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Tim Grahl, for many years, was the man behind bestselling books and authors – helping them launch their book onto the list and create a platform and audience to help them engage with their fans online. As a long-time follower of Tim’s, I was excited to get his take on launching – and he shares with us two launches of his course, Instant Best Seller.

As you’ll hear, Tim shares specific and actionable information on what he did to take his course from disaster to a high-performing launch – and how you can too.


  • The exact five steps Tim took to turn his launch around
  • How to reach beyond your core group of excited fans and find new customers
  • Thoughts on webinar launches for his audience
  • How to write effective sales copy for emails
  • Evaluating the pre-launch window and activities
  • The power of bonuses
  • When to except sales during your launch window
  • How to get better – and who to ask






Tim Grahl is the founder of Out:think, a firm that helps authors build their platform, connect with readers and sell more books. He is the author of Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book and works with many of the top authors in the world including Hugh Howey, Daniel Pink, Dan and Chip Heath, Barbara Corcoran and many more. He has launched multiple New York Times and Wall Street Journal best selling books.

Through his work with over 100 authors across all genres, Tim has learned and practiced the secrets behind successful marketing campaigns and teaches the strategies and techniques through his website Out Think Group.com.

Melissa Anzman (00:00): This is a launch yourself podcast with Melissa Anzman episode number 24, featuring Tim Grahl.

Melissa Anzman (00:25): [Inaudible]

Melissa Anzman (00:26): Welcome to the launch yourself podcast. I'm your host, Melissa Anzman. Today. We're going to be chatting with Tim Grahl. Tim is the founder of out-think a firm that helps authors build their platform, connect with readers and sell more books. He's the author of your first 1000 copies the step by step guide to marketing your book and works with many of the top authors in the world, including Hugh Howey, Daniel pink, Dan and chip Heath, Barbara Corcoran, and many more. He has launched multiple New York times and wall street journal bestselling books. And through his work with over a hundred authors across all genres, Tim is learned in practice the secrets behind successful marketing campaigns and teach us the strategies and techniques through his website. Out-Think group.com. I'm a huge fan of Tim's. And so it's really my honor and pleasure to welcome Tim to the show. Well, I'm so excited, Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Grahl (01:21): Thanks Melissa. I've been looking forward to it.

Melissa Anzman (01:24): Absolutely. So here at launch yourself. We really like to talk about and focus on one launch. And so with that in mind, I'd love for you to share with us which launch you'd like to talk about with us today.

Tim Grahl (01:37): Well, I actually wanted to talk about two different launches of the same product because you know, the first launch, the first time I ever launched my online program, instant bestseller, it was a disaster basically. I mean, not, not a disaster in that, like it did sell some copies and everything, but not like it should have. And then for the next, you know, five or six months, I kind of went on this this hunt to figure out what I did wrong and try to fix it. And the second one went much, much better. And so for me, you know, those kinds of launches being able to make mistakes and then figure out what those mistakes were and try to fix those and see actual big changes that was really encouraging for me.

Melissa Anzman (02:26): Absolutely. And I love that you are going to do some compare and contrasting because I think with each launch we get better and learn hopefully from the one prior of what went well and what did, and you were able to take that learning and implement it for a really successful launch, this go round. So please share as much information as you like about sort of the overview of instant bestseller and then what your learnings were.

Tim Grahl (02:52): Yeah. So instant bestseller is I took all the coaching. I'd been doing and I've a lot of books and New York times bestselling books and helped authors plan their launches and figure out how to build their platforms. I've been doing that for five or six years, and I decided to put it together in an online program so I could help more people in charge, less money than, you know, getting me on the phone. So I did that. And then I had done kind of a small beta launch to get a few people into it early in the year. And then in March of this year of 2014, I did the first launch, but I kind of just botched the whole thing. It was a combination of just not, not really having a real structure for what this should look like. And so I decided I wanted to do a webinar to launch it, to promote it. And that sold one, I think. And then I, the way that I communicated to my list after that was very kind of herky jerky. Like I, some of the people got some emails, some people didn't get others. I only had the window that they could buy was only three days. And so actually when talking to some people that were on my list after the launch, they didn't even know I had anything for sale. So that's a problem when you're trying to sell something

Melissa Anzman (04:20): And there in lies the number one reason. And I have to say to Tim, I'm on your list. And I didn't feel like it was herky jerky at all, but I do think I remember like one email, so it kind of just passed me by.

