top of page

Here’s a Secret About “Best-Selling Books”

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

What do you think when you hear that someone has written a best-selling book?

They’re the cream of the crop, right?!

They must be the next JK Rowling.

The author must have a new level of writing talent.

Their conveying message must be strong as hell.

woman celebrating
Reach Your Number One Spot With Pride

Well, what if I told you that some best sellers are kind of created by default? And not truly based upon talent and quality.

(To clarify, I am talking purely about Amazon best-sellers in this blog post.)

The Algorithm Tricks

This is the sad truth of the publishing industry at the moment. If you know the algorithms and the loopholes that Amazon has in place, it is technically easy enough to become a “best-seller”. And it might surprise you to find out that you could even achieve this status by selling around 30-50 books.

It can also be achieved by:

  • Holding onto the number 1 spot for just half a day, even less.

  • Being within a category with barely any competition

It’s a bit like winning a running race and then finding out there were only 4 entries. Takes off the shine a bit, doesn’t it? I mean, I got a 3rd place trophy in a triathlon a few years ago, only to find out it was third place out of 7 women within my exact age category! I don't exactly shout about it...

Why are we telling you this?

We’re telling you this for three reasons:

  • We want you to be aware of the credibility of some “best-selling books” when purchasing. A better way to gauge whether a book is a good one is to look at the reviews.

  • We want you to be aware of publishing companies who are guaranteeing you a “best-seller” status in their list of services, especially if they’ve not even seen the manuscript yet!

  • We want you to manage your expectations about becoming a best-seller

Back to the running analogy, it’s like a running coach agreeing to train you, promising you will be Olympic champion next week (without seeing how well you can run) and then giving you steroids and springs in your shoes and anything else required to achieve that title.

Here are a couple of the ways that publishers (and indie authors) can loophole their way to the top spot on Amazon:

  • Add their book to a very niche category (ones that aren’t available on the standard lists when publishing via KDP) which may mean the author only has to sell 1 book per day for a couple of weeks to claim the title within that category

  • Join a community of authors who will promise to always buy each other’s books throughout the period of release date and through the first selling month

We’re not saying that publishers who are promising best-seller status are being dishonest - one hopes that if they’re stating this as a guarantee in their contract, then the least they would do is follow through (obviously there are some vanity press out there who don’t always deliver what they say they will… read our vanity press blog post here). But we are saying, be mindful of how the publisher plans to go about it and ask them about their route to the best-selling list. Make sure it aligns with your values.

How to REALLY become a best seller

In all honesty, you can’t cheat your way to the ACTUAL best-selling list. It involves a lot of hard work (or celebrity status) from both the author and the publisher involved. Here are some tips to help you work your way morally to the number one spot:

  • Get yourself a good PR consultant. Some publishers (us included - view our packages here) already have a PR team on hand which makes this part easier

  • Have a book launch (and beyond) marketing plan

  • Sell lots of books! That might sound obvious, but if you want to honourably claim a best-seller title, this is what you have to do. Not just sell five books within the niche of “ingrowing toenail self-help”. (Yesterday we found a category titled “culinary cosy mystery” – quite specific).

  • Produce a really high quality book

  • Promote yourself – really big yourself up to the world! There will soon be a blog post on author self-promotion so keep your eyes peeled!


bottom of page