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7 Steps for Building a Team to “Level Up” Your Kindle Business

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

Level Up Your Kindle BusinessMany bloggers use the phrase “leveling up” when they talk about improving your life, career or business. The way I interpret it is taking something that works and making it even better.

When it comes to a Kindle business, one way you can level it up is to build a team around your books.

The problem with Kindle publishing is it isn’t very scalable. You only have so much time to write and edit, work with graphic designers, and promote your books.

If you want to create more books, you need to put more time into your business. This is the wrong approach because you’ll eventually run out of time to write—reaching a sort of “critical mass” with your publishing efforts.

A simpler solution is to reinvest the income you’ve made and focus on building a team to help you grow your business.

As an example, in my most recent Traffic & Income report, I talked about how my authority Kindle business (DevelopGoodHabits.com) currently has a net income of $18,679.73. Instead of spending this money on a fun vacation, I’m putting it back into the business by hiring talented, smart people to grow my business.

In this article, I’ll show you the seven-step blueprint I’m currently using to build a Kindle-based team and explain how you can follow the same steps to enhance your book business.

Step #1: Start with the “3 Lists to Freedom”

Back in January, I attended the “1-Day Business Breakthrough” hosted by Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn in San Diego:

1 Day Business Breakthrough Event

One exercise Chris had us do is his “3 Lists to Freedom.”  Simply take out three sheets of paper and write down the following:

  1. Things you hate doing every day
  2. Things you can’t do yourself
  3. Things you shouldn’t be doing

I highly recommend you spend 30 minutes on this exercise. You’ll find it provides a lot of insight into what could be delegated to or managed by someone else.

Another thing Chris talks about on his blog is the “Superman Syndrome.”  Simply put, it’s easy to fall into the trap where you try to do everything yourself. When you fill out these three lists, you’ll discover there are a lot of opportunities to give tasks to someone more capable.

Step #2: Identify Your Core Genius Tasks

It’s just as important to identify the tasks that only you can do. These are called “core genius” tasks because they help you stand out from the competition. Your goal is to spend more time doing these activities instead of working on the tasks that can be handed off to someone else.

To get started, write down the specific activities that only you can do.

I did this exercise the other day and wrote down these things:

  • Generating Kindle book ideas
  • Writing outlines and rough drafts of the Kindle books
  • Managing my team (more on this later)
  • Responding to emails (I think it’s important to stay connected to readers, so I decided to build the “Declutter Your Inbox” habit instead of delegating this task.)

You’ll notice there aren’t too many items on this list. This is a good thing because it means I can assign many tasks to someone else.

Step #3: Delegate Time-Consuming Tasks  

Although outsourcing is a major part of my business, I never worked with a full-time virtual assistant (VA) before. My reason? I didn’t think I could give someone 40 hours of work each week. Heck, I don’t work that much. So how could I expect to fill up their time with that much work?

But as they say, nature abhors a vacuum. As soon as I hired my first VA, using Virtual Staff Finder {affiliate link}, I suddenly thought of dozens of tasks to delegate on a regular basis.

Glori (my new VA) does a number of tasks to streamline my Kindle business. For instance, she:

  • Builds (and maintains) a database of all the bloggers in the personal development niche, which includes names, links, Alexa rankings, scope of content, contact info and guest post information.
  • Adds any reviews on my books (with the reviewer’s name and a link to the review) to a database. Ultimately these will be used to create a special “street team” of people to review any new book I publish.
  • Manages some of the tasks related to social media networking, specifically adding certain people I feel would be a good match for my brand.
  • Researches and creates notes on topics related to Kindle books I’m developing.
  • Writes “show notes” for the audio versions of my Kindle books, which are given as a bonus to customers.
  • Runs reports that analyze the “Top 100 Best Sellers” in each sub-category of the Business & Money and Self-Help Kindle book categories.
  • Creates PowerPoint slides for videos I’m about to post on YouTube.

These tasks are just the tip of the iceberg of what a VA can do for your business. My advice is to look at the three lists and focus on the “things you hate doing every day” and “things you should be doing.”  Let your c­­reativity go wild and you’ll notice a lot of opportunities to delegate important tasks.

Step #4: Use Expertise to Build Assets

On the second list are things you can’t do yourself. In a way, it’s good to know you can’t do every task yourself. That means you can hire the right people and make them an important part of your business.

