Amazon Bestseller Best Seller Day- THE DAY! HOW DID I DO? Part 7

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Stepping Off the Edge & Numenon.

“Did your sponsors send out their emails? Your book’s sales ranking is going up, but not fast enough! Find out if they sent their invitations.” This was an email from ReaderViews’ Irene Watson that greeted me when I woke up on MY AMAZON BESTSELLER DAY.

I saw Irene’s message about 10 AM, when I dragged myself out of bed. I’d been up to 4 the night before, having hauled and overhauled my email lists and finished a million details I’d forgotten earlier. Including figuring out when a bestseller day begins. Is it 12 AM to 12 PM? Or something that fit human waking standards better? Like 8 AM to whenever? What should I tell l sponsors?

Never trust thinking done after 2 AM. Frustrated with the size of my mailing list, I eventually went down our subdivision’s Homeowners’ Association Handbook and put everyone I thought I’d recognize at the grocery store on my list.

The days before the bestseller launch were not happy times at Chez Nathan. I’d been working harder than I knew I could, and I’m a compulsive worker.

Things came up in those final days that would tank my campaign no matter what I did.

Remember a few posts back when I talked about what happens if you’re a regular publisher with books in a warehouse and your own account with Amazon? (As opposed to someone using a POD service that will take care of this for you.) You can’t just call up Amazon and say, “Hey! I’m having an event, you’d better stock up with books.”

There’s no one to call on Amazon, or there wasn’t back when I did the Bestseller Party. You have to go on line, find the place on their website to contact customer service.

Having found the place to ask for help, you make a request, “Yoo-hoo––we’re having this little sales event and think we’re going to sell a truckload of books. Could you, maybe send us a shipping order for a few? Like 500? Or 20?” They will respond in (their) good time, assign you a case number, and, if you’re lucky, authorize you to ship.

You CAN’T send books to Amazon without their issuing an order.

We delayed asking Amazon to send us a shipping order because we found out that if we didn’t sell them, Amazon would ship the books back to our warehouse at our expense, eating our profit. I asked Irene Watson of ReaderViews how many books her previous “parties” had sold. Quite a range. My husband and I stewed over it. How many books would we sell? We had no idea.

Four days before the party, my husband (Barry) exclaimed, “Oh, shoot! I forgot to ask Amazon for a shipping order.

“What?!” Things were already tense between us.

I’d asked him to make a few calls to potential sponsors for me. I needed  help. I know my husband could sell ice to penguins if he wanted to. But he couldn’t figure out the simple process for approaching and obtaining sponsors that I had outlined for him.

“When do they get their webmasters involved?” he asked. “Is it after sending the glossy head shots?”

We went over the sponsor contact process several times, including me sending him the infamous email I’d sent to sponsors telling them what I needed from them. (This email that caused several potential sponsors to disappear forever.) Despite my coaching, Barry was flummoxed by the whole process and couldn’t explain what to do to anyone.

Fortunately, none of the people I asked him to contact called back, so he was safe.

Now, we were approaching THE DAY and Amazon just had a few books on hand. Barry made a snap decision, estimating how many we’d sell, and contacted Amazon.

“I think you’ll sell … really a lot!” Barry said. I felt very good about the number he selected: It was a positive-thinking, very large number. Showed he had confidence in me. The timing was tight, but our totally-on-the-ball warehouse could ship the minute we got the order from Amazon.

“If the books aren’t in stock, Amazon won’t fill orders,” my girlfriend said, being helpful. “They won’t, really.”

By this time, it was two days before the event. We hadn’t heard from Amazon. Barry sent more emails. I sent one that should have blown out the windows anywhere it was received.

“How many books do we have with Amazon now, Barry?” I asked.

“Thirteen.” We had thirteen books to fuel my Amazon day, the day that had me blubbering at my computer in exhaustion.

The night that this went down, I dragged myself up to bed, knowing that I’d done it. A few more details to polish off, like figuring out how to use  ConstantContact & buffing up my mailing list, writing a few letters, but I’d done it. The gift list looked killer. (Just take a look at that puppy! [22011 It's been taken down now, alas.]) I’d touched bases with every social networking site known, posted and pitched and announced. I had a profile page everywhere.

I looked and felt like death, but knew I would feel better after a shower.

Barry came bounding up the stairs, huge intellect flaming, mental cogs turning. He’d just done a financial analysis. “If we sell all the books we want to ship to Amazon (at the piddly profit we make per book) and pay our expenses (ReaderViews’ fees among them), we’ll make $350.” He glared at me, as though it was my fault.

I snapped. I did more than snap, I roared. Marital tip: Never bring up money issues at night. Before my husband’s careful analysis, I had a general idea that the monetary aspects of my enterprise would not be the reward. But I had no idea …

THEN THE DAY WAS UPON US.

When I saw Irene’s email, I sent out a frantic note to my sponsors, saying, “Hi, this is Sandy Nathan. I wrote you a while ago about my Amazon Bestseller day and then sent you a reminder yesterday. Remember?  Did you send out emails to your list? Uh––if you didn’t, could you maybe do it now? Because …”

“Did you send your notice of my Amazon Day to your email list as you agreed to do?” is a question with a yes or no answer. “Yes I did,” or “No, I didn’t, but I will right now.”

“WOW, SANDY, WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY IS JUST THE START. YOU’VE GOT SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO. THINGS ARE REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN NOW. I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU. CONGRATULATIONS!” is not an acceptable answer to my question. I got several responses like that from my big sponsors, or no response at all.

