As part of our Audiobook Month series with FindAway Voices, we have a conversation about speechwriting and public speaking with Eddie Rice.
Eddie Rice is the author of “Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact”. Eddie is a speechwriter and public speaking coach with 10 years of experience in the field. Eddie will be talking about making his experience making an audiobook on Marketplace. He loves creating strong narrative-driven speeches that focus on balancing emotional and thought-leadership content. He has worked with executives, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, and everyone in between.
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E.S. Curry 00:02
Hello, welcome to Findaway Voices’ series of live author interviews, celebrating June audiobook month. I’m Scott Curry, marketing strategist at Findaway Voices. And joining me today we’ve got Kevin Tumlinson from Draft2Digital. And we have author Eddie Rice. Welcome, gentlemen.
Eddie Rice 00:24
Hi. Nice to be here.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:26
We’re looking forward to this one, Eddie. So every time Scott brings you up, he tells me all about how you are the master of the toast. So I’m like, I like toast. I put, you know, peanut butter, jam. I love toast. But he informs me of how very wrong I am in the way I think.
Eddie Rice 00:49
I think we’re talking about a different type of toast today.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:51
Yeah, yeah. Which is cool. I’m gonna let Scott do his thing, since you guys have done some stuff with Eddie. I am actually very interested and very excited to hear about what happened here. I don’t even want to spoil anything. I’m just gonna let you guys talk about this. And I think that’s a great way to open, Scott. Sorry.
E.S. Curry 01:15
That’s a great way to open. For sure. So, just want to introduce Eddie here. He’s the author of Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact. And he’s a speech writer and public speaking coach with 10 years of experience in the field. And he loves creating strong narrative-driven speeches that focus on balancing emotional and thought leadership content. And he’s worked with everyone from executives, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, TEDx talks. So we’re super excited to chat with you today, Eddie, about Toast. And I had the opportunity to meet you. And what’s really exciting, is Eddie was the winner of our Your Book Our Bucks audiobook promotion where his book was up in Times Square on a billboard during all this month, and we’re super excited to have him win.
Eddie Rice 02:14
Yeah, thank you Scott. I’m really happy to be here.
E.S. Curry 02:17
Yeah, that’s fantastic, Eddie. It’s pretty cool to have your name up in lights in New York Times Square, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 02:23
That’s pretty impressive.
Eddie Rice 02:25
Very much. When I was informed that I had won, it just blew me away. I just could not believe it.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:30
Have you seen? Like, has there been any influx of anything from the billboard? Is it helping?
Eddie Rice 02:36
I don’t think so. I’m gonna be honest, I haven’t seen a huge spike in sales. I’ve been doing some other marketing promotions. So those are in there as well with the numbers. But it hasn’t been a huge spike. But at the same time, I can now call myself an award-winning author. And I can put that into my bio.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:55
As featured on the New York Times billboard. Or the billboard in New York, Times Square.
Eddie Rice 03:00
It impressed my family and my parents. So I think I got some points there at home.
E.S. Curry 03:05
And what was even crazier was, I come to find out, you know, we choose him as the winner and I go to look him up. Turns out we live in the same city. I mean, the odds of that happening are just nil. I mean, Findaway is a global company. And so I reached out to him and I said, Eddie, do you want to get together for lunch? And we got together, had some lunch and talked about his book. And it was fantastic. So you know, speaking about that, Eddie, you know, why don’t you take us into why you wrote the book, your process for being a writer, you know, how’d you get into all this?
Eddie Rice 03:45
Sure. So I started as a speech writer. Actually, that wasn’t really my genesis, I was an eighth grade science teacher before becoming a speech writer, burned out from the profession after five years, to be honest, and went into writing. It’s something that I always loved to do. And I actually thought at first that I was going to be a public speaking coach for other people. But I didn’t have any business sense at the time. I had no idea how to get clients, how to do content marketing, how to put up a website, and that first venture failed. So it wasn’t until I discovered sites like Elance and oDesk, predecessors to Upwork, that I realized there are people out there that just needed speeches written. And I thought, why not just do a turnkey solution, provide the speech rather than the coaching, and we’ll go from there. And sure enough, that’s where I got my first set of clients. And then I finally taught myself how to put together a website, how to do conversion, testing, how to do all that fun stuff that goes along with marketing. And it took off from there, I realized I found a niche, found a need, and started writing for other people and enjoyed it tremendously.
E.S. Curry 04:54
That’s so cool, man, great story. I love that. So writing the book, you know, what was your process writing the book? Taking this experience now and turning it into something we can consume, like, I haven’t read the whole thing front to cover, but I did a full skim. And I love the process that you came up with. Super cool. Take us into that a little bit.
Eddie Rice 05:20
Of course, what I did is, I started out with all of the questions that my clients would ask me about giving a toast. And I just use those questions to fuel most of the book. I said, okay, what do people need? They need a process. Because usually people would come to me with just this mess of ideas, and say, where in the world do I start with putting a speech together? And I said, hey, I’ve got you, we’re gonna do some brainstorming, we’ll do an outline, we’ll do a draft, we’ll give feedback on the draft. And then we’ll rehearse it together to make the actual speech. And that’s the first half of the book. But then I realized people love sample speeches, they would always ask me, hey, do you have sample speeches I could reference for inspiration, or to prove that you’re an actual writer. I said, yeah, of course I do. I would always have a portfolio ready to go. And I would give those speeches out to people. So that’s the second half of the book, real speeches, real toasts given by people. And I included those in there to give people inspiration, and also apply the principles and show how the first half applies to the second half.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:29
Yeah. So what’s the what’s the number one tip for someone who needs to write a toast?
