Dear Indie Authors, Stop Stalking Your Amazon Book Ranking

Independent Authors have become obsessed with rankings, reviews, and becoming an Amazon Best Seller over the years. While there is proof book reviews carry weight (social proof, credibility, increased visibility), there are many myths surrounding rankings.

According to Amazon, “the better the sales rank, the more sales it’s getting on Amazon.”

But, is this true?

Yes, selling books will naturally raise your book ranking, but your Amazon ranking can also be high for other reasons.

When I released I am Soul back in 2017, I set it up for preorders and, on release, it made it to #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

How I thought I was doing it

To the untrained eye, this can look like I sold tons of books. And by the “untrained” eye, I mean everyday people who are not Self-Publishers or are not familiar with how the system works like family and friends.

But then…

According to my sales report for December 2017, I sold five preorders between December 16-19 (the book was released on the 20th).

Yes, I said five.

Five books sold, and I was #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

Just so you know I am not BS-ing you, here’s a screenshot:

I thought I was big time.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar got 13 preorders but did not come anywhere near #7.

How is this possible? Shouldn’t the book that sold more copies rank better? Yes, but as many people have already said, no one knows exactly how Amazon’s algorithm works. What we do know is books sold aren’t the only thing that determines a book’s ranking.

There is nothing wrong with pushing your book to sell tons of copies on release day and to make that Best Sellers list, but your book’s success is not contingent upon how well it does in the first few days or even weeks. A book that continues to sell over time does better than a book that does well all at once and then stops selling.

In the long run, steady, organic growth will always outperform sudden bursts of activity.

“At the end of two weeks, a book that sells five copies a day will rank significantly higher than a book that sells 3,000 copies on its launch day.” (Doppler, J)

It’s like book reviews, in a way. The newer the review, the better.

  • Book A gets about twenty reviews out of the gate. Your review team showed up and showed out. But, over the next few days, weeks, and months, there is no new activity.
  • Book B gets a couple of reviews out of the gate, a few more a week later, a few more the following week, and several more over the next few months.

Because Book B has newer reviews, it tells Amazon’s algorithms people are still interested in this book.

The Moral

A book that gets reviews slowly but consistently over time does better than a book that gets tons of reviews at once, but then the reviews stop coming in.

But what does this have to do with the sales ranking?

The book that continues to get new reviews is likely also the book that is continuing to sell. It might not be a #1 Best Seller or rank in Amazon’s top 100, but the author is selling books consistently. 

And this is what authors should focus more of their attention on.

Most indie books that take off running, in the beginning, stop selling after the release date because so much energy is directed at the launch that authors forget they need to continue to sell books AFTER that.

It is not to say being an Amazon Best Seller is not a cool thing. It is to say it doesn’t carry as much weight as people have made it out to be. Being an Amazon Best Seller is great, but it doesn’t really mean anything if the author is not making sales in the grand scheme of things.

There is no need for Indie Authors to stalk their Amazon ranking because a high ranking doesn’t always mean they are selling books. In the same way, a low ranking doesn’t always mean they are not selling books.

Sales rank plays a minor role in determining the order of Amazon search results. Other factors such as relevance, keywords, sales history, product listing quality, and available inventory may influence Amazon’s algorithms. Therefore, a book with a high sales rank may appear later in search results than lower-ranked books.

How do you tell if your sales rank on Amazon is reflective of books sold or just a bump in Amazon’s algorithm because of other influences?

Consistency

  1. Besides monitoring your sales report through your KDP account, consistency is the best determinate that your book ranking on Amazon is legit. By legit, you are a best seller because you are selling books. If you are a #1, #2, #3 (and so on) best seller in your category for weeks, months, or even years at a time, the chances are that is because you are selling books regularly, getting reviews, and doing the dango thang. Congratulations, you are an actual bestseller.
  1. Suppose you are only a #1 Amazon Best Seller for five minutes. In that case, it could be a combination of things influencing the algorithm, causing the numbers to fluctuate where one minute you are number one (let’s say because tons of people looking at your book page), and the next you are #512.

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You should certainly be proud of yourself for making it to #1, whether you were there for five minutes or five months. However, don’t allow yourself to be deceived by Amazon’s ambiguous system. Ya’ll are out here going crazy and being scammed over something that doesn’t even matter.

