I decided to write a book on a whim. I had big dreams of the book being a best seller on Amazon and was excited to see if I could make it happen. It was kind of spur of the moment, I literally woke up one day mid-July in a campground outside of Seattle and said… you know what babe- I’m gonna write a book and I’m going to publish it by my birthday (which is in October).
My husband was supportive and gave me a boost of confidence as he always does. His only concern was that I would miss out on the beautiful summer weather of the Pacific Northwest, where we had just decided to spend the summer.
He knew writing a book was a huge task, and while trying not to discourage me from yet another great big idea, he also didn’t want me to regret sitting inside writing all day, while big family adventures were happening around me.
I acknowledged his reservation but said it wouldn’t be a problem… I had 3 whole months to get it done!
How crazy was I?
Writing A Book Is a HUGE Project
Goals sometimes seem impossible to achieve…
Like now that I decided I wanted to publish a book by my 33rd birthday and have it hit #1 Best Seller on Amazon. It was a big goal, a huge goal to be perfectly honest- but I wanted it sooooo bad!
Blogs are fun to write and give you an outlet to talk to different people from around the world who love the topics you’re interested in. But books establish a new level of credibility and to say that your book did well, and ultimately has the orange #1 Best Seller badge next to it on Amazon- is a big deal!
This was my goal when I started composing Live Camp Work, Book #1
I’d been writing about Workamping (the life of people who live and work while traveling in their RVs around the country) since the very start of my family’s BIG road trip. Workamping was our ticket to travel and I knew it could help so many others do the same if they wanted to try it.
After being a working RV for over 3 years and then working almost 3 more years behind the scenes of a community job board- I knew it was time to write the book, so many RVers were looking for.
People need a concrete guide on the ins and outs of the lifestyle and I just needed to pen to paper to make it happen. I had all the experience and there was nothing stopping me from compiling this information into a book I could call my own!
My sights were set on publishing my first book by my birthday. The deadline was set and I was off to the races.
I had 3 months to write a book and then figure out how to publish it… Man that’s a little bit of crazy, a lot of drive and ambition with a sprinkle of crazy!
But that was a new project and it would ultimately fulfill a goal I had set for myself back in elementary school. I wanted to be a writer, an author, and I wanted to publish a book- probably more than one.
So this was my time and damn it… I was gonna do it.
My Plan To Write A Best Seller
My plan for getting this book completed in a tight timeline without ruining the whole PNW Summer for my family was to blog the book into existence. I’m not 100% sure if that’s a thing, but what I mean is that I was going to use previously published blogs as the base of my book.
I would take the blogs I had that were usable and expand on them to create a chapter. Then I’d write the remaining chapters to fill in the content I decided I wanted to include, based on my table of contents outline that I had prepared.
Create an Outline
My table of contents was the first step.
It was the base of my plan of action, which let me clearly see what needed to be included. I started with a Word document and started to flesh out the key pieces this book needed to include in order to actually be helpful.
I could refer back to the table of contents to see what I already had written (in blog form) and what still needed to be done. If I need to change up the list to make the book flow better, I could easily do so and when I needed to make additions and subtractions to material, this is where I started.
If you’re thinking of writing a book. My #1 tip is to start with your outline or table of contents! This is a big step in the right direction.
Create a Book Launch Team
Next, I put together a book launch team. This was also a huge step in the right direction.
To be honest, I couldn’t have completed this book or delivered it at the quality that I did without having this dedicated group of people helping me mold it behind the scenes. Here’s why…
My book launch team ended up being way larger than I anticipated.
I thought I would send a little email out, and ask people if they were interested in helping me behind the scenes to figure out how I was going to get this book completed, edited, and to market by my set deadline.
I figured I’d get 50 people maybe… I mean I hoped I’d get 50 people. (Prayed is more like it.)
Well, I ended up with over 500 people who wanted to help.
Not only was I thrilled and super excited that so many people were even interested in this project, but I was actually overwhelmed and intimidated to let so many people into the behind-the-scenes aspect of writing and publishing my very first book.
I ended up adding everyone to a Facebook group and creating a system to manage all the feedback that was coming in. And while it added a new layer of complexity to an already complex situation- I think it was one of the best decisions I made while publishing the book.
They provided their thoughts, feedback, and honest criticism that helped me make the copy better. Over time they also voted on the cover design, title options, and help me figure out what to put on the back cover.
The Book Was Coming Together
I’d been stressing for months over the launch of a book, I suddenly felt I need to write.
So when it came time to actually publish the book… naturally I was terrified by what may or may not happen! I had my launch team behind me and they were eager to see this baby up on the web, but what about everyone else? Would anyone other than my launch team be interested?
It was time to find out… I was so nervous I don’t know if I could have pressed the button on that day if I had actually needed to.
