Julie Broad of Book Launchers: How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book
Focus on the reader that needs your message when you’re marketing. Many authors feel uncomfortable promoting their book but if you know a certain person’s life will be better or easier as a result of your work, then your marketing is simply making sure that person gets your book so their life is better. If you don’t tell them about it, you’re leaving them to suffer. For example, there are so many well-meaning authors self-publishing a book that hire the wrong editors in the wrong order or spending $5,000 to make their book a bestseller only to find out they have wasted their money on something that has ruined their book in the Amazon algorithm for life.
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Broad.
Julie is the founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author. Her popular YouTube channel, BookLaunchers.TV, embodies the hashtag of #noboringbooks by helping nonfiction authors write and market books people want to read. Julie’s titles include More than Cashflow, which topped Amazon, The New Brand You, and her latest book, Self-Publish & Succeed. A recognized real estate investor, successful entrepreneur, and notable speaker, Julie also received the Top 20 under 40 Award for her business and community contributions. She’s been speaking on stages across Canada and the US since 2009 and has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, Yahoo! Business, CTV, the Toronto Sun, Medium.com and many local and national TV shows.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
In 2011, after three months of back and forth working on a book proposal with a major publishing house, I received a rejection email that said, “The marketing department doesn’t feel you have a strong enough platform to sell books.”
It took me a few months to recover emotionally from that rejection, but when I did I emerged with the decision that the book I wanted to write (which actually wasn’t even the one the publishing company wanted me to write) was important enough that I would publish it myself. The decision I made wasn’t to just self-publish though. The decision I made was that if I was going to self-publish I was going to do it better than the publishing company would have done. I had to dive deep into learning the publishing process, book marketing, and specifically, self-publishing options and limitations. The result was that I took my book, More than Cashflow, to the top of Amazon in Canada in print books. I was ahead of Dan Brown and the Game of Thrones, and my book stayed in the Top 100 print books for 45 days. Beyond the excitement of being number one, my husband and I watched as our investment and training company at the time rapidly grew as a result of the book and we started to attract large sums of capital into our real estate investment business. Selling books was fun but the business growth we experienced was really eye-opening and led me to dive deeper and deeper into books to the point where I launched Book Launchers in 2017 to help other professionals and subject matter experts to write their own business boosting book.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
It was 2001. I was at a meeting at the regional office for Kimberly Clark Canada in Vancouver where I worked as a sales rep. One of the long time employees of Kimberly Clark pulled me aside and told me that there was a book I really needed to read. She’d watched her daughter really transform after reading it and felt that I was destined for more than just working at Kimberly Clark. She said, “The company has been great to me, but it’s not the same place it used to be. Get this book and see what you think afterwards.” The book was Rich Dad Poor Dad. I picked it up after work that day and read it by the weekend. My mindset did change completely and I started looking at how I would get my money working for me instead of always working for it. I bought my first two investment properties later that year and ended up becoming a full-time real estate investor in 2008. I dragged my husband into it all and by 2009 he was full-time with me too. Without all of those experiences I wouldn’t have had the content for my first book, More than Cashflow. I also wouldn’t have had the capital to start Book Launchers or grow it as quickly as I did.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
Book Launchers is my most exciting project. We are constantly finding ways to improve the process of self-publishing for authors and we are rolling out a whole new service level next year which I’m really excited about.
In 2021, I launched Self-Publish and Succeed: The #noboringbooks Way to Write a Book That Sells. In 2022, I plan to follow that book up with one that covers book launching and book marketing.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
This excerpt from Self-Publish and Succeed sums up our approach:
It would be easy to say that if you write a great book, publishers and readers will want it, but that isn’t true. Many books, even good books, don’t sell. Book deals worth signing are extremely rare. And, even then, it’s impossible to be certain that your book will sell hundreds of copies, let alone thousands.
You’ve probably heard that the average nonfiction author sells fewer than 250 copies of their book. It may even be lower when you factor in self-published books. In any case, there are three things you should know:
- The typical nonfiction book focuses on the author, not the reader, and that sets up the book (and author) for massive marketing challenges right from the start.
- A large percentage of nonfiction books are really boring because they lack a benefit driven hook and storytelling techniques, even if they contain great information.
