June Sales Data

I know some people are interested in seeing sales trends for self-published work, but if you aren’t interested, please feel free to click away, because this is going to be boring, boring, boring.

Here’s the sales chart for The Reiver through June:

If you’re looking at that line for Amazon sales and thinking “What the hell,” rest assured you’re not alone. I’m thinking the same thing :).

There are a few explanations I can come up with, but once again, none of them is anything that was in my control:

1) Amazon sent out an email plugging six 99-cent books, including Courtney Milan’s Unlocked and Paula Quinn’s Laird of the Mist. Even though The Reiver was not mentioned in the email, it has strong “Also Bought” associations with Quinn’s book and less strong ones with others on the list. That led to a massive bump in sales that day and, although sales dropped off some since then, they are still running at about 100 a day compared to 40-60 a day earlier in the month.

2) The fact that my sales have been consistently steady for the last six weeks or so has kept its overall ranking in the Kindle store very solid (drifting between the high 300s to the high 500s after the boost from the Amazon marketing email), which has also kept it on the second page in the Historical Romance lists (both Kindle and Books) for over a week. Although I think being in a top 100 list is of less value than Also Bought lists in generating sales, I agree with Courtney, who said last month that she thought it depended where you were on the list (the higher up, the better). I also think which list you’re matters. For example, The Reiver has been on the Romance Anthologies list’s  first page for quite some time, but it doesn’t have as much value as being on the second page of the Romance Historicals list, because people are much more likely to pull up the Historicals list than the Anthologies list in the first place.

Finally, yesterday, RT Book Reviews featured The Reiver on its blog in a list of their “favorite” twelve bargain ebooks. Look at that placement! I was shocked (and many thanks to Elyssa Papa for the tweet about it, or I never would have known). So far, I don’t think I’m seeing any effect from this promotion, since their link goes to Smashwords and I haven’t sold a single copy on Smashwords since the first day the book was available for sale. (Twenty-two copies were downloaded using a coupon code, but I don’t count those as actual sales since there was no money involved.) Despite that, I’m thrilled that RT even knows I’m alive :).

So, that’s all the sales news for this month. Things seem to be rolling along so far in July (26 copies at last count, less than 12 hours into the day) and even if they dropped into a black hole at this point, I’d be happier than a pig in slop.

Amazon Marketing and Unintended Consequences

I feel like a real chatty Cathy this week, with posts that are literally all over the place in terms of topics, but yesterday was particularly eventful, and I have musings I must share.

So, as many of you probably know, possibly because you received it, Amazon sent out an email yesterday highlight six 99-cent romance titles that were highly rated and doing well in the Kindle store (among them Courtney Milan’s UNLOCKED and Paula Quinn’s LAIRD OF THE MIST). Immediately after that email blast, those titles started shooting up in their Amazon ranks. Courtney’s novella reached the #2 overall spot and LAIRD OF THE MIST is currently at #11 (and may have peaked higher).

But as the day wore on, I began to notice a strange phenomenon. Suddenly, THE REIVER was selling TONS more copies than it ever had before and climbing the charts rapidly. Other romances ALSO seemed to be gaining in overall ranking in the Kindle store (although not necessarily changing places all that much relative to one another). By the time I went to bed last night, my story had sold a whopping 200 copies in 24 hours (it had never before sold more than about 75 in a single day and was selling about 40-50 on an average day for the last couple of weeks). Its overall ranking in the Kindle store climbed from somewhere in the 1500s or thereabouts to as high as 323, and at its peak, it was #21 in Books | Romance | Historical.

Well, um, wow. I didn’t expect that. And it didn’t dawn on me until I hopped onto the Kindle boards this morning and read a post there on the subject that the reason for all those sales was, paradoxically, an email in which my story wasn’t mentioned at all. It seems that what happened was that people who jumped on that email and bought one or more of those titles also started scrolling through the Also Bought lists for those titles, likely searching for other well-rated romances with low prices. And, by virtue of the fact that THE REIVER was already on the Also Bought lists for several of the books Amazon highlighted, people found it and a fair number of them bought it. I suspect that my sales benefitted most from Paula Quinn’s book, which is also a Scottish historical.

Oddly enough, Courtney’s novella doesn’t appear at all on my Also Bought list. I find it hard to believe that no one who’s bought her novella (and at this point, that has to be a LOT of romance readers) has also bought mine, but for whatever reason, there’s absolutely no link between us (and that’s a shame, because I’d love to be linked to Courtney in anyway possible).

Sales have slowed considerably today as yesterday’s Amazon-induced buying frenzy seems to have slacked off to more typical historical levels (and I’m plenty happy with that!), but I learned something instructive. Amazon can pick and choose to promote certain titles, but when it does so, what it chooses to promote has unintended consequences. Those consequences can be happy for some (in this case, for authors with highly rated romance titles prices at 99 cents that already had decent sales rankings and Also Bought associations) and possibly not so happy for others (anything that wasn’t a romance and lost ground in overall rankings due to the sudden rise of romance titles).