Author Topic: Feedback plz - switching from self-publishing on Amazon to selling on website  (Read 1377 times)

kiwi

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I've had a self-published book on Amazon for a while, which has done quite well. It's a technical book.

I've had a (crappy) website for it too, but 99% of my sales have been through Amazon.

Now I'd like to take the book OFF Amazon and sell directly.  I completely re-did the website. It's sqlpracticeproblems.com.

I'd appreciate any commentary on the site. It's designed as a "landing page" type site.

My next step is to figure out how to promote it. I'm dabbling with paid advertising (starting with linked in), but my initial impression is that it's extremely expensive. I think I need to get more creative.




Smokystache

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Couple of thoughts.

My primary reaction is that it is 50-70% too long (too much text). Here are some ways to reduce text.
- I assume that people will reach your site after a very targeted search. In other words, you won't have people randomly stumble across your page. So they likely already know why learning SQL is important and you probably don't need to convince them of what it does or why it is important to learn in. Put yourself in the mindset of  a person who is searching for "learning SQL" .... what is their likely background?
- Keep the content on why this book is better than other books and better than videos, but drop other content. I'm guessing people will be drawn to the benefits that they can either a) secure a job with this training (it will make them more marketable) or b) they can get a raise/promotion because they learn these new skills

I would drop the "Why SQL" section and the "How important is real-life, hands-on problem solving..." section - you seem to already cover that above in your example where you were interviewing applicants and they couldn't solve them.

Basically, do everything you can to shorten, tighten up the copy.

Other random thoughts. Why not create an online course based on the book? Then you could package them and sell them for 2x-5x the cost. You could create a video that forces students to work through the problem, then you can show them how you would do it ... or work through it step by step.

The testimonials are great, but it would help if someone would allow you to use their picture. Even better if you could get someone to provide a 20 second video testimonial. There is a whole lotta text on that page.

Best of luck!!

SeattleCPA

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I like your site.

BTW, not sure this is info you're looking for but Mike Piper, the CPA who blogs as Oblivious Investor and who has written a bunch of great (small) books about personal financial subjects, is interviewed by White Coat Investor here: https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/mike-piper-podcast-56/

One of the subjects that briefly comes up in interview is Mike's success publishing via kindle and amazon. You might find that interesting and useful.

Also this comment. Though I've enjoyed much good luck in past writing and even publishing traditional books--like 5,000,000 copies in English according to my principal publisher--I have never been able to get the kindle thing to work well. We can sell more copies at a higher price off of our blog. For what that's worth.

OkieM

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I know itís annoying that amazon takes 35%, but that 35% is buying a lot!

Why not sell a book and a class like suggested above?

I also agree, too much text. And itís bad to scroll so far down to the buy. Also, itís not mobile friendly. The actual buy button didnít show up on my phone with out scrolling sideways.

kiwi

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Thanks for the feedback, Smokystache, SeattleCPA, and OkieM!

I hear you on the "too much text". The reason I made it so long is there's definitely a lot of very successful landing-page type sites out there with loads and loads of text. For instance, learnscrivenerfast.com. And I don't have a (big) blog or anything driving traffic towards it. So it kind of needs to say everything there is to say about the product.

I'd love to do some a/b type testing on it (compare longer with shorter text), but job 1 is to drive traffic! Otherwise the testing is useless.

Regarding setting up an online course - I've thought about that. The amount of work that would be required to create a fully functional interactive course is huge, though. It's on my list as an "eventually/someday".

@SeattleCPA - yes, the Kindle thing is tricky. One thing that's really frustrating is that the upper limit on price is 9.99, if you want to retain 70% royalty. That limits how much I can charge on the paper book, though, because otherwise the price difference between ebook and paperback is too high.

Bottom line, self-publishing on Amazon has been a great/easy place to start, but selling it myself would be MUCH more lucrative.

That's assuming I can figure out how to best market it, which is a big "if".



RedKing

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Did you try out Google AdWords yet?

You can use it to check out some keywords that you would/can you to get traffic to your site or use in your online add before you have to pay for the actual add. Which is a great way to get an idea on how many people are actually searching for an SQL site. The same works on Facebook adds.

kiwi

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Not yet on Google Adwords.

