I thought I would do something a little different this month. As many of you know, I started a PodCast show also titled Publishing Basics.
Ron Pramschufer: This is Ron Pramschufer, and welcome to Publish Basics Radio, where weekly we try to help you navigate the self publishing minefield. Brian, tell us a little bit about your book Call to Action.
Bryan Eisenberg: It’s a book all about taking your website, and making it produce results for you, looking to get the actions that you’re trying to get. In the industry, we call it increasing your conversion rate.
Ron Pramschufer: Alright. Sounds like pretty high tech stuff. What qualifications do you have to write a book like that?
Bryan Eisenberg: It’s interesting. It’s not high tech. But we can talk about that a little afterward. As far as qualifications, I am co-founder with my brother, who is the co-author of Future Now Inc., which has been a consultancy that’s focused exclusively on increasing conversion rates for websites.
And we’ve consulted with clients like, you know, GE, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Overstock.com, Dell, Disney, and small parties that people would also recognize, or not recognize. And our only focus has been how can we get from your current site, better results?
Ron Pramschufer: Now our audience here are primarily self publishers. Why is it important that a self publishing audience here be familiar with what’s inside your book?
Bryan Eisenberg: Well very simply, whenever you self publish a book, you know half the battle is getting the book written and published. The second battle is marketing and selling it. And so the idea behind the book is really to understand who your audience is, and what it’s gonna take to persuade your audience to buy your book.
So if they land on your website— And I think every author who self publishes must have a website for their book. I mean we had one for ours, and it was critical in our success, that you have what it takes to make sure that people want to buy your book.
It’s not just about driving traffic to the website anymore. That’s fairly easy. You can spend a little money on Google. You can, you know, buy some ads, whatever it is. What happens is the traffic gets very expensive if you can’t figure out what to do with it once it gets to you.
Ron Pramschufer: Alright. Now I did a little Google search a little while ago, and I came up with this headline, which I think sums up this whole reason why you’re on here today. It says “Book Hits New York Time, USA Today, Wall Street Journal Bestseller List in Two Weeks with No Advertising.”
Bryan Eisenberg: Yep.
Ron Pramschufer: Now you obviously had a marketing plan that was pretty unique, or you were just real lucky. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about it.
Bryan Eisenberg: Part of it was luck. I’m not gonna dismiss that part of it, because we count our blessings every day. But I do think that we went at it with a very strong marketing plan, even though we didn’t have a very strong marketing budget, which is probably where a lot of self publishers are today anyway.
Ron Pramschufer: Uh-huh.
Bryan Eisenberg: A few things that we did. Number one, you have to understand what the objective for the book is. You know? Is the objective of the book to make money off the book? Or is it to get yourself a name? To create awareness? To use it as a leak out? Whatever it is, you have to know exactly why you’re writing the book.
In our case, it really was to establish more credibility, get the information out there, again because we’ve been authorities in this industry for a long time. We’re very well established. You know I’m chairman of the Web Analytic Association. People know me throughout the whole industry. So we wanted to make sure that the book was out there. And it was never about making money from the book.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. So you used it sort of almost like as a business card?
Bryan Eisenberg: That’s exactly it. I had a very, very good friend, a couple of years ago when we were in his house, and he handed me what he called his thirty-five dollar business card, which to him cost almost seventeen dollars, because he was getting it from a traditional publisher, and he would only be able to get discounts at about fifty percent off the price of the book.
Ron Pramschufer: Uh-huh.
Bryan Eisenberg: And when he said that, I was like, “Oh that makes so much sense.” So if I publish the book myself, then it only becomes a three or four dollar business card. That I can afford.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. But now getting up to this bestseller list. A lot of places that people only dream about. Now did you have a publicist? Or did you start by sending out a press release? Or go to like the Ouija Board? Or—?
Bryan Eisenberg: Yeah a Ouija Board probably could have helped even better. But—
Ron Pramschufer: No. I mean things don’t happen like this in two weeks, normally, without a hell of a lot of planning.
Bryan Eisenberg: No. Correct. We were fortunate enough to get the strategy from a good friend of ours by the name of Mike Drew. And Mike’s actually helped seventeen authors hit the bestseller list. And he’s a friend of ours, and he kept telling me, “You know guys, you got to do it.” And we were like, “Okay, whatever.” You know?
And we were just gonna play along. Because honestly, we never even thought we’d hit any of the lists. We said there may be an outside chance if we got lucky, like you said, we would hit the Wall Street Journal list.
But we spoke with Roy Williams, and we started to developing a little strategy together. And we said you know what? We can go out there and like target names, and pay for advertising to get people to come, and you know, get leads, so that we can figure out how to sell them more books.
Or what we could do, is we said— You know what? We can make the book. And there was this little price(retail). So it’s basically an impulse buy. So that was fine. And we knew that where we priced it, we could probably be okay, and we could probably break even on the book. We didn’t need to— We didn’t really want to lose money, but we wanted to break even only from the cost of the book.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. And that price— I’m not sure whether we even mentioned it before. You got a hardcover book selling for thirteen ninety-five.
