SPS 219: Selling 1M+ Copies Of Multiple Books & Getting Your Book In Airports with Jay Papasan

Posted on Jul 19, 2023

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Written by Chandler Bolt

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Selling 1M+ Copies Of Multiple Books & Getting Your Book In Airports with Jay Papasan


Chandler Bolt (Host) 00:00
Hey, Chandler Bolt here and joining me today is Jay Papasan. Jay is the bestselling author who serves as the vice president of strategic content for Keller Williams Realty International, the world’s largest real estate company. He started his publishing career at Harper Collins and has also written multiple books alongside Gary Keller, including a couple we’ll talk about today. the millionaire real estate agent that has sold one over 1.5 million copies and a book you’ve probably heard of I think it’s one of the best books of all time called The One Thing, which has sold over 3 million copies. Jay’s also just a great friend and a fellow Austinite here in Austin, texas. And fun facts for those who haven’t heard of yet Episode number two of the podcast was with Jay and we talked about the one thing and using the one thing for time blocking. So I was just thinking about this this morning. I’m like man. Since that episode I’ve been kicking rocks around the neighborhood and Jay has been selling millions of copies of books.
It’s like how many millions of copies Jay has sold books since this last episode, which might be, you know, the first time we’ve had a kind of like a two episodes where millions of copies have been sold in that span, which is kind of a fun little fact, jay, welcome, great to have you here, ma’am.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 01:25
Oh, I’m stealing that. I’m kicking rocks from the neighborhood. That’s a good point. I don’t know where that came from, but I’ve never heard it and I love it.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 01:33
I think I just made it up. I don’t know, maybe it’s just some Southern saying, i don’t know.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 01:40
So let’s start here. I mean, why books? Why are they such a big part of your life? And then also the Keller Williams business, like with you and Gary, and obviously you have a whole content division inside a real estate company which I think most people would say hold on Weird. Why is that? It’s kind of unconventional. So why books and why is it such a big part of what you guys do?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 02:02
Sure, well, i’ve shared with you, like my number one core value is impact And I love that. You teach. You have it right behind you on a poster of leveraged impact And I definitely relay that to a book. There are a few things to give you more leverage than a book in terms of reaching the widest possible audience. And look at the bookshelves behind me. You can continue reaching people long after you’re dead. I don’t know that that YouTube video or even the TV show will still be out there, so it’s one of the most durable mediums that has the biggest scale out there If you really want to make an impact, if you want to reach a large audience just not easy to do, right, it’s not as complicated as people make it. But so that’s books.
I started with Kelle Williams in 2000, moved here from New York after I left publishing and got married and ended up writing a newsletter for the Gary’s then small Kelle Williams company.
There were 6700 agents and only 27 employees back then And today there’s like 180,000 and 45 countries I think I don’t know the latest count may be 50. So, like the company has grown exponentially. But Gary loves books. Like if you walk into his office there’s books. Everywhere There’s piles of books on the floor Like he just we have a mastermind coming up in a month and he just assigned three books, because for him, three books in a month is no big deal. Like all of our agents are like they’re probably like they have to listen to it on audio And they’re going to be like how am I going to find 14 hours for each of these books? right, but so he loves books, he loves learning, and so when we started working together, the idea he was already thinking about writing books and I had my skills from Harper Collins, where I had learned how books were made That’s kind of how it came together.
He’s a teacher and a coach. He doesn’t say it the way I do like impact. But, he wants to teach the lessons he has to share to as many people as possible, so books has been a great vehicle for him as well.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 04:05
And so did it start as a content arm and then evolve into book publishing or kind of. Was it from day one division Hey, jay, you’re going to come over and we’re going to write books together that grow the business and grow the impact. All that good stuff.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 04:17
Gary’s the consummate entrepreneur, so, like I know his chief of staff and there’s probably like 450 binders that represent the entities that he’s created and their minutes and all of those things. So he has zero issue spinning up an opportunity. So, like our company, our little publishing company was born, if you look at the copyright for the millionaire real estate investor. Excuse me, agent, i had helped publish a book called Better, oh gosh, bill Phillips Body for Life, and I remember when he was sending me the copyright information because I was an editor working on the book and he had a copyright. The 11th level corporation LLC. And I got a chance to ask him was like why did you do that? He has. Well, we worked with our writer, mike, and without ever having to talk to y’all, if all the proceeds are going to the LLC, i can now distribute those based on who’s contributing. Maybe it’s the people who wrote the book now and the people who are marketing it later. He just wanted, he thought like an entrepreneur, so very late in the game, we’re writing the millionaire real estate agent. I told Gary that story. I guess, well, we should copy read our book in an LLC too. How do we come up with a name, and so relic is actually just Keller backwards. He had just read a long article on Oprah Winfrey and her company is called Harpo, which is Oprah backwards. It works for her, so I might as well do it for me.
