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HomeMade Author Presents: Pessimist’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

Bestsellers explained, how to get there, and real results from your fellow struggling author.

Congratulations! You are now here and listening to my lunacy. Now you’re wondering.


I'm not going to hold anything back here. My first launch was shitty, very shitty. I punched holes in my wall. I'm a fucking idiot and spent nearly four grand on my first launch and got only 3,000 downloads.

"But 3,000 downloads is a lot isn't it?"

Of course it is but not for 4 thousand dollars.

Because later I would spend about $500 and get 16,000 free downloads. And over the course of two months, I made that money back. That was only having one edition of my book available, more on this later.

So you should listen to me because I’ve learned from the mistakes you (hopefully) haven’t had the chance to make yet.

In this book, I'm going to give you an in-depth look at the following things. These will contain links to more information.

  • What is a Best-Seller?

  • Category Ranking

  • How many copies do you need to sell to get there?

  • How to get there - Promotion sites – and what they really deliver.

  • Realistic expectations out of promotion sites.

  • A probably disappointing ending to this book.

This is going to be short. I want to inform you quickly so you can go back to promoting your FREE best-selling novel and maybe make some money doing it afterward.


There are A LOT of them. Most people are very confused by the definition. Technically I’m a best-selling author, me. Scary right?

Defined by Amazon – you are placed in a particular list of best-sellers if you get within the top 100 of any of your categories. Does this mean you have to get ranked in the top hundred overall to be placed on this list? Not at all.


It’s an algorithm. But it goes beyond mathematics.

A lot of people like to think they know how to measure it – but it wavers far too much. So here’s my theory – things I’ve picked up being there and falling out.

In the Free Market, I believe that it is based on sales per day for a five day period – the maximum Free Promo days allowed every 90 days by KDP select.


Johnny Douchebag sells 15,000 copies of his book in 5 days – sells an average of 3,000 copies a day. However: there is rank bleed. If you just hit 15k on one day as opposed to 3k on all days, your rank will drop because you aren’t consistently getting downloads. Try to space out your promotions for the best results. The only way you’ll remain a top contender in your categories is by holding your title as firmly as you can.

Selling 7,200 Free units of SCREENS on the first day of the launch last week – I remained in the top 25 (max height was #16) – even after a pitiful following day of sales.

There is irrefutable evidence that those books selling 3,000 copies+ a day are no doubt in the Top best sellers list.

Before I show you this little list breaking down the average sales you need a day to retain your rank on Amazon, I must remind you:

This is ALWAYS fluctuating.

Some lucky son of a bitch might sell 50,000 copies of his book in one week – decimating that top spot. But the second place will make you pretty happy. Trust me; I've been there.

To the left is the Amazon Rank

To the right is the number of copies you need to sell a day to get there.

1-5 - 3000+

5-20 - 2000-3000

20-50 - 1000-2000

50-100 - 500-1000

100-300 - 250-500

300-1000 - 125-250

1000-100,000+ - 1-125

Think of me as that one asshole in the horror movies, that nobody in the main cast likes. They’ll send me directly into traps, and somehow I’ll survive till the end. That’s me. I’m that guy. I don’t mind being the guinea pig – because this is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do to make a living. And now I’m here helping you.

Books ranked 100,000 and up are selling about one book a day. This chart is NOT entirely accurate, but it WILL give you a good frame of reference of what to expect when you begin. Remember this is a just a theory made to give you insight – I’ve come to these conclusions based on my experiences.

To get to the top 1,000 on the entire store, you have to sell about 200 copies in one day AT LEAST. And even if you don't get ranked in number one of your categories, you can certainly get in the top 10 of them with no issues, as long as you don’t pick an extremely competitive category - example: Young Adult, Mystery.

Pick more exclusive categories, my book SCREENS never left the top 5 in Technological Thrillers, never left the top 5 of Suspense, and I never left the top 10 in Young Adult until the last day of my promotion.

The question you must ask yourself is what category does my book fit in the best?

