Becoming an Amazon Bestseller

Not long after on-demand self-publishing hit the mainstream, and Amazon started putting every other company out of business (like Borders, CompUSA, etc.), a “marketing strategy” began circulating about a sales technique whereby a book could (at least momentarily) skyrocket to #1 on the Amazon bestsellers list.  Before this technique started becoming saturated, authors closely following this strategy often saw their books reach an overall Amazon bestsellers ranking of #1.  Then, as more and more authors followed the same steps, it became acceptable to call oneself a “#1 Amazon Bestseller” simply if the book reached #1 in a very specific genre-category on Amazon (which is still nothing to sneeze at).

Most of you have probably seen about or read about this strategy before, but just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick run-down of how it works and why it works.

HOW IT WORKS 

  1. Pick a specific day in which you will strive for “bestseller status” on Amazon. Make it far enough in advance to accomplish the rest of these steps.
  2. Create Joint Ventures with other authors and/or online marketers. A “Joint venture” is a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby you partner with another writer/entrepreneur to trade something of value (an eBook, for example) with one another in exchange for something else of value (each other’s mailing lists, or word-of-mouth publicity).  Many authors and entrepreneurs are open to being Joint Ventures on Amazon Bestsellers programs because they know you will actively promote it (which is necessary for success). Through that promotion, their eBook, or “product” will receive additional exposure they would otherwise not be able to achieve.  The best and easiest way to find possible Joint Venture partners is by looking at other Amazon Bestsellers campaigns (perhaps you’ve received an email), and following up with the same people.
  3. Contact each of your Joint Venture partners and introduce yourself and your book and ask if they’d like to help you with your marketing campaign.  Ask if they would be willing to give away something of value to your customers in exchange for some publicity, and/or a free copy of your book.  Some will say yes. Others may say no.  It rarely takes much of their time, since you are handling almost all the details, so this is a nice time when you receive more “yes’s” than “no’s”. All they have to do is donate the “free bonus” and offer to email their mailing list on the specific date you decided upon in Step #1.
  4. Once you’ve collect 10 or so Joint Ventures, you need to make a “Sales Page” on the internet.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, depending upon your proficiency with HTML.  The purpose of the “Sales Page” is to “sell” your book and, as extra incentive, offer your customers “Free Bonuses”, the combined value of which exceeds the cost of your book.  These free bonuses are compliments of all your Joint Partners; so your sales page also identifies and “sells” each of the Joint Venture products, too.  If your book costs $19.95, but you are giving away $200 worth of “free stuff” anyone with even a passing interest in your book may pony up the twenty bucks just to get all the extras.
  5. At the bottom of the Sales Page is the Buy Button. There are a variety of ways to do this, also, depending upon your HTML proficiency.  You can send them directly to Amazon and ask them to forward you a receipt (the manual process), or you can provide a Promotion Code which entitles them to automatic downloads of all the free bonuses (the automatic process).  Whichever method you choose, make sure your instructions and directions are very clear for them, so they know they’ll get everything you are offering.  If you go the “manual” route, be prepared to deliver upon your promises, even if thousands of orders come in (what a great problem to have!)
  6. Alternatively, you can create the “sales page” within the body of your email that you are sending out. The email still ends with the Amazon Buy Button directing each recipient to your Amazon Sales Page.  You must send your customers to Amazon, rather than selling the book directly yourself. After all, the whole point is to reach an Amazon bestsellers ranking, and that only occurs if your book sales are going through Amazon.
  7. At the date and time determined in Step #1, send your email to your mailing list.  Send out a quick reminder email to your Joint Partners to do the same thing. Provide them with the same email so they don’t have to write anything themselves.  Theoretically, the same email will therefore go to thousands upon thousands of people (when you combine your mailing list with the lists of all 10+ of your Joint Partners) all at roughly the same time, all promoting your book, and all offering hundreds of dollars in “bonuses” to your new readers.
  8. Depending upon the size of the combined lists, even if only a small percentage of people buy your book, it is often enough to “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into skyrocketing your book’s Amazon Bestsellers campaign.

WHY IT WORKS 

Well, that’s why the word “trick” is in quotation marks.  Amazon’s Ranking algorithm tabulates quantity of sales within periods of time. So a book that normally sells 1 book a month that suddenly sells 10 books an hour will “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into thinking it’s selling like hotcakes (because, relatively speaking, it is!).  This is why it’s important for the sales email to be sent on the same day by all the Joint Partners, and ideally all within the same short period of time.  Recipients who act upon the email, and buy your book, will do so within a condensed period of time, which will probably catapult your Amazon Sales Ranking.

