One of the things that I’ve learned in this publishing business is that sales beget sales.

You just have to look at 50 Shades of Grey to see what I mean. Readers who wouldn’t have picked up an erotic romance novel, let alone one with a BDSM theme can’t get their hands on this book fast enough! Yet, the fact that this is the best-selling book across all venues (Amazon, iTunes, B&N) says that readers are buying it because everyone else is and they want to find out what all the fuss is about.

This is true of any book on the best-sellers list. A book reaching the top catches the attention of potential readers who buy the book and keep it on the best-selling list. Do the lists drive each and every person in the book-buying population? Of course not. But enough readers look to the top sellers either by category or in general to make decisions about their purchases.

Which means, as an author … WE WANT OUR BOOKS ON THOSE LISTS!

Until I was published for awhile I never quite understood the ranking numbers on Amazon. (And now B&N is showing rankings on books as well, but no categories like Amazon) Here’s a good break down for Amazon sales that I think is pretty accurate:

Bestsellers Overall Rank 8,500 to 40,000 – selling 1 to 10 books a day
Bestsellers Overall Rank 3,000 to 8,500 – selling 10 to 30 books a day
Bestsellers Overall Rank 1,000 to 3,000 – selling 30 to 100 books a day
Bestsellers Overall Rank 450 to 1,000 – selling 100 to 150 books a day
Bestsellers Overall Rank 200 to 450 – selling 150 to 300 books a day
Bestsellers Overall Rank 80 to 200 – selling 300 to 600 books a day
Bestsellers Rank 50 to 80 – selling 600 to 3,000 books a day

But the fact is, no one has been able to crack how Amazon calculates its sales algorithms. Which makes sense. They don’t want publishers to somehow manipulate sales and therefore rankings, which of course would then push more sales.

al·go·rithm
[al-guh-rith-uhm]
noun
a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor

With the number of books being self-published growing exponentially it seems Amazon is now revising their algorithms to change how FREE! and $.99 books show up on the lists. Did they mention this? Well, no. And as much as I love math, being a science geek and all … I certainly didn’t put the numbers together. But some authors who have had their books in the KDP Select Program–where you can put your book up for free for up to 5 days in a 90 day period–are finding sales after going free have significantly reduced from when the program began. The theory is that the change in algorithms is making it so you have to sell more at a lower price to make it onto the best-selling lists.

Check out THIS post that discusses in depth the changes at Amazon. The original posts by Edward Robertson can be found HERE. Whether you’re an author or a reader you should take a look. Go ahead, I’ll wait …

Interesting what Amazon appears to be doing isn’t it? Are they trying to move authors (and therefore readers) away from the FREE! and $.99 bargains where they make little or no money from sales? Hard to say. But many authors are finding better success with higher prices. Question is whether that’s getting them up on lists where readers are finding them and purchasing the books or are readers perceiving higher priced books are better quality? Wish I knew the answer.

What I do know … and what I’m advising authors just starting out in the self-publishing business … what worked two years ago for John Locke and Amanda Hocking, heck what worked for your author friend just six months ago probably isn’t going to work as a marketing strategy for a book being published today. $.99 rolled into hundreds of thousands of sales a year or two ago. I don’t believe that will work anymore, especially with Amazon (possibly) working to change the rules of the game. Check out THIS POST to see how I’ve used the FREE! marketing technique for my series. Am I saying NEVER put a book out for FREE! or $.99? Not at all. I’m simply saying, carefully look at your particular circumstances and find a marketing strategy that works for you.

So blog readers … Is your book buying driven by lists? Are there other factors that influence your choices? Of course I’m asking … you know me, I’m curious like that.

 

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