Pricing, Visibilty & Experimentation

This blog focuses a lot on getting the basics right: a good story, cover, blurb, sample, and price. However, all of that means little if no-one is actually visiting your book page to begin with.

Competitions, blog reviews, giveaways, guest blogs, interviews, presence on reader forums etc. can all bring extra traffic to your book pages, but they are very time consuming.

If you want to move beyond what is essentially hand-selling your work, you need to gain visibility on Amazon, and let them do the hard work of selling your book for you (while you spend your time writing instead). Just make sure those basics are in place first, or you won’t get a good return from anything outlined below.

Visibility on Amazon: Best Seller Lists

One of the most straight-forward ways to achieve visibility on Amazon is via one of the many genre and sub-genre Best Seller Lists. Before you pelt me with rotten eggs, I said “straight-forward” not “easy.”

Whether you are currently appearing on a Best Seller List or not is a direct function of your Sales Rank and the categories you choose. There is detailed advice on choosing the right categories here, which I strongly recommend you read.

As I’ve mentioned before, appearing on a Best Seller List doesn’t have the splash it used to, because many readers think they are browsing those lists when they are actually browsing the Popularity List. Before KDP Select, this didn’t matter so much; there was little difference between the two list. All that has changed since December (explained in full here).

That aside, appearing on a Best Seller List is still useful, can drive significant sales, and should be a target of anyone’s marketing efforts – especially considering that most publishers don’t select the right categories (or, sometimes, any at all).

You shouldn’t just aim to scrape in at #100 in the category you are targeting. Ideally, you want to be on the first or second page – readers don’t seem to browse further in any numbers – and it’s often better to have that prime spot in a smaller category, than to be so far down the list on a bigger category that you will rarely get viewed by browsing readers.

Getting into that prime spot will require a wildly varying Sales Rank, depending on the category. For example, at the time of writing, appearing on the first page of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary requires #206 or higher but appearing on the first page of Romance > Series only requires #4,908 or higher.

Some sub-categories are even less competitive. Comic Fiction only requires #62,639 to hit the first page, and my short story If You Go Into The Woods is safely ensconced at #6 in World Literature > Eastern European with a modest ranking of #275,882.

That latter category, obviously, won’t attract too many browsers, but some visibility is better than none. There is no point classifying that story as Literary Fiction, when you need to rank below #2,000 to even hit the bottom of that chart.

In short, you should try and pick a category where you will place, and, if possible, where you will appear on the first two pages.

It should go without saying, but remember to restrict yourself to relevant categories. Even though A Storm Hits Valparaiso has a romantic sub-plot it is not a Romance by any stretch of the imagination. Choosing inappropriate categories will not help your sales in any way and could attract nasty reviews from the (very) few that do sample/purchase.

Pricing

I’ve detailed my thoughts on pricing in Let’s Get Digital (you can read the relevant excerpt here), and those haven’t changed too much. I’m a keen believer in experimentation and pricing at the level which maximizes income – whatever that may be.

I also like pricing at the higher end of the indie spectrum ($4.99 for full-length novels), as that allows a lot of flexibility with things like coupons, limited time sales and so on.

Regular readers will know that I’ve tested various price points for A Storm Hits Valparaiso and seen little difference in sales between $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99 (but an increase in income).

I had never tested higher price points, though, and if there is any genre which can handle that, it’s historical fiction. A Storm Hits Valparaiso hadn’t sold consistently outside of its launch, an ad spot, or a sale – so I really had no idea of the ideal price.

After a strong March – thanks to the St. Patrick’s Weekend Sale – the book just died in April, and only shifted two copies in the first two weeks of April. I decided it was time to take action.

Changing price will do little on its own, especially if you aren’t getting traffic to your book’s page already. Price is not discovery tool, unless allied with something else (e.g. an ad or a mention on a reader site etc.). In other words, there was no point in raising price unless the book was actually visible and by mid-April, it was down the back of the warehouse. For this to work, I needed it on the front table.

