June 26, 2023

Episode 26: Overcoming Copycats: An Interview with Author Kam Knight

Host Carma Spence chats with guest, author Kam Knight, about his author’s journey, including some tips from his book about memory.

Episode 26: Overcoming Copycats: An Interview with Author Kam Knight

by Carma Spence | The Author Switch Podcast


In this episode of The Author Switch Podcast, I talk with author Kam Knight. He discusses his journey from being an accountant and computer programmer to becoming a successful author of books on mental performance. He shares his experiences with plagiarism and how he overcame negative reviews and self-doubt. The episode ends with Kam sharing a couple of memory techniques.

Recap & Takeaways

  • 02:32 Kam’s accidental Author’s Journey
  • 04:55 Coping with negative feedback, self-doubt, and his experience with the launch of Kindle.
  • 09:22 Overcoming obstacles to writing with Kindle publishing.
  • 11:38 Plagiarism led to marketing efforts
  • 25:38 Active engagement improves memory and interaction key.

Transcript for Episode 26: Overcoming Copycats: An Interview with Author Kam Knight

You get that one bad review, it can really be crushing, especially when you’re a new or aspiring author. And today’s guest has had that experience, but he bounced back. Stay tuned and listened to his story. It’s pretty amazing.

Hey, just a heads up, this episode of The Author Switch was recorded back in 2021 before the great crash. That’s when my computer crashed, not once, but twice in a row, and then an external hard drive crashed, and I lost all but two interviews that I had recorded. I had a year’s worth of episodes recorded and only two survived.

This is the first one that I’m going to be airing, and it is with a very interesting author who has an interesting story to tell.

Hello and welcome to The Author Switch, the podcast dedicated to helping new and aspiring authors turn on the Author Switch to success in their minds. Today’s guest is Kam Knight. He is a coach, writer, and author of several bestselling books in the area of mental performance such as memory, concentration, and predictivity.

He’s dedicated the last 15 years of his life, to understanding the secrets of the mind and how to optimize its performance. When he’s not writing, he’s globe-trotting, having traveled to nearly 100 countries around the world,

Welcome to The Author Switch, Kam. No, that makes it sound like it’s a switch cam.

How are you doing Carma? I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

CS: It’s good to have you. So, Tell us a little bit about your author journey. How did you decide to become an author? Because you’ve written quite a few books.

KK: Yeah, so my journey is kind of interesting, but I suspect it’s not much different from many people’s journeys. Prior to becoming an author, I was an accountant and a computer programmer. So I was a successful accountant and doing programming at the same time. And then at a certain point, I had an itch to write.

It was an overpowering itch. That I couldn’t resist, and it was weird. I didn’t know why this itch was there because I was never a writer, nor did I like writing, in fact, subjects such as English and writing and grammar. I was terrible at school, so I had no business writing a book, but for one reason or another, I had this overpowering itch.

Like I said, I couldn’t resist, so I followed it. And over the years, you know, I just kept at it and my writing got better, and as my writing got better, so did my content as, and as my content got better, I started putting it into a book. And what’s actually interesting is that at the time there wasn’t really self-publishing.

I mean there was, but it was, it’s not quite like it is right now. Yeah. And when Amazon. Kind of first came out with the Kindle. They were just in need of people to submit books to them, and I submitted a few chapters. And I took my main book that I wrote. I broke it up into smaller books and I submitted it and it was kind of interesting.

Surprisingly it did well. I think it was because at the time if you wanted a book on my topic, mine was the only one available. But I didn’t, you know, use that as an excuse.

CS: What’s the topic?

KK: I had a book I called The Mind Tools. So it was about different tools that a person can use to kind of improve their performance in life. And they were based on tools that really helped me. And three of the tools that I really, really loved were self-talk, visualization, and goal-setting. So I took those chapters from the book and made them standalone books. There were many books. I put them up on Amazon and luckily it got traction.

In fact, it got some positive reviews as well to the point where I was like, wow, people like my work. And so that really kind of is what sparked my author career.

CS: That’s cool. So you start off with a main book. Did that get published as a whole?

