Book Marketing Lessons from Brian Massey

Book Marketing Lessons from Brian Massey

Two months ago I met up with Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, to talk about his new conversion optimization book Your Customer Creation Equation. Now we met again to discuss what he learned from marketing it.

So there we were, having breakfast in a small restaurant in Austin, Texas, and pulled out a video camera to talk about book marketing. If you’re planning to release a book any time soon, it’s a good idea to listen to what Brian had to say.

Got any questions for Brian? Ask away and I’ll try to get him over here to answer the questions. Oh, and the book really is terrific – get it.

Transcription of the video

Peep: Hey, guys. I’m here with Brian Massey. We just had some eggs and
bacon and chicken-fried steak, biscuits and butter.

Brian: Biscuits and gravy.

Peep: The usual, healthy breakfast.

Brian: I should be dead in about 20 more minutes.

Peep: So last time we met we talked about Brian’s book, which had just came
out. Now it’s been two months?

Brian: It’s been out, yeah, about two months now.

Peep: So basically what we’re going to talk about, how Brian marketed the
book. So tell me, maybe, first of all, what are the things you
thought marketing the book was going to be like but wasn’t true?

Brian: Yeah, so there were a lot of lessons learned, fortunately or
unfortunately. I’m a scientist so there’s no failed experiment,

Peep: Right.

Brian: But still, when you to see those numbers coming in and
something doesn’t work that you’ve worked on, it hurts. I think
probably the first lesson learned was I spent a fair amount of
time setting up the book blog at
There was going to be content there. But you know where the
action is? It’s on Amazon.

Peep: Why did you set up a different site? Why not use your conversion

Brian: Well, the idea was that I would set up a site for people who
are specifically looking for the book, for people that meet me
through the book and associate me with the book Performing the
Conversion Scientist, even though it’s part of the title.
They’re going to be looking for that content. So I wanted to
make sure that the search engines saw what I was writing about
whatever they were interested in. An example is business porn.

You’re not going to find business porn out there on the Conversion
Scientist. But it will be on the book blog, because it’s one of
the topics I talk about.

Peep: Do you think you missed out on some SEO traffic, like the regular
audience coming through the blog?

Brian: Well, my assumption was that I could flow the search engine
juice from that blog by putting links to the book blog from my
Conversion Scientist blog and from our corporate brochure site.
I figured that that would take care of that.

Peep: Okay. But you say that you shouldn’t have done the blog to begin

Brian: No. I should have put all of my time into

Peep: Do what though?

Brian: Well, so Amazon, as it turns out is really its own little
world. It has its own search algorithms and there are a number
of strategies you can use to get your book higher on Amazon’s
radar screen, so trying to get…

Peep: Like what?

Brian: For instance you can do a free.. They have their own page rank.
It’s called “sales rank” and you can do things to get higher in sales rank to the point where if
you get into the top ten in one of your sub, subcategories,
Amazon says, “Oh, this book is trending. Let’s carry it forward,
make it part of the recommendations that we do on book pages and stuff like that.

You can spend a lot of time on your author page. Your author page
actually will allow you to take your RSS feed from your blog
into your author page and those backlinks are not no-follow.

Peep: Oh.

Brian: So you’re getting some major Amazon juice back to your blog.
You can put a video up there.

Peep: So people would also read the blog posts on Amazon, or they would
click through to your site?

Brian: They would click through.

Peep: So did you see much traffic coming in or did you…?

Brian: I have not seen much traffic coming in through there. But I
need to put some of these other strategies in place to get on
Amazon’s radar. So, if you launch your book correctly, launch a
Kindle edition, and don’t let anybody else sell a Kindle
edition, you can get into an exclusive program for Amazon where
you’re allowed to give the book away, which will increase your
volume. Those free books count as sales.

Peep: Wow.

Brian: So that will bump you up into the . . .

Peep: Yeah. I’ve seen that. Books that are not even on sale are already
ranking like number one in their, whatever category. So that’s
how they do it?

Brian: They might be doing that. They might be doing pre-orders.
That’s another thing I would do. One of my co-authors did a pre-
order of signed books before it was sold. He sold like 100
copies in seven hours, something like that. Drew Davis,
“Brandscaping”, it’s a good book too. So those are the sorts of

I had started off even a year before building out some Facebook apps,
using some video to market the thing. The Facebook strategies
really didn’t work and it was a poor investment in time.

Peep: So what was the whole concept there?

Brian: The concept there was to create a tab on the book page. At that
point I had a working title was one of the problems so that’s
gone away. Then had them go to a page that gave them an
informational video that took them through one of the concepts
in the book. So it was really teaching them something, some real
value there.

