Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 044 – Mark Dawson
This episode features Mark Dawson, the bestselling UK author of the John Milton and Soho Noir series. Mark has become a go-to expert on Facebook ads and building your mailing list, so we dig into each of these topics and more. Listen as Mark and KWL Manager Christine Munroe discuss:
- In 2001/2002, his first novel was published traditionally in the UK and Russia. Mark secured nice advances, but no marketing from sale date onwards. The whole experience soured him to writing – he stopped for 6 years.
- Given what happened, would he do a traditional deal again? “All options are on the table.” But he can work out with relative accuracy what the books are worth, and it’s hard to imagine a traditional publisher delivering that amount upfront.
- He is, however, interested in working with publishers in foreign markets. Mark is currently lining up translation deals with the help of an agent. Translations are expensive and time-consuming, and he’s not confident in his knowledge of each foreign market to recoup the loss of time and money.
- The benefits of BookBub. The day of this recording a BookBub ad landed Mark at #8 in his category in the Kobo Store. He does them as often as they’ll take him.
- His extensive knowledge of Facebook advertising. Spends $600 a day on Facebook ads, earns $750-$800 back per day, every single day. To find out more about his strategies in this workshop website, www.selfpublishingformula.com
- Advice for facebook advertising: use it for two objectives 1) build your mailing list 2) sell books
- Study carefully. Use Power Editor and figure out the intricacies of how it works – it’s not an easy process. Dawson worked tirelessly at it for 6 weeks, losing money at first as he learned how to calibrate the ads. Starting at $5 a day, invest the profit, growing gradually and reinvesting as you go.
- The strategy behind his recent cover redesign. His designer looked at trending designs for his comp titles, and created several options within that spectrum so his books will both fit in and stand out alongside authors like Lee Child.
- When he writes about a city he hasn’t visited himself, he uses resources like Google street view to make it as accurate as possible – when his books say a building on a certain corner looks a certain way, that’s factually correct.
- How he uses free today. It is a fundamental part of his sales strategy. First in each series is a free novella. That free novella also includes a call to action to join his mailing list.
- Speaking of mailing lists…a mailing list is the most important marketing tool an author has today. You can get a free package from a service like Mail Chimp.
- For those just starting, or hoping to grow your list: Broadcast a call to action as widely as possible. He advises giving away a free book—even if you only currently have one book ready—so you can build your platform and have a few hundred people on deck to buy your next book. A subscriber is worth more for your career than one sale. Competitions and giveaways are not a very good way to build a quality mailing list. You want your mailing list to be people interested in your books, not in a free eReader.
- Dawson doesn’t message his mailing list very often. Only messages when he has a new book out, or if there’s a significant discount happening.
- How his craft has developed. In the early days, he desperately wanted to win literary prizes, and was much more immature as a writer. Now his goal is creating page-turning books that readers can’t put down. The best validation he gets is notes from readers saying they love his books.
- Last advice: you cannot just upload your book and leave it there. You have to put your business hat on. Build your platform, build your readership. If you’re diligent, the book will stand a much better chance of getting discovered by additional new readers. “It’s an amazing way to make a living.”
MARK DAWSON is the author of the bestselling John Milton and Beatrix Rose series. He writes full-time and lives in Salisbury in the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.markjdawson.com or www.selfpublishingformula.com. Sign up for his mailing list by clicking here.
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