There are two great questions faced by every writer. One is How do I write a great book? And the other is How do I get people to buy it?
Inherent in both answers is a lot of demystification, dedication, discipline, and hard work. Most of the discussions on this site are in answer to the first question. Mostly, that’s because, even after all these years, I still feel more than a little mystified myself by the intricacies of figuring out how to sell books.
When people ask me for marketing advice, I’m usually quick to point them to the experts from whom I have learned and continue to learn. One of those experts also happens to one my favorite people in the writing sphere—all-around cool guy Dave Chesson. Although I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting him in person, we’ve chatted online and on Skype, he’s been awesome enough to personally answer a lot of my questions, and he’s guided me on some of my book launches.
He runs the great site Kindlepreneur and offers several excellent marketing courses (including a free primer on Amazon ads). Most importantly to our discussion today, however, he’s the brains (and the brawn?) behind what has become one of my favorite bits of marketing tech—the Publisher Rocket software.
If you’ve gotten far enough along in your book-publishing journey to start researching categories, keywords, and genres on Amazon (much less trying to book together an ad campaign), then you can no doubt join me in groaning in frustration over the sheer tediousness of the endeavor. Groan no more! Or groan more quietly anyway. :p
In preparing to publish Wayfarer, my most recent novel, I gave Publisher Rocket a try—and loved it. It made what is usually my least favorite part of the entire publishing process not only easier, but actually fun. Today, I thought I’d introduce Dave to those of you who don’t know him and get him to share more about why he designed Rocket and how it can help writers market more easily and more effectively. (And please note, I’m not an affiliate for the program—just a fan!)
KMW: Can you tell us a little about you the person, you the writer, and your background and experience in marketing?
Dave Chesson: At my core, I’m the father of three, and a major sci-fi nerd. But I never really thought I’d be an author or had what it takes. I have a form of dyslexia and throughout my life, I believed I was never meant to write. However, that ended up not being the case. In 2013, while serving in the US Navy, I was deployed to Korea for a two year assignment that wouldn’t let me bring my family with me. They call it a geo-bachelor tour. It was at that point that I realized my biggest goal was to find a new career that would allow me to be home with my children and doing something that truly made me feel alive.
Thankfully, Amazon had created Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which allowed someone like me to start writing and get it out to the world. However, writing still didn’t come easy for me. I wasn’t good enough to just sit down and write anything I wanted and captivate unknown readers. Instead, I started trying to understand Amazon and their shoppers. Why did Amazon choose to show one book over another when I type something into its search bar. More importantly, what things were shoppers looking for and not finding? It was from this information that I formulated my books and starting writing books I knew people wanted. And since that point, my books alone have brought in over $275,000 allowing me to leave the Navy, and fully work from home with my family.
Since then, I started Kindlepreneur.com, an advanced book-marketing website where I strive to teach authors how to market their books better. There are too many great authors out there that have the story and the skills but struggle to get their books above the rest.
KMW: What is Publisher Rocket and how will it help writers? How did you come up with the idea for Publisher Rocket and what made you follow through on creating the program?
DC: Publisher Rocket is the culmination of that which I learned about Amazon’s market. It helps authors find out what Amazon book readers are searching for, what kind of books they want, and helps authors get their books in front of them.
The idea of Rocket came to me when I constantly kept hearing authors ask whether or not there was tool that would do all of the marketing for them. Something to help them find keywords, and categories.
With Publisher Rocket, authors can now see exactly what’s going on in the book market and get vital information on how to get their books discovered by readers. Plus, it was painstakingly designed to be very intuitive and easy to use.
KMW: Can you tell us a little about the program’s four major features—Keyword Search, Competition Analyzer, Category Search, and AMS Keyword Search—what they each do, and how people can use them?
DC: Publisher Rocker has four main features.
The Keyword Feature helps authors find the right keywords for their books to rank for, and it does this by telling authors what words shoppers use when shopping, how many shoppers type that into Amazon per month, how much money books are making that rank for that term and how hard would it be to rank for that keyword.
