Tweaking My Amazon links
I’m a self-published author of (mostly) sci-fi, and my ebook sales go up and down, pretty much at random. I have noticed that if I get a new review, my sales are likely to hop up, and they also sink when I haven’t put a new book out in a while, but other than that they just tend to noodle a little higher sometimes and a little lower at others. I have no idea what this fluctuation depends on, maybe the weather, maybe animal spirits, maybe just random motion.
There is one constant pattern I have seen in my sales however, and it strikes me as a little strange. I have noticed that my sales through Amazon/Kindle are a lot lower than any of the other distribution channels that carry my books. My sales through Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Nobleh, and probably a few more I’m forgetting, all put my Amazon sales to shame. I have no idea why this is, but it was not the behavior I expected when I set out on my journey of self-publishing four or five years ago. From what I had read, I expected things to be the other way around. Most authors said, in places like forums and blog posts, that their Amazon sales were way higher than every other channel. This makes sense too, I used to suppose, because Amazon is the big player in the ebook market, with a dominance over the self-publishing world that throws every other platform in the shade.
But not for me, for me Amazon is the weakest performer, and I suppose I blame the algorithm for this. The mighty algorithm that rules the fates of Amazon authors, especially those on KDP Select. I could tweak what I do as an author to better provide the sort of content Amazon expects. It’s called writing to market, I believe, but it would take a lot of the fun out of what I do. At the moment, I just write old-school sci-fi, informed by a woke sensibility, but with a bunch of military sci-fi tropes thrown in. I don’t even know what genre you would call this – space opera, maybe – but I do know it isn’t one of the genres currently dominating Amazon bestseller lists.
Also, there’s no guarantee I’d be any good at writing about something other than my particular corner of sci-fi, or a closely related genre. Urban fantasy may be all the rage, but I’m not sure I have the right set of skills to produce it convincingly, and that would be a disservice to both me and the readers. Nope, I guess I should stick to the old advice given to authors, to “Write what you know,” and sci-fi, I know.
Anyway, my feeling, with absolutely not one iota of evidence to back it up, is that the Amazon algorithm likes prolific authors – writing, say, five books a year, minimum – who produce content in a popular genre like crime, romance, urban fantasy, or whatever. I am not that. I usually write one book in the Dark Galaxy series per year, accompanied by a fantasy novel or some zombie horror, just for variety. I’m neither prolific nor laser focused, and I certainly don’t have a fan base of rabid readers. I’d love to have one, who wouldn’t, but right now they are conspicuous by their absence.
In short I am nothing like the kind of author I think the Amazon algorithm would notice, and promote the work of… so why do I litter this blog with Amazon links? In theory, I should be sending the literally tens of readers that this blog attracts every day to Kobo, iBooks, anywhere in fact except Amazon. I guess it is because I thought that if I simply waited long enough, Amazon would start to work the same magic for me that I have read about it doing for other authors, but no more. No. I’m tired of waiting. No more relying only on Amazon links.
Up until this point, my strategy for sending my blog readers to buy my books has always been to wait until the very end of a blog post and close with an Amazon book link. This looks like a block of text with a book cover image, blurb, and the actual link. Unfortunately, it just isn’t working, and that changes today. From now on, I am going to be doing something slightly more aggressive. Now, half way through each blog post, readers will find a small section, clearly marked as an advertisement, that says the following:
Galaxy Dog, bestselling sci-fi by the author of this post.
Simply follow the link and buy it now.
It is a much more focused and hopefully effective advertisement. It even ends with a full-on call to action. Now all I have to do is increase the number of people coming to this blog, and my ebook promotion strategy will sweep all before it. If thousands of people start coming here to read these posts, then some are bound to click the links and buy ebooks. I just have to attract thousands of readers, which probably involves writing about things that are more mainstream than Carpenters sci-fi songs, ancient British sci-fi comic books, and various giant robots. Once again the niche nature of my interests stymies my plans for wealth and fame.
Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.