Have you ever thought or been told you should write a book? Well, Jesse Tevelow, author of Authorpreneur, has self-published three and it’s helped him generate $30,000 per year in passive income, and he seen other part-time authors who are doing even better, earning up to seven figures per year by leveraging their books for their business.
In this episode, Jesse will show you how to become a successful authorpreneur. So if you feel ready to write your book, but you’ve held back because you’ve thought, “How am I going to turn this into a business or even a lifestyle,” This episode is for you.
Jesse Tevelow: My first book, I was reinventing myself. I was leaving my startup that I’d worked at for a long time, and I was figuring out what I was going to do next, what I was going to do with my life.
So I’m sure, for anyone listening, you’ve probably been there. You’ve probably been in that situation where you’re at a crossroads, you’re not sure what you’re doing, it’s not completely clear.
What really tipped me off was a conversation I had with one of my advisors and mentors who had been helping me with the company that I was working on before. I told him, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to write a book.” It was just one of those burning desires, and I know a lot of people have that desire. I think there are some stats on this, like four out of every five people feel like they have a book in them, and I thought I had a story to tell.
He said, “Yeah. I love it. You should write this book.”
I took the leap, and I did it. That was my first journey into publishing and also into the world of marketing in terms of the publishing space. I made a ton of mistakes and there were lots of problems with what I did. I wasted a ton of money. It went down all the rabbit holes and fell into all the pitfalls and all that good stuff.
But I made it to the other side and the book ended up eventually doing well. It eventually hit number one in multiple categories and then I started getting invitations to go onto podcasts, like this one, and all this stuff started happening. I realized there was something really special happening.
By the way, I didn’t use a traditional publisher. I didn’t go through the traditional route. I was going to actually go through Brad’s publishing company, which ended up not working. So his publishing company folded. I was like, “Okay. That’s not an option anymore.”
“There are a lot of twists and turns, but I saw the power of a book.”
That was like the kernel of what has driven most the majority of the past five years of my life, really. So yeah, that was the beginnings of this whole thing, and I can go deeper if you want. We can go in further to what happened next, but that was really the start of everything that I’ve done for what has become my third book, Authorpreneur.
Jesse Tevelow’s The Connection Algorithm
Charlie Hoehn: What was The Connection Algorithm about — what was the story that you really wanted to tell?
Jesse Tevelow: Yeah. That book was about taking risks. What I just described of going down that path of something that’s a little bit unknown. You’re unsure.
So what I’ve found was that as I was going through the process of starting a company, which I have my own startup for a long time, there were do a lot of risks that I was taking, but I made amazing connections.
I met very, very smart folks—people like Brad who eventually convinced me to write the first book, and I just realized that taking risks in life is going to put you at a higher plateau than where you originally were, regardless of whether the outcome was what you expected or not what you expected.I whispered that throughout the book.
“If you take chances, if you take risks and if you create something of value, it becomes a medium of exchange.”
Where you’re working on cool stuff, that’s when you start to make amazing connections. From there, really, the sky is the limit.
I wanted to tell that to the world, because I think a lot of people think, “If I was only best friends with Oprah, then I’d be set.” There’s a sequence of events that lead there. You can’t just email Oprah and ask if she wants to be friends, right? So that was the general message for The Connection Algorithm.
Charlie Hoehn: So tell me, what is the core idea that you’re really trying to impart upon listeners with Authorpreneur? What do you want them to walk away from this episode with?
Jesse Tevelow: The idea with Authorpreneur is that we’re in a very unique time in human history. What I mean by that is it’s never been more available to us as individuals to create our own path and our own destiny, and to leverage that in a very powerful and meaningful way because of the democratization of information and products in development and distribution.
Now, anyone who has a message can put it out there and can have a direct feedback loop with an audience, and that’s never really been possible.
Platforms like Amazon have really allowed that to happen, along with the robust infrastructure that’s now around the entire publishing industry. Companies like Scribe Writing, and there’s shops that do production and design work and all these things that you can kind of pull in. And that’s what I’ve done with a lot of my projects. Here I am with three number one bestsellers on Amazon.
“My other main point, along with that, is that a book can be a leveraging tool.”
So I want to decouple the thought of a book as a product or a way to make money, like one book equals five dollars.
I want to remove that, wipe that clean from people’s minds, and explain to people that it’s actually a limitless and priceless asset that can be the fulcrum or the center or the core of your entire brand and your business and everything that you’re doing.
For me, I was able to build a six-figure business. In our first year, we did over six figures. Now I’m doing multiple seven-figure and figure projects that I can’t even talk about all the details of those on this right now for legal reasons. But the amount of upward mobility that you can get from a book is limitless if you do it the right way.
How Authors Find Success
Charlie Hoehn: What is it that authors are doing right who are in the position that you are in versus the ones that don’t do so well with their books?
