Today I’m the best-selling author of more than 25 books, I run one of the fastest-growing publishing companies in the United States, and I spend my days doing what I want, when I want, and where I want with people I care about.
I’m very blessed to say the least. But my life wasn’t always a fairy tale or dream come true. It took a lot of studying, hard work, and consistent effort to get where I am today.
I want to share my formula for turning your book into an Amazon best seller.
I want to teach you the strategies and tactics I learned on my journey to becoming a #1 best-selling author on Amazon. And once you learn what I have to teach, just imagine what you could do if you treated self-publishing like a real business instead of just a hobby.
How to Become an Amazon Best Seller
All the strategies and methods I’m 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 80,000 of my students whom I teach online.
I promise 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 using powerful tools that will help you become a #1 best-selling author on Amazon!
Getting Started as a Writer
I was 8 years old when I read The Wheel of Time, an 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.
It wasn’t until I read my first personal-development book at 19, however, 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 read every personal-development book I could get my hands on!
Then an idea hit me:
What if I could become a best-selling author?
At first it just seemed like a silly idea. I wondered “Who would ever want to read what I have to say?” and “What the heck would I write about anyway?” I was a dead-broke college student with big dreams and no good reason to think I could ever achieve them.
Meanwhile, I was in my first semester of business school at Indiana University. I noticed pretty quickly that my classmates all dreamed of working on Wall Street or becoming investment bankers. They wanted to work 100 hours a week and earn six figures right out of college. There was NO WAY I was going to go down that route. Their dream job seemed like my nightmare!
I KNEW that I would be really, really miserable working in a cubicle 100 hours a week in a job that not only doesn’t actually help anyone, but probably harms them instead. 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 influence on my life, I wanted to write books that would help others in the same way they’d helped me. 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? That’s when I started to believe that MAYBE it was possible for me to become “financially free” as an author.
Set a Goal to Become a Successful Author
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).
I knew what I wanted—to become a best-selling author—but I had no idea how to achieve it. It was scary. There was no one in my life I could go to for advice on this kind of stuff. So I researched as much as I could about becoming an author and I started writing a book in my spare time.
Everything I read 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, sent emails, and made phone calls trying to get my first book published. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get a traditional book deal … FOR SIX YEARS.
I’m just as smart and work just as hard as the next guy, but I realized 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 I learned that more than 99.9% of authors who try to get their books published traditionally don’t get a book deal, and that over 85% of authors who do get a deal never earn out their advance, meaning they are never paid royalties for their work.
When I realized I could self-publish my book on Amazon, it was a no-brainer.
Why I Self-Published
A lot of folks have asked me, “Why did you decide to self-publish your book?”
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 they say, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
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 available so I could 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. 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 J.A. Konrath talking 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. But I had a one big problem that could have destroyed any chance of success.
I was so embarrassed I had to self-publish my book that I didn’t 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 promptly moved on with my life, fully expecting that nothing would really change. 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 HUGE. You may 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 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 the mentors whose books had inspired me to get started–Robert Kiyosaki, Seth Godin, and Brian Tracy.
To be on the same list as the authors I learned from was an absolute dream come true.
Fundamentals of Self Publishing Success
To be successful at anything, you need to focus on the fundamentals. If you want to be 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. If you skip the fundamentals you are unlikely to succeed in the long term.
There are two crucial steps you must take first: market research and best-seller category analysis. These are key steps that most authors just gloss over (and it’s why they usually end up failing).
If you think you can earn millions of dollars overnight without doing any actual work (other than writing the book), you are sadly mistaken, my friend. Do you want to be a best-selling author who’s 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? Then you have to do the work, and that means doing your research on the Amazon best-seller 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 it down. Better yet, keep reading.
This isn’t an inconsequential matter. Selecting the right best-seller lists for your book can increase your sales as much as 173%. I know this because at TCK Publishing, we have many clients who either self-published their work before or had a different publisher, and they transferred their books to us.
