What the heck? Sales and KENP Sinking Like Treasure Ships of Old.

Written By: Jackie Weger - Oct• 29•18

Amazon Sales and KENP Sinking Like Treasure Ships of Old

FREE to October 30, 2018

My sales and KENP have flat-lined. I’m not the only indie author asking: What’s happening? I’m hearing all kinds of reasons, but no facts. And I don’t deal in rumor. There are a plethora of tech things I don’t know ehow to do. I hire it done. I do know how to design promotions and move books.  I’m coming off of a coordinated promotion with eight other indie authors. We’ve all moved books. My unit was Free and I see above 10,000 downloads.

What many of us are not seeing is the ‘halo’ effect in which a free unit or a discounted book draws readers to buy or borrow our list. We are not seeing a bump in pages read in Kindle Unlimited. Now, not all authors are seeing shrinking sales.  Smart, established Indie authors, and often those who are hybrid are doing fine.  Some not. Many of us saw glitches when we moved our books out of Create Space into KDP Print. I’ve ordered books from KDP print and have been waiting weeks, though I’m told they’ve shipped.  I’m wondering if they’ve shipped from Mars.  One proof I ordered came rumpled, looking like a flag waving in the wind.

Looking at my own data, I see a drop off across the board starting in January 2017 that has continued into 2018. I’ve done smart things to compensate. I’ve joined with another author to do a monthly Rafflecopter; engaged a favorite promoter to sponsor our books at no charge.  I’m promoting my colleague’s best books. I hired a Twitter Guru to retweet certain hashtags.  I have a newsletter in the thousands, up from the 58 subscribers I started with. I work towards keeping subscribers in the fold and always do a resend to unopens.

Now available on Kobo, Apple, Google Play and Nook.

No, I don’t think there are ‘too many’ books on offer.  Yes, I believe hurricanes, floods and fires put a crimp in sales. If one is in promotion and 600,000 people don’t have electricity or Internet, I expect to see a drop. A family living in a shelter, a tent or temporary housing who must drive two hours for a gallon of water, gas or food, is not in the mood to buy books. People forced to evacuate don’t grab their eReaders. They grab their kids, car keys and wallets. I have colleagues and family members deployed by FEMA or Red Cross. They step outside their lives to help others.

Last month I pulled two books out of Kindle Unlimited Select and published them wide. That’s a new learning curve for me that I’m taking into consideration. I love Amazon Select, but I’m seeing a need to expand my audience onto other venues. Colleagues who publish wide tell me it takes a year or so to get traction on Google Play, Apple iBooks, Kobo and Nook. Thus, I’m not starry-eyed.

What can you or I do to generate sales in this hard-scrabble climate?  Yes, lack of sales could be your books or mine. Yes, a new cover might help. Yes, review your book descriptions. I’ve done all of those things. So. I’m not thinking, “it’s me or my books,” because even a bad book often finds a home. I’m going to keep doing what I know how to do and what I’ve always done: Hang in there. I don’t know enough to point my finger at Amazon and say the problem is with Amazon. I know two things to do: Keep writing and market smart.

Adding~one thing that kept me going year in and year out, no matter the disruptions in my life, changes, or the climate in our publishing industry is Fiction Focus. First I had it professionally produced in a cassette, wholly useless in today’s digital universe. Now Blackstone Audio has published Fiction Focus in digital. I love it. So do many of my writer pals, because it works.  It’s published on all venues, but is inexpensive [3.95] on Downpour, Blackstone Studio’s Retail outlet. Self-help for writers.

All of this depressing talk of flat sales has moved the discussion away from Reviews. But I like to wrap my blogs with this gem that I put at the end of my books. If one’s book resonates with a reader, this gentle plea will encourage a review.

Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review.  Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated.  Thank you again, (author name).

@JackieWeger, 2018. Thank you for stopping by. Comments Welcome. Please do add to the discussion. If you’ve run into any publishing snafus recently, please share. Every little bit of information helps us to make better decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

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18 Comments

  1. This posts resonates with me, Jackie. I will say that the three Victorian romance novels of mine that I’ve moved out of KU have done much better saleswise on D2D this month and more of my books are going wide next month. Maybe I’ve exhausted my market on Amazon and need to find readers elsewhere? The other thing I’ve branched out to, marketing-wise, are book trailers. I keep them under 30 seconds and use professional music and video clips. I don’t really know if these trailers help move books but I enjoy doing them. Further, I’m putting all my romance books into paperback and I will be doing a few more audiobooks with, perhaps, Findaway Voices. I’ll see what works.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Suzanne…you are being proactive and smart. I don’t believe any of us have exhausted our Amazon markets, but something odd is happening that even a recent indie author Bookbub promo does not snag a slot on Amazon’s Top 20 FREE or Paid. Some of our members are in a set that earned a nice placement on USA Today Best Sellers. 99c. The set is no where to be seen on TOP 100 paid. And it takes not less than 20,000 units sold in five days to snag USA Today’s attention. These are curious facts. Or they were as of yesterday, October 28, 2018.

  2. Good to know it’s not just my books, then! I certainly hope people aren’t giving up reading. Dinosaurs didn’t read, and look what happened to them! Bronwyn Elsmore, author of books including Every Five Minutes.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Uh, I think the scientific community decided that a meteor did the dinosaurs in. But, true, it is not ‘just’ your books. The market is either skewed or changing and we missed something.

