How to Get to #1 on Amazon!

Want to learn how to get your book to #1 on Amazon within 2 hours of release? Read on.

The goal of any author who makes their ebook available for free as part of a one off 5 day-promotion on Amazon is to get it to the coveted #1 position in its categories in order to maximise reach, downloads and ultimately build their personal brand.

I recently self-published my second book, The Innovation Manager’s Handbook v2: Float Like a Corporate, Sting Like a Startup and within just two hours of my 5-day free book promotion kicking off on Amazon, I made it to #1 in several categories, including Management, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Innovation and Startups and #3 in Business overall.

Almost 2,000 copies of the book were downloaded during the 5 day promotional period and as of writing it still commands the #1 spot in a number of categories.

So how did I go about this?

Was it because I have the writing ability of a Tolstoy?

Was it because I have a huge name in my field?

Was it because I spent a bag of money on marketing?

No on all accounts.

I credit this success to an elaborate and diligent growth hacking strategy.

So if you’re looking to get your book to #1 on Amazon and strengthen your personal brand, then it’s your lucky day. Here’s how I did it!

How to Get Your Book to #1 on Amazon

Before the 5-Day Promotion

  1. Create a simple one-page book website

I created a one page website to promote the book and collect emails. The website was also used to get pre-orders and give away a free bonus bundle (see #2)

2. Create and give away a free bonus bundle

I gave away a free bonus bundle. In my case it was a free digital copy of volume 1 of the handbook, a 1 hour live Q&A webinar with me and an innovation health-check self-assessment tool for large companies (you can still get all of these at

Why did I give things away for free?

Every time somebody signed up to the bonus bundle they received an automated email with all of the promised goodies. They also received an email promoting the free book promotion on day 1 of the campaign.

3. Start spreading the word

I started to spread the word about my forthcoming book and directing traffic to the book website using typical customer acquisition channels, including:

  • mail-outs to my existing Collective Campus database (sent a follow-up email to recipients who didn’t open the original email with a new subject line)
  • promoted the book on my podcast, Future Squared (100,000 listens a month)
  • promoted the book when appearing on other podcasts such as my appearance on the $100MBA (2M+ listens a month!)
  • wrote and distributed blog posts (I’d distribute these through not only the Collective Campus website but also through relevant Linkedin groups, Google groups and social media channels using relevant hashtags)

4. Press release

Wrote a press release and compiled a list of relevant journalists to send the release to a day or two before the book comes out (get a virtual assistant to help you with monotonous tasks like list building — I use Supahands for this!). I sent the press release to journalists a day or two before the book comes out — this proved to be none too rewarding but was worth a shot as it’s worked for me and others in the past.

5. Independent bloggers

Prepared a list of relevant independent bloggers and emailed them a few days before the free book promotion went live, offering a free hardcopy of the book in exchange for some exposure — bloggers are always looking for new, relevant content.

6. Schedule automatic posts on social media

I used MeetEdgar to repeatedly post to social media platforms promoting the book .This is critical on platforms like Twitter where tweets become a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ affair.

7. Update email signature

Update email signature so that every single person I send an email to (and anyone they forward the email to or CC) in the lead up to the book release knows I’ve got a book coming out and knows how to take next steps

The bottom of my email signature once the book hit #1

8. Ads

For the purpose of this post, I am shying away from ad spend and in reality, didn’t invest more than a couple of hundred dollars on platforms such as Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads to test out these channels. I found that my efforts were way more effective on growth hacks that don’t cost anything but time but delivered a much higher ROI.

9. Paperback version

I ensured a paperback version of the book was available to add to my ebook’s credibility. If all one sees when visiting your book’s page on Amazon is a Kindle version they might immediately question the legitimacy of the book. “What, no paperback?” We’ve all done it.

Having a paperback version doesn’t involve printing out thousands of copies and managing a complex supply chain. It simply involves using Amazon’s CreateSpace service to print on demand any orders of your book. All you need to do is get them a copy of the book in the prescribed formatting.

10. Updated my Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook banners (see below)




12. Hosted a Book Launch

Hosted a book launch to build buzz, give away free paperback copies and invite all of my guests to partake in a ‘thunderclap’ by visiting the following link —

It was also a great excuse to party, drink some Japanese whisky and catch up with clients, partners, old friends and associates.

So where did this link take them? Click to find out!

13. Making a list, checking it twice!

Prepare a list of all of your likely supporters (clients, partners, friends, family and associates)

During 5-Day Book Promo

14. Personal emails

Personally (no, not via an automated email service like Mailchimp) emailed everybody in #13 (that’s one email at a time with personalised content, not just the recipient’s name) and asked them if they’d be so kind as to share the book with their networks. I made it super easy for them to do so by pre-populating links as I’ve done in the following email. You can use ShareLinkGenerator to do this.

The result?

It also pays to constantly work on building relationships and your network. Hosting the Future Squared podcast has helped me foster relationships with lots of heavy hitting influencers such as Tim Harford (above). His tweet went out to 125,000 followers.

