Do you want to know how to sell thousands of books in a micro-niche market?
Listen as multi-talented expert, Rob Kopman shares how to really penetrate a niche market with your book.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Best Sell Thousands of Books In a Micro Niche Market" you will discover...
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Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast, where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters, every week I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today. My special guest is Rob Kopman. Rob is an author and publisher of the 30 Minute Seder. He has a long list of careers and interests including podcast hosts, public speaker, school teacher, mechanical engineer, contractor, woodworking craftsman, internet marketer, world traveler, innovator, and financial advisor. His 30 Minute Seder has sold over 500,000 copies. That's half a million folks, and it was an Amazon top a hundred best seller in 2018 and 2019, where his total profits from Amazon were $175,000. Not bad. The books in its 12th printing and his total revenue to date exceeds $2 million. Wow. His latest project is The Amazing Women Podcast. Rob, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show. Thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Rob Kopman: Thank you. Happy to be here. And I don't know who told you all those wonderful things about me? I don't know if they're really true or not.
Susan Friedmann: I don't know, but there's a long list of them. I'm thinking he didn't quite know what to do when he grew up.
Rob Kopman: Actually they are true. I just get bored easily. I tried different things. As soon as I got really good at something, I want to do something else.
Susan Friedmann: That definitely is a sign of a creative person.
Rob Kopman: Yeah. I get that from my mother's side of the family. My grandfather actually was in voodvo back in the day. He was a song and dance man on the stage and in New York city. And it all started there.
Susan Friedmann: Rob, let's talk about your incredible success with your 30 Minute Seder. Half a million copies. You made it to the top 100 in Amazon, two years running with this incredible revenue. The question is, what's your secret?
Rob Kopman: I'm not sure it's a secret, but I've gotten really good at certain things. And one of them is how to work Amazon, how to get in how to maximize my sales and my income. Because, a lot of people don't realize that Amazon has two sides. They have a vendor side, which they call Amazon Advantage. If you're an author and they have the FBA, that fulfill the Amazon side, I would say 80% of Amazon is FBA. Where you send in something, you tell them the price and they charge you a fee to sell it and ship it. But you don't always make as much money that way you have to understand their system. The other side of the coin is if you want to become a vendor, that means they have to buy your product. Just like a store would, that's not easy to convince them to buy your product. So what I did, I wrote the book.
I waited a couple of years till I had a little bit of a track record. Luckily it's a really tight niche market. There was a real big need for what I wrote. And as soon as I wrote it, people started buying it. So I had good credentials. I had a good track record of sales. I even got into Barnes & Noble. Then I approached Amazon and said, Hey, why don't you carry this book? Basically, just like that wrote them a short letter. And I sent them a sample and they wrote back to me. Yeah. Okay. We'll send you a purchase order. And then they started sending me purchase orders every Monday during the season because it's a seasonal publication.
It's really meant for the Jewish holiday of Passover, which is right around Easter time, April, usually. And so my business every year has gotten to be a shorter sales cycle. It started out, my season opened up in January and ended in May. Now it opens up in March and ends in the end of April. In fact, I would say the lion's share of my revenue comes within three weeks of the holiday because Amazon owns the world now, most of it comes from Amazon.
Susan Friedmann: There are a few things that you've said that I want to dig deep around. And one of them is music to my ears, the word niche market, because you have written a book that is, as you rightly say for a particular niche market, that's allowed you to sell so many copies of the book. And I relate to that because I too went into a niche market for 25 years and was able to sell half a million books. But I did it to one company. You sold it to millions of people, which is pretty amazing as well. Talk to us about a niche market and why it was important for you to take this route with your book.
Rob Kopman: Fair question. And a niche market is a double-edged sword because, if you have a product or a book that satisfies a need for that niche market, it's an easy sell. On the other hand, there's a ceiling. My biggest problem with selling these books and why I haven't sold twice as many is exposure. It's hard for me to find the potential buyers because my niche market is a reform or less religious Jewish people who wants to celebrate Passover, but don't want to take a long time with the rituals before they eat dinner, not patient basically. I wrote this book to make it so that it was shorter, it's,` 30 Minute Seder, right? It takes 30 minutes. So it screams short. The title is what gets people's attention. But also I wrote this thing 16 years ago. And just briefly I'll tell you that some of the needs I satisfy was, it was gender neutral back then all the Jewish books.
