What is the Best Selling Book System? How does it convert a new book into a best seller? Getting the idea for your book, overcoming your fear of writing, and promoting your book are some of the things you’ll learn from this episode.
In this interview:
00:52 – Introducing author James Roper
03:13 – Digital book vs. physical book in sales
03:54 – Self-publishing is the new thing
05:02 – How to overcome your fear of writing a book
07:18 – What publishing means in terms of business
08:54 – Print a book or Kindle?
11:43 – Overcoming the risk of printing a book
12:34 – Going from zero to the best seller framework
13:45 – Getting the idea for your book
15:22 – Which route are you taking?
16:39 – The right layout for a book
18:36 – 2 types of editing
19:26 – How to launch a book on Amazon
20:41 – The trick for your book promotion
24:10 – No. 1 tip for converting leads
24:51 – 2 effective things that help convert leads
26:16 – Sustaining your top spot
27:31 – A little trick for social media interaction
29:01 – Quick summary
30:51 – A very important tip
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Infographic – from zero to best seller:
James S: James Schramko here, welcome to SuperFastBusiness. Today we’re talking about books and publishing. Because as great as podcasts are, and we talk a lot about that in this show, I think the traditional book is still a fantastic way to get people to pay attention to you to become an authority. What I did is basically I found someone whose book I’ve read. So I’ve invited to the show James Roper. How are you James?
James R: Hey James, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.
James S: I had your co-author Chandler on the show. We were talking about your book on being more productive.
James R: Yeah, I think you had him on talking about “The Productive Person,” which was the book that we published last November.
James S: Yeah, and I couldn’t help but notice, both Chandler and yourself are quite young. Then in the post I received another book that Chandler had written. This guy is like a mini book factory and he’s basically publishing more books than most of my audience who are probably sitting on a number of round zero at this point, and I thought it would be nice to dig in and find out what is this process that’s happening.
James R: Yeah, absolutely, I’d love to talk about it.
James S: So I think a lot of people have been asking you about this and you’ve come up with something called “The Best Selling Book System” and what I’d like to go through today is perhaps cover some of the most important topics that are really going to create some value for someone who’s at that point where they think, “You know what, I want to be an authority.
I want to have a book that I could send to people to get appointments, or to win conversions if I’m selling to someone. I’d like to have a lead for a high price mastermind or a coaching program. I would like to get interviews on media.” I mean these are some of the benefits of having a book writer. Have I missed a few?
James R: No, I think you’re right. That’s actually the original reason we wrote “The Productive Person,” which was the first book we actually launched, was I came to him with an idea and I said, “Hey, let’s write a 20-page e-book as a lead capture.” I mean that was the original idea, and then I realized that it could be so much more, and there’s a way to grow that.
Instead of just being something that gathers emails, it can actually make you money and create kind of this business book system for yourself on Amazon, and that’s kind of where we made that pivot and published it for the Kindle.
James S: Yeah, I think, I mean it’s a funny little parallel because my first main product that I ever sold was originally just a few lines in Excel that I expanded into a Word doc that I then turned into a cheat sheet and ended up being a few hundred pages with lots of pictures and illustrations in it, to help people on their software-building journey, and I was able to sell quite a lot of that.
But in the time that I did that and now, Amazon has really become popular with the general public and we’ve seen digital books overtake physical books in sales. So I suppose the Kindle’s got a lot to do with that and the iPad has brought the digital publishing world closer to the population.
This is the new thing
James R: Yeah. I think that that’s one of those big misconceptions that people still haven’t kind of caught onto yet, is that people are afraid of publishing books because they think of it in that traditional sense of traditional publishing houses, which take this huge percentage of your commission, you have to get them approved, and they may pay you something upfront and then you’re not going to see any of the benefits, you don’t capture leads that way.
And people just don’t like to have the control taken away from them and they think that that’s such a high pedestal of that process, that they’re never going to obtain it; and that’s just not the reality nowadays.
Self-publishing is the new thing. I mean it is what you do now if you want to get your book out there and actually turn them into a brand or a business. And Amazon Kindle is the largest book retailer in the entire world. And so to be a part of their ecosystem is kind of a privilege in a way.
I mean you don’t want to overlook it but when you get inside their ecosystem and they start liking you, it’s kind of crazy that the better your book is, the more people like it, and the more you get it to the top of the list and you become a best seller or something, the more Amazon will push your book.
I mean I get emails all the time about our book because we’ve been the best seller in our category for so long and it’s amazing to see somebody else marketing your book for you, which is just continually driving leads for us.
James S: Very cool! In one of my past interviews I had with John Carlton, who’s a copywriter and a friend of mine, we did cover how to publish your first Kindle, and we really focused on the digital side of things and we especially focused on why it’s a good idea to do it and some of the mistakes that he made and how he went about proofreading and formatting.
But I think today, it will be really nice to cover a lot more on the marketing side of things. Like let’s assume that, firstly, we’ve got to overcome our fear of writing a book. I think we should touch on that one first up because I think people are worried that letting their work of art out into the world or they get so scared just before they publish that people might judge them or give it a bad review or something.
How to overcome fear of writing a book
James R: Yeah. I can completely understand where people are coming from that because that’s exactly how I felt. I mean for a long time, like the biggest mistake I think I made with publishing the book was waiting so long to actually get the book out. Like I’ve had other book ideas that have crossed my mind and said, “Man, people would love to read this and this is very valuable.”
And yet that fear kind of selfishly overtook me and made me not publish it. And I think that when you can get past that original fear and understand that people are going to judge anything you do, especially when you’re putting your art out there. I mean any great artist is going to have critics. Picasso and people along his line, and Van Gogh, they had to have people that say, “I don’t understand what they’re saying. I don’t get it.”
You have a lot of people that, like John C. Maxwell, with leadership and stuff. You still have people, even though he’s like the greatest leadership book writer in the world, you still look at him sometimes and say like, “I don’t really approve. I don’t think that this is right.” And people are still going to disagree with you no matter how good or how much of an authority you are.
And I think the biggest thing that we had to overcome originally was going in with that mindset of when we publish this book, we know we’re helping a certain audience, because ours is in non-fiction, so we actually are kind of a self-help book. So we know we’re going to help this particular audience but there’s going to be people this book is not written for.
We wrote ours, “The Productive Person” was actually written for college students, entrepreneurs who really had ultimate time freedom. And it wasn’t necessarily geared towards someone with the 9-to-5 job or stay-at-home parents as much. And so we got some negative reviews on that and I remember the first ones we got. They kind of were crushing a little bit.
But then you immediately see that the reason they didn’t approve of it is because they weren’t the right audience. I think that’s the biggest thing that people get over it. It’s like you’re going to have negative feedback; it’s just limiting it to the people that weren’t your target in the first place, and getting positive feedback from the people you actually cared about and the real reason you wrote the book. I think that’s what will help you balance. It’s kind of getting in that mindset.
James S: Let me make it personal. In your case, I mean that’s partly why we’re speaking today; what has publishing a book meant for you in terms of business?
What publishing a book means to James Roper
James R: Yeah. It’s so cool to see how our evolution for our particular business went because we really did start out with me coming to Chandler and say, “Hey bud, let’s write this book.” Because I know that we’re trying to build this speaking business. We’re trying to build an authority and we want to be able to create this over time. So we know that starting early out because we’re young, we need to start capturing leads; that’s the biggest thing.
We realized very quickly that that could now become a book that we could sell. And actually in the first month that we launched that book, the best seller, it made over $7,000 on Amazon Kindle in revenue. And so we realized, “Wow! Now it can actually make us money.”
And then we said, “We’re converting like 65% of the leads that we get from our book” and we can talk about how to do that but we’re converting 65% of the people that go to our squeeze page from our book into leads, which now we have like a marketing system we had.
James S: It’s building a database.
James R: Exactly. And we have other things that we’re offering, too. I mean now that we have this new “Best Selling Book System” coming out, we have already an existing database of people who enjoyed our content. It really just gave us this amazing platform to where, I think we are very privileged to get launched with a pretty large contact list and email list when we first started this particular business.
