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Will It Fly? from Start to Finish—How I Wrote a Wall Street Journal Bestseller – Part 1

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Will It Fly? from Start to Finish—How I Wrote a Wall Street Journal Bestseller – Part 1

By Pat Flynn on

When I was close to finishing the manuscript for my new book, Will It Fly?, my author coach (and more than anything else, accountability coach) for this project, Azul Terronez, said something that took me by surprise:

“It’ll be fun to see how many books you sell. You might even get on some of the bestseller lists.

When I made the decision to self-publish Will It Fly? last year, I also made the choice to not worry about getting on the bestseller lists, because I didn’t think it was possible as a self-published author.

After some research, however, I found out that it is possible, but it’s no easy task. After even more research, I realized just how ambiguous these lists can be, and what I learned became a real turn off.

You might think that a bestselling book is one that sells the most copies, but that’s not exactly true. It’s a lot more complicated than that, especially when you get into the realm of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal’s bestseller lists, which take into account books that are reported through Nielsen BookScan, which doesn’t include all books that are sold depending on where they are sold.

Yeah, it’s weird.

All I knew is that because my book wasn’t going to be distributed in bookstores at first, I was essentially disqualified from hitting the New York Times bestseller list.

The Wall Street Journal and USA Today lists were still up for grabs, but quite honestly making the lists never became the primary goal—and it never should be. Yes, making the lists ultimately means more authority and more money (for future book deals, speaking gigs, etc.), but the system can be gamed, and I didn’t want to do it that way.

I wanted to write a great, timeless book that would help as many people as possible. If I happened to make a bestseller list doing that, then great. If not, well then I will still have created something amazing and I don’t need a list to tell me one way or another.

As Tim Grahl said about the craziness of the bestseller lists in his post The Truth about The New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists:

“The only answer to this debacle is to stop worrying about hitting the major bestseller lists. At this point, the results are so far outside of an author’s direct control, that it doesn’t make sense to make these lists a goal anymore. Instead, focus on the reader.”

And as many of you know, with the focus of my reader in mind, I actually did end up making the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, which I’m incredibly grateful for.

Will It Fly Wall Street Journal Ranking

So yes, it is possible!

Thank you to all of you who have supported the book and have shared it with others. In return, I’m here to share every part of this story, all the way back to when I started writing it, to how I marketed it, how many units were sold, how much money I made, how much money I spent, and what’s next.

I’ll be structuring this post in a way that also helps you through the steps I took to make it all happen. I want this to be something you could potentially use as a framework for your own author projects as well, or at least a baseline to reference in your own journey.

Note: As I was writing this post, I realized how much of a beast it was going to be. It’s broken down into two parts, this being the first one, which is about everything related to the book except the marketing of it, and the details of how to get it up on Amazon. That will be featured in part two, which I’ll publish next week.

I will reveal, however, the results and numbers related to the launch in this post.

So with all that said…let’s get started.

Why Write a Book in the First Place?

You should never write a book just because you can, because writing a book is not an easy task. You should have a clear purpose in mind, not only for the topic of the book, but also for its reason for existing in relation to your brand and your overall goals.

The best way to figure out the purpose of your book is to visualize what it might look like within your brand. Imagine that it’s already written. What would it help you do? Is the book meant for generating leads? Building authority in a niche? Are you writing it just to make money?

There are a lot of reasons to write a book, but if you’re not clear on what those reasons are for you, you’re going to lose your excitement for writing it, especially when you get to the tough parts.

For me, Will It Fly? was not written primarily to make money. For the most part, authors don’t write books to make money directly from their books, although that’s not impossible as Nathan Barry shared in Session 75 of the SPI Podcast.

This book was primarily written for two equally important reasons:

  1. more exposure
  2. more control

Let me explain…

More Exposure

If generating the most immediate income from this work was the goal, I would have either sold the book directly on my own site and charged a lot more (à la Nathan Barry), or crafted an online course instead.

Getting the book in the hands of people who have not yet been exposed to me or the SPI brand is more important to me, and utilizing Amazon’s algorithms is the mechanism for doing that. This is a long-term game plan, and I’m hoping Will It Fly? becomes a great first impression—a pleasing start to a life-long relationship I have with new readers, subscribers, and customers.