Our Competition Analyzer helps you to get a deep look into your competitors and find out how much money they are making, and what they are doing right.
The Category Feature has all 16,000+ Amazon categories inside of it so authors can finally see all the options out there (even the secret ones) and can see how many books they’d need to sell in order to be #1 that day . You can even rank the categories from those in which it’s easiest to be a bestseller and to those that are hardest. With this, authors can easily see the best categories possible to make them an Amazon Bestseller.
Finally, our AMS Keyword Feature helps authors build profitable Amazon Books ads more effectively and efficiently, saving them loads of time and energy.
KMW: How is Publisher Rocket different from similar keyword-research programs?
DC: There are many out there with different pros and cons. But what makes Rocket unique over all of them is that it is a downloadable software you can keep for life. Since I’m an author myself, I’m always working to add to the program. I make every update and upgrade free for current owners. Furthermore, we’re not only being used by Publishing Companies at mass level, we also received accolades from Amazon itself praising the methods taught on keyword discovery and optimization.
KMW: Your excellent blog Kindlepreneur focuses on marketing advice and industry reviews. Can you tell us more about that and some favorite posts you’ve featured lately?
DC: At Kindlepreneur, I love doing articles that are step by step in nature, give reviews of services or software, and or incorporate important book marketing strategies.
Here are some examples of each:
A bit ago, I wrote an article specifically for fiction writers that got major praise from Amazon itself. It teaches authors how to come up with fiction keywords. After publishing it, Amazon not only recognized it, but they promoted it to their readers. They also changed their FAQ on “Make Your Book More Discoverable with Keywords“ under Useful Keyword Types to reflect this information. So, be sure to check that out.
I also love comparing author tools or software and creating side-by-side comparisons like I did when comparing Thinkific to Teachable to decide which course creator would be best. I wanted to focus on this because there is a rise in authors making courses as either another income source or to create an amazing content upgrade for their books.
Sometimes, I love taking a deep dive in an overlooked area like I did with my look at each part of a book. Have you ever stopped to develop an incredible dedication? Or put together an ironclad copyright page? With this breakdown of each part, we also point you to some of the best content on the Internet to help you craft the best parts possible, thus strengthening every part of your book. It’s projects like these that I absolutely love making—something overlooked but so crucial.
KMW: Any big projects you’re currently working on?
DC: Over the past three years that Rocket has been out, my team and I have upgraded to two different versions, made seventy-two updates, and added three major features. Each time, we’ve made Rocket even better for users, since all updates and upgrades are free for users.
So, my major project is always looking for ways to improve and add to Rocket. This year alone, we have some major things we’ll be adding, which include adding each and every international Amazon market. We’re also going to be adding more to our Category feature to include historical values, monthly averages of bestseller status, volatility of categories, and my favorite: telling authors how many shoppers per month go to a specific category to purchase a book. And again, each upgrade will be free for current owners.
On a different note though, I’m channeling my inner child a bit and creating a comic book—something I’ve always wanted to do. Currently it will be titled A Writer’s Life and comprise funny strips about what it’s like to be an author. I’ll be chronicling each step in the project and writing an article for Kindlepreneur showing everything I did to create, publish, and print the comic book. Hopefully, that will be complete this summer.
KMW: Finally, what’s your top bit of marketing advice for fiction writers?
DC: Start your email list as soon as possible. With every book you create, your list will increase. With the increase in your list, your next book marketing push will be easier.
However, here’s another major tip: Do not offer a random short story or book as an email opt-in gift. Instead, write a prelude or side story to the story they just read. People are more likely to invest their email address for a story they’re already invested in, rather than a brand new story.
Yes, that means a content upgrade for every book or series. However, you’ll quickly find that the conversion rate of readers to email subscribers will dramatically increase.
KMW: Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us today, Dave! I have a ton of appreciation for you and everything you do in and for the writing community. As complicated as actually writing a good book can be, marketing is no less a difficult subject for most of us. Your know-how and dedication in giving the rest of us a leg up in building our sales platforms is much appreciated!
Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What is your greatest challenge in marketing your fiction? Tell me in the comments!