James S: Right. So we’ve established that it’s a great way to build authority, it can build your database, it can set you up in the future for business. So that’s why you might do this. We’ve talked about what this is. We’re really talking about capturing ideas or thoughts, putting them into a published form that is sold on Amazon. You’re also talking about print books or just digital?
Print books vs. digital books
James R: Yeah, so we 100% recommend you get a print book, but it is not as important as the digital. Our print book for how much we sold, like when “The Productive Person” was as high as it was and we were number 1 in Time Management on Amazon, which is a very, very competitive category, and we stayed top 3 for a while.
But even while we were there, we finally got our print book out, the print book would sell maybe 1 or 2 copies a week, as compared to when we were at our prime for that particular book. We were selling 70 to, even at one point, we were selling 120 books a day on Amazon.
James S: So clearly there’s a daylight between digital and print.
James R: It’s nowhere close. The only thing that I have an opinion on with print books is to get it done for this reason: One, is because it’s a nice business card. I mean it’s like this shiny business card you give to somebody and send them. The other thing is because Amazon is this sales page. I mean Amazon is a sales machine, and they’re constantly pushing your stuff.
And one of the coolest things that, as salesmen or as marketers, we know, is like when you show a discounted price and you cross through the other price, I mean car dealers do it, you see that in the supermarket all the time. That is going to be intuitively in someone’s brain, like subconsciously they’re going to think that’s a really good deal.
What Amazon does is when you have a print book, it actually lists the print price. So our book is $9.99, and then it crosses through it and shows the Kindle price, which of course is $3.99.
James S: That’s giving a reference point to show people the amazing value.
James R: Absolutely. It gives you that reference point, so anything. It’ll cost you, a little bit for a formatting; if you’ve got to have a designer or whatever, it’s not going to cost you about 100 bucks or something to get it on the real cheap, and you can get that published on CreateSpace or something through Amazon, and it doesn’t cost you a lot; but to have that is going to sell more, period.
James S: I’m still looking forward to seeing my book in an airport bookstore. I don’t know, there’s something about that. I’ve actually sent across my book to my son who said, “Dad, I’m really interested in learning about what you do.” And he sent me a note back saying it’s really interesting so far and he’s enjoying it quite a lot.
I actually wrote that book for him. Over the last few years, I was thinking, “What would I tell someone from scratch?” And it’s kind of like the ultimate legacy. So I guess with the book, I can understand people want it to be good because once it’s out there, it’s gone. Like you can’t get it back, you can’t go back in everyone’s house and say, “Oh listen, about Chapter 13, can we just cross that one out? I’ve changed my mind on that one.”
Is print or Kindle more risky?
James R: And James, on that point, what’s really interesting is that you kind of can do that with Kindle.
James S: With Kindles, right? Not your print book.
James R: With print book, you can’t, but with Kindle you can.
James S: So I guess for that reason, Kindles would be substantially less risky than the print book, if that’s one of your major concerns. If you’re talking about legacy.
James R: Far less. When we first published our book, James, we…
James S: You updated it substantially, didn’t you?
James R: Oh, we self edited. I mean so, like I said, by self editing, I mean me and Chandler went through it once or twice apiece, and said, “All right, this is good to go,” and we published it. And so, I mean it’s missing commas, the grammar was messed up at some places, and we never got it professionally edited the first time.
And the first time we did that, we already had 7,000 books that we had gotten out there for free and we had sold before we even uploaded a new version that had the correct amount of commas in it.
James S: Well, there you go. The Kindle’s really good for that, in that point of view. So let’s talk about, let’s imagine that we want to publish our book, we’re on board, we want to go from not much of a star, all the way to best seller. Is there a framework for this?
The framework to being the best seller
James R: Yeah. I think that we can all touch on the beginning of writing the book quickly and we’ll get to the marketing section because there’s a really simple framework I can give to you on this podcast, which will really help your audience.
James S: I really want to help my audience with this, yup.
