Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kill&Cure - An Amazing Success Story

A book that I’ve been watching for some time entered the Amazon Kindle Top 10 last night – Kill&Cure by Stephen Davison.

I spend quite a lot of time watching how books move up and down the charts and one thing I’ve learned is that in the UK it’s not the quality of the book that is the determining factor in how well it sells. That’s not to say that Kill&Cure isn’t a well-written book – it absolutely is and I’m sure that Stephen has a great future as a writer.

But it isn’t the quality of the writing that is behind Kill&Cure’s success on the Kindle since he put it up eight months ago.

It was one of the Indie books that suffered when three established publishers slashed their prices on the UK Kindle to £1 as part of their Twelve Days Of Christmas promotion. I watched Kill&Cure get pushed out of the Top 50 along with most of the other Indie books. It was only when the promotion ended on January 6 that Kill&Cure started to rise back up the charts.

But the fascinating thing to me was the way that Kill&Cure moved up much faster than the other Indie books. I wondered why so I got in touch with Stephen to see if he had done anything to account for the sudden rise. (I do that a lot. If I see a book doing especially well, or badly, I often contact the writer to find out what’s happening!)

You know what Stephen had done? Nothing. Not a darn thing. Kill&Cure had shot up the charts with absolutely no marketing or PR input, not a single forum posting. The book did it by itself. Other Indie writers have been out pushing themselves on the various UK forums and while most are making some ground now that the Twelve Days Of Christmas promotion is over, none are matching the success of Kill&Cure. And it’s worth noting that Kill&Cure is also doing very well in the US, it’s Number 1 in medical thrillers and Number 305 in the US Kindle store. It’s doing way better than my books in the States!

So why is Kill&Cure doing so well? It’s party the price. It’s a bargain at 72p (99 cents). It’s partly the title and the cover, there’s no doubt about that. The book has one of the best titles I’ve ever seen and the cover is perfect for the Kindle. Covers are vital and I’ll be covering (no pun intended) them down the line. The book has good reviews, but they’re not all glowing, and that is actually an advantage as it shows that the book is being reviewed by real people and not just friends and relatives.

But I think the biggest advantage Kill&Cure has is the way that it has slotted into the Amazon recommendation system. Buy one of my books and Amazon will recommend that you buy Kill&Cure. And vice versa. In fact, if you buy many of the current bestsellers, Kill&Cure will be recommended to you. One of the huge disadvantages of the Twelve Days Of Christmas promotion was the way that Indies weren’t selected in to the automated recommendations. If you bought one of the special £1 books, the only books that were recommended were other books in the promotion. Though if you bought the £1 book of Lee Child-edited stories then you would have been offered other Lee Child books! So when the buying frenzy was going on over the twelve days, Indies weren’t being pushed. That’s one of the reasons they all fell so dramatically. My books The Basement and Once Bitten were the only Indie books to remain in the Top 10. Why? Because I knew what was going to happen and had planned accordingly. And I think that Kill&Cure has gained by being associated with my books. As mine continue to sell, Kill&Cure is pulled along with them.

Kill&Cure is a fascinating case study because its situation is so dissimilar to my own. Stephen has only the one book and he isn’t (yet) a professional writer. He had no fan base before he started on Kindle, and doesn’t do much in the way of self-promotion. But there are things that he has done that almost guaranteed him a place in the bestseller chart. Part of that is the way that book is written – but to uncover that secret you’re going to have to buy it and read it!

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that Stephen's books get a few rather downbeat reviews - overcomplicated, too many characters. But he gets more complimentary reviews, and it shows that honest, bad reviews don't seem to hurt sales too much.

    Also interesting that it climbed up the bestsellers list with no promotion. Maybe the fact that it's been around on Amazon for a while helped?

    Love the blog, Stephen.