More Control

Additionally, since starting SPI, I’ve been generating most of my income from affiliate marketing and redirecting people to other people’s stuff. In order to make the most impact, and also keep people interacting with my brand, I must begin to create my own stuff, and it all starts with this book.

This book will lead to courses and other SPI branded material, and with that I’ll be able to better control the conversation I have with my audience, and the experience they have throughout their business journey.

Control is also part of the reason why I wanted to self-publish this book, instead of going with a traditional publisher, despite traditional publishers reaching out and wanting to work with me.

Although there are a lot of pros that come with working with a traditional publisher (i.e. an advance and distribution in physical book stores), I’ve learned through several conversations that I would likely give up some control over things like creative direction and content, and since most people end up doing most of their own marketing anyway, I knew that self-publishing was the right choice—at least this time around.

With that choice, however, that means it’s more work for me to get everything done and executed properly on my own. But it’s great because I now know how it all works, and I can share what I’ve learned with you.

How to Know What to Write About?

Obviously, the topic of the book you choose to write is an important one. First, you want to write about something that will serve your target audience, of course. Combine that with the knowledge you have and the research you will do, and you’ve got a potential topic for a book.

But an idea alone isn’t enough. Is there a way to validate a book topic before writing it?

Absolutely!

And since Will It Fly? is all  about idea validation, I knew I could (in a very meta way) validate the idea of my book before writing it. The idea first came after hearing the same question coming directly from my target audience over and over again. Through emails and voicemails coming from AskPat.com, the number one question people asked was:

“How do I know if the idea I have is one that will pay off?”

After you all planted this seed in my head and I started to research this topic, I conducted a survey that confirmed this once again.

For those who answered who had yet to start a business, the number one struggle was figuring out what niche to get into, and the fear of something not working out:

SPI business validation audience survey

Even those who have started a business shared that they struggle with some of the same thoughts around their business idea:

SPI business validation audience survey 2

After this, it was time to make sure that this was indeed a topic of interest for people, one that they would pay to learn more about.

I reached out to thirty people on my email list, at random, got on a Skype call with them, pitched the idea for the book (being honest that the book wasn’t even finished yet), and I asked them to pay $10 to my PayPal account if they would buy it.

Of the thirty people I reached out to, I was able to speak to about twenty of them, and out of those twenty, ten people paid me money. That’s how I knew this was going to work.

There are other ways to validate a book idea. I haven’t done these myself, but I have seen other authors do these two things with great results:

  1. Write a guest post about the topic on another site and gauge the reaction. This is great, especially if you don’t have an audience of your own yet.
  2. Write a mini-version of it and give it away for free, potentially turning it into a lead magnet for your email list. See what the reaction is like from there, and then turn it into a book if people want more. This is what Michael Hyatt did for his latest book launch for Living Forward, which went on to become a bestseller.

Writing a book is a big task, so it’s best to spend a little bit of time upfront to make sure it’s something your audience wants to read first.

Writing the Book

Writing Will It Fly? was a major challenge for me. Quite honestly, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I could have had the book ghostwritten, and I even had three different people offer to ghostwrite the book, but I chose to do it on my own. I really wanted to write this on my own for personal reasons—so that I could be truthful when I told others I wrote this book—but I also wanted to do it because I wanted others to see my example struggling through the process, conquering the fear, and putting in the hours in to get it done.

Now that it’s out there and in people’s hands, it feels good knowing I did it all on my own. That’s not to say I didn’t have help in terms of content and copyeditors, which we’ll get to later, but to have put finger to keyboard on my own feels real good.

That’s not to say, however, that hiring a ghostwriter is bad. In many cases, it’s the right decision, but for me and for this book, I needed to do it on my own.

Here’s how I wrote the book…

Stage 1: Outlining and Writing a Quick First Draft

The purpose of a first draft is to brainstorm. Shannon Hale, an award-winning author who has written more than twenty books, said it best:

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

The trick is finding the best method for shoveling all that sand. For me, it was the method I shared in Episode 1 of SPI TV:

After only two weeks, my first drafted ended up totaling more than sixty-five thousand words, but less than 10 percent of that first draft is all I kept moving forward. That 10 percent, however, was key. In the end, I hardly used any of the exact text that I dictated (and then transcribed) in the final manuscript, but that brainstorming session was definitely necessary for me to think about ideas and come up with material that wouldn’t have come out otherwise.

