Oh, Amazon, You Trickster, You

Book-books-collection-415-lIf you enter the title of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, into the Amazon search engine, up my book will pop, despite the fact that its pub date is not until February 12th.  And no, there's nothing about pre-ordering it mentioned on the page.  It's just there.  For sale.

I found this out thanks to the alert eyes of my reader and online buddy Zan Marie.  Now, I'd be happy to have my book available for sale, except for a couple of things:

–This isn't the final copy.  I worked on final proofing all the way to Nashville and back.  Caught a few small errors.  No big deal, you say?  Uh-uh.  Not for me.  I'm a printer's daughter and pride myself on being able to catch typos.  (Now, of course, you'll find one or more.  That's alright.  I can take it.  Let me know, I won't be hurt.) I also tinkered with the acknowledgments (the hardest part of writing the book, I swear) a bit.  And I wanted my readers to get this corrected copy, the final, final copy.  The perfect one.

–We set the pub date for February 12th and I wanted to have the requisite hoopla around it on that date.  Not some vague earlier time.  I wanted it to be a specific date, an event.  (I'm working on ideas for how I can share this event with you, so stay tuned.)  Silly, maybe, but so be it.

So I emailed my ever-patient editor and she promptly contacted Amazon to have them take it down, at the very least until the final final copy gets to them.  (You'll still see it listed for sale if you search for it or click here.  I actually don't know what happens if you click on it to buy it.)

But here's what cracks me up: Just as Emma Jean does in the novel, I started checking my Amazon sales rank.  At one point, it was down to #717,876 or something like that.  Wow!  I was feeling pretty good about that.  I mean, it wasn't even officially on sale yet and already I was ranked below a million.  Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. 

And then my editor emailed me back yet again and said that as far as the publishers could tell only one copy of that version of the book had been sold. (Thanks, Jenni–you've got a one-of-a-kind edition.)  So, as my daughter-in-law said, thus selling one book=#717,876 rank.  Does this mean if I sell two I get put right up to #1?   Um, probably not.  Apparently the Amazon algorithm is mysterious and unknown, just like the Google's.

Thus, note to self: do NOT fuss and obsess over the Amazon sales ranking when the book comes out.  Because it doesn't mean anything.  Does it?

Do you have experience with Amazon?  I'd love to hear it.  Barring that, what do you obsess over?  That's an even better topic.  Please share in the comments.

**There's only a couple more days of early-bird pricing for my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  Check out more info here.


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16 Responses to Oh, Amazon, You Trickster, You

  1. Patrick Ross 01/29/2013 at 04:17 #

    Oh Lordy, Charlotte!

    I think one of the many lessons that can be drawn from this is that you should do your best to resist constant checking of your Amazon rank, just like we need to avoid constant checking of a scale when on a diet. Tell yourself the scale is broken and look away! :)

    So they’re not allowing people to pre-order the book?

  2. J.D. 01/29/2013 at 04:59 #

    Well, this is an odd turn. If we wish to buy your book, Charlotte, do you prefer that we buy now or wait until launch? I think I want the hard copy, but is there an advantage for you if it is a book or a Kindle?

  3. Zan Marie 01/29/2013 at 05:51 #

    You’re not the only one this has happened to. Diana Gabaldon and her publishers regularly have to tell Amazon that a) the book isn’t finished yet and b) that isn’t the title. ; )

    I’m glad I caught it for you. Now I know rank isn’t everything if I ever get a book that far. ; )

  4. Connie B. Dowell 01/29/2013 at 06:40 #

    How weird. It’s a good thing you checked on it.

  5. Carole Jane Treggett 01/29/2013 at 07:19 #

    Yikes, Charlotte. I’ll echo J.D’s question. I can’t wait to read your novel, but I want to buy the version you intended me to have :)

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 08:06 #

    I'm going to make that my mantra, Patrick:  Look away from the sales rank.  Apparently, you can still order the book now, as I just heard from someone who did.  So in truth, I have no idea what's going on!  But if people want to order it, far be it from me to prevent them, just for the sake of a date. 

  7. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 08:08 #

    Thanks for asking, J.D.  I do think that Amazon is accepting orders now, as far as I can tell, so, please, order away!  And I get the same royalty percentage whether it's purchased as a hard copy or a Kindle book, so do whichever works best for you.  And–thank you, thank you, thank you!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 08:09 #

    That's good info to know that it happens to Diana Gabaldon and her books, too. Thanks.  And you will get to this point with your novels as well, Zan Marie!

  9. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 08:11 #

    And weirder still is that Amazon is apparently taking orders.  I'm just giving up and letting it all flow in whatever way it wants to go!

  10. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 08:12 #

    From here on out, the book that you get should be the intended one.  Thanks for asking, Carole Jane!

  11. Don 01/29/2013 at 08:34 #

    Well, the important thing is that its on Amazon. I know, with what little experience I have with Amazon, is that you if you got $1000 per month to advertise on Amazone, they’ll post it every time someone buys a similar book in its genre, including of course, posting it along side the top sellers in its category. A great idea and sales generator if you got the cash!

  12. Zan Marie 01/29/2013 at 08:47 #

    Thanks for the positive thoughts, Charlotte. I’m working hard, but I’m not moving fast. ; )

  13. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 09:51 #

    Nice!  Good to know, thanks, Don!

  14. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 09:52 #

    Slow and steady truly does win the race, Zan Marie.  Or, as my mother always said: "Step by step we travel far."  I know you'll keep at it!

  15. Jenni Gainsborough 01/29/2013 at 11:21 #

    Wow! So I am the first person to have bought your book? How exciting. No doubt my faulty copy will be worth even more than the other first editions in the future.

    I spent the weekend reading from cover to cover. You can be sure I was having far too much fun with Emma Jean to notice any typos. She is hilarious. And there are so many wonderful asides about the writing process that make the story particularly appealing to all of us writers and would-be writers out here.

    I am sorry for the rest of you if you have to wait for your copies but I can promise you the wait will be well worth it. Brilliantly done Charlotte. Can’t wait for the next one!!

  16. Charlotte Dixon 01/29/2013 at 11:40 #

    Oh, Jenni, thank you!  I love hearing this from you and I'm especially pleased that you spent your weekend with Emma Jean.  It just pleases me no end that you are my first official purchaser!  And I'm really happy you didn't notice any typos!  Thank you so, so much.

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