Gorilla Mindset has sold over 20,000 copies after only eight months after its launch. As you’d expect, I studied the publishing and marketing industries. Some highly successful authors even refer to me as an expert on the new rules of book publishing.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) January 2, 2016
Here are some lessons I’ve learned about writing and launching a book.
Make a mindset shift today. No one is going to give you a book deal.
In life you don’t get what’s offered. You take what you want. Despite having a huge Internet presence, a large social media, and proven track record as a writer, no one offered me any book deals.
A friend of mine, a NY Times best selling author, even reached out to an agent friend of his. The agent said, “No one will touch that guy.”
Despite never being given a “fair chance” at publishing, I’ve sold more books in a few months than 99% of authors will in a lifetime.
Change your mindset, change your life. Impose your will on reality or get f*cked.
Publishing is a brutal industry.
Unless you have passion to be a writer, there are hundreds of other businesses to get into. I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else. If you want to write to have your ego stroked for for people to tell you you’re cool, spend your time working for money, save that money, and take it to a strip club. That’s a far more efficient way to get your ego sucked than writing.
Don’t believe that publishing is a rough gig? Consider this:
- “The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 2,000 copies over its lifetime.”
- “Only 62 of 1,000 business books released in 2009 sold more than 5,000 copies.”
- Read: 10 Awful Truths About Publishing
Read those numbers again and again – 250 copies per year, less than 2,000 copies ever, and selling more than 5,000 copies puts you in the top 1% of authors.
Writing is 25% of your job.
Authors can’t simply write, launch a book, and move on. An author must be a master at marketing, sales, and promotion. You must also learn how to build a website, design a book cover, and create an email list.
No one is going to buy your book if they have never heard of you. You must get noticed and then know what to do once you receive attention.
Hype other authors to get noticed.
I hype the hell out of other authors, although only when their books are worth reading. I don’t ask for a quid pro quo. My reviews are done without any expectation of a return favor.
Hyping other authors has a lot of benefits. First, everyone has a Google alert on their names. Writers might not read your emails, but they’ll click over onto the Google alert. If they like your stuff, you have a new reader and perhaps someone who will hype your books, too.
Second, your readers are always looking for book recommendations. Making solid recommendations enhances your credibility.
Finally, you’ll write a better book when you know what your current readers enjoy reading. I can write any number of books. Why not write what you want to see?
On a related note, stop sending me your ebooks. Why would I read your book when you haven’t reviewed mine? Given traffic disparities, most people would need to review my stuff 10 times to make it fair for me to review their stuff once.
Use social media to tell your story rather than sell.
Because the Internet is full of scammers, readers under 30 will stalk the hell out of your social media to find out more about you.
Your social media is garbage if all you do is post links to your stuff and ask for sales. Your social media should tell your story as a human being.
You can see how I use my social media:
- Instagram is for cool travel photos
- Twitter is for raising hell
- Facebook is for drafts of articles that appear on Danger & Play
- SnapChat (MikeCernovich) is how I tell the story of my day.
Since I write non-fiction mindset books, social media proves I walk my talk. People Google my name, find my social media, and realize, “Oh this isn’t some basement dwelling troll or con man. This is a guy living a pretty cool life. I’d like to learn more about his thought processes.”
Remember that the biggest social media mistake authors make is to make hard sells. Social media is more about showing readers you are a human being than it is about directly selling to people.
Readers take priority over “friends.”
If you want to sell books, stop texting like a teenage girl all day. Don’t answer emails. Stop arguing on Facebook. All of your material should be scaled for the Internet. Your readers are your new friends. Thank them often.
- Read: Start Scaling You.
Write for free to get paid.
Years before ever selling a book, I wrote for free. Why? Because writing is my passion.
Although I post spectacular pictures from exotic lands on Instagram, my laptop is the best view in the world. Being away from the keyboard for more than a day makes my fingers twitch.
If you don’t want to write for free because your heart commands it, don’t bother writing a book. Your book won’t sell.
It takes years for people to buy your book, so ditch the Internet marketing crap.
“Mike, I’ve read your stuff from the beginning. I finally bought Gorilla Mindset!” I hear that every day.
Because it takes years for people to buy books, I don’t use sleazy Internet marketing tactics that would destroy the relationship. People can window show at Danger & Play all they want.
Aggressive pop-ups destroy the reader relationship.
You can charge the full price for a book once you’ve built up your personal brand.
If you try to learn how much to charge for a non-fiction ebook, you’ll get a lot of bad advice. If you have delivered solid information to readers for years, sell your books for $9.99 – the maximum effective amount you can sell it for on Amazon. I sell as many copies of Gorilla Mindset at $9.99 as I sell at $7.99.
If you want to sell audiobooks, create a podcast.
A podcast is a way to get people used to hearing your voice. Many people are auditory rather than visual learners and listen to podcasts and audiobooks rather than read print or Kindle books. If they love your podcast, they’ll love your audiobook.
Podcasts are a marginal product for most books, and account for 5-10% of book sales. Most books never make it into audio format.
Gorilla Mindset (audio) is 23% of total book sales.
Ebooks are king if you are an independent author.
If people read your articles on a mobile device or computer, chances are they prefer ebooks to print.
Gorilla Mindset sales breakdown:
- Kindle – 9,709
- Paperback – 5,720
- Audible – 4,626
Learn copywriting and how to create a call to action.
I never studied copy writing, as I learned persuasion from Gerry Spence and other master story tellers. Plus, law is a lot like copy writing. You tell a story, make arguments, and then ask for something.
When you want to sell online, follow this script that all great lawyers use:
- Draw the reader’s attention when a killer opening. (“How I Sold 20,000 Books” might not resonate with regular readers, but authors understand what that means.)
- Tell a story. (Here’s how I sold over 20,000 books.)
- Address weak points about your product. (Not applicable here.)
- Tell them what they should do next. (Buy your book, join your email list, like your social media.)
A “Thank You” goes a long way.
Everyone is too cool for school these days. Don’t believe your own hype. People read your books because they feel a connection to your writing.
Answering “fan mail” and reader comments and social media replies isn’t optional. It’s part of your job as a writer.
Some outsource their email and social media, but I read it all. It keeps my finger on the pulse of the world.
Say thank you 10 times a day. It’s a mindset exercise in gratitude. I kept track at first but now it’s natural. It changes how you view your interactions with others and how you view people. You get a lot of help from others that is invisible when you have an entitled or victims mindset. When you look for opportunities to thank others, you see small gestures of human kindness everywhere. You even start looking for ways to express your gratitude by being kind to others, which creates a virtuous circle in your life. By the way, thank you for reading this!
Most of what I read online before Gorilla Mindset turned out to be scammy.
Few people know how to sell books, as it’s a hard gig. (See my first point, above!) Be careful who you listen to or trust.
You can read some more information on book selling below. There is no better information out there, and I know as I’ve read it all.
- How to Sell 10,000 Copies of Your First Book Without Being a Scammer or Selling Out
- How to Make a Living as a Writer (Write 2 Books, Give Away 1)
- How Much Do Independent Authors Make?
Thank you to everyone who has read Gorilla Mindset, and even those who haven’t.
As long as you keep reading, you’ll buy a copy eventually, maybe even today.