In this episode:
01:48 – What Chandler has been up to
02:52 – What a book does to business
04:43 – When to do the book
07:42 – How Self-Publishing School helps
10:34 – Surprising results
12:27 – Gaming the system?
15:29 – The publishing numbers
16:40 – It’s not done for you
17:31 – A mantra for starting authors
19:47 – The best backend offer
21:09 – Quick recap
23:48 – Funny but true
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James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, we are lucky enough to have a repeat guest. We have Chandler Bolt coming back to SuperFastBusiness to talk to us about books. Welcome, Chandler.
Chandler: Hey James! Great to be here, man!
James: You’ve been here a few times now, with you and your associates, talking about things such as productivity, publishing books. The last time we chatted, it was almost a year ago, and we were talking then, it was an episode called “The 3-Step Writing Method for Publishing Your Own Book.” So you can guess that that was about the 3 steps to writing a book, and the challenge of writing a book, and why you need a book, and how you used audiobooks.
Today, we’re going to see what you’ve been up to in the last year. Certainly, I enjoy working with you closely in your business. We do some stuff together, and you have had an astronomical growth in your own business. Tell me about where that’s going right now.
What Chandler has been up to
Chandler: Yeah. So 2015 was a big growth year for us. Self-Publishing School just grew by leaps and bounds and it turned from a side hustle to a real business. I guess it’s technically still turning from that, but it’s ever evolving. We launched a couple of books. We just finished book number six, and we’re about to do a big New York Times push with that book. So that’s coming up.
So, you know, really three books in the last year. It’s been interesting to see how those books have filled a lot of what we do and a lot of the growth that we had. I mean right off the bat, when we published our first one, first 55 days was right at 100 grand, or was 92 grand in revenue on the back end from our book and through our program. That was just the first 55 days.
And then obviously throughout the year, we saw a growth from basically zero to $1.3 million last year. That was really all from the books and all from what the books did for our business.
James: That’s what we want to talk about today. What a book does for your business. So we’ve already covered why a book, we’ve covered how to write the book, some of the challenges you need to overcome. But let’s talk about really leveraging your book because we sort of just got into that. We consider the book as a frontend right?
A book as a frontend
Chandler: Yeah. It’s the frontend product that brings people and the other things that you have to offer. I think the key difference, you know, everyone’s talking about, or a lot of people are concerned with SEO and Google search stuff, which is good, right? Like that’s important. But the interesting thing that I see is Google is a search engine of browsers. Amazon is a search engine of buyers.
So when you’re in Amazon, you’ve got a credit card linked to your account. You’re there for one reason and one reason only. It’s to buy stuff, right? So you’re going through, and thanks to one-click purchases, now everyone, myself included, is guilty of this. People just aimlessly go through and buy stuff. Kindle books.
Whether you’re on an airplane, sitting in the waiting room, riding in the passenger seat or sitting in the car, or sitting on your toilet. You’re just buying stuff, right? And so, it is interesting how you can, there’s a hundred-plus million people inside that ecosystem, and that’s what we’ve been really doing.
We’re just tapping into that ecosystem and just like the App store, just like the podcast area of the iTunes store, any of that. Those are all ecosystems, and we’ve just used the Amazon store to kind of tap into and just be this continuous lead funnel that leads into our business from the frontend and then obviously we have stuff on the backend that we can offer.
James: Now you said you started the business from scratch and then built it up to $1.3 million. Now, I’ve been observing that closely. Do you think you need to have a business before you do the book? Can you do the book and then build the business? Or will it work for both?
When to do the book
Chandler: That’s a great question.
James: That’s my job, man. My job is to ask the questions.
Chandler: (Laughs) You know, although I do think it works for both, I really like to do the book first because what’s interesting, and I see this time and time again, I’m sure you’ve seen this time and time again, people have this side hustle that they’re working on, and they’re just struggling for it to catch, right? Like you just keep trying different things and they keep failing, and they can become frustrating, and you can certainly lose confidence in yourself, lose confidence in what you’re doing, and that even that this whole business thing is for you, right?
So that’s kind of a little bit of the boat that I was in and then I launched this book and it gave me a ton of confidence to go on to do other things. Not only that, it opened up doors. I remember just being at T&C, Traffic & Conversion summit. Gosh! Two years ago, this was after I’ve written my first book, and we got the talking about that. That was something that we had in common that we were interested in. It was about productivity. So we just got chatting on that, and then next you know, we’re talking, got on the podcast, and like the rest is history.
So it’s just interesting how I see this happen for our students, is they get in there and they do the book, and the book is almost, it’s not even really about the book. The book is just a symbol. And when they take the book to the finish line and they see that first little bit of money coming in, their email list is starting to grow, and then they start to get on podcasts and start to do things beyond that, it’s like OK, no now I get it and now I feel like I can take these things to the next level.
