How This Self-Published Author Sold 800,000 Copies of Her Books
Honorée Corder started her writing career as a single mom over a decade ago. Today, she is the author of dozens of self-published books, which have collectively sold more than 800,000 copies. She is also Hal Elrod's business partner for The Miracle Morning bestselling book series.
In this post, Honorée shares the most important lessons she’s learned over her career as a successful self-published author.
“You must write a book.”
In the early 2000’s, Honorée decided to attend a personal growth seminar in California where Mark Victor Hanson, the co-author of The Chicken Soup for the Soul series, was a speaker.
Honorée sat in the back of the room, when suddenly, Mark came over and sat next to her. As they introduced themselves, she mentioned that she was a business coach and speaker.
“Honey, everybody is a business coach and a speaker.”
Then he said, “You must write a book.” (In a twist of fate, You Must Write a Book became one of her best-selling titles.)
Mark asked if Honorée had a presentation that she had given multiple times, that audiences liked. He said, “Sit down at your computer, and type the presentation as though you were giving it. That’s your book.”
Make sure your book is beautiful.
When Honorée got introduced to Jeffrey Gitomer, the author of The Little Red Book of Selling, she handed him her new book. The cover and interior were designed by her boyfriend, and the book was not professionally edited.
Jeffrey paged through the book, and after a few minutes, he said:
“Your writing is actually really good. But this book? This is shit. The production, the title, the cover… It’s just awful.”
After his initial criticism, Jeffrey introduced her to his graphic designer, who beautifully laid out the book’s interior.
Call people and ask them to buy 10 - 100 copies.
One of the lessons Mark Victor Hansen shared was to make a list of everyone you could think of who would possibly be willing to buy one, 10, or 100 copies of our book. Then, call those people and ask:
“Would you like to buy between ten and a hundred copies?”
Honorée went through her Rolodex and made a list of everyone she thought would buy between ten and a hundred copies.
One of her clients said:
“We’re having our annual gathering, so I’ll take 3,000 copies. And if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to put a gold foil sticker on it that says, ‘A gift from the company.’”
A few more of her clients ordered a thousand copies, and she encouraged a lot of her friends to buy between ten and a hundred copies. By the time she received the first shipment of 5,000 books, she’s already sold 11,000 copies.
The lesson she learned:
“If you put all the time, money, and energy into writing a book and you believe that people would benefit from your message, then get over your damn self and be ready to ask the question.”
Turn your book into an advertisement.
Honorée has a series called The Successful Single Mom Book Series. She realized that divorce attorneys and therapists were putting their business card in her books and giving copies away to prospective clients.
One divorce attorney in Dallas was leaving copies in Starbucks. Honorée drove down to meet with him. He said to her:
“What I’d like to do is to modify the back cover of the book and make it about my law firm. That way, I don’t have to keep leaving my business card in the book. If I buy enough copies of your book — maybe 1,000 or 5,000 copies — would you let me make a custom cover and put my information on the back?”
Within six months of ordering his first 5,000 customized books, the attorney’s firm had generated over $2 million in new clients fees directly attributable to using the book for marketing.
Honorée continues to offer her back cover as an advertisement for law firms, certified divorce financial advisers, therapists, and divorce attorneys so they can give her books away.
Create superfans or an “advanced reader team.”
Honorée writes her readers thank you notes whenever possible. She also connects and thoughtfully answers their questions.
When Honorée personally checked in on a new reader, that person was so impressed that she read all of Honorée’s other books and reviewed them.
Honorée’s assistant reaches out and invites enthusiastic readers to join their advanced reader team. One of her readers started the hashtag #cultofhonoree, made a mug with the hashtag on it, and posted a picture on Instagram.
Reverse market your books in bookstores.
Honorée takes her books into bookstores and leaves them in there. When people would try to buy a copy, the bookseller would be confused.
Occasionally they’d call the phone number in the back of the book and say,
“We can’t find a record of your book anywhere, but somebody brought it to the counter and they want to buy it. What should we do?”
Honorée tells them, “Give them the book, or sell them the book. Do whatever you’d like.” Many would ask, “Well, how do we get more copies?”
Tell readers what you want them to do, always.
There are sales pages in Honorée’s books about how to purchase bulk orders, how to leave an honest five-star review on Amazon, “Book Honorée to Speak” or “Get Honorée’s 100 Day Coaching Program.”
In every book, there is an opportunity for someone to join her community on Facebook, opt into her email list by getting a free book, or to connect with her on LinkedIn.
She believes that authors can’t rely on readers putting those pieces together. That just doesn’t happen unless they love your book and believe they have to get it in the hands of everybody they know.
People need to be told what to do. Not because they’re not intelligent, but because we all have limited time.
Study successful authors.
Honorée believes that the first thing you have to change is your self-talk. She tells authors to write down “I am a writer who makes a living through my writing.”
Once you’ve told yourself that repeatedly, that belief seeps into your subconscious. Honorée advises her coaching clients:
“Go study successful writers and figure out what they’re doing! What do you need to say no to, what do you need to say yes to? What are you saying when you talk to yourself? What are you looking for? Have them walk you through the process of where they started and what are they doing today.”