I discovered something interesting this morning that I feel warrants a blog post. It’s no secret (just look at my blog header image) that I write under multiple pen names. My most prolific pen name is Tymber Dalton, which is 99% erotic romance. I also write as Lesli Richardson (my real name).

When I finally got A Bleacke Wind self-pubbed last night, this morning I was adding it to my Lesli Amazon Author Central page and looked at my rankings. Lesli has less than 10 actively selling Kindle titles, and I made less than $100 last month in Kindle sales, very few new reviews, etc. I’ve had like one new release as Lesli in about 6 months or so.

(And yes, it is weird talking about myself in the third-person like this, but here goes.)

Keep in mind Tymber has close to 80 Kindle titles through my publisher, and my publisher just ran a BookBub promo on my Love Slave for Two boxed set, which kicked Tymber’s author rankings (in erotica subcategories) up to the top. And I get several new reviews a week as Tymber. I am averaging 1-2 new releases a month as Tymber. (I don’t have direct access to most of my real-time Kindle sales data as Tymber since they’re handled through my publisher, but looking at my past quarterlies from my publisher and averaging them out, it’s safe to say it’s at least $1,000 a month on average, so let’s call it a minimum of 10x more earnings per month than as Lesli.)

None of the books as Tymber or as Lesli are in KDP Select/KU. They’re straight sales. And only 2 of my Lesli titles are in print so far.


Check this out and pose any possible explanation other than Amazon is deliberately dinging erotica/erotic romance authors with their algorithms. That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me. Because I didn’t do comparisons yesterday, but even taking the new release into account for Lesli, Lesli’s rankings were still about the same without any massive jumps. These were the numbers as of this morning at 9:30am EST. (I didn’t include erotica categories because Lesli isn’t in those.) You’d think a pen name that has a LOT more sales, a LOT more reviews, more frequent releases, would be weighted high in the algorithms…no, not so much, apparently. I long suspected that Amazon’s algorithms gave less weight to erotica books/writers, but this would appear to support that conclusion.

If there’s something I’m missing that makes my conclusion wrong, please feel free to chime in with a comment.

Category Lesli Tymber
All Books (overall) Ranking 33,124 71,407
Kindle Overall Ranking 28,675 31,704
Kindle/Romance Ranking 7,715 8,233
Books Overall Ranking 33,095 71,343
Tymber – All Books
Lesli – All Books
Amazon’s secret sauce algorithm dings erotica authors?

7 thoughts on “Amazon’s secret sauce algorithm dings erotica authors?

  • July 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Yeah, that does read as a bit suspicious. (But also, a new Bleake book! Off to Amazon to buy it!)

  • July 15, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    You’re probably right. That’s so depressing! Maybe if Amazon let the free market have its way, the top 100 bestsellers would be mostly erotica… Amazon likes the money they earn from our books, but still wants to keep a squeaky clean image.

    • July 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      @Shoshanna – Yep, exactly. I get it, they’re a company and can do what they want, but it’d be nice if they’d be a little more transparent and open with authors about what will get you dinged in terms of search results. This is also why I always direct people to my author pages on Amazon, because I keep up with the listings so people can find everything without just searching for my pen name and possibly missing results.

  • July 15, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    But Tymber has more books, so each sale has less impact, mathmatically.
    1/10 vs 1/80
    Just my opinion.

  • July 15, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    But because Tymber has more books, each sale has a smaller impact on rankings, mathmatically.
    1/10 vs 1/80
    Just my opinion.
    Love you!

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