How to Get a #1 Best Seller Tag for Your Book on Amazon
Here’s how I did it in under 30 minutes and instantly increased my royalties.
When I set out to write and self-publish my first book, I had no marketing plan. I didn’t hire a professional editor or cover artist. I didn’t even expect to earn much income from the book. To be honest, the book would be considered somewhat of a disaster if judged by professional self-publishing standards today.
My primary motivation for writing it was to simply share my process for producing audiobooks — which was a topic dozens of people had emailed me about daily through my website. Since I knew the material well, I was able to write the book in one weekend.
Once the Kindle book was live on Amazon, I could simply direct people to it rather than answering the same questions over and over again each day. It was a win-win for everyone.
I initially self-published the book in May 2014.
For the first couple of years, I sold a few copies each week by spending about $5 per month with Amazon’s advertising system.
The Amazon sales rank (ASR) hovered between 100,000 and 200,000 during the six years before the book became a “#1 best-seller” in multiple categories.
If you’re not familiar with Amazon sales rank, the lower the number is, the better. For example, a book with an ASR of 1 is the current best selling book in the Amazon Kindle store. A book with an ASR of 5,000 means there are 5,000 books that are selling more copies and so on.
Attaining “Best Seller” Status
At the end of 2019, I started seeing advertisements from a self-proclaimed “book publishing guru” who promised to help novice authors self-publish a #1 best seller on Amazon.
As someone interested in how the Amazon algorithm works, this piqued my interest. The only problem was that the publishing coach was charging $1,997 for this service — a price I was not willing to pay for what I considered to be a vanity metric.
But I was inspired by the idea and wondered if having the #1 best seller tag on my book would make a difference in sales and the overall ASR ranking. So, I set out on a mission to see if I could achieve the coveted “best seller” tag for my lackluster book.
As it turns out, this was easier than I anticipated.
First, it’s essential to understand that attaining “best seller” status does not mean that you have the best selling book overall on Amazon. It simply means that you have the best selling book in a specific category.
If you want your book to be the #1 best seller of a category, you need to find a category where the current best-seller has a higher ASR (Amazon Sales Rank) than your book and then ask Amazon to add your title to that category.
That’s the big secret.
But this process can be a bit confusing, so I’ll walk you through it.
Step 1: Find Competitive Categories on Amazon
When you first publish your book through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, Amazon lets you choose two “browse categories” or subcategories for your book.
However, Amazon will allow you to add your book to up to eight additional browse categories after it has been published, for a total of ten categories.
You can see which categories Amazon has already added your book to by looking at the Product Details on your book’s Amazon sales page.
If you go to the Amazon Kindle store and look at the left side of the page, you’ll see a list of 31 main book categories.
If you click on any of the 31 main categories, you will see numerous subcategories appear. Many of these subcategories also have their own subcategories.
For example, the category “Business & Money” has 21 subcategories of its own.
When you click on a main category or subcategory, Amazon will show you a list of the top 100 books in that category.
Your goal is to find subcategories where you can beat out the current #1 best seller based on the Amazon Sales Rank number.
For example, the current #1 best selling book in the “Accounting” category has an ASR of 1,165.
If your ASR is not less than 1,165, you will not be able to achieve best-seller status for this category.
But, if you go into some of the smaller subcategories, you will find much less competition for the #1 spot.
For example, the current #1 best-seller for the subcategory: Arts & Photography > Graphic Design > Lithography has an ASR of 460,834.
You would only need to sell one or two books per month to take over the number one spot in this subcategory.
How to Find Competitive Categories Quickly
You could spend countless hours looking through subcategories on Amazon to find the ones that are the most competitive, but there is a much easier and faster way.
I used a tool called “Publisher Rocket” to find categories that my book would rank for in a matter of minutes. I paid for this tool myself, however, the link above is my referral link.
If you choose to use this tool, you would simply go to “Category Search” and then click on the main category that your book best fits within.
Next, click the arrow to sort the “ABSR of #1” column. This will give you a list of all of the subcategories ranked by the difficulty to reach the number one spot.
In most cases, you’ll be able to find a subcategory where the book occupying the number one spot has an Amazon Sales Rank that is higher than yours. You can also look at the column that says, “Sales to #1,” to see how many books you would need to sell to reach the number one spot.
Step 2: Ask Amazon to Add Your Book to the New Category
Once you find a new subcategory that you want your book to be added to, the next step is to simply ask Amazon to add your book to the new browse category.
You can do this by logging into your KDP account and then going to the Author Central contact page.
Select “My Books” from the “Select an Issue” dropdown. Then choose “Update information about a book > Browse Categories > I want to update my book’s browse categories” in the details field.
Amazon gives you the option to email them or have them call you within 1 minute of submitting the form.
If you choose the call option, make sure that you have the title of your book, your book’s ASIN number (found under Product Details), and the subcategory that you wish to be added to.
If you choose the email option, you’ll want to provide this information in the message field.
If you call to have your categories updated, you should see the category appear in your book’s Product Details within a matter of minutes. If you email the form, they will add the new category within 24 hours.
If you performed all of the steps correctly, you should now see a “best seller” tab listed above your book, just like mine.
What Effect Does This Have on Sales?
What I really wanted to know was whether or not having my book listed as a #1 best seller for a subcategory would have any effect on my actual sales. In my case, it did.
I used the method described above to get my book listed in the number one spot in multiple subcategories on Amazon on December 15, 2019.
Up until this point, I had been spending about $5 a month on Amazon ads to promote the book and earning about $85 per month. I did not change my ad spend after adding the title to new categories.
After acquiring “best-seller” status, my earnings started to increase. Here is my book revenue for the three months leading up to the change and the three months after.
September 2019: $91.99
October 2019: $88.40
November 2019: $84.64
December 2019: $187.42 (← change made mid-month)
January 2020: $514.63
February 2020: $505.63
March 2020: $508.08
As you can see, that is quite an increase.
I didn’t run any special promotions, spend more on Amazon ads, or do anything extra to promote the book. The only difference was adding my book to additional relevant categories using the Publisher Rocket tool and achieving best-seller status.
Here are a couple of takeaways that I hope you’ll consider when publishing your next book (or updating your current self-published titles) on Amazon.
- Amazon lets you add up to 10 additional browse categories for your book. Use them!
- You will get a “best seller” tag on your book if you have the lowest ASR number for your subcategory.
- The easiest way to find subcategories that your book will be competitive in is by using the Publisher Rocket tool (although you can do this research manually on Amazon.)
- Your royalties may increase by adding your book to additional categories (making it easier for potential readers to find) and by acquiring the #1 best seller tag because it provides social proof for your work.