Looking for help connecting with your readers? Kate Tilton knows how to get authors the reach they crave, and she's sharing all about it with D2D's Dan Wood.
Kate Tilton is the founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC, where she has been helping authors since 2010. Kate helps authors of all stripes, from New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and award winners to pre-publication authors, navigate the publishing world and connect with readers.
Kate has shared her industry knowledge by contributing to The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide (2016) and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, Novelists Inc., Kobo Writing Life and The Book Designer. She has also presented at Book Expo America’s Blogger Con, NINC, Penned Con and other venues. A cat-lover and fan of many geeky things, Kate can likely be found curled up with tea and a good book, plotting world takeover, or connecting authors and readers in any way she can. You can find Kate on katetilton.com.
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authors, people, books, assistant, publishing, marketing, building, talking, readers, posting, amazon, consultation, hire, twitter, work, tilton, social media, figure, digital, indie author
Kate Tilton, Dan Wood, Kevin Tumlinson
Dan Wood 00:18
Hey, everyone, I'm Dan Wood with Draft2Digital. We're here with our D2D spotlight. Today we're talking to Kate Tilton, who is an author consultant, and has worked for years as an assistant to many authors. So welcome, Kate.
Kate Tilton 00:35
Thanks for having me. Great to be here.
Dan Wood 00:37
How are you doing in this time of craziness?
Kate Tilton 00:41
So, I feel like we're kind of all doing the best that we can. At this stage, I've kind of just taken to, instead of asking people how they are, just saying, "Hey, thinking of you."
Dan Wood 00:52
So I wanted to have you on today. It's been—I think you were one of the first industry people I met way back at Book Expo America in, like, 2014 maybe? It's been, I've known you for a while, I get to see you here and there at different conferences. You have spoken a lot in your role as an author consultant, just talking to authors about how to work with other people. Could you explain a little bit more about what you do, and like, authors you've worked with and stuff like that?
Kate Tilton 01:23
Yeah. So originally, I started working for an author in 2010, doing the assistant role. So a lot of, you know, going through emails, managing contests, that kind of thing. And over time, it's kind of evolved, in part just because when you work so long, you know, you get clients that stay with you for years, so I started doing more consultation work. And that lets me help authors in different stages. So I have authors who are brand new to publishing and are just finding—it's overwhelming, like the information is out there, but they just are completely overwhelmed. And sometimes we just have one call, and they just need someone to bounce ideas off of and say like, you know, am I correct on this? Or, you know, I have this particular question that I just can't seem to find the answer for. And then I have some clients for consulting that come to me who are well-established and are just feeling stuck. They don't know what to do next for their marketing or for their career. And they just need someone who understands, who is willing to bounce those ideas off of. You know, I love all the different providers that are out there. There are definitely a lot of solutions.
Dan Wood 02:34
There really are. I mean, so many different options for … With distribution with marketing, all those things. It can be confusing, and there's a lot of jargon, like if you go ask a question on a Facebook group or in a forum, you might hear about all these options that you have no idea what they're talking about, because they were just assuming as a given, but so many people have been around this now for about seven or eight years that, you know, we kind of have our own little lingo.
Kate Tilton 03:01
Yes. So there's a lingo aspect and there's, you know, sometimes what works for one author is not going to work for another author. Or even between books. You know, I have some authors who do self-publishing, but then also do traditional publishing. So, working with me—like, that's something that I really look at, is, what's going to work for this particular author? And we talk that out until we figure out, okay, what's your next step? So I really enjoy that. I have clients who we do monthly calls, because they find they just need someone to keep them accountable. And knowing that they're going to be checking in with me keeps them working towards their goals—especially, you know, self-publishing, you don't have a deadline, you're kind of keeping yourself to that, and for some people, having someone else keeping them accountable helps them with that.
Dan Wood 03:49
Yeah. Let's go into the origin story. How did you get involved? Cuz I know this is a cool story—just like, you've been at it pretty much your whole professional career, right?
Kate Tilton 03:56
Yes, yeah. This was my first job. I was a senior in high school.My mom was driving us home from the airport. I was coming home for Christmas break. And, you know, as you do the teenager, I was browsing through Twitter and one of my favorite authors posted that she was looking for an assistant. And of course, as a teenager having that kind of thought, like, "Hey, could it be a virtual assistant?" And she hired me for the job. It was my, you know, my first experience working and being paid. And, like I said, I did what I was naturally good at, which was organizing. And from there, I just got more involved in the community. I started participating in Twitter chats, eventually got picked up by a company that did kind of author services and started running a Twitter chat, and then started my own Twitter chat later and going to events in person and meeting people. My second client came from going to a traditional author event and afterwards a bunch of us went out for dinner and an indie author sat next to me. And we started talking about the stuff that I was doing, and she was like, "Oh, can I hire you?" So it's one of those things where you really just fell into it.
