Friday, March 11, 2011

Pricing experiment sales rank update: after 10 days

On March 1st I started a pricing experiment by dropping the price of my novel, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance, from $2.99 to $0.99. On day seven of the experiment, I reported on the sales and royalty changes in this post.
However, there are more data points than just sales and royalties to this experiment. There is also sales rank.
Lower sales ranks mean you are listed higher in the Amazon lists. The goal is to get your book to show up on the first page of the category lists (within the top #20). More people will see your book if it's on page 1. After all, how many people click over to page 2 or 5 or 12?
Before the price change my best overall Amazon sales rank was #6407, and I’d gotten into the low #40s of the Science Fiction High Tech category.
As of today, my best overall Amazon sales rank has improved to #3249 and it's trending downward.
My best ranks in the categories are now:
#26 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction > High Tech
#27 Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > High Tech
#51 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction > Adventure
As you can see, I’m in striking distance of the top 20 in two categories. I’m very interested to see if my theory of increased sales on a top 20 listing turns out to be true.


  1. Hi Derek,

    Yes, it will be very interesting to see what happens to numbers if you hit the Top 20. Perhaps it's a matter of cutting price and losing in the short term to get big sales numbers in the long run?

    Looks like we'll soon see.

    Thanks again for sharing the data.


  2. That's so great, Derek! I'm rooting for you to hit the Top Twenty!


  3. I noticed that Joe Konrath has broken into the BIG top 20 (all paid Kindle content) by pricing The List at 99 cents, if that tells us anything.

    It's quite likely that getting into a few top 20s yourself could be enough of a long term boon to be worth a short term loss of revenue.

    I have decided to start Violet Skies at 99 cents for the first month, then raise it to $2.99. I will also be doing a lot of promotion that first month. I hope to get plenty of interviews and reviews, get into the top 40 on a few lists, and start building a fanbase. May is about a strong start. I'll think about the money in June.

  4. I have been in the top twenty in a few categories (#1 in Men's Adventure and #2 for horro/occult) due to promotions or ads or whatever, and the effect was very short-term. I had the same thought, Derek: get there and it will self-perpetuate. I am realizing my novel is very word of mouth driven for whatever reason (bad cover/title keeping it from doing well on the lists on its own?) and I am very interested to see if you have the same experience, or if yours starts to blow up. Rooting for you!

  5. I too am wondering how long the "low-price/good rank" effect lasts.

    I've already decided to offer a prequel free (via Smashwords) and Book 1 at .99 when I get my ebooks ready to publish in hopes of a fast start.

    Of course, my ebooks will be romantic comedy/chick lit (which is dead in the water in print publishing) but selling well for some e-authors.

    Though I'm prepared that this genre probably won't be as hot as thriller, scifi, horror, erotica, etc.

    Looking forward to your next report, Derek.

  6. Update:
    Best Amazon Sales Rank: 2747
    #26 Kindle High Tech
    #26 Books High Tech
    #49 Kindle SF Adventure

  7. Ed, Joe's success with his 99 cent experiment is great! But, there's definitely an order of magnitude difference between his results and opportunities as a huge success, and my own results as an unknown author. I think my results are going to be more indicative of what other new authors can expect.

    Layton, it's good to hear your experiences with top 20 status. I tend to agree that the resuls can be short term, depending on the legs of the book. Some books last for weeks in the top 20, others pop in and out.

    Joan, I think your romcom should do well. Romance is more popular than SF right now, so I expect yours will do better than mine once you find an audience.

    Thanks, all, and good luck on your efforts!

  8. Yayyy on seeing your ranking in the 20s. That's pretty good, great actually. Did you actually choose High Tech as one of your categories? I'm still having a hard time figuring that part out.

  9. Derek, I've been watching your blog and your improving numbers for a few months now. It does seem that the price change has given you a boost, but you were moving in that direction already. I'm sure the improvement in rank is going to lead to exponential sales, so it looks like you did the right thing. I'm tempted to follow your example.

    I started out publishing my thriller "Erased" at $2.99 and then a released a collection of short stories for free ($0.99 on Amazon.) I've given away a lot (hundreds) of free copies but so far that hasn't translated into a bunch of sales for the thriller. I may have made a mistake there. But at the same time, would it be wise to price four short stories the same as an 80,000 word novel? Are both worth $0.99?

    I'm sitting on the fence here because if my thriller isn't going to sell anyway, the price change isn't going to solve anything. Plus, its only been out a month and I may be jumping the gun if I mess with things too soon.

  10. Add another reader rooting for you to make it into the top 20.

    Good luck,

    Yea... late post. But nothing wrong with well wishes. ;)