My publisher was very clear on a few pieces of advices, one being: “Do not try to figure out the Amazon algorithm. You will go down a rabbit hole within a rabbit hole within a rabbit hole.”
You all know Internet rabbit holes. One minute you are searching for “marketing tips for new authors” and the next you are watching “adventure cats in the snow.” Wait, is that just me?
Anyway, I digress.
Let me first explain a few things about my book, Between Each Step. Atmosphere Press published it, which means they made all the paperback & e-book arrangements through Ingram (the distributor) to sell it via Amazon and a few other online book sellers. Again, this was one of the main reasons I never wanted to self publish; I didn’t want to have to figure out those details.
I know lots of people eschew Amazon and are promoting small business shopping. I am all for that that!!!! And even though my book is for sale on my website, and that’s the marketing we’ve mainly been doing, Amazon is sort of a necessary evil for books. Amazon accounts for 74% of all e-book purchases in the US. For print copies, the percent is lower, but it still holds the lion’s share of the book market.
For an author, the profit margins are razor thin from Amazon, via a quarterly check. When I sell from my website, the profit margins are 3 times the amount of Amazon and Justin, my marketing manager and accountant (AKA, “the hammer”), is keeping detailed track of those sales and expenses. We have no idea how many e-books and paperback copies of Between Each Step are selling on Amazon, and we never factored those sales into “what we need to recoup our investment.” My first check from Amazon (and the other online book sellers) comes mid January and I am sure we will be flummoxed by the amount.
Even though my publisher advised against trying to figure out Amazon, Justin is watching the book’s ratings like a hawk (#obsessed).
Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 pm (AK time):
Justin: “Your book is #1 in Kindle new releases overall and #15 in Hiking and Camping e-books!!! Pretty low on the paperback version, but still!”
Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12:30pm (AK time):
Justin: “Now it’s not even ranked for Kindle new releases overall, #104 in Hiking and Camping, but #6 in Kindle new releases for Hiking & Camping. However, the paperback is ranked #12 in Amazon Hot New Releases in Hiking and Camping!!!! And you are #25 in hot new releases in the Marriage categories?!?!”
Is your head spinning? Mine sure is. I beg Justin not to tell me any of this because it makes no sense. Basically, the ranking changes by the hour, and is mind-boggling. What impacts it? A purchase? A click? A review?
I am NOT going down the rabbit hole, but here’s what I know for sure. Reviews and endorsements are gold for books.
Prior to even publishing, I had to think about this. I asked 9 people to read my book and write a blurb singing my praises to print up on my cover and in my book’s descriptions for online retailers. Most were colleagues, but some were loose connections in the industry, relationships I’ve been building for a long time. Either way, it was a humbling experience that put my stomach in knots because again, I’m a bit mousy when it comes to asking anyone to do anything for me. I am proud and fortunate to say I received 7 high-profile pre-production endorsement blurbs!
And now, in the interest of future visibility and discoverability, I need to continue the momentum. There’s going to come a time when I don’t talk about my book as often as I am now. Reviews on book sites like Amazon & Goodreads are an organic way of gaining traffic for the long game. Rankings and search engines are influenced by the number of reviews. If you have fewer than 10 reviews, your book has less of a chance of being seen in searches. Stats also show that the majority of potential book-buying customers are influenced in their decision to buy by reviews. People want that validation. And I need to rely on that organic promotion via online word of mouth to keep the momentum of books sales going.
And this is why I listened to “the hammer” when he suggested we stick a note in each book we mail out asking for reviews (Amazon and/or Goodreads) after reading. And when he told me I should write this blog post explaining the importance of reviews …
So, if you’ve made it this far in this blog post, know that I am grateful for all the support I’ve received from blog readers. But if you read the book, liked it and want to take it one step further … please consider writing a review. To make “the hammer” happy!
(On a side note, if you purchased a book from the website, it’s in the mail! Media mail seems to be taking up to 20 days, and I expect it to get worse as the holiday mail rush keeps on hitting. For anyone who still wants to purchase a book and wants it before Christmas, maybe think about choosing priority mail!)