Dan Wood 05:12
Yeah, that's awesome. That's a much cooler story—my high school, my senior year of high school, I worked at Office Depot. I sold computers and copiers, and I had to, like … I don't know if you've been to Office Depot lately. They have like all their stock up above the aisles. I had to like, carry copiers up the stairs, like step ladders, and put them up there. It was awful. It was an absolutely awful job. So you have a much better story.
Kate Tilton 05:39
Yes. I had this like, really weird work from home job. So it's kind of funny, now a lot of people that I know are working from home. And my best friend, you know, she works in healthcare, and she's saying, you know, "I always knew I couldn't work from home. And this just shows me how much. It is not a good setup for me." And I'm like it, it's a thing, it's not for everyone.
Dan Wood 06:02
We were talking a little bit earlier before we went live, but I've had some—my job for years with Draft2Digital was mostly travel. And so like the last two or three years, I would work from home when I wasn't away, like I'd be away two weeks a month at least. So I'm kind of used to it, like it hasn't been a huge adjustment to me. I didn't realize how much I always counted on being able to get out at least a little bit though, like in the evenings or get away and so, and the travel also kind of broke up the monotony of just working from home. And so you really do have to adjust your schedule, adjust your habits to this norm right now. So let's talk a little bit about the difference—some things you've done as an assistant … I assume, like, some people will use your help with like social media or organizing some of their marketing strategies versus the publishing consulting.
Kate Tilton 07:13
Yeah, so I think the really big difference between doing the assistant stuff and consultation stuff is who does the legwork. So in my assistant role, oftentimes, I'm the person who's uploading books to the different retailers and Draft2Digital. I'll be the one making the list to make sure that everything for the launch, we're getting done. Whereas for a consultation, you know, we only are talking for an hour, so sometimes I can help them, like, start putting together a list. But then they're doing the legwork. You know, they're the ones that are going to be uploading to the retailers. So that's I think the bigger difference is just, who's doing that kind of work. And sometimes that works well because if you're doing a consultation with someone who, you know, has more experience and knows more, you can get the next steps that you need, and then maybe hire someone who is newer and charges a lot less to help you do the legwork. You know, when I first started, I was managing email. So I was going through and saying, okay, you know, this is junk. You know, this is garbage, this is just someone complaining and being mean. And this is, you know, someone requesting an actual author visit, so this needs to go to this person in the publishing house. And, you know, this is fan mail. That's great, I'll put that in a folder so the author can read it. And like, here are things that, you know, the author needs to be aware of right now that are important. So that's not something you have to like study to do. That's something that a lot of people, when they're starting, are able to do. So I think that's a nice balance, to be able to help authors figure out where they might need help and kind of talk them through that so that way they can then go find the help that they need. And then occasionally, I will bring on assistant clients through my consultations. So I'll be working with someone, we get along really well. They decide, you know, I really do need more help, and I'd rather have you do it. Because I'd rather pay more and know you have the experience than risk it. And if I have availability then I take them on, so.
Dan Wood 09:12
I know people definitely, it's kind of scary thinking about—I'm an indie author, like I have to do most of these things on my own. But the reality is, you don't have to do all these things on your own. There's plenty of people that have services to help you. You have the luxury of picking your team. And also, you know, if people aren't working out on your team, of going with someone else, and so you definitely don't feel like you have to do on your own. Working with consultants, with advisors, with aggregators like us can save you a ton of time. And then you can spend that time on the writing part, which is definitely going to be where you're going to make most of your money. How—over the years, you'd mentioned that you had met some clients by being at conferences and different things like that. How would you recommend people look for a consultant or an assistant? Do you think it works better by asking their peers or are there places that people go to look for their services like that?
Kate Tilton 10:17
Yeah, I mean, obviously, getting a recommendation through word of mouth is going to be your best bet. Because, you know that person has worked with someone and they've had a good experience. If you don't have that kind of a network, though, there are options. I mean, Google, it's amazing how many times I'll have someone that will start their email to me, like, "I was talking about how I needed help doing this thing and, you know, talking to my spouse, and they said, well Google it," and they did, and my name popped up, and that's why they're emailing me. I got one of those like the other day. It's fun. So really, Googling is an absolutely valid option. There are different sites that will list different assistants or different service providers. My website, I can give you the link. Dan does have a list of the kind of places.