And that actually led after I think our second book or our second book was in progress. Gary looked at his co-authors me and Dave and said well, we already have the business, why don’t I make y’all partners, dave? Dave Labor left and I bought him out, so Gary and I are effectively 50 50 in that, but we hold all the copyrights there and then we license them back to our companies And that’s just a. You think about high level strategy. This is not beginner stuff, but it really worked. For where he was, the business was its growth mode And it also created an opportunity for us to become partners. And now I’m thinking not just like a writer or a ghost writer or editor. I’m thinking like a partner and an author.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 06:30
Right. Well, and just like I mean I know you do a lot of real estate investing, i mean I’ve always looked at super successful books like this as a form of passive real estate investing. It’s just a real estate is a book and you have a backlist and you have ongoing book sales and you have monthly royalty checks that show up and if you design it right, i mean most people obviously aren’t aren’t doing it anywhere the volume that you guys are. But even on a small scale, it’s OK. If I sell 100 books in a month, self published, 30 years from now, it’s a couple hundred bucks, you know.
that’s an equivalent to a similar of like a three bedroom, two bath kind of maybe cash flow of like a small real estate investment, which I think is really interesting.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 07:11
You’re trading your time and your thought energy right to create a source of passive income and it can really be about as passive as any source of income once it’s out there and rolling Our. We work with one small publisher which is very close to self publishing I think we’ve talked about this. So we effectively are the publisher And even though he’s doing a lot of the jobs like we’ve we, we take all the risk and we also split the money differently. But his name is Todd Sadderson and he had wrote a little self published book called I think it’s called every book is a startup, he doesn’t. He thinks of. Every book is like a little business venture going out in the world and you follow the same process You’re launching it and you can get to a place where it can send you reliable income and business as well.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 07:58
Hey, chandler bowl here. I hope you’re loving this episode so far. It’s time to go from inspiration to implementation. If you’ve learned something, we want to help you implement what you’ve learned with your book. So what I want you to do right now is go to self publishingcom forward, slash schedule book a publishing consultation with one of the experts on my team. We’ll talk about your goals for your book, your dreams, your challenges, your next steps and we’ll start putting together a plan. Alright, so go to self publishingcom forward, slash schedule book a call with the team. Let’s see how we can help with your book. It’s time to implement. That’s really cool. I’m scramming for the unmute button over here because I’m taking notes. I got to get. That sounds like a really fascinating book. I got to talk to him about coming on the podcast. I’ve never heard of him or that book. That sounds really fascinating.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 08:48
So Todd Satterston he wrote the best 100 business books of all time, which takes some hoods up, right, but they’re actually got him updating that book now. He ran CEO read right 1-800-CEO-READ, which was the original business book distributor. Like if you were an author or speaker you had to work with them because they could get books to your events, all of that. They were the discount bulk business buyer. So he was the CEO of that for a while before he opened up his own private business consulting business and eventually partnered with the bar press where we were working and took that over when Ray Bard that’s a long story all he’s ever done is business books, so it’s really strange to find someone with that depth of knowledge right All in business, like he just did, business book freak.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 09:44
That’s cool, so obviously published a bunch of different books. I know before this interview we were talking about four other books that have sold 100,000 copies or more. You’ve got a millionaire real estate agent. that’s 1.5 million over that and then 3 million copies of the one thing. I want to unpack some of these books differently, but I guess maybe with the first one was the first book or first breakout book. was that the millionaire real estate agent or was that one of the other ones?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 10:13
No, the millionaire real estate agent is the first book we published And it had direct alignment with the growth strategy for the company. Gary looked up it was actually just a project Long before we had a publishing department and a publishing company. They asked the question we’re not chic with the top agents in our industry Like it wasn’t Keller Williams, it was Keller who we joke And it’s like how do we become relevant?
to the top people in our industry And you know this. if you’re a business person, a consultant, your book can become your calling card And you literally can say I wrote the book on X, even if nobody reads it.
everybody understands the effort it takes to create something like that and put yourself out there, so it’s immediate validation And so no one was really addressing the kind of right then the zeitgeist in our industry that sales people wanted to be business people. And that book we got lucky like that was what we were focused on was mastermining with those agents on how to be better business people. So even though it’s got real estate in the title like I was on a podcast earlier this week and the guy goes that’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read It’s just about a service business, like how do you think about it, how do you grow it, how do you manage it for a profit. And we wanted to do that for those people. So that book we self-published.
