BEST SELLING AUTHOR CASE STUDY
How a simple A4 visitor folder became a travel best seller
The journey of the armchair Egyptologist
Jane Akshar’s first book, Hidden Luxor, became an Amazon best seller and boosted her credibility in Egyptology circles.
Lots of people have a dream – something they have always wanted to do.
Jane Akshar did just that.
When Jane was 9 years old, she was given a book by her grandmother about Tutankhamun. From that moment, she was hooked on the world of Ancient Egypt, and in 1979 she made her first visit.
For many years, Jane kept Egyptology as keen interest but nothing more. They she had the opportunity to turn that interest into a business.
Emigrating to Egypt
In 2003, Jane took the plunge and moved lock, stock and barrel to Luxor, on the banks of the Nile river.
There, she set up a new holiday apartment rental business – absolutely clueless about how it would work out. She had lots of experience of being a holidaymaker – but had none about what it might take to run a successful tourism business.
Undeterred, she was eager to make a go of it.
She quickly found herself having to show her guests around the ancient sites as an unofficial guide. Her guests enjoyed it so much, they told her they preferred her information to that given by the other “official” guides they had explored with. The guiding was a great opportunity to get to know these ancient sites like the back of her hand.
To boost her understanding further, Jane also grabbed the opportunity to take a four-year diploma in Egyptology as an online student with the University of Manchester.
STARTING UP HER TRAVEL BUSINESS
THE NEED TO SHARE HER KNOWLEDGE WAS PRESSING
Jane worked on the existing information in the “room folders” and tailored it to a wider audience.
She added in accompanying photos from the sites, donated by people who had visited her. (This was such a boost as many of the pictures were taken in the tombs, years ago, when it was still allowed!)
7 weeks later her first book was done and dusted – and ready for sale. The book was sold as an ebook, Kindle and print.
I got an email from Jane….
‘Wow! People are buying my book!!’
Initial sales were strong, which surprised Jane, as it’s a specialised guide to Luxor, not a typical first -time tourist offering. It is geared towards people with a more in depth understanding of Ancient Egypt, something more than the needs of the typical “whistle stop tour” Nile Cruise day visitor. It still outsold the other travel guides from the mainstream publishers.
FROM A GUIDE BOOK TO A LIFELINE
Around the time of the launch, the Arab Spring Revolution was in full swing and saw the ousting of Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
Sensationalist TV showed army tanks rolling into Luxor.
Jane’s guest bookings dropped like a stone.
Thankfully, the book provided sales income (I am a bit unique in that I take no royalties as a publisher, all the money goes to you) Despite her room occupancy only being 5% of the total since 2011, the lifeline provided by the book has been invaluable.
As you would expect, being a published author positioned Jane as the go-to person for accommodation for archaeologists, academics and independent travellers with a keen interest in Egyptology – people who were still visiting Egypt.
HOW HER BOOK BOOSTED JANE’S AUTHORITY
- the success of Hidden Luxor inspired Jane to write 3 more Egyptology books
- the University of Oxford’s Sackler Library (part of the Bodleian) requested a copy of her book “Breasts: Sacred, Sexy or Secular”
- she is the local “go-to” blogger for the lowdown of the discovery of KV63 (the newest tomb in the the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamun.)
- respected Professor Kent Weeks (American University in Cairo) stored his library of Egyptology books at a dedicated floor in one of Jane’s apartment buildings
- she has hosted several university Egyptology archaeology digs working on high profile projects
- become friends with Lord and Lady Carnarvon, whose ancestors were bankrolling Howard Carter’s exploration of Tutankhamun’s world-famous tomb
- appeared on the same TV programme as Dr Zahi Hawass (whom you may have seen on the Discovery Channel)
- Dr Don Ryan’s archeology team from the Pacific Lutheran University borrowed one of her brush to use clear away dust in some of the undecorated tombs in the Valley of the Kings during a recent research project – it now has pride of place in her office
With Professor Kent Weeks
With Dr Zahi Hawass
HOW HER BOOK RAISED JANE’S PROFILE
One of the biggest benefits of being an author is the boost your credibility gets. Jane was no exception to that rule.
Over the years, she has been featured in many household names for TV, magazines, newspapers and radio, both in the national and international mainstream media.
- Conde Nast Traveler magazine feature
- Fox News Travel TV feature
- Travelmag independent travel feature
- Sunday Times UK national newspaper
- Boston Globe US newspaper feature
- Daily Telegraph UK national newspaper feature
- Egyptian Echo book mention
- American Express Open Forum Global Entrepreneurship
- EasyJet airline magazine paid feature writer for Luxor
- “A Place in the Sun” TV show and magazine feature
- BBC World Service radio – show panellist
- Al Jazeera TV channel appearance
- Hilton Hotel group paid feature writer on Egyptology
- Lonely Planet’s Egypt guide book feature