The Big Secret to Getting Your Book to Go Viral

For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking off and on about how anyone can self-publish a book and make money.

If you’re writing a book (or even if you aren’t yet) self-publishing a hit is easier than you might think.

Doing it is just a matter of figuring out what makes self-published books successful, and copying down the blueprint.

I’m going to tell you all about this blueprint. It’s the same blueprint you’ll find laid out in our upcoming book, Laissez Faire’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

Today, we’ll talk about three more secrets from this guide.

(And make sure to stick around for the third one. It’s all about how to make your book go viral. And how to make it unforgettable.)

Speaking of going viral…

Did you download your Ebola guide yet?

If not, click here for access. You can download right now for only 99 cents.

Once you have it downloaded, read it carefully… Study it… In plain view are many of our best-kept self-publishing secrets.

Can you spot them?

Just to prove to you how effective these secrets are… take a look at these numbers…

Since we released our Ebola Pandemic Survival Guide on Friday, we’ve received nearly 6,800 downloads.

Upon writing, we have 20 reviews with an average of 3.9 stars.

Our book is #1 in its own categories, as you can see below…

Ebola Pandemic Survival Guide - Amazon Best Seller in Immune Systems

Ebola Pandemic Survival Guide - Amazon Best Seller in 45-Minute Health, Fitness & Dieting Short Reads

And it made it to #63 of top 100 free (out of tens of thousands)…

Ebola Pandemic Survival Guide - Amazon Best Seller #63 Free in Kindle Store

Again, this is only three days.

How did we do it?

We followed a specific roadmap to make this book a hit.

We’ll run through part of this roadmap below.

It begins with signing your book up to Amazon’s KDP free campaign program (which we showed you how to do last week).

The more downloads you receive while your book is free, the more visible your book becomes on Amazon.

If your book receives lots of attention, Amazon notices. And they push you up to test how well you do at the top.

It’s the same as when your local department store notices that, let’s say, sales for a certain brand of gloves are surging.

If they’re smart, they’d stick those gloves to the front and center of the store, where more people can spot them.

Sales/downloads are only one part of the story, though. There are several key factors that Amazon tracks.

Each one of these is crucial to making your book go viral on Amazon.

Though it’s a closely guarded secret, we do have a pretty good idea of what this algorithm tracks.

We know, for example, they pay close attention to sales velocity as well as sales. They take into consideration the rate of sales and the timing of them.

So if you have a huge and sudden spike in sales, Amazon will push you to the top of the bestsellers list until that surge dies out. Then, you’ll be pushed back.

Makes sense. They want to move what’s hot now.

Another factor we suspect they pay attention to is how profitable your book is for them.

They’ll push, for instance, a book that’s priced at $9.99 over one that’s 99-cents if it’s making more money — even if the 99-cent book has 10 times more downloads.

Something to consider when pricing your book. While everyone else is pricing their book at 99 cents, you might fare better pricing yours a little higher.

The most powerful factors for Amazon sales, though, are the “also bought” function and reviews…

You’ve seen it.

“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”

Amazon - Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

This list is the “1%” of Amazon.

If you can get on the “also bought” list, you’ve just taken your book to a new echelon. It makes it 100 times easier for people who are interested in your subject to find you.

How do you get on it? Through a clever trifecta of good reviews, buyers who recommend your book to their friends, and purchases of other books in your category.

That said, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to encourage your readers to recommend your book to friends and write you a review.

Do it in the introduction and at the end of every episode.

Don’t cram it down their throats. There is a way to keep it classy.

[If you enjoyed our free Ebola guide, please write a review for us, here]

See? It’s not hard to do. But if you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

Also, feel free to make recommendations of books you like. For example, at the very end of your book, you could say…

“Like this book? Here are some of the author’s recommendations.”

Make sure they’re in the same category as yours.

As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Alright… Enough about algorithms. Here are three important secrets to making your self-published book a success…

Secret No. 1: Simplify and automate your processes to keep your sanity intact…

One drawback with self-publishing your book is that you have to do everything yourself.

If you’ve self-published a book already, you know what I’m talking about.

You also know that one of the biggest pains in the arse is formatting your book.

If you’re using Word, it can take days to set it up just right to look good and fit the requirements of your publishing platform.

Sometimes you can spend hours tweaking the margins only to have the publisher send it back and tell you to redo it.


I’ve been there. After about twelve hours of counting pixels only for error messages, this is what I felt like doing…

Office Space Printer Beating Scene

It’s cumbersome, it’s frustrating, and worse, it cuts deep into your writing time.

