The road to becoming a best seller is long, but not as long as you think.
The vast majority of people who publish books online don’t make enough money to sustain themselves. This fact is sad but true. To give you an idea about how this works, let me show you some numbers, and don’t worry this isn’t going to be a depressing post. In fact, I think the most resourceful person who reads this can and should try to write in spite of these numbers, because the person who’s driven to succeed will likely find that self-publishing has a lot of room for success stories.
The top 100 in each category. Why is it important?
The goal I’ve set out to achieve for myself is to crack the top 100 in a category. Why? Every single category on Kindle shows the top 100 best sellers for both free & paid. And on top of showing this, there’s an RSS feed you can subscribe to so you can stay apprised of best sellers. Now, I’ve never subscribed to one of these feeds before, but I’m willing to bet there are reviewers, agents, and publishers watching these categories, which means if you’re doing everything right you might get on somebody’s radar. However, is it possible to get there on your own?
Cracking the top 100. How many sales does it take?
There’s a good chance it takes far less than you’re expecting. Now, every category is going to be different, but the nice thing about getting into the world of publishing, is that in most cases, the number of readers you can potentially sell your book to is an elastic figure. That means, the total number of potential readers in a particular category today is not the absolute total of potential readers of your book. Why is that? Books are a relatively inexpensive investment. In fact, the number of people who buy books is greater than the number of people who read them. And if you consider that $10 is less than the cost of a meal at most restaurants, or a cocktail at many bars, then it becomes obvious that many of the people you know would be able to get you into the top 100. So, how many sales does it take?
Take a look at this. This is the highest I’ve climbed in my specific category, and if you think it took some astronomical amount of sales, let me set you straight. This was the result of 17 sales in one day running a Kindle countdown deal. My book, normally priced at $9.99, went on sale for $.99. Now, I posted on my social media channels, twitter, facebook, and I spent about $25 buying an ad on a Kindle promotion website, and I’m not sure which one of the channels is the main contributor to this discount because of it. Even more shocking is that I nearly approached this number of sales at the full price during the preorder period.
So, let’s extrapolate from that. If I could hypothetically get 17 sales at full price every business day of the year, assume 5 days x 4 weeks, x 12 months, what would that mean to me? That would be about 4,080 book sales. Now, because book sales are an elastic market, that is, there are people who don’t regularly read, or they haven’t read in a while, but they might pick up a book when it carries some special significance, you have a tremendous opportunity. If I had gotten every sale, and coordinated with my friends/family/strangers I met at bars and public events, it’s entirely possible that I would’ve cracked that top 100, and become a best seller. But more than that, I could’ve come in at somewhere around the top 5,000 Kindle books total.
The questions I should be asking myself are about what I want after. For example:
- Have I written a book I’m proud of?
- Am I excited to talk about this book?
- Have I reached enough reviewers, and gotten featured across the web?
- Am I excited to work on my next project?
- Am I getting better at writing?
Unless you’re Harper Lee, Long-term success depends on how you answer these questions. If you want to be an overnight success, and retire, the odds are against it, but if you’ve put a great deal of effort into the craft of writing, you might as well do everything you can to launch that book into best seller status.
You can probably do this on your own, but if you want help, I want to work with you.
Seriously, I hope you do this on your own. I would love to see the Kindle success story that doesn’t revolve around Amazon’s algorithm randomly launching you into the stratosphere. I would love to see a self-published author taken seriously while going out, and guerrilla marketing their way to success through 100 sales in a day. I would love to see that person get excited to put pen to paper after they get feedback from someone that says “you really suck at writing and here’s why.”
Why? There are enough people out there who are deterred by failure and obstacles. There aren’t enough people out there who endure. You might be one of them. And whether you want to write fiction, non-fiction, or something technical, if you feel like you have something to say, it’s time to say it. You never know who you will inspire.
Will Ruff is the author of The Tomb of the Primal Dragon, and he wants to help you write a book. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or some method of lead generation for your business, you should get in touch with him by emailing him at [email protected]