Damon Courtney, founder of BookFunnel, chat’s with D2D’s Kevin Tumlinson about BookFunnel’s amazing selection of tools to help market and promote your books.
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Damon Courtney, founder of BookFunnel, has built one of the best tools around for helping authors to offer advance reader copies (ARCs) to readers. Whether you’re looking for a way to give away a free book or short story as part of your marketing funnel, or you want to run a promotion to build your mailing list or sell books directly to readers, BookFunnel has you covered.
Join D2D’s own Kevin Tumlinson as he and Damon chat about book marketing and all the ways BookFunnel can help you build and grow your author career!
Find out more about BookFunnel at https://bookfunnel.com
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Damon Courtney, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:01
Hey, everybody, thank you for tuning in. We know this is kind of a last-minute deal. But we thank you for discovering us anyway. And if you’re watching this in the future, we’re really hoping you get something really cool out of this whole thing. This is a little different than what we normally do on the D2D Live Ask Us Anything webinars. In this you’ll get a chance to ask some questions, but we’re going to spend the first 30 minutes of this chatting with Damon—and we’re talking to Damon Courtney from BookFunnel by the way—founder of BookFunnel, guy that makes all that magic happen. We’re going to talk about what BookFunnel is just in case you don’t know and you’re panicking right now, don’t worry. And then the last 15 minutes we’ll be taking questions so feel free to drop in your questions throughout the entire broadcast. We have Elyssa behind the scenes right now and she’s going to gather up all that stuff for us. And she’ll be able to help us make that a little easier so that we’re not hunting and pecking through comments. So that’s it. I want to welcome Damon Courtney from BookFunnel. Thank you, sir, for taking the time to chat with us here on D2D Spotlight.
Damon Courtney 01:29
We got a new thing, spotlight new little spotlight over here in the corner right above my head.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:34
I can’t wait. We’re gonna… I want us to make like a little animated GIF of it. So just rotate it,
Damon Courtney 01:39
Kevin Tumlinson 01:42
Yeah. I kind of look at it like it’s broadcasting the big D2D two, as if that’s like the bat signal.
Damon Courtney 01:49
Right? You can’t really see the D’s on either side. It’s just TWO spotlight.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:55
So, Damon, you and I have talked a million times. We talked we talked in person even million times, we happen to live close to each other, which is not that unusual. A lot of us live in Texas for some reason. This is a very indie publishing state.
Damon Courtney 02:12
And in Houston, too. There’s there’s actually a big group of kind of Houston authors, they get together every few months and they’ll do like a little brunch thing where they can go somewhere and just whoever shows shows, but it’s just kind of a random group of people, you know?
Kevin Tumlinson 02:27
Well, yeah, I’ve met I’ve been I’ve hung out with a bunch of those folks had like these a couple of conferences here. RWA is big here. So now that said, I mean your service is internationally oriented. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what BookFunnel is and how it came to be.
Damon Courtney 02:48
So you know, the easiest way to describe it and what I tried to tell people about BookFunnel is that we deliver what you say I used to send we deliver ebooks, but now we also do audio, but you know, the easiest way to say this, we delivered ebooks everywhere outside of the source system that you might want to deliver an Ebook. So, you know you’ve got your books published through Draft2Digital, you’ve got your books wide on Kobo, Amazon, even if you don’t have them wide anywhere you haven’t published, those stores do a great job of getting the books to their readers. If your book is up on Kobo, and somebody buys it when obviously Kobo’s gonna deliver it to their app to their reader. But there are a lot of places where you want to deliver ebooks and content outside of that store system. And that really didn’t exist five years ago when I kind of came up with the idea for BookFunnel and I came I came up with, I needed it. I was building my newsletter and I wanted to be able to send out a free short story and say, Hey, thanks for signing up for my newsletter. Here’s a story that you know leads into the series that I was selling. And that didn’t everybody at the time was advising you to do that. Oh should give them the first book free, you give them a short story she given the novella, give them something and get went and signed up for, I mean, the biggest authors at the time, and there’s some of them are still the biggest authors in the indie space. And I went up sign for their newsletters, and all of them were just, you know, thanks for signing up, and I’m attached an epub and a mobi and maybe a PDF. And here you go, here’s your books. And I thought, Oh, god, my mother would never be able to figure that out. And so I said that, you know, there has to be a better way. And I looked, and I looked, and I looked, and there wasn’t, and that’s, you know, if you look at some of the biggest engineering, some of the biggest software in the world, it all started with somebody who went and somebody has to make this right, and they go look for it. And nobody made it. Well, I guess I’m gonna be the guy to make it. So I went out and built it. And that’s, that’s how it all started was me as an indie author. I had published a fantasy trilogy and I had a need for the for the service that we ended up creating.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:51
That’s, that seems like the origin story for practically every great service that the indie author community has.
Damon Courtney 04:57
It should be the origins, you know. You know, cuz I mean, look, if I had said, Hey, wow, like indie authors have a lot of money I’m gonna get into that pot. That’s not a very good origin story
Kevin Tumlinson 05:10
There’s plenty of those businesses, too.
