Why there are so many No. 1 and best-selling authors now

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My new content book also was listed as No. 1 on the news release list. You probably have seen that more and more authors are listing themselves as best selling authors. Here I am exploring how that happens and what that usually means. Let’s dive in how top lists of book releases are assembled.

Being able to list your book as a No. 1 news release certainly has value and I am using that terminology in many places where I’m marketing myself, including on my LinkedIn profile, my resume and other places.

I try to be transparent with my listing to make sure people understand what the No. 1 ranking means. I’m not No. 1 of all books sold everywhere around the globe. These listings are typically in a very specific category for a very specific time frame. So I listed my accomplishment as:

  • No. 1 new release
  • Public relations category
  • Amazon

So hopefully that helps people understand that it was in the public relations category and on Amazon. Not on the New York Times list, not on some other list other than that specific list assembled by Amazon.

I have seen some authors to summarize it as “bestselling” or something similar. Technically that is correct but also doesn’t always tell the full story if it was No. 1 in a very specific category.

How are book lists assembled on Amazon?

It’s really quite simple. Amazon produces all kinds of lists including in specific categories, for specific formats, for new releases, for all books and maybe even more.

Most of these best sellers were bestsellers in a specific category. Keep in mind that it’s still an accomplishment to actually publish your book. It’s a lot of work to produce, design and then distribute.

First, we should look at categorization. When you submit your book to Amazon you put it into a category and there are a number of those. Here are the categories for my book:

Those are for the paperback. And then the Kindle version has its own categories.

They don’t align and I don’t remember why that is. I’m not sure if both formats have different categories or I just picked them differently because they’re not submitted at the same time. As you can guess by looking at the categories I ranked No. 1 in the public relations category for the Kindle version.

You can find the overall lists by clicking on the category. Then there’s usually a link to the new releases only list.

Once you click on that you get the current list and as you can see on the screenshot the list is updated every hour. So that can mean that you’re No. 1 for one hour and in the next hour you’ve already moved to the number five spot.

At the time of the above screen grab my book was now listed as No. 10.


Does that mean a No. 1 ranking is easy to come by? Not really. You still have to write the book, publish the book and then somebody still has to buy the book. Is it easier to rank No. 1 in a specific category as opposed to ranking No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list? Absolutely.

Is it an accomplishment? Of course it is. It is something you should be proud of. But don’t be misleading.

When Jo Miller was on my podcast she had just reached a No. 1 ranking and she quickly explained what category it was in. That kind of transparency is great and builds trust. I did respond that number one is still number one. And it certainly is something to be proud of and I think it’s OK to use in marketing materials – especially when called out correctly.

So that’s how we are seeing more and more No. 1 authors out there.


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