Today, I’m the best selling author of more than 25 books, I run one of the fastest growing publishing companies in the US, and I basically spend my days doing what I want when I want where I want with people I care about.
I’m very blessed to say the least.
But my life didn’t always seem like a fairy tale or “dream come true” story.
It took a lot of studying, hard work and consistent effort to get where I am today.
When I started writing my first book over a decade ago, I was dead broke—a 19-year-old college student with big dreams and no good reason to believe I could ever actually achieve them (except I was reading a lot of personal development books at the time so I started to believe that MAYBE it was possible for me to become “financially free” as an author).
My biggest passion in life has always been reading ever since I was 8-years-old and picked up a copy of The Wheel of Time epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan.
I remember reading that 800-page book and thinking, “This is AWESOME!”
That was where my passion for books first took root, and those roots grew deeper and stronger with each passing year.
Books were a big part of my life from an early age, but it wasn’t until I read my first personal development book at 19 that my eyes were really opened to just how life-changing reading can be.
I picked up a copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad and I was hooked. After that I wanted to read every personal development book I could get my hands on!
As I was reading a few more personal development books an idea hit me…
What if I could become a bests selling author?
At first it just seemed like a silly idea. My mind quickly brought up some interesting questions like, “Who would ever want to read what I have to say?” and “What the heck would I write a book about anyway?”
Meanwhile, I was taking my first semester of business school courses at Indiana University.
I noticed pretty quickly that my classmates all dreamed of working on Wall Street or becoming investment bankers. They wanted a nice, cushy Wall Street job working 100 hours a week and earning six-figures right out of college.
Their dream job seemed like my nightmare!
There was NO WAY I was going to go down that route…
I just KNEW in my heart of hearts that I would be really, really miserable working in a cubicle 100 hours a week doing work that not only doesn’t actually help anyone, but is probably actually harming people.
When I realized how INSANE it was that so many brilliant, educated, hard-working young people DREAMED of working on Wall Street…
Suddenly my dream of becoming a best selling author didn’t seem so crazy anymore.
Because the personal development books I was reading had such a positive impact on my life, I wanted to give back and write books that would help others in the same way.
And because I knew that other people’s dreams seemed even crazier than mine, I felt like it was okay to try something different. Heck, if I failed, I could always work in a cubicle too, right?
So I set a goal to earn a full-time income doing what I loved – reading (good books), writing (decent books) and sharing (good) ideas.
It was scary.
There was no one in my life I felt like I could go to for advice on this kind of stuff.
I knew what I wanted—to become a best selling author—but I had no idea how to achieve it.
So I researched as much as I could online to figure out how to become an author and I started writing a book in my spare time.
Everything I read online basically said,
“You have to get a traditional publisher to publish your book for you. To do that, you need to find a literary agent. To do that, you need to write query letters and send them to agents.”
So I wrote letters, e-mails and made phone calls trying to my first book published, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get a traditional book deal… FOR SIX YEARS.
Now I’m just as hard-working and smart as the next guy, but I figured if it took me longer to get my book published than it took to get a college degree, either there was something very wrong with me or there was something very wrong with the publishing industry.
(Later on I learned that more than 99.9% of authors who try to get their books traditionally published don’t get a traditional book deal, and that over 85% of authors who do get a deal never earn out their advance, meaning they never actually get paid royalties for their work.)
When I finally found out I could simply upload some files and self publish my book on Amazon in 2011, it was a no-brainer.
A lot of folks have asked my, “Tom, why did you decide to self-publish your book?” which is a really strange questions because there was no other option.
I could either let my manuscripts slowly decay on a hard drive somewhere, or I could share them with the world by self publishing on Amazon…
Groveling to literary agents and submitting another few hundred query letters was out of the question. As Einstein said, “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” is insanity. Well, I may be crazy, but I’m not insane.
Once I decided I was going to self-publish my book on Amazon, I read everything I could find online to learn how to do it right.
At the time there were only two books on Amazon about self publishing eBooks on Amazon Kindle (one was by John Locke called How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months, and I don’t even remember the other one because it was so bad).
I also read all the blog posts I could find by authors like JA Konrath who were writing about their experience self publishing books on Amazon.
It didn’t take more than a few weeks to figure out the basics and get my first book published on Amazon.
I had a one big problem though that could have destroyed any chance of success for me…
I was so embarrassed I had to self-publish my book that I didn’t actually tell anyone when I published it.
All the fanfare about the “importance of a proper book launch” today still cracks me up, because I definitely did not launch my career as a self published author with a “book launch.”
I uploaded my first book to Amazon, and then I promptly moved on with my life, fully expecting that nothing would actually change in my life.
A month went by without a peep from me about my book to anyone—online or offline.
But then something unbelievable happened…
I logged back in to my Kindle publishing account with Amazon and I saw I had 11 sales!
ELEVEN SALES! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!
I was thrilled. Words can’t even describe how excited I was. I knew IMMEDIATELY this was going to be something HUGE.
