From the desk of Harsh Strongman
Subj: How to Write an International Bestseller (and how I sold 10,000 copies of Live Intentionally)
The book every young man needs – Live Intentionally: 90 Day Self-Improvement Program crossed over 10,000 verified sales on Gumroad back in 2022. Some readers said that I can now start calling it an International Bestseller.
10,000 is a massive number of people. The internet has warped many people’s perception of reality (they think anything less than a million is small), but a group of 10,000 people is massive.
You need an entire stadium to fit 10,000 people.
Most books do not sell 10,000 copies. Most books don’t even sell 1,000 copies.
Amazon has millions of books on sale. 90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies.
About 50% of traditionally published books sell less than 1000 copies.
Only a few books ever break the 10,000 sales mark.
Live Intentionally did it in 3.5 years as a non-fiction digital only book. No print copies, no separate audiobook sales, and no 99-cent kindle promotions – and sales are still going strong.
Most sales were made at $19.99 i.e. the numbers are actually “real”, unlike most other authors who try to pump the numbers up with almost free 99-cent pricing and counting free kindle copies as “sales”.
In other words, Live Intentionally is a phenomenal success.
Note: Gumroad recently introduced regional pricing, so depending on your location, you might now be able to get it for less than $19.99 depending on where you live. Live Intentionally hit the 10,000 sales mark much before this feature was introduced.
Here is how I did it, and how you can do it too:
How to Sell 10,000 Copies of Your Book
1. Build an Audience
If you want to sell something, you need someone to sell it to. If your business doesn’t have leads, your business is dead.
If you want to sell a lot of copies of your book, you need a lot of people to know who you are and be aware of your book. If people do not know you exist, they cannot trust you and they cannot buy your book.
This is the internet age. People do not go to libraries and read random books that look interesting. People buy books online written by people they know of online (be it from social media or a blog).
Look at all the big non-fiction authors of today – Jordan Peterson, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, James Clear, Mark Manson – they all have big audiences that want to hear from them. They could write a book about anything and find people buying it 10 seconds upon release.
Failed authors have no audiences. No one knows who they are.
Even if they wrote the best book in the world, no one would buy it because no one is typing its name on Google Search and the author certainly can’t get you to click on a link because you don’t follow them.
In the internet age, you will not sell 10,000 copies of your book if you do not have an audience. This is 10x truer of digital only books.
Why would someone buy your book on nutrition when they can buy a book from someone they have heard of? When was the last time you bought a book from an unknown author when you knew of a known author who had published on the same topic?
Instead of complaining all the work that goes into making it happen – do the work and make it happen. Build an audience. This will make you 10,000 times more likely to succeed.
Show people you are a legitimate expert on the topic and they will line up to buy your years of experience for $1000, $100, $20, or whatever price you decide to sell at.
If you use Twitter a lot, The Art of Twitter will show you how to build an audience on there. It’s helped over 5,000 people make their first $1 online (you can verify that yourself by reading the reviews).
2. Figure out what your audience wants and needs
Once you have a decently large audience, figure out what your audience wants and needs.
This is not hard because most of the times, they will tell you what they want.
For example, my brand is targeted to helping men live better lives. Before I published Live Intentionally, I’d get a lot of Twitter DMs and emails from men asking me how they can get more discipline in their lives.
It is one thing to know you need more discipline and one thing to be able to practice it.
Most men know they shouldn’t eat sugar but how many can actually stop? Most men know they shouldn’t watch porn but how many can stop?
I noticed the problem that a lot of my readers were facing – a lack of discipline, and I built Live Intentionally: A 90 Day Self-Improvement Program that fixes that problem.
Now, when people ask me how they can start waking up early – I just point them to the book. When a reader asks me how he can fix his depression, I link him to the book.
I tweet the link to the book every once in a while and it sells a bunch of copies… because people want to have more discipline and they need the book.
The book is successful because there is demand. People needed and wanted it. They were asking for it.
3. Write the book, put it up for sale, and price it properly
Write the book – You will make a total of 0 sales even if you have 10 million followers if you never write the book.
Put it up for sale – Put it up for sale on a digital platform. Amazon KDP if you want to sell to a really wide audience but get a low portion of the sale, Gumroad if you want to sell primarily to your own audience (and affiliates, see below) and keep a much higher portion of the sale.
Note: Gumroad has lately increased prices by a LOT, so if you’re just starting out, you might be better served by alternatives like Payhip or Lemon Squeezy.
Price it properly – How much is a product that can get you to wake up early, quit porn, lose fat, and get in control of your life and emotions worth to you? $20? $200? $20,000?
It’s worth all of those (worth means Value > Price, unless you’re one of those weirdos who thinks everything should cost 10 cents or is a scam and thinks he knows everything despite being broke).
I wanted to reach a wide market and help lots of men, so I priced it at the lower end $19.99. I could have made much more money at a $400 price point but that isn’t the goal here (there are barely any product reviews or marketing on LMM – again, ton of money left on the table but don’t have the time).
