Demystifying Amazon Rankings (+ Sharing Some Book Promo Strategies I’m Using)

The Number One


What does it mean to be #1 on Amazon? What if you are ranked as #113,490? Is that good or bad?

Today I’m going to demystify Amazon rankings for you as well as inform you of some of my book promotional strategies I’m using… even though I’m supposed to be on vacation.

Although I’ve stepped back from most of my freelancing duties for a few weeks, I’ve been working my butt off writing guest posts and trying to do some marketing for my book.

I’ve sort of been tracking how well my ebook, Risky Issues, is doing on Amazon, too.

August 4 2014 Amazon Ranking

Amazon Rankings

The other day I checked when I checked, as you can see in the picture above, my book was doing well (or so I thought). Two days later, it was listed as #326,355.  Ouch.

I don’t understand Amazon rankings.

When I checked the rankings on July 26, 2014, it was listed as  #401,131.

When I checked the rankings two days later, it was at #504,504. Nope, you’re not seeing double (well, yeah, in a way, you are), you are seeing just fine.


So how does a book go from #504,504 to #113,490 in one week?

Your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea. I can only assume that people are buying it! 🙂

What the research about Sales Rank says

I admit I was curious about how the sales ranking happens. Without getting too technical, I’d have to say that I found this (from a 5-year-old article):

Amazon sales rank is basically a popularity contest, in which each purchase of a book constitutes a vote for it. It is not an absolute measure of sales quantity, but only a relative measure of where one book stands among all others sold on Amazon. Approximate correlations of average Amazon sales rank to U.S. sales can be found in Morris Rosenthal’s Amazon sales rank analysis. But these are rough figures only and subject to changes over time and season.

Amazon sales rank for all books is now updated once each hour, and all at once. At that time, a book jumps to a higher sales rank (a lower number) for the sale of any new or used copy. With no new sale, the sales rank will drift lower (to a higher number) as books that have sold copies push it down. If a book has no sales rank at all, that means no one has ever bought it!

The time of hourly updating is fairly regular but changes over time and also varies according to your geographical location. For instance, at the Sales Rank Express control center in Washington state, it was found one day to occur regularly at about a quarter after the hour. On the same day, at the Foner Books offices in Massachusetts, it was found to occur on the hour. And on another day here in Washington, it started out at quarter to the hour, then switched later to a quarter after.

The jump in Amazon sales rank that results from a sale will probably not occur at the next hourly update. Tests in May 2007 showed a typical time lag at of around two to three hours between the sale and the jump in sales rank.

Occasionally, Amazon’s system may become “stuck,” so that sales rank does not advance after a sale. You may see sales ranks remain completely static for long periods, or see most of them drift slowly downward. Just wait a while, and Amazon will fix it.

Novel Rank

I then learned a bit about Novel Rank. There is a free tracker I used to determine that my book has not yet been sold in some of Amazon’s stores. Geez. There’s so many people in this world who are missing out on a great book! 😉

Demystifying Rankings

Unfortunately, even though the numbers of my ranking “moved,” the bad news is that ONLY ONE SALE can make the numbers move dramatically. Ugh. Being an author just gets better and better… (yes, that is sarcasm). 😉

Because I’m not going to re-invent the wheel, I’ll simply point you to another article that will explain through example how little these numbers really mean.

I’m one for tunnel vision. It’s a bad habit I have. However, now that I’ve learned that these numbers don’t mean much (they don’t, really, in the overall scheme of things), I can focus on what’s important: getting more eyes on my book.

Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly

My “Bloggy” Promotional Tactics: Free and Paid Promotions

I’ve decided I’m going to pay for some promotion. I don’t yet know when or where this will all happen. When I know, you’ll know. 😉

My plan for some free promotion basically involved asking others who’ve I’m helped promote on my other site (Wording Well) to help promote me. I sent emails out to a few people, asking them to:

*review my book

*host my on their blog

*interview me

*scream from the rooftops about how everyone needs to buy my book 😉


What I’ve accomplished already

I’ve been interviewed already by an award-winning author, and shared the steps I’ve followed to get published.

I’ve had a guest post featured on Indies Unlimited: The Good and the Bad of Being a First-Time Self-Published Author.

I’ve had a memoir coach/author teach others about fictionalized truths using my ebook as an example of how to do this, since my bonus story is a true story, but the other stories in my book are fiction. In Laura Hedgecock’s post, When to Use Fiction to Tell True Stories, she explains how the pain from writing the truth about your experiences shouldn’t stop you from writing, and uses my book, Risky Issues, to illustrate her points. I’d strongly urge you to view the “Note from the Author” using the LOOK INSIDE feature so that you may fully appreciate the value of this post.

I’ve gotten a 5-star review from Jo Ann Plante, and another from Chris Graham.

I’ve gotten a 4-star review from Nikita Soni, and another from Raani York.

I’ve gotten a 3-star review from someone I sought out specifically to review my book. Anna both blogged her review and posted it to Amazon.


Promos and Guest Appearances that are Coming Up

I’m going to be featured on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog on August 18th (a Monday) and on Jamie Miller’s blog on the August 22nd (a Friday).  Yes, these are already set in stone. 🙂

I’m going to be featured on Yvonne Hertzberger’s blog, Jamie Miller’s blog, Raani York’s blog, and Christy Birmingham’s (fairly new) blog: When Women Inspire.

I’m also going to be doing a book review/promo tour… I think… which I will have to pay for. In fact, I might even do two, using two different “companies” (sites).

In the meantime, I’m going to be using CreateSpace to print my book, which will enable me to promote my book in other ways (including holding book signings and getting my book into schools and libraries) but I’m having some problems with getting this done due to some taxation issues, which I’ll be blogging about in the near future.

If you want to be sure to NOT MISS  THIS VITAL INFORMATION, I’d like to urge you to sign up for my author newsletter NOW, before you forget!









2 thoughts on “Demystifying Amazon Rankings (+ Sharing Some Book Promo Strategies I’m Using)

  1. Michael Babcock

    Thanks for this wonderful information about Demystifying Rankings on Amazon. I have not written a book yet, however my friend Maxwell has written two as I know your aware of and this is good information to review. Things change on a normal basis around the web, but learning what things looked like a couple of years ago will help shape plans for a book when I do release one and ideas for helping friends like Max with building there book launch. Additionally, thanks a lot.


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