I know the first impulse is to hire people based on cost. This is a mistake because you get what you pay for. That’s why I recommend an alternative perspective. Instead of focusing on costs, consider how a freelancer’s expertise can be used to build long-term assets for your business.

In one of the first posts in this case study, I talked about the importance of creating assets. Put simply, your time (and income) is best spent on the projects that will put more money in your pocket on a long-term basis.

Here are two examples of how I’m doing this for my Kindle business.

First, I invest a significant amount of money in the cover image for each book. I feel this has been one of my competitive advantages, so I’m happy to spend more than what most authors do on their images.

(Sidebar: I’m happy to share the name of my cover graphics guy with you. His name is Kyle and he can be found here on Elance.)

Another way I’m reinvesting to build assets is by creating audio and print versions for every Kindle book. For a long time, I resisted this idea because it didn’t seem like an 80/20 activity (an action that will produce 80 percent of your income). But from my initial tests on three books, I’ve discovered that having a print and audio version can be a profitable part of your business. We’ll talk more about this strategy in a later post.

To be honest, I simply don’t have time to figure out how to create audio versions or format the print versions of my books. Instead, I’ve hired Rob and Matt from Archangel Ink {affiliate link} to do both.

When I finish a new book, I send Rob and Matt a Word file with a cover image and a sales description. Then, like magic, I get two files back within a week. One file is for CreateSpace.com (the print version) and the other is for ACX.com (the audio version.) I don’t even have to upload the files myself because I’ve trained Glori (see Step #3) to do these two things.

I consider each Kindle book to be an asset. Publishing new content is important, but I feel it’s equally important to take existing content and use it to grow your brand. If you see that one book is doing well, then it makes sense to reinvest the income into other revenue-generating platforms.

Step #5: Build Your Production Team

Publishing Kindle books can be a solitary activity, but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself. In fact, you should create a long-term goal of creating a production team around your Kindle books.

A few months back, I took a critical look at my current Kindle habit book business (as detailed in the “Authority Business Case Study”). What I discovered is I could improve the brand in a number of ways:

  1. Provide more value (i.e., a higher word count) for each book.
  2. Improve the quality of the writing by doing a more stringent proofread.
  3. Add more Kindle books to the marketplace.
  4. Add more content to the blog.

I also realized I was trying to do too many things on my own. My days were spent researching book ideas, mapping out outlines, writing rough drafts, doing edits, creating polished versions of my books and proofreading final products.

My “ah-ha” moment was when I realized many of these tasks could be delegated. Really, the only things I need to do myself are generate book ideas and write polished rough drafts. Then I can work with a production team to turn these rough drafts into sellable finished products

For the past two months, I’ve been working with a few people who are helping me improve the quality of my finished products:

  • Researcher. I now have my VA (Glori) research content. Basically she does two things: 1. Find out what people like/don’t like about similar books 2. Search for links/content that can enhance the reading experience. Both activities are important because they help me create the best possible books.
  • Developmental Editor. A new habit I’ve formed is sending my rough drafts (on all content) to a developmental editor (Leigh). Then she cleans up the text, points out confusing sections and does a deep edit on the bulk of the content.
  • Proofreader. After I get back the first edit, I’ll go through the document again and fix any remaining mistakes. Then I send the draft to another person (Matt) for a second proofread.
  • “Live” Proofreader. I work with my brother (Gene) on a number of strategies related to different aspects of my Internet business. One of his tasks is to download my latest Kindle book and go over it one last time, fixing the few mistakes that were missed in the first two edits.
  • Staff Writers. While I’m strict about writing the bulk of my Kindle books on my own, I am now testing the strategy of hiring staff writers to create content for the Develop Good Habits blog.

Currently, I’ve hired Stephen Guise to do a bi-weekly post about his “mini-habits” concept. Plus, I’m working with Steve Roy to submit guest posts to build traffic back to DGH. And finally, I’m vetting a number of other ghostwriters to create additional content for the site.

I know some people might disagree with a few of these strategies, but I feel it’s important to follow the traditional publishing model. Authors don’t do everything on their own; instead, they rely on editors and other writers to turn their good content into something great. By building a production team around your books, you can focus your time on the most important activity—creating content that resonates with readers.

Step #6: Get Feedback from Successful Entrepreneurs

Other entrepreneurs should be an important part of your team. As I’ve emphasized throughout this article, you can’t do everything on your own. In fact, sometimes you need the opinions of others to grow and expand your business. The best way to do this is with a mastermind group.

