Magic Publishing Pill? … by Darla Luke

As writers, my friends and I are always looking at successful authors who have “made it” and trying to figure out how they did it. We want to find that magic pill … you know the one, take this and lose twenty pounds instantly – oops, I mean, take this and skyrocket to the top of the best-seller list. Yeah, yeah that’s what I was talking about 🙂

Last week there were eight self-published authors on the USA Today Top 150 Best-selling Books list, so I set out to analyze how these author made the list. While we know that the USA today list is comprised of pure sales numbers, what magic pill did they take to propel them to the top 150 books sold in one week?

The results may surprise you … it certainly surprised the snot out of me! Here’s the breakdown in an Excel spreadsheet:

Author Name

Website

Blog

Great Covers

Multiple Books

Social Media

Abbi Glines

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Twitter, FB & Goodreads

Kathleen Brooks

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

FB & Twitter

Kelli Maine

Yes

Yes

Yes

Goodreads

Kelly Favor

Yes

Yes

FB & Goodreads

Lynda Chance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Maya Banks

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Twitter & Yahoo Groups

Sydney Landon

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

FB & Twitter

Tammara Webber

Yes

Yes

Yes

FB

No magic pill that’s in-your-face obvious, except maybe that all the authors had multiple books published, and each have a great (i.e. professional) looking covers. Now, this list is in no way comprehensive, it’s what I could find in a short amount of time on the above listed authors.

Kelly Favor may have a website and/or blog, but I couldn’t find it on Google’s first page of searches, and didn’t look any farther. Lynda Chance may have a social media presence, but again … couldn’t find it in my very limited search.

I don’t have the formula to the Magic Pill yet, it will take analyzing many more authors to come to a conclusion … stay tuned!

Here are the self-published books that made the USA Today Top 150 Best-Selling Books list through the week ending Sunday 9-2-12*:

Angelfall (Penryn & The End of Days, Book 1) by Susan Ee (Amazon Publishing). This week #32 (last week, not on the list) $3.99

While It Lasts by Abbi Glines (Amazon Digital Services). This week #44 (last week #31) $3.99

Easy by Tammara Webber (Amazon Digital Services). This week #120 (last week #107)  $3.99

Sarah’s Surrender by Lynda Chance (B&N PubIt!). This week #144 (last week #121) $2.99

Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley (Amazon Digital Services). This week #146 (last week #259) $0.99

What do you think? Is there a magic pill to becoming a best-selling author??

*I’m human and do make mistakes (a shock to my friends, I’m sure!). If there’s a book on this week’s list that I missed, please let me know. If I misspelled/mistyped an author’s name or book title, I’m extremely sorry.

Darla Luke

You can find me on Twitter @writer_at_work, “Like” me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/darlaluke, or visit my website: http://www.darlaluke.com

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About Darla Luke

Darla Luke spent her childhood making up stories in her head, when she wasn't devouring every book she could get her hands on. If someone would have told her she'd be a writer when she grew up, she would have laughed herself silly. Now, writing is her passion, and she loves telling stories (especially ghost stories) and believes they all should have a happy ending.

Posted on September 7, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I couldn’t see some of your comparison chart, but I was wondering if you track the price of the book and whether it is ebook only or paper printed??? Thanks for the great info.

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    • Rortiz – sorry, part of the spreadsheet doesn’t appear, darn it! You got me … I didn’t even think about listing price and whether they were e-book or paper formats (I assumed – bad, Darla! – that all self-published books were electronic editions). I’ll add those two columns to the spreadsheet and see if I can create a .pub document, then put it up where everybody can access it :-). Notice I didn’t promise how soon. Darn day job keeps getting in the way, LOL!

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  2. In my own analysis of approximately 45 self-pubbing authors, statistics seem to bear out that somewhere between book 7 and book 8 is when the money becomes more pronounced. With each new book put up, if people like the book, they go to the backlist and buy all of those too. With a backlist of 7 books the money per new reader becomes multiplied. As to if multiple books out make for a best seller, I doubt it. I know some people with 30 or 40 good books out but have not made the top 150 list.

    I’ll be interested to see what Mandy finds out with her investigation around genre. I suspect what makes a best seller is the same thing that’s always made a best seller–a darn good story that catches the interests of lots of people. 🙂

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    • Maggie – I agree with the multiple books hypothesis, as well as a darn good story being factors in reaching the top 150. But, I wonder if genres like YA or Erotica have such a wide reader base, that if (when?) someone starts a buzz about a book in that genre, it creates a synergistic trend that propels a book to the USA Today list?? Interesting thought!

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  3. Mandy – Yes, please investigate!! I started a genre (like erotica, contemporary romance, YA, etc) column, but ran out of time. Let me know what you find out, I’ll be uber curious!

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  4. Thanks for publishing the interesting data that there is no direct data 🙂
    Let me know if you figure out the diet pill too 🙂

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    • Gee, thanks Jessie for pointing out that I had incomplete data :-p I will be posting more on this subject in the future, because there’s an answer out there and I want ot find it!

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  5. So maybe it’s something to do with genre? Their personal social platforms? Hummmm….I’m going to investigate too. Thanks for a great piece – its got me thinking.

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