Amazon Rankings Explained

Amazon Rankings Explained
Photo Credit:  rvlsoft /

Writing a book takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication. Once that book is released to the world, it’s every author’s hope that it will be well received by readers, and make a best seller list.

While we don’t discourage our authors from aiming for a list, we do suggest reframing those goals to become an Amazon best seller instead.

Level the Playing Field

Here’s why: best seller lists are rarely an accurate and impartial reflection of book sales, and often the requirements are stacked against non-fiction leadership books.

The New York Times lists requires at least 10,000 pre-orders through specific retailers to even be considered, the Wall Street Journal requires 3-5,000 book sales in a week, and the USA Today list groups all book sales together so business/leadership books are up against the latest John Grisham novel.

In addition, all the lists tend to ignore bulk sales, limit the success of self-published or non-traditional books, and under-count ebook sales. 

Amazon has a much more level playing field. Rankings are based on sales from hour to hour. The Amazon algorithm is also part of the best seller equation, and while how that algorithm works is not transparent, it doesn’t seem to favor any type of books. Ebooks, self-published, and non-traditionally published books all seem to get fair consideration.

Rise to the Top

While there are no firm sales numbers required to make an Amazon list, the rough estimate is that it takes approximately 500 sales in one day to crack the Top 100, and 2,000 sales in a day to make the Top 10. To increase the odds of having a Top 100 designation, we encourage our authors to focus marketing efforts around launch day. 

For some niche titles, hitting the Top 100 isn’t feasible—but being in the top of a category is, which is why choosing sub-categories for a book is so important. For the greatest success, we recommend getting very specific with your book’s categories.

Selling just 10-20 books in the right category can propel a title into the Top 10 and trigger a Best New Release banner—but don’t think you can just buy 20 of your books and hit the jackpot. Amazon only credits two book purchases per IP address.

What is Your Goal?

A best-seller designation is a great start, and can be leveraged in future marketing efforts—but a list designation alone will not sell books. Making a best seller list is a great ego boost, but selling books for years to come is a great career and financial boost. Which one are you after?

About Christy Kirk

Christy Kirk, Vice President of Client Services, is a social media strategist, writer, and former television journalist, who’s done everything from launch a news department to create social content and strategy for Fortune 500 companies and brands including Pampers Diapers, Pantene, Luvs Diapers and Carlson Rezidor Hotels. Now, Christy manages marketing projects for Weaving Influence, with an emphasis on social media marketing. She is also a wife and mother of three children, one dog, and one cat. She loves reading, baking, running, hiking and exploring new places.

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