That’s why when we decide to publish a new book, the first thing we do is go through our market research and best-seller category analysis. (I’ll walk you through you the process shortly.)
Featuring your book in the most relevant and popular best-seller lists allows you to attract more of the READERS WHO ARE MOST LIKELY TO BUY YOUR BOOK (there’s that phrase again). Sometimes a simple category change can produce a big increase in sales.
Benefits of Becoming a Best-Selling Author
Before we crack the code on becoming a #1 best-selling author on Amazon, let’s consider an important question: “What are the benefits of becoming a best-selling author?”
1. You can sell more books.
The more books you sell, the more people will find out about your books via Amazon’s algorithm (formula), and the more books you’ll sell. It’s a virtuous cycle. Fifty Shades of Grey sold over 50 million copies. Why? Because lots of people bought the book, and then lots of other people bought 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.
This story proves an important point: Amazon and the media will do most of the work promoting your book if you provide the groundwork for success. That means you need a) a good book b) that people enjoy reading so it c) gets good reviews, d) people share it through word of mouth, and e) it’s listed in the right categories so f) you 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 its best-seller lists, in keyword searches, and in the “customers who bought this item also bought” lists, you’re not going to have great sales, especially long term. My goal is not to help you get a bunch of sales for one week during your book launch. My goal is to help you create long-term sales and success as an author.
2. You will get more book deals.
We received a lot of emails last year from foreign publishers. They wanted to pay advances 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.
These publishers didn’t contact us because I am some kind of publishing genius who knew how to find these opportunities. They came to us because our books sell so well on Amazon. These are the types of opportunities that can come your way when your book becomes a best-seller on 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. I now charge $1,000 per hour—10 times more! Being a best-selling 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. You can attract more opportunities.
When your book becomes a best-seller, readers start contacting you.
You never know what kind of opportunities will come your way. 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. This gave me 500 new readers after only a day or two simply by word of mouth. I didn’t do anything to chase this opportunity—it came to me because someone read my book and liked it.
Pro Publishing Tip 1: Make sure that your email, contact information, website link, and all your books are posted on your book pages and in your Amazon Author Central author bio so readers can contact you easily.
OK—now that you know why becoming a best-selling author is so important, let’s talk about how a book becomes a best-seller on Amazon.
Amazon Best Seller Rankings
Every book has an Amazon best-sellers rank. Number 1 is the current best-selling eBook on Amazon Kindle and #4,959,688 is the worst-selling book. Amazon updates their sales rankings every hour based on an algorithm that counts total sales of all books for the last 30 days. 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 will take over. Then YOUR book will be #1, and the other book will be #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. During the Christmas season, for example (the biggest time of year for book sales), there’s a huge burst in sales (especially for Christmas-themed and gift books) so the rankings change a lot more during this time because of the additional sales and changes in customer purchasing habits.
You’ll learn more about this when we get to the 5 steps to becoming a #1 best-selling author. Now let’s talk about selecting categories.
Choose Relevant Best-Seller Categories
First, let’s tackle first the process of selecting a category. To see how this works, just go to any book page in Amazon—let’s use Unlimited Memory, at left—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 #580 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.) If you see “#580 Free in Kindle Store,” that means that the book is free in Kindle. (Free rankings and paid rankings are totally separate.)
We want to focus on paid rankings because that’s how you make a profit!
The screenshot above is an example of a Kindle eBooks category:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Studying & Workbooks > Study Skills
And this one is for Physical “Books:”
#1 in Books > Self-Help > Neuro-Linguistic Programming
In this article, we will look only at Kindle eBook rankings. This same process works for print books, although you need a slightly different amount of sales to hit the same ranking. We will use Kindle eBook sales rank numbers in this article to keep thing simple.
Pro Publishing Tip 2: When selecting your book categories for Amazon, try to select two “child” categories and two “parent” categories.