Total Minutes Dictated / Transcribed: 435

Total Cost (Rev.com App): $435.00

Stage 2: Revising a First Draft into a Second Draft

The next phase was to take what I had dictated and transcribed in my first draft, pull out all of the best parts, and then translate all of that into something cohesive that I could dive much deeper into.

This started with creating a detailed outline of the book to nail down all of the parts that I wanted to include. You can see the start of what this looked like here on the left hand column:

Will It Fly writing process outline

This is a screenshot of a tool for authors called Scrivener, and it’s the one that many authors of both fiction and nonfiction use to write their books. I used it to myself write my first book, Let Go, so I figured it would be easy to pick up again.

It was not.

Let Go was a much shorter book with a smaller and less intimidating outline. When I entered the outline for Will It Fly? here (which, by the way, was not titled Will It Fly? yet—it was simply called Validation Book as a placeholder) it became super intimidating and as I began to get into the chapters of the manuscript, I started to see just how long this journey would take.

I actually stopped writing for about two months at this point, because it was hard. I made excuses and although I did put writing into my to-do list for the day, I’d always prioritize something above it, and so it never got worked on.

It wasn’t until May of 2015 when I made the decision to get the manuscript done by the end of the year that I got serious and hired a coach, Azul Terronez, to help me through the process.

Getting a Coach

I need help.

I don’t say that like I’m in trouble, but I say that meaning that whenever I finally make the decision to really go for something, I need the help. I need help because I know there are people out there who are better than I am at certain things, who I can learn from to get better results.

For example, when I wanted to master speaking on stage, I hired a speaking coach. When I wanted to have more endurance for podcasting and networking events, I hired a vocal coach. When I wanted to run a triathlon, I had a coach help me through the process too.

Side note: all of these coaches trained me virtually over Skype or the phone.

So, when it came to writing this book and knowing I was letting myself down, I found a coach for authors who I knew would be able to help me through the process and hold me accountable.

Azul was actually a student at one of and Chris Ducker’s and my 1-Day Business Breakthrough Live Events (which will happen again in the future, they’ve just been put on hold for now). After keeping in close contact with him after the event, when he learned that writing this book was a big goal of mine, he offered to help, and I gladly accepted.

Since he was in San Diego (at least for the first part of the year before he moved to China), we met in person a few times to discuss and brainstorm next steps.

He was quick to address the mental roadblocks that I was facing, and he gave me specific deadlines for finishing certain parts of the book, which was helpful. That added pressure was key for me to get the motivation to sit down to write each day.

Here’s a photo from one of our sessions together at a coworking space in downtown San Diego:

Pat and Azul

Two other things he was super helpful with:

First, it was with encouragement. I told him that I work best when I know someone is rooting for me on the other end, so he would send me texts and emails randomly every so often rooting me on while I work toward the next deadline.

Second, he helped me realize just how much each section of the book was like a blog post. I knew this in the back of my mind, but his instruction to intentionally treat them as such helped out tremendously. Instead of writing in Scrivener, which is what I thought I was supposed to do, he instructed me to write the book using whatever tool I used to write my blog posts, which happened to be Google Docs.

Stage 3: Another Pass at the Second Draft (This Time Using a Different Tool)

When I shifted to a different writing platform, everything flowed so much easier.

Why?

Because it was a comfortable, non-intimidating environment I was used to! Writing in Google Docs took away the overwhelming outline that I could always see in Scrivener, and it kept my focus on the chapter I was working on, and that chapter only.

By the time August came around and I was back from my Australian vacation with my family, I was in full writing mode, and the book was going to be “My ONE Thing,” until it was complete. I got into the habit of writing every morning between 6:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., because it was the only time I could fit it in. As soon as my kids woke up, my writing time was over for the day unless I could squeeze in any more uninterrupted time, which was unlikely.

Soon enough, the parts of the book started to fill out, and I was excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Total Cost for Author Coach over the entire project: $9,200

Deadlines—EEK!

Azul’s deadlines were extremely helpful for keeping me on track, but as soon as I saw that the end of the first pass of the manuscript was in sight, I realized just how much more work beyond the manuscript itself was needed, and therefore how much more I had to think about, especially related to the timing of everything.

