On being an Amazon Best Seller – the reality behind the hype

Update: 15/04/12 Following a conversation with a friend, I updated this post because he had read it quite negatively and actually the story isn’t negative. When I became brave enough to actually see how many books there were in each category I was being listed as a best-seller.

At the end of each listing you can find the numbers of books in each category that I’m listed as a Best Seller in and some of them are quite impressive; I mean #53 out of almost 10,000 is pretty good by anybody’s standard. So I think I’ll give myself a pat on the back.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on my Amazon stats recently and I’ve started to pay attention to the sales ranks and best-sellers ranks there are some intriguing questions that need to be answered but as yet I don’t have the answers.

I’ve been a best seller on Amazon both in the UK and in the US for a few years now with my book 101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – and before anyone asks, yes it is a genuine book. You only have to type in the keyword ‘hysterectomy’ into the Amazon search bar and there it pops up alongside a couple of others of mine too. The same thing happened in the middle of last year with LinkedIn Made Easy in Amazon UK and it too has remained fairly consistent ever since.

Now, I prefer to search over categories any day, I will happily type away into the search bar of my favourite search engine or website and I rarely bother to use the menus that are often also provided. But this isn’t the case for everyone and it was whilst I was perusing the various pages about each book whilst trying to work out what else I could do to improve things that I finally really paid any attention to the sales rank and best seller ranks that appeared there.

It seems that I have three books that are now classed as ‘best sellers’ (although I am aware that these numbers will change by the hour and by the day) – that is any book that is ranked up to #100 in any given category and today (13 April 2012) they are currently sitting at:

101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – Amazon UK

101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – Amazon US

LinkedIn Made Easy – Amazon UK

Losing the Woman Within – Amazon UK

That seems to be a success in anybody’s book, especially when these sorts of rankings are maintained month in and month out. But, and here’s the rub; I know how many books I sell and it appears that you don’t need a huge number of sales to make a best seller listing.

If I were brave enough I’d go and have a look at just how many books there are in each of the categories above too – I’d like to be pleasantly surprised but I’m sure it’s not that many. NOTE: I did go and have a look and you can see the numbers in black and bold at the end of each listing.

Now, I wouldn’t want to imply that I sell virtually nothing because that simply isn’t the case and I make a very nice living from my books thank you very much, but it’s not quite what I have in mind when I think of the word ‘best seller’ next to anything I’ve written.

So, my quest to be a true best seller goes on … I will crack it and I will be a best seller across the whole of the Kindle and Amazon Book stores and when I do, I’ll let you know just how many books you need to sell in order to achieve those lofty heights. In the meantime, my quest will continue to keep you informed about all the things I’m doing to help me along the way.

Oh, and here’s the latest thing; my novel, you know the one I’ve pretty much ignored on the marketing front since it was published last year, is now in a giveaway on If you would like to get your hands on one of six signed copies then all you need to do is head over to Goodreads, sign up to use the site (which is free) and select the giveaway for Woman on the Edge of Reality. I’ll look forward to seeing you there too.

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  1. My book, “Charity Begins with Murder”, started leaping up the humour charts (I guess it’s humorous crime) after I’d had a 24 hour free promotion, which you can do with Kindle editions. The number of free downloads in turn made it visible, which has led to an impressive level of real sales – 270 in under a month. Rankings do seem to be very volatile, though, and I’ve noticed the same as Michael.

  2. It’s a common misconception that people viewing can have because the rankings change by the hour depending on sales in the previous hour and the number of visits to a particular page – the algorithm they use is of course a lot more complex than that, but I believe these are the two most important elements.

  3. Yeah, the rankings can be a bit misleading when it comes to the categories. I see myself jump or drop by 40 places based on minor changes in sales.