  3. Donna Fasano (@DonnaFaz) says:

    Change is the law of life. Adapting to change is the key. (Does that sound profound? lol I wish the changes in this industry didn’t happen quite so fast, or maybe I should try to adapt a little quicker. I feel as if I’m trying to become an expert tap dancer, but Amazon keeps yanking the rug out from under my feet.)

    • You’re absolutely right, Donna! And I thank you for one of your blog posts a couple years back that basically said, “Get out! Go wide!” I love Amazon KDP, but…as Grammie always said, and you did too, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Since you’ve recommended Kobo, I’ve at least had some back up when it seems nothing but “Amazon Published” and “Big 5” authors are topping the charts, and even then, it sure seems like they have their favorites. Yes, occasionally a BookBub promoted book/author slips in. How is it that the books Amazon GIVES AWAY for FREE via Kindle Firsts are always the top selling five books monthly. Out of pure stubbornness or maybe it’s dignity, I’ve stopped accepting those free books, when I realized they were using FREE downloads as PAID bestsellers, AND allowing readers to review the books before they’re even releases, something they don’t allow on other pre-order books.

  4. Gosh, I hate to get involved with stuff like this, but sadly, since I also run a very popular marketing website, which means I have to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not, I’ve noticed this too!

    One of the things that has irritated me the most is the placement of sponsored ads on books. Oddly enough, those same books that show up above, beside, and below some of my books, don’t have their book descriptions cropped to just a few lines. They get tons of space for readers to see THEIR book. And one of those books that always shows up on MY book’s page has ZERO sponsored books on its page! That’s right, ZERO! I’ve even tried to sponsor my book on its page. Nope, not allowed.

    And how is it that the books Zon GIVES AWAY FREE via Kindle Firsts are always the top selling five books monthly. Out of pure stubbornness or maybe it’s dignity, I’ve stopped accepting those free books when I realized they were using FREE downloads to qualify as PAID bestsellers. AND they allow readers to review the books before they’re even released, something they don’t allow on other pre-order books.

    I recently emailed Zon because I have an upcoming release, and I wanted to make sure that my thousands of followers–of course, that was last checked…I don’t know how many followers I have anymore because they refuse to tell us–would be notified of my new release, since they didn’t send out a notification on the last two. They said, paraphrasing: We don’t tell authors how many followers they have, and we reserve the right to send out new releases at our discretion.

    NOW, if any of you remember, they told us we could build our lists by running giveaways and posting links to our author pages in our books, and that when we had a new release, our readers would hear about it. INSTEAD, when our readers get to the end of our books, they are now being led away to other authors’ books, and we aren’t getting new release alerts. Grrrr….

    Okay, the more I go, the more upset I’m becoming and I have to write today. Anyway, I’ll quote my Grammie one final time, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”

  5. Jackie Weger says:

    Carmen, you touched a nerve and I just emailed Amazon re: Amazon told us to build a following on Amazon and Amazon would send out a dedicated new release notices to our followers. They changed the policy. Now they don’t. In Texas we call that bait and switch. Like you, I’ve spent hundreds of of $$ snagging Amazon followers.

    For three days running a jobs advert has shown up in my mailbox. Amazon is hiring. No experience necessary. HUH? Every message I send to Amazon now, asks for the message to be booted up to a level two representative in hopes of an experienced Amazon responder.

    • Robyn M Ryan says:

      Did Zon verify this? Wow…just speechless. No wonder folks are migrating to BookBub now for finding, reviewing, and promoting books. It’s always something with Amazon…

  6. Alexa Dare says:

    Strange times with Amazon switching from Oracle to there own system, updating servers, and adding a different sort of scroll feature in kindle back in August. There are also rumors of changes in algorithms, so who knows… Maybe all of the above or none of the above. Thank you SO much for sharing this!

  7. I’m seeing low sales, although perhaps the next book I publish will help! All my books are now wide, and Kobo sales often match Amazon.

  8. Glad to know it isn’t just me. With all of the terrible things happening worldwide, i suppose that’s bound to affect sales. Praying things will improve soon.

  9. I’m one of the authors that managed the USA Today boxset Jackie mentions above, yet in a week of solid sales we couldn’t manage Amazon bestseller? I find that very strange. My KU numbers have dropped to virtually nothing, but the few books I have wide aren’t doing much better so I’m not sure what the answer is- frustrating to say the least!

  10. This year has been a strange one for sure. Thank you for sharing your own experience!

  11. I’ve had a bad year, it’s not just now… I’ve recently become besotted with metadata to try and make my books more discoverable. I’m in the process of changing my keywords and categories for every book. And I’ve learned that you can ask Amazon to copy your categories from the US onto the UK because they won’t be the same unless you tell them to do it… Also, Author Central no longer effects changes to the blurb of paperbacks in the UK. I have no way to update those any more, not even from the bookshelf, and Amazon don’t have a clue either. I think Amazon took over the paperbacks from Createspace unprepared – their system is riddled with bugs. Episode 4 of my new novel took 2 weeks to show categories on the product page. They couldn’t work out why…then one day it did show them, but they didn’t bother to write to me and explain. Guessing they’re running headless in there. My trust in Amazon’s service is not what it used to be. I am frustrated, so your post resonates with me. Sharing…
    Effrosyni

  12. As always, I learn from all of you (and feel somewhat vindicated that low results from the $$ and time I spent aren’t just my poor judgment or inexperience. Am going to watch for more comments on going wide before I make that leap. Thank you all for your willingness to share!

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