James R: Yeah. When you’re trying to write a book, there’s some classic examples that you should use. Like writing a thousand words a day, we actually wrote our book in 16 days, and we wrote it via Google Hangout, when Chandler was in Austria and I was here in South Carolina.
So we had different ways of writing. We would block off time, or we made it into something we had to do, just an appointment. We’d say we’re going to write for 2 hours a day and we would plan out what we were writing and we had an outline.
So getting your book written, there’s tons of resources out there for that. What they don’t tell you is how to get it up to the number 1 spot on Amazon and to become that best seller. And so, I can actually lay out real quick the blueprint that you should follow to get your book to number 1.
It’s the one that we’ve used for all of our books, and we’ve actually launched 4 books in the past 6 months now to number 1 on Amazon, and completely different categories, including Time Management, leverage is incredibly competitive.
James S: Just take us from this point where you have an idea for a book before you even block the time. Like how do you even know what to write the book about?
Getting the idea for your book
James R: OK, that’s a good question. So it depends on what your goal is. For us, we had kind of a binary goal where we wanted to get something out there that was going to help people. And then we had a strategy that we were using as entrepreneurs because I struggled with it myself with having so much free time and not being able to narrow it down.
And so because of that, I had to create certain schedules for myself and use certain tools and techniques that helped me, and so we decided to help other people. So that was one reason that it kind of came out of my mind of “I do this, I know other people need this,” so I put it into book writing.
The other thing you could do though is if you wanted to really just write a book to make it a business card or to make it out of a business, like to create an ecosystem for yourself with books. Then you would look at the Kindle categories and you would look at what categories sell well, and honestly, which categories could I become a best seller in quickly.
And so there’s ways to look at that; there’s actually some calculator tools online that you can kind of take the best seller ranking that Amazon shows you. You plug it into their calculator and it’ll show you what the approximate amount of books you need to download per day.
And we can give you a cheat for that. If you can see a ranking that’s anywhere from 2,000 or below and that’s their top 3 people or 2,000 ranking or below, then that’s going to be pretty competitive. But if you can get a ranking of a category that’s 2,000 or above or if you’re seeing that 10,000 ranking, we can show you how to write a book, publish it; I can probably get that category’s number 1 spot in a day without any paid advertising.
Know the route you’re going
All right. So it just depends on which route you’re going. If you want to go for the passion project aspect of it, just figure something that’s in your brain that you want to get out to other people because other people have come to you and said, “You’ve really helped me with this particular topic.”
And if you’re trying to create a business, go the other route by actually doing your research upfront in Kindle and saying, “Where can I see a need? Where can I actually take over number 1 and I can write some books for this or have them written for me?”
James S: I mean, it could actually be both of those, couldn’t it? I imagine a lot of people would be somewhat experts in their area of passion. I would say that applies to me, and that’s certainly what I was doing with my book is putting it an area where I’ve helped so many other business owners grow their business where they’re lacking but it’s also my absolute passion. To create something from nothing.
So you’ve got your idea, and a lot of the people listening to this are going to be an expert at something and already have an established or fledgling business and the book is a natural tick box for them. So I imagine they know what they’re doing and this little refinement of searching is going to help them zero in on that. Picking a battle that they can win.
James R: Yeah, absolutely.
Laying out the book
James S: So you block the time for this book, you start writing, is there a format for how the book’s laid out?
James R: Yeah, I mean the layouts are pretty simple. You can actually just, the easy way to do that is look at a couple Kindle books, either buy them or just look at the Look in Preview and kind of see their structure. But it’s just like a normal book.
It’s going to have a table of contents at the beginning, you’re going to have your acknowledgement page if you want.The only thing with Kindle that’s very different that people have to understand is when you write a Kindle book, the readers that are buying Amazon Kindle books want words, they want text, they want hyperlinks, because it’s this new digital media to where they’re sitting on the beach and they’re reading in the sunlight.
They don’t want to look at a lot of images, they don’t want to have to look at a lot of graphs and stuff, unless it’s that particular kind of niche or if it’s a children’s book, but they just want words.
So you don’t stress too much about the format. I mean you put it in Times New Roman in 12, and just pop it in there. And that’s what you really have to worry about, like what it looks like.
