Before you read this article about author rankings, a quick heads up: I’m inviting you to something fun that could help you in your writing endeavours. The link at the bottom of this article will take you to ThisPlagueOfDays.com for a post you’ll like about the advantages of serialization. At the bottom of that post, click on The Link for the Curious to get a secret (not a spoiler!) about This Plague of Days.
Go to Author Central and have a look at your author rank. This shows you how you’re doing compared to other authors on Amazon. That’s not very useful information, but there is something to be gleaned from these charts.
Author rank on Amazon is interesting or depressing, depending on your score. However, the public never sees your author rank unless you’re in the top 100. As you click through and look at charts, the blue points are your highest rank on any given day (not your average for the day). The orange point is your placement right now.
These rankings are based on sales figures of digital, paper and audio. (So, as I’ve mentioned in this space, if you aren’t exploring your audio options yet, get on that.)
It’s good to own a genre if you can
If you’re really smart, you picked a genre and tried to dominate it. All or most of your books will be in one category and you won’t have many charts to click through. I’m not all that smart. I think focussing all your energy in one genre is probably a good idea. It is good advice I couldn’t take. I bubble over with ideas for books in various genres. Many of us are cursed that way.
For instance, I came up with an insta-book on doing business with the Vine app simply because (a) I was so enthused about the new app, and (b) I was working on the gargantuan This Plague of Days and felt like it had been too long since I’d published anything new. Not wanting to be forgotten, I wrote and published Six Seconds in one week. (Publishing gave my other books a bit of a boost, too, so there’s that.)
Gleaning what’s good to know from Amazon’s author rank
I have three books in non-fiction (business and publishing).
For the Hit Man Series, I ranked higher in mystery than I did in thrillers, though I ranked consistently higher in action/adventure and science fiction and fantasy.
I don’t consider myself a sci-fantasy writer. However, This Plague of Days fits neatly in the sci-fi subcategory of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic.
According to my author ranks, I rank best as a horror writer. I have several books of short stories on Amazon, but since they’re under the too vague “literature and contemporary fiction” categories, my rank there is weaker. Too general doesn’t help. I could and should put Murders Among Dead Trees under the horror category, too. It fits the tone for that collection.
Beware, however, of drilling too deep into a stagnant subcategory. The Hit Man Series sells better when categorized as action adventure and mystery. Hardboiled is a stagnant subcategory Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus languished in too long. They were ignored because I messed up my category choice.
How can you tell if a subcategory is too small or dead? Check out a few forums on the genre. If the board has few members or the most recent posts aren’t in the current calendar year, uh-oh!)
Don’t major in your minor
People major in their minor all the time. They’re lousy at formatting but they spend days on a task they should farm out to someone else. They should be writing but since they don’t want to delegate, they’re doing something other than writing and revising. The author ranking by genre shows us what we do best by identifying what books people want more.
Author ranking gives us clues how we should categorize our books on Amazon for greater discoverability and tells us what our major is. You could look at bare book sales, but with author rankings by genre, Amazon does that for you in a clearer way that doesn’t allow you to fool yourself with short-term variables. Look for trends across categories for clues to optimize your books’ chances.
What the clues from author rankings told me
1. As I studied my rankings, I was reassured that I made a good choice to pursue the horror category.
2. I have two more books in the Hit Man Series in the chamber, but I won’t pull the trigger on those until things slow down with my plague serial. This Plague of Days, Season Two hits in September, so Jesus Diaz fans will have to wait just a bit longer while I major in my major.
3. As I write the next book about my loveable but luckless Cuban hit man, I’ll amp up the mystery so it fits more comfortably in that category.
4. For the books that perform less powerfully, I have some ideas that will breathe life into old titles as I create new ones.
5. The work that stands alone doesn’t perform as well. I knew this, of course, but I can see it in the charts. This is bad news because I have another huge book that was to be a one-off. Then it occurred to me. This is good news. It’s so huge, I could serialize it as I’m doing with This Plague of Days.
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, Murders Among Dead Trees, Crack the Indie Author Code, Six Seconds, Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire, Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus and the zombie apocalypse serial, This Plague of Days. Read, love, review and please spread the word.
- Beyond ‘Game of Thrones’: Exploring diversity in speculative fiction (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- Amazon’s New SciFi, Fantasy, and Romance Subcategories (chazzwrites.com)
- Amazon Author Central – possible improvements (marklord.info)
- The New Face Of Publishing (arrowgatepublishing.com)
- Is AuthorRank The Death Knell for Content Mills? (nexcess.net)
- How to Choose the Right Genre for Your Book (savvybookwriters.wordpress.com)
- Outside of Your Comfort Zone: Different Genres (english.answers.com)
- The ‘Billboard’ That Can Make Or Break Your Book’s Success | Bestseller Labs (chazzwrites.com)