How PickFu helped a first-time author reach #1 on Amazon

Business consultant Sean Rosensteel was in the midst of writing his first book when the media first began to buzz about the COVID-19 crisis. With the threat of an economic downturn on the horizon, many of Sean’s consulting clients began canceling or delaying engagements. This newfound free time meant that Sean could focus on finishing his book about living a life with intention.

Decisions, decisions.

Like many first-time authors, Sean was surprised at just how much goes into writing and publishing a new book. It’s not as simple as “just write and publish.” Whether it’s planning, writing, editing, or marketing, every stage of the process requires important decisions to be made. And these decisions are critical to the success of a book. 

Sean, who considers himself “indecisive with big decisions,” said that each phase brought unforeseen challenges and stressful choices. As he would finish one phase, say writing the manuscript, for example, he’d think to himself  “phew, that must have been the hardest part,” only to discover another set of mission-critical decisions around the corner.

One day, while looking for resources, Sean stumbled across a book called The Scribe Method by Tucker Max and Zach Obront. In it, the authors recommend PickFu as a way to get fast, easy, and unbiased feedback from readers on decisions like your book title, subtitle, cover design, and marketing description. 

Instantly, Sean’s interest piqued. 

After a quick Google search, Sean was on PickFu’s website learning how to use PickFu for publishing. He read about authors like New York Times bestselling author Albert Podell, who used PickFu to help land his book cover design. Sean knew he “was in the right place.” 

He also noticed that PickFu was offering a COVID-19 relief grant to support small businesses, so he decided to apply. 

To his surprise, he was selected and received $200 in poll credit.

The first few polls

In his first poll, Sean ran a ranked poll with a targeted audience of 50 non-fiction readers. 

He uploaded six different title options and asked, “Which book title is most appealing?” 

The winner was How to Start Living Intentionally

A few days later, Sean ran another poll to get feedback on subtitles. This time, he narrowed his audience to non-fiction readers who are avid readers, completing 1-4 (or more) books per month.

The winning subtitle, receiving 60% of the votes, was “A real-world approach to intentional living.” 

Officially obsessed

By this time, Sean says he became “officially obsessed” with PickFu. He couldn’t get over just how fast the feedback came in and how incredibly valuable (and affordable) the feedback was.

For less than $100, he received 50 data points that helped him make decisions with confidence

Sean admits that he was a bit of a “hot mess” when he first started using PickFu. But now, he can’t get over how easy it is to use and all of the ways that the service can help him with his book launch.  

Knowing your reader

Sean’s initial strategy for running polls was pretty simple: run a poll, get feedback, see which option “wins” and proceed with the “winning” option. 

But the results of Sean’s next poll made him reevaluate this strategy. 

For Sean’s next poll, he introduced book cover designs. The designs included a zebra-striped elephant and two different book titles.

In this poll, the title How to Start Living Intentionally won with 60% of the votes. 

But this is where things got interesting.

To his surprise, Sean started to see that the respondents who chose the “losing” option were exactly the type of lifelong-learners that he wrote the book for. These target readers wrote feedback that was more closely related to the content of the book. They were changing Sean’s mind.

Some of the comments:

  • “I prefer the phrasing of ‘The School Of’ compared to ‘How to Start’ because it comes across as educational.”
  • “I like the idea of a ‘school.’ Makes me eager to read it” 
  • “It feels more academic. The other feels like a ‘self-help’ title.”

So this self-proclaimed “indecisive guy” made an interesting decision.

He decided to move forward with the “losing” option. 

A winning decision

And since then, that intentional decision has proven to be a smart one. 

His new book, The School of Intentional Living, was named #1 bestseller across five different Amazon categories.

Sean wants other new authors to understand how important it is to know your target market and to get feedback from them. He says, “if you poll your network on social media or just take a guess, you’ll find yourself riddled with doubt. And that’s no way to launch a book you’ve just worked so hard to write and publish!’”

So instead, make decisions with confidence and use PickFu.

Sean also wants other authors to know that there are hundreds of ways to use PickFu. It’s not just for book titles or cover design. He plans to use it to test out ad copy and designs that he’ll run to promote his new book. He says he “can’t wait to continue using PickFu.”