Make the Best Sellers List.

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So you want to know what it took to make the best sellers list on Amazon. Well, I’ll tell you (and yes for FREE).

The first thing you MUST do is write a good book. I don’t care how much you spend on advertising or how long you made #1 on the FREE list, if you don’t write a decent book, you will have a very difficult time making it on any PAID list. Having said that, if you spend time learning Amazon and the hundreds of book lists available to the consumer, you will begin to see there are certain categories that have fewer than one hundred books. So, if you write a book in that genre or sub-group, you should land on the “best sellers list.”

Nevertheless, here’s what I did. Prior to, and during the release, I did approximately five months of intensive marketing. All of it was directed to everyone who hadn’t already purchased my novel, Gray Ghost, or those who were considering making another purchase as a gift. I ASKED them to make a purchase on the same day. To magnify the effect of the Amazon analytic software (to demonstrate a lot of sales in a short period of time to increase the odds of making the list), I tried to get everyone to buy within the same one-hour time frame (12-noon).

To entice more buyers, I worked with the publisher and Amazon to get the Kindle price of the novel to .99c for a five day period (free option through Amazon but needs to be done by publisher unless you are an indie author, then you can make this happen with an email to Amazon). The paperback price remained the same. I would have liked to lower it, but the publisher said no.

I PAID for advertising for this event to coincide with the five day period the book was at .99c. These are the advertising groups/companies I used and what I paid them:

I used Goodreads ($10),

Facebook ($10),

Twitter (free),

Linked-In (free),

blogs, “Blog-Marathon” (free, time consuming),

Independent Author Network (IAN1, @authornetwork,$29.95),

DigitalBook Today http://www.digitalbooktoday.com/ ($20),

KindleBooksandTips http://www.fkbooksandtips.com ($20),

BookBub  http://www.bookbub.com/ ($25)

Author Marketing Club (WLC, http://www.authormarketingclub.com ($19.95)

TOTALS: $134.90* It should be noted that accept BookBub and Digital Book Today, the others continue to advertise Gray Ghost, and we’re into month five on this budget…

I can’t give you the numbers of books sold for each advertiser because Amazon does not provide them to authors with traditional publishers and my old publisher would not provide me this data. Hence, I moved along and found a new publisher. I do know that you need to sell at least one hundred (100) books in a day, sometimes in an hour depending on the genre, to get on a best selling list. My book was ranked in the #200,000’s for paperback and #67,000’s for Kindle prior to the sale.

However, here’s the results:

Gray Ghost for Kindle made as high as #22 on the PAID Kindle list for Crime Fiction. It also made as high as #41 on the PAID Kindle list for Mystery. An unexpected bonus was the book STAYED on the list for almost a week, which seems to support that the advertising had a long-term effect on sales.

Unexpectedly, Gray Ghost for paperback also made the best sellers list. The book was full priced at the time ($12.95) and made as high as #87 in Mystery and #63 in Crime Fiction. This format, however, only lasted two days on the list. I suspect people were buying it because some enjoy a paperback and others were not realizing they were buying the paperback format. Either way, it was a bonus for me.

PRIOR to this event, I had approximately nineteen (19) reviews for the book (from date of release and four months into the project). After the event, I had fifty nine (59) reviews (from event to today). FORTY more reviews! This was an unexpected increase in reviews and as we all know, reviews on Amazon are crucial for exposure and sales.

During the event and for a month after, AMAZON began advertising my book to readers of Crime Fiction, Thrillers, and Mystery. I suspect their analytic software alerted them to a book selling well so they promoted it further. That’s the beauty of Amazon. They back the books that are selling to keep the sales going and to make more profit for Amazon. I also gained from this, as they were sending hundreds of emails out with “What’s Hot in Mystery” and my novel was the first on top of the list. That’s always a good thing.

I’m thankful my book made the best sellers list on Amazon, but it should be noted that it is entirely different to make the NY Times best sellers list. It’s a more competitive market and collects sales in at least five different markets. Totaling the numbers of books sold generates a list, and the NY Times publishes it.  Indie authors make this list (Renee Carlino comes to mind), but the overwhelming number of authors making this list are in traditional houses, and when I say traditional houses, I’m talking about the BIG Five.

Whelp, I hope this info will help you in some way achieve your goals. My number one piece of advice is to write well and write often. you should also read a ton. All the hard work will pay off in the end. This is a very difficult business with lots of butt-kissing, cut-throat contracts, and people preying on would-be authors. Rise above it. There’s light at the end of a completed manuscript, story, prose, or poem. It’s your job to find it.

C.L.Swinney

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