This morning, I thought I’d take a look at the best sellers in the Business & Economics category at Smashwords and see if we can glean any insights into what it might be telling us about independent non-fiction publishing. It’s actually a pretty interesting list.
Before getting into it, however, let me say that these best seller lists fluctuate by the hour. What may be on top now may not be in two hours.
Another reason I’m focusing on Smashwords is because all of the books published there are by independent authors. None of them are by legacy publishers. That’s the way Smashwords is set up. Now, let’s look at the best sellers.
I‘m just going to list them first, then I’ll discuss each one separately. Here’s the list:
Now, are you ready for the analysis?
I‘ll start off by telling you that the links below are all affiliate links. But I didn’t write this post just so I can capitalize on other people’s success. I really want to break it down as to why I think these 12 business books are best sellers on Smashwords first thing this morning. Let’s take a look:
Mikel Cohick has one book at Smashwords. This is it. Published in August 2013, it’s about how external economic forces like politics, media, and world events affect people’s economic decision-making. It sounds boring, doesn’t it? So why then is it a best seller? Because it’s a textbook.
The publisher of Economics for Smart Citizenship is a small publisher in Carrollton, Texas called Hewell Publishing. The textbook is used at a college in Plano, Texas, so it has a built-in audience.
It’s also noteworthy that the book is only $9.99, considerably less expensive than traditional textbooks. If you’re a college professor and you’ve done a lot of writing on a particular subject, you can write a book and make it required reading among all of your students. If you can have other college professors teaching the same subject do the same, then you can be a best seller. Is that how Cohick did it? I don’t know, but I can guess.
Managing Professional Communications Agencies is proof that your e-book does not have to fall within Amazon’s pricing guidelines ($2.99-$9.99) for independent authors. This e-book is priced at $44.80.
The author of this book is listed as Public Relations Consultants Association. Again, here’s a group with a built-in audience. They can list this book on their website and link to it, selling it to all of their members in just a few short hours, or days, just by sending out an e-mail blast.
Of course, a book like that with a promotion like that can only hit the best seller list once, but if you write five or six books a year and you have a built-in audience, you can stay on the best seller list.
Howard Nevin is an established author with several books at Smashwords. Better Proposals Yield Better Wins! is the highest-priced one. I believe the multiple titles could account for his success. Not only does he write books, but he also writes articles for trade publications. He likely has established his audience and knows how to market himself to that audience. All you need is a message and the ability to speak it, plus a little marketing savvy, and you can do the same.
Here’s another book with a built-in audience. Obviously, network marketers are the target here. But it’s likely that Kris Spears & Lisa Griggs have very successful networking marketing organizations and push Recruit Doctors Into Your Network Marketing Business heavily to their downlines. At $249.00, this book is nowhere near Amazon. But the authors can list it at Smashwords and promote it to their downlines like it’s candy for the pocketbook. If it is a good book, it’s likely that other network marketers promote it too.
Don’t let the title of this one intimidate you. It’s a part of the charm. Chock full of keywords, you can bet it comes up in searches.
Steve Whiteford is a leadership consultant and trainer. He probably has a pretty good list and a built-in audience. Nevermind that he has only one book. In his Smashwords interview, which every author gets to publish and promote, he says:
I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on my presentations and workshops on EQ-i 2.0, and people often ask for my PowerPoint deck, which I actually don’t like to give out.
In other words, whenever he gets a request for his PowerPoint presentation he sells a book instead. It’s $2.99 for EQ-I 2.0. Low price + built-in audience + repurposed content = best seller status.
Here’s another one-hit wonder. But it doesn’t matter if you’ve got one book or 100, if you know how to sell it, then you’ll make money.
Bob Junke is a seasoned sales professional. What do seasoned sales professionals do? They write books about the sales process and sell them on Smashwords.
At $23.99, Create the High Performance Sales Environment® is a bit pricey, but if you are an up-and-coming salesperson, you respect Bob Junke, and you want to make good coin peddling stuff, you buy the book. You think Bob Junke knows that?
Executives are a different breed. Michael Wilkinson is a multiple-title author with two of his titles on Smashwords. He’s also got a pretty impressive bio. The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy sells for $24.95. If you have a solid reputation and are an expert in your niche, you can get away with a price like that.
A book’s title should tell what the book is about. That’s why this best seller has me scratching my head.
About the only thing I can figure is this author knows how to sell. Why else would a solo book priced at $16.99 that has only been on the market since May find its way onto the best seller list?
Hanging Fire may be the exception on this list. But there it is.
Again, it’s the built-in audience. Any book targeted toward a specific profession that is well-written, contains solid advice, and is well-marketed will end up on the Smashwords best sellers list. I can almost guarantee it.
Lona Cook has priced her book just right. At $10.00, it would need to drop a penny to be listed at Amazon, but Just Tell Me Where To Start: Insight On Blasting Into Chiropractic Business is an e-book that doesn’t have to look for an audience. THAT can make all the difference in the world when it comes to best seller statuses.
Here’s a book with a great title. I just want to keep saying it over and over again so I can hear how it sounds. But it’s not just a bunch of hype. The book actually has a purpose. People who are interested in becoming Internet stars have a book to turn to for solid advice. My bet is, Internet Stardom: Insider Secrets to Web Fame and Fortune delivers on its promise. And it wouldn’t hurt if the author has achieved Internet stardom status herself. She would then have a built-in audience.
How do you achieve best seller status in one week? You write a book about a topic you know about, prove your expertise, and market it well to your built-in audience. Golden Referrals: 32 Ways to Market Your Natural Therapy Business is targeted toward a specific niche audience. I bet she sells a lot of books to her natural therapy customers. It pays to spend 10 years building a successful business.
What we need is another self-help book. Right?
Actually, self-help books sell pretty well. And if you know how to do something, why not teach others how to do it and cash checks? That’s what Catherine Nomura, an entrepreneurial coach, is doing. She’s got one book on Smashwords, and that’s all you need to be a best selling author.
Unique Ability: Creating the Life You Want sells for $15.95, which makes it ineligible for selling on Amazon. Nomura also has a co-author, which probably expands her audience a little bit. That, and the fact that she’s a successful consultant with a base of clients, is good enough to make the list.
After an hour, this list completely changed. None of these 12 books were among the top 12 best sellers at 7 a.m. And Smashwords doesn’t reveal how many books each of these best sellers sold during the time they were on the best seller list. But do you see any trends? I know I do.
If you want to achieve best seller status at Smashwords, you should have a good number of these things going for you:
Do you need every one of these to be a Smashwords best selling author? No. But you probably need at least half. Focus on your strengths and sell your knowledge.
Are you ready to boost your authority? Looking for ways to expand your reach and deliver the best content for your niche audience? Download my free report, “7 Types of Authority Content.” Learn the seven types of content that will keep your audience coming back for more and instantly make you an authority they can rely on.