Peep: I see.

Brian: Then had them pre-order the book from there. Or actually, at
that point I was just getting the name and an email address.

Peep: So in the end it worked?

?Brian: In the end, I got a small list, but it’s a great list. When I
mail to it something’s going on, I get a great response. They
bought the books. They certainly jumped on. At one point I had a
free book, a giveaway where it was just for the cost of shipping
to see how that worked. It worked fairly well, but it’s an
expensive promotion because I have to eat the cost of the book
itself and pay for shipping.

Peep: Did it result in… [suddenly a picture falls down from the wall] Well, let’s hope it’s a good

Brian: That’s probably been hanging there for 20 years and it just
fell today. You should leave this in.

Peep: I will. I will. This is uncut. So I wanted to ask, those copies that
you gave away, did they result in reviews?

Brian: Yes. The idea there was to, again, in the Amazon ecosystem, if
you want to get your book bubbled up, you need positive reviews.
It’s good to mix in some negative reviews, and you need people
to tag your book for you. This is something else I hadn’t

Peep: Tag?

Brian: People can actually go in and tell Amazon what category they
think your book is in.

Peep: Oh.

Brian: So they can tag your book for you.

Peep: Did they?

Brian: They did not. That’s pretty hidden. But you really have to ask
them to do that and that’s really where your…

Peep: But maybe your book was in the right category already, so there was
no need for it.

Brian: Perhaps so. Perhaps so. I don’t know what would entice people
to do it other than, quite frankly, other authors. I tell them
to go and tag something because they understand what the concept
is. So these are some new concepts. But when you send an email
out to your list of the folks that expressed interest, having a
list of things that they can do from really write a review and
go on Amazon and do it, do a blog post on it, tweet about it and
then go tag it, whatever, is great too.

Peep: I guess you were kind of late with reviews because the last time we
met and I read your book, I checked on Amazon. There was only
one review.

Brian: There was one review. Today I’ve got seven five-star reviews
and three for the Kindle edition.

Peep: Any haters?

Brian: No haters yet. No, but most of the people that have reviewed
the book have been people that I’ve asked to.

Peep: Okay.

Brian: That’s the difference in the strategy I’m taking now, which is
you’ve got to reach out and ask folks to do things for you.

Peep: Yeah, I guess maybe it’s one of those things where, where there is
something is there, there will be more and if it’s like an empty
place, people feel hesitant. If there’s only one review, people
are like – I guess, it’s kind of social proof, right?

Brian: Yeah. Well, now there’s a whole new thing coming out with the
new Kindles that Amazon’s coming out with. They have even more
integrated author integration.

Peep: You mean the ones that just came out?

Brian: The ones that just came out.

Peep: Paperwhite and new Kindle Fire HD.

Brian: That’s right. That’s right. So they have new ways of connecting
the book to the author. So there are new opportunities for you
to go and create more of this content around yourself as an
author and connect with your readers.

Peep: So tell me top three things that you would do differently.

Brian: The top three things I would do differently, number one, I
would be more aggressive at building that pre-order list. Number
two, I would probably still put up a blog for SEO reasons. But I
would have spent more time working on my Amazon stuff. I would
not have released the digital version of the book to other sites
because once you do that, Amazon won’t let you into this
exclusive club.

Peep: You mean the Nook and Barnes & Nobles?

Brian: Nook, Barnes & Nobles, yes, exactly.

Peep: Okay.

Brian: There’s a dozen places that my publisher released it to and we
had to pull all those back in order to qualify.

Peep: What were your top three best things you did?

Brian: Top three best things? So, building the list, having the list .
. .

Peep: The email list?

Brian: Yes, out of the gate, that was awesome and I think that list is
going to come in handy when I do my big day and free book
sequel. At that point, I’ve got to tell you, probably everything
else has been kind of meh. It really has been mixed. Free
chapters has been kind of a mixed… The times that I sell the
most is when I’m out speaking so I guess the other thing would
be that this summer and this spring I booked several speaking
gigs. I’ve been doing webinars and things and whenever I do one
of those there’s a nice bump in book sales.

Peep: So you walk around basically with your books in your bag the whole
time in case anybody wants to buy?

Brian: Yeah. I’ve got a little thing for my phone, and I can charge
credit cards.

Peep: Oh, yeah. Square or what do you use?

Brian: It’s called Phone Swipe and it’s one of my free consultations.
I was like, “Hey, this is a great idea. I’ll sign up for this.”