And in the structure, depending on how big the book is, if you’re writing a novel, that’s going to be a couple of hundred pages, but really these self-help type books in this non-fiction section that are going to priced from $2.99 to $3.99 or so, those books are expected to be 40-100 pages and no more. So don’t get caught up in writing this really long giant book. Our book in print is only like 70 something pages.
James S: Wow! That’s quite interesting. I mean I just got a book, a physical book from Amazon. It was a Kevin Rogers book, “The 60-Second Sales Hook,” and it’s only 51 pages. It’s tiny.
James R: It’s the whole concept of “we can talk forever,” and “you can write forever,” but it’s the ability to condense that information and actionable steps; that’s what people want.
James S: So that’s it, isn’t it? The whole idea is that you can come up with a sales hook in just 60 seconds. So it makes sense that the book’s short. It’s a simple read, you can get through it in one session. So I think people really appreciate when you’re not putting a lot of filler in these things.
2 types of editing
OK. So you’ve got your book, it’s all ready to roll now, I suppose you’re going to have to edit it or something along those lines.
James R: Yeah, sure. You’re going to have to through the editing craze, which there’s 2 different types. You’re going to do content editing or copy editing. I mean copy editing is clearly going to be like the grammar and style, it’s going to be the punctuations.
And then your content editing is someone that can even be your friend, you don’t have to hire a professional, but it’s somebody that reads through your book and says, “Hey, this doesn’t connect with me. I think there’s chapters out of place. Maybe this concept’s misguided.” And that’s kind of somebody that would content edit.
But you do need to content edit first. We didn’t, originally. That is one thing that I would do again, where we help other people do it. We get them to edit it first because if you don’t edit before you go to Kindle, you kind of have to do the whole process twice.
You’re going to have to go get it reformatted, and you’re going to have to go kind of relaunch it a little bit. So it’s better to get it edited the first time. But don’t get stuck up on that phase because like I said, we have 7,000 of people who have our book that had a lot of grammar mistakes in it.
James S: All right. So what comes next?
Launching the book
James R: Yeah. So the next part is actually the good stuff. That’s where you’re really going to be launching the book on Amazon. There’s a lot of people out there who consider themselves gurus on how to launch a book on Amazon and all sorts of stuff, and there’s a lot of different systems out there and this is by far the one that’s worked.
Not the one that we’re thinking works, the one that we’ve proven that works. And it’s just using what Amazon gives you, and that’s it. So what we suggest for you to do, very simply, is you sign up for KDP when you first launch your book, and that’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
You sign up for their Select. So you do KDP Select. And what KDP Select does is you’re giving them exclusive rights, Amazon, exclusive rights to the digital version of your book for 90 days. And a lot of people don’t like that, like “I want to put it on Barnes and Noble, I want to put it over here on the Apple store.”
And what would tell you that is if you’re focusing on all those different areas, and you’re splitting all of the places that people are buying your books, you’re never going to get enough flow to bring you to the number one seller, like bestseller.
o what’s going to happen is, you’ll be mediocre in all of them instead of being great in one. It’s like you’re the jack of all trades, instead of master of one. And so what you want to do is you want to go in for Amazon. Give them exclusive rights so you can be the master of Amazon. Right?
James S: Yup.
The initial promotion
James R: And so when you’re doing that, we want you to launch your book, and when you first launch it, do a 5-day promotion. So on this 5-day promotion, all you need to do is drive some social media stuff, which is a little bit different conversation, but we’re not talking about ads.
We’re talking about putting social media posts, that are a little bit sneaky, to your friends, like put up your book cover, and ask them, “Hey friends, which book cover do you like best? Like the one that you like” and then, “Hey designer friends, give me some feedback on which one you want.”
James S: So ask people’s opinion, basically.
James R: Yeah. And you do that a couple of weeks before the launch. It’s like a belly button, everybody’s got one. So you want to do that a couple of weeks before the launch and that’s going to get people already knowing that you’re publishing a book instead of you going all over social media, “Hey guys, download my book. I just wrote one. I’m awesome.” Don’t do that.
