Saturday, March 8, 2014

Getting on the bestseller list



I read an article recently defining what it meant to be an Amazon bestselling author these days. Keep in mind this is an Amazon bestseller not a New York Times bestseller. The general rule is if your book sells between 150-500 copies in a twenty-four hour period its ranking can get low enough that it can be considered a bestseller.

That said, I am an Amazon bestselling author three times this year. Once in August, I stayed on the list for three whole days. But what does it all really mean? As those authors who have hit the list know, unless the momentum continues for weeks you’re probably not going to get rich because of it or even make a decent living. But is that really the point if you are a life-long, obsessed writer? Getting wealthy would be a great perk to the tens of thousands of hours spent isolated in a room with only a keyboard and your own imagination as entertainment, but if you’re a true artist what matters is reaching the audience.

Knowing that thousands of people have read and continue to read my books is worth its weight in gold. Receiving congrats and admiration from old friends and new ones makes up for the financial loss of earning thirty-five cents a book royalty instead of what used to be anywhere from a few bucks to a lot of bucks the old traditional way.

As the market continues to flood with new talented and wannabe writers, it will get harder and harder for the cream to rise to the top as they say. I’m already seeing that with paid and free promotions. Three years ago, when I published my first ebook, a spot on KND or Kindle Boards almost guaranteed that you’d sell books. New websites for readers and writers were popping up almost daily and catching a spot on these sites guaranteed exposure. Now, there are so many sites readers get lost and overwhelmed at the amount of material thrust in front of them, and with so many choices, it’s just a plain numbers and luck game if they buy your book.

Case-in-point, in the past two months I was offered to post my book descriptions and links on no less than six new websites for readers for free as long as I promoted these sites to my many followers and groups, which I happily did. I’m always game for more exposure no matter what the result. These sites let me know when I’d be featured and I heavily promoted those days. Again, I am grateful for the opportunities and appreciate the exposure, but here’s the thing, I couldn’t see any improvement in sales from any of the sites on those promotion days.

It takes a lot of time to plug in marketing information, time that takes away from writing that next book. It’s true that word-of-mouth is by far the biggest seller of books, but it seems that with the internet and worldwide exposure, that word-of-mouth can get lost in the chatter of so many new books. I may never hit the Amazon bestseller list again (hopefully I will) but it was certainly a boost to my writer’s ego to know that for a brief time I was ranked right up there beside such great writers as Ann Rice, Stephen King, and Suzanne Collins. It made all the years spent weaving my tales worth it.