SPQ 028: What Are the Requirements to Be a New York Times Bestseller?

spq28 new york bestsellerThe Question…

Som wants to know what the parameters are for determining if a Kindle book will be a New York Times bestseller (number of copies sold, etc.). He also asks if non-US authors are eligible for inclusion.

Biggest Takeway…

Steve’s Answer…

Non-US residents are absolutely eligible for the New York Times bestseller list. Many authors from outside the United States have been on the list. Steve has never personally achieved this goal, but in May 2014, he sold 16,000 copies of “Habit Stacking.” With a more strategic promotional plan, he may have been able to hit the list, but it’s not a major goal of his. Continue reading

13 Best Self-Publishing Companies For Starting Your Writing Business

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

That astonishing bit of good news comes from William Somerset Maugham, one of the highest-paid writers during the 1930s. It’s good news because writers like to push boundaries and walk through literature like Mark Twain was sitting on their shoulder.

Writers want to create stories and record observations and social interaction. And some of these hard-working writers want to see their names in lights.

You know. That 15 minutes of fame thing.

Some writers dream of being the F. Scott Fitzgerald of the day or the Oscar Wilde that stews over a play like a grizzly with her cubs. Some illustrious writers want the big traditional publishers to do the work. They want the big boys to come up with brilliant cover designs, creative marketers, and fat cat publicists, so they can attend the fancy cocktail parties and multi-city book signings.

Some of those writers have that day when the seas part and the heavens open, or when they can no longer walk across the street without feeling like they have to go to the bathroom. Sure they get a book deal with a $1000 advance, but they forget the first rule of writing.

That is, you are only a writer when you write. So if your passion is creating a busload of characters and introducing people to worlds that are more than dream worthy, then self-publishing is for you.

But before we go into the appetizing and juicy parts of self-publishing, let’s get real for a moment. There are more than 750,000 books published a year. Some people say it’s more like a million.

The people who track those kinds of statistics say half of those publications are compliments of self-publishers. And knows this. On average, a self-published book will sell less than 300 copies a year, unless writers follow through and come up with a marketing plan for a specific audience.

Hundreds of writers who self-publish sell thousands of books a year because that audience responded to that writer’s marketing campaign.

The Six Best Reasons You Should Self-Publish

1. You Control Your Time.

The last thing any writer needs is pumping out what seems like an endless flow of query letters to snag an agent. The agent will look for a publisher and suddenly you’re on a time clock. You took the bait. Those suits are going to reel you in and expect stuff from you on a time schedule that you may or may not like.

2. You’re In The Driver’s Seat.

You choose the cover and the price. And you don’t have to change stuff like that title that you came up with while you were dreaming of that old high school flame. You have complete control. You can continue to write your book when you want.

3. The Royalties Are Bigger!

You’ll get money for each book that leaves the distribution center or when Amazon lets you know your eBook is selling, and you get all the profit. Traditional publishing houses take 85 percent, and an agent gets another 15 percent. You might have enough left to pay the rent, but Forbes won’t be calling to put you on their richest people in the world list.

4. Now’s The Time To Self-Publish

The stigma and the stench of self-publishing are in the wind now. Thanks to the brave writers who wrote great books and self-published, and thanks to the Internet, all writers can self-publish with the click of a mouse.

5. You Can Market The Book, Dude!

Sure. Marketing may not be your bag. But with all the marketing tools available a six-year-old writer could do it, and that tot might even do it better. But you have to give it your best shot, by doing the research and by spending some of that grade school lunch money you hide under your bed.

6. This Is The Age Of Self-Empowerment And Enlightenment

Guess what? 50 Shades of Grey is self-published, and if that work can hit the writer’s jackpot, so can you.

Here Are The 13 Best Self-Publishing Companies For Starting Your Writing Business Continue reading


SPQ 081: How Would You Start a Book Business with $5?

How Would You Start a Book Business with $5?

The Question

Michal asks: When I started writing and publishing, I wasn’t in the business owner mindset at all. I published my first book with an investment of just five dollars. I needed to grow and see progress before I was willing to invest more in my books. How would you have started with just five bucks? Forget about your business background when you answer the question. Thanks.

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Michal is the first repeat caller Steve’s answered on SPQ. His most recent book, “The Art of Persistence,” has a 7,900 ranking on Amazon, so it’s a solid book that is selling well. Michael is a great example of someone who takes action. English isn’t his first language, but he’s still doing a great job putting out valuable content and building an audience. Continue reading


SPQ 080: KDP Select Free Promotions: How Many Days Should I Use?

kdp select free promo

The Question

Chris of PowerLists.org asks via email: I recently published my first book on KDP Select and was wondering if it is best to do a five-day promotion or to split up the days into one two-day promotional campaign and one three-day promotional campaign. Thanks. Love your show.”

