How my Lulu Books Became Amazon Best-Sellers

By Jackie Barrie, author of Lulu books The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing and The Little Fish Guide to Networking.

As you can guess from the titles, both my books are targeted toward small businesses and startups. With such a limited audience, I’d never expect them to be ranked top overall. I’m thrilled and amazed they got ranked at all! But they both reached top ten in Amazon’s Sales & Marketing category.

As you can see from the screenshots below, my first Lulu book The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing peaked at number 8 (at the time of writing, it is number 40). My second Lulu book The Little Fish Guide to Networking made it to number 7. It also attained 11th position in the Marketing category of the 2012 #BizBookAwards run by Small Business Trends (at one point it was 4th).

You might be wondering how I achieved this.

Like many other Lulu authors, I did my own writing and artwork and worked with a graphic designer on the cover. I paid Nielsen for a set of ISBN numbers so I could be my own publisher, and turned to Lulu for print-on-demand and GlobalReach Distribution so my books would appear on Amazon.com (and other online retailers).

In my experience, Amazon.com is the only bookseller that counts. Even though I’d tried to sell my first book direct and via the Lulu site, it was only when it went live on Amazon.com that sales started streaming in.

I did all my own marketing. Having spoken to authors who’ve gone down traditional publishing routes, it is my understanding that they have to do most of their own marketing, too!

I’ve learned that Amazon.com’s rank depends on how many books are sold within each hour. So if you invite your audience to buy books at a similar time on the same day, you have a good chance of boosting it up the rankings.

Top tip: On Amazon.com, fill in the book description and tags, set up your author page, and collect as many reviews as you can.

I run my own copywriting and training business and send my monthly Writing Without Waffle tipsheet to hundreds of subscribers. (As it happens, much of the content of my books is compiled from these newsletters, and the whole idea was inspired by one reader who asked me to collect all my advice together).

So the first step to launching each book was to tell my existing audience about it. That initial rush of orders is what initially got the books into the rankings. Issue 1 sold off my own website to someone in China – we’ve never met, and I don’t know how he knows me, but he’s always been the first to buy anything I’ve produced!

I also promote each book to my followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook and contacts on LinkedIn. Happily, this activity also drives sales, especially when some of my well-connected readers kindly tell their own networks about the books.

Occasionally I give away a book as a competition prize, such as when I reached 1,000 Twitter followers. I also sell books from the back of the room when I run training courses and give speeches.

My main objective in self-publishing was to use books for lead generation for my copywriting and training business, however, I’m pleased to call myself an Amazon ‘best-selling author’ as well.

Top tip: You can track Amazon.com sales of any book on Novelrank.com.

I’m now finishing off my next Lulu book – working title The Little Fish Guide to Social Media, followed by The Little Fish Guide to Business Writing. I’ll be delighted if I achieve equal success with these, and wish you good luck with your own Lulu books.

Find me on Amazon.com: Jackie Barrie’s Author Page
Sing up for Writing Without Waffle
Follow me on Twitter @jackiebarrie

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7 Comments

  1. I have both books and I can recommend them as useful. They are small books but have plenty of good advice and I have found the format much easier to get through than larger books, which I very often find myself not finishing or skimming after an initial attempt.

    Moving on to Amazon ranks I’m afraid I don’t give them a lot of credibility unless they’re at the top end. There is a lot of gaming of the system going on.

  2. Morgan, Lulu

    @James – It’s so great to hear your feedback about Jackie’s books. I’m sure she’s thrilled to hear it. Have you considered leaving a rating and review on her book’s page here? http://ar.gy/1HmW

  3. @Morgan James kindly left me a review on Amazon :-)

  4. I am curious to find out what blog platform you’re using? I’m having some small security issues with
    my latest site and I would like to find something more safe.
    Do you have any recommendations?

  5. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of
    hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

  6. Madam Pls I have my book I have written, as a mother please I need your help to sell on lulu, Kindly contact me on imesolng@live.com so that I can send a copy and help me achieve my dream. May God bless you.

  7. Practical data. Blessed my family I discovered your web site by mistake, using this program . astonished the reason this specific coincidence didn’t occurred beforehand! I personally bookmarked the idea.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] the guest post I wrote for Lulu Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  2. [...] the guest post I wrote for Lulu Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  3. [...] a great short blog post about someone getting their book to the top ten list on Amazon via Lulu. (http://www.lulu.com/blog/2012/06/lulu-books-amazon-best-sellers/) You’ll note that they promoted it to their list, which resulted in a flood of orders – [...]

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