Amanda Hocking

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.

 

So, while my head was buried in packing paper and boxes the world of publishing sort of imploded. (But I guess in reality, this is nothing new. 😉 )

It took me a couple of days to get my work computer unpacked and put together. But when I did I found all sorts of crazy things had happened in my absence. Like a link to a blog about an author who self destructed over a two star review that in reality … wasn’t that bad. I’m not going to give you a link to the blog because the author had an unprofessional meltdown.

Really, it wasn’t pretty. The whole blog went viral and the author kept shouting inappropriate things in the comments and it became a lesson on what not to do when you get a review that bums you out.

The truth is, sometimes reviews hurt. I’ve gotten 5 star reviews where the reviewer had nothing nice to say and 3 star reviews with glowing quotes. But regardless of how the review makes me feel, it’s not my opinion. Of course I love my stories, I wouldn’t release them out into the world if I didn’t, but not everyone is going to think my baby is beautiful. But my job is to thank them for taking time to read my book and move on. If I’m bummed then it’s my closest friends who hear about it, not the world via some reviewers blog. But hey, bad behavior isn’t limited to authors … so sometimes it happens. We’re all human.

And then there’s the conversation that happened between BARRY EISLER, and AMANDA HOCKING about self-publishing and traditional publishing. Amanda made the news when she made over 1.5 MILLION in 2010 direct selling her books on Kindle. She has authors like me wondering if there’s any chance of duplicating her results.

The truth is, I’ve been in the business less than 6 years. When I first published e-books received little respect. There was nothing like the Nook or Kindle and now, now authors realize that self-publishing is no longer a four letter word and that perhaps there is real money to be made if we skip the middle man (the publisher).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love both publishers I’ve worked with. They have offered me amazing covers and VERY talented editors. I would never put a book out to the public without an editor giving it the very hard eye that I don’t even sort of have. But when backlist books become available again then an author would be foolish to let the edited manuscript sit on her desktop without at least trying the self-publishing route.

Very soon I will be dipping my toes into that pool and I eagerly wait for the results. Of course I can only hope that a fraction of the readers who own Kindles find my books. An author can only hope to get a fraction of the readers Amanda worked so hard to garner.

So what else did I miss in the last week? Any chance everything is fine in Libya and gas prices went down?

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