Write and publish what you want, get paid every day for your books, and control your customer data and relationships. It's possible if you sell direct, as Pierre Jeanty talks about in this interview.
In the intro, the author income survey [ALLi]; publishing clauses to avoid [Writer Unboxed; Writer Beware]; copyright registration for AI-assisted comic Zarya of the Dawn [Process Mechanics]; tips for writing with AI [Self Publishing Show]; my Sudowrite tutorial.
Today's show is sponsored by ProWritingAid, writing and editing software that goes way beyond just grammar and typo checking. With its detailed reports on how to improve your writing and integration with Scrivener, ProWritingAid will help you improve your book before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher. Check it out for free or get 25% off the premium edition at www.ProWritingAid.com/joanna
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- How Pierre started selling direct early, and how sales on other stores like Amazon happen even when he focuses on selling to Shopify first
- The importance of changing your mindset
- Flipping the business model to selling direct first
- Changes in the indie zeitgeist with more authors wanting more independence
- Best ways to market your Shopify store
- Separating your store by brand and genre
Transcript of Interview with Pierre Jeanty
Pierre: Pierre Jeanty is a poet and inspirational author, publisher and entrepreneur. He specializes in selling through Shopify, and teaches authors his methods through 7figurebookbusiness.com, which I can highly recommend, and I'm personally going through at the moment. So welcome, Pierre.
Thank you. Thank you for having me, Joanna.
Joanna: Oh, I'm so excited to talk to you. But first up—
Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing.
Pierre: That is an interesting story. So as an immigrant in the US, I came here in 2000. And after entering the States, I worked my way into going into college. In college, one of the things that I seemed to be more interested in was the language itself, but also into writing poetry.
And diving into social media during that time, it was Myspace. So since then, I've had a hunger to actually play with words and use poetry. Around 2011, 2010, around that time, I was building out Twitter and becoming a Twitter influencer, and I started writing more inspirational content that I felt would help people. From there on, that's where I started with a book. And the rest is history.
Joanna: The rest is history that people don't know! So you're going to have to take us on a bit. From 2011, that's more than a decade ago, so you put out your first poetry book. And look, I mean, people in the community even now would say, you write a poetry book and nothing's going to happen, right? I mean, maybe you could be an insta-poet or whatever.
How did you take that forward from one poetry book over a decade ago to where you are now?
Like, just give us some of the highlights.
Pierre: Okay, so one thing, just to be clear, my first book did not get published until 2014. So 2011, I was thinking about the poetry book, but I had almost no direction. So it was no guidance whatsoever.
So what I did instead was continue to build my influence, to where in 2011, I founded a brand name Gentlemanhood, in which the whole focus was to write content for men to help them express themselves and be better in relationships, because men tend to be not as vocal. Well, now we have that ability it seems, but that was the issue then.
So in 2014, after having a successful blog, it was gentlemanhood.com. And it was mostly me writing about men and relationships, but different writers would join me. My audience actually started requesting that I put a book out.
My first book, it was more pretty much structured however I wanted it to be. So it was me just having poems on one side, and on the other side, expressing detail in the kind of like the situation. What happened throughout that time, what sparked the poem, and so forth. And I wrote it in a way that I felt like my audience would receive it.
So December 10, 2014, I published my first book, Unspoken Feelings of a Gentleman, and with the audience receiving it well.
That was my first introduction to direct sale, to be honest, because I did not understand CreateSpace, Amazon KDP did not necessarily exist for print. So I created a WooCommerce shop, which was our old website, gentlemanhood.com. That's what I used to publish my first book where we had presales through email, and we had direct relationship, let's say, with the readers and the buyers.
From there on, it was 2014, then mid-2015, I decided to—after going on tour, I have to mention that. But after going on my first tour, a lot of this book was for men, but a lot of women were reading it. So they requested that I do something for women. And I said I've never been a woman, but I can express the things that I've learned. And I wrote a poetry book titled To the Women I Once Loved, published it in 2015 September, around that time. And right after that, I pretty much took a pause.
