One of the highest bestselling books of 2020 is ‘Dear Stranger, I Know How You Feel’ written by popular Instagram poet Ashish Bagrecha who enjoys over 4 lakh followers. Written from his own life experiences, this self-help book talks about mental health issues like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, negativity, and others and it has sold over 75000 copies. The book has ranked #1 bestseller on Amazon and Nielsen lists for several weeks amidst the pandemic.
When asked to comment on these huge numbers, Ashish responds, “I feel I need to emphasize here that there is no such thing as an over-night success. I posted poems and notes every single day for more than a year and built my audience gradually.”
Even more importantly, he says, “The success of my book lies somewhere else than in the numbers of sold copies. More than one person reached out to me to let me know that they have stopped thinking about taking their lives after reading my book. Every person’s life is worth more than a million copies to me, and this is where the true success of the book is hidden. If it helps someone go through their darkest times unharmed, I feel like I have fulfilled my purpose.”
Obviously, people started relating to his poems because they felt someone was writing for them, to them. It took Ashish a lot of courage to put his vulnerabilities out there. Every day he would receive over 500 messages and he would still reply to every single of them and help people figure out solutions to their personal problems. He was even offered brand sponsorships and influencer marketing deals, but he never took them. He never sold anything to his audience and kept giving value.
And then one fine day, he told them he had written a book for them and asked them to check it out. Just one post and the book went on to become #1 on Amazon within just 6 hours of the pre-order announcement. “That is the power of building trust and credibility with your audience”, explains Ashish. “Keep posting good quality content consistently, have patience, keep giving value and if you ask them to do something for you once, they would be happy to do it.”
After his own audience bought the book, they really loved it, they started telling everyone else to read it. The word-of-mouth did the magic along with some Instagram ads for the book. It is not easy to market a book, though. When asked about what worked for him, Ashish says it is the structure of this book. With declining book readership due to the availability of a lot of content mediums and reduced attention span, it is tough to convince people to read a long-form text, so he chose a different approach.
The book was intended to be read one letter a day for the next 30 days and address the readers’ feelings every day. “Thus, they would go on the journey of hope and healing one day at a time,” Ashish says with hope in his voice. It turns out he was right. Readers liked the idea of reading just a few pages every day that would help them. The simplicity of language and a very informal and intimate style of writings made readers feel that the author was directly talking to them. All of this worked together to make it a good read.
Ashish Bagrecha is currently working on his next book which is slated to release in the next couple of months.