Are There Benefits from being highly ranked in Amazon’s Kindle Store?


When I was younger, I thought I knew everything. But now that I have a few years under my belt, I’m realizing I hardly know anything. It’s all very annoying!

Take, for example, how Amazon works. The biggest damn purveyor of just about everything under the sun is a complete mystery to me. I need some help here.

Let me set the scene:

My new novel, The Oath, has been in the Amazon Kindle Store as an e-book for two weeks. When I was reviewing my options for publishing, I read a number of author blogs suggesting I use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and the “KDP Select” program. For the uninitiated, which is what I was a mere two months ago, KDP Select is a program where you give Kindle an exclusive on your book for 90 days. In return, they offer you higher royalties on the sale of your book; give you two promotional deals to “maximize your book’s potential”; and make your book available to a wider audience through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. (If you want to know more, you’ll have to go on-line yourself.)

I took advantage of one of their “promotional deals” last week. On Thursday and Friday of last week, I let my book be downloaded for “Free”. Why offer your damn book for free, you ask? The answer is, of course, “discoverability”. The consumers on Amazon have about a gazillion choices of books to buy, and they tend to concentrate their buying habits on authors they already know and trust. Since a lot of people like “free” things, offering the book for free is one way to break through the clutter; to become “discovered.” Or at least that’s the theory.

There is some disagreement about the efficacy of that “theory” among marketers and literati, but it’s hard to disagree with the following numbers.

For the first nine days of my book’s existence on Amazon, I did the “social marketing” thing. I let everyone know (relative, friend, Facebook acquaintance, LinkedIn contact, classmates going back to high school, etc.) my book was for sale. During those first nine days I was selling approximately four books per day. Hey … not knowing what to expect, I was a happy camper. Then I thought “let’s see what happens when I offer it free.

In the two days I offered my novel for “free”, I went from four novels a day out the door to over four hundred a day. At the end of the two free days, 809 people had downloaded my book.

I was astounded. And HAPPY! That number of downloads pushed the book to #13 in the Free Kindle Store’s Mystery/Suspense section, and to #315 in the entire Free Kindle Store.

I gotta tell you … I was livin’ large. Like the Steve Martin film The Jerk? When he gets the phone book he looks to see if his name is there, and when he finds it he yells, “I am somebody. I am somebody!”  I’m now feeling the same way as Martin’s Jerk.  I’m getting “visibility”. I Am Somebody. Is this a great country, or what?

But then reality sets in. What does all this really mean? Number 13? So what? Who cares? (Except me, The Jerk). And as to the number 315 in the Free Kindle Store? That’s “so what”, squared.

Which finally brings me to you, dear reader. Can you tell me if there is any practical value having 800+ people download your book for free? In having a high ranking in the Free Kindle Store? If you think there is, can you tell me what that might be? Is this all about potential, or will actual book sales rise? Will more people “review” my book? Do more “reviews”, both good or bad, translate into more sales? All of the above? None of the above?

I guess the real question I’m asking is how do you move people who downloaded the novel from being “consumers” to being “customers”?

All ideas welcome. Thanks.

Click here to read the first chapter of my new novel One Death Too Far.

For book marketing purposes, I am looking for “followers”. If you click “follow” at the extreme bottom right of this page, not only will I be grateful, I’ll even send you the second chapter of my novel free.

3 thoughts on “Are There Benefits from being highly ranked in Amazon’s Kindle Store?

  1. Niall

    Now if you have future access to these 800 or so people, then there’s a benefit… Ie, did you like this? How about this? Join my blog, etc… Now how long does No 13 last? A few days? A week?… Track to see if sales pick up with the new position… Getting your name out there is one thing, being able to harvest the interest is your next step… Reviews also help, but you have to remind those 800 in about 2 weeks… What did you think?…

    • Niall,
      Thanks for the comment. This journey has been interesting. The number 13 ranking lasted for about a day, then started dropping slowly over the next 3 to 4 days, then started dropping rather dramatically. The sales of the book had about the same life span; i.e. picked up dramatically right after the “free” promotion ended, ran well for about 4 or 5 days, then fell off the table. I really want to get back to those 809. Do you have an idea as to how to get their email addresses? My original thought was to ask Amazon for them, but then asked myself what I had been smoking. Of course Amazon wasn’t going to give me the down-loaders email addresses. If they did, my plan was to run a campaign with them offering the book for, say, $1.99, to their friends. But all this is just so much smoke unless I can get those damn email addresses.
      Would you think I should go back to the FB writer’s blogs I belong to ask if any of them had read the book, and if so, would they write a review? (I did pick up 7 new reviews during the promotion. I know … whoo-hoo, huh?).
      Anyway, if you can think of something I could do to further the visibility of the book, I’d sure appreciate knowing.

  2. Mags

    Dennis my opinion is that customer reviews should be looked at even when downloading free kindle books. I always review the ones I read if they are freebies. Unfortunately many authors do not react as you did. I have on occasions had very insulting remarks back, such as:-” how can you review this book if you could not finish it.. or.. if you finished it you would know what the story is about”. One young author who was obviously basing first novel on his own personal experiences was so devastated by my review that I felt I had to reply and tell him to keep on trying, it does not happen overnight, and we ended up best of friends.
    Just tell me how you can access my highlights of typos and I am happy to keep on reviewing & highlighting them. I also highlight really good quotes. Congratulations on The Oath. Best wishes, Mags

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