I told Gary authoritatively that in its lifetime it might sell 50,000 copies Because when we published it we had about 14,000 agents And in the first year because one, there was no competition for that book. Like nobody was talking. That sales people were all about scripting and sales negotiations, that nobody was talking to them about how to grow a business. So we were a category of one and we sold over 100,000 copies. We had been rejected by close to, i think, 28 publishers.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 12:11
Jay Papasan (Guest) 12:12
When we just explored that water And the only one who made us an offer was the American Management Association. And I just said, gary, i think we’ll do better on our own And I’m so glad you did right, because we, as a self-published author, you get to pick the title, you get to position the book because you know your customers really, really well And you get a lot of that control. You don’t get the expertise, but you have all of that control. That’s really valuable, and so it was really fun that fall, when we were the number one in real estate for like months and months and all those publishers that rejected us started calling us.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 12:47
Uh-huh, yeah, it’s like you know. People often say you know, how do you get a loan from a bank? Well, you need to not need one. Well, how do you get it to yourself? I’m not sure, don’t need the deal. If you can sell books on your own, you know they’re willing to give you a deal. How did you sell so many copies of that book? self-published, those first 100,000 copies, if you think about that? And then I just looked up the listing It looks like it on Amazon, at least the same McGraw Hill. So I’m assuming you sold the rights to a publisher at some point. So I guess maybe two part big question. But how did you self-publish and sell those first 100,000 copies? And then at what point did you say all right, this makes sense to sell the rights to a publisher.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 13:27
So I now have a framework for thinking about it. At that time, like I knew how to sell, we had very limited distribution as a self-published right. We were working with a small company to do the printing. They were getting those books to Amazon. That was the only channel we were for sell on that first year. But we did have printed books because this is 2003.
So, like Kindle might have been a twinkle in Amazon’s eye but it wasn’t there yet And so we never. It was actually kind of an ugly book. I didn’t know the ins and outs of publishing a red book cover. I see that you have one. If you don’t get the color right, it can come out kind of pink, like there’s. It can be brick red or red. So it didn’t turn out It was a little pinkish red that we went with it anyway. We sold it to individual readers, which is what almost everybody thinks about. How do I market this to my reader? But I now know that there are four audiences for a book And the one that we’ve done 50% of all of our sales is like I refer to it.
My publisher, ray, taught me a long time ago People who buy for others. So we reserve the right because we had self-published and we were already doing it to sell cases of 10. We surveyed our people and said if you were using this to build your team or your office or your franchise, like I think, they naturally shipped in boxes of 22 from the warehouse. I said, but what’s the ultimate? like a 10 pack, so we had to pay a local warehouse. We still have them and use them.
Down in Buda, just south of Austin, they have a warehouse where they get the publishers and they repackage or everything in boxes of 10. And we sell those to our customers who use them as a business building tool. So we created a tool that worked for us and, at that time, for all the people who work for us, and they would buy it in bulk and then get it away And we actually would put them on subscription plans, right. So it would be like great, how many copies do you want a month? And they’d be like I need 10 copies a month and some big office would be like I need 20.
Because in real estate there’s a every day, you’re meeting with people who are getting their license And they were like, hey, here’s the book. It won’t make sense today, but you want to keep this on your desk. This is your blueprint for how to run your business And I can walk through it anytime.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 15:55
That is.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 15:56
And we also did events.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 15:57
We did. We’re a training and coaching company.
So, you know this if you go and you can fill up a hotel ballroom with 200 people, most people don’t blink at spending 99 bucks for a day of training And you can charge a lot more. I just found that if we were training on any of the books, i could always put the full cost of a book on every seat. Every seat would have a book on it And people would say I’ve already got one. I’d be great. Who can you give it to that most needs that book? Yeah, that’s, and we did a lot of bulk sales to training that way too.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 16:29
Excellent For audiences.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 16:31
I’ll just wrap that up So today there’s readers, there’s people who buy for others. Those are like 50, 50, a huge part of our business. You can market your book to PR right, like if you hit, make a hit on the Oprah one free show, or get into Reese wither a spoon or whatever. We all know that that can blow your world up in a big way And that’s where the movie rights and everything else come from. I’ve had marginal to no success with that, podcast being the one exception. If when we taught you in detail about the one thing, podcast was huge there, so we can circle back to that.
