Thomas: This is Novel Marketing!
Jim: I’m James L. Rubart
Thomas: I’m Thomas Umstattd Jr.
Jim: And this is the show for writers who want to become bestselling authors.
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: That’s how we began the first episode of Novel Marketing, and today, we are celebrating ten years of the podcast!
If you’re new to Novel Marketing, you might not know that for many years, our podcast was cohosted by James L. Rubart (Jim) and me. Jim went on to become a bestselling, Christy Award-winning, audiobook narrating sensation, but he still occasionally joins me on the podcast.
It’s important to celebrate these milestones and to look back on what has changed in the publishing and marketing industries in ten years. We’ve learned some lessons the hard way, and there are things we would have done differently. It’s easy to look forward and guess about the future, but a little reflection on the past goes a long way. Understanding where we came from helps us know where we’re headed.
Listener Jenny Fratzke suggested we celebrate a decade of Novel Marketing by sharing highlights from the last ten years, and we thought that was a great idea.
The first episode of Novel Marketing went live on Sep 30, 2013, and today, we’re looking back on the top episodes from each year of the last ten years. Jim and I have each selected what we believe to be the most important episode from each year of the podcast.
Jim: As I reviewed the episodes, I realized that some of them are completely irrelevant today, but others are as relevant today as they were when we recorded them.
- 11 Episodes
- No Interviews
- 15 Minutes Long
Jim’s Most Important Episode: The Secret to Getting People to Love You
Most people know that I’m a Jesus follower, and there’s a Bible verse that basically says you can have all the Facebook followers in the world, you can be a bestselling author, and you can have all the awards, but if you do not have love, you have nothing (See 1 Corinthians 13:2).
In publishing and marketing, you have to connect with people. If you want your career to be a success, you have to get people to love you. This episode explains how to make that happen. It was one of those episodes that’s still relevant today.
Honorable Mention: 7 Things Santa Can Teach Authors About Book Marketing (originally published in 2013.)
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: Do Authors Still Need Websites?
It was our second episode, and we were combating the marketing guru’s advice of that day, which said authors didn’t need websites. The reasoning went like this: Because Google+ was so good at ranking on Google and because Facebook was so good at connecting you with your readers, a website was a waste of time and money.
The marketing gurus were saying, “You only need social media,” but we were saying, “That’s terrible advice!” And we were right. If you built your platform on Google+ in 2013, somebody ought to be playing a sad violin for you.
- 42 episodes.
- 6 Interviews.
- A tree fell through Jim’s roof, which facilitated a career transformation for Jim.
- Hosted our first Q&A Extravaganza, which now happens in our patrons-only episodes.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: How to Create a Breakthrough Author Brand: Step 1
This episode was the first in a series of three episodes that were the beginning of my branding system. The three steps eventually became:
- Look in the Mirror: Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and uniqueness.
- Look at Your Reader: Discover who your reader is and what they need and want.
- Look Through Your Readers: Discover what your readers say about you.
There are now four steps (Step 4: Look in Your Reader’s Mirror), but in 2014, I hadn’t come up with the fourth one yet.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: What to Include in an Author Newsletter
If the first step to selling more books is loving other people and finding champions, then the second step is to communicate with them. To communicate with readers, authors need to start writing a newsletter. But what do we say to those people we’re trying to love? What do I write in a newsletter to people who don’t love me back yet?
You’ve revisited this topic over the years because it’s important.
- 14 Episodes
- First “Bonus Episode”
- First Real Marketing 101 Episode: 5 Ps of Novel Marketing. (Thomas rebranded episode 1 as a Marketing 101 episode.)
- Thomas’ blog post about dating went viral.
- Jim was rebuilding his house and moving.
