Becoming an Amazon Bestseller
Not long after on-demand self-publishing hit the mainstream, and Amazon started putting every other
company out of business (like Borders, CompUSA, etc.), a “marketing strategy” began circulating about a
sales technique whereby a book could (at least momentarily) skyrocket to #1 on the Amazon bestsellers
list. Before this technique started becoming saturated, authors closely following this strategy often saw
their books reach an overall Amazon bestsellers ranking of #1. Then, as more and more authors followed
the same steps, it became acceptable to call oneself a “#1 Amazon Bestseller” simply if the book reached
#1 in a very specific genre-category on Amazon (which is still nothing to sneeze at).
Most of you have probably seen about or read about this strategy before, but just in case you haven’t,
here’s a quick run-down of how it works and why it works.
HOW IT WORKS
1. Pick a specific day in which you will strive for “bestseller status” on Amazon. Make it far enough in
advance to accomplish the rest of these steps.
2. Create Joint Ventures with other authors and/or online marketers. A “Joint venture” is a mutually
beneficial arrangement whereby you partner with another writer/entrepreneur to trade something
of value (an ebook, for example) with one another in exchange for something else of value (each
other’s mailing lists, or word-of-mouth publicity). Many authors and entrepreneurs are open
to being Joint Ventures on Amazon Bestsellers programs because they know you will actively
promote it (which is necessary for success). Through that promotion, their ebook, or “product”
will receive additional exposure they would otherwise not be able to achieve. The best and easiest
way to find possible Joint Venture partners is by looking at other Amazon Bestsellers campaigns
(perhaps you’ve received an email), and following up with the same people.
3. Contact each of your Joint Venture partners and introduce yourself and your book and ask if they’d
like to help you with your marketing campaign. Ask if they would be willing to give away something
of value to your customers in exchange for some publicity, and/or a free copy of your book. Some
will say yes. Others may say no. It rarely takes much of their time, since you are handling almost
all the details, so this is a nice time when you receive more “yes’s” than “no’s”. All they have to do is
donate the “free bonus” and offer to email their mailing list on the specific date you decided upon
in Step #1.
4. Once you’ve collect 10 or so Joint Ventures, you need to make a “Sales Page” on the internet.
There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, depending upon your proficiency with HTML. The
purpose of the “Sales Page” is to “sell” your book and, as extra incentive, offer your customers “Free
Bonuses”, the combined value of which exceeds the cost of your book. These free bonuses are
compliments of all your Joint Partners; so your sales page also identifies and “sells” each of the
Joint Venture products, too. If your book costs $19.95, but you are giving away $200 worth of
“free stuff” anyone with even a passing interest in your book may pony up the twenty bucks just to
get all the extras.
5. At the bottom of the Sales Page is the Buy Button. There are a variety of ways to do this, also,
depending upon your HTML proficiency. You can send them directly to Amazon and ask them to
forward you a receipt (the manual process), or you can provide a Promotion Code which entitles
them to automatic downloads of all the free bonuses (the automatic process). Whichever method
you choose, make sure your instructions and directions are very clear for them, so they know
they’ll get everything you are offering. If you go the “manual” route, be prepared to deliver upon
your promises, even if thousands of orders come in (what a great problem to have!)
6. Alternatively, you can create the “sales page” within the body of your email that you are sending
out. The email still ends with the Amazon Buy Button directing each recipient to your Amazon Sales
Page. You must send your customers to Amazon, rather than selling the book directly yourself.
After all, the whole point is to reach an Amazon bestsellers ranking, and that only occurs if your
book sales are going through Amazon.
7. At the date and time determined in Step #1, send your email to your mailing list. Send out a quick
reminder email to your Joint Partners to do the same thing. Provide them with the same email
so they don’t have to write anything themselves. Theoretically, the same email will therefore go
to thousands upon thousands of people (when you combine your mailing list with the lists of all
10+ of your Joint Partners) all at roughly the same time, all pro-moting your book, and all offering
hundreds of dollars in “bonuses” to your new readers.
