Your Amazon Author Rank: Boon or Bane?

Today, I got the following letter from Amazon’s AuthorCentral service. It’s a great service that allows you to view data on all your books in a central location, including sales (as reported by BookScan, an important caveat). You can check for updated reviews, see if your visit to Kansas City last week resulted in a bump in sales there, and correct anything on the book’s listing that needs correction.

And now this:

Dear Author Central Member,
Today we have added a new feature, Amazon Author Rank,
the definitive list of best-selling authors on This list makes it easy for readers to discover the best-selling authors on overall and within a selection of major genres.

Your Amazon Author Rank:
12953 in Teens

Amazon Author Rank is your rank based on the sales of all of your books on Just like Amazon Best Sellers, it is updated hourly. The top 100 authors overall and the top 100 in selected genres will be displayed on You can see your Amazon Author Rank trended over time in Author Central.

You can find your Amazon Author Rank in Author Central under the Rank tab. Historical rank data is available from September 28, 2012.

We’re always interested in feedback, so please let us know what you think.

The Author Central Team

P.S. You may have friends who are authors; feel free to pass this email along to them.
Amazon Author Rank is a feature available to all authors registered in Author Central.

Author Rank

First, let me point out that this is only an AMAZON author rank and only speaks to how well you sell ON AMAZON.

I tried to find this displayed somewhere and I’m not sure where it is. I think that when you search by category, there’s now an Author tab in the lefthand column, so you’ll show up on that list for whatever category you are searching. See the screenshot. I couldn’t get this to show up when I searched Children’s Books in any category.

I’m not sure I like this one. I know my books are ranked by how well each one sells, and that seems reasonable. And on some levels, maybe ranking an author’s overall performance isn’t all bad.

But, as authors, we know exactly where we stand in the pecking order. Try signing books at a national conference, where your line is, well, one person and next to you is Kate DiCamillo, who’s line is out the door and down the street. Oh, yes. Authors know exactly where we stand. Well, if we didn’t before–we sure will NOW!

As you see above, I am ranked 12953 in Teens. Curious, that I am in the Teens category, when most of my recent books are picture books. Who put me in that category? How can I change categories? Are children’s book authors ranked? I’ll look into that, for sure.

Of course, it’s all about selling books. It’s another category for people to search and get a recommendation (read these books by this author who is the Number 4 Author in teens!). And it might actually give back list from a Top 10 author a boost.

But there could be downsides:
Editor: What’s your Amazon Author Rank? We aren’t allowed to sign anyone ranked lower than 500.

Librarian: Oh, she’s just a 1200 Rank Author, so I don’t think kids will be interested in reading her books.

Will this be yet another way to kill the Mid-List Author?
Will you fight to climb the Author Rank ladder?
Will you evaluate all publicity on how it affects your Author Rank?

What do you think about being Ranked?
Not a member of AuthorCentral yet? Click here.

7 thoughts on “0

  1. I see your point about a downside. There are always going to be people who assess quality with a number rather than a real evaluation. Yes, that’s scary, but I don’t know if it’s any different than people looking at bestseller lists to discover new reading material. I can also understand why a busy editor or agent might use this number as a screening device, and yes, that’s scary, too. But because the rank is adjusted hourly, I wonder how meaningful this particular number to a publisher? I don’t know.

    Here’s what I like about this new tool. When I went to Author Central and took a look, I could see when I had more sales, and ask myself, hmmm, what did I do that day that might have boosted sales? I like that. I could also easily see which categories I rank in. I was surprised to see that I rank (not highly) in Health, Fitness & Dieting. This tells me that at least some people find “Watermark” through a related search term–probably psychology, domestic violence, healing or PTSD–and maybe it would be worth putting more efforts into that audience. I also saw that my strongest category is Literary Fiction, which it should be. That tells me my efforts in that category are worthwhile and that I’m targeting the right audience.

    I also have a chapbook of poems (Twelve Love Poems to Read Aloud), and I know that it, too, must be affecting my rank. What I like about this is that all of an authors collected sales contribute to author rank, not just the sales of one book.

    Time will tell whether the author rank tool works for or against authors. Meanwhile, I think, yes, I’d like to try to get my author rank up.

  2. Curious, isn’t it? They categorized me under TEEN as well, and my published books are all picture books. I don’t pay attention to the Amazon rankings. I know it’s especially important for self-published folks, though. If life weren’t so full, I might give this more thought, but I plan to just keep writing!

  3. Such rankings rankle me.
    They are just another uncontrollable thing to obsess over.
    My editor told me in one of her first emails to me upon signing my first book with her 7 years ago, DON’T pay any attention to Amazon book rankings. They are meaningless. I took it to heart. Since then I’ve tried to convince other authors to ignore them as well, but most go over to the dark side.

  4. When I received this letter today from Amazon I was mortified for all the reasons you mentioned, Darcy. I’m a firm believer in letting the work speak for itself. Buyers already polarize around the super stars and publishing darlings. What we want are discerning readers, not lemmings. This feels like just another way of penalizing midlist authors who already suffer from a lack of support from their publishers. Let credible reviews point out the gems, not some number that only tells part of the story.

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