How I Sold 100 Books in One Day (debut novel success story)// We’re taking a step back to talk about how I sold 100 copies of my debut novel in one day! I’ll be walking through some of the things I did to market my book, and some of the things I didn’t do. You don’t always need a huge author platform to get big book sales numbers, so let’s break it down and talk book marketing strategy!
-Watch me unbox 100 copies of Essence: http://bit.ly/2vDqkUP
-Pre-Order The Book Launch Planner: http://bit.ly/2sE0Vi6
-Listen to my book signing podcast: http://bit.ly/2WjMoEw
-Taxes for Authors Webinar: http://bit.ly/3aYt2ZM
PATRON OF THE WEEK, Callie Ann Frey: callieannfrey.com
Is it possible to sell 100 copies of your debut novel in one day as a self-published author? The quick answer is just about anything is possible when you are stubborn enough. So we’re going to be talking through the steps of how exactly I did this with my debut novel. Hello everyone. My name is Mandi Lynn. I’m an author, book cover designer and the creator of The Book Launch Planner. And if you want to see weekly videos on writing book publishing and marketing, be sure to hit that subscribe button and as well as the notification bell so you never miss an upload.
So for those of you who don’t know already, my debut novel is Essence. It’s a young adult fantasy. I self-pulibhsed it. It first released in August 1st of 2013 and then since then has been re-released with a new cover to kind of just look more professional. But I wanted to talk about the experience I had with the release of my first novel because I like to think it was a good experience. Um, I did indeed sell over a hundred copies of my debut novel Essence in the first day. And in case you can’t tell, that’s this book right here. Now when I published Essence, I was a fresh face here on YouTube. I just started my YouTube channel. I had been going for a little bit. I was documenting my whole journey here on YouTube and kind of putting up how to videos as I was figuring out how to do stuff.
But on that first release day, I had a very successful book launch, mainly due to the fact that I had a huge book signing. My platform has always depended on in person events. Even today I try to do an event at least once a month. I will admit the days where I was in college, I didn’t do author events as much because college, but now that I’m out of college and I’m just living my best life, I’ve been trying my best to do events once a month because a huge chunk of my book sales is book signings. When I do book signing events, I tend to get more revenue from those because IngramSpark and KDP aren’t taking their cut. So I only have to pay to produce the books and then any profit after that is all mine. So how many books did I sell on release day?
I don’t have the exact numbers because at that time I was 17. I was not good at tracking things. I tried to go into the archives of my computer and found some very cringe-worthy stuff. But what I did find and what I remember is I on release day at my book signing alone, I sold about 80 something copies. I want to say 86 whether or not that, you know, that number is correct. I have no idea. But that’s number that’s sticking in my head. But I know it was at least 80 copies of my book. And I know this because if you guys have been a subscriber that’s been here from the very beginning, you may remember that I did a whole video just on unboxing 100 copies of my books. That 100 copies disappeared within the first month because that’s just how prepared I was to get rid of those copies of those books.
So if you want to watch that video where I did the unboxing, I’ll leave it linked down below. But besides in-person book signings, I also sold 16 copies on Kindle and 20 copies on CreateSpace. Because at the time Kindle direct publishing was not a thing. So if you’ve been here long enough that you are here for CreateSpace, let me know in the comments down below. Now of course you can already tell that most of my sales were in person rather than online at the time. I will let you know that I think I had about a thousand YouTube subscribers. I tried to dive into my analytics and find out for sure, but I couldn’t find the data there. I don’t think they keep that sort of data. So I don’t know. But that’s the, the guests I’m having. So I had a thousand YouTube subscribers, but at the time stuff like my Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, I believe I had an account, but I didn’t really use it.
So I’m not really gonna count my other social media accounts as being something that I actively used to promote my books. In fact, I believe my Instagram account I actively did not use, like I was just using it as my personal account. So yeah. So this is basically me saying I had either what I would consider a very small platform or almost no platform because while YouTube was great, the real way to get into people’s like newsfeed is through stuff like Instagram, especially these days. So before you talk about the things that I did to promote my book, I’m going to talk about the things that I didn’t do because I want you to keep this in mind that, you know, sometimes you hear about all the things you can do to promote your book and you get really overwhelmed. So instead of talking about that, I’m going to talk about some of the things that I just plain either didn’t know I could do, wasn’t knowledgeable enough to do or was too lazy to do.
So I did not post on social media. You guys already know this because I had yet to have worked in marketing at that time, so I didn’t see the value in it. I don’t think most people had really, like they were, a lot of people were doing it, but it wasn’t as big as it is now to like market your stuff on social media. Uh, so I, I did not use my social media to market my book except maybe my personal Facebook page where I told everyone on my friends list to go buy my book. I did not have a street team. At least I don’t think I did. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember. But I feel like I would’ve remembered if I did have a street team. Um, I, and if I didn’t have a street team, it was because I didn’t know it existed at the time.
