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?
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:
- File Size: 2013 KB
- Print Length: 83 pages
- Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (June 24, 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00DMEE552
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,976 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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.
- Paperback: 268 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 21, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1477643117
- ISBN-13: 978-1477643112
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,801,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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!
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How to Self-Publish with Amazon's Createspace