November 11, 2020

JF2262: How To Be A Best-Selling Author | Syndication School with Theo Hicks

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In today’s Syndication School episode, Theo Hicks, shares his advice on becoming a Best-Selling Author. He will give you 10 ways to market your next book release.

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To listen to other Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and to download your FREE document, visit Thank you for listening and I will talk to you tomorrow.


Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.

Theo Hicks: Hello Best Ever listeners. Welcome back to another episode of the Syndication School podcast. As always, I’m your host, Theo Hicks. Each week we air a podcast episode that focuses on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy. And for a lot of these episodes, especially the episodes early on, we have free resources that will help you along your apartment syndication journey. So make sure you check out the previous episodes so you can access those free documents at

In this episode, I’m going to talk about how to promote and market a book. You’ll notice that a lot of people that we interview on this show, and more specifically a lot of apartment investors, a lot of apartment syndicators have published at least one book. We have published three books, with one being, obviously, the inspiration for the show you are listening to now. And I threw together a list of some of the things that we did in order to promote our book, both before it was even written, and then through the launch. And through this, we’ve gotten over three hundred reviews on Amazon and sold a bunch of copies of the book.

So I wanted to share it with you, because especially right now would be a great time to write a book, since everyone is at home, listening to audiobooks, reading more. It doesn’t have to be a 450-page tome like the Best Ever Syndication Book was. This could be used for promoting an eBook, or this could be used for promoting a course you’re trying to do. Or you can be unique  and apply this to getting more investors. But more specifically, this is about promoting some sort of book, or some sort of thought leadership platform. This is probably as broad as it’ll get. But I’m sure there are some tactics you could apply to other things here as well.

So ultimately, when you are marketing something, in this case, a book, what you want to think about… Or before I get into that, we’ve done an episode before on actually how to write a book, about how to approach, making an outline, writing it, getting it edited, and how to tactically, logistically publish it. So you can check that out. I think we did a Syndication School episode, but at the very least we have a blog post on how to self-publish your own book, so I’m not going to talk about that today. It’s more about, “Okay, your book is done, how do I get people to buy this thing?”

Like most things, the goal would be to create a win-win situation for all parties involved. In this case a win-win-win situation, because the three parties involved are going to be the author, so you, co-authors, ghost-writers, and then obviously the customer, so that’s going to be who buys the book… But then also you’ve got a third party, which would be anyone who contributed to the book. This could be someone who contributed actual content to the book, so they wrote the foreword, they provided testimonials, maybe they are featured in the book, they’re quoted in the book, or you ask them questions and then based on their advice, you include their information in the book. Or they could be people who helped you publish the book, like an editor, or a formatter, maybe even the publisher, depending on how you approach this. So the goal would be to create promotion strategies that play into the self-interest of each party, so that they’re going to want to promote the book, and they’re going to want to buy the book.

So here are ten things you can do. The first one is going to be using social media. This is something that you can start the second you realize you’re going to start writing the book. And the goal here would be to engage the audience you’re following, as well as would-be purchasers, in the process of writing the book. That way, they’re going to feel as if they have a stake in the book, since they were involved in the creation process. And also more practically speaking, the earlier and the more often you talk about the book, the more people would be aware of it, which means the more likely they will buy the book once it’s released. And ideally, even promote the book, which we’ll talk about in a second.

Some examples of things you can do on social media pre-launch would be announcing the topic of the book you are writing. And then asking for feedback along the way, like, “Hey, here are a few title ideas. Which one do you think is the best?” Or, “What type of questions should I answer in this book?” Or, “Hey, here is three cover designs I’m choosing between. Which one do you think is best?” Things like that.

You can also provide frequent updates on your progress, like, “Hey the outline is done, the first chapter is 50% done.” But whenever you give an update, again, you want to be adding value and engaging them in process. So you can provide advice along the way, like “Hey, here’s how to write an outline. Hey, here’s how to get over writer’s block to get that first chapter done.” Things like that.

An example is we took a picture of my little command center here that I write on, and then based off of what I had, like a coffee mug, and music up, and multiple monitors, nice comfy chairs, I just talked about lessons I learned to help me overcome writer’s block when writing a book. So those are social media things you can use pre-launch.

And then once the book is published – these are kind of obvious… You can create a social media post saying, “Hey the book is available for purchase.” You can even do some sort of paid advertising for the book. And I’ve found through my conversation on this show that some of the best ways to advertise a book would be a 30 to 60-second spoken video, explaining what people will learn in the book.

And then besides what I have mentioned here, a lot of the other things that I’m going to talk about in a second, you’ll also want to use that as other examples of social media, starting up with a pre-order page, which is the second way to promote your book. So rather than the book just kind of going live on Amazon and wherever you’re selling it the day it’s available, you can have a pre-order page, “Go to Amazon.” I know you can do it on Amazon, I’m not sure if you can do it on all book publishing services. But on Amazon, you can create a pre-order page, where it looks exactly how the page will look once the book is done, except rather than saying, “It’s available” and the shipping time, it’ll say like “Pre-order available at this date”, or whatever. Now the process for doing is kind of a little bit detailed and there are some good blog posts out there. Just Google “pre-order on Amazon” and you’ll be able to find some blog posts on how to do this. But then once the pre-order page is live, obviously, you can direct people to that page using your social media.

