The “Accidental” Amazon Best Selling Author

Can you imagine becoming an Amazon best selling author, accidentally?

That’s what happened to Debra Eve when she published her book, “Late Bloomers: 35 Folks Over Age 35 Who Found Their Passion And Purpose,” on Amazon’s Kindle shortly before Christmas.

Debra uploaded her book and categorized it under “Biographies & Memoirs & Motivational” and, to her surprise it became an Amazon best seller.

Debra, a self-confessed late bloomer, is the blogger behind the popular website Later Bloomers says of her four days of best seller status:

 On December 23, I woke up, signed onto Amazon and saw the screen above, ranking Later Bloomers #3 under Biographies and Memoirs — Historical, right behind Ben Franklin (who’s featured in my book) and Harriet Tubman. It doesn’t get any better.In the UK, I ranked #2 under the same category. I also made #3 under Motivational in both stores.

I interviewed Debra recently to ask her to explain the events that led her book to be a best seller:

What made you decide to write Later Bloomers: 35 Folks Over 35 Who Found Their Passion and Purpose?

Later Bloomers is a compilation of my blog posts. I always intended that LaterBloomer.com evolve into book, which is why I don’t follow blogging rules that emphasize list posts, “how to” headings, etc. My About page become the Preface and two “pillar” posts became the Introduction. I broke the biographies into four categories – Artists & Entertainers, Athletes, Explorers, and Writers – and wrote new summaries for each category.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

Intuition. I planned pursue traditional channels this summer and send out query letters. But when I reached 35 biographies, a voice whispered “now is the time.”

Later Bloomers is only 32,000 words. Most nonfiction books come in at 60-80,000 words, though inspirational works can be shorter. But I decided  I had enough material to serve as an introductory eBook.

Did you publish it on Amazon only or to other digital market places? If so, how did the book do in the other market places?

I’m only on Amazon. In December, I joined the Kindle Direction Publishing (KDP) Select program. It requires exclusivity, but you get a cut of a $500,000 fund for joining their lending library.

I’ve done very well and have no complaints. Later Bloomers peaked at #3 in its category (Historical Biographies). It continues to move in and out of the top 100. I may consider other markets for future volumes.

Did you have a marketing strategy for the book? If so, can you share what it was?

In all honesty, no. I considered Later Bloomers a marketing experiment and the beginning of a feedback loop. I hoped it would bring readers to my blog, who in turn would buy future books.

Now I plan to use KDP Select to leverage Later Bloomers during the pre-launch for Later Bloomers: Book Two, which will come out in late June.

Can you share what worked and how your book became an Amazon best seller?

Before I joined KDP Select, Later Bloomers had been on Amazon at $1.99 for five weeks with four sales. KDP Select allows you to drop the price to $0.00 for your choice of five days during a three-month period. I chose the three days before Christmas and lucked out. It’s unusual and heartening that it remained in the Historical Biography Top-100 after I raised the price again.

I’ve read dozens of KDP Select success stories since then. It definitely works to jump-start sales.

If you had it to do all over again, would you have done anything differently or added anything to the process of publishing your book?

No. It’s still a learning process and I never really expected to do so well.

Any advice you’d care to give other authors?

Educate yourself and don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s the Wild West out there right now. You’re creating a fantastic resource here, Angela.

I also recommend the post “E-Books: The Tipping Point?” by Catherine Ryan Howard, which charts Kindle sales of her memoir, Mousetrapped (a hilarious take on the year she worked at Disney World Orlando).

Catherine says, “Get an e-book out there. NOW.” But make sure it’s well written and edited, of course, because it’s your calling card as a writer. It can be short. Essays, short stories and novellas should be priced accordingly.

Catherine confirmed the little voice that whispered “now is the time.”

And don’t quit your day job, at least just yet! Most successful authors have a few books on the shelf.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to start the Late Bloomer Blog.

Like you, my background is in business – management and later, corporate training. But I’ve always aspired to write and live adventurously.

I returned to college at age 30 and earned a combined BA/MA in Anthropology at age 35. I specialized in archaeology and couldn’t support myself with it. But it’s the most phenomenal thing I’ve ever done and it gave me tons to write about!

I wanted to pursue my writing dreams and searched for inspiration. I was astonished by how many famous authors were late bloomers: Bram Stoker (Dracula), Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan), Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth) to name three off the top of my head.

But I also found stories about grannies running marathons, lawyers becoming painters, civil servants becoming actors and chefs. Hence, LaterBloomer.com was born. It focuses on people who started a creative endeavor after age 35, as opposed to those who achieved recognition after age 35.

Do you feel there are benefits to being a late bloomer? If so, what are they?

Once you put aside regrets, nothing but benefits. With attention to fitness and nutrition, we can live healthily into our 90s. If you discover or rekindle a passion at age 40, you can pursue it for 50 years like author James Michener. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What’s next for you, the blog and publishing?

Each time I publish 35 biographies on LaterBloomer.com, I’ll compile a new eBook anthology. I wrote the first 35 biographies in about 15 months. Since I had great success with Later Bloomers, I plan to publish Later Bloomers: Book Two in June, with two more volumes to follow. By the 2012 Holiday market, I hope to have three volumes out.

Then I’ll reassess my strategy and perhaps combine them into a “best of” print edition. I’ll be busy for the next two years, but I love writing the stories and can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

I also have a few fiction projects underway, and need to find time for them!

It’s a new era for writers. I encourage your readers to study the resources you’ve collected here, listen to their intuition, and write from their hearts. It’s truly never too late to start!

You can read more of Debra’s account of becoming an “accidental” best-selling author and her posts about many other fascinating later bloomers on her blog, Later Bloomers.

Has your book been an Amazon best seller? Got questions for Debra? Leave your comments here.

While your here subscribe so you don’t miss out on a thing!

If you enjoyed this post be sociable and share it. Thank you.

Later Bloomer, Debra EveDebra Eve is a proud late bloomer and possessor of many passions. At 36, she earned an MA in Archaeology from UCLA. At 40, she backpacked solo across Europe. At 42, she became a martial arts instructor. And at 43, she bungy-jumped off a bridge in New Zealand. At 46, she married the love of her life! Now she writes about fellow late bloomers while plotting her next grand adventure (and a novel set in medieval Scotland).

Her inspiring profiles can be found at http://LaterBloomer.com. You can also find her on Facebook (http://facebook.com/LaterBloomers) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/DebraEve).

She recently published her first Kindle LaterBloomer.com anthology – Later Bloomers: 35 Folks Over Age 35 Who Found Their Passion and Purpose.

Debra lives in Los Angeles with her British husband and two 20-lb Maine Coon cats.

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