Think non-fiction – there’s a ton of it. More importantly, there are more specific, and niche categories than there are in fiction - and everyone writes fiction not a lot of people think to write non-fiction - cause it's fucking BORING - ha. Before I published this book, I looked at a few relevant categories just to see what my potential competition would be.

In the paid store the number one spot in each of the categories was held by books ranking 25000-30000 (selling around 5-10 copies a day – est.)

If you want to be THE best-seller – I really can’t give you the most reliable advice – like I said earlier some asshole could be giving away 50,000 units during a promotion. And also Publishing houses have a lot more money than most of us – and resources we’ll never have access to. You better believe they use KDP too – and spare no expenses when it comes to grabbing that ranking from you.

Here’s the crazy thing though.

You can actually beat them.

And here’s the even CRAZIER thing.

If you are sitting next to them on a chart – you are absorbing some of their exposure and they pay A LOT for their exposure. The amount of time you hold your title is crucial. Your book will likely sit next to a traditionally published title when you enter the top 100 Free Charts. You need to understand how significant it is to be within the top 100 of Amazon even if only for a short while.

You might not get into number one with these resources I’m about to inform you of, but you’ll certainly get close.

Okay, that pretty much wraps up how many copies you need to become a best-selling author on Amazon. Next, we'll dive straight into what kind of promotions you'll need to get there, and which types of promotions to avoid wasting your time and money.


Bookmark these pages – I’ll believe they’ll be very informative to you. I'm going to go over the five services that are some of the best at producing results for promotions. A lot of this information is available for free, but I’ll give you a better idea of what they deliver.


BookBub is the reigning king of resources available to self-publishers, and you already know who they are, so I'll stop wasting your time. They only accept 10 percent of their submissions so if you’re lucky enough to pass their screening (I recommend having 50 4-5 star reviews or more) you’ll have access to nuclear warheads of publishing power.

$400 (Thriller Genre – 2.8 million email subscribers) saw an average of 40,000 downloads during the free promotion across multiple titles. I’ll rate this a 4 on the pessimism meter though.

10 is the happiest pessimist, and 1 is the most pissed off pessimist. REMEMBER THIS.

40,000 downloads seem too good to be true. I rate it a 4 on the pessimist meter and say that 15,000 is the most you can expect. The reason for the rating is the expense and my speculation into 40,000 downloads – it’s a hard number to grasp, though most authors turn a little profit out of this promo, or so I hear.


15,000 downloads alone will certainly get you in the 10 top spot. Don’t get your hopes of acceptance up for this one though - 90 percent chance of rejection. But there are other options.

Bottom Line: Try this first, you likely won’t need to run a lot of promotions. But also keep in mind that you will probably get rejected. And if you succeed – fuck you – and I hate you because I’m a petty and jealous person.

Submit to BookBub Here!



I've used this service twice now and will use it for every one of my promotions. Why? Well, stupid it's because they guarantee downloads. 5,000, 10,000, and 15,000. And with added overage.

They are expensive though – the 15k download package is $380 but is well worth the money.

$300 for the 10k package got me at least 13,000 downloads. And that happened in one day. I was thrilled, to say the least. But be aware that these books might not be read by your target audience, being guaranteed, a portion of these people just seem to grab whatever it is free and is possible to lead to bad reviews.

That’s not to say you won’t get good ones either though.

But bad reviews are usually easy to shrug off, just some dipshit who had nothing better to do than to slash all of your hard work, and people do recognize that. If I see a one-star rating I need to be convinced by it. I need to know that the person writing it isn't an absolute idiot. And they add legitimacy to your book. A book with only 5-star ratings would appear suspicious to a lot of people.

The rank you’ll get out of this one is why you spend the money. I got to #2 on the free store just with that promotion and held it for almost the entire day.

Bottom Line: It's the most powerful freely available resource for boosting your sales rank I’ve ever found. All of the packages do what they say – and I always see overage– I recommend the $300 package for 10k guaranteed downloads to secure a top 10 spot on the free store for one day.

Pessimist Meter: 8/10 – added 2 points because while downloads drive that sales ranking, the more downloads you get the less organic and more obligated they feel.

$300 – Rank Boost – Though the 5k download option for $189 is better for the budget conscious person, and still works very well. I used it on my last promotion and saw over 6,000 downloads with it.

