IMAGE: Dr. Angela attempting to launch her business.
6 years ago this month, Dr. Angela founded The Author Incubator. She had a tiny team cobbled together through barters and trades and the dream of taking 17 years of publishing and marketing knowledge and putting it to use for life coaches and other healing professionals who wanted to make a difference with a book.
Her original Facebook post that shared the news of her new endeavor with everyone she knew got a whopping 5 likes and 3 comments (one of which was her and the other 2 were from her mom and sister).
She had been killing herself for months putting in 50-hour work weeks followed by another 50 hours a week of working on the business. She had a full-time job but had read Crush It! by Gary Vee so she came home every night and worked on her dream of quitting her job and opening THE AUTHOR INCUBATOR.
She learned how to build a website and found someone to hire for the technical parts she couldn’t figure out.
She spent weeks on branding to get the name right. That was most of the Fall.
Then she designed her first programs:
- Free Your Inner Author (for aspiring authors) $597 DIY or $1,997 with a live event and Angela’s support
- The Coaches Book Circle (for authors at the writing stage) $77 a month
- Difference Press Publishing Services (for authors ready to publish) 50/50 Revenue Share
She wanted to have products at different price points for people through the whole book writing process. Each program had videos she filmed and worksheets she created and a private website.
She didn’t have much money, so she traded housing, social media marketing, website design, copywriting, and strategic advice for branding, design, development, and project management services to get it all done. There were a couple people she did pay, which was pretty scary. She’d say, “It was like giving away my kids’ food in exchange for some images or lines of code.”
She met accountability partners at coffee shops on the weekends and would work all day on Saturday and Sunday to “figure out” what she was doing. Figure out the branding. Figure out the messaging. Figure out the product line up. Figure out how she would run live events. What content she would teach and when. How much she should charge for each program and how she should take payment.
She figured out how to file for trademarks and how to get all her legal ducks in a row. Made sure she had insurance in case someone sued her. There were so many pieces and parts to consider and with no money everything took 10 times as long.
She wanted to launch January 1, 2013 but things were late and she was stressing. She wasn’t sure if the website was good enough but by February 7th, she couldn’t wait. She needed to start making money, so she released the site unfinished, put out a press release on PR Web, posted the announcement and….
And nothing in March, or April either. Not a single sale for 4 months.
What was she doing wrong?!?!
What she built wasn’t perfect— but it was good, and she worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get to it launch day. She really thought she deserved clients.
But she left clients out of the entire process.
She was building all these products and creating a website without any market validation.
That’s when she learned the most important lesson she’d ever learn as an entrepreneur.
Just because you build it with heart and soul – and just because it’s really, really good – does not mean anyone will buy it!
If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
She truly thought what she created was so good in and of itself that she would put up a Facebook post on Feb. 7, 2013 (she was so nervous when she posted it) and she’d pick up at least a few clients and then be off to the races!
None of those first 3 products ever sold.
By May, Angela was dead broke.
No website traffic.
347 people on her list.
No idea where to turn next.
She had done everything she could think of. Even the law of attraction stuff.
She had acted as if everything was going to work out and booked a trip to one of her best friend’s weddings… In Vietnam.
But by the time the trip came she had not been earning anything for 5 months. Her savings were tapped.
She was at the airport with a churning stomach.
“WHY WASN’T THE LAW OF ATTRACTION WORKING?”
“WHERE WAS MY MIRACLE?!?!?!”
By the time this trip came she was supposed to have had at least $50,000 worth of business. Instead, she was $54,000 in debt and terrified to get on the plane without any working credit cards.
And so, in a moment of great clarity and terror, she made something up and sent it to those 347 people.
No mention of it on her website.
No time to figure it out with her accountability partners.
No bartering for great design.
No recorded videos or worksheets.
Just a short, typo-filled email with an IRRESISTIBLE OFFER.
She sat at the gate, cross-legged on the floor with her back against the only wall in the area with a power socket, and she did the one thing that is MORE IMPORTANT than a website, or a product or a plan….
She made something sellable, and she sold it.
Angela landed in Hanoi with 12 new clients and $12,000 in her PayPal account and she’s never been broke again.
She learned how to sell.
The DISASTER of this launch 6 years ago was one of the best failures in her life.
You don’t need a website.
You don’t need a list.
You don’t need branding.
You don’t need a clear message.
You don’t need to figure out your products.
You don’t need to prepare worksheets or videos.
You need SALES.
Sales are the lifeblood of business.
Get the sales first THEN go build the other stuff.
Otherwise you’ll run out of money.
That’s quite an uncomfortable lesson to have to learn from experience, but we’re 6 years old and on track to hit $20 million in revenue this year because of Angela’s decision to lean into her discomfort and rather than give up because things were hard.
