Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

My Personal Campaign to Defeat Fifty Shades of Grey

You don’t have to look very far to see that E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is everywhere: in the check-out line, at the bookstore, maybe even on your mom’s bedside table (just don’t go searching for it at the library).

Amazon Best Sellers List

Amazon Best Sellers List

And of course, it’s at the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers List — consistently every day, without fail, for 150 days straight.

It’s time for a change

As you know, my book just came out last week, and many of you bought it (thanks for that). It ranked as high as #18 on the Best Sellers list on Amazon and #14 on Barnes & Noble.

But we never beat Fifty Shades of Grey. And something about that just feels wrong. So I want a redo. A mulligan, if you will.

If you’re not up for some friendly competition (all in good fun), then stop reading right now. But if you are interested in joining me on my epic quest against “mommy porn,” then read on…

How the Amazon Best Sellers List works

Someone texted me the other night, asking how to get on the Top 100 Books list on Amazon. It’s not as hard as you might think.

There are actually several lists, including one for Kindle (both free and paid) as well as one for print books. Since Amazon updates its list hourly, all you really have to do is sell a decent amount of books in a short amount of time.

It varies every day, but you can get into the Top 1000 with a few hundred sales, maybe even the top 500 (I know this, because You Are a Writer sold around 500 books its first week and was ranked 500-something).

The Top 100 is a little trickier, but still not impossible, even for a first-time author. All it takes is a small, but dedicated tribe of readers buying your book at the same time, and you can climb the ranks quickly.

My theory

Since the list is updated hourly, I had a thought: What if someone decided to get a bunch of people to all buy a book at the same time? How many would it take to hit the Top 10, maybe even the #1 spot?

That’s where you come in.

For this week only, I talked my publisher into making the eBook version of Wrecked available for only $0.99 (which is something like a 92% discount — crazy!).

A dollar is about as cheap as we can make it, so I’m hoping those who haven’t gotten the book yet will jump on this deal. And for those who have gotten it, I hope you share this with friends. Maybe even consider picking up an extra or gifting it to someone.

Mostly, though, I hope we can conquer E.L. James and her tyrannical rule over all other worthy books. It’s time for the queen to be dethroned.

Why you should join me

Let’s be honest. Nobody’s getting rich off a 99-cent eBook. Our goal is simple (and innocent): We want to get the book into as many hands as possible. And despite the hyperbole in this post, I have absolutely no malicious intent towards Ms. James.

I’m just curious to see if you can use an online tribe to quickly climb the lists — and what that attention could mean for the future reach of your book.

As always, I’ll gladly share whatever I learn with my readers (I know many of you are writers yourselves). I did this when I experimented with giving away over 24,000 copies of my eBook (which you can read more about here), and a lot of people appreciated it.

So if you toss your buck into the pot, here’s what you get:

  • A great deal on a book people are already raving about (over 80 reviews on Amazon, mostly five-star).
  • A chance to learn what it takes to climb the Best Sellers list on Amazon.
  • The opportunity to be part of something epic.

Not bad, right?

So… are you in?

If you’re onboard with this experiment, and you’ve got a buck to spare, here’s what I’m inviting (not forcing) you to do:

  1. Go buy the book. Preferably as soon as you’re done reading this. I had a clever idea about telling you do it at a certain time of day, but that just gets too complicated. Get it this week (or gift it to a friend) for only $1. Do this before Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012 (when the offer ends).
  2. Tell your friends. The best place to send them is straight to Amazon (here’s the short link: https://amzn.to/ONaUSE). Second best is the book site. If you’re on Twitter, you can click here to tweet a message.

Don’t have an eReader? No problem. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have free desktop apps to read eBooks on your phone, computer, or mobile device.

Ready to do this? Go grab your copy on Amazon (also available for Nook and other devices — see the full list here). Let’s see what kind of damage we can do.

Don’t do it for me. Do it for Telly.

* * *

Post-campaign update

Well, we campaigned mightily… and lost.

