out now, I always get two or three people unsubscribe, because they were the people who actually they weren’t really interested in me in the first place. So I think that thing of expecting a big spike in email addresses is tricky. Because actually, they’re kind of it’s like empty promises.
  • Well, there is that other thing as well, I mean, I think it’s an interesting thing with books because of the price point. But there is this received wisdom like you say, that you just need gazillions of people on an email list to sort of make it work in some way. But actually, that is completely not true. And it’s particularly at the higher if you’re doing what they call high ticket items, whether it’s training courses or whatever it is, you actually, it’s like you say it’s actually about the quality of the contacts. The quality to makes sure that they actually, they’re not tire kickers, and they’re not sort of, “Oh, I’ll click, because of just, “I’m bored and I wanna just-“
  • Going back to Claire’s YouTube page again, she has a blog, she has a newsletter. And she’s never done any kind of newsletter swap, or Facebook advertising or anything for that. It’s all completely organic. And because of that, the click through rate, and the view rate on her newsletters are through the roof. ‘Cause they are people genuinely interested I mean, it’s taken her since 2007 to build it. And it’s only a few thousand people, but they are genuinely interested in her. So I think don’t be too worried if you’ve only got 10, 20, 30, 50 people on your newsletter to start with. Because, if they’re coming to you organically, they are much more likely to be genuinely interested in what it is you have to offer. So don’t get too hung up on the numbers or something like that.
  • No, absolutely. I’m conscious of time and drawing this particular episode to a close. What I wanna to do Mark is put you slightly on the spot. And let’s just give some headlines from your massive brain the size of a planet, what your goals are, in terms of, and it doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list at this stage. Let’s just kind of almost put a line in the sand and go “Okay, for this book, “what are you looking to achieve?” And then we’ll explore more of those next session. And also what we’ll then do after that is we start then talking about who your audience is, and the different pockets of them, like we’ve started to talk about all these different people that you interact with now, and also where the new ones may be found and how we’re gonna go into find those people. So let’s talk about right now, a few goals that you have in mind for this new book, in terms of sales.
  • Right so we’re sort of end of October now, book is coming in February. I would be absolutely over the moon and cock-a-hoop, if I got 1,000 pre-orders in February. Is that likely? I don’t know. I don’t know. I can but try. So I’m probably starting from a very low base. I imagined, like I said, with all those clicks and everything I said we got 20 pre-orders yesterday, then yay. So we’ll go from there. Even if we got a couple 100 I’d be happy. But I think 1,000 is impactful. People will sit up and pay attention at that the publisher will pay attention and be much more interested in book two than they were in book one.
  • So that’s a really interesting point you make actually. So part of it is obviously, getting some cash in for this particular book. But actually, it’s about making sure that you’re illustrating to the publisher, actually this is a viable series, right?
  • I going concern. I’ve got legs, as they say,
  • You’ve definitely got two of them I think.
  • I’ve definitely got two legs. I’m very lucky in that respect. But yeah, it’s a matter of, bringing yourself to their attention because they do. They have weekly meetings where they look at the numbers. And if you’re gaining traction, then you get their attention. So that is what it’s all about. Because this is the thing is previously I’ve either self-published, or I’ve been with a hybrid publisher like like Unbound. Where I don’t see any data and you’re kind of blokes thrown to the wolves. You have to do it all yourself. With this, all of this is out of my control the pre-orders and everything I can’t I don’t get daily visibility on them. I’ll have to ask the publisher to see these numbers. They don’t necessarily have to share them with me, although they probably will.
  • You see that tricky Mark? That’s really interesting, yeah.
  • So I need to do everything I can to make an impression and show them that I’m not just another cell on a spreadsheet.
  • Yeah, exactly. I think that’s an interesting challenge you mention there about not having oversight of the figures ’cause obviously part of working out what is working and what sticking and what isn’t, is that whole thing about trackability. You’ve got to be able to track. I put X spend behind this, we got X views which converted into X transactions, whatever it is that you’re trying to sell. So that’ll be really, really interesting to see how we can square that circle I think. Ladies and gents thanks for joining us. So next session we will be deep diving, another marketing jargon type word for you. But we’ll be delving into setting goals for this campaign. And then what we’ll be doing is brainstorming the audiences and starting to talk about who we need to be talking to about this fantastic book and then maybe get into a little bit about, what kind of content we think will resonate with them. But for now, Mark thanks ever so much.
  • [Mark] My pleasure.
  • Everyone else, have a lovely week, and we will see you here very shortly. Ta ta for now.
  • Adios.
  • [Narrator] Thanks for watching. We really hope you got loads of value from this episode. We’d love to hear from you too. So if you’ve anything you’d like to know about, or any topics you’d like us to look at, just ping us a message in the comments below. Please do like, share and subscribe. We massively appreciate your support. And we’ll be back next week with the next step in our exciting journey. So join us then.

Published by

MarkStayWrites

Author, screenwriter, and co-founder of the Bestseller Experiment podcast.

4 thoughts on “A New Mad Challenge! — Marketing a Book on Youtube”

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