KK: No. So what happened is, that I started off with this main book called Mind Tools and I spent a lot of time on it. I spent at least a good two years, a part of it while I was working and a lot of part of it when I wasn’t working. And, you know, I was very disciplined. I would get up in the morning and I would write and I’d try to put it together. And then once I finally finished, I had a few people that knew me, and I had them read it. And a couple of people said, wow, it’s a really good book. It’s great. But my roommate, he said that it wasn’t a good book. And I asked him, well if you paid for the book, would you think that you got some value? And he said, no. And I don’t know why his opinion mattered so much, but it crushed me.

Like it, it really affected me and I kind of like just pushed the book to the side. I didn’t wanna think about it. I didn’t wanna admit to admit, the fact that I wrote spent so many years writing it, and for about a year and a half, I didn’t even tell anybody I wrote it. Not only that, what’s really interesting, I was so embarrassed by it that I never really talked about it, until like 10 years later.  I had totally forgotten that that’s how my career started. I wrote this one main book and then I didn’t get a couple, couple people that didn’t like it, and I just wanted to sweep it on the rug. That’s when, about a year and a half later, Amazon released the Kindle and they were trying to build up their library.  So I just figure, hey, why not try to put a couple of these chapters up as many books and just see how they do.

CS: You know, it’s, it’s really too bad the way that happens. And for example, with my latest book, the Second Edition of Home Sweet Homepage, most people like it. Most people love it. And every once in a while, as a person goes, nyah, nyah, nyah. It’s like you just have to, it’s hard because this is your baby. It’s your like little mind baby. You have to just not listen to that. You have to listen to all the good things that people say. Yeah. And you have to look for the good things that people say. So I’m sorry that happened to you.

KK: Yeah. And it wasn’t my friend’s fault and it wasn’t cuz it wasn’t just him and another good friend. He, they weren’t your readers, they weren’t your ideal readers. That’s just the problem. Yeah. And I think a person who. Overlooks a lot of positive feedback, and positive reviews, and gets affected by a few negative ones.

I really believe there’s a, it’s a lot more of an issue of what’s going on internally. Yeah. A lot of like insecurity, um, caring about what other people think. Uh, putting too much value in all of that stuff. And you know, I was guilty of all that. Yeah. And so becoming a successful author was not just about becoming a better writer, but also overcoming a lot of these inner turmoils and insecurities that aren’t always easy.

You know, you can’t just like technique yourself out of some of these things.

CS: And it probably didn’t help that you didn’t have the background. Yes. I mean, in my case, I’ve been a writer since I was like four years old. I’ve had my fifth-grade teacher tell me, you should go, go be a writer. So when, when I get those mind goblins, cuz I get them too.

I can just fall back on. Okay. I’ve been told I’m a good writer since I was a little kid. I’m just having a mind goblin. Yeah, you didn’t have that, so, and you had to find another tool.

KK: And that’s kind of crazy for me to hear that aspect because for me, a lot of the insecurities or resistance I had to writing and putting my work out there and then promoting was because a lot of it had to do with, I didn’t have to background in writing, but it’s kind of interesting to hear your side that you did have it and since four.

Four years old. You’ve been told you’re a good writer, but still, there were some blocks and resistance that came up. That’s interesting.

CS: Well, we all ha we all get mind goblins. We all do.

KK: I like that term. Mind goblin.

CS: It’s par for the course. So how did you overcome that? What finally helped you overcome because you obviously overcame it because I’ve seen your media kit.

KK: Yeah. You have a few titles under your belt now. Yeah. Well, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a short process and it wasn’t this one thing that helped me. I overcome it. It took like I would say well over half a decade and even longer to really get over all the different pieces and facets of it.

So the first step or the first part of me getting over it. As I mentioned, when Amazon first came out with the Kindle, Kindle was a very new thing. I remember at the time everyone was saying nobody’s gonna want digital books, and people were trying to sway me against it. But like I said, I took a couple of chapters in my book, the chapters that I really liked, and the chapters that were the reason why I wanted to write that book in the first place.

I separated them out and created them as many books. Created a separate title cover and then put it on Amazon. And what was interesting at that time is you didn’t have to do a lot of marketing. If somebody at the time, if a person wanted a book, On the topic I wrote about, mine was the only one available.