E.L. James: 1
Jeff Goins: 0

Although we did pull ahead of one Fifty Shades book (see picture below), we didn’t dethrone the queen from her #1 spot. I highly underestimated the power of erotica.


It was fun to rally the troops and see many of you jump into the fray. And Wrecked did make the #1 spot in several categories, which is cool.

I learned a few important lessons (for whatever they’re worth):

  1. Digital best sellers lists are super competitive. We mobilized a lot of people to buy the book at 99 cents, and the highest on the list we got was in the top 30. (As a contrast, the week before my paperback ranked #18 on the best seller list on Amazon, and I know we sold a lot more digital copies than paperbacks.)
  2. It’s hard to get everybody to buy a book at the same time. If you remember correctly, my hypothesis was if we could get a bunch of people to buy a book at once, then we’d quickly climb the lists. I didn’t realize how hard that was with different time zones and conflicting schedules. We had a strong week where the book was consistently in the Top 100, but it never broke the Top 20. If we could have gotten everyone to buy at exactly the same time, I think we may have been able to pull that off.

All that to say, I had fun, and I hope you did, too. If you didn’t get a chance to pick up the book, you can still get it here.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I haven’t bought it yet, but was going to get it next week. But wanting to knock off 50 shades, and for $0.99, I’m in

    • hah! awesome. 🙂

      • Sreccles

        I will do it as well because I’msick to death of fifty shades its such an inmoral book

    • Awesome. Good to have you, Brian. 🙂

  • A very worthy goal, and one I’m happy to support!  Go, Jeff! Wrecked on my desk and in my Kindle!

  • Fantastic post, Jeff! Although I recently wrote a post defending Fifty Shades, in that it proves to indie authors that success is possible, I’d much rather see a talent like yourself top the charts.

    Count me in!

    • Very cool, Ryan. I totally see that. Like I said, nothing against her. She’s obviously doing something right.

    • Totally get that, Ryan. This is just in good fun. James is certainly doing something right with 10K reviews.

      • Right behind you, Jeff. Just purchased my copy. Let’s do this!

  • I’m in. I already have the hard copy, with the bonuses, but I’ll buy the Kindle version for .99, and share it on social networks. Let’s do this!

    • Thanks for your generosity, Erik.

    • Thanks for the support, Erik. You could always give it to a friend…

  • done & done! can’t wait to see the results!!

  • JP Jones

    I’m in.  Hoping for the best 🙂

  • sandra nieto

    Done!  Tweeted, FB’d, then bought the book!  I can’t wait to read it and please keep us informed regarding the Top 100 list!!  I can’t wait to finish my own book and get it out there too!!!  Good luck!!

    • Will do, Sandra. With a dedicated tribe of awesome people like yourself, it will happen. 🙂

    • Will do, Sandra. I’m excited. (Btw, as of this morning we were just a few places away from breaking the Top 100.)

  • DONE 😀
    as you can imagine… i am a big fan of kicking Fifty Shades out of the top spot.

  • Angela Roberts

    I bought it last week at regular price, but I tweeted. By the way, I finally had the chance to read the book “You are a Writer” on the way to my first food press tour. Somehow I got invited to eat my way through Columbus with writing professionals. You’re advice was amazing and lined up with the conversations I had with other published food and travel writers. I can now officially call myself a writer. 

    • Awesome, Angela. I’m honored.

    • Interesting, Angela. Thanks for sharing! And I’m a little envious of your experience.

  • Once I’m going to share this once I’m at a computer. Let’s topple the throne! It’s almost a pipe dream, but a queen’s dynasty never lasts forever.

  • Jody Day

    Done and shared. You’re right about the library. I think we are 26 deep on holds for all three. It’s hard to keep my mouth shut when it gets checked out. I accidentally typed Filthy Shades…when doing a hold search. Really, accidentally…lol I want to see this happen for you, for all of us.

    • Actually, I was referring to the fact that a lot of libraries banned it. 😉

      • Jody Day

         Wish we were among those.

    • Hilarious. Freudian slip, eh? As I said earlier (I think my content was somehow eaten), I was referring to all the libraries who banned it.