That leaning in has produced some amazing results and garnered some pretty cool accolades. To name a few:
- We’ve published over 600 books by transformational authors (with about 200 per year to come)
- We’re rated as the 87th Best Entrepreneurial Company in America by Entrepreneur Magazine,
- And we’ve made it to the Inc 500 list two years in a row… this year we are the 275th fastest growing private company in America.
Cheers to 6 years helping coaches, healers, consultants, and other transformational entrepreneurs write books that make a difference and to the failures that brought us this far!
Have you had the experience of putting your heart and soul into launching your transformational business, only to have it fall flat out of the gate? Did you make the same mistakes as Angela? How did you learn from the experience? Let us know in the comments.
36 thoughts on “Our DISASTROUS Launch”
Providing inspiration is our specialty!
This story sold me!! I’m interested in learning more and ready to get my work out there! I’m heading into a big step myself in 2 1/2 months and am ready to get my writing in line with this.
Congratulations on planning the necessary big steps in your personal journey! As long as you want to focus on spreading a message of hope, healing, and transformation then Dr. Angela and our team can definitely help you with your book! Tune into our masterclass to get a better understanding of what we help our authors accomplish: http://www.TheAuthorIncubator.com/Masterclass
We look forward to reading your application when you’re ready to join us.
I never can get enough of your amazing origin story, Angela! You were the best mentor I could have asked for, and I am just so thrilled and delighted each time I see you hitting ever-increasing thresholds of success! Much love to you and the Author Incubator team!
I’m laughing… but only because I recognize myself! And my fears. The difference is Dr. Angela spread her wings and soared – I huddle beneath my wings, waiting for the perfect moment… I feel the pull, feel the urgency building. Could Dr. Angela’s program be the catalyst?
We certainly hope we are! Everybody needs a helpful nudge in the right direction every now and then. It’s time to spread your wings and fly Margo!
I have three books with the intent to teach from them…..I didnt expect a lot of sales until I started teaching….now Im at a crossroads, especially after reading this! Made many of these mistakes……
It’s never too late to put this lesson into practice Jane. Focus on making your sales and enjoy the journey that brings!
I failed to sell a monumental sculpture, produced right after a successful one. I put it on a rented truck, and drove it to Mykonos, Greece, so no one could see that I’d failed to sell it in Italy, where my studio was. I parked it in the lower lobby of a hotel that liked it, and asked if I could leave it there a year. By the time the year was up, they wanted to buy it, but for way too little. Suddenly inspired, I said, how about you pay me what I want, but only a little at a time? They went for it, and ten years later, I still get a check every year.
That’s a wonderful story Andrew! It’s important to know your worth when negotiating your products/services— we’re glad you know yours.
Oh Angela- I fail forward every day, mostly from the tragic GAMDIAR disease. (Getting all my ducks in a row). Thanks to your brilliant guidance, I am on the road to healing and you helped my complete my first book. I love and appreciate you so much!!!!
We hope you get better soon William! The Author Incubator team sends you all our love. Your first book is just the beginning of your expedition!
Thank you for sharing what this disaster meant to the start of this business. I will be sharing this story with six new team members who will begin the first day on the job at our company this Monday and I look forward to reflecting and learning from this lesson on how to utilize failing situations to become successful. Also, we will be talking about “sales” in a new way to learn more about how to learn how to really “sale” ourselves and whatever we end up producing.
Thank you, again! This was a very powerful story even though I know it was very painful to live through. I am glad Dr. Angela made it!
I’m glad you’ve taken this message to heart Claudette! Let us know what your team members think of this. Failure can become success, but only if we learn from it!
Yep presented at a national conference and had a workbook and consulting package to offer, but gave all away for free :/
Many of us make this mistake the first time around— don’t sweat it! You know you have a product that people are willing to buy just make sure you add a price tag next time.
Beautiful way to share your DISASTROUS launch because it showed your Real and openness to me. And yet, you never gave up, because you have the Love for the book world. That what kept you going, even with the failure, and then viola, you discovered something so simple was to say two words: Irresistible Offer. Bam! You got 12 clients with $12,000 as if you hit the gold jackpot without knowing if it will works.
Thank you, Dr. Angela
Who knew that all you needed to do to become successful was to sell an irresistible offer!
Yes, I have been down this road more than one time I does not care to say the least. I started running my Business, Embassy of Elegant Highs, into my Enterprenature dream I thought. Angela, I just knew everything was going to go so well! But it was the opposite! I didn’t earn not one single dime! And noone was interested in even joining my organization now, never the less didn’t even take the time to engage in the Organization at all. I had so much inventory that I had to sell, because I thought I could get that money back by the community investing in my Spiritual Organization. I’m not giving up Angela. Thanks, for sharing your story, now I’m going to go get my Blessing. Shalom
Angela, Got it. Make the sale (first!).
That’s what my dad taught me when he started his business:
Go out and get a customer on day one. Do again on day two.
No fancy office or marketing, just go get the customer.
Your dad sounds like a very wise man!
Such a great point Angela – clients = sales = income which is the lifeblood of any business!