8. Depending upon the size of the combined lists, even if only a small percentage of people buy your
book, it is often enough to “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into skyrocketing your book’s Amazon
WHY IT WORKS
Well, that’s why the word “trick” is in quotation marks. Amazon’s Ranking algorithm tabulates quantity of
sales within periods of time. So a book that normally sells 1 book a month that suddenly sells 10 books an
hour will “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into thinking it’s selling like hotcakes (because, relatively speaking, it
is!). This is why it’s important for the sale email to be sent on the same day, and ideally all within the same
short period of time. Recipients who act upon the email, and buy the book, will do so within a condensed
period of time, which will probably catapult your Amazon Sales Ranking.
Will your ranking last? No (so be sure to watch Amazon throughout the day and take screen shots). But
“#1 Amazon Bestsellers” have never worried too much about divulging the fine print.
Three Ways Video Can Help You
Sell More Books on Amazon
Shopping and watching videos are among the most common activities people engage in on the internet.
So it stands to reason that if you can combine those two activities, your chances for increasing
engagement improve. Amazon has made that relatively simple by providing a number of different ways
to add videos to help people shop for (and buy) your book.
1. Related Video Shorts
The first way you can add videos to your products (or books) on Amazon is in a section on your Product
Details Page called “Related Video Shorts.” This section appears directly below the “Product details”
section. Next to the bold heading that says “Related Video Shorts” is a blue link that says “Upload your
video”. When you click on that link you are taken to a category selection screen where you must
choose the most appropriate category for your video.
If you’re reading this blog, presumably your “product” is a book, so in most cases, the appropriate
choice is probably “other” although if you have a non-fiction book and a “how to” video related to your
subject (which you should), then the “how to” selection may be the most appropriate.
Once you select your category, a pop-up screen will appear showing a directory of your computer’s
hard drive. While not instantly obvious, this is where Amazon is expecting you to select your video
file for upload, which it accepts in a variety of formats, although .mp4 is probably the best. If your
Amazon account is in good standing, your video will appear in the “Related Video Shorts” section of
your product details page relatively quickly. Potential customers who are considering buying your
book will then be able to see your video, which may help close the sale.
2. Author Updates on the Amazon Author Profile Page
The next way to add a video is on your Author Profile Page. In the “Author Updates” section you will
see the link. This method doesn’t require you to select a category and appears to be less “restrictive”
on the type and length of videos that are allowed. If you haven’t set up your Amazon Author Profile,
you should do that right away. Outskirts Press can do it for you by clicking here.
3. RSS Feeds on the Amazon Author Profile Page
The third way is using your blog and then setting up your RSS feed through your Author Profile Page.
This is the least restrictive method, and you can upload any video you want this way, since Amazon
doesn’t censor blog postings from 3rd party RSS fees. Of course, if you update your blog constantly,
the video posting will quickly disappear from your Amazon Author Profile Page in preference to your
newer posts. A trick around that is to set-up a free blog (on WordPress for example) that is specifically
meant for your Amazon Author Profile Page. Simply upload one posting of the video you wish to
display on Amazon and don’t post anything else to that blog. Your video will reside permanently on
your Author Profile Page because of the RSS feed setting.
Of course, all of this presumes you have a video (or videos) about your book to upload. There are a lot
of methods to create those, and, of course, Outskirts Press can create a book video for you by clicking
5 Ways to Get Amazon Book Reviews
Once your book is published and available for sale on Amazon, one of the first things you need to focus on
is getting (positive) Amazon book reviews. "Positive" is in parentheses because it is typically frowned
upon to out-and-out ask for a "positive" book review, but let's face it -- only the positive ones are doing
you any good! So that's certainly your goal -- acquiring book reviews in the 4-5 star range. Ultimately,
however, as you get more Amazon reviews, your average star-rating will be out of your control. So, all
you can really do is seek out Amazon book reviews via the methods below, and hope your book is good
enough to secure the "positive" reviews you need.
1. Reviews in Exchange for Free Copies
A widely accepted and common practice for acquiring Amazon book reviews is giving away copies of
your book in exchange for reviews. This is usually the most successful when performed in person,
when you literally hand a paperback or hardback copy of your book to someone you know and say
something like: "If you enjoy this, I would really appreciate it if you could post your review on Amazon."
Offer to sign it. Then write something like, "I hope you enjoy this! <your signature>" as a "subtle"
reminder. Not everyone you give your book to will write a review for it, but this has a high ratio of
success. Obviously, the better you know someone, the more likely it is they will write a review. You
can limit the number of free copies you give away by only offering copies to people who will appreciate
or value your book. Don't give your hardcore horror novel to your grandmother, for example (unless
you happen to know that's her cup of tea).