Damon Courtney 05:13
Most of them end up not being very good businesses. The best are the ones who said, I need this. I’m an indie author and I need this so surely if I needed other people need it too. And I know that I mean, I know just from Kris and all the guys there at D2D, it’s the same story. They said, you know, we need this. It did already exist. But the other existence did a terrible job of it. And so they said we could do this better.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:44
Exactly. I mean, I’m not gonna say people did a terrible job. We could do it better was just the end of that, that whole idea. So yeah, so you’re, I mean, I remember, I remember, by the way, when you first pitch this whole idea like you and I will say In a little summit in Austin.
Damon Courtney 06:04
Yeah, that was when I was still building it, it was it was ready to show people. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:07
You didn’t even have a name yet at that point. Yeah. So I remember being very excited about this, although it meant you kind of blew me off on another little project I wanted us to work on but… whatever. We all survived. Yeah. We’re here now. So, uh, the I love the fact that I can set up there. So there’s multiple pieces to this that I love and use regularly. One of them is the direct sale stuff. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Damon Courtney 06:38
Yeah. So the, you know, the original reason I built book on it was exactly what I just said, I was building my newsletter. And I wanted to be able to deliver a free story when people sign up for the newsletter. So that was the core of what I built. But I mean, we, I think within a week of opening our doors, which was officially October 2015, so we’ve been It’s a little over four years now. And within a week of opening it up, we got our first email asking us to deliver their sales. And then we said, Oh, well, we can’t, we can’t do that, you know, you can do it yourself. You can kind of DIY it with what we’ve got. But we don’t, we don’t want to build that. And honestly, I spent years saying, we didn’t really want to build that even though we kept getting asked for it all the time. And we didn’t really want to build it because I really thought that… I really felt like nobody was going to buy your books from your own website. That wasn’t a thing that readers really wanted to do. And so I kept pushing it off, and I kept pushing it off. And eventually I said, Okay, fine, I’ll build it. I’ll build it just so you guys leave me alone about it. And that was two years ago, and we have tons of authors now that are doing their own direct sales. So the way we built it was we don’t we don’t do the sale part. So I liken us to sort of a FedEx part. We don’t do the set the sale, we do the delivery. So you do the sale yourself and we’ve integrated with that. Five different platforms that you can use. So you can use PayPal and a UK company called Payhip or you can use Shopify, which is the second largest retailer in the world after Amazon. And you, you, you do all the sales yourself, and then we step in when the actual delivery comes. The cool thing about that is, we don’t take a cut of those sales, we don’t take a percentage of your sales. And it’s, it’s one of those things that I don’t really, I don’t really want to cut your sales, I think that that’s your money and you can do it. All I’m doing is delivering a book. And for me, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a free book that you’re giving away. Or if it’s one that you sold, I’m delivering the same book either way. And so the way that we set all that up was so that you can handle the sales, you handle the money and then we’ll handle the delivery department. And yeah, a lot of authors are doing it now we have some authors who have moved their entire stores online, and several publishers that have done the same, you know, publishers that have now set up their own bookstores that they’re selling directly from their store so that you people, a lot of their readers aren’t even going to the other bookstores now. They’re buying directly from the publishers.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:07
Yeah, that’s, that’s, I’m using it in that way for a large chunk of my catalog. And it’s largely it’s because I wanted to be able to accommodate certain things that I can’t do on the various platforms, like if I want to do just a rush sale, for example, like for the next 24 hours, you know, I have a lot more control, I can decide that morning, go and change my prices on my book, you know, through I use PayPal to set mine up and I go to all my prices, and then send them out there and then that people can rush in and buy it at that price and I can end it at the end of the day, and I don’t have to worry about lags or any of that stuff.
Damon Courtney 09:48
Well, what’s cool is that you have the… Yeah, I you know, I always say that. You know, we get people that email us and I’m like, well if I update my book files on BookFunnel, how long does it take before they get pushed out? Seconds. We’re very, very impatient people everything we do is instantaneous because I don’t like waiting for anything. And so, you know, the cool thing is we actually built without flash. So we built the original we call them delivery actions because they’re not actually sales we’re not doing sales we’re delivering the sales right we a lot of our authors that do use the direct sales are doing what you’re doing which is they’re kind of doing short flash sales and sometimes even doing box sets they don’t they don’t box up anywhere on any of the other stores because I mean, I’m your audience is pretty savvy, but the way that Amazon does things, you know, if you price it more than 10 bucks, your growth rate is cut in half. And so for a lot of authors, it makes no sense whatsoever to box up an eight book series and sell it you know, on Amazon, you’re gonna lose, you have to sell it at $20 to make the same that you made if you were selling $10 right so you can sell a box set for 20 bucks and take home you know, a decent revenue. Whereas on BookFunnel, you can if you’re doing that direct and the beauty is if you’ve built up a newsletter if you build a mailing list of loyal fans, those are the people that absolutely love your books and want to buy them. So when you offer them a sweet discount, they’re going to take you up on it. Yeah, we built what we call them multi-book delivery action, where you can actually go and create a box set on BookFunnel, where a box that doesn’t exist. Now it doesn’t mash all eight books into one, you know, mobi or EPUB file. Instead when they buy them. The when the delivery action kicks off, it sells you It delivers eight individual books, right? So you could decide Yes, Saturday morning, you know what, I’m going to box up that Dan Kotler box that I’ve been thinking about, and I’m just going to sell the first three books.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:47
Right? Look at you.
Damon Courtney 11:51
I’m gonna box up. I’m gonna sell the first box and I’m going to sell the first three books for $1 just this weekend, and so you slap up Put together delivery action that delivers Book One, two and three, you go and price it at 99 cents on and send everybody the PayPal link and boom, they buy it BookFunnel delivers the three bucks. And when you’re done you just delete that PayPal link and that’s it sales in an instant sale is gone. Right?
Kevin Tumlinson 12:15
Yeah, that’s, that’s a level of control authors don’t normally get. And it’s not. It’s not from lack of us wanting to provide that, you know, we there are certain low technical limitations, limitations with our retailers and that sort of thing. So, you know, if your goal is to do one of those, like quick one off kind of things, that is a great way to do it. So, you have one of the primary uses I put BookFunnel to and I think most of us do is list building. Can you talk a little bit about how that whole process works with BookFunnel.
Damon Courtney 12:52
So you know, we tell people that immediately the first thing that you want to do is you want to have a lead magnet or reader Depending on how you decide to do it, but basically, it’s a free thing that you’re going to give away in exchange for people signing up for your newsletter. So you say, you know, and you, the best traffic that you could possibly get is always going to be organic traffic. So you want to put that in the back of your books, if you have one book out are two books or even if you have a 13 book series, at the back of your book, you want to put a call to action that says, hey, sign up for my newsletter and get this free story. You get this free book, get this free novella. In that case, prequel developers work really, really well. We see a lot of authors that use those, you know, if you especially if you’ve got a series, if you’ve got eight books in a series, you can easily pitch the prequel novella like hey, find out how the heroes first met, you know, their first mission, and you’re giving them something that they want. That doesn’t… that can also be kind of a freebie if anybody just wants to pick up a free book, but it’s not nearly as exciting, right? If I’m two or three books in your series, and you’re offering me a prequel that tells me sort of how the story began, well, I’m already into your series, I already like your writing. And so I probably wouldn’t mind signing up for your newsletter anyway. So giving me a free short story or a free story is great. And it can be a short story, novellas. And then we have some authors that just give away the first book in the series for free, hey, sign up for my list and just get the first book for free. Yes, the point is, it’s, it’s, it’s that funnel, right, you know, getting them into that funnel and that BookFunnel, right. So that’s the, you know, I tell people that when you’re first starting out, if you especially if you only have one or two books out, you’re going to want to write whatever that reader magnet is it figure out what it means for you if you’re writing in romance, where you’re not necessarily doing a series, but you are building a world you’re building some, you know, the small little town in upstate New York that where all of your characters interact. What is a story, a short story that you can write that comes in that takes place there that people want to read about and that’s the freebie that you’re kind of offering to giveaway. And you put that into the back of every one of your books so that no matter which book they pick up, they’re getting that offer to come into your newsletter. And that’s the first way is that and that organic traffic is really the best traffic. Those are people that actually read a book of yours got to the end and said, You know what, I like that author, I’d like to read more from them. Because they get to the end and they hated your book, it’s unlikely that they’re going to want the free story that you’re offering that offers them more of what they hate. Although I’ve seen people abuse themselves in a buffet, so
Kevin Tumlinson 15:32
I don’t really know it. There’s no reading humans.
