Writing a non-fiction book is the most important marketing strategies for professionals and experts.
A book that is written with purpose can serve your business like no other marketing vehicle out there.
Here are a few reasons to illustrate, how a book can help you meet your business goals:
1) A book is the ultimate brochure – it promotes your services and business and gets you FREE publicity. Most important of all, it gets you more ideal and high quality clients and it gets you also a lot of new referrals and more business – period!
2) It makes you stand out among your competitors – I like to tell my clients that the book is the ultimate way of “being heard” and “being seen”!
3) It makes you an Authority in your industry – professors in colleges are pressured to publish books to further their teaching careers. The phrase “publish or perish” means professors who do not publish books will lose their place and not advance in their faculty. This term is also being used in business now because business owners who publish a book are perceived differently from those who don’t.
4) It gives you new sources of income – you’ll get paid more for speaking engagements and you’ll have opportunities to sell your book at the back of the room, but if you play your cards right and turn your book into a digital training product, coaching and mentorship programs to boost your sales and substantially increase your revenues.
5) It helps you generate a new source of passive income – that can potentially be endless. Becoming a Bestselling author opens up new income streams that are easy to maintain and yet still brings in solid income that allows you to sustain yourself for years to come.
There are a large percentage of books published every year that have not made a single dime for the author. They are unknown to the majority of people out there. They have never been sold in bookstores in large quantities nor have they been sold in large quantities anywhere else!
With a little strategic marketing, you’ll be able to sell copies of your book, but with some focused AND strategic marketing, you can take that book to the top of the charts and change your financial future.
Even if you have published with an established publisher, it does not guarantee that you will become a bestseller. In fact, 95% of book writers sell less than 500 books even though they have a publisher and their books are in major bookstores!
There’s a recipe to becoming a bestselling author and it often steams to becoming a masterful marketer!
Becoming a Bestselling Author!
As I’ve said earlier, writing and publishing a book is one thing, but getting it to top the charts is another.
From what I’ve been able to observe and the extensive market research I’ve done there are a few specific ways you can become a bestselling author:
1. Luck – think Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy
2. Notoriety – think J.K. Rowling or Anthony Robbins – the simple fact of them publishing a new book almost guarantees it will shoot up the charts to #1.
3. Buy your way to the top – many Internet gurus have been known to buy massive quantities of their own book when it first comes out and force the book to the top of the chart.
4. Great writing – this is how many new bestsellers reach that coveted position.
5. Great marketing – some authors wrote a decent book, but the power-house marketing behind the launch is what propelled them to the top of the charts.
Other than the first way to become a bestselling author, I’d say that most of the other types of authors on the list become a bestseller by having a very clear and focused goal.
By that I mean that you set in your mind that your book will top the charts, you hold that vision and you take massive action to make that happen.
After reaching my initial goal of writing a book in 30 days (I actually accomplished this twice this year, but have yet to publish the first book I wrote (I’ll end up publishing the second book before the first). My second book is 200 pages long and I wrote it on weekends over 4 weeks). As I was working on the rough draft, I made the decision that I want this book to top the charts on Kindle and Amazon.
Why is it so important for me to become a Bestselling Author?
I’m already an international author (my first self-published book came out in 2002) and I’ve published 2,000-3,000 blog posts from two prior online magazines I used to own. I’m now ready to take my writing to the next level and step into the shoes of a chart topper.
Let’s face it, it’s an ultimate dream for most of us Authors – that and winning industry Awards. It’s like winning Olympic Gold for athletes or winning the Oscars for actors or for a singer to win a Grammy!
For the rest of your life, you’ll be recognized as someone who is unique, daring and talented.
I want to make it clear that becoming a bestselling author will require time, effort, sacrifice and a certain amount of financial investment – if you self-publish and take care of your own marketing. That said, the recognition is well worth it.
There are a lot of great advantages in topping the literary charts and that’s why I feel it’s so important to break down the process to understand the formula behind becoming a bestselling author.
The title of a bestselling author -which stays with you forever – just like being an Oscar winner – opens up incredible financial opportunities that include new income streams (when you turn your book into a product), more paid speaking engagements, radio and TV publicity, more business because you’ll have attracted new clients willing to pay for your services, hire fees and the list goes on.
The book sets you apart and really establishes you as THE Authority in your industry and being recognized as a bestselling author elevates you to new heights because you’ll have accomplished something few people will ever do!
How Many Books Do You Have To Sell To Be Considered A Bestselling Author on Amazon or NY Times?
First, the term “bestseller” can be a little loose. While most people refer to bestseller meaning NY Times Bestseller status, the bestseller claim is also made by someone who hits a variety of different lists, such as Amazon.com, BN.com, Business Week Bestseller list or ECPA list for Christian books (just to name a few).