Will your ranking last?  No (so be sure to watch Amazon throughout the day and take screen shots). But “#1 Amazon Bestsellers” have never worried too much about divulging the fine print.

amazon bookstore


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Self-Publishing News: 7.18.2016

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

In some cases, an article’s title can mislead, and in other cases, an article’s subtitle can reveal a whole lot more than expected.  This is certainly true of a July 11 article by Aaron Pressman in Fortune, which at first glance might seem to be a bad-news memo but in actual fact is rather packed with hopeful news for the indie author.  The subtitle?  “But growing sales of self-published e-books may offset the drop.”  So in other words, readers continue to read, books continue to sell, and the only change that matters is that self-publishing authors get both a larger slice of the total market and a larger slice of their own royalties (as well as all of those other benefits to going solo).  According to Pressman, 11% drop in e-book sales reported by traditional publishers is in large part the result of the Big Five publishing houses attempting to curb online retailer Amazon’s influence over the market by controlling (read: boosting) their own e-book prices.  Not only is this ploy failing, but it’s failing rather quickly–leaving a real demand amongst avid readers for affordably-priced e-books to fill the gap.  And self-publishing authors, as Pressman documents, continue to step up.  For more of Pressman’s fascinating article, follow the link!

Pretty insane, right?  Not according to Jennifer Blanchard in her July 12 article for the Huffington Post.  According to Blanchard, death is set to come for us all–and just dreaming about being the author she’d always wanted to become wasn’t cutting it.  (“[Y]ou probably thought I was going to say I’m doing it because I’m dying and want to rush and get my books out there before I kick the bucket. And well, you wouldn’t be totally wrong.  I am dying.  But so are you.”)  At the time she made the decision to publish 9 new books, she already had 5 self-published through Amazon and was making $30-$40 a month.  She articulates her dream–and the dreams of many unpublished authors out there–for success as wanting “the big time”:

 I want a huge catalog of self-published books, nonfiction and novels. I want a massive, raving fanbase full of ideal readers who buy all my books. I want a traditional publisher to come to me with a million-dollar book deal. I want Hollywood knocking down my door for the movie rights.

But, she says, she and her dreams were not “aligned.”  She was “playing small.”  And so Jennifer Blanchard decided to change things–and within months of making a public commitment, she was raking in the dividends.  “I became an Amazon Best-Selling author,” she says, and “In June, I sold 1,007 books. In a 30-day period.”  All without changing a thing about how she writes and what she writes.  The only change, Blanchard reports, is that she chose to write and publish more books.  “I created this kind of success because I decided to. Plain and simple,” she writes.  For the entire story, click here.

“A self-published book took the top slot on the most recent iBooks bestseller list,” reports John Maher in this July 14 update for Publisher’s Weekly.  The book in question is Kendall Ryan’s Hitched, Volume 1.  Hitched, the first title in Ryan’s “Imperfect Love” series, took the #1 spot on this week’s list for all ebooks sold through the iBooks Apple store–a truly impressive feat, when you think about it.  It’s not the only  self-published title to make the top 20, with the second volume of Hitched making #15, but it’s the only one to break the top 10.  Billie Taylor’s self-published novel Just Friends sits comfortably at #13, Brenda Rothert’s His at #16, and Find Me by Laurelin Paige holds its own at #18.  Whether or not this wonderful showing for indie authors can be attributed to the trends in ebook sales documented by Aaron Pressman, above, remains unclear–but you can bet this list will continue to demonstrate a strong showing for indie authors of all brands over the coming months.  You can find the original list here.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Achieve Your Summer Reading Goals While on Vacation

Reading is one of the best things writers can do to improve their own work. Reading offers inspiration, teaches the craft, and provides insight into what is (or isn’t) successful right now. I frequently encourage writers to set reading goals — read a certain number of books per month. Your summer vacation is the perfect time to achieve those summer reading goals.

Years ago, when you went on vacation you’d pack a small stack of books to enjoy on the plane or as you laid by the pool. Once those books were finished, your reading was done. Obviously for space reasons (and wonderful suitcase weight limits), it just wasn’t possible to pack all the books you wanted to read. Luckily, times have changed.