Team Flynn (Matt and Janna, primarily) and I worked together on creating various schedules based on when I might be able to get the book done. Here’s what those look like. They work backwards from various publication dates, and include all of the timelines for all of the other things involved:

Will It Fly Editorial Timeline

As you can see, we were exploring a 1/25/16 launch date initially, but we decided to have it come out a week later to give us an additional week for production purposes, which we later found out was completely necessary.

My biggest concern was having the manuscript finished in time to give the developmental editor, Ann Maynard from CommandZContent.com, so that she had enough time to review it and get it back to me before Thanksgiving break.

The deadline was November 1, but it got pushed back to November 12 because I became sick and was unable to get it done in time. This made me nervous, because we were supposed to launch on February 1, less than three months away at this point.

The clock was ticking, and we still had copyediting to do too! Luckily, I had Azul and Ann in my corner. Here’s a good example of one of those encouraging emails:

Email from writing coach Azul

By November 12, I had the completed manuscript in Ann’s hands, and it felt good to get it off my own plate, even for a moment, because I had been working on it every single day for the last few months.

But, I knew that break wouldn’t last long, because even though the manuscript was being reviewed, it was time to start getting serious about the marketing of the book. More on that later (since we’re time-bouncing here a little), but before I get to that, let’s talk about editors first, and exactly what they do, because there’s more to it than just making sure spelling and grammar are correct.

Working with a Developmental Editor

Spelling and grammar are important, and it’s one of those things that no matter how much you try yourself, you’re going to need separate sets of eyes to catch those last minute mistakes.

However, even before working with a copyeditor, there’s the developmental editor, which isn’t so much about spelling and grammar, but rather the flow, order, and structure of the content within the book.

I didn’t know developmental editors existed, but they definitely do, and I found out just how great it was to work with one. A few weeks after handing my developmental editor, Ann, my first manuscript, I received some invaluable feedback. I didn’t have to rewrite the entire manuscript (thankfully!), but I did add some additional components and re-order a few things that took the book to higher levels.

I recorded a conversion between myself, Ann and Azul after getting back the first editorial notes. This is a very in-depth conversation, and I did receive permission from Ann to share this with you. This isn’t available on the podcast, only here as a bonus for those of you who care to listen.

It’s over one-hour long (at normal speed), but it gets into a lot of what was wrong with the first pass, and what I could do to make the second pass even better:

The most encouraging note, however, came from Ann via Azul over email. After she read it over the first time, this is what she said:

Email from Azul and developmental editor Ann

Wow, I mean—I couldn’t have felt any better after reading that! I knew there would be changes, and because I was so amped (and under a ton of pressure with the upcoming deadline), I was ready to make changes and submit to Ann a second go-around. I was able to knock that out in just two days. That’s unusually fast for a revision, however I spent every waking hour during those two days making it happen. Furthermore, how long it takes you to turn around a revision depends on the number of edits to make within that manuscript and a whole number of other factors. Luckily for me, the direction was clear, I just needed the time to do it, and I took all the time I had.

One important thing to note is that we handled the editing process through Pages for Mac, not Google Docs. Although we could have done it that way, the industry standard for passing edits back and forth is to use a single document in Pages for Mac (or Microsoft Word), because it’s easier to keep track of who changes what, all in one place. The author can review each change or edit and choose to accept it or not.

So this means, of course, that I had to transfer the Google Docs text over to a single manuscript in Pages for Mac, which took a while. Azul was kind enough to do this for me, but it did take a couple of hours just to make sure it was done right. Changes that were made after the first draft were then made in Pages.

Ann did make a few copyediting suggestions while she worked through the manuscript, but only if the mistakes disrupted the flow of the content structurally. She did not, however, do a line-by-line edit, because that was not her job, and it would hinder her ability to get into the flow of the content of the book.

I’m super thankful to have worked with Ann. She was worth every penny.

Total Cost for Developmental Editor: $4,000 (split in two payments, one before working, and one after the final manuscript was nailed down)

Command Z (the company Ann works for) is definitely a top shelf solution. You may be able to find reputable work on sites like Upwork for far less, but I wanted to make sure I worked with someone who was experienced and would get it done the first go-around.

After the manuscript had Ann’s blessing, it was then ready to be passed on to the copyeditor, which was someone on my own team who has experience with copyediting various content for me.

Total Cost for Copyeditor: $1,721.25

And finally, if you get a chance, even though you might hire an editor of your own, make sure you spend some time reading through your manuscript… out loud. Hearing yourself say the words in your book help you find even more mistakes that often get skipped over when just reading the text in our heads.

