192 - Art of the Ask.png

Surely you can’t just ask for what you want? Kevin begs to differ. If you’ve been struggling to find a way to market your books on a shoestring or no-string budget, you’ll want to tune in to this episode for some first-step author marketing advice.




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 Kevin Tumlinson:          00:00                Hey slingers, this is another week of the Wordslinger Podcast. And one you're not gonna want to miss. Stick around and find I, you can get what you want just by asking for it. Hey, you looking for a jump on your own India author career. Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson:          00:14                Kind of confused about where to start. I got the place for you. Check out draft two digital. That's where you're going to be able to convert your manuscript, distributed worldwide, online, and get help. The hallway from the best author support there is. Trust me on this one. So go check out drafted digital@drafteddigital.com slash word slinger.

Announcer:                   00:37                It's the Wordslinger Podcast where story matters. Build your brand, write your book, redefine who you are. It's all about the story here. What's yours? Now here's the guy who invented pants, optional Kevin Tumlinson, the Wordslinger.

Kevin Tumlinson:          01:02                Well, I am Kevin Tumlinson, the Wordsligner. Uh, you

Kevin Tumlinson:          01:05                are whoever you are the person listening to this broadcast. Uh, so I'm, uh, I'm in the middle, so you may have noticed I didn't, uh, do an episode last week. Um, and I gotta tell Ya, it's, it's probably going to be tough to get episodes out over the next couple of months. I got, I got conferences coming up August. I, I, I literally have a conference every week of August. Um, and, uh, lots, a lot of travel. It's a lot of trying to work everything out. I'm gonna do my best. I'm gonna do my absolute best to, uh, to get you at least one episode a week in there. It might just be a bunch of Solo slinger episodes. Um, and I'm sorry to the folks who I have interviewed that I'm trying to, I'm trying to get through that bad catalog as fast as possible, and I got more interviews coming up.

Kevin Tumlinson:          01:57                So, uh, but you know, this is crunch time, uh, for me in this, in this business with, um, basically it's conference season. So, um, I'm gonna do my best though, and I'm looking out for you. Uh, and speaking of that, uh, you know, we've done a couple of webinars now or while we've done one webinar so far for a draft to digital, the d to do d to d a You a as we call it, ask us anything. Uh, the first one went really well and we set up a bunch of, uh, author consultations. Now, unfortunately, I didn't check a box, uh, that needed to be checked in order to evenly distribute the consultations. So for two weeks, two, three weeks now I have, um, I've basically had back to back consultations with authors with no gap between, uh, and no lunch breaks and none of that.

Kevin Tumlinson:          02:49                So it's been a very rough couple of weeks. Uh, plus we've had some other, I've had some other things going on here, like a whole family thing happened. Um, so it's been challenging to get everything done and that includes getting the Wordslinger Podcast recorded. Um, but I'm here, I'm back at least today. Um, but one of the things that's come up in the author consultations that I thought would make a great topic, uh, it's a very basic marketing technique or marketing, um, strategy that I think gets overlooked all the time. Now, everyone I talked to, uh, asks marketing questions, they're always very focused on, you know, Facebook ads, uh, Amazon Ams ads, that sort of thing. You know, how do I handle I up my game and get people to buy my book wide or, you know, uh, just discover me and get on my mailing list. And the one thing that I've discovered that, that hardly anyone does is just ask for what they want.

Kevin Tumlinson:          03:53                So if you have a mailing list, now, a lot of the VA, a lot of the authors I've talked to at all, you know, they only have like maybe a hundred people, some only have like 20 people on their list. Uh, some have 1500. It is, it's, it doesn't really matter what the size of the list is. But one of the things you should be doing regularly is engaging that readership with personable emails, which we've talked about in the past. When you want to become a human being to these people, you don't have to share personal, private details of your life, but you want to, uh, frame yourself as someone that they can, that they might enjoy knowing. You know, as someone you're having a conversation with. Um, and in these emails you should periodically ask them to share the, the links to get your free book or short story or whatever you're using to get people on your mailing list.

Kevin Tumlinson:          04:47                Um, if you're not offering something, some top of funnel offer or incentive for authors to get on your mailing list, you need to come up with something. Um, I just talked to an author just now. I won't, I won't reveal who she was. I, she's, she's a little shy, but uh, she has a free novella. I have no a prequel. It wasn't an Avella cause it was like 75,000 words. So it was a full on book. She'll give that book away for free. She sells it, but she also gives it away for free. If you get on her mailing list a, but she created this a bonus content that was a, uh, sort of a like almost like, uh, an espionage case study kind of thing. Um, and uh, she offered that as a sort of, I'm sorry to her list for not having emailed him for a bit.