So like that was just, that helps. That helps a lot. So I got a lot of sales, not crazy sales or bestseller sales, but enough sales for not doing anything. And then I started getting feedback like people would post reviews, saying how they liked it. And what was also interesting is I had like some big name Amazon reviewers, you know, the guys who have that, Hall of Fame tag, reviewing one of my books and saying good things about it. And so that helped me realize that I have some insights or I have something that’s worthwhile or something that others aren’t saying. So that helped. And so I started my writing journey, writing shorter books, 30, 40 pages long and just putting it out there and seeing if it took or not. And obviously, it wasn’t always positive reviews. But for the most part, it was. And then when I would get those negative reviews, it was like really like soul-crushing. Like it was really damaging.

CS: Oh, I know.

KK: I talked about. And it wasn’t like they were commenting on my book. I felt like they were commenting on me. And…

CS: That’s what it feels like. It’s like they comment on your book and it’s like they’re telling you that you’re wrong. You’re horrible. It’s because you’ve got a sentence wrong or something.

KK: Yeah. And so what I would do is I would look at the reviews that people left, and then update my book to not have that. And so I would update it. My books would get bigger and it would get longer. Over time, my books grew as I grew and I learned more. And then as my sales grew, I got more confidence in my material.

And then an interesting thing happened, so about like eight years ago, more and more people started realizing the lucrativeness of Amazon, especially a lot of internet marketers. And they started coming into the thing and you know, these guys don’t just create content to make money. They wanna make money by telling people to do this too.

So then they started selling courses on how to be an author and make and retire, or make passive income on Amazon. But the problem is a lot of people aren’t authors. So what they wanna do is trying to convince them how they can write a book very easily. And one of the ways they did that, but was telling them, look at other books.

You know, look at the outlines of other books. And essentially what they were telling people was just to pretty much copy other people’s works. And that’s what started happening. There was a whole breed of opportunists on Amazon whose intention wasn’t trying to help people or write something because they’re passionate about it.

They were strictly trying to make money. And so it was maximize profit with the least effort. So what they would do, and that’s how what, and what a lot of these courses taught was, look at books that are doing well. Take what they’re saying, copy their outline, and more or less, You know, republish it.

And then they would, some of them would even teach these guys how to steal your rankings. So that’s what started happening to me. My books were being plagiarized. I was noticing my sales sinking and somebody else’s book, doing well with a similar title. Almost like similar content. Like I can’t tell you how many mind-mapping books on Amazon were taken from the format and outline that I put together.

So prior to that, I was like, okay, I am doing fairly comfortable. I don’t need to be a bestseller. I don’t need so much attention on me. I’m doing well, making the money I am without putting in too much marketing. But then when this started happening, I needed to take action and figure something out.

So I started improving my writing. I was really focused on, offering something the others weren’t. So maybe they could copy me, but I would improve my writing, so my writing was better. Or I was always constantly improving my content and my delivery to always stay ahead of the curve. And that was helping, but, When it comes down to money, people are kind of malicious and they’ll do anything. And I was getting some really malicious reviews on my books where it was very clear that there was ill intent to damage my sales and credibility so some other authors could improve theirs. And as much as I tried to fight it by getting people I would know or getting my readers to post reviews, there was a certain point where I, I just couldn’t, I needed to like actually, get and start marketing.

I couldn’t rely on the free traffic I was getting from Amazon. And that was a big, big step for me. And I went through several years of resistance doing it and doing a lot of inner work. Trying to gain confidence that my information was good enough, joining different programs that help people market themselves and just being around and building a community where people were doing well and excelling, and as I saw them doing well and excelling, and I’m like, well, you’re not much different than me. Maybe in fact my content might even be a little bit better. And if you’re not afraid to put yourself out there, then I shouldn’t either.

So it was like a slow process. And, and you know, the more I did it, uh, the more I put myself out there, the easier it got. But it wasn’t always like I put myself out there and I gained that skill and it was out to the next. Sometimes I put myself out there, I’d gain a lot of success or a lot of positive feedback, and then I would think like, okay, I made it so I stopped putting in the effort and I realized I my skills started sliding. So I went through a period where it was a lot of like put a bunch of effort to take five steps forward. And then I was moving four steps back, five steps forward, four steps back, and then sometimes you’re not aware of that pattern.

