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

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?