Eddie Rice 06:36
You want to achieve two goals with your toast: honor the person, honor the event. If you can do those two things, you’re going to have a solid toast. And that’s where very often people go wrong. In sometimes they turn a toast into a roast and they don’t honor the person that they’re talking to. And those are the YouTube videos that show up, like worst best man speech ever. You can Google that. You will find more than one example.
E.S. Curry 07:02
I’ve witnessed those. I have seen one. Yeah, yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:04
Yes. I experienced one of those.
E.S. Curry 07:07
Yeah. You need to read Eddie’s book there Kev.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:11
Yeah, I need to send this guy Eddie’s book. So yeah. I have always, I came up, I was a communications major, speech communications was one of my things. I was in Toastmasters and all that stuff. Do you recommend that kind of stuff for people? Should they go and enroll in classes and take these things?
Eddie Rice 07:33
Oh, very much, especially Toastmasters. I’m in Toastmasters right now. I just see myself as continually developing my own skills. And if you don’t know what Toastmasters is, it’s a weekly meeting group where people get together, they give impromptu speeches and prepared speeches. And you get positive feedback from the group on how well you speak and where you can improve. And it’s a very supportive group. What I would recommend you do is just Google Toastmasters near me, try out a few different clubs. See, if you like which one, you know, which club you like, and go from there. Each club has a different vibe to it. Some are super serious, some are super laid back. Others have specific focuses. When I was in Texas, they had a comedy club that people would go to. And yeah, it’s just a really fun way to meet people, and to improve your public speaking skills in a very safe and supportive space. And for, I mean, $45 for six months of membership. It’s one of the cheapest forms of public speaking coaching out there. There are coaches that charge hundreds of dollars per hour for public speaking coaching. And you can get that same feedback for pennies on the dollar.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:48
Yeah, that’s good advice. I don’t think I realized it was still that cheap. I thought, surely, things have gone up since I was in Toastmasters.
Eddie Rice 08:59
I thought that too. And then I rejoined, and I was like, oh, this is it. All right.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:03
Well, I just remember it as, I’m in college, which means I’m eating like condiments and things for dinner. Whatever I can get from McDonald’s free pile of condiments, and I’m still able to join and pay the dues for Toastmasters. So yeah, I think it’s well worth it. Sorry. That was my personal take.
Eddie Rice 09:27
It’s an amazing group. And I’ve grown because of it, and I learn something new every single week.
E.S. Curry 09:34
Yeah. Well, that’s what it’s about, right, Eddie? It’s about continuous improvement.
Eddie Rice 09:39
As a writer, yes. You’ve never done growing, either as a writer as a speaker as anything that you’re doing. It’s has to be continuous improvement. When you say I’ve made it, that’s when the growth stops.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:50
Saying I have made it is the same as saying I’m done. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about your writing process. Like, do you write daily? Do you have like a daily ritual?
Eddie Rice 10:01
I wish I could get on this webinar and say, oh, I get up at 6 am every morning and I write for an hour. And I write 2000 words regardless, kind of the Steven Pressfield model. I wish I could tell you that was my model. It’s not. I do have a daily writing group that I go to. We’re on hiatus for the summer. But we do meet each night, we set a goal, we set an intention. And we do a little bit of writing or other work. But for me, personally, I like to batch my writing. So I’m that person who, for one weekend, is going to write the entire weekend and then not pick it up until the next weekend. So I’m someone, I’m not a plotter, I very much batch what I write together. And that’s usually how I get things done, whether it’s at a co-working space, at a coffee shop, or I even went to a hotel to finish my book to get it done. I had to have that focus space to do just a lot of work all at once. And that’s my process.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:58
See, that’s still a process. That’s still a ritual though.
E.S. Curry 11:02
Yeah, I can totally relate to that.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:04
We get too hung up on the idea that you have to write. I mean, I’ve preached that myself, that you should write every day, but I don’t think you should always have to focus on that book every day. If you’re practicing this skill and craft every day, that’s good. But you have a ritual. So no, don’t downplay that.
Eddie Rice 11:23
No, not at all. I’m proud of it. I tell people exactly what I do. I mean, I have no qualms about saying I’m not a daily writer, it’s okay.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:31
Yeah. So that means you have like more of a monthly goal of what your output is, or how do you measure? What’s the metric you use for progress?
Eddie Rice 11:43
I wish I had a good metric, when I was writing this first book, it probably would have gotten me to the end a lot sooner, but I like going more in chapters rather than word count. And instead, I just will say, okay, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to work on chapter one, I’m going to work on chapter two, I’m going to work on chapter three. And when I think I’ve covered all the main points, that’s what I know I’m done. I don’t have a specific word count goal. I mean, I know in my head approximately how long I want a chapter to be, I’m not going to make it 10,000 words, and make it some sort of large tome. And I’m not going to make it 500 words, either. But instead, I’m going to hit that middle balance, where I’ve covered everything very similar to a blog post. But I’ll just be happy with what comes out at the end, knowing that the reader has been served as a result.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:29
How do you know the book’s finished?