This isn’t about Amazon. This is about Indie Authors and how we’ve allowed our writing self-esteem to be determined by numbers and rankings. Just because you are not an Amazon Best Seller does not mean you are not selling books. Period.

And, for clarity, I did not say you should ignore your book ranking, just that there’s no need to stalk it, as in repeatedly going back to refresh the page every five minutes.

Click Here to Discover More Indie Author Basics

One Way Indie Authors Leave Money On the Table

Due to how the royalties are structured, an author with a 99cent ebook on Amazon will only get about 35 cents per sale. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, there is a delivery cost for the ebook file (based on the size) for each book sold.

You also pay Amazon a sales commission based on your royalty rate.

  • 35% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 65% for books priced below $2.99 and above $9.99

  • 70% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 30% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99

What about taxes? 

You pay that too. 

These are just a few reasons why it can benefit you to sell your book directly to readers from your website.

While I have only made a few dollars in ebook sales from my new book, my print book preorder sales from my website are doing far better, and I am close to making money back from the cover art. By the time the book releases next month, I expect to make back what I paid for editing.

I am going to make this post real short because it’s real simple.

The hard truth is that if you are not selling books through your website or worse, you don’t have an author website, you are leaving money on the table.

While some authors have chosen not to deal with Amazon at all, it’s smart to make sure your book is on Amazon for a few reasons.

To start, Amazon is a giant. To have your book available there is just good sense. People trust Amazon, so some people will look for your book there before they look anywhere else. And with the pandemic, people use Amazon regularly. It’s all about making it easy for your readers, and being able to tell them to go to Amazon isn’t only super cool, but it’s also super easy.

But while Amazon is easily accessible to your readers, the relationship between Amazon and you as the author is a bit different.

There are tons of authors making good money from Amazon, but they are not the majority.

Here is an example from an author about his Amazon royalties:

“One month, I sold 5 paperbacks at a list of 13.99 each. The report stated the manufacturing cost was 5.33 (I assume each), and I’m on the 70% royalty. I got a total of 1.30 cents. That’s 26 cents a book. The next month I sold 1 paperback at 13.99, and I got a 3.13 royalty on it.”

The 2021 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print, 2019, Comment Section

This is where your author website comes in to pick up the slack.

What if he had sold five paperback copies of this book from his author website? Since he would have to calculate shipping, let’s just round it up to a cool fifteen dollars per book. That’s $75 in his pocket. If he sells 20 books, that’s $300.

It might not sound like much, but it adds up if he sells books at this rate daily.

Even with website transaction fees, authors can still add more to their bank accounts by having their books on their websites alongside Amazon.

In closing, if you are a Self-Publisher, you can buy your books in bulk and sell them in bulk to companies and corporations like schools and independent bookstores.

Heck, you can sell the books out of the trunk of your car if you want.

The sky is not the limit of what you can do when you control the distribution of your own work.

Considering you are not signed to a publisher or are not restricted to any outside contracts that may otherwise prohibit you, you don’t have to be exclusive to Amazon. Instead, you use Amazon as one of many options.

For digital, you can set your book up on Draft2Digital to distribute it to several digital platforms outside of Amazon. For print, you can set your book up on Amazon KDP but also Ingram Spark for distribution to bookstores and libraries.


Ready to publish that book? I can assist with that. Click here.

Enjoyed this post? Check out more Indie Author Basics Here but hurry. I am changing things up soon. Details to come.


Don’t Forget to Preorder Your Copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! June is right around the corner.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Preorder Now

The Power of Your Author Name: A Message to First Time Indie Authors

Barack Obama released another book on the seventeenth of November, 2020. It was already a Best Seller with over two-thousand book reviews on Amazon just a few days after release. Obama’s name alone skyrocketed this book to the Best Seller’s List before we had time to decide what we wanted for breakfast that morning.

And Sister Soldier’s March 2021 release, “Life After Death,” the long awaited follow up to The Coldest Winter Ever is already a Best Seller. That’s right. A Best Seller and the book is not even out yet.

The same can be said of Amanda Gorman, whose poetry book The Hill We Climb, and Children’s Book, Change Sings, is already a best seller.

