How My Book Landed on Amazon Bestsellers List on Prayer

I am member of Facebook group for writers and recently members of the group asked me how I ended up on Amazon Bestsellers List on Christian Prayer. Here’s what I believe: I don’t think being on the bestsellers list should be your goal as a Christian writer. You should instead strive to present the word of God clearly.

But being on the Bestsellers List on Amazon was because of the relationship I had with you readers of Pew Theology. You took this project and made it your own. And as I am writing my next book, I marvel at how much I am learning from you. I was on the Amazon Bestsellers List for nearly three months because of your support.

6 Reasons Your Next Book Might Not Land On Amazon Bestsellers List

How I landed my book on Amazon bestsellers list

Disclaimer: Doing exactly what I am going to discuss in this post might not lend your book onto Amazon Bestsellers List. Importantly, Amazon Bestseller List doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a six figure check from Amazon.

1. Genre

My book was on Christian prayer. There’s less competition in this genre compared to genres like young adult.

2. Timing

My book was published on June 16, 2015. A lot has changed since then. This makes it difficult to reproduce my results.

3. Network

I was fortunate to have a team willing to be my evangelists. And this team had different social network and influence than the team you will gather.

4. Luck

I was lucky. And as a firm believer in the sovereignty of God, I believe God was gracious on me. And I don’t know why.

5. Person

I’m different from you. My writing style is different and my story is different. People buy a person and not just the book.

6. Goal

My goal in writing wasn’t to be on Amazon Bestsellers List. I just wanted to write a book that could help people pray more and better.

10 Simple Things That Could Land Your Book On Amazon Bestsellers List

I didn’t set out to write a book. The Secret Place was an afterthought. I was reading on prayer and I realized I didn’t know much about it. Embarrassed, I made a resolution: read the Lord’s Prayer every day and write at least 1,000 words on what I learned.

1. Establishing an Audience

My initial goal was to write for only one week. One week became three weeks and more than 25,000 words. During these three weeks, I blogged about the top lessons I learned. Readers loved the lessons and suggested that I write a book about the Lord’s Prayer.

The problem most writers make is they want to look for an audience after they have published their book. Through my blog, Pew Theology, I had a sizeable audience made up of people who knew my story and wanted to be part of it. They are not a market but my friends and family who I truly love.

2. Filling A Gap

They’re many books on the Lord’s Prayer and I read most of them. I didn’t want to repeat what has been said. So, reading these books and their negative reviews on Amazon was my market survey. It gave me an idea on what others have said and what readers want in a book on prayer.

3. Being Me

Anyone who knows me know that I wish I could be knowledgeable like Timothy Keller, creative and crafty like Max Lucado and thorough like Lee Strobel. But I’m me, I write like Edmond. Timothy Keller, Max Lucado and Lee Strobel are already there, so I write like me. Readers are smart, they can easily spot a fake author.

4. Acknowledging my weakness

English is my second language and I always make sure my flattering scores in TOEFL never get into my head. In one blog post, I asked for people who could help me with editing. A handful volunteered. These lovely folks did my first round of editing. The second, third and fourth rounds were done by semi-professionals I found on Fiverr.

5. Book Buzz Team

Marketing a book is like raising a child, it takes a community. I had three faithful communities that really wanted my book too succeed, my family, my church small group, my blog readers. Before publishing my book, some of these people read it and gave their feedback. I encouraged them to talk about the book on their blogs and social networks.

6. Pre-orders

I made pre-ordering available for the book on Amazon three months in advance. I noticed every time I mentioned the book on my blog, the sales of the pre-orders jumped. The same happened when a member of the book buzz team mentioned the book on their blog.

7. Cover design

I taught myself graphic design and I think I’m pretty good. I design most of the graphics on my blog but I wanted something better for my book. People judge a book by it’s cover and I didn’t want my amateurish design turn away potential readers. I hired a graphic designer on Fiverr for $20.

8. Book Launch

Because of the pre-orders, on the day of launch my book debuted at number 1 on Amazon’s new books in Christianity. This meant my book was featured on Amazon’s Bestsellers List on the right tab. It wasn’t on the bestsellers list, but getting free advertising from Amazon.

9. Free Promotion

I enrolled the book on Kindle Select. After a month or two since launch, I made the book available for free on Kindle for a limited number of days. I advertised about this deal through a Christian guy on Fiverr. More than 2,500 copies were downloaded. I only wanted more people to know that my book existed and get the message to more people.

10. 0.99c promotion

I enrolled the book for a 0.99c promotion and advertised the promotion on Gospel ebooks. The result was phenomenal. My book jumped to number 2 on Amazon’s Bestsellers List under Christian Prayer. It was ahead of books by several famous authors such as Myles Munroe.

The Key Lesson I Learned

But in all this I learned the importance of grace and faith in writing. God granted me the grace to write and the grace to have friends, family and readers who cared about what I wrote.

I got grumpy many times pouring out money for the editing process and cover design while on a strict budget. You the readers of Pew Theology encouraged. After posting a rant on how I was running a loss publishing the book, readers from all over the world kept me grounded on the main goal for publishing the book: Christ.

I was humbled.

Above all, writing The Secret Place required faith. Lucretia Yaghjian captured well the faith requirements for writing. As a writer you need:

Faith in yourself as a writer; faith in the importance of what you are writing; faith that there will be an audience for what you will write; faith that your writing will contribute ultimately to the flourishing of those who read it; and finally, faith in the source of your desire to write.

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6 Comments

  1. Wow. Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate and have learned a lot form this. I launched my debut collection of haiku, Haiku Rhapsodies, in my country Ghana on 23rd April.2016. It was a huge success, despite the fact that haiku is relatively unknown in my country. Actually I am the first person to have published the collection in print.

    Haiku Rhapsodies is now on Amazon but the sales are rather low. Thank you for the insight and suggestions. 🙂 In all this, faith is key. Faith, and prayers and the grace of God. 🙂

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  2. So very true, Edmond. Where has my book Move Your “…BUT…” : A Journey Into God’s Heart gone? It has barely sold, but ten copies are in the inmates’ library of the Pima County Jail, and I’m amazed that God intended broken people to be His audience for the words Holy Spirit gave me. This all happened because my husband was killed on his bicycle by a DUI driver while leading a group of senior riders from another state! The horror of the accident – they were stopped in the bike lane at a red light at a broad intersection- gripped the town. BUT God has used it and I pray still will use it for HIS Kingdom purposes. Nobody needs to know my name; they need to know the One Name above all names, Jesus.

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    1. Amen. Our names don’t matter, God wants out faithfulness. The writing process and the marketing reveals to us our infallibility and his Deity. What an opportunity for worship and surrender.

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  3. From another Christian writer who simply wants to make a difference with his book, thank you for the encouragement. Recognition, though nice, has never been my goal for writing, only outreach. Blessings to you and upon your ministry.

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    1. When I started writing I wanted recognition, then I saw how books get recognized by New Times etc. It’s not about the substance. I realized seeking to be a bestseller is chasing a hungry lion while dressed in blood. I would rather write in a manner that makes hearing God clearer to the reader, even if it’s just one reader.

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