Self-Publishing, Distribution, and Writing for Wealth with Author Joanna Penn

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How the Amazon Kindle and ebook pricing made it possible for independent authors and entrepreneurs to self-publish and write for wealth
  • Why marketing, packaging, and pricing correctly can expand your sales
  • How mobile, audio, and the growth of the international market are the next opportunities for authors

Ever the entrepreneur, Joanna Penn, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast and author of 26 books and counting, realized the potential to write for wealth in October 2009. That was when the Amazon Kindle launched internationally and lower ebook pricing allowed independent authors access to a much larger marketplace.

Ebook pricing was a revelation. When the Kindle came out, independent authors could price their books lower and still make good margins.

– Joanna Penn

Joanna’s entrepreneurial mindset quickly realized the potential to sell books digitally to people all over the world.

Online marketing, packaging and pricing

If you are going to publish online, you need to market online.

– Joanna Penn

In 2009, Joanna was miserable at her 9-5 job, so she decided to write her first non-fiction book. After self-publishing and self-marketing the book through traditional channels (PR, TV, and newspapers), Joanna had sold about “three copies.” At the time, she really wanted to tap into the American marketplace that was much larger than Australia’s, so her focus shifted to online marketing to reach those American readers. She ditched traditional media for anything with a clickable link; started a blog in 2008, a podcast and Twitter account in 2009.

Since “you can’t have a career with just one book,” don’t trap yourself into launching a website or social media channel for just one title. Chances are you will write another book, so make sure your branding can encompass this growth.

99 cents made the first Kindle millionaires.

– Joanna Penn

By 2011, Joanna had a number of books and realized that she could leave her miserable job because her income would grow based on the size of her audience and the number of books she had.

In the podcast, Joanna shares her insights about figuring out the right price point to get the highest number of people to purchase your book and why offering something for free to your audience is still very important to build your email list and give them a chance to sample your work to see if they like it.

Under her pen name for action/adventure thrillers, J.F. Penn, Joanna’s first book in a nine-book series, Stone of Fire is permanently free on Kindle. That freebie is like the cheese samples in the supermarket. You go in and try it. If you like it, you’ll buy the whole packet—or in this case, the reader will purchase the entire series or more books if they liked what they sampled for free.

Think of Amazon as a completely different ecosystem. Amazon’s algorithms will recommend your other books that are at a higher price point to shoppers when they show interest in your free book. This is why Joanna uses J.F. Penn for her action/adventure thrillers and Joanna Penn for her non-fiction writing—to fully leverage Amazon’s role as a search engine to get in front of the right audience without confusing the algorithms.

In addition, Joanna is adept at re-packaging her work to be more easily found on Amazon whether by adjusting titles, creating box sets or altering the categories she shows up in. If your book has gone stagnant on Amazon, look at changing the cover, the category, and keywords and putting some ads on it and you may restart the whole thing.

Growth of mobile and international marketplaces

Kindle apps on mobile. Audio through Alexa. Best-seller lists on Amazon. The digital transformation of publishing continues. Joanna predicts the next opportunity for independent authors will be international marketplaces, and a little foreshadowing, it might not be on Amazon.

You don’t want to miss a thing from my conversation with Joanna about self-publishing. Tune in to the full episode to learn more about how she repackages her work and what’s on the horizon for self-publishing.

Join us each week by subscribing to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes.

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