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message 1: by Mysti (new)

Mysti Parker | 19 comments I see a lot of "programs" advertised by bestselling authors that are geared toward helping indie authors become bestsellers. One of the most recent ones is from author Adam Houge, called the Fanbase Formula. Now, a lot of the advice in the free bait videos and emails seems pretty solid. Then came the "offer" to sign up for a six month course for $49/month. This is a common pattern for all these programs I've come across.

I'm convinced that these courses are designed to maximize the creator's profits, not ours. They seem to be preying on struggling authors who are already hurting for money. I have yet to come across an author who has actually used and can recommend any of these. Have you heard of this one or any of the others? Have any of you used such services?

This is the link to the one from Adam Houge: http://www.thefanbaseformula.com/kndw...


message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Mysti wrote: "I'm convinced that these courses are designed to maximize the creator's profits, "

You and me both. That seems to be exactly what these types of programs are.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

It's sad that people are preying on struggling authors who are just trying to accomplish their dreams. Why can't people actually help others without looking out for their own best interests first?


message 4: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 606 comments I get nervous about things that offer something free at first and are not upfront about the sales pitch that comes with it. I learned my lesson the hard way years ago (nothing to do with self-publishing). So I am not saying that it applies to this particular program, which I have never tried.

Here is the basic formula I have seen for many entrepreneur-type courses:

First you attend the free seminar which gives you some good info, and with high pressure sales and pep talks, you are convinced to start the paid one. Then you go to the paid one, which isn't all it's cracked up to be, only to find out there is another sales pitch for an ultra special secret course. That one costs 3X as much as the paid one you're in, but it's sure to make you the most successful person ever. There is probably another sales pitch for a super-duper-platinum top secret level that costs even more after that. I didn't stick around to find out.

Yeah that was an expensive $950 lesson for me...never again...


message 5: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments Indie authors are a big target for people that want your money. Always be suspect of anyone that wants your money.


message 6: by Mysti (last edited Oct 02, 2016 06:06PM) (new)

Mysti Parker | 19 comments Marie wrote: "I get nervous about things that offer something free at first and are not upfront about the sales pitch that comes with it. I learned my lesson the hard way years ago (nothing to do with self-publi..."

Thanks for sharing that. They do make it sound so good, don't they? We all want to be successful, and they throw these temptations out there that make it sound like you'll barely ever have to work again once you use their "formula". I've never seen any truly successful person (not those that are rich and famous from birth or who profit off others' struggles) who hasn't worked their butts off to get to where they are.


message 7: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman The problem is that a lot of authors think they will write a book and then have instant success. They will become the next internet sensation. Even if you have a team working to sell your book, there is a million things that have to be done to promote both the author and the book. I have read a lot of those marketing books that promise instant sales and high rankings. You have to look who is selling the book or program and see how successful their own book is. If If E. L James was hosting a webinar- I'd be interested in seeing what she says. Writing books has a business side to it. Anything you do in promotion and publicity is an investment in both yourself and your book. You have to look at the cost of any program or marketing plan, then ask yourself if you spend this money, how many books will you have to sell in order to make back the money. The thing is, there is no magic bullet. It's hard work and done best with a strong network.


message 8: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) I saw an episode on "The Waltons" years ago here John Boy was taken in by a "vanity publisher." The used the fact that he wanted to be published so badly that they used him. Not much has changed.


Tara Woods Turner I watched Houge's webinar and I'm convinced he knows what he's talking about. He's knowledgeable and he has the book sales to show for it but...I resent the fact that he charges so much for his course. He knows that indie authors have to do everything for themselves and yet he is comfortable charging between $600-$3000 for his course. Maybe it's just good business sense because people are sure willing to pay it but I can't help but see it as opportunism. Those who can least afford it are going to be the ones buying it because they are desperate for some magic formula for success.

I can tell you that Houge has written lots of books under his name and pen names and the majority of these books are Christian, faith-based books. He has a captive audience that buys everything he writes. That isn't to put him down because he should be rewarded if he's giving his fan base what it wants. But writing in such a specific genre and for such a tight niche almost guarantees you wild success if you strike the right chord with readers. So he can't really translate that success to romance or sc-fi/fantasy markets, for example. In addition Houfe is a minister and I just think it's a little weird for him to charge so much because he knows people are desperate for commercial success as writers. If he were sincere, in my humble opinion, he would bundle his knowledge and advice into a kindle book and just sell it on amazon. He could charge a great deal for it and people would still buy it so what would he have to lose? *shrug*


message 10: by Mysti (new)

Mysti Parker | 19 comments Tara wrote: "I watched Houge's webinar and I'm convinced he knows what he's talking about. He's knowledgeable and he has the book sales to show for it but...I resent the fact that he charges so much for his cou..."

