John Chase nearly gave up on marketing his medical memoir when its momentum died down after launch day. But when he hired marketer Rachel Cone-Gorham, he saw his book’s true potential.
My memoir sold well for the first few months — then, I ran out of friends.
Before I retired, I was known for being a funny orthopedic surgeon who always had an anecdote to share. A former colleague gave me the idea to write down my stories, and as a compulsive storyteller, I immediately loved her idea. So once I retired, I put pen to paper and found myself a publishing company. Thinking they would take care of selling the book, I hit a dry spell a few months later.
I nearly gave up on my book
I told myself, “Oh well, I at least got it done,” but if I’m being honest, I was disappointed that my book wasn’t being read. Getting complete strangers interested in my book seemed like an insurmountable challenge, and simply positioning it as stories from a retired physician wasn’t working. My publisher had given me a minimal marketing plan and then abandoned me.
I was about to give up until I realized how much this mattered to me. I remembered how it felt to make my medical students laugh and what it meant to be able to impart some wisdom from my years of experience. That’s when I decided to give my book another chance and try and attract more readers. This time, I was going to take matters into my own hands and seek proper guidance.
Resuscitating my memoir
To jumpstart my second attempt at marketing my book, I hired a professional. I heard about Reedsy from a friend and quickly found a great candidate on their marketplace. Immediately, Rachel Cone-Gorham, a former marketing director at Penguin Random House, stood out to me. Though she gave me the most expensive quote of all the marketing professionals I contacted through Reedsy, I was won over by the bestselling titles in her portfolio and the gushing reviews from her previous clients.
The authors she had worked with emphasized how great she was, especially when it came to follow-up. This was important because I wanted someone to guide me through this. Rachel and I exchanged a few messages and before I knew it, I had myself a marketer!
Someone to lead me through the Amazon wilderness
Our collaboration started with a phone call. We looked at my previous marketing efforts and discussed which avenues I hadn’t yet explored. Talking to Rachel made me realize how many promotion possibilities are out there. You can imagine how thrilled I was finding Rachel’s 15-page plan in my inbox a few weeks later.
Reading through Rachel’s strategy, I was amazed by how tailored it was to my book and the audience I wanted to reach. What immediately stood out was how I wouldn’t sell any books if I didn’t understand the Amazon algorithm and how it helps readers find books they’ll like. When I first launched my book I didn’t know how important Amazon was; in that regard, my publisher had left me high and dry.
Rachel was extremely patient in working through every step of the plan with me. Together, we chose suitable keywords and categories for my book so that it was easily findable with Amazon’s search engine and didn’t get lost in the sea of humorous memoirs and medical nonfiction books. Rather than choosing well-known genres with a lot of competition, Rachel found more niche categories, such as ‘Doctor-Patient Relations’, which was less crowded and gave my book more visibility.
Want to learn more about Amazon? Sign up to Reedsy’s free course on Amazon’s algorithms.
The importance of my Amazon book page
Next, we worked on the sellability of my book page itself. As I would quickly learn, social proof is very important for turning browsers into buyers. While I’d already gathered some write-ups from friends, I needed more reviews, especially editorial ones. For this, Rachel introduced me to book review services like Reedsy Discovery and encouraged me to reach out to my medical community for expert quotes. These reviews took some time to collect, but it was worth the effort.
A few months later, my Amazon book description looked like that of a bestseller: full of praise and professional recommendations.
By making these changes to my Amazon page, I soon saw my sales increase. But it wasn’t until we started using Facebook ads that it fully clicked, and I understood why we spent months polishing my Amazon page. Once Rachel and I set up my sponsored posts on Facebook, and people were interested enough to check out my book on Amazon, they landed on a promising-looking book page. What would have happened if my Amazon page had looked sparse? We’d have lost those new readers! But having reached the right audience on social media, my polished book page did the final heavy lifting in convincing them to buy my memoir.
With my Facebook ads in place to attract new readers to my Amazon page, my book crept up the ranks in the Orthopaedics category… until I hit #1!
10x more sales and praise from the medical community
In my first year after launching my book, I sold 420 books. With Rachel’s marketing plan, I sold 4,700 the next year — and I’ve even released an audiobook. I think the results speak for themselves.
It’s amazing to see my book find its way into the hands of readers — and not just any readers. I can see in my reviews that I reached people who found some applicable advice for their medical careers. You can imagine how flattered I was to receive a glowing review from the former president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “I loved the book and laughed out loud at several points. All residents would think this is worthwhile." That was huge for me!
But beyond praise and results, I was able to enjoy the actual experience of marketing my book. Thanks to Rachel, I felt completely supported every step of the way. It wasn’t just poor old me trying to figure out how to market my book — we were in this together. Rachel took something that was a very frustrating experience for me and helped turn it around. Even now, if I have the occasional question, she’s happy to lend me her wisdom.
So if you’re struggling to find a readership for your book, I can recommend Rachel. People hire professionals for a reason — you wouldn’t want just anyone doing your knee replacement surgery, now would you? And if there’s anything I learned from this collaboration, it’s how much marketing I should have done before the launch date, so my advice is to get started sooner rather than later!
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