Career & Business

#TheProof: This Novelist 10X’d Her Book Sales & Created a Bidding War… Using Copywriting

November 1, 2022

Hi! I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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#TheProof is a series that celebrates the success of our community. We can’t be what we can’t see, which is why we proudly feature our students from across the globe who’ve made their dreams a reality. 

My favorite thing about Charlene Carr, Canadian author of ten novels, is that she’s constantly turning insights into action. She questions her assumptions and knows there’s always more to learn. After years of setbacks, grief, and self-doubt, Charlene sold her latest novel, Hold My Girl, in a life-changing two-book deal and received several offers from Hollywood's most prominent production companies.

Content Note: this post contains brief references to infertility and the death of an infant. 

author Charlene Carr

Read on to hear how Charlene:

  • Used copywriting techniques to 10X her book sales on Amazon.
  • Stayed focused on her #1 dream, even in the midst of grief and self-doubt.
  • Wrote her latest novel, which sold in an auction and pre-empts in the UK, US, and Canada then received several offers from Hollywood's most prominent production companies.

Charlene, you’re a prolific and talented writer, but you signed up for The Copy Cure, why?

I've written copy for businesses in the past, but I found it harder to do for myself. I needed to do more than just sell the book, I had to sell the experience the book could provide readers. But I didn’t want to be 'hokey' doing it. I also figured the more opportunities to improve my writing, the better!

What did you most want to get out of the program?

I wanted to sell my novel. I wanted to be able to work on subsequent novels without the fear that I was following a pipe dream. I wanted to make a living from my craft — doing the work I love most.

Tell me about your first win!

One of the first big wins was with my emails. After a Copy Cure Office Hours call with Marie and Laura I took their advice to tell my readers a story from the heart, even if it didn't directly relate to my books (something I rarely did). I used their subject line tactics to come up with a great one. 

Usually I get 0-3 responses to a newsletter. I got over 40 responses! AND my readers thanked me for sharing, expressed how much the message meant to them, and how it was exactly what they needed to hear. 

The next time I sent a newsletter following the same Copy Cure advice, over 65 readers responded!

Wow, that must have felt amazing.

Within twenty minutes replies started coming in. People wrote, "This is what I needed to hear in this exact moment,” and, "What a beautiful testimony! As much as I love your books, I'm equally happy to receive your musings. Thanks for sharing your experience with me."

A clear sign that what you write doesn't have to be directly related to what you sell for subscribers to be interested!

Exactly. Another big win was with my product descriptions. Book descriptions are generally pretty standard: 150-400 words talking about the story and then a few sentences on the theme. And so at first, when going through The Copy Cure lesson on sales pages, I didn’t think it applied to me. But then I thought, “Well, could it?”

I used advice from one of the Masterclasses and Marie’s 5-Part G.U.S.T.A. Method on my book page on Amazon. I’ve NEVER seen another author do anything like this. 

And did it work?

The month before I changed the description I sold 3 copies at full price. The month I changed it? 46. Small numbers, I know. But that represents a huge increase — 1,433%! 

I don’t think that’s small at all. Did those sales stay steady?

No, they grew! A few months later I sold 110 copies on Amazon (big jump from 46!) plus over 100 of the next two books in the series!

What?!?! Come on!

Even better, when I had run a $0.99 promotion on my book a couple of months earlier I had sold 302 books, but made only 35% royalties. Now I’m selling my books at full price and making 70% royalties. I actually made more money selling those 46 books than the 302, and I had to pay a LOT more in advertising to sell the 302. (Plus, the readers who are buying at full price are much more committed to reading the book — and keep on reading!)

You took The Copy Cure back in 2018. A lot has happened since then…

Honestly, I'm just so thankful for Marie's work. All the life-changing things that have happened to me in the past year would not have happened without her.

How so?

It clarified that there’s no other job I want as fiercely as being an author and sharing stories with the world.

Did you ever doubt yourself and your dream?

Oh, all the time! I wondered if I had what it took. 

What changed?