A lot of that, it feels weird to say and not too many people want to talk about it, but it’s on the confidence spectrum, right? Just gaining confidence and what you’re doing and gaining confidence in that side hustle.
James: Well, I think Dan Sullivan really pushes the confidence button a lot. He talks about confidence being essential for success. And you’re right. When I spoke to you at that event, in the United States, here’s a young man who’s published a book on productivity, which is a topic I’m very interested in, it was easy for me to ask you along to do a podcast about it.
Then a couple of years later, so many people want to know how to get a book going that you’ve built an entire million dollar-plus business around it. You’ll be on track for $10 million in several years from now. No doubt. With a little bit of help here and there and some structured growth because as you said, you’re tapping into that Amazon marketplace with a hundred million people.
James: If you put yourself in the mind of someone who hasn’t really got a business cooking and they’re thinking they’d like that confidence of publishing a book, they probably should go back to the previous episode we did with the 3-step writing method so they can find out how they could actually get that thing going. What is it that you are providing now with Self-Publishing School? Like what do you bring to the market that someone can’t do themselves?
“The book is just a symbol.”
How the Self-Publishing School helps
Chandler: Yeah well, the reality, I mean most of the information you can find it yourself if you’re just searching around all of it. I think that goes the same with anything, right? But we feel that we’ve combined all the best stuff. It’s the meat and potatoes really, it’s everything you need, nothing you don’t, to where you can really get into it and go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days. So that’s our goal with our students, is to take them to that process and to do it pretty quickly. So we show them how to do that.
But really, I think, we always see that people come for the content because the content is top notch, but they stay for the community. You know this in your scene, you’ve seen this in your businesses, that’s what it’s really about and that’s where people get the most value. There’s a lot to be said for accountability.
Being an author or writing your first book is much like starting your first business. It’s either entrepreneur island or author island. It can be a pretty lonely adventure at times. It’s sometimes hard to keep yourself motivated and keep yourself accountable. I think that’s what we offer as people get their books finished. They take them to the finish line.
James: Right, because they made an investment in themselves. You’ll hold their feet to the fire, you’ll give them the exact steps that need to happen, then they end up with a bestseller in 90 days.
James: Have you been getting those sort of results for your previous students?
Chandler: Yeah. We have one of the highest success rates out of any online program that I’ve ever seen. I think that’s largely because of the quality of the community but also the personal coaching. So we’ve got like certified coaches that work with our students. And so we see people coming out. It depends on your goals, right? Some people want to come in and their backend looks like speaking for some people. It’s coaching for some people. It’s bringing in a little bit of money off their book. For some people, it’s a glorified business card.
There’s all these different sprouts on the backend. Some people, it’s fiction. They’ve got five, 10 books they want to write, and it’s more of a long game for them. No matter what your purpose is for writing the book, we try to give you the tools to take it there and to at least get that first one done because when you do, man, it was a game changer for me. I had no idea what was waiting on the other side and I think that’s what we see time and time again.
Because people almost, they join the program, you still don’t really even believe it, and it’s like they’re surprised when they get the results. Right?
Chandler: And then their confidence just goes through the roof.
James: Yeah, that’s good. So basically, you can have yourself a published book even if you don’t think you could be a bestseller.
James: What sort of things have you seen people do that surprised you when they’ve published these books? What are some interesting applications of the book?
“Writing your first book is like starting your first business.”
Chandler: Oh, that’s a great question. Yeah, great questions all around man. You’re doing great. Oh man, I think, getting hyped, like one of our students recently got a $3,000 speaking gig, and she’d never done anything like that before. That was pretty cool. That was pretty surprising to me. It was just bam! She really went out there and just got it. So I love seeing stuff like that.
I’ve been surprised by how many people write multiple books. It’s interesting. People come in barely believing that they can do one and do it. I’ve been surprised by the amount of people who are like, “Hey you know what, yeah I’m going to do another one.” And we have people who have written, gosh, 10, 15 books, like actually written. Not like a 5,000-word bit old crappy e-book. Like actual books. And they’ve written multiple ones. I think that’s the biggest surprise to me, is just seeing people fall in love with the process and doing it over and over again.
James: Yeah, that’s a great one. Actually, I’ve observed that too. Some people who haven’t published books and then they start their first one and not long after it, they’re popping them out because they’ve gotten used to the process. So whether it’s John Carlton or Dan Norris, a few guys that come to mind that just keep popping out books. It’s like you know the path, you get an appetite for it. How many books have you published now?
Chandler: I’ve done five myself and then we just finished up the sixth and that’s the one I was talking about a little bit earlier. We’re going for The New York Times. So that’ll be a new challenge and I’m really excited to kind of learn that whole side of things.