Remember that ebooks are a one time sale ie. If you want to make money, you need to charge more upfront.
4. Make sure your book is as good as you can make it
Most books suck. Even the popular ones. This is simply a fact.
There are millions of books on Amazon, and the vast majority aren’t worth reading.
Make sure that whatever you publish – it is worth the reader’s time and money. Your writing needs to have an overwhelmingly positive Return on Investment (ROI).
Even this article – for 10 minutes of reading, you’re getting lessons I’ve learned over 3 years of publishing… for free.
The ROI factor is 10x true for paid writing. You want people to be delighted when they open you book, not feel shortchanged.
You need to have life experience on whatever you are talking about so that you can deliver on your promises.
You cannot write a good book on “How to Get Rich” if you are not rich yourself. You cannot write a good book on relationships if you’ve never been in a relationship. You can write crappy books without experience, but crappy books don’t sell.
Get life experience with the topic first. Then write the book.
Make sure that the reader has a positive ROI and they’ll give you great reviews and love you for it.
It doesn’t matter if you charge $20, $500, or $50,000 – if the ROI is positive (they get more from your product that they paid from it) – they will be happy.
The Complete Web Design Course ™ is not cheap. It costs $497. But it holds your hand to making $100k a year from web design, provides direct access to the instructor, and was created by a designer making 6 figures from web design (i.e. the creator has real experience doing what he teachers).
Despite the high price, the product has phenomenal ROI for buyers and thus, happy buyers (just see the reviews).
All LMM products have ratings of 4.9 stars and up from verified buyers because I make sure I deliver on everything I promise.
P.S. I could use some help here. I have poor ratings on Goodreads simply because it lets people who haven’t read the book leave a rating. I am not politically correct in my writing, and the weak get offended and leave negative reviews on my books.
If you got something from this article, leave me a 5 star review on Goodreads and to stick it in the woke mob’s faces.
5. Promote your book… a LOT
If your audience is on your blog, put the book on your website sidebar and link it under your articles.
If your audience is on Twitter, tweet your book link every few days (maybe even every day if you tweet a lot).
If your audience in on YouTube, tell people about your book in every video.
Put it everywhere – in your emails, in your tweets, in your videos, in your podcasts – let people know it exists.
You cannot just put out one post and expect people to find it. People aren’t reading every piece of content you produce, so if you want people to buy your book – make it easy for them to find the link, click it, and get their copy.
6. Keep your book piracy free
This is extremely important.
Books and courses are a type of product that can only be sold one time to a buyer – and if they get a pirated copy, they will never buy the book from you no matter how good it is… because they already have it.
Ideally, you do not want an audience of low integrity people who would steal your book rather than buy it, however, in practice, you will always have some lowlife thieves in your audience no matter how much you try to get rid of low quality readers.
If your book is selling well, people will upload it on the internet for free and it is your job to get the piracy removed.
Almost everyone who pirates things is a thief (whether they like it or not), but if your book is easy to steal, even honest people will steal it.
Piracy WILL hurt your sales. You can lose as many as half your sales if your products are easy to download for free.
So do everything you can to get rid of it.
Personally, we stamp and mark our files with the buyer’s info and we take action against the few who upload them online.
In fact, I funded a company that does exactly this – piracy protection. If you have an ebook or course or something that’s being pirated – the name of the company is Copyright Samurai.
7. Have an affiliate program
If you opt to sell on Gumroad or any other non-Amazon platform, a great way to get more people to hear about your book is to create an affiliate program.
If you’re unfamiliar with Affiliate Marketing, the short version is that you can promote someone else’s product for a percentage of the revenue.
The LMM affiliate program offers 75% to 50% of the sales of all LMM products.
If you have an audience, you will end up building relationships with people who also have audiences – an if they like your book, offering them an affiliate commission is a great way to spread the word about your product.
Most people with audiences will not promote your product for free, even if it’s a great product. If you offer them some of the sale revenue, they would be happy to tweet it out, link it on their blog, put it in their emails, etc. (assuming your product is good and meets their standards).
You can drive quite a few extra sales by offering an affiliate program. You won’t make much money from affiliate sales, but it’s a great way to promote your brand without having to spend on ads.
- Build an audience. Most people don’t sell many books because they have no one to sell to. People do not go to bookstores to buy random books anymore. They buy from authors they know.
- Figure out what your audience needs and wants and make that. People will tell you what they want. Don’t over-complicate it.
- Write the book. Reading this article means nothing unless you write the book.
- Make sure the book is good and gives readers a great return on their time and money.
- Promote your book a lot. Put it on your blog, your emails, your social media – everywhere. Let people know it exists.
- Make sure your books aren’t getting pirated. Piracy hurts sales. Get a subscription to Copyright Samurai (Disclosure: I helped create this company).
- Have an affiliate program so other people with an audience are incentivized to promote your book.
Hope this helps.
Until next time,