The numbers game on Amazon

I am having the time of my life. Yeah, well, somewhat.

So, last week I decided to spend some time looking at my rankings on Amazon – you know, the Author rank, the Sales rank, etc, etc.

Bad idea !

Around the beginning of this past week, my print book was listed in the 300K range. Not bad, I thought. I was not actively promoting it, I was building up the infrastructure at this point. I spruced up my Author Central bio, added all the relevant links and waited a day. Then, I took a peek.

OMG … was I seeing this right? My book was plummeting, it was now barely above the 600K point.


What am I doing wrong? Did I spell everything right? Or did I annoy some all powerful book God who unleashed his wrath on my baby?

I checked again a couple of hours later.


It was down to 800K and sliding down further every hour.

A few more hours of frantic checking later, I decided to make use of the situation. I thought, well, let’s make lemonade with the lemons. Good thinking, right? Hmmm … in hindsight, I am not so sure. I decided to test what effect a Kindle free promo would have on said numbers.

So, the promo went live the following day – at that point my print book was at 900K and my eBook was at 600K or so … and going down.

Then came the crazy 24 hours after my promo went live – checking my Author Central page for rankings more often than I would like to admit, checking my Kindle Direct for the number of downloads, stressing out to the point that made me want to unpublish my book and what not.

I never thought I would, but I did survive. And I did not unpublish my book either. Phew!

Now, here’s the lowdown on the experiment – I had about 100 downloads, with no promotion of the free deal whatsoever (as per design). The eBook version shot up to 3000 on Top free books on Kindle and came in #6 and #7 in the specific genres of “Juvenile/Coming of Age” and “Juvenile/ Science Fiction.” After the free downloads ended, the ebook went back to its pre-free rankings – which I expected. What I did not expect is a ranking of 90K on my print book the following day – YAY I had sold a couple of copies and shot up the ranks.

I do not know who bought these copies – if the free kindle download triggered the sales or if it would have been bought regardless. But this I do know, if I could to sell about 3 books per day, I could easily get in to the 50K-90K range – this was very good data.

And, there’s one more thing I know now – it is better to leave those numbers alone. If my mother were to hear about this, she would quote the following Shloka, and very wisely so.

“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani”

Translated as – “You have a right to perform your prescribed action, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results your activities, and never be associated to not doing your duty”

The idea is to keep on doing the job the best you can, the results (numbers in this case) will take care of themselves. So, keeping that in mind, I decided to devote my time and energy to editing part two of my novel, researching promotion strategies and writing my 2000 words everyday. It has been peaceful around here since.

—  Author of “Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy.” Now on Amazon.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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