2. Reviews in Exchange for Reviews
If you're at an author event and you are following the suggestion above by handing out copies of your
book for reviews, don't be surprised to be on the receiving end of a similar request. This is a stroke of
luck! Other authors are your most likely candidates for a book review, because they want you to write
a review of their book, too. Swap copies, vow to swap reviews, and sign each other's books! This type
of networking is part of the benefits of being a published writer; take advantage of it by broadening
your reading library, widening your network of colleagues, and increasing the number of reviews you
As a bonus, this also helps you increase the number of reviews you write on Amazon, which is one of
the highly recommended marketing tactics suggested by the Outskirts Press Marketing COACHTM.
3. Reviews in Exchange for Giveaways
Nearly every book on Amazon has a "Giveaway" option associated with it. Just scroll down your
Amazon sales page toward the bottom to see if your book qualifies. If it does, you can purchase a
number of copies of your book from Amazon for a "free giveaway" that Amazon will administer on
your behalf. This has the added benefit of increasing your Best Sellers Ranking, because you are
buying multiple copies all at the same time (plus you receive your royalty back from your publisher).
Winners of your free books may feel more compelled to write a review of your book (especially if you
suggest it within the body of the giveaway text).
You may wonder how this is different from suggestion #1 above, which also requires giving away
copies of your book in exchange for reviews. The answer is that #1 centers around in-person book
exchanges while #3 is conducted entirely online. Your ratio for success may be less, but you may make
it up in volume.
4. Review swaps
Here's another suggestion that may sound familiar. We've already discussed the concept of swapping
reviews with other writers in person, at book events, author events, or publishing events that you are
attending. There's no doubt vowing to swap reviews in person offers a high ratio of success, but the
downside is the number of opportunities you have to pursue this tactic in person. Another downside
is the number of physical books you must actually carry. They can get heavy!
These downsides bring us to the online review swap, where you offer a copy of your book to a
community of other writers in exchange for a review, and they do likewise. All the benefits of
suggestion #2 along with a significant increase in opportunities (and no back aches).
Where do you find these communities online? You're already a part of one when you visit the
Outskirts Press Facebook page at http://facebook.com/OutskirtsPress. Plus you already have one
major thing in common with this community--you all published with Outskirts Press!
But there are other communities of readers, too.
• Goodreads is the largest one at http://goodreads.com
• Reader's Legacy is another up-and-coming one at http://readerslegacy.com
How do you suggest an online review swap? By asking for one. "Hello, I'm so-and-so, author of such-
and-such, and if you'd like to swap Amazon book reviews, please get in touch with me." You can either
vow to purchase each other's books (thereby increasing your respective best sellers rank and getting
your author royalties back), or you can exchange digital editions.
This is a great way to build camaraderie in your writing community, but only if you follow through.
Don't participate if you don't intend on fulfilling your end of the bargain (i.e., purchasing the book,
providing the e-book, or writing your reciprocal review). It only take one rotten apple to ruin the
5. Amazon's Top Reviewers
Contacting other readers within reading communities is all well and good, but what would be even
better? Contacting REVIEWERS within reviewing communities!
Reviewing communities? Is there such a thing? Not only is there such a thing, there is the best thing --
a community of the top reviewers on Amazon. These are the individuals that Amazon has identified
as consistently writing the most frequent, most helpful reviews.
There are two different listings of Amazon's top reviewers, actually: A listing of Amazon's "Hall of
Fame Reviewers" and a listing of Amazon's "Top Reviewer Rankings." You can find both lists at
Being identified as a "Top Reviewer" is a lifestyle for some of these individuals, and the only way they
can maintain their ranking is by continuing to write reviews. That means they are highly motivated!
Some of them are impossible to contact; others are not. Some of them are very specific about the types
of products they review; others are not. Some of them provide very specific instructions for how to
solicit a review; others do not.
But if you start at the top of each list and work your way down through the profiles of each reviewer,
you will identify candidates for your book review. Pay attention to the types of books they enjoy, since
your chances of receiving a (positive) review will increase dramatically if you send them the
type/genre of book they've reviewed positively in the past. Follow their instructions for contacting
them to the letter, and always be respectful.
And there you have it -- 5 great ways to get more (positive) Amazon book reviews. Here's to your
How to Sell Autographed Books on Amazon
Why sell autographed book copies? For any author, successful bookselling relies on creativity—and the
flexibility to offer buyers multiple book formats and several easy ways to purchase. One option many
authors don’t consider is selling signed author’s copies.
In addition to being a wonderful keepsake for readers you know personally, here are other benefits to
selling autographed copies:
• Readers like something that is, or could someday be, more valuable with a signature
• A signed copy is ideal for promotional purposes
• Selling autographed copies as a third-party seller gives you another venue through which to market
and sell your book, or to upsell your book
• Gift-givers can have the book personalized for the recipient
• The author’s personal signature is often the final nudge a buyer needs to make a purchase decision
When deciding on whether to offer this option, you should not only think about what value a signature
brings to your book, but the value the book brings to your signature. Status as a top-selling or lauded
author means your signature holds more value for readers.
So, how do you know if the time is right to sell signed copies?
• Have you received multiple requests for a personally signed copy of your book?
• Are you consistently selling multiple copies each week or month?
• Have you received a positive review from a prestigious book reviewer, multiple positive reviews
online from readers, and/or high-profile media coverage as the author?
If the answer to any of these questions is “YES!” then it is time to sell personally autographed copies of
your book on Amazon. How do you do it? The answer is simple: Amazon Marketplace.
Amazon Marketplace has two plans available to sellers, both of which are appropriate for booksellers:
• Individual – free account for smaller sellers with only a few items to offer
• Professional – subscription service for experienced and volume sellers
Unless you are already an established merchant on Amazon, we recommend you start with an Individual
Account. There is no monthly fee for an Individual Seller account, but Amazon will charge a $0.99 fee on
each sale. As an Individual Seller, you will have available to you a basic set of tools for listing your book and
If your volume of autographed book sales justifies a Professional Account, you can upgrade from your
Seller Account settings to the tune of $39.99/month in subscription fees, payable to Amazon. For the
purposes of this tutorial, we’ll focus on getting you started via the free Individual Seller account. For more
information about fees, visit Amazon’s Fees and Pricing page.
Step-by-Step Amazon Seller Instructions
Have a copy of your book, or your book’s sales sheet, on hand before you begin. Log into your Amazon
account then visit https://services.amazon.com and click on “Pricing” for a side-by-side comparison
between the Individual Plan and the Professional Plan. Click on the “Sell as an Individual” button
underneath the comparison chart.
There’s some paperwork to complete online, including the Seller Agreement, setting up your Seller
Information, and providing Amazon with payment details (so they can pay you, and charge you their
service fees). The steps are all straight-forward. Simply follow them step-by-step online.
Then it’s time to “Add a Product.”
If your book is already for sale on Amazon, simply type the title or ISBN in the box to search for it. Your
book should appear in the search results. If so, click the “Sell yours” button next to your book to let Amazon
know that you are selling your copies of this item.
Click “Advanced View” to reveal all the fields you need to fill out for your listing. If you were able to find
your existing listing in the search results, Amazon will autofill some product information for you. Fill out
as much of the remaining vital information about your autographed book as you can.
Note that when you expand the view, there is a box that allows you to designate your book as being signed
by the author. Be as detailed and thorough as possible to get the most out of your selling forum.
Before finishing your listing, be sure to check “I want to ship this item myself to the customer if it sells” on
the Fullfillment Channel option.
Make sure you have plenty of author copies on hand before listing your book for sale. When someone
orders, you will be obligated to sign a copy and then ship it to your customer in a timely fashion—you don’t
want to be caught without inventory!
Similarly, be sure to order plenty of shipping supplies beforehand: padded media envelopes, shipping tape,
shipping labels, a shipping scale (or accurate kitchen scale), and perhaps pretty stationary for a personal
note to each buyer.
You may wish to list your autographed copy at a higher price than regular copies, or offer it for a limited
time at the same price as a promotion.
Consider limiting the number of autographed books you will sell. Cut off this option at 100 or 500 copies
or so, and note the number of the personal signature in each signed copy. This lets the reader know that
this feature is relatively rare, and provides them extra value.