Inside Lewis Howes' Nine Steps To Book Marketing Success

Building an audience to guarantee sales for The School of Greatness

When I was 24, I was broke and living on my sister’s couch after a career-ending football injury.

My dream of being a pro-football player was done. I had no work experience and a pile of mounting credit card debt. My arm was in a huge cast that was really uncomfortable (for 6 long months).

I was feeling low.

Lewis Howes Disney World

But I managed a sort of smile in this picture on vacation.

At Christmas that year, my brother Chris gave me a book that had just come out: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I wasn’t a big reader (having struggled in school with dyslexia), but I finished that book in a few days.

Possibilities began churning in my head. Inspiration ignited. My fire was lit.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself running my own business, making millions of dollars in sales, living a dream lifestyle, and playing sports again.

I began to wonder if now was the time to fulfill a dream of mine that had formed when I read Tim’s book years before. His book was so impactful on me that I got off the couch and started working for something I really wanted, hustling like a maniac to get it.

I told myself then that one day I would write a book that would inspire people to get up and take action the way that book had for me.

Lewis Howes School of Greatness book

Thus the idea for The School of Greatness book was born (it didn’t have a name at the time). I had no idea what I was going to write about, but I knew it was going to be epic.

I also knew that the only way it was going to get the exposure and reach that I envisioned was by starting right then to build the audience and connections.

So I went to work.

For a few years, I focused on making quality relationships, adding value endlessly to the people I was connecting with, and supporting others in making their dreams (and many book launches) a reality.

By the time I started working on my own book proposal, I had a ton of marketing ideas I had picked up from helping many of the top bestselling entrepreneurs in their book launches.

Now it was time to implement them.

I’m writing this post in the middle of my own book launch and can tell you firsthand, the ideas are working.

In order for you to do the same, these are my top tips on building an audience of raving fans that will promote your book for you, while making it fun and fulfilling.

You’re still going to have to work ridiculously hard (believe me) and you can’t pull it off alone, but this formula will create the pre-sold audience that will get you on the bestsellers charts.

Step 1: Your Ideal Reader

First, think about who the ideal reader of your book is. Create a character for them in your head (or better yet, on paper):

  • What do they do for work?
  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • What are their hobbies, dreams, habits, struggles, pain points, passions?

I’d even give them a name. Once you know who you are targeting your book to, it’s way easier to craft a marketing plan that will appeal to them.

Step 2: Where Else Are They?

Second, think about what sort of content outside of books that your reader is taking in.

  • Instagram?
  • YouTube videos?
  • Blogs?
  • Podcasts?
  • Snapchat?

This is where you get to start building your online presence and target it to appeal to this character specifically.

Create social media content that has the same messaging as your book idea.

Don’t forget to cultivate a visual brand as well as an “idea” brand. Instagram and Pinterest are perfect platforms for this, and video content makes it particularly effective.

Play around with different video styles until you find one that resonates with the kind of viewers you want to attract. This could be interviews, demos, vlogs, or you just speaking your ideas straight to the camera.

The goal of each of these platforms is to let your growing audience get to know you as a real person with a personality and a core message.

Lewis Howes Instagram

Instagram is my favorite right now. I make sure to manage my own account and keep it real.

Step 3: Connect with Influencers… IN PERSON

While you are building quality social media followings on whichever platforms you like best (choose a few but don’t spread yourself too thin), you want to be connecting with influencers in person.

The key to good book marketing is tapping into other great people’s audiences who are similar to your own. Obviously this is only possible if you have developed a quality relationship with that influencer and they trust and value your words enough to share them with their audience.

When I’m meeting an influencer for the first time, I always look for ways I can be of service to them immediately.

Often that means I connect them with people in my network who I know will help them. But it can also mean sharing my expertise, offering my support in promoting their product or message, or just having a great time together.

This isn’t rocket science; it’s relationship building 101. But a lot of people overlook how important this is. Don’t. It’s golden.

