4 Important Lessons Learned From Writing My Second Book
I sold five times as many books during the launch of my second book than I did on my first one.
Now, I am still not a New York Times Best Selling author, but I’m starting to see the true power of online writing. In fact, this second book launch has given me enough confidence to believe I’ll be one of those, big wig, uber successful, tens-of -thousands-of-copies-selling writers one day.
I’m not here to brag. This will not be one of those “I made x in y amount of days” posts.
I hate those. And I’m sure you do too.
I wrote this post because I want to encourage you to write your first book and continue writing more books. I’ve seen many authors fall short on their first book and give up. Most first books aren’t good. To be honest, I still don’t think I’ve scratched the sufrace of my capabilities as a writer. I know if I continue to experiment and improve, skies the limit.
If you continue to experiment and improve, you will become a successful writer regardless of your talent level right now — I promise.
My First Book Launch
My first book did well enough for a first-time experiment, but in retrospect, I realized I made a ton of mistakes along the way that could have been avoided.
First, I rushed in getting it out there. From start to finish, it took 90 days to write, edit, and publish the book. With book number two, it took six months, and it shows. The quality of writing is much higher in the second book and I’m prouder of it.
Not only did I rush in writing the book itself, but I rushed in setting up the platform it needed to become a success. When I published my first book my email list had exactly zero people on it. With no platform of my own to stand on, I put the fate of my book strictly in the hands of Amazon. While Amazon does help authors promote books, your book won’t fly off the charts on its own.
Amazon works with an algorithm. If the algorithm notices your book is selling well for a sustained period of time, it will market the book on your behalf, but you need to create those initial sales yourself.
With my first book launch, the extent of my promotion techniques included buying advertising from one website. That accounted for enough sales to get a bit of momentum going, but it was nowhere near what I was able to accomplish with this launch. I imagine my launches will be even larger in the future as I continue to grow my platform.
Here are the four important lessons I learned.
Your Platform Matters
If you’re interested in writing a book, focus on building a quality email list first. In the coming weeks, I’m going to go back to basics and detail everything I’ve done to go from an unknown writer with zero fans to having thousands of people on my email list to share my work with.
To start, you need a few things at a minimum:
- A website (which you can start for just $3 – I have a guide here that shows you how here)
- An email provider and a landing page service to retain new readers.
- Hustle. I wrote for two years before I was able to get my first thousand email subscribers. Once I hit that milestone, I had the skills to keep growing the platform. My guide above will help you get started, but nothing is going to replace your elbow grease.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have launched my first book without having an email list in place first — it’s that crucial.
If you’ve read about online writing before you might have heard the phrase “the money is in the list.”
There’s no way around it. You need an email list to be successful as an author.
You can also learn how to build one — key word being can. I’ve been around long enough now to know that anyone who says they are struggling to get readers isn’t trying that hard.
Don’t be Shy
In the beginning of my writing career, I was concerned with being too promotional or “too salesy.” This comes from a place of insecurity.
If you spend your hard earned time crafting something with your own two hands, you have every right to promote it as heavily as possible. Also, no matter what you do, the majority of people you reach out to will not buy from you.
The people on your email list or in your community will fit one of the following categories:
- Die hard fans – These people truly love the work you do. According to Kevin Kelly, if you have 1,000 true fans, you’ll make enough from their support to earn a full-time living. Mind you, this is 1,000 true fans, not 1,000 people on your email list. There’s a huge difference between the two.
- Casual fans – These people enjoy your work, but they often need to be reminded when you put something new out. It’s also your job to provide compelling reasons for why they should buy your work.
- Never buyers- For whatever reason, these people will never buy from you. They likely joined your email list solely to get something for free.
I sent multiples emails to my list during the launch to let them know about the promotional price of the book, which was just .99 cents. I set it at this price to get initial sales early, and still more than 100 people unsubscribed during the launch. That’s perfectly fine with me. In total, about five percent of my list bought the book in the first few days. With my next launch, I plan to promote the book earlier, more heavily, and at a higher price.
Have a Long Term Plan
The book launch itself lasted for a week, but it’s only the beginning. I plan on promoting the book consistently for the next year.
I’m doing so in the following ways:
- I created an email funnel to promote the book – An email funnel is simply a series of automated emails you create one time. When a new person joins your list, they receive these emails. The funnel includes a 7-day course with ideas from my book and it offers explicit calls to actions to buy the book in half of the emails. For the rest of the year, I will create content in my personal development niche to send new readers into that funnel.
- I created an ad campaign on Amazon – This is working well so far. I am making more money than I spend on advertising, and I will continue to refine my ad tracking each week.
- Experiments – I will be running new experiments week to week to increase sales. Right now, I’m in the midst of a 30-day promotion campaign where I write a blog post per day to promote the book. After the 30 days are up, I will be trying new techniques such as using Quora, Slideshare, and anything else I can think of. Running experiments is actually a key part of the lessons taught in my book. You never know what works until you try.
Don’t Do it Alone
My book wouldn’t have done well without the people I’ve met in my online adventures.
I enlisted the help of some fellow authors I met to read the book, check for errors, and post reviews of the book when it went live on Amazon.
Instead of just promoting the book to my email list, I was able to work with an influential friend of mine who let me share my book on his list as well. In the future, I hope to have the help of many influencers, but I will never take an ingenuine approach to do so. The person who helped me with my recent launch was a friend who happened to be influential. We met after I submitted a post for his blog and developed a friendship. I’ve helped him in many ways prior to asking a favor, and I didn’t help him because I wanted a favor down the road.
I helped because karma is real. In general, you want to find ways to add value to other people, especially online. You don’t do it for a one to one transaction, but rather to be able to have the karma come back to you when you need it.
Here are some great guides on influencer outreach:
- Blogger Outreach: How to Get Influencers to Promote Your Content for Free
- How to Influence People: The Most Overlooked Secret
You Must Write a Book
I used to be skeptical about the idea that you could gain income and influence through writing. Even just prior to this launch, I wasn’t sure how high the ceiling was. I now know the ceiling is extremely high, and the only person in the way of a six-figure big time author career is me.
The same goes for you.
You can find thousands of fans for your work. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands.
You can write a book that flies off the shelves.
But nobody can build your writing career for you. You can keep reading blog post after blog post without doing action or you can put your foot down, write your ass off, make a dent in the universe, and live out your writing dreams.
What the hell are you waiting for?