Saturday, November 4, 2023

Avoiding old pitfalls with the new release

With the recent release of This Is Who We Are Now, I find myself pulled back to 2015, trying to remember exactly how things went in the early days for Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed. Flavor-wise, that is my closest comp title, what with all the family drama and dysfunction. In my memory, Sorry got out of the gate quicker, with more Amazon reviews helping pave the way for early sales.

Only it didn't. Memory is a funny thing that way.

As with this one, I made Sorry available to book bloggers and other reviewers via NetGalley. To date, This Is Who We Are Now has seven reviews on Goodreads from NetGalley reviewers, almost all four-star ratings. Unfortunately, only one has made its way to Amazon to this point. And it is unfortunate, because all seven were thoughtful and largely quite positive reviews that would no doubt help sales.

I had a number of nice reviews of Sorry posted on Amazon by NetGalley readers. But digging back through emails now, most of those went up a month or more after the book went live. I can recall being anxious for the total review count to hit double digits, because that was the threshold for a number of the book deal websites to take a title on. If you wanted to knock the Kindle price down to 99 cents for a few days and advertise the discount, you had to have ten reviews with an average of at least four stars. And once I hit that mark, I discounted and racked up quite a few sales in quick order.

It worked so well I did it a number of times over the first year Sorry was out. This was one of the major perks of being enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, where subscribers could read your book for free, for which the 'Zon compensated you to the tune of about half a cent a page.

And then, several years later, I realized the tradeoff that came with all that. My Amazon Also Boughts were a mess of bargain-basement books. Cookbooks. Romances. Books about the Holocaust. Books readers scarfed up for a buck--or free even. Books they read through KU, where the only real common tie was that it didn't cost them anything. Books that were zero help to me at all.

It took a bit of time and effort, but I rehabilitated my Also Boughts in 2019-20 by advertising on Amazon, building connections with books I wanted readers to associate mine with. When you have enough common purchases with books by Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Norman and Kevin Wilson, Amazon starts to do some of the heavy lifting for you. Your book shows up on their Also Boughts. Your pay-per-click ads come down in price as Amazon's algorithms calculate the odds of a sale are stronger. It makes a big difference in visible and non-visible ways.

And when you release a new book, you start the process anew.

This Is Who We Are Now enjoys no such ties with the books that Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed developed. We are officially at square one. But this time, I'm taking a different approach. No 99-cent deals. No Kindle Unlimited. The hope is to avoid digging myself into a hole where Fruit Pies: Practical Guide to Homemade Baking shows up in my Also Boughts. I don't need connections like that. Because much like a cover, readers judge a book by the company it keeps. And even more importantly, so do Amazon's algorithms.

No comments:

Post a Comment