How I'm Building My Book Business Right Now 📚
Hi, I'm a "bestselling author" 👋 That means two things:
- I publish books
- I sell books (lots)
Only... I haven't published a new book in a year and a half.
... and I mostly sold it last year 😬 #awkward
Don't get me wrong, I am a bestselling author and I'm glad I published Survive and Thrive when I did!
I sold more than a thousand copies of Survive and Thrive in the first year it was available (by comparison, 66% of books from the top 10 publishers sell less than 1,000 copies in their first year)—but I have one more #awkward secret to share:
I have yet to earn a dollar's profit from my first book.
As you can imagine, I was incredibly frustrated by that bad math at first!
I spent countless hours and plenty of money to create my first book, and if you just look at book royalties, it's a very bad deal, but...
Now I'm a bestselling author. The content and credibility from my first book has led to over one hundred thousand dollars in revenue from other products (it helped me sell two companies for six figures each, too).
How a Book Really Builds Your Business
You need to understand the goal of a book in your business, if you're going to write one.
A book is one of the best Gateway Products (although one of the more difficult Gateway Products to produce well). Your goal with a Gateway Product is create customers, not cash.
I first learned this from Michael Hyatt, who referred to his half-dozen perennial bestsellers as "lead generators" when I worked with him.
My goal is to get as many of my target customers (prospects) to buy my book as possible—which often means charging as little as possible. My focus then becomes converting those book buyers to email subscribers (leads).
Once book buyers become subscribers, my goal is to earn their trust so that many become paying customers in my Thrive School PRO Membership or Seven Figure School Accelerator.
How I'm Planning to Publish My Books (From Now On)
Thankfully, today's world features incredible options to publish a book that didn't exist even a few decades ago! You have three main options:
- Traditional Publishing. Work with a literary agent to submit your book proposal to major publishers (like Penguin Random House, Pearson, or HarperCollins). Most likely get rejected by many publishers, but get paid an advance with an international marketing plan if you get a contract.
- Self-Publishing. Write your book, edit your book, format your book, and then upload your completed manuscript to Amazon and other outlets for immediate on-demand publication in ebook and print.
- Hybrid Publishing. Write your book, edit your book, and pay a publishing company to format and distribute your book—often with some sales support.
Depending on who you ask, hybrid publishing is either the best of both worlds or the worst of both worlds. I was hopeful, but after my experience with Morgan James Publishing... I'm going to self-publish my next book 🤓
For me, most of that decision comes down to data. To use a book to fuel flywheel growth, you need access to timely data and complete advertising control. With a publisher (traditional or hybrid), the data you have is typically several months old.
Melissa Wilson, an experienced author and publisher in my accelerator program, is a major fan of using a book series to sell more books to repeat buyers. That's definitely something I want to pursue, but here's where I'm going to start:
Always Be Teaching: 50 Illustrated Insights on How to Grow Your Business by Creating Content Online
This book is beautiful, and I mostly give it away for free—but I would love to publish this as an illustrated hardcover book and also an ebook version!
It's a coffee table book worth flipping through or reading cover-to-cover because each insight was initially an independent, illustrated article I wrote for Platform University that I edited to include in this book (after I picked my favorite fifty lessons to include).
This will actually be the next book I publish, because it is already done besides self-publishing on Amazon, and the book doesn't yet get the attention it deserves.
Wisdom Into Wealth: How to Build a Thriving Online Education Business from Scratch
This is the next book I want to write–but you could say I've been writing it all year 😉
Every time I write a newsletter, I'm preparing content that adds to my repertoire.
With that library, I often expand an article into a resource for my Seven Figure School Accelerator program, a Thrive School PRO course, or a free workshop.
I created both Survive and Thrive & Always Be Teaching from a collection of related articles I'd already written–which I expanded upon in each case to create a single, cohesive book.
This will be my big book project for next year, along with building the marketing machine to sell more books, get more leads, and sell more products.