Promote with Free Book Service here!

FreeBooksy And Bargain Booksy

Freebooksy has similar results to Books Butterfly – they do not guarantee downloads but… They have these mailings lists – specific genres with massive amounts of people. 202,000-212,000 just for the Thriller Category. Out of all of these promotions that cost under 100 dollars. Freebooksy is one of the most tried and true.

You'll see results from Freebooksy promotions where people got 5,000 downloads, this is bullshit, or maybe I just really suck at marketing my fiction. You can expect right around 1,000 downloads from their promotion. It’s very worth the 85 dollar price tag.

Pessimism Meter: 8/10 - They can target YOUR specific audience, which already makes it better than almost every promotion website out there it's like a smaller version of BookBub. I'll use them for every promotion here on out.

Honorable mention: Robin Reads is very similar to Freebooksy but a little cheaper. I suggest checking them out as well and they’ll appeal to the more budget conscious of you.

Recommend: Guaranteed Freebie - $35-$100 for a specific mailing list.

Promote with FreeBooksy here!

Promote with Robin Reads here!


Ah, social media. It's the best resource an author can have, and that's true but only if you have a following that responds to you. I'm not saying it's useless, not at all; I value it over all of my promotions. But at first, it's very frustrating.

I've seen probably 600 downloads from connecting with my friends and new fans, and great people alike across the course of my launches. That's a lot of work, but those downloads feel so much more earned than the others and you know the reader feels that way too. That's how you make fans and that’s how you spread the word about your book - by connecting with people.

Social media is the best resource, but it takes a lot of time to build and even more patience to deal with that building.

I know how easy it is to spend money on that, but it usually ends up being a waste of time. And speaking of wasting time – let’s move on – I’ll write a book about social media advertising soonish, I’m excited to share my twitter ad that had an engagement rate of 23 percent and is the most successful campaign I’ve ever run.

Social media can be a massive time investment that’s why you let guys like Books and the Bear help you with it and they are very good at what they do.

They have a quarter-million reader reach and use their extensive platform to spread awareness about your book. You can also run it during your free promotion and paid days alike.

$99USD gets you a very effective twitter campaign that runs continuously for a month.

You’re asking: “does this convert to sales?”

I don’t think any social media advertising provides significant sales, only if the following is engaged. You spend the money for the exposure you will receive as an author. I saw a ton of engagement and hundreds of total retweets across all of their “book blasts."

Bottom Line: You let promo companies like FBS and Robin Reads/ Freebooksy do passive, wide reach advertising for you. Social driven platforms will lead you directly to fans. DIRECTLY, Books and the Bear will help you catch more fish so to speak.

Promote with Books And The Bear Here!


The combination of 4 of these 5 promotions (excluding BookBub because you CANNOT rely on them to accept your submission – no matter how good you know your book is) will generate spectacular results for a five day period. Though if you want sales – shorten your free launch to no less than 3 days. You have to give your promotion time for the Amazon algorithms to kick in.

Spend $350.00USD for 6,500+ DL

Spend $750.00USD for 13,000+ DL

If this sounds like too much, towards the end I have a launch plan to fit any budget. Less than 100 dollars.

You could spend less and no matter what these services deliver results – and most of them offer refunds if they don't meet your satisfaction.

Here’s another breakdown of their functions:

  • FBS – Power push for ranking

  • Robin Reads /FreeBooksy – Maintain Ranking (probably the most important focus of your promotion) These downloads feel much less obligated. Less overage than FBS.

  • BooksAndTheBear – Awareness and generates social media leads + downloads.

  • BookBub – IF you are lucky – again fuck you – you will win no matter what.

Want more advice? Reach out to me on Twitter if you’re having any questions about these sites. I've used these services before, so I can give you a good idea of what you'll get.

If you say, fuck you, Nathan, I don't want to talk to you then get my next book Ready for Launch!, detailing some brief but important steps to take before you launch your book.

My goal is to give you the most valuable information in the shortest timeframe possible. See I’m already failing.

Now to the last part.


This is also highly wavering, the entire publishing industry is. I’m just trying to give you an idea of what to expect so you won’t end up heartbroken when your masterpiece gives away only 3,000 copies, which is good by itself, just don’t spend a fortune to get there.

It is also very EASY to over budget on marketing.

And most of the time, it ends in losses. Having more books helps. PayPal has just made things so easy, that’s it’s easy to lose track of the spending.

Keep in mind that many of these smaller promo websites are out of date and therefore lack the level of engagement that other promos show.

There are thousands of book promotion sites blasted all over the internet. Some are specific to certain platforms like social media, and Kindle and others are all inclusive. It's easy to feel like you're drowning if you book too many promotions. And it’s hard to tell if they deliver results, they do but……

A lot of these are available for free – I will always recommend getting any free advertising you can. But most of these you have to pay for granted it is not a lot. A majority cost less than $20USD, the latter half up to $60USD.

These are the kind of promotions you want to be wary of; I’m NOT saying they don’t work because some definitely do. But some of these promos end with pretty disappointing results despite the large audiences they represent. An expectation of 1 percent to sales is a good pessimistic number (especially for a free product) but most of these perform below that.

This is where I fucked up in my most recent promotion, it was like I was trying to catch a school of fish with a pole instead of a net. I spent upwards of 700 dollars on these little guys and did not get the return I expected. Luckily I had stronger promotions to back them up, and ended with pretty decent results.

So I felt a lot less stupid than I could have. I'm still learning.

So just know what you’re getting into; all exposure is good exposure, (no matter what anyone says) it gives you credibility. We are all swimming in a sea filled with gold and shit, and you have to do everything you can to stand out. Luckily people get bored and move onto the next thing – and this is the best opportunity you have to stand out as a writer.

I say pick 5-10 of these and spend no more than $200USD.

Let's break down an example. Twitter ads are everywhere.

A person has say.. 45,000 twitter followers (that’s a lot though right?) and posts your book twice in one day – about 25-30 percent will see the tweet.

Now we're down to 11,000 impressions (likely less) maybe 5 percent of those people engage with that tweet, 550 engagements, of those 550 only about 20-60 people will download your book.

I give this kind of promo a 3/10 on the pessimist meter.

I've used these services too many times, and I'm about to stop. Reach is important but at what cost to you? Your wallet? There are far more valuable twitter services available to you like The Books and The Bear than these freelance bloggers who might do a good job or might underperform. Always be cautious when working with freelancers - make sure they have the proof of deliverance.

There are so many similar services out there so try and pick the ones that best suit you and your book. Make sure it’s unique and caters to your target market (dedicated lists to specific genres is a good way to narrow down your options.) The three above I mentioned are the best I've ever worked with and have the ROI to back it up.

Added 11-06-2017

A Tier of Promotion Packages to Fit any Budget and Maximize Sales

For those of you that are self-published and aren't seeing any sales, this will give you a little boost.

  • Make sure you have at LEAST 3 free promo days left for your title on KDP Select.

If you are currently publishing with Amazon and you are not using KDP Select stop being an idiot and go sign up for it. It's free, painless, and they only hold exclusive publishing rights for 90 days at a time. And if you're not using it your book is just sitting there, and you are missing out on sales.

  • Make sure you have at least five reviews on your title before you promote ( Credibility insurance = more sales)


Listing most crucial promotions first.

BKnights on Fiverr

  • Cost $16

  • Expect 350+ free downloads

  • When you contact them on Fiverr ask them to give you the best promotion they have available. This is usually a $5 service but trust me you want to maximize your potential with these guys. This is the best-cheapest promotion that I have ever used and continue to use.

  • 9.2/10 on the pessimist meter

Psymon on Fiverr

  • Cost $6

  • Expect 50+ free downloads

  • There are a lot of other options available for this promoter, but I haven't tested this product like I have tested BKnights.

  • 8.3/10 on the pessimist meter


  • Cost $10

  • Expect 100+ free downloads.

  • Their cost to return in downloads is undeniably worth a look, I’m testing them out this weekend for a paid promotion, and I'll update you before Thanksgiving with the results.

