Traditional Publishing

How a Self-Published Book Broke ‘All the Rules’ and Became a Best Seller – Thursday May 30, 2024

Keila Shaheen’s “The Shadow Work Journal” shows how radically book sales and marketing have been changed by TikTok.

Last summer, a book changed Kohn Glay’s life.

A TikTok ad had steered him to “The Shadow Work Journal,” a slim workbook that directs readers to explore hidden parts of their unconscious — their shadow selves, in the book’s vernacular. He ordered a copy, and soon was back on TikTok, fervently recommending it to his followers.

“If you’re on your spiritual journey, you absolutely need to go and get you one of these,” he says in the video, urging viewers to buy the book in the TikTok store.

The video went viral, eventually drawing more than 58 million views. Glay, who is 43 and lives in Baltimore, began holding online classes to guide people through the journal. Over the next few months, people who watched his videos bought more than 40,000 copies of the book on TikTok, and Glay earned more than $150,000 in commissions. By December, he had quit his job as a sales representative for Home Depot and now runs his own business, “Happy Healin,” which offers subscribers spiritual mentorship and coaching through Zoom sessions.

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