My email inbox is getting crowded with a lot of surefire offers lately.
So many people offer online courses to help me learn marketing so I can sell more books. Here are some examples from my inbox.
- Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers
- Bryan Cohen Selling for Authors
- Joanna Penn, the Creative Penn—three courses, including “How to Make a Living with your Writing”
- Juliet Dillon Clark of the Winsome Media Group has a number of courses and packages on “building your author platform” and using that to increase sales, and on how to launch a new book
- Mark Dawson has Advertising for Authors courses as well as shorter tutorials and lots of videos.
These are just some of the online courses targeted specifically at marketing for self-published authors. They join a huge list of similar online programs:
- Ray Edwards offers the Copywriting Academy, a series of online seminars on writing effective advertising—not just for writers, but for any business.
- Rebecca Dickson, once a professional editor with a spicy vocabulary (she edited a book of mine, Army of Worn Soles), has the Entrepreneur Incubator program
- Wilco de Kreij teaches e-commerce
- The most recent to my inbox is Joei Chan’s branding blog and courses.
They may have different names and slightly different foci, but they have a lot in common, too. They claim to have found a formula for increasing book sales. The blog posts contain a tip that I usually know, but mostly they’re long ads for the courses, webinars, videos, books or other materials that make the same promises: more book sales for independent authors.
There are often videos, some free, some behind pay walls. The free videos and free webinars, however, are usually more drawn-out ads for the courses. What’s most annoying about them is that they always promise a free, bonus, sure-fire tip, one thing you can do to boost your sales, or your email subscriptions or whatever, if you watch the whole thing to the end. Some have disabled the fast-forward function (I hate it when TV shows do that in their on-demand versions.) And most of the time, when I do watch till the end, it’s not worth the wait.
The course is the whole point of all this stuff. It’s presented like a university-level program with several hours of video, whiteboard animations, info-graphics and support materials like workbooks in .pdf format. There are often downloadable videos, too, to help you remember some of the information (I guess).
What’s wrong with that? you ask
I suppose these must work, because more people seem to be doing them all the time, and the people already doing them seem keep publishing their teaser videos.
They remind me of late-night infomercials, with some sketchy guy or overenthusiastic woman hawking a product that, even with good lighting and photography, looks too flimsy to last more than day if used for whatever the hawker tell us to use it for.
Or like a timeshare salesperson, with a sales pitch that promises you a free TV or car just for listening. And goes on and on and on…
They’re expensive, too
But the worst part is the cost. Joanna Penn’s Self-Publishing Success course is one of the most reasonable, at under $300. And for the time and materials, and if it actually delivers results, it might be worth it.
Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers is even more expensive, at about $80 a month for a year. Ryan Deiss’s Digital Marketer courses are just under $1000. Others don’t tell you how much they cost until you already agree to give them your email address.
Do they work?
The marketers tell us they do. And they all provide testimonials.
But I signed up for one—I won’t say which—and soon dropped it, because I already knew most of the content: write a good book, know your audience, stay focused; use email to engage readers, make sure you have a full “author’s platform,” meaning a blog, website and a presence on just about every social medium.
I’m in a quandary. I’d like to know the secrets to selling books, but I just don’t see anything from these courses that convinces me that the authors know, either.
What do you think?
What’s your experience, if any, with online courses or programs that guarantee you the ability to sell to strangers? Leave a comment.