Why the worst place to sell a book is in a bookshop

By  •  Updated: 01/14/16 •  2 min read

Tim Ferris was talking to me today about a major catastrophe that almost scuppered his second book – The Four Hour Body.

Tim’s first book – The Four Hour Work Week – had been such a success that Amazon offered him the opportunity to be the first author in their new publishing business, going head to head with the traditional book publishers.

The idea backfired when first Barnes & Noble, then a bunch of other bookstore chains, then independents, and even the general retailers like Target, decided that Amazon were competition, and wouldn’t stock the title.

Tim still had Amazon, but no retail outlets. The chances of hitting the bestseller list for a second time packed their bags and caught a bus.

So, Tim went hunting for other outlets. Anyone who might have an interested audience. Fitness experts “life-hacking” blogs, nutritionists, medical renegades, and so on.

in the process he got himself the same kind of endorsement as he’d have had from a bestseller… Without having to wait for it.

In a bookstore there’s usually a big window display, a piled table of bestsellers, and the top 10’s lists. If you’re not on that you’d better have another way of standing out because you’re  there with a million other also-tabs trying to do the same thing.

Its the same with building an email list.

Unless you’re already a big hitter and can pull in trades with other big lists, or you have a really high performing sales funnel to follow through with, there’s no point bashing away in crowded places like Facebook or LinkedIn where you are side by side with your competition.

The only way forward is to:

  1. Have an awesome product, and
  2. Get someone who will appreciate it to tell their audience about it

There’s lots of ways to do this. Guest posts, co-hosted podcasts and webinars, affiliate deals, and I’ll cover some of them in future emails.

But do you have a stellar product to start with?

If there’s a silver bullet in this world…

That’s it.



Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.