The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)

Alex ZabalaIf you are an author, here are some tips for selling books on Amazon. There is no silver bullet for success. I can’t guarantee you will sell books if you follow my Ten Commandments. However, failure is almost surely guaranteed if you don’t have a successful plan. Keep in mind that it’s a tough world out there. It’s very difficult to sell books.

These commandments are written in order of importance and production sequence:

  1. Write a good book — The foundation of your success is writing a good book. Without a good foundation, no structure, no matter how well built, will last. When I say write a good book, I mean it must be a compelling story that sucks the reader in. Make the reader want more of your art! You could spend a lot of money on marketing, but when potential customers read the first few free pages on Amazon, they will be turned off if you can’t compel them to want more (or if the writing style isn’t good). They will simply go off to peruse the 2.5 million other e-books Amazon offers.
  2. What is your competition doing? — I do a lot of research on my competitor’s material. I read their books. I want to know why they are selling books! There is a difference between plagiarizing and imitating. If you don’t know the difference you may end up in court. Do your research and be careful. Find out what is popular and write something similar or even better.
  3. Story Engineering — All buildings, no matter how strange and bizarre they seem, have to follow certain engineering architectural rules. It’s the same with stories. If you don’t have a true and proven structure, people may be turned off. It’s rare when an author becomes a success because he deviates from the proven rules of story engineering. There are only 7 basic stories in the world, but a million ways to tell them.
  4. Peer Review — All authors (including myself) suffer from delusions of grandeur. We think our manuscript is the next great American novel (or some other nonsense). So how can you tell your novel is awesome? Is it because your spouse, your best friend or the editor who charges you to edit your manuscript told you? Nope! Your mother, partner, husband or wife won’t hurt your feelings, and the editor needs money. If his/her payment was based on a percentage of your book sales, then that would be a different story. But they get paid up front and walk away. Get unbiased people to read your novel and tell them to please hurt your feelings. I had my feelings hurt to the point of tears! But I went back and rewrote my manuscripts. I had to get out of my own way and see the manuscript through their eyes. The results were great!
  5. Editing — All books have typos, including the ones published by the big publishing companies. One or two is tolerable (this blog probably has editing issues). But too many typos or bad grammar will be the death of you career. Pay for an editor or get it done in house or outhouse, I don’t care how, just get it done!
  6. Working the Amazon Rankings — Amazon rankings tell the potential customer how well your book is selling. Commandment number 7 will tell you how to work the rankings.
  7. Free is a four-letter word — We offer all of our books for free on Amazon twice a year. I ain’t telling when. There were a total of 1,300 of our books that people got for free in 2015. All of our books reached the TOP 100 on Amazon. That’s where the eyeballs are! Amazon also reports to us that an average of 3K pages of our books are being read daily. Some of those readers will become cheerleaders and tell others about our books. Sales spiked afterwards.
  8. Write more quality books — You can’t survive on just one book. Start writing more quality books, ‘nuff said.
  9. Social media — Get into social media. Research all the hashtags, Facebook, newsletters etc. etc.
  10. Blurbs — Enter well-known book contests. I got a blurb from The Clive Cussler Society and Writer’s Digest book contests. The results? Priceless!!

Did you notice half of the Ten Commandments involve making a good book?

There is no shortcut for selling books. If you combine the sales figures of both my books they total of 7,500. We also had 1,300 free downloads this year bringing it to a total of about 8,800 books in just 24 months!

Alex Zabala is the co-author of the bestselling book Treasure of the Mayan King. His new book The Golden Scepter is now available on Amazon.com. More books are coming down the pipeline in 2016. Visit him at alexzabala.com and talk.

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