Join the new Draft2Digital Marketing Team for an Ask Us Anything where they talk about conferences, promotions, and the D2D/Smashwords merger.
Meet the team that’s revving D2D’s marketing engine and learn all about what we do, why we do it, and how it impacts YOU!
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Jim Azevedo, Alexis Greene, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello world, thank you for showing up at our doorstep here at Draft2Digital on the Self-Publishing Insiders Live, which we come to you now, thanks to one of the people, both of the people honestly, sharing the screen with me, every single week. That was a goal from the start. And now I’m really excited that we’ve gotten there. And that is all due to this amazing team. My amazing team. Jim Azevedo and Lexi Greene, I’m gonna let each of you guys introduce yourselves. Lexi, why don’t why don’t you start? You’ve been on the show before.
Alexis Greene 00:36
I have. I’ve been queuing up just reminders and old social posts. And I realized I was one of the earliest seself-publishing insiders, which is wild to me. But yeah, I’m Lexi Greene. I am the Social Media Communications Specialist for Draft2Digital. I believe that’s my title. I’ve been with the company since 2018. Before that, I worked in hotels at Marriott. And honestly, I’ve been on the author services team here for a long while. And now I get to work with Kevin, making our social presence a bit more presented, you know? Yeah, it’s a pleasure and an honor, Kevin.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:29
if you say so, I’ll buy that. All right. Jim, let everybody know what your title and role is.
Jim Azevedo 01:34
All right. I’m Jim Azevedo, corporate communications manager, I almost said at Smashwords. I joined the team in March of this year from the Smashwords acquisition. I was with Smashwords. I was the Director of Marketing at Smashwords. I joined that team in 2011. And so I was there 11 years before that acquisition. My role here at Draft2Digital is some of the public relations and media relations. Kevin and I kind of tag team on some of our conference participation. Sometimes that means sponsorships. Sometimes that means speaking and panels, and generally just helping to get the word out and create more awareness for Draft2Digital and our awesome tools.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:19
Yeah, so and I had each of you guys give your titles, because I could not remember them. So because that’s where we are now. So the interesting thing, for me the what’s been fun about this is, so both you guys came on board this year. Previously, prior years, this department, this specific subset of marketing in Draft2Digital, was little old me and everyone on staff who has any sort of marketing background could help out from time to time, so we had a nice presence at conferences. If you’re kind of keeping score, our number of folks at conferences has probably tripled in just the past year. Jim is part of that now. We’ve got folks like Nick Thacker. And, of course, Dan Wood and Mark Lefebvre, and we’ve all kind of been in a sort of conglomerate marketing group. And then the sort of specific marketing group was just me for a very long time. So all the content and all that stuff tended to be me and anyone I could outsource to, but now we have a growing team. So now, we’re the marketing presence for the company. If you had to nail down, I’m gonna pick on Jim first. If you had to nail down what the role of marketing is at Draft2Digital, how would you define it?
Jim Azevedo 03:58
In a nutshell, I think it’s just about getting the word out about the company and what it is that we do and who we do it for. It seems so obvious to all of us, because we’re so close to the company. We’re a part of the company that hey, you know, we’re a large self-publishing and distribution platform for independently published authors, self-published authors, and small independent presses. And we think everybody knows that. But there are potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions of authors out there in the world, who are aspiring to get that first book published, and they haven’t heard of us yet. So our job is to get that word out. Not only let them know about the company, but to let them know about all the different tools that make it super duper easy for them to do so.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:44
Yeah, that’s a good, you’ve succinctly summed things up, Jim. That’s it, he’s out. By the way, before we get any further, I want to make sure everybody knows that they can ask whatever questions you want in the comments. We got Draft2Digital folks floating around who can help answer those if we can’t get to them on the show, but we’re going to try to get to them on the show. And one of the reasons we can do that is because our dear friend, Lexi Greene, came to the marketing department from the customer support department of Draft2Digital, so she’s an expert on all things Draft2Digital, right, Lexi?
