One of the greatest mysteries of self-publishing is the way that Amazon has to calculate its sales rankings. Much has been said from the algorhythms involved, most of it hogwash coming from independent writers as they try to out-guess an intricately developed program in their feeble attempts to understand how it works, so they could scheme a way to the top bestsellers lists.
Good luck and good riddance.
On a personal level, I’m more than able to perform an educated guess, since I spent at least six years during the 80s, learning to program a Commodore 64 on the machine language side. That means, I was directly accessing the ones and zeroes that made the computer do what it did at the lowest hardware subsystems. I loved to decrypt machine code, break through copy protection systems and understand what the damn 6502 microprocessor—one of the hottest computer chips at the time—was capable of doing.
Ok, so I know a little about computer programming and that makes me a more reliable source about what Amazon’s Sales Rankings are doing in the background. Trust me on this.
By mere deduction, one is able to easily determine that this Holy Algorhytm is keeping tracks of sales and whether you picked your toes clean in Poughkeepsie, but it’s by means of experimentation that I found out that it tracks many, many more variables.
About 10 weeks ago, I asked exactly 100 people to have a look at The Recycling Kid’s sales page… and its Amazon Rankings went up by 93 spots. More recently, I lowered the price of Cuentos to 99 cents, tweeted about it (Kathryn and another person helped with this)… and its Sales rankings went up from the 964,000s to the 962,000s… but there were absolutely no sales per se of this particular title… Hmmm…
So this algorhythms also tracks social media traffic while determining your book’s final sales ranking… Of course, there are a few certain variables that I still have to test, like if downloading a sample of an e-book does affect its ranking, but…
I also had a sale in one of my zombie books, which caused its ranking skyrocket from the 1,200,000s to the 100,000s overnight… (a sale every week seems to pin your book in the 80,000s… any notion conceived beyond that, without hard data to back it up, is just a wild speculation).
I came up with an idea to glean the required hard data to prove my deductions, but every fellow writing colleague to whom I introduced it has met it with extreme suspicion, so there’s no way to truly test / disprove my theories and finally be able to clear up this intriguing mystery.
I guess there are truly things that mankind isn’t meant to know….
This seems to be one of them.