And last but not least, I did not have a preorder. Now this was not for any like strategy reasons, cause some people don’t do pre-orders on their books because they want to have all the book sales on the release day so they can hit the bestseller list. All that jazz. I didn’t do preorders because, if I remember correctly, pre-orders weren’t an option. Because I believe preorders didn’t become an option for indie authors until KDP came around and KDP didn’t come around until they bought out CreateSpace. So it wasn’t an option. So there were basically four things that I did to actually promote my book that I got my book sales from. So the first thing I did was that I did a YouTube countdown. This is something I still try to do when I release any other books that I have, especially mostly my fiction books, I don’t do it as much for nonfiction. But for fiction books, I go out all out for my release plans.
So what is a YouTube countdown? It basically means that the five days leading up to the release, I release a video every single day. That way I get a people subscription boxes and it’s a not so subtle reminder to go buy my book and it’s just a fun countdown. Usually those videos have to tie into what the book is actually about or what the publishing process was like. Anything like that. So YouTube video every single day leading up to release. Now those videos actually didn’t perform super well the week leading up to because again, I had a smaller audience, but what did happen was some of those videos actually have come to be some of my most popular videos to this day. Which is really nice because they’re now super popular videos with thousands of views. And in the video I’m doing nothing but talking about my book, which means book sales.
So while it didn’t lead to book sales, the day of release, it led to longterm book sales. The next thing I did was get a ton of advanced book reviews. So at the time I was super obsessed with the BookTube community. I thought I was a book tutor. I am not. But basically what I did was I had my book and I emailed all my favorite BookTubers and I asked, would you please read and review my book on your YouTube channel? And most of them didn’t respond and want to know why? Because I aimed a little bit too high. When you are someone with like a thousand followers you’re a debut novel and you’re self-published, if you ask someone who has a lot more followers than you to read and review a book and you have no personal relations with them, odds are they’re going to ignore email. Which is perfectly fine.
It happens. So what my advice is to you is if you want to get advanced reviews from bloggers in particular or BookTubers or anyone aim for someone more on your level. You have better odds of getting a response that way. Next thing I did was a blog tours. So the process for arranging a blog tour was actually miserable these days. You can actually hire someone and they’ll arrange the whole blog tour for you. I am too cheap for that. I am still too cheap for that even though I don’t think those existed when this book was released. But I arranged the entire thing myself and it basically meant I emailed a bunch of people and I asked them, would you be willing to do this? Would you be willing to feature my book on this particular day? I had to make sure that I had a different blogger for every single day of the week.
I believe that happened after the release of the book. And it was stressful and some of the bloggers like would said yes, but then backed out without actually telling me they backed out. So it just made for a very stressful process. Now I actually never plan on doing a blog tour again because I just found the stress and the outcome of it was just not worth it. What I do plan to do is an Instagram tour for future books. Now and an Instagram tour would be basically like a blog tour, but instead of a blog post and like a lot of work, it’s just a different Instagramer features. Your book every day and it’s just a picture. It’s just a quick few paragraphs if they feel like writing a few paragraphs about your book. Now, how do you go about planning an Instagram tour?
Allow me to introduce you to The Book Launch Planner. So The Book Launch Planner is a planner designed by authors for authors to help you keep track of everything when it comes to planning your book launch. There’s about 50 pages of just templates and checklists and all that, and then the rest of the planner is content planning. So you can plan everything leading up to launch. It’s got calendars, it’s all fill-in-able. It is completely customizable, but I have a special page in here for contacting Instagrammers, as well as contacting bloggers and it gives you a place to keep track of all that information. So this is actually up for preorder now. The copy you see my hand now is just a proof copy. So this is not the final version I actually plan on the final version of being matte. But you get the gist of what it is.
You can check out more info about The Book Launch Planner in the description down below. And when you preorder, you get $5 off, you get a free book and you also get a free additional sticker sheet. And last but not least, the biggest thing that contributed to a hundred books being sold in one day, which was the release day of my book, was the book signing. Now I don’t want you guys to think, Oh my gosh, she must’ve gone to like a huge bookstore. They must’ve advertised the heck out of it. They must’ve done so much for her. No, this book signing was actually at my parents’ house and we just got a lot of people to show up for it. And if I remember correctly, we even contemplated like telling the newspaper to come and write an article on it. We didn’t end up doing that, but don’t worry, I still ended up in the newspaper later on, a few months later with another book signing
I did. So here’s the key to having a successful book signing. Invite everyone. Like I mean everyone, especially for your debut novel. Your debut novel release party will be the easiest thing to get people to, out of any other book signing you will ever do. Because let me tell you, your debut novel is exciting. Everyone’s happy for you. They know you’ve been reaching for this dream for a long time, but when you release your second novel, they’re like, Oh look, Mandi wrote another book. That’s nice. People only show up to the release of your first novel, or at least most people. Like I, I will not get 80 people to show up for the release of any other book I’ve written. Well, not family members at least. Maybe I have a lot of adoring fans. I don’t know, but I’m just going to read you off the list of people we invited in terms of like what category they fit into.