And then also, you want to create a book page, so this is the third way to promote your book. So when you create a book page, the timing of this can kind of depend on what you want to do, but it’s better to do it once there’s a way to actually buy the book. So this is kind of combined with the pre-order page. Once the book is available for pre-order, you can make your book page, and then the link that’s included in there will go to that pre-order page. And then for each of these, you’re going to want to answer the questions, “Why should I buy your book?” So you want to give them a sneak peek into the top valuable information that you’re going to want to obtain, as well as including the link to that pre-order page, as well as feature the fourth way to promote your book, which is the free giveaways.  This is when we’re getting into the juicy stuff. I think this is likely the best way to promote a new book before it’s launched and after its launch, to generate sales.

So again, on this book page, you want to go ahead and put the pre-order page, but also talk about any type of free giveaways you’re going to do. These are going to be free resources above and beyond the content in the book, yet obviously related to the book. So the best thing to do here would just be various Excel type of calculators, things that you can’t necessarily include in the book, but can help them actually apply the information in the book.

For our Best Ever Apartment Syndication book, these documents included a simplified casual calculator, construction matrix, weekly performance review template for property management companies, loan matrices to compare loans… Things like that, things that you can’t easily put a book and say “Hey, here in the book is your cashflow calculator.” This is not going to work.

So you create these free documents and then you give them away. And how you give them away really depends on what you want to do, but the best approach seems to be that you give away the largest batch of free documents to people who actually pre-order your book. So in order to get these free documents, you need to pre-order this book. That will incentivize people to pre-order the book, because of the fear of missing out. “I’m not going to be able to get access to all these amazing documents.” Maybe even give a dollar value to the documents. A hundred dollar worth of free documents for free if you pre-order the book.

So when you are kind of thinking of the free documents, like what to create, just be creative, and while writing your book, just think about ways you can create Excel templates to give away for free, or extra PDF guides that go into more detail on something that are more timely. Maybe you can create a timeless book, but you want to create maybe some sort of supplemental guide talking about the current pandemic, or something. Or maybe you want to give away a free copy of the other books you’ve written. Or maybe people who contributed to the book are willing give away free eBooks. Just think of anything you can and give that away.

And then once the pre-order period is over and the book is published, you can still use these free documents, either just in general as a part of buying the book, but not as many as the people that pre-ordered. Or you can give away… Well, I’ll  talk about that other thing in a second… But another twist would be to do a free give away to essentially create some sort of contest where people can win a free copy of your book.

Something that we used to do back when me and Joe did Follow Along Friday, where we would do a trivia question of the week, and the first person to email us the correct answer, or post on YouTube, would receive a free signed copy of our book, with the idea of constantly talking about the book and what it is. And one person wins, but maybe someone who participated ends up buying the book, right? Or two people end up buying the book.

Now, the fifth way to promote your book would be to leverage the reviews. So obviously the people who know you are hopefully going to buy your book… But, what about the people who don’t know you? What about if your audience isn’t very big? Well, in order to expand out to people who don’t know you, you’re going to need to get reviews for your books, because that will people are going to look at and that’s what, in a sense, determines where your book ranks on Amazon, how visible it is for people to see on the top of the list of real estate books. So that’s what they’re going to use to make their purchase decisions.

So you’re going to want to have a high quantity of high-quality reviews. So you don’t want a few really long, detailed, high-quality reviews, and you also don’t want to have hundreds of reviews like, “What a great book. Good job. Learned a lot.” Right? They need to be a balance. You want to get as many reviews as you can that are actually quality reviews. So to do this and to avoid fake and generic reviews, which are gonna turn buyers off, then you can send a PDF of the book to your friends, family, and other people, have them read the book, at least skim the book, and then once it’s published, you can say “Hey, read this book. Could you please give me review?” And then, “The book goes live on this date. Could you please copy and paste that review into Amazon when the time comes?” And once the book is actually launched, you want to follow up with them again and make sure they actually left the review. And of course, they benefit because they get to have access to a best-selling book before the public did, for free.

Something else you can do if you have a team, or maybe a co-author, or some very loyal friends, or family members, then you can ask each of them to be responsible for giving a certain number of reviews, for your circle of influence. This is something that we did for our book. And then once the book is published, this is where go back to the free giveaways. So once the book is published, you can leverage more reviews by doing a free giveaway. So on your platform, you could say “Hey, if you buy a copy of my book, review it and send me a screenshot of that review, then we will send you one or more free documents.” So not as many free documents as those who pre-ordered the book, but still something they care about, to get them to leave a review. And using this strategy of reviews, getting reviews before the book launched based off of how people review in the PDF, and then giving away free documents to those who reviewed, we were able to get over 300 reviews on Amazon, and counting. We’re still getting reviews every week.