The last one and this is really crazy is you have to make sure that your book communicates to booksellers If it’s going to end up in a bookstore. The bookseller is like glancing at this, do they know what shelf to put it on? And so we’ve always been except for that first year of hybrid, where we work with a publisher to get us in bookstores but we reserve the direct channels for ourselves. That’s been our model from day one. So we’ve always been kind of half in your world and half in the traditional.
If you’re in the traditional bookstores like they screw it up all the time, the most famous story is a fun story. There was a book called The Physics of Star Trek And it came out and I think it was like Random House or Bantam was going to make a really big deal out of it, because it was this really like well, how would a work drive work Right, how would you know, all of the same, that it was really good science but also very appealing to all the millions of Star Trek fans. Barnes and Noble they have complete independence looked at it and they put it in the science section And there was no amount of talk from the publisher or the fans. They could get them to put it by the rows and rows of Star Trek novels that would sell out every single week. So they failed to market it properly to the booksellers and it really hurt their ability to sell. Like for me, i have to ask are we in self-help or business? And I always want to be in business for me.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 18:35
Jay Papasan (Guest) 18:38
A friend shared with me the definition of a business book versus a self-help book, and I like self-help books. By the way, self-help books, 75% of the content is helping you identify the problem and 25% is the solution. A business book 25% is presenting the problem and 75% is about the solutions. And I’m pragmatic. I like to write books that people can put to work. And also, we’ll tell you, making a self-help bestseller list is one of the hardest lists to crack Because when you pop there, we know those titles and they stay on the list forever and ever. Now you’re competing with your idols, right, the people that you. And that is just When Tony Robbins comes out with a new book, he’ll sell like 70 or 80,000 copies in the first week.
It is impossible to compete with them on a scale if you want to place out there in the world. So, business there are weeks when the big guys show up and the big gals show up, like we had the unfortunate luck of having Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg debut at the same time as the one thing, the reason we could win at number two on a whole bunch of lists because we could not compete with Facebook. But that’s the breaks. It’s a lot less frequent. In that category. I want to win I don’t know as big a stage as I can. It starts with the Amazon categories and then you work your way up. How big? Where can I be number one? Where can I be number one So that a bookseller says, well, this is the best book on that topic?
Chandler Bolt (Host) 20:07
Jay Papasan (Guest) 20:07
And people recommend it. All right, i just threw a bunch at you, so man, this is so good.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 20:13
I’ve already got a half page of notes here. We talked about are? you talked about the four audiences for a book and being readers, people who buy books for others. You talked about the cases of 10 idea and how that and subscriptions is sold about 50% of your books. You talked about PR and publicity And then you talked about making sure that you communicate to booksellers as being kind of those four audiences. I want to circle back to the millionaire real estate agent. Sure, so at what point did you decide and what was the why behind saying, all right, we successfully self-published, now let’s sell the rights to a traditional publisher? Can you walk us through?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 20:53
that We looked up and I’d seen this happen a couple of times. As a publisher, if you’re already successful and they’re hunting you, versus you getting an agent and hunting them, it’s a very different negotiation. And I tried to explain this to Gary, like because, gary, even then, as an entrepreneur, you hate to give up control of things that matter to you. And I just coached them. I said a publishing contract and traditional publishing it’s horrible, but they think anybody who’s on the inside knows to cross out almost every clause and write in new things. But if you accept the standard boilerplate, it’s just like announcing that you’re a Rube And they will take advantage of you and they will own you for a period of time. They’ll own the options and all of that. So I just said we won’t have a lot of control if we go there.
But he wanted to test the waters because to be a national bestseller the easiest way is to work through one of those big publishers, because New York Times all the nuances of who they think is legit and worth ranking that helps you navigate that And he wanted that for his company and his book. But we rejected it because if they don’t invest a certain amount of money with you. You’re going to get very few resources. They have to kind of be on the hook for losing money to really get behind you and the big publishers. So we went our own way.
