The secretive Amazon has opened up some about its Amazon Sales Rankings! Amazon authors may now log-in to their account on Author Central and access Nielsen sales data and Amazon Sales Rank data. Each Friday the entire set of data points will be updated, allowing authors to collect information about their books sales.
Authors will still have to check with their POD printing service for actual numbers at the end of any given recording period as the Nielsen data the Amazon rankings is based on claims to only account for 75% of all retail book sales in the United States.
One of the most fascinating data sets author's now have access to is sales by geography! I found this fascinating to examine and was surprised to see where my books actually sell. The data for geographical sales is presented on a map of the United States with a color coded system of depicting book sales by area. By moving your computer's cursor over the map sales information will be provided for each area.
Included in the information is a bar graph depicting sales by week based on information from BookScan. The graph is color coded for each book and depicts four weeks of sales with a bar to represent each week of sales. User information provided Amazon about this data states that the information represents 75% of all book sales and encourages the author to again check with his or her POD service for actual total sales figures as the information becomes available.
Alas, Kindle books sales figures and Amazon Sales Rankings are not available through the information provided in an author's Author Central account. Kindle authors can track their sales data through the Amazon DTP by checking the Reports in the DTP. The information that can be found in the Reports section includes sales to date figures for the current months and royalty figures for the last six weeks. All time sales figures by month are available as well.
Perhaps of more help for self-publishing authors is the FAQ section provided with the sales information explaining how the data is collected and providing explanations of how "to read" the Amazon Sales Rankings (I must confess, even after reading the official explanation of how Amazon Sales Rankings work, there are a few things I still don't understand).
It will certainly take time for authors to learn how to use and interpret all of the information Amazon now makes available concerning book sales. I for one am particularly interested in the geographical sales information since some of my books are not only a niche topic, but should be of more interest to potential customers in certain states. I will be able to evaluate my marketing efforts better now and be able to better ascertain if my promotional efforts are reaching the targeted reading audience.