What does this mean? Let’s look at Unlimited Memory.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Psychotherapy, TA & NLP
“Health, Fitness & Dieting” is a parent category. A parent category can have any number of child subcategories—as few as a dozen or as many as 5,000. This screen shot shows two of Unlimited Memory’s two child categories: Self-Help and Health, Fitness & Dieting. When selecting categories in your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or CreateSpace account, you’d choose “Psychotherapy, TA & NLP” as one of the categories, because there are no other subcategories listed after it.
Let’s select another one for Unlimited Memory.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Studying & Workbooks > Study Skills
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 list your book in as many as 18 categories on Amazon, but you can only select 2 child categories.
Pro Publishing Tip 3:To attract your ideal readers the categories you choose must be relevant.
How is the category #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Studying & Workbooks > Study Skills relevant?
When we did market research for Unlimited Memory, we found that the audiences for this book were students who wanted to get better grades and professionals (attorneys, accountants, sales people) who wanted to enhance their memory. These categories were selected based on those demographics. So if you are writing a romance novel, you wouldn’t put it in the Education & Teaching category just because it is easy to rank. It wouldn’t make sense and the readers are surely not browsing that category to find romance novels.
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, start with the less competitive categories to get more exposure. You may change your categories as your book climbs up in the Amazon sales rankings. (More about this shortly.)
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s learn more about process.
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 the competition
First find out 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, 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. This means you must 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 in 5, 10, or 50 years.
Would you buy a five-year old book about Facebook marketing? Probably not. Chances are you would look for the newest book with the newest strategies. And that’s a big problem for authors and publishers of books in short-term markets like technology. What you really want is a book that sells month after month and year after year; that’s nearly impossible to do in short-term publishing markets like technology and computers.
Books on weight loss, self-help, novels, and other kinds of fiction are generally long-term markets. You are more likely to earn royalties for years to come if you publish these types of books. Even today people buy 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 United States) is that you own the copyright for your book up to 75 years after your death. You can pass on your copyrights 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, presuming your book remains relevant.
Next, look at your reader demographics to get a crystal clear understanding your ideal reader.
- Are your readers mostly male or female?
- What’s their age group?
- 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?
It’s important that you spend your time and money marketing to your ideal readers. If you focus your marketing to the wrong audience, 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 42,521+ categories using our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator.
When you open the sales calculator, you can type in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank of any book on Amazon 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 2,650 sales in 30 days or 177 sales in one day for your book to hit that same ranking and become #1 in that category.
Try our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator
4. Choose your target categories
The next step is to choose your two target categories based on your research in the first three steps. Start with the least competitive, most relevant categories for your book. How do you know which ones to choose?
If you find 10 relevant categories and one of them needs only 10 sales in a day to become #1 and the other needs 1,000, choose the one with the fewest sales to rank for when you start out. This helps you gain momentum and attract more readers who are browsing Amazon’s bestseller lists. As you get more and more book sales, you can move your book to the next more competitive category. You can repeat this process until your book is ranking at the top of the most competitive categories in your market.
You should aim to have your book ranking in the #1 spot in one target category and at least a top #20 spot for the other. Why? Because Amazon’s best-seller 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 displays the top 20 books on the first page of each category. Any sales rank below 20 will be listed on page 2 or later. That’s not nearly as effective at attracting new clicks and sales as ranking on the first page. You need first-page exposure because means it’s more likely that people will click through to your book’s listing page and buy it.
5. Get Amazon to put your book in your ideal categories
This is where things can get complicated. The categories displayed in Amazon and your KDP account are NOT the same. Only about 50% of the categories that exist on Amazon’s site here are available in your KDP account.
To make sure you find the most relevant and useful categories for your book, you need to research Amazon’s website, where all 42,521+ categories are available. Once you’ve found the categories you want, contact Amazon at www.kdp.amazon.com/contact-us. Simply send an email like the one below and they will change the 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 your book categories within 24 to 48 hours, and you won’t have to struggle through the poorly organized and limited selection of best-seller 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
In addition to choosing the right categories, you should know to avoid having your books accidentally placed in the wrong categories.