Eddie Rice 12:34
It was more of a gut feeling. It was when I was able to read over it. And I actually use something called the 5-minute nonfiction chapter outline, written by Brannan Sirratt of Story Grid, definitely check this thing out. It’s a really lengthy blog post. And she goes through a chapter in, I think, How to Make Friends and Influence People, the Dale Carnegie book, and she breaks it down by all of these key questions that you have to ask as a nonfiction author. And so that’s when I knew each chapter was done. And the whole book was done. When I knew I could point to, okay, this section answers this question. This section answers that question. Yeah, it’s over at Story Grid, the 5-minute nonfiction chapter outline. It’s a wonderful resource, it’s completely free. And just to plug her real quick. She’s making a course around it. So look for that in the upcoming months.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:25
I kind of like that approach. It’s more of a qualitative versus quantitative approach. Like you’re not aiming for a certain word count per chapter. You’re aiming for, did I answer this question? Did I make this point?
E.S. Curry 13:39
That’s great advice for nonfiction writing, for sure. And I just popped that link into the chat for everybody too.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:45
We should also take a second and tell everybody, because I see some folks have done it already. But if you have questions, you can click on the little Questions button down below in the chat there and leave your question. And we’ll hopefully get to it by the end of the show. Eddie can’t wait to answer every single question you have.
Eddie Rice 14:06
Oh, I love it. I’ve been on a podcast before where they have a lightning round, and they ask me 10 questions in a row and I’m just spitting off answers. It’s fun to me.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:13
E.S. Curry 14:15
Yeah, that’s cool. Why don’t we take one right now? We’ve got one from Brannan Sirratt.
Eddie Rice 14:20
Oh, that’s who I just mentioned, the author of the nonfiction chapter outline.
E.S. Curry 14:24
Oh, there you go. All right. “What advice do you have for authors interested in using Findaway for their audiobook?” So this is a great, great question for you, Eddie. Because you used our new product called Marketplace. So why don’t you take us through that a little bit. How do you find narrator, all that good stuff?
Eddie Rice 14:45
Yeah, so it really started out with my realization that I couldn’t do everything on my own for my book and I think that’s just a life lesson as well. You have to learn how to delegate, you have to learn how to get the right people to help you out. And you know, people asked me, are you going to narrate your own audiobook? I said, look, I don’t have like a sound system set up. There’s quality assurance factors that go into creating an audiobook. I want a professional to help me out to get this thing done. So I just knew a Findaway Voices because I had a friend that used to work there and hopped onto the website one day, found Marketplace. And I’m very used to using freelancer websites to get things done. And I said, oh, this is perfect. They’re going to match me with a narrator. I’m going to be able to audition people and listen to their samples, and then go from there. And someone else is going to take the heavy lifting of writing the book, which I thought was absolutely, or not writing the book, excuse me, narrating the book.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:44
You’re thinking of a whole different service.
Eddie Rice 15:49
Right, the book was written by me 100%, I guarantee you. For the narration, I just thought to myself, why should I do this on my own versus why get someone else to do it, and just realized at the end of it, that it’s so much better to have a team in place. And that’s what I found through Marketplace.
E.S. Curry 16:08
Yeah, that’s awesome, man. Yeah, we always recommend to authors to audition themselves. You know, if you’re thinking about narrating your own audiobook, audition yourself, see how you sound, see if your fans like it. So what about your narrator? What about their voice? What were you drawn to in their exposition of the sample?
Eddie Rice 16:30
It was, I guess, a little bit older than who I am. And that was okay. But I think it was just his pacing, his style. It didn’t sound overdone. Some narrators can sound like they are performing, as if they were the lead in a play. And I didn’t want that for the book. It just didn’t fit for it. With it being nonfiction, I just wanted it to be very straightforward, conversational, and just nice to listen to. And I just took a few of the narrators that auditioned, blasted them out to my writing group, and said hey, which ones do you all like? Which ones do you not like? And Eric Pressman rose to the top. He was a clear winner among my friends and other writing friends. So I was like, there we go, I’ve got the one that I want. And that’s what we’re going with.
E.S. Curry 17:22
Cool. So you enjoyed working with Eric? I mean, we talk about it being a very, you know, having a teammate as you’re producing an audiobook, it’s a team effort. You had some good back and forth then?
Eddie Rice 17:34
Yeah, very much. He was super responsive. Um, there was one hiccup when he had uploaded all the files, and they were like out of order, and I couldn’t fix it on my end. But he was able to fix it on his end, it wasn’t anything that he did, it was just some sort of random glitch in the system at times. But he reordered the files immediately. And once the whole thing was packaged by Findaway Voices, it was distributed to everyone, or all the retailers that you guys have in your list. And that just made everything just super easy. But yeah, working with Eric, we had very few questions. And he was just a pro. I mean, I think that’s what you want in a partner, is you don’t want that person that asks 1 million questions. I think 10 is okay. But you’ve got some people who are going to ask you every little thing, and then you’re not saving any time. But for him, he was a complete pro, took care of it all. And I was just super happy with the end result.
Kevin Tumlinson 18:27
So what’s the most important quality to look for in a narrator?
Eddie Rice 18:33
I think first you just have to like their voice and your audience has to like their voice. So I think it’s perfectly okay to go ahead and get the auditions and get other people’s feedback on it. Because your intuition may not be right, you want to hear what your audience is saying. And then second, just that they’re a professional, that they know what they’re doing, and can put this stuff together without too much input. That’s really a key factor to look in as well. Those are the two things that rise to the top for me.