It’s one of the company values we live by!
Of all the “inspirational” emails I get, yours are the ones I read faithfully because of how authentic and real you come across. I am nearing the completion of my second book and believing it will be hugely successful, not just because of its innate lusciousness, but also because it is SO needed and could change our world for the better. Then I think of something you said, (paraphrased) – It doesn’t matter if you have endorsements from Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha, if no one knows about your book, it won’t get read.
So, I am busy reinforcing my “platform” with better websites and fb pages and blog posts. I know I need to hire help to get my most-important book into the public eye. I don’t know that your program is the right fit for me, but if you also still do freelance consulting, I certainly would be interested.
Thank you, Cate
Very cool . .not polished, just sinple and direct. But what WAS the offer? What DID it for those 12 of 347 people? Was it all about “price” or did something else come into play?
I am at a turning point as well…fired from my job, no working credit cards. That maybe the point when you have nothing more to lose, nothing holding you back, and so you let go and let God to create whats needed.
My passion was not my job I was fired from, and that’s why the universe pushed me out of the closet I was hiding in. I have a mission to help heal people’s souls and give them the tools for selfcare.
So here I am back to the wall and heart open wide!
You can do it Andrea! We can’t wait to see your progress.
Was anyone else in tears?? Angela, it’s like I could relate to your story, every step! Up until the airport… 🙂 My ideas, thoughts, creations, perspectives… are the sales. So I start to create, magic happens, spirit channels through me, the birds are singing, the sun is shining… But then… something sets off a trigger… that fear creeps in. What if… and then all those conditioned childhood wounds come up. Like not being good enough, and not feeling worthy of being heard. I’m not in love with the word unworthy, just to throw that out there. When I start to get low like that, after having been really pumped about my ideas, I realize I should sleep on it and revisit it tomorrow. Because “Annie” says the sun will come out tomorrow right? And then I sing the song and go to bed… 🙂 And then tomorrow comes and I’m no closer to clearing my biggest block, the SALE. I want to share love with the world, and I don’t want to charge for it! Because when I was a kid, I could feel in my heart that love was free! And even now at 36, despite everything that’s happened in my life, I still believe love is free. Example: so my husband and I are each on our twin flame journey, he thinks I’m crazy, so it goes, and we’re at the part in the story where… “we” had some learning to do, about being pulled from riches to rags if you will. Cause we do things backwards. That’s us 🙂 Anyways, for years I had been telling him that I didn’t care if we lived in a cardboard box, as long as we had eachother, we could get through anything! And for years, he’s been… not convinced! 🙂 Last night he said to me, as I was sitting at our table with my tarot, and my coffee, and my music, he said, honey, I’m gonna say something, and don’t make a big thing of it, ok? I agreed, and he continued… I want you to know, I understand now that we COULD live in a cardboard box and our love would get us through it. I get it, but, I really don’t want to get to that point… you with me?.. I laughed at him in a loving way, got up and squeezed him tight, and told him, As long as WE knew that to be true, then the skies the limit! we would always have everything we desired. The next day, a job request came in to our now humbled, family business, and we’re now another step closer to on track for US. Of course, I still have that money block thing going for me, but last night I had an epiphany after all that… What if… he and I were to write this together! He’s quite the puzzle solver, my partner in crime, so tonight im gonna ask him, to walk with me through the book process to talk about our twin flame journey… one step at a time!
Agreed! The universe push is real! I love that metaphor and can feel your heart. I would love to visit with you and share some ideas on healing souls and self-care. We have the same passions!
Hang in there Vanessa! If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm. Put trust in the muses and keep striving forward.
You should watch the replay of Dr. Angela’s latest masterclass to get some ideas on what your next steps should be: https://www.theauthorincubator.com/replay-page/
You have great goals in mind, all you need is a plan to make it happen!
Even after having heard this story for the first time over 2 years ago, I still come back to it, because it IS my business anchor. I may forget day to day and wander back into the comfort zone – but this reminds me, every time I recall it – of what is REALLY important. Thank you for sharing this!
And thank you for sticking with us Pam! It’s always a pleasure when you visit ❤️❤️
Leaning into the unknown & the un-comfort-zone has been and still is one of the most difficult, heroic life skills one can make comfortable.
Coming to grips with being trans-gender (m/f) has resulted in a life time of leaning into discomfort & I am still practicing each and every day. This year I plan to re-launch my own Life Skills, Hypno-Coaching Program, and the Mastery of Manifesting Tool Kit on a new site being created as we speak.
I’ve been doing Life Coaching for over a decade but under a different identity. To acknowledge the fear and yet continue moving forward through inspiration, I feel pulled into the abyss…and I know there-in, is my Amazing life…terrifying and exciting!
Thank you for the inspiration Angela…
We are rooting for you Char! We’re so happy you’re striving to live your truth and we wish you nothing but the best on this journey. As Dr. Angela always says, “discomfort is necessary for growth.”