Jesse Tevelow: Sure. I think a great way to answer this question is to pick up the story where I left off from your first question. My second book was called Hustle, and I wrote that one really, really quickly. I wrote in like a couple days, and I did everything myself as an experiment.
It was about 30,000 words. So pretty short—150, 160 pages—and I did the design, because I have a design background. I basically did everything, and it was an experiment for me to see if could I get a positive result, meaning lots of sales and get it out there into the world with a very small time frame and a very small budget.
“I only spent, I think, a couple of hundred bucks on it.”
That book actually sold better than my first book, and together those two books have sold over a hundred thousand copies.
So I was testing the limits. To come back around and answer the question, what I realized is that marketing is so important. As authors, often times we’re artists. I consider myself an artist because I like to create the content. I like to create the product. But we often forget about the marketing piece.
I argue that the marketing should be 50% or more of your effort. In fact after you launch, it basically becomes 95% or 100% of your effort, because you already created the product. That was the missing link for me in the industry, where traditional publishers weren’t really doing that.
So that’s how we started building my next company, which I co-founded with my partner, Simon, who I went to college with.
“We created this marketing company that helps thought leaders and entrepreneurs launch books.”
So we did a bunch of best-selling book launches, and we’ve done work with you guys, Scribe Writing, and with a bunch of other people in the industry. It became really successful.
I think that this is a big key element in today’s world, regardless of whether you’re going with a traditional publisher or not, or if you’re going with a hybrid publisher or if you’re going to do everything yourself, like I did with a few of my books.
You need to make sure that the marketing element is very strong and it needs to be baked into the content itself. There needs to be a lead, a plan, and a whole prelaunch strategy. These are all the kinds of things that we teach with my company, Launch Team, which helps market books.
Charlie: So walk me through what you do with Launch Team.
Jesse Tevelow: It’s a marketing platform for thought leaders and entrepreneurs. We’ve done, I think, over a dozen best-selling book launches now.
So one of our clients is Brad Feld. We held launches, one of his books out. We focus a lot on this whole concept of mobilizing a core group of early adopters who are going to help you with your launch and they’re going to love the product. And we have some really creative tactics around putting together reviews and prepping for that. We have a whole process for that, and then we also do a bunch of post-launch with PR.
The businesses is changing and morphing quickly. We’ve worked very closely with a handful of clients and then we also do have a course that’s more of a do-it-yourself type of offering that basically takes off our tactics and allows someone who has less of a budget to get all of our secret sauce, basically, and use our strategies.
Doing the Work Pre-Launch
Charlie Hoehn: What are some of the things in this book that are particularly powerful that most authors may not be taking full advantage of?
Jesse Tevelow: Yeah. So first of all, let me just say I pretty much layout everything. I give away pretty much everything in Authorpreneur. So if you want to figure out how we do things, just grab the book. I wanted to do that so that hopefully people can just take that and run with it and do a launch from that. If people want extra management or a team around them, then you can look at the other services. But I pretty much say all of our strategies in the book.
One of the ones that I would say is very unique and not something I’ve seen a lot of people doing or talking about is our Amazon review prep process. So what we do is we create a Launch Team, which is the name of the company. So there’s basically a group of people who are interested in the book, and we have some strategies for how to build that out. Some of it starts with friends and family, and then there’s Facebook groups you can go to and different avenues you can search to start creating that group.
This happens months in advance of the launch, and basically we give those people incentives and information around the project and what’s happening, basically get them excited. Then we give them early copies, so advanced reader copies of the book, usually in PDF format.
“This is important: We don’t ask them to read the whole book.”
We say take a look and read a chapter or a page or two. So we don’t make it overwhelming. We just say, “Check it out,” and you don’t need to read a whole book to leave a review. There’s no law of the land that says, “in order to write a review, you must read every page.” No. Hardly anyone reads an entire book anyways.
Most people read a portion of a book. Very few books are read from start to finish. I even say that in the book. I’m like, “You don’t have to read this whole book.”
We tell everyone to do that, and then we have some interesting, basically leading questions or themes that will prompt people to understand how to write a quick review. Again, it’s really overwhelming for people. So we make it really simple.
“Then we have a spreadsheet where we collect reviews in advance.”
So everyone on this launch is writing these reviews, and these are legitimate, authentic reviews. These are people who have the book. They’re reading it. They’re reading content. They’re putting down their thoughts. We’re not writing anything for them. We capture all that information, and then that way it’s basically queued up, ready to go.
Then on our launch we do what we call a soft launch where we make the book free for a few days, and this is available to do on Amazon.
After the Book Launches
Jesse Tevelow: By the way, this method is not for everyone. If you’re doing a traditional publishing project, it is a little different, but we found that this fits very nicely for a large audience, so that’s why we push this particular approach.