E.S. Curry 19:06
What made you want to make an audio book and be a three-format author? Not just e and print, what made you want to do the audio version?
Eddie Rice 19:17
Very much self-interest. It was understanding that the audiobook market is exploding just like podcasts are. I mean, there’s a statistic out there that I think half the country doesn’t even read books. So I was like, oh, I need a way to … I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I kind of believe it after an informal poll. Some of my friends and I found out we’re not readers, but at the same time, you know, people access materials in different ways. And I said, okay, if I’ve got a print and ebook version, it just makes sense to have an audiobook version as well, given how much people listen to podcasts, how much people love audiobooks, and it was just a marketing effort. I learned this when I worked for a coworking space. When we expanded our number of membership options and gave people more choice, they were more likely to buy. So when people have more choices for your product, the chance that they’re going to buy a version of that product goes up.
E.S. Curry 20:12
Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a whole new revenue channel. It’s a whole new, you know, piece of intellectual property for you and your business. Right?
Eddie Rice 20:22
Kevin Tumlinson 20:25
One more product to push. That’s the marketer’s way of thinking of it. You know, that’s an additional revenue stream.
E.S. Curry 20:34
Well, and that’s what’s cool, you know, Eddie’s a marketer, too. So, you know, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about how you think about marketing, kind of your mental framework for it, you know, some of your best practices, you know, getting the book out there. You’ve had a lot of success so far. So I’d love for you to talk to the new author about what you’ve done to be successful.
Eddie Rice 21:01
Sure. So I’ve been trying out various marketing methods to see what has actually worked for me. I’ve tried running Amazon ads, they’ve worked to an extent, I’m pretty much breaking even on them at this point. It’s very hard to get Amazon to spend your entire budget to get the right traffic that you want. But second, I’m having a huge amount of success with the Chirp audio book deals, integrated with BookBub. The cost per 1000 is around I think about $2 for me right now, and the cost per click is somewhere in the 30 cent range. So when you’re selling a $2.99, or $3.99 audiobook, those are okay numbers to have that type of marketing. And I’m also experimenting right now with Google ads. But what I made sure to do this time around was set up conversion tracking with Google Tag Manager, Google ads, and then have A/B testing on my website, to make sure that everything is optimized. So I think the best thing I can tell anyone out there is, try different marketing channels, try one at a time until you find one that works for you. And then go with that. Don’t test 10 things all at once. But go one at a time, test it, see if it works for you, and then move on to the next thing after that.
E.S. Curry 22:21
That’s fantastic. You’re doing a lot of advanced marketing things like right out of the gate, Eddie. Yeah, it’s really cool. Are you gonna, do you write about that at all? You going to share any of that info with people?
Eddie Rice 22:33
Eventually I want to. I want to get some success first, I want to see how all of my experiments actually work or don’t work, have that kind of base to say, here’s what you should do or shouldn’t do. I have a lot in the shouldn’t do column. It’s moving everything from the tests over to the should do column that I want to get to. But I would love to write about it. I would love to help other authors out with their marketing, I think that’s something that’s going to happen down the line, after I write my next few books. And that’s also another marketing strategy is, your second book sells your first book, your third book sells your second and first book. It’s about building up my catalog so that I have better readthrough through all the books that I have. Just, you know, it takes a little bit of time to write a book.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:20
What are your tips … So, marketing tends to be one of the things that I’ve noticed that, there are two kinds of authors: authors who are scared to death of marketing, and authors who embrace it and run with it and love it. So what’s your advice for that first group?
Eddie Rice 23:39
The ones that are scared of it, I mean, look at it as an experiment. This is coming from my background as a science teacher, where you just have to see it as a grand experiment. And, you know, if you’re spending money and you’re not making anything, that’s just a failed experiment, and you’ve learned something as a result, and you can move on to the next thing. You obviously have to give things time. I mean, it took, I think, at least two weeks for a lot of these algorithms to learn, you know, how you’re spending and what’s actually converting and things like that. But at the same time, you know, just look at it as an experiment. And keep trying until you find something that works for you. And then second, look to successful authors who are also out there selling and what they’re telling you to do. Those are the ones to look at, not the ones that have only sold a few hundred copies of their book, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 24:30
Who were some of your influences from marketing?
Eddie Rice 24:34
Right now, I just found this new guy, his name is Perry Marshall. And he writes on the 80/20 rule, and it’s pretty much changed my life, how to look at testing, and how to look at conversions and what’s working. Essentially you take, you know, obviously, with the 80/20 rule, 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of your efforts. But if you look closer, of that 20% another 80% you can get out of it. And it just keeps on growing as a fractal. I know we’re getting into like …
E.S. Curry 25:06
This is the science teacher in Eddie.
Eddie Rice 25:12
Right. But the idea is that you keep testing relentlessly until you find a winner. And then you try to beat that winner with your next round of testing. He’s got a whole set of books on Google ads, TikTok advertising, just the 80/20 rule in business. His name is Perry Marshall, very worth it to check out his type of stuff. I really just embraced his model. And I’m starting to see conversions on the website finally, which I did not see before. So it’s definitely starting to work a little bit.
E.S. Curry 25:44
Right. And you just relaunched your website too, didn’t you?