Now, you probably think I’m crazy for reacting that way, but I knew that if I could sell 11 books on Amazon in 30 days without telling a single person in the entire world what I had done, big things would happen if I actually started marketing my book.
Just imagine what you could do if you treated self publishing like a real business instead of just a hobby.
Just 10 months after my first book was self-published on Amazon, I had my first month earning over $12,000 in eBook royalties alone!
And I was featured on the list of the Top 100 Business & Investing authors on Amazon right next to my mentors whose books had inspired me to get started–Robert Kiyosaki, Seth Godin and Brian Tracy.
To be on the same list as many of the authors I learned from was an absolute dream come true.
I want to show YOU how to become a best selling author—and why it’s a whole lot easier than you may think
I want to share with you what I learned in my journey to becoming a bestselling author. All the strategies and methods we’re going to discuss in this article have been proven through trial and error with my books, the hundreds of books we have published for TCK Publishing clients and over 50,000 of my students who I teach online.
This is his formula for success to become a #1 bestselling author on Amazon.
Although I mostly write nonfiction books, at TCK Publishing we have published over 400 books in all major fiction and non-fiction markets, so I have experience publishing books in almost every major genre and market.
My goal right now is to save you 6 years of work and show you how market research and bestseller category analysis was used to create hundreds of #1 bestsellers on Amazon.
And my promise to you today is to take away the mystery of publishing your book, save you a massive amount of time, and show you how to systematize your market research process with some powerful tools that will help you become a #1 bestseller on Amazon!
The Fundamentals of Self Publishing Success
To be successful at anything in life, you need to focus on the fundamentals.
Take for instance a basketball player. You can practice all the fancy moves you want, but you will never become a professional player unless you learn to dribble, pass and shoot the ball really, really well. Those who jump over the fundamentals to try being fancy are unlikely to succeed long-term.
Long-term success comes from mastering the fundamentals in your field.
There are two crucial steps to go through anytime you launch a book: Market Research and Bestseller Category Analysis.
These are key steps that most authors just gloss over (and it’s why they end up failing. Not always, but most of the time).
You can’t just find the first category you see on Amazon, click on it when you upload your book to Amazon, and expect to become a bestseller overnight, cashing multi-million dollar royalty checks while deciding whether 20th Century Fox or Colombia Pictures should buy the rights to the movie based on your book.
Sorry, but if you’re looking to earn millions of dollars overnight without doing any actual work (other than writing the book), you are sadly mistaken, my friend.
You have to do the work, and that means doing your research on the BEST Amazon bestseller lists (also called categories) so that Amazon can place your book in front of readers who are MOST LIKELY TO BUY YOUR BOOK.
(Yes, I just used all caps. That means you should write that down).
Selecting the right bestseller lists on Amazon to feature your book can increase your sale as much as 173% so selecting your bestseller lists on Amazon isn’t an inconsequential matter.
I know this because at TCK Publishing, we have lots of clients who either self-published their work before or had a different publisher, and they transferred over their books to our accounts.
The first thing we do for new books is go through our market research and bestseller category analysis (I’ll walk you through you the whole process later on in this article).
By selecting the most relevant and popular bestseller lists to feature your book in, you can attract more of the readers WHO ARE MOST LIKELY TO BUY YOUR BOOK when they are browsing books in your niche or subgenre.
Sometimes a simple category change can produce a big increase in sales on Amazon.
The Benefits of Becoming a #1 Bestselling Author on Amazon
Before we deep-dive into cracking the code to become a #1 bestselling author on Amazon, let’s pause and answer an importnat question…
“What are the benefits of becoming a best selling author?”
1. It allows you to sell more books.
The more books you sell, the more people find out about your books via Amazon’s algorithm, and then the more books you sell. It is a virtuous cycle. Fifty Shades of Grey sold over 50 million copies. Why? Because lots of people bought the book, and then lots of people kept buying the book because it was featured on Amazon and other retailers in their algorithms. And then it got picked up in the media. And sales increased even more. So it got even more media mentions and even more promotion from book retailers, and so on.
Amazon and the media will do most of the work promoting your book for you if you provide the groundwork for success—a good book that people enjoy reading so it has good reviews, that people share through word of mouth, and that’s listed in the right categories so you can attract new readers in your market. Let Amazon market your book to their database of more than 200 million customers who are one-click away from purchasing.
If Amazon is not promoting your book on bestseller lists, in keyword searches and in the “Customers who bought this item also bought” lists, you’re not going to have great book sales, especially long-term. This is not about publishing your book and getting a bunch of sales for one week during your book launch. This is about creating long-term sales and success as an author.