- This was the worst year for the podcast in terms of topics and quality. It was a tumultuous year.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: Where to Spend Your Marketing Money
That was a strategic episode about how to prioritize. I started teaching authors to stop asking, “Will this help me sell more books?” Because holding a cardboard sign on a street corner will help you sell a couple more books. But the real question is, “What is your best alternative, and what’s your next best alternative for selling more books?” I wanted authors to start comparing those and identifying which would provide the best ROI.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Grow Your Email List from 0 to 10,000
This was the year we started preaching the importance of building your email list. We wanted authors to spend most of their marketing time building a communication channel they owned, namely, an email list.
Honorable Mention: Powerful Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift. I didn’t know she’d still be so popular in 2023!
- 18 Episodes
- Thomas worked as the marketing director for a traditional publisher.
- We had a big Focus on making money and had lots of money-themed episodes.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: Enclave Files
In 2016, we almost had a theme of how to be a career author and how to make money with your writing. In the Enclave Files episode, I talked about what I was doing as a marketing director, what was working, what was not working, what experiments we did, and what lessons we learned.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: Seven Website Visitors Every Author Needs to Thrill
I learned a lot from listening to Thomas on this episode. I was so impressed he was teaching us to think of distinct types of readers and to address their needs and wants on a website.
Honorable Mention: How to Write a Crazy Cool Author Bio
Second Honorable Mention: How to Use the Power of Video to Engage More Readers
Thomas: Video was just starting to explode in 2016. YouTube had been thriving for ten years, but the ability to go live on Facebook was in its heyday. It was a great way to elevate your platform. Live video, especially webinars, is still valid and useful for connecting with your readers. But disregard everything I said about Facebook in that episode because it has completely changed.
- 25 Episodes
- Jim’s laptop died, and we wanted to buy him a new one.
- We launched the 5-Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author
- Thomas purchased his SM7B microphone.
- Thomas and Margaret got married.
- Thomas started hosting a radio show.
In 2017, we started improving the show’s quality. I got my first good microphone, and we started pivoting toward indie authors. When we first started Novel Marketing, we were squarely focused on traditionally published authors. Now, we’ve swung the other way. We do more episodes for indies than for traditionally published authors, but most of our topics apply to both.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: 10 Things Every Book Cover Needs
That episode has been popular. People continue to link to the blog post, and many new authors use it as a guide to create a good book cover. If you’re new to publishing, it’s hard to know what’s missing from your book cover. But readers notice subtle omissions, and they’ll immediately become suspicious of your self-published book.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Write Bestselling Back Cover Copy
I’ve been in traditional publishing for most of my career, and I’ve discovered that even traditional publishers don’t have great back cover copy writers. It’s a skill you must at least understand so you can communicate with your back cover copy writer.
Honorable Mention: 10 Things Every Book Cover Needs
- 51 Episodes (First full year to release a weekly episode)
- Launched the Creative Funding Show
- Launched the Christian Publishing Show
- Thomas worked as a literary agent.
- Many episodes from 2018 have been turned into 91,000 words of blog posts.
- Recorded a Recap Episode.
- Started our Patreon
- Thomas and Margaret had a Baby!
- First year of the Book Launch Blueprint
In hindsight, I had way too much going on, and I would not realize it until the following year.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: Why Facebook is Overrated for Book Marketing.
This episode marks the first time I started taking shots at Facebook. I wasn’t fully against it yet, but I was leaning that way.
The more I used Facebook and the more I looked at the numbers, the less enchanted with Facebook I became. I discovered that Facebook wasn’t very effective, and people were giving it more hype than it deserved.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Create a Reader (Lead) Magnet
Creating reader magnets is a skill you will use throughout your career. It’s so important for building your email list and serving your readers. It can really set you apart from other authors.
Honorable Mention: 127 – How to Connect with Anyone in the World
Jim: When people like you, the rules change. You never know who you know that knows somebody you want to know.
Thomas: Learning how to make good friends with authors and industry professionals often separates successful authors from those who can’t figure out why things aren’t working out. It’s often because they’re not building relationships. Nobody trusts them because they don’t know them.
