What you need to know about Amazon’s bestseller list before chasing it desperately
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“A bestseller was a book which somehow sold well because it was selling well.”
― Daniel J. Boorstin
Ironical but true! ‘What exactly is a bestseller,’ is as confusing as it is explained in the above quote by American author, historian, and librarian Daniel J. Boorstin. What is a bestseller? Why do we want to tell the world that our latest book is a bestseller? Maybe because we want to sell more copies of it telling people that it has already sold this many copies, as explained by Boorstin. Or perhaps because it is a status symbol for many of us, especially when our book makes it to the bestselling list of the international bookselling online store, Amazon. But what we fail to understand is that to become a bestseller, more than writing a quality book, we need to spend some of our quality time carving out the best strategies and smart tactics to reach that list.
While building a name for yourself as an author, you need to choose between garnering temporary fame as an Amazon bestseller or be in it for the long haul by focusing on the long-term writing goals. Here are some strategies that might help you become a bestseller but also may put you in a compromising position.
Your Bestseller status depends on the category of your book
The much-coveted Amazon’s bestselling list is a category-specific list. That means no matter how many books you sell, if it’s in the wrong category, your book won’t make it to the bestseller list. On the flip-side, if you choose the right category, you would become a bestseller by just selling even fewer copies than other books that too, with minimum marketing.
To understand how this works, you need to know about the Amazon Best Seller Rank (ABSR). Amazon provides the ABSR to a book that is based on its number of sales or downloads over a specified period. ABSR is a comparative rank which compares the purchase of a book to that of others. For example, if your book’s ABSR is 2000, there are 1999 books with better sales than yours. So, the ABSR of your book maybe 5000, and there would be 4999 books selling better than yours on an overall basis, but your book in a particular category may have no other book doing better than yours. In this case, your book will become the #1 bestseller in that specific category. For example, your book on ‘Lifestyle Diseases’ may have 5000 ABSR, but in the Amazon category of ‘Medical & Health Sciences,’ it may be ranked #26, making it to the Amazon top 100 bestseller list. At the same time, the book may be ranked #1 under the ‘Lifestyle’ category, becoming the bestseller. It will be ranked #1 till new books capture the market, pushing you many ranks behind. You must know that ABSR changes every two hours, making your book’s bestseller status highly temporary and not worth losing your peace of mind.
Also, choosing the most profitable category in Amazon is not easy, with the availability of more than 500 categories. Choosing a non-popular category with a lesser number of entries and competition can be the key. Still, the question is, will you select the category before writing, or will you choose a proper category for a book written on the topic of your choice? Of course, to write a book, you need to write on a topic you are comfortable with and not the one you feel can fetch you a bestseller status.
Why does it matter if your book is in the ‘paid’ or ‘free’ list
Whether your book is paid or free is another reason that your eBook can hit a large number of downloads. Amazon bestseller lists are divided into top’ 100 paid’ and top ‘100 free’ options, as Amazon has separate lists for paid and free books. There is a provision of scheduling a free book promotion for your eBook after your book is enrolled in KDP select and available for sale on the website. Once your free book promotion is complete, your book will enter the paid list. The interesting point is that the ranking for your book in paid and free options differs, and mostly it is easier to hit higher rankings in the free option due to the obvious reasons. But the moment your book enters into the paid list, it will drop in sales rank in the paid list from the time your free promotion begins to the time it ends. However, the sales rank will be calculated, taking into account previous and recent sales. Many authors showcase the bestseller tag of their book earned under the free category, which is not wrong, though, but is highly temporary, relative, and manipulative. If the same book hits a bestseller tag in any of the categories after being included in the paid list, we can say that it has some substance. Otherwise, you can be your own judge.