What really got me into becoming known in the poetry world and so forth, it was 2016. I spent the entire year trying to write Unspoken Feelings II, and I finished it in December, but right after that, I felt the urge to write a smaller book. First, it would be more receptive on Facebook because then Facebook had been a marketer first, Facebook had this issue with the textual.
So my poems, I decided to condense them, make them a bit smaller.
And a lot of the new audience I was creating, growing, wanted that. And there, I launched my first successful poetry book, which is Her.
And since then, I've been almost nonstop, not as much as nonstop like fiction authors who tend to write countless words and publish a bunch of books consistently, but more than enough in a six month period. I stayed with the concept of publishing at least two books a year.
Joanna: Hmm. Well, there are many things I love about what you've done. It's like you go against so many of, I want to call them ‘the myths of indie.'
You know, back in the day, or there still are myths of traditional publishing. And the myths of indie have now grown up that you can't be successful as a poet. You can't be successful unless you write a book a month. You can't be successful if you don't focus on Amazon.
So you've kind of gone against all these different things.
And yet, I also love that you—I mean, I've looked at your poetry—and I love that you're both a poet and a marketer. So how do you feel like, for people listening, who are like, “I'm a poet,” or, “I'm a literary fiction author,” or “I'm someone who's not into marketing,” which let's face it, is a lot of authors. Did you have to learn how to be a marketer, as well as the creative side?
How can people change their mindset around marketing and business, as well as focus on creativity?
Pierre: I think one of the main things is to really, I guess the best way is to look at the purpose of your product.
And being that I'm a marketer, and I'm doing direct sales, I always kind of refer to products, and by products, I mean books. So what makes it so much easier for me to market my books is that I know my ideal reader very well. I know what they're looking for.
So when it comes to marketing, my idea of it is, I wrote this for you, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get it over to you.
So then marketing is no longer a task that is annoying, or a task that I would outsource to someone else. It became, to me, a challenge to find out how am I going to reach my reader because I'm really passionate about getting it over to my reader.
Now, I have to say this, is that I've always been a marketer first, because even though my book, Her, is the most successful book that I've had. But my first book, Unspoken Feelings of a Gentleman, it climbed to the top thousands on Amazon, it's done well, a lot of celebrities actually had a few copies. What I leveraged off of during that time was using influencer marketing.
So I've always been fascinated with social media and getting extremely early, which allowed me to understand the behavior for marketing. And to a point where, when I created my own product, I said, my goal was to learn what is the best way to utilize every skill set that I've picked up, up until that time, and get in front of the readers.
So if you're having trouble, I mean trouble when it comes to bridging the two together, I always ask this question: What good—not what good, some people may be offended by that—but think about the effort that you've put behind creating an amazing book. And you know who you want to read it.
You know how you want it to make them feel, how you want them to react and so forth. That's where now you have to take the extra step and say, “Well, I'm going to find those people because they exist, and I wrote it for them.”
Joanna: I love that. Yes, you're very reader focused. Let's get into the direct sales, because you mentioned WooCommerce that you got into earlier, but now you focus on selling direct on Shopify.
Why did you make that decision to go direct? Why Shopify? And what are the benefits for authors?
Pierre: So why I went direct is a unique story to tell. So starting in 2017 when I released Her, it been successful, and it's still successful. With that, came me building a bunch of, not partnerships, but dealing with different people, to where I started being one of Ingram's top-selling authors, I started getting requests in different bookstores in different countries. So me having to build this as if I'm a traditional publisher, but building multiple relationships.
One of the relationships or transactions I set up to happen for me in 2018, was that Target directly messaged me or inquired about putting our titles into their stores. And during that time, I have no way of making it happen, but I was doing extremely well with Ingram. And they were able to get it in the middle and help the deal take place. But with that came a few issues, to where Target had to return 15,000 books out of the 40,000.
So for me, and this was a part I haven't shared as much, but I want to make sure I get it across to those who are interested, is that pretty much I was making okay money on Amazon, but it was taking too long. They had, I think, switched to being a 60-day payment cycle. And I had all of these partnerships with Ingram and different resellers that were also taken a while to get income to us.
So what essentially happened is that I had 15,000 books, I needed a place to put them, and I could not figure it out. So that's when I started to dive into Shopify, because I had a marketer friend of mine who was selling via SamCart, and I was as well throughout that time.
He started to say how well the ads were converting over to Shopify.
That piqued my interest to me testing with my WooCommerce and seeing how much more robust, and just the tech was just so much better with Shopify that I moved over to running my house there.
From there, I had Ingram ship all of my books. I started from having it at our office, which was a smaller office throughout that time, to creating a room. I have the video in 20Books of creating a room in our office with all the supplies and everything else. So when the remaining, the first time it was the first round, was we receive about 3,000 to 4000 books of the return. But when the remaining came we needed to find a storage.
So that led to me figuring out how am I going to sell my books and picking Shopify. And also the motivation behind that had a lot to do with the fact that up until that time, I sold a lot of books, I was a best seller, I had achieved everything, I would say, which were great accolades when it comes to being an author.
And I was still dealing with the fact that I did not have enough cash flow or income sitting because all of it had been reinvested in us. You know, it's taking forever, what it seems like, to receive money.
Not only that, the year before, I had a book tour, and I although I was having over 1.2 million followers, I think, throughout that time on Facebook, and about 500,000 on Instagram, I could not get anyone to show up to my book tour.
So we came to this realization that not only were we stuck with a bunch of books, but we did not have any customer data.
Out of the small group of people who showed up to my book signings, they were still saying that, “Hey, some of us, we didn't see this until the day before. We did not know this was happening.” And I was posting on social media.
So that led to where we are now, to where I decided to take control of my business. I decided to have a system that will pay me on a daily basis, and I decided to build with the idea of longevity.
Also, I guess when it comes to the customer data, having a relationship with my reader, so when something is happening in my business, let's say a book signing, we can have access to them.
Joanna: I love that. So just to recap, you said faster money, access to customer data, the control of the system, and that your ads convert really well with Shopify. And we're going to come back to some of these. I mean, these are all obvious things.
Now, I feel like I've sold direct since day one. So since 2008, I've used all the old things that we all used to do in that time, but I've always had it as the last thing on my list. I've been like, ‘I'll try and sell on all these other places first,' and then yes, I have a direct store, but it was always the last thing.
What you've done, and I guess Steve Pieper, Morgana Best, and there are some other people who've been talking about this, which is turning it upside down and selling direct first, and then for sure, put some stuff elsewhere, but focus on your direct store first.
Now because I follow you, I did get one of your ads on Facebook, which says, “Unpopular opinion: self-publishing books on Amazon is a waste of time and money.” So I wondered—
Could you comment on flipping the business model to direct first?
But also, should we still publish on Amazon? Do you do that? And how can we change the order of our energy?
Pierre: Oh, I love that. I wrote it, and I also had a copywriter who helped us write some of our ads. And one of the things of when I wrote this was that I wanted to really provoke people or get people to actually think outside the box right from the start.
What is happening with this ad is that the exact response we were expecting is exactly what's happened. And some people who are really loyal to Amazon, they are upset, and they're like, “Oh, my god, this is lying. This is a scam.” That's what you're going to hear, period.
Then there's the other group of people, where they're like, “Oh, there is a different way? There is something else outside of Amazon? Or is this something that can be done?” There are those making a bold statement like that that are those people who are going to be interested in looking deeper. And once you go down the path of research, this is where I've had more than enough people come to me and ask for help.
