Ep 401: What You Need to Know About Becoming a Bestselling Author | Nena Madonia Oshman Episode Recap

RV (00:02):
Book deals, publishing bestseller lists. These are some of my favorite, favorite things to talk about. I mean, legitimately, this has become one of my, you know, passion projects to understand as an author. And you may not know this we, we say this sometimes, but a lot of times on this podcast, we don’t talk about book launches specifically. But as at the time of this recording, we have helped 14 of our clients become New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestselling authors. So 14 times we’ve done that. We’re actually in the middle of another launch this week. So who is a candidate for probably a Wall Street Journal. And so we, we might be increasing that number. And we know a lot about this, and we know a lot about selling books because when we go after bestseller lists we’re, we don’t let people buy their own books that, you know, some people would do that and just to try to hit a bestseller list.
RV (00:58):
We don’t do that. We, we teach people how to sell books. And so what I wanna talk about here is a couple key things to know about how to get the book deal specifically. And then also understanding a little bit about book launches. So the very first thing, and th this is a what has become a famous story around brand builders group. And I heard this story, third person, so I don’t actually know how true this story is, but I think it is true. And even if it’s not, the lesson is totally accurate. And as the way the story goes, Robert Kiyosaki, who is the bestselling author of several books, but became really famous for his book, rich Dad, poor Dad, apparently, was at, at an event one time, and this journalist came up to him and, you know, they were in a conversation and apparently at some point, she mentioned in the conversation, she said, you know, I don’t, I don’t personally think your book is that well written.
RV (02:01):
I, and she was just kind of saying like, it, it’s you, you know, obviously you sell a lot of books, but it, it actually feels like it could be written better. And Robert’s response apparently was, he said, well, that’s okay, because you have to remember, it’s not called New York Times Best Writing Author, it’s New York Times Best Selling Author, . And that is an important lesson and an important point that it’s about selling books, right? Recently I had the opportunity to co-host a mastermind of bestselling authors, and I co-hosted it with Donald Miller and Mike Mcic and John Ruland. We put this together and we had this event, and we had, I think about 25 bestselling authors. And you had to be a New York Times bestselling author to be in the room, or somebody who had sold hundreds of thousands of copies of a book through retail sales so that, you know, we could track it and we could all see that it was, it was legit.
RV (03:04):
And your writing had to have personally influenced in a deep way, other people who were in the group. But this was this amazing group that we came to. I posted about it on Instagram, you can go check it out if you wanna read a little bit about it and see some of the, the highlights. But anyways, we were there and, you know, talking about the, the importance of this, right? And, and that you have to sell books because writers write, editors edit publishers, publish distributors, distribute retailers, retail, but nobody actually sells the book. Like nobody has the job of saying, I’m gonna sell this book. I’m gonna make sure a lot of people buy this book. And it is really ironic that no one has that job. And so who does that job fall back on? That job falls back on you, the author, the messenger as, as we refer to you as Mission Driven Messenger.
RV (03:57):
So that falls back on you. And so that is one of the 14 classes that we teach at Brand Builders Group, right? We’ve got these 14 classes in our, that make up our curriculum. One of ’em is called Bestseller Launch Plan, and we’ve taken a lot of people through that class. And we’ve had 14 clients become bestselling authors Louis Howes and Amy Porterfield, and Ed Mylet and Eric Thomas, et the hiphop preacher Tom and Lisa Bilyeu. You know, these are some of the, some of our more well-known names. But then we’ve had other clients hit the list that are, you know, more like up and commerce. But regardless, the, the big epiphany, the big realization that you have to have if, if you wanna become a bestselling author, is that you have to sell well, and I would say there’s, there’s actually two things here.
RV (04:44):
The first is realizing that becoming a bestselling author is about sales. Okay? It’s not it, it is also about writing, or it can be about writing that sometimes books take off and hit the bestseller list because they’re really well written and people share them around. But one of the data points that I shared with the group this mastermind group, I’ll, I’ll share it, I’ll share it with you here. Because our, our team analyzed this piece of data was that of all the books that have hit the New York Times bestseller list on the advice how to list specifically, it’s a weekly list. 2023 year to date at the time of this recording, that 98% of those books hit the list in the first week, which means and actually I think that was for the previous 24 months is what we looked at.
RV (05:36):
So the, the no, actually it was year to date. It was 2023 year to date. So what that means is people aren’t even reading the book, right? Like when it hits the bestseller list, it’s not, cuz people have read the book, the book isn’t even out yet. So those are the instant New York Times bestsellers, they, they happen in the first week. That’s because of all the pre-sales that happen. And that’s one of the big strategies that we help authors with is legitimate ethical incentive based strategies to help get people excited about your book. And so you generate all the pre-sales and all the pre-sales count on week one. And so that’s why most books that hit the bestseller list hit the first week. But it sort of dispels the myth that it’s about, you know, writing a great book. Now, you should still write a great book cuz that’s what you’re doing.