- Many authors, especially self-published authors, don’t plan for success; they write their book and hope it will sell.
Being mediocre is a choice. You are about to uncover our #noboringbooks process, which is about being awesome not average. You can (and should!) be an author of a book of which you’ll be proud for the rest of your life. And, done right, your book will open doors to new experiences, opportunities, and connections.
Your book can make a difference in your life — and the life of your reader. I’m not going to provide you a secret way to successfully publish a book in 10 hours or offer you any gimmicks that will make your book an (almost meaningless) Amazon Bestseller. If you want to write, publish, and launch a book in 30 days, this is not your guide.
This is about creating something meaningful, and that takes effort and resources. Writing a book that has impact and that will change lives is a big project. Prepare to invest in this process. It’s not overnight but it’s worth it.
I know from experience that you will never regret writing your book if you do it right — but you will regret not doing it. Let’s not waste another minute, okay? It’s time to change your life and the life of your reader.
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Writing a book that is really easy for the right reader to go “I need that book!”. When you write a book for a specific reader to help them solve a problem in a particular way it might feel like you’re limiting your audience but what you’re really do is making your book the obvious choice to an audience. Marketing becomes so much simpler and your competition is smaller.
- Persistence. This is the secret to success in everything really, but books are no different. You’ll get rejected, you’ll hit snags or big obstacles, and you’ll feel really discouraged at different points during the process. Picking yourself back up, focuses on your end outcome and continuing on is the secret to success.
- Building a network that you consistently bring value to so when you need support with your book launch, you have a lot of people who not only are willing to support you and your book but they WANT to support you and proactively participate.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?
Just last week I was at an event in Austin, Texas. I’m walking down the hallway in the hotel and a guy stops me and says “Are you Julie? From Canada?” I said, “I used to live in Canada…” He explained that he had heard my name a ton of times in some different real estate and business circles he’s in back in Toronto. I haven’t lived in Canada for five years and I left real estate and speaking about real estate almost six years ago.
The power of a book on a brand is long lasting. People look at you like you’re an expert, respect what you have to say, and people starting talking about you when you’re not in the room. That’s pretty powerful and few things have such a long lasting impact. In the short term, my first book brought new clients to our coaching business who required no sales time and we had people calling us with multi-six figures of investment capital looking for opportunities. That was not the case before the book.
My latest book, Self-Publish and Succeed, has opened the door to partnerships like one we’ve struck with Winning Writers who run a book award. Every entrant into the North Street Book Prize will get a copy of my book. That’s more than 2,000 authors getting my book. It’s also opened the door to more speaking and podcast interviews that were looking for authors on specific subjects.
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
First, I would want to understand my friend’s goals. Sometimes people think a book is going to solve problems it actually can’t solve. A book isn’t an instant solution to fame, fortune, and friends. It is, however, one of the greatest tools you can use to open doors. If you want to write a book that showcases what makes you unique and it has value for a specific audience that you want to connect with in a deeper way, it could be the exact thing you should do. The bigger question is how long will you stick with the book marketing? If you hope to use the book to get more exposure with media, partnerships, and speaking it’s a great tool for that. If you want to monetize that exposure with workshops, products, services, speaking, and the book will become part of a bigger platform building effort then it’s going to be worth it for most. Many authors never achieve these benefits because they market their book for a month or two and then they either lose interest or get discouraged. Your book marketing needs to be consistent to actually uncover opportunities worth finding and you have to be proactive. Just having a book is not the answer unless you’re really lucky.
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
Book marketing is a journey not a destination. There’s so much emphasis put on a launch that if the launch is mediocre or even poor many authors feel like a failure. In traditional publishing that might be true as far as the publisher is concerned because they make the bulk of their money in the first three months of launch for most books. For the author that is not true. Book marketing for business and brand marketing is a long term game to gain the most benefits from it. Most books from unknown authors will take six months to a year of consistent marketing effort before you see real financial and brand building impacts. So many authors give up many, many months before the gold is found.
