The first thing any author should do to get featured on one of Amazon's bestseller lists is to write a great book that entertains or informs. Readers will talk about books they've enjoyed, and are more likely to read, share, and review them.
But getting your book noticed from among the millions of titles available for sale on Amazon can be a daunting task. And while well-written content is an essential part of the equation, it's not necessarily going to take you to the top of Amazon's bestseller lists.
So what should a new author do?
There's certainly no shortage of advice for getting your book onto one of these lists: "Design a great cover!" "Get lots of five-star reviews!" "Build an email list and ask them to buy!"
All of which are sound suggestions backed by the hard-won experience of established authors. For new authors, however, the bar is that much higher for securing a coveted spot on one of Amazon's bestseller lists.
Which is why Aaron Pierson, a digital brand strategist and graphic designer by profession, decided to focus the bulk of his marketing efforts for his first book on one thing: Building relationships.
Yes, he devoted a lot of time to writing a book that served his audience with valuable content; designed his own professional-looking cover that "pops"; built an email list and shared new content with them; and established a social media presence.
But when it came to reaching the top of Amazon's bestseller lists, Aaron focused on one thing above all: He tapped into the years he had invested in nurturing business and personal relationships.
In fact, Aaron's book launch strategy is an example of how to apply the advice he gives in his book, Brand Dominance: How to Create a Disruptive Social Brand, which shows you how to turn your customers into brand ambassadors.
"I'm not a Kindle or Amazon expert but what I am very good at is building relationships, so that when I have something that launches, they are ready to share it, and they will even purchase it if I ask them to. That's the one thing I did right, to be honest."
I spoke with Aaron on my podcast recently about the strategies and tactics he used to place his book at the top of Amazon's bestseller lists in several different categories.
Start spreading the word early on.
"I promoted this book for a year and a half before I was even done writing it. I knew I had an idea for a book. The information that I shared in this book is strategies and things that I've applied for almost five years. I had it out on social media for a very long time. People knew about it from my updates: 'Hey I just got done with this chapter', 'Hey what do you think about this cover.'
On my podcast, on my email list, on Facebook and everywhere else, I told people, 'Listen, I'm coming out with a new book. I've been working on it for two years. If you want a free copy of this book, join my book launch team. All I ask is that when my book launches, you share the post, you log into Amazon, and give me an honest rating and an honest review.' I didn't ask for five-star reviews, just an honest rating and review.
That is one of the biggest things that I attribute to me getting to bestseller. Not the categories that I chose -- though that played a role. I had created brand ambassadors. I had a group of people standing by to support me. I'm not talking about my mother and my father and my brothers and sisters. I'm talking about colleagues and other professionals that I've worked with over the years.
By the time my book launched, hundreds of people on my team were just waiting to get on Amazon, give me a rating and review, and share my content. Asking for a rating, review, and a share from someone you've built a lot of value for is really easy."
Create a private Facebook group -- and then engage with your members.
"I created a private Facebook group for all of my book launch team members. If someone joined the book launch team and I received their email, I'd have an assistant invite them to the Facebook group. We would spend a lot of time working in front of the computer, not just nurturing new relationships, but staying in touch with them.
I shared just the first chapter and asked, 'What do you think of this?' 'Do you love it?' 'Do you hate it?' 'You can't wait to read more?' I would get all of this amazing feedback from my launch team, and they would get hyper-engaged in the process.
You can't just say 'Sign up for my team and I'll give you X.' You have to engage with them. Make them feel like they're a part of the process. It'll exponentially help your chances of having an epic launch.
Creating a private Facebook group was the best thing that I did. Everyone is on Facebook all the time."
On launch day, clear your calendar and stay focused.
"On the day of the book launch I went to La Jolla beach in California where I decided to launch the book. And then I spent all day direct messaging people, text messaging people, calling people. I called a client of mine who has 50 people in their office and suggested they buy copies for their employees.
I spent all day reaching out to my entire sphere of influence, asking them to buy and share the book. Even if they weren't on the book launch team, I made these personal connections.
I shut out everything else and just focused. Book launch day was dedicated to making sure I'd get this book in as many hands as possible, so Amazon could give me the ranking that I needed.
The day that you launch your book, don't have anything else on your calendar. Book launch is book launch day. You should be emailing, making phone calls, texting messages, touching base with people who need to get your content. Once you hit that ranking you'll be exposed to millions more people who can benefit from your content."
Maximize the number of Amazon verified purchases when you launch.
"Getting Amazon's algorithm to recognize your book and place it on its bestseller lists requires that you sell a certain number of copies that are counted toward 'Amazon Verified Purchases.' This simply means that a customer has used their credit card on file with Amazon to purchase the book. I released the book for free to Kindle Unlimited members, and for 99 cents to non-members.
After 24 hours, we bumped up the price to $9.99. The majority of my sales happened at that price point because by then, I had been pushed up in the rankings and I had gained visibility on Amazon. It was a number one bestselling book in all three categories in which I registered it."
Emphasize the value your book brings to your readers.
"Is it selfish of me to just be out there hustling it? No, I don't think so. If I truly believe I'm making a positive impact, then I should do that. Ultimately I want to help my clients. Anyone who reads my book should have a take-away from it. I want it to impact their life and business in a positive way.
This is not a charity or about you asking for a hand-out. Be clear about the value your book will add to the person who reads it. I think when you come from a space of truly wanting to help people, you'll do anything it takes to get it out there."