I’ve been thinking about the first job I held after my college graduation. From 1989 to 1995, I worked in the sales department at Elektra Records. One of my duties was to compile a daily report on our current releases of how many units (compact discs, cassettes, vinyl!) of each shipped from our warehouses. Every morning I’d go to the data center to pick up a huge computer printout that listed the one day, five-day, ten-day, and total-to-date figures. I’d put the report together and distribute it to the “bosses.” I would also track how concerts by our artists and major advertising campaigns affected sales. It was always interesting to see the impact of promotional events on an album’s success.
All these years later, here I am with my own product to promote. I’ll have to wait until the end of May, after All Things Murder has been released, to see its initial sales figures. I have, though, been checking its ranking on Amazon.com. The rankings on the website are updated hourly (for books in the top 100,000) or daily (for all the other books they offer for sale). I can view the book’s ranking among all books offered on the site, in relation to Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense novels, or in the more narrow Mystery category. It is interesting to see that the sale of just one or two copies can catapult a book up thousands of spots. All Things Murder has enjoyed several of these surges, as you can see in the below graph. It does slightly resemble an electrocardiogram, doesn’t it?
I’ve noted with interest that the bounces have corresponded with “milestones” along the book’s road to publication. The first uptick came at the beginning of January. I attribute this to my friends I hear from once a year, at Christmas. I included with my holiday cards a copy of the book’s cover and a note of the May release. I’m grateful to the kind souls who weren’t too weary, or broke, from gift shopping to make one more purchase. The next surge, and remember it takes just one or two sales, for All Things Murder came following the release of the Publishers Weekly review. The book enjoyed another bounce when its Goodreads giveaway contest ended on April 17. A week later the ranking took a small jump again. This was in response to a postcard mailing I started on April 21. I’m hopeful there will be more bounces in the upcoming days. I anticipate a review from Library Journal this week and reviews on websites devoted to cozy mysteries closer to the May 21 release date. I will be guest posting on a few sites at the end of May and the beginning of June. There’s also a book signing in the pipeline. My fingers are crossed that I will persuade a good number of readers to add All Things Murder to their summer reading list. It’s a great beach read, really! Or take it to your mountain destination. It is set in the Adirondacks.
The challenge is to keep the momentum of the debut rolling into the summer and autumn. I can’t rely on word-of-mouth alone. I can do local events and I have a couple of ideas for promotion during the holidays, but that’s a long way off. Another postcard mailing mid-summer with updated information on the book’s progress? Advertising on Goodreads and some of the cozy websites? Does anyone have a good idea or two?
I hope you all have a terrific week. Can you believe the beautiful daffodils are already fading?