Eddie Rice 25:47
I did, ricespeechwriting.com. Rice, my last name, followed by speechwriting.com.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:54
What prompted that? What was the original URL? Or do you not want to give that because you don’t want people going to it?
E.S. Curry 26:00
Or even better, tell everyone what you did to make it better. You know, because it’s a lot better. I saw the first one. The second one is a lot better.
Eddie Rice 26:07
Yeah. The website has also been one of those things that I’ve just always tested. And when I realized I just wasn’t getting conversions off of the old website. I said, it needs a makeover. It needs a redo. I need to be able to test things out. I was on Wix for a while. And I couldn’t A/B test the pages, I couldn’t change things how I wanted them, I would have had to have used a designer to get a lot of stuff done. And I said, you know what, I’m gonna go back to WordPress, and go back to Divi and go there. And then I’m using Unbounce to do A/B testing on my landing pages to figure out what’s working, what’s not. I wanted to have the flexibility. And that’s what motivated that change.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:47
Cool. I think that’s smart. I think that’s one thing that … authors aren’t alone in this. I mean, a lot of people do this. But you know, you see that there’s some problem. But you’re so used to the platform you use, when it comes to web design or something, you’re so used to the tool that you’re comfortable with, that you’re unwilling to shift to something else. I think it’s smart, you saw that and worked around it.
E.S. Curry 27:18
You changed it up, made a change. So you were talking about your next book a little bit back there. So what’s up next for Eddie Rice?
Eddie Rice 27:29
So there’s two books that I have on my mind. One is going to be taking what the Romans and Greeks taught about public speaking, so Cicero and Aristotle, and applying that to modern day public speaking and communications. So the working title is Ancient Rhetoric, Modern Wisdom. So we’ll see if that works out as well. And then the second idea that I have playing around with is really looking in depth into the advice on public speaking and whether or not it’s actually backed up by real research. And going through all of these techniques, all these ideas that people say, this is how you get better at public speaking, and trying to see well, is there any research behind this? Does this actually work? Does this actually help somebody? And how much? So those are the next two that I have in my mind. I’ve been writing a little bit on both, and hope to have them out within the next year or two.
E.S. Curry 28:25
Okay, that’s great. I love the Aristotle, I’m a big fan of the stoics. Gotta turn to stoicism whenever, you know, life gets a little crazy. It’s amazing how things thousands of years ago really have not changed much. I mean, humanity is humanity, right?
Eddie Rice 28:42
Yeah, there’s a dubious Cicero quote. So I’m not sure if it’s attributed to him or not. But he said, times are tough. Children are no longer obeying their parents, and everyone’s trying to write a book. They were saying that thousands of years ago, so I don’t think that things have changed way too much.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:02
I don’t know if I should feel comforted or alarmed that things have not changed in like 3000 years. Humans still do all the same crazy crap that humans do, I guess. So are there things that, from a marketing perspective, that you think authors should avoid wasting their money on?
Eddie Rice 29:27
That’s a really good question. I’m trying to think where I’ve burned money.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:35
It’s easy to do.
Eddie Rice 29:39
Yeah. I think online reviews have very little shelf life in terms of what they can get you for your marketing dollars. It’s great to have those, I think, on your website. I wouldn’t go beyond one or two. I’m talking like Kirkus or I Love Reading, something like that where you pay for a review. You can get some good blurbs for it. But at the same time, I just don’t think it’s worth the money. And then second, influencer marketing, where you pay an influencer on TikTok or Instagram to promote your work. I just think the clickthrough rates and the engagement rates on a lot of social media influencers are inflated. And if you don’t have a compelling offer and a good landing page and a good way to track it, it’s very hard to get a good amount of traction. I think if you have a large budget and can hit some up some of the really big influencers, then maybe it could work, but unless there’s a tracking mechanism in there, you’re not going to know how far your marketing dollars will go.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:39
Perhaps a special URL, like a Universal Book Link of some sort?
E.S. Curry 31:00
I believe that Draft2Digital provides that, don’t you?
Kevin Tumlinson 31:03
Yes. As a matter of fact, now that you mention it, Draft2Digital does provide universal book links. But let’s get back to the guest, I’m sorry, I always end up accidentally co-opting.
Eddie Rice 31:05
Not a problem. I’ll go ahead and talk about it. I’ve got a universal book link for my book. And it’s pretty useful for when people don’t want to buy through Amazon. I totally get it.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:16
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
E.S. Curry 31:18
And you are wide, right?
Eddie Rice 31:21
Wide distribution. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:23
Did you ever experiment with exclusivity?
Eddie Rice 31:29
No, I didn’t, I might do that in the future. But I really liked the idea of just being wide on multiple platforms, I just think it just makes the most sense, in terms of not hitching myself to one wagon. And instead, you know, I just don’t see a huge benefit of just being on one platform like Amazon. I would much rather just be wide in my distribution, just because I know, you know, there’s 20% of people out there not shopping on Amazon. So why leave them in the dust? I want to be able to make sure that my book is available to anyone who wants to buy it through almost any platform.
E.S. Curry 32:07
And worldwide, too, especially with audio. Yeah, you want to be where the listeners are, right?
Eddie Rice 32:14
Kevin Tumlinson 32:15
So I’m gonna assume since you are a marketing guy, you have a newsletter or mailing list? How important is that as part of your marketing strategy?