My Experiment

The plan was simple: cut the price to 99c, and, once it achieves optimal visibility (i.e. when the book peaks in the rankings), raise the price to $7.99.

As I cut the price, I switched the book’s categories to Historical Fiction and Literary Fiction – two competitive categories with no sub-categories, where you need less than #3,000 and less than #2,000 to chart at all.

The lack of sub-categories makes it really difficult to break in, but it also means there is less churn on those lists – position is stickier.

Nonetheless, it was a high-risk strategy. If I fell short, the experiment would be pointless. On the other hand, my previous categories of Men’s Adventure and War Fiction had brought me little joy – hardly surprising, readers of Bob Mayer and Clive Cussler are unlikely to be interested in my work.

I dropped the price nine days ago, planning to let it run for around four days. The algorithms don’t reward a single-day spike as much as a sustained increase, so I didn’t wheel out the push simultaneously.

On the Saturday, I hit Twitter and Facebook. On Sunday I caught a huge break and was featured by the good people at Pixel of Ink. As such, I postponed the blog post announcing the sale until Monday, so that I could try and spin out at least three days in a good position – hoping the algorithms would then soften its (eventual, inevitable) fall.

By Tuesday the book had really caught fire, eventually peaking in the evening in the Top 500, shifting over 300 copies; it was time to raise price. I had second thoughts about $7.99, but I looked at the books around me in the chart (at this point I was #18 in Historical Fiction) and they were all $9.99 or higher.

I felt my book could hold its own. In fact, it could be argued that the 99c price, once it had gained me entry to the club, was hindering rather than helping as it made the book look like it didn’t “belong.”

Unfortunately, a lagging price at Kobo threw a spanner in the works, and Amazon price-matched to $3.99. Sales were still reasonably strong, but I didn’t get to test my new price point. I started slipping down the charts, and then, when Kobo finally raised the price to $7.99 and Amazon followed suit, disaster struck, and my book was stripped of all its categories.

The whole point of this experiment was to gain visibility. Now I had none. Over the next week, the book slipped from #1,000 to #35,000 (but has recovered a touch since). It made a handful of sales on the way down (and is still selling more than before the sale), but I wasn’t able to capitalize on my position as well as I had hoped.

The jury is still out on $7.99, as I never got to truly test that price at the best time.

Despite that disappointment, the experiment must be viewed as a success. The first part went better than hoped – I sold a lot of copies at 99c and made over $100 in the space of a few days. I also made another $100 the day I raised the price – so that’s all good. Plus my book got into to the hands of hundreds of new readers and picked up a couple of very nice reviews.

The second part was less successful and just goes to show that even the best laid plans are subject to the vagaries of an increasingly glitchy Amazon system. If my price change gone through as planned and, especially, had my book kept its categories (and if my Also Boughts had updated), I could have made a lot more. But I’m not going to grouse, I had a good deal of luck, it was a great run, and sales are up.

And there’s always a next time.

Moving to London

I’m moving to London next week. Internet access will be intermittent for some time, I will be slow to respond to any emails, and blogging will be limited – until I get somewhere permanent to hang my hat.

Book sales and other income are about half of what I need to get by in a place like London. I had been planning to work for a start-up – in a very exciting position – but they failed to get VC funding, and the project has been mothballed for now. As such, I’ll be seeking some kind of role in digital marketing (what I previously did) or digital publishing (what I’m doing now), or, best of all, something straddling both worlds.

I think there will be many such roles in London, but if anyone is aware of any interesting opportunities or projects, please get in touch at:

david dot gaughran at gmail dot com

About davidgaughran

David Gaughran is an Irish writer, living in London, the author of "Mercenary" and "A Storm Hits Valparaiso" as well as "Let's Get Digital" and "Let's Get Visible."
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79 Responses to Pricing, Visibilty & Experimentation

  1. AGClaymore says:

    Sorry to hear about the Kobo lag. I’ve been waiting to hear what the results would be. I have been keeping my latest title on Amazon alone. I have had lots of lag issues with Apple and Kobo and I wanted to try using select.