Just some other influencers who shared the book:

  • Karen Dillon (Co-author of Clayton Christensen’s new book and former HBR editor)
  • Pascal Finette (Head of Entrepreneurship at Singularity University)
  • Max Kelly (Head of Techstars London)
  • Dan Siepen (Founder of Coder Factory and Growth Hackers Australia)
  • Chris Joannou (Head of Startup Grind Australia)
  • Leslie Barry (Head of Innovation at Sportsbet)

15. Posted the book in Reddit’s ‘free ebooks’ page

You’ll need a Reddit account with some karma unless you want to see it get removed within seconds of posting. If you don’t have one, use somebody else’s and ensure you can get some upvotes in it immediately so it doesn’t immediately drop to page 73.

16. Posted the free ebook offer to Product Hunt

You’ll need an invite to share things with this huge and influential online community. Find someone who’s already a member to invite you!

17. Launch Night follow-ups

Sent a thank you email to everybody who attended the launch night, again — with a link to share the free offer with their networks

18. Meetup Groups

Emailed members of several meetup groups I control and asked partner meetup groups to send an email to their members promoting the free book. This went out to a collective audience of over 5,000 members — small but very targeted and relevant.

19. Leverage your existing email database

Sent a generic email to my database of thousands of subscribers, personalising the first name only in this instance (also sent a subsequent email with a new subject line to recipients who didn’t open the initial email)

20. Share your success to build more hype!

Sent subsequent emails sharing how well the book was doing by way of downloads and chart positioning to promote buzz, create urgency and a “me too” download response

21. Leverage your sales pipeline

This serves not one but two purposes! I sent the offer to all of the prospects in our pipeline, which was not only a great way to get more downloads, but also to strengthen my and my company’s brand which is very helpful in getting said prospects over the line

22. LinkedIn Groups — strategy 1

I posted the free book offer across more than 50 of the largest Linkedin groups related to business, management, leadership, innovation, technology, human resources, creativity and psychology which collectively boast millions of members (make sure you’ve already joined these groups before the promo kicks off!)

23. LinkedIn Groups — strategy 2

I asked two of the biggest innovation Linkedin groups, Board of Innovation and Innovation Management Group to direct message their members with the offer. The former agreed to a direct mail-out while the latter agreed to ‘pin’ the offer to the top of their group — both very effective.

24. Blog, Blog, Blog

I blogged every day during the 5 day promo. I shared sales stats, tidbits from the book, offered incentives to get people sharing (such as a free hardcopy), said thanks and more…

25. Repurpose blog posts as podcast episodes

26. Ask partners to send emails to their database promoting the book

In my case, Startup Grind, Spigit and Startup Victoria all agreed to support my campaign, collectively going out to tens of thousands of relevant emails.

Startup Grind


27. Free book groups on Facebook

There’s heaps of groups on Facebook dedicated to free e-books. I joined all of them and shared the book to tens of thousands of people.

28. Twitter Hashtags

Promote the book on Twitter using free book hashtags such as: #KDP #KindleBargan #FreeKindleReads #WLCFreeToday and countless others. Use Hashtagify to identify relevant hashtags!

29. Engage on social media

Actively engaged on social media with quirky and fun posts and said thanks to everybody that tweeted or retweeted anything to do with the book.

30. Free Book Promotion websites

Like these.

This was enough for me to reach my objective of #1 in my target categories. It took a good five solid days of effort, with the aid of a virtual assistant, to get through everything.

Of course, some of you reading this might say there was much more I could do and you’d be right but my objective was to get to #1, not to get to 100,000 copies. The book is but one of many feathers in the cap and it was an exciting experiment and journey.

Other strategies I could have employed:

  • Prepared a “top 20 innovation reads” blog post and slotted mine in somewhere
  • Exported contacts from LinkedIn and emailed them (too spammy!)
  • Ask people to also review the book, as reviews + downloads are more powerful than just downloads
  • Set up an email auto-responder to let everybody that emails me know that I’ve got a free book available, where to find it and how to share it

Some learnings and things I’d do differently next time:

  • Despite the planning that went into this, I was a little annoyed to discover that the link I had been sharing was not applicable to all regions so if you were in the UK or Australia you wouldn’t be able to download the book directly unless you visited your local website and searched for the book’s or my name — many did this, but I’m afraid many more didn’t. Next time I’ll create separate links for key geographies such as UK, Germany, Australia, Singapore and the USA and share accordingly!
  • It’s worthwhile contacting book promotion websites before your campaign kicks off as they usually need some lead time to review and publish your offer

“But I don’t have a podcast, a blog, an existing email database or relationships with influencers!”

***Newsflash: I wasn’t born with them either!***

Two of the easiest and quickest ways to build relationships with influencers include:

  • build an influencer list on Twitter and checking the list daily and retweeting and replying to what influencers are sharing (usually their own content)
  • write blog posts about influencer books or quote a number of influencers in posts on a particular topic, contact them, note that you’ve mentioned them and linked to them and ask them for a share — “it’d totally make my day if you’d share this with your network!”

Make it all about them.

You can use tools such as BuzzSumo to make the task of identifying relevant influencers, building lists and engaging that much easier.

So there you have it — how to get to #1 on Amazon.

Of course, if you’d still like to download a copy of the book or even buy the paperback head to or just search for Steve Glaveski on your country’s Amazon site!

I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions I’d love to hear from you!