Step 4: Try a Podcast

Speaking of golden opportunities, podcasting is an amazing way to both connect with influencers in a one-on-one setting and share awesome content with your audience.

When I launched my podcast, The School of Greatness, I had no idea that I would be interviewing rock stars like Tony Robbins and Arianna Huffington barely two years later. That is the power of podcasting. You have the opportunity to sit down with a person and have an authentic, focused conversation for an hour - something that’s become rare in our society. This creates a great relationship with the guest (if you ask the right questions) and an amazing interview to share with your followers. Win win.

Lewis Howes Arianna Huffington

I flew to NYC just to have this 20 minute interview with Arianna Huffington . . . and it was worth it.

My podcast has truly been the backbone of my book marketing.

Not only did it give me the content of my book, but it has built my audience faster, and with more quality, than any other tool I’ve come across. There is an intimacy to hearing an exclusive conversation that people really resonate with and feel like they get to know you.

I get messages daily from listeners who share their stories with me of how they’ve changed their lives, overcome an obstacle, or created huge success based on a single episode they listened to. It’s the best feeling in the world to read those and it shows me what kinds of people are listening.

Step 5: Start Blogging

Blogging goes hand in hand with podcasting. Though you can do one without the other, I recommend both as complements to each other. Your blog can host your show notes for the podcast and you can develop your writing voice one post at a time.

This is also a way to bring in followers who prefer reading longer form content versus tweets and Facebook posts. I like blogging because you own the content on your site completely and can constantly refer back to popular blog posts when people ask you the same question you’ve been asked a hundred times.

The key with blogging (and podcasting and social media) is consistency.

Make sure you are posting on a regular schedule so that your audience knows you are reliable and active in the space. This will condition them to always be expecting new content from you.

Blogging also gives you reference material to share with platforms that you want to get featured on. Think about what a writer for a major site in your niche would want to write a story on, then write that story referencing your own product or message, and send it to them with a short explanation of who you are. If you make their job easy and connect the dots for them, they’re way more likely to publish your content.

Lewis Howes Yahoo

After interviewing the Editor in Chief of Yahoo! Health, I was able to get my podcast featured on their site weekly.

So, you’ve done the prep work and cultivated an audience of quality, loyal followers who know your voice, like your message, and feel like they know you. You are now ready to tap into their power to promote you.

After a lot of giving, here’s your chance to ask.

Step 6: Involve Your Audience

The best way to ask your audience to buy and promote your book is to present it as a gift you are giving back to them for being such awesome followers. Since your audience is who you wrote the book for, this is really about them and they get to be a part of it.

Send out an open invite to be on the street team for marketing your book and offer an advanced copy for them to read and post about. Ask what cities they most want you to stop at on your book tour. Have them weigh in on what bonuses they’d love to receive for multiple book buys.

Make your audience a part of your book launch and they’ll feel ownership and excitement over it.

Step 7: Share the Process

I recommend documenting and sharing the book launch process with your audience. Not only does this keep the book fresh in their minds during the entire launch, but it lets them see how hard you’re working to promote your message and gives them an exclusive, inside feeling to you and what you’re up to.

I hosted many late night Periscope sessions explaining what I had done that day for the book launch, who I had met with, what my strategies were, and how I was feeling. I posted sneak peek photos on Instagram about my photo shoots, meetings with my editor, early drafts, etc. This all contributes to the buzz and feeling of something big coming.

Step 8: Make the Sale

Finally, the most important part of leveraging your audience in selling your book is simply asking them to buy it. Again and again.

I post daily about the book on all my social accounts, mention it on every podcast episode, and reply to every email with a small P.S. asking if they’ve bought my book yet.

Just like with anything in life, if you don’t ask, you won’t get it, so don’t be afraid to ask your audience to buy your book. In the end, they’re the ones you wrote it for in the first place, so they’re the best ones to read it and give a 5-star review that will send you to the top of the charts.

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