The Bestseller Formula—Part 2: How to Market a Bestseller – The Urban Writers

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The Bestseller Formula—Part 2: Market Your Way to a Bestseller

by The Urban Writers

Your manuscript is ready to publish, but it feels like something is missing: the rest of the bestseller formula. 

Making a bestseller list is about much more than just writing your book; it’s also about what you do afterward. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritties, be sure to read Part 1 of this article.

The Bestseller Formula According to Popular Listing Sites

Most aspiring authors dream of seeing their book title and name on a bestseller list, be it the New York Times, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, to name a few.

Which one would you like to be featured on? 

If you do a quick search about how to get on these lists, you will see that the answer isn’t straightforward. Each bestseller list has its own criteria

Sorting through it all can be difficult if you are self-publishing, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things you may need to think about.

Hard Copy Versus Digital Sales

Before eBooks, bestseller lists used the sales of hardcopies to decide who gets the acclaimed status of bestselling author. There wasn’t a specific way of determining these sales, especially since each list had its own requirements.

Today, books are sold digitally and as hard copies, which changes the situation. 

Some lists, like Amazon, use both sales methods to determine the bestsellers. Other companies, like the New York Times, tend to favor hardcopy sales because they have an agreement with specific bookstores. You will find out more about this in the next section. 

Actual Versus Anticipated Sales

Online book platforms like Amazon have integrated systems that can track sales immediately. In contrast, it is much more difficult to track sales at brick-and-mortar bookstores.

The New York Times specifically prefers to use sales figures from select bookstores such as Nielsen’s. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to track book sales this way. Instead of using actual sales, the New York Times list (and similar ones) uses anticipated sales based on the number of copies ordered by bookstores.

Hourly Versus Weekly Sales 

Another factor that differentiates bestselling books is the time period under consideration.

Many online platforms base their bestseller lists on the number of units sold within an hour. In contrast, sales figures from select bookstores are obtained on a weekly basis, so those lists will only be updated weekly.

The math involved with bestsellers is interesting when it comes to hourly versus weekly sales.

If you are number 100 on an online list, it means that only 99 other books sold more copies than you did in that hour. The competition is intense but not that bad. The same cannot be said of weekly lists, which usually require the sale of 20,000 books weekly to make the list.

Building a Brand as an Authorpreneur


Branding is an important part of any business. This refers to how the public perceives you based on the messages you put out to them. 

As an authorpreneur, you must pay attention to your brand. You want people to recognize you and your books by just seeing an image or hearing a name. 

What Is Branding?

In marketing, branding is considered the unique attributes that make up the personality of a company, product, or service. When it comes to books, you can build an author brand (under a pen name or your own) or a brand for a specific book or series.

To create a brand, think of colors, vocabulary, or images you want to associate with your books. Give your brand life in the same way you would add personality to fictional characters.

Tell its story, assign values and ethics, and think about how the brand would act if it was a person. If you are your brand, this should be easy. It becomes slightly more challenging when you must come up with these ideas from scratch; nonetheless, it is entirely possible. 

 Connect With Your Audience

Before you start writing any book, understand your target market. These are the individuals that will be reading your books, so you want to get to know them better. 

Your brand and target audience should have similar characteristics. When this happens, the reader automatically associates more with you, the story, or the characters in your books. Branding creates a connection with readers.

Another thing to consider is the offline aspect of your brand. There are many times when you will meet readers or attend events where your brand will be on show. Think about what behaviors and actions would best suit the image you want to portray.

Increasing Book Sales When Self-Publishing

The only way your book is going to become a bestseller is by being sold. You must get copies into the hands of readers. The more you sell, the better your chances of making the list.

Market Strategically

There are many ways to market and sell a product, but you must use strategies that are unique to your product. These strategies should suit your target market, so think about where they spend their time when consuming marketing materials.

It’s better to use one or two strategies and have great conversion rates than to spend money on many avenues that don’t provide results. 

If you are ever uncertain about whether something will work, ask yourself: Is this something that my target market would use or see daily? If the answer is no, then discard the idea. If the answer is yes, then go for it.

Create a Website With a Blog

Whether you plan on writing one book or many doesn’t matter because a website can set you up for success. Websites provide the audience with a place to go to find information about the book, author, and upcoming events.

Part of your website should include a blog—somewhere you can share your thoughts in writing. Blog articles could be on any topic that’s relevant to your book or writing in general.

Release a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a tool that motivates the audience to purchase your book. It could be a free chapter, a prologue, or maybe an invite to a live Q&A session with the author.

Lead magnets allow you to obtain contact details from your audience, which you can then use to send them more marketing materials.

Compose a Newsletter

A weekly or monthly newsletter can be a great way to keep in touch with your audience. Add links to your blog and social media pages, mention upcoming book events, or tease the reader with a potential new book release.

Attend Events

Events are great places to meet your audience and build industry contacts that could market your books for you. 

Find out about book fairs or ask your local bookstore whether they might be hosting readings that you can participate in.

Taking Advantage of Social Media

social media leverage

Social media is a useful tool for authors, as most people use at least one platform. If you can meet and entertain your readers on the right platform, then you are placing your book into the palms of their hands.

Choose the Right Platform

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn… the list goes on and on. Which platform is best for you? 

It all comes back to your target market. You must be present on the platforms they use. Deciding which ones are best may require a bit of research.

The tips in the following video can help you get started on selecting the best social media platform for your audience.

What to Post

Social media is a place to express yourself and engage with your audience. You can post about anything that you feel is relevant to your brand.

Discuss the characters or important facts in your book, ask the audience about their favorite parts, or explain what inspired you to write the story. Give followers a “behind the scenes” glimpse into your writing process or share your favorite books with them.

You could even post things unrelated to your books if they are relevant to you and your brand. For example, photos of your pets, what you like to eat for dinner, or a quote of the day.

Final Thoughts

Marketing your book involves building an audience that wants to hear about your book, life, and future endeavors. It’s something you must spend sufficient time on if you want to make the bestseller list. 

Even if it doesn’t happen this time around, your followers will increase and get you closer to the top spot that you desire. Just keep believing in yourself!

If you have waited for the second part of this article, then you may not have started writing your book yet. We can help you clear the backlog: all you must do is contact us about our nonfiction and fiction writing packages.

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