Amazon displays BISAC (Book Industry Subject and Category) categories on the website to customers, but not within your KDP account. BISAC categories are a worldwide industry standard categorization system used to organize books for ease of browsing in bookstores and libraries.
Your KDP account displays Amazon’s own in-house categories, which are NOT the same. Fewer than 50% of Kindle categories listed for customer browsing are available inside your KDP account. Additionally, Amazon frequently changes the names, locations, and hierarchies of many best-seller lists, and adds new best-seller lists every month.
So how do you stay on top of all these changes? The bare minimum for best-seller list research 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.
But if you are a professional or a savvy publisher, you should constantly research and browse the best-sellers list and analyze best-selling books in your market. What does constantly mean? Daily. Maybe even twice daily.
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.
5 Steps to Becoming a #1 Best-Selling Author
Now that you understand the fundamentals of researching the market and how this will be your guide to becoming a #1 best-selling author on Amazon, I’m going to walk you through this 5-step Market Research Process so you can see exactly how it works.
Step 1: Find best-seller categories
Go to the Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List. On the far left side of the page you will see the entire list of Kindle eBooks and parent categories. In the center of the page you will see the top 100 paid and free Kindle books in the Kindle Store. You can select a category on the left to see the best-sellers in that group.
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. Select the parent categories that that you think would be relevant and see if you can find an appropriate child category for that book. If you can’t find it under the first category you select, go back, and try another.
Repeat this process until you find the category you’re looking for. Patience is key, because there are over 28,700 categories. It will likely take 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 the Competition
Now that you have found appropriate categories, start analyzing the best-selling books in this category.
Study the book covers, titles, and book descriptions of the best-selling books in your market. Read the customer reviews for the top books in this market to discover what readers love and hate about these books.
Step 2A: Design a great cover
Help your designer create an amazing cover that is branded for your market. Look at the covers of the top 100 books in the category you’ve chosen.
- What do the covers communicate about the books?
- What fonts were used? Which ones look best?
- What colors were used?
- What kind of illustrations and images?
- What kind of emotions do these covers elicit from you?
Make sure your book cover elicits the same emotion from readers as the one you want them to experience when they read your book. Romance novels, for example, are generally romantic or sexy. Horror book covers should be scary. Comedy book covers should be fun and entertaining.
Pro Publishing Tip 4: Review all the covers from the best-sellers page and jot down the ones you like best. So, if you like the font on one of the covers, or the color or the emotion it elicits, put the link in your file with a note describing the element(s) you like best. Compile this list and send it your cover designer. It will be his or her guide to creating a cover based on the best elements of the best book covers in your market.
Step 2B: Find engaging keywords
Review best-selling book titles and subtitles for keywords and emotional phrases; take note of those that really stand out to you. It’s also important to read other book descriptions. How do those authors pitch their books to readers?
While rankings, titles, and keywords can attract interest, descriptions are your best opportunity on Amazon to tell readers WHY they should buy your book. Most books that sell well on Amazon have detailed descriptions that are fun to read. Be sure to include key information so your readers can tell if your book is right for them. The description should indicate clearly whether yours is a self-help book that will help readers be more confident, or an historical romance novel with a lot of sex scenes.
If your readers can’t tell what your book is about after reading the description, then you need to rewrite it.
Step 2C: Hook your readers with a great opening
Listen up, fiction and nonfiction authors: Most readers judge a book in the first two pages. If you lose the reader at the start, you won’t have a chance to recapture their interest. By studying the first two pages of all the best-sellers in your market, you can model elements from those that are the best, most entertaining, and intriguing.
If the first two pages of your book are boring, you are losing readers and sales every day.
Step 2D: Listen to the readers in your market
Find out what readers want and what they don’t want when they buy a book like yours.
