(well, not all…but at least a good portion of it…)
In the previous post in this series, I explained what Amazon ranking is and which factors play into your book’s ranking. In this post, I want to dig a little deeper into the “bank, not rank” mantra I introduced. Does rank translate into bank and if so, how? If not, what does? Let’s start.
Does Rank Mean Bank?
When it comes to purely sales, yes. If you’re wide, rank for the most part means bank, especially in the first few days of your release. But in you’re in KU, things are far more complicated, and even if you’re wide, there are some things to keep in mind. Let’s dig in.
Downloads Distort Bank
Downloads count towards rank, but having high downloads (which you can’t see, but can assume from a good ranking) doesn’t mean people are actually reading your book immediately. So if your income is 75% KU and 25% sales (which is about my ratio, give or take a few), rank doesn’t mean jack shit in terms of money. If, say, 300 people download my book but don’t start reading it right away, I’ll have a nice ranking…but no money except from the sales.
Let me make this clear with a fictitious example. Let’s say I release a new book, and we’ll call it Project X. I haven’t done a preorder for Project X, and on release day, I sell 350 copies. Nice! On average, three people download my book for every reader who buys it, so let’s assume those numbers, which would mean 3 x 350 = 1050 downloads. Wow, that’s awesome. With numbers like that, I would expect to rank below #500 in the entire store. Happy release day to me!
But now let’s talk money. Let’s talk bank, rather than rank. Here’s where it gets complicated because downloads will distort bank. The income from sales is easy. The book is priced at $4.99, is on the 70% royalty rate from Amazon, and has a $0.07 download fee, so my net profit per book is $3.42. With 350 sold copies, that means 350 x $3.42 = $1197. Boom.
But what’s the value of the 1050 downloads? The truth is that their value is zero. Nada. Nothing. Because we don’t get paid for downloads. We get paid for page reads. So unless the 1050 people who downloaded the book actually read the damn thing, I won’t get a dime.
And even more, the length of the book now comes into play, because look at these numbers. If the book is 200 KENP (the official page read according to Amazon) and the payment rate is ) $0.0045, if all those people end up reading the whole book, I’ll get 1050 x 200 x $0.0045. In case your math isn’t the best (thank fuck for Excel), that’s $945. But if the book is 400 KENP, that same number of people reading the book will now make $1890. SAME rank, completely different bank.
Time Distorts Bank
Over time, the ranking means less and less in terms of bank. The reason is that one of the factors that determines rank is previous sales, the historical sales data. If your book has had a below #1000 ranking in the whole store for two weeks, it takes far fewer sales to keep that ranking than it would on release day or shortly after.
For example, and I’m just using some random numbers here, in release week it would take me at least 50 sales and 70k page reads (and I know that I need to count downloads, but I can’t so I’m using page reads instead…’cause it’s the only number I do have) to stay in the top 10 of gay romance. But after that first week, I can hang on to my ranking with fewer sales, say 20 a day and 50k page reads. After that, even less.
So my book may have a higher ranking than someone who just released, even though I’m making less money because I have fewer sales and fewer page reads. Longevity counts. Stickiness.
To show you what I mean, I’ll share the sales and page reads data one of my books, because it illustrates this reality perfectly. Firm Hand released on April 18 of last year, and it was an interesting book because it held rank longer than any of my books ever did.
On the first day, I sold 235 copies and my page reads were 68895 (I know page reads don’t influence rank, but since I can’t count downloads, this will have to do). Those numbers were enough to get me this rank: #195 in the store and #2 in gay romance. My income for just that book was $1106 on that first day.
Thirteen (!) days later, on May 30, I had an overall ranking of #241 and reached #1 in gay romance.
Now here’s where it gets interesting, because even though my rank was pretty much the same, I sold 47 copies on May 30 and had 116,117 page reads. Income for that day: $692.
SAME rank, but a difference of over $400 in income in one day. That’s what I mean when I say it’s bank that counts, not rank. And it also shows that I had to do far less to hold onto that ranking than I did to get it, because even though the page reads were higher, the downloads must have slowed down significantly by then. Time distorts bank, so to speak.
How preorders factor into that is the question as well. If they are counted on the day they’re placed and you manage to get steady preorders over a period of two weeks, your ranking should be stickier. In theory. If they’re not, they should help with a higher initial ranking but may hurt in trying to keep that ranking because your sales will drop fast. Which one it is? Amazon only knows.
How to Focus on Bank
The big question, then, is not to focus on rank, but on bank. Our goal should be to maximize bank and not rank. As it turns out, rank does influence bank, which probably won’t surprise you. But to achieve bank, we have to look beyond rank. We’ll talk about how to do that in the next post.