Amazon Sales Rank – Why It Matters
It’s time to talk about the Amazon Sales Rank.
You’re probably well aware of the extreme competitive nature of Amazon. The amount of anxiety for product creators ahead of knowing whether it is worth taking the time to create something can’t be overstated. Even the most obscure product category can have a number of products doing battle for market share within it.
Amazon has an exhaustive list of product categories –
Apparel & Accessories (1036592)
Appstore for Android (2350149011)
Arts, Crafts & Sewing (2617941011)
Black Friday Sales (384082011)
Camera & Photo (502394)
Car Toys (10963061)
Cell Phones & Accessories (2335753011)
Computer & Video Games (468642)
Grocery & Gourmet Food (16310211)
Health & Personal Care (3760901)
Home & Kitchen (1055398)
Industrial & Scientific (16310161)
Kindle Store (133140011)
Kitchen & Housewares (284507)
Magazine Subscriptions (599858)
Movies & TV (2625373011)
MP3 Downloads (2334092011)
Musical Instruments (11091801)
Office Products (1064954)
Pet Supplies (2619533011)
Specialty Stores (-4505)
Sports & Outdoors (3375251)
Tools & Hardware (228013)
Toys and Games (165793011)
Warehouse Deals (1267877
For the purpose of this article, we will be looking at eBooks within the Kindle store.
There are a few pieces of data which are often used ahead of product creation. From the above image, we learn that container gardening not only exists (I sure didn’t know!) but that it is popular enough to have its own product category. We also see that this particular example shows a sales rank of #60,592.
At first glance, what the heck is #60,592? Is that a good or bad sales rank? Is that product making any money?
It’s not at all obvious. Thankfully, help is at hand.
We will now take a look at the most powerful tips and tricks related to Amazon sales rank. Understand and apply this information to save yourself time and money – and to give yourself a significant competitive advantage over your uninformed rivals.
Amazon Sales Rank Secret 1 – How Many Units Sold?
The secrets to exact sales figures on Amazon may as well be with the aliens – after all, there’s about as much chance of ET telling us as there is Amazon. Maybe more.
You will notice that the actual sales for a product is not something Amazon displays publicly. Does this mean the ranking is effectively useless? No, not at all – you just have to be smart about how you use it.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the sales ranking figure alone gives you a way to compare two products. Compare the ranking for product x and product y and you can immediately tell which is selling better at the time. The phrase ‘at the time’ is key – as you will see later on.
So is there no way at all of estimating units sold by the sales ranking number? Actually, a number of industry insiders have put their experience into making educated guesses as to the relationship between a sales rank and units sold. Here’s a great free tool to estimate how many units an eBook has sold on Amazon based on its sales rank.
For now, the takeaway from this secret is there is no exact science to the sales ranking and units sold relationship – it is a relative decision made by Amazon’s own internal system – and anyone telling you otherwise is misleading you.
Amazon Sales Rank Secret 2 – eBook Metric Benchmarks
As we’ve just seen in the above secret, the point of the sales rank is NOT to know the exact number of units sold. Instead, we need to be a bit more creative about how we use it. One way is to use some tried and tested eBook sales rank benchmark figures to estimate how well a particular title is doing.
Sales Rank of 100,000 = 1 Copy Per Day
A sales rank of 100,000 is often used as the benchmark for a minimally successful book. If your competition is around the 100,000 mark, it shows that there is consistent demand for the product, and it has the potential to generate a steady if not spectacular passive income stream for you.
Sales Rank of 50,000 = 5 Copies Per Day
This is a book that is doing quite nicely indeed. Be sure to check the age of the release for books around this level – if they have been recently launched, the number may be higher before eventually settling. The importance of time to understanding Amazon sales ranking will be explained later in this article.
Sales Rank of 20,000 = 13 Copies Per Day
The big leagues! Double figure daily unit sales. Obviously, books at this level can earn significant amounts of income.
Sales Rank of 10,000 = 15 Copies Per Day
An Amazon sales rank of 10,000 is often used as the point where a book becomes hard to compete with. Experts often warn against trying to compete in a niche with more than a few books at 10,000 or below.
Sales Rank of 5,000 = 34 Copies Per Day
This level can be difficult for many self-publishers to reach.
Sales Rank of 1,000 = 113 Copies Per Day
Major league books! To be in the top 1000 of all the books sold by Amazon is a major achievement – with major financial rewards, of course.
Sales Rank of 100 = 1000 Copies Per Day
Likely to be major books found in mainstream bookstores.
Sales Rank of 1 = 6400 Per Day
The King of the Castle. Unlikely to be reached for almost all of us – shows what’s possible however, if you are ever lacking motivation.
You can use these sales ranking benchmarks either to check the attractiveness and commercial success of a genre/category/niche you are thinking of targeting – or to check up on the claims of another author! Many people like to make wild claims about their work. These rank benchmarks are a great way of seeing whether that ‘best selling’ author is even making a dollar a day.
