The Amazon Ranking Obsession

I admit it: I’m obsessed with Amazon rankings.

Up until a few months ago when Richard Mabry wrote about Amazon rankings on Rachelle Gardner’s blog, I didn’t have a clue that there was even such a thing as an Amazon ranking. But there is. And, ever since my book launched, I’ve been checking mine one, two, seven times a day.

Here’s how Amazon rankings work: basically, every hour, the powers that be on the Amazon site calculate how your book is selling compared to the millions of other books for sale. So, someone decides to buy a case of 100 of your book and suddenly your ranking soars. How high? Not sure… that’s never happened to me. Likewise, if there’s a drought and no one buys your book for a few hours, suddenly your ranking flatlines and your back down there in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

Last week, after my book launched, I was thrilled when my book soared hundreds of thousands of spaces in a matter of minutes. Woo hoo! Then, two hours later, it was languishing in the 200,000 range. Boo! That evening? Back in the 400,000’s. Eeek. The next morning? Back up in the 30,000’s. After a few days of following obsessively, I came to realize something: Amazon rankings– as much as I love checking them– are really no indication of how your book is being received or sold. They’re simply an indication of how your book is being sold on Amazon at that minute. And really, that doesn’t matter at all? Even my toddler can be charming and sophisticated for a minute. What really matters is the long run–how a book will sell and be received over hours and days and weeks and months.

That said, I’m trying not to check my ranking. Okay, at least not more than once or twice a day. Because the reality is that means I’m obsessing over a single sale or two– and not over the big picture.

Question: What about you? Do you check Amazon rankings? How do you feel about them?


  1. Thank Heaven I don't know how, nor do I want to!

    Great post! hahah I was laughing so hard.

  2. I've never noticed the rankings before, but you can bet I'll be looking for them now that you pointed it out.

  3. I rarely check the ranking for Roaring Lions. I wasn't sure how it worked either, though, so I appreciate your explanation here!

    The guest review of your book will post on Family Fountain Wed morning, March 16. Do you want to wait in suspense or would you like me to email you a copy of it in advance?


  4. Erin, I think it's normal to want to know how one's book is doing, but as you've come to realize, the numbers will change rapidly. What counts is how the book fares over the long haul. That said, I have a hunch I won't be able to resist watching the Amazon rankings for the first few days when my debut novel is released. =)

  5. wow- I would be obsessing, too. Good for you for recognizing it and moving on.

  6. The really sad thing is, some writers do this for their friend's books since they don't have books of their own out there… or so I've been told. *Cough*

  7. OMGAWSH! This is so funny because I do the EXACT same thing…I've been better as of late but man, it's hard not to check! It doesn't help that I am a poster child for OCD either in that I obsess over little things like this. So glad I'm not alone! LOL! The question is—are you checking back on new reviews too? I do that!!! :)

  8. OK, I obviously don't have a book of my own, but I must admit, I just ordered a copy of your book on Amazon for a friend of mine who I just found out is preggers (yay!) and I might have checked your ranking while I was doing it…I feel like that makes me extra lame to obsess over someone else's ranking…at least you're obsessing over your own!

  9. Congratulations! I am so proud of you!!!
    Keli is so right that it's normal to want to know, but the hours can be whiled away with so many check-ins:)

    Okay. You sold another one. Now get back to work:)

  10. Oh yes, I never knew about Amazon ratings til an author friend pointed them out after my first book was published. For several rabid months, I checked relentlessly. Amazon addicted. There's nothing worse – except perhaps, comparing your ratings with another author. 😉

  11. Heh, if I was published I'd probably be obsessive about it. I tend to be that way…about a lot of things 😛 Especially when it comes to my writing!

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