James: In the past, I know that there’s been people who just pretty much buy that spot by putting a huge budget to buying it back from different stores to game the system. Is that how it still works?
Can you game the system?
Chandler: Like pretty much no. I mean there are still ways to game the system. The New York Times has largely cracked down on that and their algorithm is pretty tight. You know, they have to be all kind of zip codes in all states, counties, all that stuff all around the United States. They have to be this amount is bulk buys, to mom-and-pop stores…the algorithm is just crazy complicated. So you can pretty much cut that out. There’s definitely still ways to game it, but it is one of those things where you just have to start very far in advance, and it’s all based on pre-sales, so that’s why you’ll see guys like Lewis Howes, Michael Port, Jeff Goins, a lot of different people that launched books in this past year, they were doing big pre-sale campaigns, book tours and all that stuff.
So some of it’s still traditional, but then others of it is using books and funnels, like Russell Brunson sold 22,000 copies of DotCom Secrets through his funnel, right? Doing a free-plus-shipping offer. So there’s that way, there’s other ways, but it really comes down to, the interesting things I’ve seen is it’s very, very, very far in advance. And just building up those pre-sales and building up that buzz and kind of getting all your ducks in a row, all far in advance.
James: Right. Now I like that you’ve crossed all the different approaches and the players in the market and what they’re doing. Obviously you’d spend a fair bit of time researching this when you have a product around it.
Chandler: Yeah, you know, I’m excited to play more in this world because it’s a lot of… it’s interesting because most of the guys who do traditional launches, they don’t know anything about what we’re doing, to their detriment, right? But then it kind of goes both ways. There are some traditional things that we’re not doing when we’re doing a smaller launch, that we can definitely learn from.
And so I’m interested too, because like you, I’m an 80/20 guy, I want to cut straight to it, and just use the stuff that works. So we’re kind of taking on the role of crash test dummies over these next few months to really go bigger and just kind of see how it goes, you know? It’ll be interesting, and then obviously we’ll learn a lot in the process and then we’ll be able to teach that as well.
I was talking with a friend, and he does book launch stuff as well, more on the done-for-you side. And he’s doing a big New York Times launch, but he’s doing it for someone else. And he said, “The interesting thing with you, Chandler, is I’m kind of sitting at the table watching with no money in the game, but you’re putting your money in the game.” And that’s kind of really, we’re really putting our money where our mouth is, and we’re going for it, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
How many published?
James: And how many books have your students published?
Chandler: Oh, gosh. Hundreds. I don’t know an exact number. I know we’ve had hundreds, though. And even through my book, Book Launch, and some of the other books that I have on this topic, like I get emails from people all the time who don’t even join the program, but they just go through the free video series we have, or they go through one of my books and they just follow it and get the books out there. So it’s always cool to see.
James: That is nice, yeah. Someone just joined my membership after following me for 9 years.
James: And he said it’s about time that he gets in there and he likes my style.
Chandler: That’s awesome.
James: It can be a long game. I’m glad you do have skin in the game, and the fact that your students are publishing hundreds of books is a real testimony to your program. I’ll be sure to put a link where people can go and look at your free training and get a feel for what you’re up to. If someone thinks that they should be a bestselling author in 90 days, then it’s an obvious choice to go forward, because with Chandler you’re basically getting the system, and you’re getting the support.
It’s not done for you
Now, I imagine that a student in your program’s still going to have to do the work. You’re doing a how-to program, is that right?
Chandler: Yeah, exactly. So there definitely are done-for-you services and there’s some very good ones that I always like to recommend, because that’s not really the area that we play in. So it’s training, right? We give people the tools and the resources, and all that’s left is they have to do it. I can’t do it for them.
James: So you’re giving them the fishing rod and the bait, taking them to the river, and they have to catch their own fish.
Chandler: Yup, exactly.
James: But what you’ve noticed is they keep going back to the river and catching fish after they know how.
Chandler: Exactly. So rather than doing it for them and them becoming dependent on me and not only that but then me taking a nice juicy cut of their royalties, I’d rather teach it to them and show them how to do it and then it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Some advice for starting authors
James: As someone prepares for this journey of writing their book, what sort of advice would you have to them as sort of a mantra that they really need to cling to through the process?
Chandler: Well, there’s a couple of things. I always find it interesting when I talk to people about writing a book, and a New York Times study says 81 percent of people want to write a book. Less than 1 percent of people actually do it.
So what’s always interesting is we all know probably 50 people who want to write a book and have been thinking about it for a very, very long time. And so it’s always interesting when I hear, oh, yeah, it’s just not the right time. It’s as if people feel like magically they’re going to have no responsibilities, no kids, no job, and all the free time in the world to write this book. The stars are going to align, the yellow brick road’s going to appear in front of them, and then they can just go on their way.
