When an author wants to sell more books, build credibility and get more attention as a speaker, author or expert in their industry, it’s common knowledge that becoming an Amazon bestseller is one of the quickest ways to success.
In fact, there’s an entire industry built around helping authors become Amazon bestsellers. Authors can purchase services that practically guarantee helping them become bestsellers no matter what type of book they write, with promises of wealth, influence and star status that are almost irresistible.
But there’s a secret behind all of the buzz about becoming an Amazon bestseller that no one is talking about. And a lot of misinformation that we feel should be addressed.
In fact, bestseller status:
Is a lot easier to get than you think
Doesn’t mean you sold a lot of books
Won’t guarantee future book sales
Can be achieved without blowing up your budget
When we started working with authors almost 20 years ago, bestseller status on Amazon had credibility and true value as it was achieved using the traditional method of counting book sales.
Over the years, however, Amazon’s methods for assigning bestseller status have changed and we’ve seen how achieving it can be relatively easy with only a few sales. In fact, since Amazon algorithms update nearly every hour, by coordinating friends and family to all purchase the book within a very short time frame, you have a very good chance of achieving “bestseller” status.
We’ve even heard of authors creating large batches of email addresses using different names then purchasing their book using those various email addresses within a short time frame to become a “bestseller.”
Hey, we even read a true-but-hilarious story about how this author became a bestseller on Amazon in five minutes and with only $3.
Don’t get us wrong, bestseller status is great. We just hate to hear stories of new authors blowing their budgets to get bestseller status by outsourcing expert help and purchasing large amounts of their own books when they really just need to learn a little bit more about how Amazon assigns bestseller status – and how they can work toward it on their own.
While we believe that good writing, quality printing, and access to a database of dedicated readers are the keys to a successful experience as an author, we’re happy to share how many authors are achieving bestseller status – and how you can too.
It’s all about the categories
Here’s the secret about Amazon bestseller status – it’s all about the categories. When a book or ebook is first listed on Amazon, selecting categories is one of the first steps. Choosing the right ones can lead to bestseller status. Choose the wrong ones, and no matter how many books you sell, you’ll never achieve bestseller status.
Amazon assigns bestseller rankings to books based on how many sales or downloads they have over a period of time as compared to all other books on the Amazon market. You can find that number in the Product Details section on the book’s page. It looks like this:
Here’s what those numbers mean:
If you’re in the Top 100 in your Amazon category, you will see a “best-seller ranking” below the title.
A book at the #1 spot in any given category will get a “#1 Best Seller” banner featured next to the title.
Dominating a category is obviously key for bestseller status. So you can see how carefully choosing the right category is essential. Choose a broad category means you’re in competition with a larger pool of books. But choosing a much more niched category decreases the size of that pool and the size of your competition as well.
For example, if you’re writing a gardening book, you could choose the category of “gardening.” But if you are able to niche down even further using categories that pertain to the type of gardening, geographical locations, or even select fruits or vegetables, etc., you’ll be even more niched and have much less competition for bestseller status.
How to choose Amazon categories
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t list its categories, so you’ve got to do a little research to choose the ones you want to use. Start by researching other books that are similar to yours and see what categories they are using. You can see this in the Product Detail section (as seen in the image above).
Make a note of the ones that fit your book best, then try to niche down even further. Do this by clicking on one of the categories in the books you are researching. A page will open listing best sellers in that category. And the categories will be shown in a column on the left. Often there will be even more options for narrowing your category and you can explore those by clicking on any of the selections.
Here’s an example: In the image here you can see how we were able to niche down 6 categories from Kindle ebooks to Reference to Writing, Research & Publishing to Publishing & Books to Authorship.
By researching books similar to yours, and their rankings in categories that are “super-niched,” you’ll be able to select categories that can boost your own status.
We hope this peek behind the curtain at how Amazon bestseller status is achieved – and what it really means – has been enlightening and helpful. Here at Vervante we offer free listing services for Amazon and if you want to learn more about choosing categories with the most potential for bestseller status we can help. Just reach out to one of our Amazon retail specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org or set up a call using this link.
Questions about best practices when it comes to setting up shopping carts, calculating postage and choosing shipping methods are some of our most frequent, so we decided to share a few of our best tips here to help you – and your customer – get the best results.
How to set up shopping carts
Q: What shopping cart works best with Vervante?
A: We work with any shopping cart, so your choice is always the right one!
Q: How do you know when I get an order through my shopping cart?
A: To process orders from the shopping cart you use, we just need ONE of the following:
A copy of the order email generated from your shopping cart, OR
A shipping/fulfillment report, usually a csv file, generated from your shopping cart, OR
An email with the order information
VERY IMPORTANT: All orders MUST include our Vervante part number. Most shopping carts have a field for part number or SKU. Or the part number can be added in parenthesis after the title. For example, “My Book Title Here” (V123456).
For a download that specifies how to set an order email up, click HERE. This will work with any shopping cart and we recommend that you supply your technical support team with this info when adding new items to your shopping cart.