    Now that your 99 cent run is done, I’ll pick up the book and hold it in my library until I can convince my wife that we need a tablet. (you think it’s hard to convince readers to try a new author – try convincing my wife that it’s ok to blow a week’s worth of royalites on what she still insists is a shiny toy…)

    Sigh.

    Best of luck (I think the $7.99 is still worth a try – will you give it another shot?)

    • The book is still at $7.99 and making some sales (more than before the experiment), but it’s impossible to know whether those sales would be greater now if the book was $3.99 or $4.99. I didn’t truly get to test that price when the book was actually visible. I’ll let the price run for now, and, even if I cut it, I’ll certainly try something similar again in the future.

      • Interesting experiment, David and too bad about Kobo. That’s why I don’t plan on marketing with them even if I do (as I expect) pull my novels out of Select. I am raising the prices on my historicals to $4.95 from $3.99. I am curious to see if it makes any difference at all. Because the first of the Black Douglas trilogy has never sold as well as Freedom’s Sword (I’m convinced it’s the better of the two), I may try your 99 cent experiment although I don’t usually use a 99 cent price point. Did you do anything particular with your timing on that?

      • Not in particular. I tend to run sales at the weekend because I sell less at the weekend anyway and figure I’ve less to lose.

  2. Martin Lake says:

    An interesting experiment, Dave, thanks for sharing it. I’m interested that you think historical novels may be able to bear a higher price. I might try this.

    I hope that any new work doesn’t detract too much from your creative endeavours. Good luck with your move to London.

    • I think readers understand that historicals tend to require more research and writers simply can’t produce them (normally) at the speed of other genres. They are often priced higher by publishers, and looking at the bestseller lists shows higher prices than other genres.

      Although, I could be wrong and it could simply be the fact that the genre hasn’t really gone digital yet, and, as such, indies haven’t made inroads and brought downward price pressure to bear. (And lack of sub-categories doesn’t help us there.)

  3. My first book comes out in a few weeks, and my wife (read: personal marketing guru) has a similar tactic in mind. We’re keen to see how it works out for us, since we’re starting out only on amazon, which may be a good and bad thing. But you gotta start somewhere, right?

    Good luck in London and with future sales/pricing experiments!

    • Good luck with the book Seth. Choose your categories wisely. Estimate potential sales, and then see which category you could be competitive in. There is little point choosing one where you can’t compete. As sales grow, you can “move up” to the bigger ponds.

  4. yoga-adan says:

    all the great info aside, i was esp struck that, you too, are needing to seek employment to go with the books sales

    i’d hoped to have, by now, secured a decent income stream via my fitness work, but it looks like i too may soon have to branch out to supplement for awhile

    best wishes, best of luck, and many thanks for all the great info ;-)

    • London is an expensive city! While I can (almost) scrape by on book sales here, London is a different matter. Besides, I’ve been doing this for less than a year. Supporting myself through book sales is a dream, not an expectation. Most writers have some form of secondary income (or primary income and the book sales are just gravy). I’m very pleasantly surprised with my level of monthly income from book sales. I’ve been paying my rent since August. And, for the first time in my life, I can actually see a path towards supporting myself exclusively from writing. It may take a few years (and a few more books) to get there though. But just being able to say that is amazing.

      • yoga-adan says:

        it is! and it seems you have a good clear road of getting there

        my own path with my sales (very small) had gotten a tiny traction, when i decided to experiment deeper with select; i learned a lot, saw how the breaks (spotlight by poi etc) can make or break you randomly, and am now working my way back to diversification of outlets

        best wishes to us ;-) but esp to you in london! take care

      • fergyville says:

        Well I think you’re starting out pretty good and building a great foundation. To have accomplished so much in just a year would not have been possible before this digital era. And even so, writers who are dedicated to making it work and determined to earn a living from their books will do more, and go the extra mile to make it happen.

