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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rank 10,000? 5,000? 1,000?

I realize this question is different for every author, and is a bit personalized. The closest data I can share is one time when I heavily promoted a Kindle Countdown deal a few months back. My book reached as high as 7000 in the store, and week later, pages read for the book were doubled from baseline, before tapering back to baseline. Now, I'm looking at doing constant promo to maintain that rank, or higher so that the money can keep coming in.

My question is, at what rank does amount of ad spend equal most amount of profit returned? Where is the point of diminishing returns in ad spend get reached (assuming your book is in KU, of course, and a decently long series of at least 1500 KENP)?

I get this might be some advanced questions but surely there are folks here who know.

One thing I've learned from my experience: it seems that sales rank needs to be consistent for at least 5 days, if not longer. Rank increases are not just based on your sales for that day, but actually seem to be an average of your sales for about a week. As soon as I started my countdown, for example, despite 30 hard sales in one day, my rank barely broke top 20000 with the kindlepreneur sales rank calculator suggested it should be Top 6000. On the third day of 30 sales a day, it broke top 8000. By the seventh day, I was 6800.

The key seems to be to have high sales staying consistent over time. But it had can be hard bleeding cash, in the hope that the algos start shilling your book enough to give you a hefty pay day three months out.

Any thoughts, opinions, speculation on this topic?
 

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I can't remember where I read this but it was presented as fact. It supports your line of thinking. When sell a lot of books in one day the algo takes that number and half your sales the previous day, then a quarter of your sales the day before. It averages them and uses that number to create sales rank. So it would take at least three good sales days to get a higher rank. What the article didn't make clear was how many days back it looked.

Empirically my ranking seem to follow this path.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ed Nelson said:
I can't remember where I read this but it was presented as fact. It supports your line of thinking. When sell a lot of books in one day the algo takes that number and half your sales the previous day, then a quarter of your sales the day before. It averages them and uses that number to create sales rank. So it would take at least three good sales days to get a higher rank. What the article didn't make clear was how many days back it looked.

Empirically my ranking seem to follow this path.

Ed
I think that's most definitely the case, Ed.

The million dollar question (quite literally) is just how long that rank has to be maintained for the gears of Amazon start turning in favor of your book/series and get the money rolling in, at what point those ads sales create organic sales through the recommendation engine. I feel like I saw but a shadow of this - my KENP pages read peaked at double their usual rate about a week out from the end of promo, so there definitely was something happening there.

My limited experience tells me that you have to sit on your bleeding pile of cash for at least two weeks to see substantial effects, and even longer to maintain/grow the stream of revenue. Thing is, I've never had the guts to just spend heavily for a month and really push my books. But ever since that countdown deal, I've been wondering what would have happened if I'd just kept pushing. Could my KENP have tripled, or even quadrupled?
 

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Remember that Amazon constantly changes its algos to foil those who try to manipulate the alogos or get them to work for the author. They are not there for the author. they are there for Amazon. Whatever you figure out today may change completely tomorrow.

Also, some of what people think is algo is actually simply human behavior affecting an algorithmic system. Higher rank gets visibility which gets more sales and gets your title into peoples' heads, which may or may not generate sales, buzz, delayed sales, other algos not of Amazon doing stuff, websites picking up your title based purely on rank and talking about it, etc. etc.

There is no silver bullet. There are usually only hailstorms of lead, hoping to hit a target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
David VanDyke said:
Remember that Amazon constantly changes its algos to foil those who try to manipulate the alogos or get them to work for the author. They are not there for the author. they are there for Amazon. Whatever you figure out today may change completely tomorrow.

Also, some of what people think is algo is actually simply human behavior affecting an algorithmic system. Higher rank gets visibility which gets more sales and gets your title into peoples' heads, which may or may not generate sales, buzz, delayed sales, other algos not of Amazon doing stuff, websites picking up your title based purely on rank and talking about it, etc. etc.

There is no silver bullet. There are usually only hailstorms of lead, hoping to hit a target.
But one can surmise that Amazon is more likely recommend a book that is gaining more sales, no? I wouldn't call using ads to generate a decent amount of sales manipulation, but a proven way for authors to get the snowball rolling down the hill so to speak.

Of course, a high rank is good social proof and gives you visibility on the lists, but what I mean by "algo" is getting Amazon's recommendation engine (in the forms of emails and such to target readers) working for you. To get that in any meaningful number requires a lot of sales, and ads are a way to "buy" that exposure, at least for along enough to get the ball rolling.

My question was basically for how much, and how long, must a writer do that? At what ranks have authors found success, given their unique situations? I guess my post was an open call for information, and I started off by sharing some of what I had learned, however little it was due to my lack of experience.

I agree there is no silver bullet. One must work hard, write great books, and present them well. If there is a silver bullet, it's writing to market and advertising correctly.
 

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My question was basically for how much, and how long, must a writer do that? At what ranks have authors found success, given their unique situations?
You're basically asking for information that likely isn't going to be shared in that detail. And truly, no one knows. What happened for one author wouldn't happen for another, with the same kind of book and the same kind of ad spend and the same kind of social media presence. We've seen that over and over again. All anyone can give is a general idea of what seems to happen. Until that doesn't work any more.

I don't know if she scrubbed her posts, but PhoenixS used to put up all kinds of research about this sort of thing. She had good insight into what seemed to work in general about many different aspects of self publishing.
 

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30yearoldboomer said:
My question was basically for how much, and how long, must a writer do that?
Depends on the book and your skill/luck in marketing. Some will bleed forever, and a few unicorns never bleed at all or catch fire without ad spend. Most are somewhere in the fuzzy middle leaning toward unprofitable outside of series. Amazon is intentionally designed to favor new, so books eventually get pushed down the ranks.

In short, accept the mystery.
 
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