Q: Do you have instructions for integrating specific shopping carts like PayPal or Woo Commerce?
A: On our website HERE we also have specific instructions for integration with our system for some of the most-used shopping carts including 1ShoppingCart, Big Commerce, Click Bank, Infusion Soft, PayPal, E-Junkie, Woo Commerce, Thrive Cart and Premium Web Cart. We accept orders from ANY shopping cart, so even if you don’t see your cart logo on our order processing page we accept all orders.
Q: Do I need to worry about taxes when setting up products in my shopping cart?
A: We do not handle calculating or gathering sales tax for our customers. We recommend that you check with your accountant regarding sales tax collections and liabilities.
Q: Where do you ship?
A: We ship anywhere in the world using USPS and UPS services.
Q: How do I know which shipping method to use?
A: We automatically ship all books and products using the least expensive shipping method based on the weight and zip/postal code used. However, you can always select a different shipping method that best fits your needs. NOTE: We do not default automatically to Media Mail even if this is the least expensive option. If you’d like your orders shipped via Media Mail you need to select this as your default. (For more details about Media Mail, and why we don’t use this as our default, please refer to “The Pros and Cons of Using Media Mail” on our blog.
To designate a default shipping method for any of your products, click on the link for “Select Specific Shipping Methods” under the My Profile section on your Author Dashboard. There you will see a list of your products and a place to designate what shipping method you would like to use. If you make any changes, be sure to click on the "Update" button at the bottom of the page.
Q: How do I know what my product weighs?
A: When we first set up a new item, we estimate the weight. That’s the number you’ll see in the “Est Ship Weight” column on the shipping methods page we referenced in the previous question. Once the item is in production, the final shipping weight can be viewed on the “Calculate Postage” page found on your Author Dashboard.
Q: How do I know when you’ve shipped my orders?
A: Here's how we keep you up-to-date on the status of orders:
We receive notifications from your shopping carts for orders placed.
Orders are completed and prepped for shipping, the package is scanned, and shipping labels are applied.
Products are mailed according to your preferred shipping method.
Shipping confirmation emails are sent to recipients with tracking information.
Order information such as status and tracking numbers are posted to your account online via the “View Orders and Status” link on your Author Dashboard.
Q: Can packing slips be customized?
A: Every package we send includes a packing slip inside and you have the option of customizing it however you’d like. Think of this as valuable real estate perfect for sharing information like:
A greeting or message that makes a personal connection
Your logo for brand awareness
Return policies that eliminate confusion about timeframes or refunds
Business address and contact information
(NOTE: Prices are NOT included on packing slips.)
To add personalized content for your packing slip, click on “Customize My Packing Slip” on your Author Dashboard.
**If you’d like more information about using packing slips, handling returns, and suggested content you can adapt and use for your packing slip, click HERE to read more on our blog.
Q: How does Vervante handle returns?
A: We will receive your returns at no charge, but it is up to you to share your return policy on your packing slip. For instance, if you would like returns sent back to your office so you can use them for prizes, promotions, display or to sell to other customers, please include instructions and address information on the packing slip for customers to send the products directly to you.
Here are some of the ways we handle returns in more detail:
If an order has an insufficient address or other address issues, it will be returned to our office. We will notify you when we receive it, and the reason for the return.
If we receive a return for insufficient address or address problems, and you are able to provide us with an updated correct address, we will reship the order at no additional charge except for the postage.
If a product has NOT been opened, used or is not damaged, we will re-use the product.
If the product HAS been opened, we do not re-use returns. These products are discarded.
Q: How do I calculate shipping costs?
A: We’ve provided a postage calculator to help determine shipping costs. From your author dashboard click on the “Calculate Postage” link under the Support section. Your items and their weights are listed there for easy referral. All you need to do is use the official USPS calculator on that page to determine shipping costs.
Q: How do I make sure I’m using the best shipping method?
A: Using the shipping calculator to find the best rates is usually the best way to do. However, for some of our customers who ship internationally, it’s good to review your accounts from time to time to verify the costs.
Q: Do you also charge “handling” fees?
A: For print on demand products, we do not charge handling fees. Here’s how we calculate charges: “Cost of printing book + Cost of shipping/postage = what we charge.” There are no other hidden costs. For products printed or produced in bulk, there is an order fee plus a pick fee to pull the item from inventory, plus postage. Order and pick fees only apply to individual drop ship orders pulled from inventory and shipped on demand.
Inventory & Warehousing
Q: Are there charges for using your warehouse to store products and ship them later?
A: We can print books and products, hold them in our warehouse, and ship on demand when you need them. There are no storage fees for products we print or produce. There may be storage fees for products that we store but didn’t print.
If you have any questions we haven’t covered here about shopping carts, postage rates, shipping and fulfillment be sure to check our website for more details or reach out to use at email@example.com.
