I’m really excited about introducing you to Nick Stephenson today. He’s the creator of the “Your First 10k Readers” course and though I had already sold more than 5 million books by the time I took his class, I still learned a ton and loved the class. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for my blog below.

Bella: I remember putting out my first book and hoping someone (anyone!) would buy it. It would be great if you could talk about how your course specifically helps with those scary early days. Bullet points are always good, LOL!

Nick: It’s the same for everyone – me included! I remember it was a weird shift to go from “hiding in my creative cave” to trying to figure out how to go out and sell. And it’s nerve-wracking too. I believe as authors, we’re not really trained to do anything even remotely extroverted – so when I later realised that 99% of my sales were coming from my email list and my marketing emails, I was relieved. After all, I could set up these emails in advance and just let them run… meaning it didn’t feel like I was going out and selling. And readers were emailing in actually THANKING me for telling them about my other books for sale – so I was making people happy too. But it took a long time to get there, so this course is really all about helping other authors get there faster (without spending years on trial and error like I did).

Bella: I know all about trial and error. Tell us more about the nuts and bolts of what you teach.

Nick: Specifically, in “Your First 10k Readers” I take authors step by step through:

  • how to come up with a book idea and turn it into a published work within 60 days
  • how to optimise your books for the Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook ecosystems (so your book shows up where readers are already looking)
  • the best ways to drive online traffic to your books and websites without spending all day on social media
  • specific strategies to turn all that traffic into email subscribers – basically, turning “window shoppers” into loyal fans and buyers
  • and most importantly, how to sell without being “sleazy”. That’s a really big one for me, because I never wanted to come off like those scammy online marketers. I wanted to make people happy AND make revenue. Turns out, you can do both if you approach it in the right way (we show you how)

So, basically, the course is an A-Z of everything you need to go from “never written anything” to “published and rocking it”! We also cover Facebook advertising and how to use all the behind-the-scenes technology (even if you’re a technophobe).

Bella: One of the things I was (very pleasantly) surprised about with your course was that after having sold more than 5 million books, taking your course sparked a good dozen plans for my own promotions and marketing campaigns. (Which I’ve since implemented to great success–yay!) Writers get in touch with me all the time to ask for my top tips for having a successful writing career. What would your answer be to that?

Nick: My #1 piece of advice for any author is to build a mailing list. As in, forget about EVERYTHING else until you have at least a few hundred people on your database. Forget about sales, forget about fiddling around with your blog theme – get those email subscribers and you are building a platform for a long-term career that you own 100% – that nobody can take away from you.

In fact, I did a webinar this past weekend that will take you through how to get started with this right now. Check it out for free right here: http://bellaandre.com/GYAwrpt

The strategies I cover in the webinar cost nothing and are quick to set up and see results. So there’s no excuse

Bella: How do you think the marketing and promotion landscape has changed? And what are you most excited about with regards to marketing/promotion opportunties for writers now?

Nick: I believe self-published and traditionally published authors are getting to grips with the need to go out and market themselves. The days of handing a manuscript over to a publisher and then just sitting back and twiddling your thumbs are over (if they ever existed). If you want to sell more than a handful of books, you need to have a direct line to your audience. And this is a great thing for readers too, because they get to have more of a relationship with their favourite authors, so everybody wins.

The principles we teach in “Your First 10,000 Readers” are marketing approaches that have worked for hundreds of years. We’re not talking about some kind of gimmicky “hack” or “magic bullet” to trick people into buying your books – what I teach people is long-term and sustainable growth. Which means (a) figuring out who your audience is, and (b) getting a direct line of communication with them.

In the past, that might have been direct mail (like Mills & Boon or Harlequin romances) or even with live readings (like Charles Dickens was famous for) so really the only thing that’s changed is the medium we use – email. It’s still all about building that connection with your reader, gaining their trust, and asking for the sale.

What really excites me is the capacity for automation these days. With modern email marketing providers (like Mailchimp – free for your first 2,000 subscribers) you can literally set up everything in advance and just let it run. Meaning you can build a powerful platform of hungry fans without lifting a finger – once it’s all set up.

Writers can find out more about the course and reading some testimonials by going here: http://bellaandre.com/GYAan