Making the top of any of these lists indicates the book has positive sales traction but all equate to quite different sales volume since their rankings are determined uniquely. For example, in most cases it takes selling 9,000 copies or more, at the retail level, of a title in one week to make it to the top of the NY Times list while you can sell 1,094 or so in one day and hit the top on Amazon (examples can vary based on market conditions and overall sales volume, there is no “exact” formula). The general book industry believes that that Amazon accounts for about 30% of print sales, that means it likely takes around 300 copies per day to reach Amazon’s top five, depending on the day of the week and the time of year.
That said, bestsellers move a lot of books in a relatively short period of time.
How Many Books Do You Have To Sell To Be Considered A Bestselling Author on Kindle?
This is a harder one to pinpoint because it varies depending on the category you list your book under.
That said, it seems that if you average 30-55 Kindle books per day, you’ll easily hit the top of the charts in most non-competitive niches.
In personal transformation, which is a highly competitive niche, you’ll need to sell 300-500 books per day to hit the #1 spot.
The category you select is the MOST important factor in determine your potential to hitting the top of the charts on Kindle.
Amazon also helps a lot by placing your book in categories, you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of on your own!
Formula To Becoming A Bestselling Author:
The easiest way to become a bestselling author is to learn from someone who’s done it.
On a Mixergy interview, New York Times bestselling author Eric Ries, author of the The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, reveals the steps he took to reach the top of the charts! These lessons are base on selling a physical book, but you can apply them to a digital book as well:
1. Set &Focus On Your Goal To Become A Bestseller
I’ve shared that with you before, but it’s interesting to see it reiterated by a bestselling author. Most people never read books and the few that do read a handful of books. Lists like the New York Times Best Seller or Amazon Best Seller make it easy for people to figure out which books they should read next.
There are a few tricks to getting to the top of the chart:
a. All books are published on a Tuesday, because the NYT calculates best sellers as the books that sell the most from Tuesday-Saturday of each week.
b. People who pre-order books count as a book being sold on the first day (or first week.)
Knowing this you can see why it pays to do a lot of marketing before you ever publish your book. One of the best strategies to hit that #1 spot is to do a LOT of marketing to get as many pre-orders as possible.
Once you define your goal and your audience, it becomes much easier to reach your goal by properly targeting that ideal reader.
2. Skip Paying Speaking Gigs – Get More Book Orders! It’s interesting that Eric Ries would admit that it took him one year of preparation before he was able to reach his goal. During that time we focused on his goal of reaching the top of the bestselling charts and created a book marketing strategy to help him achieve that goal. For one year, Eric forfeited getting paid for events and speaking engagements and opted to get paid via book sales. He also gave up his very high consulting fees and opted again to receive orders for more books instead of money. He’d only do appearances in front of groups that could guarantee a certain amount of pre-sold books.
3. Build Your Tribe Of Raving Fans
Eric built the engagement with his audience very early on. He’s a firm believer in getting customers part of the conversation as companies and start-ups test out new ideas.
He used his own philosophy in his book by getting his potential readers as part of the conversation early on. He shared his ideas again and again via articles, blogs, interviews, and speaking events. He gave away everything well before he wrote a book about it. He didn’t covet his ideas, saving them for “the book” – too many authors horde their ideas and miss out on the opportunity to connect with their readers early on.Because he gave away a lot of a compelling content, he was able to get a book deal and become a bestseller fairly “easily”.
4. Attract As Many Sneezers As Possible
Malcolm Gladwell first introduced us to the influence Sneezer had on a brand in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Eric Ries is of the same belief and that’s why he’s strategically used the influence of early adapters to break down barriers in getting his message past gatekeepers. He had been blogging for 2 years before the book was published and he’d been a popular speaker for many years prior to that.
This is what Guy Kawasaki in his book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Bookwould call “building your platform”.
5. Get An Author’s Blog Or Author’s Site Up Early On
Like many successful authors, Eric had a dedicated promotional page for his book on his website. He took things to the next level to boost his sales by using that site to test different marketing offers for over one year to find out which concept enticed people to pre-order more books. He became obsessed with understand what influenced people in buying books.
Eric even tested and re-tested to determine which book cover would perform the best. This was a determining factor when it came to having leverage and say with his publisher.
He used the data from all of his testing as a way to entice visitors to buy his book – if they wanted to get the data from all his testing and see the behind the scenes of a successful book launch.
6. Virtual Video Book Tours & Book Launches Work Wonders
Like many traditional publishers, Eric’s suggested the city book tour to sell more books. Eric found that he got mixed feelings among people when he plugged the book.
Months ahead of his actual book launch, is to not rely on his book tour to sell books.
That’s why virtual video book tours are becoming so popular because there’s no travel time involve and because it’s the web, people don’t get as offended when you plug your book.
The cost of a virtual video book tours versus a traditional city book tour is vastly different and the reach you get by leveraging YouTube and other online promotional strategies out ways the old-fashion city-to-city book tours.
7. Get people to pay to hear you speak
This is perhaps one of the most powerful and underused strategies of them all! Eric tried the traditional book tour to increase his sales, but people didn’t like his more assertive approach when he suggested they pre-order his books. To solve this problem, Eric found a clever way to work around people’s resistance to being asked to buy his book. His solution and simple, clever and innovative — he asked event organizers to charge $25 for admission to hear him speak, and then provide the book for free (he would include these numbers as pre-sale orders).
