Ruha Benjamin, associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University
Ruha Benjamin Talks how the Design of Technology can be Discriminatory
July 1, 2019
joey womack-goodie nation-Tech Done Right (TDR) Challenge-Kapor Center- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Kapor Center Awards $1 Million to Fund Diversity in Tech
July 13, 2019

Why You Should Treat Your Book Launch Like a Startup Minimum Viable Product

When I self-published my book a few years ago, I approached the project the same way I would launch a new startup.

I published a minimum viable product version of the book.

If you’re not familiar with startup jargon, you’re probably like, “A minimum viable what?”

According to techopedia Minimum Viable product =

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

Now you’re probably like, “What the heck does that have to do with writing a book?”


I had a hypothesis that people who are Parentpreneurs are grinding harder than people who are only a parent, or only an entrepreneur, and that Parentpreneurs need inspiration to keep going, and that they need to know they are not alone on their journey.

I believe Parentpreneurs need to know that they got this. They CAN do it. No matter how difficult things may seem.

Being a parent is rewarding, yet challenging. And being an entrepreneur is balls hard. But being a parent and an entrepreneur, or Parentpreneur, is next level crazy.

It just is.

So I cobbled together a bunch of words from myself and other people that I thought would inspire Parentpreneurs and set out to self-publish a book.

The MVP Process

I used feedback along the way to create the book content. A year after I launched my business I started a blog with the intention of using its content to inspire a book. After writing blog posts for two years, I knew what content resonated with people based on their comments and their sharing on social media.

I also used crowdsourcing to get feedback about proposed covers for the book. I shared the cover iterations in Facebook groups (this is a great FB group for entrepreneurs) and on my Facebook wall, then decided on a final cover based on feedback in those groups.

This first cover was shot down as too cartoonish by nearly everyone who saw it:

The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur, by

The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur, by James, Oliver, Jr.

Then I paid someone $35 on Fiverr to create a more mature version of the cover (and changed the word “I” to “You”). And this was the final result, which most people liked well enough:

You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur

This is the key moment right here. It’s the point where the startup MVP approach shines!

I know that final cover is not amazing. And this matters because people DO judge a book by its cover.

But I don’t care.

In true MVP fashion, I assumed it was good enough to validate my aforementioned hypothesis about Parentpreneurs.

One of my favorite quotes from the book, Do More Faster, is (paraphrasing):

If you’re not at least a little embarrassed by the first version of your product, you waited too long to launch it.

I know this quote is anathema to the control freaks in the audience, but it works for me and many others. It allowed me to inexpensively and quickly self-publish a book on the Amazon platform and get feedback from readers.

Hypothesis Validation

Turns out I was right. Parentpreneurs do want inspiration.

How do I know?

Because on my own, I sold a few hundred copies of the book, the reviews exceeded my expectations, and I got the following nice PR hits:

Time To Sell!

Once you get the hard part done, writing and publishing, you gotta sell the darn thing! If you google “how to market and sell my book” there will be lots of great articles. This Forbes article has five practical tips that will get you started:

  1. Decide who will read your book – find your community.
  2. Figure out what your community does – connect with those activities.
  3. Talk it up, and talk it up some more – don’t be shy.
  4. Create a sense of urgency – start a drive.
  5. Keep the buzz going – find new reasons and angles to promote your book.

Then there is the most gangsta thing I ever read where a woman put her business card in the back of her books and put copies of the book on the shelf of her local book store. When customers brought the book to the register, the store had to call her to find out how much they should charge and she was able to get them to carry her book.

Now that’s gangsta.

And it’s sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

But the most high-impact way to sell a self-published book I’ve ever seen was on IG last week via Arian Simone. Arian galvanized her tribe around the country and held first-class book signing events, which led to her book getting distributed by Barnes & Noble. Watch Arian’s video recap here:

Bottom Line

If you have an idea for a book, write and publish it already.

Don’t over analyze it.

Don’t wait for it to be perfect.

Collect and learn from feedback.

Iterate on those learnings.






Interested in purchasing The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur? Then click on this link here.

Photo Credit: Marvin Shaouni

James Oliver, Jr. is the author of  The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur. He is also the founder of WeMontage, the world’s only website that lets you turn your photos into a large, custom collage, on removable wallpaper. Follow James on Instagram @trepdad



    James Oliver, Jr.
    James Oliver, Jr.
    James Oliver, Jr is the founder of the ParentPreneur Foundation, empowers Black ParentPreneurs to be the best parent & entrepreneur possible. He is also the author of 'The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur'. James is the founder and CEO of WeMontage, the world’s only website that lets you turn your photos into a large, custom collage, on removable wallpaper.