How I piggybacked (Growth Hacked*) My Growth Hacking Book
Growth Hacking — A How To Guide On Becoming A Growth Hacker
I recently launched a book called “Growth Hacking — A How To Guide On Becoming A Growth Hacker” (http://amzn.to/1tctjLM) and it hit #21 on the top 100 marketing books on Kindle (#1 on free Kindle books during the KDP run). Am I a famous author? No. Did I do much marketing for it? Not at all. So how did I get it on the top 100 marketing books on Amazon? Well, besides luck, I used a sort of quantitative approach to get sales… with minimal effort.
It started with the keyword, “growth hacking”. I recently came across the Google Trends data for the term and saw that it was hitting an all-time high. This gained my interest because when I searched for any books on the subject, I came up with nil. So when there is a growing interest in something and no all-in-one resource for the subject, it created a market for a book. Along with some cross referencing with Amazon listings and Google Keyword, this gave me the idea to write a book on Growth hacking- a subject I have experience/domain knowledge in.
What I also noticed was that Ryan Holiday was coming out with a book titled “Growth Hacker Marketing” in September (2013), so I was on a strict deadline in order to be first to market (Should help long term) and possibly piggyback on sales of a best-selling author. Yes, I didn’t see Ryan Holiday’s book as competition but opportunity. Why? The Amazon description showed that Ryan’s book was only about ~60 pages, this gave me the opportunity to provide a longer and more comprehensive book for readers that wanted more. This was also an opportunity because we would be the only Amazon books under the keyword “Growth hacking” and anyone searching for Ryan’s book would come across mine via the nature of the keyword.
Once the content of the book was completed, so our next step was design. Most Kindle eBooks that I have some across have terrible cover design and I am sure this effects the conversions. You can’t skimp on design! Why would you spend all this time writing a book, and then get a shitty cover design? People will judge the quality of your book by the quality of the cover design. The saying “Don’t judge a book for its cover” is very well alive, so I planned on having a kick-ass cover that was easily readable via a thumbnail. I splurged on the cover design and after a few revisions I ended up being very happy with the result, I am confident this helped our bottom line.
Once we finished the book, we launched it using the KDP program that Kindle offers. This helped rocket the book to #1 of all (free) Kindle books for 3-5 days. This enabled us to get ranked on Hacker News and Reddit /r/ startups. Once the promotion was over, they were still ranking well on these sites… helping us generate sales. The original seeding to social networks gave us the initial traction that we needed, helping us with our long term sales.
From the launch of the book, Growth Hacking — A How To Guide On Becoming A Growth Hacker (http://amzn.to/1tctjLM), we learned a few lessons. eBooks really are dominating the publishing industry, so focus on developing a great eBook experience. We did so by providing links inside the eBook to resources we gathered. Just to note, a soft cover edition of the book was created, but that has only been about ~10% of sales.
We also learned that it does take some luck, how would we have done if Ryan Holiday didn’t come out with his book? Would we have pursued writing it on such a short deadline? What if we didn’t piggyback on Growth Hacker Marketing? Did we steal some of his traction by piggybacking? Probably.
EDIT: Ryan Holiday wrote a great response, I encourage you check it out.
For what it’s worth, I believe Ryan and I have two different goals when it comes to publishing. From what I have gathered, he writes books that he aims to become best sellers and does an immense amount of research before writing them (correct me if I am wrong). I, on the other hand, am looking to build a large and diverse portfolio of books to generate passive income.