Do we still use Amazon? Absolutely. One of the things that I'm big on is you prioritize your store, but you never take everything else out.
So even for me, when we are going to publish a book, we publish it on my website first, and we send it to my email list first, but after that, after we make sure none of our direct audience is going to Amazon, what we do is then later, it becomes secondary, we add the books on Amazon.
Now, after doing this for about four years or so, or past four years, something around there, but we realize that no matter what we do based on the marketing and everything, is mostly about 50% to 60% of our sales come directly to the shop, to Shopify.
The rest are still people who are loyal to Amazon, who are used to shopping on Amazon, to people still going to the other retailers, and shopping there. What's beautiful about this system is that you do not have to prioritize Amazon or any of these other channels to get sales there, which is the concept I'm trying to get across.
Forget Amazon, focus on your shop, and if you market effectively it'll spill into everything else.
In May 2020, I became a USA Today best seller. I had no clue that that was happening. What I looked at was my Shopify dashboards, which that month it said that we sold 40,000 books, but the leftover from Amazon got me into the USA Today bestseller.
We made a lot of money on Amazon and all the other areas. I think authors are so loyal to Amazon, and they don't realize that every time a transaction is made, Amazon gains a customer, Amazon gains data, Amazon just have a better relationship with them, the branding is strengthened depending on the experience, obviously.
Versus if you say, I want to be in that position, and although I'm not going to get everyone, but if my focus is that, okay, I'm not competing against Amazon, but if I'm driving all my traffic to Amazon, I'm hurting myself because long term, you really don't have anything.
And that's where I was at, to where after building for, you know, since 2014 up until 2018, I realized I had nothing. And I wouldn't say the time was necessarily wasted, but my energy and my investment, I did not get the best returns for it.
Joanna: And again, I find this so interesting because when I came into indie sort of 2007 — and we're not Amazon bashing for people who are feeling angry — Amazon has been amazing for authors.
What's happening in the zeitgeist is — back in 2007, it was traditional publishing was the only way to go, and then here's this other way. This other way was to reach readers directly by using the stores like Amazon and blah, blah, blah. So we were like, yeah, this is amazing. And you can start an email list, so you can reach some people if they sign up for your list.
I almost feel like what you're talking about with selling direct is the next wave of what we do as an indie culture.
It is about more independence, which is we're actually going to sell direct, we're actually going to get the customer data. And like you said, we can still have our books elsewhere. So it almost feels like a new wave.
I wanted to ask you, are you feeling like things have changed? Like, is there a Zeitgeist thing going on? Because I really feel there is an energy that is moving towards this, in the same way that there was a sort of pro-indie energy back in the sort of 2010s. Are you feeling that more and more people are coming to you?
Pierre: Yes, yes, that is the thing that I'm more excited about. And that is why I'm even teaching and pushing into this because I'm looking at it.
When I started in 2018, I forced two of the author friends that I've had throughout that time to say, hey, trust me, we can build this. And they both reached seven figures that next year. And they both had the success that I've had. And what I took from that was, hey, if I could teach one or two authors, and I've seen how it helped them, maybe I can teach you more.
Throughout that time, it seemed like almost no one wanted to listen. But I watched from mid 2021, and I think I spoke at 20BooksVegas towards the end of that year, to last year, seeing how many people are in my groups, how many people are talking about it in different groups, and to seeing how many sessions it had in like 20Books conference, which was the only author conference that I've been in.
And it's amazing because a lot of people are realizing like, hey, I need to have control of my business, I need to have a business that is going to have longevity if I'm looking at this full-time author kind of angle, and just growth and scale.
So now they're accepting the fact that they need to have their data. They can get more return when it comes to money, when it comes to royalty, you don't necessarily have to share 55% with Amazon. I feel like it is that we're starting to take our power back.
And I love that I'm talking to new people on a consistent basis. And actually, Steve Pieper, which I recognized in 2018 when I was only selling on SamCart and testing Shopify. And now to see him back now getting into the space and teaching, and Morgana Best teaching, what's been great about it is that I don't want to be the only teacher.
