How to hack the bestseller list

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Far and away the #1 question I receive about is some variation of this:

How do I get on the bestseller list?

Whether you’re shooting for the top 100 or top 10, hitting the Amazon bestseller list is extremely important.  No matter what your goal is, here is the #1 thing you need to know to get to the top of the Amazon bestseller lists:

Focus all of your sales into one day.

While Amazon keeps their exact formula for picking the top books under wraps, it is clear that it weighs heavily on how many books you can sell in a short period of time.

In fact, a recent campaign by Seth Godin for his book We Are All Weird was able to hit the #2 spot on Amazon by selling less than 2000 copies of his hardcover in a day.

Another author I worked with was able to generate 500 sales of his book in a single day and this put him in the top 100 on Amazon.

Contrast this to another author friend of mine who has sold thousands of copies of his book but never broke into the top 100 because they were spread out over several months.

It is important to focus all of your marketing efforts into selling as many books as possible on a single day.  Less sales in a single day will drive you higher on the list than more sales spread out over time.

A couple caveats:

  • Don’t try to game the system.  If you buy 1000 copies of your own book, you won’t hit the bestseller list.  If your friend buys 1000 copies of your book, you won’t hit the bestseller list.  Amazon keeps track of IP addresses, credit cards, etc to make sure authors aren’t buying their way onto the list.  The best strategy is to build your tribe and activate them to buy the book all at the same time.
  • These numbers change day to day.  All of the bestseller spots are relative to other book sales.  If you generate 3000 sales in a day but another author sells 4000, you’ll rank lower.
  • You can track your sales.  Want to know how many sales your marketing efforts drove?  Use the Amazon affiliate program.  Embed your affiliate link in all of your marketing efforts and you’ll be able to see exact stats on how many books you sold.

In the end, here’s how you hit the bestseller list:

  • Focus all of your marketing into generating sales on your launch day.
  • Generate 500 sales to make the top 100
  • Generate 2000 sales to hit the top 10

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Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the founder of He has worked with authors for a decade to help them build their platform, connect with readers, and sell more books. He has worked 1-on-1 with over a hundred authors including Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, Barbara Corcoran, Chip and Dan Heath, Sally Hogshead and many others. He has also launched dozens of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestsellers.
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