  • UPDATE: Don’t use them for paid promotions

  • 8.1/10 on the pessimist meter

Ereader News Today

  • Cost $35+ (Genre Specific)

  • Expect 1000+ downloads

  • Ereader News Today, other than FBS, has the 2nd best Return on Investment of any promotion you will use. They receive millions of visits on their website every month, and you cannot pass this up if you have the funds to do so. They have proven their effectiveness time and time again from when I have used them, and from other authors, I know that have used their service.

  • 8.9/10 on the pessimist meter

Kindle Nation Daily

  • Cost - $30

  • Expect 500+ free downloads

  • KND, FBS, Robin Reads, BookBub and ENT are probably the top 5 contenders when it comes to book promotion. If you can afford any of these (aside from BookBub, so expensive), they are guaranteed to skyrocket your sales.

  • 8.6/10 on the pessimist meter


2,000 minimum downloads.

Also note that with all of these sellers, your book does not have to be free, but I highly suggest charging $0.99 during your promo if you don’t have free days available. Then switch it up to $2.99 after the promo ends.

Do the math, and it comes out to about 5 cents a download. And honestly, if you use all of these in one stroke (I never have before due to time constrictions) you'll probably get at least 2,000 downloads. And this is from a pessimist's point of view.

Any of these are interchangeable, but these are the five promo sites that every author should use. The wildcard may change as I test out more promotions. Even if you don't believe me just try out one of the Fiverr sellers; what are you risking spending less than 20 dollars to promote your material?


If you are new and just testing the waters of self-publishing, or even if you’re a veteran looking for an entertaining and informative guide to writing and publishing books – read this blog – it’s the most hilariously inspiring post I think I’ve ever read.


There now you know what best sellers are and proven ways to get there. You're a little less of an idiot than when you first came in. Now give yourself a slap in the face. Good job, dumbass.

Now a few more very important notes before you go off and publish your book.


This is GOING to cost money – if you are not willing to spend money on your own novel which probably took you at least a couple of grueling months to write then wake up. Like any business, you have to invest in it, or it will just sit. But you don't have to go broke. In my upcoming book Ready for Launch! I give you an outline for implementing these promotions into your launch while providing you with the most cost effective options.


This is a tough business to invest in, it can absorb a lot of money, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. BE PATIENT. I think so many Authors have a problem with that. Your focus needs to be collecting an audience. Everything that was ever successful was found in a tight niche and then exploded when it got public.

You will probably run a promotion that doesn’t pan out and that’s OKAY it’s all part of the learning curve.


Most importantly, and this is serious, never give up. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. Don't worry about the rejections from agents, the hateful reviews, the low sales – you will find your way, and this market is so large it's now very possible to make a decent living as a bestselling author on Amazon without ever "making it" as an author.

I’m trying to find my way just like you.

This road is long and full of obstacles but do not give up. Let your ambition crush everything before you and give nothing but love to the haters.

Since this is my first in a series, I’ll say this too. Why expect people to pay $0.99USD for this book when I can find this information themselves? Well because I don’t have the motivation to write blogs. They can never keep my attention. Very few ever have.

I can do books. And I can help you. I want to help you by giving you real world results. I’ve carefully collected, researched and tested most of the promotions I will talk about. This business is not easy; it can be very heartbreaking at times. I may be a pessimist when it comes to marketing, but I’m the opposite when it comes to my goals, my hopes, and my dreams.

If you get knocked down, there are those of us that will help you get back up again. I’m here and honestly; I’ve been trying to find my angle as a copywriter for YEARS. This is the only way I would feel comfortable making money – and through this series, I’m going to try and give you the most helpful information I can – updated as I learn how to become a better writer myself.

Thank for reading. And good luck on your launch.


Nathaniel Patrick Sanders – A.K.A. The Pessimist

P.S. Connect with me on Twitter and follow me for daily author advice. And Pre-order my next book to ensure your launch sails smoothly.

UPDATE: 11/22/2017

P.P.S. The series collection is out! Get 5 books for the price of 3, containing extra resources not included in the original series. Get it here and save yourself some money, in many more ways than one.

Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-16 show above.)