These books don’t release until September!

Today, we are talking about the power of your name and the role it plays in your author branding and marketing yourself as a first-time Indie Author.

What’s in a Name?

 

A person’s name is a connection to their identity and individuality. It is the history of who a person is. When you think of names that have become prolific, you are not just thinking about a person’s name. You are thinking about all the things that person has done, their experiences and contributions to the world.

Sometimes, we hear a name, and it is not a good image we see. Names like Jefferey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy make us tremble, but even these names show a name’s power. We tremble because their names are connected with the horrific things they’ve done, and hearing those names brings to our memory those heinous acts, in the same way, hearing Maya Angelou’s name gives us hope.

When branding yourself as an author, it is good to have the same author name consistent across platforms. Your name doesn’t just tell someone who you are, but it helps build brand recognition.

This means using the same name across your author’s website, the same name in your social media handles and emails, and the same name on your book covers.

“You can show genre with cover design, blurb, logo, and many other cues, but publishing under lots of names in the digital age is a recipe for disaster.” – Anne R. Allen

The more people see your work connected with your name, the more they remember who you are.

It is why we call them “Name Brands.”

Michael Jordan is a brand name, an icon whose career has made his identity equivalent to excellence. When people buy Jordans, they know they are buying a top-quality shoe. And even if it is not a top-quality shoe, it is what the people believe. Why? How did someone whose name once meant nothing now mean everything?

Well, that’s another blog post. For now, let’s just stay on topic and keep it simple.

Michael Jordan proved himself as an exceptional basketball player, and his work ethic is connected with his nameThe more his work became recognized, so did his name.

Your work and your name are connected, whether you are a servant of good or bad. If you are doing good work (in this case, we are discussing writing) and not using your name or changing your business name every six months, you make it hard for people to connect who you are with what you do.

“It’s much easier to build brand recognition if you keep all your publishing activity under the same name and the same expression of that name.” – Jane Friedman

Nikki Giovanni, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, and Richard Wright.

Chances are you’ve heard these names before, and if you are like me, you will notice these names on book covers at any bookstore. You might even stop to scan or flip through the pages of a book simply because you recognize these author’s names.

Book Titles

The name of this blog started as the name of a book series I was writing.

In my Pretty Woman voice, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

While I have found a new purpose in this blog, it was a mistake to name this blog after a book. The problem with using the title of your book as your blog name, author website, or social media pages is you will probably write more books.

Are you going to create more websites and accounts for all the books you are writing?

Of course not.

Your name is one of the most powerful, FREE resources you have for marketing yourself as an author.

When you first meet someone you introduce yourself, and you start with your name because your name is your identity. It is more important than your job title and degrees. And when people remember our name, it makes us feel important, recognized, and valued.

What about Pen Names?

Anne R. Allen has published an excellent article on that already, so I will refer you there. While her post is about why pen names are not a good idea, Anne’s number one good reason for using a “pen” name is the one loophole.

  1. It’s the name you’re known by, even if it’s not the name on your birth certificate.

It is absolutely okay to use a name that you’ve been known by even if it’s not your birth name. The key is not to keep changing it though. Pick a name and stick with it.

Consider Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Kwame Ture, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. None of these people were born with those names just as I was not born Yecheilyah Ysrayl. Although I was not born Yecheilyah, I do not consider it a pen name. It is more than that, it is the name for which I am now known.

Use Your Name

“Once you know what author name you’ll be using, be relentlessly consistent in the expression of that name throughout your websites and social media accounts.”

– Jane Friedman

No matter what name you choose to brand, use that name everywhere. It will help people to identify you, and when they remember you, they remember your work.

No one cares about the title of your book or your book, for that matter.

What people care about is you, the author so it is your NAME and your author photo that will stand out the most in your social media profiles and on your website.

Think about it: It’s not about “A Promised Land.” It is about the fact that Obama wrote it. He could have titled the book The First Black President and people would have bought it. People are buying him. People are buying Obama.

I am not a fan of the term, but when people say that “people buy people,” what they mean is in the beginning, readers are interested in the person more than the book. Then as they begin to trust the person, they trust anything connected to the person, including the book.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
  • What motivates/inspires you to write?
  • What has your journey been like?
  • What’s your story?

