7 Lessons Learned From Moving 1,000,000 Non-Fiction Books
Here’s the truth: we’ve screwed up a lot.
And I don’t want you to make the mistakes we have.
So, I’m writing this post to share some of the key lessons we’ve learned in the past 15 months working with 100+ authors and moving more than 1,000,000 books.
My hope is you read this and profit from what we’ve done (both right and wrong).
Now, I’m thrilled to say our clients have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars from their books and every launch has been a success. However, we’re always looking at ways to improve, and it’s good to reflect on what we could have done better.
So, in this article, I’ll share what we’ve learned as a company and how we continually optimize our book marketing campaigns to get bigger and better results.
Take these 10 short strategies on board, apply them to your own marketing efforts.
Enjoy the list,
Austin G. Netzley
Founder, Epic Launch
#1 The Launch Starts Months in Advance
Trying to publish, promote, and sell your book all in a 30 day window is crazy.
Believe me, we’ve done it.
With the dozens of moving pieces inside a book launch. From editorial reviews to editing, from cover design to building your launch team, and everything else in between.
Attempting to do it all in a compressed window is one of the biggest mistakes we see authors make.
It can be done, sure. But, it’s stressful and you’ll inevitably see diminished results.
Take your launch seriously. Give yourself at least 45 days, ideally 60.
The vast majority of the work will be done in advance of “launch day”, so how we usually like to work is by selecting a launch date, then working backwards creating milestones as we go.
If you do this, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done, by when, and by who. It makes the whole process a lot easier, and it means on your big day, you’ll simply sit back and reap the results.
#2 Writing Your Book Is The Easy Part
It might sound strange to say, but writing your book is actually the easy part.
It might not seem that way when you’re hunched over your keyboard, but once the book is done, you’re just getting started.
You see, it’s getting harder and harder to sell your book these days.
With so much competition, it’s becoming difficult to stand out, grab attention and convince someone to choose your book.
With the explosive growth in self-publishing, the days of “publish and profit” are well and truly dead. Which means, nowadays, it’s more important than ever to have a well thought out, carefully crafted book marketing campaign.
Although you might not view yourself as a marketer or salesperson, it’s critically important you start to think like a marketer. Because, if you don’t sell your book, nobody will even know it exists… let alone buy it.
We see this with authors all the time, they finish their book and think that the job is done.
Time to watch the fame and fortune roll in!
And, of course, nothing happens. Crickets.
All that hard work writing and publishing your book, forgetting the critical element:
To profit… you have to promote!
So, get thinking about how you will market and sell your book. Study how others have done it, talk to successful authors, speak to marketers, and create a plan to sell your book.
#3 Validation Can Save Your Skin
Just because you love your topic, doesn’t meant anyone else will.
Trying to force a book YOU wanted to write down the public’s throat is a bad idea.
Chances are, they’re just not going to swallow it.
So, it’s critical to validate your book before you start writing it. You’ll often be surprised that the interest for your book isn’t there. Or maybe it’s just luke-warm? When really, what you want is a passionate, hungry market.
Now this begs the question, how do you validate your book?
Here’s some quick and easy ways.
- Research the market. Are there competing books that are selling? If yes, that’s great, you can probably tap into this passion. If not, be wary, very wary. It’s difficult to create a need… much easier to simply fill one.
- Ask your audience what they want. Simply send a short email or survey to your list (or Facebook audience, or anything else).
- Run some very low budget ads on Facebook with different title ideas to see what gets the highest “click through rate” and the lowest “cost per click.”
You can validate a book idea in just a few hours and potentially save months of time writing something that is going to be an uphill battle to sell.
#4 Reviews Matter…
Reviews are critically important to the success of your book.
Here’s a quick primer on why:
- They give you instant social proof…
- They handle your prospects potential objections…
- Amazon rewards books with high quality reviews by sending you more organic traffic….
- Reviews give you invaluable feedback on what your readers liked and disliked (sometimes these can be brutally honest, but it’s worth it’s weight in gold)
However, the big issue is getting reviews is not easy.
First things first, you cannot manipulate the Amazon review system. So don’t try it. They’ll shut your account down without a moment’s hesitation.
So, no buying reviews, no fake reviews, don’t set up and use multiple accounts, actually a good rule of thumb is this… if you think you’re doing something shady, stop it.
Okay, Austin that’s great… so how do I get reviews?
Well, if you’re creative, plan ahead and are prepared, you can get them easily.
