Monday, December 5, 2011

The confusion of Amazons bestsellers list

I find Amazon listing numbers and ‘bestsellers’ list confusing. I’m sure if you are an indie author you’d have to agree. I’m slowly learning as Madness under the Mistletoe, pounces all over lists as it sells, which left me confused. What I learned is the list is determined by how many books are sold in one day, and continues to sell. That will put a book that has low numbers on the bestsellers list because on one of the days, it sold twenty, which in the scheme of things isn’t a lot. Now add a zero and I’ll be impressed.  Still the book will hit a list, at least for a few hours.  We can’t forget the book is sharing the slot with about 1,000 other books. Really, that many and it could be more. Still, it’s nice to see your baby hit a list, even it if it only sold thirty in a 24hr period. Someone bought it and we can assume liked it, because there aren’t any scathing reviews. It’s the high and very low of Indie publishing.
When Madness under the Mistletoe hit a bestsellers list, I was thrilled. Then I found out what the numbers were, it left me in one of those, ‘seriously’ moments. But I love the book, and was proud of its accomplishment. It has continued to sell steadily, which in my eyes makes me proud. It has pretty good reviews on all four stories, which is a plus.
A good friend of mine Jill James recently sold 200 books in a 24hr period. That was impressive and it landed her #94 on the romantic suspense list. She was thrilled. I was thrilled for her. When we talked about it, we both laughed at the fact she knew it was a very crowded #94. Still the sales were impressive and she deserved the congratulations.
I celebrated this achievement with her for one reason, because she honestly sold that many, and earned the slot the hard way, with a lot of hard work and honesty.
Recently it was revealed that some authors are listing their fictional books, in non-fiction categories. I was a little surprised at this practice. As a curious type of personality, I went in search of this phenomenon wondering if by chance it might be a mistake. No it’s not. The reason for this is to boast numbers. Of course, a romantic suspense that features cooking will come into the category ahead of the rest of the non-fiction cooking Indies, because fiction is a bigger seller. Most likely the book was placed there with its fiction sales already in place, instantly moving it up the list. This bumps the other, real non-fictions down. Doesn’t seem right or fair to do this, but it does happen. Is it a common practice? No. The authors I know who have become aware of the practice were pretty appalled. It felt like cheating. Most agreed they’d prefer the real numbers of their books genre category.
There are no guidelines on Amazon against this practice. Amazon is too busy trying to keep pedophiles from publishing their ‘how-to-books’. Honestly, I’d rather have them monitoring real problems rather then someone who likes to pad their numbers to pad their ego.


  1. Thank you so much for showing my book. I love that cover. It was #92 in contemporary romance for a few hours, so that was very fun to watch!!

    #12 in romance anthologies
    #14 in romance short stories


  2. Wow, authors do that. It seems unethical or something, since I don't know anything about the writing world yet. It just doesn't seem right.

  3. It is cheating and it is unethical. Why not use the real numbers...You know me, I'll say like it is.