Yeah that's the feeling I got too. The advice in his webinars is pretty solid. If you did a lot of those things, you might see an uptick in sales, but going beyond that is money wasted, IMO because there is NO guarantee. It really screams of opportunism on his part. I think you could save your money for better things like editing, covers and good advertising.


message 11: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman I remember thinking it was unfair that a major star in a movie was paid crazy amounts of money when everybody else connect to the movie- the working people who actually made the movie made so little by comparison. I said as much to someone who was a backlot employee and handled the unglamorous side of the movie business- He told me that the "star" is the big draw that brings people to actually see the movie that makes the money to support all the connected people.They invest years doing crap until they hit their payday. Many pay a high price for the dark side of fame.
I had a friend who had an artist patient. She gave him a painting as a gift. He asked her how long did it take to make the painting. She told him 20 minutes and twenty years. Twenty minutes of her time plus the investment of twenty years experience. We don't walk in other people's shoes. You don't know how much time and effort this author invested to create his following. He may have made many wrong turns that cost him lots of time and money. He is making a way for his investment to pay off.
We all write to a niche market. Some authors will strike a chord and manage to hit that wave, others will not. There are so many variables, what's trending, the right group of reviewers, things just falling into place. Sometimes lightening strikes and you're just in the right place at the right time. I have worked in many different business, some more successful than others. It never ceases to amaze me what worked and what fell flat.


message 12: by Mysti (new)

Mysti Parker | 19 comments Carole wrote: "I remember thinking it was unfair that a major star in a movie was paid crazy amounts of money when everybody else connect to the movie- the working people who actually made the movie made so littl..."

I'm not discrediting his success as an author. I don't know his stuff, but he has a lot out there and a big following, so I'm sure he's worked for that. It's just these programs are all aimed at indie authors who are already struggling and don't really have that kind of cash to gamble on. They see his success and think if they spend the money, they'll be successful too. I just don't see that as a good thing. If I could find some legit authors who have actually benefited from these programs, I might feel differently.


message 13: by Clint (new)

Clint Forgy (clintforgy) | 39 comments You and me both, Mysti.


message 14: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Clark (tlcauthor) | 727 comments Let's face it, if there was a magical formula, we'd all be using it already.

Same old adage as there ever was and ever shall be will always hold true:
You just need to be at the right place at the right time.
or maybe also "it's not what you know but who you know"?


message 15: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman I wonder how many people actually take his course. I think most authors can't take that route. Almost every author I've "met" is working with a budget of slim to none. I think a few good chat groups are enough to give an author direction, along with a healthy dose of reality. The most important thing is for an author to go into this with the understanding that writing and striking it rich and famous is about the same as getting on bus and thinking when you get off on Sunset Blvd, you are going to be the next Jennifer Lawrence. Every field has these seminars- from real estate to being the next big thing in the stock market. I think the only ones getting rich are the people running them.


message 16: by Charles (new)

Charles | 148 comments Remember the first rule of writing: Money flows to the author, not from.


message 17: by Carole (last edited Oct 03, 2016 07:28AM) (new)

Carole P. Roman Believe me- it's not who you know anymore! Everybody in the "know" is terrified of taking a chance on anything other than tried and true. They keep recycling the stuff that made them money. Our great-grandchildren will be watching Star Wars Episode 155, Superman 210, and they'll be reading the ghost of Robert Ludlum's ghost writer resurrecting Jason Bourne in space.


message 18: by Marie Silk (last edited Aug 30, 2018 09:17AM) (new)

Marie Silk | 606 comments I think he has some good points that someone just starting out can glean from the free vids. A lot of it is common sense of course (have a good book cover, get professional editing).

