Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Marketing, Amazon Sales Rankings and Tracking Book Sales

Why are authors, particularly self-published authors, so concerned with the Amazon Sales Ranking of their book? What is the connection with Amazon Sales Ranking and book marketing? Last of all, why are authors, and publishers, so concerned with tracking book sales and trying to determine what Amazon Sales Rankings mean in this big equation?

Unless you published your book just to see a copy of it in print, you want it to sell. If your motive is not to make money, but rather for your book to be read by as wide an audience as possible, it still needs to sell in order to reach the intended reader audience.

Amazon Sales Rankings are not meant to be an accurate reflection of the total number of copies a given book has sold.  They are meant to be a reflection of the books ranking in Amazon's total sales at that given moment, nothing more.

I do not want to address methods of book marketing that involve using Amazon and its features.  If you are interested in learning more about those methods of book marketing, and POD self-publishing, just click on the Amazon links on the right side of this blog for Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon and Morris Rosenthal's POD Self-Publishing.  I want to address other methods of book marketing and attempting to measure the impact of those efforts on Amazon sales.

My primary book business is selling coaching books on basketball.  I have a web site and e-newsletter that are important parts of my marketing efforts.  I was professionally trained coach with my graduate degree focusing on sport psychology. Marketing is a brand new area of learning for me with a great deal of trial and error being involved.

When I try a particular soft sell approach in the e-newsletter, I need to be able to measure its impact on sales to determine if it is successful or not. The books I published through CreateSpace allow me to learn of sales within hours and thereby measure the effectiveness of my most recent marketing efforts. My book that is published through Dog Ear Publishing is printed by LSI and I do not get sales figures until AFTER the quarter in which the book was sold.  Three to six months delay in gathering information is not productive in allowing me to learn anything of value from my marketing efforts. Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball is my best seller and the one I have the least amount of information on in terms of sales and marketing.

This is why tracking sales, for me at least, through Amazon Sales Rankings is so important for this particular book. If I see a positive move in one of my books Amazon Sales Rankings that is sustained over a period of time, I know that my marketing efforts are paying off.  If nothing happens I have also learned something of value.

For self-published authors, we aren't just authors, we are also the publisher. This means we are also responsible for marketing our book(s). Spending large amounts of time and possibly money on marketing strategies that are not working is detrimental.  Self-publishing authors must track their sales, perhaps not as closely as some of us do, but none-the-less they must track sales and compare this data to marketing efforts to determine the effectiveness of those efforts.

It can be time consuming to look up each individual book's Amazon Sales Ranking. There are ways to track not only a single book's ranking, but to track multiple books at once.  Title Z, which is a free service at this moment, is one means Amazon Sales Rankings can be tracked.  RankTracer, which is a for pay service that is very economically priced, is another means of tracking sales rankings. Metric Junkie, a service that I have not tried, is also free. Finally, there is Aaron Shepard's Sales Rank Express that can be used to quickly track a books Amazon Sales Ranking.