I know I've done it at scale to where we've done seven or close to $8 million, but my goal is like to tell authors, look—
Once we rely on one system, we do not have as much control.
It puts us in a position where one bad thing can really hurt us. And funny enough, interesting enough, not funny enough, is that Amazon, there have been numerous authors now who are finding issues with the title being pulled or getting suspended.
And lastly, to even add this, is that authors now have a better opportunity to run better ads. And what I mean by that is that I think they're starting to be new ways for you to run Facebook, and Pinterest, Instagram ads, where you do send them to Amazon, and you kind of track them on the back end of Amazon.
I'm not too much involved in Amazon to say I know exactly what the new tech is, but what was important for me to switch into this system is that every time I spent $100, I could see what it did. I could track better and make better decisions with that and so forth. This was extremely important to me, and should be extremely important to authors because now I could systemize everything that I'm doing and find a way to scale.
I guess the short answer after the long explanation is that, yes, a lot of people are moving towards it. I'm seeing so many conversations. I am excited because I think authors, we should look at this like a business. And if we get over the hump of that it's a business, we could put ourselves in a better position. I love interacting with my supporters. I love creating for them. I love knowing my audience base a bit better. So, yes.
Joanna: I'm glad you're excited. I am too. It's interesting because Morgana and you and Steve, you're all really different people. Super, super different people in really different niches. And I've talked to all of you now, which is great. That's why I really wanted to talk to you. And yeah, I mean, everyone's got some eBooks and some courses and they're all brilliant, like I'm doing all of them. And it's so interesting to me.
Now, we're not going to get into technicalities of Shopify because that's just pointless on a podcast, but you have mentioned ads. And I think this is interesting, I mean you talk there, essentially you can optimize for conversions because you know what people are buying, rather than just optimize for clicks.
But this is the question that people always send to me, which is: okay, so I set up my Shopify store, but how do I market to that store? So is it just a case of, well, pretty much everything except Amazon ads you can just direct to your store?
What are the best ways to market your store?
Pierre: Facebook ads.
So what's interesting, not interesting, I keep saying that. But the thing that you mentioned about Steve and us being different, we are different, but I think we're bringing different pieces to the author world, per se, or the indie culture. I had a conversation with Morgana not too long ago, and I mentioned to her anytime I have someone that is on a basic level, a fiction author who wants to do something like Book Vault or POD and so forth, I point them to her.
When it comes to me, I'm looking more at if you're looking to have fulfillment totally differently, or you're looking to scale. And my main focus is Facebook ads because I've spent over $4 – 5 million on the platform myself, and I've ran a marketing agency. I still have one, but now we help authors. And Morgana, you know, kind of our conversation was that, okay, now I have resources when it comes to ads.
So I've never spoken to Steve, but my goal is not to come here in the industry and be competitive. You know, the one thing I've said to people is that I sell enough books, the high that I'm getting and the fun of it is seeing how it works in someone else's business, the different curves.
So I'm teaching a bunch of fiction authors now, and it's totally different because I'm used to self-help and poetry. And with helping those, it's like now it's a new challenge, and I think it helps in the culture.
When it comes to the best way to market, I'm always going to say Facebook ads, despite that there are ups and downs.
I've been running ads since late 2014. So I've seen the platform change from Power Editor, I've seen how much smarter it has gotten. And seeing how well it works, I'm always going to recommend it because even now, we're using an Instagram shop, and the way after Facebook taking a hit with iOS 14, the way that it integrates so well and it feeds so well within each other is so seamless, that it's the best thing I've seen.
I tried Pinterest, I've run thousands of dollars on ads on Pinterest. I've tried Amazon ads, and we're seeing that my Facebook ads are feeding Amazon when it comes to the traffic that I'm getting. Most of our Amazon traffic is actually coming from our Facebook ad. So the only thing we do is just set up retargeting ads, per se.
