Becoming a "bestselling author" is a dream for many.
If it's your desire and you want it simply for the bragging rights, here's a little guide you can follow.
If you actually want to make a career of writing books, this might help you get your start.
But if you're looking for a serious award and to make it onto a "legit" list like the NYT, this isn't the guide for you.
I put this together as I recently created a short (9800ish words) eBook and got it to rank in the #1 spot in multiple categories on the Amazon Kindle store.
Why am I writing about what I did? Well...
- There's a lot of misconceptions about being a "bestselling author"
- There are a few benefits to having a book do well
I'll kick this off by saying anyone who brags about being an "Amazon Bestselling Author" is a pretentious dick.
It's super easy to achieve and counts for nothing in the grand scheme of things.
However, there can be benefits.
I'll run you through the system I used to achieve this with about a week's worth of effort and 3 hours of promotion time.
I have a new site where we cover the latest scams and hacks in Crypto/Web3 and offer user-generated reviews of the popular platforms.
That site is Derev.co.
The idea is to help people make more informed decisions and not fall victim to the scams that claimed $14B in 2021.
I got to work researching. I basically pulled apart the tweets and research from people like...
And then I joined a tonne of Discords, subreddits, communities, FB Groups etc in the space to see how things are promoted.
Finally, I joined one of two projects I thought legit to see how they did things the "right way".
Anyway, with all the research I was doing for the site, I thought it might make a good little guide. All I had to do was chronicle the most common approaches for good and bad projects.
I asked a few people in the space who I know are experienced and/or have influence, and they thought the guide a good idea - especially as there are so many new scams now.
So, I got to writing.
Writing the guide
I have an unfair advantage here as I've been a copywriter for about a decade.
However, I did start this with the intent of it being an email course linked to the site.
You know the drill - sign up for a simple email course on X. People get helpful advice, I get an email address I can market to.
Anyway, after draft 1 was done I wondered if an email course was the best approach.
I recently broke down how Alex Hormozi grew the email list of Acquisition.com with the $100M Offers book and thought I could do something similar (on a lesser scale).
If I turned it into an eBook there are a few extra benefits...
- I can still use it as a lead magnet (current exit-intent popup CVR is about 6.5% for lead capture)
- A good book will also show up in Amazon and Google search for relevant terms
- Books have more perceived value than email course
- If it sells, it makes money on the sale as well as the back end upsells I can do
- Can be used more easily for JV promos and partnerships
- Amazon affiliates can promote for me
So I spent a few hours reformatting to be more in line with an eBook than an email list.
Changed the title to be a little more arresting so it stands out in the Amazon search results. "How to Spot Crypto Scams".
With that done, I just needed to convert it to an eBook format properly (.ePub for uploading to Amazon).
This bit was easy.
I went to Fiverr and hired 2 people for just under $100.
One worked on the cover. We went through 2 rounds of revisions. I looked at who I'd be competing with and they all had cover designs that had some combination of...
- Dark backgrounds
- Silver, gold colour text
- Stock photo of "hackers"
- The Bitcoin, ETH logos
I decided to buck the trend and get a brightly coloured cover with simple white text. Obviously with the word SCAM being the biggest word on there.
The designer also did 3D mockups of the cover for social promos.
That took around 36 hours and ~$60.
I then took the manuscript to a second contractor who added nice heading chapters and changed it all to a working ePub format with clickable ToC and links etc.
That cost around $30.
24 hours later, I had something I could upload to Amazon and use as a lead magnet on the site.
Optimisation of listing
Uploading the actual book to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is super straightforward.
However, there are a few things that can help with better rankings.
First is knowing your keywords.
The book and my site are on avoiding crypto scams. So I used a crazy cheap keyword tool (Keywords Everywhere) to identify high volume but mid to low competition keywords around...
I then put these keywords into the book's description so it has a better chance of ranking for relevant searches.
When you upload your book you can choose 2 categories.
However, your book can rank for up to 10.
I went to similar books in the space and looked at which categories they were ranking for and made a note of the full chain.
It looks something like this...
Books > Computers & Technology > History & Culture > Digital Currencies
Write down another 8 of these you want to rank for. Then find the "contact" section in KDP and find the "categories" option. You can then send Amazon the categories you want to be listed in and they'll add your book to up to 10 of these.
Choosing the right ones is key here.
You can rank #1 incredibly easily if you choose a category that has few competitors or low-value offers.
In fact, choosing the right categories might be the easiest way to get a #1 ranked book.
Offer it for free
The final thing you need to do is enrol your book in KDP Select. This allows you to run a promotion of 5 days every 90 days.
For those 5 days, your book is free.
Which means "selling" it is ezpz.
Choose a start date for the free promo and get your promotions ready.
This again, is one of the differentiators. You won't make any money in those 5 days, however, you'll get initial readers and reviews of your book which will help it rank when the free promo ends.
Short term loss, long term gain.
On day 1, I spent about 3 hours on promotional tactics and it was enough to hit #1 that day.
I actually hit the #1 spot in various categories including...
- Investing books
- Analysis and Trading investing systems
- Online trading
However, you only rank #1 for the "free" section, the paid section is where the heavy hitters will be hanging out and they're tougher to beat.
Overall, the book rose to #1255 for the entire Kindle Free eBook selection.
The crazy thing is, I hit the #1 spot in those categories after only 100 downloads of the free ebook.
Technically, if you go to the subcategory, I'm listed as a best selling author.
Here's what I did to get there.
- Asked friends and family to download
- Hit my email list up with the freebie and asked them to grab it
- Shared to multiple "free ebook" communities
- Shared on my socials
- Shared to "free eBook" websites
Took me about 3 hours to do all that. Within a few hours, it was #1 in those categories.
What does this all mean?
In the grand scheme of things, nothing.
No one brags (or should brag) about being a best selling Amazon author as it's so easy to game that system.
The #1 spot is also constantly in flux with changes every 2 hours or so.
Selling 100 copies of a free eBook isn't anything to brag about.
However, it does give you a lot of leverage something like a blog post won't.
Weirdly, people view eBooks (even self-published short ones) with more value than a blog post or email.
Which makes it easier for you to use it to generate things like...
- JV promos
- Content collaborations
- Easy affiliate offers for partners
You basically have an asset that can be used and reused to generate more interest.
And if you continue to promote it in things like...
- An on-site exit-intent popup (mine gets a ~6.5% average CVR right now)
- Within your email newsletters
- On your social bios
- Once per week in a social post
You should continue to rank highly on Amazon. This means your book will also show up on Google and Amazon for related searches.
You're basically using the greater reach and established audience of search engines and the world's largest marketplace to drive more awareness and interest in your brand.
And if you put relevant links and recommendations in the book to check out your business's site, that interest should come back to your brand on a platform you own.
Is it worth it?
If you're already producing content and could package it into an eBook, then I say go for it.
That is as long as you can continue to promote it. if you promote it well, it should bring in other people you might not otherwise reach through showing in search.
However, if you think you can do this as a one-time thing and continue to reap the benefits long term, you'll be disappointed.
Like any other business, this requires constant promotion.
Ranking #1 right now means nothing on Amazon. As soon as someone else sells 100 copies on their freebie promo you'll be knocked off the #1 spot.
The perceived value of doing this is higher than just publishing to your site, however. So make sure you continue to promote and leverage that public opinion.
Cheers for sticking with this long one. If you want to check out the book, the link is below (it's free until April 17th).