I spend a fair amount of time stalking my clients’ books on Amazon, checking for reviews and rankings.

We’ve now launched more than 40 books in about two and a half years.

Here are a few observations I’ve made through my endless Amazon stalking:

Everything Is Relative

This might seem evident, but it’s easily overlooked. Your book will rank higher or lower depending upon how other books are selling. If your publisher chooses categories with fewer books, your book may rank more easily in those categories, but you have to weigh that against the relevance of the categories.

Rankings Update Hourly

Your book ranking may update as often as once an hour. Books ranking higher than 10,000 on Amazon will typically change hourly. There is no reason to check more often than that.

Your Categories Will Show Up When You Rank In The Top 100

Until your book ranks in a category, it won’t show the category. The overall rank that you need to show up in a category varies depending upon what categories your book is in (again, everything is relative!) We seen some books rank in a category when the book’s overall rank is around 20,000 and other books not rank in categories when the overall rank is as high as 7,000.

You Don’t Need To Stalk Rankings – Login To Amazon Author Central Instead

While there is a definite thrill in watching your book rise through the ranks on Amazon, you can also see rankings in your Amazon Author Central account. Additionally, you can view Bookscan sales numbers through your Amazon Author Central account.

Early Reviews Matter

The more reviews you can gather in the early weeks after your book launches, the more you will eventually gather. People seem to want to add their reviews to often-reviewed books. And, often-reviewed books sell more copies. Typically, I tell authors that 50 reviews is the ideal number to set as a goal within a month or  two of your book’s publication. To get those early reviews, you will need to ASK. People may not think to leave them if you don’t remind them. The book we are currently supporting that has the most reviews (141) got 100 reviews very soon after its publication. In the time since its release (about 18 months), the book has sold steadily and added more reviews over time.

Amazon Stock Is Unpredictable

Have conversations with your publisher in advance of your book’s launch to find out about how many books Amazon will stock. The more information you can provide to your publisher about your publicity efforts and events, the more successful they will be in convincing Amazon to stock up on your book. Despite the most proactive planning, there will be times that Amazon will be out of stock.

We recently worked with an author. Despite his best efforts and our support and focus, his book was out of stock on Amazon for his entire launch week. His publisher couldn’t provide an explanation. You’ll notice that Amazon’s stock/messaging may change frequently, with indications that your book is out of stock or will take more time to ship. This is normal, but worth talking with your publisher about to be sure they are aware and working with Amazon to restock your book.

Tell me something! What other questions do you have about Amazon stock, rankings, and reviews?