And so when I look at ads as a whole, once you understand the system, it's beautiful. But it has to be where you optimize your store properly to see the success and why it's the best tool out there. But Facebook, hands down. It's the thing that I'm passionate about because part of me even teaching about direct sales, because I love teaching about Facebook ads, but I need to tell people, hey, you need to fix your shop first and everything else. So now we can talk about Facebook ads.
Joanna: Yeah, well, basically I've got a whole list of improvements to make. Like because last year, I did my minimum viable store because I have a big backlist and I have a lot of formats. And it took me ages to set my store up because I had so many books. And then I was like, oh my goodness, and I look at your store and Steve's and Morgana's, and I'm like, every single one of those products needs more on there. Like you have all this social proof and even just a hand holding a physical book, like even just that type of thing.
So what you said there, “optimize your store before you run ads,” I mean, that's the same on any platform, right?
It feels like the obsession with marketing comes before sorting out the book. It's just common kind of everywhere. I did actually have a couple of questions for my own purposes. And I think this will help other people.
So basically, I have different author names. I have Joanna Penn, my self-help for authors brand, and J.F. Penn is my fiction. I didn't want to set up more than one store because I thought, well, I want to send everyone to one store. So I set up CreativePennBooks.com, but now in listening to your stuff and everyone else's, I wonder if I made the right choice.
What's your advice to authors around stores per author brand or genre?
Pierre: For you, I would recommend that you separate the two, simply because they are two different audiences.
Your readers are coming there to read, they are interested in the stories that you're telling, etc. Putting something like self-help for authors, yes, you may get authors that are readers, but putting something for indie authors there can kind of serve as a distraction or just laying the website with extra.
What I'm big on is staying on brand, and not only that it's good for the shop, but it also helps your advertisers, especially with Facebook ads, Pixel, and now the shop and everything else, Facebook is leaning a lot on AI. And really the AI is kind of honing down to what is consistent in your ad account, what is consistent on your Shopify, and collecting all that data and finding the best way to find new readers.
Now, if you are an author who writes in different fiction genres, you could easily categorize some of those because the reader can cross over when it comes to being, let's say, in the same type of reading, not necessarily genre. What I mean by that is that someone who's reading, let's say, romance fiction, you may think they're not interested in thrillers, but they're readers. They like novels, so they can switch over.
So kind of one of the big things that I teach about is that you have to find out on the back end, using emails and utilizing your customer data, how to make the crossover, so you're sharp.
If you have multiple genres, as long as they stay on the umbrella of fiction, it's perfectly fine. It's when you cross from nonfiction to fiction, or let's say you have nonfiction for divorce, and nonfiction for helping elderly, those are opposite ends. But when it comes to people reading stories, they tend to be on the same page.
Something to add, even after saying that, is that part of what I'm seeing myself entering the landscape of this indie culture of teaching—
I'm big on trying to teach people how to optimize your store and run better ads.
Here's why store optimization is important. If you've gotten my book, and you realize, I don't know if you did, but there is a free course that comes with that.
In the free course, I teach about competing on economics. The purpose of competing on economics is that when you start running ads through your shop, it can look like it's difficult to be profitable unless you do all of the things that you need on your shop and doing everything that you need on the back end, like your email, utilizing that data, it becomes hard to be profitable. So now, if you don't give your ads the best chance to optimize and very niche because as I was collecting data, I realized like, hey, you're big on selling romance items, then you're actually hurting yourself.
Joanna: Yes, I think I wanted to build the store, and I talked to Morgana, and she had also said something similar, but I just decided what I was going to do was this. I do have your eBook, the free course and also the other course. And people listening will probably be thinking, ‘oh, my goodness, this is so much work.'
It is a lot of work to get it set up and to understand it all. But equally, when I started online, I had to learn how to do certain things.
