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Amazon lists over 5 million books on its website – and continues to overlook many fine self-published books. Naturally, as a self-publisher, Amazon represents an important outlet for my ESL conversation textbook, Compelling Conversations – Vietnam: Speaking Exercises for Vietnamese Learners of Englishand Quotations on Timeless Topics. Besides, numbers add precision and ratings can become addictive.
Today Amazon has Compelling Conversations listed at 6,198! That’s my highest overall rating yet – and far better than my usual top 35,000 rating. The book is also rated #3 in the category “adult and continuing education”. Consider me satisfied and surprised.
For a small self-published author, selling a book around the world – and collecting favorable reviews from customers in Australia, Japan, and Spain is a simple pleasure. Amazon’s customer reviews have certainly helped promote the unusual conversation book aimed at sophisticated adults who want to bring their insights, wit and humor into more and deeper English language conversations. Besides my website, www.CompellingConversations.com that offers free sample chapters, Amazon remains my principal promotional tool. So the Amazon ratings and category rankings provide a way to measure success.
Of course, I remain curious about Compelling Conversations finding more success in adult education ESL programs than the flexible private language programs, university programs, and conversation clubs. Private schools, focusing on student desires and needs, usually provide smaller classes with more speaking opportunities. Further, the academic vocabulary appeals more to university bound or university trained adults. Compelling Conversations usually ranks higher in categories like “English as a Second Language”, “English as a Foreign Language”, “Teaching Methods”, “TOEIC”, and even “Quotes” than “Adult and Continuing Education.”
The popularity of Compelling Conversations also reflects an increasing awareness that adult education students want and need more speaking opportunities. Adult education programs, sometimes narrowly focused on a so-called life skills curriculum and preparing students for fill-in the blank mandated tests, offer few conversation classes. Why? Mostly because of the funding structure which doesn’t encourage specialized language classes. The large class sizes also limit the chances to speak – even in intermediate and advanced classes. Creative, dedicated adult education teachers have to make exceptional efforts to provide students with speaking skills – and many do so. Compelling Conversations helps busy adult education teachers supplement life skills lessons with energetic conversation activities.
Amazon updates their numbers every hour, and no doubt Compelling Conversations
will soon return to its usual ranking. Reaching the top 10,000 on Amazon may not sound like much to people who reduce all experiences to dollar signs. I made more money teaching Thursday than on my exceptionally successful Friday, but it provides a sense of being appreciated. Yet I’m counting this milestone as a personal victory, counting my blessings, and smiling.
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