Read all the customer reviews (positive and negative) of the top 100 best-selling books in your market. Take notes on all the things that they loved and hated. This will allow you to see where the opportunities are in your market. It tells you what your readers demand so you can supply it. Of course, your next step is to make sure that the elements they love are in your book and the things they hate are not.
This simple process will allow you to understand your readers better than any other author in your market because you actually listen to what they say!
Step 3: Know how many sales you need to hit #1 in each category.
We know that Education & Teaching > Studying & Workbooks > Study Skills is a good category for students who wanted to get better grades and professionals who want to perform better.
After doing step # 2, you should have an idea who your customers are, what they like, and what they don’t like about the best-selling books in your market. Now you 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. To do this, you have to know how many books your competitors are selling and EXACTLY how many sales you need to hit #1 in that category.
You can do that with our Amazon Book Sales Calculator. Copy the best-sellers rank from the #1 book in the category and paste that number in the BSR (best-seller ranking) box.
Then select calculate to see how many sales you need to hit #1 in your category.
For this example, you will need to sell 3,110 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 find so you can rank them in order of competitiveness.
Step 4: Choose your 2 target categories
Once you’ve ranked all possible categories, select the 2 most relevant—those that you can rank in the top 20 spots based on your calculations from Step 3.
As we discussed earlier, one of the best ways to choose relevant categories is by understanding who your readers are. Another way is to 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 those other categories would also be relevant 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 launch your book, it’s time to get Amazon to put your book into the right categories.
Step 5: Get Amazon to list your book in your ideal categories
After you’ve done your research to find the ideal categories for your book, contact Amazon at www.kdp.amazon.com/contact-us. (You can also log in to your account, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select Contact Us.) Select Book Details > Changing Book Details.
After you submit your category change request, Amazon will change it after about 24 hours.
FUN FACT: Best-selling author Mark Messick published his first book in Amazon when he was 14 years old. He is now 17 and is the author of 12 best-selling books. Although he hasn’t graduated from high school yet, he earns thousands of dollars every month from book royalties, more than the median income of a full-time employee in the United States.
Will this process work for you?
Yes, but you have to follow the steps. When you focus on the fundamentals of success and master those fundamentals, you will be successful. The process is the foundation for publishing success because it guarantees that you understand your customers, your competition, and your market so that you can provide the best books and communicate to your readers why they should buy YOUR book. This is a time-consuming process, however.
Is there an easier way to find best-seller categories on Amazon?
A few years ago, I realized that I was spending way too much time researching best-seller categories and trying to keep track of all the data for the books I was publishing. I knew I had to do something different. I hired a data genius and together we created Best-Seller Ranking Pro to automate this process. Now I can find the right categories for any book in 5 minutes or less.
This simple tool saved me dozens of hours of work each week! I Immediately 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 42,521+ best-seller lists on Amazon in the United States and the United Kingdom for eBooks, print books. and audiobooks.
- It allows you to organize best-seller categories based on competitiveness so you can see immediately which categories you can rank for now, and which 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 best-seller category page on Amazon so you can do more research with just one click instead of wandering through Amazon’s complex category hierarchies.
Let’s take a closer look at the Bestseller Ranking Pro tool and see how easy it is to use.
Step 1: Log in
You can immediately see on the top of the page that it’s currently tracking 28,700+ eBook and audiobook best-seller categories in Amazon.
- 10,489 Amazon US eBook Categories
- 9,613 Amazon US Book Categories
- 5,564 Amazon UK Book Categories
- 2,882 Amazon UK eBook Categories
- 168 Amazon US Audible Categories
Step 2: Rankings
On the top of the member’s area you will see Rankings. Go to Rankings and select 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. Scroll down to select Health, Fitness & Dieting.
After selecting this, you will see the complete list of every 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.
Select Book #1 to rank the categories by competitiveness. This will show you which categories will be easiest to rank for, and which will generate the most reader traffic and sales.
