It is much less difficult to achieve bestseller status for your book than you might imagine, says Chris Day
Surprisingly, it does not mean that you need to sell thousands of copies of your book to be officially recognised as a bestseller – all you need to do is sell the most books in your category at any particular moment. This might be at 3am on a wet Sunday in February for an hour, but that doesn’t matter. If you have sold more than anyone else at that moment, you are a bestselling author! Take a screenshot of the Amazon page showing your book at the top of the category for your proof.
There are two things that you need to consider. The first is choosing your categories with care. The bigger the category, the more difficult it will be to dominate – and you will have some stiff competition – but niche categories are easier. There is an art to choosing categories, but there are some tools to help you.
Firstly, think of other books on a similar theme to your own and look them up on Amazon. You will see the categories they are in by selecting the book and scrolling down to see its specification. You can also see where the book is ranked in each category, so there is no hiding the truth.
To help you see all of the categories to choose from, there are two options. The first is to go to the online tool of the BIC Subject Categories and Qualifiers. Click here for the BOOK CATEGORIES
The second is to go to Amazon and select the Books category on the search bar. Do not put anything in the search bar and click on enter. It will them bring up a list of categories in two ways. The first is a grid of book icons, and the second is a vertical list of links in the left-hand column. It will show you how many books are in each category.
For example, under ‘Fiction’ there are 3,524,431. However, click on Fiction and it will then show you all of the sub-categories. The smallest category shown is something called ‘Lad Lit’ – whatever that is! In that world, there are only 204 books. Crime fiction, by way of contract, has 417,009. Therefore, if your book was in the Lad Lit category, the chances of having a bestseller is very high!
So, how can you tip the scale in your favour? This is where an author pre-launch campaign can make all the difference. The object of the exercise is to incentivise the people on your email list, those following your blog, and those that you connect with on all the social media platforms, to buy your book on a particular day. In a small category, I have seen sales as few as 50 be sufficient to achieve bestseller status.
To get people to do anything, they have to WANT to do it, so you need to give them a good reason. Put together a bundle of media, which can be delivered as a download at no cost to you, but has a high perceived value to your followers. This could be an MP3 audio interview with you talking about what inspired you to write the book and an insight into the process. It might be a MP4 video of a training session you did. Alternatively, it could be a PDF workbook or companion materials that they can download to use alongside the book. Or it could be all of the above. Whatever you offer has to be of value.
You can firstly use this added value package to incentivise people to pre-order your book on Amazon. All of those sales will be processed on the day of publication and will give a good boost to your ratings and hopefully hit the magic bestseller status.
Once the book is launched and you are a bestseller, you need to make an immediate change of strategy and use the knowledge gifts you used to initially drive sales to Amazon, to now drive traffic instead to your own website.
It will always be the case that the books that you sell through your own routes to market will be the most profitable for you. In fact, six time more profitable to you than any sale through the book trade, Amazon or any other third party seller. You will make more money incentivising people to buy direct from you, so use your added value package as a gift to anyone who buys direct from your website. As part of this, NEVER discount your own book on your website. Everyone else, including Amazon, will do just that. But you can do something which they cannot – and that is to add value.
If people are interested in your book, they will also be interested in the rest of your ‘stuff’ – so offer it to them free when they buy your book on your website direct, and the sale will go to you rather than Amazon.
When people are searching for you, your book or your subject area, if you are clever with the way you have filled your website with keywords and searchable content, you will probably come up first on a Google search. You only have one chance to make a first impression. If you want them to buy your book, don’t hide it in the depths of the site – put it on your homepage alongside a video of you telling the potential reader what the book will do for them and the difference it will make to their lives. This is no time to be shy and retiring.
I believe that all authors deserve to be earning more from their books – but sometimes it appears that they have taken a course in sales prevention. Be proud of your book and promote it during every waking hour. Build a following with people who are interested in you, what you think, the experiences you have had, and what you have learned from you – which you have shared in your book.
In reality, the success of your book is nothing to do with achieving bestseller status. It is good for your ego, but what is more important is what happens next. I have seen authors throw all sorts of money at achieving bestseller status and then one week later the book sinks back to one of three million titles, never to surface again. Far better to put all of your energy in using your status as a published author to raise your profile in the marketplace, demonstrate that you are indeed an expert in your field, make yourself media-friendly , be a go-to person on social media, and a thought leader in your subject. This is the way to build a successful business around your book and enjoy the long-term income that you truly deserve.