Eddie Rice 32:26
Very important. It’s one of the key things that I’m looking to increase. So that’s what I’ve really been testing are email newsletter signups on the website, not necessarily book sales. But I’m just trying to really build an audience for my next book, because I could see a spike in sales whenever I send a promotional email out to my newsletter. It’s not very large, I only have maybe about 300 people on the newsletter right now, looking to increase that. But even those 300 still got me book sales at the end of the day. So yeah, email is pretty big, pretty huge. If you can do one thing as an author, it’s build that email list. And that’s just a key thing to have. Because you own that audience. You don’t own your social media audience, you don’t own your advertising audience, or your Google Adword audience, but you have your email list, take it with you wherever. And if I need clients, I go back to that list. It’s been my lifeline.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:23
How much of your marketing time and dollars go to list-building versus advertising direct for sales?
Eddie Rice 33:31
Previously, it was not much. But now since I’m testing a lot more, more of those dollars are going towards building the email list. So having popups on the website, call to actions, specific landing pages to get a piece of content, all of that fun stuff that you’re taught to do in digital marketing. I now have that set up. And that’s the whole goal of the current system that I have. It’s grow the email list, then sell to the email list. It’s those two steps in that order.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:01
E.S. Curry 34:02
I’m curious Eddie, this is something that Kevin and I talk about all the time with authors. Email, you just backed that up, it’s the most important thing you can do. But I’m curious, what are you doing offline? Do you do anything offline, non-digital marketing, you know, out of home?
Kevin Tumlinson 34:22
Billboards in Times Square, that sort of thing?
Eddie Rice 34:25
Thanks to you all, the billboards in Times Square, going on podcasts. But that’s really more digital. I’d love to be able to get out there and do more public speaking for the book. That’s about where I see myself going down the next year to, whether it’s at like bridal shows, or things like that, to talk about Toast. However, I’ve got a full-time job right now. And that’s making the public speaking just a little bit harder to get done as an author, but it’s definitely something I want to explore.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:54
Are you already booking those speaking engagements? Are you already getting into some of those?
Eddie Rice 35:01
Not yet. That is next on the list, is to get the speaking engagements down.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:06
Well, we’ll have to have you come back and then we can talk about like how you got those speaking engagements, because for nonfiction authors in particular, that’s a big component of that business.
Eddie Rice 35:18
I very much like the resources at speakerlab.com, Grant Baldwin’s operation. He does a fantastic job of just how to become a paid speaker. I love all of their podcasts and all of their resources. It’s just a matter of me finding the time to implement it all.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:37
Grant’s sharp. I had him on my podcast a few years ago, before he blew up and became, you know, somebody, and I had nothing to do with that, by the way, but he’s sharp. So he gives very good advice has very good tools. It’s a free plug for Grant.
E.S. Curry 35:59
Make sure you message him.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:01
So what do you consider to be … well, let me ask you this question. Actually, this is one we don’t really get to ask as much. And I’ve always wanted to hear people’s answers to this. But if you had to just bootstrap your way from $0, what would be the very first thing you do? How would you grow your marketing presence?
Eddie Rice 36:26
I would start guest posting on other websites. That’s one thing we haven’t talked about yet. But developing a readership. I think very often, this is the realization I came to, because my domain authority is so low on my website. I could sit around and blog all day long, but no one’s really going to come to that blog or find it in Google. But if I’m able to guest post on somebody else’s website regularly, and build an audience, that is the way to go. And that’s actually what I’m about to start doing a lot more of. I found a few websites that I want to start writing for, to build up their readership. But, you know, if you’re thinking about like, what can you do as an author, think about your strengths. Obviously, that’s writing. You know, it might not be creating videos, it might not be creating podcasts, but it might be writing instead. And you can definitely guest post regularly on a website to develop a readership.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:17
Yeah, right. Yeah.
E.S. Curry 37:18
Yeah. Build those backlinks up. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:22
That’s very good advice, too, is to focus on your strengths. The thing that you love, that excites you, that’s the thing that you’re going to put pour more energy into, and is going to give you the bigger, better results, more consistent results.
Eddie Rice 37:35
Absolutely. Yes. I’m not a video guy. I’m not a TikTok guy. I’ll go on other people’s podcasts. I’m not going to start my own, but I can definitely write. So that’s going to, you know, point my spear and go in that direction.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:47
Yeah, yep. Very good. Yeah.
E.S. Curry 37:50
I’ve been doing the same thing, Eddie. It works really well.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:53
Great. What do you think is the biggest mistake that authors make in marketing?
Eddie Rice 38:03
First, not having a good cover for your book. I think it’s 100% worth it to invest in a really good graphic designer who can do book covers.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:14
Does that count for audiobooks as well?
Eddie Rice 38:16
I believe so. Yeah. 100%. I went to reedsy.com, found my graphic designer on there. And we have a great relationship. She’s done some other book covers for me. But you got to find somebody with that experience in your genre, in your reader audience, and go with them. Just, you know, look at the top 100 books on Amazon, and see if there’s a bad cover. And I don’t think you’re going to find one. And it’s just a huge part of it. And I think too many people think they can do it on their own. And this comes back to the whole idea of, you can’t do everything on your own. You need a team. And your graphic designer, your book cover designer, is definitely a key member of your team that you absolutely absolutely need.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:03
That team idea, by the way, is something we forget, I think we overlook as authors, because we think of being an author as a very solitary thing. Even being a public speaker feels very solitary. Even though you may be talking to a crowd of thousands, it’s still you in that spotlight on that stage. So the people behind that spotlight, or the people behind the words that you’re writing and the books that you’re publishing, are very important to that process.