Alexis Greene 05:22
Yeah, you know, I just read the book, the secret book of Draft2Digital from cover to cover. I’ve retained all that information. I guess you could say I am a thought expert. Yeah. Yeah. But no, yeah, I’ve had a lot of experience working with our authors, working especially with our systems. And like, the things that we offer. There’s so much that we’ve added over the course over time here, even from the time that I got here. We’re constantly changing things, updating things, and like, giving authors more tools to use. So with that, you know, it’s important that our support team knows how those tools work, can find the answers when authors need them. And I think that Draft2Digital has always been really, really good at that. And part of me being here was the ability to add more of that experience and just more knowledge that can help authors on a wide scale, rather than just within our emails, our phone support, which are all stellar, and the people behind them continue to be amazing.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:38
Yes, and okay, so Elyssa, who is also part of our team, she’s one of the quarterbacks of Draft2Digital, popped up with this question to prompt us to answer this. And it is, “Does the D2D marketing team do any marketing for D2D authors?” The answer is technically no, we don’t do any direct marketing for the author. We do have promotions, that’s part of Mark Lefebvre’s team, is handling promotions for authors. So there is a marketing component that is built in and growing at Draft2Digital. And you can find all that stuff, if you’re logged into Draft2Digital, there is a tab called promotions. If you look at one of your books, go to the … there’s a little promotions tab. Get the name Lexi, what’s the name of that page? Do you remember?
Alexis Greene 07:28
No, it’s the promotions tab. You’ve nailed it.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:31
There’s like a, it’s on that little dashboard page with the little tabs on the right. And I couldn’t remember what that was called. The View Books page, View Books page. And that’s on, that’s per book. But you can set up things like promotional pricing, things like that. And we’re constantly kind of tinkering and adding stuff under the hood for that. And Books2Read, of course, books2read.com is really all about author marketing when it comes down to it. That’s where you’re gonna find things like book tabs and reading lists and author pages and all that stuff. Thanks. Oh, wait, View Book page, Elyssa says. She answered the question, too. So there we go. So thank you for that. Okay. So I have completely lost track of the next thing I was going to bring up. So let’s look at another question instead. So here’s one. Now Elyssa answered this in the comments already. But I wanted us to talk about this live. So, “When can we D2D authors add our titles to the Smashwords store? Will the option be ready this year? And you guys are seriously awesome.” I’m tempted to just take this comment off screen after that part. But what’s our, what do we think our timeline is for adding stuff to the Smashwords store? I liked Elyssa’s answer. Maybe I should pop that up.
Alexis Greene 08:54
Definitely pop Elyssa’s answer up. I’m always very careful about timelines, because as someone who was on support, I know that things change, and you know, unexpected things come up. So we don’t necessarily want to give any kind of false impressions. But we are, this is one of the biggest things that I think we’re looking to get done as a next step in this merger, because we want our authors to have access to the Smashwords store. The Smashwords store is a phenomenal indie bookstore. So this is something that I’m sure we would love to get done this year. But we don’t quite have the time set just because it is alpha testing. And alpha testing involves a lot of breaking things and seeing what we need to fix. So we thank everyone for your patience while we kind of test these things in the background so that once we make this transition, our goal as with everything is to make this as seamless and painless for authors as possible. So.
Jim Azevedo 09:58
if I could tack on to that, it’s kind of a dangerous, almost a dangerous question to ask marketers, because we’re always like, oh, yeah, you know, how hard is it to just add a button to the system and have all these hundreds of thousands of ebooks ship over there? You know, sometimes engineers want to strangle me. But one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that there’s so much technology underlying both the Smashwords infrastructure and Draft2Digital’s infrastructure. And both companies allow our authors to make unlimited updates to their metadata. So there’s all this dynamic metadata that’s constantly changing, as well. So we want to make sure that once we’ve flipped that switch that it’s going to work seamlessly and perfectly.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:47
Yeah, yeah. I am notorious for being the one that everyone gets mad at for accidentally committing us to things on air. So I am not going to say that it’s going to happen this year. We’re very hopeful that it will, but we’re working very hard to not only do it, but do it right. Because this is, you have no idea how excited we are about adding D2D authors to that store and doing things, upgrading some things, and shifting some things around and just making that store your store. That’s what it’s going to be, that is the indie author store. In fact, that may well become the largest source of indie author published books on the planet, I’m just gonna stand by that. And then everyone can yell at me later. So I’m seeing more comments and things pop in, and we will definitely get to some of these. But, Jim, so one of the things that you kind of helped me out with and took over was helping me manage things related to conferences. So I’m kind of curious what the experience with conferences was at Smashwords versus Draft2Digital so far. Like, how is it different? And how important are conferences to authors? Throw that in there.
