The marketing strategy that turned me into a USA Today Bestseller
Many authors aspire to become a bestselling author. While becoming an Amazon bestselling author is quite easy these days by picking the right categories, reaching a big list requires a lot more work.
Normally, I prefer to publish a book with a focus on consistent income. I don’t pursue a new book anymore unless I believe it can turn into a consistent $50 to $100 each month for many years to come.
My main focus has been on passive income and turning readers into clients.
But an opportunity came my way to co-author a book that would end up becoming a USA Today bestseller.
The book was co-authored by over 20 people who each shared the responsibility of promoting the book during strategic moments.
We put the book up for preorder on Barnes & Noble and Apple iBooks before putting the book up on Amazon. To become a USA Today bestseller, you can’t just get all of the sales on Amazon. You need some of your sales to come from other places like B&N and iBooks. Once we got a few hundred sales on those places, we eventually focused our efforts on marketing the book through Amazon.
We led our audiences to the Amazon sales page and invited other people to join us. While a little over 20 people co-authored the book, anywhere from 50–100 people promoted the book to their email lists. Many of those email lists had over 1,000 people, and some people promoted the book to 10,000+ email subscribers.
There is no bestseller launch that happens on the back of a single person. A bunch of people help out with any bestseller book launch.
I was one of the ambassadors for two of Daymond John’s bestselling books. Through that hands on experience, I got to see what happens before the bestseller becomes the bestseller.
I along with fellow ambassadors for Daymond’s books went off on social media sharing his books with our audiences. I also sent out a few emails to my audience and know most of the other ambassadors did the same.
At some point you become so invested in the goal that you will go above and beyond to make it happen.
I paid $500 to be a co-author for that book. The logic behind the investment is that becoming a USA Today bestseller does so much for your brand. You can charge higher prices and get more speaking and podcast appearances.
To me, $500 was a low price to pay as I know some people provide the same set of promises for $5,000 and even $10,000 to become a USA Today bestselling author.
A lot of authors want that status, and some are willing to pay high dollar amounts to get there. The person who charged $500 for this opportunity recently raised her prices because a guaranteed USA Today bestseller is quite the promise…and she can deliver on that promise.
Many of those $500 investments turned into Amazon Ads for the book. The book was priced at $0.99 during the preorder phase, so the ads were definitely not profitable. I don’t have the numbers on me, but since KDP gives around a $0.35 royalty for each book sale, there was a ridiculously low margin for profitability.
The goal at that stage wasn’t profitability. The goal was to get as many book sales as possible. Some people have an ad budget they can burn through with a $0.99 book knowing they’re losing money BUT getting closer to the USA Today bestseller status.
I don’t recommend that strategy for everyone, but if you receive $500 or $5,000 from each of the 20+ authors, you’ll naturally have a bigger ad budget to make the goal happen.
Becoming a USA Today bestseller and hitting many of these big lists (excluding the Amazon bestseller status) requires an investment of time and capital.
You’ll need to invest a ton of time into relationships. But you’re not just finding new people to add to your ambassador team. You’re also nurturing relationships so your ambassadors continue to believe in your book’s idea and want to see you hit that goal.
Daymond John sent his ambassadors a free copy of the book, some merchandise, and even did personal 1–2 minute phone calls with people. When you get that level of acknowledgement and gratitude from someone that busy, it makes you work harder on promoting the book.
Rather than having 20+ co-authors helping him, Daymond had a few key people on his marketing team. These individuals relayed vital information to the ambassadors about the book launch and answered any questions.
Many of these book launches are planned out 1 or even 2 years in advance. The book I co-authored had a 6–12 month window. Although that’s not recommended for most bestseller book launches, having 20 co-authors means more people are heavily invested in turning the book into a success and will go above and beyond.
My best piece of advice for if you want to hit a big bestseller list or do a massively successful launch is to build the relationships now.
If you reach out to people during your book launch and ask them to do you a favor, they’ll delete your email.
If you reach out to people you’ve known for years during your book launch and ask if they can help out, they’re more likely to help.
The more relationships you build and nurture, the less money you have to spend on ads to reach your sales numbers. Even if you have no intention of becoming a USA Today bestseller now, get intense with your relationship building. Not only can the people you meet help you become a bestselling author, but they can become future clients and good friends later down the road.
And you thought writing the book was the hard part…