And I feel very optimistic about learning all of this because I can see, like you mentioned longevity, I can see that this has a future potential where I won't have to work as hard.
If I can figure it out, then it's more than just cash flow money. It's more like an investment in building my future business rather than just always running, running, running, content, content, content. So can you comment on too much work versus hope?
Pierre: Yes, so it's kind of the job. So I did not even realize, and this is to tell you, once you invest and you build it, then it could run itself. I did not even realize that Shopify was actually something that people will run into problems with.
Because when I first started creating this, I wrote the book and started teaching like the mindset, because it is going to be a mindset shift for authors to understand. Now, I'm building a book business and with business, I have product, I need cash flows, I have to market, I have to look at it differently than throwing it on Amazon, and then hoping something happens from running my Amazon ads, but not really seen all of the backends or the constant flow of things.
The other part when it comes to that was that once you start—well, just the why I got into creating Shopify. It wasn't until I'm teaching a group and everyone's getting the ads and everyone's received the book, they're like, but we're stuck on Shopify. And then I'm like, well, no, you just upload the product and you do this or do that. I realized it's because my shop was built and set up in mid-2019. And since then, I haven't touched it. It wasn't until I started trying to teach Shopify in my Shopify Course that I'm like, oh my god, I have to go back and walk step by step.
So what I'm currently working on right now is making sure where I nail down to a theme. So what is needed? What are the structures? And creating checklists. So it's trying to make it easier for authors.
Now, to those who are going to feel overwhelmed, and going to see it's a lot of work, it can be a lot of work for an author who has a huge backlist. Part of all you need is that you need your main titles there, you need your shop to be as convenient as possible when it comes to the transaction, and once you have that, your store can be a work in progress.
Advertising, I don't advise that you advertise to your shop. I don't advertise to Pierre Jeanty.
I focus on advertising one title, my main title, and out of that we have a structure to sell everything else.
So my most successful book is Her, but I have 13 books. Or probably more than 13, I'm not even counting anymore. So what I do is I run ads to Her because it's the most convenient, cheapest, and most consistent.
And once you go to Her, obviously I get upsells, cross sales, then post-purchase upsells, which are selling the other books and other items. Then emails, we have flow setup, automated flows, we're selling the other products.
So once you have one book, and you have everything set up for that book, now it's a process of taking your time to say, hey, what is the next series I want to put in there? And by then, you simplify the process to where, okay, I upload the book covers this way. The description, I transform over this way, etc. Where a lot of people fail is when they try to have everything done all at once, or everything done before ads.
My biggest answer to that is always—
Ads are the best way to find out what you need to fix on your shop.
Because once you do have the first book, the main book, and you start running ads, and people are like, I can't find no review, or this is taking too long, etc., that's when you start to see, okay, what do I need to do? Or you're not profitable, you're like, okay, I need to sell more than one book, I need to bundle them up better. So, yes.
Now in terms of the hope aspect, I can tell you, me having a simple shop in 2019 and just being able to market the way I want and was able to scale to where 2020 was my biggest year where we did 4 million in sales. I did not have everything fixed. The people that I'm teaching are light years ahead of me in terms of their starting point because I didn't know how to make sure my average order value, or you know, people spent way more money than just the $14 I've sold the books for. So it can be fixed, and you can sell and make a lot of money while you're fixing it.
Joanna: That's so good. And to be honest, I feel hopeful, too, because I just feel like I can see what I've always wanted with the indie space, like what I wanted as an independent author when I left my job like more than a decade ago. I don't think the technology was ready, but it feels like we've got everything we need now.
We can do fulfillment in all kinds of ways. So that's why I'm excited. So people listening, there's so much here that's exciting.
