May not be that big of an accomplishment.
As I was sharing with my friend over the horn the other day, Amazon KDP literally helps you choose categories that increase your chances of becoming a best-seller. And to some, that sounds mighty disingenuous.
And yes, to a degree, it’s possible to “game the system” (though not without sales). And I have heard of people buying up their book inventory at major stores to earn New York Times best-seller status.
But some are a little too quick to write off the achievement as insignificant (and I want to hit you – you’ll know why by the end of this).
Even so, I do understand. In a world where many (but not anyone) can become a best-seller, you may deem the achievement on par with eating a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s.
And I also understand that you have some arbitrary notion of what a best-selling author is supposed to look like.
(Let me assure you, we’re all human, no matter how big our talk… Still haven’t met anyone who doesn’t need to sit on the throne now and again. I don’t care how big their name. Go meet your hero – I dare you.)
But it takes at least one of two things (if not both) to become a best-seller, and most critics vastly underestimate what it takes to generate either of them.
1. A Great Book
A great book does not guarantee success, but it does increase your chances of making a good first impression and spreading through word of mouth. Which can contribute to factor #2, but we’ll get to that.
Let’s remember that most budding and aspiring authors start with junk. Their first book is either scrapped, or if it is published, it’s ignored or panned as worthless. No publisher would dare touch it with a double sized hockey stick. It’s very rare for an author to find their footing with their first work unless they’re willing to beat their head against the wall for a long, hard joyride through hell or they’re an unmitigated genius.
81% of people want to write a book someday. “Someday” means never. The other 19% are the only ones that ever get anywhere with it, and only a subset of them have written a published book.
Most people nowadays can’t be bothered to pick up a pen and paper to write a letter let alone sit down at a computer for months and years to pound out a slick manuscript. Not to mention the months and years spent editing and polishing the damn turd.
I haven’t even touched on the years and even decades it can take to understand what a great book is, which has far more to do with writing something people want to read than being factual, accurate, or data based. These things help, but we’ve all read boring textbooks, which are supposed to be objectively true. I think it may be unlawful for textbooks to be interesting, though, and the only reason they become best-sellers is because they are mandated by our daytime indoctrination camps for their slaves… I mean school and their students. Not because of clever marketing.
So, how easy is it to write a great book? You tell me.
2. An Engaged Audience
90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies. Sure, if you’re in some obscure category, and you manage to sell a few dozen books in the first week or two, you may still achieve best-seller status.
But most people simply can’t rub enough of an audience together to read a damn blog post let alone motivate them to go to Amazon (where is that, in Brazil?), deadlift their wallet, delicately and meticulously extract their credit card from a dangerously small crack leading to the pits of hell, muster the final shred of generosity residing in some appendage or appendix or organ… OH MY GOD is this molasses going to take all day?!
Everybody wants to hustle. No one wants to build connections. Everyone wants a follower. No one wants to follow others, especially not some poor, unshaven, unwashed sop banging it out on a keyboard in a dark basement. Think about it.
Mike Winnet proved that indeed, you can sell a book filled with blank pages and still make it to best-seller status. But let’s be fair – Mike has nearly 100,000 YouTube subscribers, he spent a small fortune getting to that point, and he has a following that would gladly give him more than a minute of their time (I find him delightfully entertaining).
Exactly how easy is it to build an engaged audience that gives a crap about your shitty Kindle let alone how your weekend went? It’s easy to say it’s easy after the fact. It’s not.
It’s as Easy as One, Two, Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
I’m not going to jump to the defense of other self-published best-selling authors and vouch for their work. But what I will say in my own self-interest (not self-defense) is this:
- I am a best-selling author, I wrote seven stupid tomes, and I have legitimately sold hundreds of the darn things. I have proof and I can show it to you. But book royalties won’t make you wealthy. I also have proof.
- I blog daily and expect very little in return. I’m pleasantly surprised when it leads to something.
- I’ve dedicated untold hours to “building a following” with mediocre results to show for it.
- I have thousands of articles, hundreds of podcast episodes and videos, and dozens of songs published. Whatever. No one cares. Stop talking about yourself. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Wait, am I still typing out loud…?
I think what we can conclude from all this is that:
- Growing a social media following is ass. It often ends up being about numbers and not engagement. And even as numbers grow, your engagement can shatter through your roof, pile drive through your bed, and continue to drill into the depths of god’s green earth into oblivion. For no apparent reason.
- It’s like the more stuff we do, the less people care, man. You’ve got to make things people will miss if they are gone. Otherwise, doing more is just doing more.
- There ain’t no school for critics. So, show me your best-sellers, bro.
- I need a hamburger. I should probably stop talking about them.
Spotify may well become the go-to source for everything audio. They are poised to take on Apple and Amazon, and they may even succeed. If there’s a reason to be excited about the platform, that would be it. That doesn’t mean your earning potential on Spotify is about to improve in a significant way though.
The reality is the odds are stacked against creators. Most platforms, including Spotify, require you to drive massive volumes of traffic if you expect to be compensated for your participation. The creator takes all the risk while the platform benefits from the addition of their content.
You need 1,000 subscribers to monetize your YouTube channel – which only amounts to $5 per day if you’re lucky. On TikTok, you need a minimum of 10,000 followers to monetize your account. Medium only pays $4.32 to $8.19 per 1,000 views. At every turn, you’re stepping into ecosystems that do not favor you, the independent artist.
You can take a stab at it, just as I’ve done with InfoBarrel, Medium, YouTube, Odysee, Rumble, DTube, DeSo, Steemit, BIGO LIVE, and others. So long as it doesn’t take over your life, experimentation is encouraged.