Let’s Not Forget the Front and Back Matter

What are the Front and Back Matter parts of a book? Here’s a quick rundown of these other pages you might forget about, but are a part of the book’s structure:

Front Matter:

  • Title Page
  • Praise Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Course Promo Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword

Back Matter:

  • Resource Page
  • Let Go Page (promoting my other book)
  • Acknowledgements
  • About Smart Passive Income
  • About the Author

These are just the ones I chose to include, however there are other items you could choose to add. When you’re self-publishing your book, you have the freedom to include anything you want in the front and back parts of the book. Don’t let these pages fool you, although they are just one to a few pages in length, they do take some time to complete, and your manuscript will not be ready for interior design until they’re complete.

Back to the Deadline Real Quick

At this point, you might be wondering why we were still going through edits so close to the launch of the book.

To be honest, it was a combination of a lot of things:

  • Being over ambitious with the timeline.
  • Not giving ourselves a ton of flexibility and lead-time, especially when it came to developmental and copyediting.
  • Me getting sick.
  • The holidays, and wanting to respect people’s time with their families.

To launch a book in February means a ton of work needs to be done around November and December, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas, it takes away a lot of the time you might think you have to get everything done.

The plus side, however, is that because most people tend to slow down during these months, if you can speed things up you’ll have a slight advantage. This was definitely something I felt because when the book launched, it wasn’t up against anything else in launching the same category. Most other books, at least in the business category, seemed to come out in early January, or were scheduled to come out in March.

It was the perfect window for Will It Fly?, and so I was excited to see what the results were, which of course are coming later in this post.

Let’s get back to some production stuff, however, because there’s a lot more to a book than just the manuscript. There’s the design of the book too, both on the outside and the inside.

Designing the Book Cover

The cover of a book is extremely important, especially if you’re going to be publishing it on Amazon.

It’s the first impression people have of your book, even before they read it, it will help you either stand out or blend in among the rest, and it can set the tone of the content for your reader.

The book starts with a story of my son and his first experience folding a paper airplane (hint: it doesn’t go so well), and so I thought a paper airplane on the cover would make the most sense. Plus, paper is what we write ideas on sometimes, and the purpose of the book is to see if those ideas can fly.

So, I drew a little sketch and had Dustin on my team come up with some early concepts:

Early Will It Fly book cover designs

At first, I was happy with what I saw, but after the initial excitement died down, I knew that there could be room for improvement, and I wanted to see more iterations before making a final decision.

I had also expressed the idea of sharing a single image of a folded paper airplane beneath the title, and so here was the next batch of design concepts from Dustin:

Will It Fly book cover designs

We were getting there, but I had yet to feel that “hell yeah” that I wanted to get when looking at the cover. I started to share these on social media and within the launch group to get a first reaction, and it was mixed.

Also, a number of people also found books with similar covers on Amazon, including this one, that was great:

Book cover designs

After about two weeks and still struggling to find a design that worked, Azul and I actually reached out to another designer to see what it would look like coming from another person’s perspective.

Having read only the introduction, another designer came up with the following iterations:

Will It Fly book cover designs

There were parts of this I liked, for example the font treatment, which made the title stand out much more, but the images seemed a little too stock for my liking. Plus, another member of the launch group found this image from Jeff Goins’ book, The Art of Work:

The Art of Work book cover

This was all happening while I was finishing up the manuscript, and after sharing with the team that I wasn’t happy with any of the submissions yet, Dustin took one final crack at it from a totally different viewpoint, and here’s what he came up with:

Dustin message

Will It Fly book cover design

This was the “hell yeah” I was looking for! It still needed a couple of tweaks though (the word “it” was really bothersome), but after playing around with it a little and darkening the blue to make the title stand out, we had our final version:

Photoshopping various thumbnails into Amazon at the smallest size:

Will It Fly book cover Amazon thumbnails

The final front cover design before going live:

Will It Fly final cover design

Since this was also going to be a paperback book, the back cover and the spine also had to be designed. To help us with the right specifications, since this book was being printed through Amazon’s print-on-demand service, CreateSpace, Dustin referenced this document here.

The interesting thing is that he couldn’t determine the size of the spine until the book interior design was complete, because it was the interior design that determined how many pages the book was going to be, and obviously the more pages there are, the thicker the spine.

