Another month roars by, and sales of Amsterdam Rampant have spiked yet again…
My sales chart looks a bit like one of those upstart Chinese new cities – a row of fishing shacks mixed in with the skyscrapers. What’s the story behind September’s towering obelisk of 146 sales? I can’t say for sure, but it’s probably a combination of three factors.
Firstly, as mentioned in last month’s blog, I ran a Kindle Countdown promo which boosted sales at the beginning of September (76 sold in 3 days). Secondly, following the obligatory 2-week price freeze after my promo (price fixed at the £1.90 mark) I decided to cut the price below one pound to see if this boosted sales. Thirdly, at around the same time I started to realise that I was becoming part of a miniature scene.
Now, I should point out that this scene I’m involved in does not involve me dressing in fishnet tights and a rubber thong and playing volleyball in a basement nightclub (yes, I lived in Amsterdam too long). Sorry to disappoint you, but this scene is purely literary. Those of you who shop on Amazon will be familiar with the scroll-bar “Customers who bought this item also bought…” underneath the product description which helpfully lets you know that people who bought your beloved Barry Manilow Greatest Hits CD also purchased the Engelbert Humperdinck… Best Of.
Underneath Amsterdam Rampant, three British indie writers are prominent – Escobar Walker, Ryan Bracha, and Mark Wilson – and a bit further on, well-established big-sellers such as Irvine Welsh and John Niven. Click on Escobar’s book Bowling Ball (Glasgow’s rough n’ ready answer to Trainspotting) and you’ll see that his customers tend to buy Irvine Welsh books. Click on Irvine Welsh’s books and a few scrolls through the “Customers also bought…” and you will see Escobar, Ryan, Mark and myself.
So I have become part of a minor virtuous circle of Northern British cult fiction, where one sale pinballs into the next, up, left and back again. I dropped Ryan a note via Twitter and he had spotted a similar pattern. Following our entertaining Twitter chat I sold 9 ebooks in one day – a record outside of launch and promos.
Shortly after this, the Liverpudlian fanzine editor, blogger and counter-cultural revolutionary Phil Jones – a big fan of aforementioned Ryan Bracha – posted a generous review of Amsterdam Rampant on both Amazon and Goodreads and kindly recommended it to his Goodreads friends. I dropped Phil a note and another entertaining exchange was had. Sales have since edged upwards to average 5 per day.
I understand better now why the big monolithic publishing houses are so terrified of Amazon. It’s a little like the Catholic church and monasteries losing the monopoly on alcohol production during the reformation – suddenly all these creative revolutionaries are setting up illicit stills in their back yards and brewing the booze of the future. Or a little more recently (!) the rise of punk music in the late 1970s, when the big record labels were gorging themselves on traditional rock and sugary pop, and up came punk through the still waters like a ragged and bloody shark – stitched together in bedrooms and garages by the disenfranchised, but propelled forward by an energy of such force that it ripped a huge hole in the business model.
So, another amazing month. The brave and lonely followers of this blog know that I tend to finish each blog with a rambling and tortured metaphor on my latest experiences – so here goes.
When I first epublished Amsterdam Rampant, launching my novel on the internet felt like arriving in a dark and foreboding city late at night – spilling out of the train station into a rain-slicked street, traffic screaming by, intoxicated citizens arguing in the shadows, the sound of breaking bottles and the dull thud of techno all around. And standing at the empty taxi rank, my bag at my feet with everything I own inside – wondering if I will make it through the night unscathed.
Now I know the city is not so foreboding. Lights are flicking on in the skyscraper windows; the dingy bar-fronts hide welcoming interiors smelling of soup and freshly ground coffee; the citizens’ rowdiness is just an over-the-top friendliness. The trick is to step out into the traffic and stride across the road towards the heart of the hubbub.