If you could travel back in time and ask the teenage version of Jesse Krieger what he wants to become as an adult, he would tell you that he wants to become a rock star. But unlike the thousands of teenagers who dream of becoming rock stars, Jesse actually did make that dream a reality.
As a young adult, Jesse spent over a year traveling throughout Western Europe, playing his guitar on the streets and in night clubs as often as he could. When he returned to the United States, he decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee where he and some friends started a band called Harsh Krieger. It took some time, but they managed to make a name for themselves locally, and eventually they raised enough money to finance the production of their album. They released their album nationwide, completed 2 tours of the United States, had their music played on hundreds of radio stations around the country, and even had some of their songs featured on MTV. Jesse’s childhood dream of becoming a rock star had become a reality.
The experience of producing an album and performing shows around the United States was definitely exhilarating for Jesse, but after a few years of immersing himself in the music industry, he asked himself an important, life altering question: was playing in a rock band something he could see himself doing long-term? And although he still had a tremendous passion for music, the answer to that tough question was no.
He may not have seen himself as one at the time, but Jesse became an entrepreneur the moment he and his band decided to start their own record label instead of signing a contract with an existing one. “I saw that there was this fork in the road as a musician, as an artist, where you either sign with a record label or sign with a producer or agent or manager and turn over the business aspect of your career, which is what everybody wanted, but the more I looked at it the more it looked like a job”, says Jesse. “The other path was to start our own record label and be in charge of the business of our band.”
Starting a record label forced Jesse to acquire the skills that most entrepreneurs must eventually acquire regardless of which industry they build their business in – skills such as raising capital, marketing, product distribution, and building relationships with key players in your industry. Those skills and relationships became the foundation upon which Jesse launched his career as a consultant after returning to his hometown of San Francisco.
“Once I made the connection that business itself is creative, instead of completely divorced from something artistically creative, then I was pretty much hooked on starting all types of businesses.”
Starting a consulting business opened up a lot of opportunities for Jesse. It allowed him to continue to expand his network, and get involved in a multitude of projects in different industries simultaneously. As he approached his 30th birthday, Jesse had nearly a decade of experience as an entrepreneur, and had started and/or consulted for numerous companies in different industries and even in different countries around the world. Wanting to share some of his experiences and lessons learned as an entrepreneur with others, he started to write the book which would later become Lifestyle Entrepreneur.
While spending time in Asia, Jesse was introduced to a publisher in Malaysia through a mutual friend who had recently become an author. That publisher read Jesse’s book, and after learning more about Jesse’s unique background and experiences as an entrepreneur, they suggested that he revise the book to become more of an all-encompassing reflection of Jesse’s overall business philosophy.
“The book that became Lifestyle Entrepreneur started as a much more narrowly focused how-to book for setting up an online business that sold physical products that were produced in China and sent to customers anywhere in the world”, Jesse explains. “But that was just really a reflection of the most recent business that I had launched and sold, USB Superstore.”
Jesse agreed to revise the book, and with the help of that publisher, they released the book in South-East Asia where it subsequently became the #2 bestselling business book in Malaysia. Jesse also went on several book tours around the country to help promote the book and meet some of its readers. Meeting people who had already read his book and therefore knew about his background and philosophy as an entrepreneur was a surreal experience for Jesse. “It was really cool that a book can function as this extension of yourself”, says Jesse. “People can really get to know and relate to you without even having met you or spoken with you.”
After witnessing the success of his book launch in South-East Asia, Jesse started to wonder whether or not he could achieve a similar result with his book in the United States. “At that point, I was pretty committed to becoming a bestselling author in the U.S., and I used all the momentum from the initial launch in Asia to get a publishing deal with Morgan James”, says Jesse. “I ended up getting that deal, re-wrote the book, updated the cover and some of the information, and Morgan James published it in the U.S. and all over the world.”
When Jesse signed the book deal with Morgan James, he assumed they would help him execute a successful book launch as well (much like the publisher in Malaysia did). But it turned out that the only reason the publisher in Malaysia was willing to help promote Jesse’s book was because Jesse was willing to fly to Malaysia to be present at book tours. Traditionally, most of the responsibility to promote a book falls upon the author, and not their publisher. “I had all these high expectations”, says Jesse, “but when the book came out, it was underwhelming.”
Instead of claiming victory (after all, he did land a book deal with a traditional publisher in the U.S.), Jesse decided to take the time to figure out how to execute a bestselling book launch. He also learned how to leverage his status as an author and use his book as a personal branding and business development tool. He built an entire entrepreneurship training business, Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Academy, which consisted of online training programs and 1-on-1 coaching programs, and used his book to attract clients for his programs. When he re-launched his book, this time relying on his own marketing efforts, it achieved bestseller status in multiple categories on Amazon and attracted enough clients to Jesse’s training programs to generate a low six-figure income. That process helped Jesse to truly understand the impact that publishing a book can have on an entrepreneur’s personal brand and business.
Even though it took a significant amount of work on his part to re-launch his book successfully, Jesse enjoyed the process. In fact, marketing his book to bestseller status on Amazon and then leveraging that exposure to attract clients for his training company inspired Jesse to start a whole new company. “I realized that this is something I really enjoyed doing, so I started to work with a few other authors and ultimately published a few books for some entrepreneurial friends of mine”, says Jesse. “And that preceded doing a big push into what I’m focused on now which is Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press, and a suite of author training and coaching packages and programs, and live events – all focused on how to create a great book, launch it to become an Amazon bestseller, and use that as a lever to build a business and brand.”
