On April 19th, The Woodcarver’s Model made his way out to the many fans who ordered the book, and from all accounts he is making a positive first impression. In this post I want to share a little bit more about the marketing of a book, the importance of a strong start and the challenge of keeping a book in front of potential readers so that they can find it amongst the millions of books on sale on any given day.
Last week the novel was introduced to readers through 40 different blogs, Instagram posts, WordPress sites and Facebook groups. Each of these sites has a large group of followers who learn about the book through the launch week blitz. The coverage was very positive and a ton of new readers were introduced to The Woodcarver’s Model.
Of course, the goal is to convert people from simply knowing about the book to actually ordering the book and reading it. And to give a sense of how things are going, Amazon tracks statistics on book sales.
It is important to put things in perspective. There are MILLIONS of books available for sale on Amazon. When a book is listed, and people pre-order the book, all of those sales are held in a virtual queue. On the day the book is released, those sales drop into the system and are compared to all other books that are being sold on the same day. The Amazon program uses an algorithm that ranks unit sales of a particular product against other similar products. At the end of a book’s first day of sales, the number should go from a low ranking to a much higher ranking. In the case of The Woodcarver’s Model, when sales settled at the end of the first day in the U.S. Market in Kindle sales, the book had climbed 681,513 spots to position 68, 728.
Of course as the days go by, new releases are added to the pool and The Woodcarver’s Model’s numbers will steadily drop throughout the first week, and then as good reviews take hold and more people find out about the book and buy it, then the number might go up again. This is why marketing, publicity, and reviews are so critical. Even a successfully launched book that sold a lot of copies on its first day, can drop out of sight as other books are launched.
So how many books were actually sold? That information is provided much later by Amazon, and on any given day, the number seen above is calculated by an algorithm, so a sale of 30 books on a slow book sales day could bring your number up or down. It is safe to say that The Woodcarver’s Model had a lovely boost from presales, but the actual number of sales won’t be known until sales reports come down the road. The numbers are calculated monthly and royalties are paid out twice per year from Amazon to the publisher. It should be noted that the publisher also does direct sales, and those numbers are also reported (and paid) monthly to the author.
Authors can go to their Amazon page for the book and track the ranking the algorithm is showing for any book by simply putting in the title. There are three major markets; the European market (mostly represented by the U.K.), the U.S. market (Amazon.com) and in this case, the Canadian market (which is much smaller). There are of course other markets the book is released in, but in markets where the primary language is not English, the numbers will be very small indeed as at present The Woodcarver’s Model is only available in English.
The above screen capture was from the end of day on April 19th in the U.K. Market. If you look at the numbers on the lower left section of the image, the Best Sellers Rank is showing the book’s position according to the algorithm, based against all other books on this day at 43,948.
Books are also put into categories to help compare how they are doing in relation to other books in the same category. Rankings are shown for, Gay Fiction Kindle (537), Gay Fiction Books (569) and Gay Romance Kindle (939). These screen shots literally capture moments in the sales of the book and shift as time goes on. If one manages to get your Best Sellers Ranking into the top 100, it shows up on a promoted ad on Amazon. And if you manage to get your book to #1 (against millions of other books), then you FRAME that screen capture and celebrate. Over the life of a book, the number will rise and fall based on marketing activity, width of advertising, reviews and of course word of mouth about a book.
So, how did The Woodcarver’s Model fare in the U.S. at the end of his first day?
At end of day on April 19th, The Woodcarver’s Model was at #109, 039 on the Best Sellers Rank, #1815 in Gay Fiction, #3151 in Gay Romance and #4157 in LGBTQ+Romance in Books. It is important to note that while the first number is generally calculated using ALL books out there, the numbers by category are only defined by how many books there are in that category, a number that shifts daily based on new releases. So it is challenging to know if it is a large or small field. In a smaller field, a sale of 30 books could make a book jump up a substantial amount if many of the books in the field have been out for some time and aren’t active sellers at the moment. And while these numbers are fun to look at (and the publisher DOES look at these numbers with great interest) the position of a book is related to many other factors, and during the life of the publication, the numbers will go up and down like a yo-yo (hopefully more up than down).
Now let’s take a peek at the launch day in Canada.
In Canada, the market is smaller, however this is where I saw the pre-order of friends and family having the largest impact. On the Best Sellers Rank in Canada, the book is ranked at #19, 902, while it is #389 in the category Gay Literature and Fiction, #391 in Gay Fiction Ebooks, and #433 in Gay Fiction.
The path to a novel meeting its readers only starts when the book is made available to distributors. Launch week aims to get the word out through blogs and other targeted social media, and then the readers take part in the discussion and start to let others know what they think. And the more reviews there are, the more interest a book gathers.
At this point, many of the reviews for The Woodcarver’s Model are from readers who were provided with Advanced Reader Copies through the publicists. It is important to note that these readers are told to give an honest review in exchange for their free copy and not to simply give a high star rating.
It appears that The Woodcarver’s Model is making a favourable first impression. But the next stage becomes even more important. The reviews that have the most value are from those who have bought the book and then leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads after their purchase. This second wave of reviews is what can propel a book forward after launch week.
So if you ordered a copy, your opinion counts. I encourage you to leave your honest thoughts and a star rating that will help others determine if this book is for them. To review on Amazon you will have to have an account and have met their order criteria. If you ordered the book from Amazon, it will mean that your review will show up as a verified review, because you bought the book from them prior to your review.
On Amazon, click the appropriate link for the below you purchased on and scroll down until you see Customer Reviews above a bar chart. Below that is a heading that says Review This Product. Simply click on that, and follow the instructions.
To review on Amazon.com click here.
To review on Amazon.ca click here.
To review on Amazon.co.uk click here.
And if you have a Goodreads account, you can go to this link and leave a review by clicking here.
A large number of positive reviews from verified purchasers on these sites, gives the novel a better chance of standing out amongst the literally millions of other books out there.
So I hope you enjoy reading the book. I hope you are inspired to share your viewpoint through reviews, and I look forward to next week when I will share how The Woodcarver’s Model fared in his first few weeks and what the next step on his journey is.
Thanks for reading.