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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Notice the topic title doesn't include The How. I share - a LOT - but there are still one or two trade secrets (quite ethical!) I won't divulge, so if I don't answer certain questions, it's not because I didn't see them, but because I'm studiously ignoring them :-X ;))

Yes, we're a little jazzed 8). For a romance writer, what could be a better day for it?

Jennifer is in the Top 100 Kindle Authors (at #94 overall):
Amazon Author Rank
#5 in Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Romance > Historical Romance
#5 in Books > Romance > Historical
#37 in Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Romance
#43 in Books > Romance
#79 in Kindle eBooks > Fiction

She has a box set that's been in and out of the Top 100 for the past 53 days, spending 39 of those days in. It released late November, and to date has sold over 43,000 units. Fingers crossed, it *should* cross 50,000 sold by the end of the month.

Now, I could simply squee and claim cluelessness about why it happened. But the truth is, while there's always some element of magical unicorn dust around why books gain traction, a lot has to do with timing, visibility, price, genre, and author.

First, to be clear, these are backlist books that were national bestsellers in their days by an author with multiple lifetime achievement awards in romance. Hers is a recognizable name to readers of a certain generation. They are historical romances, which are seeing a bit of a revival right now. But that is no guarantee that books will sell. See below.

The box set is loss-leader priced at 99 cents, where it helps cross-promote the other 9 box sets of hers we have out now, plus the rest of the inventory that we have. It's in Select, where it's high on the KOLL lists with over 1600 borrows.

We ran a concentrated ad promotion for this set along with a number of other books Dec 17-19, timing the promo to capitalize on the Christmas buying season. The authors in the promo shared around a few Facebook posts, but Twitter and FB efforts were very minimal (I don't Tweet at all - not since last June or so, and I don't go anywhere near Goodreads).

Still, we've done similar with other titles, and while we've put 11 Steel Magnolia titles into the Top 100 over the past year (and another 5 into the Top 500, a couple of them twice), this one has stuck high in the ranks the longest. The title that comes in second sold 25,000 copies in 6 weeks. Each of those 11 books had the same opportunity to stick, but didn't. While promotions can push you into the Top 100, unicorn dust is needed, it seems, to hold you there for the first few days.

If you can get past those initial days ON YOUR OWN, then the Amazon algorithms kick in to help hold you there. Pass that sustainability test for a couple of weeks, and the Amazon recommendation engines turn on full blast. (Amazon helps those who help themselves. Remember that.)

This set started to cliff on Feb 1, falling to #175 by Feb 5. Without further promotion on our part, Amazon recommendations lifted this set back into the Top 100 in the US, followed by a spike to #135 in the UK and #4 in Canada. Today, it's clear Amazon is pushing the set again.

It's easy to dismiss Amazon and the true ingeniousness of its recommendation engine if you've never benefited from more than just alsobots and a short ride on the Hot New Release list or on the pop lists after a free run. It's easy to claim a book just catches a lucky break time after time. The truth is, the right book in the right genre with the right cover and the right price given the right promotion can hit in the Top 100 with little effort. The next few days are the crucial ones, where luck probably factors in the most (always assuming, of course, a reasonably well-formatted, well-written book). After that, it's pretty much down to science and Amazon's internal marketing -- except for those few outliers that everyone talks about, making it seem they're a bigger group than they really are ;).

Beyond luck, then, how do you sustain for those first few days once you've hit in the Top 100? It's no secret that's something I'm still trying to figure out myself :p.

So, thank you, Amazon, for the promoting you're doing on our behalf this Valentine's Day and helping us to spread the love! (Now, can we talk about a Kindle Daily Deal at some point? ;D)
 

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Yes, Amazon helps those who help themselves. Your books do need to be in a genre best sellet list for them to do this. Today, Amazon sent out an email blast entitled "Angel Series". Mine was right at the top and actually the most expensive at $5.50. The rest were all single books that are part of series.

I'm thrilled at the extra support Amazon does kick in for those making the effort.
 

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LisaGraceBooks said:
Yes, Amazon helps those who help themselves. Your books do need to be in a genre best sellet list for them to do this. Today, Amazon sent out an email blast entitled "Angel Series". Mine was right at the top and actually the most expensive at $5.50. The rest were all single books that are part of series.

I'm thrilled at the extra support Amazon does kick in for those making the effort.
I think there are multiple levels to Amazon's email marketing efforts. The sort that you got, Lisa, and I get frequently (I think we all do) are the low-level, you showed an interest in things like _______, so here are more. I know many of us get our own books recommended to us and that's because we look at them. A LOT! ;) Those sort of personal rec emails based on an individual's browsing/buying habits are great, but they are a different animal from the ones that are generated for authors like Jennifer Blake. Those large blasts are trying to create new connections and are sent to a much larger audience.

I think you have to reach a pretty high level of sales before you qualify for the JB type blast emails. Being in a small genre top 100 isn't enough. Hanging out in the actual top 100 is. I don't think these upper-level recommendations come for most books unless they've shown a consistent track record of high sales (top 200 on the entire site sort of thing). There are, undoubtedly, many levels of these that kick in at various sales tranches. But, the personal recs and these emails are v. different animals, methinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you, Dara and Toni!

olefish said:
what sort of ad promotions did you do?
I generally run group promo ads where possible. I run ads on the same sites as most everyone here: KB (thank you, Harvey!), KFD, FKBT, OHFB, ENT Bargain Books, and BookBub. Where I don't run ads - and NO indictment meant against any other venues; they just personally don't work for me: Facebook, Goodreads, Project Wonderful.

This box set was part of a promo that included a group of box sets across multiple genres (several of which also made it to the Top 100 over the next week or so), plus it got a standalone BookBub ad. So one take-away is to choose your partners carefully when joining groups ;).

Monique said:
Those sort of personal rec emails based on an individual's browsing/buying habits are great, but they are a different animal from the ones that are generated for authors like Jennifer Blake. Those large blasts are trying to create new connections and are sent to a much larger audience.

I think you have to reach a pretty high level of sales before you qualify for the JB type blast emails. Being in a small genre top 100 isn't enough.
^^This

I get both kinds of emails, and the difference is dramatic. For instance, before Amazon sent out its first blast, sales had fallen on Feb 4 to 418 sold in the US. Sales increased the day of the mail and continued to increase (I only have daily counts for the US site):
Feb 4 - 418
Feb 5 - 553
Feb 6 - 572
Feb 7 - 638
Back up to 741 by Feb 10.

(ETA to make clear these are daily counts, not cumulative for the month.)

With 50+ books out, the SMP account regularly gets sent emails recommending SMP books because we're checking those pages a lot. 99% of the time, we don't see any bump at all from those emails because it's quite possible they go out to an audience of only one.
 
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