Episode 164 – Amazon Charts, Readthrough Rate, and The Grey Nebula

people like this. Be the first of your friends.

Question of the Week: If you were creating a name for an Amazon bestseller list, what would you call it and why?

Want to meet Bryan for an all expenses paid trip? Learn more about his Blurbs in Chicago Sweepstakes in this episode. Also, go read The Grey Nebula by Laura and Daniel Martone at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725VW88M and then listen to our latest episode! This week, Jim and Bryan took on tips about making your workstation more ergonomic, writing spinoffs, and employing word of mouth marketing. The news stories included Prime Reading UK, the 15-year novel, BookBub’s rejection policies, calculating your readthrough rate, indie authors getting TV deals, and Amazon Charts. This week’s Question of the Week: If you were creating a name for an Amazon bestseller list, what would you call it and why?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How authors and freelancers can stay in shape and avoid injury on the job
  • What are some of the pros and cons for writing spinoff books for series
  • How word of mouth marketing helped one author gain exposure for his book
  • Where and how Amazon is expanding its Prime Reading program
  • Why one author took 15 years to publish her book and what advice she has for writers
  • What common mistakes authors should avoid to improve their chances with BookBub
  • How authors can calculate Read Through Rates and why they should
  • Why more and more indie authors are landing Hollywood TV and movie deals
  • What is Amazon’s response to NYT and USAT bestseller lists and how it will affect indies


Question of the Week: If you were creating a name for an Amazon bestseller list, what would you call it and why?

get show updates

  • Amazon Smash…as in a smash hit. I’m a big fan of Rotten Tomatoes as it gives both critic and audience scores and wouldn’t mind if they developed something like that. I give 30% weight to the critics and 70% to the audience.

    • Laura Martone

      I feel the same way, Darren – about Rotten Tomatoes, I mean. Of course, the critic/audience scores don’t always sway me, especially when it comes to horror movies, which can often be rated much lower than Daniel and I would rate them. Then again, we’re horror nuts!

  • Blaine Moore

    First, listening to Jim talk about Amazon Ads, he seems to be referring to the first iteration of them, which I agree with him completely, those stank. Mid/Late last year, though, product display ads changed and they added the sponsored products ads.

    For PDAs, they still have the position that’s right below the buy button, but they _also_ have positions that appear at the top of search results in their own bar, plus in other positions such as near reviews, and will also appear on the lock screens of kindle devices for people that didn’t spend the extra $50 or whatever it costs to opt out of that feature.

    SPAs, on the other hand, are an entirely different offering. That’s standard auction style keyword bidding like you’d see at Google or Facebook, and puts your book into a sponsored ads page (similar branding as the also-boughts) as well as in search results, which are both prime real estate for getting your book shown.

    So yes, the original Product Display Ads offer sucked, but the new ones probably aren’t quite as bad (haven’t tested them enough yet to say) and the Sponsored Product Ads are VERY good when you can actually get Amazon to let you spend your money with them.


    In response to your comments about BookBub, they had some representatives at the Smarter Artist Summit and they stressed that they really do want you to submit your book every month; they pay very close attention to the whims of their lists to ensure that they are giving them what they want, so combine changing trends with different available inventory and they’d like to keep seeing the same books over and over again and hope that they can accept it eventually even if it isn’t right for any particular month. (Still aggravating, but that’s what they said over and over again…)


    As for the Question of the Week, here are a few options that sound better than Amazon Charts off the top of my head:
    – Amazon Hits
    – Amazon Favorites
    – Amazon’s Best Parade of Books
    – Amazon’s Totally Data-Driven Best-Seller Lists of What Actually Sells (and How!)

    Yes, some of those are more tongue-in-cheek than others…

  • Laura Martone

    Hmm… I’d have to give this one some thought. My initial response is that I wouldn’t mind being called an Almighty Amazonian… but that might be a little too on the nose. 😉 By the way, thanks so much for the plug in this week’s show. Daniel and I are already two of your biggest fans (of the show as well as of the two of you), but still, we were floored by the solo mention… and will always be exceedingly grateful for your support. Also, I just have to say that, no matter what happens with our first book, it feels AMAZING to be a published novelist… and no longer just a little wannabe!

  • That may have been the second time I’ve ordered a book on iBooks in four years and it took me ten minutes! I must really want to hang out with you, Brian.

    As for the name I think it should “Amazon Bestseller’s List” since a lot of authors already use that on their covers and blurbs.

    And, Brian, I completely agree with you on the Bookbub also boughts debacle. I’ve had two BBs and my ABs got peppered with Cookbooks too! I don’t remember how long it took to repopulate correctly, but I was upset about it the first couple of days. I got over it after I saw the sales;-)

  • Al Phasso

    Great Podcast as usual. Thanks a lot for all the news and the energy you put into this. Love to listen to you both from Thailand, France…wherever I am !
    Re Amazon Best seller List’s name…why couldn’t they go for some super simple name like ‘Amazon Most Wanted’ or ‘Amazon Beloved’ or ‘Your Amazon Choices’ ?!
    Anyway we will have to get used to their choice…
    All the best and keep enjoying your little one Bryan !

  • christopherwills

    Amazon Bestsellers Chart – ABC. Great show guys.

  • Lavie Margolin

    The Indie author best seller chart! It would be fun if there were an easier way to follow the success of our colleagues.

  • Amazon Algorithm Alchemists – then one could claim, “I’m a Triple-A rated Author!” 😉

  • Spider McGee

    Bezos Sellers?

  • The A-List (A for Amazon in case that wasn’t clear).
    The Amazonian
    Tributaries (lead into the main stream)
    The Flow (Amazon water flow: average discharge of about 209,000 cubic metres per second)
    The Ebb & Tide (ups and downs of the list)
    The Upper Amazon (where books float to the top)
    The Watershed (ridge dividing rivers; an important point of division or transition between two phases)

    They often say the first gut reaction is the best and I’d have to agree.

    BTW, thanks for the mention of the Charts at all as I hadn’t yet heard of it. Which is why, as usual, I listen to your show. 😉

  • Abraham Benguigui

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/97b8405f131ea9b99e48c195aa286c14716633cf767241000dbe7e147fb3b5ad.jpg Sorry Brian! I couldn’t stop myself! I can make one of Jim next week 🙂

    #Perks of been a designer: Photoshop skills

  • QOTW – I’d prefer the name to make sense to normal people, like my mom, so she’d go “ooooohhhh” without me having to tell her what it is.

    Amazon Favorites List
    Amazon Chart Toppers List
    Amazon Top Sellers List
    Amazon Bestsellers List

    The problem with the phrase “Amazon Bestseller” is that it’s pretty meaningless. Lots of books have been Amazon Bestsellers at one point, even ones that have never cracked the top 10,000 on Amazon.

  • Daniel Martone

    Amazon Hits would be my choice.

    • Laura Martone

      Good job, baby! According to Jim, your proposed name was a hit!

  • Daniel Martone

    Thanks for the huge mention and show tag. You guys are simply the best!!

    • Bryan

      Happy to help :). Hope week 1 went amazingly!