I tried out LinkedIn ads, thinking that advertising on a more professionally oriented site would be best, and I'm shocked at how expensive they are -- about $7 a click. I turned off the campaign for now. I'd need to make a lot of changes to the structure of the campaign and product pricing for something like that to work.

But I'll check out Google Adwords for sure.

OkieM

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You may have to go more traditional. With GDPR, etc. the effectiveness of web advertising can only fall. Without fancy ad targeting that makes remaining targeted advertising that is still legal more expensive. And ppc at google, etc. has been going up anyway...

kiwi

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FYI - I'm trying some advertising on Reddit. It's very easy to start up, but so far it's been disappointing in terms of sales (like...zero).  However, I've learned a lot in terms of figuring out how to track campaigns and measure campaign success, all of which was completely new to me.

Still lots to learn...

Nick_Miller

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I am sorta in the publishing space. I have a website as well. My humble opinion is that you have waaaaaaaay too much text. I mean, my eyes glazed over after one scroll down.

Can you insert a video? I'd suggest "humanizing" it a bit with a little about yourself, because this reads so "corporatey" and cold.

And I'm all for creative folks trying to sell products directly instead of making Bezos even more disgustingly rich, but that works better for creators who already have an audience interacting with them in the author's own sandbox. A moderate % of a large sales number is a hell of lot more preferable to a huge % of a tiny sales number. I just suck it up and go with it for now.


kiwi

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Thanks for the reply, Nick. I've definitely gotten feedback from multiple people that it's way too long. And fixing that will be the next thing I work on.

Especially since realizing that I'm getting zero conversions (purchases) from the advertising that I've done, which isn't cheap to begin with.

profnot

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Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com has podcasts on book marketing.

I went to his website and put book marketing in the search field.  Here's the results page link:
https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/?s=book%20marketing

Social Media tools are what you need to get visitors and customers to your website.  Gary Vaynerchuk is the king of social media promotion.  I think Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is the best one.  Skip his YouTube videos.  He sounds odd and looks weird.  Read his books.

Social media and building a "tribe" is a lot of work.


btw - I have no problem with the long landing page.  You just need more Buy Now buttons (additional ones without the charts) on the left or center going down the page.

Good luck!

Nick_Miller

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Thanks for the reply, Nick. I've definitely gotten feedback from multiple people that it's way too long. And fixing that will be the next thing I work on.

Especially since realizing that I'm getting zero conversions (purchases) from the advertising that I've done, which isn't cheap to begin with.

Will you post again when you've edited it? I'd love to give it another look.


kiwi

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@Nick_Miller - Yes, I will definitely post again once it's been updated.

About the long landing page vs shorter landing page - I was thinking this over.

I wonder if the people on this thread who are looking at the site, and think it's way too long - if they're COMPLETELY uninterested in the product, then yes, it's too long.

But if you're interested in potentially purchasing it - then maybe the extra copy is good? On Amazon, people can read lots of reviews, see that a bunch of people have purchased it, etc, so they have more confidence in it. On my website, it's JUST what's on the website. That's it, unless I really push the social media (which is not my inclination and seems like a ton of work).

I guess the real way to figure this out would be A/B testing. I hope to set that up at some point.


OkieM

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Itís not necessarily too long but more it is too long until you get to the call to action. And itís still not good on mobile because you canít see the buy button without scrolling right. Most people have multiple calls to action.

Bicycle_B

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I agree that it's too long, but most of what's said could be retained if only it was popup text that came up from links, or page subsections linked from an outline at the top.  Your section titles would be the link titles, basically. Then readers can quickly zero in on the section that answers their questions. If you then had the buy button visible at all times, such as in a sidebar or as a separate link in the link "menu", I could find my answer quick and buy it now.

Not a designer here, but thinking like a customer.

By the way, I bet you could sell more $ if you had three purchase levels instead of two, supposing that you want to put in the work to create a third level of the product. The third level would be more expensive. Its biggest purpose would be to "frame" the Pro book so that $100 feels inexpensive.