        Most of the people I know (which is about 2 ppl lol!) who are living off income they make online (YouTube and book sales) took about 3 years to establish their stream of revenue. And it was not a lackadaisical 3 years either. They where constantly generating material and had finally reached a tipping point where their efforts were beginning to pay off.

        At the rate you’re going, you’ll definitely reach your golden year in about the same time frame. Keep up the great work! I love your posts!

      • Without self-publishing, I would probably still be looking for an agent. Even if I had found an agent, I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have got a deal. Even if I had got a deal, I severely doubt I would have got more than the average advance: $5000. I’ve made over $8,000 in the last 12 months and I still own all the rights to my work. That book that amassed 300 rejections, is my biggest seller in 2012, it just overtook Let’s Get Digital.

        And, of course, had I managed to fluke a deal, my book wouldn’t even be out yet, I wouldn’t have any platform, I would have no readers, I would have signed my rights away (probably forever), I wouldn’t be able to self-publish anything because I would be tied down with non-compete clauses, and I would only have received *part* of that advance – on a book that would likely not earn out, leaving me dumped by my “nurturing” publisher, and back querying again, probably under an assumed name.

        I prefer this way :)

      • patricefitzgerald says:

        And David, don’t forget (this is supposed to come after your latest response about being glad you’re self-published), that advance that would only be partially paid… and which, in the U.S. at least, is often LESS than $5,000 now — more like $3,000 average… and which might never “earn out,” would not be all yours. You would owe 15% of that to your agent. The agent, of course, would get the money first, and then cut you a check. Not to say that agents can’t be worth their weight on gold — but they are essentially “middlemen” who take their cut before the producer of the product, which is the writer. And now we don’t need middlemen (or even middlewomen), do we?

        Patrice Fitzgerald, author of the best-selling political thriller RUNNING, coming up the charts because it is on sale right now for only 99¢! http://amzn.to/RUNNINGnovel

  5. Jaye says:

    Wow, you have a lot on your plate. Best of wishes and luck on your move to London.

    You also have my admiration about your experiments. You are a brave soul. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

  6. Thanks for the great info, David. And for your willingness to share your experiences with the rest of us. Several of your posts were helpful in launching my novel, The Pursuit of Cool, last week. I got a nice initial sales spike, but not enough to make a list. Now the real work begins. :)

    I admire your willingness to experiment with categories and pricing. You have a good positive attitude, which I’m coming to realize is an important asset for indie writers. Have fun in London!

  7. Paolo Amoroso says:

    David, why was your book eventually stripped of all its categories? Was it an Amazon decision? I’m not sure I understand it from the post.

    • Sorry if I wasn’t clear – it was a glitch, nothing more. There were widespread issues with categories recently, and I don’t think they have been fully resolved yet. It seems every time Amazon adds a new feature (in this case they tweaked the presentation of reviews), something else breaks!

      • Hi David,
        Nice post. Do you think changing prices and matching by retailers can create greater possibilities of glitches? Maybe you might consider a post on glitches and whether there are ways to avoid them.

      • There’s not much to say other than not changing anything about your book ever will reduce the possibility of being affected by a glitch, but it could still happen anyway. Sometimes a price doesn’t change in a few hours, and it could take a day or longer to take effect. Sometimes a book gets published in an hour, sometimes it takes three days.

        There’s not much you can do about it, other than refrain from making changes when the system seems wonky.

  8. Good stuff, David. As I build experience and knowledge about Amazon, I’m increasingly dubious about the value of categories. I recently categorized one of my own books, only to find it got put into a different category altogether. Time and again when I investigate how people find books on Amazon, I keep hearing two things: (1)I know the title or subject I’m looking for, or (2) I use the Search box. And that’s tags and book titles.

