As you already know, I launched my first book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, last Tuesday. Aside from this major book launch that was over two years in the making, even before I knew I was going to write the book, there were a lot of others things going on. I only took Tuesday off from my full-time job at EMC Corporation. I was still on my local book tour and I had a lot of pending media requests to complete. I also had a dying grandfather, who passed away on Friday night (the book is dedicated to him if you’ve read it).
There were a lot of variables for this book launch, yet it still became a bestselling career/business book, reaching #227 overall on Amazon the day of launch and still holding the #1 stop for job hunting. My goal was to hit #1 on Amazon on Tuesday, but I soon realized exactly how difficult that goal is, especially because I’m competing with Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” book series, which owns spots 2-6.
In this post, I’ll go over five things I’ve learned from making Me 2.0 a bestseller on Amazon. If you have other book tips, leave them in the comments.
5 Things I’ve Learned From Making Me 2.0 a Bestseller
1. Initiate your marketing plan early
The second I established my blog in March of 2007, I began marketing a book I had not even conceived. By starting to talk about personal branding for Gen-Y early, I had already been able to attract interest to a future book. On this blog, as well as on the Personal Branding Magazine mailing list, I had qualified a group of buyers for the book. My thoughts were “if you’re interested in my blog and the magazine, you’re probably interested in a book on this topic.” I believe that every social network and blog is a mailing list that you can market to, I had built up these lists over two years, which I was able to tap for this book launch. Last Tuesday, I sent a note to all of my networks, including this blog, announcing that Me 2.0 was available for purchase and requesting promotional support.
2. Long term relationships over short term ones
When you’re launching a book, just like any product, you want to get as much press as you possibly can, especially on the launch day. The relationships you create over time with journalists, bloggers and anyone with a marketing list, will help you with promotion. I’ve spent the last few years forming relationships by helping other people in anyway that I can and as a result, over 120 websites mentioned Me 2.0 last week (including Fast Company, Inc. & The Huffington Post). I expected twice this amount, but since I didn’t have enough time to strengthen all of my relationships, and because a lot of people are losing jobs and have other commitments, many of those promotional opportunities fell through. Becoming friends with the media a year or two before you launch a book or another product, will be the key for you to become successful.
3. Timing is everything
I won’t deny for a second that the poor economy helped Me 2.0 book sales. A lot of people, aside from Gen-Y’ers, are looking for innovative advice to make them stand out right now and obtain the few jobs that may exist. If Me 2.0 came out when the economy was booming, it wouldn’t have spread as much as it did, so far and with this amount of demand (book stores running out of copies). Aside from the unemployment rate reaching 10% in some US states, more people have advanced degrees now and recruiters are using social networks as background checks. The rise of social media as a free branding channel, combined with a very competitive job market and a lot of uncertainly, Me 2.0 was able to take off.
4. Branding helps sell books
As a millennial, it’s really challenging to get enough credibility to get a publishing deal. In order to leap across this obstacle, I had to build the brand of the book by association, which means that I had to attach successful brands to it for people to take it seriously. The first thing I did was acquire quotes from successful people, such as Don Tapscott, Penelope Trunk, David Kirkpatrick of Fortune Magazine, Steve Rubel, Guy Kawasaki, and more. The second thing I did was to try and get media attention early by filling in a few contacts at BusinessWeek and Entrepreneur about Me 2.0 to start the buzz. Finally, I spoke with a lot of my bestselling book author friends and asked them for a book endorsement to include on the back and inside cover. Not only did all of this convince the publisher that it was a serious book, but it attracted more attention from the media and helped market the book better. Without this brand association, it would have been very hard to be successful at my age.
5. Prepare to lose money but gain credibility for life
What no one talks about is the expense of writing and marketing a book. Since you can’t rely on your publisher to market your book, you have to assume the role of chief book marketing officer. Anyone can write a book, but very few authors can actually generate enough awareness to make it a bestseller. The expenses I incurred from marketing this book were about $12,000 for a PR person, about $1,400 for a national press release from PR Newswire and miscellaneous expenses, to bring it up to around $15,000 total. Some of you might not think this is a lot, especially since 35% of my readers are making over $100,000 a year. I think this is a substantial amount though, when you only make a small percentage royalty for each book sold.
The good news is that being a published author gives you credibility for life. This means that you can charge a premium price for consulting and speaking engagements. Also, if your book does well, you can get a larger advance on your next book. If you’re a media junkie like me, then you’ll notice a lot more media mentions when you’re a published author because you become a credible source for stories. If you have a company, then the book will help generate awareness for your company as well.
- Me 2.0: The book promotional plan isn’t over yet and you should expect to see some mainstream press between now and the end of May for it, including a recent recording I just did with National Public Radio that will air on April 20th on All Things Considered. Then you’ll see an op-ed I wrote for BusinessWeek in May. Everything else is quite unpredictable, which certainly gives me a reason to wake up each morning.
- Personal Branding Magazine: The next free sample of the magazine will be available on April 27th and the main issue will come out on May 1st. This issue has more content than any other issue I’ve ever published.
- Another book?: I’ve been thinking about writing another book, possibly starting this summer. I can’t say what it will be about yet, but the focus will still be on personal branding.