Peep: Yeah.

Brian: So that increases conversion rates right there.

Peep: I use Square myself. This thing’s awesome, super awesome.

Brian: Yes.

Peep: So anything you’d like to add that we didn’t discuss about promoting
your book?

Brian: Well, I can talk a little bit about the things that I’m running
towards now.

Peep: Maybe, I’d be also curious about publishing. Do you use a publisher
or not and why?

Brian: Yeah, I use a publisher and a publisher was a great idea for me
and I love having the support of the team at the publisher for
ordering more books. They come up with ideas for marketing even
though they’re not really working for the marketing. My
publisher is a little different because they actually had a
whole conference and I got ads in their magazine and stuff like

Most publishers are not going to be like that. Check out Content
Marketing Institute Books if you’re interested in that sort of
thing. But for someone like me, I never would have gotten it
done without the team. So, driving deadlines, an artist to do my
cover stuff and really just having someone to bounce things off

Peep: Like accountability partners.

Brian: Yeah, accountability partners, idea partners, having an editor,
it was great. Lisa does great work for me. So I would recommend
a publisher if you have trouble finishing things like I do.

Peep: Yeah, okay. So what’s next?

Brian: What’s next for the book? So, I think an important thing in
this age is that this book does not stand by itself. It’s the
print book, plus it’s the content you’re writing, helpful
videos, free chapters, webinars. Things like this. The book
doesn’t stand on its own. It’s the Internet.

Peep: Did you sell more paper or Kindle books?

Brian: Right now I’m selling more paper. But I think the Kindle books
just because they’re easier to sell, they’re outselling paper in
the broader market, so I expect to sell more Kindle.

Peep: Is it in any bookstores? I guess there’s Barnes & Nobles is the only
chain left. Do they have it?

Brian: No, I’m not in the bookstores.

Peep: Okay.

Brian: I’m not missing that. I couldn’t sell any books there. It’s
great for your ego to go into a bookstore and see your book

Peep: Yes.

Brian: Send your mom and grandma over there but after that, it’s not
going to help very much.

Peep: I remember Gary V., when he wrote “Crush It”, he said that he used to
randomly walk into bookstores and sign his books and write like
hidden messages and then tweet it out that, “Hey, I walked by
that bookstore and left some signed copies there.”

Brian: Yeah, I’ve been doing some little doodles. You see the little
doodles that I do. I do those for – it’s like infographs and
stuff like that.

Peep: So you do those yourself?

Brian: Yes, I do those myself.

Peep: Oh. I thought you had a doodle guy.

Brian: I don’t have a doodle guy. Does anybody know a doodle guy? We
actually have some good doodle people here in town, Sonny Brown.
But anyways, so I do a little doodle for those folks in the
front of the book. I don’t have an example of it here but I have
some pictures on my Amazon author page of some of the doodles I
did in the book. Did I do a doodle for you? You should go look.
I’m pretty sure I did a doodle for you.

Peep: I think you just had a message for me.

Brian: No, I did a doodle. I think it was an XL from ConversionXL.

Peep: Yes, it was. Yes, I remember. I remember. Yes. It was. Good. Final

Brian: Final words, the next thing to look for is a little thing I’m
trying to do in which if you email me the receipt from your
Amazon purchase, I will give you two free videos that expand on
the concept, two free educational videos that expand on the
concept. So you get free content if you send me an email.

Peep: What’s your email?

Brian: There’s going to be a specific email address to that and it is
– I’m going to have to go and check out the specific email. Send
that to That’s what it is, Send the receipt and get the free

Peep: All right. That’s all, folks. See you in the future.

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Join the Conversation Add Your Comment

  1. Some great advice on using Amazon’s tools for book promotion. Launchrock is a powerful additional tool for building a pre-launch mailing list – and it’s free :)

  2. Thanks for the very timely advice. My book, The CMO Manifesto, will launch on Amazon mid-November. I plan to put some of these tips to immediate use.

  3. Peep,

    I normally enjoy all of your articles. This article was very hard to read. Grammar mistakes and spelling. I am not the grammar police but this turns me (and most likely other readers) off.

    Keep up the good (well, not this one) work!

    1. Peep Laja

      Thanks for the feedback. Do you mean the transcription? I used a transcription service, copy-pasted the result without proof-reading. Can’t trust anyone, I guess.

    2. Peep,

      Yes, it was the transcription. I understand it was taken directly from the video and we all normally speak differently than how we type. Keep the great articles coming!

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Book Marketing Lessons from Brian Massey