Dan Wood 11:08
Yeah, I'm gonna throw up your website right now. I'll show that later, too. But yeah, if you're wondering more about Kate you can go to katetilton.com. There's also, you have like a lot of resources—like you put out a lot of different stuff on your blog, and you're pretty active on social media. Just good things to help authors.
Kate Tilton 11:27
Yeah. So right now, I would say if you go on to the website, the first thing that's kind of on that page is resources for COVID. So that's a huge list of things from like, here are some books you can read, here are things you can help for education for your kids, here are things for authors, here are finance resources. I spent hours, just every single thing that I was seeing, because basically, I was on Facebook and kept seeing this cool thing and that cool thing, and I'm like, how are you gonna keep track of this? So I'm like, okay, I'm gonna do what I do, and I'm gonna make a resource list.
Dan Wood 11:56
Yeah. And it's a great list. It's a huge list. I mean, there are just so many different resources out there.
Kate Tilton 12:02
And people keep doing more cool things. And I wanted there to be a place that people could find them and can just bookmark that. I also have a normal resource page on my website, and that does include a page about author assistants, which has more resources about how you can find people. So that's a really good place to check if you're in the market for building a team.
Dan Wood 12:22
Excellent. What are some of the tasks you think work out really best for looking at hiring someone to do them for you, versus things that are really kind of best for you to do yourself as an author?
Kate Tilton 12:34
So usually, when I'm talking to authors about hiring people, I suggest they kind of write down the things that they're currently doing, and the things that they've been meaning to do but haven't done, and then figure out what they can outsource and what they want to do themselves. So, you know, obviously for most people, you want to write your own books, you don't want to outsource that. But things like, I need to format this newsletter and I know that it takes me hours. Whereas I could hire that out to someone. You know, I typically like for my authors to handle things when it comes to, like, the writing. So if it's a newsletter, I want them to give me their personal message, and then I'll make it look nice. So they just have to sit there for a couple minutes and write out like, here's my little update. And then I'll make sure all the links and everything works and looks good. Same thing when it comes to like social media. Melissa on my team has a social media package where we'll handle posting content for authors. But when it comes to replying to people, I think that's better done by the author, because you're looking at building a relationship. And if it's, you know, me and Melissa having that conversation and not you and your reader having that conversation, you're not really building that relationship.
Dan Wood 13:45
Yeah, I think it's really important that your voice kind of shine through whatever you write. And so, they're probably following you on social media because they love the way in which you write your books. And so that's what they're looking for out of your social media or your newsletter. I know a handful of cases where someone's hired an assistant, that can really, kind of gets their brand and their voice and does it for them. But for the most part, the people that are killing it are writing their own replies, like you said, but they're using other people to do like the technical aspects of it.
Kate Tilton 14:17
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, because there's also—like assistants, like I mean, when you're posting content, you're posting it under the author's name. But definitely when it comes to those personal replies, I mean, if I tweet at an author, and it wasn't them responding, like that'd be really sad to me. So I always encourage authors, like, this helps take some of it off your plate, but you know, spend a couple of minutes a day, even if it's just 10 minutes, just to check your messages and leave a response. Most readers don't need tons of time. They just want to know that you see them.
Dan Wood 14:47
Yeah. So we're starting to see some great questions and comments come in. Just a reminder that we go for about the first 30 minutes or so. But then at the 30 minute mark, we'll go ahead and start answering some of those questions. But if you have questions, definitely go ahead and start throwing them into the comments. As far as consulting, Draft2Digital has been doing—we've been providing some free consultations with our Ask Us Anything series that we're doing. And so I've gotten to do several of them over the last few months. I find myself giving a lot of the same advice over and over. And so I really wanted to see what tidbits you think are like most important to share with the people that are watching this now live, and then the people that'll be watching or listening to it later.
Kate Tilton 15:41
I feel like some of the advice that I give very often is to not try to do it all at once. Particularly with new authors, when they come to me and they're like, well, I'm thinking about starting this social media channel and that social media channel. And it's just too much and it's hard to do any of it effective or well. So my advice has always been to just start with one thing, get really comfortable with that. And then you can always add to it later. But the idea is, you don't want to add busy work. You want to be making real connections with people. And we're—as a culture, it's just so easy to say like, "Oh, I'm busy. So that means I'm successful," and I'm doing the work. But being busy is not necessarily being successful. And it doesn't lead to a healthy life either. So I mean, that's part of why I do what I do is to take some stuff off author's plate so they can do things like get sleep, spend time with their family. These things are important. I think this whole COVID crisis has kind of brought that to light, how important it is for us to nurture our relationships that we have. So that's my biggest advice, is usually just breathe. Don't try to do it all and figure out what matters most.
