Guest post by K.N. Kukoyi
It was a Sunday afternoon in early December. I’d put my book, Don’t Hire a Software Developer Until You Read this Book on preorder 3 months earlier.
I had recently attended a business show where I learned of the benefits of putting books up on Amazon as a preorder, so I was keen to explore this option.
Since then I’d checked my email account every day scanning for news from Amazon announcing that my first preorder had been received, but still there was nothing.
So, if I’m honest, I was feeling quite defeated.
To take my mind off the situation, I decided to visit a friend, and when I returned home that evening, part of me thought I was wasting my time doing a final check on the book before bed – but I was curious to see if there had been any change. I searched the Amazon.co.uk website and got a pleasant shock.
My book had launched and I was at #17 in the UK Amazon Business Skills chart! After sitting down at the KDP console and clicking into all the links and tabs, I FINALLY realised I had received presales, which had come from 4 different countries!
The next week was a blur. I got my first two #1s (in the Business Skills and Information Technology categories in the UK) the day after launch. My book also started to climb the Amazon.com charts.
Amazon UK – Double Orange Banner and Worldwide Best Seller
(See cover image)
Since then I have had number ones in multiple categories in 7 countries: the UK, US, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada and France.
I now have 3 titles and launched book 3 in June 2017, exactly a year after I began writing the first book.
It has been mind-blowing to appear next to Tim Ferris’s The Four Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Tony Robbins’ Unshakeable, but the one I am most excited about is The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries because it is a startup bible.
It is my dream that whenever anyone says they want to build software or apps to sell, that a friend or mentor will say to them: “Well, you need to get a copy of Don’t Hire…. . That book covers all the essentials from idea to launch – it will set you off on the right track.”
Highs and Lows
On the plus side, I made some good category choices and I researched the need for my book before writing it. I also attended a course, joined some author groups on Facebook and did lots of research about self-publishing.
I also decided to withdraw my books from other book publishing platforms in order to join KDP Select, which demands exclusive rights to sell your book for a minimum of 3 months, but offers other benefits for authors (especially newbie ones without a platform) including the opportunity for your book to be shared and the chance to earn money from Kindle Unlimited page reads. For me, this is important as I want to reach a point as soon as possible where word of mouth recommendations are happening. Don’t worry about income initially; just do what you can to get your book seen by as many pairs of eyes as possible.
My biggest mistakes included:
- Bringing forward the date of my launch by a few days. I discovered that this change had “confused” Amazon’s computer systems and they were now unable to confirm exactly when the book would launch. This was not a great position to be in!
- Not taking enough time to familiarise myself with the KDP console. Yes, Amazon sends many emails, but they do NOT email you to tell you about preorders! If I had known where to look, I would have known about my preorders which would have decreased my stress levels!
- I spent a lot of time thinking about the book itself and getting it published – covers, editing, formatting etc. I barely slept for months, but I wish I had spent more time thinking about life after the book launch!
- Not having a launch plan for book 1
Looking back, I was at max capacity in terms of taking on more tasks, however now I know who and what services I can outsource, this has made life easier. I got the #1 orange best seller banner with my 3rd book across multiple countries and categories in one week instead of 2 months!
Get yourself into the right frame of mind from day 1.
Writing and publishing is a formula, so get organised and get into the authorpreneur mindset!
Knowledge is power, so take some time to understand the new world that you are getting involved in, because there are lots of tips and strategies that could make a difference to the fortunes of your book. I also had to accept that marketing is an inescapable part of the “job.”
The biggest brands in the world still market their products – why should authors be any different? The Amazon engine gives more “juice” to books that already have it, so give your book a push so the Amazon machine will work harder to support you.
You can’t always do everything yourself. Connect with others, and learn from them.
My first launch team was a humbling experience. I was so grateful for the support of others and I realised then what a powerful force a group can be!
Guest blogging and podcasting has also been a great experience. I first heard of Alinka through “How I Sold 80,000 Books.” I downloaded it from Amazon because I was intrigued. From the title, it was clear that she knew how to grab a reader’s attention!
Alinka encourages writers to switch from the mindset of author to that of a businessperson, discussing the marketing mix: Product, Price, Place, Promotion early on in the book.
This is the first time I have seen a book for authors take us “back to basics” in this way and I think revisiting the “4 P’s” of marketing is an essential message for us all.
Keep them front of mind and regularly ask yourself what needs to be done to improve your activities in each area.
Alinka’s book provides a huge number of resources, links and tips, including:
- Ways to build your mailing list.
- A comprehensive list of book award contests that indie writers can sign up for, and their deadline dates and entry fees.
- A huge list of Facebook groups for writers.
- Great tips for offline activities, including creating brochures, the importance of (not just carrying, but using!) business cards, and how to “work” trade fairs.
I especially appreciated the advice she shared on a common challenge for authors – where to get reviews.
Many books offer basic information about getting your book onto Kindle, and whilst this is where your book should be, it is good to be aware of the other platforms available for distribution. This book included information about Bowkers and IngramSpark from a perspective that I hadn’t come across before, along with all the supporting information to get started.
This is a marathon, and not a sprint! I believe that continuous improvement is essential, so I regularly monitor the results that I’m getting and try to improve them.
I’m also working on a range of courses on entrepreneurship, software and app development for new startups. I also want to publish more books – I’d like to tackle some less niche topics in the future!
[Alinka here: I’m putting together a case study group at Author Remake this month. If you’d like to work with me on your book marketing process and achieve what Kay’s achieved, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Author Remake” in the subject line]
K.N. Kukoyi is a Software Delivery Specialist and consultant who has spent more than a decade helping small businesses, multinationals and publicly listed companies to buy, build and launch their web and mobile apps from scratch as an Agile project manager, business analyst and software tester.
Kay has Diplomas in Internet marketing and performance coaching and is the founder of Purposeful Products, a consultancy that solves software and business challenges for clients.
Develop Your Idea!
Get off to a flying start with your startup with guided exercises & resources for exploring & validating new business ventures. http://myBook.to/Develop-Your-Idea-exercises-validating-ebook
Don’t Hire a Software Developer Until You Read this Book:
The handbook for tech startups & entrepreneurs (from idea, to build, to product launch and everything in between.) http://myBook.to/Dont-Hire-Software-Developer-Until-ebook
Don’t Buy Software For Your Small Business Until You Read This Book:
A guide to choosing the right software for your SME & achieving a rapid return on your investment.