    I’m not finding any info that shows fiction readers are fundamentally different in this than nonfiction readers. Also, the categories function at Amazon is quite mediocre–the setup categories don’t match the displayed categories, for example. There’s evidence of many category changes still populating the system, and so browsing by anything but the most general category can be a waste of time.

    But–if a reader likes a *very specific* category–say, Historical fiction–I suppose they might go to Amazon and “browse” the Historical fiction category, for example, or look at the bestseller lists. I’m a fan of historical fiction (and nonfiction), but to find novels I search with keywords and then first rank what I see by rating–ignoring stuff with less than 10 reviews.

    • I think there are a few things going on there. First of all, the category selections available when publishing do not exactly map the categories in the Kindle Store. Some are only on the Books side, some are UK-only, and some are simply phantom cats.

      If you can find a category on the Kindle side that doesn’t have a corresponding selection in KDP, then you are probably on to a good thing, and the category won’t be too populated. You can select those categories by choosing “Unclassifiable” in KDP and then emailing them with the exact path of your desired category.

      Conversely, you should avoid categories that don’t exist in the Kindle Store.

      One last thing. Amazon can add categories to your book based on it’s scanned contents. I suspect this is more common with non-fiction (and that’s been my experience). You can see which categories you are in on your book page (by scrolling down to near the bottom).

      • First of all, the category selections available when publishing do not exactly map the categories in the Kindle Store. Some are only on the Books side, some are UK-only, and some are simply phantom cats.

        Yes, that was my finding too.

        Conversely, you should avoid categories that don’t exist in the Kindle Store.

        Why?

        One last thing. Amazon can add categories to your book based on it’s scanned contents.

        Yes, that’s happened to me.

        Overall, I think fussing over categories is, for most books, a waste of time. It’s an added way to search, but what Amazon prefers (and what nearly all consumers do) is to simply search the site via the search box. That way, Amazon can set up a whole results page of complementary products and better profile visitors.

        I’ve done a lot of research on the nonfiction side, and it bears all of this out. There’s simply not much benefit in trying to game categories. Like Google, what’s going to help is search optimized products (titles, tags, and descriptions).

      • Sorry James, I just found this in the spam bucket. Apologies.

        In answer to your question, you should avoid cats that don’t exist in the Kindle Store because there is no point hitting a list that doesn’t appear! An example: I initially categorized Transfection as Science Fiction > Short Story and Thriller > Medical as I couldn’t find the Technothriller cat on the KDP side. After a sales spike, I went looking for my book on the lists. They don’t exist in the US store. If I had picked alternative cats, I would have had my book cover under the nose of lots of Amazon customers. Instead, I was invisible.

        As for the importance of categories in general, nobody is saying that this is the way that the majority of readers shop. But enough of them do to make appearing on certain lists give a measurable bump in sales.

        One of my books is in a few Top Rated lists. The top three books appear right beside the top selling books in the genre. I can trace increases and decreases in the sales of that book to whether I have been bumped out of the top three by a bad review, or regained my place through a few good reviews.

        The same goes for the Hot New Releases List, and the Best Seller Lists and Popularity Lists. Choosing the right categories (and switching them at the right time) can achieve crucial visibility on all these lists which has a measurable impact on sales.

      • yoga-adan says:

        david, have you noticed if “any” type of negative or positive review has this effect, or does it seem amazon differentiates between a well thought review that actually refers to the content in question, and one that just says, “sucks, boring” ?

        if the latter, then the whole process is a ruse, even if unintended-ly so, and needs major revamping

        if the former, then the process is fair and worth keeping…

      • I don’t see any evidence that they weigh the content of the review. Readers, of course, have the opportunity of voting any review as helpful or unhelpful, but I don’t think that factors into the Top Rated calculation (but, to be honest, I can’t quite figure it out – maybe it does, it doesn’t seem to just be raw review count/score/average etc. There is some other variable, but I can’t figure it out.)

