The other day, in my article on business building strategies, I mentioned that I’d found one of the greatest examples of “open loop” in an email I’d ever seen.
Well I asked the author (none other than the legendary Paul Myers) if I could reprint it, and he said yes.
So here it is, one of the finest example of an “open loop” ever (The actual article or email is mighty fine reading to by the way)!:
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“Don’t see problems. See solutions.”
“Adapt or die.”
How many times have you heard those tired old cliches? They
sound great, but they’re not real helpful for most situations,
Let’s take a look at a real world example of those in action,
along with the missing ingredient that makes them useful. It’s
also a great case study in why you shouldn’t pay much attention
Amazon recently announced it’s new “Kindle Unlimited” program.
The basics: For under $10 a month, you can get access to any
and all of the books in their Kindle Select program. You get 10
at a time, and when you’re done, you just “return” the ones
you’ve finished (or won’t read) and download more.
Sounds great at first blush, at least for readers. A lot of the
authors I know are freaking out about it. Including people
who’ve never published for the Kindle.
The main concerns seem to be fear of downward pressure on the
prices of all digital products and lowered commissions for
items offered through the Kindle Select program.
The first is easy to understand. Wrong, but logical.
The second is just fear, but may end up being right.
This program has been described as “NetFlix for books.” That is
very likely more accurate than the folks using it understand.
To be included in the Kindle Select program, you have to give
Amazon an exclusive on the product. You can’t sell it anywhere
else, and they reserve the right to change the price at will.
That is a huge factor.
That rules out anyone who sells through any other digital
platform, and all the books coming through major publishing
houses. It also excludes authors who want to retain control of
the pricing and perception of their work.
In short, anything that has value based in being recent or in
very high demand is unlikely to be included in the program.
There are exceptions, which we’ll get to in a bit.
What you end up with is a lot of B- and C-grade products, and
things people would like to have read but won’t put ahead of
more current choices.
See why “NetFlix for books” is so appropriate?
For most indie authors, this won’t have much of an impact. For
one thing, they’re not all in the Select program. And, if you
are, you can opt a product out of it at any point. That means
lower commissions within certain price ranges, but it returns
more options at the same time.
The program opens some pretty big potential for the folks who
think carefully about the math, though.
Here’s how it works, as I understand it: Amazon assigns a
certain amount of money to be split among the people who
participate in the program. That’s currently set at $2 million
a month. The money is divided based on the number of books that
are downloaded and which are read at least 10% of the way
It does not appear to have anything to do with the absolute
length of the product, or the original price. This is all about
the value delivered to the end user.
So, where’s the opportunity here?
One of the exceptions I mentioned would be the case where
someone with massive market reach or reputation released a
short story through this option.
Stephen King comes to mind.
If King were to release a story at $2.99 through the Select
program, he’d sell a ton to folks who weren’t Unlimited
members. He’d get the higher commission associated with those
purchases, which would be roughly $2.10 per sale.
That’s more than many traditionally published authors get per
copy of a full-length print book.
It is also likely that a very big chunk of Kindle Unlimited
subscribers would download the story – and read it. That would
mean a healthy chunk of that $2 million pot would go to him. In
addition, it would likely bring him new readers who would turn
around and buy more of his books which aren’t in the program.
Seems like a solid return on the time to me.
Another exception would be the kind of focused traffic drive
that Jeff did recently for “Launch.” Whether you used the
Product Launch Formula or more traditional traffic systems, it
has the potential to achieve the same results.
That could also be another big payday. But, like the Stephen
King example, most folks don’t have the market clout to pull it
That’s where the “lemonade” part comes in.
Within a few days of the Unlimited program being announced, one
dude came up with a whole different perspective on it. Instead
of looking at it as a problem to be dealt with, he looked at
The question I imagine himself asking was: “How can I work with
this system in a legitimate way to tilt the numbers in my
His answer was a two-parter. The first element was to create
short, highly-focused content on trending or high-demand
topics. That makes it easier to get downloads, and the people
who grab them are more likely to open them. With short
products, the 10%+ completion target is easier to achieve.
If something is free and solves a problem or provides decent
entertainment, they’ll go looking for more. Which leads to the
second element: Create a series.
It would be very hard to sell chapters of a work of fiction
individually. Assuming the first chapter was good, and had a
proper cliff-hanger, it should be easy to get people to
download them in succession if they’re free.
