How a First-Time Author Got a 7-Figure Book Deal



John Roman Romaniello
This man was paid $1,000,000+ for a book…and he’s dressed like a cow. Pic from a 4-Hour Chef sidebar that sadly had to be cut due to space constraints.

[This is a companion post to “How to (Really) Make $1,000,000 Selling E-Books – Real-World Case Studies“]

This guest post by John Romaniello will explain exactly how a first-time author can get a 7-figure book advance, as he did. He’ll also explain how he got Arnold Schwarzenegger to write the foreword to his book (!!!), which you can read here.

This post demonstrates how to sell yourself effectively and–more importantly–how to be yourself effectively.  I’ve added my own recommendations in brackets after “TIM”.  In a few instances, I’ve also corroborated specifics (e.g. dollar amounts mid-negotiation) from sources other than John, as he rightly didn’t want to earn bad blood.

Before we get started, a few statistics:

  • Less than 6% of all reported deals get an advance of more than $100k (as of 2011, and it’s gone down since)
  • On average, fewer than 100 Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers in any year sell more than 100,000 copies, and usually only one or two top 1 million sold.

In 2009, John “Roman” Romaniello might have been another casualty of these sobering stats. He launched his blog in 2009 with 0 readers.  Roman had effectively no Internet presence. By 2011, he was ranked as one of the top 100 most influential people in health & fitness, sharing space with Jillian Michaels and Dr. Oz.  He used that platform to help him build a company that has grossed as much as $240,000+ per month, with a six-figure net.  We’ll cover a lot of how he did all this and more.

But here’s the punchline: Roman’s first book deal for Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha (with a co-author, much more on this later) fetched more than $1,000,000 in advance.  

This is practically unheard of, unless you’re a president. So, how did he do it? This post explores the answers and tactics… Read More

124 Comments / Leave a comment or question

Semi-Finals: Scholarship for Opening the Kimono


(Photo: Josh Liba)


Once again, I have been BLOWN AWAY by you all.

Please find below the semi-finalists for the scholarship spot to the $10,000 Opening The Kimono™ event.

There are 26, listed in no particular order, as we could not narrow it down further. The case studies range from parents to students, from snowboarding to software, from Berlin to British Columbia. Here’s the next step:

1) Each video is a combination of three video submissions. After watching each video, vote for your favorite of the three applicants. Voting ends this Thursday, May 12th, at 12 midnight PST.

2) Once tallied, this round of voting will decide the 8-10 finalists for the next round.

Much like the Cold Remedy video case studies, these videos remind me of how much I owe you all. This kind of feedback is the reason that I continue to write, despite how hard it is for me, and why I love this community so much.

Thank you.

I hope you love these as much as I did. If you need a little inspiration, these are exactly what the doctor ordered.





Odds and Ends: Tim in Germany

I’m leaving from SFO for Germany as I type this, where I’ll be for 1-2 weeks, mostly in Berlin.

Anyone want to throw a big party? Know any club owners so we can blow it out? Other recommendations for fun in Berlin? Can’t wait to rediscover it, as I haven’t been since 2004.


121 Comments / Leave a comment or question

How to Bribe People to Start Companies (Plus: Kimono Event Scholarship)


Once upon a time, two entrepreneurs had an idea: what if we used traditional bookbinding to make iPad cases?

It was a fun idea.

Then it suddenly became very, very profitable. The two entrepreneurs, Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton, named the idea DODOCase and soon had sold more than 10,000 iPad cases at $60 a pop.

Soon thereafter, they were featured in The New York Times and had a multi-million dollar business on their hands, to the tune to $4-5 million a year.

That could be you.

See, DODOcase was far from alone. They were part of a simple experiment, a business-building competition I launched jointly with an incredible start-up called Shopify.

The results were amazing:

Revenue PER HOUR for the duration of the contest: $696.38
Total number of orders placed: 66,503
Most important — Total businesses created: nearly 1,400

1,400 &^%$ing businesses, created by people just like you.

People who’d become comfortable in a routine. People who’d dreamt of starting their own company… someday. People who just needed a quick slap to get off the tranquilizers of their 9-to-5. But did I say “people just like you”? Scratch that — 1,400 businesses, many of them created by people far less capable than you.

The Shopify Build-a-Business competition is back, bigger and better than ever. There are more than $500,000 in prizes, including:

$100,000 Grand Prize
VIP trip for two to New York City, where Seth Godin will cook you dinner
One-hour power session with Gary Vaynerchuk
VIP trip to San Francisco, where you’ll visit the Googleplex and have dinner (and wine, of course) with yours truly at one of my favorite restaurants in the world… Read More

183 Comments / Leave a comment or question

Opening the Kimono® Event


(Photo: E. Murray)

The most frequent question I get is:

“How did you hit #1 on The New York Times bestseller list?”