Dan Wood 16:49
There's definitely that 80/20 principle, that 80% of your reward from your what you're doing out there is from a small number of things, and so trying to figure out what is most effective. I often tell people, because I see the same thing happen, where they get overwhelmed because they're trying to post on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest. Maybe they've delved into TikTok, which I do not get at all. But, and they're miserable. And so like, figure out which one you like the best, like, do that one, because it's gonna show. Like, if you enjoy it, and you get the platform … Because the messaging is very different, like the, it's just very different audiences.
Kate Tilton 17:32
Yeah. And the thing with social media too, is it's also like the coldest circle. This is something that I picked up from Copyblogger from Brian Clark, how in marketing, typically, they say a sales funnel. And he's like, well, that's kind of a not a great analogy, because in a real funnel, everything that goes into the top ends up in the bottom, and in sales, that's not how it works. Everyone who hears about a product is not going to be everyone who buys said product. So he looks at it in terms of circles of heat. So your inner circle is your repeat buyers. Outside is your first time buyers. Outside that is your newsletter subscribers. Outside of that is your website visitors. Outside of that is your social media stuff. So the idea of social media is to help foster those relationships, but your more important ones are your recurring buyers, you know, your loyal readers, your newsletter subscribers, who a lot of them are going to be your recurring buyers and nurturing that relationship.
Dan Wood 18:29
I suppose you're kind of trying to move people closer in and like to the inner circles as they go along in knowing your brand.
Kate Tilton 18:36
Yeah, and you'll have authors who will spend so much time on social media, and they barely spend time doing their newsletters. And it's, you know, it's this idea of, I have a lot of authors that will come to me saying, like, I need to figure out how to get more of an audience and more visibility, but I'm like, are you keeping the audience you currently have? Because it's like having a bucket with holes and just pouring water into it. So you need to make sure that you're retaining people and building and nurturing those relationships before you worry about getting visibility and putting more people into that bucket.
Dan Wood 19:09
I see that with like newsletter building, where people will sign up for free giveaways to get more people on their email list. But just having people on your email list is not that great a thing or having, you know, 25,000 Twitter followers is not that great a thing, if they don't respond or do something from your email or from your Twitter requests. And so, having 1,000 active people is much more important than having 100,000 people that are not really paying attention.
Kate Tilton 19:38
Yep. And it's better to figure out how to focus on just the one because that's how you really build a platform that's gonna last. This idea about like trying to just go viral and hit it big. I've seen that happen where you know, an author has a New York Times bestseller right out of the gate and then struggles to publish anything else after that. You don't want to be a flash in the pan. I mean, in some cases some people are, they're not planning on publishing multiple books. But most of authors I work with, they want to publish multiple books, they want to grow a career out of this and I'm like, it's a long haul. The more consistent you are in really nurturing those relationships and doing that one by one. I mean, look at us, like we met at BEA many, many years ago, and just kept in touch. And now here I am doing the Spotlight. Like, you never know what those connections are gonna bring you and it's not about what they're gonna do for you. It's just about being a genuine human on the internet. And that's, I feel like a very easy concept but can be hard to actually live out.
Dan Wood 20:39
I know. I've loved working for Draft2Digital because I've been patient and not really pushed sell sell sell. Like, you know, some companies are forced to really focus on those metrics. I've been able to build relationships over time that now have led to opportunities to speak internationally. opportunities to, you know, work with people that at the time might have been traditional authors and, you know, tied in to everything, or they might have been exclusive with Amazon. And now they're looking at getting to all the different retailers, all the different library systems in the world. And so some of the things I started five years ago just started paying off recently, and it's been a wonderful to see that. As someone who's really, really savvy at social media, do you have like some tips for authors that are trying to figure out what platforms they should be on?
Kate Tilton 21:39
So when it comes to figuring out what social media platforms you should be on, part of it comes down to what you enjoy. You mentioned that earlier, if you hate something, it's gonna be obvious. So I've had authors be like, you know, I just hate Twitter. I'm like, then don't use Twitter. Just don't. But when it comes to trying to figure out where you want to be, looking at authors who are publishing In your genre and seeing where they're having success reaching their audience. You can easily find that information. Look at any of the retailers, see what the bestsellers are in that category. Check out those authors, go to their website. Most of them are going to have websites. Check out what social media channels they have, see what channels are active, because they might have a channel that they just never post to. And then see what the response is to that, because you might have someone that's publishing every day on Facebook, but they're getting no likes no comments. Well, they're probably not reaching their audience. That's not a good example of something to try to imitate. So that's typically my advice for kind of trying to figure out how to reach an audience. The wonderful thing about publishing is it's very easy to find that information with little research.
