Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tracking Sales With CreateSpace versus Amazon Sales Rankings

Amazon Sales Rankings of importance to self-published authors, well, any author really. This mysterious number indicates where a particular book title ranks in sales among all Amazon titles for sale at that given hour. The information provided must mean something to the employees and programmers at Amazon, but to the average person checking sales rank, the number means very little.

Why is there so much interest in Amazon Sales Rankings? First of all, the higher the sales ranking, the higher the book comes up in Amazon's search results, making a high sales ranking desirable. Why? The higher a book appears in the search results, the more likely it will be purchased.

Is there any other information to be gleaned from an Amazon Sales Ranking? What about actual sales totals? Alas, this information is hard to determine accurately from Amazon's Sales Ranking. Morris Rosenthal, the acknowledged expert on Amazon Sales Rankings, provides a chart which can be used to estimate sales based on sales rankings. You can subscribe to a service like RankTracer who has done the math and written software to translate the mysterious sales rankings into reasonably accurate sales figures.

If you publish through Lightning Source, which I do not, I am not sure how you check your sales totals (anyone who publishes with Lightning Source it would be great if you would comment on how to check sales totals using this company).

With CreateSpace, you can log in on your Member Dashboard and every hour your sales totals are updated. By viewing the details for that month's sales the day the book was sold can be seen, where the sale took place - Amazon or via Expanded Distribution, and the share of the sale you, the author or publisher, will receive.

This is so much easier than trying to estimate sales based on a nebulous sales ranking. Amazon Sales Rankings are still important, but not in determining sales numbers.