Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Amazon rankings

Like most people working in a creative industry (hell, like most people), I crave validation. A nice review on Amazon can bring a smile to your face, a song to your heart and a cliche to your fingertips. Conversely, a one-star, 'this book blows chunks' review on Amazon can be terribly debilitating. A sage acquaintance of mine suggests avoiding all reviews, as each one merely represent the opinion of a single person and thus has no greater validity than your own opinion. Fair enough, and I wish I had the strength of character to follow that advice. Sadly, I am a shallow being and crave validation wherever I can get it.

A kind word from an editor, a nice mention in some publication or on some website, it all helps.

However, trying to discern anything from the rankings listed on various Amazon websites is like trying to form a cogent philosophy of life from studying the movement on clouds on Thursday afternoons. For example, my most recently published tome is - as of this moment - apparently ranked 6,712 amongst all book sales at What does that mean? Probably that somebody ordered a single copy of the book in the last 24 hours. God forbid ten people rush out and order a copy in the next 24 hours, I'd probably have what momentarily qualifies as a bestseller on my hands. [Feel free to do so, if you wish, but it'll make no ftangible inancial difference to me - Black Flame pays no royalties on its books, so I don't stand to gain anything directly from Fiends of the Eastern Front: Operation Vampyr selling five copies or 55,000 copies this month.]

To put the Amazon rankings in perspective, The Complete Inspector Morse [see previous blog posting] has been out of print for two years. Prices on second hand copies range from £31.08 up to £146.94 on Amazon. Yet, despite the fact Amazon has not been able to sell a new copy of the book since 2003, it is ranked at 68,775 - supposedly outselling most of my other books.

Amazon rankings - about as meaningful as clouds.

1 comment:

jim swallow said...

Scroll down a bit to the table for a handy guide.