Or most religious books actually are male oriented. So everything's him or kingdom or something with male. And I took out all gender from my book. So right away, the women liked it. And that made a huge difference. If you talk to Jewish people about Passover, you ask them, what's your favorite holiday? They usually say passover. You asked him what's the problem with Passover. And they say the Seder takes too long. The Seder is the ritual. Well, I solved the problem by giving them a short guilt free Seder had a rabbi approve it. And then there was no reason for them not to buy it. The bar was low for me back then, there wasn't anything else out there that satisfied the need the way I figured it out to do it. Here I am 15 years later and last year I sold 50,000 copies. There's obviously still a need, even though the market is niche. And it's small is big enough. That answer your question?
Susan Friedmann: I think it did. One of the words you also use was exposure, that getting the exposure. What have you done in that area?
Rob Kopman: One of the questions I ask myself all the time is how I want to sell my books? Who am I selling to? Occasionally churches buy it, but mostly it's Jewish people. Where are the Jews? It's a simple question. Where do I find Jewish people? Well, besides banks and the Chinese restaurant, I've advertised and it's difficult because if you're advertising a major publication, you're advertising to a million people and maybe only 50,000 of them happened to be potential buyers for me. So it makes it difficult. But in the first few years we established a wholesale business for the book as well. So we sold to synagogue, gift shops and museum gift shops and some small bookstores. We got the word out. I say we, because I have a partner, my business partner, Bill. He did all the illustrations. If you see it, he did it.
If you read it, I wrote it. We had ads in these little Jewish newspapers and various parts of the country. And then one year I found a deal with the Sunday New York Times Magazine. That's the big time, right? It was a one-third page Coloured ad, is about a $50,000 ad. And I managed to get it for $6,500. I booked the ad. We had that for two years in a row and it brought us a lot of business. Then it just dried up. Far as exposure goes that was great exposure. They distribute to a million and a half people, back then people actually had the paper in hand. Now they do it online. It's a little more difficult now, but it's still possible. So you just have to get the word out there any way you can, whether it's an ad or a podcast or a blog or word of mouth, the game hasn't really changed. It's just the details that are different now.
Susan Friedmann: And something you said earlier going where your niche market buys, where they are and you rightly said, you went after synagogues, their publications. And I have many authors who are in the Christian market, there are hundreds if not thousands of churches around the country, around the world who have gift shops and little newspapers, little rags that they... I don't like to say that maybe that's incorrect, but news sheets that's a term, that they send out to their members. This is where you need to go with your different publications. If they're in a niche market, which both you and I agree is the way to go, sort of throwing less spaghetti against the wall and hoping it will stick.
Rob Kopman: There is something else that we did. It was interesting. We put together some press releases and some press kits, we had things on our website. We also decided to send out basically a press release to all these newspapers, to the correct editorial department. And then, because my book is small, it's full colored, but it's only 32 pages. That's really a booklet. And we found out that it was actually cheaper to send them a copy of the book than to print a full color flyer and send that, which is really amazing. Because, back then it was like half a buck to print the full color sheet of paper. And my book only costs me 40 cents. We wound up just sending copies out to everybody we could think of. And that made a huge impact because we started seeing newspaper articles. And the other thing we discovered was that many journalists, unless they're really big investigative journalists, but the run-of-the-mill journalist is lazy.
