he 7-second answer: Pay $10,000 to a coach who defines “bestseller” as hitting #1 on Amazon.com’s FREE Kindle list in a sub-sub-sub-sub category for even 1 hour on a day it’s being heavily promoted.
Last May I received an email from a writing coach who gushed that she'd just helped 10 new authors launch Amazon Bestsellers. Intrigued, I checked out her author's books and what I found bugged me. So, I'm sharing what I saw and would love to know what you think.
The first book I looked at had the following stats — the title is fake to protect the author but the numbers are all real:
Title: Are You My Mother?
Publication date: April 3, 2017
Reviews: 10 (7 with comments)
Average review: 5.0
Amazon Bestseller rank:
#166,844 Paid in Kindle Store
#34 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Parenting & Relationships > Fertility
#68 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Diseases & Physical Ailments > Infertility
#145 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Parenting & Relationships > Family Relationships > Motherhood
BUT — the stat that the “I’ll make you an Amazon.com bestseller” coach shared, along with stats of nine other of her latest program graduates, was a screen shot of he following info:
#1! Kindle Free > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Parenting & Relationships > Fertility.
A category that had only five books “competing” for the honour of holding that esteemed best-seller crown. Oh…rats.
And KindleSpy,* a wonderful tool that allows you track sales of Kindle books, shows that in the 30 days after the book was published, the author has sold…. Hold onto your hat… two copies.
In case you think this may be an anomaly, I checked all ten of the coach’s success stories from the email she sent claiming,
“Thursday was another successful launch for my latest authors — all of whom hit #1 bestseller!”
She went on to encourage her email subscribers to download the books while they’re free. Of course, she included a sales pitch for her author program in copy that I’ve paraphrased, but the facts are the same.
“Join my next cohort and I’ll help you reach hundreds of thousands of people with your message. By joining my program you’ll have a bestselling book within three months. I’ve helped more than 250 authors in a row in the last two years become bestsellers!”
Her first book, which is available on Amazon.com, outlines the steps of her author success program. I assume it was a bestseller (per her own definition) when it launched in 2014. But as of today, it’s ranks at around 150,000 (which is not horrific, but not fabulous, either).
Yet this book, with these sales stats, appears to have given this coach the credibility to have made $10,000 times 250+ clients in the last two years — that’s 2.5 million dollars, people!
Her most recent publication came out in May 2017 and was free the day I wrote this original post. So I downloaded it, and read it. It was, like her first book, a lightly veiled promotion of her coaching program.
Title: I am the Smartest (and Richest) Author Coach Ever (fake title)
Publication date: May xx, 2017
Average review: 5.0 (Yup… 55 perfect reviews. Wow!)
Amazon Bestseller rank:
#1,257 in FREE Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing > Publishing & Books
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing > Writing Skills
In the seven days after her launch, the book was downloaded approximately 1,650 times (thank you again, Kindle Spy*).
For perspective here, when I launched my own women’s fiction novel, which I did as a self-published book, I managed to generate 5,009 downloads of my book during the two days it was free in April 2016. My book hit #36 overall in the Free Kindle store (which was fabulous, since I did not have a mailing list nor did I buy a BookBub ad) and was almost a “bestseller,” hitting #2 sales status in two sub-sub-sub categories:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Humour
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Humor & Satire > General Humor
But I have never even considered calling myself (or my book) an Amazon bestseller based on doing well during a free promotion. I believe my decision is based in integrity, but perhaps I’m simply naïve.
So, my questions to you are:
- As an author, where do you draw the line for calling a book an Amazon bestseller? Do free downloads count?
- How many sub-sub-sub-sub categories deep is it okay to dive and still claim the title of “Bestselling Author?”
- And, would you be happy to pay $10,000 to get help to write a book that hits the #1 spot in a Kindle sub-sub-sub-sub category on a free day?
- (If so, I’ve got a deal for you because I’d love to work with you for half that price! Heck, since I’m Canadian, I charge Canuck bucks which makes my coaching virtually free for people who earn American dollars!)
- Kindle Spy — this is an affiliate link.