I had just finished a book signing at a major business conference when a young woman reached out to shake my hand. “Mr. Pettiford, how can I sell a self-published book?” she asked. She looked at me expectantly, as if I held the secrets to producing a best-seller in the palm of my hand. I began to explain that while there is glory in creating a product, there are plenty of bumps and bruises to be endured along the way. I should know.
My first six months as a self-published author were disastrous. With no strategic marketing plan in place, my modest bedroom became a storage facility for 2,500 copies of
my book. Because I had few interested buyers, I barely scraped together any sales. Left with no other option, I was forced to re-evaluate my business methods. I also began to wonder when my book would begin to sell.
Meanwhile, a number of emotions-fear and doubt, among them-came over me during this difficult time. Going in, I knew this route would entail struggle. I was also aware that I would have to endure it in order to succeed. But it was much harder than I ever anticipated. Rather than let my feelings get the best of me, I had to search for another way to make it through.
I discovered a book entitled, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries (Warner Books, $5.99). It emphasized the importance of creating a niche and establishing the proper positioning for a product. After some careful consideration, I realized that my own book did meet the needs of a niche audience.
There were thousands of personal finance books on the market, but none had been written specifically for African American youth, at least not until mine, Wealth Builders: An Economic Program for African American Youth. With this knowledge, I was able to reposition my book as the first and only of its kind. Within four months, my book had generated over $70,000 in sales.
While I felt good about that, there are still times when the book doesn’t do as well as I would like. On the other hand, there have also been instances when sales exceeded my expectations. While I couldn’t have anticipated the intensity of the struggles associated with producing this book, I’m convinced that I made the right decision. It’s a continuous roller-coaster ride of emotional ups and downs, but I’m determined to ride it out.
Hasani Pettiford is president of West Orange, New Jersey-based Success Is In Your Hands Inc. To order his book, visit www.hasani.com