Instead of using a lot of different names or the title of your book, focus on branding one name across platforms.

www. AuthorName . com
Facebook.com/Author Name
Twitter: @Author Name
Instagram: @Author Name
Clubhouse: @Author Name

The stronger your brand name, the easier the marketing. We all hope to get to the point where people hear our name associated with something and run out to support it without blinking.

Use your name. That is all.


Looking for more Indie Author Tips? Check out the catalog of articles here. From this point forward, Indie Author Basics posts will publish on Wednesdays.


I am Soul is 99cents for a limited time. And remember, if you read it, review it!

Vote For My Soul is a Witness Book Cover

They say not to judge a book by its cover…

…but I need you to do just that!

If you like the cover of my book, My Soul is a Witness, please vote for it for the cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

Here is the link:

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/10528/

Go, Go, Go!!

And thank you!!

Blog Book Review Registry: OPEN

Hello good people!

My book review registry is back open. I am ready to read and support the best Indie Books around. Please take the time to read through my blog book review policy below. This same policy can also be found on its own page here.

Many times authors ask for a review from book bloggers without checking to see if they have a system in place first. This negligence to be thorough and get to know the blogger almost always leads to a resounding silence. This is a hard “No,” from the reviewer so please, understand my policy before you request a review.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review may be a primary source, opinion piece, summary review, or scholarly review. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay but can also be as short as a single sentence. Book reviews help encourage readers to purchase a book, acts as social proof, helps with an author’s Amazon ranking, and increases the book’s visibility.

About Yecheilyah’s Reviews

I have reviewed over thirty books (thirty-six to be exact) by over thirty different authors spanning five years. My authors include both new and Best Selling writers from all over the world. The PBS Blog has been on Reedsy’s Best Book Review Blogs since 2017 and still holds a spot in 2020 as one of it’s vetted catalog of active book blogs and thoughtful, quality, book reviews. My reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

“It’s not just because she reviewed my novelette, All Good Stories, and gave it 5 stars, I’m writing about her because she gives great (and helpful) reviews. In a market, so full, it’s hard to choose what to read, isn’t it? We really need reviews these days that go beyond the minimalistic, “I liked it,” to know what we’re investing our money in. Because money doesn’t grow on trees. Neither do books anymore, for that matter.” – Linda G. Hill, author, All Good Stories.

How to Apply for a Review

1). Email me the link to your book on Amazon.

Put Blog Book Review Request in the header and do not send anything  but the link to the book. I don’t need the title or description. Just the link.

If the book is not published, send me the title, description, and book cover if you have it. Email this to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com. This is only if the books is not published.

2). Wait for approval

I will email you back and let you know if I would like to move forward and review your book. Please allow 2-3 business days before hearing back from me.

3). Upon approval pay the readers fee* through the main author website.

If I choose to review the book there is a small reader’s fee. Pay the fee through my site at this link.

*If your book is not approved for a review you will not have to pay the fee as I will not be reading/reviewing the book.

*The reader’s fee does not guarantee a positive review, nor is it payment for an Amazon review, which is against Amazon’s terms of service.

4). Gift me a copy of your book.

If your book is published:

  • Gift it through amazon to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

For published books I am no longer accepting PDF documents. You must gift me the book.

You may send an epub or mobi file directly to my kindle email address at yecheilyahysrayl@kindle.com. PDF documents are acceptable if the book is not published.

If the book is in Kindle Unlimited you won’t have to gift it. I have a KU account and I can grab it for free.

  • You may ship me a paperback / hard copy but let me know this in our email correspondence.

Pro. This option will allow me to post a picture of the book on Social Media! (If I reviewed your book as an ebook and loved it, you can always send me a paperback if you want me to go the extra mile and post a pic to sm!)

Con. This option is a longer turnaround time on the review since I have to wait for it in the mail, read it, and then review it. I do not recommend this option if you are in a hurry for feedback.

Honest Reviews:

I take the “honesty” part of the honest review seriously. If you’re looking for someone to sugar coat feedback of your book, I am not the reviewer for you. I invest much time and attention to the books I review. I do not skim through your writing, skip large text, or copy and paste the book blurb from Amazon. I take my time to read.