Luckily for me, I had already set up emails to go out at scheduled times to several different groups and Amazon had already pressed the golden button to make the book FREE for 2 days, so there was really no looking back.
I had prepared for this moment of fear and now, the masses were about to access something that was close to my heart and the reviews would tell the tale of its ultimate worth.
One deep breath at a time, I made it through the day. Trying to focus on running the event setup for an in-person event I was working. While making sure everything was going to run smoothly for the big event, the thoughts of failure on two accounts ran rapidly through my mind!
Best Seller on Amazon in 3 Days
Day 1: I Offered the Book For Free on Kindle
The book was free starting at 12 am, when literally not a sole would buy it. I would have loved to pick the start and end dates of the free promotion, but you have to play by Amazon’s rules- so that’s out of the question!
I set up auto emails the night before, to go out to a few different groups including the incredible team of people helping me behind the scenes (my book launch team), the people who were unable to participate but wanted to know when the launch happened, those who entered my free before it hits Amazon contest (but didn’t win) and also a large group of RVers who I specifically wanted to be able to grab the book during the free promotion.
The downloads were already in full swing by the time I checked my report at 6 am CST, but once the emails started going out, things really stepped up a notch!
Overall for the day, I had 1692 ebook downloads and 2 paperbacks that were shipped out. Live Camp Work hit number one in several free categories including Road Travel Reference, Senior Travel, and Auto & RV Travel!
I was already excited- but you don’t get a badge for free- so I needed to keep going!
Day 2: The Book Is Still Free Until Midnight
My 33rd birthday! A special day for me and one where shameless self-promotion is expected and encouraged by just about everyone you know!
I figured most people who were going to download the book, had already done so, but I wanted to make sure that was the case. The book link was being shared in some big RV groups on Facebook, which was so awesome!
I didn’t have to promote it, my Book Launch Team was helping to do that for me and the numbers were looking really great! (I mean, I’ve never really launched a book before- so I don’t have anything to compare it to. But anything over 100 would have been great for me!!!)
I compiled a quick last-chance email to let everyone know the book would only be free through midnight and placed a blurb in a well-known RV newsletter as well.
Many of the attendees at the event I was at were talking about the book which led to more downloads and birthday magic!!! By midnight, I had another 1465 downloads and 3 paperbacks shipped out!
Live Camp Work was maintaining the top spot in many free categories, and to my surprise was now the #1 in all free Travel Books and the #3 Free Non-Fiction book on all of Amazon! It was also doing really well on the Paid charts by ranking in the top 10.
I didn’t want to jinx it, but I felt like with these stats I would get the badge.
Surely once the book flipped to paid on Amazon, I would retain some of that momentum with their friendly algorithm, right?
Day 3: The Moment of Truth
I’ll just be honest. I couldn’t sleep much!
I set my alarm for 3 am. I woke up excited to check my ranking… nothing.
I was so excited I couldn’t go back to sleep and checked my rank again at 4 am… nothing.
I fell asleep for about an hour and woke up to a blaring alarm at 5 am to check again, and there it was!!! The orange best seller badge in 3 categories!!!
Woohoo! I was so excited I spent the next hour celebrating and taking screenshots in case it didn’t last long! lol.
Birthday Goal Accomplished!
I was so excited to see my book doing well, and I’m forever thankful for all team of folks who helped me get it there!
Part of getting to the top of the Amazon list is having great reviews but another key part is having a good number of downloads (buys) right from the start. So by having my launch team publicly review the book with their honest feedback (regardless of if they thought it was worth 1 star of 5) was HUGE.
If you plan to write and publish a book on Amazon, I suggest you get a small launch team together and ask for honest reviews to get the ball rolling!
This book really was a labor of love!
I enjoy talking to people about Workamping and providing information for those who wish to do it now, later, or somewhere in the future! Writing this book on a topic that sits so close to home made it special and easy for me to be authentic.
Although I don’t claim to know it all, I’ve been able to provide (at this point) over 10,000 people with a resource they can read and refer back to for information on the Workamping lifestyle and employers who hire RVers!
Reflection Achieving Best Seller on Amazon
Looking back on this experience I can honestly say I did a lot of things right. Not to pat myself on the back, but basically in astonishment that I did it.
I had never published a book prior to this one. And I had never let anyone (including my family) inside a current project to offer feedback and suggestions.
These were huge milestones for me. So aside from the successful launch of the book, it felt great to have these new experiences to build upon for future endeavors.
As far as the book’s success goes, It continues to gain traction for many many months after the launch and still sells pretty well to this day. After the first year, I went back and redesigned the front and back covers to a more eye-catching design using the same graphic as the base (since my oldest daughter drew it for me) and I changed the layout to an 8×10 size which I love so much more than the standard 9×6.
I added a hardcover option, updated the interior, and continue to market and sell the book as the leading resource for people who want to work while traveling and living in an RV.