How to make your book a bestseller

If having your book labelled as a bestseller is important to you, you’ve come to the right place!

Becoming a bestseller is not something that happens by chance. There are a lot of moving parts which must be timed right in order to achieve bestseller ranking.

In this article I list what you need to put in place to become a bestseller on Amazon.

The same principles apply to any bestseller list really, although the really big ones (New York Times etc) have a few quirks to them which are used at a commercial publishing level, and although they feature self-published and indie authors with some regularity, they’re playing a much bigger (and more costly) game than most of my clients and community have the team and the budget for.

For now, let’s stick to what you can more realistically achieve as a self-published author.




In this article, we will cover:

Is being a bestseller important?

For many people, being a bestseller is mostly a pride thing. It’s great to be labelled as a bestseller. Who doesn’t want recognition for being the best at something?!

In my view, a non-fiction book, such as a self-help, business book or memoir is primarily a tool to be used in your business – to give you credibility, which opens up lots of doors of opportunity such as increased visibility.

When used as part of an overall marketing strategy, it is a fantastic asset to you and your business.

In this situation, being a bestseller isn’t essential.

There are many people who won’t really place much weight on Amazon bestseller status, especially if they know that it’s relatively easy to achieve for many non-fiction books.

Still, it’s definitely a nice-to-have, and can be really important to many people, so let’s explore how to get there!


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Don’t leave it until the last minute. Start yesterday!

The most important part of becoming a bestseller is that you need to work on it as soon as possible.

Don’t wait until your book is released or it won’t happen (unless you re-release later and try again).

These strategies are things which can take many months to put into place, so the sooner you start, the better.

That is why a book is best written and released when you already have an audience in place – whether that’s as an individual or a business – before you even consider writing a book.

However, even if you’re starting from scratch, it’s still possible. You just need to get started now, be strategic, and consistent.

You will generally be doing all these things while you’re writing the book, so make sure you allocate some time!




Market with your community, not to them

Your followers and community don’t want to be sold to all the time.

When you are working on your book, it’s imperative to bring your followers along on the journey with you.

If they feel like they’re a part of it, they’re much more likely to become interested and rally behind you at launch time.

It’s much better than working on your book in silence, and suddenly on launch day saying “Hey, buy my book!”

In fact, springing it on people on launch day doesn’t work at all, so don’t do that!

Marketing with your community is easy. Write about your book writing process. Post every time you write. Ideas are:

  • I had a great day writing my book today (with smiling selfie of you at your desk)
  • I totally had writer’s block today while working on my book (with frowning selfie)
  • Had this awesome coffee at Café ABC today while working on my book. It gave me so much energy I wrote a whole chapter in one sitting!
  • I found some great potential reviewers for my book today. How exciting!
  • I hired a cover artist today for my book cover. Can’t wait to see them.
  • Which book cover do you like? (Book cover voting)
  • I was working on my book today on the chapter about XYZ, and it made me think how many people struggle with this issue (share some value about topic XYZ)
  • Looking for some beta readers for my book – are you keen?
  • Building a launch team (who will get these benefits), are you with me?

These are just some basic ideas, but you get the gist.

There are SO many things you can share along the way as you write your book. And it’s not sales. It’s just sharing your life and what you’re doing right now. That’s what most of us do on social media anyway – so get sharing!

The beauty of this is that people will know you are working on a book, and potentially be interested. They’ll say that they want to read it, to let them know when it’s out, etc. Some of these people could become part of your launch team.




Setting up a launch team

All the moving parts of a successful bestseller launch are easier done when you have support.

A dedicated and enthusiastic launch team can be a great way to go. Do you have people in your community who will realistically be helpful in your launch?

I’m not talking about giving them a long list of jobs – and these people are different to your ‘hired’ team… they are passionate supporters who will read and review your book, as well as tell others about it.

Right from the start, when you are talking about your social media, start recording the people who show interest in your book.

As you continue to post, if these people continually show interest, ask them if they’d like to be on your launch team… and all you want them to do is read and review your book, and share it with others. This kind of support is invaluable.

If you like, you could offer your launch team a special thank you gift, such as a strategy session (or whatever you do within your business). Remember, you can’t offer an incentive to give a review, so this is a ‘thank you for your support’ gift for being part of your launch team as an overall thing.




Make or break – your category on Amazon affects your ability to be a bestseller

First, you’re going to need to list your book on multiple Amazon categories – and this is where you make or break your chances of becoming a bestseller, because some categories are way more competitive than others.

To find your categories when you are listing your book, start with the broad category at the top, and keep drilling down.

To become a bestseller, it’s best to be as niched as possible… so keep drilling down until you get to a category you can’t go beyond.

Remember to keep them specific though.

Your categories must be relevant. You can find your categories by:

  • Typing relevant search words for your book into the Amazon search box, finding similar books, and seeing what category they are in
  • Keep niching down
  • Check the ABSR of the #1 books (see below for more details)

First, here’s some info direct from Amazon KDP (You can read their submission page here):

BE ACCURATE. Choose the most accurate categories based on the subject matter of your book. Do not choose categories that are not relevant to your book’s central topic or storyline. Do not choose one category that’s explicitly fiction and another that’s explicitly non-fiction. Inaccurate categorization can lead to unexpected or confusing search results and provide a poor customer experience. We do not tolerate categorization that misleads or manipulates our customers.

BE SPECIFIC. Choose specific categories instead of general ones. Customers looking for specific topics will find your book more easily. We’ll display your book in the general categories as well. For example, a book in the “FICTION > Fantasy > Historical” category will also show up in searches for general fiction and general fantasy. Choose a “General” category only if your book is a general book about a broad topic.

DON’T BE REDUNDANT. Choosing a single category will display your book in a variety of searches, so don’t list your book in a category and its sub-categories. For example, don’t select “FICTION > Fantasy > Historical” and “FICTION > Fantasy.” One specific, accurate category is more effective than a redundant second one.

FIND EXAMPLES. To find out which categories are the best fit for your book, search for categories on Amazon. For example, look for relevant browse categories on the left under the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks header. You can also search for books like yours and find the browse categories assigned to those books. To do so, scroll down the book’s detail page to the section “Look for Similar Items by Category.”

The page linked to above also lists ‘secret’ categories which can only be unlocked by having certain keywords in your book listing. It’s worth checking these out to be included in more categories.




Amazon Best Seller Ranking and how it affects your bestseller chances

In some categories you may only need to sell three books a day to be a bestseller, in others it might be 200 or a couple of thousand!

Big difference when you’re trying to become #1.

To explain this, your ranking in a category depends upon the books you are competing against. Amazon gives each book an Amazon Best Sellers Rank (ABSR).

You can see this number when you scroll down on a book’s listing (see the pic below).

The ABSR of a book is assigned based on how many sales or downloads it has had over a certain period of time as compared to all other books on the Amazon market.

A lower number means that the book is selling better than others, and a higher number means it isn’t.

If you look at the ABSR of the number one of the book in your chosen category, all you have to do is sell more copies than that book (and have the lowest ABSR of all books in that category), and you will become number one!

It’s hard to know exactly how many they are selling, but there are various calculators out there (like this one which is free) which will work out an estimate for you.

Basically, the bigger the number (bigger = lower ranking), the easier it will be to sell more copies and become number one.

In summary, picking your book categories will have a direct effect on whether or not you become a bestseller.




Email lists

Another key factor to becoming a bestseller is to feature on as many book email lists as you can.

There are multiple email lists around which have subscribers who are looking for new books to read all the time.

The readers subscribe to a list which will generally send out a daily or weekly email of all the new releases in that genre for that period.

Readers can buy the book from anywhere it’s available by just clicking the button in the newsletter and going to the marketplace of their choice to complete the purchase.

Some of the genre lists (mostly fiction ones) can have millions of subscribers, so that’s a big potential audience for your book!

You have to submit your book for inclusion, and for the more popular lists like BookBub, the acceptance rate can be relatively low, especially in the popular categories.

You have to pay as well, and some of the popular categories are quite high in price, reaching up towards $1000.

The lists like BookBub also select Featured Deals, which will make a huge difference to your sales.

