From Battle Cry to Bestseller

Amazon best seller list New York Times Bestseller Youth In Asia Battle Cry Leon Uris

So this was cool… Last night one of my 12-year olds asked me what was my favorite book when I was her age. I told her Dune. The other book I thought of, though I was a bit older than 12 when I read it, was one of the few books I’ve read several times. It was Leon Uris’ Battle Cry. It is the story of Uris as a young man in the Marine Corps in some of the most vicious fighting in the Pacific during WWII. Though the book rambles a bit and is a bit choppy, I was deeply impressed by his depiction of coming of age in combat. I was also engaged by how he showed the development of the unit. A bunch of young men became an unrelenting fighting force.

My Vietnam War novella is small in size and stature compared to Battle Cry, but my story is also about young men coming of age in battle. In some ways, I’m sure, my novel is a product of Battle Cry and many other stories and life events.

For those of you who don’t remember him, Leon Uris was one of the big names of fiction in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. His books consistently hit the New York Times Bestseller lists and were made into movies.

I never imagined I’d see my first novel side-by-side with his on Amazon’s bestseller list, but it happened today.

My book has been drifting up in sales again, and I had noticed it had cracked the top 100 of military fiction. I don’t believe it has ever done that before. When I checked on it, I saw it’s position beside Battle Cry, and I took the attached screenshot. It was a heart-stopping moment seeing the two side-by-side.

So if I’m in the top 100 of a best seller list, I’m selling a lot of books, right?

Well…it’s good news, but we’re not talking thousands of books a day. In fact, we are talking about five. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy about that, and it is an improvement. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what is driving the ramp in sales. My sales had been trending down in October after a good August and September. For those two months, I averaged sales of about four books a day. Not sure what happened in October, but it was more like two and a half books a day.

So what changed in November? A couple things, but not sure any of them were significant, and some of them should have decreased my sales. For one thing, I stopped the $1 a day advertising I had been doing via Bing. I had gotten a coupon for $100, which I had doled out over 90 days. When I exhausted the coupon, I stopped the ads. I think they were helping a little bit — maybe one book a day — but hard to say with precision. In any event, I ended the advertising at the start of November.

Another thing I did was change the price. In August and September, I had some success after increasing the price to $2.99 a few times. Unfortunately, the initial pop in sales died after a few days. I still don’t understand why I got an initial increase, but when I tried it a third time, the magic was gone; sales flatlined.

In October I tried changing the price yet again, only this time I went for $1.99. Sales died immediately. …back to $0.99.

I also tried giving it away for 3 days. About 400 copies were downloaded. I had hoped the freebies would generate some reviews. Nothing so far.

Losing confidence there was anything left to do, and my book was coming to the end of its best days of sales, I tried two more things. First, I changed the price to $1.49. Second, I tweaked the keywords a few more times. Boom! Sales ramped and have stuck at about five a day.

I’m perplexed. I’m not sure that a few keyword changes made that big of a difference in the flow of traffic (which is what keywords are about). And I’m not sure that increasing the price should have had much of a positive effect, either.

I do now have over 30 positive reviews, which is helping. However, I still don’t have a clear understanding of why sales have ramped up as they have.  No matter how I got here, it was stunning to see my novel side-by-side with one of the most treasured books from my youth. Battle Cry indeed!

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