5 Lessons Learned from Launching My First Book
I remember graduating college and thinking that I’d never have to work so hard again in my life.
I believed that everything I did in college was to prove myself, and thus things would be easier once I officially entered “adult life”.
As I’m sure you’ve already figured out for yourself by now, LIFE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT. Especially if you own, or plan to start, your own business. If you’re ambitious and a natural hard worker (which I’m sure you are since you’re reading this post), this is our fate: Get inspired. Work hard. Deliver. Repeat.
Now that the initial book launch is officially over, I’ve been reflecting on what worked well and what didn’t. So today I’m sharing my top 5 lessons learned from the launch of my first book, The DIY Side Hustle Starter Guide.
Now sit back, relax, take some notes, and let’s dive in…
1. It takes Three Times Longer Than You Think To Finish Your Book
This was perhaps the biggest lesson learned of all, which is why I had to list it first (for those of you who skim blog posts #guilty, I wanted to make sure you saw this one :).
I took the advice of others and picked a deadline that was several weeks into the future. I know my work habits and from blogging I know what I’m able to deliver in a specific amount of time. Plus I had a DETAILED outline, so it all seemed so simple in my mind.
As you can imagine, I completely underestimated how long it would actually take me. I had to push back my launch date 2 TIMES! How embarrassing!!! I thought that the tight deadline would encourage me to get things done, but in the end it just added another stressor.
So here are the three reasons your book will take longer to make than you think:
Life and Emergencies Happen.
Three times while I was writing this book a close family friend (that lives with us) had to go to the emergency room for a serious health issue. Because of my flexible work schedule I was there to care for her, but I didn’t plan for several days out of commission. In the end life happens and I’m happy I could be there for her, But I wish I had incorporated flex days into my initial schedule. SO YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD!
You’ll Get Inspired to Do More.
While writing this book I realized so many ways I could expand upon what I was discussing to make it that much better. I added more visuals, graphics, charts, and I even created a supplementary business plan workbook to flow in conjunction with the guide. While these additions were all great, they weren’t in my original plan - so creating them took more time than expected.
The Right Words Don’t Always Come Easily.
Even though my book is part checklist, part lessons learned, and part visual guide - choosing the right stories, or words, to illustrate my points were important. When it comes to blogging, I find it easy to start with an outline and then go from there. Blog posts are simpler because they’re individual pieces of content, but writing a book is very different. Everything should relate and flow together and figuring out how to best to that took a lot more time than expected.
2. It Would Have Been Better If I Had a Real Book Sales Strategy
Creating this book was something I’d casually been working on until I decided to “just go for it”. At the beginning I thought I would do a simple launch directly to my email list. I planned for one pre-sale price and after the book would be sold at its regular price. Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned…
Because I continued to add a lot more than originally planned, I realized the book was worth more than what I was initially going to price it for. So I did adjust the price, but wish I had another price point between the pre-sale price and the final price.
I also wish I would have developed a more robust marketing strategy. My initial thought was just to keep things simple. I wanted this book to be something that sold passively as readers moved through my email welcome series. But I realized too late that for its first launch I should have made it a much bigger deal.
Here’s What I Would Change For Future Book Launches:
Because I plan to continually add to this book, for future launches I plan to post on social media, speak about it on podcasts/webinars, and potentially even run facebook ads. I know it’s a great product that could help a lot of people, so I owe it to myself and my potential audience to make it seen as much as I can.
Plus if you’re creating a book, or another product of your own, it’s worth the effort to make a big deal out of it. After all the hard work you’ll put into, it deserves to have some “publicity”!
3. You Can Start With a Book and Develop It Into Something More
Books are not dead. Though they may not always be in physical form, they can be ebooks, audiobooks - and who knows - maybe even video books in the future!
You can also adapt your book into supplementary forms of media to enhance the experience you’re trying to create.
Because my book is a “How To” Guide, along the way I developed other resources that would make my book even better.
I added an exclusive resource library filled additional topic related cheatsheets, guides, and checklists. I organized it by the four stages of starting a side hustle that I cover in the book and it’s something I can continually add to over time.
I created a business plan workbook to compliment the tasks in the book. I developed it to be a companion resource to complete as the reader progresses through the book. I knew that business plans can seem daunting, but figured they would be easier to digest if you got walked through it.
I got Quotes and “Words of Wisdom” from other thought leaders in similar niches. I contacted some online business friends of mine and got their best pieces of advice for the four different stages of the book.
