In episode 7, we talked to Rob Archangel about audiobook publishing. In the last three years, Rob has built one of the most successful self-publishing services companies out there. I brought Rob back to talk about what he’s doing now and the lessons he’s learned over the last few years.
Selling Books Directly from Your Website
It’s helpful if you can think laterally about how you can use your book to grow your business. Not everybody wants to go the bestseller route. There are lots of ways to publish your book and make a profit without selling a ton of copies.
The Kindle store is very competitive. It’s very difficult to stand out in the marketplace when there’s literally millions of books available. There is a big emphasis on price as a way to compete in the marketplace.
If you pour your heart and soul into a book and work on it for years, it can be hard to turn around and sell that book at just $0.99 or even $2.99.
But the entire Kindle business model is designed around encouraging authors to sell their books between $2.99 and $9.99.
More and more people are selling their books directly on their websites so they can charge what the book is actually worth.
Having a book on your topic of expertise establishes you as an expert in your field and gives you credibility. If you sell your book directly on your website, you have direct control over every aspect of your product and distribution.
Selling your book directly from your website works really well when your book is on a small niche topic that doesn’t have wide market appeal. Again, you have the ability to price the book at its true value, and if you work on your website and search engine authorization properly, you can find a market for your very specialized book.
You may have seen websites in high-end markets like investing and business selling specialized reports for $100 or $197. Depending on the report and what it can do for you, those price points make a lot of sense.
In contrast, it doesn’t make sense to put those kind of reports on Amazon and lose 70% of the profit, because the market is so specific—you aren’t going to get many more customers on Amazon than you do just by selling on your own website, and you’ll make far less money.
Rob has been in touch with an author who takes the “sell direct from your website” business model to an extreme. He sells his books for more than $1,000!
Obviously, you’re probably not going to sell a million copies at the price point of $1,000. On the other hand, at that price, it doesn’t take so much to make a decent living selling to leads you’ve already cultivated through your network.
The trade-off of selling books directly from your website at very high price points is that you have to find an audience for your material. Finding the audience for whom the book is worth premium pricing is the real work of this business model.
The benefit of selling your book on Amazon is that you have a potentially huge audience to market your book to.
When you look at how to market your book, you have to look at how specific your market niche is, the actual value of the book that you’re offering, and its value to the audience you are gathering (or have already gathered).
It’s best to think broadly when considering your marketing strategy.
At Archangel Ink, Rob and his team can advise you on the best way to use your book to grow your brand and your business.
Use Your Book as a Lead Generation Tool
Jay Campbell is another client of Rob’s.
Jay published the book, The Definitive Testosterone Replacement Therapy MANual: How to Optimize Your Testosterone for Lifelong Health and Happiness. It’s available on Amazon for $9.99 on Kindle and $15.36 in paperback. He also has it available on his website using a free plus shipping offer (where you give the customer the book for just the cost of shipping.)
Jay offers the book for the cost of shipping so that he can build his email list. He has a bunch of ancillary offers that he makes money from, so the free plus shipping offer is a moneymaking proposition.
One offer that is a particularly high-value item is Jay’s long-distance coaching. Jay also partners with a long-distance concierge medical practice. This service allows you to have in-home blood tests to determine your unique hormone levels, then lets you consult with doctors to figure out the best treatment for you.
He also partners with a supplement company and emails his qualified list of leads their offers. That’s an additional income stream for him.
Jay also has a podcast and YouTube channel. Jay estimates that he receives $100,000 more in sales per year thanks to publishing his book, and due to the authority status that book gives him as an expert in the industry.
When Jay published his new book, Burn Fat with the Metabolic Blowtorch Diet: The Ultimate Guide for Optimizing Intermittent Fasting: Burn Fat, Preserve Muscle, Enhance Focus, and Transform Your Health, he had close to 200 reviews within 72 hours, selling the book at $8.95.
Jay has a background in marketing and an extensive network of followers. This isn’t something you can set up over a weekend. But it is a good example of what’s possible if you have the right foundation in place.
Use Your Book to Establish Credibility and Build Your Brand
You can certainly use your book to build your voice in your industry. You can also use it to find leads and customers for your business and brand.
