The Numbers Game…

I’m not sure why, but there’s a seemingly endless fascination with rankings and chart numbers.  In certain circumstances, sports for instance, this all makes sense: it’s about competition and determining victory and there are a whole host of governing bodies to ensure fair play.  Charts are also considered helpful to indicate relative popularity but this kind of benchmarking is much less reliable and is liable to manipulation or abuse.  Of course, you might have guessed that the charts that I seem to be most fixated with are Amazon Sales Rankings.  I confess: I try not to look at them  but for some reason I can’t help it!  Anyway, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve experienced about them over the last few years.

When I first published Firebird, back in 2011, the concept of ebooks was still very new.  Back then, Firebird would oscillate between the top 10,000 and top 100,000 books in both the UK and US Amazon charts.  At that time, the general author consensus was that if you were in the top 10,000 then that was a very good sign.

Nowadays, however, things have changed.  All of the major publishing houses have, to some extent, conceded to the ebook format and published their back catalogues.  Indie writers, good and bad, are pouring their wares into the e-marketplace and the trend of publishing shorter stories as “novellas” is not doing anything to reduce this literal tsunami.

So, two years on, Firebird is selling more strongly than ever – albeit that this means approximately two copies per week – but is now generally ranked as being between 100,000th and 200,000th.  A good day might see it spring up to a circa 30,000th slot but, within a day, it’ll drift back into its more normal resting place.

Thunder, despite having a lower overall circulation, is not too dissimilar.  It ranges between 200,000 and 500,000th.

Initially I was concerned about this.  Now I’m not.

I celebrate days when either book breaks the top 100,000 as this tells me that someone new has been kind – or perhaps crazy – enough to try out my efforts and I have settled into being satisfied that if my books are anywhere in the top million then that’s still pretty impressive considering the wealth of global competition they’re up against.

And who knows?  I may have to add even more zero’s to my benchmark in another couple of years!

About anthonybellaleigh

Writing to amuse myself and entertain others. (

Posted on August 14, 2013, in Books, Firebird, Thunder, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. It’s definitely tough getting attention with so many books out there and more releasing every day. I did find putting out my second book helped my sales considerably for the first in the series. It will be interesting to see how releasing a third will do.

    Keep up the good work with your own books. One recommendation I would give is to try doing a virtual book tour or even Facebook ad. Those have helped me and while they can’t guarantee you’ll shoot up the sales ranks, I’ve found they do make at least a small difference. Every little bit of promo helps!


    • Hi Susan, great to hear from you. I’ve been monitoring your blog tour stuff: it looks very interesting! Sounds like your series is grabbing your audience, which is great news! :)


      • Hey, Anthony. I know I need to write some more posts that aren’t just related to promoting authors and their books (such as on writing), but it’s been a bit crazy since I started publishing my own books. Now I have to come up with content for the MotDP blog and my author blog. It gets exhausting!

        The virtual book tours vary in their success. I’ve found the authors who get the most of them are those with good covers, catchy blurbs, and reasonable prices. A few of the tours I participated in had books priced way too high (usually not the author’s fault but because they went through a publisher). I think you’ve got all the right things in place. It’s just a matter of getting the readers’ attention.

        I don’t plan to ever give my books away for free, aside from giving them to book bloggers in exchange for reviews and as contests for my fans to win them. Those are a greater benefit to authors with a lot of books out, which doesn’t help me much anyway. There do seem to be some authors who have done really well with the freebies, though, so I wouldn’t discount the idea if you’re wanting to get a bigger reading audience.

        Novellas could be good. I’m releasing one in October that is a spin-off from my series. It will be interesting to see how it does. I’m even going so far as to hire a professional photographer and model (we just finished the casting call last week) so I can have exclusive pics to use for the cover. The male model I’ve chosen for it should, um, help draw some interest. At least this is what a few friends tell me after seeing one of his portfolio pics. I’ve coordinated exactly what he’ll wear and how he’ll pose so it fits the book the best. The great thing about being indie is how much control we have over such things :)


      • Darkness Haunts is doing fantastically! Well done you… :) I’ll most definitely be checking it out myself (am in the midst of discovering Lee Child at the moment)… Feel slightly disappointed that I didn’t get the casting call for your new book cover though… (much laughter in the background) and am guessing that the phrase “coordinating exactly what he’ll wear” has got the word “not” missing from it somewhere…!


  2. I think your numbers are good for no advertising or promotion. My numbers go up and down, and like you, I tell myself not to look, but I can’t stand it. I end up checking on them. I wrote novellas to put online between novels (a few authors recommended that on thier blogs and twitter), and I love writing short stories, so I got a little too carried away with that. But the single best thing, so far, to bring readers to my novels was to offer the first one for free for Kindle and advertise it on Book Bub. It’s not easy to get on Book Bub, and I couldn’t do it this time for Wolf’s Bane. They were already full, so I’m experimenting with trying ebookbooster. I want to try a few new things this year and make an effort to promote more. Not sure how it will work, but I won’t know if I don’t try:)


    • Hi Judith, I do keep wondering about novellas myself. I’ve also used some free promo but it can have some slightly nasty side-effects, and my books are not serialised (yet) so there’s a bit less of an obvious pull-through effect for me… Have to admit, I’m rubbish at promo so, for me, it’s become “little and irregular” – I should probably do more I suppose! As an aside: do I detect that there might be a sequel for Wolf’s Bane? If so, what’s it called? I want to stick it on my shopping list!


  3. You’re so right Anthony, last time I looked at my rankings I burst into tears, mind you there could have been two alternative reasons for that. 1. It may have been my time of the month, or 2. I picked up a hot cup of tea and missed my mouth completely. What you’ve got to do is turn yourself into a celebrity. I’ve already a plan for this, I’m going to become a reality tv star, “The Wrials and Wribulations of a Writer.’ I know that should be Trials etc. but I’m going for the alliteration. The only thing is I’ve got teach myself to speak like that.


  4. Thanks, Anthony. My books are doing better than I expected this early in the game, though I’ll admit it adds that much more pressure to keep putting more out.

    As for the casting call, uh, we were sticking with looking for models who live near the photographer. Just console yourself with the fact it was a matter of saving on travel expenses. I can also assure you the guy will be wearing pants. The cover has to look at least half-way respectable!


    • Scant comfort and, thanks to the wonders of slightly different interpretations of the word “pants” between Brit and American English, seemingly scant attire… LOL :)


      • Well, um, go with the American version of pants in this case, lol.

        Funny enough, the original opening to my second book has a word that I knew would be interpreted differently by Brits. I purposely put it in just to make the scene extra funny to them. Unfortunately my beta readers felt the scene was a bit too much for a first chapter and thought it might turn some readers off (I’d really let my dirty mind go when I wrote it and giggled naughtily while jotting down every line). So I revised it and put in something more respectable. After the book released I posted the original and was amazed how many readers on Facebook commented to say they loved it. Who knew there were more dirty minds out there who could appreciate my view on things?

        (the word is “spunk” by the way)


  5. Glad you’re having steady success, Anthony & Suzie. I’ve taken a sabbatical from promoting (okay, I got pissed off and needed to reset my artistic gyroscope) and have been getting back to the joy of writing. Pressing on and wishing you all greater success.


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