Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Short Story, The Dead Should Stay Dead, Now Published & Sales Rank

Well, my short story, The Dead Should Stay Dead, has been live since Saturday. It can be found world wide on Amazon and I've got 3 four star reviews, plus one five star review. I also have three likes.

Here's the nicely designed cover that my good friend and editor put together for me:

I know it's different from the old cover I intended to use, but I had to scrap that story idea. And I've learnt not to talk about projects now until they're practically done, so no one ends up being disappointed if something doesn't get finished. It would be much easier if I planned and didn't have high standards, really.

Anyway, the story can be found on Amazon, world wide, with these being the UK and US links. Please see the story on the store for the story's description and word count.

Now then, I have a bit of a surprising story to tell and a caution for fellow writers publishing for the first time on Kindle. My initial debut rank was 64,000 and odd in the UK. That was with one sale. With another sale, it shot up to 24,000 and odd, plus it entered the top 100 in one of the categories. #39, I believe, for books > short stories > horror (so it was competing with paperbacks and not just kindle eBooks). The highest it reached with one extra sale, Bodicia's I believe and her blog can be found here (I really appreciate you buying a copy and I'm glad you enjoyed it if you read this), is #17. With it being in the top 100 for a category, you'd expect high sales right? (one sale in the US translated into a 146,000 sales rank or so, I think, highest being 116,000, but I think it was 146,000)

Don't. Because I'm now sure I've only had 3 sales, plus one in the US.

How does the Amazon sales rank work then? When you first publish a story, it will shoot up the ranks with one sale. The UK sale rank is especially susceptible to this, with the UK being a smaller country than the US and therefore not having as many sales in the store. Now, your story's recent sales are compared to those of others within the same category and, indeed, within the entire Kindle store to determine the rank. Updated every hour. But the sales rank for new books without more sales will drop more quickly than it will for older books. Why? Because older books are more established and the sale rank is partly based on historical sales too. Older books won't be as affected by more sales either, I believe, if they've had a lot in the past.

So, again, all of this is to say 'don't get excited' if your book shoots up the chart once it's newly published. I've learnt from the experience and I wanted to prevent others from getting all excited when it's likely you don't have many sales. Also, I think there's a delay with sales updating on your records, but I'm still sure my figures are right now. However, with all this said, I must admit there was some satisfaction in beating the sales rank for some of Stephen King's works, although it was only briefly. ;)

So, with four sales, where does it leave me? It leaves me in the same spot I was always in, especially as I never expected many sales nor did I expect a short story to sell well. I'm going to keep on writing, building a backlist, but as it seems there is no demand at the minute really, I don't have to feel pressured to keep publishing. It'll give me time to build up a backlist. That said, I still want to encourage people to take a chance on my short story, as long as you read the description and know how long the eBook is. And as long as you can stomach some gore or enjoy horror. I think I've done a good job on it, because -- believe me when I say I have high standards -- I wouldn't have published it if I thought otherwise.

In the afterword and about me, I've said that I'm not a genre writer, but you can probably expect the next few titles to reside within the horror genre. That is still true, but as I don't want to be pigeon-holed, it is possible the next story from me won't have any horror elements. Ideally, I want a backlist that offers something for every reader. I've got a list of projects I want to work on now and it depends on which I finish first. In addition, as I mentioned above, I'll be keeping quiet on what they're about and I won't be showing covers in case there's disappointment if I don't finish them.

Finally, I would want the next story I publish to be at least novelette length, which is 7,500 - 17,500 words. So, you'll get more bang for your money, though I'll charge slightly more (probably set a price point for each category: short story, novelette, novella and novel). However, every story from me will be the length it needs to be. I won't be artificially extending them to reach a word count. That's part of the beauty with eBooks and self-publishing really, you don't have to write to a specific word count to please publishers. And while the pricing is mentioned, the US version of The Dead Should Stay Dead should be $0.99. If it's more, I don't know why. It's a fault on Amazon's end and I might need to contact them. So, if it is showing as more than $0.99 for people actually in the US, then please let me know. I already view $0.99 as too much to ask for, for a short story. So, it is not my intent to rip you off. I wouldn't have included the extras either if I didn't want to try and give value for money.

And lastly, I want to thank the people who have bought my short story and for the support shown. It means a lot to me.

One last plug as well, with links to my story (and again, check the word count before purchasing, please):











  1. My explanation/take on the Amazon chart. Genre charts mean very little. You can be at #1000 in the overall chart but not be in any genre chart at all, if your book falls in a very crowded genre like crime/thriller, or contemporary fiction. Or you can be at #120,000 and still manage to get into the Top 100 of a very sparsely populated genre, like Sci Fi comedy, or Parody

    All an overall rating of 20 or 30K means is that you've sold one or two that day, depending on where you were before. Actually, the ratings don't mean a great deal anyway. You can sell 50 of one book in a month, but if you don't sell a book for 36 hours it can then appear lower down the chart than a book that has sold only 6 that month, two of which have been on that particular day.

    Once you get higher than 10K in the overall chart you can sell 3 books in an hour, and only move up to 9K. However, once you drop down as far as 200K you can not sell a book for yet another week, and still only fall down by 2K. Your chart position is only relevant to how many have sold that hour, that's all, and in relation to everything else. You get a rise of about 1 or 2K if you get a new review, I think, I'm not sure about 'likes'.

    A year ago a ranking of 20K meant that you hadn't sold a book for about 4 days, but now the market is so flooded it means you've just sold!!

    Best of luck with your writing career, David :)

    1. Thank you for the well wishes and for commenting, Terry!

      Interesting thoughts regarding the sales rank on Amazon. I looked into it prior to publishing and then afterwards when I was puzzled that my account was still only showing 3 sales.

      At least my experience can stop others getting excited anyway, hopefully. :)

      And yep, your first paragraph is bang on for sure.

  2. I've been taking note of it for 18 months now, because I look at the ratings of all my books nearly every day, and i know what each jump in sales means; I also look at the ratings of the books of friends that I know the sales of. As it's all relative to what everyone else is selling, and how many books are on sale (which increases every week and is likely to carry on doing so) it's pretty meaningless anyway.

  3. True enough. I've been checking my sales ranking regularly, but I think I'm going to have to knock it on the head a bit. The sales rank checking, social networking and everything else is not helping me sit down and write. ;) To work through the groaning stages of a early project.