2. It will get you more book deals.
We received a lot of emails last year from foreign publishers. They wanted to pay a couple thousand dollars as an advance on royalties for the rights to publish some of our books in Chinese, French, Korean, German, Polish and other languages. They also offered to pay ongoing royalties after the first printing of the book sells. I am not some kind of publishing genius who knew that these opportunities even existed or how to find them. These publishers came to us because our books sell so well on Amazon. These are the types of opportunities that can come your way when you become a bestseller in Amazon. Even if you’re a self published or indie author, you can still get book deals and advances on royalties to have other publishers publish your book in different languages and in different countries. How cool is that?
3. You can charge more for coaching, consulting or speaking.
Several years ago, when I started out teaching people about blogging, I charged $100 for an hour of coaching and now I charge $1,000 per hour—10 times more! Being a bestselling author will allow you to charge more for things like speaking, coaching and consulting. You will get paid well because you are worth it.
4. It allows you to attract more opportunities effortlessly.
This one is a bit harder to explain because you won’t really know what it’s like until your book is a bestseller and readers start contacting you.
Quick Tip: Make sure that your e-mail, contact information, website link and all your books are posted in your books and your Amazon Author Central author bio to ensure that readers can contact you easily.
You never know what kind of opportunities will come your way. For example, one reader who really liked my book contacted a huge website about it, and this website contacted me and offered to promote my work via their email list, sending 500 new readers after a day or two simply because of word of mouth.
I didn’t do anything to chase this opportunity—it came to me because someone read my book and liked it.
Okay, now that you know why becoming a bestselling author is so important, let’s talk about the fundamentals of how a book actually becomes a bestseller on Amazon.
How Amazon Best Seller Rankings Work
Every book has an “Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank.”
Number #1 is the current bestselling ebook on Amazon Kindle and being #4,959,688 is the worst selling book.
Amazon updates the Amazon Sales Rankings every hour based on an algorithm (formula) that counts the total sales of all books for the last 30 days.
Amazon sales rankings update every single hour.
What does this mean?
If your book is ranked #2 and you happen to have more sales than the #1 book in the last hour, on the next hourly update your book might take over #1 and switch places. Now YOUR book is #1, and the other book is #2.
All book rankings on Amazon are relative.
That means it is not just about hitting a specific number of sales; you have to sell more books than the competition in a given period of time to outrank them.
For example, during the Chrismas season (the biggest time of year for book sales), there’s a huge burst in sales (especially for Christmas-themed books and gift books) so the rankings change a lot more during this time because of the additional sales and changes in customer’s purchasing habits during this time.
You will learn more about this when we get to the 5 steps to becoming #1 bestseller.
For now, let’s talk about selecting categories.
How to Select a Relevant Best Seller Category on Amazon
Let’s tackle first the process of selecting a category in Amazon.
To see how this works, just go to any book page in Amazon (example is Unlimited Memory) and scroll down to the Product Details section.
Just below Product Details, you’ll see File Size, Print Length, Simultaneous Device Usage, and if you move down some more, you will see “Amazon Best Sellers Rank.”
This book is ranking #1060 Paid in the Kindle Store. (If you don’t see a number for the Amazon Best Sellers Rank it means the book hasn’t sold a copy yet).
Also if you see “#1060 Free in Kindle Store,” that means that the book is free in Kindle (Free rankings and paid rankings are totally separate).
Of course, we want to focus on paid rankings because that’s how you get paid!
From the screenshot above, you can see an example of a Kindle ebooks category:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > Nonfiction > Self-Help > Memory Improvement
And this one is for Physical “Books:”
#1 in Books > Self-Help > Memory Improvement
For the purpose of this training we will be looking only at Kindle ebook rankings.
(Realize that this exact same process works for print books as well. We will be using Kindle ebook sales rank numbers for clarity and simplicity because you need a slightly different amount of sales to hit the same ranking in an eBook category vs. a print book category).
Pro Publishing Tip: When selecting your book’s categories for Amazon, try to select 2 “Child” categories and 2 different “Parent” categories.
We already have one for Unlimited Memory.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > Nonfiction > Self-Help > Memory Improvement
NOTE: When you look at categories listing in Amazon you can see that Self-Help is a parent category. It means that it has a list of sub-categories organized underneath it that can be as few as a dozen or as many as 5,000. A sub-category on the above example is Memory Improvement. Memory Improvement is the actual category that you would select in your KDP or CreateSpace account, the child category, because there are no other subcategories listed underneath it.
Let’s select another one for Unlimited Memory.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > Business & Money > Education & Reference
Why is this important? Because we have selected 2 parent categories, Unlimited Memory is now featured in 2 parent categories where it is ranking in the Top #100 spots. You can get your book listed in as many as 18 categories on Amazon, but you can only select 2 child categories at a time.
Remember the categories you choose for your book must be relevant in order to attract your ideal readers.
How is the category #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > Business & Money > Education & Reference relevant?
When we did a market research for Unlimited Memory, the types of audience for this book were students who wanted to get better grades and professionals (attorneys, accountants, sales people) who wanted to enhance their memory to perform better and to impress their peers, clients and bosses. These categories were selected based on their demographics. This is a way of ensuring that you are selecting the most relevant categories on Amazon. So, if you are writing a Romance Novel, you are not going to put it in Education & Teaching category just because it is easy to rank for. It would not make sense and the readers are surely not browsing the Education category in order to find romance novels.