But while some of these platforms have dolled out $20 here, $30 there, I have never earned anything substantial on rented land where the deck is stacked against me. I shouldn’t complain about “passive” income, but the content I’ve pored over has easily swallowed up hundreds of productive hours I will never get back.
Again, while I’ve taken to experimentation, I don’t have much faith in the idea that one day I will go viral on any one platform, at least not to the point of earning an income that’s proportional to the effort invested.
Meanwhile, I can rely on my websites to earn me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in direct revenue, and five figures in indirect revenue. How do I know? My financial statements from the last six years tell me so. Even my affiliate marketing initiatives out-earn the “pennies on the dollar” model espoused by major platforms.
If you were looking to earn $10,000 in the next three months, which of these two methods would you choose?
- Sell 10,000 singles for $1
- Sell a live performance bundle for $2,500 to four clients
It’s grade school math, yet artists are choosing A much of the time, because they’re afraid to ask for B.
The vehicle matters.
Then comes the question of how to accomplish B, and that comes down to marketing.
This means identifying your prospects, designing a value proposition, and crafting your pitch. You’re not going to be able to sell a $2,500 bundle to just anyone. But if you know who you’re talking to, why they should work with you, and you can make a convincing case for your offer, you’ll find buyers. Your pitch may not be accepted every time, but that’s how business works. If your value proposition and offer are right, there will be takers.
Again, “if you build it, and promote it, they will come.”
“But no one else is doing anything like this.”
Inaccurate. No one in your network or immediate social circle are doing anything like this, that you know of.
Plenty of artists are beginning to think differently about their revenue model, and as they gain more confidence, they are taking bigger and bigger leaps.
So, it’s time to upgrade your association. Find artists who are:
- Making and selling high ticket offers
- Earning a killing from a minimum viable audience
- Forward thinking in their approach to monetization
Better yet, find a coach or a mentor and ask for expert guidance. By doing so, not only are you showing the universe that you’re serious about your commitment to earning an income from music, but you’re also affirming to yourself that you’re the kind of person that goes the extra mile when it comes to achieving personal success. And I don’t know too many people that don’t go the extra mile that end up there.
Big thinkers realize that time is short and small goals are wasted on the young and timid. Think big, act now, move with urgency.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. You’re clearly an intelligent, good-looking, and ambitious person. You even make great decisions when it comes to your music career.
But there’s no way I could possibly cover all the puzzle pieces required to form a complete music career picture here, and even what you have learned to this point may not be enough to take you to new heights. Things not implemented are quickly forgotten.
If you’re looking for more guidance on how to set up revenue models that will work for you, then don’t hesitate in reaching out to me to book your first coaching session. I may not be cheap, but I deliver value every single time – just as much value as you’ve received from this series, if not more.
There are two paths staring back at you. One leads back to the familiar. The other leads to levels not yet reached. Which path will you take?
Last year, I had the pleasure of sharing my best-selling, guitar-windmilling, cigar smoking and whisky swilling The Music Entrepreneur Code with you.
And the feedback I got on the new book was phenomenal. Rocker status.
As I continued to share the work with readers and friends, though, I realized there was an opportunity for an encore performance.
Most if not all of what’s shared in the book is going to stand the test of time, like “Stairway to Heaven,” meaning it’s unlikely to go out of style like nu-metal shlock of the early 2000s.
Not to mention, in the book, principles were distilled down to their core essentials like Eric Clapton’s Unplugged. No fluff, no B.S. In that sense, revision would have been redundant, like the Beastie Boys’ deluxe edition of Check Your Head.
Here’s What’s New in The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition (Now with More Ninja)
The most significant opportunity I recognized with the book was the importance of sharing my story.
As we all know, story creates connection. And I don’t say that to sound smart. Some of the greatest songwriters of all-time, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul Simon obviously knew this.
But with a new introduction centered on story and heart-based connection, I knew that the tactics and strategies discussed in the book would land the plane on smoother, gold-studded runways.
As with any other artist or creative, I’ve had many struggles (some would say that’s putting it mildly). And while struggling is ultimately optional, to get to that point in your development requires some deep intellectual digging (and usually several thousand dollars’ worth of courses). But that’s a whole other conversation. Remind me to waffle it out on another occasion.
With the latest edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code, I wanted to crack the code on creating intense relatability and instill an emotional connection, just as Elton John did with “Candle In The Wind.” I believe I have accomplished exactly that with the new introduction.
This isn’t all that’s available in the latest hard-rocking edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code, though. Here’s what else was changed:
- More data and insights. Although some of the bigger questions will be left to the forthcoming follow-up, The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide, the latest edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code features art- and science-based secrets to unlocking your inner musical star.
- More opportunities. We’re getting ready to launch some done-for-you opportunities to earn an income from sharing the book, and we’re excited about what’s to come.
- More ninja. Talking about revisions and updates is unsexy. So, I’m calling these changes “more ninja” instead. It’s more fun that way.
- More tool and resource recommendations. One of the things readers loved about The Music Entrepreneur Code was how it pointed them in the direction of other great gear to help them on their Budokan journey. The latest edition of the book comes with even more.
Pre-Order The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition
The writing of The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition is complete. The Kindle version of the book is set to go live on December 15, 2021. Paperback and hardcover copies will be soon to follow.
Click here to pre-order your copy on Amazon.
Thank you for taking the time to connect with me, and I hope you’ll make the decision to pre-order The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition.
I’m doing everything I can to get the word out about this latest release. Anything you can do to help out is much appreciated (including sharing this post), and it means the world to me.
Here’s to your continued creative success.