With so many writers out there and books getting published left and right, it is only natural to believe that the competition for a book becoming a bestseller must be fierce. However, we’re here to tell you that if you follow the right guidelines and take the right steps, the road to getting that “bestseller” tag in front of your book on Kindle is still achievable.
Back in the day, publishing a book always used to be in publishers’ favor.
It was up to them what they want to publish, how they market, and which books they take towards the best-seller market. A lot of politics went into this, and a lot of money exchanged hands as well.
Amazon eliminated that trend by giving YOU the power. Now, everything from writing to publishing to setting prices and becoming a bestseller is in your hands. Amazon also broke down the “bestseller” tag and assigned it to niches, i.e. bestselling fiction, bestselling autobiography, etc. thus giving writers a better chance at earning that tag.
The revenue of the eBook industry stands at $15.7 billion in 2020, rising by 6.2% each year. At the same time, there are over 1.02 billion readers worldwide growing at a whopping 8% per annum. Around 8 million readers every year.
How can you become a bestseller and stand out from the crowd?
Here, we’ll explain in detail how you can do that, all the way from writing an eBook or getting one written, editing it, publishing and marketing in a way as to enjoy the esteemed bestseller badge to the fullest. If you’re wondering, apart from satiating the ego, the tag really does make a difference in terms of sales.
The Secrets Behind Every Bestselling eBook
These eBooks don’t fall from the sky, nor is there a spirit guiding bestselling authors about what to write and what not to write about. Every bestselling author started right where you are; in front of a screen, contemplating whether their idea is worth it or not.
Here is what you need to do to craft the perfect eBook.
Decide on Your Niche
Deciding where your niche is, is where you will decide which way you’ll lean in your writing, and what category of ‘bestsellers’ you will be recognized in.
When you are deciding your niche, it’s as simple as choosing a class in a 24 Hours of Le Man’s race. Choose the fastest, most competed for niche. Think: prototypes in Le Man’s talk and Fantasy in eBooks, or the C class, slower cars where there is competition, but it’s not as fierce. These are autobiographies and children’s books.
You can go all-in and try your luck in numerous or all categories if you’re really confident about your idea. Make a decision here and stick to it. Changing genres from fantasy horror to crime thriller mid-writing is one of the worst things you can do to your eBook.
Remember, sticking to one niche means you’re not only competing with fewer authors — but you also get more authority. You get recognized for one niche, which is better. Would you rather be a jack of all or a master of one?
Cover the Bases – Lay Out Your Idea & Start on a Draft
You have a perfect idea. From the flawless introduction to the storyline, climax and perhaps, the end. Or you might be missing out on a few parts? Whatever the case, you need to pen it down and see how it feels.
Sometimes, an idea feels like the best one out there, but when you put it to paper, it’s not that magical. A lot of thought and strategy goes into making any idea become the best one, and the first step in doing so is fleshing the idea out.
Right now, it’s not about making sure it’s well-written and error-free – It’s all about you and your idea.
Here’s what you should do:
- List our ideas. Write at least three different variants of your book. Make a rough abstract, include a climax and an ending. The more passionate you are about a given idea, the easier it will be to churn out words and finish. Read through each one, or have a friend do it for you – friends, if possible. Plural. Follow the most popular one.
- Choose one, and formulate an outline. Once you’ve finalized a candidate, make a detailed outline. Try to keep it as neat as possible. As if this is the final draft (it isn’t, but still). This will motivate you to make a draft that you will be able to follow later on – a “stencil” of sorts.
- Now, it’s just time to fill in the blanks. This is a long and gruesome task – and you’ll also get to meet one of our writers’ best friends; writers’ block. You can also choose to hire eBook writing services for that if you feel like you don’t have the time to write your book. Just make sure it’s a trustworthy writing service – not a freelance eBook writer where there is a chance of someone stealing your intellectual property.
Remember, that “bestseller” banner only comes if you keep your readers happy and they leave good reviews. And even then, no matter your sales or the tag, it won’t save you negative reviews.
Edit Your eBook the Bestseller Way
It’s one thing to write the perfect eBook, it’s entirely another to edit it. Not as big a grind as writing, I’ll give you that — but it’s a beast to tackle in itself nonetheless. No, let me reiterate, it’s a nightmare.
If you look at some professional eBook writing services, you’ll see that they don’t expect writers to send perfect, error-free drafts every time. Instead, they have a team of editors who go through their work regularly.
While there are numerous alternatives available out there for eBook publishing and marketing needs, editing is something that ends up being a major obstacle for many a writer. Seasoned editors usually have years of writing experience, thus know what exactly what to look for. Plus, the independent view also gives them an edge over first time eBook writers such as yourself – or even veteran writers at times.
You Can’t Edit Your Own Work
The prime reason behind why you can’t edit your own work is that you’re too close to your work. You editing your own work would be like a surgeon performing surgery on their family.
Bestsellers usually leave editing to their agents or hire a third-party service to do that for them, or use online tools to root out grammatical mistakes. However, there are errors that go beyond what the eye can see.
