Guest Blogger: Richard Mabry
It’s right there on Amazon, buried in the fine print about a book, along with the name of the publisher, number of pages, and all the stuff most people don’t notice: the Amazon rank. Chances are that when you are looking for a book to purchase, you pay no attention at all to it. But if you’re a published author, and it’s your book, it’s a whole different ball game. You might check the rank frequently, sometimes every day. But what does it mean?
Amazon is particularly tight-lipped about sales figures, and even their information about rankings is sparse. They will admit that their ranking of bestsellers, reflecting both recent and historical sales of every item sold on their site, is updated every hour. However, it takes a little digging to find out that not all rankings are adjusted that frequently. Here’s a reasonable guesstimate from Rampant TechPress: #1 to 10,000 are recalculated every hour; #10,001-110,000 are recalculated every day. The rest are recalculated once a month.
So what do the figures mean? They mean that there are that many books with more sales than the one in question. The smaller the number, the better. If your book ranks 10,000, you know that 10,000 books sold more copies than yours. Since Amazon lists an estimated 4,000,000 books on their site, adding more and dropping some each day, a ranking of 10,000 would be good. But it won’t stay there. The rank can change with the purchase of just a few books, either yours or someone else’s.
Is it possible to correlate ranking with sales? Not officially, but there’s some information out there. For example, I found that a major publisher tracked 25 titles over a six-month period, correlating the weekly Amazon sales rank with actual reported sales from Amazon. Ranks down to 750 sold 75 to 275 books per week. From 750 to 3000 had sales of 40 to 75 per week. The sales drop the further down the list you go, and at 10,000 and above—where most of us hang out—the books sold only 1 to 5 copies per week. So you can see that at this level the number could change with the sale of as little as one unit.
If you want to track your book’s Amazon sales, you can use a free utility called TitleZ. I’ve used it for quite a while, and found it useful. It lets you enter the names of one or more books and follow their Amazon rankings, either in tabular or graphic form. Nice, but is it worth it to follow your rankings, or just an invitation to an ulcer?
The first consideration is that Amazon isn’t the only place people buy books. Barnes & Noble and Borders have online as well as brick and mortar stores. There are large chains of Christian bookstores like Mardel, Family Christian Stores, and Lifeway Stores, to name just a few. And don’t forget the independent booksellers.
Bottom line, your Amazon rank is sort of nice to know, but it won’t correlate with your royalty statement (which is a subject for another day). If you’re an author, should you check your Amazon ranking from time to time? It’s allowed. But should you open the champagne when the number is small and look for the bottle of antidepressants when the number rises? Nope. Just keep writing. Because that’s the major driver to sales: producing a good product that readers want. The figures will take care of themselves.
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing Christian fiction and non-fiction, and working fruitlessly on improving his golf game. Doc’s first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon Press in April, 2010, and his second one, Medical Error, just released.[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]