Honorée Corder’s first self-published book sold 11,000 copies before anyone had read it.
To date, she’s sold more than 800,000 copies of her self-published business books.
Her latest book, The Prosperous Writer’s Guide to Finding Readers, reveals her favorite strategies for finding readers.
In this episode, Honorée shares some simple tips that any writer can use to sell ten, a hundred, or even a thousand copies of their book at a time.
How did you get started as an author?
I was living in Las Vegas at the time, and I was a single mom. I had gone to a personal growth seminar and Mark Victor Hanson, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, was a speaker.
I’m sitting in the back with my computer and I’m typing notes when Mark comes over, he sits down next to me and says, “Who are you?” and I said “I’m Honoree” and he said, “What do you do?”
“I proudly said, ‘I’m a business coach and I’m a speaker.’
“He looked at me and says, ‘Everybody is a business coach and a speaker, honey.’
“Then he said, ‘You must write a book.'”
Those five words changed my life, without question.
But I have a very snarky and sarcastic sense of humor, so my initial thought was, “Well, how hard can that be?”
I started asking him questions. He asked if I had a presentation that I had given multiple times that audiences liked. In other words, there were people in the audience who had requested me to give the same presentation and I said “Yes.”
He said, “Write that book down. That’s your book.”
“Write that presentation down, sit down at your computer, and type the presentation as though you were giving it.”
The presentation that took 45 minutes to an hour to speak took me three days to type (I type 120-130 words a minute).
The original book was called Master Strategies for Explosive Business Growth because that was the title of my talk. I had an equally awful cover to go with it. My boyfriend at the time was a “graphic designer,” so he designed it.
I didn’t have it edited, because I took English class, so I thought it’s got to be perfect.
“I don’t remember what the back cover page said. It probably said, ‘Honoree’s an idiot for producing the book this way. Please use it in your next fire.'”
So I have this book and I’m proud of it, and then I meet Jeffrey Gitomer who wrote The Little Red Book of Selling.
I had quoted him in the book, so I’m introduced to him and I said, “Oh my gosh, I just got my book and I’m so excited and here, you’re on page 47!”
He sits there, he’s paging through the book, and he’s reading. He’s being really thoughtful and I’m thinking, “This is great!”
After a few minutes, he says to me:
“‘Your writing is actually really good. You’re a good writer,’ he says.
“‘But this book? This is shit.'”
He said, “This production, the production quality, this cover… It’s just awful. The title? Honey. What are you doing?”
Now, I am always very careful what I say to people. I am acutely aware that you could say that to someone and they could take, “This is bad” as “You are bad.”
My book is something I created. But I’m not my creation. It’s not a reflection of my desirability or worthiness as a person. I didn’t take “this as bad” as “game over, hit the showers. Over and out.”
He was very kind and he said, “Let me introduce you to my graphic designer and he’ll lay out the inside of the book and make it look lovely.”
While that book was at the printers being published, I sold 11,000 hard copies in three weeks.
How did you sell 11,000 copies of your first book?
Mark Victor Hanson said something to the effect of “Jack Canfield and I made a commitment to do seven things every day to market our book.”
I thought “Well, if it’s good enough for Mark and Jack, it’s good enough for me. I’m going to do seven things every day to market my book.”
Back then, there wasn’t Facebook, twitter, Instagram and “build your email list.” Although the email list option was there, I just wasn’t aware of it yet.
At first, I decided I wanted to get featured in Las Vegas magazines, so I did. Then I wanted to get featured in the community neighborhood magazine, where I lived in Las Vegas. Then I wanted to get on the local television shows.
I landed a spot on FOX5. I was on FOX5 for two years. just would go on every week and talk about something to do with how to behave yourself, basically. Like how to make an introduction, or how to get connected to someone, or how to dress appropriately, or how to show appreciation, how to write a thank you note. Three lines, three minutes, within three days.
Back to how I sold the 11,000 books.
One of the things that Mark Victor Hanson said was, “We made a list of everyone we could think of who would possibly be willing to buy one, 10, or 100 copies of our book. We called them. We asked them the question, would you like to buy between ten and a hundred copies of our book?”
So, I did that too.
“I went through my Rolodex and I made a list of anyone who I thought would buy a between ten and a hundred copies.
“I had one client who said, ‘We’re having our annual gathering, so I’ll take 3,000 copies. And if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to put a gold foil sticker on it that says, A gift from the company.‘”
I said, “No, I wouldn’t mind that at all” and then I had a couple of other, three other clients order a thousand copies and I basically forced a lot of my friends to buy between ten and a hundred copies.
By the time the first 5,000 came, I’d already ordered another 5,000, and then another 5,000 copies.
Of course, I’d get turned down and some clients would say no. But if you put all the time, money, and energy into writing a book and you believe that people would benefit from your message, then get over your damn self and be ready to ask the question.
“‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘You suck.’
