Tracking Your Book Sales
Authors are strange creatures. Surely there is no product producer anywhere in the world who shows less interest in the fate of their product than the author who writes the words ‘The End’ and then just leaves it to everybody else to get on with.
Every publisher will tell stories of authors who have absolutely no idea how their book sales are going until their quarterly royalty check turns up. Or doesn’t.
If a book is launched on the first of January, the first meaningful book sales figures from the Payments Department of your publisher are not going to turn up at least until July, the industry is slow to report. Sometimes it takes longer than that for bookshops to report sales, especially if they have negotiated Sale or Return deals with the publisher.
If your book went out in January but you wait until July to find out that it’s not selling, the bad news is, it’s too late. It’s over. You lost your launch window. Big publishers just don’t have the time to ring up each of their authors to gee them into action on a daily basis.
And then there are the authors who simply refuse to believe how badly their book sales are doing, therefore the only answer must be that the publisher is fixing the books and stealing the royalties.
Yet, tracking one’s book sales is not difficult. For a start, Amazon provides quite detailed information on the Author Pages. If you haven’t set yours up yet, follow the steps here.
On your Amazon Author Page you can find details of your book’s rankings, which although not actually book sales numbers, it does give a good indicator. On the U.S. Amazon Author Page, you can see Nielsen’s Sales Data for your book. If you don’t know, Nielsens are the people who compile the sales figures for every book which has an ISBN number and they record book sales from virtually every bookshop in the world. If you best friend says she bought your book and loved it but the sale is not recorded with Nielsens, then, she didn’t. If it went through a cash register somewhere in the world, then Nielsens know about it.
Although Amazon produces their own sales rank figures, these don’t translate easily into actual book sales numbers. The sale of one book can move a sales rank by 100,000 places if it’s a quiet day. The only way to reasonably interpret sales rankings into an approximation of actual book sales numbers is to track your book’s sales rank over a long period and against other books. Not easy and quite time-consuming.
Fortunately, some very clever people over at Novel Rank have done the hard work for you. If you set your book up there, they will track it for you and make a remarkably accurate approximation of your book sales numbers by tracking, then interpolating your Amazon Ranking. It’s not 100% but it’s close.
However, this only starts to work after you have set up your book, it’s no use waiting six months then trying to get historical data. They will only track it from the date you set it up. Novel Rank is one of the most important tools out there for authors and not only prevents the shock of opening your royalty statement and finding a row of zeroes but it gives the active author invaluable feedback on how their marketing activity is working. You can find Novel Rank here https://www.novelrank.com/
With all of these tools, there really should be no excuse for authors not to have up to date information on how well their book sales are going.