This is uber-competitive though and is completely selected by their teams and therefore can’t be influenced.

The books offered on these email lists are generally free or discounted (although they don’t have to be), and although this might not seem appealing because you want to make money back, remember you’re looking to be a bestseller, which is about the number of sales, not the revenue from them. You can always put your price up later.

Further to this, there is always the argument that people don’t value things they get free or cheap, but again, this is about the number of sales.

You’re unlikely to get many reviews from this process – it’s all about the numbers.

Remember that Amazon have both free and paid bestseller lists, so if you want to be on the paid one, make your book $0.99 rather than free. You’ll get less downloads of your book when it’s paid, even 99 cents, but for many of the categories you list with, it will still be enough to make you a bestseller.




Interviews, podcasts and media

Getting interviewed in launch week is another key component of becoming a bestseller.

You want people to hear you and immediately buy your book.

Admittedly, DIY-ing this part is challenging. Publicists have longstanding relationships with many podcasters and media, and therefore securing interviews and coverage is a lot easier.

It’s still not guaranteed, but they are much further along the road than you if you are new to the game.

The aim is for the interviews to be aired the week you launch.

All publicity is good for your ongoing brand promotion and book sales, but if we’re solely focusing on becoming a bestseller, launch-timing is everything.

Whether you are going to DIY or outsource this part, you will need to do it well in advance.

Make a list of relevant podcasts, media outlets and websites you feel are a good fit for you, your service. Basically it’s where your ideal client hangs out.

Make sure you actually listen to some episodes, read articles and are familiar with the outlet, because they will know if you’re not.

Then you need to ‘pitch’, which is contacting them to say what you can offer their audience and how you’re a great fit for their show.

When I was in the corporate/NFP world as a publicist they called me the ‘Pitching Queen’, because almost everything I pitched was picked up!

The important thing to understand is that nobody is here to give you and your book free publicity. Therefore, the focus of your pitch can’t be “Hi, I published a book, can you please interview me about it/write a story?”

The first thing a journalist or editor asks is “Why do I care?” They are brutal, and rightfully so. Their job is to keep their audience interested, and that means providing content their audience wants to see/hear. Remember, they are competing with countless other outlets, and they are constantly facing the challenge of keeping their audience loyal.

The ‘hook’ of your pitch should be about how you can help their audience, or maybe how you helped a client face a common problem which is something their audience will relate to.

You and your book are just the backend of the pitch.

Most podcasts and many websites will have a section about how to contact them and what they require in your pitch.

Follow the instructions and always be specific rather than generic. You are better off spending time crafting individual pitches than blanket sending out a bunch of generic ones which nobody feels is speaking to them.

As for media, there are a number of free press release services online (just google them), plus there are some paid ones, which are obviously higher quality and allow you to choose relevant lists.

However, media is a tricky one because as I mentioned above, having existing relationships helps a lot…

Plus, press releases often don’t get a response at all, because it’s often all in the followup.

You are highly unlikely to find direct contact details for journalists – and this is where publicists really shine. They will personally followup journos for key outlets to ‘sell in’ the story.

Still, you have to work within your means, and if a publicist isn’t in your budget (a good one will cost several thousand for one campaign), just do what you can!




Ready to write and promote your book?

If you’re ready to write a book and you think self-publishing seems like your best option, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy.

Just click below to access and tell me where to send it!


If you are a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and think you may need support, please contact me at any time.

I have different options available to help you, depending on your goals, your budget, and where you are in the process.

Once your book is written, my team take care of everything from editing, design, and printing through to launch and promotion, including a bestseller guaranteed program.

If you’d like to book a free, 10-minute Book Clarity Call with me, we’ll have a quick chat about your book idea and if you could leverage it to raise your profile and make more money in your service business.

If there is good potential, we’ll talk again for longer.

If I believe a book isn’t the right option for you right now, or if we’re not the right fit for each other, I’ll let you know. It’s pressure and obligation free, I promise. Use this link to book directly into my diary. BOOK CLARITY CALL HERE  

I can’t wait to work with you and help you finally write that book this year!





Download your free checklist here!

If you’re keen to get started on writing your book, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click here to tell me where to send it!