IBPA Member Spotlight: BiggerPockets
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
BiggerPockets Dominates Amazon Bestsellers List In ‘Real Estate’ Category
|The staff of IBPA member BiggerPockets poses for a group photo.
Recently, 8 of the top 10 (and 13 of the top 20) books in the “Real Estate” category on Amazon were books that had been published by IBPA member and independent publisher BiggerPockets. Also, two of their books were included as Amazon Prime Deals, which skyrocketed The Book on Rental Property Investing to #20 of all books on Amazon and How to invest in Real Estate to #105 of all books on Amazon. IBPA is always happy to celebrate our members’ success and to help members learn from one another’s successes, so we chatted with BiggerPockets Director of Publishing Katie Miller to find out the path to these achievements.
|Out of this recent list of the eight bestselling books in the Amazon 'Real Estate' category, seven are published by BiggerPockets.
“If you peruse the ‘Real Estate’ category on Amazon on any given day, you’ll likely see our bestselling books filling the majority of the top 10 (or top 20) spots,” says Katie. “It’s exciting to see that our titles are so well-loved and certainly makes the day-to-day work of book publishing feel valued by our customers!”
BiggerPockets doesn’t do too much marketing directly on Amazon. Instead, Katie explains, “Our broadest form of marketing happens directly on our website, BiggerPockets.com, and through our main podcast, The BiggerPockets Podcast. Our website hosts a community of nearly 1.3 million members that actively participate in our forums, watch our webinars, and read our blog, so the intrinsic next step is to purchase a book for more information and education on real estate investing. BiggerPockets is lucky in the sense that we don’t need to recreate the wheel: The community of investors came first and the books came after, so our books are content-focused on topics that our community asks for.
“Of course, we do plenty of off-site marketing as well to trade publications (through Kirkus Reviews, Foreword Reviews, and Library Journal ads—the last two of which offer IBPA members discounts) and our authors are subject-matter experts and are well-known in the industry so they end up as guests on a number of podcasts in the real estate or finance genre leading up to their book’s launch.”
On top of that, Katie explains another method that has really paid off. “We receive a number of book pitches each month from our community, but we also survey our members to find out what book they want to read next. Our editorial planning is a mix of these pitches and topics surveyed, and so far, it’s worked out that the book our members want to read next also happens to be a pitch that we’ve recently received.”
|BiggerPockets' upcoming title, The House Hacking Strategy
For BiggerPockets’ next book, Katie explains, “One of our employees, Craig Curelop, wrote a book called The House Hacking Strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘house hacking,’ it’s a way to live for free when you purchase a multi-unit property or a large single-family home. In order to make it work you live in one part of the property and have renters in the other units help pay off your mortgage and expenses. Craig took this idea to the extreme and started his journey to financial freedom by purchasing a 1-bedroom/1-bathroom up-down duplex in Denver, rented out the top unit to long-term renters and rented out the bottom bedroom on AirBnb while he slept on a futon behind a curtain in the living room. Most people are not this willing to give up their personal comfort and space, which is why we thought Craig was the perfect person to write a book on this real estate strategy. It’s launching this October!”
Three Questions with BiggerPockets Director of Publishing Katie Miller
IBPA: Can you share three marketing tips for other independent publishers?
Katie Miller (KM): Community, community, community!
Find the niche of people that are interested in your genre or general topic and cater directly to them. A good book idea becomes great when you research and know exactly:
- Who your audience is
- What they want to read
- What format they want to read it in
- Did I say community?
IBPA: Can you briefly describe the history of how BiggerPockets came to be?
KM: Josh Dorkin was having trouble with his rental properties and could not find any information about tenant screening, rental procedures, etc. That is, unless he wanted to shell out big bucks for a weekend course hosted by a real estate guru on how to invest in real estate.
He figured that if he was looking for this information without paying for it, so were others. So he started a website, where people could ask questions about real estate—for free! (BiggerPockets.com!) 14 years and 1.3 million members later, looks like his idea was a good one.
We started publishing books in 2013, but the publishing company within BiggerPockets really took off in 2017 and now we are publishing about 6 new titles per year.
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- Join associations and make friends! I rely a lot on friendships I’ve made through the IBPA and the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) and it’s also how I find most of our freelance staff. Book people are fun people.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Just because we’re small, doesn’t mean we’re not mighty! We still have negotiation power with printers, distributors, and ads—learning to negotiate effectively is a huge part of our process.
- Be humble if (and when!) your business or book starts to make real money. It’s important to remember where you started, that nobody likes working with a big ego, and to share both your wins and your failures so others can learn.
IBPA: Thank you, Katie, for sharing your insight and experience with the IBPA community!
Click here to learn more about BiggerPockets!
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