Friday, 17 May 2013

Nifty little tool for self-published writers

I found this interesting little website mentioned on a forum I frequent the other day. Basically, if you put the ASIN of your book into the search box it will give you a kind of floating spider web diagram showing which books are linked from your book's Also Bought list on Amazon and which books link to you.

If you put your cursor over your book it'll give you a bunch of orange lines. These go to the books from where your book can be found. There's also a box on the left in which you can rank the books in the spidergraph(?) related to your book in terms of things such as ranking and price.

For interest's sake, I put in my book Tube Riders. Just for clarification, I'm writing this on May 18th, and so far this month I've sold just two copies.

There are 84 connected books. Tube Riders ranks lowest in both ranking and popularity. It's second from the top in terms of diversity, whatever that means, and there are no orange arrows pointing inwards, which means a few books are visible from my book, but my book has no visibility from elsewhere.

However, when I put in my current bestseller, Five Tales of Horror, which is selling 2-3 copies a day and has sold nearly 200 since I released it in March, there are a lot of orange arrows pointing in as well as out, meaning it is being seen on a lot of Also Bought lists. From looking at Amazon I can see that many of those books are ranking pretty well, inside the top 5000 or so. Basically, my book is hanging on the coattails of these books, whereas my book Tube Riders isn't hanging anywhere, and the books its connected to are all other unknowns that aren't selling well either.

What does this tell me? In short, that I don't have much visibility. The obvious answer is to sell more books, something that's of course easier said than done. However the right kind of visibility is important. For example, getting on the Also Bought lists of a bunch of unknown books is pretty much a waste of time. This is what happens when you do free promos, because people download at random and free promos are increasingly becoming the playground of the desperate or not very good writer. Bargain books are the way forward, don't you know! Although if you look carefully, you'll often find a lot of my short stories on promo as I don't have a lot else to do with them...

Another thing I noticed from playing around with this site, is that none of my books are linking to each other. When I put in Dan Brown's new book, the biggest group of Also Boughts linking to and from his new book were all his other books. It's become kind of a sport among unknown writers to dump on Dan Brown's writing skills (for what it's worth I've read Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons and thought they were both pretty good, although the films were hit and miss), but he clearly has fans. People who bought his other books are all over his new book regardless of what the snobish non-selling indie community thinks of it. Looking at my own graphs proves that I don't really have fans, just people who see my books and pick them up because they're cheap or free or whatever. Hopefully when I put out the next book in the Tube Riders series I'll start to see a few more backwards and forwards arrows.

And talking of which, I'd better get back to editing it. So if you've got some books out, have a little play around with this tool. It's kind of interesting.

Chris Ward
18th May 2013

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