How I Sold More Ebooks Than Stephen King (for 48 hours)

We interrupt regularly scheduled blogging for an ebook update. To my surprise and delight my epubbed novel

has shot up the Kindle charts in the US and UK and is outselling Stephen King. Yes, that Stephen King!

I blame him and Ray Bradbury for turning me into a writer (and Tolkien and Frank Herbert and...). I'll explain how the sales jump came about in a second, first a few braggardly details: Currently the book is #680 on the Kindle US store and #158 on Kindle UK. It has made several bestseller charts including #15 overall on the Kindle US  Horror charts and #4 in Children's Spine-Chilling Horror (who doesn't love chilling the spines of those children?). In the UK the numbers are even higher (it's a smaller market): #1 in Children's Horror and #2 in Horror overall.

Actually, that #1 spot deserves a graphic:

Now let me attempt to explain how it was achieved:

I sacrificed an organic carrot to the god of ebooks.

Oh, wait that's not it.  Dust has been for sale as an ebook since February and has once before briefly cracked the top 1000. At the start of September I priced the book at free (who can refuse free?) on iBooks as a brief promotion. This was discovered by Amazon (okay, I told them) and since they have a price matching clause in their epub agreement they matched the price. On iBooks I had given away about 5 free copies. Amazon Kindle beat that in the first five minutes.  In the course of a week I gave away about 8000 books on Amazon UK and 11000 on Amazon US (that's a swack load of free books). The book reached #32 on the US free charts and #5 on the UK free charts. For me it was free advertising (the vast majority who have downloaded a free book likely won't read it...assuming they're hoarders like me). More reviews began to appear within days on both websites. I changed the price of Dust to 1.49 on KindleUS (Dust had previously been .99 cents and not doing well, so I chose 1.49 because...well...because Seth Godin's book was 1.49 and it was in the top 10). Then I chose .99 for the UK price (I chose the .99 pence for the UK because most of their top 20 bestsellers were in that price range...I have to sell 2 ebooks to equal the royalty I receive on a paperback). I changed the price to $1.99 on iBooks (anyone bored of all these geeky details yet?) and emailed Amazon to let them know that the book was no longer free on their competition's website. They changed the book back to the prices I had chosen.

And, blammo (that's an official epub word for wow), it shot up the charts. A real chart? Sure, I've got a chart for you:

This is Dust's kindle sales in the US over the last month. The lower the number the better the sales. Like golf. But more literary. Dust started at #849 on AmazonUS paid 48 hours ago and #736 on Amazon UK and has been climbing ever since (warning here are even more geeky details: it takes about 67 copies sold in the space of 24 hours to climb from #849 to #700. To add more perspective Dust sold 48 copies last that's more sales in a day than the book had all month). I don't know exactly why when it switched from free to paid status it ended up in such a good position on the charts. Is it because several people downloaded it accidentally thinking that it was free (Amazon does warn when a books price is changing)? Or is it some kind of magical algorithmic kindly thing? That part is beyond my limited IQ.

I don't expect this to last. I think Dust is successful because it has been on Amazon for over ten years in one format or another and has 20 reviews that average 4 stars. This lets prospective buyers know that it's a good gamble. I think that the fact that it's for young adults and doesn't have a romance angle or vampires, will limit the audience in the long run. I just want it to find its happy "sales" place.

And I'm enjoying the ebook ride right now. Go Dust go!