Author Interview: Matt Holmes, Non-Fiction

My name is Matt Holmes (Pen Name: Matthew J Holmes) and I write non-fiction books around the topic of advertising for self published authors. My most recent book is The 7 Day Authors Guide To Facebook Ads.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

I have been writing blog posts about marketing and advertising for many years and have also written lots of scripts for all sorts of videos/short films as I used to run my own Video Production Company. However, when Covid-19 hit back in March 2020, my Video Production work came to an abrupt halt.

So although I have written a lot of words over the years, I didn’t start writing my first book until April 2020! And then, with new babies on the way, major house renovations we were doing and feeling the imposter syndrome that a lot of us do, it took me until January 2021 to go back to that first book, review it, rewrite it, edit it and finally publish it.

Since January, I have released 2 further books, so I guess you could say I caught the bug! I wrote these books because I had a lot of information in my head that I needed to get down onto paper and I felt could help other self published authors avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that I have been through with advertising and marketing.        

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

I started writing my first book in April 2020, but I didn’t get round to publishing it until January 2021! So, around 9 months in total! But in terms of the outlining, writing, editing, proof reading, book cover design and everything else that comes with publishing a book, the total amount of time I spent was around 2 months.   

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

I am indie author; I just love the control that being indie provides; we are in control of our own destiny and can change course if and when we need to, without having to go through lots of red tape or barriers that can come with traditional publishing.     

How did you determine your target audience?

My wife is a self published author and she is my perfect target audience avatar! There will be lots of self published authors, like my wife, who are overwhelmed and perhaps, intimidated about the advertising and marketing side of self publishing, so my books are written in such a way to make advertising more understandable and relatable. Advertising is simple, but it’s not easy. My aim with the books I write is to simplify advertising as much as I can, whilst at the same time, making sure that the reader actually implements and takes action on the content.      

What is your publishing process?

First, I determine where the reader is before they start reading my book. Then I determine where they want to be after reading my book. I then map out the process they need to take to reach their destination, step-by-step and create the chapters of the book from there.

The next stage is fleshing out the content and specifics for each chapter. From there, it’s a case of writing the first draft of the book. I use a lot of images in my books to visually explain what I’m talking about, so I add these images in as I’m writing.

I then go back through the book from beginning to end to flesh out and refine the content, making sure I’ve covered everything I need to. Finally, I run my books through Pro Writing Aid to help with structure, flow, consistency, etc. Pro Writing Aid is an amazing tool; so many powerful features and reports; I can’t recommend it enough to every single author!

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

I publish primarily on Amazon and put all my focus onto Amazon. However, because my books are permafree (i.e. always free) at this moment in time, I also publish them through Draft2Digital and then ask Amazon to price match my books to one of the platforms I’ve published to through Draft2Digital.

Ultimately though, 99.9% of the downloads for my books come from Amazon so that is where I focus all my advertising and marketing.     

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

I have an email list who are fantastic at providing feedback on the books, let me know of anything I’ve missed out on, spelling and grammar issues, etc.     


Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

I have an email list which I have built and continue to build by providing free resources to authors, such as tracking sheets, planning tools for advertising, as well as a free 3 part video series that shows authors, over my shoulder, how I plan, build, optimise and scale ads on The Big 3 advertising platforms for authors, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads.

What is your launch plan for your works?

I’m relatively low-key with my launches! I just publish it to Amazon, tell my email list about the book and then start running Amazon Ads to it. That’s it! Nothing fancy at all.

However, I also run the advertising and marketing for my wife’s fiction novels and they are a different animal when it comes to launching. I start planning for the launches of her new books 3-4 months in advance! I use Kindle Countdown Deals for my wife’s books when launching and spend a lot of money ($2500+ during the 7 day Kindle Countdown Deal) on Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads, as well as promo sites, such as eReader News Today, Bargain Booksy, BookRunes, etc. And for the upcoming launch, we are also going to be trying out some PR tactics as well as influencer marketing, which is exciting.     

How do you get reviews for your books?

My email list are great for leaving reviews which is wonderful. And I also use BookSprout; readers receive a free advance copy of my book and in exchange they leave a review.     

How do you promote your content?

Primarily, I use Amazon Ads to promote/advertise my books. However, I have an Autorespinder sequence setup which introduces my email subscribers to books of mine that they may not have read.     

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Persistence, patience and testing. There is no right or wrong way to advertising/market a book. You just have to do what feels right to you. Yes, there will be tactics you try that don’t work and that’s ok. You just have to have the resolve to not throw in the towel and give up too soon.

