Saturday, July 14, 2012

Interview with Aggie Villanueva, author of "Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers"

With the exception of five days, Aggie Villanueva’s new book Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers hit immediate Kindle bestseller in three categories, and held steady in 1-3 categories for over 13 weeks. I'm delighted to have Aggie as a guest on the blog today to share tips from her book about how to make YOUR book an Amazon Best Seller!

What was your inspiration/motivation behind this book? 

I’m so glad to be back visiting here again, Dallas. I always enjoy it so much.

When I tell people about my book, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do, I often get two responses, which are what prompted me to write the book to begin with. Some shrug, “So what? Categories are like Tags. Everywhere I place my book requires choosing categories. They are basically just another search engine assistant.” Categories are nothing like search engine tags. 

The second response I often get is from authors with a bit more experience selling books at Amazon, who know a book is tallied for category bestseller by outselling others within the same category. Unfortunately some have been taught that a smart strategy for ranking in this top-100 bestseller list is to pick the smallest category you can find, even if it’s not absolutely relevant to your book’s topic. 

Yes, I’ve heard of those kinds of classes about getting a quick best seller by just choosing the smallest category possible. Could you explain what is wrong with this teaching? 

These authors may have been taught (in a nutshell): “Close is good enough. Bestseller status at all costs.” This is very short-sighted, because category bestsellers are not the be-all and end-all purpose of categories, and worse, these actions can doom your Amazon book sales permanently. 

How can choosing the wrong category doom book sales? 

When we understand the true function of Amazon’s categories it’s a whole new world. My book delves further into this fascinating system, but right now we’ll suffice with the end result: It’s a world where Amazon becomes your personal book publicist. And it all starts with choosing the RIGHT category, not the smallest. 

Gaining a bestseller is wonderful, it truly is, but that is only part of what Amazon can do for you, and specifically it’s only part of the purpose of categories. Amazon uses categories as the pool from which to draw almost every promotion throughout their site and beyond (pushes such as direct emailings). This publicity is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Categories are your first step in taking advantage of Amazon’s targeted system. Tight targeting of your categories is the goal. Never choose a category based on lack of competition. If your book is not in the most targeted category, Amazon cannot successfully sell the book for you
So, what happens if you choose the not-so-right category?

Though you may get category bestseller status for a while, your sales may stop there. Try to sucker your audience and you may pay with poor sales and losing out on all of Amazon’s free publicity. For example, let’s say you placed your humorous novel in the category “Comic books” because there are only 91 other books to compete with. Humorous novel, graphic novel, comic book – close enough, right? You have already doomed your book’s success on several levels. 

In just one of the many possible scenarios, imagine you are a young graphic novel lover who receives email updates about his favorite categories, and Amazon’s algorithms have deduced “Comic books” is one of them. Your humorous novel is prominently featured in his email, an email that is supposed to inform him of the newest comic book bestsellers. When he clicks on yours he will be angry that you wasted his time, and his money if he purchased it with one click without checking it out. You may become a blacklisted author. 

Don’t scoff. Though this is a worst case scenario, it is not an exaggeration. E-device-savvy-readers are so demanding of and involved with their online world that, without a second lost, he may leave a scathing review on your sales page, talk about you in the discussion boards, report you to Amazon, and blacklist you in ways and places you and I have never heard of. The damage may even be irreparable. 

But let’s not forget that those readers who would have loved your humorous novel will never see it because you listed it in the wrong category. You will not be featured in email promotions to those looking for precisely your subject; and you will not be eligible for any other top-100 lists such as Top Rated. These are all Amazon promotions meant to sell your books, and they do their jobs well. So, the goal is NOT just to be included in a category bestseller list at all costs. Bestsellers come from sales. And your tightly targeted categories catapult your book into a publicity campaign like you’ve never dreamed of, courtesy (and cost) of  

What is your biggest tip for authors who want to become Amazon best-sellers? 

