Positive Writer

Write with More Confidence and Greater Satisfaction

How to Sell Thousands of Books When You Don’t Have an Audience

By Positive Writer contributor Frank McKinley.

Do you have a book inside you that needs to be shared with the world?

I know how you feel. You should write it and sell it, even if you don’t have an audience yet…

But I’m an Unknown Author

I started writing books 4 years ago.

It all started with a series of leadership articles I wrote for my client to give to his customers. As he read them, he told me time and again, “You need to make this into a book!”

I said, “You know. That’s a great idea!”

After the third time he told me, I knew he meant it.

Isn’t the Market Saturated?

The last time I checked there are almost 70 million books on Amazon.

That’s enough to make you wonder whether anyone at all will see your book.

Sure, there’s a lot of garbage uploaded to Amazon every day. After you read this, you won’t be one of those authors who set themselves up to fail.

Trust me, there is always room for good books. People are still buying them, reading them, and raving about them.

Are you ready to join the club of bestselling authors?

Get your marketing hat on and let’s get started!

Six Strategies That Virtually Guarantee Your Book Becomes an Amazon Bestseller

Most of what you read today declares you need an audience to sell a book.

As a tribe builder myself, I couldn’t agree more. Having an audience will enhance every strategy you’re about to learn.

But it’s not essential to sell books.

I am proof of this. Before I got serious about building an audience, I sold over 25,000 eBooks.

That turns the latest conventional wisdom on its ear, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an audience of 1 – or 1,000. These techniques will help you sell more books. I know, because they helped me!

1) Write an Awesome Book

What exactly is an awesome book?

An awesome book has 3 qualities:

  • It’s clear
  • It’s concise, and
  • It’s conversational.

Clear. Good writing is easy to understand. Use stories, metaphors, and examples to explain what you mean.

Concise. A good pillow is fluffy, but not too much. Keep your writing tight. People don’t have all day. And they won’t wait forever for you to get to the point. Each sentence must make them want to read the next – or you’ve lost them.

Conversational. Have you ever fondly remembered a lecture? I don’t think so. I doubt you curl up on the coach with a textbook. Besides, how many textbooks are bestsellers?

That takes care of style.

You also need good content.

Content is good when it answers the reader’s question: “What in this book that I can’t live without?”

It’s not enough to just serve a need. You’ve got to discover what your reader wants, and give it to him.

2) Create a Cover That Demands Attention

When someone is shopping online for a book, they’ll get a list to choose from.

Your cover is shown on a thumbnail.

If your potential customer is on a mobile device, that’s pretty small.

So do this to make your cover stand out.

  1. Make sure the title is easy to read.
  2. Make it colorful and full of contrast.
  3. Don’t make it too complex.
  4. If you use an image, make sure it supports the title.

You only get a second here. Make it count. Make that cover leap off the page and say, “I’ve got what you want right here. Don’t pass me by if you want a better life.”

3) Write Your Title Like a Headline

When you’re in line at the grocery store, what part of the magazines catch your attention?

The headlines.

Pictures are great, but they’re not everything. What gets you to turn the page and look inside is the promise the headline delivers.

  • Don’t you want to know if the President had an affair with the maid?
  • Can you live without knowing if aliens are in your basement?
  • Will you eat that jar of peanut butter if you don’t know if it’s contaminated?

Sure, these are silly. But you get the picture. We want to know secrets. We want to know if what we suspect is true.

Does the title of your book promise to deliver what your readers crave more than food and money?

If it doesn’t, tweak it until it does.

Here are some titles that have sold for decades:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
  • The Magic of Thinking Big
  • Awaken the Giant Within

And for you fiction fans:

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Sun Also Rises
  • Gone With the Wind

After you have a winning title, you need to do this.

4) Write Your Book Description Like a Sales Page

This is one of the most important lessons I learned when I published my first book on Amazon, 10 Steps to Effective Leadership.

This is a little easier for nonfiction writers. But a fiction book needs a description that sells, too!

Here are two things to include:

1) Promise to bring pleasure or get rid of pain.

Which gets your attention the most? Preventing pain? Or getting rid of it once it comes?

Most people choose the second option.

When it doesn’t hurt, you don’t think about it. When you’re in agony, you can’t think of anything else. If someone comes along with a way to take the pain away, you’re putty in that person’s hands, aren’t you?

We love our dreams, too. Going after the gold is a lot more thrilling than wearing your seat belt. That’s why people love the lottery. There might only be a small chance you’ll win, but the pot is so big you’ll risk it.

2) Throw in some cliffhangers.

How do TV programs keep you watching until the end?

They leave something unfinished at the commercial break.

We love closure. We want to know how things will turn out. And we’ll wait as long as it takes to find out.

Put a cliffhanger in your sales copy. Make it so compelling the reader has to know – or she’ll go crazy.

5) Find the Best Keywords

Amazon isn’t just a store.

It’s a search engine.

Your book is a web page in Amazon’s network. When you enter a word or phrase into the Amazon search bar, you’ll find books that match.

Amazon allows you to have 7 keywords. Choose them carefully.

You can create a list with a keyword tool like the one at http://keywordtool.io. As you enter the words on your list into the Amazon search bar, what comes up?

Click on the books on the first page of your results. Here’s what you want to know.

  • The book’s sales rank – If it’s 100,000 or less, the book is selling multiple copies every day.
  • The price they’re getting. Is it $2.99 or more? Or is it less?
  • Does the title use the keyword? When it does, the book ranks higher.
  • The sales page copy – Read it. What does it say? What does it promise? How long is it?
  • How many reviews does the book have? What is the average score?

This can take some time. But I promise you, it will pay off handsomely in the end.

6) Tell Everyone You Know to Buy Your Book

When I published 10 Steps to Effective Leadership, I told everybody.

