Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

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Ryan
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Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Ryan » April 3rd, 2012, 6:12 pm

Wasn't sure where else to post this (like we NEVER go off track in a thread, right?) but I thought people might be curious. I was certainly curious. Ever wonder what those Amazon sales ranks mean in terms of actual numbers of ebooks sold? Every once in a while a writer will mention they were selling x books per day when they were #xx on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. Of course, it changes from day to day and involves a number of factors. But in general, in March, selling 35-40 copies a day would put an ebook right around #2000 overall in the Amazon paid kindle store. It's very likely that book would also appear in the Top 100 list for its genre.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

Margo
Found this post in the Squeeee News Thread--Procrastination Forum which by the way is a great thread. Toot your horn, give yourself a pat on the back, and virtual high-five other authors who are plowing ahead....

Anyways, Margo's post got me thinking. Say you drop the price of your ebook to one dollar and buy 40 books a day for 30 days. That would cost you $360 because you'd get your own money back in Royalty (70%). If it bumps your ranking up and drives some sales and puts you on the "map" then maybe it would be worth it. Call it marketing costs. It's not like faking a bunch of reviews....

A "New York Times Best Seller" doesn't actually mean hundreds of thousands of copies have sold to readers. It only means hundreds of thousands of hard copies were distributed to be sold and bookstores can still return them. Buying your own e-book to gain exposure would sort of be the same thing...I think. :?

Just turning some cogs in that bald head of mine. Once I get the iPad version of my book out then I'm kicking the marketing into full gear.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
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Hillsy
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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Hillsy » April 3rd, 2012, 7:06 pm

Depends on your definition of ethical.

There was a series of documentaries here in England a few years ago called "The Trap" (by adam curtis - very cool), which basically explores the concept of "targets" and the ways in which they free people to think independently while at the same time doing nothing of the sort. Anyways, there was a concept floated in there around Game Theory and mathmatical models and whatnot, that when given total freedom to achieve a target, humans default to selfishness, and therefore become predictable. The point that applies here is that, "does acting in your own self interest constitute an unethical action".

See the Amazon ranking system is just a cold, unfeeling target. The selfish method is to do something ingenious, as you suggest or giving it away for free or something else perfectly legal to "achieve the target". You've progressed your cause, target suceeded. The selfless (and some would argue stupid and counter productive) course of action would be to stick to the spirit of the "target" (In this case that a league table in an accurate correlation to quality/success) and risk failing said "target" by deliberately ignoring potentially beneficial course of action that arn't directly prohibited. In fact you could argue that by even recognising the Amazon ranking system as a benificial construct, you're already opting out of ethics completely.

So to summise: You'll likely end up applying game theory, which can play out as "I might as well do it, because someone else will and score higher on the target becasue of it." And at the end of the day - that's all they're measuring.

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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by MattLarkin » April 4th, 2012, 7:00 am

First, if your price is $1 you don't get 70% royalties. It's 35%, I think.

Second, I don't really think it's unethical, though I'm not sure it's all that productive. At that point, you may as well give it as a gift to random people. At least then more people have the chance to be exposed to it.
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Ryan
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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Ryan » April 5th, 2012, 2:10 am

Hillsy. I'd like to check out those documentaries. I'm a doc guy for sure.
Matt. You are right about the 35%. Lame idea but it sounded good for 24 hours. One has to have lame ideas to balance out the brilliant ones. Balance is the key to a healthy life. :)
Lots of other ideas brewing.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

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Mira
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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Mira » April 11th, 2012, 8:03 pm

Ryan, I think ideas brewing are a good thing! :)

I meant to respond to this thread earlier, sorry . This is a really interesting topic! I think alot of people are thinking this way.

First, in terms of sheer usefulness, Margo talks about selling 35-40 books daily. I'm not sure one book a day would make that much of a difference in terms of Amazon ranking.

But I have to say, if I were self-published, I'd be VERY tempted to look at tactics like this. Why not? It's a clever form of marketing. But.....I think there's a hidden danger, though. This may just be me, but In my experience, I can better access my inner writer if I'm feeling clear inside myself.

The part of me that thinks of tactics like this and my muse don't really connect. My muse needs a pretty clear channel in order to speak to me. So, I think the danger of tactics like this, although extremely tempting, is that they might not allow you to feel clear about your writing.

I don't know if that makes sense. I'm sort of thinking it through as I type.

Btw, for a absolutely hilarious , incredibly incisive and sort of scary take on what an author could go through in trying to promote check this "Diary of an Author" series out (I found this from a link on Sommer's blog):

http://meljeanbrook.com/blog/archives/6649

Good luck, Ryan! Lots of support for your adventure. :)

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Ryan
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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Ryan » April 12th, 2012, 12:40 am

The part of me that thinks of tactics like this and my muse don't really connect. My muse needs a pretty clear channel in order to speak to me. So, I think the danger of tactics like this, although extremely tempting, is that they might not allow you to feel clear about your writing
I think I get ya. Tactics like this seem like they should be reserved for "products" such as toilet bowl cleaner or skin products. Not for something as heartfelt and personal as a memoir.

I missed the daily thing. Still, a publisher with some coin could potentially do something like this and it would be a drop in the bucket as far as marketing money goes.

Writing a book takes a long time to write and so does getting the word out.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

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Mira
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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by Mira » April 12th, 2012, 5:30 pm

Ryan wrote: Not for something as heartfelt and personal as a memoir.
Yes, I think I agree.

In terms of publisher tactics, absolutely. You already see it in the reviews. I am positive that publishers hire people (or just ask their employees) to leave glowing reviews on their books.

I know that marketing and promotion suck. I think it's possible there are other ways - for example, Margo has said here before she's done little to promote, but mostly relies on having a volume of books available to the reader, plus pricing experimentation.

If it's not my imagination, you sound alittle tired. If I can offer a suggestion - it would be to not worry. Once you've e-published a book, it will be there forever, so there's no rush. Re-generate your energy by going back to writing for awhile, or just taking a break. You'll come back refreshed and with new eyes.

You got my support, Ryan! :)

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Re: Ranking Idea...Ethical or not?

Post by writersink » April 17th, 2012, 3:40 pm

Mira wrote: I am positive that publishers hire people (or just ask their employees) to leave glowing reviews on their books.
And that is why I could not do an advertising job. I would never have come up with that.

Now, google defines ethical as
Adjective:

1. Of or relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.
2. Morally correct.

Synonyms:
ethic - moral (Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong.)

I.e if it isn't against the law, and you feel okay with it, you are fine. I've heard of people doing it before. They didn't have a problem with it. I don't have a problem with it. If you want to buy x copies of your own book... why not? It isn't like you're forcing people to read your book/ lying/ something equally horrible. You're just trying to get it noticed.

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