If you want to sell a lot of books, build a big website. If you want to sell a lot of audiobooks, build a big podcast. (Focus on the basics.)
The publishing industry is brutal, and book sales might surprise you. For example, the average book published through a traditional publishing house sells 250 copies its first year, and fewer than 90% of books sell more than 1,000 total copies, and something like only 50 books released in 2015 will ever sell 100,000 total copies.
This makes sense. When you walk through a bookstore you have a seemingly endless selection. Between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone (Forbes).
Your choice comes with a cost to writers. Each author put a piece of his heart and soul into his book, and yet no one can read every book.
Unless you have an edge – even if publishing through a big 6 publishing house – your odds of having a successful book launch are poor.
But you can beat those odds, and I’ll show you how.
If a book sells 10,000 copies in its lifetime, it’s deemed a success by people who track such things.
I wanted to sell 10,000 copies in the first year of Gorilla Mindset‘s release. Why 10,000? Because I set high standards while also being reasonable. Gorilla Mindset is not going to sell 100,000 copies until Oprah invites me on to apologize to the world for my mean Tweets and hateful misogynistic views of the world.
I also wanted to sell Gorilla Mindset at full retail price. Could I sell 10,000 copies at $0.99 and then go around calling myself a “Kindle best selling author”? Sure, but launching a book at $0.99 is setting a low standard.
Due to Amazon’s royalty split, direct-to-consumer authors like myself can’t sell ebooks for more than $9.99. I figured you guys could save a buck, so I listed Gorilla Mindset at $8.99.
Gorilla Mindset has sold 5,000 copies in the first month.
To say I am floored, humbled, grateful, or whatever you want to call it would be an understatement.
I’m not a particularly emotional person. It takes a very high high or a very low low to move my needle. I have certainly had an odd cascades of “stuff” going on in my body, and for that I am extremely grateful.
To sell 5,000 copies in a month despite the complete media blackout on me (Gawker writers have been told by Nick Denton personally to not write about me anymore, after I humiliated Sam Biddle) is pretty cool.
You don’t need to be on TV or kiss ass to the Huffington Post and other SJWs to sell some books. You don’t need to have your books in bookstores to move copies.
Some might say I sell books precisely because I don’t kiss ass but instead have gone full gorilla.
Let’s get to some raw numbers and talk strategy for your launch.
The Kindle version of Gorilla Mindset was launched on June 27th. The paperback version was launched on June 28th, and the audiobook was available for sale on July 8th.
Kindle sales data.
Total books sold:
- Kindle – 3,493
- Paperback – 950
- Audio – 513
- KNEP – 46*
- Apple iStore – 55 copies
- E-Junkie – 38
- (There were also 600 downloads of the free Gorilla Mindset PDF, but those do not count.)
As you can see, Amazon is where you need to have your book. I am not even on Smashwords or Barnes and Noble. I’m not going to list Gorilla Mindset everywhere to sell a hundred or so more copies.
Your focus must be on Amazon. Everything else is a distraction.
Gorilla Mindset is still selling 100 copies (Kindle, paperback, and audio combined) a day, although it’s trending down, which is to be expected post-launch. After the launch has cooled (usually by the end of the second month of your book’s release), I expect to sell 30 copies of Gorilla Mindset a day for the next year or so.
Gorilla Mindset will also sell each and every day as new people find Danger & Play each and every day.
This is why it’s important to have your own web platform. The more you write, the more you sell.
The magic of having your own media platform.
People go to Google to find answers to problems. They find your website. They like your writing. They see you have a book for sale on Amazon. They buy that book.
Gorilla Mindset is an evergreen product, that is it will sell copies for as long as people want to learn how to control their thoughts and emotions to live life on their terms.
Also, not everyone reading this post has bought Gorilla Mindset yet. Whenever I publish a post, more people buy books. The more I write for free, the more I get paid. This is only true when you own your own platform.
Although book sales will eventually cool, it’s just as likely Gorilla Mindset will take off years from now. Think about it. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and How to Win Friends and Influence People – the two books that had the most influence on me – still sell like crazy as new people find those books, have their lives changed, and then tell others.
I can say with complete confidence that Gorilla Mindset will sell 10,000 copies in its first year. It will likely sell more than 10,000 copies, as I only need to sell 15 copies a day to hit 10,000 sales. (My juicing books still sell around 5 copies a day, and that’s a niche product.)
How can you sell 10,000 copies of your book?
How hard are you prepared to work?
After all, selling 10,000 copies is hard to do with a print publishing house behind you. Are you willing to work harder than anyone else by treating your writing career as a, well, career?
Write for free, for years.
By now this seems a platitude, but it’s true. You are writing every day?
Do you wake up each day with a commitment to make the world a better place by educating, informing, and entertaining people?
Forget about sales funnels.
Gorilla Mindset has no sales funnel, squeeze page, or other gimmick.