Next is going to be focus more on the contributors and getting them to promote your book. The first would be testimonials. So get people to give you testimonials on either the books, so giving them the book beforehand, they read it, talk about how great the book is… So in a sense  like an Amazon review. Since you’re already doing the reviews beforehand, you can use some of those in the book if you want to.

Or you can go and find a famous person and have them give a testimonial. So for the first book we wrote, Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank actually gave a testimonial. And then for the second book, Brandon Turner of BiggerPockets gave a testimonial based off of the book. And both of those were featured on the cover. Obviously, that is really a good way to get credibility for your book.

But the people who wrote the testimonials, they will benefit because their name, and maybe their business, will be in a best-selling book. And then also, you can hopefully in return have them promote the book, share it on social media, since their name is in the book, so you can tap into their audience as well. And of course, you can also use these testimonials and put those on your book page.

Number seven is going to be the foreword. So kind of like the testimonials, just a bit more detailed… The person who writes your foreword can share the book with their audience, especially since there are multiple pages, depending on how long the foreword is, of the book.  Maybe they are co-authors; sometimes they’re even included on the cover, and so they’ll be motivated to share that with their audience.

Number eight would be the other contributors that I talked about before, them sharing the book to get exposure for their business. The editors, the designers, and the other acknowledgments you have for people who helped you along the way. And also, something we did for the first two books was the book actually featured — each chapter was a person. So each book featured twenty or so investors, and so since the entire chapter was dedicated to them, they were incentivized to share to book as well, because there was essentially a marketing piece for them. “Hey, I’m in this best-selling book. Learn more about my business, what I do, and here’s my advice”, it gives exposure for them as well. So while writing your book, think of different ways to incorporate people into the writing of the book, contributors, that way you’ve got more potential promoters on the backend.

Number 9 and number 10 are kind of similar. Number 9 is going to be your own thought leadership platform. So besides social media, leverage other aspects of your thought leadership platform – newsletters, podcasts, blogs, YouTube channels, to obviously promote the pre-order page, the book page, and the on-going posts that you make about the book, and then obviously once the book is actually live.

And then something else you could do too is you can maybe do some sort of thought leadership mini-series about the book. For example, I’m pretty sure Joe and I did a 10-part podcast series summarizing the book, The Best Ever Apartment Syndication book. And obviously, it turned into Syndication School as well. And then on the flip side, you can use other people’s thought leadership platform. So try to get as many podcasts as you can in general, and then at the end, hopefully, they’ll allow you to plug your business, and plug your book. But what’s even better is if you can get people to interview about the content in the book. So you’re not on there just saying “Hey, buy my book.” Instead, you can talk about, “Here are 10 tips on how to become a Best Ever apartment syndicator. Oh, by the way, if you want more detail on these 10 tips, plus 20 more tips, plus all these free documents, you can check out my book that’s available on Amazon.”

The most ideal way would be to do that, but be on multiple different podcasts, and have all those air the week or so after your book is launched. I’m pretty sure that’s something that Tim Ferriss talks about in Four Hour Work Week, I think. And I’m not 100% sure, but he talks about it somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

And then maybe give some sort of discount code for the audience, or you can do a free giveaway, or a document for whoever buys it and sends you a screenshot of it, or picture of them doing something, right? Like, you can say, “Please take a selfie of yourself with a thumbs-up sign and email it to me, and that way I’ll know you listened to it from this podcast, and then I’ll give you a free document.”

And then kind of overall — those are the 10 ways, but overall, just be creative, right? Use your creativity to figure out ways to either add to this list… Because for each I kind of gave examples to be creative within these lists, right? So think of other ways to leverage reviews, to get more exposure for your book, how to use social media to get more exposure for your book. Contributors, testimonials, forewords, thought leadership platforms, things like that.

So yeah, again, I think writing a book is definitely beneficial to a business, it gives you lots of credibility, and it helps you fine-tune your own knowledge on whatever subject you’re writing about, and it adds value to people. Especially right now, as I’ve mentioned, a lot of people are at home, and I’m sure at least some — I would imagine… I mean, I’ve read more books since the onset of the pandemic, and maybe other people are as well, so it’s a great time to get a book out. So start writing that book you’ve always wanted to write… And as I mentioned, we’ve got at least one blog post on how to self-publish the book, tactically and logistically speaking, and now you know how to promote the book once it is available.

And again, even if you haven’t done a syndication before, you can just interview 10 syndicators, or 20 syndicators, and then you create a book that compiles the best advice from syndicators, right? You don’t really need to have done a deal before, or if you’ve done one deal, the book can be about that deal. So also be creative in the type of book that you write.

That’s all I’ve got for today, thank you for tuning in. Make sure to check out some of the other Syndication School episodes, as well as all of those free documents, at Have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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