        I will say this. Amazon are very protective of the review system. Any attempt to game it is dealt with quite harshly – I’ve seen reviews scrubbed, and I’ve seen books unpublished. Given that reviews are also said to play a big part in how Amazon select which writers to approach for their publishing imprints, I think it’s fair to say that they take the review system seriously.

      • yoga-adan says:

        i would think so too, they’ve too much at stake; they’ve even told me reviews can be reported to them for review, plus the author can reply via the comment to the review

        but all in all, they must differentiate between throw-aways opinions that are essentially bully words, and actual quality reviews, negative or positive, that at least indicate the “why” -

        after all, that’s the only real of-use a review has for another potential reader, who can then decide, based on the why of the review, if he or she recognizes a similarity of like or dislike for that material

        one is an opinion, the other is a review

        both are valid, but only the latter, negative or positive, is useful for other readers

        the former is crying “fire” in the the theatre

        i made a half-serious suggestion on the kindleboards recently, that amazon should install a voting option similar to helpful / not helpful, where the person reading the comment/review could vote it as opinion / review

        a “little” far-fetched, but so was self-publishing just a few years ago, and so was reader reviewing, and now, i feel, it’s time to bring a little more responsibility and accountability to the reviewing process, which would mean more integrity from both the writer and the reader

        with the break from publishers comes a greater democracy, with greater involvement comes greater responsibility

        but that’s my opinion of course ;-)

        how and what will evolve, i don’t really know, except it won’t stay the same, and won’t be the same a year from now; even some social networking sites have had to impose “no rudeness” (from any parties) guidelines for a comment to remain, that seems reasonable to me

        without that, the review system is useless i think

        anyway, best wishes david; it should be interesting how things evolve ;-)

  9. Tyler Wills says:

    Excellent info once again David, we all owe you. Get those extra shorts on Alfiedog.com like I mentioned – every little helps. I am quite out of touch with London but if I come across anything…

  10. Interesting to read about your experiment – whenever I’m doing a price change experiment of my own, I opt out of distribution to Kobo for a couple of weeks so that the price matching doesn’t happen since they take the longest to switch over.
    Good luck with your move to London!

    • Lesson learned on that front. The price only changed on Kobo when I discovered a direct email address and plagued them.

      I’m attempting another experiment soon, and will be opting out of everywhere except Apple (Barnes & Noble have gotten pretty slow recently and I have had issues with Sony and Diesel before – Apple seems safest).

  11. John Hayden says:

    Excellent research on marketing and pricing! Good luck in London.

  12. Man, I’d love to try all this, but I’d be going head-to-head with this David Gaughran guy in Historical Fiction and I’m not sure I can handle that! Thanks for such a clear and detailed post!

  13. Elena DeRosa says:

    I had my own two-day freebie experiment this weekend. Before enrolling, I tweaked the categories and description. I was blown away by the number of downloads (thank you ENT!) and actually hit #1 on Suspense and #1 on Family Saga, and stayed there for a while. Based on other authors’ experiences, I had hoped to get a nice bump in actual sales on Sunday, and a decent ranking, but blah! Overnight I have gotten some, but am barely keeping afloat in the top 100…at #90 in Family Saga. Now I am starting to see some borrows. Do you know if they contribute at all to one’s rankings?

    So far, the best part of the whole experiment for me has been receiving an email from a reader who tracked down my blog and posted a moving comment. Sure, sales would be nice too, but you can’t put a price on the feeling when your words touch a stranger. No, not that way! ;)

    All the best in London!

    • Elena, from what I’ve heard in the past, the bump tends to come on Day 2 or Day 3 after you go back to paid. There has been some variance recently, but that’s still normal enough. And borrows are treated as sales for ranking purposes.

      I hope you continue touching strangers – only good things can come of that.

