As a a course in miracles promotion expert, I receive a LOT of requests for consultations from authors who are preparing to publish their books. Some are experienced authors who have published in the past, either self-published or through a royalty publisher. Others are first-time (and usually self-published) authors. During our initial consultation, I tend to hear many of the same questions again and again. As these questions are so key to authors before they decide whether or not to do a full-blown “bestseller launch” for their book, I thought it might be a good idea to pull together my “Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions” I am asked by authors on almost a daily basis.
Q1: How many books will I sell during my online book launch?
First of all, let’s define “the launch” as a 24-48 hour period of time in which we will be driving traffic to buy your book. Asking how many books you will sell during that time is really like asking “How long is a piece of string?” It depends upon so many factors that we can only, at best, give a very broad figure. I have had clients who sell as few as 50 books during a launch and others who have sold around 1000. The average self-published author tends to sell between 300 and 500 books during a launch. Those with major publishers might sell twice that amount, not necessarily because the publisher helps with your promotion, but more because people recognise the “brand identity” of the publisher and are more willing to take a chance on the title. And of course, if you are not a first-time author you will probably sell more books if people know your name already. The key to selling more books is to devote a fair amount of time well before your launch to cultivate and grow your audience. That’s why I spend the first two months of work with my clients developing strategies and systems to build their platform and mailing list before anything else.
Q2: How do I become an Amazon bestseller?
If your book sales are amongst the Top 100 in any category on Amazon, you are technically a “bestseller.” You don’t have to be in the Top 100 of all books. There are dozens of categories and sub-categories on Amazon, and if you achieve a sales ranking in the Top 100 in any of these, you can say you are a bestseller. Of course, it is always nice to hit the “Top 20” or the “Top 5” or (best of all) the #1 sales rank in one or more categories.
Q3: How many books do I need to sell to be an Amazon bestseller?
Again, this is not a question I can answer definitively because being an “Amazon bestseller” is a relative title, and it depends upon: 1) how well other books in your categories are selling on your launch day and 2) how competitive your categories are. Some categories like “Religion and Spirituality” or “Business and Investing” are extremely competitive with thousands of titles up against many famous authors for the top position on the list. Other categories, such as “channelling” or “alternative medicine” are less competitive.
Q4: How can I choose the category I will be in on Amazon?
If you were to ask this question of some of the top publishers (I have), the common answer you will receive is this: “You can’t.”However, I have found this not to be 100% true. Let me explain.
First of all, when you submit a book for publication through Lightning Source (for example), you choose 2 “BIC” (Book Industry Communication) categories, which are standard categories that are used by all publishers and distributors. Now the problem lies in how retailers interpret these categories. Think of the last time you went to look for a book in the shops. Sometimes it might be in the “self help” category, while other times it might be in the “spirituality” section, etc.
Amazon “interprets” your BIC categories according to their “virtual” bookshelf. To make things even MORE confusing, Amazon UK, Canada and US might not interpret your book at all in the same way. Even major publishers have told me they have no real control over this. Some authors find their books placed in very strange categories. BUT here’s the big secret I have found: If your book is not ranking in the right category, you CAN get Amazon to change it via Author Central in the US and the UK. Just write to them and ask them to recategorise your book. One of my recent books was placed in a totally irrelevant category, but when I wrote to Author Central, they very quickly and painlessly put the book into the categories I requested.