These include the story and semantic-related issues that online resources simply can’t cater to. Having said that, I would like to expand a little on my statement; editing your own eBook is very difficult; not an impossible feat.
Here are some clever editing tricks to keep in mind when editing your own work. Doing so, you may be able to reduce the cost of an editor significantly if they’re charging you per edit. So, roll your sleeves up and let’s dive into your eBook together.
Take a Break
One of the biggest mistakes writers make (understandably) is to jump into editing right after they finish writing or the very next day. It is completely natural to want to publish your masterpiece the moment it’s done, but that is a bad idea.
Your conscience might fight you over this, but wait a while after completion. Just set it aside, let it collect dust for at least a week. More, if possible. Just don’t let spiders make webs on it. Three weeks is more than enough.
As you give it time, you start forgetting tiny details. If you start right away, these details are fresh in your mind and you unintentionally start skimming through the text, leaving behind a wide margin for error.
As you start forgetting, you’ll look at the book with a relatively fresher set of eyes, thus highlighting mistakes even better. Remember, distance gives you perspective; and nothing is better at highlighting your mistakes than hindsight and perspective.
Don’t Try to Finish It in One Go
Even the most notable writer, Mark Twain, had his first book rejected by publishers and edited numerous times before getting published.
Don’t be ashamed if there are edits. Go through your book slowly and take breaks every now and then to get a fresh perspective each time you come back.
Remember, it’s an eBook, not an article. Grit to get over with editing and getting it published soon is one thing, leaving behind errors and typos is entirely another. Not only will it ruin your readers’ experience, but it will also be a major obstacle on your road to becoming a best-seller.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing to have one of your readers point out a typo. A “friend” of mine learned that the hard way.
I recommend going through your eBook at least three times, and taking your time each time if it’s your own. If it’s ghostwritten, reading it twice would be more than enough, highlighting any changes in your path. Put in comments and send the file back. Just remember not to overedit.
- First, cater to story elements. Look for any plot holes, misalignments, discontinuations, change in characters or genders, or other such problems. If you find any typos, fix them but don’t focus too much on them.
- In the second run, focus on grammar. This is where you fix every typo, put in every punctuation mark, cross every “t” and dot every “i.”
- Your third read will be just to finalize it. You’re simply preparing it for your editor now.
Even if you go through your book a hundred times, you will find mistakes each time you go over it. Only a third-person can tell you whether your book is bestseller material or not.
Use Online Tools
Online tools aren’t the best alternative to hiring a professional editor, but they do help reduce the cost significantly. Here are some online companions that you can use to help sort out grammatical errors from your book:
- Grammarly: By far one of the most popular online editing software out there, Grammarly takes the cake not just in popularity but in versatility, compatibility and ease-of usage as well. Correcting mistakes with Grammarly is just a matter of clicking on its suggestions. However, you can only get the most out of this app if you purchase the paid version. Otherwise, the edits are mostly grammatical.
- Hemingway App: The fiercest competitor Grammarly has as of yet, Hemmingway stands tall as the free editing tool that has been a friend of many a bestseller over the years. From grammatical mistakes to sentence structures and other mistakes, Hemingway is a great tool for all. The web version is free with more features than Grammarly’s free version.
- Paper Writers: This is not an online tool, per se, but a ‘forum’ of sorts where you can share your manuscript with other aspiring writers and readers. You can ask them to go through your manuscript and make edits. They act as an extra pair of eyes, for those of you who need them.
Don’t Overedit – It’s the Bane of Many a Writer
Editing is for a manuscript what seasoning is for a meal. It can either make your eBook shine and leave your readers wanting more, or make it bland and tasteless. However, just as adding too much salt, sugar or spice can ruin a perfect dish, over-editing can do the same to your manuscript.
Publishing without editing is a definite possibility, but let me ask you; when was the last time you heard about a best-seller that had typos in it? Or plot holes?
Yes, these books sell, and sometimes they sell well too, but you can’t go as far as saying that they’re best sellers. The same goes for an overediting manuscript. And when editing your eBook yourself, this is one of the most common problems that you could face.
As you go over your story, you are bound to see some errors and you’ll fix them too. However, in the next run, you might feel that it didn’t need to be changed in the first place, change it in the next read, revert it again and so on. That’s you overediting.
This usually happens if you sit with your manuscript too long – you start seeing issues where there are none. You’ll even see plot holes where the story makes perfect sense! Remember, just as you see others’ pastures greener than yours, they are going to see your grass greener than theirs.
Edit your book once, twice, or thrice at most and then leave it. If you still feel there are problems with it, give it to someone else. Accept that you can’t do it yourself. That’s the bestseller’s way of editing.
Marketing Your eBook, the Best-Seller Way
Once you’ve edited your eBook to the best of your ability, it’s time to give it to a professional. While they work their magic, the figurative rule of eBook thumbs dictates that you start marketing your eBook.
As they say, make hay while the sun shines.
While the book’s idea is fresh in your head, start writing social media posts, creating Facebook banners, YouTube videos, pamphlets to distribute, texts to send to friends and family, and more. Start showcasing your eBook and prepare material for once the book gets published.