  • Done!  🙂

  • Oh man, this is great.  How awesome will it be to go down in history as the guy who knocked 50 Shades from the No. 1 spot!!  Jeff- I really enjoyed the book.  And, thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of the launch team.  

    • hah! well, we’ll see…

    • well, we’re not there yet. but let’s see… 🙂

  • Tracie Puckett

    Done (and shared). I (really, really, really) hope you reach your goal!

    • thanks. if not, it’ll be fun trying.

    • thanks, Tracie! it’ll be fun, regardless. 🙂

  • Glory Gray

    Haha! Go, Jeff! Yes!! 🙂

  • Julie Anne (parresia)

    Well, that put me over the edge! I bought it and tweeted! …anything for a good cause! 🙂

  • Bought mine. Go Jeff!

  • Jana Last

    Done!  And tweeted!

  • I’m in Jeff, and I’ll tweet that link.  Good luck and thanks for all the free blogging/writing advice.

  • I think knocking a trashy book off the top of the list is a worthy goal. Done.

  • Hey Jeff,

    Already bought the print-version yesterday, but I’m in, too. Do you know if that app reader will work on any computer (even my battle-scarred, outdated and Telly-slow version of the lot?)?

    My computer and I have our issues (mine could be remedied, but I’ll admit – I’m tech-lazy…), but I’m ready to consider myself part of your EPIC JOURNEY!!!

    Good Luck (You’ll do it!)

    • Probably! Click the links.

    • Paula, I don’t know, but probably. I used it on an old Dell years ago.

  • wsgibson

    Jeff, I enjoy your site. You have a great idea in drumming up support to unseat the book from the top spot. Like you, I have nothing against Ms. James, but would like to see something that’s actually edifying to rise to the top.  

    • thanks. all in good fun. plus, it’s a communal effort, so we share in the victory.

  • I’m IN! I bought it. I’m telling people to buy it. GO BIG OR GO HOME!

  • Karen Driscoll

    Done.  Shared, Tweeted and suitably spruiked.  Here’s to the win win social experiment!

  • Could not agree more that 50 shades needs to go!! To much filth in this world already!! Good luck, hope this experiment works:0)

  • Just picked up a copy. Wrecked is definitely a better book than Fifty shades and more edifying. 

  • Just did my part to help you take her out:)

  • Got it! Nook had a more user-friendly app version. Twitter in place, too.

    Good luck Jeff!

  • I’m in! I already bought a copy for myself… I think I might gift a copy or two. 

  • Rich Proctor

    I only just finished reading the Intro and I love it already. I’ll have more to say later, for now I’ve got more reading to do.

  • I just got myself a copy! Thanks 🙂

  • I bought a copy earlier, and have also shared this post with the uk christian writers’ facebook page – which was already carrying notice of the price reduction.
    yes, let’s get something edifying at the top.

  • Kris

    I have the book coming!  Can’t wait to read it and am praying it hits the top of the charts!

  • Susan Sundwall

    Bought my Wrecked last night. Did not buy Grey – will not. Here’s to a major de-throning!

  • *Looking at you full of admiration* You GO! Jeff!  Happy to buy and share. I’ll also tell my readers in my blog post today.

    Yes, We WILL see you at No.1

  • MarcellaPurnama

    Done! thanks for the book, Jeff! Here’s my story: https://marcellapurnama.com/on-being-wrecked/. Keep on inspiring people :).

  • My wife is getting me a Kindle for my birthday this Friday. I already have 25 books for the thing; I’ve been collecting for a few years when a deal popped up.

    I purchased your book last week, and have downloaded the Kindle version.

    It’s worth $0.99 right now so I don’t have to figure out how to add the book via usb cable once the Kindle is turned on. 😉

    For the record; there is no reason for anyone to read Fifty Shades.

  • Dick Savidge

    I just ordered Wrecked from Amazon.