“‘No’ just means ‘No, I don’t need it right now’ or ‘It’s not the right thing.'”
How else have you sold books in bulk?
I have a series called The Successful Single Mom Books Series. I started realizing that divorce attorneys and therapists were using the book to get clients.
They were taking my books and putting their business card in them. One divorce attorney in Texas was leaving them in Starbucks.
So I went to Dallas and we sat down and he said, “What I’d like to do is to take the back cover of the book, and make it about my law firm, so I can stop leaving my business card in the book.”
“Then he asked, ‘If I bought enough copies of your book — maybe 1,000 or 5,000 copies — would you let me make a custom cover and put my information on the back?’
“And I said, ‘Absolutely, that would be no problem!'”
What I was able to do is turn my back cover into an advertisement for law firms, certified divorce financial advisers, therapists, divorce attorneys that are collaborative, so that they could give the books out.
That’s one of the things that I still do to this day. I still do custom orders for divorce attorneys and people who are going through a divorce.
How can authors find out if their books have the potential to sell by the truckload?
When Amazon invited me to come to New York to attend a media breakfast, I asked the question “Why are we having this breakfast? What do you want from the breakfast?” And they said, “Because we have this incredible publishing platform and we would like more people to write and publish books on our platform.”
So I said, “Would it be helpful if I wrote and published a book about why everyone should write and publish a book (on your platform)?”
They said, “Sure!”
That’s “You Must Write a Book” which sold really well. Amazon has been more than generous and helpful with that book.
It is entirely possible that you have information that someone — who is a strategic partner of yours — would benefit from sharing with their audience.
Let’s say you’re a financial adviser who works with high net worth individuals. High net worth individuals, logically, have bankers. Investment bankers, insurance providers, a whole host of high-end real estate agents.
“They have a whole host of professionals that serve them, and you could sell your book to them to give to their clients as a present.”
So the client wins because they get this valuable information in the form of a book. The real estate agent or investment banker wins because they pass on this valuable information to their clients so they got a present. And then you win because your book is sold and used by both your strategic partner and their client.
How much did your book affect your speaking and coaching business?
Well, I doubled my coaching fee, so I can have fewer clients and make the same amount of money. I was a single mom at the time so that was a strategic move.
Selling the 11,000 books privately was a huge financial benefit. It gave me some additional cushion, so I felt I could quote my new fee and if someone said yes or no, I didn’t care. I wasn’t like, “Oh I have to price it low enough so that they’ll say yes” because I have reserve.
I didn’t start out a speaker. I started out as a speaker who was speaking to market my coaching fees, and then someone called and said, “We only have $3,500 to pay our keynote speaker, but we would love to have you come and deliver your keynote. Is that enough? Would you consider doing it for $3,500”
“I was like, ‘It’s more than anyone else has ever paid me, so yes!’ and that began my speaking career.”
As soon as I published my book, then my coach said “you have to increase what you are charging.”
How do you get “superfan readers” who love your book, review it, and share it with their friends?
I write them a thank you note, if I can figure out who the heck they are. That’s my first thing. And then one of my fans, I guess she would be called a super fan, actually gave me a hashtag “The cult of Honorée” and she had her own mug made with the #cultofhonoree on it and she posted a picture on Instagram.
I believe that this person is not unlike any other person, this is a real strong recipe. If you want to make bread, you need flour. This is the flour. It is that when you have the opportunity to give someone your time and attention and you and I have talked about how there’s a finite amount of time and attention that we have but in the moment that I met this person.
She said, “May I ask you a question?” and I said, “Of course.” Then I thoughtfully answered the question and then I thought to follow up with her and answer her follow up questions or to check in on her and see how it was going. Then she took it upon herself to go and read my other books and review them.
As she did that, then I said, “I have an advanced reader team, would you like to join the advanced reader team?”
And she said “Absolutely!” Then she did a mug.
So then my assistant — I thought this was insane — my assistant had a dozen Cult of Honoree mugs and sent out an email to my list and said, “Who wants a Cult of Honoree mug?”
Much to my surprise, within a couple of hours, I was at the post office with these priority mail boxes, sending them all over the country. And now I’ve sent them to six countries. I think it’s so funny.
When I have a super fan, they will say to me, “I told my reading group about your book” or “I told my manager about your book and so we’re ordering books, and you might get a call or they might just order them from Amazon.”
What’s your favorite tip from your new book Finding Readers?
I used to reverse market my books in bookstores. I would take my books into bookstores and put them in there.
Then when people would try to buy it, the bookseller would be confused and hold on to the book, and then call the phone number in the back of the book and say, “We can’t find a record of your book anywhere but somebody brought it to the counter and they want to buy it, what should we do?” and I was like, “Well give them the book, sell them the book, do whatever you’re going to do.”
“Then some of them would say, ‘Well, how do we get more of these books?'”