  14. Very interesting experiment. I was selling my grandmothers historical romance at 2.99 and it wasn’t selling more than a few copies a month. I changed the price to .99c and it went to the top of my sales. I haven’t tried 7.99 or 9.99 even though most legacy books seem to be that price. It seems to me we have an advantage to be able to keep our prices lower.
    I had to get a job as well after a year of self-publishing. Writing and publishing is a lifetime, and I hope that it will pay the bills soon.

    • You have to remember that anything below $9 and especially below $5 IS lower for historical fiction which traditional publishers put at a high price. Readers of the genre know and expect that. :)

      • When I was at #18, there was one indie historical romance at $2.99 just above me, and the rest of the books in the Top 40 or so were all $9.99 or higher, with most $12.99 plus. $7.99 would have still looked like a bargain, especially with the slashy and “save $6.45″ from the list price of the print version.

  15. vixieuk says:

    Cool post that makes for interesting reading. My book manages to break the 100 in the vague category of children’s books – animals – cats!! So it’s interesting to read your experiments. And welcome to London! It’s a cool place :) It’s just the Tube that sucks a bit!

  16. Interesting post.
    I am not so certain the popularity list has much to do with KDP Select, however. My novel “The Cosy Knave” has never been free or in KDP Select, and my best ranking so far is # 10,175 (yesterday morning). Of British mysteries it was # 46, but it has been among the first five on the popularity list of British mysteries for a long time, though.

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  18. that really does suck how Kobo lagged. I have a feeling a nice situation could have occurred if you could hit the 7.99 at your peak height. Price is often a factor, but more than you’d think it’s because the price is too low

    I love your experiments though, and it makes going forward so much easier. Huge thanks as always

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  19. laurenwaters says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, David. I hope you find some exciting work soon and best of luck in London!

  20. this may be a stupid question but how do I find out where my books are, # wise, on Amazon?

  21. David, thanks for being so honest (as usual). I admit that I have difficulty finding my way round Amazon’s categories, with some novels dipping in and out of categories which aren’t offered as a choice when uploading. My novel that does the best is a Native American romance and sits squarely in the NA category.

    I wish you well with your move, and even better in your job hunt.

  22. J. A. Self says:

    Best of luck to you, David, both in the move and with your next sales effort.

  23. Prue Batten says:

    I’ve just decided to play the figures game for a while to try and lift two books (one historical fantasy and one historical fiction) which launched at below #9000 and hit Top 100′s in UK and USA in their categories late last year and earlier this year. They held their places on and off for 8-12 weeks and now are dying and it’s an awful thing!
    I decided to offer the hist.fantasy for free for a short time but Amazon after 3 days has still not price-matched. I also dropped the previous fantasies to 99cents, and the hist/fict to $1.99. Downloads of the freebie on Smashwords are slooooow, sales on Amazon and Smashwords below ordinary and this despite social media promotion via a number of groups. I applied for POI and ENT months ago but there is a massive book-up and I see that it gives a spike for maybe a day or so. Enough to get titles sustainingly visible on Amazon though?
    Sigh. I am not a marketing whizz and hate figures. Should I be happy if all books sell at one or two a day into perpetuity?
    I’m a farmer in Australia, writing is my love but not my primary income. At this rate, do you think it will ever be?

    • There’s a question we would all love the answer to. Some people gain success with one book and barely seeming to break a sweat. Others can write five and still be treading water. There is a lot of luck involved but continuing to put out quality work can only help.

  24. patricefitzgerald says:

    David: Thanks for another fabulously informative post. I am confident that, as you continue to add titles, you will be a grand success and will be one of those writers who makes a living. When you say that you “caught a break” from Pixel of Ink, I suspect your break came in part because you are a known quantity in the indie community and everyone sees how much you give. Karma… what goes around comes around… and in your case, in a good way!

    Good luck in London. Let me know if you need a guest post while you are in transit or otherwise. I’m happy to help.

