How My Self-Published Book Sold 180,000 Copies And Nearly Doubled My Revenue

[This is an abbreviated excerpt of a longer article written by Michael Bungay Stanier on GrowthLab.com. There are links within this excerpt that link to the full article]

The Coaching Habit was published on February 29, 2016. (Leap Day! Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?)

In the year since, it’s sold nearly 200,000 copies, including 8,000 ebooks in one week in May. It made the Wall Street Journal bestseller list “organically” (which is to say, accidentally). It received more than 500 reviews on Amazon, 450 of which are five-star. And it’s been the number one book in the business/coaching category for about 95 percent of the year.

More importantly, it’s also tripled the number of sales inquiries for my training company, Box of Crayons — we give busy managers the practical tools so they can coach in 10 minutes or less — and as a result, our revenue is up 82 percent from this time last year. All from one book.

So perhaps you’re considering writing a book yourself, or you’ve gone as far as to have a first draft in a digital drawer somewhere. We’ve all seen our marketing heroes grow a base of fans, then customers, then empires through “content marketing.” And the big kahuna in content marketing is the book. This is how you officially rise to “Thought Leader” status, it’s how you differentiate yourself from your competitors, you drive revenue, you launch your speaking career, you start hanging out with other cool authors. Easy enough, right?

As with most things involving your business, it’s a bit more complicated than it seems. Writing a book is a long, lonely, and oftentimes unsuccessful endeavor. My “instant success” was anything but. The Coaching Habit was the result of four years of floundering, rejection, and toil. So you don’t make my mistakes, allow me to share everything I used to vault my book from idea to bestseller (with a table of contents to skip to what you’d like to know).

[The following is a quick summary of each of the 5 Parts of Michael’s original article with links to the full article contents from Michael’s original blog post on GrowthLab.com]

Part I: The New York publisher, the big-name agent, and misery

Summary: In 2010, I fell into a book deal with a fancy New York publisher. It happened remarkably quickly. . . . The next three years were spent in back-and-forth between me, the agent, and my publisher, and I failed to make any progress. I wrote proposals. The agent turned them down. I wrote more proposals. The agent and the publisher turned them down. I wrote entire books. My editor told me they “loved them” but didn’t “love them.”

Part II: Don’t go it alone: How to assemble a kickass team

Summary: The rejection was actually one of the best things that could have happened to me. I decided to self-publish. I was determined to publish as a professional and assemble a team and invest $20,000.

Part III: Invest more upfront (and keep more money)

Summary: For my first book Do More Great Work, which was published only as a paperback, I was paid an advance of $15,000 (which I was THRILLED about) and a royalty rate of eight percent for full-price books. For The Coaching Habit, I had to invest a bunch of money upfront (more about that above) and had to spend a bunch of money on the launch and ongoing marketing (more about that below). However, the economics of this book, if I can sell it, are much better.

Part IV: How to engineer a bestselling book launch

Summary: I’d spent years watching how others had launched their books, and wondering what I could do. I particularly kept my eye on those who had some hustle and who were willing to think about new and different ways to publish their books. Here are the 11 things I did that worked and the 4 things I did that DIDN’T work

Part V: No one really knows what they’re doing

Summary: A majority of authors (the New York Times suggested it was 70 percent) don’t earn back their advances, which means the book sold less than the publisher thought it would. And the rest of us are all making it up as best we can, hoping that something sticks.

 

 


Michael Bungay Stanier is the founder and senior partner of Box of Crayons, a training company that gives busy managers the practical tools to coach in 10 minutes or less.

2 comments

  • Pingback: Writing Links 8/14/17 – Where Genres Collide

  • insightful summaries:) the last one is honest. as i say to fellow programmers, 90% of startups fail, the media looks at the facebooks/angry birds of the world and makes it seem common. they are the rare, most lose money starting a new venture, that is the truth of fiscal capitalism. if anything the lesson is to hope you are fortunate enough to have a fiscal safety net or revenue that allow you to continue aspiring artistically. nice post

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