I had some big names among my sponsors and I don’t know how many of them actually sent the invitations to my party to their humongous mailing lists. Why should they? They didn’t know me from squat. There was was no reason for them to do anything for me, and I had no power to enforce their compliance. I’ll never find out what really happened, either.

My sponsors who were friends responded, “Yes, I mailed my list.” One responded with, “Omigod, I think my email servers’ messed up.” She redid her list, changed servers, and sent her request again. A couple of sponsors did double mailings for me. That was very sweet and felt supportive. I’m very grateful to my friends and I’ll support them, any time.

I was thrilled to see Stepping Off the Edge leap from Amazon’s frozen sub-basement, the 2,000,000th level in sales to the astonishing 44,000th level. This was right around 11 AM, at which time I was frantically trying to find out if my sponsors had done what they said they would.

I watched Stepping‘s sales ranking all day. It peaked at 44,000, then dropped, hovering around the 48,000th level, before heading southward fast. Never came anywhere near being a bestseller or even an OK seller.

Irene Watson of ReaderViews was very sympathetic and suggested that we let the launch run another day. She had another Amazon Day for another author the next day and didn’t want to bombard her mailing list of over 10,000 with too many emails, so she didn’t resend the invitation to my Day to her list. But we left the offer up another day. It might still be there, for all I know. It is! As of this writing, ReaderViews still has my page up!

HOW DID WE DO AT THE END OF THE DAY? No clue. You have to wait for the next day for the Amazon Advantage and Associates stats to appear on line.

For a really long time, it looked like we sold 1 book. ONE BOOK! Was I shocked? No, hysterical, as in laughing out loud. I couldn’t imagine doing that badly. At that point, I was excited having the WORST Amazon Day in history. If I was going to fail, might as well FAIL BIG!

Turned out that we sold TWO (2) books through Amazon.

Not a happy day.

Not a happy day. Though this photo doesn't relate to my Amazon Day. If you look carefully, you will see that I'm reading Elvis Presley's biography. Now that's a sad tale.

And it was a good thing, because AMAZON NEVER RESPONDED TO OUR REQUEST FOR A PURCHASE ORDER ALLOWING US TO SHIP BOOKS TO THEM. If we’d sold more than 13 books, we’d be up a creek.

[When the stats shook out it turned out we also sold 11 books through our Amazon Associate account, from which we get a few pennies per book. The 11 books came from Amazon resellers, not from Amazon.  (You know who the resellers are, yes? They are the people who offer books Amazon is selling for $12.99 for 35 cents. Resellers get their books in many ways, that's a later blog post. The bottom line of sales through resellers for the publisher and the author is: "So sorry, babe. You get nuthin'.")

I had worked full-bore for weeks and made less money than our handyman does shoveling manure for five minutes.

How about the increase in the number of names on my mailing list that is part of the allure of the Amazon Bestseller Day? Uh. I lost four names and got reported as spam once. Turned out some of my neighbors from the subdivision roster that I added to my email list wouldn't recognize me in the grocery story and didn't want to know my news.

A few other oddities: So we sold 13 books. That means we'd expect 13 downloads of each of the prizes. The gift download page was password protected and depended upon folks not only giving their Amazon receipt number, but also signing up for my newsletter.

So how come the e-book of a major on-line book publicist was downloaded 97 times? Another big name's gift was downloaded 47 times?

I was outraged. What kind of people break in and steal something that's FREE? Who rips off writers? We're notoriously the poorest paid people in the world. I railed about the condition of society and human nature, until one of our computer expert friends said, "You can Google those pages and download the stuff. Anyone can get those prizes if they're on the 'net."  Oh.

This was not a happy time.

What do you win at the end of the day?

What do you win at the end of the day? I started this blog with a story about horse shows and winning. I really like to win. When is a loss a win? When you reframe the situation so you WIN. Because of the search engine dominance I've attained by blogging about my Day, this was a big win. I want to thank you, my readers, for taking this walk with me. To date, YourShelfLife.com has had more than 15,000 requests for pages. Not bad for an infant a few months old.

It does have an up side. Please do a Google search. Search for: Amazon Best Seller Day, Amazon Bestseller Day, or even Amazon Bestseller Day Randy Gilbert. As of this writing, my name and these articles dominate those searches. This series of blog articles shows up all over the first search pages, and back, for pages and pages.

This series will have impact long after the top Amazon Bestseller Day ever is forgotten.

In the next article, I’ll answer the question: Would I do it again?

We’ll do a post-mortem and talk about what worked and what didn’t. What did I learn? There are some gems from this.

So long, compadres!

SANDY NATHAN

SERIES INDEX:
Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game recap

2011 UPDATE:

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Winner of seventeen national awards

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

And look here, everyone. This is what I look like now (2011).


I went from the babe up above, to a gray-haired lady. Yes, the Bestseller Day made me go gray! (Along with about 19 years. I’m 47 up above. Do the math for now.

5 Responses to “Amazon Bestseller Best Seller Day- THE DAY! HOW DID I DO? Part 7”

  1. Chris Moran says:

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. I still don’t forget the very first moment I heard an Elvis Presley tune I was 6 years old. I did not know that he had already passed away until finally my mom and dad informed me. Even now even though I’m 35 I still appreciate listening to him sing. He had such a lovely voice.

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