A few months ago, Amazon and Kindle started offering Kindle Countdown Deals to authors, self-published and traditionally published alike. The way it works is that you can offer your e-book for a discounted price for a limited time and be featured on their Kindle Countdown Deals page as well as having a countdown clock on your book’s Amazon page showing the discounted price and how long it would last.
Authors can set the promotion up to last for up to a week and have up to three different price changes. One of the perks for this promotion is that even when the discounted price is below $2.99, the author still gets a 70% royalty instead of the standard 35% royalty for e-books below $2.99.
When this promotion was first announced, I put Weed Therapy up and nothing happened. No new sales. Nothing.
A couple of months ago, I raised the e-book price of One Night in Bridgeport to $3.99. I sold about ten copies in January, which was actually better than I expected. But after a little more than a month of that, I decided to try the Countdown Deal for Bridgeport. You know, it’s a different book, different genre, it has over 60 reviews/ratings.
So, I signed up. For three days, the price was .99 (actually, still is for one more day), then it’ll be at $1.99 for three days before returning to $3.99, which is where I plan on keeping the price.
So, what’s happened? I’ve sold 20 copies of the book since Tuesday. Which means I’ve made about $14. The earnings aren’t the biggest thing. I’m still at a point where readers are more important than the $$.
Here’s where I began to lose faith in Amazon, however. If you go to the Kindle Countdown Deal page, they have the books broken down into categories. The first is Featured Authors, where they have about 15-20 books featured. Then they have the standard genre breakdowns: Romance, Mysteries, Literary Fiction, etc. They have featured authors in each genre as well, and then they have the listings for all countdown deal books in each genre. When I go to the list, I can find books that are ranked higher on the Countdown Deal page even though I have more reviews/ratings, a higher average rating, and also a higher sales rank in the Kindle Store. I would really like to know how that is possible. Or fair.
And then there’s this … the mystery of how they decide which books they will feature in the Featured Author section. You get in that select company and incredible things will happen. How do I know this? By coincidence, a fellow self-published author I have got to know over the past few months started a Countdown Deal the day after me. At the time, his sales ranking, I believe, wasn’t any better than mine. But he got the golden ticket. His book was included in the Featured Author sections on the Countdown Deal page. While I’ve managed to reach a sales ranking this week in the high 20,000’s. This author topped out last night at a sales ranking in the entire Kindle Store of 732 or thereabouts. His book is still in the Featured Authors section and his ranking has dropped a few hundred notches, but still he must be selling a good number of books. Far more than the 20 I’ve managed over the last three days.
I don’t begrudge this author his success. He has written one of the most polished and well written self-published novels I’ve come across and he is deserving of all the success he gets.
I’m just frustrated at what seems to be the randomness of what Amazon does. Placing books higher on a list even though all of the visible numbers suggest a lower placement and then selecting books for the Featured Author section without seeming to provide any explanation to us authors of how we could get in that section. Amazon has all the power to make or break us self-published authors. It certainly would be nice to know how to crack the code. Or last have them give some concrete factors or steps that would help.