Kevin Tumlinson:          05:35                And I, I told her to, to package that and offer that as an incentive for people to just get on the list in the first place. That's a great resource. So if you, if you could pull together a little things like that, just content people can't get anywhere else. Exclusive content for being on your mailing list that is attractive to a lot of readers. And, uh, it's also going to pull in the kind of readers that you want, the readers who are interested in this, this topic that you cover. You know, whatever your genre happens to be, um, who are willing to take an action, uh, which makes them much more likely to take the action of buying a book when you have one to promote to them. Now, um, email your list regularly, once a month at least. Um, and tell them it's perfectly okay with you if they share the links to get the free downloads.

Kevin Tumlinson:          06:33                Say, ah, look, I am trying to reach as many readers as possible. You know, this is my dream. You can help me achieve my dream. If you share this link with everyone you know, everyone you think would be interested in reading, um, my kind of books and uh, and just do that every now and then. This is a, this should become a, a regular part of your author diet. Uh, you are going to go out and ask your readership and your platform to share, um, ways to get on your mailing list. The mailing list is where the money's at. It always will be. I'm convinced of this. It always has been for sure. So you want to nurture the mailing list before you try anything else. If you're, if you want to advertise and you're not making a lot of sales, I would advise you to advertise Facebook ads or otherwise.

Kevin Tumlinson:          07:30                Um, well the focus on growing your mailing list rather than focusing on sales. Now Amazon's a little different. Uh, ams, the, you know, it's all internal. Um, I have my own opinions about Amazon ads, um, and uh, sort of the toll to play an idea. But um, you can do the same thing on Amazon ads. You can have a book that is, uh, geared towards, you know, for example, this author is pretty cool. This book is actually geared towards enticing people to get interested in the rest of her series. Um, I would heavily laden that with, um, you know, calls to action to get on her mailing list. Definitely a CTA to read through in the next book in the series. Definitely want that. But I would make sure that the call to action to get on the mailing list is front and center and then the Freebie that they get at that point should be like that bonus material or something that they can't get anywhere else.

Kevin Tumlinson:          08:30                Cause what you don't want is for the author or for the readers to feel cheated to find out that they could have gotten this book. They just spent, you know, a couple of bucks on for free if they had gotten on your mailing list. So instead you're advertising this prequel or the first book in your series or whatever. Uh, definitely trying to promote, read through, but also trying, pushing, uh, to get people on your mailing list. Once they're on your mailing list, you get a whole lot of other options. Uh, you nurture that list in, you'll go far. So, um, so that is part of this ask. Um, you should also ask, asking is always this to me, it's a magical tool. Ask your readers how things are going, how are the, how, how are you liking the books? Take that feedback and learn from it.

Kevin Tumlinson:          09:28                So if someone says to you, you know, I like the books, but there's a lot of typos. All right, well there's an area to focus on. You got to get better at editing. I like your books with the covers stink or I like your books. I really love the covers. You might get some positive feedback out of this, which is always good and always motivational. Um, and then, uh, ask you can ask them what you know for ideas. You can say, I'm trying to get more people to uh, to check out my books at the library. Right? Does anyone know any librarians I can talk to? Does anyone know any programs I can be involved in? Um, and you may be able to find this stuff with a Google search, but if you find this stuff through the people you're engaging with it, there's a bond that happens.

Kevin Tumlinson:          10:17                So don't be afraid to ask your platform, um, to help you out and frame it that way. You can say, now you're, you should always focus on trying to give more than you get when it comes to your platform. And I'm using platform to encompass emails, social media conferences, you attend, whatever. But uh, you want to try to give more than you receive, right? So give out some free bonus stuff. Give out, you know, make sure you are engaging your, your email list with, uh, tales from wherever. If you're not personally comfortable sharing personal information, then share things about what you're reading, share trips that you're taking chair or not. You don't have to give people insight information about you're going to be out of town during such and such date. But you can come back and share photos, share history that you've learned. If you're a romance writer, share a, you know, funny romantic comedies that you've watched.

Kevin Tumlinson:          11:17                Um, you want to share, share, share. You want to get these people to start thinking of you as a friend that they are willing to help. And then you periodically a, asked them to share with as many people as they can. Your link to get a download or whatever. Or, um, you're linked to by a renew, a preorder or buy a new release or something along those lines. And, and be, um, you asked them to buy this, softens that ask, ah, it's not a hard sell if you spent three months prepping to make it right or to even ask for it. Um, so there's an underlying philosophy here. It's something that it's part of, it's one of my sort of principles, right? That, um, you never get anything you'd [inaudible] you're going to, everything you get you have to ask for in one way or another, right?