I was excited about the book. I knew it was good. And I shared that enthusiasm with all my friends.

As a result, the first week people downloaded 1,400 copies!

Maybe you struggle with promoting yourself. You might feel it’s spammy to ask people to support your work. After all, who wants to be a walking commercial?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Build relationships first. Be a friend. Do favors. Give compliments. Lend a hand.

Then something amazing will happen.

You’ll have a fan base that wants you to succeed – and will go out of their way to help!

Bonus Strategy: Write Guest Posts

If you want to grow your audience, you should write for other bloggers.

I’ve been doing this for a while. While there’s no money in it, you do gain something of even greater value.


When you accumulate some posts that have links to your site, Google smiles on you.

I’ve been guest posting for a few months now. In November of last year, when you entered my name, Frank McKinley, in the search bar on Google, you probably saw Frank McKinley, the financial expert.

After guest posting, that Frank McKinley has been pushed off the front page!

I’d say that’s a win!

Guest posting is the fastest way to build your following. If you get on a blog as big as this one, over 30,000 people (or more) can see your work. That’s huge when your only audience is your friends in your writing group on Facebook.

Another benefit of guest posting is that soon people will see you as an expert in your field. They’ll come to you for advice, and may even want to hire you! So be sure to have conversations with your readers in the comments section of your guest posts.

Go Sell Some Books

You’ve made it it the end!

Consider this a new beginning.

Use these strategies and create a book that works for you. Add guest posting and you’ll sell even more – while quickly building an audience for all your work!

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your stories, answer your questions, and cheer you on to your own bestseller!

About Frank McKinley

Frank McKinley is a Writing Coach, Promotion Strategist, and Entrepreneur. He designs non-sleazy promotion plans for writers, artists, and other creatives. When he’s not writing, he loves coffee and conversation. He lives in Georgia with his wife, two kids, and a Labrador named Jake. You can find him online at frankmckinleyauthor.com.

Enjoyed this post? Subscribe and I’ll send you “The Writer’s Manifesto.” Enter your email:

  • Frank,
    I really appreciate these ideas particularly the last two. I am not sure my books have the correct tagwords. I will check them out.
    And I guess I haven’t told “everyone”.

    • Frank McKinley

      Thanks, Janis. The beauty of keywords is your list isn’t permanent. Test a new keyword (one at a time) and make it prove it’s worth. Secondly, it’s never too late to tell people about your book. I wish you well!

      • Carrie Aulenbacher

        And for those of us who don’t have 1,400 friends to buy our book when it goes live? After I told the 50 people I know and other online acquaintances ignored my announcement…then what? Maybe a dozen of the 50 gave a review over a period of years and if they told anyone, things fizzled. I’m grateful that you have such an automatic audience, @disqus_kQEo9hltjb:disqus – congrats on your sales! What can we do after we’ve beat #6 to death?

        • Frank McKinley

          Carrie, great question. Once you’ve told everyone you know about your book, it’s time to start meeting new people. They’re in Facebook groups, forums, and groups on LinkedIn. Another way to find them is to make comments on websites in your niche. You can also write guest posts to gain a larger audience. It’s worked well for me – and I’m sure it can for you, too!

  • Paula OKeefe

    Ah, the name of that book is “The Catcher IN the Rye”. It’s a classic and deserves correct citation. Was it there to remind writers to proofread?

  • Shayne

    Excellent, Frank! I’m writing a book mornings and editing/formatting another evenings. I’m definitely going to use these strategies!

    • Frank McKinley

      Excellent, Shayne! Good luck with that book!

  • this one’s a save-n-keeper!!! seriously need to sell some books!! ps, i’d love to have you write a guest post on my blog sometime… and/or write a post for yours!!

    • Frank McKinley

      Thanks, Robin! I’m glad these strategies can open doors for you. Send my your blog info to frank@frankmckinleyauthor.com and let’s talk!

  • Cori Leigh Mann

    Such great information here Frank! Definitely worth keeping, sharing, and utilizing!
    Love the suggestion about putting a cliffhanger in the sales copy!

    • Frank McKinley

      Thanks, Cori! You’ve got to give people a reason to want to know more.

  • SR

    Robin, you made my day!! I have been writing my self-help book for nearly twenty years and I am almost ready for editing. I always knew I had a killer title. An eye catching stand out cover design in my head. Page turning life changing information never known or revealed before (all discovered through a spiritual awakening) but I always knew I would have a problem with lists and list building. I did not worry too much as I knew that just by talking to strangers over the years about my book that the interest was there and the book would take off by word of mouth but there is this incessant and relentless advice on the internet that to sell books you need a list. So having discovered your blog and this advice it is a complete game changer for me as I now have the final key to unlock the door that will reveal the information that everyone is going to want to know about. Thank you!

    • Frank McKinley

      Awesome, SR! I hope these strategies help make all your dreams come true.

  • Colin Guest

    I found the advice in this article most interesting and helpful and feel sure many other readers will also appreciate reading this. I love the section on keywords and the link to finding the most suitable ones. This I found particularly helpful. I have just completed and had my novel edited, so te keywords could well prove the key in getting it noticed. Many thanks. Tigerman

    • Frank McKinley

      Fantastic, Tigerman. I hope your book finds it way to the top of the charts! Please feel free to share this your friends who write. There’s no reason with this information that any good book should fail.

  • Tirsit Endeshaw

    Thank you Frank, This is brilliant and helpful.

    • Frank McKinley

      You’re welcome, Tirsit!

  • Colleen Golafshan

    Thanks, Frank, you’ve listed practical and easy to understand (in theory) steps. I’ve downloaded to my book writing file 🙂

  • This is great advice, Frank, thank you!

    • Frank McKinley

      You’re welcome, Meghan. I wish you the best!