A quick tip is to aim for the top #100 rankings in each category because those are the books that Amazon promotes. If you are a new writer with no sales yet, you need to start with the non-competitive categories to get more exposure. You may change your categories as your book climbs up in the Amazon sales rankings. (You will learn more about this in the 5 Steps to Becoming #1 Bestseller)
AMAZON BESTSELLER FACTS:
- There are over 28,700+ categories in Amazon for ebooks, print books, and audiobooks in the US and UK.
- For English books published on Amazon Kindle, 80-85% of the sales come from the US market.
- Even if you are in the UK and have a massive reader pool, you will still find that the 80-85% of your sales are from the US market and only 5-10% from UK and the other 5-10% are from other countries.
- What this means for you is that you will need to concentrate 90% of your marketing efforts, time and money in the US market because that’s where the vast majority of your potential customers are.
FIVE STEPS TO BECOMING A #1 BESTSELLER
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s learn more about Tom’s 5 Step Process to Becoming a #1 Bestseller.
1. FIND BESTSELLER CATEGORIES
Go to www.TCKpublishing.com/amazoncategories. This is a shortcut to Amazon’s Kindle Store Best Sellers page.
Here you can see the different Parent categories and the Top 100 books for every Amazon bestseller category for Kindle books.
This is where you will start your market research.
2. ANALYZE COMPETITION
You should first look at whether your book is in a short-term or a long-term market.
I learned this lesson the hard way… I wrote and published books about Facebook and Twitter and other technology topics. These are short-term markets because technology is constantly changing and tech companies like Facebook and Twitter are constantly making updates and changes.
That means you have to constantly update your books if you want them to stay relevant…
But even that won’t help you create a long-term stream of passive income from royalties because short-term markets like technology virtually guarantee your book will not be selling well 5 years, 10 years, or 50 years from now.
Would you buy a 5-year old book about Facebook marketing? Probably not. Chances are you would look for the newest book with the newest strategies that work today. And that’s a big problem for authors and publishers of books in short-term markets like technology.
Books on weight-loss, self-help, novels and any kind of fiction are generally long-term markets and you are more likely to be earning royalties for years to come if you publish books in these long-term markets.
Up to this day, people are buying novels like Gone with the Wind that were published more than 80 years ago. That’s a book that continues to sell because it’s in a long-term market!
What’s great about being an author today (at least in the US) is that you own the copyright for your book up to 75 years after your death. You can pass on the copyright to your books to your children, grandchildren or even your great-grandchildren.
That means your family will continue to earn income from your book as long as it’s being distributed by Amazon or other retailers and as long as there is demand from readers if your book is continues to be relevant to readers many years from now.
You can leave a legacy for your book IF you have a book that people want to read in a long-term market.
What you really want is a book that sells month after month and year after year, and that’s nearly impossible to do in short-term publishing markets like technology and computers.
The next thing you want to look at is your reader demographics.
- Are your readers mostly male or female?
- What age group are they from?
- What are their interests?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of books do they read?
- What other products or services are they likely to buy?
You want to get a crystal clear understanding of exactly who the ideal reader is for your book.
That’s where you should spend your time and money on marketing—to your ideal readers.
You don’t want to end up spending a lot of money on marketing to the wrong audience because, if you do that, you will not be happy with your book sales.
3. CALCULATE EXACTLY HOW MANY SALES YOU NEED TO HIT#1 IN EACH CATEGORY
This is where things get exciting.
You can find out EXACTLY how many books you need to sell to hit #1 on Amazon in any of the 28,700+ categories using our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator.
When you open up the sales calculator, you can just type in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank of any book on Amazon (for Kindle Ebooks or Print Books) and it will tell you exactly how many sales you need in a 30-day or a 24-hour period to hit that sales rank on Amazon.
For example, if you know the #1 book in Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > Education & Teaching > Studying & Workbooks > Study Skills has a Paid Kindle Sales Rank of #1,060, the calculator will tell you that you need 2650 sales in 30 days or 177 sales in one day for your book to hit that same ranking and become #1 in that category.
Test out our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator now to get started.
4. CHOOSE YOUR 2 TARGET CATEGORIES
The next step is to choose your 2 target categories based on the outcome of your research in the first 3 steps.
If you find 10 relevant categories and one category shows that you only need 10 sales in a day to become #1 and the other category needs 1000 sales in a day to hit #1, you will need to choose the one with the smallest amount of sales to rank for when you start out.
This way you can hit #1 in relevant, low-competition categories as you start out so you can gain momentum and attract more readers who are browsing Amazon’s bestseller lists.
Start with the least competitive, most relevant categories for your book.
As you get more and more book sales, you can move your book to the next, more competitive category that requires a bit more sales to rank well for.
