Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Best-Seller Book Marketing Formula

What’s the marketing formula for getting a book to be a bestseller?  Is there such a formula, and if so, how does it get applied?

Let’s start with a few simple observations and questions:

·         Great books don’t automatically become bestsellers
·         Many bestsellers are mediocre books
·         There are many bestseller lists – which ones do you want to make, how high do you want to get, and how long will you last on them?
·         Being a bestseller can generate more sales and open doors to authors to get more speaking gigs, book deals, movie deals, media exposure, etc.  It can also do nothing at all.

There are several ways to get on a bestseller list and for now, let’s focus on the one that’s driven by a lot of publicity.

The easiest way (but nothing’s easy) to get on a bestseller list is to generate pre-orders.  This means months before your book is officially released, people can buy it. They go to a store or online at amazon and pay in advance.  The book’s delivered around the publication date.  All of the pre-orders count towards the first week of sales.  This gives you a lot of time to build on that number.  

For some genres and bestseller lists, such as Non-Fiction, Hardcover for Publishers Weekly, just 3,000 sales could be enough to make its bestseller list.  If you take three months to build this up – that’s fewer than 250 books per week.  That’s your best shot!

The next best way to make a bestseller list is at smaller media outlets. For instance, some newspapers publish their own regional or local bestseller lists.  Making The Miami Herald Top 10 could be doable, especially if your title particularly appeals to the local area.

Online, the easiest way to get on a list is at, since it requires fewer sales to rise up its charts vs. Amazon.  But even if you pursue a higher Amazon ranking, you just need one good hour.  Yes, sales are calculated hourly, so if you sell, say 120 copies in an hour through some special promotion, you may, for a moment, crack the top 50 or 10 of all books being sold.  Further, they have many genre and subgenre lists that with just a few dozen sales here and there, could be yours to own.  You could legitimately say you’re an Amazon bestseller if you rank in the top of a genre.  Let’s say there’s a genre like Non-Fiction/Travel/Photography and your book is 12th for an hour.  You are a bestselling author.

So how can publicity help?

Any time you do a concentrated, targeted sales effort, you stand a better chance of gathering enough sales to qualify for a list.  This is why all-day blog tours can be effective, as well as all-morning radio tours where you are interviewed like by 20 radio stations.  This is why when a book is about to be released, like a movie, the premiere week is filled with one media interview after another.

Authors can call in favors and time their bulk sales efforts and social media blasts to hit simultaneously.  Remember, just a few dozen or hundred book orders in a concentrated time period could boost you onto a list.

So many books don’t sell beyond one thousand copies, but even such titles could become bestsellers if they time and group their sales.

A winning formula might look like this:

·         Encouraging friends and family to pre-order books.
·         Soliciting bulk sales from organizations.
·         Doing lots of book signings during the book’s launch week.
·         Participating in blog tours and radio tours during the launch week.
·         Getting strong reviews before the book releases.

Good luck!


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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