Historically, I’ve answered with “That’s a long, long story.” If pressed further, I would explain that I couldn’t go into the details until I hit #1 a second time. Alas, in publishing and in life: once you’re lucky, twice you’re good.

Now, I can finally share the inside baseball of all I’ve learned (and witnessed) over the last five years.

For the first time, I’ll be deconstructing the biggest hits in publishing, including the preparation and execution of launches for my two books, both of which hit #1 New York Times:

The 4-Hour Workweek… (published April 2007)
#1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, #1 BusinessWeek
Called “The most surprising self-help hit of the decade” by Men’s Journal
More than 1,000,000 hardcovers sold in the US alone
Nearly four years unbroken on the New York Times Business Bestseller List
Sold in 35 languages, 60+ printings
An Amazon Top-10 Reader Favorite of 2007
AdAge “Best Product Launch for 2007”
Digital sales: 4.8% of total units
Advance paid: < $100,000 (signed before publication)

The media were kind in 2007, with quotes like “best self-promoter of all time” (Wired) and “branding wunderkind” (FastCompany).

But it wasn’t me. Not at all. It was due to process. To wit, the 2010 release of The 4-Hour Body:

The 4-Hour Body… (published December 2010)
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, #1 six out of the first eight weeks
Nearly 500,000 books sold in the first four months
Selling at FIVE times the rate of The 4-Hour Workweek
The #1 most-highlighted book of all time on Amazon (screenshot here)
[Note: The 4-Hour Workweek is currently #5, just below the Bible]
First business author to jump non-fiction categories and create another instant #1 hit
Digital sales: 30% of total units, 90%+ of which is Kindle
Advance paid (largely based on the proposal’s marketing plan): $2,000,000+

For the first time, I’m going to explain how my team did it all, ranging from flexible first principles and guidelines, to trench warfare and exact wording in pitches and partnership proposals.

It will be covered in a single seminar —

Repeat Engineering of #1 — The Future of Book and Content Marketing

Dates: August 19 – 21, 2011
Location: California wine country, confidential retreat location. Details sent upon sign-up.
Available spots: Limited to 200 people.
Policies: No media coverage, no Twitter, Facebook, or other coverage of the event, and no recording whatsoever.

Who is it for?

Authors — Increase both advances and bestseller probabilities
Publishers/Agencies — Know which authors to bet on, sign bigger authors or win auctions, and increase your homerun ratio
PR/Marketing Professionals — Attract and retain the best clients who believe digital execution is the future
Anyone who wants to compete with (and learn from) the newest generations of whiz kids, rather than be defeated by them.

This seminar is not about buying your way onto the lists or the latest social media fads, though we’ll explain how people do the former. This seminar is a roadmap for the rarest of recipes: a repeatable and ethical content-creation and launch process that will put your product at the top and keep it at the top.

In sum: We’ll cover all of the most important lessons I’ve learned (and witnessed) over the last five years — and discover how to find elegance in the chaos.

The experience will include exact details of:

  • Building marketing into content creation, and the value of working backwards
  • First principles and overarching strategies in a digital world: the core of testing
  • Timing of PR and phased outreach — exact calendars and e-mails
  • How to build a high-traffic blog in minimal time, plus fatal mistakes
  • Borrowing approaches from movies, and the art of the calculated tease
  • How and when to use pre-sales (almost no one gets this right)
  • Tools and tricks for project management without micro-management
  • Secrets of the “Lean Launch” model
  • Review copies and advanced copies — viral approaches
  • Uses and misuses of Twitter and Facebook (I’m an investor in both)
  • How to test high-leverage contrarian approaches without betting the farm
  • How to combine offline with online, and when not to
  • Dozens of real-world case studies
  • Special guests seldom or never seen in the book world
  • Much, much more…

It will also include fine wine, extensive Q&A opportunities to address your specific situations/challenges, high-level networking, and, of course, the beauty and wonder of wine country.

Once this event is sold-out, it is sold-out.

Cost: $10,000

Just like TED and similar high-end events, flights and hotel are not included, but numerous surprise goodies will be provided on-site.


To sign-up for one of the 200 spots, please fill out this form. If you are new to this blog and are wondering — who the hell is this guy? — here is a short bio.

I look forward to meeting you and sharing a glass of Malbec. This will be an event to remember.


270 Comments / Leave a comment or question