What makes a book a bestseller? Do you know? Do you have any idea?

I don’t, and I’ve been lucky enough to have one (in Canada anyway).

Obviously, there is no standard formula. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was? Insert Book A into Bookstores B-F, get Review R = NYT bestseller.

Yeah! We all know that just doesn’t happen. In fact, I read recently that all book sales are generated by 7% of books and that most books released every year sell less than a thousand copies. I can’t vouch for the validity of these statistics, but if they’re even partly true that’s a pretty scary prospect for most of us writers who are lucky enough to get a book deal.

But is there something we can do about that to tip the odds in our favor? What about social media? Surely if I have enough followers on Twitter I can sell more than a thousand books, right? I wasn’t sure, but I kind of wanted to find out.

So, inspired by the Betty White Facebook SNL campaign, I started a little group. I called it “I bet we can make these books bestsellers” and as my first experiment I chose not my own book (because that would be selfish and bad, right?), but two books I love by Wyoming author Shawn Klomparens: Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain.

But my bet has a twist. You can’t just join the group and expect bestseller status. People actually have to buy these books. Would people do it? Just on my say so? What credibility did I have for picking good books?

So I decided to enlist the help of the book blog community – get the book in the hands of as many bloggers as possible – people who already have credibility in picking good reads. And I’d have to use Twitter of course, and Goodreads. And then there’s the giveaway. We’re giving away a Kindle as part of the experiment and people who buy the books have the best chance to win.

Is this going to work? 20 days in, it’s hard to tell. Shawn’s rankings have certainly shot up, particularly in Canada where I’m based. I’ve heard from many people that they have bought the books. And the positive reviews are starting to roll out. But I still need help. I need you to trust that I’ve picked some good books – or don’t take my word for it – head on over to amazon.com and read the first couple of chapters for free.

And if you do like them, join us on Facebook or Goodreads. Buy the books. Enter the Kindle contest. Tell all your friends about it.

It’s a new frontier out there in book marketing. And hey, this might just work. I call it authors helping authors. And I hope you’ll join me.

Deets about the groups:

  • Facebook group: I bet we can make these books bestsellers
  • Goodreads group: Make a bestseller
  • Catherine’s Twitter handle: @CEMcKenzie1
  • Shawn’s Twitter handle: @sklompar
  • Current books: Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain, by Shawn Klomparens – available at all online bookstores and some real ones too if I have anything to say about it.


About my guest blogger:


Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. A graduate of McGill University (B.A. ‘95 in History (Hons)) and McGill Law School (BCL & LLB ‘99), Catherine practices law in Montreal. Check out her website for more information about her and her books. Her current title, SPIN is available in bookstores.

3 thoughts on “The Alchemy of a Bestseller: A Guest Post by Catherine McKenzie

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