Sunday, January 9, 2011


Amazon Best Seller!
Over the last few months I've been keeping a close eye on the volume of my sales on Kindle, and recently realized that my efforts have a wider range of importance than just my personal experience and the books I'm personally selling.

Many of you know I received a phenomenal boost back in October when Kindle put two of my books on their 100 Free Reads list for five days, and that my sales numbers continued to be high (but not THAT high) for the rest of the month (actually have continued high). But you might not know what the long term ramifications have been. And you would be unlikely to know how that has put me into a position to observe the massive changes in the ebooks market in the last few months. I have kept records of how my books have moved up and down on the charts, but that is of interest mostly to me. One of the things that I think is of broader interest is in charting the advance of sales in general.

This Free Reads boost gave my books a visibility they didn't have earlier, and I've had at least one book on a best seller list since then. As long as there's one on a visible list, buyers can easily find my books because, especially if they like what they read, one book leads to another sale, and then another, which in turn propels other books onto best seller lists. That's how HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS got there. It was never a free read, but was discovered by readers who had liked FIRE DANCE and THE MUDLARK. LOKI'S DAUGHTERS didn't get quite this kind of boost, but it is now showing excellent sales.

Since I have several self-published books on Kindle, I am able to receive immediate exact sales reports and compare them with the rankings for my books. HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS consistently accounts for half of the sales for four books,  which gives me a perspective on what is needed to keep a book on the best seller lists, and how many sales it takes to improve the ranking. I decided after Thanksgiving to offer all of my books at 99 cents through the Christmas season, and originally had intended to return to the normal $2.99 price after Christmas Day. But my sales volume was so high, I changed my mind and have kept the low price. I'm aware that this low price means I can't get Kindle's 70% royalty rate, but I made the decision because I see my job right now as to grab buyers and hopefully develop a large group of returning readers. In looking at the numbers of "also bought" books sold, I believe this is happening because people who bought one of my books have a vary high incidence of buying the others.

Sales on Kindle since Christmas Day have risen to between double and triple the pre-Christmas rate, which was high to begin with. This appears to be a general trend on Kindle, and likely is a reflection of the incredible number of Kindle readers sold by Amazon this holiday season. Every day except one in the new year has shown an increase in volume over the previous day, and I am now selling at about 100 books a day (four titles). Today is on track to record perhaps as many as 120 books sold.

Because I can compare my actual real time sales numbers with my overall ranking, I can see I'm doing only barely better than other books in my genre and in historical fiction, so the top books must be selling individually at least 80-100 per day. Yet there's only one or two of those books even appearing in the best selling general fiction list.

At the top of the Regency list, it now takes about 50 sales a day to move upward in ranking from #7 to #6, but of course the higher the ranking, the more sales are needed, while at the lower end of the lists, just a few sales will move a book from 4,000's to 3,000's. Over all, this indicates to me that the volume of sales of Kindle books has more than doubled its pre-Christmas numbers, and possibly could be three times. In the most popular genres, it might be even higher.  Several times I have noted a sudden jump in my number of sales, yet my overall ranking lowered, which tells me other genres were having even sharper volume sales increases.

I seem to do well overnight, and my ranking is often better in the morning than it is for the rest of the day. I suspect this reflects Asian and European sales. This balances with my web page stats which show I have a fairly large following in Asia and Europe. My ranking is usually higher if I first check my stats at 7 a.m. than if I don't get around to it till 10 a.m. But I also see a big jump in early evening, which may be after-work surges.

Although romance is doing very well in ebook sales, the top positions are still dominated by mainstream fiction and thrillers. Ficton that appeals to men appears more likely to be represented on the general fiction list than fiction that appeals mostly to women. However, in November I noticed there were no romances in the top 20 fiction ebooks, but now they are appearing in the top 10. I don't know if this was a fluke or not.

In romances, ebooks clearly dominate the top ten, with only a few paperback showing up. Classics such as Diana Gabaldon's and Ken Follett's books continue to be in extremely high demand and consistently show high in the best seller lists. Historical romance is not selling as well as Contemporary romance, although it sells very well.

I'm not in a position to tell you about other genres, other than these very limited observations. But I'll keep watching, just because I find it interesting.


Delle Jacobs
LADY WICKED coming 2/25/2011 from The Wild Rose Press
Every proper lady ought to have a rake in her life.

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.