So you can read my books

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Megan Fox wrote me, asking if I would explain Amazon's Sales Ranking.

{I was dreaming at the time, of course!}

Megan just wrote me again with some interesting figures from April of this year :

Interesting numbers:

- 28 out of 100 top e-books in Kindle Store are self-published; 11 are in top 50,
- all of those publications are priced $3.99 or less; that means 28% of top Kindle e-books cost less than $4,

- 18 of the titles are given the lowest possible price tag: $0.99,
- the shining star is John Locke with 8 titles (7 of them in top 50); Vegas Moon is the best self-published book – ranked #4,

- Amanda Hocking is sliding down; her best selling book, Ascend, is #64 (a result of signing a contract with a publisher?),

- authors to watch: Heather Killough-Walden, Julie Ortolon, J.R. Rain and Debbi Mack – with 2 or more titles in top 100.

{Megan being a "good" bad girl gave Piotr Kowalczyk credit for those figures. Her figure she takes full credit for!}

Ah, the ever popular "Amazon Sales Rank. Often debated, never fully understood. And Amazon never fully explains.

So we're left to speculate like the number-crunching data addicts that we (or at least some of us) are.

Not only can it indicate how a book ranks in sales to other books, but it can be used to approximate actual copies sold.

The ASR is a unique number that is constantly recalculated. For example if a book has an ASR of 100,000, then 99,999 other books sold more copies and approximately 4,900,000 books sold fewer copies at that particular time.

Rankings can spike due to large corporate purchases or heavy marketing promotions and are accurate only for the exact time they are calculated.

ASR’s from 1 – 10,000 are recalculated hourly. ASR’s from 10,001 to 110,000 are recalculated daily. ASR’s above 110,001 are re calculated monthly.

The ASR is based on a single ISBN (edition), not the book title. Therefore, the ASR for a title released as a mass-market paperback ISBN does not reflect the sales of that title as a hardcover edition, trade paperback edition, or special edition.

An average rank of 1,000 (or lower) means you have a seriously successful title;

an average rank of 10,000 means you’re doing pretty good for a book that’s no bestseller;

an average rank over 100,000 means it’s (your book is) not going to contribute significantly to your income.”

If you have a book on Amazon, for fun, you might :

Note when there’s a big spike in the number. Did someone review your book around that time? Did you post a comment on a blog or website the day before? Note the spikes in sales over time and what might have caused them.

So, why are we obsessed with our Amazon Sales Rank?

Well, no matter what the number may be, if the number is rising it means a sale, which means a royalty payment in the end.

It might not be much of a payment, but keeping your book at a higher sales rank definitely increases exposure,

which hopefully increases sales and increases money in your pocket.


  1. Hi,

    OMG: obsess over ranking at Amazon? Not on your Nelly. My novellas have apparently, according to first ever glimpse at stats graph, gone up and down like an out of control roller-coaster. I'd prefer steady as she goes, and from what I can see neither are listed within "people who purchased this also purchased" so I'm guessing all the sales so far have been one-off buys. Ain't that a bummer!

    Perhaps a few blog-splashes are called for! You first... I'll skip such as I'd be lucky to get a half-dozen bloggers who'd turn up and that wouldn't be enough for an all time rave. There's always the alternative of flyers left on car windscreens at supermarket car parks. ;)


  2. ...Amazon sales can be a bit skewed, (that's skewed, not screwed ;) their sales do not reflect the books being peeled off the shelves locally, or the one's being sold from competitors, just off the top of my head.

    And by the way...what kind of connections do you have down there, Roland...being on a first hand basis with Megan Fox and all?

    Lucky guy...


  3. I really don't pay attention to the rankings. I did a special launch for one of my books and it just happened to occur on a day their ranking system was down, so I never knew the outcome of my efforts. I pretty much stopped looking after that.

  4. Oh no. You're making me overuse the left side of my brain. I'm going to slip into a coma any minute now. This is suduko territory. I'm sure this is fascinating and highly informative, but although I can fully grasp the theories of quantum physics, I am currently at a loss. If I ever have a book on Amazon, for fun, I might have to contact you. :)

  5. Interesting. Thanks for the lesson on Amazon rankings.

    I didn't know Megan Fox was interested in publishing. ;)

  6. I have to admit, I do obsessively look at this, as do most of my author friends. It's hard not to, even when we don't fully understand it!

  7. Francine :
    Self-published author, John Locke, says that once your book hits the Top 100 Amazon Sales List, it gathers a momentum of its own. Nice to think so.

    Elliot :
    I have never fully understood how Amazon did its ranking, so I thought some of you might be interested, too.

    Yes, Megan, and I exchange emails all the time. Her lawyer has gotten into it, using words like CEASE and DESIST!

    L.Diane :
    I don't blame you. Trying to understand the inner workings of Amazon is truly frustrating!

    Laila :
    Feel free to contact me if you decide to self-publish a book. Think of it as an experiment in the future. LOL.

    Medeia :
    Megan's thinking of writing her memoirs ... or of asking money from certain famous people not to!

    Heather :
    You can't help but look if you have published a book. Frustrating but too tempting not to!!

  8. My novel on Kindle goes from anywhere between the 20,000s and 200,000. But it's recalculated hourly from what I can tell. Print mine ranges between 50,000s and 900,000s and I think it recalculates hourly most of the time as well.

    I do think that price makes a difference--lower definately = more sales. It's a balance between readership and income, depending on what the author/publisher is shooting for. Finding the sweet spot, that attracts...that's the trick for some.

  9. Interesting figures, there. And score with that Zombieland video!

    I've thought of e-publishing for some time, but I'm stubborn. At least I know there's a second option if the traditional route doesn't work. The figures help. Thanks! :)

  10. Number watching gives me adgida...I just can't take it. I'm more of the cover your eyes and hope for the best strategy. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Romance