Interview Series: A Recipe for a Best-Selling Book

Andy Baldwin, the founder of Bookstand Publishing in Morgan Hill, California and author of The Self-Publishing Guide for Entrepreneurs: How to Publish a Book, Build Your Brand as a Business Expert, and Get More Clients took some time to give us some advice on what makes a best-selling book.  The recipe for a best-selling book is one that has eluded mainstream publishers for years, and, for self-published authors, tapping into what it is that makes a best-seller can be particularly elusive.  Baldwin has demystified the process, so that self-published authors are able to write and market a best-seller and leverage that status into speaking engagements, sales leads, and profits.


Is there a “secret recipe” for creating an Amazon best-selling book?

Yes.  There are, at least, some specific tactics you can use that that will significantly improve your odds of becoming an Amazon best-selling author.

First, you need to choose your Amazon categories carefully.   Amazon has more than a hundred book categories, into which they sort books to make them easier to find for customers. All books within any given category are also ranked by overall sales, with the “bestselling” book in the #1 spot.   If you chose a category that is relevant to your topic– but not too competitive– you significantly increase your odds of becoming a best-selling author.  For example, the “Real Estate” category in Amazon is much less competitive than the “Non-Fiction” category.  With reasonable promotion, you could probably make your book a #1 Best Seller in Real Estate; but the same promotion and the same sales result would likely not result in your book showing up in the top 20 within the “Non Fiction” category, and it certainly would not be a “Best Seller.”

Second, you need to focus your promotional efforts on discounted Kindle promotions.   Discounted Kindle promotions (for example, promoting your Kindle edition at a special rate of $.99) are extremely popular with readers and are relatively inexpensive for authors to purchase.  Promoting a Kindle at a discounted rate is much more likely to get you “Best Seller” status than focusing on your paperback book sales or on other types of promotions.

Thirdly, you need to have customer reviews.  No one who doesn’t already know you is going to buy your book, unless there are some customer reviews for the book on Amazon.  You need to plan on how you are going to get your initial customer reviews before your book is published.


What advice do you have for someone who has just completed their manuscript?

Professional editing is very important when it comes to writing a best-selling book.  There are 23 million titles on Amazon, of which approximately 8 million titles will sell this year.  That means that most of the titles on Amazon won’t even sell a single copy this year.  In this competitive market, you must have your book edited for grammar, punctuation, and tense. An author usually cannot do this themselves, as they are too close to the book.  They know what it is supposed to say, so they miss mistakes.   Most authors need an independent set of eyes to go through the manuscript and find errors and make corrections.

For a fiction book, I also recommend a content edit, in addition to a copy edit for grammar, punctuation and tense.   A content editor looks at the plot and makes suggestions on how it can be improved: how this character could be developed; how this chapter could be eliminated; and how the story could improve.   Fiction books are extremely competitive, and you can’t  just have a good story to compete, you must have an exceptional story.  A good content edit can make a good story exceptional.


What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning to write their book?

Choose a topic that is popular, but have a unique slant or perspective on the topic.  Don’t just make another book that looks and sounds like all the other book in your genre.

Also, choose a compelling title before you write your book.  Your book title is your selling message and also the main method through which the Amazon Search engines will find you.  The title is important not only because it communicates the subject or purpose of the book to your readers, but also because the keywords and keyword phrases in your title and subtitle are used by the Amazon Search Engine to help customers find your book.  Additionally, by choosing your title first, it will help keep you focused on creating that unique slant that will distinguish your book from all of the other books on Amazon.


If you were to name one thing all of your Amazon Best-Selling authors have in common, what would it be?

They all purchased one of our Amazon Best Selling Promotional Packages, of course!  Bookstand Publishing offers packages that eliminate the need for authors to understand all of the nuances of marketing a best-selling book.

More specifically,  they all had:

  • A good, well-written, and edited book.
  • The right categories for their book – relevant categories, but nottoo
  • Five or more customer reviews on Amazon.
  • A brief and intense discounted Kindle promotion.


After someone becomes a “best-selling author”, what does that mean for them?  How does it translate to book sales, speaking engagements, and improving their business?

Amazon updates their best-selling rankings daily.  Most best-selling books are only “Best Selling” for a week or two.  You need to leverage your Best-Seller status to help build long term sales– that is, build sustained sales, as opposed to a quick burst of sales.  You do this by leveraging your Best-Seller status to enhance your reputation and help distinguish your book from the other 23 million books on Amazon.   Business authors, in particular, can use the Best-Seller status to enhance their reputation, get speaking engagements, and get leads.

Once you achieve your Best-Seller status, you need a plan spread the word.  Typically, is done through announcing your success on your social media network, your website, and via press releases to the media.