On October 9, 2012 at 3:55 am, Amazon rolled out another feature for their readers called Amazon Author Rank. It rates the most popular authors by the hour. Readers who are floundering for what to read next can jump on the “what’s popular” train and make a winning selection.

So, is this good news or bad news for beginning authors who are miles away from the “Most Popular” zone? Is this a case of where the popular gets more popular and the rest of the herd slips further and further back into obscurity? You can be the judge. Here are some pros and cons for what Amazon Author rank does for authors.

The Good News

If you have any ranking at all on this list, it can be a definite pat on the back. A confirmation that you are doing a few things right and making progress.

It can also be a goal, something to aim for in the never-ending climb to author fame and fortune.

Used as a gauge it can measure progress (according to Amazon) on whether you are moving forward, holding still, or slipping into the ooze of the lost, gone, and forgotten author sink hole.

Use Amazon Author Rank as a motivation to improve your Author page. Is your biography the best it can be? Do you need to add more photos, update your blog, create new video, or showcase a tour event? Look at what the popular authors are doing for inspiration to improve your own ranking.

The Bad News

Is it really a good thing to compare yourself with other authors? For some authors it may be more discouraging than encouraging.

Checking your Amazon author ranking too often can be a waste of time. Be careful. If it becomes one more shiny object that keeps you from writing it may be doing you more harm than good in the long run.

Unless you are only selling on Amazon be aware that how you rank on Amazon is only one part of the picture. Many authors are selling books from the back of the room, their website, and in other online and offline bookstores.

In summary, Amazon Author Rank is a tool primarily for the reader to find books. It may not be the best use of time for a beginning author or one whose books are not wildly popular but still very much worthwhile. Check it out, just be aware it’s not for everyone.

At Wheatmark we believe in helping authors with every step of the writing and publishing process.