Sunday, August 28, 2005

Trekking the Amazon

How do Amazon rankings work? What do they mean? How does ranking correlate to actual sales?

A pretty good explanation can be found at http://www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm.

That's all fine and dandy, but is it correct? How many books does it take to make your ranking soar? How many in one day? How many per hour?

I decided to try and find out.

On Thursday, August 25, at 9:22am, my Amazon ranking for Bloody Mary was 76,534.

This is a record of the next 24 hours:

August 25, 9:22am - Rank 76,534 - Ordered 2 copies of Bloody Mary.

9:49am - Rank 79,435

11:00am - Rank 79,435

2:24pm - Rank 24,411 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

3:21pm - Rank 28,418

4:49pm - Rank 18,953 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

6:38pm - Rank 22,103

7:18pm - Rank 25,418

8:00pm - Rank 17,993

9:40pm - Rank 20,142 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

12:03am - Rank 27,590

12:30am - Rank 19,020

9:20am - Rank 26,011

Conclusions - Got me. I have no idea what this means. Sell two books every 3 hours and hover around 20,000? Sell eight books in a day and hover around 20,000?

I called Ingram (615-213-6803), which supplies Amazon, and so far this year they've distributed 816 Bloody Mary's. I don't know what percentage of these are through Amazon.

But then I'll look at the numbers of another thriller author who released a handcover at the same time as mine---about 8 weeks ago. Her Amazon rank averages between 3000 and 8000, and she's also been in the hundreds. A call to Ingram shows she's sold 1090 copies this year.

That means I've sold about 102 copies a week, while she's sold 136 copies a week, or 19 a day to my 14 a day.

All of those ARE NOT through Amazon.

Maybe we can say she's selling 10 a day through Amazon, which is keeping her in the 6000 range. I'm selling 7 a day, which is keeping me at 25,000.

Or maybe not.

I checked my friend's recent paperback rank: 25,646. My recent paperback rank is 212,332. But a call to Ingram tells me she has sold 786 this year, and I've sold 979. Huh?

So all in all, this stupid experiment has taught me nothing. Other than: don't worry about Amazon rankings.

Live and learn.

Anyone want to buy eight signed copies of Bloody Mary?