Amazon logarithms and being a ‘best seller’

As of right now, Solomon’s Throne is #5 on Amazon’s Action/Adventure list! That’s super exciting, obviously, and it’s happening because I put it as a free download on Amazon over the weekend.

Now, what that means in practical terms is that KDP Select, which is Amazon’s lending library for Amazon Prime members, allows authors to have 5 “giveaway” days during each 90 day enrollment period. When you borrow it from KDP Select, of course it’s free, but you don’t get to keep it — they whisk it away from your device when you indicate you’re done, so you can borrow another book. But with the giveaway days, you can download it to own, and it doesn’t cost you anything.

I don’t get any royalties from the free downloads, so from a purely financial standpoint, it’s a loss. (With KDP Select, Amazon has a set amount of money for the month, and divides that by the total number of “borrows” across the whole program, and then multiplies that by the number you had for your royalty.) But what it does is get my book in people’s hands. And hopefully they’ll like what they read, and want to read more. Conveniently (okay, it was planned), the sequel to Solomon’s Throne, The Hoard of the Doges, will be coming out in the next couple of weeks. What that potentially means is that all (or a percentage) of the people who download the first Quinn book for free will like it enough to want to read the next book, for which they will be happy to pay.

I have 3 more free days, and I’m planning a second free weekend either just as, or just before, I release the sequel. The sum total of the KDP borrows, the regular purchases, and the 5 free days will be in the thousands. And my marketing strategy is to have a place to point them… I’ll let you know if it works!

One of the problems of writing in different genres is the backlist. I wanted to get the 2 Quinn books out close together, so that readers who enjoy the treasure hunt/adventure would have a second book to read. But my other published novel, Undaunted Love, is a Christian historical romance.

Some of the people who read Solomon’s Throne will also like Undaunted Love – Solomon’s Throne has had great appeal to women because of the strong female main character, the marital relationship between the Quinns, and the fact that, while there’s excitement, body parts aren’t flying around. So some of those reader will like Undaunted Love. Probably more readers of Undaunted Love will like the Quinn books, truth be told. My current work in progress is a Young Adult dystopian low fantasy… It might appeal to the Quinn lovers, and probably won’t to the romance lovers. I have an idea for my NaNoWriMo book, which, if it works out, would be published next spring. It will be a Christian historical romance/suspense set in WWII. Again – those readers will like the Quinn books, and certainly Undaunted Love… But vice versa, probably not.

You see how complicated it is? I could make it easier by writing in one genre, but I can’t seem to do that. I couldn’t write another Quinn book right now – I don’t even want to think of a plot – although people have already asked me when the next one is coming. I wrote a dystopian screenplay in April, and now this dystopian YA, but I don’t want to write another dystopian for awhile. I was leaving the genre open for my NaNo idea (and also leaving open the fact that I might not have a NaNo idea!), but I think this one could have legs.

What this means is two-fold:  I have a lot more marketing cut out for me than a lot of authors who only write in one genre, get a following, and can pretty much guarantee to sell their next books to those wonderful readers. And even with that knowledge, I still like to cross genres, and will continue to do so.

What my books all have in common is good research, interesting plots, language that’s clean (even the Quinn books have only a little swearing, and nothing “bad”), and I leave the sex to your imagination. I want my kids to be able to read my books and be proud to recommend them to their friends. I want them to be entertaining, and for the reader to enjoy the plot and maybe learn something about history they didn’t know, and not feel like they have to take a shower afterwards. When someone says, “Is your book okay for a 9th grader?” I want to be able to say, “Yes” confidently.

I hope you’ll find something in my work that you like. My goal is to entertain, not write the next great American novel, but I work hard at them and try to present a great story and characters for you to fall in love with. Let me know how I’m doing!

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6 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

6 responses to “Amazon logarithms and being a ‘best seller’

  1. Hi Jennings!
    Congrats on choosing to self-publish! If you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to do it? We’ve been talking about going that route lately. Did you publish your first books on your own too?

    • I was starting to query agents, but my book (Solomon’s Throne) really doesn’t fit neatly in a genre, so I was having trouble even figuring out who to query. Not to mention that I hated the whole process. I only got 9 queries out when I discovered Joe Konrath’s blog through a Writers Digest link. What he said made SO MUCH SENSE, esp the onerous contracts that are standard in traditional publishing, so I started doing more research into it. I quickly decided it was for me – not only can I control the cover, the chapter length, and the genre, I can get it out quickly. I published Solomon’s Throne in July, Undaunted Love about 10 days ago, and The Hoard of the Doges will be out in a couple of weeks. In hindsight, that was kind of crazy (in the middle of all that my husband published a non-fiction book that I edited), but now I can take a break. I’ve really enjoyed the whole process, from working with my cover designer and formatter, to beta readers, to holding the freshly minted books in my hand. I don’t love the marketing – my brain just doesn’t work that way! – but even with traditional publishing now days you’re expected to do your own marketing. At least this way, I controlled the product. Good luck!

  2. I’m happy for your success. I’ve heard various comments about the utility of the Kindle Select Program and tried it for my first non-adult, non-sexual novel, an urban fantasy under a different name. And it flopped. At least in terms of sales. But i’ve been putting my stuff out hit or miss with really no marketing per se. I just wanted to see what the giveaway might do. Got decent reviews, but no real traction. It was strictly an experiment and it will be available soon to push on Barnes and Smashwords. But this has all been a learning experience. I’ve got three books out now, with a fair amount of support for the first two, and a third book in the adult category coming in November and hopefully I can build on the reader base I already have for that one and maybe do a little preview marketing. But regardless, there are other books already finished and in the pipeline and the beauty of epublishing is that as I pick up tricks, I can go back and re work the original sales attempts. But it is encouraging to hear from people like you that have made it work. And I wish you good luck with the new books. If I can i;m going to do the free download in the next couple of hours.

    daniel q steele

    • Thanks! I know it’ll drop back down after the free weekend, but it’s been fun to watch anyway. I have always known that this would be a “long haul” kind of endeavor, since I am totally new to publishing and am not at all a marketing person. But I think (hope!) that the books will engage people and they’ll want to read more. Like you, I just keep learning and reworking it. Good luck to you!

  3. Yay Jennings! Congrats! You work so hard at your craft and you deserve it and more.

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