The Rise And Fall of my Sales Rank

I am guilty of ego surfing. I have been watching my book on, and keeping track of its sales rank.

I'm not sure how they calculate this number, because it changes a lot during the day. When it was first on Amazon, its rank was a bit over 2 million. That is not good. You really want to be #1.

After I started spreading the word, the sales rank shot up. It was very interesting to see what books were doing better than my book, and which ones were doing worse.

I came up with a highly scientific chart about what the universe thought of the importance of my book from day to day. Its humbling to know that once the universe thought it was less important than the biography of Ricky Martin, but for a brief moment it was more important than the biography of Shania Twain.

I am so blessed.

Below is a table containing the results of my ongoing analysis: a date, my Amazon sales rank on that date, and two books with slightly better or worse ranking on that date. As you can see, each day the universe gives me a valuable hint about its relative importance in the grand scheme of things.

UPDATE: Half way through this experiment, Amazon decided to stop offering nice links to see what books were ranked similarly to mine. I can't imagine why... so I decided to record my Amazon rank in a more scientific way. I wrote a Python script to scrape my rank off of the page, and record for later analysis.

Week 1

Date Rank More Important Than This... ... but Less Important Than This
Tuesday, June 20 147,132 The Fairy Babies Stained Glass Coloring Book Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights
More important than a coloring book about faries, but less important than a book about defending the rights of people who believe in faries. I suppose that's okay.
June 21 71,104 The American Sign Language Handshape Puzzle Book Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life by Christopher Reeve
More important than a book about communicating with the handicapped, but less important than a handicapped person communicating. I'm not sure what the universe is trying to tell me here. Probably that I should volunteer with the blind again.
June 22 (peak!) 14,137 Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius: 28 Build-It-Yourself Projects How to Build Treehouses, Huts and Forts
Wow! A ranking in the top 20,000! That means its more important than a book on becoming an evil genius at a young age, but less important than a book about building a fortress of solitude with tinfoil and paper bags. Awesome...
June 23 34,353 What You Don't Know May Be Killing You! Swim Naked, Defy Gravity and 99 Other Essential Things to Accomplish Before Turning 30
Less important than a book about what to do before you're 30, but more important than a book teaching you how to live past 30. I don't like the sound of that.
June 24 55,856 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Bad as I Wanna Be, by Dennis Rodman
This illustrates how weird the Amazon sales rank is. Sure, I beat out a Harry Potter book, but so did Dennis Rodman's autobiography. Maybe the lesson here is "don't rest on your laurels," otherwise before you know it Dennis Rodman will totally school you.

Week 2

Date Rank More Important Than This... ... but Less Important Than This
Sunday, June 25 50,209 The Quantum and the Lotus : A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide For Amateur And Micro Distillers
Clawing back up again... Now its more important than a book about a fusion between Buddhism and physics, but less important than making moonshine... which incidentally is what you'll need to drink to believe anything in the Quantum Lotus book. Double yikes.
June 26 50,209
Same as Sunday... or maybe I just forgot to check...
June 27 14,911 Carpe Demon : Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom A Million Little Pieces, by Oprah's nemesis, James Frey
Wow... another great rank. To be serious for a moment, this rank is just below Java For Dummies, which was #14,578 today. OK, back to comedy...
More important than a book about Buffy Summers all growed up, but less important than a bestselling "autobiography" with even less factual basis than vampires.
June 28 30,421 It Takes More Than Good Looks To Succeed at TV News Reporting
(yeah... it takes concision - bex)
Cooking from Quilt Country: Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens
Seriously, this up and down sales rank is making me very neurotic. Now its more important than a book about how to not be an insipid infotainer, but less important than an Amish cookbook. Amish. Cookbook. On Amazon. Shouldn't they be busy praying for our souls because we're prideful and lazy?
June 29 30,421
Another duplicate rank... twice in one week? Not likely. I must have written down the wrong number again. I promise to do better!
June 30 26,411 Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOs Flintknapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools
So... more important than a book about ginormous ant-like aliens with super-advanced technology living in our oceans... but less important than a book about making stone tools. Hmmmm... I think the universe it trying to say that there is no stopping these aliens, and we had better prepare ourselves for another stone-age. I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them as a trusted blogger, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.
July 1 96,260 I Am a Little Monkey Spunky Monkeys on Parade
Great. My book's popularity has fallen, and now its smack in the middle of a monkey sandwich. Spunky monkeys on one side, and little monkeys on the other (probably as a garnish). I guess I deserve this after trying to sell out my race to the ant-people.