Use Your Book to Build Relationships with Future Customers
“One of the great benefits of writing a book is that if you are an expert in your field, it allows you a vehicle to share your knowledge with people.”
– Tom Corson Knowles
Writing a book makes it easier for potential customers to find you. It puts your expertise on display, and gives you a way to connect deeply with your audience.
“Having a physical product to give people is really powerful.”
– Rob Archangel
Rob had another client, Lynda Goldman, who wrote the book, How to Make a Million-Dollar First Impression. She was invited to speak at a medical sales convention, and because she had physical copies of her book available, she was able to give out several copies of her book to the audience.
Giving that book to members of the audience helped her build a network that launched her business. Having a physical copy of your book in hand helps people look at you differently.
“Unless you’re in specific industries, like self-publishing, the likelihood that someone you know is actually a published author is probably quite low, so the market is quite open.”
– Rob Archangel
Giving people a physical copy of your book begins a conversation. It opens the door to the possibility of connection.
Your book can act like a soft salesman to your prospect. It’s not a high-pressure sales tactic, but it still puts you in their mind as someone they might like to buy something from.
Your audience can decide on their own how, when, and if they want to contact you. In many cases, someone who reads your book is presold. They already know, like, and trust you.
How Alex Goldstein made $70,000 By Accident: A Case Study
Alex Goldstein is another one of Rob’s clients. In his book Publish to Sell: Long-Term Income from Short-Term Effort, Alex tells the story of how he wrote his first book on seller-financed real estate deals, distributed it to a few dozen people, and forgot about it.
This was right around the time of the financial meltdown of 2008. There was a hungry market for this sort of information.
Since then, Alex estimates that he’s made around $70,000 from clients who have reached out to him after they’ve read his book. This money came in without him promoting the book in any significant way, beyond the first wave of self-distribution.
His book established him as an expert in real estate. Clients who came to him from his book didn’t have a lot of price resistance, and they were eager to do what he said. People who came to him after reading his book wanted to work with him. Alex’s book sold him to his clients as someone to work with.
There came a point where Alex actually got mad that the book he’d forgotten about was doing better than other sales methods he put a lot of time, effort, and energy into!
“Imagine all the people you’re not serving if you’re not putting your knowledge out into the world.”
– Tom Corson Knowles
“You never know what’s going to happen. In many cases, casting a wide net, trying different things, experimenting around and seeing what happens, and being open to that sort of market feedback can be really powerful, and might lead you to some novel insights you would not have otherwise come up with on your own.”
– Rob Archangel
The Process of Writing a Book Has Value in and of Itself
“It’s never a waste of time to write a book and publish it. I have some books that only sell four copies a month. But going through the process of researching your book, writing it, clarifying your thoughts, and publishing it makes a huge impact on your life even if you don’t make money from it.”
– Tom Corson Knowles
You never know the opportunities that will come up after you publish your book. If you have something inside you telling you to write a book, don’t ignore that voice. Writing a book will change your life in ways you can’t imagine.
Rob’s relationship with his business partner, Matt Stone, started with an email.
He found Matt’s website and simply emailed Matt saying, “I like what you’re doing and I’ll be following you.” From that first email, an extremely profitable friendship and partnership formed.
Writing a book as a business owner allows you to get clear on your own thought process and how you think about things. That’s incredibly valuable for future projects and productivity.
When you’re an entrepreneur running your own business, you spend your days putting out fires, going from one problem to the next, and it doesn’t allow you to reflect on the way you do things.
Writing a book gives you the space and time to reflect on what you do and how you do it. It makes you a more effective businessperson going forward, regardless of how many copies you sell after it’s published.
Writing a book allows you to think about who your ideal client is and what your ideal outcome is for them. That’s incredibly valuable information for your business going forward.
“The writing process helps you become much more clear and gives you a much broader perspective about what’s important in your work, expertise, and knowledge. The other great thing is it actually allows you to communicate that with your readers and customers.”
– Tom Corson Knowles
Answer Your Most Commonly Asked Questions in a Book
The first book Rob actually published himself was the Archangel Ink Self-Publishing Report. He and his team put the report together because they found they were answering a lot of the same questions repeatedly from potential clients.