Your website is your “sales funnel.” List building and other Internet marketing techniques can backfire on you horribly. If you go full Internet marketer, you’ll lose trust and won’t sell many books.
If people want to decide whether to buy Gorilla Mindset, they can read Danger & Play, Fit Juice, Cernovich Travels, or my Twitter. (Although my Twitter is not perfectly congruent with Gorilla Mindset, some percentage of traffic will always convert.)
You’ll note there are no pop-ups or top bar getting people to sign up for my email list. I took all of that bullshit down.
One pop-up is cool, if it only loads occasionally, but I went “full retard” for a minute, got push back from you, and took it all down. I’ll find the right balance soon enough but will always error on the side of giving you a positive reader experience.
Email list are important, I guess, but a blog or website blows email away.
Never sacrifice user experience for a list. You will sell way more books through a website like Danger & Play than from even a massive list.
Blogs have SEO, comments, and are scaleable. When you send an email out, it’s dead. When you write a great article, it stays live forever and gets page views years down the road.
Plus, if your articles are relevant to your books, you now have people ready to buy your book. For example, people who search Google for “dominant mindset” find my article (at over 100,000 views) on How to Develop a Dominant Mindset. Do you think they might be interested in a book with a big gorilla on it? Exactly.
A blog also lets you make money passively through affiliate marketing. I have several articles each earning me several hundred dollars a month in various affiliate income. My yearly affiliate income is enough for me to live off of.
You can also earn an affiliate commission off of your own book. I’ve sold over 1,000 copies of Gorilla Mindset through my affiliate links. That’s more money in my pocket, all due to having a big website.
Build your crew.
I have always been generous about linking to other websites and helping bring others up. I helped others without an expectation of a quid pro quo. This has paid off big time.
Chris from Good Looking Loser has a big website. Victor Pride also has a big website. They both wrote posts on launch day (or shortly thereafter), giving Gorilla Mindset a big boost in sales when it matters most – on launch week.
Several others with growing websites wrote reviews. I am grateful to all of you:
- Jordan from Philly Law Blog
- Robert from 30 Days to X
- Ed from 52 Weeks
- QC from Quintin Curtis
- J. from Journey to 1000
- Jose from Jose L. Romeo
- Seth Rose from Masculine Books
- WSP from Wall Street Playboys gave away 10 copies of Gorilla Mindset
- (If I missed your review, let me know.)
Everyone who buys your book is part of your crew.
Anyone who takes the time to post a picture or mention they bought your book is part of your marketing team. Treat them with the respect and gratitude they deserve.
There have been countless Twitter posts, Instagram pics, and Facebook posts. Again, thank you!
Also, 64 of you have left reviews on Amazon.com, 10 of you have left reviews on Amazon.co.uk, and two of you in Mexico have left reviews.
Your Amazon reviews are a massive help. Thank you for leaving them.
Some tips for your book launch.
Stagger your Kindle, paperback, and audiobook launch. This allows you to talk about your book three different times in three different ways!
Hire a professional book cover designer to do a killer book cover for you.
Do an audiobook. An audiobook adds legitimacy to your book. Read your own audiobook, because people don’t buy books. They buy books from you.
Tell the story behind your book launch. People don’t buy a book. They buy a book from you. Authors seem to miss that point.
People don’t buy books. They buy books from you.
Look at HBO 24/7 a UFC promo leading up to a fight. By learning the stories of the fighters, you want to see the fight even more. You’re not watching a fight. You’re watching a boxing match between two human beings.
If you’re freaking the fuck out about your book launch, tell your readers. This sort of vulnerability and authenticity will make them more excited to read your book.
Get some channel art for your social media accounts. New people will find you each day, and if you have a book out…Shouldn’t they know about it?
Everyone on my social media accounts sees this banner.
Thank everyone who buys your book and reaches out to you. If you’re too busy, hire someone to do it. I personally read all emails and social media to keep my finger on the pulse. My fingers are tired. This is a good problem to have.
If you emailed me, Tweeted at me, or Facebooked me telling me you bought Gorilla Mindset, and I did not personally thank you, that’s my bad. Thank you!
Do keyword research when selecting a book title.
Become good friends with Google Adwords tool and Google Trends. With Google Trends you can see how a keyword is trending. This is how you create a compelling book title for an evergreen product.
Putting a big keyword into your book title makes it more likely people will find your book on Google and Amazon. The keyword tool also gives you a sense of how large your market it.
Mindset is a huge keyword. It’s trending up.
You should also run A/B split tests on Facebook for titles, book covers, and everything else that can be measured.
I didn’t use Facebook for A/B tests, however, as my survey data samples were large enough to conduct my research “in house.”
If you can’t get thousands of answers to your surveys, go to Facebook. Send out ads with two different titles to people in your targeted demographic. See which one gets the most clicks or conversions or email opt-ins.