How we do it for clients is as follows:
- Create a “Launch Team” and leverage this close-knit group to secure the initial reviews you need (you can click here to learn more about Book Launch Teams).
- Add a review request inside your eBook. Provide readers with a direct link to your Amazon page where they can leave a review if they enjoyed the book (Note: do not incentivize them to leave a positive review. Against the terms and conditions).
#5 #1 Bestseller Status DOES Still Matter
Over the past few months there’s been some kickback against whether being a #1 bestseller author matters or not.
And I have to say, I understand 100% where this argument is coming from. Because yes, there are some authors who manipulate the charts, go into a deep sub-category of Amazon and sell a couple of dozen books and claim their #1 bestseller status.
It’s an unfortunate truth.
However, they will never be able to capitalize on this claim, because their books tend to be low quality, pretty much zero content, and with absolutely no long term value to the market.
Now, the #1 bestseller status does still matter when you’re producing quality, professional grade books that solve problems, provide value and have a proud author standing behind them.
So why does it matter? Well, nothing opens doors like being a published author.
And when you have the #1 bestseller stamp, plus a quality book, it becomes the most powerful marketing “tool” in the world. It gives you instant credibility. Instant authority.
This is how we show authors how to earn 6-figures from their books.
It’s about leveraging their book.
However, I’ll say it again, just so it sinks in… this only works if your book is quality.
Just claiming to be a #1 bestseller is not enough. People will see right through your BS.
#6 Less Than 1% of Authors Have A Sales Strategy
It’s called best seller, not best writer.
However, 99% of authors focus on the writing piece.
The 1% who focus on the selling, the marketing, the promotion, they’re the 6 figure earners.
They’re the authors who build a business from their book, the ones who create ongoing success which frees them from their jobs and allows them to focus fulltime on their writing.
You must develop a sales strategy. Some key questions to ask yourself:
- Why would a prospect buy my book vs. another author’s?
- Where does my target audience hangout and how can I get in front of them?
- What are my prospects deep desires and what pains do they have?
- How can I get traffic to my book before I even publish it?
- How can I create a viral buzz around my book?
- What advertising platform is best for me?
There’s dozens upon dozens of more questions, but those will get you started.
If you don’t have a sales strategy, it’s going to be very tough to sell your book. I call this strategy “publishing and praying”, which I’m sure you’ll agree isn’t really a strategy at all.
Define your sales plan in advance. It will pay off big time.
#7 You Must Leverage And Capitalize On Your Success
Books don’t make money.
Well, they don’t make much money.
At $1-2 profit per book, and with the average author only selling 250 books… there isn’t much to play with.
However, if you flip the model on it’s head, and stop focusing on the short-term quick wins from royalties, you’ll see how to generate tens of thousands of dollars from your book.
It comes down to one thing: leverage.
The big bucks from your book will come from how you leverage your book and capitalize on your success.
This is how we’ve been able to earn our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of the income came from book sales, but the majority came from other avenues.
Here’s some income streams you can look at exploring. Take note how each of these is done by leveraging your book into bigger success:
- Create a course or program that teaches the lessons from your book in a step-by-step, way.
- Write for major media outlets, expanding on the topic of your book.
- Launch a consulting, coaching or service business based on your area of expertise. And, if you already have a business, the credibility from your book will allow you to raise your prices with no resistance from your buyers.
- Speak at industry events, sharing your message live from stage (plus after your speech, you’ll often be allowed to sell your book, program, coaching or service).
- Run affiliate promotions to your audience for related products or services.
- Launch a joint venture program with another influencer in your field and combine forces to either: create a new program, host a live event, write a new book, or anything else.
THIS is how you earn 6 figures as an author.
Best of all, it’s controllable, predictable and sustainable. If you focus on just book sales, you lose a lot of control and are at the whim of the market.
Think of all the biggest name authors, (excluding a few fiction writers), nearly every single one of them uses one of the above strategies.
You should be doing the same.
If you’re looking for some inspiration or ideas on how to use your book to grow your business, download my free case study.
In this case study, I reveal:
- How I turned my “hobby” into $106,127 in 30 days by launching a #1 international bestseller.
- Five common mistakes that are preventing you from achieving a successful book launch, scaling your business to 6 figures or beyond and becoming the lead authority in your space.
- The exact step-by-step process that has generated 16,000 email leads in 10 days, produced multiple #1 bestsellers and created 7-figure entrepreneurs.