Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hearing Voices: It's All About Numbers Today

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program with a brief message: Dani Greer has been consumed by technology this week as she monitors popularity and sales of her first e-book through the Amazon KDP Select publishing program. We've talked about The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories here. It's a group project by the BBT Cafe authors. You can read more about it at her Blog Book Tours blog. This month, if she's hearing any voices, they are speaking in numerals.

What fascinates her most are the online reports she sees at Amazon showing the progress of not only book sales, but also how the online promotion is impacting the book's Amazon ranking. These statistics show up right on the product page, as does the ranking in various Top 100 lists. On day #3 of the Corner Cafe blog book tour, the ranking went from #100,654 to #19,118. Quite an improvement with some online promotion to create noise! Who says blog book tours and sharing on social networks doesn't work?

Thirty years ago, we wouldn't have had statistics like this at our fingertips from hour to hour. Now, thanks to technology and the Internet, we have the information literally at our fingertips. We have also leveled the playing field with big publishers, and have an opportunity to sell books without going through the glacially slow production and payment schedules of the traditional publishing world. Is it a good thing? Dani is still busy tracking statistics. She certainly thinks it's different and exciting. But the bottom line is the same as it ever was, and the goal is to sell books. We'll see when the blog book tour ends on June 29, just what the results of all this technological effort are.

She wonders how Helen Ginger's new e-book, Angel Sometimes, is tracking. Oh, look, it's ranked #67,358 in Paid Kindle Books!  Why not link over and read the first chapter? It's a great example of a strong first chapter, the kind that pulls you into the book and won't let you put it down.

Have you tracked your e-book sales during a promotion? Did the numbers help you tweak your promotion in ways that helped sales? Did you get totally hooked on statistics? Leave us your tips and thoughts in a comment!

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  1. Wow, Dani, this is great food for thought. What struck me most was the comparison to the way things were just a short 3 decades ago. After thinking about it for a few moments, I realized what the real change is -- at least for me.

    Thirty years ago, I was at the mercy of the cumbersome publishing system. Today, I'm in control. I can read the stats. I can adjust my marketing to ramp up the numbers. I have the responsibility for everything that goes on with my book publishing and marketing. Progress does come with accountability, doesn't it? In other words, it's step-up-to-the-plate time.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm getting all sorts of new insights lately. :-)

  2. Dani,

    The trick is to isolate the important statistics. Ranking at Amazon can be thrilling, but it is easy to achieve. Royalties is the best, particularly those before and after a promotion.

    Same with blog statistics. GoggleAnalytics gives you tons of statistics, but number of visitors each day, again after any promotion of your blog, is quite informative.

    I started out recording everything in a spreadsheet. Then I got bored. Now I'm watching key figures.

  3. Wow, I'm impressed ... any book in the 5 digit realm is a best seller these days.

  4. This whole project especially over the month of June is an experiment. I'm really interested to see what happens to sales after our first free weekend. I have a spreadsheet and am tracking various stats, and I agree with Dane. The bestseller lists are fun, but I can't really see connection to sales/downloads, at this point anyway. Of course, it's early in the game. Speaking of spreadsheets, you should see mine. On a paper accounting pad. Hahaha!

  5. I have a similar promo later this month and will be tracking the numbers. As I understand it, the actual numbers of Kindle Prime Member downloads front the lending library are released monthly while actual sales of downloads are updated hourly. I'm not sure about the free downloads.

    Regardless, I will track them as soon as they are available. Sales and royalties are great. But so are numbers and position of your book. During a promo like this its all about the numbers and rankings. The sales will follow.

    And I'll tweet this post too.

  6. Thanks, Stephen! Good luck with your promo, too.

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  8. I think The Corner Cafe is a really good collection of short stories. Plus, it's been fun watching its progress on Amazon, knowing the proceeds will go to charity.

    Dani, you've led the way to getting the stories written to getting them published to tracking the stats and promoting.

  9. Not being a numbers person tracking stats to the degree of making spreadsheets and checking numbers every day does not appeal to me. However, I do know a lot of indie authors do a lot of stat analysis, and that is a great tool for checking to see what promotional effort works best. To me, that is just one more chore I would rather not have to add to an already too-busy day. I do check the number of sales each day on the books I published myself, but I no longer check all the rankings, etc. I'm just happy that my books sell steadily.

  10. What do you attribute that to, Maryann?

  11. I can't take any more numbers today! My "junior accountant" enjoys them more than I do. ;)

  12. The third person thing is a bit different! Maybe all these stats are inducing an out-of-body experience.

    At first, I was very stat-trackery. Now, not so much. I did a lot of promo with my first book, and now I'm experimenting with just building my catalog, so I had to find extra writing time somewhere. That time came out of my stat-obsession time. I still check once in awhile, but not like I used to.

  13. Red, I think you're right about "building the book catalog". Seems to me that authors with a long list of titles get more respect... and have a higher chance of selling books. Maryann can probably speak to that point.

  14. I'm tracking results of free promo the last 2 days of May for the new e-book version of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight via KDP Select. Still ranking way up there in 3 different categories, and around 49,000 overall Kindle Paid, but what I'm hoping for is reviews - only one so far.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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