Jim Azevedo 12:12
Well, for authors, extremely important. Because when for an author, when an author goes to a conference, you have the opportunity to not only mingle with your fellow authors, but you have the opportunity to mingle with industry insiders, people who handle the publishing, whether it’s a publishing platform, a self-publishing platform, like the Draft2Digital or Smashwords, but you have also the opportunity to mingle with some of the largest traditional publishers in the world, their staffs, their editors, literary agents, publicists, and everybody involved in this entire publishing ecosystem. One of the things I advise to authors is that, you know, even if you are committed to self-publishing, it’s always a good idea to talk to traditional publishers and literary agents and pitch your stories, because the more you can pitch your stories, the better and clearer and more concise those elevator pitches, those loglines, will be when you’re talking about your books, or your upcoming books to somebody in the supermarket. From a perspective of how it’s different, how Smashwords approached conferences, and how Draft2Digital approaches conferences, I think it’s pretty close. I think it’s pretty close. I would say though, I’m learning that Draft2Digital is a bit more social than Smashwords was. I mean, we had a good time going to conferences and meeting authors and hanging out, but Draft2Digital throws some parties and have some major get-togethers and ensures that we have a lot of face time with the authors out there.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:51
You know, conferences have always been such a huge part of our marketing, more so here than any other place I’ve ever worked, honestly, because I ran marketing departments for a couple of really large software companies, and we did some of what D2D does, but nowhere near as committed. And it definitely has been a big part, it’s kind of part of our brand. Like we’re the guys who are there, we show up, right? And we’re accessible. Did you want to add something Lexi? I’m sorry.
Alexis Greene 14:22
Nothing, literally just, I absolutely am going to try and piggy back and stowaway myself onto one of these conference trips. Just because, the stories of D2D parties do tend to like live in legend and myth around here.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:37
We’ve had a couple at home.
Jim Azevedo 14:40
Sorry about that, Kevin. I was just gonna say, thankfully we have a team now. And back in the Smashwords days, it was Mark Coker and me trying to do all the conferences.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:51
Two party animals right there.
Jim Azevedo 14:56
And as you know, you can get stretched really thin really quickly when you’re traveling all the time.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:01
Yes. That’s one thing that I’ve also enjoyed over the past year. So, well, you know, we had a couple of years there for some reason where we weren’t going to conferences. But we’ve seen the pool of talent grow here with people who can not only attend but present, can answer author questions. So you know, when, when a D2D person shows up at a conference, you know you can ask them anything. And if they don’t know the answer, they have Slack on their phone, and they can reach out right away and ask the team for an answer. So if you see us at a conference, test it. Make sure by the way that you are liking and subscribing, if you are not already subscribed to us on YouTube or Facebook or elsewhere. All the little likes and subscriptions and comments, that’s very helpful to us. So let’s look at some more questions. Let’s pop in, I’ve got quite a few growing here. Sorry, gotta get to them. Okay. Here’s one. So Stingy Blue asks, “What do you all think about independent authors using advertising on Amazon, YouTube and other platforms? What about using blogs, podcasts and other forms of marketing to sell your book?” And I can tell you, so basically, when it comes to marketing, you got to do what works for you, which is malleable advice. You know, not every trick works for every author. So you do want to kind of experiment and try things out. When it comes to advertising, you need a budget. So you’re gonna want to, you know, be a little cautious getting into that stuff, test the waters. And there are tons of books and YouTube videos and podcasts out there that that tell you how to do things like test an ad. A/B testing is a phrase you’ll hear a lot, and how to get, you know, how to run something for a time on a low budget, so you know what works, and then you can up your budget later, and what certain things like ROI mean, the return on investment, so if you’re not getting money back out of this machine, when you’re plugging money in, that’s a problem. And it needs to be more than you put in. So some common sense kind of stuff. But when it comes, I’m a big fan, so I came up as a bootstrapper. So I always lean in on the free and really inexpensive means of marketing. And that does include things like blog posts, and podcasts and that sort of thing. I would say, before you invest heavily in doing that stuff, because the investment there is your time and energy. Figure out who the audience is going to be, what your purpose is for each thing you produce. So if you’re going to go on a podcast, it’s fine to just go on a podcast for the fun of it or whatever. But if your goal is to get readers to check out your work, make sure the podcast has a reader-facing audience. Because most of the podcasts we encounter in this business are really aimed at entrepreneurs and authors. I mean, that’s what most of us end up producing, funny enough. And the same goes for blogs and any other form of marketing. You just make sure you’re clear on who the audience is, and what audience you’re reaching with that particular branch of marketing. So I talked a lot. Do either of you have something you want to add to that?
Alexis Greene 18:22
Yeah. For one, I loved what you mentioned, where like a lot of the podcasts in this space are kind of author and entrepreneur-focused. Because there’s a comment, there’s a thing I’ve seen a lot of people say, which is like, you’re not selling to authors, you’re selling to readers. So like, you’re not trying to go into author spaces and necessarily push your book there. But I just wanted to like, when it comes to blogs, podcasts, YouTube, TikTok. I was getting there, obviously, I was getting there. I place a lot of value on that kind of marketing right now, just because I feel like now more than ever, authors are the brand, sometimes even more so necessarily than just an individual book. Like you know, the series is the brand but the author is very much a brand, so your presence can develop its own following. There are people who will trust books because they know the author name attached. They’ve seen that author’s presence. So making yourself a presence is very big, especially now in this time of BookTok, Bookstagram, all these spaces where books are kind of blowing up and developing their own groundswell.
Jim Azevedo 19:34
Yeah, I would add to that, especially for those of you who write nonfiction, some of your opportunities may have to do with getting some press coverage, doing some PR around your books, whether it’s in your local newspaper, maybe that newspaper is a weekly, and sometimes blogs could also come through with that. If you’re going to do that, you also have the opportunity to pitch your local TV stations, if you have something visually that they could attach their news story to, and the same thing for your local radio. If you still have a newspaper in your town, if it’s online, try to figure out who the reporter is that covers your particular niche. And don’t just pitch them on exactly what it is that you’re writing about. But you want to do a little homework on that particular reporter, maybe go through a handful of their recent stories and kind of dissect their stories. What I mean by that is, try to figure out like, what really excites them. What are the kinds of things they cover in the lead of their stories, like that first paragraph? And then when you write your pitch to that particular reporter, let them know that you’ve read several of their stories, and focus your pitch down to something that you believe would not only grab the reader’s attention, but would also grab that reporter’s attention based on how their writing style is.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:52
Yeah. I want to throw in, by the way, because we said, you know, if you know your goal, you know the audience you’re trying to hit … I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that doing a podcast or blog post that is aimed only at entrepreneurs or authors or something is necessarily a bad idea. It can actually be pretty beneficial to you, and possibly in other ways that you weren’t expecting. I mean, for example, when I started, I had the Wordslinger podcast for years. And when I started that, it was all about talking to other people in the community and influencers, and celebrities and people that I wanted to learn from, and that’s what that podcast became for me. And the same can be true of just sitting in on a podcast, sharing what you know with other people, and other authors, can be very beneficial to you. It can open up opportunities you might not expect, and I kind of consider that part of giving back, which is why I still do all that. So anyway, just want to throw that out there, because you need to know your goal. If your goal is marketing, sell books, then focus on that. Make sure that what you’re doing is focused on that audience. And if your goal is learn and grow, then that’s okay too. Go ahead Lexi.
Alexis Greene 22:10
I just want to say, it’s really important in this industry, I think just to network with other people in the industry, like writing as a community is a resource that you can learn a lot from, and a resource that you can gain a lot from, and it makes writing less of a lonely, isolated activity.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:33
Yes, yeah. Community building is a very big important part.
Jim Azevedo 22:38
And one thing I’ve learned from authors too, is that a lot of authors hate to market or they feel like they’re being too salesy. So to Lexi’s point, to have those conversations, don’t go into it with the mindset that oh, my gosh, I have to sell my books to put food on the table. Because I think what you’ll find is that when you’re out there, and you’re educating your readers, and you’re just having these conversations, those sales will sort of start to organically happen as people get to know about you and your work.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:06
Yeah. So my definition of marketing is, marketing is any activity that increases the odds that someone will buy your book at the time that they’re ready to buy. And that means that just about anything can be marketing. There’s, you know, kind of different categories of marketing, like targeted marketing and content marketing and things like that. But the real important thing is, whatever your efforts are, if your goal is to sell something, and sell your book, anything can be marketing, as long as you’re approaching it from the right direction, and it’s increasing the odds. So, you know, email is such a powerful marketing tool, because you’ve got this audience that’s specifically there for you, to hear from you. And so when you ask them to do things, and you should, you should ask them, like, hey, help me out and go tell three of your friends about my books. You know, I’m running this promotion, let everyone you know, know about it. Post this on your social media. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. That’s marketing. 101, actually. Okay, we got a question here from Roderick asks, “Will we use our D2D account details on Smashwords?” And right now, we don’t have that set up, Roderick, but that’s coming. So eventually, when you sign in, it’s just signing in. It won’t matter which site you’re on. Everything will be tied together. Or am I wrong, Lexi? That’s how I understand it.