  • jkhenderson3

    Done. I had already bought your book because I wanted to read it. This makes me want to buy it all over again. So here’s what I did instead. I posted a link on my Facebook page, asked people to leave me a comment when they purchase your book, and then I will pick three people at the end of the week to pay for their copy. I know…big spender, right? Three dollars! But hopefully it will generate a few extra sales. Here’s for putting JESUS on the throne of the best sellers list. 🙂 

    • awesome. thanks. btw, people can also GIFT a copy to someone else. fyi.

  • Lynn Palermo

    Consider it done and tweeted! Love the Goal! 

  • Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

    I’ve never heard of James nor her book but will buy your e-book, read it and then tell my blog readers. 

  • Karen

    Just bought it off Amazon.  Good luck!

  • Great post. Great campaign. Great message.

  • Susan M. Baganz

    Done! Facebooked and tweeted! I hope you rock this – and thank you for practically giving away this book. Financially I just can’t buy stuff – but at that price I couldn’t pass it up and I look forward to how you will challenge my heart as i read it! Blessings to you Jeff and ALL you are doing for the kingdom! 

  • Doing my part to help you reach the top spot! Will share via Facebook as well. 

  • Let’s do this!~~flexing muscles, Lou Ferrigno style~~

  • Mtrawick83

    I’m game…just bought it from Amazon.

  • I’m with you Jeff. I bought the Kindle version of Wrecked yesterday & tweeted about it. 🙂 

  • Iam_parisindy

    just bought wrecked on sale… there is no way i want to support that fifty shades of grey… awful awful. And i have been really wanting to read your book.. so its a two-fer

  • Chris Nyland

    You mean I only have to spend 99 cents to help get this porn off the top of the list? You have my help, and I made sure I told others!

    …and I enjoy your site regularly, too.

  • Candy L. Hill

    I just ordered the book for my Kindle and I tweeted about it a few minutes ago.

  • I ordered a copy last week to support your launch. Thanks for letting us be a part of and learn from your journey

  • Andrea B

    I’m in! It would be nice for an edifying book to be in the top 10 on Amazon for a change. Bought and fb’d your sale info.

  • I just bought five more copies and I tweeted.  Everyone here has $5 bucks in their sofa cushions, come on, let’s do this!!

  • Kristi

    Gotta say, I had $2 in my account (payday is Friday), so I bought one.  Wish I could do more, but can’t wait to read it!  Thank you so much for this offer.  Don’t know if I could have purchased it otherwise. 🙂

  • Ria

    woohoo! I am in! 😀 

  • Just got my copy!  Good luck in your quest!

  • ASwirlGirl

    Bought a Kindle copy and Tweeted it. Woot Woot!

  • Lisa

    Bought the book and looking forward to reading it! If you knock off the “mommy porn”, so much the better! Wishing you well, and thanks for this blog and your generosity to other writers. 

  • Amen! I’d love to see you take him down and turn the world 50 Shades Whiter!

  • Amyweinkauf

    So there!  I’ve been on a personal crusade to stop the spread of the “mommy porn.” When I read about the Bible being replaced by the book I became even more determined to get people NOT to read it.

    • Nate

      It’s not so much the sexuality of the book that people shouldn’t read it, but simply because it’s poorly written and not very good.

  • Done.  🙂

  • Heidi Blankenship

    Game on! Just downloaded the book to my Kindle. Let the dethroning begin…

  • Roberta Hegland

    My 9th tweet – first with a link (hope I did it right!).  Of course Amazon had a security breach last night, so my gift card link was dead.  But chatted with a rep in India and not only got it fixed, but got a cool name for a future novel!

  • Jeff, I missed your contact information on the site, but I just discovered this online e-book story bundle where you pay what you can.  The same business model I’ve seen used with Indie software.  Pretty neat and thought you or your readers might want to comment on it.  I have no affiliation with them.  https://storybundle.com

  • Just bought Wrecked on the Kindle. Taking it down the Ocean and I’m Stoked !!!!!!
    Thanks Jeff

  • I couldn’t be more delighted to join you in this.  Meant to buy your book last week, but then Amazon was out of stock. . . and I just never got back to ordering.  But I’m buying it now for my Kindle, with thanks to you and your publisher for the amazing deal!  Bless you!