And it just doesn’t happen that way, right? You’re going to have to jump in before you’re ready. And one of my favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar, where he says, “If you wait for all the lights to turn green before starting your journey, you’ll never leave your driveway.”
Chandler: And so it’s funny. People look at writing a book that way, so I’d say, a) start before you’re ready, and carve out a little bit of time each day to get through that, and then b) one of the best pieces of advice that I can give is focusing solely on the rough draft, so getting through it and not editing as you go.
Because you’re going to think it sucks, you’re going to think it’s not that good, and especially if you go back and look. But the interesting thing is we see with students is when they push through to the rough draft and just get that finished, they start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and then they believe they can do it.
You talked about a mantra, that’s really what it is, it’s just believing that you’re going to do it, and having the belief and holding to that all the way through the 90 days. Because it’s easy to start something. Anyone can start something. Anyone can write their first chapter and get started, but really the ones who set themselves apart and the ones who do well and finish are the ones who still have that belief and that persistence come the 30- and 60-day mark, right?
“Jump in before you’re ready.”
Best backend offer
James: Right. And what’s the most amazing backend offer you’ve seen someone put behind their book?
Chandler: Well, I love watching guys like Russell Brunson. I just went, because we were going to do a free-plus-shipping funnel, and I just did a deep dive through Perry Marshall’s funnel, through Russell Brunson, through Ryan Levesque, through Tony Robbins, through gosh, Yanik Silver. I just went deep into all those, and it was cool and really interesting learning how those work, because I like the model of the free-plus-shipping, then you have the order form bump, which is on the checkout page, it’s a $37 type offer, then you have $197 on the back end, and then higher to maybe a few hundred dollars up to a thousand or 2,000, right?
I like that flow, but what’s interesting, I’ve seen the guys who can really make the economics work and not only that, it just pays off in a huge way, are the ones who have the higher-ticket coaching programs or masterminds. And so those are the guys like Russell Brunson and Ryan Levesque and all those guys, it’s just like, that’s where it really, really starts to make sense and pay off on the back end.
James: Yeah, I agree. I read his book and it had some good common sense in that one as well.
Summing things up
OK, so just rounding out here, a quick little recap, we’ve talked about your own growth from five or six books into delving into a market that’s hot. You said everyone wants to do a book, almost everyone, so it’s a great market to have found yourself in. You’ve certainly done the research by going around and testing all the different offers, having your ear to the ground, associating with people who are doing New York Times bestsellers. You can get someone to bestseller in 90 days, lots of your students then do multiple books.
Some key points that I think are worth taking away: Focus solely on the rough draft. It’s really interesting you say that, because I’ve found lately, when I’ve had to do detailed correspondence, whether it’s a book foreword or letters of offer or sales page type things, I’ve been opening up a writing tool on my computer that is called iA Writer. Actually Andre Chaperon told me about this tool, and it blocks off the whole screen and I just write the first draft, and then I go back and edit it later. I really agree with that, focus solely on the rough draft.
You also said, it’s not even about the book. I think that’s really the point. The book is just the tipping point to let people be aware of you and build credibility to feed the next offer, and you’ve mentioned a few things that you could have there, whether it’s one-time sales as a bump, whether it’s recurring programs, whether it’s high-ticket items. If you have any of those, it makes sense that within 3 months from now you could have your own book feeding that, accessing that Amazon marketplace.
And you also said you’re going to have to jump in before you’re ready, and I think everyone can relate to that one. I doubt anyone’s sitting here thinking, oh, I’m absolutely ready, take my money, sign me up. But the thing is, it’s like parenting or anything else in life, it’s never going to be perfect, but you just get on with it. So I’m really excited for what you’re offering to the market.
From a personal note, it’s been really enjoyable working with you, Chandler, to watch this business grow and to see how much demand there is for this product and how much you’re helping people to actually realize their dreams. I think you’re doing good stuff, that’s why I like having you back on this show and I’ll put a link here to your bestselling product so that people can actually get up and running. If they want to be published, then that’s really just a click away.
Funny parting message
So any final thoughts, have I missed anything in my summary there that you’d like to add about your program?
Chandler: No, that’s great, man. I guess I would leave with kind of a funny quote, which is, I went to a seminar with a guy named James Malinchak, and he said, “My crappy book’s better than the book you ain’t got.” And I just always remember that, and that combined with you know, the old Facebook motto of “Done is better than perfect,” those two have always pervaded in my mind that it’s hey, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but the biggest thing that you can say and the biggest takeaway is that you did it, right? You took it to the finish line, which is more than 99 percent of other people, so that alone makes you stand above the crowd.
James: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, thank you, and I appreciate all the insights today, and it’s been good to sort of peek into that world on what happens after the book’s published, so thanks very much.
Chandler: Awesome. Thanks, James.
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