Dan Wood 22:45
Yeah, a lot of it's just out there, it just takes time to take a look. And then there are people like you who do consulting that can be like, "Oh, yeah, this is what I've seen for people working in this genre work before." Um, kind of along those same lines, with opening it up a little bit more broadly to marketing. Yesterday, I believe Kevin talked to Todrick candle. And she was mentioning kind of like a resurgence in blogging platforms, working for her with marketing. Do you see things that are working right now marketing-wise? Are there things that are coming back, or that you see that were effective last year that might not be paying off for authors as much this year?
Kate Tilton 23:29
Yeah, so marketing is one of those interesting things. I always look at it as being human-centric. So, something that used to be super popular when I first started was doing blog tours, like cover reveals.
Dan Wood 23:41
Yeah, I remember those being like all the rage, and yeah.
Kate Tilton 23:45
Yeah. And I think the reason why that kind of fell out of favor is because people were seeing the same thing over and over again. It wasn't interesting, it wasn't new. But now we have Instagram, and people are doing cover reveals on Instagram. And I think the reason why that's different is because when you're doing something on Instagram, every person that's posting—in most tours, right—are doing their own photos. So the cover is still there, but it's in a different light, which means the person who is on Instagram has to actually stop and their brain has to process what they're seeing. So I think that's kind of the difference of, if you're having just a static cover reveal where it's posted on 50 different sites, and it's the same cover and there's nothing else. You know, our brains just tune it out. So in marketing, we talked about, like, the seven touches. And I always, this is a conversation I have a lot with authors. They have to be something that the person's brain is actually registering and not just scrolling through. We're very good at filtering out ads. We see them all the time, but we don't really see them. So, things that are unique and different. So in cases, blogging is a great way for authors to reach their audience if that's how they're connecting and providing something of value and connection. And in other cases, it's a complete waste of time. Only the author is really going to be able to know, you know, are they gonna be able to do a blog faithfully? Is that how they best communicate with their readers? You know, I look at Dan Blank, I love him and what he does for marketing for authors, and he publishes a blog post newsletter every week. And that's how we stay in touch. You know, I know what's going on with his life because he publishes about it. And then for other authors, I've seen them try to do blogs, and I'm like, you're wasting so much time because you're not doing this consistently. You're not building up a readership here. Like, you should write books versus doing this.
Dan Wood 25:35
Yeah, authors used to do that with like Twitter, where they're posting all the time on Twitter, and yet they're really having nearly no reaction or like sort of retweets and it's just like, maybe it's time to move on from that and look for something where people are really interested in engaging.
Kate Tilton 25:52
Yeah, and it's something that you know, I mean, I definitely do a lot less social media now than I did in the past, in part because of how the platforms have changed and evolved over time. And if I am going to be on Twitter or any of social media platforms, it's usually like, I'm gonna go and comment on other people's stuff. ask people how they're doing and respond to them, because I want engagement. It matters less to me about posting all my own stuff and more about having real conversations. So like, you mentioned that resource list that I did. And it's because I shared it on Facebook, and you happened to see it and then we talk about it.
Dan Wood 26:25
Yeah, and you share stuff that's like professional stuff, but you also share stuff about things you like or love. Like now you have a lot of stuff I think about K-Pop, is that right? Which is another one of those things I don't really understand and yet like I'm, over the last year, kind of become familiar with it. So people want to hear those things, about just the things that you love, like TV shows, bands. People are looking for that personal connection.
Kate Tilton 26:51
Yeah, and I, it's how we work as humans. We do not like being sold to but we love to buy things. And the reality is, we like to support the people that we know and we like and we trust. So you're looking at building those relationships. And I have some people that will be like, "Well, does that mean that you have a relationship with every single reader I ever want?" It's like, okay, you're thinking too far ahead. Like, the goal is to work, you know, one at a time, because then that reader, if they feel like, oh, I really connect with this author, and they understand, then they're going to share that with other people. And that's how you grow a platform. So it's, yeah, it's really about kind of sharing and being genuine.