But we also were missing out on all the Barnes and Noble bookstores across the country. It’s very hard to get access to an airport bookstore if you want to do that. It’s very hard to sell foreign rights if you’re going to go self-publish. You know more about this than me. That was where I believed in 2003, 2004. It might be changed today, but when McGraw Hill called they had a great real estate list and a great real estate rep. I think it was McGraw Hill and Oh, i can’t think of it. There’s only like three publishers that really own the real estate category. But they knew our topic and they knew our people and how to market to them. So we did the deal with them.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 23:04
Yeah, Cool, And I want to unpack a couple of different things. So one is I love what you said. It’s kind of similar to Michael Hyatt, I think said this on the podcast, or maybe just to me personally, But it’s like. I’ll use the bank analogy again. He’s like you know, if you borrow 50 grand from the bank, you work for the bank. If you borrow 50 million from the bank, the bank works for you Because they need that 50 million back.
And so same with a publisher is if you get a small advance, you work for the publisher. If you were able to get a massive advance, they now in some ways work for you because they really need that book to be successful And they’re taking a big bet. So kind of the amount that you get on the advance being obviously correlated to how on the hook the publisher is and how much they’re going to spend marketing the book and all that good stuff. Looking back, it looks like maybe you guys did like a two or three book deal with McGraw-Hill or maybe there was a re-up or something at some point.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 23:59
We gave them a 30 day option where we would submit, like I knew enough about the contracts. I like the dance.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 24:05
I’ll dance with the person I brought to the dance right.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 24:10
They got us in there. We became a best seller, a national best seller. With their help, they did a good job on the first book. So I just said, we’ll give you the first option, and so I think our next book was the Millionaire Real Estate Investor, and then your first home, and each time they had an option on the next one And we worked with them right up until we published a book called Shift And after that the market had changed And McGraw-Hill’s foot print wasn’t quite as big And I looked for a true hybrid publisher. We had a hybrid deal with McGraw because you start with that first contract. We had the right to sell it on our website directly to our people. We’d reserved all of this.
It still was a little irksome right Like we didn’t have complete control of we’d like to do a custom printing or there’s stuff that we just couldn’t do And, like I don’t want to complain, they’ve been great partners through the years. but it wasn’t as flexible for us as we wanted. So we looked at the Bard Press, which is really like I said, it’s very. it’s like 70% self publishing but with an amazing kind of business book wrapper around it and expert services.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 25:24
Cool, that’s awesome. Looking back, are you glad that you sold the rights to those first couple of books The way that you did, or would you do it differently? Would you go Bard Press, Would you self publish, or would you do something different?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 25:37
I think we did the right thing at the time. The only thing I didn’t anticipate was at that time it was very easy to take a book out of print and regain the rights because ebooks weren’t really a big deal. Today a lot of even traditional publisher contracts as you go in, you can negotiate upfront terms to buy the rights to your book back. And that’s not in the old contracts before about 2007 or eight. That just didn’t. That was maybe superstars got it and they had to sign NDAs, but nobody else got it.
So we now have a relationship with those books where, like, i’m not as incented to want to update them because I know the terms will not be as good and they have no reason to give me better terms because those rights are what we agreed to back in. Each time we wrote a book we augmented it slightly, but by the time we wrote the last one like that wasn’t on my radar. If it was a thing when we wrote the shift, it was a very small niche audience that got that deal. That’s the only thing I would do differently, as I would have had a crystal ball that let me know that they might accept that in the future.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 26:47
Sure Yeah.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 26:48
So let me ask about fast forwarding to the one thing I mean. So it’s easy for someone to kind of discount the success of the millionaire real estate agent, millionaire real estate investor or even a certain extent shift, or your first home, because it’s like, oh cool, calla Williams wrote a real estate book, so did all your agents Like, all right, well, i’d love to run a nationwide real estate company to sell books. I don’t have that fortune, this won’t work for me. But I think, when I think about the one thing, it’s a lot more mass market And sure was there an audience building advantage of like you’ve got a big company with a bunch of employees and all that stuff, of course, but really I think that that book is transcended and become a household name for all different types of professions. So can you kind of talk to me about how did you approach, knowing all that you learned from the first few books, how’d you approach the one thing differently And what did you do to market it in a way that it’s kind of become this perennial bestseller?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 27:54
So it was the first book that we launched with an intention to try to go for a number one on the Wall Street Journal, usa Today or New York Times And we had been working with our publisher and we got weekly sales reports on our category. So I could see and we actually looked at, i think, two full years of data. They went back and worked with us. It was a two man team. It was amazing what they were willing to do with us. They pulled actual book sales in the category and compared it to the bestseller list And I grafted out because I’m a nerd and I was like, okay, if you can sell around 1500 to 2000 copies in a week, the chances that you would make the bestseller list and hardcover bestseller list were really high. Nothing is guaranteed because you could always have a week where there were 10 books that sold more than you And, if you could, i used that in on the top. There’s a lot more variation at the top because when people launch you know this big names launch with huge numbers, so the bottom was very stable. So, making the list in my mind today, still, if I can get about 2000 sales into the marketplace in one week for like two weeks in a row to hedge my bets. I have a really good chance in a hardcover business book of making the Wall Street Journalist Like. That is a formula. It takes a lot more to make the New York Times So like. Anyway, our analysis showed if we could sell about 40,000 copies in the first month. And I submitted a plan for selling 40,000 copies which Gary basically threw back in my face. He goes nothing’s perfect, show me a plan for 100,000.
