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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was speaking earlier with Mark Williams, who is one half of the writing duo responsible for "Sugar & Spice" by Saffina Desforges.

He explained a problem they have been experiencing which is a litle bit of mystery, and is seriously affecting his sales and rankings.

"Sugar & Spice" has been in the Top 10 in the UK for months, with steady sales. Most recently, it was nailed down in the Top 5 position with 500+ sales a day.

2 weeks ago, they changed their subtitle, and the book went into "publishing" status, and the next day, sales collapsed and they dropped to #21 in the rankings.

Over the next week, they slowly regained their position, and settled back into the #5 spot.

This week, Amazon seem to be clamping down on sub-titles, and removed the sub-title from Sugar & Spice (I believe it said something like A Psychosexual Stalker Thriller...").

Overnight, sales collapsed and the ranking dropped to #21 again!

Amazon have been stonewalling Mark Williams, but he emailed me to ask if I had heard of anything similar, so I would just like to throw it out to you guys.

Obviously, there is something strange here. Books tend to drift out of the charts rather than drop like a stone. Have you guys heard of anything similar?

Dave
 
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I was under the impression that when you revise a book on Amazon, it still remains available.  I recently updated a bunch of books to correct some formatting issues, and while they remained in "pending" status under my KDP account the books were still live on Amazon. 

I'm not sure what it is you are accusing Amazon of "stonewalling" them over.  Sales rank fluctuates, particularly in hot genres like romance and erotica. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Julia,

I'm not accusing Amazon of anything. I don't even know if there is a problem. I'm just relating his concerns and seeing if anyone has experienced anything similar.

The "stonewalling" was in relation to his characterisation of Amazon's response as unsatisfactory. That's all.

I know sales and rank fluctuate, but this book was selling 500 copies a day pretty consistently for couple of weeks - and around #5 in the UK Kindle Store pretty consistently for that same couple of weeks. Then, at the same time that they updated the Kindle file, the sales collapsed and the book dropped to #21 in the UK Kindle Store. Then after Amazon were contacted and responded that nothing was wrong, there was a resumption over a couple of days to that exact same point - #5 in the UK Kindle Store, and selling 500 copies a day.

This indicates that there MAY have been a problem, that's all. There may not have been, it could have been a fluke. But I am just throwing it out there to see if someone has either (a) experienced the same thing and says it's a random fluke, (b) experienced the same thing and says there could be a problem for whatever reason, or (c) has had long stretches of consistent sales at this level and has never experienced this.

Dave
 

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I'm confused.

The book was in the number 5 position and was selling 500+ copies a day.

Then it dropped to number 21.  You say sales 'collapsed' but what does that mean?  The thread title implies that the sales dropped by 500/day.  (In other words, it went from 500 to zero or 1000 to 500 or something like that.)  But the sales can't have dropped to zero if it was still at 21.

I agree that being a '5', then '21', then '5', then '21' again seems odd. 
 

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My book was consistently selling 40 a day for an entire month. (Amazon US) The next month I was selling around 50 until the end of the month where it jumped to 100 a day. The next month it stayed at around 150 for a while, then jumped to 250 then 350. Then that next month it sold 550 each day pretty consistently. Then it jumped to 750 a day for all of Feb. Then it jumped down to 550, then 450 then 350. Rank fell. It was a dramatic drop, not a gentle decline. Now I'm selling about 65 to 70 a day on Amazon US.

My guess? If you sell well, Amazon starts promoting you. At some point they start promoting someone else and your promotions die down.

There's no way I can sell 750 books on my very own. I can't reach that many people by posting on forums or blogs. It wasn't ME. It HAD to be Amazon.

Maybe Saffina's book was listed as 'also bought' on some of the free novels 'selling' really well, so she got a lot of exposure. Then those novels might have gone to "paid" and dropped dramatically down in ranks. That would decrease exposure fast.

All speculation on my part, but there you go.

Vicki
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Barbara

I'm not privy to a full breakdown of the numbers, but I would imagine it was a dramatic drop in sales rather than a case of selling zero for 24 hours - perhaps he was being figurative - I'm not entirely sure.

That 5, 21, 5, 21 is odd though. Perhaps it's just coincidence.

@Vicki

Thanks for that. That's entirely possible. I suppose even shifting from being in one of the Top 3 also boughts for a popular title (and thus being visible without an extra click) and then moving to the next page of also boughts could have a dramatic effect too.
 

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I noticed that with my freebie (and granted, it was free so maybe the rankings are wildly different) but the number of sales in the top 100 as related to the number of sales in the top 200 are quite steep. So if a few other titles surged ahead of them, it's not entirely out of the question that they had a big impact to sales.
 

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Victorine said:
My book was consistently selling 40 a day for an entire month. (Amazon US) The next month I was selling around 50 until the end of the month where it jumped to 100 a day. The next month it stayed at around 150 for a while, then jumped to 250 then 350. Then that next month it sold 550 each day pretty consistently. Then it jumped to 750 a day for all of Feb. Then it jumped down to 550, then 450 then 350. Rank fell. It was a dramatic drop, not a gentle decline. Now I'm selling about 65 to 70 a day on Amazon US.

My guess? If you sell well, Amazon starts promoting you. At some point they start promoting someone else and your promotions die down.

There's no way I can sell 750 books on my very own. I can't reach that many people by posting on forums or blogs. It wasn't ME. It HAD to be Amazon.

