Meet Robert G. Culp.
As someone with access to technology, it never occurred to me to write a book on an iPhone. So, when Robert told me that he writes his books and designs his covers using only an iPhone 6s, I was impressed.
His “stop at nothing to get it done” attitude resonated deeply with me, and so, welcome to Season 1 of Book Rescue!
We will be following Robert on his journey to sell more books.
When I met Robert through his Book Rescue application, I was taken aback by his spirit. Although he was struggling as an author, he had this mindset that was just undying. Nothing could hold him back. He wouldn’t let it.
Robert was so present and determined during this first leg of his Book Rescue journey. I asked him what was the most challenging part. He said, “It was definitely trying to juggle time.”
He’s working on a new short story and the 4th book in his series. His never-quit attitude and willingness to do whatever I asked of him just added to my dedication to this project. I hope you find him as inspiring as I do.
Ad Astra Per Aspera (To the stars through difficulty)
Robert applied to his dream college, Louisiana State University, with the intention of entering their writing program as a means of realizing his dream to help other authors get published.
Unfortunately, tuition costs and complications resulting from the pandemic are a stumbling block for Robert like so many others. He’s had to hold off on his dreams.
He’s not asking for much. He’d just like to make a little cheddar to help with tuition, help his mom, and take care of his dog. So much so, he was willing to write a book on an iPhone.
Robert has been self-publishing in the young adult fantasy genre for a little over a year and he has FOUR full-length novels to show for it. That’s not all, he’s got a short story and a few other novels currently in production.
He is all in by any means necessary.
He is fully committed to making this his living. It’s what he’s good at and what he does best. He really can’t see himself doing anything else, and that also resonates with me.
We are talking about someone for whom $1000 per month is life-changing money. Maybe you can relate.
What Does It Mean to Be On Book Rescue?
I’m not here to make promises. I can’t offer Robert any guarantees. All we can do is course-correct what he’s already doing and get him on the right track toward realizing some of his goals.
Robert went through our rather rigorous application process. He filled out the questionnaire and provided a video. He was chosen from a small pool of initial applicants to appear on Book Rescue.
What you’re going to see throughout Season 1 of Book Rescue are the steps we take to help Robert in detail. Each episode will cover an aspect of self-publishing showing what Robert is currently doing and what we did to improve his efforts.
The goal here is not only to help Robert but also to maybe help YOU as well. Subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!
Getting Brutally Honest
Each Book Rescue is a long-term commitment. My team and I spend weeks and months working directly with the candidate making small improvements to their existing book catalog.
We started on Robert’s Author Central page. In the video, you can see the before situation we were dealing with. The cool thing about following along with Book Rescue is that you can see the improvements as they are happening. If you visit Robert’s page now, you’ll see that some drastic changes have already taken place.
Sometimes we have to be brutally honest where it counts. I’m not going to tell Robert not to write a book on an iPhone, but I did work with him on a more flattering picture for his Author Central page. Then we got down to business on his book covers.
The Beginning of a Book Rescue
Robert’s book covers weren’t the worst I’ve seen which is saying a lot when you consider he used only his iPhone to create them.
That being said, there was a lot of room for improvement, and we wasted no time getting started.
I was astonished to find that Robert had paperback and hardcover editions available for nearly all of his books. I don’t even have hardcovers for most of my books! Not only did this guy write a book on an iPhone, but he managed to format print editions somehow as well.
After we addressed his book covers, we focused on his book descriptions. They were essentially walls of text and they were telling a story rather than building intrigue around his book. Of course, we got Brian Meeks on the job.
One trait every Book Rescue candidate has is that it’s obvious they have put in the effort on their own.
You can see this with Robert when we find that he’s taken advantage of the free editorial review available from Readers’ Favorite.
Keywords and Categories Before and After
Are you ready?
When you set out to write a book on an iPhone, limitations come with the territory. I couldn’t just buy Robert a copy of Publisher Rocket and call it a day.
I spent 3 weeks working with Robert just for this first episode of Book Rescue Season 1.
In the video (below), you can see that we broke down his catalog book by book.
Some of his keywords were things like fairies, dragons, and stonehenge. These are much too broad and we indie authors could never hope to rank for anything but longtail keywords. This was directly affecting Robert’s discoverability on the Amazon platform.
It’s worthy to note here that Robert was publishing using Draft2Digital which is a platform I highly recommend. However, I recommend that you publish directly to Amazon using KDP so you have more control over your metadata on the Amazon platform.
Keywords after our research and Publisher Rocket looked like this:
- witch out of water time travel dragon necklaces ya
- wizards vs witch and fairies sorcerers relics
- coming of age fiction fantasy books
- time travel adventure books fiction
If that makes no sense to you, then you need to read this article from Dave Chesson over at Kindlepreneur. It will explain a lot.
If you’re researching using manual methods, eBook keywords should be researched in the Kindle Store on Amazon while print books fall under the Books department. If you’re using Publisher Rocket, you can select Book or eBook when entering your base keywords.
Initially, Robert was only taking advantage of the 2 categories allowed by Amazon.
If you don’t know, you can request a total of 10 categories and Amazon KDP has a form email for this via their Contact Us link. You’ll find that at the very bottom of your KDP dashboard.
Once you click that link, click the button beside Amazon Store & Product Detail Page.
Then select Update Amazon Categories.
Follow the prompts in the email template on the screen.
So we got Robert loaded up with 10 categories each for both print books and eBooks.
Print and eBooks have separate categories on Amazon and you should conduct your category research accordingly.
Only select up to 10 categories if they are completely relevant to your book. If you can’t find a full 10 categories, use the ones you do find that are most relevant.
This Episode of Book Rescue Wouldn’t Be Complete Without a Little Surprise for Robert
Fiverr has generously sponsored Book Rescue and I’ve been working with them to deliver any of the outsourced services I utilize for Book Rescue candidates.
Like many self-publishers, I moved away from Fiverr for a time because the services seemed like a crapshoot. It was inconsistent at best, but then I learned how to find great service providers on the Fiverr platform.
Once I find a service provider that I like, I use them over and over. You can find curated lists of Fiverr providers on the Resources page.
I surprised Robert in this episode with a professionally written long and short author bio.
Your author bio is so important. This is how your readers find out more about who you are as a person and an author.
Your long bio should go on your website. The short one is great for places like your Amazon Author Central page.
What’s Next for Robert?
Now that we have his keywords and categories dialed in, we’re going to be focusing on his book descriptions and book covers.
If your book description is not where it needs to be, you’re going to miss out on potential sales.
Now that we’re getting into the meat and potatoes of Book Rescue and you’re beginning to see what it’s all about, I know you want to stick around and follow Robert’s journey to see what happens next.
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If you feel that you would make a good candidate for Book Rescue, please visit our application page to see if you’re a good fit.