Mastermind groups help because you’ll get “no B.S. advice” on the strategies you’re currently implementing. The idea here is to meet regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) with a group of people and talk about what you’re currently doing with your business. To learn more, I recommend this interview between Pat Flynn and Jaime Tardy about masterminding.

I feel masterminding has become so important to the success of my business that I’m now a member of two groups.

The first is a simple one-on-one accountability session with Tom of Leaving Work Behind. We meet for 35 to 50 minutes each week to talk about what we accomplished in the past week and the goals we’d like to set for the upcoming week. I like the one-on-one nature of this meeting because we both get ample time to talk about our businesses on a weekly basis.

The second group follows the traditional model of masterminding. Here are the members:

The meeting starts with each member sharing one breakthrough. Then a single person is in the “hot seat” where they talk about their business for 20 to 30 minutes. Then we close out with each person sharing a single goal for the upcoming week.

Running any type of virtual business is often a solitary activity, so it’s nice to meet up with like-minded people on a weekly basis and talk shop. I consider each member of these groups to be part of my team because they constantly give me ideas that I wouldn’t have considered on my own.

Step #7: Reinvest Your Time

The primary goal of building a team is to free up your time so you can focus on activities that grow your business. When you assign time-consuming tasks to other people, your days won’t be filled with small tasks that take up a lot of time. As a result, you’ll have more time to think creatively about other ways to grow your business.

If you’ve ever studied the most successful entrepreneurs, you’d see that the majority of their time is spent on delegation. Richard Branson developed 100+ brands by finding great talent and hiring the right people to manage the entire process. (Here’s a great article that talks about his business strategies.)

Now, I’m not suggesting that you run out and outsource everything for your Kindle books. Instead, I recommend finding out where your time is best spent (like researching and writing rough drafts). Then build a production team to help create polished versions that readers love. From there, you can reinvest your time into learning new strategies that grow your business.

I’ve gained a lot of time in the past month by implementing these seven steps, so I’m using my extra time to explore potential traffic and income generation strategies such as:

  • Building foreign rights relationships for my books.
  • Starting a podcasting & YouTube channel.
  • Understanding how to get libraries to offer my books.

All of these strategies can become an important part of my Kindle business, but I haven’t had time in the past to research them. Now that I’ve built a small team around each book, I have more time to think creatively and identify ways to generate additional revenue.

Level Up Your Kindle Business…Starting TODAY!

I’ll admit it—some of the steps in this article might be a little advanced for some readers, but I think it’s important to adopt this mindset for your business. If you start thinking…today…about ways to scale your business, you will be able to earn more money without doing every task yourself. This is known as leverage—maximizing your results without any extra effort on your part.

If you want to try the bare minimum, I recommend finding a good editor and cover designer. Both of these services will pay for themselves because your books will be more professional than the junk that’s currently flooding the Kindle marketplace. And honestly… my biggest regret was not paying for these two services from the beginning.

From there, I recommend reinvesting a portion of your Kindle revenue every month to build more assets. Specifically, you could take the top-selling books in your catalog (at least three copies a day) and put them into print/audio format. Although you might not make back the money immediately, you’ll have another asset to grow your business.

Finally, start building your production team. I recommend taking a look at the tasks that take up most of your time.

For me, I found turning rough drafts into final drafts to be very time consuming, so I hired someone to help take care of that activity. You might not enjoy the process of posting links to free sites during a book launch, so it would make sense to hire someone to do that for you.  The key here is to identify what’s chewing up the most time in your business and hire someone to take care of it.

Building a team around your Kindle books is an ongoing process. You can’t do everything overnight, but you can get started today by finding one or two people who can improve the quality of your books.

Throughout this post, I’ve provided links to the people I actually use in my business. My recommendation?  Think of the biggest challenge in your Kindle business and contact at least one person to help you out. This could be the smartest business decision you’ll ever make.

Take Action. Get Results.



{ 34 comments }

Darlene with BlogBoldly

Hello Steve!

Extraordinary info.. I especially like how you listed some of your VA’s tasks. I’ve just added some of those to my VA’s list. :)

Last week I finally decided I need to be in the management business..not the “do it myself” business. So my new job is:

1) Figure out what must be done in my business.
2) Decide what will catapult my business to new highs.
3) Write out the necessary tasks to accomplish #1-2.
4) Assign those tasks.
5) Manage the circle.
6) Sit at the beach drinking iced tea and reading my Kindle.

darlene
FYI, I’ve deleted all my email subscriptions except seven, and you are one of the seven!