E-readers make reading while traveling easy. You can download books to reader before leaving or wait and download books as you need them. This offers countless reading possibilities.

While you probably already have a reading wish list, I encourage you to read something you wouldn’t normally read. This is a great way to step outside your comfort zone and discover a new writing style that might just inspire your own work. For book suggestions, check out bestselling lists such as Outskirts Press Top 10 Kindle Books.

I’d love to know, what are you reading on your summer vacation?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 9/17/13

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

Why You Should Self-Publish

This successful self-published author talks about how his latest self-publish book recently debuted #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List and how he has sold over a million books in the last two years. My favorite part of the article is when the author says, “My happiest days were spent writing, not being a bestselling author.” I also like when he states, “Implicit in the message that only some people should publish is the stance that all publishing is commercial, it’s all about making money, about being a bestseller, a pro. But that’s not the reason I do it.”

Self-Publishing on a Shoestring: Amazon’s Matchbook Program

There has been a lot of buzz about Amazon’s Matchbook Program. The program gives customers who buy a print copy of a book in the program a deeply discounted or free Kindle version of the same book. It’s similar to what Amazon has been doing with their audiobooks, where anyone who buys an e-book, can order a deeply discounted audiobook version, as well.

Self-Publishing Is Growing Up

Publishers Weekly is significantly beefing up its coverage of self-publishing authors. PW Select, a guide to self-publishingwill go monthly in October.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self Publishing Week in Review: 12/25/12

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self publishing process, which will lead to a greater self publishing experience. To help you stay current on self publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news in self publishing this week.

Self-Publishing: No Longer Just a Vanity Project

There was a time when self-publishing companies were called vanity presses, and self-publishing authors weren’t taken seriously because they didn’t take the traditional publishing route. This is no longer the case. Now self-publishing authors are hitting bestsellers lists and being reviewed in the New York Times, and they have access to the same professional services as traditionally published authors.

Another First for Self-Publishing

This article talks about self-publishing in 2012. Some of the highlights include self-publishing having $100 million in revenue, numerous authors who were picked up by major publishing houses, and self-publishing books hitting bestselling lists. The real story was about a first for the industry: a self-published book being named to the best-books of the year list of the highly respected and ultra-tough book reviewer for the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani.

Senior Authors Embrace Self-Publishing

This article talks about the popularity of self-publishing among seniors. Many of them want to share their story or finally publish the book they’ve spent their whole lives wanting to write. With the ease and affordability of self-publishing, they are now able to do just that.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Book Sales and Self-Publishing

In my time writing and working in publishing, I’ve interacted with many authors.  As you may imagine, discussion often involves author goals and determining the best publishing options to meet those goals.  Who doesn’t want to sell books?  Some authors have even made poor decisions the first time around; it helps them realize that it is never too late to switch to a better publisher.

Very often I hear the following question: “How many millions of books do you think I will sell?”

My answer is best summarized by this information, which tallies the actual BookScan sales figures for all published books in 2004—a typical year in the publishing industry:

Only 10 books sold a million copies or more.

BookScan is like the TV-ratings for books, and these figures do not track non-bookstore related sales. Far more books are sold outside of the book trade (to book clubs and catalogs, for example).

Some self-publishing options actually open the distribution door to all those venues and more, without the up-front printing costs of off-set printing.  The publishing world is changing and authors are taking advantage.



Share this Post

Become an Amazon.com Bestseller! – From one Self-Published author to another

Sally Shields is a speaker, radio personality and author of the Outskirts Press #1 Amazon.com bestseller, The Daughter-in-Law Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-in-Law!

This Bestseller Strategy is so powerful, yet so simple, it turned Sally’s book into a bestseller overnight, and she is passionate about helping others do the same.

So many authors can benefit from this type of knowledge, as the publishing industry has changed so much. Even if you are signed with a top Publisher such as a Simon and Schuster or a Wiley or Random House, unless your are Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer, you are going to have to do your own publicity.

With this program, you will discover one of the most powerful almost zero-cost internet strategies that will help you gain massive visibility, credibility and prestige, boost your sales, get the media and influential industry insiders such as literary agents, book editors, and foreign rights buyers to sit up and take notice!

A 5 week mentoring course with bestselling author Sally Shields— 100% money-back guaranteed. If you’re ready to reach more readers with your message and your book, this may be just the course you have been looking for. Begins in early January.

www.sallyshields.com/coaching/