And I wasn’t, I was, I didn’t realize I was doing that. Once I became aware of it, I’m like, okay, I can’t be doing this. And so now it’s like just showing up consistently. And being confident in the work. And over the years I’ve developed my writing skills so people actually like it. And it doesn’t matter if people like the material, if somebody can say, you know, it was so easy to read, then I know I’ve done my job.

CS: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting what you said earlier about, the plagiarizing because you know, one of the techniques that I actually teach people , when they’re writing their own books is to look at other people’s table of contents. Yeah. But you don’t copy their, you look at their table of contents and see, okay, what are all these, all these other books are containing so you understand this is the kind of content I need to cover so that I’m not missing anything. But you don’t copy it verbatim. I mean, that’s just, that’s just wrong.

KK: It, it is crazy. So a lot of people teach that, and I think it’s a good technique to actually go out and see what’s out there. Just to open your mind, because no one person could, yeah, know everything about a topic and it helps to see what others have done.

But some of these people, they were literally just like copying that content. And there was one guy, who copied my I, so initially I did. I, when I initially got into publishing, my stuff wasn’t edited and proofread. I was kind of like going, just trying to see where this would go. I wasn’t very confident that I wanted to be an author or could be an author.

And so I had some typos in my outline.

CS: Oh no.

KK: And then one of the guys who copied me, Copied my outline with the typos, so I knew, oh my Gosh, they got the source from me. Cause they misspelled the word exactly as I did in the exact area and all of that. And, and then, and so maybe the, the actual body would’ve been a little bit different. But definitely the outline was the same, but sometimes even the body was the same. They were using the same examples and same analogies as me.

CS: I know that Amazon has gotten smart to that. Because there was a time where people would use P L R content, private label rights content. And now they’ve actually gotten it that if you try to do that, they can detect it. If someone else had already published it and they go, okay, this is already published, you can’t publish it. So no one can do that again. But it didn’t help you then.

KK: Yeah, that didn’t help me then. But that doesn’t help when they just changed the words because, and the content is the same, and I still have that. Like even recently, somebody copied a speed reading book of mine. Same outline as mine, and they’re teaching the same techniques, but they’re using their own words. And so their algorithm doesn’t catch that. And not only does it not catch it, but Amazon doesn’t actually even see it as plagiarism.

And I’ve contacted them about it several times when it’s happened, and they’re pretty much saying it’s not plagiarism because it’s the expression in their own words.

CS: Oh no.

KK: But it is, and the law, if it’s a derivative work without them giving you credit. And with that, that kind of stuff comes into play if you hire a lawyer and go after them.

But sometimes it’s not worth it because some of these guys aren’t making a lot of money, so you can’t really get much. But they do do damage. Like I get reviews that are just, it’s like somebody sat down. And put a lot of effort just to do whatever they can to make sure they don’t buy this book that, that I put up.

So I went through a lot of that, a lot of anger from that, a lot of frustration. And then at a certain time I a point I realized that this is kind of the way things are. And not to get worked up about it, because anytime there’s a product or service and people are making money off of it, somebody’s gonna come and try to copy it and take away. Exactly.

More pressure. It’s just gonna happen. And sometimes people are gonna be a little, um, underhanded about it. And it’s just the way it is. And the trick is to constantly be improving. And I like what Elon Musk says is the speed of innovation. Exactly. So by tie to copy your stuff, you’ve already got something better out.

CS: I mean, it’s like a lot of those sharing sites. I’ve found my books on sharing sites where people can just download my books for free. Like really? Yeah. Okay. And you can’t get them to stop. You can’t get them to stop. So it is what it is and you just hope that people are honest and buy it.

KK: One way to take advantage of that is to have links to lead magnets or freebies in your book. So if somebody does read it for free and they like it, they will give you your email to get your lead magnet or freebie. That’s true. And in some way it’s kind of like free marketing, but Yeah. It helps have a system in place.

CS: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Well, I’m glad that you were able to get over the mind goblins that plagued you because it looks like you’ve got some really good content out there that people should be buying your stuff, not the copiers.

KK: Thank you very much.

CS: So if someone wanted to learn more about you and your library of books, where would they go?