Dan Wood 27:33
You mentioned a little bit earlier about how you like to be able to work with authors to give them some of their time back so they can spend it on other things like writing or spending time with their family or like just relaxing for a weekend. I think self-care is really important for authors, and frequently at the beginning of their careers they forget to do it because they're just busy comparing themselves to other authors and seeing how, all the things they're doing and trying to do everything else. Can we talk a little bit about self-care, because I mean, you've worked with a lot of authors. You've also, I think, probably like, gosh, you've seen some people that were incredibly successful that have disappeared now because they just overworked themselves.
Kate Tilton 28:17
Yeah, and so this is something that a lot of times in my consultations, we have this kind of discussion of what success means for you as a person. I think there is this pressure for authors to make a living through their writing, to be six figures and to be seven figures and to get all these deals. And, you know, I think for a lot of people, that's not gonna make them happy. And it's something that I struggle with too is, this constantly setting goals and wanting to improve. But it's very easy to get caught up in, you set a goal, you hit it, and then there's another goal to hit, and you're never happy, you never celebrate the success you have. So that's something that is, I think, really important to reflect on is, what do you really want to get from this? You know, some authors, they really want a traditional deal. They want a publisher to say, "That book's great," and have it on bookshelves. For some writers they want to make, you know, a certain figure so that they can quit their day job. For some, they do want that six figures, they want to have huge companies. And none of that's wrong, but it's just realizing that someone else's dream might not be yours. And that's okay. But yeah, I've seen a lot of authors burn out trying to hit someone else's dream and then realize, you know what? Like, I had an author tell me, like, "I hit six figures. And it didn't make me happy." And you know, they're still publishing and still being successful today. But they stepped back from that and really looked at, you know, I'm killing myself getting all these books out. And vice versa. I've had authors who, they will publish 50 books a year, and that's what makes them happy, is that kind of crazy publishing schedule, and that's awesome. But it's not realistic to expect that that's going to be everyone and that's gonna make everyone happy.
Dan Wood 29:51
Yeah, I generally, I think I try to nurture authors towards, by default, towards being a career author, of being able to make a full-time wage and be able to be just a full-time author. But not all of them are looking for that, like there are some of them, especially within nonfiction, where the book is a side gig to get them more talking gigs. And so that's perfectly fine. You know, when people come to us and they really want to see their book in physical bookstores, and I let them know that's not likely to happen with indie publishing. Like right now at least, bookstores are primarily—you have to be traditionally published to get into them. That'll probably change in the future but you know, for now, it's just kind of the way it is. We are at the 30-minute point. So sorry to interrupt there, but I'm gonna go ahead and switch over to showing, because some people are asking just again, how to get in touch with you. A great place is at your website, at katetilton.com.
Kate Tilton 30:37
Send me an email.
Dan Wood 30:38
Yeah, you've definitely also got your Twitter handle there. So you can find her @K8Tilton, you're very active there.
Kate Tilton 31:12
Yeah, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, search that and you'll find me.
Dan Wood 31:18
You do it all.
Kate Tilton 31:19
Well … I'm there.
Dan Wood 31:21
Yeah. One of the questions we had come in—I know this may get a little bit hard to … "If I were to consider Ms. Tilton helping me out, how much would I have to pay?" Can you talk a little bit in general about—it might not involve specific costs, but like just how people can work with you and different, or just consultants in general? Cause I imagine that's pretty broad.
Kate Tilton 31:51
Oh, yeah. I mean, fees are kind of all over the place and it really depends. If you go onto my website, though, and you look at my consulting, like, my rates are there. So you can just see that and see if that's something that you can budget for.
Dan Wood 32:04
Do you generally do it by hours, or do you have just like, you get so many consultations a month? Or how do you try to break it down?
Kate Tilton 32:14
So I charge by the consultation. So you know, there's like a one-time consultation, which I have had some people that will do that multiple times. You know, like, they'll have a consultation and sometimes years later, they'll be like, "Hey, I'm doing this other thing and I really need to talk to you about it," we do another consultation. And then I have a monthly consultation option and that's we do one consultation a month. So the rate is by the consultation, which can be up to an hour. So yeah, kind of by the hour, but it's flexible. I've had some people, if they're doing a monthly consultation and they need to have another meeting, they just pay that same rate again, which is a little bit cheaper than doing the, you know, kind of one-off consultation. But yeah, I've had a lot of clients, too, who've just done the one-time just to get kind of some clarity. And then from there have been pretty set. And then assistant rates. Those vary so much. Obviously, I charge more. I've been doing this—this is my 10th year doing this. But people starting out will charge a lot less. I've seen people use interns. The thing there is typically the less experience, the more you're going to have to give up your time to help train that person to do the things that you want them to do. The more experience they have, the more they charge, but also the less you have to kind of guide them. Like you just say, "Hey, I can't figure this out. Can you figure out how to do this?" I did that a lot with my clients.
