Chip MacGregor

April 19, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Hit the Kindle Best Seller List


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

Amazon’s KDP Select program (part of their Kindle Direct Publishing platform) comes with a lot of strings. First, the author must agree not to have their book published elsewhere for a period of 90 days. Second, they must agree to have their book be part of the Lending Library Program. And third, they have to be ok with the fact that there’s no set structure for payment of titles lent out through the Lending Library. You basically just get a portion of the money pool based on how many books you lent in comparison to the total number of books lent (quite a mouthful).

In exchange for all of this, you get 5 days to offer your book for free on Amazon.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. But only if you’re smart about it.

Amazon is designed in such a way that the more an item sells, the more air time it gets. And the more air time it gets, the more it sells. This happens through their recommendation program (that list of Amazon Recommendations that appears at the bottom of a product page) and their “Customers who bought this also bought…” program. When your book hits these promotional venues, it can find fans who never knew you or it even existed. And if priced right, shoppers will throw your book in their cart, assuming that since they like Joe Schmoe, they’ll like you.

So what does this have to do with KDP Select? Everything. KDP Select is the quickest way to get your book air time. When it gets air time, it will start selling. And when it starts selling as few as 300 or 400 copies a month, Amazon starts recognizing it and lists it as a recommended product and such.

But how do you ensure your book gets air time through KDP Select? Well, you need to make it on to the Kindle Top 100 FREE Best Seller list. Preferably, near the top.


1. Make sure it’s the right genre. Mysteries, romances…straight category fiction does really well in the ebook format, because let’s face it: most ebook readers are people who are traveling or people who read purely for entertainment. Not because they’re looking to change the world or themselves or become better people.

2. Give your book a great cover. Keep in mind that the Kindle store keeps covers very small. Almost thumbnail size. So make sure the title stands out by making it large and dark. Images don’t have to be as visible…they just have to be alluring enough to get someone to click on the cover and see a larger size. And whatever you do, don’t skimp on quality. This is one of the few of the costly aspects of the ebook process that is essential to success. So pay a professional or find a college student and pay him. Do what it takes to get a great, professional-looking cover.

3. Give your book a great description, complete with reviews. Don’t punk out and slap up your book’s back cover copy in the description section. Think of this more as your only chance to sell the book to a customers. So really work the copy, including reviews, links and whatever it takes to prove it’s a great read. This is also a great opportunity to link to other books in the series or other books that you’ve written. I guarantee you’ll see those sales go up, too.

4. Use up all of the FREE days at once. It’s tempting to spread your days out over time, but what I’ve found is that you get much more out of your days if you use them at once. This is because you give your book more time to build interest and reach people. You also give it more time to climb the best seller list. I’d say the best days for doing a promotion are probably Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But you can play with it and find what works for your readers.

5. Have a marketing campaign in place. Just like we discussed last week, a steady marketing campaign complete with guest blog posts, blog tours, ReTweets and more gets people to pay attention to your book. I’ve also found that updating those you know on its status (example: We’re now #7 on the best seller list! Tell your friends so we can hit #6!) helps mobilize people toward action.

6. Make sure the price is right for when the FREE days are over. The last thing you want is for momentum to die. So, make sure your book is reasonably priced for when it FREE days are over. $4.99 and less works best, though I’d probably keep it under $2.99. A lower price will keep people buying it, therefore perpetuating how long it sits in the spotlight.

These are tried and true, folks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more good strategies out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts and also any questions you may have on the process!


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