I am right at the edge of being an actual customer because once or twice a year I flirt with exiting FIRE and getting SQL-ish job. This is a good product for me. Going in, I value the practice and recognize the need to re-sharpen my skills. I'd be insecure and lazy, though, so I'd LOVE a subscription service - say, the 57 problems, plus some sort of additional assistance or offering that's not in the book, in exchange for say $19.99/month (9.99/month if you sign a 1 year contract that automatically renews).  Additional assistance could include or consist of answering subscriber questions about SQL, and access to the questions/answers from other subscribers. If you want to add more practice questions, something that returns measurement data in addition to right/wrong seems like it would be really cool (time spent on problem vs average time, time distribution that others spent on the problem, etc. ... helps enliven the lonely practice experience, at least in my imagination.)  Call it the SQL ACES subscription.  Making stuff up here, ACES could be Access Club of Excellence in SQL. 

Do I get a free subscription for my fabulous ideas? I mean, inventive beta testing invitation?  :)

kiwi

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@Bicycle_B - Thanks for the feedback! 

I agree that eventually having a subscription type service, allowing customers to solve problems online and compare their results with expected results would be great. That's actually a longer term goal of mine, but it's a lot of work to get there, and I need to get a positive ROI on what I have right now.

I did originally plan for 3 options (basic, pro, "supreme", something like that), but switched to 2 after having a hard time figuring out what I could offer in the "supreme" version. Perhaps I could add some kind of personal coaching, or access to some group. Something to think about...

I've just now updated the website, adding more calls to action, and higher up in the page. Also hopefully making the text slightly easier to read. The link to my site is in my signature. I have not fixed the mobile version - that's still pretty bad.

Also, for mmm readers, I have a discount code for the Professional package - 30% off! The code is mmm.



ePalmtrees

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There are more online product searches on amazon than google these days. If you are showing up on the first page for your search terms on amazon and getting eyeballs on your book and automatic sales, you are doing great. They also give you an environment where people are comfortable purchasing from and can do so with one click with their credit card info already in the system. And their website is optimized for sales with constant and cutting edge testing. All that is what you are paying for by the cut they take.

Can you sell your book better than they do and promote it profitably for cheaper than the cut they take? Probably not. Besides the fact that if you took it off amazon, all the people who went and searched there wouldn't find it and might buy something else. People expect every book for sale to be on amazon.

You'd do better to write a second book to double your sales or if there is a huge amount of content in the book, make a course out of it.

kiwi

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@ePalmtrees - You make some great points. Honesty Amazon has been great for me. My very first idea was to sell the book directly, online. But that's a lot of work, and marketing is not my strength. So, I put it on Amazon and it took off, all via natural search (though I'm doing AMS advertising now). 

But over time, I'm starting to see more of the negatives of selling exclusively on Amazon. Such as:
- I don't get customer's contact info, can't communicate with them
- There are sometimes crazy spikes in my Amazon sales. Where did they come from, and how can I encourage and expand on them? I have no idea, and there's no way to find out.
- There's upper limits in price. For instance, for the ebook version, you can't charge more than 9.99 without dropping to a lower royalty level, which makes no sense.
- Because SQL is an extremely valuable skill in business nowadays, people will pay loads of money for this type of training material, but only if it's packaged/promoted correctly. I'm just not getting all the value I could out of it, when I sell exclusively on Amazon.

I'm trying to envision some kind of hybrid strategy - like selling the book on Amazon, and then inside the book, promoting an upgrade to the professional package. Or something like that.... Any ideas welcomed!

FIRE_Wannabe

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I use SQL everyday at my job at  the largest company.  Almost everyone I know is self taught. We donít have access to sites like reddit so you would lose us going with that strategy.  Also every time I google a problem I also put in the system such as Teradata, DB2, hive. I think you are not coming up in these searches because you just have sql server which almost no one here has access to. I would guess most most of the learnings could be applied to other systems, so it would be good to add those in your self keywords or faqs I also agree that itís way too much reading. Coders are to the point and efficient and donít want to read a ton to find the answer.