Working with two separate traditional publishers, in addition to relying on his own marketing efforts to re-launch his book (which is what a self-published author would do), helped Jesse to become aware of a gap in the publishing industry. At one end of the spectrum are authors who get a book deal with a traditional publisher (who may or may not provide marketing support for the book), but receive a small percentage of the revenue of their book sales. At the other end of the spectrum are self-published authors who keep the majority of the revenue from their book sales, but lack the marketing expertise to launch and continue promoting their book successfully. “Signing a traditional publishing deal as a first-time author, if you don’t already have a level of celebrity or a platform or an audience, you find yourself in a position where you don’t get very much marketing support”, Jesse explains. “And you don’t find yourself very incentivized to market your book because you know you’re only getting a dollar per book.”
The gap in the publishing industry that Jesse envisioned himself filling was that space between traditional publishing and self-publishing – the space where authors could receive the marketing support of a publisher, but still keep a significant percentage of the revenue from their book sales. “I wanted to help authors achieve what they really want – the same thing I really wanted – which is to have a dedicated team that’s backing you on your project”, says Jesse. “Every author that we publish, we do the launch marketing with them but really for them. Even if they didn’t do anything, we are able to get hundreds, if not thousands of copies of their book into people’s hands for each book launch.”
Having launched his own book on 3 separate occasions, in addition to helping nearly a dozen other authors publish and market their books to Amazon bestseller status throughout 2015, Jesse has learned a lot about what it takes to execute a successful book launch. According to Jesse, the marketing of a book should actually begin before the book is published and available for sale (the pre-launch phase). A mistake that many authors make is waiting until their book released before they start promoting it. This catches their audience by surprise, because they had no idea that the book was coming. There was no warning, and therefore, no hype or anticipation leading up to the book’s release. Jesse also recommends having a strategy in place to promote your book after the initial launch is over (the post-launch phase).
Here are some tips that Jesse shared to help maximize your book’s exposure during your pre-launch and post-launch phases:
One of the ways to create buzz about your book before its release is to post different design options for your book’s cover on social media, and ask your audience (friends and/or followers) to vote for the cover they like the most. This is a subtle way to let your audience know that your book is coming, but more importantly, it gives them a chance to feel involved in your book publishing process. “The right approach, if you have an audience, is to try to incorporate them into the final stages of the creation process”, says Jesse.
Another thing you can do to create anticipation for your book is to give away sample chapters or a complimentary resource that relates to the book in exchange for someone’s email address. This strategy enables you to build an email list of people who are anticipating the release of your book, and are most likely to purchase it when it becomes available for sale. Depending on your budget, you could even run Facebook ads to promote your complimentary resource. Facebook ads are effective because you can target people based on their demographic information and personal interests (for example, you could target people who live in a specific country, and who are fans of another author in your industry/niche).
After your initial book launch is complete, it is important to continue creating awareness for your book on an ongoing basis. Consistent promotion helps to ensure consistent sales. A strategy that works well for Jesse is making regular media appearances. These range from being featured on blogs and publications online, being a guest on podcasts, and participating in virtual summits. “My book has now been out for close to 2 years in the U.S., and to this day I still do 1-3 media events per week”, says Jesse. The more you can expose yourself (and your book) to new audiences on a consistent basis, the better.
Even though a book can become an additional stream of income for an author, Jesse encourages his clients to view their book as a business development tool. This applies mostly to non-fiction books, since the promise of a non-fiction book is to help the reader understand a specific topic or learn how to achieve a specific result. For that reason, Jesse will often work directly with his clients to help them create a suite of additional products and services to offer to their readers. These products and services will range in price point, escalating in proportion to the level of training and/or personalized service the client receives.
When Jesse launched his book the third time, he had an array of training products and programs that ranged in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars to offer to his readers. As a result, he was able to generate a six-figure income for his training company using his book as the front-end product. “My highest price point was a $10,000 3-month coaching package”, says Jesse. “So even if one out of a thousand people that buys my book ends up becoming a $10,000 client, it’s more net profit than like all those thousand book sales combined.”
Instead of trying to maximize the revenue you earn from your book sales, Jesse suggests shifting your focus to getting your book into the hands of as many people as possible, even if that means giving it to them for free. When you have an array of more expensive products and services to offer your readers, everyone who reads your book can potentially become a client that is worth several hundred or even several thousand dollars to your business. For that reason, Jesse will often run promotions for his book (for example, by discounting the Kindle version on Amazon or even offering it for free for a limited time), knowing that a certain percentage of the people who read his book will purchase additional products or services from him.
“It’s important for authors and entrepreneurs to realize where the revenue potential is”, Jesse explains. “I encourage authors to look at their book as a hook. It’s like if you’re fishing. You just dangle something out there that’s attractive, and when people bite, you want to be able to reel them in and open up the door and show them what else is possible.”
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, freedom and mobility are high on Jesse’s priority list. For that reason, he has intentionally designed his business to accommodate his lifestyle goals. He has a full-time executive assistant who handles the majority of his administrative tasks including scheduling and travel logistics, in addition to a small team that helps manage the social media marketing and content creation for his businesses. He also utilizes various independent contractors (graphic designers, editors, formatters, Facebook ad specialists, etc.) from around the world on a per-project basis. All communication with his team is conducted primarily through email and Skype, enabling him to work from the comfort of his home office or from his laptop when he’s travelling.
“The main emphasis that differentiates a lifestyle entrepreneur from a traditional entrepreneur or a venture-backed entrepreneur is the premium on lifestyle, and the ability to run and manage your business through a team or remotely while you travel and explore”, Jesse explains. “You don’t have to grow as fast, you don’t have to grow very large at all, if you’ve got a product or service mix that brings in enough money to sustain yourself and do the things that you enjoy doing.”
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“A lifestyle entrepreneur is somebody that pursues the things that they are interested in and passion about through the filter of business.”
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