I added an Affiliate Program to both help my business grow and provide my reader a chance to earn some extra cash. Affiliate/Referral Programs are a great way to generate “passive income”, so I made it available to those who purchased the book.
Here are some ways you can also expand your book into something more:
- video guides
- audio recordings
- case studies
- bonus lessons/thoughts
- a resource library
- a membership program
- a coaching program
- affiliate/referral programs
OMETHING TO NOTE: These add-on book expansions could become different pricing tiers. That means your book could be the entry level price, then you could add videos/workbooks/additional resources as a second pricing tier. You could even do a third pricing tier that adds on a 1:1 service to make it a truly premium offering!
4. You Can Charge Premium Prices for a Premium Book
As I touched on before, during the creation of this book I adjusted the price as I added on the companion workbook and a resource library. At first I was anxious because “high” pricing has always been a fear of mine.
I know what’s it’s like to have next to little money and wanted this book to be accessible to everyone. Afterall, one of my brand taglines is “For Those With Big Dreams & Little Means”. But as time went on I realized that $49 was a steal for everything I was providing.
I had to remind myself that this was more than just an “ebook”. Plus, I saw other books online sell for premium prices (I even bought this one*), and some simply included only words and some images on a page.
Here are some examples of some premium priced digital books online:
Pinteresting Strategies * || How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours || How To Create & Sell Your Very First Ebook Training || The Blog Startup || Authority || Simplify Intentional Life Planner || Bikini Body
To sell a Book at a Premium Price, You Need to Have One (or Several) of the Following:
A track record for great content.
If I said anyone could start out with premium prices, I’d be lying. If you don’t already have a well established blog or community, you need to build up your track record. You can do this by developing consistent content (with blogs/podcasts/videos/newsletters) or creating awesome free resources (this is one of my top techniques).
An awesome sales page.
The best advice I can give for creating sales pages is to PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. Design is one of my strengths, so I made sure to highlight on my sales page. It’s also one of the things I talk about at length in the book so I wanted my sales page to reflect that. If design isn’t your strength, find a way to highlight what you do well on your sales page. It could be through video, screenshots, or showcasing your ability to answer your customers needs.
Because this is the first run of the book, I didn't have testimonials to start with. Instead, I made sure the other two essential pieces were in place (great content & sales page) to prove my credibility. Now that many have purchased the book, my next course of action is to collect testimonials to add to my sales page. You could also send out advance copies of your book to get testimonials to add to your sales page early on in the game.
5. You Can Always Go Back and Make Your Book Better
The beauty of this digital world is that you can easily go back and adjust/ make things better. This is especially true when creating an ebook and many of the digital product delivery tools make it easy for you to send updated files.
Ways To Go Back And Make Your Book Even Better:
you can go back and hire a copy editor
you can update and expand upon your original information
you can add in more visuals
you can add in more stories
you can add in case studies & examples
you can add in the perspectives of others
you can add more to your sales page
2 Great Benefits of Continually Updating Your Book:
you can turn each upgrade into its own launch to gain more interest in your book
you can turn these updates into upgrades and use them as additional product tiers
How I’m Making My Current Book Even Better:
Right now I’m in the process of updating my book. Even though it only launched a few weeks ago, there were several things I wanted to expand upon and enhance sooner rather than later like:
examples for choosing the perfect fonts & creating brand style guides
additional pages all about creating an awesome website
tips and tricks for creating pillar pieces of content
smart organization tips + google drive folder organization templates (inside my Smart Hustle Resource Library)
Google Drive Templates (an affiliate program tracker, a content calendar schedule, a blog post & Pinterest group board tracker)
digital product examples (plus ways to upgrade them into services)
sales page tips to better showcase products and services
As time goes on, I also plan to develop video guides and workshops to sell as complementary kits alongside the DIY Guide (that’s also when I’ll do additional product launches). In the meantime I’m focused on keeping this guide as easy-to-follow as it is, while simultaneously making it as comprehensive as it possibly can be.
My Biggest Lesson Learned From Launching My First Book
If I had to summarize what these 5 lessons have taught me, it’s that you need to build in room for the unexpected: add in way more time than you think you need, give yourself space to make your book better, and develop a sales/marketing strategy (and pricing) that makes sense.
I hope you enjoyed these lesson learned. Though it pains me to make mistakes in my business, it’s going to happen - this is all one big learning process. In the end all I can asked is that sharing this will help you out along the way.
That’s all for today, until the next time…
*on my quest to earn more by recommending products I use and love, * = an affiliate link :)