Luckily, now there’s a lesser-known way to automate this process.

CreateSpace has created pre-formatted book templates for nearly all sizes and shapes.

Simply download the size you’re using, and drop your book in. Doesn’t get simpler than this.

Click the screenshot below (or here) to visit their page…

CreateSpace - Interior Templates Page

Secret No. 2: Create a killer distribution system…

For 200-plus years, big publishers controlled the printing press.

Information was hand-picked by those at the top. What they didn’t want you to see, you wouldn’t.

Today that’s all changed.

The e-book printing press is free and available to everyone.

Also, distribution has been flattened out. Today you have several choices for how your book gets discovered.

According to one survey conducted by author Mark Coker, random browsing accounts for almost half of all e-book sales online.

What does this mean? “Even if you’re not yet a name-brand author,” Coker writes, “and even if your marketing is weak, if you write a great book and make it discoverable, some of these random browsers will find you.”

Amazon is the largest seller of e-books, making up nearly 50% of all ebook sales online. That’s why we suggest you start there and run the same campaign we did for the Ebola Guide (which, again, we covered in full detail last week).

When you sign up for Amazon’s free KDP campaign, you must agree to keep your book exclusively on Amazon for 90 days.

I think it’s worth it. It allows you to focus all your initial promotional efforts just on Amazon.

After those three months, you’ll want to spread your book far and wide. Diversify as far out as you possibly can.

The remainder of the ebook market is split between Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Flipkart, Diesel, and more.

A lot can change in three months, though, so keep your finger on the pulse of the market.

Secret No. 3: Make your book go viral…

You know the old marketing maxim: Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing.

Today, that’s moved to word of mouse. And it’s 10,000 times more powerful than its predecessor.

But that doesn’t mean it’s simple to go viral.

Before your book has viral potential, you must have all the following bases covered.

Neglect just one of these, and you’ll severely hurt your chances for viral success…

  • A great cover (we showed you how to get a good one for $10 or less last week…)
  • New, engaging, interesting information
  • An engaging title
  • A killer book description (See our Ebola guide)
  • Diversified distribution (see above)
  • A psychologically valuable price
  • Professionally edited and proofread (so important! Yet many authors neglect this. Don’t be the stereotypical sloppy self-publisher.)
  • Great marketing (more on that in a moment)
  • A social media presence (not required; but it helps.)
  • A free sample (see our Ebola campaign)
  • The bigger, the better (studies show that readers prefer longer e-books to shorter ones)

Here’s the best way we know to make an ebook go viral…

It’s how we made our Ebola guide reach over 6,000 readers in just a few days.

Introducing the BIG secret:

Give stuff away for FREE.

Put together two smaller, more compact versions of your book. They must be short, hard-hitting and make your readers salivate for more.

[Our Ebola guide is only a small taste of a much bigger, much more comprehensive book. More on that later.]

Why create two? I’ll get to that in a moment.

It could be the first two chapters of your book (as we talked about last week)… but they don’t have to be.

They can be literally anything you want.

Of course, they must be interesting. And you must be able to tie them into your book.

But it doesn’t end there. There’s another crucial step…

Once you have your free mini-ebook, you must, must, must create a page where you can drive your readers to.

This is crucial. And not many e-book authors are doing it.

For example, here’s the page we made for our Ebola campaign…

Free Release for United States Citizens Concerned About Ebola Outbreak - Landing Page

From this campaign, we were able to pull in nearly 2,000 email addresses.

We’ll cover this in more detail next week.

In the meantime, here’s the foolproof process…

  1. Publish a small book (that ties into your book) on Amazon and run the KDP 5-day free campaign…
  2. Create a page where you can collect email addresses (and link to it in your book)…
  3. Offer them another small book in exchange for their email address…
  4. Collect these email addresses and create a relationship with them…
  5. Then, send them an email offering your BIG book…
  6. And profit

Cool, huh?

It sounds simple because it is.

The only difficult part is learning the most effective strategies to make this work seamlessly.

You want to be able to automate it. So when you’re done, you’re done. It’ll run itself.

When done right, it can be like printing money while you sleep.

But that’s a topic for another episode. Stay tuned.

Chris Campbell
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Want to learn more? Next week, Chris will dive deeper into his viral marketing strategy with his Laissez Faire Today readers. It’s something, he says, not one in 100,000 self-published authors are doing. Learn how to be one of the first. Click here to sign up for the Laissez Faire Today e-letter, completely FREE of charge, to make sure you’re on Chris’s list of readers.

The Daily Reckoning