Most authors know about the big bestseller lists with the New York Times and USA Today, but many are missing out on the much more reachable goal of Amazon Bestseller status. Luckily, Chelsea Richards, the Marketing Manager at Greenleaf Book Group, joins this episode of All Things Book Marketing to dive into what it means and what it takes to become an Amazon Bestseller.
What is Amazon bestseller?
From a high-level perspective, an Amazon bestseller ranking means that your book is ranking in the top 100 books of a given category. The rankings are based on sales within a given category during a 24-hour sales cycle and update every 2 hours based on other books that are listed and selling within that same category. The benefit of reaching bestseller status is not only being able to say that your book is an Amazon bestseller, but also that it triggers Amazon’s algorithm to start recommending the book and creating more discoverability for the book. We’re reaching target readers by activating that algorithm because Amazon is going to be promoting the book to people who actively have a browsing and purchase history in that genre. So not only is Amazon recommending your book to prospective readers, they’re recommending your book to prospective readers who are most likely to be interested in your content and then to convert to a sale and to become a buyer.
How is Amazon bestseller different than other bestseller lists, like the former Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today?
Those larger bestseller lists, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, are focused on sales within, typically, the publication week or a one-week time frame. And you would want to drive preorders. It’s really important for you to drive those preorders and have those preorders be sustained leading up to your publication, because then when they are released during your publication week, that’s what those lists are going to be monitoring relative to other books that are publishing within that same publication week. The other piece of that is that you also want to have a variety of different outlets. You’re not wanting to only sell books online. You’re wanting to sell in airport bookstores, Barnes and Noble, online as well, but also indie bookstores, independent retailers as well. You’re wanting to have a good cross section of retailers and geographic locations, because that’s indicating to those lists that your book is organically selling across all of those different retailer sites and locations.
What goes into becoming an Amazon bestseller? What’s a good strategy to reach that?
We work with our authors all the time on Amazon bestseller strategies to ensure that, first and foremost, we’ve got them in the right categories for them. Amazon’s category system is like genre shelving within a brick-and-mortar bookstore, but there are a lot more options available to us. That’s to our advantage, because the more category availability there is, the more opportunity there is for us to shelve a book in those particular categories and for us to get into those more niche categories that give us a stronger chance of achieving that bestseller status. We work with our authors, we do a lot of deep research on our end to see, first and foremost, what are the categories that align with the core content and themes of this book, and then we look at the data of the average number of sales needed within a 24-hour sales cycle to achieve bestseller status within those given categories. It’s really important to have a good cross section of those broader categories that give the authors more chance for discoverability and maybe have a slightly higher number of sales needed, but still an attainable number of sales needed to get in that top 100, coupled with some more niche categories that have that lower number of sales needed and give them a stronger chance of not only achieving that Amazon bestseller status, but maybe even being in the top ten in a given category.
Step two is then activating and mobilizing your network. Think about those types of people that you’re connected to and what is the correct call-to-action or ask that you’re going to give to each of those different groups of people. Let’s think about how they can best support you and support your book. Reviews are really important for creating social proof for an author and so when someone who’s outside of that author’s network comes to their Amazon book page, they’re not seeing crickets.
How can authors best promote that bestseller status once they’ve achieved it?
When our authors achieve Amazon bestseller status, we make sure to take screenshots of those bestseller rankings and then add that bestseller language to the top of their book page. We might say something broad, just like “Amazon bestseller,” or we may specify the top one to three categories that they hit to highlight what categories they’re ranking as a bestseller in. We also create social graphics for our authors to highlight Amazon bestseller rankings. You can add that to your website and I definitely encourage authors to share those social graphics, especially if you have been really activating your network to let them know that the actions that they took—sharing on social, posting a review, recommending your book to other people in their networks, purchasing a copy on publication date—helped your book to achieve bestseller. It’s a really nice way to say thank you.
What is your number one piece of advice for authors looking to reach Amazon bestseller status?
It’s a twofold piece of advice. I recommend looking for those categories that are going to give you the strongest chance of being found by your target audience and are going to be accessible for you and for your network to achieve that bestseller ranking based on those sales numbers. And two, do not be afraid to talk to your network and to tell them about this bestseller push and to keep reminding them about it. These are the people that support you, that are behind you and your book, and that want to see you succeed almost as much as you want to see yourself succeed. Don’t be afraid to tap into those people and to ask for help, because ultimately it will be a group and a team effort to get you to that goal of that bestseller ranking.
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As Marketing Manager at Greenleaf, Chelsea works with authors to create strategic marketing campaigns, build their author brands, and increase visibility and exposure for their books. She helps authors establish their authority as experts through developing their online presence, harnessing the power of their existing networks, and targeted advertising to both the trade and consumers. Chelsea holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter in England, a BA in English and communications from Southwestern University and completed New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. A passionate reader and writer herself, Chelsea delights in helping authors reach readers. Prior to her role at Greenleaf, she worked in magazine and book publishing in San Francisco and London. Chelsea is a bibliophile and an Anglophile, and in her spare time she enjoys gardening, traveling, yoga, and baking. Learn more about working with Chelsea and Greenleaf Book Group at greenleafbookgroup.com and follow them on social media @greenleafbookgr.