Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How To Publish A Best-Selling Book

There’s more than one way to publish a best-selling book, but here are 10 strategies that have worked so far:

1.      It’s not enough to publish a great book.  In fact, many best-sellers aren’t any better, in quality content, than most other books.  It’s good if your book is well written, edited properly, sells for a fair price, has a catchy title and is packaged nicely – but none of that alone guarantees a best-seller.  It’s a start.  To not have those elements could cost you sales.

2.      Publishing with a brand–name publisher helps, but it alone doesn’t guarantee a best-seller nor does not going with a big publisher preclude you from being a best-selling author.

3.      When you publish your book, as in time of year (gift season vs. April), will influence sales.  Further, depending on the genre you publish in, there are less competitive times to release your book, thus increasing your chances of hitting a best-seller list.

4.      The true key to a best-seller is distribution.  A print-on-demand book has almost no chance of making a bestseller list.

5.      Sales need to be accounted for in order to hit a list.  For instance, if you sold 9,000 copies of your book via your website, those sales won’t count towards a best-seller list because no one knows about them.  Same goes if you sell a ton of books directly to an organization or at an event.   Unless the books were ordered via Amazon, B&N, or independent stores or other reporting channels, the sales don’t really exist.

6.      Timing is key.  The best chance to be a best-seller is with pre-orders.  Months before your official release date you can gather pre-orders and then they will all count towards your week one sales.  Basically, you can have 10-20 weeks to gather sales as if they happened in one week.

7.      Best-seller lists are based on sales occurring in a given week, not the lifetime of a book.  A book that sells 3,500 copies in a week could be on a best-seller list, such as that of Publishers Weekly and a book that sells 35,000 copies in a year may never make a list because in any one specific week not enough sales were registered at the reporting stores/sites).

8.      To get a best-seller you need to call upon family, friends, colleagues and the vast network you’ve built up with social media way before your book is released.  You need to alert people that your book is coming out, give them a deadline to buy it by, encourage them to buy it via Barnes & Noble, other bookstores, or Amazon, and beg them to tell others to do so.  You can incentivize them with a legal bribe.  Tell them when they buy a book and email you a receipt, you’ll send them a digital gift of value.  Perhaps it’s extra content, a free pass to a webinar, a huge discount to another product or service, or something free that someone else gave you to share with others that is perceived as being useful or interesting.

9.      You can manipulate your way onto the best-sellers lists.  There are a handful of companies that arrange for authors to make a best-seller list.  The cost exceeds $150,000 – sometimes more.  You can, if you have a large list of loyal connections, ask people to buy the book and then reimburse them some or all of the cost or promise them something in monetary value that equals or exceeds the book's price.  This happens often, especially with business books.

10.  Finally, good old fashioned publicity and marketing, when consolidated over a targeted period of time, can propel a book to the best-seller lists.  It’s a numbers game.  You need volume – a quantity of quality media placements such as dozens of bloggers writing about you, doing scores of radio interviews and capturing major media attention with television or leading print outlets.

There are all kinds of bestseller lists.  Here are a few:
·         New York Times
·         USAToday
·         Wall Street Journal
·         Publishers Weekly
·         Amazon
·         Kindle
·         Nook
·         Apple
·         Kobe Reader

Some daily newspapers, like The Miami Herald, have their own lists, too.

The lists may not just rank all books over all, but by genre or format.

Many bestseller lists are calculated based on what’s reported by BookScan (believed to capture 75% of all sales) or Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million-Hudson’s, Hastings, Desert Books, and a few thousand independent bookstores.

Speaking tours, bulk sales, advertising campaigns, and other resources are available to help you create a best-seller campaign.  But being a best-selling author is still a rare thing.  Consider that there are 320 million Americans and about a million books are published annually.  There were about 300 New York Times bestselling authors in 2013 and 442 US billionaires.  So being a billionaire was more common than becoming a NYT bestselling author last year. 

Many people want to be a bestselling author because:
·         It will make them popular, maybe even liked.
·         The book sales will net them a nice profit.
·         Being a bestselling author helps them in their career branding.
·         They will get the attention of publishers, movie studios, or others who can offer book deals or other opportunities.
·         It positions them to be corporate pitchmen.
·         It strokes their ego and gives them validation as a writer.
·         It will help the book continue to sell and to further get out a message to the masses.

Of course one should never get into the publishing industry because they expect to get rich or famous, because neither is likely to happen and either reason is the wrong one to write books.  Wealth, glory and success are things worth achieving but only if it grows out of an initial intent to write a useful and interesting book that will entertain, inform, inspire, and enlighten others.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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