Use heavily to promote your book, but approach it with integrity. Let’s not make the same mistakes as in the example above, making illegitimate use of the amazing mega-publicity engine that is There is a lot of controversy still raging about Amazon’s deletion of thousands of reviews. I think it might be a combination of understandable over-reaction on Amazon’s part and our ignorance of their rules (knowledge of these rules is covered in the book). But it is mostly we authors who are honest and work with integrity who suffer because of those who illegitimately used the system. For more great tips and info about my reader exclusive companion site see my bio below. The knowledge contained there amounts to several more books and includes advice from some of the best book marketing experts in the field. And I add to it continually. 

What is your biggest advice for young people reaching for their dreams? 

My favorite advice is various versions of the same saying I was taught as a child. “Always shoot for everything the universe offers. If you don’t quite make it you will still have reached the stars.” 

Thank you so much for being a guest on the blog today, Aggie! I have learned a lot from your insightful answers!

Aggie has generously offered to give an ebook copy of Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers to one lucky blog reader! To enter for your chance to win, all you need to do is write a comment below!

BIO: Below are a few sentences from reviews, and a link back to the book’s reader-exclusive companion site. Aggie Villanueva’s full bio and anything else can be found there. It’s a fountain of learning, contests and appearance from experts for her readers, but there are also many pages of public information. 

Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers Book Companion Site 

Purchase Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do

“…Aggie Villanueva’s how-to changes your perspective of Amazon from that of an online book store to that of an author publicity machine.” -Vikram Narayan, CEO of 

 “…I also already had a basic understanding about Amazon categories - but Villanueva has obviously been combing through Amazons methods and policies -- analyzing everything in critical detail, and what she has discovered is significant and important.” -Ken Korczak, Reviewer. Read full review at Amazon


Karen Cioffi said...

Wow. How timely this article is. I'm devoting August to getting my ebooks on Kindle and one in particular on Amazon through CreateSpace. That's the plan anyway. :)

I'll wait a couple of days to see if I'm a winner, but if I'm not I'll definitely be getting this book.

Aggie Villanueva said...

Hi Karen,

I'm so happy you found the information helpful. Amazon is a dizzying route for me too! And they change things on us all the time. They are definitely not static!

While you're waiting for the contest results, I've written a post with info vital to all authors: Teaching Authors to Violate Amazon’s Review Guidelines:

It's about false information taught in bestselling books teaching authors to actially violate Amazon review guidelines.

Following their instructions will get your reviews deleted and possibly get your book(s) banned from Amazon bookstore.

I hope this info will be helpful to everyone.

Have the best day ever,
Aggie Villanueva

Donna McDine said...

Hi Aggie,

With book marketing changing at lighting speed your book is a fantastic resource for authors at all stages. Like Karen, if I don't win your e-book I'm purchasing! Heading over to your article now.

All the best,

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great info. I think it is important to proceed with integrity no matter what type of book promotion you are pursing.

Aggie Villanueva said...

I agree with you both Mary and Donna. In fact things change so quickly possibly my book's most timely advice is, if in doubt, ask Amazon yourself.

Keeping ourselves educated is our best defense and the best way to proceed with the highest integrity.

Have the best day ever,

Jim Henry said...

Aggie, I have seen interesting posts from you on Facebook that have piqued my interest. I am curious to know where you learned the tips you include in your book.

Jim Henry said...

Aggie, I have seen interesting posts from you on Facebook that have piqued my interest. I am curious to know where you learned the tips you include in your book.

Jim Henry said...

Aggie, I have seen interesting posts from you on Facebook that have piqued my interest. I am curious to know where you learned the tips you include in your book.

Jim Henry said...

I do not know why my post went on three times. I only sent it once. Sorry...:

Aggie and Nanci @Promotion a la Carte said...

Hi Jim,

I'm happy you found my posts interesting. The structural & core concepts are things I've figured out as I try to understand Amazon.

Any direct details, such as "this is prohibited by Amazon" etc. are either quoted from their help files or I've talked with them to ask them straight out.

Hope that answers your question. Let me know if not.

Have the best day ever,