Marketing/Advertising is something a lot of authors don’t enjoy; they just want to focus on writing because it’s what they love the most and that’s fantastic. However, as a self published author, you need to not only wear your writer’s hat, so to speak, you also need to wear your business hat, particularly if you want writing to become your full time career.

How do you define success as an author?

As a non-fiction author, success to me is when I receive an email from a reader who says that they have taken action on what I have written about in one of my books and they have seen great results from it, or my words have had an impact on the way they see advertising.

If I can impact just one person from my books, that to me, is a success.    

What made you want to learn about advertising?

I have always loved marketing and advertising and I initially learnt about the fundamental of it so that I could reach more potential clients for my video production business. However, when my wife released her first novel several years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to learn about advertising and marketing in an industry I hadn’t explored before. From then on, I’ve been hooked on advertising and marketing books!

Why did you select the platforms you did to study and really figure them out?

Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads are The Big 3 as they are sometimes known amongst authors, so this is where I thought I should start.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle when it comes to advertising?

Overcoming the fact that some ads just will not work and to be ok with that. Even the best advertisers in the world have ads that don’t work; it’s just part and parcel of the advertising game.

What is the main benefit for readers who pick up a copy of your book/website?  (What do you hope they get out of it?)

Ultimately, I hope readers of my books will be able to take action on what they read and learn. Paralysis by analysis can be very real when facing something new and daunting such as advertising. I want to help authors overcome this fear and take action. Once they do, and they start seeing results, they will hopefully be able to get out of the mindset that they can’t run ads or don’t know how to run ads and start to reach more readers, sell more books and ultimately, start building their author career.

How do you think our quickly advancing technological society will affect online advertising and its importance for authors?

This is a difficult one! Advertising platforms are changing and evolving every single day. Although the fundamentals of advertising remain consistent, it’s the intricacies of the individual platforms and the tactics we use on them that will change. As the likes of Facebook learn more and more about its users, they have millions upon millions of data points that help us, as advertisers, reach the right readers, which is an incredible tool to have in our toolkit.

However, some people aren’t comfortable with companies such as Facebook and Google knowing so much about them; where they live, their age, their interests, what websites they look at online, etc. Yes, it can be sort of scary when you think about it, almost like Big Brother!

But from my perspective, as both a consumer and an advertiser, I don’t want to see content online that I have absolutely no interest in. Time is our most precious resource and I want spend it on things that matter to me, whatever that may be. So if the likes of Facebook know a lot about me and that allows them to personalise what I see on their platforms, based on my own interests, then I am more than happy for them to do so.

Just think about watching TV and how we tend to ‘skip’ the adverts/commercials. Why do we do this? Because they aren’t relevant to us. If the adverts/commercials were about things that interested us, then we would be much more likely to pay attention to them and not ‘skip’ them. The advertisers would win because they would get more eyeballs on their products/services, the consumers wold win because they would be seeing products/services that can help them, and the advertising platform would win because they would be attracting advertisers who can reach their ideal audience, as well as showing their consumers/customers adverts/commercials that were relevant.

It’s a win-win. The technology to achieve this is almost here really and we are already seeing it a lot on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon. It all comes down to relevance and that’s exactly what Amazon and Facebook are all about and built upon; showing relevant ads/books to relevant readers. The more relevant we can be with our ads and our targeting, the cheaper our advertising costs and the better our conversion will be.


About Your Work

How many works have you published?

I so far have 3 books published, with several more ideas on the back burner! The 3 books are in my 7 Day Author Series:

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

My most recent publication is The 7 Day Authors Guide To Facebook Ads where I walk readers through how to plan, build, launch, optimize and scale their first Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads can be pretty overwhelming and daunting the first time you lay eyes on it and as is my focus on all the books I write, I want to reduce this feeling of overwhelm and focus on the fundamentals of Facebook Ads and learn enough to start seeing some results quickly.

A quote I really like is: Action creates more action. Inaction creates more inaction. If you can start taking action, you will want to take even more action and it becomes almost addictive! Likewise, if you take no action, it can be very difficult to do anything more than take even less action.

Yes, there is a lot to learn with Facebook Ads, but what I focus on is not looking at everything you need to do and learn; instead, just focus on the next step, then the next step, then the next step. If you focus on every single thing you need to learn about Facebook Ads in one hit, you are likely to never take any action whatsoever, because you get caught up in paralysis by analysis.    

