• How to reach Amazon Top 100...

    ...in 5 very hard steps!

    Since my first novel, Thirty Something, reached Amazon Top 100, lots of people have been asking how I did it. From journalists to aspiring writers, everyone wants to know my secret. Well, that's what I'm going to reveal in this post. That and a universal truth: there's no such thing as overnight success.

    Step 1: write a book
    Yes, you have to write a book, and that takes a long, long time. And after all the months or even years that took you to write your book, you must read over and over again, edit, rewrite, and be humble enough to accept the critics from beta readers. All this before you even consider sending the manuscript to a real editor or agent. If you're thinking about self-publishing, you should hire a professional editor to proof read your book and ensure that it meets minimum quality standards.
    (In my case, I also had to pay for the translation, as the book was originally written in Portuguese) 

    Step 2: self-publish
    With the help of platforms such as Amazon KDP, Lulu or Smashwords, self-publishing's never been easier. All process is simple and free, and there are always guides to help you format your document and help you through all the steps required. These platforms also offer a list of services or freelancers that can help you with the pagination, book cover and even promotion. Never neglect the cover of your book and don't try to do it by yourself just because you know a few things about Photoshop. People do judge a book by its cover. 
    (If you need a good illustrator I recommend the talented Sofia Silva, with whom I work for six years - and no, she's not a relative although we share the same name. Silva is one of the most common names in Portugal) 

    Step 3: beg for reviews
    This step is crucial, whether your book is self-publish or not. Online shopping is seldom lonely, and there's no bookseller to help you with you decision. So lots of readers rely on book reviews and ratings before purchasing a book. Since I published the Portuguese version a year before the English one, I started by asking all my friends who read the book to write an honest review. Then I asked all readers who contacted me to do the same, and finally I started contacting Amazon Top reviewers and bloggers in my genre. That's basically what traditional publishers do with book critics: sending a free copy in exchange for an honest review. But beware that some reviewers will be brutally honest and post 2 star reviews. I think that's great (although it can make you really sad when you first read it) because it proves that all reviews are real and not paid by the author or posted by fake profiles. A book with only 5 star ratings is very suspicious.

    Step 4: promote, promote, promote
    After publishing your work and after having dozens of real reviews, you must keep on promoting your book. Promoting a book online is a serious business and almost a full-time job. It's something me and my agent (who is also my husband) have been constantly working since the day the book was launched. There are thousands of books being published every day, and it's harder and harder to get attention. You must try traditional online media, such as banners, Google ads or Goodreads ads, but also be quite active in all social networks. Create a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an author profile at Amazon and Goodreads and Librarything. You should also try different prices, giveaways and bargain days for your book, because, at this point, you need readers. It's not about the money: few writers make money with their first few books. It's about engaging people so that they became fans and one day faithful readers.

    Step 5: repeat
    After all the effort to publish and promote you first book, you must keep on writing. Write another book and repeat all the steps. Having more titles gives you credibility and enhances your chances to appear in search engines results and recommendations. Also, when someone really likes a book, tends to buy the next books from the same author.

    That's it. That's how I did it. Not overnight, not by luck, but with lots of hard work and late hours. Hours that my husband and me "stole" from our son, our friends, our weekends, and our holidays. Yes, my book is good, and I write quite well, but as many said before, talent doesn’t take you anywhere if you don't work hard.

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