Tag Archives: giveaways

Marketing gimmick #3, or “what does it take to get on a bestseller list?”

It’s been exactly a month since Shizzle, Inc went live on Kindle, and what a month it’s been! Shizzle, Inc now has 10 all-positive reviews on Amazon and readers are already anticipating the sequel. Not only that, it went all the way up to #72 on the paid Humor Bestseller list and up to #23 on the free Humor Bestseller list during a 2-day free giveaway.

So, how did it happen, you ask? Am I ready to quit the corporate slavery and dedicate myself to full-time writing? Am I rich yet?

Yeah, about that…As promised, I will now reveal how many sales it took to get to #72 in the first week:


No, not 12 hundred. Just 12. Well, that did not include any copies downloaded as part of Kindle Unlimited, as Amazon no longer tells you that. All I know is that right about that time a thousand pages was read (equivalent to 4 copies read back-to-front). I do know that Amazon counts those copies towards the sales for ranking purposes.

“How can it be?” I hear you say.

Well, it was a shocker to me. I mean’ I’ve heard about the importance of placing your book in just the right category, without too much competition, but actually, you don’t get to. The categories you pick in “bookshelf” section of your author account are different from those that are assigned to your book in Kindle store. I didn’t put Shizzle, Inc into “Action and Adventure” subcategory. In fact, there are no subcategories at all.

The mystery cleared a bit when I’ve had similar levels of sales in later weeks, yet was stuck somewhere between 500-1,000 rank in Humor. It confirmed the rumor (or fact) that Amazon’s ranking algorithms give more weight to newly released books. This is very important, as it confirms the importance of your book launch – the best chance you have of making it onto the coveted list is in the first week. If you can keep there for longer than three hours (like Shizzle did), there’s a good chance you will be discovered by new readers.

According to this Kindle Sales Rank Calculator, it looks like getting back onto the Humor bestseller list (I was about 3,800 overall) will take 56 books a day. Sigh. I hope it’s wrong, or alternatively hope I’m selling that many soon.

“Okay, what about the free promo?” I hear you ask. “Didn’t thousands of people download it, and it will take just a few weeks before they tell thousands of their friends to read it?”

If you believe some of the posts on the Internet, all it takes to become a self-published sensation is to make your book free for a few days. I recall a number of 60,000 downloads over 5 free days. I’ve made Shizzle, Inc free for two days. So, how many people jumped at that opportunity?


No, not thousand. Just 139. And the giveaway followed by several days of no sales at all. Since then I’ve averaged about 1.5 books per day.

But, but…I have 25,000-plus followers? Isn’t social media supposed to launch your career and all that?

As it turns out, no. Since then I’ve realized two things that a lot of pros probably already know:

  1. Social media is not going to help you sell books. Don’t get me wrong – a strong fan base is very important, for support, for those initial (few) sales, and for those all-important first reviews. But the reason most people follow others is to get free stuff – be that advice, jokes, or any other entertainment. So while I still strongly advocate to develop and maintain a social media presence, I will no longer consider it to be my marketing campaign.
  2. You have to advertise if you really want to see results. Actually, you even have to pay to advertise giving your books away for free – I bet that’s the only way someone can get 60,000 downloads in five days. Lucky for you, I’m currently compiling the most comprehensive list of websites that offer advertising for free or for a fee. I will publish the list in just a few days.
  3. You better have more than one book. Oh, how I wish I had something else to offer to those people who have read the first one and apparently can’t wait to read the next adventure! This was an important realisation, as it finally pushed me to start writing the second installment. I’m up to five thousand words already and will blog about this too.

There you go. A little dose of reality, which will hopefully get sweeter soon, as I start throwing money at the problem. Can’t wait to see a steep up-trend in my sales and tell you all about how I did it. Meanwhile, have a little fun estimating how many books you’ll have to write before you can replace your current income with this Royalty Estimator.


Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.