Matthias Matting runs the German blog The Self Publisher’s Bible. In an attempt to determine what is myth and what is reality with regard to how Amazon’s sales algorithms work, and how sales ranking is determined, he ran a small experiment on Amazon’s German website with the help of 90 volunteers.
His principle objective was to determine if any of these three points was dominant in influencing sales ranking:
- Enrolment in KDP Select
- Organic sales
You can read more about his experiment here, but in summary, he uploaded four titles with two different price points (0.99 Euro and 2.99 Euro). Then he bought one copy of each book to get a sales rank for the books. Finally he asked his 90 volunteers to either buy the book or, if they were KindleUnlimited users, to read at least 10% of the book they downloaded.
Matthias summarises his findings as follows:
- Price does not influence sales rankings. For both the 2.99 and 0.99 titles, similar sales resulted in similar sales ranks.
- Enrollment in KDP Select does not give you a higher sales ranking.
- Organic sales growth results in a higher ranking.
- A sustained period of sales is important and positively influences your book’s sales ranking. Sales over a period of (much) longer than 24 hours have a very positive influence on a title’s ranking. Further, a day without sales negatively influences ranking. The Amazon algorithms devalue a sale by approximately 50% every 24 hours. Of course, sales numbers increase exponentially with a high ranking which is why it is so difficult for a new title to climb the charts.
- Borrows on KindleUnlimited influence a book’s ranking immediately – even before the borrower reads the 10% required for the author to earn income. This means having your books on KindleUnlimited will immediately result in higher visibility even if you don’t necessarily benefit financially. This fact also explains any differences between your sales numbers and sales ranking.
His advice to author is to be patient. He says, ‘ If you are planning promotions, start with the least effective and increase their power in several steps. Twenty sales each day for a week get you [a] higher [ranking] than 150 sales one day and none the next. KindleUnlimited is not as bad a deal as you might think – at least, you get an immediate boost [in ranking] if someone borrows your title.
Matthias believes his experiment establishes a baseline for how Amazon works in any market. What do you think? Do your experiences gel with his?