I have seen a belief floating around the author community that "if you just get x amount of reviews, then your book will take off because Amazon will work harder for you". The number always changes...10, 20, 50, 100. I have not seen evidence to support this at all...has anyone else? However, it does seem that Amazon gives you a boost when you make it to certain ranks, which is what gets you "higher" on that algorithm. It's a matter of getting there and staying there, I suppose. I don't know anything about how the other digital platforms work yet, but this seems to be true for me with Amazon.


message 19: by C.L. (new)

C.L. Lynch (cllynchauthor) | 316 comments Morris wrote: "I saw an episode on "The Waltons" years ago here John Boy was taken in by a "vanity publisher." The used the fact that he wanted to be published so badly that they used him. Not much has changed."

I remember when I was a teenager and I met my mother at the door screaming with excitement because I had a letter from someone who wanted to publish my poem in an anthology. She read it over carefully, then gently sat me down and explained about vanity press. It was crushing.


message 20: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) | 78 comments There is no formula, because nobody really knows what will be a "hit" or the next trend. You're better off writing and marketing your work the best you can. There's no magic formula for reaching an audience or building a niche. A lot is just luck and timing. Translation: I'm still searching for that magic elixir myself.


message 21: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Skarie | 1 comments Thanks for all your comments. I listened to a 2-hour sales pitch from Adam Houge yesterday and wondered if I should buy his class. But then I'd made a promise to myself not to buy another class until I finished the ones I'd already purchased. The classes I've purchased do have some good advice but it is expensive to take them and I don't see how I can accomplish what a marketing team can even with the knowledge. There aren't enough hours in the day. I write novels and have four out. Adam Houge has a 100 books (how does a young man even write and publish that many?) I know I can't make a six-figure income like he does nor is that my goal. But it sure would be nice to have moderate success. For now I'll pass on his class.


message 22: by Lori-Ann (new)

Lori-Ann Claude | 76 comments There's a lot of free information out there for promoting yourself, for gaining fans, for building email lists, and the list goes on. It's a lot to take in and it is overwhelming.

Before paying for more classes, go through all of the free stuff. I attended a 5-day free online webinar and all the guest speakers had free material you could get by signing up for their newsletter. It has led to a slew of emails since then from each one so I pick who has the most valuable information for me. I unsubscribed from at least one speaker.

Slow and steady will get you there. You have 4 books, that's excellent. Whatever effort you expend to get someone to one of your books, they'll see 3 others. That's why I haven't done much promotion yet but most of what I need is "in place". That is, I have a website, I have a sign-up page, I am on twitter, I have a Facebook page, I'm active on Goodreads. Since I have only 1 book, I don't yet want to put out much effort on promotion.

I suggest to make a list of what you learned, put them in order of what is more likely to work for you AND that you feel you can accomplish. Then set a goal of doing the first one. When that one is done, move on to the next one.

Gaining fans, subscribers, etc... isn't done overnight. All you have to do is start with what will work best for you and then add to that as you have the time. Some things will take time to bear fruit so hang in there.

Remember, they're trying to make money out of selling their courses. They will make you think you absolutely need their course to be successful or their one-on-one. There's a lot you can do without having to buy a course to learn "a secret formula".


message 23: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Fried | 32 comments Yep, save your money. There are no secrets or magic methods. All you can do is try to get as many people as possible to know about your book, and do that as cheaply as possible. There is nothing anybody can tell you that is not in John Kremer's book "1001 Ways to Market Your Books."


message 24: by Marie Silk (last edited Aug 30, 2018 09:22AM) (new)

Marie Silk | 606 comments I was on the mailing list for this program but had to unsubscribe due to constant emails, mostly about new seminars with other people pitching their software or author products. I agree with the others about saving your money. Once you pay for the course, there seems to be no limit to the other courses and products they want you to buy.


message 25: by Micah (last edited Aug 30, 2018 09:33AM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments It all reminds me of an old Jethro Tull song


Every day there's someone asking,
"What is there to do?
Should I love or should I fight?
Is it all the same to you?"
"No," I say, "I have the answer,
Proven to be true.
But if I were to share it with you,
You would stand to gain and I to lose."
Oh, I couldn't bear it, so I've got nothing to say
Nothing to say


... if there is a formula and it works for him so well, why would he charge people to learn it? He'd just use it and get rich off his writing rather than teaching everyone else to be his competitor.


message 26: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee Dolat | 91 comments Sadly, I see this all the time. When I was a young rookie, I got sucked into vanity publishing. I signed up for not just the free trial for "marketing tips and tricks" but the entire website which I was told over and over again by the many agents I've had at this vanity publishing company that it will "push me from no name to big name". They threw out names of big authors they've had shimmy through their doors before realizing the trap they're in.

