Self-publishing 101: Book Launchers’ Julia Broad talks writing for your reader, pricing your book, and how her company can help

By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. 

Julie Broad is an Amazon Overall #1 best-selling author and an expert in self-publishing books with over 30,000 subscribers on her YouTube account.

Joining all the way from Las Vegas, she shared how she helps business owners get noticed through publishing in the latest episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur podcast

The Mission of Book Launchers

Book Launchers helps you write, publish, and promote a non-fiction book. Julie started the company about four years ago after she self-published two of her books and helped real estate investors publish theirs (she was in the real estate space in Canada for quite a long time).

She has seen a lot of people hiring the right people, such as editors and cover designers. However, once they put out the book — even if the book was decent — it wouldn’t sell. And most of the time, it comes down to the fact that they weren’t planning how they were going to market the book. And marketing has to get layered into the entire process.

It doesn’t work to hire piecemeal unless you’re an exceptional project manager who can communicate your vision and teach people at every stage. 

With her company, what she really wanted is to bring that in under one roof; help busy entrepreneurs and professionals create an amazing book that people will read. 

The Right Mindset

Marketing should be part of your book production process. If you’re struggling with the post-production and publishing phase, it mostly comes back to what your expectations are. 

Some see people out there launch into the stratosphere with their books. But what they don’t realise is that it’s similar to the old adage about how overnight success takes 10 years. Somebody whose book skyrockets to number one and becomes a best-seller, has spent two to 10 years building an audience that was hungry for that book when it launched. 

A lot of people are launching a book to build their audience, which is a different approach. It works but you can’t expect to have an extraordinary launch if you have spent a few years building an audience in that space. Julia emphasised that it’s about the mindset to begin with. 

The Spine of Your Book

Right from day one, you also need to be crystal clear on who your audience is and what the outcome of the outcome is that you have for that audience. 

As an example, Julia cited leadership books. A lot of people like to say that they have a book that’s going to make their audience a better leader. The outcome there is being a better leader. But what does being a better leader mean for your specific reader?

Therefore, it’s important to really know your reader intimately and dive deeper into what they want: When I become a better leader, now I’m going to have the admiration of people. Or now, I’m going to get promotions. Or now, I’m going to be able to finally get my important message out.

You have to dive deep into that outcome from the outcome, and that has to be the foundation and spine of your book. And everything in your book should hang off that spine. You don’t need anything that doesn’t contribute to that outcome of the outcome. You have to focus all your stories, tips, and strategies on that. 

Writing for Your Reader

Many people write a book because they have something to say. On the contrary, it’s actually about listening to what the people need. 

Image from Unsplash

For Julia, one of the biggest challenges people have is that they write a book because they’ve been told by others to do so. This sets them up to believe that the book should be about them. But even if you’re writing a memoir and it’s your story, you should take note that it’s not for you — it’s for your reader. You only need to tell the pieces of information that are relevant to them. 

In particular, this has been a challenge for memoir writers because it’s their story, and it’s intimate and personal. If you write a memoir and include a little detail about your uncle, it might mean the world to you but in reality, your reader doesn’t need to know it.

It can be hard to detach yourself emotionally and go straight into what your reader needs. But at every stage, if you focus back on your reader who needs the message and the outcome from the outcome that they’re going to get — and what’s going to happen if they don’t get them — then you can drive your book forward and have a strong marketing plan in place.

You’ll also make better decisions about your cover, the title of the book, and the subtitle. You’re going to be less ego-driven but more service-based in the process. And from that, you can create a stronger book.

On Compilation Books

Whether you’re authoring the book yourself or compiling interviews with entrepreneurs and experts (like how I did with my The UnNoticed Entrepreneur book), Julia pointed out that how you want to write for your audience all depends on your goals for the book. If anyone says that this is how you should do it, don’t believe them. For her, there’s really no wrong way. But, there are ways that will help you achieve your goals better.

What’s great about compilation books is that if you have a thread that ties all of the articles, interviews, and stories together — and you have the outcome of an outcome — you’d still have a strong market.

Talking about my book, Julia lauded the concept, the clear benefit that it gives, and how the cover shows what that benefit is, which is standing out and finally getting noticed. When you’re unnoticed, one of the things that you want is to be noticed. Because then, you can have more impact, and probably, make more money. It has that outcome of the outcome and with that, it’s already off to a strong start.

What Should Your Book’s Title Be?

Choosing the title of your book is an art and science. 

What Julia always encourages people to do, first of all, is to not ask family and friends what’s a good title, unless they’re part of your reader base or they’re professionals in the publishing space. She has seen a lot of really great books that get badly titled because their family was really hung up on one title.

Titling your book is about your reader and making sure that your book is clear for them. You don’t want to be too generic. You need to be a household name before you can get away with calling your book something very generic. It’s really about that hook — selling that hook and including that in your title.

Your title also has to be memorable, easy to say, and easy to spell. She brought up how she regretted titling her second book “The New Brand You.” Because when the book came out and she did a bunch of podcast interviews, 80% of the hosts called it “The Brand New You”. They were already holding the book in front of them and yet, they were still reading it like that. 

Image from Amazon

If she had tested that with people in advance, she would’ve discovered that for whatever reason, the brain doesn’t just remember “The New Brand You”; it just doesn’t stick. In the future, she plans to relaunch the book and package it up for authors specifically. 

Drawing from what she considers an interesting experience, she underscores why it’s important to title your book with something that’s easy to remember, say, and spell. 

For the subtitle, she advised getting keywords for Google and Amazon. Your subtitle has to sell your book to the reader and make your book discoverable for search engines. 

