Tuesday, October 16

Amazon Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales

Amazon's Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales
Amazon's Top 100 Authors

It used to be that only books were ranked against one another but now Amazon is doing it to authors. The question is, what does this mean for writers? I'll talk about that in a moment but, first, let's see what exactly Amazon Author Rank is.

Amazon Author Rank

While only 100 of the top selling authors, both overall and in any category, are publicly ranked against each other, all Amazon authors have been given an author rank. From Amazon's Author Rank FAQ:

What is Amazon Author Rank?

Amazon Author Rank is based on sales of all your books relative to the sales of other authors. [...] Like the Billboard charts, lower numbers are better. [...] Amazon author rank is updated hourly.


What's Included in Amazon Author Rank?

[W]e look at paid sales of all of an author's books on Amazon.com. It includes books in Kindle, physical and audio formats.

Where will Amazon Author Rank be seen on Amazon.com?

An Amazon Author Rank will only appear for authors in the top 100 overall or in the top 100 in a browse category. Amazon Author Rank will appear on book detail pages in the More About the Author widget, on an author's Author Page and, on the Amazon Author Rank page.
For instance, this is Debbie Macomber's Author Rank from her book page for The Inn At Rose Harbor: A Novel:

Click to enlarge


What Does Amazon Author Rank Mean For Authors?

While I read many comments on Twitter along the lines of, "Why don't they just put authors in a jar and shake it?" Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, was quoted by Publisher's Weekly as saying, "…It’s a smart feature. It recognizes that the author — not the publisher — is the brand that readers care about. (Amazon Starts Author Ranking Feature)"

Carolyn Kellogg, over at the Los Angeles Times, cautions against taking the ranking too seriously, at least not until Amazon has worked the bugs out:
Wednesday morning, Dr. Seuss appeared to be ranked 56th and 64th simultaneously. Neil Gaiman also held two simultaneous spots, 84th and 88th.

The Author Sales Rank is determined solely by sales of all of an author's books on Amazon. Because this is Amazon, there are some peculiarities. For example, the person holding the first place Amazon Author Rank is not E.L. James (2nd), James Patterson (4th) or J.K. Rowling (11th). It's Sylvia Day.

Sylvia Day is an erotic novelist whose books "Reflected in You" and "Bared to You" have followed E.L. James up the bestseller charts. (Creating more neurotic authors: Amazon's Author Rank)
This isn't a bug, but it surprised me: when I took this screenshot a couple of hours ago, Bill O'Reilly was ranked higher than J.K.Rowling!

Click to enlarge

Author's Rank Could Make Having A Bestseller Less Important

Putting the emphasis on the author rather than the publisher, or the book, means that Author's Rank measures how successful you are as an (Amazon) author overall. In so doing it could make writing a bestseller less important to ones financial success.

For instance, if you get one of your books on the New York Times bestseller list, chances are all your upcoming books are going to be on the list as well. Not invariably, but often. When that happens you can buy a yacht, or take your neighborhood to Disney World. Whichever.

That put the focus on writing a bestseller because, no matter how many midlist books you wrote, you'd never get close to that kind of selling power. And, of course, whether your book was a bestseller had a lot to do with your publishers expectations--how many books they printed and sent to bookstores, how much money they allocated for marketing, and so on.

Perhaps, also, Amazon Author Rank will help mitigate the loss in sales indie authors have experienced since Amazon adjusted their book ranking algorithm in May of this year. Time will tell.

If you've published on Amazon and you're curious what your Author's Rank is, head over to Amazon's Author Central.

What do you think of Amazon Author Rank? Do you think it will help, or hurt, your sales?

Other articles you might like:
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- How To Design A Great Looking Book Cover
- The Best Way To Build A Writer's Platform Is To Write

Photo credit: Karen Woodward

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