There is no magic formula. There IS a hard to find and accomplish balance between the many hats you wear as an indie author. Marketing agent, designer, formatter, writer, artist, and many other hats we wear.

If I knew of any formulas for instant success, I certainly wouldn't be charging for them. Something I strongly believe in is that the success of one author does not minimize the success of the others. If one person starts reading it's a success.


SHAME on those using our vulnerability as indie authors to take what little money we have. SHAME on people making it a competition between authors.


message 27: by Frank (new)

Frank Kelso (frank_kelso) | 31 comments Heidi: While I agree with the comments in general, I want to know what you've done to promo your books before you spend more money elsewhere. I only have 2 novels out, and two on track to pub next month. Are you using Amazon's AMS? Are you using your KDP free days every 90-days. I just ran a back-to-back KDP Free weekends on one book. It boosted sales of both books, got new reviews for each, and bumped my "page-reads" on KU. This promo boosted me to #31 on Top-100 >classic>westerns. Learn to use AMS, put email sign-up in front and back of all your books. Let your books build your list with people who want to read what you write, not strangers who took your FREEBIE and maybe never read it.
If you have 4 books out, promote the heck out of them with AMS & KDP. I used ENT to promote 2 Free days & got 3,600+ Free downloads. The boost in Paid after really works for you.
Yeah, it's not Bookbub's 6,000, but it's 1/10th the cost, and I got in within 2 weeks of the time I wanted.


message 28: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee Dolat | 91 comments Frank wrote: "Heidi: While I agree with the comments in general, I want to know what you've done to promo your books before you spend more money elsewhere. I only have 2 novels out, and two on track to pub next ..."

That is GREAT information about the AMS and KDP combo! Thank you very much.


message 29: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Strickland (brstrickland) | 12 comments Lori-Ann wrote: "There's a lot of free information out there for promoting yourself, for gaining fans, for building email lists, and the list goes on. It's a lot to take in and it is overwhelming.

Before paying f..."


So helpful, thank you. It is all very confusing.


message 30: by H.E. (new)

H.E. Bulstrode (goodreadscomhebulstrode) | 84 comments Without naming any names, I've taken a close look at a number of these alleged 'bestselling' indie authors who offer paid courses on how to succeed like them, and have drawn a number of conclusions. Firstly, I asked myself the following basic question: if writing fiction is your number one passion and you're successful at it, why would you bother investing a great deal of time and effort in marketing online 'courses' and webinars about how to succeed, instead of getting on with writing your next book? Having looked at the publication backlist of the authors in question, it struck me that a couple of them had largely given up on writing fiction, and those who still did publish and push their books on Amazon, were not exactly enjoying stellar sales. The fact is, some folk have realised that selling hope, dreams, and some 'secret formula' to their realisation is an easier way to make a buck than writing and pushing their own books.

There is a lot of good advice for indie authors out there online, including in this group, that can be had for free, but if someone should dangle the prospect of the secret of success before you with a hefty price tag attached, the best thing you can do is run. Good luck to you all :-)


message 31: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 821 comments From what I know of Adam Houge, skip it. I didn't check to see what he is charging but I'm sure it's over priced. You can get the same information elsewhere. Marketing isn't that complicated. It's about consistency and experimentation to find what works for your books. Get the free Reader Magnet from Nick Stephenson then locate his Email Unplugged Marketing series and there it is. Neither one cost you a dime.

I will admit to buy Guerrilla Publishing by Derek Murphy of creativeindie, but I needed help. A lot of help and direction. It's a great course for a reasonable price. It's not slick like others, but it gets the message across. Nick goes into the marketing in a lot more detail, so it was an extension of what I learned in Derek's course and gave me more confidence is setting up an email funnel and marketing my book in that manner.

I will say in Derek's defense, he began his courses as he was spending tons of time answering all these questions on self publishing. His blog is geared to helping indie authors and he loves to help. Also, he shares his epic failures along with successes. He also offers a lot of free content.