Just ask their opinion, and then they feel like they’re a part of this journey with you. You can even ask them to read your book and review it ahead of time, which we did, and that’s what you want to do, you want to get a couple of Amazon reviews before you actually do this 5-day promo because I know you’ve bought some books on Amazon before, as a buyer…
James S: My iPad’s maxed out. It’s got so many Kindles on it.
James R: See? I bet you barely bought any of them that didn’t have reviews. Nobody wants to be the first one.
James S: Well, it’s interesting. I quite often check the highlights, and see how many people have highlighted things. It gives me an idea of where I’m at in the evolution of the book. I’ll quite often buy books on pre-release or the first, you know, that free period, a friend of mine’s publishing one, and I’m first in. But I rip through them. I go through like one every day or two.
James R: Yeah, absolutely. So once you kind of get that, you have those couple of reviews up there, you launch this 5-day promo, just having enough traffic from that, maybe you do a pre-release list, which, James, you just mentioned that, where you’re on that first-in kind of thing.
You collect a couple of leads, like a couple of emails, a couple of weeks before that say, “I want to be notified when you have this free book.” And that’s going to give you enough push to start moving you through Amazon’s kind of algorithms. And you’re going to start climbing the free bestseller rank, because there’s two different sections.
There’s the free, and there’s the paid bestsellers. And you’re going to start climbing that. And over the next couple of days you’ll see your numbers increase more and more and more as Amazon continually promotes your free book and more people start to see it.
From free bestseller to paid
So once they start to see it, and you get to that fourth and a half day, you cancel your promotion if you’re in the top 100, or if you’ve met the end of the promotion. But you want to cancel in the middle of the day, so you can kind of ride that wave when you switch it over to paid, and we want you to start paying at 99 cents.
By paying at 99 cents, you’ve got all these great reviews, Amazon loves you already, because your free book is getting downloaded, and now people are saying, “Well, it was free, now it’s only 99 cents, the next week it goes up to $4.99. I’m still going to go ahead and buy it.”
And that’s kind of the trick. the people are going to love it so much, Amazon’s going to love it, the people are going to buy your 99 cent book, which is going to help you grow to the top of the paid charts now. And after one week of that 99 cent promotion, you put it up to your regular price.
Don’t price yourself out of the market, compare yourself to others. But when you go to that regular price, you’ve already got so much momentum that Amazon’s going to have you on the Hot New Releases, which you stay on there for 30 days, they’re going to have you at the Top Rated, because you’re going to have a lot of really good reviews when you first launch your book.
And that means every single competitor page in that category, they’re going to see your book again. I know when we launched our book, we were on the Hot New Releases, we were top of the best-rated books, and we were bestseller in each one of our categories. So it was like, anywhere you went, in Time Management, or Stress Management, you saw our book. And that’s the reason why we were able to stay there for so long.
James S: Now you mentioned something about converting leads. I’m interested in that.
James R: Yeah, so the number one tip that we found out for converting leads, which we did not do originally, originally we were converting like two to four leads a day and this was when we were getting 40-something downloads a day. What happened is, we had our lead capture at the back of the book, which is a no-no. Move your lead capture to the front of the book, and put it in the First Looks.
When you go to Amazon Kindle, you can look inside the book, and you can kind of see the first 10% of the book. Make sure your lead capture is there. And what we found for lead capture is, people don’t want checklists off of a lead capture, they don’t want another book, and they don’t want us to sell other stuff, because they just bought something to read through. They just bought your book, and they want to spend time reading it.
So stop offering them a whole course that’s going to distract them from what they just purchased. What we found that works the best are two things. One is a video summary of your book. And then two, which works for us, this is what we use to this day, and it converts 65% of leads, number two, is an audio book version for free.
James S: I haven’t heard of these before and it makes so much sense. Different modalities.
James R: We can tell you straight up, we got an audio book professional voice actor who I’ve actually heard do commercials since. That guy’s great, it was only about $400 or so to get our book converted into an audio book. We got it done in 3 days, and we had a lead capture that was converting at 65% of anybody who clicked to our page. And that was the only way at the time that we were driving traffic. And it still converts at that high today.