Now, Finding Readers has been out for eight days and I’ve gotten 10 or 15 private messages, text messages, and emails from people saying, “I just listened to your interview on this podcast and I just finished your book and I am heading out to the bookstore now to leave my books in the bookstores.”
It was just – I am a self-published author, not a traditionally published author. It never occurred to me that I could (A) publish traditionally, or (B) be in a bookstore. That’s like for real people. I just decided to figure out ways to help people discover my books, and they go to bookstores looking for books.
A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, I got to feed my kid.
How do you plant the seed in the reader’s mind to buy your book in bulk?
There are sales pages in some of my books about bulk orders, or “Book Honoree to Speak” or “Get Honoree’s Hundred day Coaching Program and here’s your discount code for it.” In every book, there is an opportunity for someone to come a little bit closer to do a little bit more.
Join my community on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn. Join my You Must Write a Book Group on Linked in. I have different places where people are welcome to connect with me and given the idea that they might not think on their own.
I think that’s a really smart thing to do and authors just can’t bank on somebody putting those pieces together right? That just doesn’t happen unless they love your book and they’re like, I have to get this in the hands of everybody in the company because this is a transformational book. Also too, give them the idea like you can give this books away if you really — give this book away if you like this book, please leave an honest five-star review on Amazon or big reads or both. All of those.
“People need to be told what to do. Not because they’re not intelligent, but because we all have finite time.”
This morning, I got an email from someone on whose advanced reader team I sit and delighted to do so, read the book and today was the day. “Today’s launch day and I need your help, click this link and leave the review.” Bam.
Tell us about your readers’ journeys in self-publishing.
I was at a writer’s conference when I got the idea to write Prosperity for Writers because there is that starving artist, starving writer cliché.
There were people at the writer’s conference who were making a fair living as a writer, and then there were people at the writer’s conference who were genuinely frustrated and had lost heart and hope, because they just weren’t sure why it wasn’t happening.
I believe making money as a writer starts as a mindset. But I am more of a practical person, like as you pray, move your feet kind of gal. I believe you have to look for what you want to find, so be on the lookout for people who are making money as a writer.
Then you also have to write the words. Sit down, have a daily word count.
I did a course and worked with a few people to see if the idea for Prosperity for Writers would even take hold, and everyone who took the class transformed their businesses and started making money as writers.
“Everyone in the class now is a full-time writer making money from their writing, and they are my super fans.”
They are the people that come up to me and wanted to take a picture and then they tell me the latest cool thing that they’ve done as a writer.
They went to this conference, and they took this vacation, and they were able to buy “my first new car in 20 years. This car doesn’t have duct tape anywhere on it,” right?
There is actually a gal here in Austin, who had written several books, but just couldn’t connect the financial dots. I helped her come up with her “I am statement.”
Part of the process was to say, “I am a full-time writer, I write teenage dystopian fiction” or whatever it is and “I make an abundant living from my writing.”
“The first thing you have to change is your self-talk because that belief goes into your subconscious, and your subconscious is your super computer.”
Then she started looking for other people who were making money from their writing. I told her, “Go and sit down with people and have them walk you through the process of where did they start and what are they doing.”
What are the things that they are actually doing, because no one just thinks about making money from their writing and has the direct deposit come in. There are actually some things that happen in between the “I would like to make money” and “I make money” phases.
Go study successful writers and figure out what they’re doing! What do you need to say no to, what do you need to say yes to? What are you saying when you talk to yourself? What are you looking for?
So, that gal is literally a full-time writer. She just got a brand new car, she bought a house, she couldn’t be happier or more successful in her mind, and she’s still writing books. She gives me all the credit and I didn’t do anything. I just gave some suggestions and she took what I said and followed it.
Do you plan on exploring other mediums?
I started in network marketing in my 20’s and then I started coaching in my late 20’s and early 30’s and then I did coaching and speaking in my 30’s and then I retired from speaking because someone said, “You’d better get a good nanny” and I was a single mom which is a cue that I needed to retire. Now my kid is going to be a senior in a few minutes and so I’m speaking again. I’ve got some gigs on the calendar and I am writing more books.
And the answer is I actually don’t know the answer, and I’m totally fine with that. I’m open to suggestions and watching where things are going, I know that my advice to myself, my husband, my daughter, my clients, my friends is do the thing that makes you happy because life is short.
Right now, I am really happy. I love what I do, I love who I talk to, and I love how I spend my days, weekends, evenings, holidays. Every day is the same. Every day is Friday, every day is Saturday for me, they’re all the same, all really good happy days for me.
“I don’t feel like I work. I feel like I play, and I get paid to play, which is really fun.”
At some point, I will probably see that everybody’s got video and I need video and I will get a video done, it will be fun. We’ll see.
How can our listeners connect with and follow you?
I have a great community for people writing books and asking questions. That’s just brand new and getting started, so anywhere someone hangs out, I am probably hanging out there, too.