Jun 142017

Every writer dreams of reaching the Amazon bestseller list. To gain visibility among millions of books, to attract the eyes of readers who browse Amazon by categories. There are supposed to be millions of them. Some writers may spend their fortune, or perhaps their youth :), trying to crack the list of bestsellers.

Well, I did it in a day. And it didn’t cost me a fortune. I actually spent just a couple of hours, and a bit less than $250 to rank nr. 1 in all three book categories that feature University of Solitude (Criminology, Middle East, Iran), and reach a top 500 paid kindle ranking on the entire Amazon.

On 8th June, shortly after noon, I reached top 1 in all three categories, and top 350 on the entire Amazon.

It’s too early to tell you how exactly did I achieve that, sorry. One day I will describe it on the blog, but I prefer to keep the secret to myself for now. You can be sure though that I did nothing that would put my Amazon account under risk of getting a ban, or something similar. You know me—I always play by the rules ;).


No reporting tools for the writers

Amazon provides no traffic reporting tools. You do not know how many people visited your book page, how many people browsed this or that books category, if someone checked your author’s page on Amazon, etc.

This is actually pretty disappointing, considering all reports that YouTube, Google, or even Facebook offer to their users. Amazon lets you walking in the dark. Since we know nothing about the traffic, there’s only one way to find out how ranking nr. 1 would affect the sales of our book—reaching that coveted spot.

Ranking above Grisham doesn’t feel too bad… But will we actually benefit from that position?

Meteoric rise in sales?

Considering what’s written on countless blogs and forums, you would expect to see a meteoric rise in sales. Since thousands of people are supposed to browse Amazon by categories daily, and even more reach their books categories searching on Google, ranking on top should logically lead to thousands views of our book page, and, subsequently, at least to a couple of dozens sales a day.

But, as so many times in the online world (full of illusion and delusion as it is), what’s supposed to happen (what they try to make you believe in) and what really will happen, are two very different things.

Without any additional blabbering, let’s see how many sales I made during a week after reaching the nr. 1 spot (and staying within the top 10 most of the time):


Nr. 1. bestseller, no sales

I made exactly ZERO sales after reaching the bestseller list. The one sold copy you see on the graph happened on the 2nd, a few day before I reached the lists of bestsellers.


What do we learn from my experiment?

  • Very few people actually browse Amazon by categories, or reach them searching on Google. Ranking atop a category means nothing. It is a waste of time trying to reach that position. Doesn’t matter what the gurus of kindle publishing tell you….
  • If someone boasts about their ranking on Amazon, or showcase in on their website, it means absolutely nothing. Remember, I am just a creative internet marketer and I indie published my book. I operate with small budget, and I still managed to rank nr. 1 in three book categories, and top 400 on entire Amazon. In one day…. Imagine the big publishing houses, hundreds of smart people who work there, the budgets those publishing houses operate with, etc…. As I said before, many things you see online are just an illusion (in a better case scenario), or a delusion (in a worse case scenario). Hell, give me a budget of 3K and I may perhaps rank your book top 10 on the entire Amazon :).  But beware, such a position doesn’t guarantee any sales.
  • To be, or not to be on Amazon isn’t decisive for your success…. If you really want to get readers, and books sales (many of them), you either need to build your brand as a writer (which takes time, a lot of work, and results in continuous growth of your popularity), or you need to secure a contract with one of the big publishing houses that are so good in creating all illusions and delusions, that can place your books on the top shelves of both online and offline bookstores, and that use big scale marketing to convince people that your book is actually worth reading (whether it really is doesn’t matter at the end of the day). You don’t need to be on Amazon. Period.


One question unanswered

I still wonder if the result of my experiment would be different, had I reached the top 20 on the main bestseller list on Kindle store (https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store/zgbs/digital-text). Maybe, one day, I’ll try to find the answer…

Have a great week friends, enjoy the world around you, do something good for the others, and see you soon with a next post. All secrets will be unveiled when the time is right.


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Written by Matej Valuch

Matej Valuch

Having succeeded in building residual income from the network of content-rich websites, Matej currently devotes nearly all his time to non-profit projects, mostly in the spheres of philosophy, start-up, and writing. Sharing real marketing studies and experiments with his audience, Matej tries to help other writers and marketers to succeed with their projects.

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