When I became a mother, I realized self-publishing wasn't sustainable anymore. I couldn't be a full-time independent publisher and an author and a mother and, you know, sleep. Something had to change. That’s when I read Everything is Figureoutable. I worked through it like a course and it helped me realize I needed to find an agent. I’d tried to find a publisher years ago, but I gave up too quickly. I knew an agent had the potential to skyrocket my career. I needed someone to get me in the door with the big publishers. 

How did you go about doing that?

Well, my first step was to write a book that would capture the attention of an agent. I took a while trying to come up with a storyline.

Did you find one?

Yes! It's certainly not autobiographical, but there are so many snippets of my experience in the story… 

When my daughter was born through IVF, she didn't look anything like me. I'm biracial, but she was pale, much fairer than my husband — with straight blonde hair and gray eyes. I spent the first four to six months being genuinely concerned that they made a mistake at the clinic and that she might not be my daughter. It was scary.

That must have been heartbreaking to even consider.

Yeah. And so, thankfully, around six to eight months her skin darkened, her facial features changed, her hair curled, her eyes turned brown and I was like, “Oh, okay. She's mine. It's fine.”

When she was a year old, that was when I decided I needed to write a new book, and this idea just came to me. I thought, If any book is going to get me an agent, this is it.

What was the idea?!

It follows the stories of two women who both went for IVF treatment. One of them has a daughter, the other has a stillbirth. About a year and a half later, the birth mother has been raising the child for 10 months, when she gets a call from the fertility clinic indicating that there's been a switch. And so there's this big unanswerable question of who deserves to be this child's mother — the one who grew her inside of her, raised her for 10 months and fed her through her own body, or the one who is biologically her mother?

Oh my god. I have chills.

I just had this gut feeling that this was gonna be the book. So I spent the next couple years working on it. 

How did you maintain your confidence and conviction during that time?

I mean, a big part of it is that I love writing, right? That's all I want to do. That's what gives me joy. But it was hard. I had a child who was waking up four to six times a night and didn't nap well during the day. And during this time we went through three more embryo transfers that all ended in miscarriages. A lot of this book was written in 15 to 20 minute spurts.

That sounds nearly impossible. 

This is when I went back to that exercise in Marie’s book. “Everything is figureoutable, especially ____________.” I wrote mine over and over again for weeks. Every time I felt discouraged or needed to take time to grieve I would get back into it by writing my goal again and again.

I figured if it worked, I would be fulfilling a lifelong dream. I would have so much more time to spend with the child who did make it — to pick her up from school and to be there on her days off.

Okay Charlene, we’re on the edge of our seats. Did it work?!

Once I finally finished writing the novel, I had an offer from a stellar agent in less than a month, and a few days later was in a position to be choosing between stellar agents.

AHHHHH, Charlene! YES!

My agent had me work on revisions for over five months (and let me tell you, there were times I had to go back to writing my Everything is Figureoutable goals again) but at long last, she declared it ready for submission and we had an offer of a pre-empt after ONE day, the fastest she’d ever experienced, and ended up settling on a deal which was the highest she'd ever had in Canada. It's enough that I don't even have to think about alternate work for at least three years.

I’m in tears, oh my god.

A few weeks after that my book sold in an auction in the UK, to a publishing house I'm thrilled about. Before my agency had even sent the manuscript to producers, we had an offer from one of Hollywood's most prominent production companies.

Two weeks later I received four more offers from production studios with Oscar nominations and awards, Golden Globes, and bestsellers in their lists of credits, including a well-known actress who wanted to star.

Then we got a pre-empt offer from a U.S. publisher that absolutely blew my mind. 

[Psssst…. Charlene’s book, Hold My Girl, is available for pre-order now!]

This is wild. How do you feel?

So much went into putting me on this path, but Start the Right Business and Everything is Figureoutable gave me belief in myself and assurance in what I wanted. That was a HUGE part of this happening. 

I'm going to be able to pick my daughter up from school every day, be home with her during vacation days. We'll be able to travel and give her experiences we couldn't have otherwise. I'll be living the dream I've wanted since I was a child, to not only be a novelist, but to make a living from it. My family's life is about to change big time, and Marie played a huge role in that. 

Congratulations Charlene. We are so, so proud of you.

Are you ready to write words that open hearts and wallets? The Copy Cure is open now, but only for a limited time! Click here to learn more and join us, 100% risk free.

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