I am finding it fascinating to discover how the book publishing/sales/marketing world seems to work. It is quite an unexpected set of circumstances that seems to be helping sales of my book on Systema. Shortly after it reached number 36 on Amazon’s category for martial arts (which includes a whole bunch of fitness and diet books too so it’s actually a larger category than you would think), I blogged about it as I was quite surprised it had done so well given there had been essentially no marketing other than my mentioning the book on my blog and facebook page a few times.
These sales had been achieved almost exclusively by word of mouth, and the e-mails I receive regularly seem to bear this out too as people are finding the book very useful, which is gratifying. The interesting part is what followed shortly after this.
The Amazon ranking quickly fell back to being under the top 100, and at first I didn’t really understand why, but yesterday I received a report from the publishers and there have been two orders from book store chains. A single one of these was larger than all the Amazon sales for May so far. As these sales are not through Amazon, the demand for the book is still being filled (in fact even better than before) but not recorded by Amazon.
Clearly, people still shop in book stores quite a bit more than I thought. The publishers do not reveal the names of the chain in question in their reports, but from the numbers I figure it must be a chain. Now, what I am not sure of ,is how this came about. I know the publishers are not really marketing my book as it’s too specialised a field for them to spend any money on this, and I know I certainly don’t have any contacts in that world and haven’t done anything to make this happen, but my guess is that the Amazon sales are somehow being tracked by book buyers around the world. And when a new book hits a certain number of sales in a short period of time, they figure it’s a good bet to order some for their brick and mortar stores.
Anyway, whatever happened it’s great. I obviously prefer Amazon sales as I get a tiny percentage more from those, but in the end the cool thing is people are finding the book useful and are reading it and telling their friends about it. No writer could hope for more.
I can only hope a similar situation occurs when my novel Overlords of Mars – Inception, is also made available in print soon. So I hope that any of you reading will be ordering them by the dozen, whether you are stalkers, friends, family, sycophants, ex blog-buddies (from the Vox days), or even just random strangers with an interest in science fiction. That way, we might be able to crack the mysteries of the publishing world together. Maybe, in this new era, the revolution of the printing presses will once more bring back a situation where the content of books becomes more appreciated than the cover or their placement in the front-window of stores.
It is my distant hope after all, that for every reader of James Patterson, who composes sentences, chapters and whole stories that some 12 year olds would find passé,* there are secretly ten frustrated intelligent readers who tell their friends of the writings of mysterious and unknown writers, whose work on crime novels is nevertheless of much higher quality.
Science fiction has always been the preserve of the edge, being composed mostly of freaks, the weird, and generally strange people when it comes to the authors, So I’m in good company on that score at least. Hopefully though, my work will be appreciated while I am still alive mostly.
* Do not feel bad for James, he’s doing very well with his books. Mental aspartame though they may be. Nor do I begrudge him his millions. I just find it hard to accept that a majority of people really find that level of writing truly engaging. Then again, Dan Brown seems to have proven this to the level of an axiom.
PS: What’s the deal with the Ninja Girl you say? I am told sex sells. You may also want to read the first three lines of this entry.
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