Damon Courtney 15:37
But by and large, like people that get to the end of the book and go, I really like that I want to find out how the heroes first met. So those people getting on your list, those are real readers that have already read some of your stuff. But the other way that BookFunnel helps you build your list is through group promotions. And what that does is BookFunnel doesn’t have its own list of readers. We don’t have people that we keep or email addresses that we keep on a list so that we can promote your books for you. And that, that goes back to a fundamental, really fundamental thing back when we first built a funnel, which is that your books, your readers is what we always used to say. And the reason is because as an indie author, I want my readers to get my book, I don’t necessarily want them to then be kind of, I don’t want their attention to be drifted off and go get someone else’s book I want them to get if I’m sending them to get my freebie, I want them to get my freebie and then I want them to go read it. And so we don’t, you know, when somebody comes to get your book on BookFunnel, they’re not also pushed other books by other authors except where you can join in with group promos. And what that is essentially, it’s just a bulletin board that we keep where authors can, you can go and sign up. Once you sign up for BookFunnel, you can go set notifications and say, Hey, I write science fiction. I write space opera, I write fantasy, epic fantasy. If any promos, group promos show up in those genres, you know, send them, send them in an email to me and you’ll get a daily email that says, hey, two new promos were posted in epic fantasy. And you go take a look at them and say, Oh, that one looks good, that one would fit my book really well. So you join in with other authors that are all in that same genre as you and everybody works together, I share with my list you share with your list, he shares his list. What’s great about that is that everybody on my list is there because they read epic fantasy. That’s what I write. And so everybody on my list is already predisposed to like the other books, at least the genre of the books that are in this promo that I’m offering, because everybody in this promo is in epic fantasy. And you could get more general promos where it’s just sort of like everybody lists a great summer read. I don’t find those to be as effective as the ones that are really focused on genres. So if I’m writing in space, opera and getting everybody else they also write in space opera that I know when I send it to my list that everybody on my list who loves space opera, which is the majority of them, because they join my list for space opera. They’re going to like the 30 books that I’m on. offering up and so then they click through. And they might go, Oh, this book looks really good. I’ll sign up for that newsletter and grab that free copy of the book. And you will very quickly build a newsletter that way through the funnel when you’re joining group promos with other offers. It’s not unheard of to add 100 or 1000 people a month. Now what I tell people is those are leads. Those are not readers who have read your books and love your stuff. But they are a great lead. People who were interested, they look at your book cover because when you go to the group promo, the first thing you see is book cover. So they liked your cover enough that they clicked on it. Once they click your book cover, they see your book description, your tagline, and tell people that you should have a really strong compelling tagline. They see that hook and they go, Oh, this does look interesting. I think I would like this book. So they got through all those steps. And then they gave up their email address to sign up, meaning they liked it enough that they wanted to pick up a copy of it, but now it’s your job as the author to get them to read it and hopefully turn them into super fan, somebody who has now read your stuff and wants to go and devour everything else you got in your in your back catalogue or if you’re in a series everything else in the rest of that series.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:10
Yeah. Sorry for coughing in everyone’s ear by the way I thought I’d hit my mute button that’s what happens when you have a mute button.
Damon Courtney 19:19
So people were
Kevin Tumlinson 19:20
This is how you know it’s live I cough in your ear. So I love so the promotions are something that is underutilized by me right now unfortunately. And so I don’t have any reputation. But I love that you built that little feature in I am doing exam now. But how does the whole reputation thing work when it comes to that?
Damon Courtney 19:42
So the reputation thing started because we saw we saw promoters and other so promoters were all are always able to see the statistics behind the promo so who, how many people how many claims or how many copies were claimed of everybody’s books, which is kind of interesting. You can kind of see like, wow If you really look through the book covers, you can start to see an example of what book covers are really moving readers. Um, promoters. Also, were able to see how many times each individual author shared that promotion. And the goal of group promos is, everybody works together, I share with my list you share with your list, and we are all working together to help build each other’s lists. We all have readers who love books, who loved the books that we’re writing, and we’re all writing in the same genre. So hey, my readers are gonna like your stuff. Yeah. And so everybody shares Well, not, not everybody shared. And that was the we would get complaints. And I, I try to make clear to all of our authors that if you have a question, if you have a feature request, if you have an idea, send us an email, we read those we read every single email that we get, and we take all those ideas and we kind of crunch them together and say, Okay, what are people asking for and ultimately what they were asking for was, I don’t want people in my promos that are not going to share with everybody else. This this stuff, they feel like they’re just scamming readers off of everybody else, but they’re not doing their part. So the reputations came about because of that. And it’s really simple. It’s the reputation shows how many promos you’ve been in. And then the average number of shares for all those promos that you’ve been in, and most promoters are not looking for a specific high number, like, Oh, you have to have at least 300 chairs for promo to get into buy stuff, more of them are looking to just make sure that you are sharing, you haven’t been in 15 promos and you have zero shares, right? That means that you’re just here to scam readers off everybody else and you’re not doing your part to help everybody. And that’s where the reputation came about. And I will say that the reception has been really, really good because that’s the biggest fear is the author comes in and says I have a list of 3000 people, their loyal readers, they really like space opera, but I don’t want to give them to somebody else who’s not doing their part who’s not sharing back with me. Right?
Kevin Tumlinson 21:58
Right. That’s, that’s And I’ve seen lots of different promo services. And that’s there. I’ve seen things similar to that and a couple, but for the most part, I never seen anything like that. So that’s very cool. I mean, you’re looking out for both author and reader through this thing. Really? Yeah. That’s very cool. So you’ve got like list integration built in. So I have a two part question for you really. So what are some of the services that you are integrated with and what do you do to make sure everything is compliant with the various spam laws?