Alexis Greene 24:39
No. Obviously, everything can change. But I believe the plan is, if you’re an author, you’ll be accessing things through D2D. That’s how you would publish to Smashwords and the same way you would publish to our partner vendors. Readers, I believe, would still end up accessing Smashwords as Smashwords. It’s got its own brand as a wonderful place for people to find indie books. And we don’t want to lose that. We don’t want our authors, our readers, to suddenly not know where to find all their favorite indie authors.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:16
Smashwords is an interesting brand in that it was branded to, or it was marketed to two categories, really to two audiences. And it did it fairly well, I think. I mean, it has a large readership, it has a large audience following. I guess “fairly well” is probably selling it short, Jim. Did you guys have like an exit strategy for separating those two brands? Or those two markets?
Jim Azevedo 25:46
No, actually, no, we wanted to grow them both. And what a lot of people might not know is that when Smashwords was founded, it was simply founded as a way to let authors self-publish an ebook and sell them at the Smashwords store. That was 2008. And then in 2009, an author suggested to Mark Coker, hey, do you think you can approach some of the big global ebook retailers and ask them if they would accept self-published author books, self published authors’ ebooks? And we thought it was impossible. But then we asked, and they said, sure. Because now they had all this unlimited virtual shelf space. And so these global ebook retailers started accepting self-published ebooks with open arms. But when we made the switch to distribution, we started focusing all of our attention to resources on distribution, and not as much on the Smashwords store. But the Smashwords store just kept growing and growing and growing. And then we started, when we had the opportunity, started putting more resources into the Smashwords store, which coincidentally is having a major sale right now in July, for the entire month of July. There’s like over 86,000 books on sale right now at Smashwords. And that doesn’t even include the 90,000-plus books that are priced at free.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:05
Yeah. So that brings up another question here from D R. “Will Smashwords continue their annual sales promotion after the merger with D2D?”
Alexis Greene 27:15
Jim, it’s almost like you planned it that way.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:18
I suspect shenanigans. But go ahead, Jim.
Jim Azevedo 27:21
There are no shenanigans. Yes, the sales will continue. Like the July summer winter sale that’s happening right now. The annual end of year sale, the read an ebook week sale that happens every March, all of those sales will continue to happen to my knowledge, they’ll continue to happen. And we’re talking about having even more sales. Every year, year over year, the sales have been growing. I mean, the revenue from the sales have been growing. And overall the authors have been, their books have been performing better year over year.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:56
Yeah, yeah. And here’s the thing. Go ahead, Jim. Oh, go ahead, Lexi.
Alexis Greene 28:02
Honestly, like, I wouldn’t see any reason why we would ever want to stop these sales. They’re amazing opportunities for these authors. It’s part of the benefit of having a platform that we control is like, this is a way to give authors the ability to highlight their own books and to develop their own promotional opportunities. Even now, like I’m already kind of, you know, pushing our sales on our marketing channel, just because, like, I want authors to know that these opportunities exist, even right now when they can’t get there through D2D. Like Smashwords is such a good resource for indie authors, and the sales are a big part of that. So this is one of the things I was super excited about when we joined together, was like this opportunity for our authors. So.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:54
Yeah, I cannot stress enough how big of an opportunity the Smashwords store represents to indie authors. And what a titanic shift has just happened with this merger.
Jim Azevedo 29:07
Right, because the Smashwords store was built for authors. And the authors have … it’s very author friendly, there are tools there like our Smashwords coupons, where you can put your book on sale anytime you like. Not just during an annual sale, but any time you like. You can price your book at free anytime you’d like, you can keep it as a permafree anytime you like, all these different things. I think authors just love that.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:36
Yeah, yeah. All right, let’s look at some more questions here. Zoe on YouTube asks, “Does D2D publish hardbacks? And if not, are there plans to do so in the future? I’ve heard it’s easier to market books to libraries with hardbacks. Or HBs as Zoe says. She’s a much cooler person than I am.
