I decided to self-publish and market my book. Here are the results and take-aways.

Julien Oudart
4 min readSep 18, 2020

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2 years ago my friend Clement and I decided to embark on a journey to write a book. A book that would give more inside info about the most exciting digital jobs — through interviews of people in those jobs. We did publish The 20 jobs in Digital at the beginning of the summer — in both english and french.

https://amzn.to/2XsZTli

We obviously did not choose to write a book to make money — we knew from the start we would not. We chose to start this venture for a number of other reasons, first and foremost to create a sort of guide that would be useful to those interested in all things digital.

To try to write a book was also a way to prove ourselves we could actually go til the end of the process i.e. write, publish and release.

How to self publish your book on Amazon

As the book is mostly made of digital pros interviews, we were also looking forward to connecting and engaging with those people. We thought it’d be fun. And it was.

The last reason why we started the project was to understand, as we chose to market the book ourselves, to what extent we would manage to get people to talk about it, whether through social platforms or more traditional types of channels.

Clément discussing the book on french TV

When evaluating publishing options, we understood most publishers give back anywhere from 8 to 12% of gross sales when working through them — they keep the rest for editing, printing, distributing and marketing the piece.

We chose to go self-publish not necessarily because Amazon would give us back a larger share (60% net of printing and delivery costs). We did it because it was for us a way to learn (and we do confirm it is easy with existing AMZ tools) but also because it gave us a sense of “we-went-all-the-way” satisfaction.

Of course while editing we came across a number of unexpected issues, but nothing major. It is always more work than you first envisaged, especially in our case where we had decided to publish the book in 2 languages simultaneously. But it was all and all fun to do.

We were told by a number of friends who had published business books in the past that selling 2,500 copies for a non-general public work is a decent achievement. We had no ambitions when it came to numbers.

As we decided to solely sell online, we pro-actively get in touch with some people in our network who could help us reach a larger audience:

  • we sent a copy of the book to folks we identified as potential influencers — recruiters, senior VC profiles and entrepreneurs in our case
  • we also send emails to a list of selected tech journalists and to business schools — as our book was also designed for students

Let’s be honest: it is relatively easy to get attention, i.e. expose your book to a good size audience. It is harder to create intention, i.e. “that’s interesting, i should buy it”. And even harder to trigger conversion i.e. click and purchase.

While we cannot specifically backtrack where each sale comes from, you can easily track sales peaks that follow some of the exposure you get; here are a few things we saw — nothing scientific here but i believe actual sales figures aren’t too far from the following :

  • 30% from direct (online) live events where we had the opportunity to explain the book in greater details and interact with the audience e.g. webinar and live conference
  • 20% after “cold” content publication e.g. articles and podcasts
  • 20% from our paid campaigns — we spent small sum of money on Facebook ads
  • The rest cannot be as clearly identified

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Julien Oudart

A tech guy in LA. I write every couple of weeks mostly about what i like: tech, media and sport marketing.