Tim Grahl (04:32): Right. and it was, it was funny because, you know, I felt like I should know how to do these things because I've launched a lot of books. You know, for clients that have been successful, I've worked with other people that have launched products, but somehow in planning out my own, I thought I had this like iron clad thing and it was, it was not. And so again, you know, I sold, I sold some copies, but one of the things I've found with, you know, I've worked with a lot of people that have audiences. So there's this thing that happens where no matter what audience you grow, there's going to be this core group of people that just love the person that they're following and they'll basically buy anything they come out with. And so in that first launch, when I looked through those, the people that bought a large majority of those were people that were in that category for me, I knew they'd pretty much buy anything I came out with, but the problem is there's just not enough of those people.

Tim Grahl (05:36): It's always going to be a small percentage. So I needed to figure out the next time I lost how to sell to people that didn't, you know, that weren't, you know, Tim Grahl fan boys, you know, or fan girls and, and that they just, they felt like it was a good product for what they needed at the right price and they would buy it. So you know, I went on kind of this hunt to figure out what I did wrong, both some of the things I knew, some of the things I knew I did wrong, but I didn't know how to fix them. And then, you know, just overall, you know, what could I do better? And so coming up to September of this year, I was doing another launch or I think it knows August. And so I, you know, all summer I was like talking to people, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Tim Grahl (06:20): And so here's a handful of things that I fixed that made a big difference that I think will help people if if they're doing their own law. So the first thing I did was get rid of the webinar, our launch. Now this is something where I have friends that do webinar launches and they do very well, but I did one with my own. I J V I did a joint venture launch with another friend of mine and tried to do a webinar, a sales thing. And it didn't work well either, and I really hate doing them. So I just got rid of it. I'm like, you know what, until I can figure out how to do this, or I become more comfortable, whatever it is, that's screwing this up. I'm just not doing webinar launches. So I got rid of that and figured, I'd just write.

Tim Grahl (07:04): The second thing I did is in my first launch, I was nervous about launching it. So most of my copy when I go back and read it, it was not very good, but not because it didn't have like the perfect sales techniques, but because it wasn't in my own voice. Like I have, you know, I follow a lot of different people online that are doing this sort of thing. And so I decided, okay, I'm going to write like this guy. And so I'm trying to write it well, this is after, you know, some people have been on my list for years and they're used to hearing me talk. And then all of a sudden, when I go into sales mode, it's like some other guy or a guy trying to act like some other guy. And so in this one, I really sat down and I kind of have this trick that helps me write anyway, but I used it with my sales copy where I'm like, you know, if an author was sitting in front of me and I was trying to tell them about my course and why I felt it was a good fit for them, what would I say?

Tim Grahl (07:59): You know, I'd say it the way I would say it. You know, I wouldn't, you know, try to use these cool, psychological, like marketing tricks. I would just I would try to make a convincing case for it now, you know, when I wrote my sales page, I had like this, you know, this marketing, you know, sales page framework, I was trying to follow, but when I filled it in, I wasn't trying to just fill in the blanks. I just would try to write in my own voice. And so I think that made a big difference because all the emails that went out were just, you know, just like any other email you'd get for me, except that, you know, I have something to sell for this week.

Melissa Anzman (08:38): And I just want to say, I mean, being on your list, they're insanely useful. They're really fun. Like they're easy to read. It's not scrolling forever and ever, and ever, and ever, you know, like they're really great emails. So I definitely agree with you. There was a difference.

Tim Grahl (08:51): Well, thank you. Yeah. So the other thing that I did was I actually ran a prelaunch for a week leading up to the launch where the course was open. I sent three emails telling people that it was coming. And again, you know, in each email that I send, I tried to put useful content in the email where the email stands alone is useful. But at the same time, I try to lead people to buy, to buy something. So like one of the emails was like, okay, you know, everybody talks about what an author platform is here. Let me define what it is for you. This is actually what an author platform is. And this is why it's so important, by the way I'm coming out with a course next week, that's going to teach you how to build your own author platform.