I do have another question before we're almost out of time. So we talked about my two brands, which I will separate, but I also have this other random book. Now, because you do emotional books, so I have a memoir, it's called Pilgrimage. I just did a Kickstarter for it. So I finished the Kickstarter, and it's like a midlife memoir. It is about pilgrimages. I'm not a Christian, which makes it kind of difficult, but it's got religious elements. It is emotional. It's personal. It doesn't fit either of my brands. So when I was going through your stuff, I saw that in some cases, you were testing almost like a one-page landing page store. So I'm wondering like—
I could just build my own store for Pilgrimage on its own, right?
Pierre: Yes. So I have a student, who's also a client, and she has a book where it's about sobriety. And she's like, “This is not what I'm about, but it was a book that I wrote. What is the best way to do it?” And she's now focused on having it as a standalone where it has its own store, and the whole concept is about sobriety. When she sells it, she's not trying to mix it with her other author business and publishing business, but she just has it as a stand-alone.
When it comes to you marketing anything that falls that you think your readers can cross over. So something like a memoir, some of the fiction readers that you have will read that because it's written by you. What I want authors to be clear, is that now you're not thinking about author brand niche down as much, it's more of thinking of author brand as how do I identify who I am, what type of writing that I do from the umbrella of nonfiction or fiction.
Do I solve problems or tell stories? Once you have it under the umbrella, then you now get a chance to build real loyal fans because you're dealing with them direct, and you could sell anything else. So it's more of a separation between nonfiction and fiction.
The other thing, what you mentioned that we do is that we try to have all sorts of traffic go to our Shopify because it helps our ad, but we don't sell directly to product pages in all cases. So I use an app named Zipify, where sometimes we create landing pages.
The landing pages is dedicated to one book, is dedicated to the upsell. That's what I'm doing for one of the poetry book that is more around heartbreak and seems to be attracting divorce, an audience of women that are divorced.
The reason I can do that, although is slightly different from Her, is that by the time they make the purchase and they fall into my email, they're segmented. So I know this is like a heavier heartbreak audience that this is the type of work they're looking for, versus Her, it's more empowerment and inspirational.
Right now marketing a book named, Heal. Grow. Love, it's more inspiration, has nothing to do with relationships. And that's the control you can have when it comes to the back end. I have landing pages where I've used blog posts to sell products. I've used all of those different ways on my Shopify site. So now everything is still happening on Shopify.
Joanna: That's great. I think for those people listening who are like me and have sort of a bigger backlist, multiple brands, multiple types of books, you probably just have to stop and think for longer and think of a strategy and think how you want to do it before you jump in.
Like I feel like I probably should have done more strategic thinking. Also now, I know all of you and I'm going through the courses, I feel like I'm learning so much. So we're out of time, but—
Tell us about The 7 Figure Book Business eBook and the course. Who is it suitable for? And where can people find it?
And really, the people that I created it for is for those who are looking to get into direct, but not for the purpose of just going direct because of something that's happening. It's for those who are really serious about building something outside of Amazon and really building what I say, a book business. I say that in the book, where it's those trying to come out of the entrepreneur mindset to having a book business. Where again, it has longevity and way more to offer, in my eyes.
Kind of the breakdown for those who are interested, let's say, or would be interested, is that the book itself will show you my success, but it breaks down the mindset and it simplifies how all of this happens. It's more of like, this is an ecommerce funnel, email funnel, and this is a traffic funnel, which has ads and how all of it work with each other. And it's for anyone really, truly who is interested in going direct but wants to take it seriously.
The book also should encourage you, which is why it comes with a free course, to encourage you to map out these things because I lay out all the details. The course is almost where if you read the book, you could eventually launch yourself. The course is to walk you through and save you time, but it lays out the blueprint for you, so now you can go and strategize and see what is the best way to approach this.
Joanna: And as I said, I highly recommend it. You're a great teacher. I love your positivity, that makes such a difference. So thank you so much for your time, Pierre. That was just fantastic.
Pierre: Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor and a pleasure, and I'm excited to see how yours roll out and how all of this plays out for you.