If I told you my new book just hit ranking two on Amazon (see picture) I would not by lying – technically speaking. If I was honest I would have said my book ranked 103,000th on that very day at that very moment. One hundred thousand books did better than mine at that moment; two or three million others did worse.
There is a great lack of honesty amongst the eBook writing folks. Most of it hinges around Amazon rankings and what they actually mean. If somebody tells you about their "bestseller" on Amazon go and check the overall rankings and compare! But beware where you go looking! Overall rankings on the Australian, UK or Canadian Amazon sites mean little because they are based on just a fraction of the action. If you want to know how a book is doing you'll have to go to the US site.
Here is why: There are two different Amazon rankings. Just about all authors who use the #1 Amazon ranking in their blurb talk about the category ranking i.e. the genre, sub genre etc. their book is listed in. Hardly anybody ever mentions the other ranking which is the overall ranking of all books in all categories based on all daily sales.
Here are some real numbers, based on my own sales. Note that the rankings will fluctuate a lot, depending on what day the actual sales are recorded. Also note that print books need more sales to match the ebook rankings. The figures therefore are only averages - the daily totals can jump as much as 100,000 with a single sale!!
You rank 300,000 in the overall rankings if you sell in the order of 10 eBooks per month. Your category ranking will be a lot lower, depending on the sub genre you are listed in.
15 sold books per month deliver an overall ranking of under 200,000.
One sale per day or 30 per month puts you in the under 100,000 ratings overall and you might crack the under 10 rating in some genres.
Two sales per day will get you in the under 50,000 rankings and # 1-10 in some niche genres.
Three per day 40,000 , four per day around 30,000 ..... fifty per day will put you in the under 4,000 rankings and an almost certain 1 in the niche genres and almost certain under 100 in the more crowded genres
To hit the 100 top sellers overall you'll need to sell several hundred copies per day.
These rankings are not just straight sales of Kindle ebooks. They also include page reads from subscribers. Amazon has a huge subscriber base - probably twice as big as the paid Kindle base. Amazon pays the authors around half a cent per page – which usually is a lot less than they would get selling the ebook.