  25. bmcox says:

    As for jobs in London (and speaking of Kobo) there’s a position at Kobo in London of Director, International PR. Check it out: http://www.kobobooks.com/jobs. Good luck!

  26. cav12 says:

    I have been following your blogs with great interest and learning a lot. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience. Someday soon I will treading the e-digital path and being armed with information especially from you has eased the qualms I have. And agreeing with Patrice, karma is working with you.
    Good luck with your knew endeavours.

  27. Melissa says:

    Hey David! Good for you! I think that’s great that you hit the bestsellers list. Keep at it and you will succeed.

    Good luck in London! I hope you find your dream job there!

  28. Nick says:

    This is such a useful post, and I shall definitely be reading the others when I get the chance. As someone new to book marketing – my own was published in February by a small indie publisher – it’s great that there are people out there sharing their knowledge and experience. I’d be interested to see whether the $7.99 plays if you are able to experiment again. Welcome to the UK, as well, hope the move goes well.
    Nick

  29. Adam Pepper says:

    Kobo is a bit of a hassle. I’m not sure they’re worth the trouble, but I do have a few Canadian readers who use it (only wish I had a few more to justify the trouble they cause).

    Best of luck in London!

    • I didn’t sell one book on Kobo in 2011. I made a couple of shorts free there in Jan this year. We don’t get freebie numbers from Kobo, but that must have had some effect. I made my first paid sales there in Feb – 2. I just got the numbers for March – 9 – and 8 of those were one of the free shorts. This is still small beans, obviously, but when you have numerous, growing trickles like that from Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, The Book Depository, Createspace, direct sales, foreign sales, bookstore sales, and handselling, it all begins to add up.

      Now, if I could just get all those channels selling like Amazon, I could fly around in a gold helicopter tossing out Faberge eggs :)

      • Tyler Wills says:

        Don’t discount alfiebooks.com either would be my advice. Shorts (at the moment) but who knows what one short read can lead to?

  30. Thank you for sharing your experiment. I have so much to learn as a new author – my first book is nearly ready – and your blog has helped me glean lots of information I need. Good luck with your move and your future experiments. Will look forward to reading about them!

  31. Tammy Salyer says:

    Good luck in London and thanks for all of your wonderfully informative posts.

  32. Wonderful blog post! I’ve also been experimenting with Amazon and find the results fascinating. I had been selling my novels and short stories at 99 cents each, then decided to experiment with raising the price of the novels to $3.99 each and taking full advantage of the free days through KDP Select. On the free days, I repeatedly make Amazon Best Seller lists, and that tends to lead to actual book sales for weeks after the free promotion ends. At this point, I have enough novels and short stories published through Amazon’s KDP Select program to offer something for free almost every week of some months. Like you, I also discovered that free promotions work best if they run for two or more days in a row for each publication. At this point, I’m selling novels and/or short stories almost every day, and getting paid the same amount as my sales the past couple of months for the number of times my publications were borrowed, and all of that makes me very happy. :)

  33. Red Tash says:

    Best of luck in London!

  34. Jeremy says:

    David,

    Thanks for everything you do and share. Because of your category experience and advice, I switched from Thrillers (21,764) to Men’s Adventure (3,306), which is a much better fit for the story. My overall ranking stayed at #4,587 in the Kindle store, but went from uncharted in Thrillers to #7 in Men’s Adventure.

    Good luck in London, and please continue being a mad scientist.

  35. lynnmichelsohn says:

    Best wishes on your move to London and your continued experiments but please don’t neglect your blog. It provides useful education (and enjoyment) in the mire of publishing insanity.

  36. caro ayre says:

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. I think I need to reselect my categories.

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  39. Reblogged this on Author, G. D. Grace and commented:
    This blog focuses a lot on getting the basics right: a good story…

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  41. marlajayne says:

    I just downloaded Let’s Get Visible and am anxious to read some of your ideas and strategies. Enjoyed this blog post.

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