So I invited my friends, my family, my extended family, my teachers. Yes, it was the summer before my senior year and I invited my teachers to my house. No regrets, best thing I ever did. Did it create some issues when I went back to school later and some kids thought I was weird. Yeah, probably, but I lived to tell the tale. My mom also owned a business, so she invited every single person she knew and they all showed up. And a few of those people were also librarians, which is also awesome because that means they were buying copies for themselves as well as like a few copies for the library and it was awesome. That’s why I sold 80 books, not because we had like a ton of people showing up, although we did, but some of the people bought like multiple copies because they were just so excited.
They bought copies for the library. Everyone was just super generous. I think we were selling the book for like $10 so it’s not like it was expensive or anything. It was just a fun party. Basically the gist I’m getting is that to have a successful book launch, you need to tell everyone about you, about your book, and about your, your book signing. I know that most writers are introverts and you don’t like to talk about yourself. You don’t like having attention drawn to yourself, but the only way you’re going to sell a lot of books is to tell people about it. I’ve seen people all over the internet that they’re just looking for shortcuts. They’re assuming that because they aren’t selling any books, that they’re missing something, that there’s some magic trick to selling a ton of copies and there are things you can do. There are strategies you can do.
But I was 17 years old. I didn’t know about any of that. I sold a lot of books because I told everyone I existed. I was not, for a second, gonna hold back because I thought people were going to make fun of me. And let me tell you, I had people making fun of me in high school. It was not pleasant. There was a hate club against me, but I lived to tell the tale and look at where I am now. So I want you to tell every single person that’s willing to listen, that you have a book out. That you’re proud of. It and that you have a book signing either at your house, at a bookstore, at somewhere where you can sell a lot of books. Now keeping in mind that when you have a book signing at your own house, there are some limitations.
For example, for She’s Not Here when it released. I did have a book signing at my house that I live in right now, but because of that, I obviously didn’t advertise that to a lot of people. I have learned, I enjoy my privacy. I don’t like when people know where I live. So this signing was just for friends and family, just a chance for us to chill out, hang out and do whatever. So that’s something you need to keep in mind that the people you invite to your house, you have to make sure you’re okay with them knowing where you live. You also have to keep in mind the fact that when you’re selling books at your house, you have to figure out how to do things like sales tax. So sales tax can get a little complicated and a little murky. But I do have a podcast episode where I talk about it.
I will link to it down below. This was my most recent episode of the ask me anything podcast on Patreon. So if you want to know things like how to track stuff like income tax and sales tax and just figuring out how to take credit cards or keeping track of cash transactions, just listen to that podcast episode. I also have a webinar where I talk about nothing but taxes for authors. And so that is all down below. Do you know that if you want to listen to the podcast, you have to join the Ask Me Anything podcast tier. And the last key to having a successful book signing, especially if it’s at your house, is snacks. We had a lot of brownies, if I remember correctly. And that kept people, um, they stuck around a little bit longer. Cause there’s nothing more awkward than a book signing where like people come, they buy the book and they leave.
You want people to like mingle a little bit. So when other people arrive they’re like, Oh good. There’s a lot of people here. I don’t feel awkward. So snacks is a key to keep people occupied. So that is how I sold 100 copies of my debut novel in one day. I know this isn’t a scenario that everyone can create themselves, especially if you’re not a huge fan of doing book signings. Like I said, book signings are a huge way I sell my books today. I do want to give a shout out to this week’s patron of the week, Callie Ann Frey. So Callie is the author of a poetry collection called constellations. If you want to find out more about Callie and her poetry or what the heck she’s up to, you can go visit her website. It will be linked down below. If you want to be featured as one of my patrons of the week, just join me over on Patreon.
When you’re on Patreon, you can unlock a lot of cool content including podcasts, exclusive posts, exclusive videos, and AuthorTube Academy lessons. You can also sign up to my newsletter and when you sign up to my newsletter, you get access to my entire resources library. That includes principals, webinars, and even an excerpt of my book. Thank you all for watching. If you enjoyed this video, let me know in the comments down below. If you want to learn more about book marketing, you can watch the playlist off to the side there. Otherwise, that is it, and I will see you guys next week. [inaudible].
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