Tag Archives: rss

RSS Feeds and Speed

For those not technically minded, here is the quick summary:

The RSS feed feature for NovelRank is used across more than 9000 feeds each day, even for books that are no longer being watched by the person who added them. However, they still require the website resources to provide them. An improvement today will ensure that this invisible resource hog will not slow down NovelRank’s server in the future.

Okay, if you are still with me, here is a more specific rundown. Before User Pages and the User RSS feeds came along, there were separate RSS feeds for every book (ASIN), and for each book there were up to 8 different feeds (sales-1 and rank-7)! People dropped these into their reader or home page, and while I’m sure many still use them, many more have been long since forgotten. However, the computers and servers that check them continue to check for updates, multiple times per hour, even if the book is INACTIVE! You can imagine the load this has on the servers.
Previously, there was a simple cache in place to not ‘refresh’ the content no more than once per hour, just like the rest of NovelRank. However, it still required connecting to the web server (Apache) and activating PHP’s engine. This is resource intensive, to say the least. It took all day today (seriously, I didn’t have breakfast till 1pm), but I’ve worked out a new methodology that should improve this experience. Now, using Apache’s mod_rewrite module, the cache will be served up. If the book is active, then every hour, when there may be new data, it will refresh the cache upon request. If the book is inactive, the cache will only refresh once per day. That removes a hell of a lot of server resource overhead. Finally, I’ve also begun serving a 410 (Gone) server error for RSS feeds on books that are inactive on all domains (sales feed) or for that particular domain (rank feed), to stop the zombie requests from coming in the first place. This also means that if your book is inactive on a particular domain, you will no longer see a rank RSS feed link for that particular domain. This is only for RSS feeds on the book details page (not the user RSS feeds).
I’ll be continuing to monitor the server for other improvements in an effort to continue to serve a fast, responsive web experience for the growing NovelRank audience.


If you read all of this, I salute you.

Book Sales RSS Feed and CSV Download on User Pages

NovelRank User Pages now have two new features: RSS Feeds for book sales and CSV/Excel download of monthly sales estimates!
These are both long requested features, so they are now available on the left side. If you don’t have a user page yet, create your own user page by logging in through your favorite 3rd party website. You will be prompted to setup your user page if this is your first time logging in through that service.

Both new features will include every book present on your user page in a single download/RSS. In both cases, the download is for the currently viewed Amazon domain (.com, .co.uk, .de, etc). Switching the domain will switch the links for the download/RSS to the new domain automatically. The RSS feed has one additional new benefit: Timezone aware! That’s right: Sale times are now adjusted for your account’s timezone, and the timezone is specified within the RSS feed. My little thank you to all the folks in Germany and the UK who use NovelRank!

Remember, if you are using a modern browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, you can also access the RSS feed from the URL/Address bar. Of course, you can also subscribe to the blog this way… The below image is from Firefox.

Enjoy the new features, and I hope your 2011 is starting off with lots of sales!

RSS Feeds Posted to your Facebook Pages Automatically

RSS Graffiti Logo
I recently discovered one of the best facebook apps: RSS Graffiti. Why? RSS Graffiti will automatically check an RSS feed and post any new articles to either your facebook wall or the wall of a page you control. Reread that last bit one more time: “Wall of a page you control.”

Like most authors, you should be maintaining an author or book blog as well as have a presence on Facebook or Twitter, so you can engage your fans and keep them abreast of future releases, special offers, sneak peaks, ARC offers, etc. Here is the annoying part: That’s a lot of updating! Much like NovelRank offers an easy way to track your sales rank and reduce your time commitment (so you can, you know, write), RSS Graffiti will take a post you make within your blog and link to it automatically. Every blog offers an RSS feed of your recent posts, and that feed is the key to this entire thing.

A Few Easy Steps

First, install the RSS Graffiti app inside of Facebook. Second, find the RSS feed for your blog’s recent posts. If using WordPress, you will find the link usually at the bottom. Now it’s time for the magic!

Inside the Facebook app, select the Fan page on the left side you wish to configure (it will have a gray circle next to it when it is not installed on that page):

Follow the prompts to get RSS Graffiti added to the Fan Page. After it is enabled, you will have the ability to add a new feed (the below image is with a feed already added):

When you click to add a feed, you will be presented with the configuration options. This is where you paste in your RSS Feed URL from your blog:

While there are multiple tabs with other options, the Basics tab contains the highest priority items. The only other recommendation I will make is to, under the Schedule tab, set the Update Frequency to ‘Four Times A Day’ if you update your blog only once a day or less frequently. Like with anything, play with the app a bit to make sure it does everything you want. It’s very well documented, so since you probably are not afraid of words, read about all the options. In the end, the goal is to simply post to your blog and let RSS Graffiti do the rest of the work for you!

Bonus Tip

If you have an installed version of WordPress for your blog, then there is a WordPress plugin that you should already have installed: Tweetable. It will automatically post your new blog posts to your twitter account. That means software is doing all your social media marketing for you after you write a new blog post!

How to Annoy your Friends

You know that NovelRank offers a sales RSS feed for every book, right? You could post those with RSS Graffiti to your facebook wall to announce your sales, but frankly… if you sell more than 5 books a month, you may annoy everyone. You’ve been warned.

Amazon Book Sales RSS Feed Improvements

Thanks to feedback from a NovelRank user, RSS feeds for individual books has been improved, especially for Firefox users! Now, when you go to a book’s details page such as the book Body Rolling, you will now notice that in the toolbar at the top is the famous RSS subscribe icon letting you know that there are RSS feeds available on this page! These are the same RSS Feeds that are available under the RSS feeds tab, including Amazon book sales.

Firefox RSS Subscribe Icon

Furthermore, if you go directly to one of these feeds, Firefox will automatically understand that this is an RSS feed and offer to add it as a Live Bookmark for you!

Firefox RSS Live Bookmarks

So now it is even easier to get your Amazon book sales or sales rank feeds in RSS form. Thanks to Stephanie Golden for bringing this to my attention!