E.S. Curry 39:35
Yeah. Yeah. The other thing we like to talk about at Findaway Voices is number one is your cover. Marketing. Second thing is your blurb. So the blurb is an extremely difficult thing to write and have it be compelling. We’ve had folks on that just do that. And that’s all they do for a living is write book blurbs. Did you write your own book blurb or did you have someone help you with that?
Eddie Rice 40:03
Yeah, I had someone help me with it. I found a copywriter who specialized in Amazon landing pages, and he wrote the copy for the description on there. And going back to testing, that’s actually one thing I do want to test out to see if it improves the conversion rate. It’s hard to do that on Amazon, because you don’t know number of traffic, you don’t know your traffic numbers, or your conversion rate off of it necessarily. But you can gauge it on a day to day and week to week basis. Based on, okay, are my sales going up? Are they going down? Are they at zero? Where are they? But that is one thing I do want to test out is see if I revise it, what happens and go from there.
E.S. Curry 40:44
So I get from this whole conversation, Eddie, that you are a numbers guy, like you are not afraid of crunching numbers, of A/B split tests, of conversion ratios. So, you know, we talk to a lot of authors, Kevin and I, and you know, that’s not necessarily the norm. Authors love words and writing and numbers can be scary for some authors. What advice do you have for the author that, numbers are not their baileywick? Right? Like, how should they approach marketing if numbers aren’t their thing? You know, what are some of the things they should do? What should they like keep a finger on the pulse of now it’s just a baseline? What advice do you have for that author that hates numbers?
Eddie Rice 41:34
I think you have to find someone, whether it’s a friend or a colleague, or someone that’s trusted, and have them help you out and be the numbers person in your life. So I have a number of people who I don’t necessarily pay for advice. I mean, it might just be getting them a beer, or you know, taking them out to dinner, to help with Google Marketing or ad marketing or anything like that. But I think if you find someone in your life that truly loves numbers, and you make them a partner with you, that can make things a lot easier to talk through it with. Find an expert, find someone that really loves that stuff. And that can be an easy way to do it, rather than spinning your own wheels working on something that you don’t want to work on.
E.S. Curry 42:21
Yeah, this whole conversation, it just gets back to this whole team concept. And if we go through the people that are in your circle to produce this book right now, there’s a lot of folks. You’ve got a cover designer, an editor, a book blurb writer, a number cruncher, you’ve got a lot of people, your narrator, that are in your team. And, you know, being an independent author, you’re independent, and you’re in charge of all this, but what’s some advice on leading this team that you could give to other authors?
Eddie Rice 43:00
I think first, it’s finding people that you trust to work with, and then it’s a lot easier to lead. Because whether it’s my editor, line editor, narrator, numbers person, someone who just fixed my Google conversions manager the other day, it was really about finding professionals and trusting in their work. You don’t want to find people that don’t know what they’re doing. And you have to micromanage and you get poor work as a result. That’s what you don’t want to be in. Instead, you want to pay maybe just a little bit extra for that professional who’s going to get the job done, rather than paying less and wasting that money on work that has to be redone. That’s what I would tell people to do is, you know, really work to find an editor, you know, interview 5, 10 different people, see who you jive with, see who has done great work and work with them. Just find the professionals that really do solid work, and you won’t have to worry as much about, is this work going to get done? Is this going to be quality? If they’re professionals, then that’s just not a question to ask in the first place.
E.S. Curry 44:12
Yeah, yeah. So you’ve really built your author platform. We talk about Author Platform all the time. I mean, it’s full of a lot of great people then. That’s great. So this kind of leads us into, you know, so you built your team, your product, you’ve got a great thing going here. Eddie, what do you think is, how do you feel about success? What is your vision for success, you know, doing all these things that you’re doing? You know, how do you measure that? You know, talk a little bit about what success means to you.
Eddie Rice 44:49
I think part of it was just getting the book done. With it being my first book, it was just a success to have it done in the first place. But now that I’m looking at the numbers, I want to recoup my investment into the book. I think very often there are people out there in the book marketing circles that say, look, as a nonfiction author, you’re going to sell 250 to 1000 copies in your first year. I think that’s setting the expectations way too low for authors. And instead, I think we should be raising our expectations for what we can do with the book, even if it’s in a niche subject. And instead, I want to be able to get to a place where I’m regularly selling x number of copies. I don’t know what x is yet, but regular book sales that turn into speech writing clients, or people that I can help. And then writing my next book. Those are my factors for success. But I’m not going to say, oh, I’m done now at 250 copies and move on to the next book. I’m going to get as much marketing juice out of it as I can, and go from there. Because the more copies I sell, the more leads I get, the more speech writing clients I can take on, and eventually do that full time, which would be a dream job of mine.
E.S. Curry 45:59
So that’s your kind of end goal right now, is to turn this into a full-time speech writing, book writing, kind of career?
Eddie Rice 46:09
Yes, if I could do speech writing and book writing every single day for the rest of my life, I would be pretty happy.
E.S. Curry 46:15
All right. Well, we hope you get there, Eddie.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:18
I think you’re on your way.
E.S. Curry 46:19
I think you’re on your way, buddy. Yeah, for sure. Let’s see if we got any other questions from the audience here.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:26
And we got a nice number, like 10 questions floating around down there.
