Your Amazon figures do not mean squat

As you may have noticed, this forum has recently contained more shares from my personal blog (angelackerman.com) than news about publishing in the last few days. Last week left me springing from one thing to the next, again and again. Every day I face choices as a publisher versus a mom versus a writer. Do I write my own stuff or do I work on materials for my authors instead?

So, while bouncing from meeting to appointment to event with my teenaged daughter, etc., I started making YouTube vlogs that I call real life motivation. For example:

I’m considering these a stepping stone to beef up our TikTok account and make more video content for BookTok, BookTube, and Bookstagram. And share more short snippets of our writing, perhaps even in audio distributed as a podcast.

And one of the items I’d like to do is start reading our blog entries as a podcast– and if I get organized enough I might even do one based on this statement:

Your Amazon rankings don’t mean squat.

Let me reiterate, if you have not heard it before… there are two kinds of self-published or small press-supported authors: those who keep writing to make money off the Amazon machine, build a following, and potentially expand into wider marketplaces from there, and those who publish hoping to make some money but who cannot sacrifice their creative integrity for better odds at achieving financial success.

Neither author is wrong.

The only author who is wrong is the writer who misses opportunities because he or she is paralyzed by the decisions that accompany publishing or because he or she fears rejection or failure.

There is no failure.

Once your book is in the universe, that in itself is a success.

Just promise me you won’t rely on lists and rankings to define your success. Sure, every writer would love to appear on a prestigious list. But do you realize why USA Today laid off their booklist editor and discontinued it’s bestseller list? It’s a game.

And do you know what else is a numbers game? Amazon rankings. They absolutely, 100% matter to the algorithm and impact who sees your book and how often. But what do they really mean?

Our anthology, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, has not sold any copies through Amazon in several months. This caused the book to fall to something ridiculous like #6,777,444 in books. They lower the price and lower the price while announcing that they only have 19 of these books left in stock.

The book retails for $9.99. With shipping, handling, tax and print costs, each copy costs me $3.75 via the printer/distributor. I ask my distributor, Ingram, to give a 40% discount to retailers, which means I earn $3.25 for each copy sold. Amazon has reduced the price of this book to $2.60.

Intrigued, and just a little concerned that if the price dropped any more and Amazon really did have 19 books in stock and that they might return them, which would result in a return fee to me, I pretended to order 10.

I quickly received a notice that this special deal requires a limit of four per customer. And that if I didn’t order $25 in other items shipping would be $7.29. This is how Amazon recoups the loss I suppose. So I bought 4, and some other books, and now today Amazon says they only have 17 in stock. That math seems inaccurate.

After work, I looked up my Amazon rankings on this book. Lo and behold, with the four copies I bought, the ranking has improved to under 650,000!

And here’s the kicker: My sales report shows that four copies of that book were ordered from Ingram today. Which means Amazon does not have the book in stock. Amazon has no need to keep print-on-demand books in stock. That would be dumb.

Also, for a side note, the paperback version of Seneca Blue’s Trapped is cheaper on Amazon that I can buy it myself from the printer at $5.19. They also have the book incorrectly paired with a hardcover called Trapped by Jeffrey Ashford, which is also attributed to a Roderic Jeffries in the author line.

This all means that I not only purchased four of this company’s books at less than what I can buy them for at the distributor, but that I made a profit buying them. I bought them from Amazon for $2.60 and they bought them from my distributor yielding me $3.25, which means I made 65 cents a copy and can still sell that book to another reader in the future.

Amazon just paid me to take my own books.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix (parisianphoenix.com) Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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