As you can guess from the titles, both my books are targeted toward small businesses and startups. With such a limited audience, I’d never expect them to be ranked top overall. I’m thrilled and amazed they got ranked at all! But they both reached top ten in Amazon’s Sales & Marketing category.
As you can see from the screenshots below, my first Lulu book The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing peaked at number 8 (at the time of writing, it is number 40). My second Lulu book The Little Fish Guide to Networking made it to number 7. It also attained 11th position in the Marketing category of the 2012 #BizBookAwards run by Small Business Trends (at one point it was 4th).
You might be wondering how I achieved this.
Like many other Lulu authors, I did my own writing and artwork and worked with a graphic designer on the cover. I paid Nielsen for a set of ISBNs so I could be my own publisher, and turned to Lulu for print-on-demand and GlobalReach Distribution so my books would appear on Amazon.com (and other online retailers).
In my experience, Amazon.com is the only bookseller that counts. Even though I’d tried to sell my first book direct and via the Lulu site, it was only when it went live on Amazon.com that sales started streaming in.
I did all my own marketing. Having spoken to authors who’ve gone down traditional publishing routes, it is my understanding that they have to do most of their own marketing, too!
I’ve learned that Amazon.com’s rank depends on how many books are sold within each hour. So if you invite your audience to buy books at a similar time on the same day, you have a good chance of boosting it up the rankings.
Top tip: On Amazon.com, fill in the book description and tags, set up your author page, and collect as many reviews as you can.
I run my own copywriting and training business and send my monthly Writing Without Waffle tipsheet to hundreds of subscribers. (As it happens, much of the content of my books is compiled from these newsletters, and the whole idea was inspired by one reader who asked me to collect all my advice together).
So the first step to launching each book was to tell my existing audience about it. That initial rush of orders is what initially got the books into the rankings. Issue 1 sold off my own website to someone in China – we’ve never met, and I don’t know how he knows me, but he’s always been the first to buy anything I’ve produced!
I also promote each book to my followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook and contacts on LinkedIn. Happily, this activity also drives sales, especially when some of my well-connected readers kindly tell their own networks about the books.
Occasionally I give away a book as a competition prize, such as when I reached 1,000 Twitter followers. I also sell books from the back of the room when I run training courses and give speeches.
My main objective in self-publishing was to use books for lead generation for my copywriting and training business, however, I’m pleased to call myself an Amazon ‘best-selling author’ as well.
I’m now finishing off my next Lulu book – working title The Little Fish Guide to Social Media, followed by The Little Fish Guide to Business Writing. I’ll be delighted if I achieve equal success with these, and wish you good luck with your own Lulu books.