Step 5: Analyze the competition
In the second column, you will see the URL for the Amazon 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 how many sales you need to rank #1 in any category
The next thing you’ll see is the Book #1 column, which lists the Amazon best-sellers ranking of the #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 hover over the Amazon best-seller rank (#1040), you will see the exact number of books you must 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 best-seller category. This tells you the total amount of sales you need to get to the #20 ranking (remember—that’s the first page of the category) and #100 ranking (this ranking is just barely in the category, but it can get you 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, hover over the value, and find how many sales you need to be ranked in the #100 spot.
No guesswork is needed here: You’ll immediately know your target to rank your book in any category.
Step 7: Find low-competition categories
To determine the category’s competitiveness, sort the Book #1 column by selecting Book#1. The lower the best-seller rank number, the more competitive the category. Categories are also color coded: green for low competition, yellow for medium competition, and red for highly competitive categories.
Why is this important? We have learned from experience that to increase your exposure, you should start by selecting a category that is NOT competitive so you can rank in one of the top #20 spots so you’ll appear on the front page of the category. As your sales and rankings improve, you can switch to more competitive categories to get even more sales and exposure.
In any of these scenarios, however, make sure that your book is listed only 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.
In the least-competitive category, however (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 best-seller in this category.
Unfortunately, this is not a relevant category for a book on finding your life partner, so you would go to the next-least-competitive category and so on until you find one in which you can feature your book.
Step 8: Search for relevant categories
Bestseller Ranking Pro also has a powerful search feature, which 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 “relationships” in the search box. You can now start checking the most relevant and least competitive categories based on your search results. This is much faster than browsing through tens of thousands of categories.
Step 9: Get Amazon to change your categories for you
Benefits of Using Bestseller Ranking Pro
As you’ve seen, Bestseller Ranking Pro makes the process of finding the most relevant categories for your book a whole lot faster. But it does much more:
- It saves a massive amount of time on market research. I created Bestseller Ranking Pro to help grow TCK Publishing and save the time and expense of compiling and updating all this data. We publish books every week and that meant spending 5-10 hours every single week finding best-seller categories and estimating sales for each category using the 5-step process. Once I started using Bestseller Ranking Pro 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. You won’t have to hire anyone to gather all this data and information for you.
- It will work for you. Thousands of students are already using Bestseller Ranking Pro with great results.
Bestseller Ranking Pro success stories
I promised to show you how we have used market research and best-seller category analysis to create hundreds of #1 best-sellers on Amazon. Did this article help?
With Bestseller Ranking Pro, you can save a massive amount of time by systematizing market research and category selection so you can get to #1 on Amazon faster and more easily. On top of that we will give you more tools to make the process even faster.
Here’s what you get when you sign up for Bestseller Ranking Pro:
- 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 best-seller 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 best-selling 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:
Bonus #1: Six (6) interviews with #1 best-selling authors who have sold over three million books combined. Discover their secrets for success in these special bonus interviews.
$197 Value. FREE!
Bonus #2: 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!
Bonus #3: Tom’s complete resource list of tools, software, services, apps, checklists and systems to become more productive and increase your book sales. PRICELESS!
Bonus #4: Bestseller Ranking Pro also comes with a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee. If you’re not absolutely thrilled with your investment, just request a 100% full money-back refund within 30 days.
Sign up here: www.BestsellerRankingPro.com
But wait—there’s more! If you don’t want to do the work yourself or still aren’t sure which categories to select …
Amazon Bestseller Category Selection Service
Purchase our Amazon Bestseller Category Selection Package here!
We can pick the best categories for your book! Our promotions manager will hand-select the best 10 categories for your book saving you the time and frustration of having to do it yourself. You’re guaranteed to get your book listed in the best categories on Amazon with this service or you get your money back!
Want to learn even more?
Join me for How to Crack the Code to #1 Amazon Bestseller Rankings, a free webinar that will teach you even more and provide a live demonstration of the 5-Step market research process.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.