At my company, Book Launchers, we had an author that wrote a book on creativity called Blow the Lid Off. He put in a lot of effort to market his book month after month. He didn’t give up or get discouraged. He just kept working. Eight or nine months after his book came out the opportunity to do a Ted Global Ideas talk came up. It wasn’t a direct result of his book but a result of the book marketing process. It’s now been view 1.75 million times and translated into 11 different languages.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
The simplest and most powerful thing an author can do to support their book marketing is to get reviews for their book. Ideally these reviews are on Amazon, but having reviews on Goodreads or wherever the books are sold is a powerful book marketing tool. It provides a solid foundation for all other book marketing efforts like media outreach, speaking pitching, and of course, Amazon Ads. It’s the social proof you need that people think your book is worth reading. Hiring people to do this won’t get you anywhere near the kind of results you’ll get it doing it yourself.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Write a book people want to read and want to talk about. If you make your book something people want to tell other people about because it was so refreshingly fun, had a new angle on an old subject, or it was a really different approach to a problem your book marketing will gain momentum more easily. Our company hashtag is #noboringbooks because we believe non-fiction books should be page turners. The book might be about you but it’s not for you, so write a book people will WANT to read not just feel like they HAVE to read to get your knowledge. One quick thing an author can do to improve their book is to see how many paragraphs and chapters start with “I” and adjust that message to be from the perspective of the reader. You can say “I went cold because I knew something bad was about to happen”. Or you can say, “Have you ever had a chill down your spine when you knew something terrible was about to happen?” You’re saying the same thing but one is written about you and the other is written for the reader.
- Before you start writing your book, understand how you’re going to market it. This doesn’t mean you think ‘oh I’ll use social media’. This means you can tell me who your audience is, what they are reading now, and where they are going to be reached by your marketing effort. My first book sold thousands and thousands of copies by having colleagues in the real estate space that promoted the book to their newsletter readers, a magazine in Canada called Canadian Real Estate Wealth that featured articles month after month that promoted the book, and real estate clubs all over the country that had me speak at their events in exchange for book promotion or even book purchase for their club members. My audience was crystal clear before I started writing so I knew exactly who I was writing for and why all of these places were going to be excited to support this book.
- Focus on the reader that needs your message when you’re marketing. Many authors feel uncomfortable promoting their book but if you know a certain person’s life will be better or easier as a result of your work, then your marketing is simply making sure that person gets your book so their life is better. If you don’t tell them about it, you’re leaving them to suffer. For example, there are so many well-meaning authors self-publishing a book that hire the wrong editors in the wrong order or spending $5,000 to make their book a bestseller only to find out they have wasted their money on something that has ruined their book in the Amazon algorithm for life.
- Getting reviews is the hardest and most important thing you can do as an author. Expect to ask 10 people to get 5 yeses and then expect only 2 of those people to come through. It’s worth the effort though. When we run Amazon ads for authors we find that conversion improves once a book has more than 25 reviews. Also, when it comes to Amazon, expect them to block or remove reviews from folks that are in your close circle. They have some pretty powerful algorithms that determine you know someone. It can be discouraging to some authors, so instead, expect it and keep going because it’s important.
- Getting your book on Amazon is not a book marketing plan. Becoming a bestseller isn’t a marketing plan either. You need to have an angle you’re going to present to a specific audience and you need to have dozens and dozens of ways to put that offer in front of your ideal reader. The best marketing plan involves you doing something every single workday. At the end of a typical year that means you will have done 250 things to market your book at a minimum. These things can be partner outreach (like my partnership with North Street Book Prize), presenting an author newsletter swap to a colleague with a similar audience, posting on your social media some high value content about your book, sending a pitch to speak at a conference full of your ideal readers, connecting with the HR person at a company that would benefit from your book or a talk you can do, pitching yourself for a relevant podcast, asking someone for a review, and so many more things! The list of potential actions you can take that will sell your book and build your brand are almost endless. The most important thing is that you keep doing them. You don’t want to be the author that gives up two steps before you are about to uncover the best opportunity of your life … and you don’t know which two steps that will be.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
Sara Blakely cracked the billionaire boys club while dancing in her pajamas making pancakes for her kids on Sundays and crashing her car in the same parking garage more than once. She built a company with incredibly strong principles, some than ran very counter to culture when she began, and she has made a lot of money for herself and others! She has done so much for female entrepreneurs and females in business I feel like a moment to even express my gratitude would be cool.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m on YouTube ever Tuesday and Friday at www.booklaunchers.tv
And you can get in contact directly through www.booklaunchers.com
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.