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

It’s great to see that a lot of recent questions are coming from first-time authors. That means a lot of people out there are taking action. Continue reading


SPQ 079: What Types of Links Should Be Included in Kindle Books?

What Types of Links Should Be Included in Kindle Books?

The Question

Stan Dubin of TheHiringTips.com asks: I’m going to be uploading a collection of hiring tips on Kindle. How appropriate would it be to have an almost-imperceptible link at the bottom of each page to take people back to our site? If that’s not appropriate from your point of view, what kind of link to a website should a Kindle book have?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Congratulations to Stan on his first book. He asked if you are allowed to put links at the bottom of every book, or if it’s generally a good practice.

Steve isn’t sure, but he thinks it’s difficult to put a link at the bottom of every page. Someone who knows formatting very well might be able to do it, but it would look very weird to the reader. Continue reading


SPQ 078: Fiction vs. Nonfiction: Which Should I Pick?

Yellow sign in the forest

The Question

Kamal asks via email: I am a budding author and already a blogger. I am stuck on whether I should write fiction or nonfiction.

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

A lot of authors struggle with the issue of whether they should write fiction or nonfiction books. This is a hard decision to make because it can have a long-term impact on your business.

Steve recommends weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each tactic. Continue reading


SPQ 077: What is the Minimalist Marketing Plan for Selling Books?

Assembling puzzles with bulb and money drawings concrete background

The Question

Lawrence (from Alaska) asks via email: I am a retired guy who has a number of books published by traditional companies and self-published on Kindle and other platforms. I would like to write two to four books a year and bring in a modest $1,000 to $2,000 a month while not working full-time. While I realize this is at the other end of the spectrum from your business accomplishments, what would a minimalist marketing plan look like for a guy with my modest goals?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

This is a great goal, and it’s totally doable. A lot of authors start out and hit that goal within their first few months. When it comes to self-publishing, people tend to get bogged down in everything they have to do. You really only need to worry about a few core tasks. Continue reading


SPQ 076: How Do You Balance Book Marketing with Writing?

Businessman standing in front of the choise

The Question

Marie asks via email: “I released my book on Amazon on April 7.  I did the KDP Free promotion and am now doing a week for $0.99. I will gradually move it to $2.99.  I know you said to keep writing books, but when is the best time to move on to the next book? I feel that I’m chasing the ‘Amazon Best Sellers Rank’ on my current book, trying to keep it “above water.” How do you balance and not go crazy?”

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Marie’s book is “Just a Little More Money.” Steve took a look at the book, and he noticed it’s currently at a 12,000 ranking. That’s great for a first book. It’s currently listed at $1.99, so Marie should consider changing it to $2.99. It won’t make much of a difference in sales, but it will make a big difference in her earnings. Continue reading


SPQ 075: My Failed Kindle Niche Experiment

Pretty baby bit a tablet on the floor

The Question

I know you’ve mentioned a few times that you tried to publish a series of children’s books on Kindle. I’m wondering if you’d do a podcast where you went into exactly why you decided not to move forward with it, and why you think children’s books don’t do well on Kindle. Is it because it’s harder to build a platform when you are trying to market kids’ books? I’m curious because I’ve published a series of kids’ books, and it’s definitely a challenge. I’m only selling about five books per day. I’d love to hear the lessons you learned.

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Not many people ask about his experience publishing kids’ books. Surprisingly, he learned more from that failed experiment than he has by publishing some of his other titles. Continue reading


SPQ 074: Ghostwriting – How Do You Find Quality Writers for Kindle Books?


The Question

Tobias asks: I’m looking for quality ebook writers. I’m looking to outsource the writing of some Kindle books, and I’m having a hard time finding people who produce quality. I’ve been primarily using Odesk, and my experience so far is that they are writing the ebooks, but the English is not as good as the writers’ resumes and our conversations would imply. I’m frustrated with that. How do you acquire quality ebook writers to write your Kindle books, if you are using any?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Hiring a writer is not necessarily Steve’s recommended strategy for self-publishing. He hires writers for other aspects of his business, but to create the content, he uses other writers very sparingly. Continue reading


SPQ 073: Five Questions: Non-U.S. Reviews, Author Follow Button, Media Liability Insurance, Formatting, and Udemy

a cup of coffee and laptop on wooden table with flower ,vintage style

It’s time for another Five Questions segment. In this episode, Steve covers a variety of topics including finding your international reviews, if the Author Follow button works, media liability insurance, formatting, and putting a product on Udemy.

Continue reading

1 2 3 9