Starting From Zero – Resources Page

Hello! These are all the course resources I mentioned in Starting from Zero.

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And if you stumbled onto this page without enrolling in my free course, Starting from Zero, you can do that right here.

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Free Course Books

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You have download links in the course materials, and you should also get an email a couple of days after enrolling, with those download links as well. But just in case you miss those, here they are again.

Download Let’s Get Digital here.

Download Following here.

Let’s Get Digital is freely available from all retailers and you’ll get the links you need above, but Following is a mailing list/course exclusive, and you can only get it from BookFunnel. Click the NEED HELP? link in the top-right of the BookFunnel download page if you are having trouble getting it onto your device.

I strongly recommend downloading the two books. I will refer to both throughout, and you will need to refer to them to complete the course tasks. It will be very difficult for you to get the full benefit of this course without them.

Resources

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Here is every single resource mentioned in Starting From Zero, roughly following the order they are mentioned in the course (affiliate links throughout).

Browsers to Buyers

After showing you how to survey of your niche on Amazon, and then how to assess your presentation to make sure it fits, I mentioned that it is possible to add up to ten categories to your books now.

Just remember that covers Book (i.e. paperback) categories as well as Kindle ones, and keeping things relevant is more important than maxing our your total. Better to have less, than add places you don’t fit.

You can estimate how many sales it needs to hit a certain Sales Rank on Amazon – and thus estimate how competitive a potential category is – by consulting this free Sales Rank calculator on Kindlepreneur.

The process of adding categories is super boring, but extremely important and you only have to do it once. You can only pick two categories on upload, so pick the two most important, and then use this process below to get a total of ten categories on your book. You can do this via Author Central or KDP, and I’ve outlined the steps for each.

via Author Central

  • Identify the full category path for each of your preferred sub-categories. By this I mean actually write out Kindle eBooks > Mysteries, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Political for each of your target categories, rather than just Political Thrillers – you will need this in a moment.
  • If you have an Amazon Author Central account, and you should, then go to Amazon Author Central Help here (or look for it in the top right of the nav bar in Author Central). If you don’t have an Amazon Author Central account, then scroll down below to see the process for adding categories via KDP Support.
  • Click the Contact Us Button on the left-hand side of that help page.
  • Select “My Books” from the dropdown, then “Update Information About A Book,” then “Browse Categories,” and, finally, “I want to update my book’s browse categories.”
  • Note: ignore the help pages which Author Central links to at this point, they are out of date, and incorrectly say that Amazon only allows 2 categories. They now allow up to 10.
  • Underneath that, select Email or Phone – whichever is your preference. I personally prefer email as I can update categories on all my books at once, and it’s easier than reading out the category path on the phone, but I’ve also done it by phone and that works well – it’s faster, in fact.
  • If you select Phone, have your list of chosen categories ready – with the full category path or they won’t add them for you. If you select Email, paste those full category paths into the box, along with the ASIN number of the respective book you are talking about.

Note: this process will only update categories for you in the US market. For other important markets for you (like the UK), you can add those via this process also, but you will need to specifically indicate in the email to Author Central (or in the phone call) that you also want to add categories for other markets. And you will need the specific full category path for those markets too as the Kindle Store is broken down a little differently in each country.

via KDP Support

I personally find the customer service at Author Central far superior, but I’ll detail the process for doing this via KDP also, just in case. It’s pretty similar.

  • Identify the full category path for each of your preferred sub-categories. By this I mean actually write out Kindle eBooks > Mysteries, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Political for each of your target categories, rather than just Political Thrillers – you will need this in a moment.
  • Log in to your KDP account. Click the Help link in the top right, then the Contact Us button in the bottom left of that page (they don’t make it so easy to find). This is the direct link, if you can’t find it.
  • Underneath “How Can We Help?” select the first option “Amazon product page” and then “Update Amazon Categories” right underneath.
  • An email template will appear. Add in the ASIN for your book, and then the full category path for each category you want added.
  • Ignore the section on removing categories.
  • Repeat this for each desired international market (do the UK at minimum, but check the full category paths for those stores also – they are different).
  • Click Send message, and Amazon should sort this out for you in a couple of days. Note: depending on where you are in the world and what time of day it is, you may have the option of doing this by phone – it doesn’t matter which way you do it. Phone tends to be faster, but don’t expect the changes to be instant. They might still take a day or two to process fully.
  • Those categories tend to take effect reasonably quickly, but as with anything Amazon, glitches can delay things, as can any customer service response time etc. It’s a bit of a pain, but you only have to do it once, and the benefits just keep accruing.