And so if your book is getting traffic because you’re up there at the top of the bestsellers, you’re going to get a lot of traffic to your lead capture and you don’t have to do anything. So the audio book’s just a great way. We still sell it on Audible, actually. We still have a connect there, because some people like to buy the ACX so they can kind of do that match where if you leave off reading or you go back to the audio book in the same spot.
We still sell them. We sell audio books just about as much as we sell print books, even though in our book we say we’ll give you the free audio book.
James S: What comes next? I imagine you’re doing some kind of media parade, radio stations and blog posts and sending off review copies to people in high positions.
James R: Yes. You don’t even need that, really.
James S: Really?
James R: To hit your goal, like to become a bestseller, you don’t need that. Now, what we’re telling you here is how to get to that top of the bestseller list, but you’re not going to sustain there just like nothing is going to sustain there without a little promotion after you’ve kind of fallen out of Amazon’s good graces, because the new shiny objects come along.
So we really tell people, if you’re going to try and get your book up there and keep it up there for an extended period of time, you either do need to have after a couple of months a good marketing strategy or something that’s pushing people other than just Amazon’s ecosystem, or you create more books.
Because the more books you have, the more times your book is going to show up when people buy. It will be in the People Who Bought Also Bought sections, and you’ll start to create this contingent of people who, like, if you can buy a $2.99 book, and you write another $2.99 book, and I liked your first one, I’m going to buy your second one when it comes out. And now you have their lead, so you can actually market to them, and get them to buy your book when it first comes out.
James S: So basically, publish another book is the great leverage step.
James R: Yeah. Now, James, don’t get me wrong, when it comes to blog posts and all that other stuff, we’ve done a lot of podcasts, a lot of blog posts, a lot of other things, for when “The Productive Person” was first launched. We did it, but we did it afterwards, and it was more fun, because we were trying to experiment with a lot of stuff, but it wasn’t needed, if that makes sense.
James S: Yup. Perfect. So is there another step, or should we just summarize what we’ve done?
James R: Yeah, let me give you one more like little trick that we’ve used, for that social media thing. Because this was the killer thing. We had the most reviews, I think we had 40 reviews by people in our social media, and they were actually people that read our book.
So we sent out our book, of course, to have a couple of reviews up ahead of time, and that was one mistake, we sent it the night before, because we were really pressed on this launch. And we had some really good friends of ours read the book and review it by the next day and we launched the book.
But on social media, for Facebook, what we do is we’ll post ahead of time, like I mentioned, the book cover, we’ll ask for the feedback on colors, we’ll ask for their feedback on subtitles, just different things that get them interacting with us. And then we’ll kind of gain Facebook, a little bit.
And just like you’ve seen Facebook, whenever you like a comment and another friend likes a comment, and another person likes a comment, it becomes one of those popular posts in Facebook. So when you log on, it’s one of the first posts you see.
James S: Yup.
James R: So what happens is, when we’re getting that much interaction, it continually keeps that post at the top of everybody’s Facebook that’s inside our network. And then we just ask people to share those posts and then once we liked them, then their other friends, probably mutual friends, they’ll like the same post.
So now, we’ve got, 26 shares is all we had, 26 shares from our friends over the launch of our book over the course of 3 and a half days that we’re constantly shared and shared and shared, and we’re on the top of everybody’s Facebook with multiple posts sharing this link.
And socially, that’s how you’ve got to do it. And if that post dies, the trick is you leave a comment unanswered and when that post starts to slow down, you go back and re-comment and it will bump that post back up because it’s something that’s newly engaged.
James S: What a great tip. All right, just laying this out, let’s make sure we got this right. If we want to go from zero to the best seller, we start with our idea, which probably is going to be around our expertise. We do some research to see what category we think we can make an impact in. We block out time, we work with the traditional layout and table of contents.
