Steve Scott is the author of 58 books, including bundles and translations. His most successful book to date is a little gem that went live on May 26, 2014. It has 339 reviews and a 3.8 star rating on Amazon. The book is available on the Kindle and for free through Kindle Unlimited. It is also out in paperback. The title: “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less.”
Scott admits it’s no great work of art. The ideas are simple and mundane, but it made over $100,000 in its first year.
“That book was my biggest success and my biggest failure,” he said. “It did well. It’s got a good hook. It made a lot of money. But the content needs work.”
The idea for the book came from Scott’s own personal experiences. He wanted to develop a routine of small habits that would become a lifestyle, so he took on the project himself then wrote a book about it. It seems to have resonated with a fair number of readers even though some of his critics have said the habits are too common.
Scott is an entrepreneur at heart. He’s been working as an Internet marketer for several years. In February 2012, he published his first book and started using what he knew about search engine optimization, traffic building, and conversion rate tactics to sell his books.
“It wasn’t that good,” he said of his first book. “It was just a bunch of old blog posts, but it got me started.”
Scott’s books fall into three categories, primarily:
Most of those—95 percent, in fact—are standalone titles. He started a series on blogging topics, but “it went nowhere.” Likewise, his children’s books aren’t up to snuff either, he fully admits.
“I’m a big believer in focusing on things I do well,” Scott said.
For that reason, he’s dropped the children’s books and focuses entirely on publishing on Amazon. However, he is now beginning to push his books out on other platforms.
My e-mail list does most of the selling
“I don’t get wrapped up in large details,” he said. “My e-mail list does most of the selling.”
He has two lists. One targets his self-publishing and Internet marketing titles while the other is geared toward his life habits titles. To research a topic in one of his publishing lines, he sends out an e-mail to one of his lists and asks what people want to learn about. When he hits upon a winning topic he begins his research and writing. Then he asks for advanced readers.
“I try to get five to ten reviews on launch day,” he said. “I don’t worry about getting 50 or 60 reviews like some people do.”
On the first day of launch he sends an e-mail to the appropriate list—one has 17,000 subscribers and the other has 28,000. On the second day of promotions he hits social media real hard. On the third day he blogs about his new book. Then he goes back to sending an e-mail blast to begin a second round of promotions. He’s played around with Facebook advertising, but he hasn’t seen many results from that, he said.
“I have a lot to learn about it,” he said. “Unless it builds my e-mail list, I don’t see the value.”
Another key to successful independent publishing for Steve Scott is how he prices his e-books. On launch day, they are 99 cents. After that, he raises the price to $2.99, which many self-published fiction authors have recommended as a standard price point for new authors.
“Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less” made $2,000 in its first month using his proven pricing strategy. In the second month, that book earned him $40,000.
“I could price higher, but by offering books at a low price I can get people into my funnel,” he said. “Some people will like it, and those are the people I’m trying to get.”
I spend an insane amount of time focusing on list building,” Scott said. “It’s hard work building that list on a continuing basis, but I do an hour or two of work a day and then carry on.”
One of the ways Steve Scott builds his e-mail list is by promoting what he calls “lead magnets” in his Kindle books. At the beginning and the end of each book is a link with a special offer for a downloadable PDF that his readers can print out. By putting that offer at the front of his books, he can get a fair amount of people to click the link and download the PDF without buying the book.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “I’d rather have an e-mail subscriber. You never know if Amazon will stick around or not. With an e-mail list, you can pivot.”
Despite placing supreme importance on building a list, Scott links to his Amazon sales pages from his website because the more buyers he can get through that channel the more of the heavy lifting Amazon will do to promote his books.
For Steve Scott, it’s all about effective Internet marketing tactics that focus on conversions and list building. He writes in Microsoft Word then sends his document to a formatter to ready it for the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. His total cost of production is between $2,100 and $2,500. The breakdown usually looks like this:
For Steve Scott, the key to success as an independent author is to focus on the 80/20 of the 80/20—that top part of his efforts that will earn him the most money. If something works, he keeps doing it.
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