  • Posted and a number of people I know bought copies yesterday. Sorry, forgot to weigh in here.

  • Diane Turner

    Ordered mine from Amazon. Good luck with the experiment. Can’t wait to read the eBook.

  • Just bought your book.  Hope you accomplish your goal.

  • I just bought my copy! Go Jeff!

  • Done. How could I resist? 🙂

  • Brilliant. I’ve been wanting to read your book but didn’t have ten bucks. Bless you. Sold. Heading out of town Friday. Excited for some new reading material for the airport/plane. Thanks!

  • Mom26

    Got it! Good luck getting rid of mommy porn:)

  • Stewart

    Bought one. I love seeing how things work, etc. I heard of something similar to this being done many years ago with the NY Times BestSeller list, but in a corrupt way. The author went and purchased the books from participating booksellers to artifiially inflate it’s position and sell more books.
    This way is much better and really shows the power of a group.
    Now I’ll have to read it! 🙂

  • Retha

    Read this, bought Wrecked for $0.79 at Christianbooks.com, and began reading it – Wow

  • Dave

    Hey Jeff,

    Hate to be the voice of dissent, but…

    I think we both know this has nothing to do with ‘a bit of fun’ or getting your readers to participate in something ‘epic’. It’s about marketing , building a platform and it only benefits you.

    I don’t have a problem with that per se, but it does not seen to sync with what you have previously said writers should be.


    I’m probably being really naive and this is the way it’s done, but I’m a little disappointed it doesn’t tally with the rest of your ethos.

    Having said that, I enjoy your blog and will no doubt continue to do so, I just don’t agree with the way you have wrapped the real motive for this post into something which is just a bit of fun.


    • Hey Dave. Sorry to disappoint. My intention really was to do an experiment with this community and see if we could move a title up the list. Certainly, I want my book to do well, but I think we both know dethroning 50 Shades was a stretch. Still, it’s been fun to try.

      Promoting myself isn’t fun; doing a community experiment is. And that’s really what I was hoping for.If you feel like this was some kind of clever marketing ploy, I understand that. But I honestly didn’t mean to deceive anyone into doing anything. Nonetheless, I appreciate your feedback. Maybe this was executed with mixed motives — I’m not sure. I’m open to the correction and will consider your words.Thank you.

    • I can’t really blame you for being cynical about this.  I frankly didn’t know Jeff at all before this promotion as I was referred to him by someone I did follow.  But I’m glad I got the book.  I think it’s unique and powerful in it’s approach to developing a life of purpose.  I’m only into the first few chapters but I love it so far.

      And you know people get marketed to left and right and it does get old and a lot of it just isn’t that honorable (probably never was from the day a cave man tried to sell a stick with fire on the end of it:).  I just hope you don’t cheat yourself out of a good read just because the guy’s approach kind of turned you off.   In the end for myself I’d prefer to just take this all at face value and trust that I can learn something along the way…so far so good.

    • BethMcKamy

      I have been a subscriber to Jeff’s blog for awhile now and I trust his words and his intentions. Jeff has always been forthright in his communications, so I don’t read anything into his motives. That being said, even if this was a marketing ploy….who cares??? All artist market their craft. Bottom line is the product and what each person gets from it. I have no problem with the marketing of any product. We have the right to choose to buy or not to buy. I purchased Jeff’s book for one reason and that is because I have loved everything he puts out there, but most of all I love who he is…..his character, his faith, his integrity and his adventurous spirit. Jeff himself is the only marketing ploy I need!!!!!

  • Genius.

  • I am so glad you have taken on this challenge. I bought your book yesterday, and I tell people about it all the time. I think it is sad that something like the “grey” series should have bubbled to the top of the list. Praying, and working, for your success.

  • Chris Reed

    You have my dollar, sir

  • Rebecca

    Doing it 🙂

  • I have not read the “Gray” Book, but have been told about it by those that have read it. 
    When will we learn as humans that what we put in our minds is what we will get back out. We reap what we sow! 

