Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Amazon Bestseller Formula

Publishers Weekly, back in March, thought it identified how many book sales it takes to make the Amazon bestseller list top 5.  It concluded if about 300 or so copies of a book were sold on Amazon in a given day, it would make the list.  I think it can be even fewer. Here’s why:

·         Those numbers cover just the top 5, but one can make the top 10 or 20 overall with fewer sales.
·         There are many best-seller lists – you can break it down by format, genre, or sub-genre and make some kind of Amazon bestseller list by selling far fewer copies than 300 in a day.
·         Amazon’s lists can change by the hour, so if a book sells, say 100 copies in an hour or two hours, it can hit the list.

Do You Read These Sites?

… As well as these:

Talk About Expansion!
Crayola Crayons had a great idea when it put eight colored crayons on the market in 1903.  By 1949 the selection grew six-fold, to 48 crayons.  Just nine years later that number jumped by 16 to 64.  It grew steadily from there, hitting 96 by 1993.  Now, 20 years later, they sell 120 different colors.  Can your books grow this way, too? Basically, you take a good idea and keep spinning off sequels or variations of the same thing.  Fifty Shades of Green anyone?

Discovery For Authors Begins With Their Social Media and Site
Before writers look to be interviewed on The Today Show or Charlie Rose or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, they need to launch a grass roots campaign that begins right at home – literally. Authors have the power of the click, right on their home computers, tablets and smart phones.  Before hoping the mass media gives exposure to your book, build up a fan base of supporters by having a good Web Site, Facebook page, and a Twitter strategy.  Post regularly on your blog.  Folks, this basic message is missed by more than half the writers out there.  It could be that writers don’t have the time or resources or the desire to make sure they have laid a digital foundation for their writing brand, but by not doing so they nearly doom their chances of long-term, big-time success.

E-book Choices For Self-Publishing
Authors have many choices on how to self-publish an e-book.  Apples iBookstore, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble PubIt, and Amazon’s kindle each offer different royalty systems.  Which one is right for you?

  Interview With Author Steve K. Smy

1.      What type of books do you write? I am, theoretically, working on an epic fantasy novel.  That's hit a wall at the moment.  In the meantime, I've been writing short story and novelette length pieces.  The short stories are in three different genres: fantasy, science fiction, and horror.  They include a series of five related tales.  The novelettes are split into two different series.  One is old fashioned science fiction, the other is something of a mixed genre affair, involving horror, future fiction, parapsychology, occult and supernatural.

2.      What is your newest book about? The newest, Evil Under the Circle, is a sequel – number two in my G1: The Guardians series.  It involves an elite team of specialists who combat the incursions of evil into our world.  It's set at some point in the not too distant future.  In this tale, the discovery of an underground system beneath a megalithic stone circle also releases an evil entity from a captivity that has lasted for millennia.  G1, the elite team of the Guardians, move in.  Defeating the entity will prove to be far from routine, however.

3.      What inspired you to write it? It really came about by accident.  Not wishing to become too comfortable in my writing, I started experimenting with other genres.  The Guardians came about and have now claimed a place in my library of unwritten tales.  This latest offering also reflects a certain fascination with Britain's ancient stone circles and history.

4.      What is the writing process like for you? I am driven to write.  In fact, I have to write.  If I don't, then my head becomes a chaotic blend of different ideas for stories, and even whole scenes playing themselves out.  It's much simpler to give in and put it all into the written word.  One thing I have learnt is that I can't plan it all out.  That kills the spark and I abandon the story.  It just has to flow.  Fortunately, using a computer for writing, correcting problems is much simpler than the old typewriter days.  The hardest part is the editing: all that rereading!  I am, however, a meticulous editor.

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I'd actually have to list various things that I did after I became an author!  I started writing seriously when I was 13 years old.  Since then, I've worked in horticultural research, in purchasing in the engineering department of an electricity supplier (where I became the PC specialist, even though I was self-taught), in retail and as a freelance computer tech.  The advent of disability, while very unwelcome, freed me from employment considerations and I have returned to writing full time.

6.      How does it feel to be a published author? Well, I guess I would have felt greater satisfaction if I had been taken on by a publisher, but self-publishing has still given me a huge sense of achievement.  The best parts have been getting some very nice reviews, receiving a lot of support from other authors and, of course, those first sales!  I will admit to a tremendous sense of joy, and relief, when I saw those sales.  Pennies, perhaps, but that's really not that big a part of the pleasure of writing success.

7.      Any advice for struggling writers? Keep writing!  That's the most important thing of all.  Even if you don't have an audience.  Also, don't box yourself in.  Don't reject any option for getting your work out there.  There are many choices, from blogging, through things like Wattpad and Scribd, through to self-publishing.  You don't have to think in terms of getting an agent and a publisher.  By all means look into the many excellent advice websites, and take from them anything that fits you!  Many people talk about 'rules', but the only rule is that you all rules are guidelines.  And be honest with your writing!  Don't think that you'll be more successful by jumping onto the latest bandwagon.  Whatever fashion there might be for a particular type of book, if you involve yourself in it, then you'll be competing with far more authors for a limited number of readers.  Don't write Twilight type books, for example, if you've always written westerns before.  Stay true.  Experiment, by all means, but for your sake.

8.      Where do you see book publishing heading? I think traditional publishing will be around for a very long time, though it is likely to slowly contract into one or two big publishers and lots of little ones.  Print on demand (POD) may well take a bigger share, as publishers try to keep costs minimised.  Digital publishing will, probably, take the biggest share, eventually.  The chances are that ebook producers will start to feature some very sophisticated features in their products, with ever more interactivity.  For instance, I can foresee a time when a networkable eReader will be made available to schools and libraries, so that a single copy of an ebook is held on the master device and disseminated by wifi to satellite devices, so that students, for example, can still participate in class reading sessions.  Such devices would probably also appear in business, where security might require limited numbers of certain documents; the devices allowing conferences to be held while only one copy of a document is ever actually held by the master device.  There will also be a continued evolution of “picture books” for children, expanding into the realm of encyclopedias and dictionaries.  Text books will be the biggest winners.  They won't need to be reprinted all the time, to stay current.  The revisions would simply be fed directly into the existing ebooks.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013

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