And we leveraged our network, which was larger at that time. Right, but we also had the audience from our previous books and we had an email list that we could reach out to. So we just hit all of those buttons. We tried PR, we spent a certain amount of money, i did radio TV, i did radio interviews. None of that really worked And at the beginning I couldn’t see that it had an impact. If it did, god bless them. I just couldn’t measure it. And we really made it around events Like we made a big deal. This is our first non-real estate book And I think we did 33 events in a five month period, traveled around, used our local connections to try to fill as big a room It’s like when Gary was there, they’d get eight or 900. When I was there, we’d get four or 500. That was a lot of our sales right there. We did a mail out and this is again business. Everything I’m sharing, i think is smart for business authors and everybody else should ask well, what would this look like in my category?
Chandler Bolt (Host) 30:43
Mm, that’s a great disclaimer, yeah.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 30:45
Yeah, i just like I have to. Like I love free fiction, but my playbook might not work there.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 30:51
Jay Papasan (Guest) 30:52
I looked up and we sent 1,003 copies out. That’s expensive because it’s not just the cost of the book, it was the mailing of the book. But I was again. Ray Bard was the founder of the publishing company I was working with and I was working with him And he goes. You know what I’ve always wanted to do and if you’re willing to do it, let’s do it. Let’s send two books to each of these executives that we’ve identified that might be receptive. And he goes because you know the drill, like he had been in Gary’s office, he’d been in my office and you probably get this too. People are always sending you books And there’s always more than you can read. But if you actually love books like I don’t want to give away my copy of your next book, but if I had two, like I’d give one to my editor and say, hey, i just got this, here’s a copy for you when you tell me what you think of it, that’s cool.
And that was really a nice touch because it opened up some corporate sales for us in that first year as well. And anecdotally I heard the CEOs and founders they weren’t the ones rarely that read the book during that time period, but that extra copy they gave to a key lieutenant who read it and said this is terrific, you’re gonna like it.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 32:00
Oh, that’s cool Man. I like that a lot. Let’s I mean, we’re running out of time. I got a lot more questions. I did one last thing on the promotion because I only because I forecasted it.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 32:13
We did that for the first year And then, of course, gary goes back to being the CEO and running the businesses. I’m still writing books and doing things. I just made a commitment to do something to actively promote the book every single week going forward, and I’ve pretty much done that every single week for the last 10 years And exactly a year after the book started, that spring, i started doing it. We launched April 1st 2013. So, starting around February of 2014, i started going on podcast. That was like you’d think that podcasts were already huge Then. It wasn’t as crowded as it was today And I started getting on podcasts And at first I was asking how many listeners do you have? And then I said I don’t care And I just said every week I had a podcast.
And then exactly a year later, our sales trend had been going down, down, down, down down. It was like to like 400 a week, which was our low point after the launch. And then it started to trend up And I attribute that to one the delay for busy people to actually read the book and do word of mouth, like it could take someone as long as a year to work that to the top of their stack and actually read it and then say, dang, that was a good read, my cousin should read it. And podcasts are kind of amazing leverage Like I can give you an hour of my time today. We get to schedule it based on convenience, and then this lives out there in the ether, this conversation, and it gets to cross pollinate with your fans and everybody else. So I really think that’s a great investment of time for authors. That and building an email list Man could not agree more And that’s cool to see.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 33:57
I mean, we talk about this concept of. It’s not about the one week launch, it’s the one year launch. But it’s so interesting to even hear you say hey, this is the 10 year launch, is doing something once per week for 10 years and that being I talked about this in publish is like the concept of like the Toyota Camry versus the Lamborghini, and like the Lamborghini is how most people treat their book launch shoo gone in a flash right And uses up all this fuel, all this energy. But what you’ve created, and what we recommend a lot of authors create, is that Toyota Camry. It just keeps going and going and going and going for a long time and keeps selling.
