Amazonian Frustration and other Book News

December 20th, 2011 | Posted in News

I am finding that the search engine is not a very well-functioning tool. At the very least it seems to be doing a disservice to customers looking for real results for search terms. According to Amazon, the results of a search for any terms or phrase are weighted by relevance of the search, sales on Amazon thus far and a few other factors.

After listing my book on Amazon early last month, it is currently sitting at #85 in results for a search of “How to Draw Caricatures”. That means the Amazon search engine thinks that 84 other books are more relevant to someone looking for a book on “how to draw caricatures” than my book.

Now, I’ve got no problem being lower on the list, considering I am a new book and my sales are obviously far behind those that have been selling on Amazon for many months or years. However it seems that way too much weight is given to those sales figures. Of the 84 books in front of mine, only about 12 are really about how to draw caricatures. The other 72 range from such relevant topics as How to Draw Digimon, Drawing Cartoon Baby Animals, Drawing Manga and my personal favorite, How to Draw Cartoon Fish.

I get that the words “How to Draw” are in most of those titles, and not in my title. However the word “caricature” should carry some weight, I should think. I do have the words “how to draw” and variations of it in my keyword terms. Amazon is not doing their customers any favors if a book that is clearly a much better match for someone looking for the term “how to draw caricatures” than a book on drawing fish is buried on page number 8 of the results. How many customers would continue to click through to more search result pages after seeing totally irrelevant results in earlier pages? None.

Oh, well. It’s out of stock on Amazon anyway. One of my shipments to them got lost somewhere, and others are in transit. Eventually I’ll crawl up that list (I hope). In the meantime, thanks to everyone who went to Amazon and posted a review of the book… that is no doubt the only reason I am as high at #85 right now. Some of those reviews are seriously awesome and I am glad that so many people are liking the book. Thanks again!

In other, more positive book news, The Mad Art of Caricature! is now being distributed by Follett Library Resources, Inc. and Book Wholesalers Inc. for procurement by K-12 school libraries and public libraries. So, if you have a local library that you want to carry the book, request it be ordered and they can get copies from those resources. I am also on the verge of signing a distribution deal with a local distributor which would result in the book being available through Ingram and other wholesalers, which would mean it will start to be carried in brick and mortar bookstores, art stores and other retail outlets. That’s basically the final step in the book marketing, unless I sell the reprint rights to a real publisher.

All in all the book is selling well, I have gotten fantastic feedback from virtually everyone who has gotten a copy (including some big-time pro artists that I respect and admire enormously) and I am very glad I did it. Thanks to everyone who has ordered a copy.


  1. Lash LeRoux says:

    Congratulations on the success of your book, Tom — it’s very well deserved! And Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. Stevie Jensen says:

    “How to draw cartoon fish” lol !

  3. Robin Crowley says:

    Amazon is great place to learn how to draw (cartoon fish, that is… Hehe).
    Your book is THE BEST, and that’s all that matters 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Oops, I need to head over to Amazon to tell you how wonderful your book is! Truly, it’s a wonderful resource, and I’m learning more every minute from it.

  5. Bill says:

    Great that your book will be carried in libraries, Tom. As a lad, I used to troll my local library, looking for any “how-to” cartooning books I could find.

    I can only imagine what a thrill it will be for some young “wanna-be” cartoonist to find a book as helpful as yours.

  6. Enrico says:

    When an italian edition? For me it is difficult to study in English.
    But im sure it is a great handbook.
    Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

  7. Alex Chicot says:

    If it’s any comfort, when you type just “caricature” your book is ranked 22 (on the 2nd page) and the books before aren’t about drawing cartoon oysters‚Äö√Ѭ∂

  8. anon says:

    I usually look at the “what other people bought”. So if people who buy the other caricature books also start buying yours, it shouldn’t matter how it is ranked.

  9. Gabriel Yeo says:

    Hi Tom,

    I guess the title or phrase you use really counts.
    Your main title is “The Mad Art of Caricature” which is great….
    But your subtitle, “A serious guide to drawing funny faces” could have used keys words for optimal searching such as “A serious guide on how to draw caricatures”.

    That would certainly have helped put your book in the top 10 search results.

    It’s kind of like the Ebay subtitle…

    • Tom says:

      Yes, I should have been thinking about that when I did the title. Too late now. Hopefully sales of the book will eventually bring it to the first page of the search engine.

  10. Mike Larsen says:

    Just finished your book today Tom. It is a great reference for a newbie draw-er (or a pro one for that matter) and I’m sure I’ll be combing through it over and over for some time. I started with shapes and features, then tried copying some of your caricatures in the book and now am starting on my own. Great work and thanks for giving me a headstart at this!

  11. jjackle says:

    It must be powered by Google. You can never find anything you want in the first few pages. And why cant we search by dates?

  12. Reiner Jechimer says:

    Hi Tom,

    I got your book quite a while and missed to give you any feedback on this great artwork and “instruction”. So I will do now and thank your personal signing.
    I also have posted a review on Amazon today. And I hope I have found the right words, to express the myself, as I´m not a native speaker.

    I was on holidays between christmas an new years day and I really found the time to really read the book and not got stucked, staring again and again at the phantastic caricatures.

    Many thanks for that flood of inspiration …Reiner

  13. Kelly says:

    Hey Tom,

    Just a quick question do you sell your books in the uk? I am not very good on amazon and dont really trust online shopping. I really,really want your book! please help.

    • Tom says:

      I’m sorry, but on-line is the only way to buy my book right now. The cost of distribution to brick and mortar stores is ridiculous.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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