You can then repeat this process until your book is ranking at the top of the most competitive categories in your market.
Aim to have your book ranking in the #1 spot in one target category and a top #20 spot for the other target category that you have selected.
Because Amazon’s bestseller category pages work like the search engine results pages in Google: the link in the #1 position is the link that’s most likely to be clicked on (attracting as much as 50% of all clicks) and that’s where you want your book to be.
Amazon only displays the top 20 books on the first page of each category. Having your book rank on page 2 is not nearly as effective at attracting new clicks and sales as ranking on the first page in your categories.
You need this kind of exposure because the more your book appears on the top page, the more likely that people will click through to your book’s listing page and actually buy it.
5. GET AMAZON TO PUT YOUR BOOK IN YOUR IDEAL CATEGORIES
This is where things can get complicated if you are only used to selecting your categories in KDP or in CreateSpace.
The categories that are displayed in Amazon and your KDP account are different—they are NOT the same categories.
If you log in to your KDP account, you’ll discover that only about 50% of the categories that exist on Amazon’s site here are available for you to select inside your KDP account.
To make sure you find the most relevant and useful categories for your book, you need to do your research on Amazon’s website, where all of the 28,700+ categories are available (this is where your readers are browsing).
Then, once you’ve found the categories you want to select, you will need to contact Amazon at www.kdp.amazon.com/contact-us.
Simply write a letter like the example below and they will change your categories for your book within about 24 hours.
Please change the category of my book to:
Kindle Store > Kindle Ebooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Drinks & Beverages > Beer”
Amazon will then change the categories of your book for you within 24-48 hours, and you won’t have to struggle through the poorly organized and limited selection of bestseller categories in KDP.
This simple step will save you a lot of time, especially if you are publishing several books.
PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES IN SELECTING CATEGORIES
Step #5 may seem obvious, but there are a few things you need to know about the process of actually getting your books listed in the right categories on Amazon to avoid having your books accidentally placed in the wrong categories.
Amazon displays BISAC categories on the website to customers, but not within your KDP account.
BISAC categories are an industry standard categorization system used for organizing books for ease of browsing in bookstores and libraries worldwide.
The problem is that when you log in to your KDP account, it displays Amazon’s own in-house categories which are NOT the same, and less than 50% of Kindle categories that are available to customers to browse are actually available inside your KDP account.
Additionally, Amazon changes the names, locations and hierarchies of many bestsellers lists frequently, and Amazon adds new bestseller list each and every month.
So how do you stay on top of all these changes?
If publishing is just a hobby for you, the bare minimum for doing market research on the bestseller lists is every 3 months. That means you should mark a reminder in your calendar every 3 months to repeat this 5-step Market Research Process and make sure your book is still listed in the most relevant categories available to you.
If you are a professional or a savvy publisher, you should be researching and browsing bestsellers list and analyzing bestselling books in your market constantly.
All the top six- and seven-figure self publishers I know do this so they can stay up-to-date with the market and their readers.
APPLYING THE 5 STEPS TO BECOMING #1 BESTSELLER
Now that you understand the fundamentals of researching the market and how this will be your guide to becoming a #1 bestselling author on Amazon, I’m going to walk you through this 5-step Market Research Process on Amazon so you can see exactly how it works.
Step 1: FIND BESTSELLER CATEGORIES
Go to the Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List.
On the upper left corner you will see Kindle eBooks and the entire list of parent categories just below it (including Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Money, Children’s eBooks, Comics & Graphic Novels, Computers & Technology, and more).
On the right of the list of categories you will see the Top 100 paid and free Kindle books in the current category you have selected (starting with the Top #100 Kindle books in the entire Kindle Store).
Let’s take an example from one of my students—a book on finding the right person to marry.
What we have to do first is to look for a book about finding that perfect life partner.
Start by clicking on each of the parent categories that may be relevant and check if you can find an appropriate Child category for your book.
If you can’t find it under the first category you selected, just go back and click another.
Repeat this process until you find the right categories you’re looking for. Patience is the key because, remember, there are over 28,700 categories, so it will likely take you some time to find the ones you are looking for.
For this example, we found a relevant category in Health, Fitness & Dieting> Relationships >Mate Seeking.
Step 2: ANALYZE COMPETITION
Now that we have found an appropriate category for the book, the next thing you want to do is analyze the bestselling books in this category.
Pay special attention to and study closely the book covers, titles and book descriptions of the bestselling books in your market.
You will also want to read all the customer reviews for the top books in your market to discover what readers love about these types of books and what they hate about the bestselling books in your market.
Step 2a: Make a guide for your designer to help them in creating an amazing book cover that is branded for your market. Look at the book covers of the top 100 books in the category you want to be #1 in. Check out what the covers communicate about the books.
- What fonts are they using?
- What fonts look best?
- What colors are they using?
- What kind of illustrations and images are they using?
- What kind of emotions are these books covers eliciting from you?
When people buy books, they make the purchasing decision based on emotion.
When you look at the cover you need to ask yourself…
“What is the immediate emotion that I feel when I look at this book cover?”
If you are in tune with your emotions, the emotion you will feel from it is probably the same emotion that your readers would feel when they see the cover of your book.
And you want to make sure the emotion your book cover elicits from readers is the emotion they should expect to feel when they read your book.
Normally, it’s pretty obvious what emotions you want readers to feel based on your market…
For example, romance novels generally feel romantic or sexy. Horror book covers should feel scary. Comedy book covers should feel fun and entertaining.
QUICK TIP: Review all the covers from the Best Sellers page and jot down the ones you like best in a file.
So, if you like the font on one of the covers or the color or the emotion it is eliciting, put the link in your file with a note describing the element(s) of that cover you like best.
Compile this list and send it your cover designer.
It will be their guide to creating a branded book cover for your book based on the best elements of the best book covers in your market.
Step 2b: Review the bestselling book titles and subtitles for keywords and emotional phrases and take note of what titles really stand out to you.
Which book titles are memorable and which are boring?
Learn from the authors in your target market and model what they are doing well (and avoid making the mistakes you see some of them making).
Another thing you want to do is to read all the book descriptions and find out how they are pitching the book to readers. You’ll find that most books that are selling well on Amazon have great book descriptions that are detailed and fun to read.
The book description is, after all, your only opportunity on Amazon to pitch your readers on WHY they should buy your book.
You want to include some of the technical or key information to tell your readers that your book is right for them. For example, readers better be able to tell that your book is a self-help book that will help them be more confident, or a romance novel with a lot of sex scenes by reading your book descriptions.
If your readers have no idea what your book is about after reading your book description then you definitely need to rewrite your book description.
Step 2c: Make sure the 1st and 2nd pages of your book are AMAZING.
What you want to do next is read the 1st and 2nd pages of all the best sellers in your market. Most readers judge the book from the first 2 pages. Learn how to captivate your audience by modeling elements from the most entertaining or captivating introductions of existing bestsellers.
This is important for all fiction and non-fiction authors…
If you lose the reader in the first one or two pages, you won’t have a chance to get their interest back.
If the first two pages of your book are boring, that means you are losing readers and sales every day.
Step 2d: Now we have to listen to the readers in your market to find out what they want and what they don’t want when they buy a book like yours.
Scroll down to Customer Reviews and read all the reviews (positive and negative) of the top 100 bestselling books in your market.
As you do this, write down notes on all the common things that the readers said they loved and hated about the books. This will allow you to quickly see where the opportunities are in your market. It tells you what your readers demand so you can supply it.
Just make sure that the elements they love can be found in your book and the things they hate are not.
Following this simple process will allow you to understand your readers better than any other author in your market because you’re actually listening to what they’re saying!
Step 3: CALCULATE EXACTLY HOW MANY SALES YOU NEED TO HIT#1 IN EACH CATEGORY
We know that Health, Fitness & Dieting > Relationships > Mate Seeking is a good category for a book on finding the right person to marry.
After doing step # 2, you should now have a good feel for who your customers are and what they like and don’t like about the bestselling books in your market.
We now have to know how to beat them and get Amazon to put your book in the #1 position so you can attract more new readers.
We need to know how many books your competitors are selling and EXACTLY how many sales you need to hit #1 in this category.
We now use the Amazon Book Sales Calculator.
Just copy the Best Sellers rank from the #1 book in the category and paste that number in the BSR text box.
Then click Calculate to see how many sales you need to hit #1 in your category.
For this example, you will need to sell 3110 books per month or 207 in a 24 hour period to achieve an Amazon Kindle Sales Rank of #869 and therefore rank in the #1 spot in Mate Seeking.
Repeat this step for all the relevant categories you have found so you can rank them in order of competitiveness.
Step 4: CHOOSE YOUR 2 TARGET CATEGORIES
The next thing you want to do is to select the two most relevant Child categories that you know you can rank in the #1 or top #20 spots for based on your calculations from Step 3.
We have discussed earlier that you should choose the most relevant category possible by understanding who your readers are.
Another way to go about finding additional categories once you’ve found a relevant bestseller list for your book is to first check a competing book’s categories.
Go to the Product Details section of the book’s page and check the other categories that it’s ranking for.
See if the other categories that book is ranking for would also be relevant categories for your book and if readers in that category would be interested in buying your book. If so, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 to analyze this new category.
After you’ve found the two child categories you’re going to target when you first launch your book, it’s time to get Amazon to put your book into the right categories.
Step 5: GET AMAZON TO PUT YOUR BOOK IN YOUR IDEAL CATEGORIES
After finding out from your research the correct categories for your book, contact Amazon at www.kdp.amazon.com/contact-us or just log in to your account and scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click on Contact Us. Select Book Details > Changing Book Details.
Write your category change request and they will change it for you after about 24 hours.
