Monday, October 16, 2017

Making (No) Sense Of Sales

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Most writers like to have their stories read, and we hope the readers like our stories. When you write for anthologies, however, tracking the results of your efforts can be difficult. Reviews that mention particular stories within an anthology (especially if it's your own story) would help a lot, but reviews for books published by small presses are few and far between. This situation often leaves the writer scrambling to get any feedback.

There are a couple of free tools available to authors: Novelrank and Amazon's Author Central. These are tools I generally use and are the source of the information presented here.

Amazon Author Sales Rank on October 9, 2017

This graph shows my Amazon author ranking on October 9, 2017. Considering I've never been published in anything other than an anthology, I think it's pretty good. It's been in this range for most of the last year. You can be listed as a contributor to a book and it counts toward your ranking. Unless people start posting reviews, however, there's no way of knowing if my stories had anything to do with the ranking.

Amazon author ranking by individual books on October 9, 2017

This image shows what's driving my ranking at the current time—Tales from the Bully Box. For a long time, In Creeps the Night was pushing my ranking upwards, especially the audiobook version. And there were a few sales from other books, but not enough to make a lasting difference. When sales for In Creeps the Night slowed, my ranking stayed up. I found sales of Tales from the Bully Box were picking up. I had started a small Goodreads ad in April of 2017, but I didn't expect a lot from it. The book had been out for years already with disappointing sales. Still, the numbers speak for themselves. 

Sales for the paperback version of Tales from the Bully Box

You can see Tales from the Bully Box is doing (relatively) well from the ranking on Amazon.

Novelrank's yearly sales for the paperback version of Tales from the Bully Box as of October 9, 2017

The Novelrank graph above shows the yearly sales for Tales from the Bully Box. Even with another 3 months to go in 2017, the sales for the paperback version have handily surpassed the previous three years combined. The problem I've found with using Novelrank and Author Central is that the numbers don't always match from site to site. Even the numbers within Amazon Author Central often leave me scratching my head trying to make sense of them.

Novelrank book ranking over a period of time for Tales From the Bully Box paperback edition

As I stated previously, I started a Goodreads ad campaign back in April. The increased sales is evident around that time. Sales really picked up, however, when it was named one of the top twenty picture books dealing with bullying by This is what the post says about Tales from the Bully Box:
Tales from the Bully Box is an example of real life stories that can make an impact as well. The book is really a collection of short stories about bullying from students of all walks of life. The subject matter is diverse and the book also includes discussion questions for students to walk through with their parents and/or teachers. The stories also don't just give examples of bullying but also give examples of how to deal with bullying in impactful ways. There is something about the fact that these stories are from real students that help them really hit home and in many ways, the stories can help students understand the impact of their words and their actions.
While I appreciate the plug, it's not accurate. First of all, it's not a picture book. Secondly, it wasn't written by students. Well, I guess we were all students once, but that was a long time ago (especially for me). And although the stories may have taken inspiration from real-life events, some are clearly not real-life. Still, sales got quite a boost after this was posted. I can't say for certain this post was the cause, but I don't know of any other reason for the sales increase.

Amazon listing for the paperback version

Amazon listing for the Kindle version

As you can see, the book has done reasonably well for one put out by a small (tiny) press with little promotion by the authors (I've done some, but I haven't seen much from the other authors). I wish I knew if my story helped or hurt sales. Perhaps it's had no effect at all. Without reviews, I'll never know. That's a subtle hint to any readers out there. The best that I can take away from this is it's great that more folks will have a chance to read my story. This may cause them to look at (or avoid!) other stories I've written.

Tales from the Bully Box was a charity book, so I didn't (and won't) get any money from the sales, but I should get exposure. For a beginning author, I suppose that's a step in the right direction!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved


  1. Sorry i've been MIA!
    The rankings *are* good and I need to leave a review. :P

    1. Beth! I was thinking about sending you an e-mail - just like I promised to do about 3 months ago... I know you had moved again, but I was beginning to wonder if something more was going on. Hope you're doing OK!

      BTW, you don't owe me any reviews! If I paid you by the hour for all the help/advice you've given me over the years, you could retire to Aruba!

      I do hope to put one out for HES #3. Just the idea of a woman as a sharpshooter is enough to stir up interest! (To readers of this blog: If you want to read an action/romance that even men will like reading, pick up one of Beth's Hawk Elite Security books.)


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