So I thought I'd share something that may be vaguely useful.
A few years back, I did a quick cheat sheet to estimate Amazon sales for print titles, based on Amazon's overall sales rank. Now, before I give you the fruits of my inquisitive afternoon, a few disclaimers:
- I did this about three years ago, and have not updated it -- and sales patterns may have shifted (though I believe they're still broadly correct).
- This was only for print books; e-books may have a different pattern, and I've never investigated them.
- This assumes steady sales, which is not always true. Some books spike because of a media hit, and then drop as swiftly as they rose.
- Sales volume of books varies greatly on Amazon from week to week, with obvious peaks in early December and late August and other spikes driven by specific books, media events, or Alien Space Bats. So this is only a vague guide.
- The top ranks of sales are spikier and more variable than the lower tiers, so those numbers will be less accurate overall. The top twenty, in particular, often sell substantial multiples of the books just beneath them.
500,000+ -- probably didn't sell a copy this week
250,000 -- 3-5 books a week
100,000 -- 5-7 books a week
25,000 -- 40-50 books a week
10,000 -- 50-75 books a week
5,000 -- 100-150 books a week
1000 -- 200-300 books a week
500 -- 400-500 books a week
100 -- 1000+ books a week
So if your best author friend burbles that her novel The Dark Mace of Aka'Fujjji has been in the Amazon Top 1000 for 6 weeks, you can now estimate that she's sold at least 1500-2000 books. And, if I know authors, hate her for it.