Damon Courtney 22:32
So we are currently integrated with of them all now? AWeber, activecampaign, ConvertKit, MailChimp mailer light, get response. Author.Email, Mad Mimi, which so we haven’t announced get response and mad Mimi. So I’m kind of announcing it here. This is kind of what we’re talking about over the show with just with everything going on in the world. Right now. We have new features that we’re sort of holding on the back burner because it just seems kind of, I don’t know a little tone deaf to come out and say, hey, we’ve got this great powerful new feature while there’s really horrible things going on. But if people have been emailing us and saying, hey, do you guys integrate with mad Mimi, we say yes, we can turn that on for you. We haven’t officially announced that yet. Oh, and then Sendy which is, which is more of a DIY kind of office solution. And then Send Fox who is kind of the newest player on the market but they have a really, really good deal going on right now. And so and we added Sandy and sin Fox and offer email because we well, because we got requests for them all the time. But also because authors were trying to everybody’s trying to save a little bit of money and those training services were specifically targeting sort of the more budget conscious author like hey, you can have up to 15 1015 20,000 people on your list, and we’re not going to charge you crazy amounts of money when you hit. If you hit 15,000 people on a Mailerlite or MailChimp you’re paying 150 bucks a month. It’s a lot of money per month. If not per year, you’re writing a lot. Your entire BookFunnel account with integrations 150 bucks a year. That’s, that’s it. And so we integrated all the services. And what we do is we, if you’re using our landing pages to collect email addresses, we comply with all of the GDPR. And now California has their new law, which is very similar to GDPR. And really, the, main crux of all of those laws is basically just don’t do, don’t do shady stuff. Don’t be crappy, get people’s email addresses, if they’ve given you their email address, don’t go and sell that to somebody else. Don’t give that list to your author, friend, oh, here, you’re gonna have a copy of all my email addresses. Since you’re just starting out. Don’t do that. First of all, it’s illegal now. And second of all, it’s just crappy. Don’t treat your readers that way. Think of how you would want to be treated as a reader. And so we have things on our landing pages that make sure that we comply with all the laws. We store all the necessary data like their IP address in their country, that they the country of origin and the things that we need. To make sure that we are compliant with those laws, and we have to store that stuff for like 10 years. And even after you deleted your account, I still have to keep all those records stored somewhere, right? In case it ever comes back on us that a reader says, I never signed up for this. And you know, you’re you put me on the list illegally. No, no, he did not get the proof over here, right here where you signed up. So yeah, yeah, track of all that data for you. Even if you provide
Kevin Tumlinson 25:25
that to authors at all thing.
Damon Courtney 25:28
Yeah, if you go to if you go to any of your your landing pages, any of your giveaways on BookFunnel, you can export the CSV, and it will tell you all of that necessary data when they when they signed up, whether they confirm that they did, whether they confirm their email address so that we check to make sure their email address was valid. And then whether they consented to join your list or not. And some of them, you can set up a page funnel that says, consent is optional. So I’ll give you the free book. Whether you want to join my list or not here, just take it it’s a free story, but if you’d like to join my list You know, check this little box and you can join the see the export funnel will tell you whether they consented to be emailed to or not. And if they didn’t, then you know, an email to them. But yeah, we keep track of all that.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:10
I mean, that brings up is something we have I don’t think we necessarily talked about this. But do you have multiple there are multiple ways to use that feature like I use it for my street team, beta readers, or arc readers for some people might calm and so that delivers the free book with no real obligation, but you have there’s you have safeguards built into stuff like this, right?
Damon Courtney 26:35
Yeah. So we have what’s called if you’re if you’re on an integrated account, so you’re integrated with one of those, I think 12 email providers that we now work with, if you’re integrating with any of those, you can create what is called a restricted page where you can say, I want to create a page that is restricted to only the people who are on this list of mine. And so then you can go and say, here’s my ARC team list. I want to restrict this page to people that are on my ARC team. Then when you send out that link, you send it to everybody on your team, but then somebody on your team decides, you know what, I think I’ll share this with my buddy. So they send them the link, well, they need to have their email address, and we have to confirm their email address and confirm that it’s actually on your list before we give them the book. And we have the same thing. We have an integration there with Patreon that does the same thing. We have authors that have set up their Patreon. And as they give out their rewards, they send out the link that is restricted to not just Patreon but Patreon of a particular level. So you can reward levels, and you can say, Okay, everybody, yeah, everybody that’s reward level three or above gets this free short story that I send out every month. So when they get their link, it says, oh, here, I need you to just type in your email address. We go to Pateron, they log in with their Patreon and we confirm that yes, you are a patron of Kevin Tumlinson, you are following him at level three or above and then we say, Great, here’s your here’s the story that you get this month. So yeah, we have a lot of safeguards in place for that kind of stuff.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:59
I mean, everybody I always think I’m an expert user, Damon. And then every time I talk you or every time I log into the thing, there’s like 10 more features I didn’t even know existed.
Damon Courtney 28:10
Yeah, we’re, we’re really bad at telling people about I mean, we announced when we have new features out, but it’s like we announced it once. And then we kind of move on to the next. We call them feature grenades. We just sort of throw them at you and then run the other direction. And so all the time people go, Hey, you know, be really great. His BookFunnel could integrate with, you know, sandbox. Yeah, we announced that two weeks ago, like it’s already out there.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:35
No, that’s why you do things like this, though.
