The Lessons of David Gaughran #1:
Let's Get Visible

Everybody wants a formula. In every industry there are people who find the keys to or stumble upon success and there are those hunting for that same or even greater success. The achievers, whether they were lucky or not, have a significant advantage when it comes to selling books, courses and audio programs. The newbies and the wannabes hope to break into the big time as quickly and with as little work as possible. And that's what most of these books purport to teach. There's only one issue with these "success stories." 

Most of them are full of crap. 

The majority of these success books are written by people who lucked into their achievements. Even legitimate folks who used insight, hard work and wit have a tough time deconstructing and boiling down the steps to greatness. 

So when a book comes along with a legitimate formula that has value for people who are willing to work hard to apply it, it's a good idea for people to take notice. Let's Get Visible by David Gaughran is a book with legitimate data that self-published authors can use to sell more books. According to Gaughran, one of the tricks to getting your book to sell itself without constant, direct marketing is to get it into the popularity and best-seller lists and keep it there until it stabilizes. 

In other words, to sell more books, you have to sell more books. This method seems like a Catch 22, but there's a method to Gaughran's madness. Gaughran describes how the Amazon lists books in both the Best Seller and Popularity charts. Amazon's software uses certain formulas, or algorithms, to list the books without its engineers needing to move books up and down the charts manually. Gaughran explains how these automatic algorithms work, in particular, how the popularity lists work. When readers purchase books through their Kindles, the books are sorted using these popularity charts. 

David Gaughran says that in the early days of self-publishing (a whole three years ago) a one-day boost would help books stay in the popularity lists for weeks or months. Amazon later adjusted its algorithm to make sure that a book receiving only one strong day of sales would drop back down the popularity charts just as quickly to keep people from gaming the system. Nowadays, books only reach the popularity charts when they have strong sales averaged out over the course of the last month or so. And therein lies the key to stronger sales. 

Instead of shooting for one big blast of book sales, authors should space out their promotional efforts over a few days or an entire week. One giant day of sales, say from a BookBub advertisement, should be followed by several days of additional promotion. Using Gaugrhan's strategy, the best way to promote a book might be an advertisement on Monday, a blast to Facebook followers on Tuesday, an e-mail to subscribers on Wednesday and a series of guest posts on Thursday and Friday. Getting the high-quality ad, gathering the subscribers and writing those guest posts will be a challenge for most authors. This isn't an easy formula to use, but if you apply it, your book may be able to sell itself on Amazon for weeks to come. 

I'll be applying David Gaughran's formula in an upcoming campaign the last week of February. I'll be reporting my results here on the site. Make sure to subscribe to my mailing list to find out how everything goes!

Done with David Gaughran? Go back to Creative Writing Tips. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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