  • BethMcKamy

    Got me a copy yesterday for my kindle!! 

  • I bought a copy today.  I have no problem with adults reading what they will, but I would love to see bad writing knocked off the charts.  Good luck!

  • Joyfulnoises33

    I started Wrecked today. Wonderful book, and timely for me.

  • Mikaela D’Eigh

    Jeff, do I need to purchase the ebook version for this to work or can I buy the paperback?  I don’t own an ereader and probably never will.  Love the smell and feel of real books too much.

    Loved your “You Are a Writer” very much.  Can’t wait to read “Wrecked.”

  • Jeff, thank you for your post! I ordered your book yesterday and I’m looking forward to reading it. 
    Here is what I shared on my blog last night… “The Church Lady, Magic Mike, and Fifty Shades of Grey!”  https://wp.me/pvYRx-aE

  • Benfriedrich

    Bought it and facebooked it.

  • Doc

    Ah, I couldn’t work it out, something didn’t make sense about this site, and now I find out you are a Christian Missionary writing for your Christian God. Somehow I thought you were a real writer, writing Literary Fiction. I think YOU should make it very clear from the start of
    your homepage what your INTENTIONS ARE!? It seems to me that you, Jeff, are really using this platform to promote your ‘book’. I looked on Amazon, and not one reputable book critic from the Guardian or NYT has commented – I wonder why? And why on earth do you want to bring in the 50 shades of grey rubbish? As another childish vehicle to promote your book? I feel quite offended having spent several hours reading your blogs, some of them interesting and insightful, only to realise what is going on in the background. Shame on you. And more shame that as a god-fearing man, you are a long way from being transparent and honest.

  • Doc

    Jeff, you just erased my comment? I’m shocked. I believed all good god-fearing people were honest and upright and with a clean soul. It’s appalling you actually censor what people think? It just goes to show how fabricated your real intentions are, and I’m saddened to find your removing my comment reveals that you live in fear and lies! God forgive your poor sinning life.

  • So there!  I’ve been on a personal crusade to stop the spread of the “mommy porn.” When I read about the Bible being replaced by the book I became even more determined to get people NOT to read it.

  • Just bought the book yesterday, Jeff – because I wanted to! 

    Then read this post (I’m a little behind). 

    Happy that my purchase is going to such a GREAT cause! 🙂

    Leanne Regalla
    Make Creativity Pay

  • Esyoii2

    Best way to sell a new book, or a pie, or a rake, is to pretend you are talking controversially about a controversial best seller about sex.  Good Job!

  • Congratulations on getting into the top 100. It definitely was an interesting experiment and maybe next time you can try to get all your readers to buy at the same time on the same day. that would probably take a little more planning though. Also, just wanted to let you know I am thoroughly enjoying (not sure that’s the right word) reading your book so far. There is much to make me think about what I am doing with my life. Good luck!

  • Eh..it was fun, like you said. I was able to get a copy for my husband for the Kindle for .99 (after we already purchased the hard copy). Now we can read through it together. 🙂 Thanks for that!! 

  • Margie L

    I’m sorry.  You’ll get her next time, I’m sure! God bless!

  • triprolo

    Hey Jef, I’ve been following your blog for a while and when I saw that your book was for 99 cents, I had to take the risk. I’ve never read any of your other book, just your blog. I thought to myself, this could be a ply to make more money but I’m a writer too and let’s be honest, 99 cents is not going to make you a lot of money had you taken the top spot so I saw your challenge as just that and took it in hopes that you may know her from her celebratory rung. 

    I say all that to say this. Thank you for marking your book down because it’s been one fo the bet books I have read all year. I couldn’t put it down and highlighted just about everything. It was wel worth the money I paid and I feel a little guilty getting it so cheap. So thank you!

  • Samantha Crawley

     wrote a new novel. It is Fifty Shades for the assertive woman. Its the reverse scenario of a submissive intern guy and his dominant female boss.
    Here’s the link:


  • Genius.