Alexis Greene 30:00
So, right now we don’t. Right now we are currently, with D2D Print, we are publishing paperback books. But hardcover is something we’ve looked into. it’s something that is a possibility. It’s something that we want to make sure that is feasible for our authors, is feasible for what we’re doing. But it’s definitely like, all I can say for now is that it’s very much something we’re aware of as an opportunity. And it’s something we want to be looking into.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:29
Yeah, I will say this with D2D Print, in particular. With the whole company, but with DDD print, we’re climbing one mountain at a time. And right now we’re solving some of the problems. They weren’t really problems, we’re solving some of the limitations that publishing on demand has, and their print partners have a few limitations. And we’re finding ways to work around that. And once we’ve solved that, then we’re free to move all that energy into the next phase. So right now, it’s all about getting DVD print out of beta and into a full release. And we’re very, I think we’re very close. And I know I’ve been saying this for like two years, but we’re very close on doing that. We’ve got a lot of these issues solved.
Alexis Greene 31:15
it’s worth mentioning that right now, the waitlist for the D2D beta is basically nonexistent. So if you sign up for the D2D Print beta, you will very likely be opted in on the next wave of users, which is happening if not weekly, possibly more than that. So definitely, if you’re not in the D2D Print beta yet, and you’re curious, and you want to test out your books in print, I definitely recommend that. And oh my god, it’s like you have control over everything. That’s the link to the D2D Print beta signup, and everyone listening should go there.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:55
I’m sure Elyssa will be kind enough to drop the link into comments. We’ll be getting back to this later too, with something fancy. But the link, if you’re listening, is draft2digital.com/printbeta. And that’ll get you into the beta. And we’ve been onboarding people, usually within like a week or so lately.
Alexis Greene 32:13
Like I said, it’s real quick, we have no waitlist. So we’re getting users in, we’re testing everything out. This has been a very exciting time for the beta. So.
Kevin Tumlinson 32:24
Yeah, exactly. Okay. I’m looking through, scanning comments here. And we got, I got a couple more. Okay, let’s pop into this one from RC. And RC asks, “What are the plans to highlight/promote new authors?”
Alexis Greene 32:44
So the challenge of a new author, and it’s always been this case, is that there are so many authors breaking into the space. And obviously, we make it more accessible. So we have hundreds of thousands of authors putting their hats in the ring every month. And with that, it makes it harder to necessarily highlight just individual new authors, because there’s so many, and there’s so many that want those opportunities. That’s why a big part of what Draft2Digital does is giving authors tools like Books2Read, giving tools like the UBL, the author tabs, the author pages rather, and giving access to things like the promotion signups, which if you email our support team, they can provide you with a form to sign up for potential promotion opportunities, if you’re a Draft2Digital author. So it’s the case of empowering authors to highlight and promote themselves is what Draft2Digital is here to do.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:48
We have a mission statement. And I need to circle around and see if it’s made it to the site yet, but we have a mission statement that essentially says that our role, our mission is to remove the friction for authors and publishers to help them avoid gatekeepers. And to make it as fast and easy and simple as possible for them to get their books out to that reader audience. That’s what we’re here for. So anything we can do that helps that, and promotion is definitely on that list. So Mark Lefebvre and Megan are doing some amazing work building up that program, and figuring out new ways, you know, reaching out to retailers and getting promotions from the retailers and making sure that all that stuff is out there and available for our authors. And that’s just growing. I mean, it’s still early days for some of that. But, you know, that’s one of the silos of what we’re trying to do with D2D, helping authors to market themselves. And that’s what the whole raft of tools at Books2Read is all about.
Jim Azevedo 35:00
Not to mention all the resources that Draft2Digital has published over the years. Oh, sorry, just saying that, not to mention all the promotional tools that Draft2Digital, not the promotional tools, but the best practice resources, the free best practice resources that Draft2Digital offers to help authors learn about how to do this, because it’s these best practices that helps separate the amateurs from the pros. And as a matter of fact, wasn’t it just this week that we have the draft2digital.com/authoressentials?
Kevin Tumlinson 35:32
Alexis Greene 35:35
I actually copied the link. I’m not sure if I can drop it somehow.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:42
Yes, that is our, we’re calling it Author Essentials, and that is a brand new landing page. Thanks, Jim. I forgot to add the link. So.