Dan Wood 33:35
I've seen that happen with people using their relatives like, "Oh, I'll have my husband assist me or I'll have my sister." And sometimes that's worked out really well, and sometimes … you know, it doesn't always work out and you can't always fire your relatives and so.
Kate Tilton 33:51
Yeah, it's interesting. But I've seen people who have just like given a shot to someone who is new, and everyone starts out new at some point. But it's kind of knowing where you are in your career. I find typically authors who you know, are like the six figure authors, typically don't have the time to try to, like, teach someone what to do. They really want someone who knows when they say x, y, and z, like we talked about terms. They want that person to know and also be able to provide their own ideas when it comes to marketing and publishing. So they're willing to pay extra for that. And then you have someone who maybe is new. And that's where I think doing a consultation is a great option to kind of get some clarity about what you need, but then you might be able to just hire someone at a much cheaper rate to do the legwork. And there's nothing wrong with that. I have no problems with someone being like, "Hey, I just need you to like help me figure out what I need an assistant for so that I can go and hire someone who I can afford." That's fine.
Dan Wood 34:49
At the Novelists, Inc. conference, weren't you kind of there … at least, one of your sessions was on, kind of for the people that brought their assistants, to teach those assistants how to work with them.
Kate Tilton 35:00
It was interesting. It was kind of like an author assistant—or not even author assistant, but like publishing people kind of meet up. So half of the audience were like, assistants or consultants, and then half were authors. So it was kind of a like, Q&A ask us anything. And I mean, there was me who comes from the consulting assistant side, Mel Jolly who also kind of assistant now consultant. You know, we had an editor. We had Amy, who does formatting for books. So it was a good mix of people. Yeah.
Dan Wood 35:36
Got one from our own, Kevin Tumlinson. "How do writers bring on someone to help out without inadvertently creating more work for themselves? Managing people seems to take more time than just doing things myself sometimes."
Kate Tilton 35:48
Yeah, and this is the whole thing about, sometimes it makes more sense to hire someone with more experience, and that way you can just tell them like, "Hey, I need x, y, and z off my plate," and they say, okay, and do it. And that's really something to consider when it comes to hiring people is, do you have time to manage someone? And a lot of authors, when they're starting out, they do and just having someone help them with that is great. And it makes sense for them to do, so.
Dan Wood 36:15
You get what you pay for in general. And so yeah, there are all kinds of budget options for all the different services out there that can help you with your author career. And yet people are paying more for the more expensive products for reasons. Yeah, I think some certainly something that you have that, hiring a random VA off of Fiverr, would be that you've got the actual connections within the industry so you know who to talk to at the different retailers, you know who to talk to … Like you can reach out to me, or to Daymon at BookFunnel. Like, you can get stuff done because you've done the work of building relationships, you've gone to conferences. So it just makes a huge difference.
Kate Tilton 37:02
What I love about my work too, is working with other authors, I get to see what they've done and they might try something and then I'll have another author who will come and ask about the same thing. And I'm able to say, "Well, you know, I tried that with someone else and it didn't go well, doesn't mean that we won't also try it, but just be aware of that" or "Hey, you know, that idea worked really well for someone else. Like, let's try it." And I love that about it, it's kind of this crowdsourcing what's working and masterminding it together.
Dan Wood 37:32
So we got one that's not really specifically towards you about wide versus being exclusive with Amazon. "Is experimenting with switching between exclusive and going wide advisable? Is that really an offence? Please share your thoughts." Yeah, I know you've worked with a ton of authors. Obviously, I'm biased and so I wanted to get your unbiased opinion about that.
Kate Tilton 37:53
Okay. It's not a great idea to switch back and forth. You know, if you're going to be in Kindle Unlimited, you're building a Kindle Unlimited audience, which is different than building a wide readership. Not going to say, like, it's wrong to do that. I have some authors that it's really worked well for them. Of course, it's a risk you're taking, you're giving Amazon kind of full control over your income. But for some authors that really has made the difference between them being full-time and not. But doing that switching back and forth thing means you're not building an audience well either place. Because it's confusing. It's like okay, are you trying to get KU readers, or are you trying to get general readers? So that's not advisable. It's less about being offensive and more about just being confusing to your market. So I always advise authors to kind of pick one and settle. A lot of my authors when they're starting out, will actually do Amazon direct and then use Draft2Digital. And part of that reason is, with Draft2Digital, you can kind of see what retailers your book is selling, and you can always go direct with them later if it makes sense to. But it gives less places to have to check, so that's actually typically my advisement is, Amazon direct, Draft2Digital for everything else, see how it goes, and then go from there, because the less places you have to check, the better. That being said, there's always reasons to go direct with platforms. You know, Kobo has certain marketing, Barnes & Noble is doing different things that are going to be more available to you if you're direct.
