Friday, February 05, 2010
Many author I know have used various Amazon sales rank tracking systems online so they can see how their books are selling on Amazon, so today I'm interviewing Mario Lurig, the creator of NovelRank. Mario, welcome to The Write Type! ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
CKT: As the creator of NovelRank, please tell us what led to the creation of such a program.
ML: I'm a self-publishing author myself, and that means marketing my book is a one-man team. The problem was that Amazon sales info is delayed about 6 months from my publisher, Lulu. Therefore, it's hard to know what is working and what is not as not every purchase happens where you want it to happen. I tried other sales rank tracking websites, and was not satisfied with any of them.
I then remembered, "Oh wait, I can write code." So I started tracking sales rank on my own, then realized that other authors probably could use the same thing; I'm not the only author selling less than 15 copies a month. So, I've put in 200+ hours of work and NovelRank was released to the public.
CKT: Who uses NovelRank, and why?
ML: A few publishers, definitely a large collection of self-promoting authors, and I suppose for the same reasons I do: To get some feedback on how well your book is selling on Amazon without having to obsessively visit Amazon.com, trying to figure out if the book's sales rank has gone up or down, and what that means. Authors are busy enough!
CKT: How does NovelRank work? And why is it important to authors like me?
ML: It's a pretty simple concept: Every hour, get the sales rank of your book on all Amazon domains that carry the book that you choose to track. Then, based on trends and changes, estimate the number of sales that occur. Is it important to know the sales at any one moment? No, unless you are actively promoting it. The key to good marketing is good feedback, and that is what NovelRank provides for authors like you.
CKT: Can I only track my sales rank from Amazon.com?
ML: Other sites only track Amazon.com and some track Amazon.co.uk. NovelRank tracks all Amazon domains, including US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.
CKT: I've used TitleZ in the past to track my sales ranks and at one time could track my Kindle sales rank too, but then TitleZ removed this feature. Can I use NovelRank to track Kindle editions of my work?
ML: Yes! It's a bit of a long story, but the quick version is that every site that exists to track sales rank uses Amazon's API (efficient way to get information from a service or site). Months ago, Amazon removed the ability to get any information about Kindle Edition books, and after some persistence from myself and a few others in their forums, they finally stated that this was deliberate and permanent. Everyone's source of information was lost, including NovelRank.
I wasn't satisfied with that option, so I found another way to get the information from Amazon that was 20% of the API's efficiency. Without this new method, it would have been only 4%, which just isn't a feasible amount to get the data in a timely manner. Now NovelRank allows you to add Kindle Edition books for tracking, and still get hourly results, including sales estimates, exclusively.
CKT: On TitleZ I could track a list of items and see them on one page. This was great for comparing ranks for my 3 novels. It was also useful if I wanted to track a comparative title and compare to one of mine. Can I track more than one item and compare their stats easily using NovelRank?
ML: You can definitely track more than one item, and you can even share the book's page with others without them needing to create an account, just share the URL of the page. However, this is the one place NovelRank lags behind others, the ability to have an account and track everything on one page. It's coming, let me be clear, but I opted to reduce the barrier to entry, because I really dislike having to login or make an account everywhere.
So, I made it really simple to add a book, track it, and share that with others or integrate it with your regular life with things like RSS feeds. I'll be keeping the spirit the same however, because you won't be creating an account, but simply logging in through one of 6 services you already have an account with, such as Google, LiveJournal, Facebook, and Twitter. Just like the current book details page, you will have an 'account' page accessible by URL so you won't need to login to see everything on one page, only to make changes to your settings or lists.
CKT: Are there any features (current or future) that really make NovelRank stand out?
ML: Kindle tracking is the standout feature right now, as nobody else supports it. Nobody.
CKT: Do you charge for this tracking service?
ML: I like to think that the second best thing about NovelRank is that there are no advertisements, never will be, and it has the best price: Free.
CKT: On the home page of NovelRank, you feature 3 lists? Tell us about them. Are there any others, and what do they track?
ML: It actually features about 10 lists, because every hour the 3 featured on the home page change, as they are randomly selected from all of the Top 10 lists available. It always shows Recent Additions on either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, as the most popular Amazon domains, and then 2 other lists.
Most lists are obvious, showing books that were recently added, top sellers, top Lulu sellers, etc. However, my favorite lists are called Diamonds in the Rough, which represent books that have sold a copy recently, but have been on a dry streak in the last couple of days. In other words, books that are valuable enough to garner your attention and your dollars, but probably not top sellers.
CKT: Do you have anything else to add?
ML: Being an author is hard, even for those of us doing it part-time, but it's incredibly rewarding. If NovelRank can bring value to an author who is taking their book's sales and marketing into their own hands, it has succeeded. Like my book, NovelRank suffers from the same fate: I'm its biggest fan, and everything else is gravy.
Authors: you can now promote your book on NovelRank. Just send Mario a copy for his once a month book giveaway. http://www.novelrank.com/blog/donate-novel-authors-monthly-promotion-and-giveaway/
Thank you for dropping by The Write Type, Mario, and for sharing this valuable service. I've tried NovelRank and it's simple and easy. All the best in success with NovelRank.