Not only lazy, but they're always under the gun for deadlines. And it's hard for them to get out enough information quickly enough. We found that if we wrote the article for them and sent it, they would print it almost verbatim back. Sometimes it was verbatim. We made the job easy for them. We gave them all the information that we wanted them to say, and they put it out there. And that always, always resulted in sales, in wherever neighborhood got that newspaper. So if I was going to write a book today and publish it, I would do the same thing. I would let everybody I could think of know about it. I don't know that I could send a hard copy of the book to everybody. That'd be a lot more than 40 cents, but I would certainly send it to people who were in today's vernacular influencers back in my day, it was newspaper reporters, but it's basically the same thing
Susan Friedmann: Those newspaper reporters still exist. And neighborhoods still have papers. I live in a small town and our weekly paper, like you rightly said, if you send them an article and it's already written and it's, well-written, don't print it verbatim. It always blows me away, but you're right. They're looking for information. They're hungry. Many times you can sell to your local market. And we tend to ignore that often. We think, Oh, we've got to be in the wall street journal and the New York Times, and they couldn't care less about you, but your local paper and these small neighborhood papers, they do care and they will print things. Definitely. I think that's a great tip for all listeners. Thank you.
Rob Kopman: It really is. You know, since it is a niche market, here's another tip. We knew that most of our buyers were going to be Jewish people. We had our demographics and we had our avatar, or we knew it was somebody, 35 to 65 years old, but a family reform Jewish person or people. So we said, well, where are the high concentrations of this demographic? Well, you know, Southern Florida is full of ex New York Jewish people, parts of Chicago, parts of Los Angeles. Surprisingly, we found a big section in Texas.
We did some digging and got the demographic information. And then we also looked to see where our sales were off of our website. We sold it ourselves off of a website. We self-published it and sold it on our site as well as an outlet. And so we looked there and we narrowed it down to where are our buyers? Where is there five out of a hundred, rather than one out of a hundred. And we started targeting our marketing and our advertising just to those neighborhoods or cities. And that was very effective because if we had spent $2,000 on an ad in Billings Montana, or someplace like that, we would get nothing, but you send it to New Jersey, Brooklyn New York, Miami Florida. Then we would get a big return because we knew where our market was. And that's, was more important than anything else we did, I think.
Susan Friedmann: That's Key, is really knowing where to find your target audience. I think that's a dynamite piece of information and you're right. If you know where these people are, you go where they are. And you look at where are the opportunities in those cities, in those towns that you can sell your book or be a speaker on a podcast or a local radio show. They too are looking for people all the time. I think that's dynamite information.
Rob Kopman: Yeah. We didn't shove a book on anybody's throat. Everybody was looking for it, even if they didn't know about it. I like a, an old quote by Steve Jobs. People don't know what they want until I show it to them. That's what happened. Nobody knew they wanted this until they saw it. Then they went, Oh, I want that. And that was very effective. We really touched a nerve, a positive nerve. We didn't have to sell anybody. We just have to show it to them. And half the people I would show it to wanted to buy it. So I had found easy.
Susan Friedmann: That's fabulous yes, and unfortunately that's not always the case with everything that we have to sell, but in this particular case, again, you struck a need which too is a very important point for our listeners, is looking where is there a need in your marketplace? Then maybe you need to reshape what it is that you're selling. My book Exhibiting Trade Show Tips And Techniques For Success. It was a version of that book that turned out to be a much smaller publication, but that's the one that I managed to sell to one particular company. They bought 250,000 1st and they had it translated into several languages. And then they repeated that order. We rewrote it another way for them because they didn't want to sell the same thing. Send out the same piece of information again. Yes. You have to look at where is the need in that target audience? And you are serving a need in that audience.
Rob Kopman: You know, I wish I would have known about your book years ago when I started doing this because I did some trade shows myself, Jacob Javits, the big gift show where there's thousands of people there. I shared a booth with somebody and then I did something called Kosherfest, which is where a lot of the buyers looking for kosher foods go, especially the supermarket buyers. I was looking to get my book and into the supermarkets, which I did by the way, but only for a couple of years.
But how do you do trade shows? It could be extremely expensive and exhausting. So we did it for a few years and being that I was the front man for the book. I'm the author, I'm the Jewish guy. My partner grew up Catholic. He didn't know anything about Passover until we started writing this thing. But he was in charge of my marketing, we made a really good team, but he wasn't the one to be the face of the book I was. So I was doing all these trade shows and it was very expensive. And I had to learn on the fly. I wish somebody would've taken me by the hand and say, look, this is how you do it. This is the efficient way to do it. This is the best way to get your money's worth. Try it this way. I had to learn the hard way your book was probably very well-received.