Dan Wood 39:29
Yeah, I definitely try to warn people, if they've been successful with KU, a lot of times they expect that there are readers out there that have heard of them and are just waiting for them to put their books on that reader's platform. That's just not the case. Like you really, when you make the switch from being exclusive to wide, people haven't heard of you, like you're a brand new thing to them. So it's going to take some time. And so it's a commitment, I would say, of at least six months to really see good traction in general. There are some things, like if you get lucky and you get a featured deal with BookBub off the bat, that can speed that up a little bit. But there's really, very, it's highly unlikely that you're going to just make the switch and suddenly make, start making the same amount of money wide that you were making in KU. And so, commit to the strategy. Like plan it out, give yourself time. You can't really dip your toe in the waters for just one book. There are a lot of readers, this is true of both KU and the wider market, that wait for you to have two or three books before they'll even consider buying your book. They're tired of the one hit wonders. They don't want to start a series that's never gonna get finished.
Kate Tilton 40:48
Yes. I've seen some readers who won't start a series at all until it's finished. And you can say the same thing about you know, going from wide to jumping into KU, that's not magically going to increase your sales. You're committing then to a whole different kind of marketing. You know, in KU it is a lot more about publishing more frequently. And, you know, if you're going wide, I think there's a lot more about building up that readership and building connections with people. So that's also a thing that we have a discussion with a lot of new authors is, what kind of marketing do you want to do? Like, what author do you want to be? And in some cases, I've had authors who they did start with KU, and they're gonna have to stay with that for what they're currently doing. And eventually, maybe a new series, they'll do that wide. But knowing that that's going to take them time to build up.
Dan Wood 41:34
Knowing where your audience is, because there are genres that are big in KU that are just not big anywhere else. Like, lit RPG just doesn't have quite the same following at Barnes and Noble or Apple, and so if you're a lit RPG author, it probably makes sense to be exclusive with Amazon. At least with your ebook. You have some options with your audio book and your print book. And so that could be a way for people to reach you. For really prolific authors, people that have a lot of books out there, I have seen more of them starting to have at least one series wide, even if the majority of their stuff is exclusive with Amazon, to start getting people familiar with their author name and their branding. Some of them will switch out the series, like what is wide versus exclusive, every so often. So I think that's one way to approach it—like, to try to at least be prepared if Amazon ever chooses to change the payout or how they handle Kindle Unlimited, which Amazon is known to make changes with very little notice. And so it's just one way to prepare for it. But that does depend on you having a lot of books and you know, multiple series, so it's not for everyone. One nice thing is for when you're coming out of KU, if you've got KU readers that are complaining that they no longer can get your book, essentially for free to them, at least the way in which they're seeing it, is that your book, when it's wide, is available at libraries. And so you can let them know, "Hey, you can request that your library buy this book, and then you can read it at no charge to you." So yeah. Well, awesome. We're getting, we've got about two minutes left. And so again, let me flash up where people can find you. She's got her Twitter address @K8Tilton. Yeah, you can also find her at katetilton.com. I do highly recommend, she's got that resource list of things for authors to know and resources that are out there with COVID-19. If you're, you know, tuning in live, that's still very much a thing. If you're watching this later, you're gonna be like, I remember that. So, do you have any parting thoughts Kate?
Kate Tilton 44:01
Well, this was great to talk with you. And for all the authors out there, just know that you don't have to do it alone. You know, there are ways to get help out there. And definitely check out the site. There's also the regular resource list that has a lot of different things that will be helpful for authors. And yeah, if you have questions, just let me know. You can get me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. I'm there.
Dan Wood 44:24
You're everywhere. Well, thank you everyone, for tuning in today. We will have this available. So you can always check this out on YouTube, on Facebook. We are planning on releasing some of these as podcasts and so you'll be able to listen to it eventually. So we're trying to make this available to you in whatever way that you want it. So thank you. Please subscribe to us on YouTube. I always forget to say that. Please follow us or like us on Facebook. And you'll get notifications because we're, right now, we're doing these every weekdayy. And so tune in at noon Central Time and you can see what we're, who we're talking to. We talk to authors, we talk to industry people, we try to just bring in anyone that would be helpful for you to hear from or ask questions to. So, thank you very much, Kate, for being on and we will talk to you later. Bye.