How I Sold 11,000 Copies of My First Book in 3 Weeks
One of the questions I get most often is, “Can I make money from my book?” The answer is a resounding yes! I make money both directly (I earn money from the sales of my books) and indirectly (new clients and opportunities due to brand awareness and expert credibility) from my books.
Let’s start with making money directly from a book. Before spending time on the Internet and social media were as commonplace as having our morning coffee, I had to use some good old-fashioned sales tactics to sell books. Yup, I’m basically saying I walked both ways, uphill, in 3 feet of snow, to get to school. The exact same thing, except this was 2004-2005, and I lived in Las Vegas (so no snow).
Once my book was finished and “in the publishing process” (read: edited, proofed, formatted, and at the printers), I had several weeks to wait for delivery. Optimistic little bugger that I was, I had ordered 5,000 copies. As soon as it dawned on me I HAD 5,000 COPIES (!!!) on their way, I figured I should probably get busy selling them.
Thankfully, Mark Victor Hansen had given me this sentence to use to sell my books:
“Would you like to buy between 10 and 100 copies of my book for your friends, clients, co-workers and/or employees?”
And that, my friends, is the sentence I used to help me sell 11,000 books … in just three weeks. At the time, I had about 50 coaching clients, who ranged from solo business owners to Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 CEOs.
I created a master list starting with my clients, then added all of my friends, strategic partners, and other business connections. While I was waiting for the books to arrive, I called every last one of them, told them about my upcoming book, and asked, Would you like to buy between 10 and 100 copies of my book for your friends, clients, co-workers and/or employees? (I also created an order form I could email or fax to them.)
Note: I also offered to send them a free copy. I mean, I had 5,000 COPIES (!!!) on their way, so I figured I’d have plenty to share… While some people said they weren’t interested or didn’t read (wait, what?), some people bought a few copies (that’s what friends are for, right?). I had many connections who bought 100 copies, a few bought a cool thousand, and one of my CEO clients even bought 3,000 for all of his middle-management employees and their teams.
You might say I was shameless, and to a point, I was. I had received good feedback from advanced readers. I was excited about my book and proud of myself for following through and writing it. I wanted everyone to read it, and knew the only way for that to happen was to spread the word. I think because of my previous success in sales, I wasn’t afraid to make the ask and didn’t take “no” personally (believe me, I got plenty of no’s!). I just knew if someone took the time to read the book, it would inspire and entertain them … it could help them reach their goals while getting more out of lives and businesses.
I embraced my fearless side and sold my books. I was a single mom at the time, and my daughter (and specifically her private school tuition) was my driving force for getting over my hesitations and getting on with book selling.
Here’s what I didn’t realize until much later: the average book sells (according to Quora.com) 250 books per year and less than 3,000 over its lifetime. Well, friends, I didn’t know that! And, I’m so glad I didn’t. Sometimes, lack of knowledge can be a good thing, and in my case, it was a great thing. I did not have a single limiting belief about how many books I was “supposed” to sell, or “allowed” to sell, or “expected” to sell. I used the question Mark gave me and I asked it. Over and over and over.
I didn’t even know about the “250” and “3000” numbers until I was telling someone my story and they told me, “That’s incredible! You know most books only ever sell a few hundred copies.” I had no idea, and what I didn’t know wasn’t able to stop me. I don’t want it to stop you, either. I’m convinced my first book would have died a quick, fiery death if I hadn’t gotten scrappy and started asking people to buy it. I know for sure I wouldn’t have ever written another book, and I wouldn’t have now 51 books (as of 9/23/2018) under my belt (and the maximum awesomeness I have in my life and businesses today).
Perhaps you’ve already read You Must Write a Book as a member of my advanced reader team (or you’re considering it). As a result, you might have a goal to turn your book into a stream of income all its own, in addition to using it to get more business. But even if a book is the furthest thing from your mind, I encourage you to take those and all “average” stats and throw them out the window. Use the 11,000 books I sold as your guiding star goal and do your level best to crush your goals, no matter what they are! With the power of a solid plan, massive action, and thinking outside the box, I believe you absolutely can.
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