When clients contact Archangel Ink these days, they’re encouraged to get the self-publishing report first and then contact them again if they think Archangel Ink might be a good fit.
Rob has heard a number of examples of coaches assigning chapters of their book as homework assignments, especially in the financial planning industry.
The process goes like this:
- A client contacts a coach with a problem.
- After the initial consultation, they agree on terms.
- The coach says, “Great. The first thing I want you to do is read these chapters. Answer the questions in the book, come back, and we can chart a course forward for you.”
Being able to do that allows you to save time, because you don’t have to recap the same information over and over with each new client.
It also cements in your client’s mind their image of you as an authority. You have a book about the topic you’re coaching them on. You literally wrote the book. So you’re obviously an authority who knows what you’re talking about!
As a businessperson, you want that for yourself. You want to be taken seriously as a thought leader and expert. You want people to listen to you and follow your advice.
Writing a book demonstrates your breadth and depth of knowledge in your area of expertise.
The other benefit to giving your customers and clients a book that answers your most commonly asked questions is that it answers the questions your clients may be too afraid to ask you.
Writing a book that answers commonly asked questions gives your clients and customers a base of knowledge before they start to work with you. It allows you to save time because you don’t have to spend time getting new customers up to speed. Instead, you can spend your time building on the base of knowledge that you’ve already given them in your book.
Another benefit to giving new clients a book that answers the most common questions is if your client is already familiar with the information in the book. If they read the book and realize they already know the answers to the most common questions, it gives them a sense of confidence.
People like people who make them feel good about themselves. If you can do that through your writing, it helps you build stronger relationships.
“If you can provide a good, accessible summary that reaffirms your client or prospect is already a knowledgeable, informed, and astute person, they will have warm feelings associated with you. That makes it a lot easier for you to close the sale and form a positive relationship with them.”
– Rob Archangel
The Ideal Client for Archangel Ink
Archangel Ink is a publishing company geared toward professionals, coaches, and entrepreneurs. They also work with writers.
But the emphasis recently has been on working with clients who have a broader set of goods and services around their brand, who really want to use publishing to build on their platform and enhance their reach. They want to use publishing to market for them, to demonstrate their credibility and expertise.
The company offers a number of publishing services from start to finish. They’re a service provider, so when their work is done, the author still has all the rights to the material Archangel Ink has helped them package and/or produce. There’s no royalty share involved.
So if you’re someone who wants to publish and collect all of the backend yourself, Archangel Ink might be a good fit for you.
Archangel Ink is also really good at filling in the gaps. Let’s say you’re a person who’s really good at publishing, and you have an editor already, but you need help producing an audiobook, or with cover design or marketing. Those are all things Archangel Ink can help you do.
Archangel Ink offers a free 30-minute Skype or Zoom consultation. There’s no hard sale. Obviously, a lot of people who contact the company do end up working with them, but a lot of people just want to ask questions in real time. And they’re happy to do that. Rob and his team want to help authors expand their reach through publishing.
The reason that Tom Corson Knowles keeps using Archangelink for different projects is that they’re so reliable. They always deliver on time.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Archangel Ink Self-Publishing Report – a short book that answers a lot of common questions about self-publishing.
Archangel Ink – Rob’s self-publishing services company. He and his team will help you navigate the world of self-publishing, and advise you on your best route to making money with your book.
http://hemochromatosishelp.com/ – Eric and Kristina Lewis are clients of Rob’s who sell their book directly on their website because it allows them to sell their product at a price point that is commensurate with the amount of work that went into creating it.
How to Make a Million Dollar First Impression – a book by Lynda Goldman, another client of Rob’s. This book helped his client build a business.
Publish to Sell: Long-Term Income from Short-Term Effort by Alex Goldstein
For more on how to build your business and brand with a book, read on:
- Write to Improve Your Other Career
- How to Write Book Titles That Sell: 5 SEO Tips for Creating a Nonfiction Book Title So You Can Sell More Copies
- The Power of Outsourcing: How to Write a Book While Having a Full-time Job
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!