- 51 Episodes
- Year of Thomas’ breakdown.
- Jim left, and Thomas went solo.
- Shauna started doing blog post versions of the new episodes and select older episodes.
- 102,000 words in Novel Marketing blog posts.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: Focus, Pruning, and Why Novel Marketing is About to Change
I was doing far too much in 2018. I was doing too many episodes and too many jobs. I was married, and we had a baby. We were starting to see great results from the Novel Marketing courses, but interacting with students and maintaining the courses was a huge investment of time. I tell the story of my breakdown in this episode, and at the end of that year, I pruned many of my responsibilities.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Create a Design Brief for Your Book Cover
Thomas approached this topic with his analytical mind and made the episode very valuable. We presented it to a highly intelligent, competent author we knew, and he said, “This is a lifesaver!”
Thomas: That was one of the first episodes that came with a worksheet. We started experimenting with creating documents that were attached to the podcast topic. People could download the document and fill it out like a worksheet. This episode has a design brief you can fill out and share with your cover designer.
- 45 Episodes (Thomas started taking weeks off.)
- 12 Patrons-only episodes
- 57 Episodes in total.
- 161,000 words in Novel Marketing blog posts.
- Started the Marketing Psychology series.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode(s):
- How to Make Your Book More Popular (Marketing Psychology: Social Proof)How to Price Your Book Using Marketing Psychology
- How to Use Scarcity & Ubiquity to Make Your Book Irresistible (Marketing Psychology)
- How to Create Urgency to Buy Your Book (Marketing Psychology)
It has been fun to focus on marketing psychology. Marketing gurus might tell you what to do, but they rarely share the reason behind why it works. If you don’t know the reason behind why it works, it’s hard to make it work for you. Understanding the psychology of book launches and motivating people to want to buy your book is fun.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Pick a Strong Book Title
I was doing a lot of one-on-one consulting with authors, and I kept noticing that their titles were bad. It made me realize how critical it is to pick a strong book title. Having the right keywords in your title can make all the difference in ranking and ongoing sales.
- 40 Episodes
- 176,000 words in Novel Marketing blog posts.
- Margaret and Thomas had their third baby.
- 11 Patrons-only episodes.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: The 10 Commandments of Book Marketing
If I could put one episode in a time capsule, this would be the one. It captures the Novel Marketing approach. I asked Jim to narrate the Ten Commandments in Charlton Heston style.
Thomas’ Honorable Mentions
- What Every Author Needs to Know About Cyber Security
- How to Use Price Pulsing to Supercharge Your Backlist Sales
- How to Get Endorsements for Your Book (Worksheets)
Jim’s Most Important Episode: 10 Classic Branding Blunders Authors Make (and how to avoid them)
I speak on branding often, and I’m surprised how many people come up to me and say, “Thank you so much! I’m really getting it now!”
Jim’s Honorable Mention: How to Publish Your Book Independently
So many people are discovering the benefits of independent publishing, and others should be going in that direction. This is a fundamental episode. Indie publishing changes rapidly, so stay tuned for forthcoming episodes.
- 43 Episodes.
- 173,000 words of Novel Marketing blog posts.
- 12 Patrons-only episodes.
- Officially launched Obscure No More.
- Started Recording the patrons-only episodes live!
Patrons used to send me questions. I’d read their questions and answer them in a recorded video. Now, I record those sessions live. You can still send questions for me to answer, but you can also tune in and ask your question on-screen. Live video allows for follow-up questions and coaching.
We’re starting to experiment with bringing expert guests on the patrons-only episodes. Soon, we’ll have Evan Gow and a copyright lawyer joining us. It will be a great opportunity for patrons to ask email and legal questions.
It’s not too late to become a patron! Join us today.