Tim Grahl (09:40): But that content alone people find helpful because they don't really know what an author platform is. So I did a prelaunch. So when the course actually opened, it, wouldn't be a surprise, like, Hey, surprise by something. You know? And what I found was I was actually surprised by the number of people emailing me saying, Hey, can I just go ahead and buy it? Or I can't wait to buy it. You know, like I was pleasantly surprised. And that was nice for me to kind of relax and realize, you know, people are looking forward to this. I'm not just bothering them with these emails. So that made a big difference of doing a week long, kind of pre-launch in future ones. I'm thinking about doing that even longer, but, you know, again, not just like cramming it down their throat, but thinking like, I don't want anybody to be surprised that this thing's for sale.

Tim Grahl (10:33): So so then, you know, the next thing I did was I changed the launch window from three days is to actually eight days, I went Wednesday through Wednesday. And this was because my course is higher priced. In August it was starting at $500. It went up, you know, the, the highest level, I think it was 1700, something like that. And so, you know, this is something that's not just a well w how one of my friends puts it is he's like, you've gotten into the realm where they've got to get like spousal approval to spend, you know, so it's not just like, okay, I can spend a hundred bucks and it's not a big deal. It's like, okay, if I'm going to lay down $500, I got to, you know, talk to my wife, talk to my husband, make sure it's okay that I spend this money. So,

Melissa Anzman (11:23): And have a really good reason, like a really good outcome based reason for them to support that.

Tim Grahl (11:28): Right. Exactly. And so, you know, you know, you got to give them time to think through it and to buy it. I think through come up with the money. Another friend of mine told me, he's like, you know, make sure you launch the repay day. So they actually have money. So, you know, launch around the first or the 15th of the month and not in between there, because maybe they're going to run out of money before, before your, your things you know, the, the launch is over so a week long. And that also allowed me to kind of calm down and just like, okay, I'm going to send out a series of emails over week, and that will give people plenty of time to think about buying. They go through a weekend. And that seemed to be really helpful. And I'll mention here, you know, sales trickled in all through those first seven days.

Tim Grahl (12:18): And then 56% of the sales came in on the very last day. It was the same way with my first launch too. And pretty much everything I see is that's what happens is like, if you're doing a launch, every take, everything you sell leading up to the last day and the last day, you're probably going to double it. So that helped. I had a friend tell me that and I had kind of experienced it my first one. And so I kinda, it kinda kept me calm, like, as I was going through the week and sales were trickling in, I'm like, I know they're going to come in the last day. I know they're gonna come in the last day and sure enough, they did. So opening the window helped me not feel so stressed cause I had plenty of time to, to sell it and to make a good case for it.

Tim Grahl (13:08): The biggest thing that I'm made a change for on my sales page that I think made a really big difference is I added a bunch of bonuses. And here's, what's funny is that probably two thirds of the bonuses I add to added to the sales page, they were in the original product, but here's, here's what I figured out about this. And a lot of times this is where like, once you start figuring these things out, you realize you make the same decision. So, you know, I'm selling this course, it's about thing. It's like eight plus hours of video walks you through this entire plan of how to build your author platform. And it's a, it's a whole lot of theory with a lot of like practical, you know, put this stuff into practice stuff. But what I realized is like, that is not what triggers people to buy.

Tim Grahl (14:04): Even though they know kind of logically, they want, they want all that information. It doesn't really, that's not what gets you over the fence? What gets you over the fence? And I've noticed this with myself. When I went back, I actually went back and looked at like all the info products I'd buy, I'd bought over the last year or two and start thinking through, okay, what put me over the edge to buy this? And, you know, it's hard to tell cause you know, you're, you're making all these decisions in the moment. But what I realized was is it was the bonuses. It was the fact that I would get this guy's exact copy. He used for X, Y, and Z, or I'd get this guy's exact spreadsheet, or I get this guy's WordPress plugin that he used as part of this course. And even though those even though like, you know, the information was really useful and that's what ultimately helped me having those little, the copy, the tactics, you know, those kinds of things really put me over the edge to buy.

