Here are my detailed notes on Nathan Barry’s money-minting book Authority.
Before you read my notes, please keep in mind this is a quick-and-dirty summary that will hopefully encourage you to take your first steps towards self-publishing. The book itself is orders of magnitude more valuable than this blog post.
My favorite thing about Authority is that it prescribes EXACTLY what to do to be successful in researching, writing, and selling your book.
It eliminates all the guesswork and decision-making, which saves you time and reduces risk of failure.
Authority is the most useful book I’ve ever purchased.
I’m using everything I learned to write and publish my next book, Mastering HubSpot, and I can’t wait to share the results with you.
(By the way, for those wondering, I cleared this post with Nathan.)
Teach everything you know.
You don’t have to be an expert to teach.
Teaching, by itself, will establish you as an expert.
“When faced with writer’s block, lower your standards and keep going.” –Sandra Tsing Loh
Set a daily goal to write 1,000 words a day and track your progress in an app like Lift or Commit.
Finding an audience
- What do people ask me for help with?
- If I teach people this skill, will it help make them money?
- Can I reach those people online?
Host all of your books on a single domain. Why?
- All Google juice goes to a single domain
- People browsing for book A can easily find book B
Setup a landing page to test demand.
What do you need?
- Picture of a real book
- Opt-in form (this is key!)
Host the landing page on WordPress with a premium theme or use something like Unbounce or ConvertKit which are turnkey.
Tell everyone about it. Ask friends to share the link (provide them with a sample chapter).
Write (at least) 3 epic blog posts on your book’s topic and promote them. This should help you capture emails with your opt-in form and build your launch list.
Don’t let your list die. Email them once a week or once every other week.
Writing, Lots of Writing
What do we have to write?
- The book: 30,000 words (cut down to 25,000)
- 3 epic blog posts (1,000 words each)
- 7-10 guest blog posts (1,000 words each)
- 3 emails to your launch list (500 words each)
- Add chapters and sub-topics as sections in Scrivener (don’t worry about order)
- When starting a writing session, skim the list for a topic that you feel inspired to write about and start
- Remember: there’s plenty of time to go back and edit, so don’t try to be perfect
Pro-tip for focusing: stand up.
Read other books on your topic to a.) learn b.) ensure you don’t miss any key points.
At about 18,000 of your 25,000 word goal, take a step back and review. What are you missing? What content is overlapping? What doesn’t make sense?
For things that don’t quite fit, remove them. Don’t waste your reader’s time. However, try to repurpose that content for a blog post or tutorial.
Clearly communicate your value proposition. Focus on outcomes.
- Mastering _____
- The _____ Handbook
- Step-by-Step _____
- The _____ Bible
- Learn _____ from Scratch
- The Essential Guide to _____
Pricing & Packaging
Price based on value delivered. Don’t anchor yourself to traditional book prices or Amazon’s pricing model.
$39 to $49 seems like a good price for a 25,000 word eBook provided you’re delivering real value.
- Book $39
- Book + Videos $79
- The Complete Package $169
Charging a lower price isn’t always a bad idea, though. If you sell your book for $9, you might make less $ but you could end up with a larger customer list, which you could leverage to sell your next book at $49.
Try including the same material across multiple media (e.g., PDF, audio, video).
It’s hard to justify creating a higher tier package that only includes additional text content (why wasn’t that in the book?). When the added content is video or audio or source code, the perceived value of that tier is much higher.
- Short video tips
- Video Interviews
- Text interviews
- Design resources
- Sample code
- Explanation screencasts
- Video lessons (video of the expert talking)
- Photoshop files
You can even get away with making an eBook that curates free material you’ve previously published on your blog. People place value on saving time by having everything in one place.
Interviewing experts in your niche elevates your status and it’s a compliment to them. But make sure that you don’t make them do any work. 30 minutes is good enough. Don’t offer to pay them–that will muddy the incentives.
Don’t do DRM. Forget about piracy. Now.
Design & Formatting
Outputting to multiple formats is painful. Release only as PDF and maybe consider .mobi and .epub if people are demanding it, but know that the formatting might not be ideal.
Nathan evaluated tons of methods for creating PDF eBooks. He settled on iBooks Author. I will, too.
Cover art isn’t that important since your book won’t be on a shelf, so go with something simple: a solid color or a pattern with clear, easy-to-read text and perhaps an icon.
Prepping for Launch
Not using platforms like Amazon and iBooks to sell forces you to do your own marketing. Those platforms take a big cut of your profits, too.
Stay connected with your audience
Once every other week or so, drip out content to your launch list. Don’t go dark on them. Send them your epic blog posts or sample chatpers. Give them a time-limited discount for being on the launch list.
Nathan has a specific course on Mastering Product Launches. Do not skip this! It’s a magic formula.
Getting Guest Blog Posts
Make a list of the blogs you’d like to write for.
Build the relationship over time by posting comments on their posts or sending an email like this:
John, I really enjoyed your last post on ____________. As I researched the topic more I came across this post that provides some more detail and approaches the problem from a different angle. Here you go: ___________________ Thanks again, Nathan
When you email them to ask about a blog post, give them an easy out. Don’t use a hard sell.
Hopefully this will help
Preview Copies & Testimonials
Give away preview copies and ask for feedback and testimonials. Write the quote for them and let them edit it.
The sales page
Use the pain-dream-fix method of copywriting.
- Why someone should care
- Sample chapter
- Table of contents
- Social proof
- About the author
- Listing of packages
- A purchase link
- FAQ to overcome objections
- Another purchase link
Launch & Beyond
Email your list the day before you launch to let them know what’s coming. When the launch day email hits their inbox, they’ll already know whether they want to purchase.
Make sure your sales page, e-commerce, and analytics are setup and working before launch day.
On launch day:
- Publish a blog post that says what the book is and has a strong CTA
- Email your list at 8:00am ET
Ask for shares
Hey ______, Thanks so much for your help and support through this process. It means a lot! The book is finally live and sales have started to roll in. You can check out the site here: [Link] Would you mind helping me promote the book? Tweets, Facebook posts, and Hacker News sub- missions are all welcome. I appreciate all the help. :) Let me know if I can help on your next project. -Nathan
Inevitably sales will dip after your big launch day/week. To cure this, keep teaching and writing about your book topic with purchase CTAs to reach new people in your target audience.
Also, creating automated email courses ensure that all new subscribers get all of your best content from the past dripped out over time vs. only getting the new stuff.
Take your best content and arrange it into a sequence:
- Educate w/ soft sell
- Educate w/ hard sell
- Educate w/ soft sell
Don’t underestimate how time-consuming updates can be, especially for technical books.
Should you charge for updates? Fixes and minor updates should be free. New editions should be 50% off for existing customers.
Wait at least 6 months after launch before you offer a deal. You don’t want to upset your most loyal customers who purchased on day 1.
Just give ’em and move on. Only worry if your refund rate is over 5%.
The advice bundled in this book has changed Nathan’s lifestyle in a big way. If you follow the advice in the book and put in consistent daily effort, you can have a similar impact on your own life.
Please do yourself a HUGE favor and buy the book!