Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Rankings

At half past eight this morning I wrote #579,495 on my Twitter feed. You might have seen it and thought "Eh?"

Right now - two hours later - it would be #579,643.

What am I talking about? Amazon.com have helpfully included author ranking on their Author Central pages - you know, those pages you go to to see how well/badly your books are performing. Well, now there's something else to make you feel all warm and snuggling and secure.

Except, losing 150 places in two hours hasn't made me feel any of those things.

Amazon say: This list makes it easy for readers to discover the best-selling authors on Amazon.com overall and within a selection of major genres.

Only the top 100 authors will be on lists visible by buyers. Sorry, Mr 101, you've lost out!

But, if you are the best selling author in your genre, your readers probably know this. It's your books that pop up in the advertising, in the lists, first in the searches. It's your books that have the marketing budget so everyone knows your book is arriving weeks or months before the publishing date. It's your books that can have half a million pre-orders.

What about everyone else? The mid-listers, the self publishers, the small press/ebook exclusive writers (ahem...) What if you happen to be the very bottom author, the very last person in the list, will anyone at all buy your book? I, for one, really don't need to see any more graphs on a gradually downhill trajectory.

Amazon are big. It would have been a lovely thought if someone could have said, in one of their big meetings, "Why don't we flip the list and have that bottom person at the top? Wouldn't that be a warm and lovely thing for us to do?"

Because, to be fair, the best sellers don't really need help. It's everyone else - the people who sell one or two books a week, rather than an hour!


36 comments:

  1. You make a good point! It would be cool if they picked random books from the bottom end of the list and promoted them :D.

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    1. I am feeling incredibly sorry for the last guy!

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  2. I honestly don't see the point of this new author ranking feature. It's pretty obvious who the bestsellers are, because - as you've pointed out - there are other methods of promotion than this...

    For the average author, an author ranking on Amazon isn't going to mean a lot, and I'm not sure how much impact it will actually have on readers either. But a bit of random promotion for any author (regardless of ranking) would be nice!

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    1. Yes, when you're hanging around down at the 550,000 mark, it doesn't make a huge difference :-)

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  3. Great. Something else for me to worry about. =)

    I agree with the flip list idea. That would be a warm and lovely thing to do.

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    1. How many lists do you think we're actually on???? :-0

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  4. They rank authors as well as books? I'm not even going to look. I'll just focus on my books' rankings.

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    1. It's a new thing. I only got an email about it this morning. Not looking seems the most sensible thing.

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  5. I can say I have never looked at a books ranking before deciding to get it. But showing up sooner in the searches would definitely be helpful! It would be nice if they switched it up from time to time. :)

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    1. No, the rankings don't make much difference to me. Amazon do like their lists though, don't they?

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  6. I don't pay attention to the rankings. It drives me nuts when everyone in my RWA chapter post their daily rankings. I buy books based on recommendations of my friends and because a blurb and cover grabbed my attention on a blog. Rankings don't influence my choices. :)

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    1. I don't pay attention, but it's interesting to have a look every so often. I probably would never have noticed the author rank if Amazon hadn't emailed me to point it out.

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  7. I just like to think that Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates sweat over their rankings. What do you think? And that they pushed me off the chart - ha!

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    1. Absolutely, Joanne, they're pacing the floor as we speak, refreshing the page and watching that daft line on the chart going up and down lol!!

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  8. That is so true. Why not help the newer lesser known peeps??
    But don't worry too much about the rating. I hear it changes all the time and is manipulated by authors leaving reviews on their own work in anonymous or fake names. Pretty low, but I guess if there's a way to cheat, someone will figure it out.

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    1. I probably won't check that ranking again. I had a quick look when I received the email from Amazon because I was curious, and I thought it would be interesting for the post to check again. There are other things that are more important, such as people reading and liking my book!

      I agree that it won't be long before people try to cheat!

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  9. I wasn't even aware that rankings were available! But you're right, the top 100 probably don't need that extra help. I'm a bit torn on how I feel about this. Of course Amazon wants to push the popular books that will be bringing in their revenue, but if they helped push other books that could potentially catapult them up into the top 100 and still bring in the money that they're looking for.

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    1. They have the size and influence to be incredibly useful to the little guy, if they thought about it properly...

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  10. It's too bad things didn't work that way. That's one of the toughest things about self-publishing, I think--having to do all the marketing yourself!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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    1. From what I hear, even mid-list authors with the Big 6 have to do a fair amount themselves. The budgets are funnelled towards the 'superstar' authors with guaranteed sales - JK Rowling could probably have published her shopping list and still be at Number 1!

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  11. First of all, I had not heard of this before. I must live in a vacuum (actually, sometimes I think I do). Secondly, I love your idea of flipping the list. That makes for far more interesting marketing!

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    1. I wrote this post as soon as I saw the email, so you're not in so much of a vacuum - it's a very new thing!

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  12. I just saw that email and my stomach flipped. I don't want to see... I don't think my fans will care, but I don't see how that helps anybody.

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    1. Exactly, it's not the most useful of things for Amazon to introduce. I worry that the reading public will end up being guided towards the larger authors and completely forget about the amazing choice that we've got at the moment!

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  13. Yeah, that's the thing when a book gains hype--it just steamrolls and gains a life of it's own. And all the others become forgotten (or so it seems).

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    1. Exactly, maybe someone will come up with a credible alternative to Amazon that looks after the smaller authors - maybe there's room for some good competition?

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  14. Hi Annalisa - even if they (Amazon) started half way through .. but such is life - if you're well known, then you're promoted everywhere - radio, tv, newspapers etc etc -

    Good luck to all of you promoting out there .. it's keeping plodding away isn't it - never stop .. cheers Hilary

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    1. People studying marketing at university level, yet authors are thrown in at the deep end. It's such a steep learning curve!

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  15. I am so sorry that Amazon rankings are being mean to you. But I completely understand what you mean. YOu are still handling it all well. I would be in a little heap of self pitty. Best of luck with your promotional efforts and if you need me to write a little post mentioning your book and your efforts, just let me know, I will gladly do it.

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    1. I don't think the author rankings have much merit, especially because I have only one book out. Maybe people with more are higher up the list and a bit more stable? I'd love to take you up on your offer of a guest post though - I'll be in touch when I'm a bit less busy, thanks!

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  16. Who thinks these dumb things up? Doesn't Amazon have enough lists already? And I know I get ads from them in my email all the time "suggesting" I buy this or the other book.
    Keep writing and never mind the listings. :-)

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    1. I agree, there are too many lists! And I don't even read those email ads.

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  17. Such a great idea... that way everyone gets exposure... I like the idea.

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    1. I just think there has to be a better way than advertising those authors who really don't need it... Perhaps I'm being too idealist.

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  18. Oh dear!!! Well just think- one day you'll be a best-seller!! Yes you will!!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Thanks Kitty, I keep telling myself that :-)

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Please comment - I love a good chat!