Kindle 100: The Holy Grail

No matter what kind of an author you are, it doesn’t take long before you start hearing about the Kindle 100.  For anyone hearing about this for the first time, I’ll explain quickly.  This is the list of the top 100 ebooks.  Not by genre, the top 100 period.  The best of the best so to speak.  It’s also the easiest way to shop for books.  In one or two clicks, you’re on the list and bound to find something interesting.  Visibility like this is something every author wants, so it’s no surprise we’re always thinking up ways to get in there.

One of these ideas is to get enough people to purchase a book on a specific day to drive rank into the top 100.  For the most part this doesn’t make sense to me.

Right now there are hundreds of thousands of ebooks available with more being published as we speak.  The idea of getting into that gigantimous pool is daunting.  How can your little book be seen in all that?  From that angle I can totally see why driving sales into the top 100 if only for a day would be appealing.  But it’s a lot of work.  Promotion, people to organize, all in the hopes of getting the support you need on the big day.  Prizes are offered as incentive to buy the book, but as of yet, I haven’t seen huge success with this tactic.  Not a big surprise, it’s still new.

Eventually someone will break through (Maybe it’s already happened.  I didn’t do a mega load of research because it’s not the point of this post.) and I’m wondering if all the energy it took to get there was worth it.

As I said, visibility is why you want to be there.  The more visibility, the more sales . . . provided you’ve written a good book.  My first point.  Surging yourself into the Kindle 100 doesn’t mean you wrote a good book.  Sure, people will check it out, but if it’s poorly written, you’ll disappear as fast as you got there with bad reviews for company.

But okay, you’ve written a good book.  You get in the 100, but after the surge, sales drop along with your ranking.  That’s not a long time for visibility.  How many new fans will you get?

Maybe your goal to get into the top 100 is about getting noticed by an agent.  Agents make money from sales, so if an agent is looking for a client, the aim is to select the one with the most potential for sales.  If I’m an agent and the deciding factor is one author in the top 100 for a day and another author in the top 100 for six months, which one do you think I’ll choose?  Of course many factors go into selecting a client, but I’d think consistent sales is a big one.  It proves your product’s worth.

My last point is the amazon algorithms.  Think of these as the little elves running around analyzing the sales ranking system.  So when they see something like ranked 10k to 50 back to 10k, they go, “Hey!  What just happened?”  They keep their eyes peeled and then it happens again.  “We got a problem here,” they say.  The solution?  They change how sales are evaluated, so what once got a book up in the rankings either doesn’t work or is much harder to do.  If you’re new like me, this should worry you.

In my opinion, based on talks with authors I respect, a strong release is the best way to go to build a solid, sustaining fan base.  It may not get you into the Kindle 100 for the first book or the second or third, but as long as your ranking goes up and can sustain, you’re in good shape.  Besides that, there are many ways to market your work and you have to decide what’s the most bang for your buck.  There are certainly ways to encourage sales during a specific time that may work better than the one day surge.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t look only at the immediate result.  Think a few steps ahead or get someone’s insight that’s been there.  I can’t tell you how much valuable information I’ve gained from more experienced authors.  With that in mind, I’ve got a question.

What do you guys think of these one day blitzes?  Is there a pro I don’t know about?  Have you had success with a different form of marketing?  Please, the floor is yours.

Info stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and be here Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts on me, writing, superheroes, monsters, comics and any other geeky stuff on my mind.

And if you missed it, I guest posted on L.M. Stull‘s blog about platform building.  Stop by and get in on the discussion.  I’ll be waiting patiently for you to arrive.

6 comments on “Kindle 100: The Holy Grail

  1. Great post, Andrew. I think you’ve nailed the problems with this issue brilliantly. Plus, in the category of organizing it all, you come off as a spambot with shouting BUY MY BOOK ON THIS DAY!! It feels gimmicky to me, and I don’t want to build fans with gimmicks–I want to build them by writing great content and promoting with consistent, measured contact. I don’t want to look like a rabid hummingbird.

    • Yeah, and I think there are ways to capitalize and organize fans for a strong release. But getting them all together for one day seems like a lot to ask for. Especially if it’s your debut. People are still going to try and I worry about what that will do for the sales ranking in the future.

  2. You’ve given me something interesting to think about today. Thanks, Andrew. I don’t think getting into the 100 is a bad thing, but I don’t think it’s necessary. As Amy said, write a great book and just promote it. There are a lot of solid authors who won’t make this list, but they’ll sell books. Now if I had a novel and landed on the Kindle 100, I would not complain 😉

    • It all depends on your endgame. Getting and staying in the Kindle 100 will put you in a different category than other writers in terms of popularity and money. If that’s part of your overall plan, then there’s lots of work to do. Much more than what it takes to get in there for a day. I wouldn’t complain either.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I believe that all the points you make are valid. That being said, I am still going to try to have a strong ‘opening day’. There are certain sales anyone can get, friends and family, this is the same for rubbish and the next great American novel. If my novel is rubbish, and it might, then it won’t matter.

    If my writing is something people enjoy, then it seems logical to try to pack those guaranteed sales into day one. If one succeeds in breaking the top 100, for a day, and then reaches several hundred eyeballs they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, then it might be the difference between a break out hit and a long slow assent. Again, if it doesn’t work, then so be it, but if it would have worked and I chose to slowly tell the ‘guaranteed’ sales about the lauch, then it would be a blunder.

    That being said, I think Amy Rose Davis makes a valid point. One doesn’t want to seem spammy. I also agree that any marketing plan must focus on the long run. I will be launching my Kindle, Nook, and print version of my first novel in the 1st week of June. I intend to launch my 2nd novel a month later and the 3rd four weeks after that, though I don’t know if there will be print versions. So my plan will be about building an audience over the first three months, but if I can pick up a few readers from an 1st day blitz, then that would be great.

    It may not work. I am prepared for complete failure. 🙂

    • I agree, you should always want a strong opening day, which is not the same as getting into the Kindle 100. If a debut gets you a few hundred loyal fans, that’s a strong release in my book. I just feel some people want to be number one right out of the gate. When I debut, I’m an unknown and if I want loyal fans, I have to earn their trust in my work. Maybe I’m not in the top 100 for the first, second or third book. But if each release is stronger than the last? That’s the kind of growth I feel will sustain itself long after the release date and what will keep me in the top 100.

      Good luck with your books! Some say releases with short breaks in between are a good way to build a fanbase.

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