How I Sold My First 10,000 Books (4 Lessons To Help You)

If you haven’t yet published a book, know one thing – it is ridiculously challenging. Not only is the writing and editing process tough, the marketing phase makes grown adults cry.

Selling books is very hard.

There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the U.S. alone.  On average, they sell less than 250 copies each (I had to recheck that 250 figure a few times because I couldn’t believe it, but it’s correct).

Prior to my book being published in October of 2012, I thought I would crush it in sales. I had strategy after strategy after strategy. It turns out, when the book launched it came no where near my sales goal in the first week, 30 days, or 3 months. However, I readjusted, readjusted more, and then readjusted even more and soon enough hit a sales stride.

By the 5th month after publishing, I reached 10,000 books sold. To this day, my book sales remain strong and I’m proud of the markers hit (including #1 Amazon Relationship Book and #1 Amazon Happiness Book).

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My book’s Amazon book rankings in March 2013.

My sales journey is only 3 years old and it has already been eye opening. In an effort to help you if you’re struggling with the book sales process or just simply to give insight if you’re currently crushing it on the marketing end, I’d like share the top 4 sales lessons I’ve learned in my book journey.

Lesson 1: Build Your Platform Before Thinking About Writing

If you don’t have an audience (or a giant machine, like a movie or tv show attached to your project) and you want to sell a book, you’re behind. You need a platform. A platform is getting enough people to care about you and your book anyway you can. It’s creating a community, typically through social media, of people with a genuine interest in the ideas you’re putting forward. It’s the way in which you create a strong brand around you and get the world to pay attention. The good news is that you CAN build it. The bad news is just like Rome, it can’t be built overnight. For insight on building your brand, I strongly suggest this book by Michael Hyatt.

Lesson 2: Use Affiliates

This is something I haven’t done as extensively as others (or as extensively as I plan to do for my next book), but from what experience I have with it I can tell you without question it is a winning strategy. Of the authors I’ve met who have hit big sales markers like the New York Times Best Sellers List (and didn’t have a big machine behind them or a significant platform) they used the affiliate method. In short, an affiliate strategy means buddying up with people who have platforms and incentivizing them to message their audience about your book.

The beauty of this step is you don’t need to have a network of people with huge platforms, you can invert and go with a large number of people with respectively small platforms.  The bottom line is there are millions of bloggers and social media personalities with an audiences of a few to a few million. Get those affiliates to plug your book and it will go a long, long, long way in the sales department.

Lesson 3: Go on Tour! 

Not only have I sold more books through touring than any other vehicle, there’s also not been a  method I have personally enjoyed more. Being given the opportunity to speak about your  passion to an audience interested in listening is an incredibly moving experience. Touring also helps cast your network net wider. Over the last year, I visited 22 cities on my book tour. On average, 150 people attended each event and purchase rates were very high (in some events I included the book within the ticket price and at other events a book purchase was optional).

An added bonus of touring is the “echo effect.” Of the many who will come to hear you speak, several will walk away so moved by your words they become your evangelists. For example, in every city I visited, at least one person from the audience created a book club, therefore generating exponential purchases and further word of mouth.

Here’s a clip from the launch of my book tour.

Lesson 4: Get on TV 

Sure, I know what you’re saying, “it’s not easy to get on TV.” I hear you, but I believe getting on TV is doable for anyone who wants it enough. Before I made it to the Oprah Winfrey Network, I had muscled my way on 6 national talk shows and a handful of local TV news spots. And it paid in full. One 120 second segment on the Wendy Williams show netted over 500 books sold within 24hrs of my appearance. When people see you on a TV show, it’s a the equivalent of a credibility stamp among the viewership of that particular program. Also, TV segments (even if local) drive further TV segments (shows are more prone to book you if they know you’ve done other TV).

So how do you get on TV?  Here are a few tips.

  • First, make sure you have the chops. Be self-aware enough to know if you need media training or further practice.
  • Get your written pitch down succinctly and start blasting away to producers and show bookers. Know that 99% won’t even reply. But who cares, you just need the 1%.
  • Leverage your network. I’ve had several people ask me for introductions to producers, and I’ve obliged many. However, before you ask me or anyone for a TV introduction, please read this 3 times.
  • Get busy on YouTube. Every assistant producer I know spends time searching for story ideas and guests on social media, namely YouTube. I talk about it often but I was found by Oprah’s team from my YouTube clips.

Here’s a detailed interview I did with an executive of the Oprah Winfrey Network that includes more tips on how to get on TV.

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About Paul C. Brunson
Mentor, Entrepreneur, & Television Host. My goal is to help you live your best life. I’m the world’s most influential matchmaker, founded and exited three businesses, host two television shows, spent nearly a decade working directly for a billionaire, and share my experiences by mentoring through Knowledge Share

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126 Comments on "How I Sold My First 10,000 Books (4 Lessons To Help You)"

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Misherald Brown
Guest

Very well said Paul. For some reason people feel that all they have to do is write the book and then after that it’s good but they fail to realize how much goes into actually pumping the book and having those key ingredients in the marketing mix to really get it out there. Kudos! ~MB

Dario Philippe -#DarioInspires
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Dario Philippe -#DarioInspires
Hello Mr. Brunson, <–(He's the Real Deal Holyfield) Great article, but Im writing not to comment about the post but about your character. Your too busy, too popular, and have way too many tasks to meet than to answer questions by those who follow your grind. My name is Dario Philippe (Dario Inspires) and I asked you a question yesterday about how an unknown, untrained, and under-budget individual like myself would be able to publish a book? Within a few hours you answered me by tweeting me a book to read (A.P.S) I got the book… I wake up the… Read more »
TheGreatDanaJ
Guest

Hi Paul, great tips! I read/reviewed/enjoyed 🙂 reading Michael Hyatt’s Platform book. Such great information! I’m glad to see that you recommend it too. I have been building my “platform”! I still haven’t branched over to YouTube, but your success story is great encouragement.