So we’ll do the free launch and we’ll tell everyone who’s on the launch team, “Go ahead and grab the book.” Now they’re getting a free copy of the book. Again, perfectly legitimate copy, but it’s just during that soft launch phase, and then we tell everyone, “Go ahead and grab your review that you already wrote and put that on to Amazon.”
Now we’ll have the book on Amazon. It’s free. Then all those reviews start getting posted on to Amazon, and then will do a more public launch and we’ll really promote it with traditional media and start putting it on social media. Now the book already has social equity. There’s a bunch of reviews already up there, and that has been really powerful for the long term success for the launch even though it’s a short-term strategy.
Charlie Hoehn: Do you guys have a set number of reviews that you aim for, or does it vary per project and per author?
Jesse Tevelow: Yeah. So, of course it’s going to vary depending on how hard people are working, but my book had over 100 reviews in the first, I think, 48 hours. That’s a target we know we can hit with other authors if they follow our guidelines and work hard.
You’ve got to work hard. Yeah, that’s what we aim for, is to have over a hundred.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
Charlie Hoehn: You have a section in your book, and I love that you called it TLDR, too long, didn’t read. Could you kind of summarize what’s in that section? Can you summarize the summary?
Jesse Tevelow: So this is actually such a good question, because it goes back to the marketing aspect I was talking about. If you remember, I’ve said the marketing has to be baked into the book. The TLDR sections in my book, Authorpreneur, is exactly that. It’s marketing.
“It’s marketing that’s baked into the content.”
There are two parts to the book. The first part of the book is very philosophical. It’s about like the why, why is now the time to write a book? Why is it more powerful than it’s ever been before? Ra-ra-ra, all that good stuff, and I love that stuff by the way. I think that’s really important. You’ve got to understand the context for why you’re doing what you’re doing. I have that part. The second part is completely tactical, just the how. How do I do this? Step one, step two, step three.
So in the TLDR sections, I’m summarizing the chapters. So they’re just clearly just like here’s what you just learned, and that does two things.
Number one, it allows people who don’t want to read the whole block, like I was saying before, to just read those. You can just kind of skip through and read those and you can get most of the important information.
Number two, it’s a marketing opportunity. So at the end of those I say, “Here is what was covered in these chapters. To get the resources that I mentioned, go to this link,” and that goes to a free course.
So we have a free companion course and you sign up. What’s happening there is someone’s putting in their email, and that’s what’s known in the marketing world as a lead magnet.
“You give me your email, I’ll give you some valuable content.”
Now I’m telling people, “Here’s a bunch of cool stuff that’s going to help you with this process. Go to this link, put in your email,” and I give them access to this free course that has loads and loads of other resources that they’re going to want. Now I have their email, which means I have a direct line of communication to them. That’s something that you don’t get from Amazon, because Amazon wants to keep the data, right? Amazon doesn’t want you to have their information.
So this is my way of allowing people to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m interested in this content. I like what you’re telling me. I like what you’re teaching. Let me give you my information.”
Now it’s a win-win, because I have their information. I already know they’re interested. So I know they’ve qualified themselves as someone who likes what I’m doing, and now I can communicate with them directly.
Connecting with Readers
Charlie Hoehn: So what happens now that you have the direct line of communication?
Jesse Tevelow: When they give me their email, they get put into an automatic sequence of emails, which we’ve set up on our backend with our email marketing software. This is getting a little more higher, advanced level, but we send out some emails, and they’re very personal and they’re very friendly.
They just say, “Oh! We’re so glad you got the course,” and there is a sequence where I think two or three weeks out I ask people if they have read the book, if they like it.
Then if people respond back to me then I’ll ask them why they liked it and then they’ll tell me why. I say, “Oh, great! That’s so cool that you liked it because X, Y, and Z. Would you be interested in putting that as a review on Amazon?”
“So now I’m getting more reviews post-launch.”
That’s another marketing loop there. Usually they’re telling me something about what they’re working on. I say, “Oh, well, we have this other product,” the service I told you about before that helps people walk through all of our techniques, and that’s a paid product.
So then people can opt in to that if they want, and there’re all kinds of other things that can spin out from that too. I have a whole other business that I don’t know if we have time to talk about today, and other partnerships can come through that as well.
How to Market Your Book
Charlie Hoehn: You literally wrote a book in a week. How long did it take you to map out and implement the system, the email sequences, that you just kind of went through?
Jesse Tevelow: Yeah. So I’m going to answer this in like a roundabout way. So the point that I want to drive home is that the most important thing, if you’re listening to this, don’t get overwhelmed.
“Don’t panic. You don’t have to do all this stuff.”
