Wednesday

How the Amazon Ranking/ Bestseller Numbers Can Work for You

I recently got these questions from a fellow author:

What constitutes bestseller status on Amazon, Kimberly? Will Amazon tell you you reach that milestone or do we have to watch for some magic number?

Figure Thinking With Question Mark Stock Photo
Good questions. If you're an author, you've probably noticed those important-looking numbers on book pages on Amazon. If you've got a book out, you likely have noticed how they can change from, say, 565,000 on one day to 1,265,000 on another. Seems like they change every hour!

Actually, they do. I'm no Amazon expert, but I've learned a few things about how the system works, and all 5 of my books that are out have hit the Amazon bestseller rank. You may assume to get there you have to sell hundreds or thousands of books, but it's actually easier than you think.

I'll try to present this info as concisely as possible, and if something's unclear, feel free to ask below.

Every book on Amazon has a ranking number. It shows where your number is compared to the other millions of books for sale on Amazon. The higher your number, the worse your sales are. The lower the number, the better your sales. The super popular books get in Amazon's top 100 books list. Out of millions of books, that would be extremely hard to do.

However, Amazon also keeps track of the top 100 books in each of its categories. That's the good news. If you sell a large number of books in a small amount of time, you are much more likely to get in the top 100 of your book's category. (Your publisher chooses your category unless you self-publish in which case you choose it. But Amazon also seems to list it in other connecting categories, which is also good for you.)

Your category is very important if you want on the bestseller list. The broader your category, the more competition you'll have. For example, if you pick romance, there are a LOT of romance books on Amazon. However, if you can find an aspect of your book that fits a different category, picking that will improve your chances significantly.

Specific example. My Stolen Series has 3 books in it. For book 1 and book 3, I picked Suspense/Romance or something like that. For book 2, though, because it is about an adopted girl going to find her birth family, I put it in the adoption category. Even though the overall Amazon numbers were similar between the three books, book 2 stayed on the bestseller rank for months because of its tighter category.

Okay, let's look at some real numbers. On a book's page, the Amazon ranking number is listed in the Product Details. Here's mine for the Sick & Tired e-book right now:

Product Details


If you've had a book out for awhile, you probably won't see "Amazon Best Sellers Rank." You'll see something like what another of my books, Stolen Future, looks like right now. It has hit the bestseller status, but over time (like I said, it gets updated every hour) as the sales dwindle, your numbers do as well.

Product Details

E-books tend to sell much more than paperbacks, and there are less total books the e-book section of Amazon than paperbacks, so your e-book numbers will almost always be better than paperbacks.

I don't know the exact numbers, but my guess would be that any number over 1 million (paperback) means your book is selling less than 5 copies a month. Anything smaller than 500,000 is a good sign (again, paperback), it means your books are selling pretty regularly, just not a lot.

Anything less than 100,000, I think you should be pretty proud of your book. =)

Then of course, there's the bestseller rank. You may have noticed that the e-book for Sick & Tired is currently in the bestseller rank in 2 categories even though the overall number is around 50,000.

So if you're launching a book and want to know your numbers, or just wanting to keep track in general, what do you do?

You check it every hour or so. If you have an Author Central page on Amazon (highly recommended--here's mine if you want an example: Kimberly Rae's Amazon Author Page), it will give you your rank over time, but that's your overall rank, not the ranking for individual categories.

How do you get your book in the top 100 in its category? Well, either write an amazingly popular book, be famous, or...

Decide on a launch date, and ask everyone to wait to order it until that day. If a bunch of people order it in a small window of time, that gets your numbers way up (or rather down). This may shock you, but it took less than 50 books sales to get Sick & Tired on the bestseller list. Same with Stolen Future--it hit the bestseller rank in a category on launch day after 33 sales, because the sales happened so close together.

So that's the big secret, from what I can tell. I hope sharing it with you will be helpful.

Did I miss anything? If you have a question, or more info to add, please comment below!


Related Posts: How to do a Book Launch

How to Self-Publish with Amazon's Createspace


38 comments:

  1. Helpful info, Kimberly.
    thanks.

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  2. Kimberly, I really appreciate this post. Why, I needed that question answered myself. I appreciate all your savvy tips.

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    1. I hope your launch goes great, Rose. This post was mostly for you, and I figured everybody else could "eavesdrop" and maybe get some helpful tips too. =)

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    2. Appreciate your sharing this, Kimberly! I'm so glad you let us eavesdrop. (Eavesdropping is fun!)
      Elizabeth

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  3. Thank you very much for all that information, Kimberley. It is so very useful...I have given up on checking my rankings for my two historical romances because I was becoming too depressed, but reading that it is actually not too bad for a ranking to be under 500,000 has cheered me up considerably! I wished I had known about narrowing my category. Historical romance is a very big one!