E.S. Curry 46:30
All right. So all right, how about from Kathy Counts. “One thing that scares me about becoming a published author is that I might be asked to do public appearances in which I actually have to speak in my own voice. Horrors! How can I keep from blundering and stuttering? What can I focus on that will keep me from being about to faint from stage fright?” Can you help Kathy out there?
Eddie Rice 46:59
Very much, very much. So stage fright, that’s going to be the subject of another book of mine, that I’ll be writing about the public speaking, you know, tips and what works, what doesn’t. And one of the things that people have found that does seem to work is, you want to gradually present in front of larger audiences. So it might just be that you run the talk that you’re going to give in front of one person. So you’ve mastered that, do it in front of two people, do it in front of three people, do it in front of a Toastmasters group of around 10 or 12 people. And then you just gradually go up to larger audiences as you progress through. And it just gets easier over time. But you do have to put yourself out there. But then also, it’s also mastery of the material, I find that when I’m doing public speaking, if I know my subject cold, I am much better at presenting than if I had to prep the day before. And then I’m just a complete mess all over the stage. So I think it comes down to presentation mastery, and then gradually getting in front of larger audiences. You don’t go from zero to 1000 overnight. You start with small audiences, build up from there. And that’s probably the best advice I can give other than going to Toastmasters. Practicing on a regular basis, getting that feedback, and just make it a process, something that you are always going to strive to get better at, but you’re only going to do it if you do get practice and effective feedback.
E.S. Curry 48:37
Great advice, Eddie. Really good advice. So Kathy, sign up for your local Toastmasters. Start getting some practice. Sounds good. I like that, Eddie.
Eddie Rice 48:51
Great, thank you. Are there other questions, I hope?
E.S. Curry 48:53
Let’s see here. Got one from Jodi Schnellenberger. Can you please list the websites listed in Mr. Rice’s website, the one that you got his blurb from? So you’ve listed a whole, you’ve talked about a whole bunch of resources today, Eddie. I’m hoping, maybe send me a follow up email. Or, you know, come on and do a guest blog post for us. I think that’d be really cool. And Jody, we can load that up with links from Eddie. I think that’d be a good route to that, because there’s way too many to cover.
Eddie Rice 49:31
Very much. I’ve got them all saved in a Google blog post somewhere or Google doc post somewhere. I’ll send them to you, Scott, and we can get them out to everyone.
E.S. Curry 49:38
Yeah, that’d be great. Yeah, ricespeechwriting.com is Eddie’s website, Jody. So sign up for his emails.
Kevin Tumlinson 49:44
Sounds like that might be good blog content for Eddie to post on his site.
E.S. Curry 49:49
I think so. Yeah, we’ll tweet that out for you Eddie, for sure. Kevin, you got any other questions for Mr. Rice today?
Kevin Tumlinson 49:59
You know, I’ve kind of been just monitoring and I see that there’s there were several questions in the little box there. But no, I’m taking notes. I’m just like, cuz I also want to do more public speaking. I do a lot of public speaking now, but you can always improve on things. So I’m taking a lot of your advice to heart, going to visit your site, read your book, all that.
E.S. Curry 50:26
Well, good. Well, Eddie, we are coming up at the end of our hour here. And really appreciate you taking the time today to share all your experience with us. And we’ve got a couple more sessions left in this series of live author interviews. Next week on Tuesday, we’ve got MK Williams talking about marketing, she wrote a 12 blog post series at findawayvoices.com for us. So this will be one, Eddie, I jump on this one too. MK is a guru.
Eddie Rice 51:01
Yeah, her blog posts were absolutely solid. And if you guys want another link, I’ve got a Reddit AMA that I did. And that answers a lot of public speaking questions. So just look for speech writing AMA on Reddit. We didn’t talk about that at all. But I did that on launch day. So just look for I’m a speech writer, Google that, and you should be able to find my Reddit AMA pretty easily.
E.S. Curry 51:25
Cool. Well, awesome. And I imagine it’s on your website, too. So that’s great. Check out Eddie’s Reddit AMA. And then after MK next Thursday, we’ve got Kyla Stone. She writes apocalyptic and dystopian fiction series novels. So Kyla is going to be fantastic, too. So we got two more sessions here left after Eddie. And if you’ve missed any of the previous sessions, they are on our YouTube channel. Just check us out at findawayvoices.com. And if you need any support, or have any questions at all, we have a world-class customer experience team. Many of them are writers and authors themselves. You can hit us up anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again that’s email@example.com. And we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Any questions you have on audiobooks, or if you got a question for Mr. Rice, or Kevin or I, you can reach that email and we’ll get back to you. So anything else here Kevin, you want to wrap up for today?
Kevin Tumlinson 52:30
Oh, that’s it for me for now. I’m glad we had a chance to talk with you Eddie. I’ve never met anybody who had a billboard in Times Square. I think I would probably have that printed on my business cards. You know, you may know me from my Times Square billboard, just randomly work that into every conversation from now on.
E.S. Curry 52:53
Awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you both for your time today. And we will see you next week, Kevin. And, Eddie, I’ll be seeing you around the neighborhood.
Eddie Rice 53:06
Very much. Looking forward to it, Scott.
E.S. Curry 53:09
All right. Take care, gentlemen. Have a great Day. Bye bye.