The man who steps into the interrogation room today is Ryan Levesque, a self-published author whose first book – Ask – hit the USA Today, LA Times and Amazon bestsellers lists. Ken Dunn squashes the truth out of this first-time author and reveals the secrets behind his incredible success.
Motivated by a book – The 4-Hour Work Week – and his friends, who were making money online, Ryan Levesque entered the online space in 2007. He later met Dr. Glenn Livingston, now his mentor, and learned the power of asking questions to understand your audience and what they want to buy.
Together with his wife, he launched his first business where they taught people how to make jewelry with Origami paper and scrabble tiles. The business revenue quickly grew to $9,000 a month. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Ryan quit his job to focus on their online business but the business collapsed.
Relentless, Ryan launched a second course – how to care for orchids. It grew to $500,000 a year. Next, he began teaching people how to improve their memory. The trend went on and Ryan ended up going into 23 different markets over the course of a decade.
A friend suggested that Ryan should share his success story with the world and he decided to tell the story in a book. However, the plan stalled after he got sick that year. In fact, when he was rushed to the ER, the doctor said that he was a day away from slipping into a coma. He was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis and spent 10 days in ICU. At that point, he decided to do something that would have an impact on the world because no one is promised of tomorrow. He focused on publishing his book and sharing everything that transformed his life and his family.
The Ask Method
The commonality in Ryan’s 23 businesses was the ability to ask the right questions – the ask method. Ryan singles out the following pieces of the ask method, which are crucial to every business.
For Ryan Levesque, going into the 23 different markets all started with “asking the right questions in the right way.” He discovered that people are only good at providing two types of information:
• What they don’t want
• Past behavior – Painting a picture of your dream life 5 years from now is much more difficult than narrating how your day was.
By asking these types of questions in a very specific way, you can understand what people want to buy.
b) Uncover the buckets
Whenever you do that deep research, you’ll find different groups of people in your market who have slightly different needs, wants and desires. Ryan calls them buckets’. They represent the profit pools that exist in every market and it’s essential to locate them. As an author, you need to identify the different groups of people who will benefit from your content. You can then direct your efforts towards satisfying those specific categories of needs.
Valuable Lessons from Ryan’s Mistakes and Experiences
1. Hire the right ghostwriter
Ryan was too busy to write the book himself. He hired a ghostwriter, whose skills were not compatible with the type of book Ryan envisioned. Her work did not portray Ryan’s personality. He had to hire another ghostwriter. This setback delayed the book launch by at least seven months.
2. Structuring your book
Ryan’s book is structured such that the first third of the book is a bit of an autobiography. It details how he discovered the ask method. The other two thirds of the book are more technical. Over time, Ryan has learned that it’s more powerful to integrate the story within the actual teaching. Some people love the inspiration and motivation behind Ryan’s story while others wish they could have cut out the first 60 pages of the book.
Ken Dunn advocates that the three essential elements of each chapter should be the teaching, your personal story and the testimonials. Unfortunately, Ryan found that out the hard way.
3. Ensure the budget accommodates your pre-selling
Overselling your books could hurt your momentum. In his effort to make more sales and hit bestselling lists, Ryan presold thousands of copies on Amazon. In the first week, Amazon only had about a thousand books in stock but Ryan had pre-sold about 10,000 books. The pre-selling affected the book’s rankings on the most popular bestselling lists aside from Amazon. Ryan is certain that this blunder cost his book a spot on the New York Times bestselling list.
4. Choose the appropriate channels for selling your book
Some of the channels Ryan used to market and sell his book were extremely disappointing.
• Affiliate Partners
He sold his book through their email lists but soon realized their lack of interest. The JV and affiliate partners Ryan worked with were more interested in selling things like a $200 course. It took Ryan by surprise because he was counting on his strong network of affiliates.
• Television and Radio
Ryan was on television and radio all over the country. He hired a PR firm to help him feature on as many major television shows as possible. All this effort barely had any effect on his book sales. His experience helps to expunge the popular notion that featuring on TV and Radio is a sure recipe to boost your book sales. Many authors have found that being a guest on podcasts is much more lucrative. Ryan had to rely on other profitable channels, which included:
• Facebook ads
On Facebook, he would give offers such as free books and reduced prices for the book.
Ryan did a podcast tour on over 100 podcast interviews leading up to the launch. He gave away a few free books on podcasts and ended up selling hundreds of copies.
Strategy to get ahead on podcasts
• Get on as many podcasts as you can
It doesn’t really matter how big the podcast is because that interview for a new podcast might become the best podcast episode 10 years from now.
Also, if you’re on five shows in a short time, podcast listeners will automatically believe that everybody’s talking about you and rush to get your book.
• Frequent podcasts months before your launch
Several podcasts today are booking episodes that will be launched a month or two later. To counter that, once he had his launch date in mind, Ryan began to frequent podcasts about four to six months in advance. He talked to the host to hold back the episode until about a month before the book launch. It helped to build the momentum responsible for landing number one on Amazon across all categories, hitting number one twice on Barnes and Noble, number one two weeks in a row on LA Times and Publisher’s Weekly and number seven on USA Today.
The Secret Sauce
Ryan Levesque has a new strategy up his sleeve. For his second book, which will be launched out next year, he has produced a course that teaches content relevant to the book.
The course has helped Ryan to:
• Refine the methodology
Ryan has learned a few things confusing elements of the topic. The course has helped him to recognize the tough questions. He can offer simple solutions in his book and provide maximum value.
• Get additional success stories
The people who have benefitted from the course can be featured as success stories in the book. The opportunity to get featured in the book also motivates the students to successfully implement the lessons and promote the course.
How to Leverage the Ask Method and Sell Books
Once a year, Ryan and his team conduct the Ask Method Workshop. It’s a free online training where people are taken through the entire ask method, step by step. It includes a series of videos and exercises, which will help you learn how to use the ask method based on where you are in your business right now. The workshop also uses dozens of examples including a business that started from scratch and now generates $3,000,000 using the Ask Method. The workshop runs from 11th to 24th so grab your free spot and acquire lessons which will mold you into a bestseller.
This was yet another successful interrogation that dragged the truth out of a self-published bestselling author. It will only work for you if you take Ryan’s advice seriously. Listen, learn and practice non-stop. Use his mistakes to make changes in your life and business.
Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode.