Turn Your Non-Fiction Book into a TV Show?

Turn your non-fiction knowledge into a TV show?

First, let me motivate you. You will not have a TV show, there’s just no way. And turn a book into a TV show … ha!

I know that’s not very nice, but strangely enough, that is the first step to getting a TV show. No one knows why. Someone will tell you, it will never happen. Forget it. That’s when you know you’ve made it.

How can you turn a non-fiction idea into a TV show?

I have been asked that question many times, since I had my own TV show that ran for seven years, wrote other TV shows that aired nationwide and was nominated for an Emmy for writing another non-fiction topic.

Here’s the secret. Incredibly dumb luck.

The same kind of unbelievable dumb luck the New England Patriots have almost every year. Oh sure, they practice a lot, have great attention to detail, and put themselves in a position to win… but mostly it’s just stupendous dumb luck. Right?

You want a TV show?

Ha! Why don’t you just ask me, What does it take to get struck by lightning? Well, I suppose you could live where there are a lot of thunderstorms, learn to climb towers, and wear a giant metal hat. (Wearing a giant metal hat can also be helpful in getting on TV)

I hope you’re getting the point. I can’t guarantee that anything you do will land you a recurring role as a TV expert or get you a weekly show, but just like those super lucky Patriots and those unbelievably lucky lightning chasers you can prepare yourself to be into position to get really lucky.

For this discussion, let’s assume that you aren’t the spoiled child of some studio exec and you actually have talent. (Proven fact: No child of a studio exec has ever had any skills.)

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for TV possibilities when your chance comes.

What’s your hook?

Having a hook is so important that we will discuss it now, and it will appear in different forms throughout the rest of this article (we’ve also covered it in the most important first step to writing a book). This is what sets you apart from anyone else with a similar story and ignites the key emotion in your viewer… CURIOSITY.

Some of the questions you have to ask to figure out your hook include:

  • What sets you apart?
  • What makes you interesting?
  • Do you have a talent no one else has?
  • Do you have a new angle on an existing topic?
  • A new way of doing something in an industry that hasn’t changed in decades?
  • What sets you apart from others who are knowledgable in your industry.
  • Have you come across a piece of information important to so many people that it has to be heard?
  • Do you have a twist to an interesting story?
  • Can you entertain people when you discuss your topic?
  • Are you incredibly likable?
  • Is your take on your topic controversial?

Examples of hooks that might work to turn your book into a TV show

Hooks using add-on value: If you’re a great chef and you want to do a cooking show. Who cares? There are so many of those it’s impossible to stand out. But, what if your recipes cause someone to fall in love you by the third date? Or allowed you to win multiple cook-offs? Or, makes Jurassic animals spring to life. Now, you’ve got a hook.

There are hooks using more conflict. Are you controversial? Maybe you’re a banker who wants to describe the financial industry. Boring! But, what if your hook is that the banking industry is corrupt? On the verge of collapse? Or secretly makes Jurassic animals spring to life?

But, what if your non-fiction subject matter doesn’t have conflict or magical benefits.

In that case, put into action the most often used hook. Make it entertaining! Are you hilarious? Likable? Brilliant? Eye candy? (If you’re all four can I be your agent… or, will you marry me?)

Remember, the drier the subject matter, the more entertaining you’ll have to be. If you want to do a show about sand or computers you better be ready to entertain or have an audience that really loves sand.

My story as a case study of turning a book into a seven year running TV show.

I have degrees in aviation and computer software. With thousands of hours of flight time and computer software programs that sold nationwide, the obvious next career step was stand-up comic. After opening for major acts and headlining clubs I had put myself in position to get a TV show. Or so I thought. I had auditioned for major networks that were all looking for the next big thing. But, I was a comedian without a definable hook. Funny? Sure. Was I the most sarcastic? No. Was I the guy who talked about relationships? A little. Was I the guy who could do any impression? Some. Did I have one joke that just totally defined me? No. I was a comedian that could fly and airplane and write software.

I had many aviation (near death) stories and many software jokes for a book I was writing but none that transferred well to the stage. I was working on a hook. And, then…

I was told by the Comedy Works that a new network was looking to do a TV show about computers and they knew I had developed software. I immediately said No! Are you kidding me?! I’d seen computer shows. Ugh. Now, move the mouse up to the drop down box and click convert. Then, choose the file extension you want… then, throw your shoe at the TV because this is so boring. (Most computer show hosts are killed by angry mobs.)
Then I thought. Wait. I do know computers, and what if I did something fun that no one had ever done with a computer show? Which actually, is just about anything.

I wanted to connect with viewers. It had to be funny. There had to be a reason for viewers to tune-in and see what this nut was going to do every week. Inadvertently, I was creating a hook. And, hopefully, viewers would learn about the computer, too. (That had a low ranking.)

I worked on ideas to create curiosity for the show.

I would be a guy who never left his home office because he loved playing with software to the frustration of my TV wife. Yes, my computer show had a TV wife. I knew many women that were computer/video game widows and hoped they’d watch, too. Since, my TV wife always got the better of me.

Any computer hot shot guest would play a role as my neighbor, not a nerdy expert.

Every week I had a goal and something was stopping me from reaching it. The computer was my straight man and sidekick that helped me out of my dilemma.

Every show started and ended with stand-up jokes.

I responded to e-mails and turned each answer into a comedy short.

My wardrobe included bizarre, colorful shirts just to make anyone watch my show for just a minute, hopefully long enough to get hooked. I threw the kitchen sink at the show, as well as the hot tub and swimming pool.

The logline for the show was, “Home Computing is a “SitComp (Situation Computer Show) about a man, a woman, and his love… for software.” It was concise, you knew what it was about, and you could see that there could be some conflict. I give everyone involved at the network and producers a lot of credit for giving the green light to those ideas. There were a lot of blank stares, at first.

Even if you’re surprised that anybody watched my show. That’s okay.

Your show won’t please everybody either. But, it did run for seven years and allowed me to make other shows.

Whether you accidentally tuned in or read about the show it did make you curious. That’s why people flip on a show and why they watch the entire show. They’re curious to see what happens next. For example: If you knew the final score before the football game, you wouldn’t watch. If Indiana Jones told the audience that all the bad guys would melt in the last scene you wouldn’t watch. (I would just forward to that scene actually)

Get them curious and keep them curious. This article is a pretty good example. You probably wondered if the article would actually tell you how to get a TV show. Would it apply to you? Have I heard this advice before? And, here you are Mr. or Mrs. Curiosity.

The second you’ve satisfied curiosity, your audience will move on. This applies to those watching the show as well as to those you pitch the show to.

There’s another reason why someone might watch your show. It is…

Self Interest

Generally, when it comes to using our time we are all selfish.

I’ll watch your show, but what’s in it for me TV boy? Have you ever watched anything to be nice to the creator? Nope. Heck, you skip 90% of your friends Facebook posts, don’t you?


Wow, you are selfish. Me, too!

Here are other reasons someone might watch your ‘book into a TV show’ program.

Some people don’t want to be left behind. They want to be up-to-date and know the latest information. If you can make them smart, in a smart way, you’re on the right track.

They want to solve their problems. Imagine all the problems your average person has. I have 172 problems as of last count. Now, suddenly, I turn on your show and some are solved? That’s DVR material right there.

Some viewers want to feel like they’re the insider. They know the inside scoop on celebrities, science, politicians, and sports.

Then, there’s the super-selfish, big daddy of them all. Can you show them how to be rich, famous, attractive, talented or special in any way. DING! DING! DING! Selfish Nirvana!

And, can each individual TV show appearance or TV show episode make the audience want to share it immediately.


Okay, let me try to prepare you for when your chance comes. (It will come) When a producer calls and says: I read your book, heard about you, saw your presentation or got your 811 e-mails about your ground-breaking knowledge and we’d love to get you on our show… that’s the playoff game or lightning strike you’ve been preparing for.

So, let me give you a few tips


Have you heard to just, “be yourself,” when you go on TV?

Does that mean me, in my jammies, watching Twilight Zone?

No one on TV is themselves!

Imagine living with some of the people you’ve seen on TV shows, cable shows or reality shows. Yuck!

I’ve known personally every one of the following and not one; game show host, cable host, cable guest, anchor woman, comedian, or reality star acts like that in person. Who would be their friends? In all cases, they are people who are living their life just like you are, but their job is just being a bigger version of themselves on TV. It’s them times 10. They are more confident, more aware, more verbal, more connected, more fun, and more prepared than they are in person.

Also, this is not the time to start doubting that you know what you’re talking about. You look that TV camera right in the eye and you tell them what you know without a shred of doubt. Even, if you suddenly doubt what you’re saying, make your case like, “If this isn’t true, you can have my second and third born child. No one wants to give up their first child, they’re the best one.” (Hint: I was a first born.)

Have fun! This is secretly what you’ve been waiting for. You can straighten out all the knuckleheads who don’t know what they’re talking about. If your subject makes it politically incorrect to be fun on camera then be heartfelt even more than you would normally.


If you are odd, your TV appearances may never end, particularly if you have something to say. At this point in our society you’re more likely to get on TV if you behave like, “The Riddler,” from Batman. Do you have a suit with question marks all over it? Or that metal cap I mentioned earlier? Wear it! Be as visual as you can be. You’re on TV!

If you’re super handsome or beautiful and you’re smart… good golly I hate your guts. Hold on a moment while I pray for your death. Only joking, and it’s completely unfair, but you could be made for the tube. And, I will be the first one to stare all blinkey-eyed into the television, believe anything you say, and dream of our lives together. (This is where stalkers come from.)

Practice on YouTube and try to find your persona that can transfer to the small screen. You might find out that a lot of people want to hear what you have to say. But, say it better and bigger than anyone else.

Contact producers, agents, managers, and promote yourself.

Become an expert that news stations go to when they need information and for a while do it for free. Believe me, eventually, they will say, do you want to come on our show, we’ve completely run out of ideas and we thought of you.

If you get an idea for a spot on a show or a weekly show, write out an outline and try to find someone to listen.

Write a Book and follow all the same rules as above. Get people curious in your book and keep them curious as they read. This could be your calling card. This book is what can set you apart.

One, you will have the credibility of having written a book. It allows producers to see what you stand for or what your story is.

So, I hope you’ve gotten a little peek into what it takes to turn your non-fiction topic into TV gold. But, I have to be honest, you’ll never have a TV show. No way.

You’re welcome!


Written by Tim Testa, Book Launchers Writing Coach, recovering comedian, and Home Computing Celebrity.

Self-Publishing Scams to Watch Out For

All the people in the room agree to set the price of their book at 99 cents. Everyone then buys the other people’s books. You go into it knowing you’ll spend roughly $100 buying books, but in return your book will become a bestseller in it’s category.” 

My friend was explaining how this one company guarantees their authors will become Amazon Bestsellers.

I said, “So, essentially you’re selling your book to 100 people who will never read your book so you can post on Facebook that your book was a Bestseller?”

She laughed … and nodded.

“What good does that do?”

I already knew authors were gaming Amazon to say they were an Amazon Bestseller.  I didn’t realize what a big business it had become. That got me thinking about other things self-publishing authors should watch out for.

Self-publishing a book is daunting! We’ve talked about hiring an editor, deciding between print and digital, designing a great book cover and some of the important things you need to do once your book is on Amazon. There are so many things to consider. The research can be never ending.

Smart authors realize that they are experts in their niche, not publishing pros.

The problem is that there are a lot of practices in the publishing industry that are questionable. I’m stretching to call them self-publishing scams, but they are things you should be aware of. There are some contracts that limit your rights. Some offers look like good ones on the surface but really limit your choices in the future.

Today, I’ve got five things to watch out for as a self-publishing author.

Key things to ask to avoid the self-publishing scams covered in the video include:

  • Who owns the rights to the book materials?
  • How are any promises or guarantees of best seller or award winning actually fulfilled?
  • Who gets the royalties from the sale of the books?
  • Do you need your own ISBN?
  • How can you purchase copies of your book?

There are some great options in the market to help you write, publish and even sell your book (hint … Book Launchers does this!). And, it’s smart to get help so your book can be something you’re proud to hand to anyone. It’s just important to make sure you work with the right company.

 Now … what can you do to prevent the most common self-publishing scams?

Watch this second part to the video to uncover how you can prevent and protect yourself from the most common scams in the publishing industry:

And, of course, if you want support to write, publish and sell a book that you completely control and own, we’d love to help you. Visit our membership options, or fill out this form to set up a time to chat with me about your book idea.



Social Media Isn’t Going to Sell Your Book – But Here’s What Will!

“I just need someone to help me sell my book on social media. I have more than 3,000 followers on Twitter and almost 1,000 friends on Facebook.”

“That’s great!” I said. “But, are your social media connections interested in learning how to meet the love of their life?

They weren’t. They were friends and people who knew her from work (which was in an unrelated field). That was definitely part of the problem.

I was chatting with an author who wanted help promoting her book. It wasn’t selling, and she was frustrated.

She thought she just needed the right message for Social Media to boost her book sales, but that wasn’t going to help her.

The problem?

Her book didn’t have a juicy hook. It also didn’t have a clear audience.

Social media isn’t a catch all solution to sell your book.

In fact, you are more likely to waste a lot of time trying to use social media to sell your book than you are likely to successfully sell books via social media. Unless, of course, you have a good plan in place first.

If you haven’t already, download our 8 Ways to Sell 1,000 Books for Under $100 free guide.

First, you need to plan to sell your book from the start.

Your book needs a hook. To know what will hook your readers, you need to know who your readers are.

Once you know who you’re writing for, you can figure out what is going to catch their attention.

At Book Launchers, this is a critical step for every author. Even if you’ve already completed a manuscript, we’ll take you back to the start to make sure the ideal reader was identified and that the book is well positioned to get their attention. When you do this right from the start, the entire process will flow a lot faster and more effectively.

Second, identify where you can connect with your ideal reader.

Just because you love Facebook doesn’t mean your ideal reader is connected with you on the site. You can probably find a subset of your audience on Facebook, but you’ll need to find out what Groups they are hanging out in. Then you begin to develop relationships within those groups that will help you promote your book to those groups. Showing up to a party and saying ‘buy my book’ isn’t going to work. Make friends with people, add value, and then ask people to consider your offer!

If it sounds like work, that is because it is!

There are often other places that are more efficient to connect to your ideal readers than social media. For some book types, you’ll find many readers on Good Reads. You may also find them offline at conferences, reading magazines, frequenting certain types of businesses in your area or searching for solutions via video or podcasts.

Social media may be the answer, but there may be better ways to find your ideal reader.

Third, consider who you know.

The success of my first book, More than Cashflow, was entirely as a result of the support of a handful of key people in the Canadian real estate industry. Their support pushed my book to number one overall … without them, I was only able to break the Top 100 overall.

Tim Ferriss launched the 4 Hour Work Week to massive Best Selling status a little over 10 years ago using relationships he’d built with other bloggers. These relationships were built well in advance of publishing his book – were cornerstone to his success.

If you’re a Platinum Level member of Book Launchers we pitch your book to bloggers and podcasters on your behalf … and we’ll get you some exposure. But, the people who will help you the most will know you personally. If you want your book to do well, make sure you’re building relationships, adding value, and supporting people in your industry so that they will do the same when the time comes for you.

Fourth, develop your own list.

Social media is a great way to interact and connect with your readers. You can build an audience on a platform that people frequent on a regular basis and stay in front of them without too much effort. You should never rely on it exclusively though. Always remember that you are squatting on property owned by someone else. You don’t ‘own’ those contacts. At any time the owner of the property (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube etc) can decide that they no longer like the way you’re using their property and throw you out.

If they do that – and you haven’t been building your own connections on your own website – you lose everything.

Use social media to supplement your book marketing strategy, but always focus on developing your own audience. Collect email addresses. Ask for phone numbers. Get mailing addresses. Whatever you do – make sure you have other ways to connect and contact your potential readers. These folks will be the most likely to buy your book, spread the word for you, and help you with early reviews.

Bottom line, social media offers a way for readers to interact with you. It’s a great way to stay top of mind and build connections. But, for social media to work you must know who you’re writing for, what’s going to get their attention, and find a way to get yourself in front of those people.

Best of luck with your book!

And, if you want help figuring out who you’re writing for, and have support through the entire self-publishing process, book a call with me! I’m happy to chat to see if we’re a fit to help you write, publish and promote your book.




5 Things to Do Once Your Book is Published on Amazon

Congratulations! Your book is published on Amazon. This achievement puts you miles ahead of millions of aspiring authors. You’re clearly an action taker, but you are still facing an uphill battle.

The problem?

There are millions of other books on Amazon, and you have to stand out so readers find your book!

These days getting your book listed on Amazon is not enough to attract readers. You have a lot of competition.

The good news is that there are a few things you can do, for free, to help your book stand out once it’s published on Amazon.

A few are things you’ve probably done naturally, like get reviews, but the others are things many authors don’t know about or neglect because they aren’t sure what to do. Check them out below and get them scheduled into your to-do list THIS WEEK. And, if you want more tips to help you sell your book, make sure you’ve grabbed our Selling Your Book Gameplan – 8 Ways to Sell 1,000 Books for under $100.

5 Things to Do Once You’re Published on Amazon.

#1 – Reader Reviews

You know this one already, but it’s so critical it’s still number one.

Verified purchase reviews are the absolute best (you know, the ones from people who’ve bought your book)?

But, you need reviews no matter what, so you need to hustle and work to get them.

Amazon still allows authors to give a free copy of their book away in exchange for an honest review, so to kick start your book’s life on Amazon, give some books away and ask for reviews.

Reach out to clients, colleagues, and friends. Ask who is interested in reading your book and writing an honest review.

Now, to be compliant with Amazon’s rules, these people can’t be related to you or close friends, and of course the review needs to be honest.

Sounds simple enough, right?

The harsh reality of this is that even if you get a dozen people who agree to do this, you’re likely to see only three or four reviews. A lot of people will happily take that free book, but only about 20-30% of them will actually write the review.

Know that going in and plan to ask a lot of people so you can get ten or more reviews of your book on Amazon to start with.

How to Get Amazon Reviews

This is a good subject for an entire article, but briefly, what doesn’t work is writing mass emails. Nobody likes to me massed mailed today. Contact people individually and get a commitment from them. When you get that, in writing commitment, you can use that when you follow up as well.

My best success came from asking clients who were already raving fans of my work. I’d offer them a freebie in exchange for a review. I’d get that commitment via email, and then if I didn’t see a review after a month, I’d forward the original email to them with a little note asking how it was going with the book.

That worked for me … but, it was still work. Make no mistake, very few people will write a review of your book just because they want to. Most people need to be asked.

#2 – Submit Your Book to the Amazon Look Inside Program

Amazon’s Look Inside feature allows potential readers to sample the contents of your book without giving them access to the entire thing.

Some authors dislike this feature because you can’t select what pages to show as a preview – Amazon does it automatically. But, let’s face it, if a potential reader is looking at your book in a book store – you can’t control what pages they look at, can you?

It’s a great way for potential readers to sample the contents. If you’ve published a quality product, it will help them to decide to click the buy button! That’s what you want!

In this age of self-publishing there’s no quality control on what gets published (you saw the article on becoming an Amazon Bestseller, right?). That means customers will value the ability to sample even more. And, it’s critical that your book is of the highest quality possible.

This feature rewards the authors who invest in high quality publishing. So it’s a pretty cool marketing tool.

If you’ve submitted a Kindle version of your book, the LOOK INSIDE feature is automatically set up. But, if you haven’t submitted a Kindle version of your book, you’ll have to set it up. Go to “Search Inside! Publisher Sign-Up” to set it up. Following the instructions activates the LOOK INSIDE on your Books Main Detail page. The change will usually appear within seven to ten days after you do the content submission.

A couple of things you need to know about the LOOK INSIDE program:

  1. You have to have an ISBN number. Don’t know what that is? Here’s a quick video:
    The ISBN number needs to correspond exactly to the one you submitted for the Amazon catalog.
    Oh, and if you are a Canadian, here’s how to get your ISBN number for free.
  2. The content that you submit for the LOOK INSIDE program has to be identical to what is inside your book.

#3 – Create Your Author Page on Amazon Central

Your Author Page is just another place where readers can find you. It’s easy to set up and it’s FREE marketing … so take half an hour and get it set up right now.

You can use this page to upload extra pictures, a more extensive biography, and other details on your book. As you write more books, you can add those onto your author page as well.

If you don’t already have an Author Central account, you’ll need to set that up to create your author page. Once you do that, why don’t you come over to our Facebook Page, give us a Like, and let us know where to find you?

#4 – Promote Your Book Regularly

Run Amazon specific promotions at least three times a year to ensure that your book climbs the sales ranks on a regular basis.

Looking for ideas for what to do? Download our Book Selling Gameplan.

Many times readers are only seeing the books that rank the highest in each of the categories they are browsing, the books that ‘customers also bought’ and those ‘frequently purchased together’. As a result, you’re missing out on free marketing if your book is not climbing the sales ranks on a regular basis, and being purchased in conjunction with other books on Amazon.

#5 – Use Metadata and Keywords

Published on Amazon MetadataThere are a couple of great approaches to this. The first is to consider what key words you want associated with your book. The second is to think about the keywords that are popular and applicable to your book. Use these words in your book title, description and book listing keywords. Of course, if the keywords aren’t ACTUALLY in your book title you can’t include them (but, that’s a good reason to start planning your book marketing before you actually write your book!)

To help with this, there are a few resources you can consult. One is a book called ‘Let’s Get Visible’. This will help you understand the metadata, book categories and keywords so you can pick one that’s going to make the most sense for your book (of course, you can also have a call with your Client Care Specialist if you’re a Book Launchers client and we’ll help you with all of this too!).

Essentially, this requires research. You must take a look at the books that are already for sale, look at where they rank overall on Amazon and what categories they are listed in. If all the books in that category are ranking high overall on Amazon you’ve found a category where there are a lot of sales, but it will be tough to rank highly. You can check out the keywords of those books, but keep looking for an applicable category that is less competitive. Find a category where a few books are selling really well (less than 10,000 overall ranking on Amazon) but that the majority of the top books have a ranking over 100,000. This improves your chances of ranking highly in that category.

These five steps will help your book stand out on Amazon. The best part is that they are all free to do, you just have to invest a little time.

Becoming an Indie Author: The First Step in Writing a Book

The book is all done – it’s on Amazon and everything. I just need help selling it.

In my days as a branding and business sales coach for investors and new entrepreneurs, I helped a handful of indie authors with publishing and promoting their books. Often they just needed help with the first step in writing a book, but this client was in a slightly different situation. She’d already written and published the book through a ‘done for you’ service, and was surprised to discover that her book wasn’t selling. She believed that once it was on Amazon the sales would start rolling in.

She was mistaken. A month after hitting Amazon, she’d sold two copies.

There are more than 8 million books on Amazon.

Nobody is going to buy your book without you selling it. The problem many authors encounter is that they realize this AFTER their book is done.

Smart authors know the first step in writing a book is creating a plan to sell their book.

Most authors worry about distribution – getting their book on Amazon or in book stores. That is important but there’s so much more involved in selling a book than just having somewhere for people to buy it.

Before you even finalize the subject you are going to write about, you should do some research.


  • Who will be buying your book? This is two parts – who is your ideal reader, and who is already reading books like the one you’ll write?
  • What books will you be competing with? This requires you to research the categories your book is most likely to fit in, and read some of the books that are tops in those categories. Then, you want to understand how you’re different and what need your book will fill that isn’t being filled right now. (This video will help you with this research.)
  • How will you market your book? Do you have a strong author platform to promote your book to right now, or will you be relying on other sources? What book is most likely to appeal to the people in your current platform or in the other sources you are connected with?

My client was in a pretty tough spot. Her book was not unique. It was very much like half of the books in the categories she fit in. It didn’t have any of her personality in it. She didn’t have a unique angle to use to market the book. And, she’d picked her cover from a bunch of templates to save money, which meant her cover didn’t stand out in a sea of thumbnails on Amazon.

She was never going to make her book competitive on Amazon with all the obstacles she faced.

She’d have to go back to the beginning and redo so much to sell anything on Amazon. So, our solution was to find other ways to sell her book so she could reach her business goals. She packaged the material in the book up as part of a workshop she was starting to offer and used the book to sell the workshop. She began focusing on women and immigrant groups in her city to offer the workshop, and after six months she was pretty close to selling 500 copies as part of the package she was offering. More importantly, she’d booked several workshops which made her a lot more money than she’d ever make from book sales.

Her Amazon sales continued to be abysmal, but by focusing on another strategy, she still achieved her business goals with the book. She could have done a lot better if she’d planned how to sell her book before she started writing.

Don’t let this happen to you – set yourself up from success from the start.

Book Launchers clients all begin their service with a platform and promotion planning call. This sets you up to reach your business goals with your book, helps you assess what categories will give you the best chance of success, and uncovers the best angle to take so your book is unique and saleable in the marketplace.

The First Step in Writing Your Book … Research and Consider the Following 8 Questions:

  1. Identify your primary goal for your book? What is secondary?
  2. Get clear on what makes YOU unique? It’s not just the area of expertise you’ll be writing about. Someone else has probably already written a book about the same thing. What experience or stories will you use to market the book?
  3. What Amazon book categories fit your book? How competitive are those categories?
  4. List the books you have read that are like the book you’d like to write. Now, research how they are selling? What makes them unique? How are they the same?
  5. Are there categories that you can list your book in that are popular (high sales volume) but not super competitive (not that many top selling books to compete with)?
  6. What is your current author platform? What will these folks want from a book you write?
  7. List the promotional strategies you’ll use for your book. Will the book you plan to write fit in well with the strategies?
  8. How much money, time and effort are you willing to invest after your book is launched to promote your book?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’re now in a good position to start writing your book. You’ll be able to write a a great book with a unique angle. Small adjustments to the content will ensure that it fits into categories where your book will sell well and appeal to the audiences you can most easily reach. And, as a result of all this work, you’ll have a basic plan for selling your book – which you can build upon while you’re working on your book.

And, of course, if you want help with any of the steps along the way, let us know! We’re your professional publishing team … ready to help you!

Why You’re Wasting Your Time Chasing Amazon Bestseller Status

With sleepy eyes, I glanced at my iPhone to see the time. I figured my alarm was going to go off soon.

That’s when I saw the text message:

“Julie – your book is #1 on Amazon! OMG – Way to go!”

Amazon Bestseller Status in Business and InvestingI was still half asleep so the message didn’t really hit me at first.

But, after a few seconds I felt a surge of adrenaline.

Did my friend mean my book was #1 OVERALL on Amazon?

I jumped out of bed and ran to my laptop.

If it was true, I needed to see it on the big screen.

My book had hit the Top 10 overall on Amazon the day before. Could it possibly be #1 overall?

I shrieked when I saw it.

It was true.

My book, More than Cashflow, was sitting at the top of ALL BOOKS FOR SALE ON AMAZON! I could legitimately claim Amazon Bestseller status!

Amazon Bestseller Status for Julie Broad


My self-published niche non-fiction book that was turned away by publishers, had surpassed all other books to sell the most copies that day.

There were no tricks or gimmicks that put my book on the top. My book was selling for full price. A Kindle version wasn’t available yet up yet. I had a solid marketing launch plan with some incredible supporters … and they helped push my book to the top of the heap – taking home a status few will ever get: Overall #1 Amazon Bestseller.

[I shot a video shortly after this happened called 5 Ways to Sell Your Self-Published Book to explain what worked and what didn’t work to get so many book sales. The video is a bit outdated now … but it tells the story of what worked in 2013].

I admit to checking the Amazon page every hour. It just doesn’t get old seeing your book at #1.

And, my book stayed at the top for nearly 36 hours.

It was a pretty cool day.

Definitely one of the best days I’ve ever had in my career.

Despite the joy and sense of accomplishment I felt hitting #1 overall, I think that pursuing Amazon Bestseller Status is not a good goal for an author.

You may even want to steer clear of anyone who promises to make you an Amazon bestseller.

Do a quick internet search and you’ll find a dozen companies who promise to make your book a Best Seller. They say it’s a huge credibility boost. They will celebrate your ‘success’ when you hit #1 …(some even have awards they give all their authors so you can say you’re ‘award winning’).

Some even guarantee your book will be a #1 bestseller, and show you hundreds of success stories so you think nothing of spending $5,000 on their weekend course or their bestseller training.

In most cases, your #1 Bestseller status it’s actually a #1 book in a sub-sub-sub category like Motivation (see image to the left).

Motivation is under:

Books > Professional & Technical > Business Management > Management & Leadership > Motivational

Sometimes a Best Seller Means Selling Only 5-10 Copies!

Now, looking at the heavy hitters who are in this category, I suspect it’s actually a pretty competitive category. You’d have to sell a large number of books in order to hit #1 in this category. That’s not the case for a lot of the categories. As a result, it can take very few sales to hit #1 in one of the more obscure sub-sub-sub categories. That’s why these companies can guarantee you’ll be a #1 bestseller. All you have to do is sell 5-10 copies in an hour to get there.

Congratulations! 🙂

My favorite story of this comes from a marketing guy named Brent Underwood. Tired of everyone saying they were an Amazon Bestseller he set out to prove how bogus it was. He took a picture of his foot, put it on the cover of a book, uploaded it to CreateSpace and made it an Amazon Bestseller.

His article in the Observer, called ‘Behind the Scam: What does it take to be a Best-Selling Author? $3 and 5 minutes‘ is a hilarious, eye opening and a rather sad read for every author.

Thankfully, Amazon is finally starting to crack down on the bogus Best Seller claims.

Before you waste time, energy and money trying to become a bogus best seller, carefully consider your goals when you create a marketing plan:

What is most important?

Perhaps you want to attract new clients for your business. Maybe you have an important message to get out in the world. You certainly have important expertise and experience that others will benefit from. In most cases you’re doing it to make money at some point – whether from book sales or some other back end strategy.

A book can beautifully position you as THE expert in a niche. The credibility boost that comes with being a ‘Bestseller’ is nice … but only if that status really means something and you aren’t giving up other goals to get there.

Hitting #1 in a sub-sub-sub category does very little for you or your book.

To achieve this, you’ll often have to give away your book for free or sell at a severely discounted price as a pre-launch strategy. It doesn’t do much for you, but it does have some benefits to hit #1 in a sub-sub category:

  • Ranking highly in a category is good for your visibility. It DOES help other readers find you. For this reason it’s smart to consistently run promotions to boost the ranking of your book on Amazon. [I actually talked about this as one of the 5 things you need to do once your book is on Amazon.]
  • It builds momentum for your book. If you have a smart marketing plan, including securing reviews, being featured on a variety of media and doing speaking engagements, there is nothing wrong with a big push to kick off to hit #1. Marketing is a part time job for an author – and one push at the start isn’t going to do anything. You have to plan for at least a year of marketing post book launch to generate any sort of solid results as a result of publishing your book.
  • It feels good. Yup – when your book is sitting at #1 in a category beside a well known author it does give your ego a little boost. You can post that on Facebook and your friends will all congratulate you. We can all use a little ego boost now and again, but you can’t take an ego boost to the bank. Your ego doesn’t pay your bills. And, your ego certainly doesn’t attract new business through your door … so how much is this really worth to you?

What Amazon Bestseller in a category doesn’t usually do:

  • Sell a lot of books. To hit #1 overall on Amazon, I sold over 2,500

    books in a 24 hour period. This was Amazon.ca by the way. I’m Canadian and my first book, More than Cashflow was a Canadian focused real estate investing book. You probably have sell more than 5,000 to top the charts on Amazon.com.

    There is no ‘magic number’ to hit to make #1 overall Amazon Bestseller. The number required is relative to how other books are selling at that time. If launch alongside a famous author with a huge following, you’ll have to sell THAT many more books to rise to the top.Selling 20-35 books per day over a year is pretty good. In one day, to hit #1 in a sub-category once … well … that’s not my idea of success no matter what ranking I hit.

  • Boost Future Sales. Amazon collects a massive amount of data. There is some speculation that the rankings, while calculated based on hourly sales, is also based on a historic trend of performance for your book. In other words, if your book only has one single sales spike and then drops off, Amazon is not going to feature it anywhere else. There’s also speculation that a consistently strong performing book can climb the sales ranks more quickly if it’s sales history has been consistent. If it’s true, you can see #1 in a category more frequently if you have a more steady sales performance history versus a one time hot day.
  • Generate Revenue. Unless you are really clever with your marketing inside of your book and people actually ready it, what has your pre-launch really done for you if you did a freebie or $1.99 launch? Books in readers hands without considering how it will generate leads for your business doesn’t show a good return on investment. It’s just not enough to get someone to get their hands on your book if you want to reach your goals.
  • Lead to more sales. Again, without an extensive plan to market yourself and market your book, one big boost at pre-launch doesn’t sustain itself. In fact, your biggest fans (the people who would have happily paid $20 for the book and told friends about it) are the ones that will be first in line for your pre-launch. They will get the book free or at a low cost, if that’s the prelaunch strategy you use. If your biggest fans get the book free, who is left to buy your book without a whole bunch of marketing? It can work, but you need to be strategic with your entire marketing plan.
  • Provide a Big Credibility Boost. The volume of authors who say they are Bestselling is definitely reducing the credibility boost the title will give you. Being a New York Times Bestseller isn’t as clean and clear as people once thought either. If you have a few hundred thousand dollars the title could be yours too.Amazon Bestseller status is not all you need to establish yourself as an expert. You need a high quality book, great reviews, a sustainable marketing plan to generate consistent sales for your book, and the expertise to back it up. That’s where your real focus should be. Write and publish a book you’re proud to hand to anyone!

Ultimately, it comes down to understanding what’s important to you. There is a price for every choice to make. The price of pursuing Amazon Bestseller status can be quite high depending on the strategy you use to achieve it.

When you sit down to write your book and work through a marketing plan, know what you want to achieve with your book baby. It’s easier than ever to write and publish your book, but it’s more difficult than ever before to sell it. Success will come from a good plan from the start. And, if you still want to pursue an Amazon Bestseller status, go for it. May you hit the Top 100, or top the charts overall. Now you know to back it up with a whole lot of other things to ensure your overall project is a rocking success.