That’s so critical. This is like really the theme of Hustle, my second book, which is about just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about constant momentum and constant motion, and that momentum will create, again, more feedback loops and more progress and you’ll get to where you want to go.
So my advice would be, quick plug, read Authorpreneur and see what you think, and take the things from that that you can handle.
In the book, I do that a lot. I say, “Look. You don’t need to do this. This is like the base thing.” I even have a section that’s like, “Here’s the bare minimum thing, stuff that you need to do in order to get a good result.” Then the rest is gravy, right?
If you want to add in auto responders and email sequences and blah-blah-blah, you can do that. Or you could take the next three years learning that and start folding that stuff in. The key is that you put in the foundation, the marketing and the prep and those things.
“Make sure, number one, that your book looks good.”
Design is really important. If you have a product that looks like crap, it doesn’t matter if it’s an amazing book. It’s not going to do well. That’s just the nature of the business that we’re in in the industry. Marketing matters.
Charlie Hoehn: What is your favorite success story of either client or a reader of yours who’s implemented this stuff that you teach?
Jesse Tevelow: Okay. These are both women, which I love, because I feel like there are so much female power coming out of the world right now, which I think is awesome. One is nonfiction, and one is fiction. So that’s why I wanted to give these two examples.
So the first one I’ll say is a fiction book by an author named Katie Soy, and it’s called The Fenix Projects and it’s a really dark, rough book about human sex trafficking in the Northwest. It’s a fiction book based on true events. This is a first-time author.
The book is like a screenplay. It’s like a movie and she kind of wrote it that way on purpose. It’s really gripping, and this was a project that we did really early on in conjunction with one of our partners called Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press, which is a hybrid publisher. They’re really cool. Check them out. We did her launch using our strategies.
“She bought in so much into our system that she was able to get over a hundred reviews on her book.”
It did really well. I’m pretty sure now her book is in bookstores. So this is like a first time author. Her book is now in bookstores. She has a bunch of reviews and she’s going to be writing more books. I think she’s going to do a trilogy. So just all kinds of success.
Then she also ended up even working with us for a bit, helping other people through our process. So just a great example, and I like to use her because it’s fiction, and I think a lot of fiction authors think, “Oh, this type of stuff, it doesn’t work for a fiction. It’s only for like nonfiction.” That’s not true. It works for any kind of content. That’s a really good success story.
The other would be Bri Seeley. So she is a nonfiction writer and a coach and just really a lifestyle teacher, and she talks a lot about women empowerment and being an inspirational woman. Basically she wrote a book called Permission to Leap, and we helped her with many aspects of the project and she used our marketing strategies.
I believe she was also able to get over 100 reviews. She’s had thousands of sales of the book, and the cool thing about her is that she tied it into her business. So she saw immediate sales after the launch.
“She made back all the money that she spent with us as a client I think within the first month.”
Then she’s just continuing to use it, and it’s exactly the way we teach. She’s using it as the core for her entire brand and her business. She’s just doing really well. I think she’s had some TV exposure and had some speaking gigs already lined up and all kinds of amazing stuff.
A Challenge from Jesse Tevelow
Charlie Hoehn: What’s something listeners can do from Authorpreneur that can change their life in some way?
Jesse Tevelow: Yeah. So I would say that the message in Authorpreneur, the overarching umbrella for the whole book is that the power in the world is shifting right now. It’s shifting from the corporation to the individual, and there’s never been a time like this before where if you have a message you can put it out into the world.
“I think that we’re moving into the entrepreneurial economy.”
I call it the creation age, because I think that creators now hold the key. It’s no longer the gatekeepers. So if you’re a producer, meaning you’re producing content, you have the leverage, you have the power, and you can distribute that power out and get it back. A lot of times it’s in the form of love, or money, or relationships, or just all these different types of currencies that can change your life.
So what I would challenge you to do if you’re listening is to take the idea that I have for my second book, Hustle, and just start putting one foot in front of the other. Read Authorpreneur, read other books in the space. Take a look at what Charlie is doing and what Scribe Writing is doing, what all these other great companies are doing, and just start making moves.
That’s how I sign off on all my emails: keep making moves. If you do that, you’ll find yourself in a very interesting place when you look back. Whether it’s, whatever timeframe—a month, a year, two years.
“But you’ve got to actually get off the couch.”
Don’t go hide in the cabin and write your book for five years. Use these tactics and get the content out there and you will be amazed at what happens.
Charlie Hoehn: Excellent. So make a move this week. Jesse, just once more, what’s the best way our listeners can get in touch with you and follow you?
Jesse Tevelow: My personal site is jtev.me, and that’s where you can join my email list if you want to get updates from me. Or I have a Facebook group and you can see all my books.
By the way, I give my other books away for free. I’ll probably throw Authorpreneur in there at some point too. I really just want to spread the information.
Give to Get: Vishal Agarwal