Just remember the most important thing: always keep it relevant.

Build Your Platform

Remember, capturing readers is easy to do with the right architecture in place. It’s nearly impossible without it.

I’ll repeat your To Do list so you have it handy:

  1. Buy your domain from Namecheap.
  2. Get a hosting package from Siteground.
  3. Go with WordPress for your CMS.
  4. Install a flexible, responsive, professional WordPress theme like Divi.
  5. Join MailerLite and start installing your forms on your site and building your welcome sequences.
  6. Use BookFunnel to deliver your Reader Magnet
  7. Deploy your new Content Marketing skills to plan out content for your list.
  8. Start a Facebook Page and make it pretty.
  9. Post content to Facebook regularly to grow your Page.
  10. Hook everything up together and start cross-pollinating.

Content Marketing

I recommend boning up on basic content marketing best practices, so that you can engage readers cleverly via your mailing list and Facebook Page. This blog post serves as a handy introduction to the topic.

Content Marketing 101 For Authors

Joanna Penn is an expert content marketer, as well as an author, and covers the topic regularly on her blog, such as here.

How To Sell Books

To make sure you have enough reviews on your book before you plan your first proper promo, follow this quick tutorial from my YouTube channel.

And then when you are ready to start booking deal sites for your first promo, I have the perfect resource to help you find the best options: my 2020 Guide to the Best Book Promo Sites.

These are my personal recommendations and this list is 100% up to date, containing the very best sites for freebies, discounts, series promos, genre specialists, and listbuilders.

Best Book Promo Sites 2020 author marketing

Grow Your Author Business

Remember what I said in the course: don’t be intimidated by this list of resources. I don’t recommend trying to get good at all of this stuff at once. Take it step by step, and nail down the course basics first before even considering these more advanced tools.

General Advertising

Before we get into specific platforms, some general help. This post will teach you about Comp Authors and why determining yours is critical to succeeding on any ad platform.

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And then here is my guide to the concept of reader targeting.

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For platforms like Facebook and BookBub Ads you will need to create your own ad assets (or hire someone to do it for you – but that’s not as easy as it sounds). I think spending some time to learn a (free) tool like Canva is a great investment.

12 Free Design Tools for Authors

In fact, my list of recommended design tools for authors are all free, and I even have some free tutorials on my YouTube channel to get you started too. Like this one:

Amazon Ads

My favorite resource – by a mile – is Robert J. Ryan’s excellent guide book Amazon Ads Unleashed. Next on my list to try is another guide book, one highly rated by lots of people who know their onions, and that’s Deb Potter’s Amazon Ads for Authors.

Along with myself, both of those authors are members of this Facebook Group, which was founded to cover Amazon Ads, but has since expanded to cover Facebook Ads also. Lots and lots of great info in there.

And then this free course from Reedsy is good for the basics.

Facebook Ads

The Email Archive is your first port-of-call here, particularly the ongoing, free series on Facebook I’m doing with my list – we’re up to something like 12 parts now and just getting going.

For more advanced users, Jon Loomer is the best resource I’ve found, although keep in mind he’s a general marketer, not book-specific.

BookBub Ads

I wrote the book on BookBub Ads – literally. I also made a free ten-part course for Reedsy.

And then outside The Wonderful World of Me, BookBub has a pretty stellar set of resources.

How Amazon Works

My blog covers the topic of Amazon a lot. Start here. But even better than that is a brand new book I have just released! It’s called Amazon Decoded and I think you will like it. It’s available now from all retailers.

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Email Marketing

Newsletter Ninja is the bomb. Read it and do everything she says, and you will be an email whizz in no time. Seriously. I’m living proof that the leakiest of ships can be turned around.

I’ve also written some posts on my blog which will serve as a good introduction to the possibilities with email. Like this one.

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Questions

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Pop your questions on Starting From Zero in the box below. I’ll get a ping right away, and answer you once I’m finished juggling these chainsaws. If you genuinely do need to ask me something privately, you can do that here, but asking below is a lot quicker.

Please also feel free to suggest anything that you think is missing from this page, or indeed the course itself. Feedback is always valued!