Tim Grahl (15:00): So I went back through my course and I pulled out everything that I had put in there that I could feasibly call a bonus. And it was basically everything, but the video. So, you know, I had, like, I had the PDF of like, here's the exact use for your first three auto responders. We put in three WordPress plugins that we built in house. This spreadsheet that I use, like a list of like all the software I use to get my work done on a daily basis, like all of these things. And I just listed them down the page and the sales copy. And that was the only major change I made to the sales copy. And I sold I ended up, so in the time that between March and September, my email list, didn't quite double, it went up about 90%, but I sold 3.1 times as many products with my second launch.

Tim Grahl (15:54): So it was so much more successful, made a lot more money. And especially on the sales page, the biggest difference were all of those bonuses. And what a friend of mine told me is, he's like, you know, people want your product. He's like, basically everybody who's reading your emails, want your product. He's like they justify it based on the bonuses. And I kind of think of it as like a benevolent bait and switch, right? So you, you don't switch, but like you bait them with those bonuses. Cause like, Oh, if I just had that copy and make all the difference, but you know that like the copy's not what helps it's understanding the whole thing, which is what the videos do. They explain exactly how you can make your own decisions about your copy, but you, you, people will make those decisions based on those bonuses on those like extra goodies, they get, that's going to save them time, save them energy.

Tim Grahl (16:46): And and I, I started, you know, a friend of mine told me what I just said, but one of the, I had gone back to a couple people that had been in the course since the beta group. And I was talking to one of them and I was like, Hey, back through the entire course, now this is a guy that had like gone through the course, like, you know, put everything into action, you know, had, I know his email list had gone up like four X since he started following what I was doing. He was super happy with, with everything. I know he learned a ton and I said, well, what was the most helpful thing? He's like, you know, is that autoresponder copy? I was like, are you serious? Like, to me, that was like, just, I have it. So I'll throw it in there.

Tim Grahl (17:27): I like created it for a client once and I just, you know, modified it to be a little more generic. And I'm like, you know, here, I'll just put it in the course. He's like, yeah. He's like, you know, I understood what I was supposed to do and all of that he's like, but I kept sitting down to try to write the copy and I just couldn't do it. So I just copied and pasted and like change the change in my name and my book, title and stuff. And I'm like, if that was the most helpful thing that he can now I know. And he probably knows it's not the most helpful thing. Like he's learned a lot of things, but in the moment when he was frustrated, he just grabbed that copy and threw it in. And so I was like, Oh man, I just need to add a ton of bonuses.

Tim Grahl (18:06): Like here's everything you get, you know, we built into it where you can take notes inside of the course. So at the end you can just print out a PDF of all the notes you took in the course. You know, that's a bonus, you know, so like everything I added to the course that was extra apart from the videos I listed as a bonus. And and that made a huge difference in people deciding to buy. So all those things together, you know it's hard to tell what, you know, what made the biggest difference, but I think that having a longer launch period communicating in my own voice and just making a case for why it's a good product and why it'll help you. And then, you know, finally having those bonuses to really get people over that hump of making the decision to buy, you know, those really helped me move from this kind of disaster launch to one that was very successful. I was very happy with the results.

Melissa Anzman (19:03): I love that. And you know, it's, it's interesting because you're when your book came out, I bought it like day one. And you had a ton of bonuses with your book, like, and they were really good. You're after you sent in your receipt and there were like these interviews here and here's how I dealt with this person. And I still remember them as many of them as they get. And I'm so glad that you took that and maybe not learn from that, but took that same sort of mentality of what sells and parse it out for your audience, because it looks more plentiful than just sort of here's the course, and then you get this and that, but it's in the course already. So I don't think it's quite bait and switch there.