Alexis Greene 35:54
I sent the link to Elyssa in case.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:57
That page is actually set up. And I’m just teasing you, Jim. That page is actually set up to be kind of, so as we create content like this. And we have blog posts, podcasts, live streams, guest posts, you know, anything that we consider to be essential is going into that. That page is getting a tag and shows up on that page automatically. So that’s going to become a source, I think this is D2D.tips/essentials. Correct. essentials, plural essentials, let me edit that live on air. So if you are, essentials, essentials, not essential. Now I gotta get do a near miss, so I got to talk to Will after the show. So the whole idea there is, this is where you’ll be able to go and see, anything that we think as a team, as industry insiders ourselves. And as a lot of us are authors, a lot of us on staff are authors. Lexi’s an author, I’m an author, Jim probably wrote something. But we have pretty unique insight into what is essential and important and vital for authors to know. So we decided we would build this page as, this is just the start of this, by the way, it’s going to grow and expand and become cooler as we go. But you should definitely check it out. It’s D2D.tips/essentials will take you to that page. Bookmark that, because as more content goes on to that blog, it’s going to be added to that page. And so you never know what you’re gonna find. There’s stuff about marketing, formatting, there’s craft related stuff, you know, so it’s all the most essential things without having to wade through a search or whatever. So thanks for bringing it up, Jim. I’m serious. Okay, man, we got far more comments popping up now. Let’s take a look.
Alexis Greene 37:53
We’re running out of time.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:55
Alexis Greene 37:56
It’s almost like we have three people who talk a lot in this department.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:00
So Stingy Blue is back with, “What’s the best way to create an email list?” And that is the banner question. I’ll be honest with you. So there are a lot of approaches you can take there. One of the ones that I like, so we have a, we’re gonna call him friend of show, friend of D2D, BookFunnel is a great resource for doing this sort of thing, pretty inexpensive. But one of the things that they offer is you can create landing pages where people can go and download a free copy of your book. So one way to build your mailing list, I actually have a short story, that is what I call my top of funnel offer. And when you go to my website, or if you come across my link on Twitter or anywhere, TikTok not yet, but you know, any social media, he said sounding like a 90-year-old. If you come across that link anywhere and you’re interested in it, the reader can sign up and get that free book, and then they’re on the mailing list. So one of the things I’ve done is I’ve put that in opportune places everywhere. So as soon as you show up on my website, at kevintumlinson.com, you can see for yourself, it pops up and says hey, here’s a free book. And then you can go sign up and get that free book. Then BookFunnel and several other services also offer ways for you to do promotional newsletter swaps. So that’s been a great way to grow my list over the years, where I team up with other authors who write in the same genre, have the same audience. We each promote each other’s work. The free book usually is a good way to do this, and then everybody on each other’s lists has an opportunity to join the other list. So that’s part of it. But one of the basic things, because I asked this question when I first started, and the answer I got was I don’t know, you could use Facebook. And this was from a guy in a webinar about list building. And that was the only answer he was able to come up with, was I could use Facebook, he didn’t tell me how, or what to do or any of it. But I’m here to remedy that for you. One way, one thing that you can do that will guarantee start adding people to your list is, start asking people. And that’s so stupid simple that we forget it. But start with the contact list that you have. Don’t spam everybody all at once in a blind copy email, but start approaching individual people that you have in your contact list and say, I’m trying to build up my mailing list, would you get on it? And tell some other people to get on it? And here’s a free book, or here’s some incentive. And that’s the baseline way you can start building a mailing list. And I started, for the first like, three or four years that I had my mailing list, I tried all kinds of weird things. And I had 60 people on my list consistently for like three years. And when I figured out that I could just start asking people who liked me to help me, it jumped up. I’m currently at 75,000 subscribers on that list. That’s over a 10-year period, I think. So that is definitely the way to go. Participate in these cross-promotional things, and ask people.
Jim Azevedo 41:25
Kevin, can I take 20 seconds to tell maybe the newer authors who may be wondering, well, why do I need an email list in the first place? And the reason is, when you start selling books, when somebody buys your book at Amazon, or Apple books, or Barnes & Noble, those readers, those customers don’t become your customers, they become customers of Amazon or Apple, or whichever the bookstore is. So when you create an email newsletter list. over time, those customers are your customers. It doesn’t matter if the algorithms change at Amazon, or, you know, if Facebook shuts down and you lose some of the readers that you might have had in a Facebook group, in your author group. Those readers are yours to keep and grow over time as you grow your author career.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:14
Yeah. That is true. Lexi, did you want to throw anything in there?
Alexis Greene 42:20
No, no notes. I love how passionate you are about email lists.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:26
I am. I get really intensely passionate about it. And that’s because of everything Jim just said. I mean, it’s marketing you own. It’s a platform you own and control. When you hear someone say you need to build your author platform, email is 90% of that platform, the rest is everything else. And there are a lot of things happening in the world right now. Lexi’s talked a little bit about TikTok, there’s the whole BookTok thing, and that’s huge. I’m watching it, realizing that there’s a real chance that that is potentially, I’m not gonna say it’s a fad, but I’m gonna say it’s one of those, I think it’s going to work great until everybody starts doing it, and then it’s not going to work as great. That’s the way that feels to me. But that said, that doesn’t mean don’t do it, it means go into it knowing that that is only a small part of your platform. And the more you can get people funneled onto your mailing list, the stronger your marketing presence is going to be. Okay, so we’re kind of getting close. I’m going to run this spot real quick before we run out of time, if I can find it, but we talked about this earlier, but hey, hey you, take a look at this. eBooks are great, but there’s just something about having your words in print, something you can hold your hands, put on a shelf sign for a reader. That’s why we created D2D Print, a print on demand service that was built for you. We have free beautiful templates to give your book a pro look. And we can even convert your ebook cover into a full wraparound cover for print. So many options for you and your books. And you can get started right now when you sign up at draft2digital.com/printbeta. And there we are right back at the beginning, draft2digital.com/printbeta, that’ll get you on that list. We’ll put that back on screen again, that’ll get you on that list. And like I said, we’ve been adding people, usually within about a week. You know, we went from like having thousands and thousands of people on that waiting list to only have like 100 people on it at any given time. So we’ve done a good job, people are excited about that. So anyway, go to draft2digital.com/printbeta, it’ll get you on that list. And I’m sure that even after the beta part is done, I’m thinking we’re gonna keep that URL around just in case people see old podcasts and things, and they can go and funnel right into joining the whole service. So, now that, RC, “Kevin is 100% on TikTok.” I am not. I don’t think, if I am it wasn’t really me. So somebody’s deep faking me on TikTok.
Alexis Greene 45:16
We might have gotten you for like one of the TikToks.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:18
Well, that’s true. I did do a couple of things for us. And I should do more of those. I don’t think, at the risk of sounding like I’m yelling at kids to get off my lawn, I don’t fully understand TikTok.
Jim Azevedo 45:32
We have a live stream coming up on TikTok, on how to use TikTok, on August 18.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:36
See, look at Jim with the segues. Yes.
Alexis Greene 45:40
Yeah, as the pseudo TikToker of the marketing team, I am super excited for that one. So definitely tune into that.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:49
I am also excited about it, because then anything that … RC says, I see, corrected that. “Poorly worded. 100% correct on the fad of Tiktok.” So that’s going to wrap us up for this week of Self-Publishing Insiders. I want to thank my team here. I maybe don’t tell them enough yet. But I am so ridiculously grateful for the two of you and for what you’re doing. And the authors have no idea how much they’re benefiting from you guys being on the team, we are really seeing some growth in this in the department, which means growth for the company, which means growth for the authors. So thank you both for being just incredible people and for being a part of D2D and marketing. So, you guys want throw anything in before we go? And that is not me asking for reciprocal comments.
Alexis Greene 46:53
Just thank you for having us on here. I love these live streams. I love our ability to communicate with authors. So it’s always fun to be on this. And I look forward to continuing to do a lot to take work off your plate, but also just reach out to and benefit our authors.
Jim Azevedo 47:16
I just wanted to add that for anybody who’s curious about how the merger is going, hopefully this is showing you how well our cultures are kind of just gelling. It’s been fantastic, coming from the Smashwords side. And joining the Draft2Digital team, the Draft2Digital marketing team. It’s like, I have a team now. This is awesome. Love it. Yeah, I have some help. But I’d also like to ask the viewers like, if you guys enjoyed having the marketing team to kind of chat with and ask questions of. let us know in the comments so that we can do this again, if you feel like it’s beneficial for you.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:51
Yeah, do that. Definitely. Yeah, I already plan to have come back around either way. So, all right. Well, that is going to wrap us up for this week. Thank you all for tuning in and being a part of Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital, make sure you bookmark D2Dlive.com, because that’s where you’ll see countdowns to each week’s episode and what the topic is. Plus, you’ll find links to past episodes. So go check that out. And keep circling around, we got all kinds of new things, that whole D2D tips.essentials, that is a new thing that’s come out of this collaboration here. And we’re just going to keep adding stuff like that. And you can let us know if there’s something that you think we could do that you need. Any way that we can help remove all that friction for you. We’re going to try to do that. So everyone, thank you again. Take care and we’ll see you all next time. Bye. Thanks, everybody.