Guest blog post by Impact Hub Berlin member, Edoardo Binda Zane
7 min. read – Prefer watching the extended 30 min. video article? See below.
I published my ebook on Amazon one night and went to bed. The morning after I woke up to this:
First thought: this is awesome! Second thought: meh, it’s probably a joke. Third thought: wow, it’s actually for real…
My book, “Effective Decision-Making” shot up to number one in two amazon categories overnight: Management Science and Decision-Making and Problem Solving. I’m thinking about a few reasons why this happened, and in this post I’m happily writing for Impact Hub Berlin I’ll tell you exactly which ones they are. I started with the idea of writing a book because I had a bunch of content already available on a blog. On paper, that content should have rocked it, because all the keyword researches said so.
Needless to say, it flunked. Badly. So, I decided to do some kind of pivot, i.e. repurposing the content I already had on the blog and present it via a different medium, that is a book. I also wanted to learn how to publish a book without investing too much time writing a new one, and given I already had some content, it seemed that using it was the right thing to do. Anyways, I said I’d give you the reasons for which I got to number one in my two categories, here are my 2 cents 😉
Take a look at your topic, keywords and competition.
I was lucky enough to have my topic (decision-making) fairly uncompetitive. It should have really been the other way around (check a topic and then, if it’s uncompetitive, write about it). I used a paid tool called MerchantWords that is basically Adwords for Amazon to verify how many searches there were for my keywords and my numbers checked out. I also checked the ranking of my direct competitors for those keywords. The numbers also checked out (the lower their ranking, the better your chances to rank in the top 10).
Build a following and be true to them
I started a Facebook page for my book and started posting book excerpts, or developments of the book. Most importantly, I shared each lesson a learnt every step of the way. I like to give back in some way to anyone that followed me, because they are granting me their trust and I have to respect that. Anytime I could, I recorded a brief video explaining where I was on my path to publication and giving out all the useful lessons I had learned in the meantime.
Build a brand
I engaged my audience right from the very beginning. In hindsight, I would have preferred to have at least six months to do everything better. Unfortunately reality happened, and all I had was six weeks. Still, in those six weeks, anytime I communicated with my audience I used a specific set of 2-3 stock photos to accompany my post. This was the main way I built my brand. Honestly also out of luck, as I just had a few images I really liked and that I could use. The concept of one of those images ended up being on the cover of my book (thanks to Lambda256 for the awesome cover work).
Engage your audience
My audience gave me trust and I tried to give back by giving them my stories and my tips via my videos. I also tried to engage them and to get feedback on my book’s title and cover from them. This has been way more important than I thought. I was in love with a specific image and a specific title for my book, but building a survey to ask people to vote on their favourite title or cover proved me way wrong, in both cases! Had I not asked about it I would have come out with a title and image they would have liked less, and had I not given back to them, I would have probably have received a much lower level of feedback.
Plan your launch right
First, I made a list of all websites, Linkedin groups, Twitter accounts and Facebook groups that offer to repost or publish offers for a free ebook. I have listed something like 70 Facebook groups and 30 websites… posted on all of them the day you launch! Second, I set my ebook to an inflated price of 7,99 € and offered it for free for the first few days. This way I was hoping to get enough downloads to climb the free Amazon charts and get enough readers that would leave me a good review afterwards. I’m still hoping for the good reviews, but I’m quite happy with the downloads I got. Third, I created a Facebook event for the launch. This is a bit less naïve than it sounds. My event runs for three-four days, meaning that for the whole duration of my event, whenever I post anything on it I cause a Facebook notification to be sent to all attendees, and that gives me a bit more exposure. Keep it up during the launch Things happened for me during the launch, and I shared every single one on my Facebook page and event, on Linkedin, on Twitter and in any other relevant group I could find. Even sharing how many downloads I had was something interesting I have shared that helped me keep awareness up.
Get your timing right
By timing I mean Amazon timing. The website takes between 6 and 72 hours to register a change. ANY change. I preferred to have everything proofread and edited at least a week before launch, then I uploaded my book at full price without publicising it, and only started saying I had released it once my free promo had started.
Have an AMAZING cover
Unfortunately, I noticed that your cover is 50% of your game at least. People see that before your content, so make sure you have a good designer on board and if you want to go the extra mile get the designer on board from the beginning to create a few images that you can use to build your brand.
This is, in a nutshell, how I managed to get my book to number one. Small disclaimer: I simplified a lot, there is more to it when you go into detail on any of the points I made! This should give you a decent overview though… If you’ve made it this far into the article, thanks for reading! And should you be interested in my book, here are the download links:
Last note: thank you Impact Hub Berlin for all the support!