For an author, the Holy Grail of “perceived” success comes in the form of their book landing on a bestseller list. It’s what almost every author aspires for, even if they don’t admit it.
Making a list (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Amazon, etc.) proves that the book has mass appeal and that its sales volume is in the top percentile compared to all other books sold at reporting retail outlets (most major retailers). I’ll explain the way the lists work in a future blog post – sign up for updates and ask your book marketing questions here.
First, you should know that I’ve been involved in “book marketing” and publishing for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to work with many successful authors and have launched multiple bestselling books (and brands). We’ve achieved success in every list from #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Amazon, iBooks, 800 CEO Reads, Bookscan, etc., and from that experience I can tell you that making a list is no easy task. It’s certainly attainable by any author but you must approach it with strategy and proper execution if you want to increase your chances of success. Of course, there are always the few breakout titles that achieve success in ridiculously undupicateable ways but for the majority, the 98% of authors, if you want your book to have a real legitimate chance of making a bestseller list then you need to do several things.
Back in May 2012 I was privileged to help manage the launch of Michael Hyatt’s latest book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, which in the first week after the publication hit all three major bestseller lists, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
Michael posted an outstanding recap of the process used to help make his book a bestseller. I suggest you go read that here. It’s a proven way to get your book on the bestseller list and while it may be a “formula” that worked for Michael based on his platform and assets, there are many fundamentals that we deployed with his campaign that every author can use (yes, even you).
Oh, by the way, I did intentionally bold and underline the word make in the paragraph above. Why? Because, what we did with Michael’s launch was what helped make it a bestseller. We leveraged resources, we concentrated efforts, we were very strategic, we thought things out, we were intentional, we engaged his Tribe, we worked hard… REALLY hard… and we got creative. Almost everything we did was organic and were things that anyone else can do.
Sure, Michael could have just launched his book with a blog post and a link saying “Go Buy My Book” and many would have done so but a passive approach would not have achieved the level of success that it did. Lesson: If you want your book to get out there, you must work for it and you must work smart.
As they say, most overnight successes are years in the making. I’d say the same thing about bestselling books. While it doesn’t need to take years for you to launch a bestseller, it does take you doing many things in advance (which we’ll cover in future posts).
One more thing… and this is important… in the opening of this post I said that the bestsellers lists are the Holy Grail of “perceived” success. I want to be clear that making a list should not be your only goal. Success is subjective by how we define it. There are plenty of books that never make a list but that are very, very successful… books that change lives and make the world a better place. Honestly the lists are not as accurate as they should be anyways (due to some gaming the system). Moral of the story, don’t let a list be what defines you and don’t be delusioned into thinking that simply making a list means a massive influx of opportunity and notoriety. Yes it CAN be very helpful but every author is unique and has different goals and objectives. For some it is important, for others not so much. It’s great to make a list (organically as a result of real traction and sales) but just don’t go at it for the wrong reasons.
So, go read Michael’s post for some great insights and if you’re interested, sign up below (or link here) and I’ll share some additional book marketing tips with you. In fact, you can ask me any book marketing / publishing related question and I’ll do my best to answer them all… directly and in upcoming blog posts.