Susan Friedmann: Thank you. Yes. And don't, we all have to learn the hard way unfortunately. Another thing you just said that I want to pick up on, and that is that, you are the face of your book. And I think so often authors hide behind the book and think that the book is going to sell by itself. But you...
Rob Kopman: That's the funniest thing, I've heard all week.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah and I get that the people, are fearful and they think that the book because of its title and what it's about is going to sell. But it's the face of the book. It's you, you've got a message. You've got value. And that's what helps bring the book alive to your target audience. And at the end of the day, many of our authors want to do speaking engagements and then you really have to be the front person for your book. So, yes.
Rob Kopman: Yeah. I don't see how you can give a speech without them seeing you. You're not going to do it behind the curtain, right? So you must get your face out there from the get-go. Now for me, my face in some ways was my advertisement. It's like a model or an actor. They put their face out there. That's their biggest asset. Well with me, your listeners can't see me, but I'll tell them that if anybody looks at me, he looks at me and he goes, Oh, this guy's Jewish. I mean, I looked Jewish. I'm like the embodiment of somebody like Larry David, for example.
I'm out there. And they see right away that I look like a Jewish guy, maybe a Jewish businessman or an attorney if I'm dressed in a suit, it gives me credibility right away. Even though it has nothing to do with my credibility. But it gives the people that impression. So I put my picture out there right away, even on Amazon. We first listed our book. I put my photograph, I'm not particularly photogenic. I wasn't thrilled with the picture, but it was effective nevertheless, it doesn't really matter if you're gorgeous or you're not pretty at all. People still want to see who the author is. They humanize it. And they really appreciate seeing who wrote this thing. What do they look like?
Susan Friedmann: And have a nice smile on your face because...
Rob Kopman: That's important
Susan Friedmann: ... Yes, that's the universal way of greeting people, is with that smile. You've just have to smile at people. And they're like, Oh yes.
Rob Kopman: It's all about branding. Whether you're branding your book or you're branding yourself, or you're branding the idea that you're selling. I was branding a short guilt-free Passover experience. That's what they bought. And they saw that the person who's presenting, it looks like, Oh, they look like they know what they're talking about. I've had people call me rabbi. I'm not a rabbi, but I'm Jewish and I am an authority. And so they just assume I'm a rabbi. Even though I never called myself that. My branding was very effective apparently.
Susan Friedmann: It certainly has been. And it sounds as if moving forward, you've also written something that is evergreen. And I think that's an important aspect to consider as well that your book will go on for many, many more years. You're leaving a legacy because that book hasn't changed for hundreds of years. You're just adding a different version of a book that's been out there for many, many years. I [crosstalk 00:19:55]
Rob Kopman: Thank you. Yeah. The story is very old. Several thousand years old. In fact, Passover is the longest continually celebrated holiday in the world. it's been around a long time and the version of the Passover Seder, which is like I said, the ritual we use to celebrate. It's basically the reading of Exodus and you say a few prayers, you drink some wine. That's most of it maybe sing a couple of songs, the actual ritual of the Seder part, not the access. The story of access hasn't changed at all, but the way people conduct this the way they celebrate the holiday has changed a little bit over the years. Not that much. I like to think that I made a huge impact and changed it quite a bit because before my book people celebrated passover very differently. They would often read it in Hebrew and then in English.
And I said enough of that, most of my people don't know Hebrew. So let's write in English. The only thing Hebrew is some prayers and the book opens from left to right, like an English book. Whereas most of these books for years and years and years always opened up from right to left because they were essentially written in Hebrew. So at least the beginning, they used to usually have Hebrew and English. I had people say to me, your book is backwards it opens up the wrong way. I said, no, it doesn't. It's an English book. Well, my niche, the people who appreciate what I did. They loved that. And the people who didn't like it were never going to buy it anyway, right? You're right. It's a very old holiday, but it's a new way of celebrating it. And that was the key to my success.
