If you’ve published your book and made it available on Amazon, you may have noticed the sales rank number that appears on each book page—in fact, maybe you’re even a little obsessed with that number! Nobody knows for sure how that ranking equates to exact book sales figures, but the lower the ranking the better your book is selling.
Amazon updates the sales rank number each hour, so you might log in at 8 a.m. and have a sales rank of 100,000, and then by noon it’s changed to around 70,000. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your book has sold 30,000 copies, but it may have sold one or two. If your rank is 70,000, then there are 69,999 books selling better than yours. If your rank is 10, then there are just 9 books selling better than yours across the site.
Legend has it that Amazon resets this ranking every 60 to 90 days to keep books visible. So if your book didn’t sell any copies for 90 days, the ranking would plummet to a number greater than 100k or even 1million. Because of this, it’s important to maintain a minimum number of sales—at least 5 copies per week—to keep the ranking under 100,000.
According to a report from rampant-books.com, sales numbers may equate to the following (nobody knows for sure):
|Amazon Sales Rank||Actual Books Sold Per Week|
Amazon also ranks books by sub-category, which indicates how popular a book is within its given category. For example, here’s an actual ranking for a business book on Amazon:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,996 in Books
#21 in Books > Business & Investing > Industries & Professions > E-commerce
#80 in Books > Business & Investing > Small Business & Entrepreneurship > Entrepreneurship
Based on the chart above, this book is likely selling 15 to 20 copies per week, which is enough for it to rank as #21 in the E-commerce sub-category. This can be beneficial since browsers who are interested in this category and search for titles will stumble across this one when viewing the top 100 list for that category.
Here is an example from a book in a different genre:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,704 in Books
#2 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Hinduism > Chakras
#9 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Reference
#16 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Exercise & Fitness > Yoga
Note that like the example above, this book is likely selling 15 to 20 copies per week, yet it’s enough to place it at #2 in the Chakras category, a more obscure sub-category with less competition.
This is a good reminder to make sure your book is listed in the right sub-categories. When you or your publisher submits your book to Amazon, you usually get to pick three categories. Amazon may also assign additional categories for your book. When you maintain steady sales, you can keep your ranking lower (under 100,000 is a good goal) and keep your book visible in its sub-categories.
By the way, rankings for Kindle books are similar, though there isn’t as much competition there so it’s easier to achieve a higher ranking for your book in its Kindle sub-category.
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