Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Predicting Book Sales on Amazon

No, this is not an explanation of a special formula on how to forecast future sales on Amazon. In fact, I have no clue on how to predict anything on Amazon. This is a bit frustrating as the inability to forecast sales in a predictable manner makes it difficult to plan effective marketing/promotional strategies to drive sales on Amazon.

The quandary is in measuring sales as they relate to marketing efforts. Time might be the best ally in this process as over a period of several years, with careful record keeping, it might be possible to recognize trends in sales on Amazon for a specific title.

The sales of my own books have been maddeningly erratic. The only trend I have been able to track is one really good month will be followed by a horrible month in terms of sales. The other months level out and have a consistent level of sales. I have yet to be able to determine any connection with a single marketing strategy with a measurable boost in sales.

I have been able to see an overall average increase in sales since adopting Morris Rosenthal's strategy of providing free information, or content, to readers from my website. Since I have made the effort and invested the time to create and make available files with free content, there has been an overall increase in sales over time. But no sudden jump to pinpoint what free content drove sales so more content of a similar nature could be provided in an effort to generate more interest in my site and expose more potential customers to my books, thereby increasing sales.

I have also noticed that sales of my books are seasonal. Most of my books are about coaching basketball. Sales increase prior to the start of practice in the fall, level off and increase again late in the spring semester as coaches start to plan for the coming season the next school year. How to take advantage of these seasonal peaks is something I need to get a handle on.

Why all the mental worry about predicting sales on Amazon? In the words of the late great P.T. Barnum, "If you don't promote a terrible thing happens. Nothing." Like all self-publishing authors I want my books to sell. If they are going to sell, I am the one responsible to promote them. Since I am a one man shop and have a "real" job, my time is valuable. I need to spend my time and energy on marketing efforts that produce real results in terms of sales. 

For the foreseeable future I will still be collecting data on my monthly sales figures, keeping records of my marketing and promotional efforts and trying to see if there is a connection between the two, positive or negative, in terms of my Amazon sales.

I would love to hear from other self-publishing authors on this topic and would share any useful information that is brought to my attention. Comments can be posted on this blog or e-mail me at