Maybe Saffina's book was listed as 'also bought' on some of the free novels 'selling' really well, so she got a lot of exposure. Then those novels might have gone to "paid" and dropped dramatically down in ranks. That would decrease exposure fast.
Yes, this. The same thing happened with The Righteous, but sped up and I think the whole algorithm shifting moves more quickly now than it used to. There was a time in late March and early April where my book was in the "also boughts" in almost every bestselling mystery or thriller and then it started disappearing and so did the sales. I did no promotion when it was going up, but I received two great reviews going down and they didn't affect anything, so far as I can tell. You can't fight the algorithms. They move like the tide.
 

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I don't know if subtitles are concatenated to the title to form a single title in the Amazon system. However, if that is the case then any tinkering with it can change pointers and indexes used in their system. Since they don't call anymore, I don't have the details.

Basic identifying fields are best left alone. This could affect inclusion in lists, emails, personal recommendations, etc.
 

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I had a conversation with someone at Amazon (in Seattle) who works in author-agent relations. He doesn't know how the ranking algorithm works, but he talks to the people who do, and he threw out the word "conversion" several times in the conversation, like it was something obvious.

I suspect that the degree to which they promote your book has to do with the rate at which your book is converting views into sales. If lots of people see your book and only a few buy it, they will give that slot to someone else. If lots of people see your book and lots buy it, they'll start giving you more slots. At some point, you'll start to have saturated the audience--that's when you'll peak, and when you've reached that point, your conversion rate will go down, and that will drop you, and then you'll make fewer sales and you'll fall farther in the rankings. It's an accelerating positive feedback loop on the way up, but's an accelerating negative feedback loop on the way down, too.

I'm interpolating from a pair of offhand comments and logic, but it makes sense. Amazon wants to make as much money as possible. They want people to buy books as many times as possible. Real estate is valuable. They're going to give it to the books that do the best job of turning views into purchases. The instant you stop doing that, they'll walk away from you, fickle fair-weather friends that they are.

They're loving me right now, and I'm loving them back.
 

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Victorine said:
My book was consistently selling 40 a day for an entire month. (Amazon US) The next month I was selling around 50 until the end of the month where it jumped to 100 a day. The next month it stayed at around 150 for a while, then jumped to 250 then 350. Then that next month it sold 550 each day pretty consistently. Then it jumped to 750 a day for all of Feb. Then it jumped down to 550, then 450 then 350. Rank fell. It was a dramatic drop, not a gentle decline. Now I'm selling about 65 to 70 a day on Amazon US.

My guess? If you sell well, Amazon starts promoting you. At some point they start promoting someone else and your promotions die down.

There's no way I can sell 750 books on my very own. I can't reach that many people by posting on forums or blogs. It wasn't ME. It HAD to be Amazon.

Maybe Saffina's book was listed as 'also bought' on some of the free novels 'selling' really well, so she got a lot of exposure. Then those novels might have gone to "paid" and dropped dramatically down in ranks. That would decrease exposure fast.

All speculation on my part, but there you go.

Vicki
I agree with this. Amazon promotes. At some point Amazon may slow promotion because they may feel it's better to rotate in new books. Who knows, but if I was Amazon I'd want to see new books in my top 20 periodically. Customers don't want to see the same books over and over.

And really, dropping from #5 to #21 doesn't seem that precipitous a drop.
 

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Courtney, this is very interesting insight. Thanks for sharing!
Courtney Milan said:
I had a conversation with someone at Amazon (in Seattle) who works in author-agent relations. He doesn't know how the ranking algorithm works, but he talks to the people who do, and he threw out the word "conversion" several times in the conversation, like it was something obvious.

I suspect that the degree to which they promote your book has to do with the rate at which your book is converting views into sales. If lots of people see your book and only a few buy it, they will give that slot to someone else. If lots of people see your book and lots buy it, they'll start giving you more slots. At some point, you'll start to have saturated the audience--that's when you'll peak, and when you've reached that point, your conversion rate will go down, and that will drop you, and then you'll make fewer sales and you'll fall farther in the rankings. It's an accelerating positive feedback loop on the way up, but's an accelerating negative feedback loop on the way down, too.

I'm interpolating from a pair of offhand comments and logic, but it makes sense. Amazon wants to make as much money as possible. They want people to buy books as many times as possible. Real estate is valuable. They're going to give it to the books that do the best job of turning views into purchases. The instant you stop doing that, they'll walk away from you, fickle fair-weather friends that they are.

They're loving me right now, and I'm loving them back.
 

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I have "tweeked" my book a couple of times...changed cover, improved blurb, etc. and each time I sales went to nil. and my rank dropped by 50,000!  My book was always for sale, but it reset something somewhere in the Amazon mixer.

I had a few posts on here and everyone said that couldn't happen...but I, for one, believe it does.

Does anyone know what the magic % of page views vs. purchased is?  I'm at 77% right now, which seems pretty good...
 

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Victorine said:
Rank fell. It was a dramatic drop, not a gentle decline.
Vicki, I know you're not happy about this, but it's kind of a comfort to me because sometimes I see everyone reporting continually increasing sales (per book not overall) and think I must be unique somehow. All 3 of my books have tapered over time. The mystery got down to a really discouraging number, but now seems to have found a second wind, kind of in the middle of its peak and bottom.

Putting out the second romance gave the first romance a big boost, although I put the second one out in late November and the magic of the months of December and January surely played a part. Both romances are tapering now.

Maybe there are some books for which sales keep going at a high level forever like the Energizer bunny, but I suspect for a lot of them there are only so many people open to buying a book like that from an indie and once the ways word of your particular book is getting out reaches a certain percentage of them, things slow down.

From the effect of getting my second romance out, I really believe the best solution is more books out there. Speaking of the Energizer bunny, I'm working on a third romance like that and better get back to it.
 
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