Kevin Tumlinson:          12:16                Even if you didn't intend to ask for it. So the phrase my grandfather used to use is, I never got to think, I didn't ask for, even if it was a punch in the mouth, which I always took to mean, you know, you, you get, you ask for everything you get out of life in one way or another, your reap what you sell, right? If you got punched in the mouth, you probably set that up somehow, even if you didn't sing or do anything to deserve it. You put yourself in these scenario somehow. Right? Um, and maybe that's not true. Maybe someone just randomly ran up and clocked you in the jaw. It, it's been known to happen. Uh, this is not victim blaming. This is personal responsibility, right? This is you deciding you're empowered rather than deciding everything has to happen to you. You, you are deciding, I am make things happen. When you think like that and you're willing to ask for what you want, you increase the odds of getting it.

Speaker 4:                    13:15                Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson:          13:15                So you may not get it every time, right? You may not actually get what you asked for. You may ask for something and you don't get exactly what you asked for. Uh, but maybe it comes close or maybe it goes off in a different direction and you decide you didn't want that anyway. You know, maybe you could change your mind, but getting used to and getting comfortable with asking, uh, will carry you much further. This is part of a whole bootstrapping idea by the way, that you can use this to promote yourself without having spend money. So that right there should make your ears perk up. So, uh,

Speaker 4:                    13:56                okay.

Kevin Tumlinson:          13:56                There's a couple of concepts at play here and we talk about this often, but your first priority should be to build up your platform as much as possible. Your platform can be defined as, as your reach to a willing audience that that has a higher, that has higher odds of actually going out and purchasing your books. That's going to be your platform. Your mailing list is the biggest component of that platform. The more people you can get on your mailing list, who are sympathetic to you, who are vetted, uh, the better. So your goal there is you want to build a mailing list of people who, uh, who like the type of thing you write and are willing to part with money for it.

Speaker 4:                    14:38                Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson:          14:38                Which, you know, seems pretty basic and no brainer. And yet nobody, nobody, I'm not going to say that. A lot of authors don't think about it and they don't do what it takes to make happen. Um, so this is all kind of a mindset thing. I'll be honest, it's, it's all, it's all kind of go out and own your author career, right. Be empowered and empowered. People ask for what they want. The idea is to ask, ask, ask and play the numbers game increase your odds every time you ask your odds go up. Right? So that's what marketing is. Marketing is all about increasing the odds that the right person will find your book at the right time and make a purchase. That's what marketing is. Some people spend money to increase those odds. Some people don't. Some people do a mix of both. Um, I do a mix of both.

Kevin Tumlinson:          15:37                Uh, but for the largest portion of my career I had, I only did free promotion stuff cause I only had $0 million to spin. So it's not impossible to market your work without money. It's not impossible at all. You, you don't need a budget to market. Uh, but money is uh, in a nice, interesting little reciprocal relationship with time. You are either going to spend time or you are going to spend money. Money is a shortcut. Money means you don't have to spend as much time and you can actually amplify your time with money. But that doesn't make it the end all be all of my marketing resources. That would be, um, your creativity. You know, because even if you have a budget, let's say that you've got $1,000 extra a month, you know, you sell cans or you or blood or, or you have a book income of thousand dollars or you, um, mow lawns on top of your regular job or something, right?

Kevin Tumlinson:          16:40                You've just, somehow each month you've cobbled together an extra thousand a month that you can throw into an advertising or rather a PR I, um, marketing budget, I don't want to call it an advertising budget, cause advertising isn't always the right answer. Advertising can be the right answer, but it comes down to how are you going to spend that thousand dollars? What, how do you, how can you most efficiently spend that thousand dollars? And let's just say it's not $1,000. So let's say the best you're able to do each month is an extra hundred dollars. How do you spend it? Well, you know, you can't go do, um, in an elaborate Facebook ad campaign for 100 bucks a month. You can run Facebook ads for 100 bucks a month and you might even see some traction, but it, it, you need to assess, um, how best to apply those funds. If Facebook advertising is going to be the way to go, chances are you're going to need to figure out, um, the best way to funnel traffic from those ads into something that you can use.

