(and Marketing Multitool)
This is a book about how to crunch and analyze numbers.
So that’s where we’ll start: the numbers.
Back in 2017, Jeff Bezos wrote in his annual letter to shareholders that “over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in royalties in 2017 through Kindle Direct Publishing.” That one thousand-plus figure doesn’t count trad pub, audio, and wide sales. Or translations and rights. And it’s grown a bit since then: an article titled “How these authors found success with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing” on the official About Amazon blog indicates that “more than 2,000 [authors in 2022] have surpassed $100,000 in royalties.” So all told, worldwide, as a rough estimate, there might be ~10,000 – 20,000 fiction authors making six-figures regularly.
(The figures for Spotify are pretty similar, BTW: almost 8000 artists make $100k+ a year)
Now, it’s hard to quantify how many people are actively trying to make a living as an author. There are 8 million-plus books on the Kindle Store (both fiction and non-fiction). Which means there might be 200k – 2mn authors trying (to various degrees) to go full-time. Which means that somewhere between 0.1% – 1% authors are making six figures. Again, rough estimates.
But the numbers we do have make this much clear: making a living as an author is hard.
There’s a lot of competition. And it’s a volatile business.
Now, there isn’t one single reason why most authors probably aren’t seeing the success they want.
One, of course, is sometimes the books just aren’t good enough. That can be improved through practice. But this book can’t help with this problem. Focus on the craft, then come back.
For writers who’ve reached a professional level, there’s often a giant (hidden) flaw in their marketing. One no one really talks about. And it’s likely the biggest reason why more authors don’t reach or maintain the level of earnings they’re looking for.
The vast majority of authors only give themselves one shot at success.
See, long-term sustainable success is neither impossible nor random. But it is challenging when you only give yourself one shot.
One shot at a good cover.
One shot at a killer blurb.
One shot at an effective title.
And so forth. This is what most authors do: they pick a cover, and that’s it. One option.
This seems like it makes sense. After all, almost everyone does it. But imagine if I told you that you could only run one ad for your book. And it had to be the best out of the gate. No testing. No options.
Just that one ad.
Anyone who’s run ads would recoil at that suggestion. Because they know that some ad images vastly outperform others.
So why wouldn’t the same hold true for covers?
Or other parts of your book that no one really tests?
The answer, of course, is that the same testing principles would obviously apply to covers and blurbs. The cover is just a really expensive ad image. The blurb is just the most critical piece of ad copy.
But we rarely treat them that way. Even though testing stuff like that is one of the best ways to improve your profitability and scale your business. While also avoiding a far more nefarious problem: the dreaded bomb.
You see, a bad cover, a bad blurb (and other things talked about in the book, like titles), can have a substantial positive impact on a book’s performance.
If they’re good. But if they’re bad…then that can lead to big marketing problems.
And that’s why even good authors, with great craft chops and established fanbases, often see their earnings and results jack knife from book to book. And why every new series or release can have that lingering question: will this work this time?
Now, this book isn’t some secret sauce to 100% success. That’s impossible. Every book isn’t going to be a hit. Every cover or blurb isn’t going to work.
But with a good testing framework, you can not only improve your existing books, but also increase the chances of future books being a success. And that can dramatically alter the trajectory of your career—whether you’re already successful, or one of those people trying to become a full-time author.
And that framework is Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy.
The heart of Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy is testing. But it’s not enough just to test a bunch of stuff. That can be like shooting at a target blindfolded. You need a consistent, repeatable process: a structured system. This is why much “scientific” research fails to replicate: it takes very specific test conditions, uses a limited sample size that produces small amounts of data, and then attempts to extrapolate wide-ranging conclusions to the population at large. Many of the results, however, are just noise—variance from the small sample size or some other quirk in the testing process.
And thus, all that time spent testing is a waste of resources.
We want to avoid this.
That’s why this book outlines common pitfalls and gives you the exact framework you need to run effective tests. It is not a book of quick fixes and instant results (although quick improvements are possible via some of the tricks shared). It’s the type of book that, five years from now, will likely be one of the most impactful you’ve ever read.
Because it doesn’t just give you processes to follow. It changes how you approach your marketing forever.
Let’s break down what’s included here, starting with the book’s spreadsheet companion: the Marketing Multitool.
THE MARKETING MULTITOOL: AN OVERVIEW
I could write walls of text about why the Marketing Multitool included with Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy is useful, but I figure it’s easier just to show you. This is the explainer video that’s included when you buy the book. It walks through the Marketing and Scaling Multitool and shows some of the stuff that you can use the sheet to do.
It’s not a sales video or just a demonstration of the sheet; it’s all content, so you’ll learn a bunch about marketing in the process.
Quick overview of what the Multitool can do:
- Estimate profit for ads for wide / Kindle Unlimited books
- Reverse engineer how many clicks / sales you need per day to hit a certain daily profit target
- The profit grid for determining what CPC / conversion you need to make your ads profitable
- Advanced sellthrough and readthrough calculator
Basically, this sheet allows you to do a bunch of calculations that might otherwise take hours and do them in seconds / minutes. This speed is critical: it allows you to crunch a ton of different numbers in rapid succession, helping you quickly zero in on where you need to focus your marketing efforts. It also takes familiar concepts and displays them differently than how most people have seen them (e.g., the profit grid), thus unlocking completely new analysis approaches.
THE BOOK: THE SECTIONS
Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy has eight sections:
- Principles: the principles underpinning alchemy, which is the name I give testing and optimization (e.g., why it works and why it’s powerful).
- Testing: an in-depth look at the alchemy levers, the math, and the testing framework.
