Saturday, February 11, 2012

21,000 downloads in 72 hours

Daughters was free for three days (Feb. 5 through Feb 7). It was downloaded over 20,000 times (Amazon’s reporting has been wonky since the end of Jan. so figures are approx.) On the 8th when the book was no longer free an avalanche of sales began around 6 p.m. The “sales” came with such rapidity they were recorded in batches of threes or fours even if I refreshed continuously. I kept slapping my cheeks in shocked amazement like the kid in “Home Alone.” The blizzard lasted about an hour and later I learned that these were “catch-up” numbers that had not registered because of malfunctions in Amazon’s servers. I suspect most of them were for unrecorded free downloads but I won’t know for sure until the monthly statement.

About 12 hours after the book went back to “paid,” it began selling briskly and I awoke on Feb. 10 to see it had cracked the Amazon 100 bestseller list at #88. The title climbed as high as #64 before starting back down. How did I feel? I kept blinking . When I stepped away from the computer, I realized I was dangerously overstimulated.

I don’t know how this title will perform going forward and I can’t even draw any conclusions about the experience or offer advice on how to replicate. Previous to the promotion, the title was selling 1-3 copies a day. Now it is selling a few hundred a day. The volume will taper off but even if only 10% of the people who downloaded the free copy read it, I will have gained 2000 new readers. There are people on the Kindleboards who know all about Amazon’s algorithms and how they impact certain titles. They talk about “also boughts” and how they impact a title. I suspect all of it helps but there is also a serendipity to events that is what people think of as luck.

I don’t believe in luck. I believe our subconscious has a worn and tattered handbook of our expectations and outpictures them for us from time to time. My handbook allows me to reinvent myself every few years and creates opportunities for me to do so. Ideas occur to me and I act on them. The actions aren’t systematic or strategized. I grope around in a grab bag of arbitrary choices. My handbook allows limited success and too often it takes me back to zero.

The way I outwit my handbook is with this blog. I have control of this blog. Yeah, right.


  1. Amazing figures!

    And for the lucky few who reap huge rewards like this it certainly is good news.

    The big question is whether the new chart positions are sustainable, either stand-alone thanks to the exposure (a possibility having cracked the top 100) or if the algorithms keep plugging the title.

    Either way, enjoy!

  2. My question precisely. This title was selling in single digits per day or 0 digits some days so this was definitely a boost. Where it goes from here is a big question mark.

    I'd be happy with a modest sustainable number per day. Sustainability in this business relies on constant new work and who can write that fast. Thanks for weighing in with your smarts, Mark.

  3. i'm pleased! as both a fellow writer and a reader/fan of yours, this is good news. and btw, i just finished reading daughters and now i don't know what to do with myself. no other book is going to be as good for quite some time. really, this book gave me another world to live in. thank you.

    and i love this:

    My handbook allows me to reinvent myself every few years.


    1. Sherry, I was looking at this post and saw your comment. It makes me sad that I didn't respond to this thoughtful and beautiful message. Please forgive, I looked for you on Facebook and tried to friend somebody named
      Sherry O'Keefe. I hope it was you.