So that is a long winded way of saying that my most recent book is about making Facebook Ads accessible for authors who don’t (yet) enjoy or get excited about advertising, my breaking it all down in to a simple 7 day process, with actionable steps at the end of each Day to help them take action and keep moving forwards. At the end of the 7 days, my aim is for the reader to have launched their very first Facebook Ad and have the knowledge to know how to optimize and scale their ads as and when the time is right.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

I write in-depth guides and case studies on my website all around the topic of advertising and I have recently launched a brand new podcast, The Author Ads Academy Podcast, where I will be sharing weekly content about advertising for self-published authors.     

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

I find that the Kindlepreneur website has a lot of great blog posts about self publishing and this was a fantastic resource when I was brand new to this industry. I do till go to the Kindlepreneur website today and see what interesting articles they have published.

Sometimes, we need to come out of our own little world and look around us to see what other people are doing in the industry. One thing that is so true with self publishing is that you never stop learning. There are new technologies, algorithm changes and a whole lot more that happen on a regular basis; we need to keep upto date with all of this, because although the fundamentals may remain the same, it’s the intricacies of advertising particularly that can change on a regular basis. The way I see it is if we don’t change and evolve, we get left behind. 

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

I have always read non-fiction books, mainly around the topics of business, marketing and personal development. I feel that this has given me a good understanding from a reader’s perspective about what makes a book enjoyable to read.

On top of this, however, I have found that some books go too deep into the weeds on theory and leave out the critical element of actually taking action on the content within the book. This is why I have written my books in such a way that I provide Action Steps throughout to encourage readers to implement what they are learning so that they can start seeing results.   

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

I primarily focus on networking with other authors inside Facebook Groups and helping out with struggles and problems other authors are having that I have been through or had experience in.    


Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

I think my biggest struggle has been overcoming Imposter Syndrome. I felt that little voice in my head saying “who am I to…”, “why would people listen to me…”, “what have I got to say that would make people want to pay attention to me…”  

Once I got over those feelings and managed to quieten down that nagging little voice in my head (my inner bi*?h!) through a lot of personal development work, things became a lot easier.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Focus on writing the best books you possibly can. You can’t advertising or market a poor quality product. If you can write a great book, it makes the advertising and marketing of that book so much easier and enjoyable. Also, don’t try and write for everyone. There are some people out there who just won’t enjoy your books and that’s ok. You are not writing your book for them. You are writing your books for those people who devour every word, who clamber over your next book, who get lost in your world and never want to come out. Those people are your readers. Write for them and no one else.      

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

I would publish sooner. I would focus on overcoming the imposter syndrome and get my books out there into the world. You will never be 100% ready. So just do it. The best time to publish was yesterday. The next best time is right now.     

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

I have worked for myself since leaving University back in 2010, so I have always been driven to achieve what I want to achieve. However, there are definitely days where I procrastinate on marketing and promoting myself, without a doubt. That little voice in my head crops up from time to time and temporarily stops me from taking action on some things that are important to me. But once I quieten down that little voice, I’m back on track.      

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Every single morning I read and look at my goals not only for this year, but for my life as a whole. I also practice visualisation every morning and envision the life my wife and I want to build for our family. After my morning routine, I make sure that everything I am doing is working towards achieving those goals and our vision.     

How do you combat writer’s block?

I step away from the computer and spend 10-15 minutes with my wife and our 2 babies. That is enough motivation for me to get back on the horse, as it were and start writing again. It also helps to just give myself a screen break and turn my mind to something else for a few minutes.     

  


Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

I listen to Brain.fm! This an App that plays sounds/music that affects the way your brain works, but not in a bad way! Within 5-10 minutes, I am completely focused on my writing and almost forget about the outside world! Brain.fm works best with headphones, so I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and I’m gone! It just helps me focus in a way that music from Spotify, for example, just doesn’t.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

We have an office in the garden, so this is where I like to write. My desk is in here, but we also have a big couch that I sometimes lay down on to write too!      

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently proof reading my wife’s book before it goes off to the editors, in preparation for her upcoming launch!    

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

That I have a lot of knowledge I didn’t realise I had!     

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Tea, raisins and cashew nuts. Yea, a little bit weird, but it works for me!     

Do you have a writing companion?

Sometimes, one of our dogs, Freya and Loki, will join me in the office. But I think that’s only because they want to finish my cup of tea!    

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You don’t want to reach the end of your life and meet the ‘you’ that you could have been. You want to get to the end of your life with no regrets and know that you have made an impact on your family, your friends and the world as a whole. Live life to the full and enjoy every single moment.     

The best place to find me is on my website, www.matthewjholmes.com. From there you can see my books, the podcast, my blog/marketing guides, my free video training and much more.     

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