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 email@example.com or set up a call using this link.