Amazon Sales Rank Secret 3 – Kindle Unlimited – A Ranking Gamechanger
When is a sales rank not a sales rank? When it is influenced by more than sales!
Excuse the riddles – but to solve the puzzle of sales rankings, you need to understand that more than just the ‘units purchased’ impacts upon the number.
One of the most divisive issues to ever hit the Kindle community came with the announcement of KENP 2.0 – the latest and current version of Kindle’s eBook borrowing system.
Some Kindle users sign up for a program called ‘Kindle Unlimited’ which basically allows them to borrow books rather than purchasing them.
The plus side of this for self-publishing authors is a rampant community of readers willing to devour multiple books a month. The downside? Many authors have seen their income drop as more readers borrow and less buy.
So how does this relate to Amazon sales ranking? Basically, anecdotal evidence from within the self-publishing community has shown that pages read can actually increase a sales ranking.
The takeaway from this is a book can have a relatively high sales rank – and may not have sold a single copy! People may be borrowing it.
So, “are writers still making money from borrowed books?” Yes – but the amount is variable from month to month. There is basically a pot of money allocated by Amazon each month for Kindle Unlimited pages read – and it is divided up proportionally among authors depending on the number of pages read that month.
Due to this relatively recent development, it is often more useful to think in terms of ‘demand rank’ than ‘sales rank’.
Amazon Sales Rank Secret 4 – Time Tells The Truth
Experienced Amazon publishers have reached a useful conclusion – sales rank primarily measures ‘time between sales’.
What are the implications of this?
Basically, a book can have sold well historically, but still be doing badly in the rankings at the present time. Conversely, you will notice that new books can make huge leaps up the rankings by selling just a couple of copies.
This also holds true outside of eBooks. In other Amazon product categories, some categories are very ‘full’ with huge numbers of products, while others are ’emptier’. The emptier the category, the easier it is to climb dramatically in the rankings with a few sales.
There are both legitimate and…less legitimate, shall we say, reasons why newer books often have misleading ranking numbers.
On the light side of the force, it is commonplace for authors to run discounted pricing structures close to the time of their book’s release, and even offer it on free promotion for a period of time. The momentum generated by these legitimate tactics can lead to a book’s ranking appearing to be better than the book actually is doing.
A more questionable method is for an author to buy large quantities of their own book, disguising the fact it is them doing so, in order to unfairly jump up in the rankings. This is often carried out with the aim of achieving a ‘bestseller’ status in an obscure category in order to receive better promotion in other categories. Sly stuff indeed!
So how can you make this information actionable?
To get the most accurate meaning from a sales rank number, you need to keep track of it over a period of time. This will account for any ‘gaming of the system’ or short term demand spikes skewing the rank number. Books should be tracked for months, if not longer, to get the best data possible.
Amazon Sales Rank Secret 5 – Rank Resources and Ideas
They say knowledge is power. What’s the point of power if you don’t use it? That would be like letting a Ferrari gather dust.
One way you can see your book soar in the rankings, like a…word eagle, or something (sorry, I’m a nerd, not a poet) 😉 is to use a clever combination of promotional marketing and pricing in conjunction.
In a nutshell, you want to offer your book for free for a period of time via a free giveaway (this can be done for up to five days). During the free period, be sure to spread the word of your giveaway far and wide. This will hopefully attract a good number of free downloads, which translates into momentum from Amazon’s own promotional system. After the free period, switch the book to 0.99. Eventually, switch it to the full price you wish to sell it for, and the momentum generated should carry over.
It’s also a great idea to make use of Amazon’s multiple platforms – which are all linked. Make a Createspace print on demand copy of your book, create an Audible version, and ensure they are all linked. Amazon is a demanding mistress indeed – but make use of everything she offers, and she will reward you accordingly, with higher preference in the search results. This should carry over into more sales and therefore a better sales ranking.
Sales Ranking Simple Summary
Let’s recap some of the key takeaways from this article –
*Sales ranking does not reveal units sold, but we can estimate these
*Sales ranking numbers are more meaningful over a period of time
*Strategic decisions on pricing and promotion can assist your sales ranking quest
The Amazon sales ranking algorithm evolves and adapts, much like some frightening mutant Pokemon. Bookachu? Rankizard?
As a result, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please comment and get in touch.
Although climbing the sales rank may seem like Mount Everest at times, you at least have a map. That’s more than most climbers. All that’s left to do? Take the first step.
Amazon Sales Rank Resources –
http://www.browsenodes.com/ – A great resource for Amazon affiliate sellers
http://www.digitopoly.org/2015/01/04/is-kindle-unlimited-distorting-amazon-sales-ranks/ – A statistical look at the impact of Kindle Unlimited on Amazon sales rank