There are brainstorming tools that can help you out. If you’re stuck, you can go online and find title generators, which can be a good place to start. However, keep in mind that these generators aren’t going to get you the end result. You have to get ideas and let your entire team contribute to the brainstorming process. 

In Book Launchers, they have somebody who built a rating system for titles. This way, they can easily search up if a particular title is available. It also allows them to take a URL and analyse how many keywords are in it and present them in a top-10 order based on that. 

Traditional vs Self-Publishing

You might think that traditional publishing is the better route because someone is going to sell the book for you. You can just show up, write your book, and they’re the ones who’ll sell it. However, it’s actually the opposite that happens: You’ll get a book deal from a traditional publisher and they’ll see how you’re going to sell 10,000 copies or more. 

If you think that going traditional is the solution to your marketing problems, it’s not. Julia mentioned that she herself got turned down for a book deal, and that’s how she ended up in the self-publishing space. They said that she didn’t have a platform strong enough to sell books. But she was able to gloriously prove that wrong by taking her book to the top spot on Amazon Canada. 

She learned from the experience that you’re still responsible for marketing, no matter what route. But for her, self-publishing was a great gift because she made way more money in her first year of selling books. She earned $86,000 in book sales, which is higher than the under-$10,000 she would’ve earned from the book deal. In the deal, she’d be getting about 86 cents per book sold. In self-publishing, she’d made about $6 to $7 per book. Financially speaking, there’s a huge difference.

Image from Unsplash

However, the bigger thing for her — especially for entrepreneurs — is intellectual property (IP). When you get a book deal, you’re giving or selling that IP to the publisher. You won’t have control over it. She got to learn this through the experiences of her friends. 

One of them used to be in real estate and published a book through Wiley. Later on, Wiley republished it under somebody else’s name because her friend was no longer in the real estate space. It was his book, words, and stories but somebody else’s name went on the cover. 

Another was a friend who got a production company that wanted to work with him on a television deal. He also got a book with Wiley, but Wiley wouldn’t negotiate. He didn’t own what was in the book or even the title so he ended up buying the book back from them in order to push through with the said deal.

Pricing Your Book

According to Julia, setting the price of your book depends on your goal. 

If you care about how much money you’ll make per book, you probably want to go exclusive with Amazon for the ebook because you’ll make more money that way. You have to price it between $2.99 and $9.99 in order to get the most royalty from the platform.

However, if you want a wide distribution and you care more about reaching more people, then expect that you’re not going to make as much money per copy of your book.

Around half of Book Launchers’ clients go exclusively ebook first, then they go wide on print. The print book could be available everywhere but the ebook is only available on Amazon. This maximises their revenue and their reach for the most past.

But, ultimately, you have to choose what’s more important to you. And based on that, you can price things out.

The Cost of Self-Publishing a Book

The cost of self-publishing your book is dependent on what you do and who you hire.

Image from Unsplash

With Book Launchers, Julia’s strategy can be considered as good or better than a traditionally published book. They have three different editors working on every book that they have, a professional cover designer, and professional interior layout people. A minimum of $10,000 will already cover the most part (some books are faster and easier to do while others are more complicated). They also do the marketing.

What you have to be particularly careful about are trade-offs (e.g. quality tradeoff). When she did her books a few years ago, she spent $6,000 for the editors and the cover. She did everything else, from project-managing to researching. The price varies and you can self-publish a book for a lot less than that. But you still need professionals to make your book great.

Building the Book Launchers’ Brand

The foundation of your company is your personal brand. With Book Launchers, Julia started with 10 beta clients who knew her as a real estate investor. 

She’s previously built that reputation as somebody who does what she says she’s going to do. When she said she’s opening a publishing company and is in need of clients, she had those 10 people who knew her back when she’s in the real estate space. They said that they wanted to write a book and signed on as one of her beta clients. That is a personal brand.

For her previous business, she also had a YouTube channel and a newsletter, and did speaking engagements. These are the things where she had built her brand on.

For her, your personal brand is who you are. In her case, she’s also known as somebody who speaks the truth. She’s not going to do anything shady to get you to work with her. 

Her YouTube channel has also been fundamental to everything she’s done, including the businesses that she’s run. It’s something that she enjoys; something that she considers a great way to help people who are going to work with her and people who aren’t necessarily going to invest in her services. With the platform, she can serve, have fun, and grow her business.

On Managing Her YouTube Channel

As mentioned, Julia’s YouTube channel has over 30,000. For her channel’s content production, she shoots eight videos and does two live streams per month. The latter is especially important for creating engagement. 

Screengrab from Book Launchers’ website

When she first started on YouTube, she was struggling with getting people to comment and engage with the content. She found that by having live streams, she can do giveaways (e.g. mugs) and create a kind of community where she’s essentially “bribing” people to comment but in a more fun way. Her movement called #NoBoringBooks eventually became a whole community thing; everybody got their mugs after a while because they commented on the videos.

What also drives her content is her clients’ and YouTube audience’s questions. In fact, the first 10 videos that she uploaded were driven by questions that she got during her calls with clients (e.g. What’s an ISBN?).  

She’s been writing down comments that she still doesn’t have a video for and has been creating content that answers those questions. She focused on that — she wasn’t watching the numbers nor worrying about it. The next thing she knew, her channel already had 2,000 subscribers. The trick is that you’d better not watch it because growth can be slow if you do so.

To find more about Julie Broad, visit the Book Launchers TV on YouTube. If you want help writing a book and marketing it, go to www.booklaunchers.com/7 and you can find a downloadable straightforward workbook to walk you through identifying your hook and ideal reader and laying down your foundation. Their goal is to help write a book with your goals and audience in mind.

If you want to know more about The UnNoticed Entrepreneur book, check it out on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.

Cover image by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash.