An author wrote last week:
My Amazon Central UK account is showing that I had a sale of (my book) on 9/10/14 but I’m not seeing that I ever received payment for it. I asked about it through Amazon and received this response:
“Please understand that, we don’t have the option to check the status of a single sale. I’m really sorry about this.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Amazon’s rankings have confused an author. I asked the author to send me a screenshot of the “sale” on Amazon.
What she sent wasn’t a screenshot of a “sale” at all. It was just a picture of the ranking history on Amazon. Ingram reported no sales of this author’s print book that month. We have audited Ingram’s sales reports numerous times over the past 16 years and we have never found even one missing sale.
The most likely scenario is that Amazon simply updated their database by adding new books. By definition the phrase “sales rank” means books are ordered based on sales. But what if Book A and Book B have the EXACT same number of copies sold? How can Book A be “ranked” above Book B, or vice versa? In those cases it’s surmised that Amazon uses some additional criteria to decide which book should be ranked first. And at least one of the additional criteria, some suspect, is the date and time Amazon added the book to its database. That means your book can change its sales ranking merely from the act of Amazon adding new books to the site.
There is also another possibility. This authors’ book was published in 2010, and has sold in the past. It could be that Amazon had an extra copy on their shelf for one reason or another. They may have stocked the book for a period of time or perhaps they had a returned item on their shelf.
In the event of an old copy being stocked, the author would have been paid for that sale long ago, when Amazon first purchased the copy.
If it was a returned item, Amazon may have recorded the initial sale and, for the subsequent sale, would have shipped the copy they had on hand rather than ordering a new copy of the book from us.
Of course, anybody (business or individual) can resell a print copy of a book that’s sitting on their shelf. It’s perfectly legal because they did indeed pay for the copy when it was first ordered.
Amazon claims to credit customers for items that were returned as undeliverable, telling their customers they must re-purchase the item if they still want it. Of course, Amazon isn’t going to pay the publisher or author twice for such a sale because, in the end, they were only getting paid once by their customer.
This is just another example of how Amazon’s rankings continue to confuse authors. It happens all the time and authors should never assume anything malicious has occurred, on the part of Amazon or their publisher, just based on a change in their Amazon ranking alone.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
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