It’s Friday, which means another episode of Indie Author Life!
As you all know by now, I’m no stranger to controversial content. My first book, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, remains my best due to its controversial subject matter: a Jew embracing Jesus. Today, guest blogger Camille Hugh, author of the best-selling book The Thigh Gap Hack, shares her story about how publishing controversial material helped her sales. While I haven’t read her book, she has some wise things to say about believing in what you write, knowing the potential for backlash is real.
When I set out to write my first book, The Thigh Gap Hack, I had no idea that in a few months the media would turn the topic of thigh gaps into a daily trending topic – for the worse. I just knew that I had struggled with losing fat on my thighs despite a 30-pound weight loss and after supposedly doing everything right – according to personal trainers and random fitness advice givers on message boards alike – still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I then tried a different approach that ended up working, and I wanted to share my findings with the world.
I had always heard that writing the book was the easiest part. Since it took me months of research and lots of late night hours writing, editing and formatting my 250 page book, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the hard part of marketing the book one bit.
However, once I did complete “The Thigh Gap Hack”, it immediately started to sell, and I mean immediately. I got my first sale within minutes of making and posting the live download link. This was without spending a single dime on advertising.
So, how did I do it? The answer is simple – by writing a book that sold itself.
The hook of The Thigh Gap Hack, is that anyone can slim their thighs in a smart and healthy way – no eating disorders, counterproductive workout plans that will set you back a few months or invasive surgery necessary. I had been told my shape (pear shaped) made a thigh gap / slim thighs impossible and had believed it all my life. Of course, once you disprove the impossible as possible, you realize other people’s limitations aren’t necessarily yours.
When I began writing, I knew there were others like me – in other words, a market. The daily questions and pleads for help on message boards, that closely resembled my very own months prior, affirmed my hunch. A keyword search further solidified the demand was there, but this was not just any market.
You see, some markets/niches are saturated to the hilt. The key to writing a book that sells itself, is having high market demand in an area that has little to no competition and no one was writing about thigh gaps because it was a taboo subject.
The negative stigma was real, yet plenty of women still secretly (or not so secretly) longed to find an answer to change their body shape and proportions. In my observation, whenever someone dared ask how to get rid of their stubborn thigh fat, they were met with chides to embrace their strong thighs, criticized, made fun of, or told to do the exact same things people looking to grow their thighs were being told. I say all of that to say, my hook was an easy sell as it provided the exact solution that people wanted – which up until that point had been hard to find.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I had a medium sized list of people who were eager to get my book once it was completed. Still, the only reason I was able to amass that list is because, at the risk of being redundant, the clearly reinforced topic and hook on my sales page sold the book to list subscribers for me.
There is one last thing that I want to point out about writing about controversial topics, and it’s about media coverage and potential backlash. It goes without saying that the women/girls who wanted the information my book provided were fans and shared the content on social media websites. This is one of the great things about controversial topics, they tend to be easy to share.
But I should also note that they are fodder for journalists and the media for the same reason – topics that incite strong reactions on either side is well known click bait and easily shareable. As you can imagine, there were many critics – people who judged my book negatively by its title and cover, and imposed their prejudices or hang-ups unto my work without giving it a fair shot.
A lot of people won’t embrace writing about a controversial subject because the thought alone of strangers, bloggers and/or respected media criticizing their work (unwarranted or not) scares the living daylight out of them.
It’s human nature to fear bad reviews, whether they be on the big scale or little scale, but I have a different way of thinking about this matter. Would getting a potentially bad book review stop you from writing the book you’ve always wanted to write? Some people might hate it, and some might love it – but at the end of the day, how do you feel about yourself and your work?
As the media began to spin the two words (thigh gap) into a dirty word to appease the masses, I have to admit I was a little nervous. Articles were coming out every day about how young women were harming themselves to achieve this supposedly unrealistic goal. You never heard the stories of women/girls going about their aesthetic goals in a balanced and smart way, the way I had or the way my book advised.
I got approached to be on The Dr. Oz show, radio shows, and got written up in large publications – most of them putting me on the defensive. That’s another thing about taking a different stance, regardless of being published by the Big 5 or not, good journalists will want a counterpoint. I have to say that if you don’t believe in your work or yourself, the harsh words and scrutiny can get to be too much. However, if you do believe in your work, at the end of the day the bad press or press with bad intentions doesn’t hurt – and in some cases it only helps.
I saw each instance of negative criticism as a platform to not only respond, but explain my stance and defend my book. My fans, who had actually read the book, came to my defense as well and this made dealing with the dark side of choosing a controversial topic much easier. I say all of that to say, don’t just take a controversial stance that you don’t believe in to move books – keep your integrity in tact.
I hope my story has prompted someone out there to think twice about the book he/she really wants to write but thinks it might be too controversial to tackle. If you want to write about a potentially polarizing (people either hate it or love it) subject that you believe in, know there’s a market that hasn’t been completely saturated, show proof of concept by getting people to opt in to your mailing list or pre-order, then you potentially have a book that will sell itself.
Write on, my friend – and if the fear of criticism still seems to be getting the best of you, might I remind you that pseudonyms exist for a reason.
Camille Hugh is the author of the best-selling book, “The Thigh Gap Hack: The Shortcut to Slimmer, Feminine Thighs Every Woman Secretly Desires”, which has been featured on the Dr. Oz show, Cosmopolitan, Spry magazine, and Sirius radio, and “Bye Bye Thunder Thighs – The Weight Loss Diet Plan for Pear Shapes”.
Her books reveal unconventional diet and exercise tactics to combat stubborn fat and bulky muscles to contour slender, sleek legs.
She is the producer/host of the popular thighgaphack channel on youtube, which features workout videos and other hot fitness related topics.
Camille is currently working on her latest book “How to Lose Water Weight – The Fast and Easy way to Drop up to 20 Pounds in 14 Days or Less (August 2014)
More information can be found at – http://www.thighgaphack.com