As a professional book reviewer and Indie Author, I consider it my responsibility to promote the best, so I am not cutting corners this year. If your book is full of typos and errors, you lessen the chances of being approved for a review. Excellence is a priority.

If your book is approved, I rate on the scale of 3-5 only on this blog. If your review falls below a 3-star rating, I will email you the report and my thoughts — only scores of 3-5 qualify for a published feature and spotlight on this blog.

Rating System

Only ratings of  3 – 5 are published on this blog.

Rating meanings vary between reviewers but here are mine.

  • Plot Movement / Strength
  • Entertainment Factor
  • Characterization
  • Authenticity / Believable
  • Thought Provoking

*Poetry ratings will differ from other books:

  • Presentation
  • Thought Provoking
  • Creativity / Authenticity

Five StarsAmazing, Outstanding

This book was hard to put down and is highly recommended. It was well-written, wasn’t preachy, included fully developed characters who were relatable and realistic, masterful use of language, an engaging plot, and a satisfying ending.

Four Stars – Very Good

This book is delightful and well worth the read. Great story with only minor weaknesses that may include aspects of plot/dialogue/character development.

Three Stars – Nice

This book was lovely. The writing and storytelling are sound, but several aspects could be improved. The author may have too many editing/typo errors, too much telling, or I couldn’t get into the story as much as I’d hoped, but it was enjoyable.

In the event you receive a one or two-star personal review from me:

Two Stars – Not Recommended

This book did not fully capture the reader’s attention or interest. Admirable attempt but needs more attention to plot/dialogue/editing/formatting/character development.

One Star – Poor

This book has significant issues with text that outweigh any enjoyment by the reader. Poorly written, preachy, unprofessional editing/layout/printing; needs considerable revision to deserve the reader’s time.

My Favorite Genres to Read/Review:

  • Black History
  • Fiction (Literary/Historical/General)
  • Memoirs
  • Self-Help
  • Motivational / Inspirational
  • Poetry

Pro Tip: It is best that you try to send reviewers books they are  most interested in reading!

Genres I Don’t Review

I do not currently review the following genres. It is not intended to be discriminatory in any way. Thank you for understanding:

• LGBT Fiction / Literature
• Erotica*

*Romance is okay, but not strict erotica.

IMPORTANT:

a. I do not accept unsolicited requests for reviews. Do not email me a digital copy of your book if we have not already corresponded through email using the steps mentioned above.

b. Agreement on my part to read a book does not imply blanket authorization to send me other works of yours (including books in a series.) You must follow these steps for each book you want to be reviewed.

c. Turnaround time for receipt of the review depends on the length of the book. Naturally, shorter texts are read and reviewed quicker than longer books.


It’s National Poetry Month!

It’s National Poetry Month!
I am Soul is 99cents on Kindle and $8 in paperback through the end of April.

Signed Paperback

www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/bookstore/i-am-soul-poetry

Amazon Kindle

www.amazon.com/I-am-Soul-Yecheilyah-Ysrayl-ebook/dp/B078FS2ZJT


What are you reading or re-reading for National Poetry Month? Here’s my list so far!
  • The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (1968 – 1998)

 

  • Maya Angelou Poems: Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie, Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, And Still I Rise, Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?

 

  • If Only There Was Music : The Poetry of Forbidden Love by Nonnie Jules

Win $200 in Amazon Cash: From The 2019 Kindle Book Award Winners

Attention Readers!!!

I am so excited to collaborate with the winners of the 2019 Kindle Book Awards to award one of you a $200 cash prize, sponsored by Amazon. Please read on for instructions on how to enter. We can all use an extra $200!

For a chance to win a $200 Amazon eGift Card from The 2019 Kindle Book Award Winners, click the link and enter (every day if you want). It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, you’re going to LOVE these BOOKS. Enter now; giveaway ends Feb. 29, 2020. Click here for details ~>  http://ow.ly/VlqT50ylWG6

WHAT: $200 Reader Giveaway
WHEN: Feb.15-29, 2020

Again, here’s the link!!

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/200-reader-giveaway/

The fun kicks off on

February 15, 2020 

(The link won’t work until 2/15. I am posting it now because I won’t be available to post it then.)