Most self-published authors, especially first-timers, would LOVE to have 50 preorders, let alone 10,000. In this guest post, author Julian Hosp shares the steps he took to get over 10,000 preorders for his first book. Warning: It takes a lot of hard work, but it has definitely paid off because launching with 10,000 preorders will definitely catapult him to instant bestseller status once the book goes live, which will lead to many more sales.
It was the beginning of August 2015, and I had just finished writing my first self-published book called “25 Stories I would tell my Younger Self”. I felt extremely proud, as I am not a fast writer and the roughly 40,000 words took me over 6 months to write. The last words were: “Regards, Julian”. I was confident (probably like any author) it was going to be a best seller. I opened my email program, and sent an email to the first editor, who was going to give me feedback on the rough plot. Two days later I received his reply: “Wow, the book is really good – have you thought about how people who do not know you will find out about it? Why should they buy it?” I was dumb struck – I thought after finishing writing, my job was done, and what I thought was, a “wonderful book” would sell itself, right? Almost four months later I knew that I could not have been farther away from reality. No one would care about my book, if I didn’t step up my game and hustle super hard. So what happened? 12 hours of work a day ended up with over 10,000 preorders to date. Actually 10,452 to be exact when writing these lines. So, how did I do it?
5 Tips for Getting More Preorders
There are probably hundreds of tips out there how to market your book, how to spend your money for promotions and how important your mailing list is. All these things are true, and before coming to what truly brought my break through, I want to point out these wider known strategies first, that I also used but my key strategy will be at the bottom:
- I used to be a professional kitesurfer for over 10 years, and with that I had a certain social media following already, which surely made things move a lot faster than usual. Key take-away for you, if you are not a professional athlete (and chances are you are not) and if you haven’t done so already, build a social media following from the second you decide to write a book! I like Facebook the most, so that is where my page is since September: facebook.com/25stories I create interaction and fun on there for people to check back, but you can use whichever social media site you like best. The key is to interact with people.
- Tell the story around your book from the very beginning. People do not buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. So my story had always been, that I had grown up in Austria (Europe), started my first sandwich business in Junior High that almost got me kicked out of school, and then moved to the US to go to High School. I studied medicine at the same time that I was a professional kitesurfer travelling the world, and after I graduated and worked at the hospital for a little bit, I decided to go back to business again, as that was way more fun. I moved to Hong Kong, built a business there for 4 years very successfully, made good money, got tons of experience and stepped back to share all the stories that defined my life in those years in a book. That was how “25 Stories I would tell my Younger Self” came together. So, what is your story for your book? Tell the world and they will buy in!
- Just like the social media following, you need to build a mailing list, if you do not have one already. I had almost 20,000 people prior to starting my book due to my background, but so what! I have added over 3,000 new email addresses in roughly 100 days through social media and the book’s info website.
- That brings me to the next point: You need a website for your book. I am no web-pro, and I am sure my page could be 10x better. But any website is better than no website.
- I connected with lots of podcasters, bloggers, journalists and YouTubers to ask how I could bring value to them, while at the same time getting exposure through their show. It brought massive tractions and preorders by getting out there and promoting my book!
Get Them On Your List
From August until today, I keep updating my user base, asked for preorders and participation through email and social media. I didn’t automatically have a ton of people at first, it was done step-by-step. The earlier you start all this, the better. Probably, you have known most of these things, still, I wanted to point them out. Ok, but so what was the most powerful tool I used? Do you know how Airbnb got their massive growth? They used an un-scalable technique, where they went to early users of their platform in New York, and built a relationship with them. They followed the “1,000 True Fans” principle written by Kevin Kelly. It basically states that what you truly need to be successful with a service or product is not 1 Million followers, but rather a 1,000 TRUE fans. And you will not get that by doing mass media marketing, but rather, just like Airbnb, by getting into 1:1 touch with your “fans”.
So, what did I do? I took the phone, and called anyone from my 1,000 phone contacts, 2,000 Facebook friends and 4,000 LinkedIn contacts, that I actually knew in person. I talked to them, explained WHY I was writing the book, and what it was about. If I did not know the phone number, I dropped them a 100% personalized email (not copy/paste). I related the stories to the person I was talking to, which was quite simple, as long as one considered doing so. I asked for their help and said I wanted to write a best seller, and I would take any help I could get. No matter whether it was actual preorders, or sharing on Social Media, or spreading the word online and offline. Some people were not open to doing so, but many became extremely enthusiastic. Some preordered dozens and hundreds of books for their school, company or community, while others provided great reviews or connected me to other influencers in the self-publishing community.
Get True Fans
Yes, I started out with a big pool of people already, but even if you only do this with 100 of your acquaintances, you will succeed. Build TRUE fans – people who do not only want you to succeed, but are literally invested in you succeeding. One true fan connected me to someone else for example, who then shared a post on one of the most influential Facebook Pages in Thailand – which got me another load of preorders. Whenever someone commented or shared a post, I thanked them in person on social. Many responded: “Wow, this is so extraordinary, I would have never expected that – you rock!” I stay in touch with as many true fans as possible and I could share more and more stories like that, but the key take away lessons are the same anyways:
Building your online following is very important, and you can get almost like a blueprint for that online. My true break through however on achieving 5 digit preorders came from winning TRUE fans, by getting in touch with them, talking to them and building a relationship. The reason you will not read about this much online, is because it is not as straight forward as just setting up a Facebook Ad campaign or a landing page. But just as in anything: the road less travelled will be the more successful one – and that is what my 25 Stories are about. Of course, noteworthy to mention is the massive amount of hours I pored into all the marketing and promoting. I surely averaged 10-12 hours a day for it – but it was all worth it and that is how I have 10,000 preorders.
For those of you interested, Julian’s physical book will launch on December 1st, and the e-book will launch this Sunday November 15th, and the first 48 hours are free downloads. So if you want to snatch a free copy this is the best time to do so! You can get a sneak peak at www.25stories.org. If you want to connect with him, you can reach Julian at: www.facebook.com/25stories and he will definitely talk to you if you reach out to him.