Juliann Butler-Green
Guest

Paul you are right on time with these tips. Just what I need to hear today! I have purchased the book Platform. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Regina
Guest

Simply Thank You Paul!

L.A. Pandanas
Guest

Ummmm…. Me and the 99 other authors from around the globe who are making history in the ‘How to write a book in 40 hours’ challenge – thank you.

Desiree M. Mondesir
Guest

Great advice Paul, as always! 🙂

jcextra
Guest
Well I hope it allows me to sale my copies of my book. AND SINCE YOU HAVE TO HAVE A NETWORK OR SOMEONE IN THE KNOW. PAUL…I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY BLOGSITE http://www.jedwardgriffinsnewbook.blogspot.com. PLEASE AND TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT. I am ready to get this going. I have appeared on LOCAL television stations and in the LOCAL newspapers. but i want to know how i can go nationwide…Anyone on here please go to my blogspot. THE BOOK IS NOT PUBLISHED YET. so paul if you could please add me as a friend on facebook john john griffin. THANK YOU… Read more »
Vitamanb
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Dailyvitamanb.wordpress.com

Marcia E Brown
Guest

You are such a blessing!!!

biglew1971
Guest

Congrats to you! When I first saw the title, I thought it was my blog (I have one with a similar name). Wish I could say I got to that number at the same rate as you. Maybe the next book. 🙂

Shola Abidoye
Guest
Fantastic! In terms of self determination, the danger of selling through 3rd parties like Amazon is that they don’t give you access to the most important asset one’s business has – the customer list. 10,000 *real buyers* is better than 10 million social media followers. Most people don’t get this. I’ve been a voice screaming this in the wilderness but few outside of direct marketing/direct response circles understand this. What if you wanted to part ways with Amazon who controls pricing in a very real way? Well they essentially own the customer relationship. There’s a reason why “internet-markety” outfits like… Read more »
Lisa Jeanette
Guest

Wow Paul. Not everyone is willing to share such great marketing tips. I truly, truly appreciate this article. A huge thank you! I’ve slowed down a bit with the whole, “I gotta get this book out by this time” mentality. Thank goodness because some of these tips, I haven’t even tapped into. I haven’t started a series of youtubes. I haven’t enough affiliates either. But I’m proud of me. I decided to STOP, learn and listen from those like yourself, take notes and implement. The book publishing part, will handle itself.

PalenceBradshaw
Guest

That is most definitely truth.

johnpageburton
Guest

Great information Paul! thank you!

Heather Smith
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Nia FreeThought Johnson

Michael Wilson
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I am writing about my experience responding to natural and man made disasters over a period of 20 years as an inspector.

Nia FreeThought Johnson
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Nia FreeThought Johnson

☺️

Joy Scott
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Thank you for sharing your insight.

Aj Williams
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Alicia Jones

Alicia Jones
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Thanks for the tips. This is helpful.

Dini Caldwell
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Adrianna Caldwell-Wesley

Melodee Forbes
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Robert Forbes, Uresa Forbes, Destiny Rose Ziarkowski ^^^

Evan Parker
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Talk about irony.

Stacy Maurer
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Cindy Sanford

Tameka Jackson
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Garland GarGar Gregarious Guidry

Fontaine Davis
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In hopes of someone who might venture out and decide to write a book. Thanks

Aquila' Mahdi
Guest

I definitely needed to read this. Thanks! 🙂

Jackson Sfc Joella
Guest

Thanks! Great Info!

Cathy T Morrissey
Guest

Great article!

Debby Ector
Guest

Ok Odis Bellinger I’ll be looking for you on TV

Ella Rucker
Guest

Cool. Thanks!

Kanika Starr Reynolds
Guest
Kanika Starr Reynolds

Thanks for the advice. I will accomplish the 10,000 books sold goal.

Chris Burns
Guest

I needed this one…I have way too many books to still be just a sneaker king, lol.

Tani Chambers
Guest

You’re on a roll today! #GreatStuff

Jai Crabbe
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Landa

Nisha Santos
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Odie Gomes I thought you might find this helpful.

Sherry Dee
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Angela Haynes-Morris Linda Griffith

Paul Carrick Brunson
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Much respect Tani Chambers!

Ayesha Myers
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Rikki White just sharing happy new year 🙂

Odie Gomes
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Nisha Santos Greatly appreciate it! Thank you for putting me on to this.

Kimberly A. Houston
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Quilninious

Rikki White
Guest

Thank you so much Ayesha Myers. This is great. Happy New Year to you and your family. Please text me your contact info. I have a new phone and lost all my contacts. Thanks in advance.

ArmyChiq Harris
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Amon Fehlah Hudson

Feliciano Gonzalez
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Sofia LatinaDiva Gonzalez

Dionne Page
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S Ann Page

Jordins Paradise
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Maureen Raley

Tess Martin-Fox
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thanx for sharing

Debbie Russell
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Lisa Armstrong

Susan Hunt
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Thank you for posting this, Paul. I will be writing this year and am praying to publish and sell for the first time. I appreciate your insight into the experience.

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