RV (06:21):
And that’s if you want to change lives you should write a great book. And also because over the long tail, which is really the game to play, is not just hitting a bestseller list for a week or two, but really having a perennial bestseller that sells hundreds of thousands or millions of copies that’s entirely about writing a, a a, a great written book. So, couple couple ideas there. The, the, the second thing that I wanna talk about on this topic related to getting, getting big book deals and doing book launches is that in our world, social media, what we have learned is that social media and PR are not the answer to selling lots of books. They’re not typically that is the only strategy that authors have. And a lot of publishers, and we’re starting to talk to a lot of publishers, a lot of publishers are actually starting to refer people to us.
RV (07:16):
Just cuz our track record is getting out there, right? I mean, we had two books last year that pre-sold over a hundred thousand units. Two of our clients did that. And you know, we’ve, we’ve got a lot of, a lot of clients that are doing these really great launches and they’re following a system, right? They’re not buying their own books, it’s, they’re not faking things. They’re, they’re just following our, our proven system and methodology to do that. And it’s working. And part of why our system works is because we know that social media and PR is not the way to sell a lot of books. I’m not, now don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use social media. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do pr. What I’m saying is that that ranks very, very low on the list of things that actually sells and moves books.
RV (08:01):
So we all tend to think, oh, you know, somebody has, you gotta have millions of followers to become a bestselling author. You don’t. I’m case in point, I’ve never had millions of followers, I’ve never had millions of followers. I’ve never been one of the top social media presence, you know, one of the, you know, people on social media. So it’s really more about your offline relationships. It’s really what it’s about is your offline relationships. It’s very difficult to get people online to just buy anything. And the same is true for pr, right? I’ve been on national TV multiple times. It’s a great thing. You should do it, you should try to do it, it should be a part of your strategy. But if you think that getting on national TV is gonna make you a bestselling author, let me just save you the, the, the heartbreak.
RV (08:46):
It’s not like there, there are times where, you know, crazy things happen and phenomenons take off. Or if you’re able to be on national TV every day for like a few weeks or something like that you know, or if you’re a celebrity and you get on every major TV show, great. But, you know, I’ve been on, I’ve been on Fox and Friends example, we’ve had clients be on the Today Show. Good Morning America. Very often we’ll see that these huge national appearances, these huge appearances will, I mean often if the a thousand books would be a lot like moving a thousand books on a national TV segment would be a good number. But that’s nowhere near what it takes to, to become a New York Times bestselling author. At least not according to our data, which is part of what our team is doing, is we’re trying to understand how many units does it take to hit the New York Times?
RV (09:36):
And it, it takes a ton, a ton more than that. So you know, social media can be good, PR can be good. But we, the, the number we use just to share it with you, is 0.001%. That’s what we estimate is the percentage of somebody’s audience on social media that will convert to be book buyers. Which means for every million followers you have, you’ll sell a thousand books. You say that again, for every million followers you have, we estimate that that’ll move about a thousand books. The reason is because when you post on social, not a million people see it, right? The biggest problem is that it’s not a million people who see it. If you have a million people, you might only have, you know, a hundred thousand people see that. Of the a hundred thousand that see that a very small fraction will actually consume the entire piece of content, then a fraction of that would actually go to a page and then a fraction of that would actually buy.
RV (10:30):
And so it gets whittled down very, very quickly. Now we do use social media like our clients our private clients, we give them a 75 day like social media posting template because you have to do it. You still have to, to, to sell books in every way possible, but social media and PR are not gonna be the things that move the needle to becoming massive bestselling authors. You gotta use offline mechanisms and offline relationships and, and live events and all of these various things that we, we, we do. So that’s the second thing I want you to know about this. And then the last thing, and, and this has become a A B B G mantra, there’s a few things that we have around here that we call B B G mantras because we say them so often. And if you’ve been following me or AJ or our company for any amount of time, you’ll hear us say things like your most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were, right?
RV (11:22):
That is one of our B B G mantras. That’s an original quote that we have shared that has become a part of our culture. We also say, if you have diluted focus, you get diluted results. That’s a B B G mantra. One of our BBG mantras is we say build relationships before you need them. Build relationships before you need them. So we have all of these mantras that we just are, it’s cuz it’s, we’re repeating ’em over and over and over for people to get well. We have an important B bg mantra as it relates to selling a lot of books. And as it relates specifically to bestseller launch plan. And I wanna share it with you here, and I want you to get a pen and write this down. Whether, and, and whether you’re a first time author or an experienced author, whether this is you know, your your first book, your second book or your hundredth book, whether you’re traditionally published and you have a literary agent and you know, a big, a big publishing company or if you’re self-published or if you’re using a hybrid publisher. And we, we have done all three. We use, we are, we have clients that do all three. There’s advantages and disadvantages to all three of them, but regardless of what topic you write about, what the format of your book is, the length, your experience, level of an author, this is something that you really need to know right up front and it, and it matters tremendously. Bestseller lists don’t change lives.