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    1. Yes, it is! I used to get bothered and anxious about my rankings too, but really, there are I think 31 million books on Amazon, so even if you're at 2 or 3 million, just think of all the millions of books you're on top of. =)
      Best wishes to you and your books!

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    2. New info. Make that about 8 million paperbacks on Amazon. Sorry. Wow, that's still a lot of books.

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  4. Thanks for the info, Kimberly. Those numbers were encouraging for me, too. Just one question: My debut novel is available only as an e-book, but I'm able to check the rankings (and how they go up and down and up and down and . . .). So I'm not sure what you mean by "They don't have that set up for e-books yet." True, I can't see the narrow categories, only the rankings for a couple broader ones. Is that what you meant? Thanks again. This is a such a helpful post.

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    1. Oooh, where do you find this? I just double-checked my Amazon author central page and, though I can find my author ranking regarding my Kindle books, I can't find the actual book rating. The section that does the up and down, up and down only does it for my paperbacks. I'd love to find out how or where you can see yours, if it's something you can share without having to reveal your private info.

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  5. I was going to say the same thing as Johnnie. In Author Central, when I click on RANK I get my author rank, but when I click on SALES, I get my book's rank, and there's a drop-down box that lets me look at Kindle & Traditional, and it gives the same "over time" aspect.

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    1. Oh, yippee! I finally figured it out. Thank you!!! Who knew this post would end up helping me more than anyone. =)

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  6. Love this post. Sharing and tweeting it. You rock, Kimberly. (One small edit on the word "TELL YOU YOU REACH" in your first para. I think you meant "let.")
    Keep teaching. I love you for that!
    Best,
    Michelle

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! That actually wasn't a typo--it was the question the way she posted it so I kept it.
      Happy climbing the charts! =)

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  7. This was posted by a writer on LInkedIn and she gave me permission to paste it here for reference.

    APPROXIMATE Number of Sales Per Day based on Amazon Best Seller Ranking
    #1,000 = 100+ Sales/Day
    #2,000 = 70
    #3,000 = 35
    #4,000 = 25
    #5,000 = 20
    #6,000 = 17
    #7,000 = 15
    #8,000 = 12
    #9,000 = 11
    #10,000 = 10
    #15,000 = 7
    #20,000 = 5
    #25,000 = 4
    #30,000 = 3
    #40,000 = 2
    #50,000 = 1

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  8. I have 370 titles and 19 authors and all I want to do it write and sell the best books possible. It is hard work and I don't sleep much. I have stopped watching numbers and have seen double listings on my books where Amazon assigns an ASIN number when there is a valid ISBN number and the extra listing will state a book is unavailable when it is under the ISBN listing through Ingram. Every time I get a book up in the numbers, the one star attacks come, and then down we go. These are bogus reviews, and upsetting. Amazon has also removed good reviews from the same books. I think the rating system is interesting, but now I only look at actual sales on Ingram. I have no dea where my books sell. www.bellissimapublishing.com Good luck t all of you, and I a always looking for that next great book! You can contact me at admin@bellissimapublishing.com

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  9. Kimberley - thanks for a great article. This is just to say that everything you say in this article is true! I got my book into the Best Seller list (#18 in the Thriller section) by getting using the same points you make and with help from www.kindlebookreview.net
    They matched 25 readers to the genre of my book, and they all bought the book and reviewed it on Amazon. As you say, if all done at once it really has a great impact on your Amazon Sales Rank and gets you to appear as a Best Seller - for at least 3 days in my case. Three days of fame! What pride and joy it provides to see people purchase and write about what they thought of my book!

    You mention in your article that you cannot track your book. Well, they did, providing me with a report and graph showing my ups and downs in my Amazon Sales Rank. Awesome.
    So thanks for the article and the great comments it is generating. People like yourself make self-publishing all the more fun and encouraging. Keep it up!



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    1. Congratulations, and thanks for the encouragement! You've got me curious about the Kindle Reviewer site, so I'm going to go look that up now.

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  10. Kimberly,
    I have a novice question. How do you drill down to more specific categories? All I've noticed are the basic fantasy, etc...
    My first novel is heavy on friendship and female singleness and I'd love to drill down to those topics as a category.
    Appreciate your help.
    elaine

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    1. Novice questions are great! Answering them helps others. Unfortunately, I don't think I have a helpful answer for this one. =) I know how it works if you're publishing through Amazon's createspace--you have to list a category and it gives you all the options to look through--but I don't know how to do it if your book is published by someone else. In fact, I believe only the publisher is allowed to choose the categories if you're traditionally published.
      Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

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    2. Here's what you do:

      Go to author's central page >> Help >> Contact US >> From the drop down menu, select 'my books" , "update information about a book", "browse categorie", "I want to update my book's browse category"

      Then write an email and state where do you want to place your book.

      Example: Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Investing > Skills > Meetings & Presentations

      Amazon allows you to set 2-3 categories. They will email you back acknowledging that they have updated your categories.

      Good luck selling. !

      Harsh from FireYourMentor.com

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  11. Hi Kimberly, Excellent post! I have printed this post and several of the comments for future reference. My debut novel will be released in late September. I'm glad I now have a way of tracking the book's progress.

    Thanks again :)

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    1. You're very welcome! So glad it was helpful. =)

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  12. Thank you for the information Kimberly. I have a few self-help books on Amazon and have a question. My lastest one being FROM THE SOAPBOX TO THE STAGE: HOW TO USE YOUR PASSION TO START A SPEAKING BUSINESS (http://StartaSpeakingBusiness.com). My question might be kind of dumb, but what is the purpose of working to get best seller status in a category? Is it just bragging rights or does it do something to increase your book's sales even more? Thanks for your help.

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    1. That's actually a great question, Bill. There's not much use in all that effort if it's just for our egos! =) Here's what I've noticed on how being a "bestselling" author has helped me with sales.
      1. Credibility for my book. People see that bestseller word and it gives them a higher sense of trust about your book. If that many people liked it, it must not be terrible (that's the idea anyway!). That ultimately ups sales because people are less hesitant to give your book a try.

      2. Credibility for me as an author. Same concept as #1, but applied to me. When I'm at book signings and that's on my banner, again, people see something they like--it's kind of like a big fat good review for your book and your writing.

      3. Better speaking requests. I speak a lot, and it looks like you do, too, and again, people see you as more of an expert if you can say such-and-such a book on the topic they are interested in is a bestseller. You must know what you're talking about.

      All of the above have helped me get better speaking engagements and better sales. Oh, and one more thing. If you market on social media, it's fun asking fans to help you get on the bestselling list, and then they get excited with you when you do, and that gives them a sense of ownership in you and your book, which just is good all the way around.

      Happy writing!
      You know, I bet a lot of people have this question. Maybe I'll do a blog post on this. Thanks for the inspiration. =)

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  13. How do you create an author page on Amazon?

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    1. Hi, Natalie! You go to www.authorcentral.amazon.com and follow their instructions as to posting your bio and making links to your published books and such. I don't actually remember the details of how to get started. I just remember go to that site and do what they say. =) Hope that works!

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  14. Thanks for sharing your valued experience with us.
    I saw some evidence recently that if you’re ranked 100,000 in Amazon bestseller that means your book is selling about 7 to 16 copies a week. Does that sound right? My title did sit in that zone, but it was also pleasing to hit a bestseller subcategory:
    Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
    #10 in Books > History > Essays, Journals, Letters & True Accounts > 16th-18th Centuries
    I'm not planning to take early retirement on the royalties, however, as my academic royalties tend to be in the region of $100 annually!
    I think you're probably right when you state: "I don't know the exact numbers, but my guess would be that any number over 1 million (paperback) means your book is selling less than 5 copies a month. Anything smaller than 500,000 is a good sign (again, paperback), it means your books are selling pretty regularly, just not a lot."

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    1. That sounds about right. I don't know exactly--I'm not a numbers person. =) Congratulations on your book!

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  15. Great post. I've just realised I was in the completely wrong category! Wrote a book about motherhood and had put it in the contemporary women category. Doh!

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    1. Ah, know the feeling. Technology--I love it and hate it! Hope you're able to fix your category and that ends up helping your rank. =)

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  16. Hi Kimberley, Thank you so much for the post. It was so helpful. I want to to take it a step further and ask this...do you know why sales go up after a free book giveaway with KDP select? I am NOT complaining but what make this happen? Yesterday I had a free giveaway of my novel and this morning my book ranking had NOT dropped, it was at 160,000 and I started selling books like crazy nine am. Do you know how people are finding the book after the promo? I sure don't think they read it in one night and recommend it that fast to buddies. Does Amazon promote it somewhere? Is it just in that portion on the page on the book page that says, "Customers who bought this book also bought..." By noon I had dropped to 33,000 ranking but even then how does a better ranking make sales better? Thank you!
    Amanda Hughes

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    1. Hi, Amanda! It's a little of a mystery to me, too, but I'm glad of it! I think it's a little of spreading the word, a little of whatever Amazon does, and a little of something I don't know about yet! =) If you ever figure it out, do share. =)

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  17. Will do! Thanks for your reply, Kimberly.

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  18. Thanks for such a clear and concise post. It's really easy to understand and I am much clearer on Amazon rankings now.

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    1. You're very welcome. I'm glad it was helpful!

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  19. Thanks for such a clear and concise post. It's really easy to understand and I am much clearer on Amazon rankings now.

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