Bryan Eisenberg: Yeah, which I understand hasn’t been done in about thirty years.
Ron Pramschufer: Yeah. No. I mean actually I believe our first conversation was about I thought it was a typo.
Bryan Eisenberg: Uh-huh. Exactly. It was later priced at twenty-five, ninety-five, which it is now.
Ron Pramschufer: Yes. So you went through the first batch at thirteen ninety-five, which nobody— I mean there’s not a seminar you could have gone to on self publishing that would have told you to do that.
Bryan Eisenberg: Well what we figured is, at that price it was a no-brainer for them. Because once it was discounted on Amazon, the book was about ten bucks. So it really was almost like for thirteen ninety-five, well what do I have to lose?
Ron Pramschufer: Uh-huh. Now what kind of promotions did you do? I mean did you send out press releases?
Bryan Eisenberg: Well there was a number of things that we did. The first thing we decided to do was say you know what? We’re gonna use our principles to make this all work, our marketing principles that are in the book. And so the first one is we need to make sure that we have a book that really had a lot of valuable content that was really worthwhile. So good, we had that. Next, we created a cover that we knew people would want to talk about.
Ron Pramschufer: Yeah, that was my next question.
Bryan Eisenberg: Okay.
Ron Pramschufer: This cover’s the craziest— I mean I love it! But it’s got like— It doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with what you’re talking about.
Bryan Eisenberg: Exactly.
Ron Pramschufer: It looks like an Edgar Allen Poe book.
Bryan Eisenberg: Yeah. I’m gonna get there. And then we decided, you know if the book is really that good, and people really love the material, and people really can get some quick bounce out of it, they’ll probably tell people. So let’s encourage them to tell people. And so we came up with a scheme, basically, to offer— If you buy one book, we’ll send you two more free to give away. So before the book even launched, we had about a thousand books out there, people reading it, seeing it, feeling it, you know, sensing its value, and starting to spread the word.
The next step that we really did is say, okay you know what? Who are the most influential people that we know and don’t know, who might say something about the book, maybe in their blogs, on their newsletters, stuff like that? And we sent out probably around a hundred books.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay.
Bryan Eisenberg: And I’d say about eighty of them didn’t even matter. You know they might have bought a few. They might have shared a few. But it really wasn’t impactful. There was a handful that really made the big difference.
And the main one was also a bestselling author who my friends knew, but I personally didn’t know, which was Seth Godin. And Seth was the first one to comment about how much he hated the cover, but that everybody should go out and buy the book right away. And he did that on his blog. And the next thing we knew, our sales just skyrocketed.
Ron Pramschufer: Wow.
Bryan Eisenberg: I mean they were selling beforehand, but he just lifted it to another level.
Ron Pramschufer: Now this group of you say a hundred, or whatever, that you sent out— Now this wasn’t some list you bought. This is one that you sat down, you took the time, and you hand-picked who you ought to send a book to?
Bryan Eisenberg: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I mean there are people in our industry, people outside our industry. I mean I sent one to one of the reporters at The New York Times. You know? Didn’t know him, but I figured, you know, if he got a FedEx with a book, maybe he’d take a look at it. You know?
And I figured again, it was a three dollar, four dollar calling card. Let’s see what happens from it. And some of them were from, like I said, people I know in the industry, people who have different lists of their own, that I thought that maybe they would share them with them. And that really worked out. We had a few people who wrote in their newsletter, and in their blogs. By the time it was said and done, I think we had something like seventy or eighty different blog mentions for those two weeks.
Ron Pramschufer: Wow.
Bryan Eisenberg: And then people linking to each of those blog mentions. So it really spread out. You know we had a couple of good reviews from different websites as well, so that really helped push it to the next level.
Ron Pramschufer: Alright, i.e. you didn’t have a lot of money, but it sounds like you put in a lot of work.
Bryan Eisenberg: Yeah. Well you know, it’s either time or money. And we pretty much took a whole month just to strategize, and orchestrate, and work on this on a day-to-day basis.
Ron Pramschufer: Oh okay. Alright. Now if you had one tip, what would that tip be?
Bryan Eisenberg: Really produce something that other people find valuable.
Ron Pramschufer: Uh-huh.
Bryan Eisenberg: You know a lot of people come to me, and they tell me, “You know, I’ve got a really great product. And people should know all about it.” And stuff like that. And then when you really look at what they have, it just isn’t that important. It isn’t that powerful. It’s powerful in, you know, their eyes, and in their family’s eyes. You know? It’s a harsh reality. You know?
And I hate to give that as the tip, but if you can take it outside of your friends and family and have people really raving, and talking about your book, your product, whatever it is that you want to market, then you’re really on to something.
Ron Pramschufer: That’s a good tip. Thanks for coming on the show. It’s really nice having you on. I really wish you all the best of luck with your next book.
Bryan Eisenberg: I really appreciate it.
Ron Pramschufer: Take care now.
Bryan Eisenberg: Thanks a lot.
Ron Pramschufer: For Publishing Basics Radio, this is Ron Pramschufer. See you next week.
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