Event organizers hated the idea and weren’t keen on asking people to pay to hear an author speak about his book. Eric didn’t back down because he knew that this strategy would guarantee pre-orders, turning his personal time into guaranteed book sales.
He was so passionate about the idea, that he would only agree to speak at events that were guaranteed to sell a certain number of books. Eric’s sweat spot was 250 books sold. If the organizer would charge $25 admission, and guarantee 250 attendees (i.e.: books sold), then Eric would pay his own flight out to the event.
He experimented with a few other clever marketing strategies. Sometimes he wouldn’t charge admission, but asked the event organizer to get sponsors to pay for the books. This actually allowed him to attend events, conferences, and meet-up groups that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford his regular speaking fees, since it was entirely feasible that a small group could move 250 books.
8. Social Media is not an instant magic pill
Social media works very well for some authors, but offers dismal results for others. Having your own blog early in the game is very important and of course you should add those social media sharing tools on your blog.
It’s essential that you populate your blog with great quality content so that you are able to build a growing list of potential book buyers.
That said, when it’s time to promote your book, those social media sharing site won’t necessarily guarantee sales, nor will they guarantee your posts or page goes viral.
Eric was convinced that building social media integration tools into his website would create book sales in a viral nature. The idea was that you could do campaigns to sell books within your own circle of friends, much like you would organize a mini-drive campaign to raise money for a charity race, donations, or Kickstarter project.
Eric set up the site so that you could get your own personal page for the campaign, import your contact list, and reach out to your community to get involved in the lean startup movement. In the end, Eric said it looked brilliant on paper, but got no traction whatsoever.
It’s a great idea in theory, but getting people to take action and take that many steps in order to help your book sales is a lot to ask.
9. Carefully choose your subtitle
The book’s subtitle should act like a sub-header of a good sales marketing copy. By that I mean that a sub-header should further explain the header. Both should contain the main keywords that will trigger a reaction among readers because they resonate with their pain.
It’s the same principle with a book’s title and subtitle. The subtitle should have keywords that trigger a reaction among readers because they resonate with their pain and the ultimate solution is for them to buy your book (of course)!
Eric Ries is an experienced business owner and even he admitted to haven struggled to find the right sub-title.
At first, Eric was CONVINCED he had the right tagline for the book: “The Lean Startup: The movement that is changing how new products are built and launched.” It turns out it did worse in testing than anything else they tried. He kept insisting they test again and again, and other subtitles always lead to more book sales. It turns out, Eric’s favourite subtitle didn’t have key words that would resonate with his audience, such as “innovation” or “entrepreneurship,” and that the term “movement” means different things to different people.
Also, none of his subtitles stated a direct benefit to the reader.
The subtitle they eventually settled on: “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.”
The reason why this subtitle works is because he has the main keywords that resonate with his ideal reader.
In order for a subtitle to work, it MUST absolutely include the key words and the direct statement of benefit to the reader.
10. Create a bundle that’s time limited
Eric copied the “LandRush” strategy from author of the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated), Tim Ferriss. The idea is that you create a limited-time promotion right before the book comes out, by finding partners who will offer free promotions in exchange for how many books you buy. For example: access to a free webinar if you buy 10 books, or a free speaking event with Eric if you buy 1,500 books.
Alas, Eric’s own “LandRush” strategy sort of bombed.
I’m not surprised. These type of promotions require a lot of leg work and in some cases book buyers have to sign-up on different lists to receive their bonuses and it can get confusing and messy.
Something Eric mentions a couple times in the interview is that if he had put all his eggs in one basket – the landrush promotion, the book tour, the social sharing integration tools, or any other strategies he was convinced would work – he would not have made the best seller list, because each didn’t work as he expected.
Overall, it illustrates how even good ideas will not guarantee results. That’s why it’s so important to keep testing to find out what works for your particular book and what resonates with the readers you’re looking to attract.
So which strategy worked the best at getting Eric book sales?
He found that directly asking his audience to simply buy the book was one of the best tactics that actually sold books.
There are many variations of Eric’s success story because the overall book promotion strategy is different from one author to another, but one thing is certain it’s that Eric didn’t put all his eggs in one basket and used a myriad of strategies to help him reach his goal.
What’s the take away?
In order to become a bestselling author, you first have to make the decision and then you have to be willing to do the work.
From reading Eric Ries’ formula, it’s clear there’s no such thing as “one winning formula” that’s cookie-cutter for everyone. As an author, you have to embrace marketing and that means you’ll have to embrace testing. It’s only when you keep trying that you figure out what works best for you and what resonates the best with your ideal audience.
This was an important post to write that took me hours to write and editing it, but I was determined to publish this because so many times online, people make you believe that being a bestselling author can happen overnight and it cannot.
Becoming a bestseller boils down to being a really great marketer!
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