Tim Grahl (19:50): I think of it, you know, I thought that too later is like, why didn't I see it? And I think the difference is that you have this book and then you're adding all these bonuses to it so that people will go ahead and buy it. Right. Or like, I looked at it as like, well, this is just part of the course, you know? So, you know, I, I don't know what I was missing, but by adding it again, it's one of those things where my overall mentality is this of this is like, I'm just going to assume, I don't know anything, you know, like just put my ego on the shelf because I'd rather actually be successful than like having an ego. And so I literally would just call people and be like, look, here's everything I did. And they'll be like, Oh my gosh, you know, you made all these mistakes.

Tim Grahl (20:34): And I'm like, okay, that's great. I now know that what should I do different next time? And, and I did it the same thing again, you know, after that one is I did this whole post-mortem and I recommend for, I have them for my clients launches and everything. I do an entire post-mortem. It says long file on macon Evernote that lists like what days I launched, what emails I sent on those days, the response to those emails, how many products I sold, what days they sold the products, what levels I sold and then just this kind of brain dump of everything I did so that I can always refer back because you'll be surprised like three months later, or six months later, when you do another launch, you'll forget 90% of it. You'll go back and read it and be like, I didn't remember. I did half of this stuff. And so I try to write everything down within a few days of the launch to make sure I have it all down that I can refer because I want each one to get better. I don't, I don't mind making mistakes. I just don't want to make the same mistakes over and over.

Melissa Anzman (21:32): Yeah. So like of this sort of second go, we don't need to rehash the first, but the second go, did you find that you still land into some friction points and things you want to improve going forward?

Tim Grahl (21:45): You know, it was hard like so it went really well and like I'm in, Rameet say teas zero to launch course and he, yeah. And he said in there that like converting I think it was like 0.5% of your list is like a good conversion rate, you know? So, and I converted over 1% of my list with the launch in and August with the second one. And so that went so well. I was kinda like, okay, am I going to be able to get better? And so, you know, basically what I'm doing now is just continuing to pay attention to what people are doing. I have a few trusted advisors. They are the ones that gave me the advice that made the biggest difference. I've kind of latched on and I'm like, okay, you know, what should I do in this next one?

Melissa Anzman (22:40): Let me bend your ear a little bit.

Tim Grahl (22:42): Yeah. And you know, and then, you know, I kinda just learning from different people and I'm willing to try new things and you know, this is going well enough and, and it's not like I'm what I constantly want to do is make sure the next launch is not my feeding. My family's not reliant on the next launch because I want to constantly be experimenting and be willing to try things that might fail because I wanna make sure that I continue to get better. So, you know, there's lots of things I want to try. I'm going to constantly try to get better at this. But you know, I'm always looking for new things to try when, whenever I go to future launches. Yeah.

Melissa Anzman (23:28): But this one, you know, you have a repeatable formula now that seems to work. So don't, don't fix what isn't quite broken anymore.

Tim Grahl (23:37): Yeah. Well, what I look at it is, is like, okay, my entire going into it, you know, within an hour I can, all the emails set up and they're drafted and ready to go. So now I can tweak and I can play with it and I can try two or three more, two or three new things and kind of add them onto the launch or tweak a few things and just see how it works. So I think, you know, moving from the first to the second I needed to just like plug the holes, you know, like I was going down fast or now, you know, now that I have a good system in place, now I can, you know, it's that different? Okay. I, if I, the difference between the first and the second was like, I did everything that got me that, that 80% for 20% of the world. So I figured out these huge changes I needed to make that made such a huge difference. And now I can spend time playing around to tweak, to see if I can get it to go up maybe 10, 20%. And this next launch, you know, the odds of me, you know, going up a 50, 60% in the next, in future launches with, you know, a similar sized list, you know, that's not probably gonna happen, but if I can get 5% or 10% improvement in each one, that's definitely going to be worth the time.

Melissa Anzman (24:55): Absolutely. I love that approach. So you've given us a lot of really great tips and tools and things to do, particularly the post mortem. But what would be sort of your best advice for someone who's looking to launch a product maybe the first time, or maybe sort of first time didn't go, well, what do I do second time? What's your biggest nugget of advice there?