KK: Yeah, so they can go to MindLilly.com. And they can check out my entire library. Right under the area of mental performance such as memory, concentration, speed reading, and other areas to improve the enhancement of our mind. And I just released a book titled Everyday Memory, and I think people will find it really fantastic.

It’s a very different look at memory that goes against traditional , teachings that tended to be very complicated. And again, they can get that information at either MindLily.com or they can go on Amazon and just type in Everyday Memory.

CS: Everyday Memory. Can you give us one little tidbit about memory?

I can, yeah. The most important tidbit I could tell people or teach people is to not rely on their natural mental processes to remember information. That’s because as humans, we forget as much as 80% of what we hear, see, and learn within a few hours of hearing, seeing, and learning it. So that’s not within the first few months, weeks, or even days, but within the first few hours.

But what’s more is that, most of us rely on our memory to remember much more than that. So we’ll come across a great idea, important instructions, or a painfully obvious fact, and think that it’s just too great, too important and too obvious to forget. And sure enough, we’ll forget. Then we’ll do it again.

We’ll come across an even greater idea or more important instruction and think that this time it’s even more important and obvious to forget. And sure enough, we’ll forget again. And not only do we forget that thought or idea, but we forget that we had one in the first place. We forget that we forgot.

It’s as if we never received it. And it’s kind of sad because many of us live our lives like this, constantly forgetting important information and so we’re doing the same things over and over and making the same mistakes and over and over, and really comes down to just forgetting.

CS: Exactly. It’s like that safe place that I put things in. And I don’t know where that safe place is. ‘Cause I forgot.

KK: Exactly. Exactly. And it’s kind of a tragedy because you know, a person can spend all this time reading a book, listening to a lecture, or learning a life lesson. But unless they do something to record it, they can forget it as if they never read the book, listened to the lecture or learned that life lesson. And it’s kind of sad.

CS: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got reams of notes and you have to go back and you read them and you’re like, gee, I don’t even remember writing that.

KK: Exactly. Exactly. And think about if you didn’t write it, you wouldn’t even remember it, you wouldn’t even have recollection that that information came across.

CS: Exactly. And I actually have a very good, because, Photographic memory, runs in my family. So I actually have a better-than-average memory and I still forget a lot.

KK: Yeah. So I mean, it, it’s actually cool that you have a photographic memory, and so you tend to just, if you’re in an experience, it’ll just, just get burned or stick, stick in your brain?

CS: If I, if I interact with something. I have a, like some sort of an emotional or physical experience with information, I’m more likely to remember it.

KK: Okay.

CS: But my father would literally have a, a photo. I mean, you could ask him a question and if he didn’t know the answer itself, he could go to his library, pick up the book and open up to the page where the information was.

KK: Really.

CS: It was like crazy. It was amazing. And my uncle, you could read to he, this is how we got through college, cuz he had dyslexia. Dyslexia so bad that he couldn’t read. So his wife read to him and that’s how he got through college.

KK: Really?

CS: So, yeah, I’m not that good. Like, I edited a newsletter for years and I would like, someone would go, oh, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, oh yeah, that was in this issue because I had interacted with that information.

KK: Yeah, with that information.

CS: Yeah.

KK: So, well that’s kind of segue ways into another technique or another thing we can talk about. One of the most important ways to actually remember is to take action and interact with information. So a lot of times we think we need to read or hear or passively watch something, but passively reading, hearing and watching is great for experiencing something, but it’s not so great for memory. In order to improve memory in, we have to be active with it in some ways, and using a memory technique is a form of being active, but interacting the way you have described or taking action on the information is even better.

In fact, it is said that we remember as much as 90% of what we do, 50% of what we see, and only 20% of what we read or hear. So it’s all about taking action on and interacting and engaging with that information. And that’s how memory improves. But that’s not always the case for everybody, which is why there are other techniques that they can use to really reinforce And so solidify the information.

CS: So, pick up a copy of Everyday Memory.

KK: Yes.

CS: By Kam Knight.

KK: By Kam Knight.

CS: Exactly. Well, thank you so much for joining us on The Author Switch.

KK: Thank you very much, Carma. It was fantastic.

CS: Awesome. Well, this is the end of this episode of The Author Switch. This is your host, Carma Spence, signing off. Ciao for now.

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The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. Learn more about the show and where it is available on its page.