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ChelseaWriter
12-28-2012, 05:12 AM
Apologies if this has been asked/answered 1,000 times (I did a quick search and didn't find what I was looking for). I'm currently researching small publishers, and am also considering self-publishing in the near future.

So, I was wondering -- how are the Amazon rankings interpreted? I mean, what does, say, 300,000 mean, in terms of average sales per month? Or 1.5 million? Or 20,000? Just trying to make heads or tails of this stuff.

Thanks in advance for your input! :)

robertbevan
12-28-2012, 05:15 AM
i've found that a sale a day can keep you somewhere in the 70k to 80k range. a couple of days with no sales can push you up into the 200k range.

hope that's some help.

ChelseaWriter
12-28-2012, 05:17 AM
That helps a lot, thank you!

veinglory
12-28-2012, 06:39 AM
For paperbacks #50,000 is about a sale per week. Lower numbers are more sales.

Michael Davis
12-28-2012, 06:54 AM
I ran an experiment with the KDP program at amazon by uploading one of my self published novels (don't have that flexibility with my publisher controlled works). As a result of roughly 2200 reader downloads the book jumped from a rank > half a million to 247 but it was very short lived. After the KDP cycle was over, within weeks it had dropped back above 200K in rank. IOW the process is very dynamic.

christwriter
12-28-2012, 08:56 AM
With e-books anything under 200K equals roughly a sale every other day. And there is about a twelve hour lag between when a sale actually happens and when the numbers change. The days I've sold two books, the number jumps to 33,000 or so.

I've so far managed to sell at least one copy of each of my titles a month, and of my major titles, one a week.

annetpfeffer
12-28-2012, 09:57 PM
It seems more complicated than the formulas that have been given above, although I couldn't begin to tell you why. One of my books sells more than double the other one. Yet it's the poorer selling book that has a significantly better sales ranking.

ChelseaWriter
12-28-2012, 09:59 PM
Thanks for all the input, guys!

Anne, how bizarre -- I wonder why that's happening (the rankings not matching/synching with the actual sales that way). Anybody else experiencing that?

Fallen
12-28-2012, 10:21 PM
I'm glad someone brought this up. The rankings confuse the hell out of me.

christwriter
12-28-2012, 10:27 PM
It seems more complicated than the formulas that have been given above, although I couldn't begin to tell you why. One of my books sells more than double the other one. Yet it's the poorer selling book that has a significantly better sales ranking.

How recent are the sales on the better ranked book? The book with the most recent sales is usually the highest ranked.

How recently did you release the poorer-selling book? That can effect things too, I think.

Personally, I think the rank numbers are written by a very small monkey on crack, and they really don't matter. All they do is indicate how well a book is selling. They don't actually influence sales unless the number is REALLY small. I haven't had small numbers in the paid market, but I usually get my books pretty high up the free charts--or low, rather--and I haven't seen a relationship between how many people pick up copies at the higher numbers vs. how many grab copies at the lower ones.

No offense intended to the small, crack addicted monkey population.

merrihiatt
12-29-2012, 12:05 AM
I think it's more complicated, with reviews and how long a book has been available, as well as how many books have sold over time being taken into consideration, but the simple formula noted above is a fairly good rough estimate.

Chiquita Banana
12-29-2012, 01:00 AM
It seems more complicated than the formulas that have been given above, although I couldn't begin to tell you why. One of my books sells more than double the other one. Yet it's the poorer selling book that has a significantly better sales ranking.

Are they priced differently? I'm no expert, but I've heard that pricing influences the overall ranking of a book.

Interesting what Veinglory posted above (forgot to quote) about one paperback sale a week giving you a ranking of about 50,000. I haven't kept close track of this, but I think one sale a week of one of my $2.99 or $3.99 e-books would probably cause my ranking to dip below 100K for a day or so but then shoot back up past 200K, possibly reaching 300K before the week is up. Wonder if this just has to do with price or if paper books have an advantage over e-books when it comes to rankings...

Old Hack
12-29-2012, 02:01 AM
It's impossible to come to any meaningful conclusions based on the Amazon rankings system, apart from "the books ranked higher have probably sold more copies than the books ranked lower".

So much depends on genre, date of sales, and the phase of the moon: you really can't work out how many copies a book has sold based on its Amazon rank.