The back cover was a lot of fun to play around with, because it’s where you can add any blurbs and copy about the book that you want, and we decided to add in a picture of me on the back cover too.

Will It Fly book cover front and back

Unfortunately, what you see in a PDF file isn’t always what you get in your hands once it’s printed out. Again, likely due to time constraints, we realized after going live that the back cover font was far too small. We immediately updated it to get it to the right size, but a handful of initial buyers have what I like to call the super rare early edition misprint.

Here’s a before (left) and after (right) comparison:

Will It Fly book cover edition comparison

I’m very happy with how it turned out in the end, and coming from a print-on-demand service I was a little skeptical at what the quality would look like, but I was pleasantly surprised when I received my first copies in the mail:

That moment when you open a box with your new book in it, and you realize that this happened because of all the crazy events that happened in the past… #WillItFly #GeorgeMcFly #PatMcFlynn #backtothefuture #pattothefuture WillItFlyBook.com is where to get it :)

A photo posted by Pat Flynn (@patflynn) on

 

Total Cost for Cover Design, including iterations: $2,000.00

Designing the Interior of the Book

The interior design of a book is just as important as the text itself, because a poor design or layout can make even the best of content hard to digest and tough on the eyes.

For a print book, interior design includes everything that you see when you open the book: spacing, font size, drop caps, page numbers, headers, page breaks, chapter titles, images, bullet points, callouts, and featured sections.

In a Kindle book, it’s all of that, plus clickable links, and making sure the file is compatible to various device types and sizes.

This part of the process, by far, is one where I wouldn’t even know where to start if I had to do it on my own, so with the help of Azul, I found two people to help me convert the manuscript into the final files that I would be uploading for approval and distribution.

Total Cost Interior Designer (Paperback): $1,500

Total Cost Interior Designer (Kindle): $400

Special thanks to Erin Tyler for her work on the paperback interior, and Ian Claudius for his work on the Kindle interior!

Each format design took about a week to get the job done. As you can see, the interior designer fee is significantly more than the cost of the Kindle design, and that’s because there are a lot more elements to think about, and a lot more coordination that needs to happen. Although it was a hefty cost, I knew this was an extremely important part of the process and I didn’t want to skimp on it at all, but like with the editor I chose, you may be able to find great work on sites like Upwork as well.

ISBN

Before getting your book up for sale on any platform that’s not your own site, you’re going to need an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which is a thirteen-digit identifier for your particular book. The ISBN is used within the publishing industry to keep track and facilitate activities related to your work, like sales and distribution.

If you’re publishing on Kindle, you do not need an ISBN. Amazon will hook you up with a unique Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) if you’re publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you’re publishing a print-book, you’ll need an ISBN. To get your ISBN, head on over to www.MyIdentifiers.com where you can purchase your ISBN numbers from Bowker’s Identifier Services.

Currently, one ISBN costs $125.00, but you can get ten for $295.00, which you can use later on. The best practice is to use one for your paperback version, and another for your e-book version. If I were to publish a hardcover version, that would be another ISBN, and the audiobook will have it’s own as well. So for me, the ten ISBN package made the most sense.

I also purchased three barcodes for $25 each, one that was going to be used for the paperback, and two others as spares.

Total Cost for ten ISBNs and three Barcodes: $370.00

Information About Your Book

When you register each version of your book, you’ll need enter a few pieces of information that are always good to have on hand. You’ll need these anyway when you enter information into Amazon and any other platform you choose to sell your book on, so let’s define what they are here in the last section of this post before taking a quick breather and coming back next week with the uploading and marketing of the book, including how I was able to run a pre-sale using CreateSpace print-on-demand, even though this isn’t advertised.

Here’s what you’ll need to know:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Author / Contributors

We’ll get more into these as I share how I uploaded Will It Fly? into CreateSpace and Kindle next week. Until then, let me know what you think! We’re halfway through the journey here, but we’re just getting started.

As you can see, deciding to write a book means a long term commitment to get it written and ready for distribution. It’s not an overnight thing by any means, and it will test you to your limits. It did for me, but seriously, it feels really good once it all comes together.

Results from the Launch

And as promised, I wanted to share the results from the launch.

During the pre-sale period, a week before launch, for the paperback version (Kindle was not available until after launch on February 1), here’s how it all progressed:

January 23: The book was ranking number 637 on Amazon after sharing it on the launch group and on social media.