Remember to put Times New Roman 12, lots of hyperlinks. We aim for 40-100 pages as a target. We remember to get our content and our copy edited. We join KDP Select, Kindle Direct Publishing. We put up our exclusive with Amazon for 90 days.
We have the special 5-day promotion period and we hit it with social media, asking everyone’s opinion, we climb up the rankings, we go through to the bestseller and then we switch it over to 99 cents, when we’ve hit a good ranking.
We then roll up to like $4.99 or somewhere in the region of our competitors, and we make sure that our lead capture’s in the beginning of the book so that it shows in the First Look, where we offer a video summary or an audio book. We get a pro actor to read out the book for about 400 bucks. We also sell it on Audible.
And then we leverage our book by publishing another book to the same database and of course getting all the media opportunities we can from the inevitable requests – podcasts, blogs, TV, radio, etc. And we’re really working that social media.
And I imagine, if we were to buy some advertising on these platforms, we’re going to just boost the whole thing, or put a re-targeting cookie on the squeeze page, etc. We can capture people who don’t opt in but click on the link from the Kindle, etc. So is that right?
James R: You nailed it. There’s one thing that is very crucial. You want a good tip? This is a good tip. This is something we found that bestsellers that we’ve talked to and interviewed and kind of discussed this stuff with them, that they’ve even missed. You’ve got to cross-categorize your book. So in Amazon, you’ve got broad categories that you can click into, and then they have those sub categories underneath them.
What’s cool about Amazon is you can actually become a bestseller in the subcategories or the broad categories. And you get to pick two broad categories and two subcategories. But what a lot of people do is they’ll say, “OK, well my book is about time management.” So they’ll go in and they’ll look at Business and Investing, which is the broad, and they’ll go to Time Management. And they’ll pick another category that’s in Business and Investing, which what that does is you’re missing an entire segment of your audience that might want your book.
So for us, we went to Self Help, Stress Management. That way, we were getting people that were looking for stress help, and we were looking for people that had time management needs, which just could be two completely different people. And a lot of people forget that, so they’ll only capture one segment.
So you’ve got to look for both those broad categories, even if it’s not quite a perfect fit. A barely, like a slight imperfection is better than you trying to market to the same people in the same categories.
James S: Perfect. Same with podcasts, ticking a few boxes gets you more exposure.
James R: Absolutely.
James S: James, that’s been great. Now someone listening to this wants some help with this, every step of the way, you are in a position where you can help. Now, you’ve set up “Best Selling Book System,” and I’ll put a resource link right near this podcast on SuperFastBusiness.com. Can you just give us the snapshot version of that?
James R: Yeah, James, the link that you’re going to share is actually to a live Google Hangout that we’re going to do. And we tell a lot of the same stuff that we just mentioned in this podcast, except we go even more in-depth. So when we go there, it’s going to be me and my other two partners, Chandler Bolt and Tyler Wagner.
And we go through these, and we actually show you every step-by-step on how to write it and how to publish it, and we do live Q&A on the calls. We make sure we give you as much information as possible.
Then what happens is, we are going to offer you a position with us, with our community. And we have a community we set up where we actually coach and do this for three months. We actually help people go from no book idea to bestseller on Kindle in three months.
We will get you to the top of the bestseller status in your particular category within three months. And I know that a lot of people need that accountability and they need that community aspect of it. And so that’s what we’ve created for you. So James, you might even post that link straight to the application.
We do take applications, but we’re actually going to be accepting people for this next round of this coming this week, and that’s when this podcast is airing.
James S: This podcast is going to be up for a long time, so…
James R: Perfect. And then, we’re going to run another round.
James S: Have a waiting list there if you’ve already run it, and hop on the next one.
James R: Absolutely. Yeah. And we’re totally going to do it. So check out the live Hangout and then get on that, you’ll learn everything you can. And then if you’d like to participate in the program itself, you’ll have more information shared on the Hangout to where you can kind of get more information about that as well.
James S: Beautiful. Thanks James, I really appreciate you stopping by. It’s just been a tremendous, value-packed podcast on publishing your own book to being a bestseller.
James R: Thanks a lot, James. You’re a rockstar, man, I really appreciate it.
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