The Numbers Game

First – I’m still work­ing on blog fea­tures. Con­sider this a ‘soft open­ing’ as I learn my way around, with the help of a very patient designer. It’s amaz­ing how much periph­eral stuff there is to do, too … chang­ing blog links, and often that means re-registering, or even start­ing from scratch. My WIP has been sit­ting on the sidelines.

One thing Word­Press doesn’t have is the equiv­a­lent of Google Friend Con­nect (as far as I can tell). This means that there are almost 500 of faith­ful fol­low­ers from the old blog that aren’t here. Of course, I hope they’re still com­ing to the blog, and as soon as I can fig­ure out other ways to fol­low, I’ll be adding them and let­ting you know. Right now, I have the Net­worked Blogs option from Face­book, so if you have a Face­book account, you can click the “Fol­low” in the sidebar.

Which brings me to another ques­tion. How do you like to keep up with blogs? Do you like get­ting emails about new posts? Or do you sub­scribe in some sort of a reader? Or do you use RSS (what­ever that is?) I want to make things easy for everyone.

Next – some thoughts about numbers.

After all the excite­ment about my NOOK First results, I got a lit­tle too obsessed with sta­tis­tics. Watch­ing sales rank­ings is fun when they’re going up, but then they inevitably come down, which isn’t nearly as much fun to watch.

Barnes & Noble has rank­ings for its print store and its NOOK store. But that’s over­all, and the results aren’t fil­tered by cat­e­gory. So if you’re #15 at the NOOK store, that means your book is #15 of ALL the nook books, not just the ones in your genre. Which, con­sid­er­ing I did hit that rank­ing for a cou­ple of days (and as a pub­lisher pointed out at the Pikes Peak Writ­ers Con­fer­ence, #8 is about as high as any­one can get unless the title includes “Hunger” or “Shades of Grey”), I was pretty darn happy.

Now, I don’t know exactly how many books are for sale at either the NOOK or Kin­dle stores, but any rank­ing in the 3,000–5,000 range means you’re doing well. But say­ing you’re num­ber 4205 isn’t nearly as impres­sive as say­ing you’re in the top 100, which is what puts your books on the front pages.

But what do these num­bers mean? If you write in an obscure genre, you might be ranked in the nine thou­sands over­all, but your book might be #1 in its genre, which means you’ll be shout­ing all about it. Does it mis­lead buy­ers to say, “Hey, I’m #1 at Ama­zon” if you don’t say, “In vam­pire techno-thrillers set in outer space?”

Here’s an exam­ple. I checked my rank­ings for my two best-selling books a cou­ple of days ago. I then looked at a book by a Famous Best-Selling Author for comparison.

This is what I found.

Best-selling Famous Author’s book.
#46 in Kin­dle Store > Kin­dle eBooks > Fic­tion > Genre Fic­tion > Mys­tery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Spy Sto­ries & Tales of Intrigue
#49 in Books > Mys­tery, Thriller & Sus­pense > Thrillers > Spy Sto­ries & Tales of Intrigue

What’s in a Name?
#55 in Kin­dle Store > Kin­dle eBooks > Fic­tion > Genre Fic­tion > Romance > Roman­tic Sus­pense
#59 in Books > Romance > Roman­tic Suspense

When Dan­ger Calls
#64 in Kin­dle Store > Kin­dle eBooks > Fic­tion > Action & Adven­ture
#74 in Books > Lit­er­a­ture & Fic­tion > Genre Fic­tion > Action & Adven­ture
#86 in Kin­dle Store > Kin­dle eBooks > Fic­tion > Genre Fic­tion > Romance > Roman­tic Sus­pense

To look at the num­bers, the Famous Author’s book is doing bet­ter than mine, because he’s at #46 and #49, whereas my best rank­ings are #55 and #59

But what hap­pens when you look at the over­all rankings?

What’s in a Name? Ama­zon Best Sell­ers Rank: #1,527 Paid in Kin­dle Store

When Dan­ger Calls  Ama­zon Best Sell­ers Rank: #2,090 Paid in Kin­dle Store

Famous Author’s Book  Ama­zon Best Sell­ers Rank: #3,124 Paid in Kin­dle Store

Based on those num­bers I’m bet­ter than he is … even my lower ranked books is higher than his. Take that, you Famous Author!