Tim Grahl (25:17): It would probably be to find, you know, I feel like so many of us get trapped in this situation where we feel like we should already know stuff. And so we don't like asking for advice. Now we'll go online and we'll read articles and we'll, you know, take Rameet zero to launch course or whatever. But, you know, we don't want to sit down and like, admit to people. We don't know what we're doing. And what I found is, you know, if you can just seek out one or two people that are in the, you know, doing the types of things you want to do, you know, get them to let you buy them a cup of coffee and just pick their brain. And then see, now I'm on the receiving end of this too. Now as I've built my own audience and people coming to me and there's one guy in particular right now, I'm spending a lot of time coaching through a lot of things because he actually does what I tell him to do, you know?

Tim Grahl (26:10): So I'm like, okay, do this. And he's like, okay. And like two days later it's done. And he's like, what next? You know? And I'm like, Oh man, this is fun. And so if you become that for somebody else, they, you know, people like to help other people. And I have a couple people that like, they just, you know, they tell me to do something, I put it down on my to do list. I get it done. And then it works, you know? And so I would say, find a mentor, find somebody and just sit them down and say, I don't know what I'm doing. Can you please help me? You know, here's what I did last time. It didn't work, you know, can you give me three things to try on my next launch? And that, that is what's made the biggest difference for me is I found a couple of those people. I kind of reach out to them, you know, I've reached out to one of them, you know, a month before this launch, it was like, okay, you know, what should I do next? And so really that is more than anything. Cause you can read everything, you can watch the videos, you can go through courses, but it never really is like one person your specific thing and giving you specific advice. That makes all the difference.

Melissa Anzman (27:15): Absolutely. So with that in mind, who are a few people that you're reading are interested in on online these days?

Tim Grahl (27:23): So, you know, I pay attention to remeet and I really like that. I will teach you to be rich.com and then Noah Kagan is doing some really cool stuff. His new product Sumo me is amazing and he's got this whole email one K course that's free. That's really, really good. And then from there I'm watching this guy, who's more in my space. Joseph, Michael, he writes, he has a course on how to use Scrivener, which is a popular writing software. And he, and he's done really well with that. He's done a lot of joint venture launches, so I'm kind of watching him you know, and then just kind of a big swath of people of just, you know, I look at it as, you know, this is what I want to do for a living.

Tim Grahl (28:15): And so there's lots of people that are being successful at it. So I'm just going to track them down and pay attention and see what I can learn. You know, I don't, again, I don't mind making mistakes, but I think it's stupid to make mistakes that I could have avoided. And so you know, again, if I had done that first launch and knew it was a disaster, but then kind of hit my head and you know, well, it was, it's embarrassing to tell people it wasn't a success, so I'm just going to try to do it different, you know, and then August rolls around, I would have had made all the same mistakes and not knowing why. So, you know, going out and getting that, you know, you know, just getting, putting my ego on the shelf. This is what I want to do. You know, it's, it's amazing how fast it can actually move.

Melissa Anzman (29:02): Absolutely. I love it so much. Great information, Tim, can you please let everyone know where they can find you online?

Tim Grahl (29:08): Yeah. The best thing to do is go to outthinkgroup.com, OU T T H I N K group.com or just Google, anything close to that and you'll find it sign up for the email list. You know, every week I send out articles and new stuff that I'm learning and writing and that would be the best way to stay in contact with what I'm doing.

Melissa Anzman (29:30): Absolutely. And I'll be sure to include it in the show notes. And I just want to plug your book for you. So if you don't have Tim's book and you're an author want to be author, or even if you just want to grow your business definitely get its first thousand copies. Is that awesome? It's really great. I recommended it to everybody and that's actually how Tim met a few people, so, and they met him. So I really recommend it. And I really appreciate you coming on the show, Tim. I hope you enjoy today's episode with Tim Grahl. I think you probably realized during the episode that I am a true fan of Tim's and his marketing genius, particularly when it comes to authors and books. If you'd like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to launchyourself.co/session24. Again, that's launchyourself.co/session24. And if you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to subscribe on stitchers and iTunes and leave us a great review until next time.

Melissa Anzman (30:32): Thanks for listening to the launch yourself podcast. Join the conversation at www.launchyourself.co.