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Create a Business Challenge: Final Update

Kindle Sales Chart

What up 2017?!

Meet Charlie Johnson, aka author of Debt Destroyer….

Debt Destroyer

You can get the book on Amazon here.

The last few months flew by as I raced to write, edit, and launch my “get out of debt” book.

I know I’m an ass for not sharing updates along the way, but my silence was due to hard work and focus, not avoidance or ambivalence.

Let me bring you up to speed.

October 2016

  • Worked on improving the Income section of book
  • Tested book title ideas using Google Adwords with ideas ranging from “30 Day Debt Detox” to “Debt Hacking” to “The Debt Destroyer Handbook”
  • “Debt Destroyer” won the Adwords test with statistical significance
  • Total cost of test = ~$500

Book Title Test

November 2016

  • Tested subtitle ideas but ran over budget before the results achieved statistical significance
  • Used MerchantWords to identify keywords to include in subtitle
  • Continued improving book content
  • Hired David de las Morenas from HowToBeast.com to create my book cover (he came recommended from my buddy Dave over at PostGradCasanova.com)

Debt Destroyer Book Cover

December 2016

  • Ran a big giveaway promotion using KingSumo – a WordPress plugin from the AppSumo team with Noah Kagan that has a built-in viral incentive feature and makes the giveaway process a breeze
  • Partnered with an awesome Financial Coach named Garrett from BeAwesomeNotBroke who provided free giveaway prizes (check out his FREE Be Awesome Not Broke guide here)
  • Partnered with You Need a Budget to offer YNAB app licenses as prizes (they gave a verbal “yes” but unfortunately I never got the licenses and instead paid out of pocket for the prizes)
  • Acquired 90+ contestants (i.e., subscribers) thanks to the giveaway, though that number has decreased after emailing them multiple times (was to be expected)

Giveaway contestants

January 2017

  • Put the final touches on the Income chapter
  • Quickly formatted the book in Microsoft Word (makes it much easier for uploading to the Kindle store)
  • Corrected last minute typos / errors

…and then on January 7th I pulled an all nighter to get this bastard done and published it some time in the wee hours of the morning.

Amazon Kindle Upload

  • After publishing, I quickly checked to make sure it was uploading to the Kindle Store and then grabbed a few hours sleep
  • I woke up and the book was published, and I already had my first few sales
  • I quickly spammed everyone I knew on Facebook, emailed everyone I could think of, and scheduled a bunch of tweets and posts using Buffer
  • I had some 40 odd sales that first day

As challenging as those last few months were, it quickly became clear the REAL challenge was marketing

I reached out to friends who had super successful Kindle book launches (the aforementioned Dave + David) and realized I should’ve paid closer attention to the final parts in David’s book Write Book, Make Money

…the launch week is CRAZY important.

And unfortunately, this was the part of the process that I gave the least attention to. #FUCK

Why? Honestly, after months of spending money and time on split testing book titles, subtitles, and getting feedback on cover ideas, I was just tired and wanted this to be over.

So rather than push the launch back to later this month, or February even, I decided to wing it and pushed the “PUBLISH” button.

After some strong recommendations from my author friends – I decided to keep pushing for just a bit longer and focus on marketing and promotion.

What I did to promote the Kindle book

I did a paid promotion via BuckBooks. (This is the 1st spike on my sales chart)

I did a paid promotion via RobinReads. (This is the 2nd spike on my sales chart)

I reached out to get guest blog posts and started writing them. (I’m still on this step right now)

These promotions helped get my book to (temporarily) rank #1 in Retirement Planning.

Ranked #1 in retirement planning

The results

Here are the main stats as of this writing:

  • 580 Kindle books sold at $0.99 (excluding 1 refund)
  • 15 paperbacks sold at $11.99
  • 24 reviews (all positive except for 1 person who didn’t like that I had a disclaimer in the beginning)
  • 64 new subscribers thanks to offering a free Companion Guide to readers
  • Ranked #4 in Kindle Store for Budgeting, and #5 for Retirement Planning
  • $299.53 in total royalties (Kindle + paperback)

Here’s the proof of sales…

Kindle Sales

Number of Kindle sales

Kindle Royalties

Royalties from Kindle sales

Paperback Royalties

Royalties from paperback version

What’s next

To recap: my goal for 2016 was to start a business. To make money from something I created.

Hence, the “Create a Business Challenge” thing.

In September of last year I decided my “business” would begin with a book. (Thanks Emily for the idea!)

So what’s next? Now that the book is on the Kindle store and available in paperback – where do I go from here?

Should I continue focusing on book promotion? Should I move on to a new project?

Here’s my plan:

  1. I’m going to work on guest blog posts to promote the book (another 2-3 weeks)
  2. I’ll raise the price to $2.99 after I get my traffic a little higher
  3. In February, I’ll figure out my next project

Next project ideas include…

  • Write a new book on a related topic (e.g., increasing your income) and this time really plan out the launch week
  • Try to get Debt Destroyer a publisher to re-launch at a larger scale
  • Do something entirely different – e.g., buy a small house and rent it out for passive income

So yeah… that’s where I’m at right now.

I’m not making any real money on this book, but I’m getting new subscribers every day and I think I could crank out the next book in 2 months instead of 4.5 months, assuming that’s the direction I go in.

SIDE NOTE: I almost forgot, I’m working on a pretty crazy experiment to help people save more money by texting with a Spending Coach. Me and another entrepreneur have 9 people in our first cohort right now and we’re seeing results… but I’ll save this for another post.

This concludes the Create a Business Challenge!

Now that I’m not hyper-stressed out about this book launch, expect more blog posts on the topic of entrepreneurship, making money online, and traveling around the world.

Talk soon,


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