Kevin Tumlinson:          17:44                I would argue that at that point, the lower your budget, uh, the important it is to focus entirely on your mailing list. And I think that's just, that's just marketing life right there. In fact, with us, we, let's just engrave that in stone. The lower your budget, the more important it is to focus entirely on growing your mailing list rather than on direct sales. Because you can sell to that list over time. Once you have those people captured, you don't have to spend any more money to, to engage with them necessarily. I mean there are, there is some overhead in, you know, the email management systems, lots of tools out there to explore, to help keep the cost down. But in general, if you have a mailing list, you're not going to spend a ton of money, uh, to be able to remain in contact with them.

Kevin Tumlinson:          18:38                Um, but you control that list, you control that group. I mean, if it came down to it, I don't advise this, but you could export that list and import it into a special Gmail account and email those people on blind. See, you know, blind copy, right? There's always going to be a way, I'm not always an advisable way, but at least there is a way, right? So, um, that's the, that's our new one of our new commandments. Well, maybe one day, I should write all these down actually, but that's one of our new commandments. This is lower your budget. The more your focus should be on building your mailing list, uh, and asking that list to help promote you to others is how you grow that list beyond having you spend money, right? So if you can only spend 100 bucks a month and you're focusing all, all of it on getting a couple of people on your mailing list here and there, then I'm asking them to go off and be advocates on your behalf.

Kevin Tumlinson:          19:39                It's, that's the fastest way to grow without a bunch of overhead. It's a little bit like network marketing that I don't know if anybody in the audience has ever had this experience. I got approached by tons of people who did network marketing, Amway and things like that. I'm not saying I'm not going to pass any judgments on this. Uh, this practice. There are a lot of millionaires out there who built their millions through network marketing. So Kudos to you. Um, it was never quite my bag. However, the principle of it is pretty sound from a marketing perspective. Uh, I just think we take a different, more heartfelt approach than going out and blind recruiting, you know, hundreds of people to do our bidding and be in our, our downline or whatever they call it. Um, and here's how that would work. So you get, you get your readers to download your Freebie, you get on your mailing list and, and maybe they've even gone off and bought a book or two from you.

Kevin Tumlinson:          20:43                And if you only have one book, you know, maybe they've bought your book, now you've, uh, you've enticed them to get on your mailing list, you've somewhat vetted them. And if you asked them to go off and share with just, you know, could you just go share with, say, I would always say everyone, you know, but even if it's just two people, if you could just get two people to sign up and get this Freebie, think of two people you like who might like it and enjoy this book or this bonus content or this short story and tell them, give them this link. You can share this email with them. And that's really when you want your emails to be on point, by the way. You want your emails to be, um, focused on, uh, being personable, engaging, asking questions, open loops. We call it, you want people to respond, right?

Kevin Tumlinson:          21:36                Uh, but if you, I'm telling you, as you get people on your mailing list, people are, are really kind of wonderful if you ask for help and you frame it that way. Hey, I need your help. Okay, I need a favor. If that favor doesn't cost them any money, then there's a bigger chance that they're going to go ahead and do it. Uh, there's a book and I'm gonna pop over into a web browser real quick and try to remember what the, I know that the title is influence. Um, but I can't remember the author's name right now, so let me look that up. But you want to, you want to get your hands on this book, uh, influence science and practice. Is that it? No, the psychology of persuasion influence the psychology of persuasion. Uh, this is a written by Robert B and I think it's chill, chill, chill.

Kevin Tumlinson:          22:31                Deany CIA, l. D. I. N I, um, pick up this book. Read this book, get it on any book. Get it on audible. Uh, wherever you like to, uh, consume your books. Uh, this is a, this is a good one. This is this, there are a lot of ideas in here that are very applicable to authors. One of the ideas was, um, people respond to and ask if you give them a reason, if you say, because, right? So, uh, I think, and I'm, I'm, I may butcher this, this example. So if you read the book and I'm completely off base, forgive me, it's been a bit, um, but they did a test with, um, people in line to use a copier and someone comes along and says, do you mind? Could I get, could I cut in front of you and use the, the copier because I have 10,000 copies to make or I have 10 copies to make.

Kevin Tumlinson:          23:30                That's probably closer to what they actually said. Um, so what they found was when people did this and they gave a reason, no matter what that reason was, it, it increased the odds that the person would let them cut. So when you say to someone, um, would you mind sharing this email with everyone? You know, because I'm trying to build up my readership and it would really help me out. Okay. So now they get to be a hero. You're asking them to help you fulfill your dreams. I would even frame it that way if you wanted. I have a dream of being an author. This is the only thing I really want to do with my life. I love writing. I love, I'm so happy that you enjoy my books. Would you help me find new readers by sharing this with as many people as you can think of?