Damon Courtney 28:37
Kevin Tumlinson 28:40
So we’ve got two minutes before we start opening up to questions. And I really just want to know what you think the best way you would sum things up like the best use or feature or the best reason to be a part of BookFunnel. What would you sum that up as?
Damon Courtney 28:56
So right now, I would say just with everything going on in the world, what you should really Looking at is is getting if, especially if you’re just starting because I know a lot of authors are looking at the climate in the environment of the world and saying, you know, okay, well, I’m stuck at home for the next couple of weeks, maybe with your kids, maybe not, you know, I’m stuck with my kids. They’re currently upstairs and being very quiet actually. That, you know, if you’re stuck at home for the next couple of weeks, try to get some of that writing done. I know. So I meet so many authors at conferences that are still they’re not working as full time writers. They’re working to get there. And so they’re writing in their free time they’re writing when they get home, they’re writing on the bus, they’re doing that writing, but now they’re stuck at home for a couple of weeks with nothing, nothing but time on their hands. And a lot of them are kind of cranking up and saying, Okay, let’s I’m gonna make a real push. You know, let’s see what it would be like for the next few weeks to be a full time writer. Right. And if you’re doing that, I would say if you’ve already got one book out, if you’ve already got a couple of books out and you haven’t set up a newsletter, start doing that now. start trying to get people onto that newsletter. Now, if you haven’t written a lead magnet, it can be a short story two or three thousand words, it can be a novella. If you’ve got that in, you know, something that you can write in just a day or two. If even if you’re slow, you can write a short story in a day or two, and then offer that up, get on BookFunnel and start building that newsletter. And you can, you know, BookFunnels cheapest account is $20 a year, you can start at that level and start building up that audience even at a very, very low cost.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:29
Excellent. All right, well, that we’re now at the last 15 minutes of the broadcast. So we’re going to open things up for some questions. And I just know we have thousands of questions. But we’re going to narrow them down to a few. So Victoria asked, Do you work with GoDaddy?
Damon Courtney 30:46
No. And GoDaddy doesn’t have an API that we can actually work with. So the way that BookFunnel integrates IT service is we reach out to the server, we look at the services because we get we get these emails all the time, you wouldn’t believe how many mailing services I’ve never ever heard of that we get emails for. So we do try to add integrations pretty regularly when we get requests for them. But the number one thing we do is we look, we reach out, we Google it. I think we I google it and go, Okay, do they have an API that will let us push subscribers into their platform. And GoDaddy doesn’t have that kind of API. They, they have the email service, and they actually do a really good job of it. But they don’t have the ability for us to push readers in from the back end. So it’s not something we can do.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:32
Juanita asks… now, I was actually thinking about this question earlier. So I’m glad she asked it. Let me get to I’ve never used BookFunnel. I don’t really do Facebook ads. I have about 40 to 50 thousand in my newsletter, I’m curious about how BookFunnel could be effective for me.
Damon Courtney 31:51
So hey, we need I would say that the best thing that you can do, I mean, first of all, if you have a huge list like that, that’s amazing. That’s awesome. You, I assume that with a list like that, that you’re probably already talking to them regularly, which is the number one same thing that I see authors making the mistake about is, as they’re building their newsletter, they’re not actually communicating with the readers that they now have on their list. And what I tell those those authors is if you if you don’t really know what to say, you should be sending out the occasional free short story, send them something that is new that they can read from you. I don’t know how quickly you’re publishing books. If you’re one of those authors who’s cranking out a book a month, then you probably don’t need to do anything like that your readers are already trained to expect new content from you all the time. But for somebody who has a list that large, I would say if you’re if your books are already out there, you should really be looking at direct sales that we talked about before. So if you have if you have your books wide or if you have books that you want to sell directly to your readers with a list that huge, you could get a lot of sales directly from the reader since you already have And they if they’re on your list, they probably already love your stuff and they want to get more content from you. We had an author back at the early part of last year, who took an eight book box set and box them up and sold them for $15 only to his newsletter. Now this was a it was a backlist that he finished publishing in 2016. So we’re talking about books that that were backless, but so many of the readers that were on his list were added in the last three years and had never actually read that first series that he published. So he took but they were all in the same genres that he that he still wrote in. So everybody on his list was already interested in his genre. He took that eight book box set and box it up and offered it for 15 bucks to his readers. Now. That’s enticing for several reasons. One, many of his readers had never read that first series, so but they liked his writing. So hey, I’m excited to hear about that, too. It’s a great discount. All the books are on sale on Amazon for five bucks apiece. So that’s $40 if you buy all eight books individually And three, I forgot where I was going. Three was that the it was a complete series. So readers absolutely love complete series. They love knowing I mean they want you to write more than three books they want you to write 5,6,8 books in a series, but they love to know when a series is over and it’s really, really enticing if you can say, I’m selling you the whole series soup to nuts from the minute you start reading book one to the end of this box set, you get the whole story for 15 bucks, and he made a lot of money selling that box set and he didn’t box it up anywhere else. He didn’t sell it on Amazon. He didn’t put it up on Kobo that box that was only exclusive to his newsletter. So that was a way that you can effectively use, and he had about the same number of people 40 to 50 thousand people on a scissor which is huge. The great thing about selling a $15 box set or a $20 box set directly is that on a $20 box set you make $19 and 10 cents on every sale, so you take home, the vast majority of money.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:01
Yeah, that’s one of my favorite things. Okay, so this guy, he seems a little familiar Mark Leslie Lefebvre. He’s very handsome. He is very handsome. Look at profile. Yeah. Brother crush that iPhone. Yeah. What are some of the cool features of BookFunnel that authors either aren’t aware of, or aren’t taking full advantage of?
Damon Courtney 35:24
I would say the so we just at the end of last year, we added an audio feature that lets authors send out up to two hours of audio. So we’re not we don’t have full audio books yet. That’s sort of the next phase. But the first piece was letting offers send out short form audio. And since we’ve launched that the authors who are really into audio have started actually building entirely separate newsletters just based on their audio. So if you’re already into audio, you should look into that you can spend up to two hours which is about 18,000 words are really good size novella that you can send out in short form, audio and BookFunnel will handle all the delivery of that. Some of the other cool things direct sales, we actually have a lot of authors that are doing it and more that are adding on every month. So you know, to one of those, you know, talking earlier about features that I don’t think that are going to be that big. Listen to your customers don’t necessarily listen to you, as an author, listen to your readers. Yeah, that’s a lesson that we’ve definitely learned in the last four years is that sometimes we don’t know everything. And so direct sales, more and more authors are taking advantage of, we have. One of my favorite features is one called print codes, which is basically lets you create individual unique codes against your book that you can then give out to people and we call them print codes, because we’re trying to reduce confusion. You can print them out and put them on the business cards or postcards or bookmarks and things like that, and then hand them out at conferences. I am on Thursday, Carrie that put Franco’s on the back of their business cards, and anytime they meet somebody and they start chatting them up, they’ll hand them their card. And on the back, it has a little code that they can go to BookFunnel and get that code redeem. And once they redeem it, that’s it, the code is dead. It’s a one time use code that authors can hand out to readers. And the great thing about that is that when you meet somebody live and in person, and you start talking over books, and you start bonding over books, they’re far more likely to go and get that copy, and then actually go and read the book. And hopefully, assuming that you’re giving away the first book in a series, they’re going to read that book and then immediately jump on and go, I’m going to buy the rest of that. I know that when I when I finished a series, I’m looking for I’m not looking for another book for me, I’m looking for the next author’s catalogue that I can devour. And so because I once I find an author I love as long as they’re writing in my genre, I’ll read everything that they’ve got in that genre. So if I get one and I’m into it, I’m going to end up getting the entire series. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Print codes is one of those. It’s one of the ones that I’ve built. And we’ve been requesting that they would go to conferences. They were doing live, they were doing live things in bookstores, and they wanted to be able to hand out. I mean, they were already selling copies of their books. And they don’t want to give those out for free. Because if you’re doing a signing at a bookstore, obviously, you’re there to sell books. But they wanted to slip a bookmark in that had a free short story or had something else to say thank you. I really appreciate you coming in. And readers love that readers will… the thing I always tell authors is that no one no reader will ever be mad because you gave them more stories, right? Because you gave them more of your writing, if they’ve already reached the point where they love your stuff, they always want to read more from you. When I was growing up as a kid, I would go so I grew up reading epic fantasy space opera, stuff like that. And the biggest fantasy publisher at the time, they would put out a few anthologies every year that were short stories of various characters and things from the worlds that I read. And I would go to the store and I would buy that whole anthology just to get that one short story of what happened to that character in that little story. Sorry, even though that was it, and then sometimes I may read the other short stories, but I love those characters in that world so much and I the whole book just to get that one short, story.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:10
yeah, I mean, they’re authors like I would buy a box of cereal if they wrote something on the back of it. Yeah. Yeah. And I that’s the interesting question. By the way, do you think that authors follow? I’m sorry. Do you think readers follow authors or follow genre?
Damon Courtney 39:28
I think they probably follow genre first, and then they follow authors. I, I almost, I will, yeah. I’m a fantasy reader. So we, you know, we have little dalliance with science fiction, you know, they always they always put them science fiction or fantasy. But and, and they will have some crossover, but most readers that I know, are really one or the other. You know, you tend to be very fantasy and then I read a little bit of space opera, or you might tend to be really science fiction, and I read a little bit of fantasy See. So for me when I go looking for a new book, so I finished up a series, the first thing I’ll do is see if any more authors anymore if that author has any more books that I can read, because now I’m falling in love with that author’s writing, and I want more books in that world or in the same genre. If that’s not new, then I’ll go start browsing sort of just general epic fantasy, and I’m looking for the next book, The next series that I want to read, I’m almost exclusively read series, I don’t read stand alones because I get to the end of the book, and I go, Wow, that was great. But what happened next, I want more of those characters. I want more of this world and there isn’t any more to read. Once I find an author though, I follow that author religiously. Like if I find one that I truly love, I want to know everything you’re publishing,
Kevin Tumlinson 40:45
And that I think is where things tie in with BookFunnel because it’s a chance to follow the author and follow everything the authors producing.
Damon Courtney 40:54
And I do think that readers will go we get readers that will sign up because they just because they just want to frequent And they want to experience that. And so they might be looking at a Cozy Mystery promo and they look at the covers, they go, Oh, this one looks really good. I’ll grab that book. And this one looks really good. And I’ll grab that book. And by and large, they may end up signing up for five or six different books, and they, for sure they’re not going to end up staying on every one of those offers newsletters, but hopefully, you make your book compelling and you make your newsletter compelling with a with an autoresponder sequences, sweet secret sequence with an autoresponder sequence that says, hey, thank you so much for joining, I hope that you really enjoy my book. It’s one of my favorites, yada, yada, yada and get them to read it. And then once they start reading it, hopefully, they’re going to go in and get your back catalogue. And now I want to stay on your newsletter because I want to know when you have new books out, yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 41:47
So we have this question from Mark. And then I have one last question. Okay. We got like four minutes. So can you talk about the great tech support that BookFunnel offers? I’m sorry, this is not Mark. This is Stark Publishing. They just they look very similar.
Damon Courtney 42:02
He looks like a beefy guy with the iPhone. Yeah. So. So the our support is absolutely the best thing that you get for your money when you buy books, when you sign up for both phones, because our support team is amazing. We’re here every single day of the year even on Christmas answering readers who have trouble if a reader has trouble and I will say it tends to skew older. So if you’re writing in a genre like Cozy Mystery, if you’re writing in romance that tends to skew to older readers, they struggle with some technology. And so we are there all the time to help them if they have trouble with that. And you know, it’s cheesy, we’re all in Texas and they say we have “Tex” support. But the truth is like we train our people not just to be technically competent, but also to be extremely empathetic and caring. You know, this is this is not some, you know, little old your mother’s This is somebody that you’re trying to help, and they’re struggling to get the book and they need help. So we are there to help.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:12
Well, I was gonna ask… real… and we need to keep this real quick. But is this is your service oriented only towards indie authors? Or can it be used by any author
Damon Courtney 43:23
by any author so we I’ve done several RWA meetups here in Houston. And then I drove to one in Austin, where, you know, our interview is a really good mix of track traditionally published authors, and then indie authors, and then some hybrid people that are kind of floating between them. When I tell the travel of authors is especially if you saw a lot of times for the traditionally published authors, the publisher owns their works, but they are still allowed, usually in their contract to publish shorter works in the same world or with the same characters, right. And so even you know, these days, traditional publishing, traditional publishing doesn’t help you quite as much as they used to. So They are they’re going to do some marketing, they’re going to do a little bit of effort behind your book, but it’s still kind of on you as the offer to push that work forward. So you should still be building your you should be looking at what the Indies are doing that are killing it and saying, Okay, I need to build my newsletter, I need to talk directly to my readers because I retour publishing, which is a lot of books from Tour, which is a fantasy science fiction publisher. And in every book that I read, tour is pushing towards newsletter, they’re not pushing the author’s newsletter. So it’s up to you as the author, you still have to be pushing that that message that you’re joining my newsletter. Here’s a novella that I wrote with these characters that you love. And if you have permission in your contracts to do that, you should still be doing that you should still be going out there writing these this ancillary extra exclusive material that you can Oh, listen, I know that you love my books, but you can only get these stories if you sign up for my newsletter, that kind of stuff. Again, speaking
Kevin Tumlinson 44:55
of signing up for things, where do people sign up because now I know they Just throwing their money at you. When people sign up to start using BookFunnel
Damon Courtney 45:06
BookFunnel.com we try not to be very tricky about
Kevin Tumlinson 45:09
it. Look that matches exactly the thing that popped on the screen.
Damon Courtney 45:13
I’m glad we talked about that.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:19
Yeah. All right, well so everybody tuning in, we’re here we are at the end of the broadcast. We’re so happy tuned in and sang along with us. If you’re watching this in the future, you can find this kind of content it puts a whole lot more if you subscribe to us on YouTube, go to YouTube comm slash Draft2Digital I believe, but you can find a course Damon and BookFunnel at BookFunnel calm. Thanks so much for being a part of this. And we’ll see you tomorrow for another one of these guys at at noon Central. So tune in.
Damon Courtney 45:50
Kevin Tumlinson 45:53
That’s it for this week’s Self Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. Be sure to subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcast and share the show with your will be author friends, and start, build and grow your own self publishing career right now at draft2digital.com.