It can be fun watching your book climb the ranks, but apart from that it's pretty much meaningless.

veinglory
12-29-2012, 02:11 AM
Interesting what Veinglory posted above (forgot to quote) about one paperback sale a week giving you a ranking of about 50,000. I haven't kept close track of this, but I think one sale a week of one of my $2.99 or $3.99 e-books would probably cause my ranking to dip below 100K ..

I was speaking only of paperback ranks which have proved fairly predictable. Ebook rankings, not so much.

annetpfeffer
12-29-2012, 03:56 AM
In answer to various questions that I received above, my two books are the same genre (YA contemporary fiction) and both priced at $2.99. They both sell steadily but one sells more than double the other.

The lower selling book with the better amazon ranking was published seven months before the second book.

But what may matter more is that they're in different amazon categories. My lower selling / better ranking book is in a much less competitive category than the other one.

veinglory
12-29-2012, 04:01 AM
I would assume we are talking about the top category (all titles) when discussing ranks.

annetpfeffer
12-29-2012, 05:49 AM
I would assume we are talking about the top category (all titles) when discussing ranks.

I was referring to the rankings in the Kindle Books category (which I assume means all Kindle books). But my books are in different subcategories of kindle books, and I just thought the competitiveness level of different subcategories might be a factor in how your total ranking score came out.

veinglory
12-29-2012, 08:13 AM
I think the categories just act as pure subsets with no feedback. That certainly seems to be the case with the hardcopy rankings.

sarahdalton
12-29-2012, 03:37 PM
Are they priced differently? I'm no expert, but I've heard that pricing influences the overall ranking of a book.


Yes, I think they do. This blog post is very useful to help authors understand the algorithms used by Amazon and how they have changed. http://www.lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/recent-amazon-algorithm-changes/

I think Amazon rankings are very important for selling books. They may not be the most comprehensive to understand or meaningful in terms of book quality. They may not even properly represent the amount of books sold - but they are extremely important in terms of visibility. The higher up the rankings you are - the more likely you are to be seen by a potential buyer.

It's important to understand how they work on a basic level when you're thinking about pricing your book. For instance, if you price your book at 99p you might find the book lagging behind in the popularity lists than if you priced the book slightly higher. This in turn could affect future sales.

I can't explain it half as well as the guy in the blog post, so read that. :)

MMcDonald64
12-29-2012, 07:38 PM
It seems more complicated than the formulas that have been given above, although I couldn't begin to tell you why. One of my books sells more than double the other one. Yet it's the poorer selling book that has a significantly better sales ranking.

I think things like price and rating might factor in and also long terms sales. For instance, I have a book that is over two years old. It is my all time bestseller so its ranking is 'stickier' than my newest book. If they both sell 5 books on a given day, even if their ranks start out about the same for that day, the older book will get a bigger boost, and its rank will stick longer. If both go the next day with no sales, the new book tumbles 30,000 spots in ranking while the older one might only drop a few thousand.

James D. Macdonald
12-29-2012, 09:35 PM
It's impossible to come to any meaningful conclusions based on the Amazon rankings system, apart from "the books ranked higher have probably sold more copies than the books ranked lower".


Sold more copies more recently. That's IF you are looking at two books published on the same day, AND you're looking at the sales rank at the same minute.

Even then, you can't tell absolute numbers sold.* I'm convinced Amazon throws in a random fudge factor so that Barnes&Noble can't figure out how well Amazon as a whole is doing.

The only thing that's fairly certain is that a book with no sales rank has sold no copies.

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*Even more so when Amazon isn't the sole sales channel for a book.

BAY
12-30-2012, 10:46 AM
Sarahdalton,

Thanks for the interesting link.

J. Tanner
12-30-2012, 11:16 AM
I think things like price and rating might factor in and also long terms sales. For instance, I have a book that is over two years old. It is my all time bestseller so its ranking is 'stickier' than my newest book. If they both sell 5 books on a given day, even if their ranks start out about the same for that day, the older book will get a bigger boost, and its rank will stick longer. If both go the next day with no sales, the new book tumbles 30,000 spots in ranking while the older one might only drop a few thousand.

I've seen reports of similar behavior. Like a book that sold a lot of copies prior to being unpublished maintaining a fairly stable rank despite not selling anything in months.