I wanna ask real quick because this has just been on my mind for years And I’ve been wanting to ask you this is the airport bookstore stuff. I know we talked briefly before the interview and you’re like, hey, i’m not sure if you can really do this self-published versus traditional published. I remember you talking about the strategy that you had, where it was like all right, we’re gonna go into Hudson bookstores, we’re gonna do paid placement, we’re gonna do it on the end caps because that’s more visible, we’re gonna use that to boost sales and I’m tracking how much I’m paying and then I’m tracking how many books we’re moving And then by then that’s gonna help us get into the best seller list. Now we’re permanently in Hudson bookstores and we don’t have to pay for that placement And just like all the math around that.
I was just like picking my brain up off the floor when you were explaining all that. Can you break down airport bookstores? How’d you do it? Should authors do it? Do you know? has that updated today? Is it only traditionally published? Is there a chance for self-published authors?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 35:34
Sure, i think if you’re working with anyone who can get you into traditional bookstores, right, if you’re taking it off of just the pure self-published, like Amazon platform. I do believe that other distributors like Three Rivers, two Rivers Rather, nbn, national Book Network, publishers Group West if they’re still called that they may have changed their name. They all have reps that if you want to spend money on co-op advertising and co-op advertising used to also extend to the tables, like in Barnes Noble. Barnes Noble stopped that practice when they changed ownership And they’re actually doing better. They wanted the local managers to pick the books for their local audience, but it did take away that tool. So you’re paying for placement.
We strategically tried to find the airports that we felt like would have high foot traffic and high visibility And it’s just a very arcane world. You have like eight different chains, parodies and all of this that you know. You see the books inside of what should be a snack shop, right, and we tried to find optimal placement. Hudson’s is the most expensive by far. When we did it And we tracked how many we sold, which often took phone calls. We had to call them because they don’t report. Hudson’s reports, everybody else didn’t And Hudson’s also reports to the best seller list, which is unique, so that if you want to be a best seller, they charge the best for a reason. They can sell 200 or 300 copies a week. If you’re on the right tables, they can get you just over that edge.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 37:17
Jay Papasan (Guest) 37:18
And they’re selling to people, by the way, who buy for others. The people who are always in the airports tend to be the kinds of people that have expense accounts. They can buy 10 copies for their team. They don’t buy it in the airport, right, there’s nothing discounted there but they go home and they order it and they buy it.
So we tracked it And I figured that because we were selling, we were selling some copies, we were getting about 50 cents on the dollar back for the books we sold And as a self-published author, we have better economics, right. And that was the same for me with my hybrid publishing. I don’t know, the ratio would be worse if you were in traditional publishing And if you can crack the Hudson’s bestseller list. Now you’re a bestseller within Hudson’s, you get free placement on their bookshelves that are highly visible, and then you go from being in like 20 stores to like dozens and dozens I think it’s a 77 or maybe it’s even more than that And now it’s just. It’s a whole different ballgame. So for about four straight years we were on and off the Hudson’s bestseller list, and the years that we did that, everything went from. This is a loss leader for us. It’s like a marketing effort, right.
Yeah, yeah, you don’t need to get there to flipping it to net positive by many, many times.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 38:41
Jay Papasan (Guest) 38:42
Today they offer a selection where, instead of paying for placement in Hudson’s when they sell the book, they take extra margin. And that’s really attractive, right, if you’re? asking you could get that Now you’re just not making very much money, but you’re guaranteed not to lose money.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 38:59
Yeah, i mean at that point, who cares? I mean especially if you have a business on the back end, so she’s just using that as a. It’s almost like an affiliate. They get paid a cut per book, they sell with no downside And you get a placement Just lose the ability to place it in the bookstore, like I wanted someone to see it from outside the store.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 39:19
I see, but that’s not now, but we also don’t have any downside. We’re not writing big checks anymore.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 39:25
Got it, so it’s in the bookstore. You’re not just. You’re just not able to say anymore hey, i want that in-cap or that display unit that’s outside of the Hudson’s that people are going to see. Yep, okay, got it. That makes a lot of sense And that’s really fascinating. I mean, i’m just thinking back over the years. This is a. I’m like I must have sent you so many pictures of me in the airport.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 39:49
I could have my own favorite things. I’m like, oh, check this out. And when I see author’s books it’s just like such a cool feeling Does everybody love that, though, like I go in and I’ll grab it.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 40:01
If they only have one copy, i’m going to flip it around so that it’s face out on the shelf.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 40:06
Right And it looks like it’s about to be sold out.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 40:08
Maybe I’ll fill the bookseller and they’ll order 10 more instead of one more. Totally Like if it’s spying out, it’s one thing. If it’s face out, you have a much better chance of being picked up and sold If you’re on a table or a display. you keep just adding to the amount of attention you’re going to get. I mean, think about it, There’s thousands of books in there.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 40:28
Jay Papasan (Guest) 40:28
I want them to see your book because they’re only going to walk out with one or two.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 40:31
Yeah, that’s such a great point And I’ll share this one story and then I’ll ask you a final question. I’m going to go back to the bookstores, i’m going to pick up, all right.
