We have a super interesting and exciting interview today with Todd Hoff who created a brand new site for writers titled, Best Sellers Rank. This is a site that helps authors track how their books perform on Amazon.com. Todd explains how he came up with the service, what it costs, and how you can use it to help sell books below.
But first! Guess what? Todd is giving away some prizes; plus ANYONE can try out the site for free to track one book, with no credit card required! The two prizes are a $25 Amazon gift card and a Best Sellers Rank package that includes: 10 books-$45/year subscription (A little over a penny per day per book.), completely ad free, track up to 10 books, select from daily or weekly reports.
So before you enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below, check out Todd's author story and how Best Sellers Rank can help your author career!
WOW Todd, welcome to the WOW! blog. Why don't we start with you telling us a little about yourself as a writer?
Todd: Like a lot of writers, I didn't write anything until I felt I had something to say and was devastated when nobody wanted to listen. I'm sure many of your readers can relate.
I self-published my first book in 2007. It was called Your Designer Diet: How to Stay on a Diet for the Rest of Your Life. The story I told was of my struggles after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Eventually, I figured out a unique weight loss method that helped me lose well over a hundred pounds and keep it off to this day. It was a very personal story that took a long time to write. After I finished, I had the usual "now what?" question.
In 2006, when I started, the resources we have today weren't in place. I tried writing query letters to publishers and of course, nothing came of that. I'm a nobody with marginal looks and even more marginal promotional skills. Hardly surprising nobody wanted to take the risk. I heard about self-publishing and did my research. At that time, self-publishing was the equivalent of walking barefoot to school both ways uphill in the snow. You had to do everything yourself—the hard way.
Eventually, I finished and once again had the "now what?" question. Back then they had these things called "bookstores," and they were the only way to distribute your books. My luck with bookstores was as good as it was with publishers. Nada. Eventually Barnes & Noble agreed to distribute my book. Yay! I was so proud to see my book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. It was like a dream...before the nightmare. I wasn't just green; I was spring green. I had checked the box that said I would take returns. So when my book didn't sell, they sent me box after box of my own book. I was out the printing costs and had a bunch of dead trees taking space in my garage. Being an author is so glamorous!
But I still had the itch to write. I have lots of ideas bouncing around my brain that want to get out. They make quite a racket. When Kindle came around, self-publishing became a completely different game. Formatting was easy. Distribution was easy. Sales, still a problem. I wrote a short story or two, a short picture book, and a poetry book. None of which were successful at all. But that's OK. Writing is a form of self-expression. Waiting for external validation only leads to disappointment. That's what I tell myself anyway.
I'm a programmer by trade, and I run a blog called High Scalability that talks about esoteric computer stuff. On a trip with my wife to France, one of our fellow tourmates asked me over lunch to explain the cloud. Easy, right? This is what I do every day. My answer was bad. Horrible. Embarrassing. That failure haunted me; bouncing cannonballs thundered in my skull.
When we got back home, I started on a new book to explain the cloud. This chance question led to my only somewhat successful book: Explain the Cloud Like I'm 10. It's not a big moneymaker, as the audience for it is small, but it has a lot of positive reviews, and I think it has helped people. That feels good. And it directly led to the service I've created called Best Sellers Rank.
WOW: That is quite a story, Todd! I admire you for hanging in there and not giving up in spite of some bumps along the road. So you are here to talk to us today about your service for writers, Best Sellers Rank. What kind of service is this?
Todd: You know when you go through the pain of creating a book and it's finally published? What do you do? You check Amazon to see how it’s doing, possibly even obsessively. Any new reviews? How is my sales rank doing? What’s my rating? Anyone paying attention at all? I found myself checking Amazon, possibly obsessively, and I thought this is silly. I’m a programmer, why don’t I write a service to do the work for me? So I did, and it’s called Best Sellers Rank @ https://bestsellersrank.me.
That’s one part of what Best Sellers Rank does for you. It tracks how your books are doing with all sorts of tables and pretty graphs. During the process of building Best Sellers Rank, I discovered a much deeper benefit: the power of understanding sales rank.
Honestly, I never gave Amazon’s sales rank a lot of thought. When I saw this on my page for Explain the Cloud Like I’m 10: Best Sellers Rank: #100,802 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store), it was just a magic number. But in reality sales rank tells you what Amazon thinks of your book. Sales rank is the key component behind the algorithm powering the Kindle Store. It tells Amazon how much effort it should put into promoting your book. When sales rank goes down, you're selling less, and Amazon cares less. When sales rank goes up, you're selling more, and Amazon cares more. You want Amazon to care about your book because that causes Amazon's algorithm to sell your books for you.
Why is that important? You can use sales rank to judge how well your promotional strategies are working. Create an ad campaign: does your sales rank go up or down? Do a podcast interview: does your sales rank go up or down? Change your blurb and update your metadata: does your sales rank go up or down? You can use sales rank to drive a feedback loop to do more of the things that help sales and less of the things that don’t move the sales needle. That’s the power of sales rank. But wait, there’s more. You can also track your competition. See how they’re changing their pricing and categories. If a blurb changes, Best Sellers Rank notifies you and shows you exactly what changed. That’s pretty cool.
WOW: I'll say! That is really cool. What kind of author can benefit from this service? Is it for any genre? Any age? Traditional and indie?
Todd: Any author. It's difficult to monitor the rankings of individual titles when you have to manually check them yourself. Consider Best Sellers Rank a virtual assistant you hire to do that mundane task for you. Now you can spend your valuable time on more important jobs like writing and promoting.
|Todd's Amazon Author Profile|
Todd: Everyone gets one daily report for one book free. I’m an author, too. I want you to try before you buy. See if you find value in the service before committing. When you do want to monitor more than one book, there are 5, 10, and 20 book plans available at a little over a penny a book per day. Upgrade, downgrade, or quit any time you want. There’s even an option for an hourly report, so you can closely track how a newly released book is doing. You might be surprised how often things change and you don’t even notice.
WOW: That sounds great that you allow people to check it out for free before investing more money for more books. So if someone is interested, where can they find out more information?
Todd: Just navigate on over to https://bestsellersrank.me. It’s all there. If you have any questions just email me at toddhoffious (at) gmail.com. I’m happy to help.
WOW: Great. So let's end with picking your expert brain. In your opinion, what are two things authors need to do in today's publishing world to be successful?
Todd: 1. Study what already successful people do. Fortunately, we have many great podcasts and websites like yours for people to learn from. 2. Leverage sales rank to consistently improve your sales over time. Understand how Amazon uses sales rank to power sales on the Kindle store. Track it. Learn from it. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
WOW: Thank you, Todd, for hanging out with us today and telling us about Best Sellers Rank. Authors, if you are interested in checking this out for your free trial, go to the website now.
And don't forget to enter to win a 10-book tracking package or a $25 Amazon gift card!
***** GIVEAWAY *****
Enter to win a Best Sellers Rank 10-Book Tracking Package for Authors (value: $45/year) and a $25 Amazon Gift Card by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends October 13th at 11:59 pm CST. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway