BookLocker Print and Ebook Publishing, Sales & Distribution

Niche Book Turns $20K Annual Profit

Profitable and well-known author Jim Novo was involved very early with interactive marketing at Home Shopping Network, both on live TV and with early Internet services like CompuServe and Prodigy. His book, Drilling Down: Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet, priced at a whopping $99.20 (the ebook is $69.43), has been one of’s best sellers since the first edition was bound almost three years ago. Since then, Drilling Down has not only been revised and expanded, but is also offered with a popular downloadable software application for readers.

As the web developed, Jim realized people were making the same customer marketing mistakes HSN had made almost a decade earlier. He said, “The book was my attempt to get people headed in the right direction before it was too late. Of course, everybody was having such a good time that nobody wanted to hear the message and, soon after, the dot-com thing crashed. The book now sells better than ever and sales continue to rise as people look around for the ‘right way’ to do customer marketing on the Web.”

When asked why he decided to self-publish, Jim said, “The material is of interest to a fairly limited audience in terms of the offline book world. I knew that, and also knew it was unlikely to be published by a traditional publisher because it went against the grain of what people thought was true about interactive marketing. They would read it and say, “We can’t publish this. Nobody thinks this way!”.

Jim’s book alone generates net profits for him of $20,000 a year. But, it generates a lot more than that in consulting fees from people who want him to take the ideas in the book and put them into practice. Jim said, “This was always a core idea behind the book; it’s more a marketing tool than a publishing effort in terms of generating income. I don’t have any consulting clients that did not read the book first.”

And not many authors have a “marketing tool” that alone brings in $20K per year!

He adds, “The other great thing about self-publishing is you can control darn near everything, especially if you are working with On the web, it doesn’t cost a ton of money to test things, so you try some things and see what works and what doesn’t.”

Jim put up a simple website and started a newsletter, because he knew people would search for his topic and end up on the site but forget to come back. The newsletter keeps his readers and clients (and potential clients!) in the loop and “reminded” that the book exists.

“Right at the start, we were doing free samples of the book for download and pay-per-click ads on GoTo (now Overture) and later Google to drive additional traffic. We tested and tested different keyword phrases and copy until we knew what generated book-buying visitors. I also wrote articles for marketing and CRM sites and these articles were linked back to my site. They generated huge amounts of targeted traffic and lots of sales. And I always, always encouraged questions from visitors to the site and buyers of the book. I told buyers they ‘are a customer now’ and they should feel free to contact me with questions.”

Once the first edition of Drilling Down was published, Jim started talking with’s Richard Hoy about what they should do next. He says, “Based on the comments I received from customers and what knew about the markets, I decided to write a ‘prequel’ (nine chapters long) to the original book. We would publish a ’2nd edition’ which would include these chapters and at the same time triple the price of the book. In addition, if you signed up for my newsletter, you would get all nine of these chapters free by e-mail, a new chapter every three days (an eserial, which Booklocker sets up for POD authors at no charge), using what is called an autoresponder provided by And sales roughly doubled, right then and there.”

Jim says the biggest myth about self publishing is, “that you can’t make any money doing it. You can make a lot of money if you do it right and choose the right people to work with. But you have to have a plan. You have to first think about the way this new publishing world works and how to take advantage of it. It’s not just the book; there is a whole ‘package’ of things that all work together to make you successful.”

Jim stresses that search engines should be a large part of any author’s marketing campaign. “You have to think about search; it impacts everything you do. The title of the book, names of chapters, etc. are all important for driving free, targeted traffic to your web site. It also helps to have a marketing plan before you write the book. If you are going to give some of the book away free, you have to write it with that in mind. Everything you give away should be written so as to make buying the rest of the book irresistible.”

You can read an overview of Drilling Down and view an excerpt at: