I recently read a case study of an e-book launch gone wrong. If you haven’t read it, check it out – it’s an excellent read.
I read Martin’s book and I thought it was pretty good. That said, I wasn’t surprised that sales were not very good.
Here are my thoughts on what I thought Martin did well, why I don’t think it sold very well, some mistakes that were made and some suggestions for Martin.
Things that Martin did well
Quality – The book is quite good. Layout and presentation are excellent. Nuff said. Books don’t sell on quality – if there is a demand for a topic and the quality is half decent, it should sell.
Promotion – Martin did a ton of guest posts around the blogosphere and did a decent job getting the word out. He also set up an affiliate program which helped. He should continue with promotional efforts and look for different audiences. The book is geared towards financial beginners and most people who read financial blogs already know the basics.
Execution – His execution on this project was excellent. He accomplished a huge amount of work and the final result is of high quality.
Sales research – Martin spent a ton of time researching sales tactics and while they might not have paid off on this book (yet), that information is quite valuable and can pay dividends long into the future. It wasn’t a waste of time.
Why I think the book hasn’t sold very well
Lack of demand – If you have a product and try your hardest to sell it and it doesn’t sell – clearly there is a lack of demand from that audience. You can try to look for new audiences, but it’s possible that there just isn’t any demand for your product. Or not enough to economically justify finding new customers.
Too much competition – Most financial books seem to fall into two categories –
- Specific – A book that deals with one narrow topic such as RESPs or Roth IRAs.
- General – A general book might talk about all personal finance topics – examples would be the Wealthy Barber, David Bach (Latte factor) etc or about a broad segment ie investing or debt reduction.
I would categorize Martin’s book in the “general” category. Yes, it’s not as general as the Wealthy Barber, but the debt category is fairly general.
This means that he has too much competition – There are too many big name gurus in the general personal finance area and it is too difficult for an unknown person to make much of a mark. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s very difficult – and if you fail, you will fail big.
Some mistakes that were made
Book is too general and has too much competition – In my opinion, the book topic and title were not good choices – more in the “suggestions” section below.
Over-relying on the “launch” – The big launch day is a fairly recent and over-hyped phenomenon on the internet. Block buster movies hype the opening weekend sales, but in the end they tally all the sales – not just that first weekend.
There is nothing wrong with trying to start with a bang, but you have to consider that your launch efforts might take a while to see any results. I don’t think Martin made a mistake with his launch, but rather he was expecting too much.
Didn’t create a real “e-” and “paper” book – Anyone can create a pdf and call it an e-book. The more work you do to get your book onto more legitimate channels – the better off your book will appear.
Some suggestions for Martin
My suggestions revolve around two areas – changing the focus of the content and creating more sales medium (or sales channels).
I hate the title “Completely Conquer Credit” – It’s catchy, it’s cool, and it doesn’t mean a damn thing. He doesn’t mention debt or credit cards or student loans which are the relevant terms for someone in their 20’s who is in debt.
My suggestion is to change the focus of the book to only deal with how to reduce and eliminate debt.
Part of this book covers how to avoid debt. This is a good topic, but unfortunately nobody buys books on how to avoid debt. Either a person avoids debt on their own or they wait until they are drowning in debt and only then are they willing to pay $17 for a life jacket.
I would remove any reference to avoiding debt. Assume that the only people willing to buy this book are drowning in debt and need help.
The title should be changed to something a lot more accurate and to the point:
- How to kill your debt
- How to eliminate your student loans
- How to be debt-free before you turn 30
- How to crush your debt
A debt-reduction book will still face a lot of competition, but at least if the book is a bit more specific and focused, it should have a better chance.
Increase Sales Channels
There is an e-book revolution going on, but it’s mostly in cheap fiction. Most people still read print books and if you want to have a legitimate book – get a print version.
I hired someone to do my book – she charged $175 for the cover and formatting. You can sign up with Amazon CreateSpace for free and get your book on Amazon.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t sell a single book off Amazon, having that print book available is huge with the media and will give you a lot of credibility.
Get the book on Kindle and perhaps some of the other formats as well. Kindle is the best known in the US (I think) and I would start there.
This might be a plan B, but I would consider turning the book into a Canadian book – or come out with a Canadian version. It is a heck of a lot easier to get media attention in Canada compared to the United States – there is just too much competition there.
Lastly – a word about failures
I know Martin can’t be happy with the results of his book and in the end, it might get shelved as he moves onto other projects. Don’t forget – failure is part of winning.
Steve Jobs went out (literally) on the top of his game. But Apple wasn’t always as popular as it is now. I remember a long period of time in the 80’s when it appeared that Apple was going to fade away and be taken over by a stronger brand. Steve Jobs himself was booted out of the company in 1985.
Look how that turned out.