Earlier today it had a sales rank of 50K (see the above screenshot). Sales have certainly declined from where they peaked about nine months after I published, but sales continue at a steady pace. And my novel is in a pretty small niche, so book sales have only so much upside in this niche.
My book is priced at $1.49, and it has been at that price for almost the entire time it has been for sale on Amazon, so I’m not wracking up sales by selling it at $.99.
Below you can see my Author Rank as tracked by Amazon. Even two and a half years after I launched my book it is still doing better than it did the month after I launched it. Again — see my blog on keywords. That dip the month after I published my book was because I did not know what I was doing (like most indies) with keywords. After that, I got my keywords figured out and my sales did much better.
I’m going to cut to the chase on why it continues to sell so well. There are three primary reasons, three things that anyone can do ramp their book sales and keep them up.
First and foremost: Optimize the keywords in your book title and subtitle (sign up to the right for my free guide on how to do it) — it is ridiculously easy to do and and a powerful tool
It is a simple concept. Words in your title and subtitle are “keywords” that help pull traffic to your book on Amazon. All the details on how to do it are in the free ebook. This is not hard stuff to do. It does take a few hours of work (research). But compared to how many hours you put into writing your book, this is nothing.
The second thing is you need lots of positive reviews
I have 63 on Amazon US (16 on Amazon UK, and 90 on Goodreads). More would be nice, but my reviews are all legit, and I’m a lot smarter about how I’m going to get more next time. To be clear, 63 is not a lot, but is a reasonable start for a first book. You need at least 50 to be in the game. I’ve also written about how to get more reviews for your book.
The third thing you have to do (after you learn how to write a book) is to create a well-written, well-edited, well-presented book
I ran my book through a number of beta readers, I hired a professional editor, I A/B tested my cover, and I spent a lot of time on my blurb. There were more little things, but these were the big ones.
The payoff? Still selling after two and half years — I’ve sold well more than 3,000 copies — and look below. My book is showing up beside some of the great fiction to come out of the Vietnam War.
Let me also show you the sales chart of a novel from a person I’ve met who was adamant that success in book sales was exclusively about the writing. He insisted that he was going to pay very little attention to anything else. I can’t speak to how well he writes, but I knew he was doomed from the start. Look at how his book has done. I believe he has sold fewer than 10 copies and sales are dropping like a rock. This is very typical for indie authors.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am spending about $.20 a day on advertising through AMS and Bing, which my sales more than cover. So my advertising absolutely helps, but it is a distant fourth to the three things I’ve detailed above.
These things are all easy to do
I’m not a rocket scientist or a book marketing expert, and some people will tell you I can’t write very well. But I know a few things about selling books. Let me summarize:
If your book does not show up in searches, few people will see your book.
If your book is not attractively presented, of the small number of people who stumble across your book, only a small percentage of them will actually buy it.
If few people buy your book, if it is not well edited, you will get very few reviews and what you will get will not be positive — the rule of thumb is that only 1 out of every 100 people who read your book will review it.
It’s your decision. You put a lot of heart, soul and time into your novel. It kills me to see people do that only to be distraught when their book’s sales are terrible. It does not have to be this way.