Turn your launch into an event.
(Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula.)
I’m a Jeff Walker fan boy. I’m on his email list and read every email he sends as well as watch every video he uploads.
In fact, I think it’s sort of whack that men “grow up” and then stop admiring other men. Why is it “gay” or “beta” to like other men? Such stupidity. If there aren’t men in your life you admire, you’re an insecure fool.
In this video I talk about launching a product as well as how to make money online.
Should you enroll in KDP Select?
(This is “inside baseball” and boring. Skip it.)
I enrolled in Kindle Select on July 20th. Based on current sales trends, enrolling in KDP Select cost me at least 100 book sales. The payout, I learned from my friend Robert, is horrible. I thought it was five cents per page. No! It’s .005 cents per page.
That said, Kindle Select offers some pros and cons. While the payout is abysmal, you will see a major boost in your sales rank.
My sales rank went from 2,400 or so to 1,000, and I ended up back ranking highly in my categories. All buys – even “free” ones via Kindle Unlimited – count towards your sales rank. In theory having a higher sales rank and being shown with the “hot new releases” will boast overall sales.
More mindset than the Dalai Lama, hotter than Dr. Ruth.
According to my data analysis, the boost in sales rank did not make up for the massive loss in royalties. My Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count is 203. There have been around 7,800 KNEP pages read. (You only get paid for pages read. Based on sales trends, at least three times have many people purchased Gorilla Mindset without reading it cover-to-cover yet.)
How much will I earn for those pages read? Amazon offers an optimistic example:
Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month: The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages). The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
Using Amazon’s example, I’d earn around $10-$20 per copy of Gorilla Mindset read, which is really cool and also total nonsense. If prior payouts hold true, I’ll make around half-a-cent per page read – or around $1 a copy of Gorilla Mindset. WTF?!
I removed Gorilla Mindset from Kindle Select.
Some other considerations about KDP Select.
You need to have a free entry point to your books, especially if you have a lot of books. Kindle Select is a free entry point. People can download your book for free. If they like it they’ll read it all (and you’ll get paid). They’ll also find your other books and writing.
Thus people unfamiliar with your work can discover your writing.
However Danger & Play is a free entry point. Tens-of-thousands of people have Googled “Mike Cernovich” and “Gorilla Mindset” this month. They saw Gorilla Mindset on Amazon, wanted to learn about me, and then found their free entry point to my writing. Some bought and some didn’t.
Thousands of new people who never heard of Gorilla Mindset find Danger & Play each day. If they like D&P, they’ll buy Gorilla Mindset. If they don’t, they won’t.
How to do an audiobook.
If you want to sell a lot of audiobooks, do a regular podcast. Your podcast is a way of delivering value and good will to people long before they buy. A podcast also helps you learn how to speak well and builds an audience of people who will buy your audiobooks.
You upload your audiobook through ACX, an Amazon partner. ACX has all sorts of technical requirements for audiobooks. Show these to your producer.
Yes, hire a producer. You need to rent a recording studio to do your audiobook right. Your sound tech/producer will also keep you on pace. It’s hard to speak at the same pace or with the same tone of voice for a prolonged period of time. You need an outsider to tell you when it’s time to pause or take a break.
Reading a book out loud is a lot harder than it seems and takes a twice as long as you’ll think. You’ll read only or or two pages at a time before pausing, getting your breath, and regrouping. This is tedious and made me want to quit the audiobook. Embrace the suck.
I spent 4 hours on two consecutive days to read a 4-hour audiobook. You should not talk longer than 4 hours a day to preserve your voice.
Drink cold tea. I gargled and drank green tea and oolong tea as they are anti-inflammatory and also low in caffeine. You don’t want to sound jittery when reading your audiobook. If you’re going to drink coffee, wait at least an hour before reading your audiobook.
You’ll also need to get cover art to meet the requirements of ACX. You have to have a specific thumb nail for your book or else your project won’t even be submitted for review.
It takes around 3 weeks for your audiobook to be approved after you’ve submitted it.
P.S. Be sure to give away one or two chapters of your audio book. If people like those chapters, they will buy your book.
Some other benefits to doing an audiobook.
You’ll find a lot of typos while you’re reading.
You’ll see if your book has pace or flow. Does each sentence connect to the next? Do you need to add material or take away material?
You can create an entirely new category of product. You can add information that was left out. Gorilla Mindset (audio) is a completely different product from the print version. It’s more like a 4-hour podcast than an audiobook.
Audible has a “bounty program.” If your audiobook was the first book a person ordered through Audible, you get a $50 bonus. However out the 500 or so audiobooks sold, there have only been 3 bounties. This isn’t a huge payout, but hey, you don’t need to do anything extra for the money.
Have any questions about publishing your book directly to consumers?
I don’t know it all, but I know a lot.
I put in a lot of work and research to make this launch as close to perfect as it could be.