RV (12:50):
Bestseller lists don’t change lives, but books do. Bestseller lists don’t change lives, but books do. We love aiming for the bestseller list. It’s important. It, it, it matters in some arenas, which I’ll talk about in a a second, but the ultimate measure of the success of a book is not how much money was made, how many units were even sold, right? It is the, the impact that it made in the world, the impact that it made on other people’s lives. Ultimately, the end goal of a book should be that, right? And it’s not about the author and it’s not about the publisher and it’s not about a bestseller list, it’s about the readers. That’s what writing books is all about. It’s about the readers and it’s about creating a transformation in their life. And that is the ambitious, aspirational, worthwhile goal and pursuit that I think you should have as an author.
RV (13:47):
And as I said, we’ve, we’ve done this several times, 14 times, we’ve helped clients count counting myself become a New York Times bestselling author or Wall Street Journal bestselling author. It’s a great goal to have, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t change lives, right? It might change your life, and I’ll talk about that here in a moment. But it doesn’t change anyone else’s lives. In fact, we did a study called the Trends in Personal Branding, national Research Study. And you can actually go download this for free. We spent tens of thousands of dollars to do this. If you go to rory vaden dot com and then you click on free trainings and then you scroll down, you’ll see trends in personal branding, national research study. So you can download this study. And this was a very intensive study. So this was a PhD led academic research study.
RV (14:33):
It’s empirically validated, it’s weighted to the US census. So it’s a, it’s a study of the us general population, right? And you, you know so one of the questions we asked in that study is we said of how much do each of the following factors influence your purchasing decisions, right? So this is a question we’re asking to consumers, the general American population. So for our international listeners, it may not be the same in your country, but in the US and, and we asked about all these criteria. We said if they have a YouTube channel, if they have a large social media following, if they have a podcast, if they speak for a living if they have a nice website, we listed all of these things. And there was one entire section just related to books. And it said one of the options was a, somebody has a self-published book.
RV (15:26):
Another option was someone has a traditionally published book. Another option was they are a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. And another option was they are a New York Times bestselling author. Here’s what’s fascinating, a to the average American citizen, there was zero delineation between a self-published book, a traditionally published book, a Wall Street Journal bestselling book, or a New York Times bestselling book. In other words, people on the street don’t care because they don’t know the difference. They don’t know the difference between an Amazon bestseller and a New York Times bestseller. And there’s a stark difference, but they don’t know it cuz they’re not authors and they don’t live in this world. So your customers don’t really care. What they care about is themselves. They care about can you help them. Now that said, what does matter? It does matter to be a bestselling author in among the industry, right?
RV (16:28):
Bestselling authors get higher speaking fees. They’re more likely to get booked on national tv. They’re more likely to get into to on big podcasts and to get invited to private masterminds. But they’re not more likely to, if people are not more likely to buy the that book just because that person’s a bestselling author unless they know the author, right? But that’s not because they’re bestselling author, that’s because they’ve heard of the author before. And so it is important, it’s still worthwhile as a personal brand. It’s, it’s worth a lot of money to be able to get on these big shows and get invited to these exclusive groups and speak on these big stages. That’s, that’s worth a lot, but not to your customer, right? They don’t know any difference. It just gives you more ability to get in front of more customers. So that matters.
RV (17:12):
And, and that’s what I want you to just remember, right? At the end of the day, this isn’t about bestseller lists. Best seller lists, don’t change lives. What books do. And so regardless of if you think you could be a bestselling author or whatever that number looks like to you, all authors should want to have as many people as possible read their book. That’s why you did the work of writing the book in the first place. And so I also would encourage you not to be so heartbroken or caught up or mixed up in whether or not you hit a bestseller list. If that’s a goal of yours, you should definitely talk to us, right? You should go to free brand call.com/podcast
RV (17:49):
And you should request a call with us because we know a lot about that. But whether you hit it or not is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal for a mission-driven messenger is and should be to change lives, to help people, to serve your readers. Not to just hit bestseller list, but to actually make a difference. So I hope this helps you in your journey. If you really are interested in becoming a bestselling author, request a call or share this episode with somebody you know who is an author or wants to be an author. I think they’ll get a lot out of it. And so I hope you consider sharing it with them and we’ll catch you, catch you right back here next time on the Influential Personal Brand Podcast.