End of Summer (Sale) and a Best Selling Book

No, summer has not abandoned us here in Sussex. In fact, it’s the best summer in living memory (or, at least, my memory), featuring long stretches of hot, sunny days interspersed with a few cool and cloudy ones, just to mix it up a bit. There is even a little rain now and again, which keeps the locals from panicking. (You really don’t want too much nice weather in Britain; people here start moaning about the apocalypse after four or five days of sunny weather.)

What is ending is the summer sale—specifically the FREE, FREE, FREE!!! downloads of my books—which means it is time to tell you all how it went:

The short answer is, the sale was a success, so “Thank You!” to everyone who participated by downloading my books.

Now, if some of the people who downloaded the books actually read them (don’t worry, I know how it is; so many books, so many good intentions, but so little time), and if some of the people who read the books leave a review on Amazon (that was the agreement but, again, I understand if you don’t—see previous comment about good intentions and time), a few new reviews should be appearing on the US and/or UK Amazon sites in the near future.

That was, of course, my intention, with the idea that fresh reviews would, eventually, translate into sales.

I’m no marketing genius, but I would think any marketer would agree with that assessment, and would also agree with my other assumptions—that July would be a low-sales month (why buy the books when you can get them for free?) followed by a slow return to normal, followed by a slower increase in sales, which just goes to show that, when predicting a marketing trend, no one knows anything.

July, as it transpired, saw each of my Postcards… books on the Amazon Best Seller lists for their category, so I want to express another big “Thank You!” to all who bought my books instead of downloading them for free. I also want to point out—before you begin to imagine me flying around in a private jet—that “Amazon Best-Seller” is a relative term, and that J K Rowling, even under the guise of Robert Galbraith‎, has little to worry about.

For those of you unfamiliar with Amazon’s book rankings, allow me to explain: If you look at the bottom of the Product Details section in an Amazon book listing, you’ll see a number that supposedly reflects the location that book would occupy if all 87 billion Amazon books were laid end-to-end in order of popularity.

The number is essentially meaningless, and put there only to torment self-published writers. It also fluctuates wildly, making a book that sits very near to the bottom of the list rise impressively high if two or three people happen to buy the book on the same day.

But as an author, I take what I can get, and by some stroke of luck I happened to glance at the Amazon listing for Postcards From Ireland shortly after it sold a few copies in quick succession, an alignment of the firmament that resulted in it being listed at 8,668.

Being this high in the rankings also effects the “Best-Seller in Category” figure, which is the location the book would supposedly sit at if all the books in that particular category were laid end-to-end in order of popularity. While this wouldn’t significantly change the ranking of a book in the ultra-popular Crime or Thrillers categories, if you happen to be in a sub-group that contains only, say, 14 other books, then you’re likely to have a best-seller on your hands. For a couple of hours, at least.

Look at me, nestled between Angela’s Ashes and Call the Midwife.

I expect Hollywood will be calling any day now.