Week 3

Date Rank More Important Than This... ... but Less Important Than This
Sunday, July 2 142,819 Oracle 9i for Dummies Baby, All Those Curves and Me With No Brakes: 500 New No-Fail Pick-Up Lines for Men and Women
Dropping like a stone -- again, punnishment for the ant thing. But I'm still more important than the book on Oracle's database, although less important than a bunch of cheesy pickup lines that were probably written by the same guy who does fortune cookies. If my rank gets much worse, I'm going to have to stop tracking it...
July 3 38,471 Madonna: 2006 Wall Calendar Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson
That was unexpected... I'm happy for the jump back in the 30k range, but a little confused. I'm barely beating a 2006 wall calendar in July, and getting trounced by the Blame Canada party. I guess the lesson is not to look a gift horse in the mouth...
July 4 74,795 Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me: How to Recognize and Manage the Narcissists in Your Life Negotiating on the Edge: North Korean Negotiating Behavior
Ok, so nobody bought it on independence day because they were busy blowing things up. Well, it is the American passtime! Now I'm more important than a book about managing narcissists, but less important than a book about the most dangerous narcissist of all: Kim Jong "Licence To" Ill. A good omen, I'd say.
July 5 188,085 Quantum Golf: The Path to Golf Mastery Highland Swordsmanship: Techniques of the Scottish Sword Masters
Here I fall smack in the middle between two books about famous Scottish passtimes: golf, and lopping people's heads off. Good news for future UK sales, I hope.
July 6 41,142 Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How To Restore The Sanity
Now this is pretty negative... My book is more important than one that calls all business people idiots, but less important than a book that claims I'm trying to drive everybody insane.
July 7 53,957 Belly Dancing for Fitness: The Ultimate Dance Workout That Unleashes Your Creative Spirit The White House Pop Up Book
So, more important than the latest trend in fitness, but less important than a political science book for toddlers. Curious...
July 8 106,592 The Totally Garlic Cookbook Nosferatu : Phantom der Nacht
Again with the vampires! Now, despite the drop, its more important than making meals with garlic, but less important than info on those who fear garlic.

Week 4

Date Rank More Important Than This... ... but Less Important Than This
Sunday, July 9 159,179 Good Beer Guide to Belgium How to Cheat at IT Project Management
This one speaks for itself...
July 10 51,375 Sprawl Kills: How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health And Money Talks with Trees; A Plant Psychic's Interviews with Vegetables, Flowers and Trees
More important than a book about every single town in America... but less important than a book about a man 'speaking' with inanimate objects. I don't mean to mock the idea of psychics, but this guy's got quite the scam going. Nobody can ever prove him wrong! "That broccoli is mad that you're eating it." The shocking truth is revealed. Pet psychics, plant psychics, what's next? Computer psychics?! Actually that's not a half bad idea...
July 11 51,375
Another duplicate! Okay, I know for a fact that I didn't write down the wrong number. My sales rank is the same as yesterday, which is highly unlikely. I checked at 11am. Maybe Amazon is lazy in getting the results out there. I'm going to have to replace them with a very small shell script...

<!-- july 12: 15093, july 13: 12511, july 14: 22657, july 15: 76304, july 16: 59,799 -->


The Rise And Fall of my Sales Rank

I took the bait and pre-ordered two copies, so it probably helped slightly with your ego-surfing.

I hope you make a pile of money, but just so we keep some balance in the world, I bought the two copies with taxpayer dollars (it's for a Government system, so it's legit).

So with that we'll get some back from you next April.


good to hear...

Yes, that will help with the ego surfing... I hear obsessing about the sales rank is fairly common amongst authors.

Enjoy the book!

Funniest thing I've read all day...

Are you sure you want to write about programming code??? I see a future here. Remember the days when all we wanted to write about was moonshine? I guess the universe IS trying to tell you something. ;)

more important?

Bex, I agree that your writing skills are extraordinary, but I fail to see how they could possibly be more important than Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius. Something has gone terribly wrong here


sales figures

Okay, okay, I get the deal about the sales ranking. I've just had a book published too and I'm of course curious about that.

But what I want to know is, how do you find out how many COPIES my book has actually sold? I've been doing searches and found several different sites that give me essentially the same info as Amazon does.

Any tips? Much appreciated.

contact your publisher

That's the only reliable method for calculating how many books are sold... my Amazon rank wasn't much help at all for determining actual sales.

Charts please...

All this data in table format is really so 1997. Lets see the results in a google financial chart mashup comparing the stock price of amazon with Bex's book ranking. Perhaps there's a more subtle correlation between books on content management systems, monkeys and Jeff Bezo's net worth.


You people and your demands! "Write a song about me," "send Trogdor to my house..."

Sales rank history on TicTap


I would just like to give you a heads up that you can track the daily sales rank of your book at TicTap.


Track Sales Rank Graphically

Hi Brian,

You can try TicTap or to see your sales rank history graphically. 109things goes a little further by showing the price trends!

Btw, I'm the developer of both sites. 109things will replace TicTap one day.

thanks alex

I just noticed that my sales rank script stopped working a while back... It looks like Amazon decided to block me :-(

good luck with 109things!


I have always heard the higher the num ber the lower the sales on amazon or any place else my books are ranked in the millions I don't make any money .

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