FUN FACT: Mark Messick published his first book in Amazon when he was 14 years of age. He is now 17 years old and is the author of 12 bestselling books on Amazon. He hasn’t graduated from High School yet he is earning thousands of dollars every month from book royalties, more than the median income of a full-time employee in the US.
How to Make Finding the Bestseller Categories on Amazon a Whole Lot Easier…
Will this 5-step process work for you?
Yes, but you have to actually follow the steps.
When you focus on the fundamentals of success and master the fundamentals, you will be successful.
The process we’ve just discussed, as time consuming as it is, is the very foundation for publishing success because it guarantees you understand your customers, your competition and your market so that you can provide the best books and the best brand to communicate to your readers why they should buy YOUR book.
Now, this process does take quite a bit of time.
In fact, I was spending so much time researching bestseller categories and trying to keep track of all the data for the books I was publishing at TCK Publishing that I finally decided I had to start doing something different…
I hired a data genius and together we created Bestseller Ranking Pro to automate this whole process so that I could find the right categories for any book in 5 minutes or less.
This simple tool saved me dozens of hours of work each week!
Immediately I realized that this was something that other authors and publishers would love to use as well.
So what does Bestseller Ranking Pro do?
- It tracks all 28,700+ bestseller lists on Amazon in the US and UK for eBooks, Print books and Audiobooks
- It allows you to organize the bestseller categories based on competitiveness so you can immediately see which categories you can rank for right now, and which categories will get you the most traffic and sales because they are the most competitive.
- It has a quick and easy search function that allows you to type in a keyword like “romance” or “history” so you can immediately see which categories are relevant to your book and filter out the other 28,000+ categories that are not relevant
- It automatically calculates exactly how many sales you need to hit#1, #20 or #100 in every single category on Amazon using the world’s most accurate Amazon sales rank algorithm model
- It links directly to each bestseller category page on Amazon so you can do more research with just one click instead of fumbling through Amazon’s complex category hierarchies
HOW TO USE BESTSELLER RANKING PRO
Let’s look closer at the Bestseller Ranking Pro tool and see how easy it is to use.
Step 1: Login to Bestseller Ranking Pro
You can immediately see on the top of the page that it’s currently tracking all the Bestseller categories in Amazon – all 28,700+ of them.
10,489 Amazon US eBook Categories
9,613 Amazon US Book Categories
168 Amazon US Audible Categories
2882 Amazon UK eBook Categories
5564 Amazon UK Book Categories
Step 2: Click Rankings
On the top of the member’s area you will see Rankings. Go to Rankings and click on US eBooks, US Physical Books, US eBook Short Reads, US Audible books, UK eBooks, or UK Physical Books.
Step 3: Find the Most Relevant Categories for Your Book
Let’s stick to the Seeking Mate example from before and scroll down to select Health, Fitness & Dieting.
After clicking on this, you will see the complete list of every single subcategory in the Health, Fitness & Dieting parent category.
Step 4: Organize Categories by Competitiveness
The subcategories page is organized in a neat list so you can track every subcategory at a glance.
You can simply click “Book #1” to rank the categories by competitiveness.
Step 5: Analyze the Competition
On the second column, you will see the URL for the Amazon’s Best Seller Page. From there you can analyze the competition and check the book covers, titles, subtitles and reviews in your market.
Step 6: See Exactly How Many Sales You Need to Rank #1 in Any Category
The next thing you’ll see is the Book #1 column. This column lists the Amazon Best Sellers Ranking of the number 1 book in each category.
In the example below, the #1 book in Health > Fitness & Dieting > Addiction & Recovery category had an Amazon Best Seller Rank of #1040 in the Kindle Store.
If you scroll over the Amazon Best Seller Rank (#1040), you will see the exact amount of books you need to sell to get to #1 in that category in 30 days or in 24 hours.
The same Best Sellers Rank and sales estimate information can be gathered in the next 2 columns for the books in the 20th and 100th spots in each bestseller category. This important information tells you the total amount of sales you need to get to the #20 ranking (front page of the category) and #100 ranking in Amazon (ranking just barely in the category in order to get some extra exposure if you don’t yet have enough sales to hit #1).
So, if you are new and you know you cannot hit #1 in a category, go to the Book #100 column, scroll over the value and find out how many sales you need to get rank in the #100 spot.
No guesswork is needed here. You’ll know immediately what your target is to rank your book in any category.
Step 7: Find Low Competition Categories
To find out the competitiveness of a category, you simply have to sort the Book #1 column by clicking on Book#1. The lower the Best Seller Rank number, the more competitive that category is.
Categories are coded by color: green for low competition categories, yellow for medium competition, and red for highly competitive categories.
Why is this important?
We have learned by experience that to increase your exposure, you should start by selecting a category that is NOT competitive so you can rank in the Top #20 spots on the front page, and as your sales and rankings improve, you can then switch to more competitive categories so you can get even more sales and exposure.
Again, just make sure that your book is only listed in relevant categories where your ideal readers will be browsing.