Steve Scott

That sounds like an excellent plan Darlene. I especially like #2… thinking of growth activities. Once I started thinking this way, I realized how many opportunities there are to utilize a VA. Got another one that I just added to her tasks today… find the top books in your market, go to the 5-star reviews and get their contact information. Then contact each person with an offer for a free book. In theory, this could lead to a lot of future books. Overall, I think VAs can be great for building a book-based business.

Darlene with BlogBoldly

Whhaat?

You didn’t like #6? :)

Steve Scott

Haha… Of course. It’s sooo cold here, I forgot what sitting on a beach is like. Maybe it’s my subconscious jealousy of people enjoying themselves that I forgot it. :-)

Mark

Great post. It was very informative and I learned quite a bit.

I’m planning on starting to outsource many of my tasks (such as proofreading/editing) come April or May. I’m currently only outsourcing cover design and SOME blog content — and I think that’s a big mistake.

Like you, my time is best spent writing rough drafts. Almost everything else can be done better and faster by someone else. :-)

Thanks again for your awesome tips!

-Mark

Steve Scott

Thanks Mark! Yeah, the more I think about, the more I realized that writing really good drafts it the most important part of my business. Everything else can be delegated.

Mark

When are you going to create a print version of the Kindle Publishing Package? I would love to have a hardcopy of that one sitting on my desk. ;)

And also, you should start combining your habits books into combo versions. I really want a combo with the healthy habits one, the morning routine one, and the 10,000 steps one.

That would simply be downright awesome.

Steve Scott

Good idea! Unfortunately, I found bundles don’t really work as well in the nonfiction market. But I’ll start thinking about doing one or two for the habits. Also, good reminder for the physical books on SSS products. I’m thinking it might be time to venture into that area as well.

Mark

Hmmm. I’ve never tried combos with my own books before, but I can tell from the # of reviews and sales ranks that yours aren’t doing SUPER well.

But I can tell you from personal experience that I LOVE the Kindle Publishing Package combo. It’s so convenient to have all that information in one place. You should consider adding “Is $.99 the new free?” to the combo, and maybe jacking the price up a bit. (Personally “$.99″ is my favorite book that you’ve ever written.)

At any rate, I’m looking forward to getting the hardcopies of your books. I’ll have a shelf in my office specifically dedicated to Steve Scott/S.J. Scott books. ;)

Steve Scott

Good point Mark. I can least give you the PDFs for the time being (of both). Just email me … like you said, bundles have been kind of a bust. So in true 80/20 fashion, I tend to focus on what actually works.

Steve Scott

Oh yeah…glad you like “Is $0.99 the New Free” I enjoyed that one because it was one of the books were I genuinely felt inspired while writing. Took a day out of my vacation Greece to write down the draft because I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. :-)

lyndsey

Great post Steve, outsourcing is a big part of the kindle buisness. One question, for someone who doesn’t have a list (like myself), what are the best strategies to help increase my sales? Also, how do you handle taxes since we have to pay around 49% of our income back when we do our taxes. What are the steps to reduce the tax that we pay (if there is a way?

Steve Scott

Lyndsey — I don’t want to give a flippant response, but I’d say start building an email list. The first you can do is add a free offer to your Kindle books. Besides that, you could blog, podcast or start a YouTube channel. All are great ways to build an audience, which ultimately translates into more sales. But ultimately it’s the email list that REALLY will drove those important initial sales.

Travis

So I am guessing that your plan is to raise the price of your ebooks a bit for the ones that are going to have more words?

Steve Scott

Travis — Actually, no. I feel that Kindle is going to get more competitive in the years to come. So I’d like to stay ahead of the curve by exceeding expectations and providing lots of quality at the $2.99 price point. In theory, this should lead to more reviews and ultimately more sales.

Kent Faver

Kind of funny Steve – In my “day job” of real estate consulting – today I visited a guy who owns a large dry cleaning / laundry plant. I say visited – he was not there, but his hardworking staff was, and the business appeared to be operating at 100% efficiency. He asked me if he needed to be there and I said no. I assume he was doing what smart business owners do – investing in himself. Sometimes we entrepreneurs, online or off, are not as smart as we need to be about understanding the value of time.