We love to connect with our customers and have great conversations by email and through our phone appointments. During those chats, we’ve heard over and over a few things that we’re told really make us stand out in this industry. So in case you’re new to Vervante, or want to learn more about the different products and services we offer, here’s the top 20 reasons people say they love working with us.
#1 Publishing Outside the Box: Here's why we are different: You sell from your site and we'll print and ship the book to your customer. You build your email list, make more money and we take care of the printing and shipping.
You can use ANY shopping cart.
No overpriced package deals, no hidden fees, no fee for changes to your print files charges, and no flat shipping fee or marked up postage costs.
#2 Publishing Your Way: What you want, when you want it. That’s it! If you need one book or thousands, paperback or hard cover, digital or offset – we will print your book your way.
#3 Worldwide Order Fulfillment: We ship anywhere in the world using USPS and UPS services and keep you up-to-date on its status. Shipping confirmation emails are sent to recipients with tracking information. All of the order information such as status and tracking numbers are posted to your account online.
#4 Personal Customer Service & Support: Need help? No problem! We're here to make sure that your questions are addressed quickly and efficiently to ensure that your project is a success. We provide several ways to get help, beginning with an FAQ page that contains detailed answers to many common questions about our products and services and is available 24/7. Next steps are to either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a phone conversation with one of our publishing specialists using the link on our Contact Us page. No matter how you reach out, you can be sure that someone experience, attentive and passionate about publishing is waiting to help.
#5 Inventory Management: We can print, store and drop ship on demand. And we will manage your products and drop ship. We provide you with access to online, real-time inventory reporting so you know exactly what we have on hand. You set the re-order points for each item and we'll automatically send you an email when it's time to replenish your inventory.
#6 No Set Up Fees: From start to finish, we do not charge setup fees. Setting up your author account – free. Quotes for product ideas – free. Uploading print files – free. Setting up your book for sale on Amazon – also free!
#7 Monthly Subscription Boxes: Subscription boxes have become one of the most versatile, income-boosting and business-building products we’ve seen lately. If you’ve been thinking of adding a subscription service to your business, Vervante can help create, package, and fulfill each monthly shipment for your customers. We also offer a wide range of packaging options to help you create a box or package that stands out from the crowd. Customize your packaging on the outside with creative graphics, branding or stickers. And customize the inside with colorful tissue paper, attractive bags, mantra cards, or other unique inserts.
#8 No Hidden Costs: We believe in providing our customers with competitive prices and no hidden fees. Some of our competitors add a markup of 33% on postage? Just think how this can really add up over time. We charge exact postage fees and no mark-ups.
#9 Card Decks and Packaging: Our card decks are highly customizable – they can be printed at any size, with square or round edges and in either full color or black-and-white. And when it comes to packaging – the only limit is your imagination! We’ve packaged card decks in drawstring bags, clear pop-up boxes, button/string poly envelopes and custom-printed boxes.
#10 Comprehensive Online Access to Reports, Orders, Tracking & More: The Vervante Author Dashboard is like having a central "mission control" for everything you create with us. It's an all-in-one location for placing orders, checking invoices, customizing products and more.
#11 No Monthly Minimums: Other companies require authors to purchase costly publishing packages to get started. These range from $449 - $1999 and usually include a lot of extras you probably don't need. We have no monthly fees, no set-up fees, no hassle policy.
#12 Books!: We can print, prepare and ship all manner of books, whatever you want, how much you want and when you want. Paperback, hardcover, coloring (for kids or adults!), children’s books, collaborative books, cookbooks, journals, planners, and whatever else you can think of.
#13 Automated Order Processing from ANY shopping cart: We accept orders from any shopping cart.
#14 ISBNS, LCCNS, & Copyright: If you’re going to share, sell or distribute a book in any way, it’s best to protect it legally and set it up correctly for industry specifications. We educate our customer on everything from purchasing ISBNs for retail sales to protecting their intellectual property using copyrights, and we can help them through the process to make sure it’s done right.
#15 Retail Distribution: We make it easy to sell your book through our Bookstore, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Baker & Taylor and eBook venues including Kindle and Nook.
#16 Flexible Book Sizes: We offer a wide variety of sizes, binding, and other variations to help you create exactly what you want, and what your customers will love.
#17 Book Publishing Industry Experience: We know how important it is for authors to have access to resources and guides that they trust. That’s why we offer free resources featuring a wide range of expert guides, how-to’s, technical specifications and more, all written by our team of experts with decades of experience in the publishing industry, that keep our clients up-to-date and in-the-know for all things publishing.
#18 Spiral Bound and Wire-O Books and Journals: Soft cover spiral bound books printed on demand, or hard cover spiral or wire-o printed in minimum print runs of 25.
#19 Custom Packaging and Personalized Packing Slips: We offer a wide range of packaging from boxes to bags to creative options that you can customize to make your book or products really stand out. And every package we send out includes a packing slip that you can customize.
#20 USB Flash drives: Customized USB flash drives can be imprinted with company logos, taglines, or contact information to create a unique product clients and customers will love.