Adventurers Against Their Will Book Launch finally happened! I then left the country… Now that I’ve returned, I wonder: What do Amazon book rankings really mean?

Adventurers Against Their Will Book Launch finally happened!  I then left the country… Now that I’ve returned, I wonder:

What do Amazon book rankings really mean?

Most experts would advise any author: “When you launch your book, be accessible!”  After all, if you place your ‘baby’ on various on-line retail outlets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell Books, Books a Million and more, you might want to know it’s all running smoothly and your sales are being closely watched.

Not one to follow expert advice (of which I had none to listen to except myself), as soon as the book was launched, I left for the Galapagos Islands with my husband and some good friends. The trip-of-a-lifetime in unspoiled settings was long planned. The book launch just happened to end up being one week before we left.

As it turned out, being out of touch for the better part of two weeks was an amazing gift after all the work that had gone in to getting my book ready to go to market.  Now, I not only suggest the Galapagos Islands to anyone who loves very large turtles and tortoises, multicolored sea and land iguanas, sea lions, blue and red footed boobies (birds) – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT for author sanity just as you launch your book. GO FOR IT.

But, I know you aren’t reading this thinking it’s a travel blog. You want to know about the details of my book launch…so, back to the business.  Just three days after announcement to 1800 people on my “need to know list” that Adventurers Against Their Will was being launched, under the “Amazon Best Sellers Rank,” it was listed as” #34,931 paid in Kindle Store” and #44 in Kindle Store under “Biographies & Memoirs – Ethnic & National.”

For one short hour under printed books, I showed up as “#8,782 in Books”.  Since I’d heard Amazon represents something like 4 million books, it sounded kind of miraculous. As I packed my suitcase for our trip, I started dreaming about ordering a white Porsche Panama.

Actually, I had no idea what the numbers all meant. I hadn’t prepared myself to know. You see, as a non-fiction writer over the past five years I’d been busy getting old WWII-era letters translated from Czech to English. I’d also been data-basing tons of information from the letters and documents from my dad’s secret treasure trove. I was often flying overseas to visit archives and meet old/new friends; or working with experts for review; and so on.

An immense amount of time was committed to writing. Getting the words down on paper wasn’t hard. It was getting them to make sense that was the challenge. Therefore, I also spent a lot of time with editors, copyeditors, and advisers trying to help me hone my message. When the stories and message seemed acceptable to the first test readers of Adventurers Against Their Will, I had to tackle book design, printing, and distribution.

With all that going on 24/7 for five years (I’m not kidding; ask my husband Roger), I wasn’t able to spend research time on how to maneuver Amazon and the rest of the online world who then list your book, take their more-than-fair-share piece of your sales while they list and then hide your book sales somewhere on their site.  Since I was leaving the country (to 600 miles west of Ecuador) and all connection to the web and phone services, I just didn’t have time to determine what the Amazon sales numbers I was seeing on line meant.

Upon return, I found my sales numbers had of course dropped to more realistic numbers. They were changing up and down every hour in drastic swings, and there was no rhyme or reason to it. A very patient on-line customer service person pointed out that I wouldn’t find my sales numbers “because they don’t appear that quickly”. With an online smile, he advised, “You are supposed to have patience.”

In search of hope, I was living off 600 or more email notes that came in while I was following blue footed boobies. Friends indicated they had bought x# and were telling their friends about the book. Some friends reported they had already read their EBook versions and gave me excellent feedback. But these were my friends, not strangers. So the jury of people who didn’t care if my feelings got hurt in some way was still out. I was learning about patience.

In order not to bore you with the details, I now understand that the “best seller” numbers on Amazon are totally indiscernible to anyone outside Amazon. For a new author who just wonders if anyone in the world is buying their book just after launch, this piece of the reporting game appears meaningless.  So, I’m going back to my emails and not ordering my Panamera.

If you are interested further in this ‘rank’ subject, check out the following links.

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