Self-Help is Amazon’s Top-Selling Category
If you are curious about what books are REALLY selling on Amazon, look no further than the “Self Help” category.
Within “Self-Help” are the with subcategories of: Motivational, Success, Personal Transformation, Spiritual, Self-Esteem, Creativity, Happiness, Anxiety, Phobias, Stress-Management, Anger-Management, Abuse, Communication Skills, Coloring Books for Grown-ups, Death and Grief, Eating Disorders, Emotions, Inner Child, Midlife, New Age, Time Management, Relationships, Sex… this list goes on and on.
Jebus, we are clearly all a bunch of crazy people, riddled with doubt and self-hatred.
If you click on the 100 Best Sellers category, almost half are Self-Help related outside of The Martian and Harry Potter. Number 7 is Adult Coloring Book: Stress Reliving Patterns. Seriously. Get out the crayon therapy. Climb back into the womb.
The reason I was poking around on Amazon, was I was trying to figure out, if, theoretically I was going to write a book or blog, or whatever — what exactly is really hot these days? What do the masses really need help with? Desire? Fixate on?
Certain books that get famous these days are SCARY: take 50 Shades of Grey, for example. My sister works on the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train that runs for a few days through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Its on every wealthy 80- year olds bucket list of things-to-do-before-you die. Full of old people. Sitting bored, next to their old husbands (who are busy flirting with my sister, the cute, blonde train commentator) with nothing to talk about any more.
Anyways, a couple of years ago, she noticed all the old ladies had their noses buried in 50 Shades and completing avoiding looking out the windows of the train, passing through jaw-droppingly beautiful places.
On special occasions, she would announce over the microphone “Look left out the window, there is a big black bear with its cub!” The grannies still didn’t even look up. What the hell were they reading that was more interesting than seeing a black bear?
A year later, my sister, by way of customer research actually picked up that bloody book and realized WHAT all those grannies were interested in: S&M smut. Badly-written smut, that become super best-seller with an equally crap movie (I fast-forwarded through it in 20 min, much to my horror).
Why are the grannies reading smut? Have they been having bad sex for decades or what? Or is fantasy sex better than real sex anyways?
If you want good smut, please do watch Magic Mike 1 and 2 (1 is better, but two is fine, just fast-forward the storyline). Or Spartacus Blood and Sand, Season One, for god’s sakes.
My point is, a lot of the stuff that gets popular is terrible, but maybe has a certain appeal to a mass audience — 50 Shades was sex or porn fantasy for women.
So if you want to be a financially successful author — you can write smut or an adult coloring book — maybe even a smutty adult coloring book!
Or you could delve into self-help. I find it very interesting that number 5 in the Top 100 is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Wait, whaaaat? You mean if I fire my cleaning lady and wash my own dishes, floors and toilet this will change my life? Tell me more! Enlighten me.
Seriously, though. Maybe self-help is golden category. Looks like we are all just big messes. Humans!
This is why having a dog is so therapeutic — no existential crises, no real drama (except her hobby of gobbling other dogs’ shit).
Meimei (my dog) has certainly has not discovered the magic of tidying up. No, in fact, its quite the opposite — ripping up toilet paper up is her biggest joy of her life.
Maybe part of the therapy of dog ownership is ME having to tidy up after HER: crouching down in public, picking up her warm piles of shit every day with my hand in a bag on the streets of Shanghai is MAGIC indeed.