So I guess people always ask how you get into airport bookstores and or how do you get into bookstores, and I always joke, hey, the easiest way is to just take your book and leave it, and that’s funny And so I started doing this thing because I was like I I just think this will be funny And I saw where I take two copies of my book And I’ll put them in the bookstore and then I’ll take a picture and anywhere I’m going and I’ll just leave them And I put them on the end cap or wherever, And and.
I, I don’t know to this day, I don’t know what happens when, when someone tries to buy it. But but I just started posting it and it’s been hilarious The reaction that it’s gotten, Cause I mean people don’t read, They don’t read the thing. That’s like Hey, I’m just, this is a joke, Just drop it. And they’re like Oh, my gosh congratulations.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 41:30
It’s exciting. It’s like my clout went up and it’s just been a fun thing.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 41:37
So if you listen to, marketing, that’s a good girl of marketing.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 41:40
I love that.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 41:40
Right, if you knew the right waiting rooms, you would leave it in a waiting room too. Right Like if you do your clients were there, you’d go up and say you know, i’ll put a little lamb, that sticker on here that says this is an office coffee. But can we just? I’ll give you a copy so that when people are waiting to the doctor or whatever, they’ll read my book.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 41:59
That’s a great idea. Well, well, jay, i could. We could talk for for hours on this stuff, i guess. closing question no one, no, no one. What you know now, what advice would you give parting piece of advice for the Jay from years ago, before you wrote your first book, and the other Jays out there who were thinking about writing their first book?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 42:17
Well, go back and listen to episode two. If you don’t time block and write it, you’ll never get there. The other thing in terms of selling books, which was our topic here, I think the number one thing that people can do that gives them longterm control over their career would be to build an email list And you’re going to be writing about. Maybe it’s the cutting, you know the scraps from your book, or maybe that’s how you’re testing the ideas for your book, just like people would do with an old school blog, and you can do it as a blog too. But it needs to be an email list that goes to people’s inbox. They have invited you in.
Everybody I know who knows things like. You sell 50 copies there. For every one copy you’ll sell on social, And that is lined up with my reality. I mean, I hate email, I don’t want more email, But if I subscribe to you and your list, that is a strong buying signal that I might buy your book in the future. So grooming that list and growing it is one of the number one things that we focus on, just so that whenever the next book comes out or the next book comes out, we need to say hey folks, we got another one And it’s not dependent on any bookstore placement and the song. Giving it the right treatment, I can just direct my readers to go buy my book Number one thing that anybody can do and control their audience.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 43:33
The one. Thing.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 43:34
I love that.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 43:36
So, jay, this has been awesome. Where can people go to buy your books, learn more about you and what you guys are up to?
Jay Papasan (Guest) 43:43
Well, obviously they’re available in all fine bookstores, but if you want to get kind of the most recent me, i’d go to the one thingcom with the number one. There’s usually great content there that we’re giving away for free And you can find out whatever events that we’re doing around the book. I still actively promote that, usually at least once per week, and I’m going to count this one because we sure All right, The one thing.
Chandler Bolt (Host) 44:07
I mentioned this at the top, but I’ve been one of those people that buy for others. I’ve bought it for everyone on my team at one point or another. We’ve done book clubs on it. Jay’s been generous with his time to come in and do a Q&A for that. I’ve read it multiple times. It’s on my read list, You know, every two years or so reread because it helps me get back focused on what I’m doing. So and oh and I forget we’ll often buy these for our customers to help them focus on the one thing, for which is a lot of times getting your rough draft done. So check out the book, guys, the one thing or any of the other real estate books if you’re in real estate. and Jay, thank you so much.
Jay Papasan (Guest) 44:43
Thanks for having me, man. It’s always fun. I love to talk books. If you can’t tell.

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