- Scaling: how to scale.
- The Alchemy Lab: a comprehensive reference catalog of testing processes for running your own tests on items like covers, blurbs, and much more.
- Case Studies: three in-depth case studies (totaling 71 pages combined) analyzing actual alchemy tests.
- 80/20 Summary: a 1,200-word summary of the book’s key points.
- Implementation: action checklists to help you implement quickly.
- Appendices: key concepts, equations, and target metrics from the text gathered in one place for quick reference.
THE BOOK: JUST A FEW HIGHLIGHTS
There’s a ton of information within the book’s pages, but here are just a few of the many things you’ll find in Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy:
- The key levers you can pull to improve your marketing (10)
- The simple 3 part formula that streamlines your marketing from searching for “needles in haystacks” to a systematic process (16)
- Why 1 in 25 covers or blurbs drive massive results…and how to to find more of them (19)
- The 4 part mental decision making framework key to identifying high upside marketing opportunities (27)
- The secret skeleton key to a long-term author career that almost no one talks about (28)
- The 5 reasons why getting lower CPCs is NOT the most important factor in scaling or improving your profitability (34 – 35)
- A 5-minute trick to increase sellthrough between different series that costs nothing (48)
- 5 methods for answering the age-old question “how do I know if my ads are working?” (63 – 64)
- The 80/20 rule and how the math plays out in real world testing (66 – 73)
- 10 quick wins for generating results fast, including two that combined increased mailing list sign-ups 2.7x (75 – 78, 208 – 210)
- Common mistakes that can ruin your tests…two of which almost everyone makes (93 – 96)
- The 10 highest leverage items to focus your testing and optimization efforts on (101 – 102)
- A robust testing framework to run clean, reliable tests (103 – 119)
- A step-by-step 6 part framework for scaling ads (for both wide and KU books) (125 – 140)
- 16 detailed test “recipes” breaking down exactly how to test covers, blurbs, first chapters, book concepts, and more (143 – 198)
- How to test even dozens of cover concepts cheaply…before commissioning a single cover (158 – 162)
- How to build a collection of great taglines without testing them specifically (172 – 173)
- How to see where readers stop reading in your first chapter (194)
- A launch “mistake” that revealed a hidden secret about the Amazon algorithms (210 – 214)
This book outlines exact processes for testing the following items:
- Titles / Series Titles
- Book Concepts
- First Chapters
- Main Character Names
- What’s included: Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy: Second Edition (PDF) and Marketing & Scaling Multitool (Google Sheet)
- Word count: 78,000+ words
- Page count: 300 pages
- Level: Advanced (this is not for beginners or anyone who isn’t comfortable running ads)
- Format: PDF (this is not a physical book; there is no EPUB / MOBI version due to the number of images / equations etc.)
- Multitool: this is made in Google Sheets. The PDF, the Google Sheet, and the explainer video will be up through the end of 2022 (December 31, 2022). You can download the book / sheet as many times as you like between now and then. The tool assumes that you have basic spreadsheet skills. Using the sheet is not required for the book to be useful, it is simply a tool that can automatically do a lot of the calculations / analysis to save you a substantial amount of time.
DO I REALLY NEED THIS BOOK?
If you can’t stand testing or don’t run ads, this book won’t help.
But if you’re interested in testing and understanding your numbers better, then you have three options.
- You can ignore testing and your numbers completely (not recommended).
- Apply trial and error to figure out a reliable process for testing, scaling ads, and other advanced marketing stuff. This does work if you’re persistent, because the beauty of testing is this: even if you have no idea what you’re doing (which is where we all start), if you test consistently (and read tons of books, buy a ton of different courses, and burn through a bunch of your own cash)…you can find things that work through trial and error. But a good process will reliably move you in the right direction relatively quickly. Otherwise it’s a long, tiring slog. And most people quit before they see any results. This is how I learned. It took 10+ years, releasing 25+ books of my own, working with dozens of clients, and managing 7-figures in ads.
- Or you can read Advanced Book Marketing Alchemy, which consolidates a massive amount of trial and error into a single volume filled with best practices and specific processes.
This book is not an instant fix. And you have to actually apply the information, not just read it. But if you do, it can massively shortcut 10+ years of trial and error with proven processes and help you take your marketing to the next level.
NOTE: NO REFUNDS
Since both the book and sheet are downloadable items, I can’t offer refunds for any reason. If you don’t like testing / don’t run ads / are just starting out etc. I would not recommend picking up a copy of this book; you won’t find it useful.
Will this be available in print?
It’d be great to release a print edition, but due to the complexity of the image + data heavy interior, it would be prohibitively expensive from a formatting time / printing cost (since the book is in full color and I have to order them upfront rather than print on demand) / shipping cost perspective. I.e., a print copy would probably cost $300.
The PDF prints nicely, so if you want to create your own hard copy, that’s an option. I got a few spiral bound (which I recommend so the book lays flat / stays open to a specific page) copies printed for around $90 – $100/each from Printivity. So if you’re in the US, they do good work and ship pretty quickly (it took about 2 weeks total from start to finish).
Will this be available on Amazon or other retailers?
Never say never, but the nature of the interior (image / data heavy) makes it extremely unlikely, since that stuff doesn’t play well with EPUB / MOBI or black and white eReaders. PDF allows me to format the data / images a lot easier and make sure that they all display properly and remain legible.
I’m interested in testing, but not advanced enough / ready to apply what’s in the book yet. How long will it be available for sale?
At least until the end of 2022. From there, I have no idea. That’s not false scarcity; I just rarely offer books or courses for sale indefinitely.