Remember, if your story idea is even the slightest bit different than what’s out there in the market, and you’ve got the book edited right, the only thing that stands in your way toward becoming a bestseller is marketing.
Once your book is published, if it’s successful you won’t get the time to focus on writing promotional stuff. So create content not just for now but for the future as well.
Now, focus on building anticipation. In the future, tell readers why they need to buy your book instead of telling them what they’re waiting for. Here are some tips to help you market your book the bestseller way before it’s even done.
- Posting social media posts about your book.
- Include tips and tricks
- Tell them what they’ll get
- Give them some value
- Make them think that they’re learning something new from the promotional content, how good will the book be?
- Post regular updates about the book’s progress – incorporate a countdown, if you can
- Make a “behind the scenes” video or blog post
- Tell your followers about the challenges you had to face when writing – no need to mention your freelance writers or the eBook writing services you hired if any
- Create an event on Google and social media
- Engage your audience with questions and giveaways
- Plan and schedule interviews
- Plan and schedule book signings. Use Amazon’s Print of Demand Service to your advantage. That’s a bestseller move that builds anticipation
Publishing Like Bestsellers – Print or eBook?
You’re not just publishing for the sake of publishing, you’re doing it to win. You’re looking to become a bestseller — so your marketing and publishing medium needs to reflect that. As you saw above, the marketing phase will be much more aggressive and writing will be more quality-intensive.
Now comes the hard part; print or eBook?
If your goal is to climb the New York Times bestseller list, you need to go with ‘print’ publishing. However, coming from NYT bestsellers, the tag is more hype and glamor than being actually more useful than Amazon’s bestseller tag.
However, if making a passive income for yourself is what you’re really after, Amazon’s bestselling author tag is what you need. Plus, where you need to wait at least 6 to 12 months for the NYT bestseller tag, you only need a few weeks to become Amazon’s bestseller.
Furthermore, if you choose to get your book printed, you will have to look for a publisher, sign a deal with them and give away a hefty share of your royalties as well. Though you do get to enjoy a slightly higher status, consider how hard it is to get accepted by these publishers.
But if we come down to brass tacks, the process of getting a deal from one of the big publishers out there is unnecessarily complicated. Amazon has presented people with a good alternative, and sales aren’t any less for eBooks compared to physical books, especially in 2020.
In fact, if you look at the total traffic volume on eBook selling platforms and sales during the first three months of COVID-19 lockdown, you’ll see that people are actually buying more eBooks than printed books! And we don’t mean digital copies of physical books, but actual, self-published eBooks.
The following graph shows how the lockdown has increased the number of visits to 1.51 billion in March 2020, from January’s 1.34 billion. As visits have grown, so have the number of books sold.
Wear Your Sunglasses Because It’s Time to Become a Bestseller
Now that you’ve published your eBook on whatever medium you choose, wait. It’s just a matter of time before you get an email congratulating you on your success. However, just because you’ve clicked the publish button and money has started rolling in, it doesn’t mean you can stop marketing.
As mentioned above, that is what will drive sales and get you past the finish line — and that is where most published authors stop putting in the effort.
Don’t be like those writers. You set out to be a bestseller — don’t quit before that. Keep on posting promotional content, keep on responding to reviews, and most importantly, be active on social media.
You might be inclined to start working on your second book at that point, but that is not what bestsellers do unless they have a launch team driving sales as they continue working. If you’re cutting costs, just jot down your idea somewhere like you did for this book and put it aside.
That book can wait – it hasn’t even crossed anyone’s mind yet. Focus on what’s out there. Put your efforts into marketing and you shall reap the rewards for it.
Don’t get up every day and get depressed because someone else holds the Amazon bestseller tag. Remember Amazon doesn’t have just one bestseller, but quite a few at the same time. Just keep an eye on the market and current trends, and if a book similar to yours gets popular instead of your own, you’re in luck.
Use what we in the business call “second-hand marketing.” Target people who read that book. You can find them in the review section of Amazon or perhaps on Goodreads. Tell them via email or social media that since they liked that book, you think they’ll like this one too.
Just try to be nice about it. If they’re not interested, don’t trust your book onto them. It’s a bit of a trial and error game, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. If you’re nice about it, people will be inclined to leave a positive review as well. And word of mouth sells. Unlike any other form of marketing — sales by word of mouth is what you want.
Here’s how many books you need to sell to become a bestseller:
- New York Times: 9,000 copies
- The Wall Street Journal: 3,000 books
- Amazon: Depends on books being sold in your category
The last category is why, if you’re publishing an eBook on Amazon, you need to be careful about what niche or category you’re choosing. Try to choose one with the least competition. But if you have written or gotten an exceptional eBook Ghostwritten from professionals or freelance eBook writers, the competition won’t even matter.
If you have applied any of the tips we mentioned above, or perhaps all of them, congratulations. You’re on the right path towards becoming a bestseller. If you haven’t, we hope our guide was of some use to you.
If you think we missed out on something or want to pitch in your two cents, get in touch with us down in the comments. We’d love to hear what you have to say.
Top Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels