Alex hit 100 reviews on Amazon today, maintaining a 4.9 average to do so.  It's been an incredible week for reviews; I got six new ones, all five stars, and five of those were within a 24 hour period.  As has been the case for some time, I don't recognize any of the names and have no idea who the people are, but I know that a lot of my readers encourage the people they refer the book to to post a review, and I really appreciate it. : ) 

It's a huge milestone and one I never thought I'd hit with my first book.  It's humbling and inspiring (and, yeah, a little addicting) and makes me want to write more.

In other news...

I've been experimenting with price lately, and discovered some interesting results.  A number of self-published authors saw fantastic success pricing their books at 99 cents, and I'd never really given the price a fair shake, so at the end of June I resolved to post it at that price for a week.  The results were good, but not fantastic.  Alex's sales definitely jumped, but not enough to recover royalty-wise from the precipitous drop (at the $2.99 price point, I make 70% per sale, or $2.00; at $.99, I only make $.35 per sale).  The increase in sales rank was heartening, though, and I've even been back on the Horror best-seller list several times, peaking (so far, as of this morning) at #41. 

Friday I posted Alex's third Amazon promotion, listing it as free for a day, and had my most successful run at that yet.  2,300 units downloaded, #2 in Ghost, #6 in horror, and #121 overall (so close to the Kindle top 100!).  It's easy to get excited by those numbers, but what I really wanted to see was whether the sales bump that results from the free promo day combined with the effect of the lower price ($.99) to really bump sales.

It's too early to definitively say what the results will be, but so far they seem promising... I think.  Right now Alex is at #2,528 in overall ranking, which is by far the best rank it's ever had.  But here's the weird part.  I'm not seeing the sales volume that I would expect at that rank.  Yesterday I only moved a total of 10 books (not counting borrows) and overnight an additional 12.  I've hit that kind of volume before, pretty regularly, and it never broke me past rank ~4,500.

This is extra weird when you consider how the free promo day started.  I've posted two other free promo days and there were always at least 30-40 downloads by 7 or so in the morning.  This time there were zero at 7 AM, but even stranger - my sales rank on the "free" list at that time, despite selling zero books, was already up to ~5,000. 

My understanding from previous experience is that when you switch between Paid and Free, your sales rank resets (I know this, because it hurts to see Alex at a six-digit position).  So if it reset, how in the world could it have been at position 5,000 when I hadn't had a single download yet? 

Stranger yet is how the number started incrementing: in single digits.  Around 8:30 it moved from zero to 1.  Then maybe half an hour later it moved to 2.  Now, it's possible that I was just having a really slow start to a day that ended with over 1,800 downloads.  But combined with the wackiness of the sales rank, it felt like something was off. 

Something similar happened yesterday, when the promotion ended.  The price on Alex's product page was immediately updated back to $.99, but my free promo units volume continued to shoot upwards until early afternoon (finally stopping at the ~2,300 mark).  Again, my Paid sales rank appears severely out of step with the number of units I'm actually selling. 

So, there are a few possibilities here.  I have yet to Google the problem (and this whole post will probably become painfully irrelevant once I do), but it's always possible that Amazon as a whole is just having a bad few days, and you can really sell twenty-two $.99 books and get to sales rank 2500.  That seems unlikely to me, though.  The other possibility (one which my wife mentioned) is that different servers or processes handle the different numbers, and one of them is lagging or otherwise displaying older data.  I have noticed that the sales ranks, which typically update hourly, appear to be updating more like every 3-4 hours.  They are also acting wonky in other ways: despite the fact that Alex has been on the Horror best-seller list pretty much continuously for the last 60 hours, it has yet to show up on the Alex product page. 

Of course, I'm hopeful that it's actually the volumes that are lagging, because that means the sales rank is a predictor, and I'll see all the sales that generated my new sales rank sometime in the next few hours : )  Bottom line, it doesn't really matter, I suppose, as long as I can get accurate numbers somewhere along the line in order to gauge the effectiveness of the price point after a free promo day. 

Wow, that was a long post.  Hopefully these musings are useful to some self-pubbed authors out there somewhere. 

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