The Mystery of the Amazon Sales Rank

amazon-sales-rankOne thing authors like to check on, but never admit to, is their Amazon ranking. Amazon ranks every book they offer based on sales. Of course it’s not perfect because it only lists books actually purchased on Amazon. So it doesn’t count sales at independent bookstores, books sold via the publisher, books sold by walking around town with a sandwich board, etc. At least that’s what we authors who rank in the hundreds of thousands remind ourselves regularly.

The good news is that the Amazon sales rank gives me another way to judge my self worth. Along with the number of friends I have on Facebook (114 but who’s counting?).

In my limited experience, the ranking seems to fluctuate wildly. As I write this “What Size Are God’s Shoes” is listed at 47,759. Which is pretty good. I’ve seen it as low as 18,000 and as high as 800,000. The market is so crowded with books that even a sale or two can make the number go down by 50,000. Of course the lower it goes, the harder it is to jump places. Here’s what Amazon says about the ranking system.

One nice thing that Amazon does (to make us feel better I think) is offering a more targeted sales rank. In other words, they show my book coming up in the category “Books-entertainment-humor-religion.” There I’m ranked number eight. Eight! So “The Year of Living Biblically” is ranked number one, “Jewtopia: The chosen book for the chosen people” is up there. But unfortunately the 2009 “Nuns Having Fun” calendar also ranks ahead of me. That’s embarrassing.

By the time this gets posted, I’m sure my rank will have dipped again. Along with my self-esteem. You can check it here to confirm. It’s tough being a shallow author.


4 Comments on “The Mystery of the Amazon Sales Rank”

  1. The RCC doctrine of papal infallibility makes more sense than the ranking system. Watching it is a good way to make yourself nuts or, in your instance, more nuts. And another thing: no need to apologize for being a shallow author. You’re in excellent company. I happen to be a deeply shallow author.

    (I love the “Nuns Having Fun” calendar! I buy the new one every year.)

  2. Father Tim says:

    Shallow authors of the world unite! We should collaborate on a truly shallow book — one with absolutely no depth. I’m sure we could find a willing publisher…

    And now I know why the nuns rank ahead of me — you’re the culprit!

  3. Mary Cox says:

    A publisher, and and plenty of readers, too. Some of us will read just about anything to postpone the dread moment of actually writing something other than a comment on someone’s blog or a posting on FaceBook.

  4. Father Tim says:

    And that comes from a great writer, whose book review in “The Net” bumped up my sales ranking!

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