How to become a best selling author?
Step one: write a book
All the years I’ve been traveling people have asked me for travel advice. I usually dole out what I can but I have so much advice, it would never fit into any single conversation. Plus, I noticed that some of the questions I was getting from people were the same so a friend told me I should write a book. My inner demons said “Who are you to write a book? You aren’t Chris Guillebeau. You haven’t traveled everywhere and you don’t have a HUGE following.” So I put it on the “maybe, someday” pile.
I continued to get travel questions and I thought, “What the heck! Maybe I do have an audience that will listen to me.” I know a lot of travel books are written to the general population so how about I write mine to women. I am a woman. I know what goes through my mind, maybe I can help more women travel.
Here’s a little more about my thought process on the book.
I didn’t know it at the time but there’s a startling stat on book writing:
80 percent of people say they want to write a book but less than 10 percent actually do it.
After reading that I was even more impressed that I did it. I had no idea so few actually did it. I really thought it was so common nowadays with self publishing or maybe I just tend to hang out in the author crowd. I’ve always said to hang around with those people that are doing the things you want to be doing. So let’s talk about the path to becoming a best selling author…
So how did the launch go?
I think my book is all an experiment in “let’s see what happens when…”.
You wrote a book, now how do you launch or promote it? How do you let the world know that you wrote a book and they should buy it? How do you jump to a best selling author?
I really had no idea on how best to promote a book. I’ve designed several for my clients and I’ve done several ad campaigns but never for my own work. This is where I should have hired out what I didn’t know. I could have used an extra person, outside my head, that could help me.
I reached out to my network and asked for any resources they recommended on launching and promoting ebooks. I had already decided that I wanted to put the book on Amazon but how do I do that. I bought a book on how to sell more Kindle books and read other free resources on launching and promoting. I knew that I could keep reading for months but that was too long. I feel like I would just be procrastinating at that point.
I decided to do a pre-launch of about two weeks. During that time I gave my book to some friends so I could get some reviews on the first day the book went live. You’ll want to give this to twice as many people as you need reviews because for one reason or another they won’t post the review or they get busy and don’t have time to read it. It was through my research I learned that you need to get to 12 reviews as soon as possible on Amazon so that they start suggesting your book to others. It’s those little things they do to promote your book. I also emailed and shared my book with everyone I knew and asked them to share it. In the listing copy I said that if anyone emailed me their receipt they could get a free copy of my photography book that is for sale only on my website.
I don’t really know why I chose two weeks for a prelaunch. If I did it again I think I would only do a one week prelaunch. My prelaunch went really well and I got sales but towards the end it started tapering off, right when my book was ready to “ship”. That’s when I needed another boost. The book was live, now what?
Sales are the thing that drives your rankings. The day that I launched all of my pre-sales hit as a one day punch and I launched fairly strong in my categories. I’m in some tough competition categories with Lonely Planet and the likes. I was pretty happy breaking the top 10 in three categories shortly after my book was live.
After the launch
I wanted to keep momentum going for the book so I shared my success along the way. I posted screen shots when I was doing really well. I posted reviews as they came in. I created shareable graphics with some of my travel images that had a pretty book link on them. I hoped that I could break past my own circles this way. It worked for awhile but then I felt like I was talking about it too much. The sales started to go down and I knew I needed to do something else.
Taking a leap and hoping to become a best selling author
I came up with a leap day promotion to see if I could get to #1 and get that orange “best seller” tag on my book. It’s supposed to be soooooo easy to get. Even a book with a foot picture and nothing else can do it why can’t you people were asking me? Well, I guess I’m sticking to the categories that matter to me. I didn’t want to change to something obscure. I wanted to be a best seller right where I was at, Travel Tips or Budget Travel.
Leap Day was about one month after the book went live and right before people would be headed out on spring break adventures. I thought it was perfect. I posted a public FB event and invited everyone on my friend list and told them to invite anyone they thought could benefit from the book. I also posted that I would be doing a blab event if anyone had any specific travel questions they wanted me to answer, live on air.
I knew from looking at my stats that if I wanted to become a best seller I needed to get about 30 book sales. Well, I came in #2 in two categories and #9 in another. Not too bad. I was right about the sales I needed. I had about 24 sales on Leap Day just shy of that coveted best seller tag. Darn! But it was still awesome to be at #2 and have so many people supporting me.
Before I started my Leap Day promotion I was pretty low in the rankings. Once I started promoting it I climbed up a little to this point. Really all it takes is one sale to bump ratings a lot.
After the Leap
Here’s what it looked like the day after Leap Day as Amazon does not show “live” reviews. I was kind of bummed I really wanted to watch my book shoot up in the rankings. Instead I had to wait till the next morning.
Here’s the company I had on that day. I was also listed in the “hot new release” category again. I hadn’t been on there since I was in pre-sales and the first couple days after I launched. It was nice to be back at the top. Sure, I missed my goal and that was kind of sad but it was really all an experiment. Life is one big experiment. If you don’t try, you don’t learn. Maybe writing this will help you be a best seller!
A week after I was #2 in all those categories I started falling again in the rankings but then one day I woke up to a new category and some new company. Being next to Elizabeth Gilbert sure made my day. I didn’t care that I was #3, being next to a mentor, an amazing author was so awesome. That book, Eat Pray Love, is a book that got me through some tough times. I hope maybe my book could do the same for some people, today or some day in the future. I aspire to be as great as Chris Guillebeau and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Step 2: still in process… but I think you see what you need to do.
Check out my status live or buy the book if you’re into the travel kind of thing.