The self-publishing golden age: How to win influencer status with a book now
If you can write a whole book’s worth of advice, you must have some expertise, right? Well, most people will think so.
But I get it.
These days, anyone can publish a book.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other platforms have opened the book publishing world to a new generation of authors. As there are no gatekeepers, the medium doesn’t hold the same credibility weight it once did. That said, it still holds weight.
And if you follow the correct practices at the end of this chapter, you can gain influencer status through self-publishing. But don’t wait. Right now is the best time to start because self-publishing is in its golden age.
The self-publishing boom
More and more budding authors are self-publishing their own books. And clearly some are killing it. Amazon publicly announced that over 1,000 authors earned $100,000 in royalties in 2017. While on the surface this sounds awesome, the truth is the industry is becoming increasingly congested. As someone who has been self-publishing since 2014, I have witnessed drastic industry changes.
There were nearly a half million more books self-published in 2018 than 2017, which is a 40% increase. What’s more, advertising costs have skyrocketed in the past few years. Where once it was easy to get thousands of 10 cent clicks, nowadays a more realistic cost per click is 30 cents—and those numbers are only going up. While 30 cents per click is still cheap in the grand scheme of things (especially when compared to Google Ads), as time passes it will become increasingly difficult to gain exposure with your book. That’s why it’s important to get your foot in the door now.
While many new authors are allured by the money they can earn from book royalties, from a credibility standpoint this isn’t that important. The volume of sales, however, does matter. For example, I’ve sold over $50,000 worth of books with 10,000+ orders. As you learned in the 99 billion served Chapter, these numbers impress. Furthermore, today’s relatively cheap advertising costs increase your reach and build brand awareness, which can help prove your credibility to a larger audience. For instance, my books have got over 50,000,0000 impressions because of the low ad costs. But again, these boom days will not last forever.
That said, even once the self-publishing industry’s sparkle fades, you can still gain credibility from your book. There are timeless book marketing principles that serve as influencer credibility indicators, no matter whether you publish tomorrow or ten years from now. What are they? Let’s take a look.
How to gain influencer status with books
There are five determining factors that separate an influencer’s book from one written by your neighbor who lives in his mom’s basement.
1. Produce a rockstar cover
A professional, impressive book cover is one of your book’s most important credibility indicators. Think of your cover as a movie poster. Does it intrigue the reader? Is it eye-catching? Does it surprise? Your book cover might as well be a piece of sales copy, because it’s loaded with persuasive power.
Even if you have a brilliantly written book that has dozens of reviews, few will buy it without a professional cover. For that matter, without the pro cover, few people will think you’re credible, either. So invest the money in a good designer. Then you’ll win readers and be able to prove you’re an expert with quality content.
The three books of mine that rack up the most sales are also the ones with the best covers. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
2. Become a bestseller
The truth is that becoming a bestselling author is not as hard as it sounds. On Amazon, you only have to sell somewhere between 30 and 60 books and then rank #1 in your category for an hour. There are ways to manipulate Amazon’s system to do that easily. Find a category with minimal competition, drop your price to 99 cents and then run a few book promotions. Boom. You’re a bestseller.
When you get the orange banner on Amazon, be sure to snap a screengrab. You can then flaunt that image on your website to prove you’re a bestselling author.
3. Know your book’s USP
I’m a member of several self-publishing communities, and the biggest mistake I see new authors make again and again is having nothing unique about their book. Think of your book like a mini-business—it needs a USP. In other words, you need to give the reader a reason to buy your book over all the others in your niche. So before getting started, do some research on your competitors. Who are they? How is your book different? How is your book better? Answer these questions and only then write your book.
Be sure to include why your book is special in the title. For example, before writing my international bestseller An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation, I researched to see if there was anything like my book out there. There wasn’t. And because of that the book has done incredibly well, selling thousands of copies and even attracting an offer from a traditional publisher.
4. Rack up reviews
What will prospects think of you if you have 50 reviews? What about 100? Or 1,000? Just like a large social media following, a large number of reviews provides valuable social proof. They validate your expertise and show that outside sources care about what you have to say. All this adds to your credibility. Of course, having good reviews is critical. That’s where the next point comes in.
5. Write a good book
Once people actually are sold on your book, then you need to deliver the goods. If you have an awesome book cover and title but a crappy book, you can say goodbye to your credibility. No one who comes across it will want to do business with you. And you may even damage your reputation with the bad reviews the book receives. So write a good book. Share valuable information that’s unique and helps your readers.
Bonus: Publish lots of books
Consider this point a credibility bonus. While one book can prove you’re an expert, more books amplify your credibility further. It’s like the difference between owning a profitable business for a year and owning it for a decade. It shows you’re in it for the long haul and you have a lot to say on your subject of expertise. Plain and simple, assuming you’ve never heard of the author before, are you more likely to buy her book if she has one or a dozen? Probably the latter. The more books you publish, the more influential you appear.
The above list probably sounds like a lot of work. That’s because it is. But just take it one step at a time. Focus on producing one great book first. Do that and you’ll be on your way to establishing yourself as an influencer.