In the example above, the most competitive Health, Fitness & Dieting category (Relationships) would require at least 21,763 sales per month or 1,451 in 24 hours to hit #1. That’s a quite a challenge, especially if you are a new author.
However, with the least competitive category (Health, Fitness & Dieting > Exercise & Fitness > Martial Arts > Judo), you only need to sell 5 books per month or 1 book in 24 hours to rank in the #1 spot – that’s right, a single book sale can make you a #1 bestseller in this category.
But, of course, this is not a relevant category for a book on finding your life partner, and so you would go to the next least competitive category and so on until you find relevant categories that you can feature your book in.
Step 8: Search for Relevant Books
Bestseller Ranking Pro also has a powerful search feature. This can be found in the upper-right hand corner of the table.
This search feature acts as a filter for the categories that you are analyzing. In the seeking a mate example, we can say that “Relationships” is a good category for it.
So we filter the list by typing in the search box the word relationships. You can now start checking the most relevant and least competitive categories based on your search results. This can allow you to find the most relevant categories for your book much faster than browsing through 10’s of thousands of categories at once.
Step 9: Get Amazon to Change Your Categories for You
Simply copy and paste the category you want from Bestseller Ranking Pro into a message to Amazon here to have them change your book’s category right away.
BENEFITS OF USING BESTSELLER RANKING PRO
As you’ve seen so far, Bestseller Ranking Pro makes the process of finding the most relevant categories for your book a whole lot faster. But it does much more than that.
- You save a massive amount of time on market research. I created Bestseller Ranking Pro to help grow our book publishing business and save the company a massive amount of time and money (hiring someone to compile all this data and keep it updated constantly would be very expensive). We publish books every week and that meant spending 5-10 hours every single week finding bestseller categories on Amazon and estimating sales for each category, and going through the 5-step process. Once I started using Bestseller Ranking Pro at TCK Publishing, I realized that every author and publisher could use this simple tool to do market research a lot faster.
- It eliminates the uncertainty of launching a book. With Bestseller Ranking Pro, you will know exactly which categories are most relevant for your book, and you will know exactly how many books you need to sell to hit #1, top 20 or top 100 in your category. Because it calculates the exact amount of sales using a model of Amazon’s sales rank algorithm, you don’t need to do any guesswork or “hope” for a #1 ranking.
- It will save you money. Hiring someone to gather all this data and information for you would be exorbitantly expensive.
- This system will work for you. Thousands of students are already using Bestseller Ranking Pro with great results.
Bestseller Ranking Pro Success Stories
JOIN BESTSELLER RANKING PRO TODAY!
Remember I promised to show you how we have used market research and bestseller category analysis to create hundreds of #1 bestsellers on Amazon.
Do you think I delivered on that promise?
Our goal is to save you a massive amount of time by systematizing this market research and category selection process so you can get to #1 on Amazon a whole lot faster and easier.
With Bestseller Ranking Pro, you can systematize your market research and be more efficient and effective every time you publish a book.
On top of that we will provide you with more tools to make this process even faster.
Here’s what you get when you sign up for Bestseller Ranking Pro right now:
- Lifetime access to all Bestseller Ranking Pro Tools
- 30+ video lessons and step-by-step tutorials
- Access to our Private Members-only Facebook Group
- WEEKLY bestseller ranking updates with new categories and changes from Amazon
- Detailed market analysis and research videos for every niche and genre
- Bonus training on getting Amazon to list your book in EXTRA special Kindle Keyword Categories and Short Read Categories
But what if we could help you get to #1 on Amazon even faster?
We want to give you even more tools to help you achieve #1 Bestselling author and keep your sales coming month after month.
So when you sign up for Bestseller Ranking Pro today, you’ll also receive these special bonuses:
Six (6) interviews with #1 bestselling authors who have sold over three million books combined. Discover their secrets for success in these special bonus interviews.
$197 Value. FREE!
Tom’s step-by-step email marketing course for authors and beginners. Email marketing is the #1 most effective strategy for selling a lot of books in a single day. This is information every author should have to succeed.
$497 Value. FREE!
Tom’s complete resource list of tools, software, services, apps, checklists and systems to become more productive and increase your book sales.
Bestseller Ranking Pro also comes with a 30-day No Questions Asked Guarantee if you’re not absolutely thrilled with your investment. Just request for 100% full money-back refund anytime within 30 days.
If you’re ready to get started with Bestseller Ranking pro and these special bonuses, sign up here:
Want to Learn Even More About Market Research for Books?
Join Tom for a free webinar training on How to Crack the Code to #1 Amazon Bestseller Rankings to learn even more and get a live demonstration of this 5-Step Market Research Process.
About the Author
Tom Corson-Knowles is the international bestselling author of 27 books including The Kindle Publishing Bible. He is also the founder of TCK Publishing, an independent publishing company specializing in digital marketing and the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast Show.
Tom has taught over 50,000 authors how to write, publish and market their books like professionals through his online training courses and program.