Thomas’ Most Important Episode: AI Tools for Authors (Just before the release of ChatGPT)
This episode has been one of the most popular blog posts. It ranks high for that phrase on Google. Many people use it to find tools. Ai and Chat GPT are very controversial, but the tools mentioned in this episode help authors with dictation and grammar. I compiled a list of the best tools, and some of them have even more power because they’re using GPT.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How to Launch Your Book in 2022
In this episode, we promoted the course, but we also gave pro tips throughout. Even if you couldn’t afford the course, you could still walk away with some very practical tips to help you launch your book.
- 35 Episodes so far.
- 9 Patrons-only episodes (So Far)
- 127,000 words in Novel Marketing blog posts.
Thomas Most Important Episode: How to Build Hype for a Debut Novel
This episode was an interview with CJ Milacci, a Five-Year Plan alumni. It’s been five years since we launched the course, and she’s had unbelievable success.
Her episode was the culmination of years of work. CJ was listening to episodes, trying to turn her writing into a career. She was very transparent in her interview. She shared what worked and what she would do differently. Her Kickstarter campaign and book launch were very successful, and it was so satisfying for me to see the course and her career come full circle.
Jim and I both want to make a million improvements to the course, but the current version is working. Everyone is doing it at their own pace, but it’s working.
Thomas’ Honorable Mention: How to Find Your Timothy
Knowing who you’re writing for really changes everything. Instead of writing for yourself or vague, generic people or an imaginary persona, you’re writing for a real-life human I’ve named Timothy.
If you can thrill and serve that one person, you can thrill and serve many more. It’s a really transformative episode.
Jim’s Most Important Episode: How Karyne Norton Successfully Kickstarted Her Book in 1 Hour
I helped Karyne with her back cover copy and have watched her whole process. I’m on her email list, and she does a fantastic job with her newsletters. She has done the whole thing right. This episode is incredibly inspirational and instructive.
Jim’s Honorable Mention: How to Look and Sound Professional on Zoom, Webinars, and Podcasts
Thomas gives practical and easy-to-adapt lessons and instruction. In this age of podcasting, you must have that skill set. Even if you’re introverted, this episode can get you started on the right foot.
- 388 Numbered Episodes
- 8.2 Days of Audio or 196.8 hours.
- 204 with Jim as cohost.
- 184 episodes after Jim’s departure.
Thomas: When we launched the podcast, few people knew who we were. The podcast was not popular. Author Media had an email list, and Jim had a readership, but few of them were authors. It was a grind in those early days to build that following. Now, many of those early episodes are listened to more now than they were when we released them. So, thanks to Jim for those early days.
Thanks also to our listeners who make this show possible. Whether you tell a friend, leave a review on Apple, or support the show through Patreon, please know we could not do this show without you.
Jim: I’ll give a quick shout-out to Thomas. I know the behind-the-scenes Thomas, and I know he truly cares for authors. I see his heart and passion, and I know how much he puts into everything from Obscure No More to the patrons’ Q&A episodes. He loves you guys.
We’d love for you to chime in and tell us about your favorite episode! Drop a link to the episode that’s been most helpful to you in the comments at AuthorMedia.social.
If you want to meet other Novel Marketing listeners in real life, check out the 2024 Novel Marketing Conference. It’s our first-ever in-person event. We’re starting it off on Kickstarter, and there are a few days left to back the conference and make sure it happens.
This conference is focused on helping you sell more books. We won’t cover how to write and publish a book because this conference is for authors who have a book or are about to launch a book and want to get the marketing right.
Check it out and get in on the early-bird pricing before the Kickstarter campaign ends.
A special thanks to our Patrons who have been with us since 2018.
- Mary DeMuth
- Mary L Hamilton
- CL Peterson
- Eloise Whyte
- Jennifer Leo
- Timothy Wise
- Jim Kukral & Bryan Cohen
- Phyllis Wheeler
- Jered Gering
- Terri Picone
- Tom Golden
- James S. Rogers
- Johnnie Alexander
- Michelle Ule