Why the Amazon Best Sellers Book Rank isn’t a 1-to-1 ratio

amazon Jun 24, 2020

Because it's so crucial to your book marketing success, here is another blog post about the Amazon Best Sellers Rank. And because it is so important, there will be more. But today's blog post is about how YOU influence your Amazon book ranking. For full details on understanding your book ranking, read our previous post, "Why Authors MUST Understand Their Book's Amazon Ranking." 

As you read this, keep two things in mind. First, the Amazon rankings are fluid. For example, ten books purchased on one day may not have the same impact as on another day. Second, it is unknown exactly how the ranking works, so what is shared comes from the Juxtabook team experience.  

Because of the confusing way of ranking, it may not be obvious, but it is still true, the best way to influence the best sellers rank is for your book to be purchased. It is counterintuitive, but the lower the number, the higher your ranking. So, if you currently have the best sellers rank of 200,000, then one book sold could jump the book down to #99,875.  If you have HIGH best sellers ranking, then the impact of each book purchased will have a more significant effect on the rank.  The lower your ranking, say 345, you may need to sell 50 books to move from 345 down to 340.

If you are implementing strategies to have books purchased on Amazon, as we all should, keep in mind that the number of books sold and the impact on your seller's rank is not a 1-to-1 ratio. Let's say you order five books, in one transaction, to give away to friends and family.  While those five books will be counted and reported to your publisher and outside bestseller lists, those five books may only influence the best sellers ranking like one, maybe two, books sold.  

Why would Amazon do this?  We think the main reason is that Amazon wants to prevent individuals from gaming the system to gain a bestseller status when it wasn't legitimately earned.  Authors vary on the amount of money they can put behind a book.  If a wealthy business CEO decides to write a book, they probably have at least $100,000 to put towards a book launch.  It would be much easier to just buy all the books in several hundred transactions of 30 books (current limit of a single purchase on Amazon).  

Let's assume all authors want to be legitimate best sellers.  So, authors will need to decide what they think is ethical. We've seen non-fiction business-based authors sell 300 books to a company and have their keynote fee waived.  To make sure these sales counted, they coordinated anywhere from 30 to 300 separate transactions on Amazon to boost their ranking.  These are legitimate sales that will go to individuals.  Others might disagree and say that it is unethical. You decide.  

The one thing that is for sure is that the authors who have the trifecta of true raving fans, a great book, and have built their platform over the years, they won't have to worry about how the best sellers ranking is influenced because their book will be a steady evergreen book. The true test will be a book that won't be a spike at launch, followed by a huge (80-90%) drop in sales.

We'd love to hear your experience, so leave a comment below. 

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