They’re only committing to a single free chapter at a time. A
lot of people will view that as a bonus, rather than the
punitive view they’d take of paying for them as singles.
More downloads. More reads. A bigger slice of that pie.
Clever. And entirely legitimate.
For how-to content, this would follow pretty much the same
Let’s say you have a book that is 100 pages, with 10 chapters
that teach one specific thing each. Those chapters could easily
be turned into individual lessons. Now you have 10 different
products, each with the same value the whole book would
otherwise have, and with a higher likelihood of being opened
and read enough to qualify for payment.
When it comes to how-to stuff, the golden rule is simple: Show
someone how to get results quickly and with a minimum of time,
and they’ll keep coming back for more.
More downloads. More reads. A bigger slice of that pie.
Hey. That sounds familiar…
Note that when I say it’s legitimate, I don’t just mean “It
isn’t stealing.” In this scenario, everyone gets what they
want, as far as I can see.
The more quality products people download using their
Unlimited accounts, the more they value those accounts. In the
case of “how to” products, they’re going to associate the
solution they achieved with that membership. Amazon and their
customers both get what they want from the transaction.
The customer gets entertainment or useful education, and
Amazon improves retention. You get more money for the value you
provide. Everyone really does win.
Of course, if you’re promoting junk, you’ll get the bad
reviews needed to slow or stop further downloads.
Here’s the most interesting part of this idea: The guy is
already selling it.
Mind you, he’s undoubtedly got a lot of detail and technique in
it that’s not in this newsletter. He’s an experienced Kindle
publisher, and these concepts were clearly outlined in the
sales letter. I’m not giving away his product here.
The thing is, he’s selling a solution to something that’s just
a fear for most of his prospects so far. And, whether their
fears come true or not, this should result in greater profits
for the folks who use it.
The point of this is the perspective he applied to come up with
the concept. He didn’t panic or speculate or rant and complain.
He analyzed the system and looked for ways to work within it
Here’s the math again, as I understand it:
$2,000,000 divided by the total number of qualifying
downloads, times the number of downloads of your products that
qualify. equals your payment for the month.
You can’t control the first part of that. What you can do is
increase the number of downloads of your products and the
percentage of those that get read at least 10% of the way
through. Ideally, with this strategy, they get read all the way
through and encourage more downloads.
The rest is stuff that experienced Kindle publishers already
know about. Picking hot topics, generating good titles and
effective covers, high-converting descriptions, driving
traffic, and getting positive feedback (reviews) on the
There’s no mystery to this. Just determine the variables and
figure out what tilts them in your favor. Just like most other
parts of selling online.
This is a classic example of practical creativity in action.
Simple, elegant, and brilliant.
So, the first product recommendation I have for you is a
calculator. Doesn’t have to do more than the four basic
functions. You’ve almost certainly got one on the machine
you’re using to read this. Use it, often.
Start getting into the habit of identifying the variables in a
situation. That will not only help you figure out the path to
improving profits (or knowing when to toss a project or
campaign), it will help you to see more sides of any situation.
If you really want to hone these kinds of skills, check out my
power creativity system. It’s all about practical approaches to
getting results, rather than the usual “foofty” nonsense a lot
of such trainings involve.
This is creativity turned into a step-by-step system.
The other factor in this, and a lot of situations, is quality
If you’re one of the folks who’s looked at my “Killer Content”
course and been uncertain if you should get a copy, consider
how even small improvements can make a huge difference in the
profitability of a strategy like this. Or the effectiveness of
a subscription form. Or pretty much any other written content.
One gentleman commented on Facebook that it was more important
than people know, even for those who don’t write for a living.
Folks online judge you in large degree by the clarity of your
expression. If you seem like a sloppy thinker, they’re going to
form a lower opinion of you than you probably deserve.
Right or wrong, people assume a clear thinker is smarter than
someone who doesn’t express themselves well. That affects how,
or even if, they respond to you.
On top of that, getting into the habit of writing well forces
you to think things through more carefully. That is probably
the most important benefit of the process.
Give it a shot. I’m betting you’ll find it has happy side
effects you never expected. 😉
Did you spot it?
PS: you can find out more about Paul over at his website http://talkbiz.com – his “Need To Know” book is a real gem! Well worth printing out and going through with highlighter in hand!