Bot­tom line. Num­bers might not lie, but they CAN be misleading.

And none of this, of course, reflects your pay­check, because your roy­al­ties are going to depend on how much your book costs. Being #1 in the “Free” list is great for mar­ket­ing, but it doesn’t put a penny in your pocket.

Tomor­row, I’ll try a Fri­day Field Trip. Please come back!

18 thoughts on “The Numbers Game

  1. I like noti­fi­ca­tions via e-mail of favorite blog post­ings. I, too, watch num­bers on my books and am thrilled when they go up, sad­dened as they take a slow nose dive. Hate that!

    • Cindy — yep, Nobody likes those down­ward trends. Thanks for your input.

  2. Great new site, Terry. I’ll con­tinue to fol­low you. The infor­ma­tion you share is great. I can’t wait until Sep­tem­ber until my first book If I Fail, A Jake Car­ring­ton Mys­tery hits the shelves. I hope for ris­ing num­bers, fin­gers crossed.

  3. I like to read my posts via google reader. I use the Flip­board app on my iPad and the blog posts look like a mag­a­zine. It’s very cool.

    Con­grats on your sales rank­ings. It shows that it’s very impor­tant to pick the right cat­e­gories, and to some­times think out­side the box.

    • Shel­ley — thanks for com­ing over to my new site. That app def­i­nitely sounds cool. Another aspect of those rank­ings is based on sales in a par­tic­u­lar time period, com­pared with other sales. Some days, I have high sales, but my rank­ings don’t rise, because lots of other books are sell­ing well, too.

  4. Hey Terry, Inter­est­ing facts on the num­bers. And since we are all look­ing for the pay check, I would only be look­ing at that num­ber, I think.
    That’s my two pen­nies add a few dol­lars and you can buy some cof­fee some­where too. My idea is that as authors we are work­ing for roy­al­ties. If we don’t sell books we don’t get roy­al­ties. So the num­bers that mat­ter are how many books we sold to make x amount of money, correct?

  5. Kathy — your point is valid. Num­bers are impor­tant, but the big­gie is the one that goes into your bank account, yes!

  6. Those are great num­bers!!! So excited for you, Terry — you deserve them. I love your books :)

    I fol­low in Google Reader if there’s no fol­low­ers but­ton. I don’t have a FB account yet, so I can’t do net­worked blogs.

    • Jemi — thanks. I’m try­ing to make sure I get enough ways for peo­ple to find and fol­low me. There’s quite a learn­ing curve over here. I added the Net­worked Blogs fea­ture because that way, my blog also shows up on my Face­book page.

    • I have Google Reader, but always used my Blog­ger Dash­board to find the blogs I wanted to read.

  7. I switched from Blog­ger to Word­Press last year and I’m really glad I did. But like you, now they don’t let you bring Google Friend Con­nect over any more I’ve lost many of my sev­eral hun­dred fol­low­ers :(

    I use RSS feeds to fol­low most blogs these days, includ­ing yours (and I’ve just updated my feed to your new addy) which lets me read on my lap­top using Google Reader or with Flip­board on my iPad. In addi­tion to Net­worked Blogs, I’m see­ing many blogs using a Linky gad­get http://www.linkyfollowers.com/ but I’m not sure how efficient/effective that is–I’ve only just installed it. Oh, and I had sev­eral of my fol­low­ers ask me for a method that emails the posts to them — so I installed Feedburner.

  8. Thanks, Leah — This blog (I hope) as an ‘email me’ option in the side­bar. I think it works, because I get emails about my own posts! Thanks for fol­low­ing me.

  9. Hi Terry — I get a few post notices via e-mail but pre­fer to get most of the blogs I fol­low in my Google Reader where I can group them in cat­e­gories and quickly see blog title and content.

    • Patri­cia — Thanks for the input. I THINK you can add this blog via your Google Reader, right?

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