Will It Fly Amazon ranking

As you can see, it says 221 pages at this point, because interior design was not finished yet and I had no idea how many pages it would be. Amazon needed to know, however, so I just added 221 (April’s and my anniversary—2/21), for good luck. I was told I could change this later, and it was true.

January 26: The book shot up to number 163 overall, which was very encouraging because it was climbing fast, and quickly approaching that illustrious Top 100 milestone. To see that so many people were excited to pick up the book, even before it was available, was amazing.

With that said, the team and I did run some pre-launch bonuses for incentive to pick it up before launch date, which I’ll talk about in next week’s post.

Will It Fly Amazon ranking

January 27: It climbed to number 112. A bigger screenshot to show you some context within Amazon’s page.

Will It Fly Amazon ranking 3

Later that day, I cracked number 100, and by this time I saw I was also featured on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” list, which calculates the books with the most rapid climb in the rankings. Mine was number five overall, showing a 1,011 percent increase (from 1,111 to 100).

Will It Fly Amazon ranking

We pushed the book live just before midnight of February 1, and the launch team went immediately to work, adding a few reviews to give the book some life on Amazon as it continued to climb above number 100.

Will It Fly Amazon ranking

It reached number one new release in entrepreneurship from there, and was the overall number two small business and entrepreneurship best seller, right in between Mr. Drumpf and one of my heroes, Elon Musk:

Will It Fly Amazon bestseller rankings

On February 1, holding back on an email to my list because the Kindle version had yet to be approved (ugh—that will be covered in the next post as well), the paperback climbed all the way to top number 77 in ALL books on Amazon.

Once the Kindle book was out and I sent an email to my list, that’s when it started to get interesting. The free exposure kept happening from there. I mean, look at how much Will It Fly? is shown on this page:

Will It Fly on Amazon Hot New Releases

As soon as the Kindle book dropped, however, the paperback book started to climb back down the rankings, but the Kindle version went through the roof. More people bought the Kindle version in the first three days than there were pre-orders the entire week beforehand.

As you can see, in Kindle, the book flew to the number one spot of the bestseller list in Entrepreneurship, as well as Startups and Self-Help Motivational categories:

Will It Fly Amazon bestseller rankings

Anyway, to make a long story short (I became an insane screenshot maniac during this time), the Kindle book climbed all the way to top twenty-two in Amazon of all Kindle books, which was much higher than I ever thought it would go.

Will It Fly Amazon bestseller rankings

Besides that, Amazon begins to rank Authors after you reach a certain point, which is pretty cool and earns you even more additional exposure:

Will It Fly Amazon author ranking

Then, other people started to take notice, which was pretty cool:

Gary Vaynerchuck tweet on Will It Fly

So, the big question I know you’re wondering is, how does this translate to dollars and cents.

Well, first let’s look at the expenses. In total, I spent $19,626.25. Almost half that was for Azul’s coaching, which like I said was well worth the money, and definitely helped me get through the entire process.

During the first week of launch, the paperback itself generated total of $22,154.72, and the Kindle version earned a total of $9,661.42.

In total, that’s $31,816.14 after seven days. It was nice to see it generate a profit, however remember, generating an income was not the primary goal here. The primary goal was to get it into as many hands as possible, and within seven days, a total of 12,720 copies were sold.

To break that down for you, that’s:

  • 5,378 paperback copies
  • 7,342 Kindle copies

My Wall Street Journal bestseller standing came in the nonfiction e-book category. I came in at number six out of ten, with that many Kindle copies sold within the first week of February.

Total for the month of February, the book has generated:

  • Paperback: $30,119.52
  • Kindle: $14,963.62
  • Total: $45,083.14

This authorship thing—it’s a crazy but fun and wild game, and I’m excited for not only the next post where I talk about everything that was done to get it into as many hands as possible, but what’s next for the book, including the audiobook, which from what I’ve heard from other authors, is where the real money is made in the world of authorship.

We’ll find out. Thanks again for your attention here in this super-long and detailed post. I hope you got something out of it for you and your own journey. Leave a comment below, and tell me where you’re at in your life as an author, and what you picked up from my experience here to share with the group.

And of course, if you have yet to pick it up, click here to get your paperback or Kindle version now!

Cheers!

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