Steve Scott

Great example Kent! I love the idea of managing a business instead of being the “doer”. The trick for Kindle publishing is to maintain the same level of quality, while not having to work as hard. Hopefully having a team will help.

Rob Cubbon

Fascinating stuff, Steve, I amazed at how big your team has grown. I’ve written 2 Kindle books, nearly written a 3rd and have a great idea for a 4th – all on my lonesome!

I’ve been thinking about getting an editor (I’m afraid a few people have commented on the typos in my Kindles) so I’ll use this post and my kick in the pants in that area. :)

By the way, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with this strategy. You’re coming up with the ideas and the first draft and more.

Good to see you in the photo with two of my heros, Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn. And you look taller than everyone! lol

Steve Scott

Hey Rob … Definitely get an editor. For a long time, I thought my writing only had a few small mistakes. But once you get a deep edit, you realize how much better you’re writing can get (for me at least).

Yeah, I think that’s an optical illusion. I think I’m standing closer to camera or something. Not that tall..only 5’11″

Sophia

Fantastic Article! Very inspiring. I do have a few questions though-
How do you deal with copyright issues when other people are actually writing your content? Do you make them sign an agreement that content belongs to you?
Second question – how do you find and join a mastermind group like yours?

Blessings!

Steve Scott

Sophia — I actually don’t worry too much about copyright (on my stuff). I do run CopyScape checks to make sure they’re not ripping people off. But I don’t stress out that someone is going to take my stuff and use it. Plus it helps to work with professionals who are worried about building up their business.

For a mastermind. I’d recommend joining FB groups and Internet marketing forums. Connect with people, make friends and get to know them. Then start asking around and see if anyone is interested in joining.

Michal

You provided great info as usual Steve. My only frustration is that I really follow the steps of my mentors (including you), I do the job properly almost from the beginning… and my results doesn’t show it.
I cooperated with proofreaders, cover designers since the day 1.
I guess being cheap and having limited time for my business (10-15 hours a week) take theirs toll.
BTW, I scheduled Step 1 for the next 2-3 mornings.

Steve Scott

Michal — it is a lengthy process. I think your last book did really well… you can easily build on that. I do agree that only being able to work 10 to 15 hours a week doesn’t help. But again, I still feel you’re on the right track. :-)

Anne Chang

Not that I’m biased (*cough* *cough*), but our mastermind group is AWESOME! Great blog post, Steve.

Steve Scott

Agree Anne! Thanks for stopping by…totally forgot to post in our group.

Steve

With a net of $18k and a mandate to reinvest, I’m curious how much of that profit is eaten up by your new team? And what kind of growth you hope to achieve with the investment?

Steve Scott

Hey Steve…Actually up to this month (March), I’d say my net profits are well over $40k. I’d say that right now, I’m investing $2k to $3k a month. Ultimately, it will be worth it if the books improve in quality and they help to build an audience.

Darren Murphy

Great info as always Steve. I read your Outsourcing Mastery book and at first it was a bit foreign but now a few month’s down the track I am getting into the groove. It can be very liberating to outsource tasks that you don’t like doing, are no good at doing or are not cost effective. For example I hate researching keywords etc and this can be done for five bucks! Writer and editor next on the list to take those rough drafts to polished drafts – like you I struggle with that.

Steve Scott

You’re right Darren. There’s even a bunch of stuff that I haven’t done with Fiverr. What I’m thinking is you can even get a VA to vet certain gigs and do the hiring. Good ideas here.

Rahul Chouhan

Agree with above given article. I think Every one has a unique planing for online business either it is small or big. Overall nice article thanks for sharing

Steve Scott

Thanks Rahul. Glad you find the article to be useful!

Miranda

Hey Steve,

Thank you so much for this outline. In this world of publishing it’s easy to get so caught up in the little tasks that you miss the big picture!

If you ever start a mastermind group of authors via facebook or any other social outlet, I would be honored to be a part of it. I would love to share creative strategies and learn!

Thanks again!
Miranda

Steve Scott

Will do Miranda! I am putting together a product about Kindle publishing…one of the main features is a mastermind where authors can help one another. I’ll post more details in the future.

Adesanmi Adedotun

Hi Steve,

Thanks you so much for this great list, I read your eBook on how to make $1000 with a niche site and I got impressed and think it’s achievable the way you outlined it if properly followed however, your outlined list here are worth try most especially the first and second point must not be joke with. Know who kinders’ are is the bases of his/her success else the outcome will be nothing to write about.

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