Susan Friedmann: And that goes back to you understanding the needs of this particular target audience and you're right. They didn't know they needed it until they saw it. However, you also had a good understanding of what the needs were, what the challenges were and where the opportunities lay, and hey, that's brilliant marketing. If we could all take that and put that and use that for our books, then we'd all be selling millions and millions of copies. Rob, I know you want to tell our listeners about your Amazing Women Podcasts. So take that away for us.
Rob Kopman: Sure. Okay. I have found over the course of my lifetime that I like women. That's not a big surprise, right? But I like talking to women and I like educated strong women. Whereas, some men are intimidated by them. I can never understand that. One of my friends who's a rabbi will help me edit the book actually. I asked her, do you have trouble finding dates and getting people to go out? And she said, yeah. As soon as I tell these guys I'm a rabbi. They want to run away because not only is she a woman and a successful one, but she's also an authority figure, a rabbi's and authority figure. So they have a hard time with that. But I never had a hard time with that. And I have found that my buyers have been women. My book, most of the people who make the purchase decision for this Passover book are women.
They might tell their husbands to buy it, but the women are the ones that drive the sales. The women are the ones I aim the book towards because it's gender neutral. And there are some other things in there that are aimed towards women. I'm a financial advisor. And I find most of my favorite clients are living in because they have a different viewpoint. They don't act like they know everything. And they're more concerned with security. I decided to market my business a little bit more. And then I thought, who do I want to market to? Well, the answer was obvious. It was women. So I decided to start this podcast. It's actually a similar demographic to my book. It's women aged 35 to 55 though, mostly with families. And I decided to market to them. And in the course of doing so and starting of my podcast, I completely lost interest in looking for a new financial advisor clients.
I just stopped looking. And now I'm spending all my time and promoting my podcast. I've talked about 15 highly successful women so far. I'm about to launch the podcast here in a couple of weeks. And I love it. It's like I'm born to do this. People like talking to me. And I liked talking to them. It's just a conversational podcast. I don't have any notes for agenda. I don't have any questions. I don't have a place. I want to go. I just open up the conversation, look at the website, maybe, but open up a conversation and see where it goes.
As Larry King would say, just remain curious. And that's my nature anyway. I'm finding that the women, especially the business women, they're all thanking me for supporting them because there aren't too many men who are supporting women entrepreneurs. As the only thing they're doing, there are men out there, I should say that are interviewing all kinds of people. But as far as I know, I'm the only guy who is strictly relegating his podcast to successful women or women who wants to be successful in business. And they're loving it and I'm loving it as well.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. And that, funnily enough, I think that's when you and I had our first conversation, I actually commented on that and said, I don't know too many men who are interviewing amazing women to your credit. Robbie, if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget. What would that be?
Rob Kopman: Well, my golden nugget to authors is don't get too caught up in yourself. And what you're trying to say, there are many authors that they have a story to tell and they want to tell, and they don't consider how are they going to get it out there? Who's going to buy it. What's going to make them buy it. They just want to tell the story. Well, sometimes you can tell your story in a way that is more interesting to your potential purchasers. And so know your audience know who you want to buy your book. Everybody's not going to buy it. Everybody has a niche. Some people have a bigger niche than others, but it's very important to know your audience and gear your book towards them, or very least gear your marketing towards them. That's the reality of it. You could sell the same book, five different ways to five different groups of people.
You can't use a way that you're going to sell to one demographic to sell another demographic. It's not going to work. You have to sell to the demographic of the cell with the information that they want to hear. What do they want to get out of your book? Look at that going in. The other thing I'll warn people is that Amazon is a great place to sell your book. But if you want to make money, it's really difficult. They make most of the money. That's just the reality of it. Study their ways, look and see how they do things and try to maximize your marketing with them. Because, otherwise they'll just eat you alive.
Susan Friedmann: Sage advice, Rob, this has been amazing tips galore. Listeners I hope you've tuned into some of them, some of them are very subtle, but there are some dynamite information that Rob was able to share. So thank you. And thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparked some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book marketing success.