Sales versus Rank

Recently, I came across an ad which promises to increase sales on Amazon.  Sounded promising, so I clicked the link.  I was hit by something that made complete sense, yet didn’t.  One of those conundrums that begs to ask the question: is this moral?

The premise of this site was simple and mimicked that of a pyramidal type business.  Pay your $19.99 along with 1,000 other authors who are on KDP and the offer then closes to this select group.  Then when you have your KDP free days, all the authors download each other’s books which raises your ranking. Simple, right?

Here is where I struggle with this (and where I think self-published authors start to get a bad rap): is it legit? I can sit here and barter with hundreds of other authors and boast that my numbers are in the top 1oo, but did people actually read my book? I mean, isn’t that the point of writing? When did publishing a book become more about numbers than it did about the actual material published?

It’s everywhere, isn’t it? Buy 1,000 Facebook likes for $9.99, by 10,000 Twitter friends for $19.99, and now you can buy your Amazon rank through some pyramid scam.  I realize we all want to be number one, and heck, I’d settle for staying in the top 1,000 on the regular Amazon ranking system (not KDP), but i’d like to be there because people actually read my book, not because 1,000 other authors downloaded my book.  I mean, if they downloaded 1,000 books, what are the odds they actually read or will read yours? 1 in 1,000!

My other concern was that the website boasted an increase in sales, but is giving it away free an increase in sales? I posted to Facebook once, in response to a similar question, and stated, “If you give away 10,000 books on KDP and become #1 because of it, you are NOT a #1 seller, but a #1 giver-awayer.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasoning behind free days, I really do.  It is a great marketing strategy and wonderful way to let people know about your book, but this system is hard to judge.  I met a woman who loved downloading on “free” days, and stated she downloaded over 5,000 so far, but when asked how many she actually read the  number was an approximated 50.  Oh, and of those 50, more than half were traditionally published authors.

This has become all too prevalent, and here I am trying to teach my kids that hard work pays off.  One day they will tell me, “No mom, for $19.99, I can buy my grade or 1,000 college credits.”  Here I am busting my gluts to really sell my product, and all I had to do was buy my rank? I’m concerned.  Any thoughts?



20 responses to “Sales versus Rank

  1. You are so right. It is no different than vanity publishing in the old days. I also find the idea of buying twitter followers amusing. Not interested.

  2. Wow. I agree with everything you said.

    • Thank you. This becomes more and more of a pet peeve for me with each ad I come across selling likes, followers, and now ranks. What happened to actually selling the product because it’s good?

      • I tell you, this explains so much to me. The other day I was seriously confuzzled by a book I stumbled across that had several 1 and 2 star reviews, no 3-5 star reviews, it was shorter than the short story I give away for free and yet priced more expensive than my longest novel. And YET, it had a sales rank that I would *kill* to have. No, not literally, but you know what I mean. What I did literally do was scratch my head and frown at it for way longer than I should have spent, wondering how on earth an overpriced short with terrible ratings could be selling so high in the paid store. I obviously can’t be sure of anything, but the idea that there are shenanigans afoot somewhere actually comforts me regarding that… and saddens me, too.

      • I’ve come across the same thing. If it was totally published through Create Space or KDP, the author can change the price to free. The book then becomes swag (free stuff)

      • I have a free book that isn’t with KDP, it’s price matched because I set it free everywhere else. I like having it free as it was meant initially as a thank you to my fans and then as a way for people to read a sample of my writing style. I think it’s ok to have a free book if you like. It’s the ones in the paid store with such high ranking yet such poor reviews that have me scratching my head.

  3. Beautiful post, I still find it difficult to give my books away for free, though I do promos and all sort but I’d toiled daily to write and to give it away for free is sinful. I’d rather sell a 1,000 copies that people actually read than 100,000 copies people download and never read!!

    • I have given many books away free, but to a select few, and to those that say they will actually read it, or sounded very interested in it. Many of those books are physical books sitting on my shelf and do not raise my ranks. I’ve gifted some ebooks to friends and family, and gave away a few when we passed 300 (real) likes on FB as a celebration, but not enough to tip the ranking scales. I have confidence in my writing abilities and my book, and hope those speak for themselves and will never be “bought.”

  4. The whole idea brings us down a bit in the lowest common denominator level. I have avoided these things on twitter/fb as I want true followers that will send me interesting info and viceversa. And the idea of paying for or otherwise getting readers for my books or webpage or anything turns my stomach. But I predict a backlash like the one Amazon is still having with paid reviews. Bozos needs to buy a moral or two.

    • I agree whole-heartedly. Writing should sell books and raise ranks, otherwise the system fails. Buying a rank throws a wrench in the system and is not based on quality. Shame on those who partake in such scandals.

  5. And yes, I know the last name is spelled wrong. It’s a pet name I have for him. That’s all.

  6. Definitely sounds like a scam to me. To quote my father, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” I agree with you — I like to think that people downloading/buying my book are doing it because they want to read it, not just because it’s free.

    • That’s the reason I downloaded it!!!!! Have I told you I’m seriously loving it? Oh my gosh, I just want to electro-axe Varrin sometimes, and damn if Eris isn’t always in need of saving. 88% through and killed the battery on my ipad reading, but alas, I must return to earth

      • Hahaha yeah, Eris is the perpetual damsel in distress – on purpose, though 😀 And you’ll notice that she gets pretty sick of it after a while, and yet fate continues to intervene against her. Poor Eris!

  7. I would never consider being part of a pyramidal group. When i first published i was approached at the time by a few Triberr groups wanting me to be part of their clan – no thanks. I’d rather treasure the joy of finding an unexpected 5 star review from someone out there who has found, read and enjoyed my book enough to bother to write a review. Good post!

  8. I have to agree. I don’t mind pricing low if you want, especially if you have a reason for it. I don’t mind promo giveaways. But I cannot do uncontrolled free days where umpteen thousands of people can download it and it can get lost in their free book pit and never get read. I work on my book, I sacrificed time with my kids, my husband put up with many a sandwich night, and I stayed up late and struggled with lack of sleep many times. No way would I throw all of that away for free. I just can’t do it. I will take my rank however it comes. At least it’s is based off of real sales and if it the rank isn’t that good for a while for whatever reason, oh well. At least it’s honest.

    • My ranks go up and down, but they are my ranks. And I understand all the sacrifice that goes into writing. I work 12 hr shifts at the hospital, come home and unwind, then write when everyone is asleep. I know what a 4 hrs sleep night is like because I devoted myself to writing, I don’t want to be lost in an abyss of downloads. I wrote so people can read not to buy a rank. If i’m only famous in my small town then so be it, but I’ve fulfilled a dream and that is what counts. I won’t cheapen it otherwise.

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