Kevin Tumlinson:          24:24                Thank you so much. I'm so very grateful. And so now you're, you're coming to them hat in hand asking them to help you. You've got to get past the ego. But on this, by the way, don't think of this as begging or, or, or anything like that. Asking for charity. Uh, these people agreed to get on your mailing list because they were interested in what you had to say. They're interested in your book. They were interested in your Freebie. They voluntarily got on this list. You asking them to help grow. That list is not charity. It's just to, you know, two people interacting. We do this. The social contract allows us to do this all the time in our personal relationships. Stop thinking of your list as being a bunch of customers and start thinking of them as a bunch of friends of yours and your life is going to change for the better. I promise you start treating everybody on that list like, like you are so thrilled that they're there because you should be everyone on that list. They're more than just numbers. They're more than just the dollars. They represent their living, breathing human beings who care about you and showed it by getting on your list. Nelson, are there deadbeats on lists? Yes. Are there people who aren't going to respond positively no matter what you say or do? Yes. They're not your audience.

Kevin Tumlinson:          25:49                They're welcome to leave that list. You have a special club that, uh, that this group belongs to and you want to treat them like that and remind them of it all the time. You are a, you are in and the exclusive, a company of, of wonderful human beings. And, uh, I am so happy you're here. I am your guide in this, in this, uh, community. Uh, but I, you know, I am a also a servant and if you could help me by spreading this around, you would make my dreams come true. People will respond very positively. Um, and the same thing can happen outside of your mailing list. It can happen on your social media, social media circles. But an interesting thing happens on social media. Uh, there's a kind of, uh, it's a little bit like high school. Like if you to say to your friends in high school, I could really use help in math.

Kevin Tumlinson:          26:48                Uh, if you went to your friends individually and said that they, they would help you. But if you said that to your group of friends who are all equally trying to impress each other and build their own audiences and, or cliques, uh, you know, and promote themselves at the same time, chances are instead of being helpful and kind, they're going to be cruel and, and hurtful. They're going to make jokes, they're going to make light of it. Or even if they don't go to that extreme [inaudible] sorry about that. Hold on and to clear my throat. Um, even if they don't go to that extreme, they may just rib you and make fun of you a little out of kindness, you know, out of love, quote unquote. Um, just because a, they don't want to openly commit to anything cause they may get approached by others to do it or whatever. So it's the fact that they can be seen when you ask them. I think so you want to ask them more privately in, in an email newsletter is private. It feels like they're getting an email directly from you. So, uh, you can still ask for this stuff with social media and you'll oftentimes you will, you will get some help. But in my experience, it's much better to, uh, to approach your list. One second.

Kevin Tumlinson:          28:11                I absolutely hate putting little gaps in there, but when my throat dries out and what can I do, I could edit, not going to do it. Um, anyway, we're coming up on time. Uh, just a couple minutes left. I, uh, I hope that this has been useful to you. Um, this is how I approach everything. And honestly, it's, it's worked so well for me. I, I don't spend much in advertising. Now. I have some promotions coming up that I do. I have spent money on. I have a $2,500 promotion coming up. Um, you know, August. Uh, I spend money on ads, you know, from time to time, not, not a lot, but then, you know, I spend money on BookBub's and I spend money on, uh, the various different, uh, uh, promotion tools. Um, and I, but I do it sort of sparingly and I do it experimentally.

Kevin Tumlinson:          29:09                And, uh, I think I can say without a doubt that I get more traction out of, uh, out of this, this type of thing out of asking the more organic way of doing this. And it's more stable. It grows better over time. It does take more time. So don't, don't think this is an overnight kind of thing. Uh, but you can spend tons of money on ads and never see the needle move for sales. I would spend that money. I'd focus. If I were you and I did this, I would focus entirely on a, I'd focus a hundred percent of my efforts on building my list up and then only promoting to my list. Cause if you can get 50,000 people on your list, you know, and they all buy a book, that's great.

Kevin Tumlinson:          30:00                So anyway, uh, that's going to do it for this week. I hope you got something out of it. I hope I'm able to give you an episode Friday, but just in case I'm not a, just be aware I'm doing conference stuff. So, uh, reach out if you want to. God bless and I'll see you next time. Hey, how are you doing on money? I know it's a touchy subject, but, uh, I got some that may help you out. See, I'm using an app called acorns and it helps me manage some investing. Uh, put some money back, get a little interest. It's Kinda nice to watch my money grow. So I want to share that with you. Go to kevintumlinson.com/acorns and you'll get some free money. See you there.



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