Nick, like others, sees it as part of his total author business which keeps him able to write without a 9-5 job and raise a family. Most of those who get into developing courses do so because they see it as an extension of their writing business and a way of making more money. What we need to do is make sure the content is worth the price paid. Personally, I like free, but sometimes you need to find a common denominator and shut out all the hype. I went for less hype and great content which I can use over and over again.


message 32: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 821 comments Sherri wrote: "There is no formula, because nobody really knows what will be a "hit" or the next trend. You're better off writing and marketing your work the best you can. There's no magic formula for reaching an..."

If you look at Adam's 'books', most are less that 100 pages and don't really contain a lot of information. Several I've looked at are around 50 pages. Those aren't books, they're tracts being called books. You can write one in a weekend and publish it.

I also promised myself not to buy another course until I finished those I have already and I'm sticking to it. Like you, I also got sucked into a vanity press. Thanks, but I can do it myself other than the covers. Those I do pay for, $300 for e-book and print custom covers. (100covers). I can get my books printed through Ingram Spark for $49 as I use D2D for distribution and if needed, formatting. I do Amazon separate but use my own ISBNs. You can buy 100 ISBNs for less than $600 which will cover 20 books if you do all the formats including audio. That's $30 per book plus the cover. A heck of a lot cheaper than the $3000 for a vanity press per book which doesn't include any editing and marketing.


message 33: by Edmund (new)

Edmund Batara (soloflyte) | 44 comments Barbara wrote: "Lori-Ann wrote: "There's a lot of free information out there for promoting yourself, for gaining fans, for building email lists, and the list goes on. It's a lot to take in and it is overwhelming. ..."

True. Unfortunately, desperation feeds the money mill. Even came across a book ad which advocates hypnosis to enable authors to write more. Unbelievable.


message 34: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Hill (kevinrhill) | 102 comments Hello to the group. I was trying to look up Houge's pen names and books he's written outside of the Christian books. And I came across this thread. I wanted to chime in b/c I've taken the Fan Base Formula course. I felt the same way that many of you do about the instructor/author. Many of those feeling remain today. However, I will say that the course gives a detailed break down of Amazon, how to build an email list, and how to create lead magnets. Those aspects were invaluable for me and made the course worth the cost, which, btw, I was able to pay in installments. For me, being an action genre author, I wanted to see the titles Houge has published in genre fiction. That, in my opinion, would lend credibility to many of his publishing claims. But, I can't find any fiction titles attributed to him. Huh. Because they don't seem to be any, that makes me question his credentials. For me that ranks up there with Chris Fox saying, 'look, I can write a novel in 2 weeks and make it a best-seller.' Ah, yeah, under your name, with an established fanbase and major platform. 'Try to do it with a pen name.' That would be another story. Anyway ... I rant.


message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy Reade (amyreade) | 2 comments I recently finished listening to Adam Houge's presentation-cum-sales pitch and I thought that maybe I had finally found something solid that would help with steady-state sales. I've looked around to find reviews of Fan Base Formula and after considering all I've read, I've decided to keep on doing what I've been doing and not spend the money for the course. I know a lot of authors do side hustles that generate additional streams of income, but this particular side hustle (not just from Houge—from anyone) is one I feel preys on writers' dreams.

Unfortunately, this offer to attend a presentation-that-turns-into-an-unadvertised-hard-sell is one I've fallen for TWICE IN THE SAME WEEK from the same marketing expert. I will not be making that same mistake again (I'll make mistakes...just not that one) and I may even unsubscribe from the person's email list. I don't trust her as much as I did a week ago.

Thanks for all the considered comments on this thread.


message 36: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 821 comments My last comment on this thread. If you want an actual marketing course that is given by an actual marketing expert who has spent over 10 years solely in marking, Look at Tim Grahl. What he gives is all marketing and how he sets up the marketing for people who are writers. It doesn't come cheap, but the information is solid and works for fiction and non-fiction. If you only have money for one course, it's the one I'd choose.

If you need how to set up your platform, set up a funnel, write emails, then Nick Stephenson has the complete course for starting from scratch as does Derek Murphy . Derek is mostly Amazon, Nick is wide.


message 37: by Amy (new)

Amy Reade (amyreade) | 2 comments B.A. wrote: "My last comment on this thread. If you want an actual marketing course that is given by an actual marketing expert who has spent over 10 years solely in marking, Look at Tim Grahl. What he gives is..."

Hi, B.A. Thanks for the info. I do follow Tim Grahl and his advice is solid.


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