From The Guardian
In 18 months, the Instagram star’s three titles have sold more books than any other UK weight-loss title since records began.
Instagrammer turned publishing sensation Joe Wicks is now the author of the UK’s biggest-selling diet books since records began. The Body Coach’s three Lean in 15 books have all taken the top spot from previous all-time bestseller Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat, according to Nielsen BookScan.
But whereas sales of the queen of quinoa’s books were propelled by television, the former personal trainer’s has broken through thanks to groundbreaking use of social media and ebook teasers by publisher Bluebird, part of Pan Macmillan.
In less than 18 months, Lean in 15 – the first of three books based on 15-second videos on the fitness guru’s Instagram account – notched up sales of more than 1m copies. This year, Wicks beat previous records for sales in the first week of any year after 111,830 copies of Lean in 15 were snapped up.
“It is really exciting to see how an author can be built, independent of television and huge big-brand marketing,” Wicks’s publisher Carole Tonkinson said. She acquired Wicks’s first book three days after taking control of Bluebird, which launched as an imprint just over a year ago.
Although Wicks had 75,000 followers on his Instagram account, Tonkinson said he represented a gamble as he bucked the trend for diet books about intermittent fasting and so-called “clean eating”.
A pre-publication strategy that combined short ebook “tasters” with a PR blitz using social media was developed to launch the title. “It wasn’t about selling books in the digital format, it was about using them to tempt readers in,” Tonkinson explained.
The strategy reflected awareness that a traditional industry may not grasp hold of an unknown who had built up a following of only 75,000 people on a social media site. “We knew we couldn’t go through the normal routes for PR by publishing his book and then making a fuss. We needed a different approach,” Wicks’s publisher said.
The short ebooks featured 10 recipes to preview the paper book. This was used to capture data about potential readers that the publisher could then employ in direct marketing of each recipe book. A day after releasing the short ebook, Lean in 15 went to No 2 in the Amazon charts and remained in the Amazon top 100 for 100 days before publication.
Wicks said he was “so thrilled” at the news. “I still pinch myself that I’ve gone from bootcamps and cooking in my kitchen with a few people watching online to becoming a bestseller!” he said in a statement. “It’s mad.”
Wicks is the first standout star to emerge from Instagram, but his success is likely to focus more attention on the online photo-sharing site. However, rival publishers are unlikely to repeat Tonkinson’s bargain.
Although eight publishers were interested in Wicks when he was touted by agent Jonathan Conway two years ago, the uncertainty over whether an Instagram success could translate into book sales is believed to have left Wicks’s advance looking pretty lean itselff.
Tonkinson refused to reveal how much she paid, but confirmed the star had earned out his advance many times over.