End of the Amazon Rush?

The Amazon rush is dead. I don’t think we’ll see authors getting the same kind of lift from it going forward.

Chris Miller1 shared his thoughts on the Amazon Rush2 , and how they’re getting to be old hat.

I’m glad this discussion is happening, because it’s been on my mind, but I haven’t really taken the time to form any coherent thoughts. Other people have, so be sure to go and read the comments, even if you don’t care to read what I have to say.

I think folks who listen to podiobooks may be approaching a saturation point for this type of thing. Amongst the subset of those folks who are on twitter and follow their favorite podcast authors it’s even more likely. If that’s as far as the message is getting, then I think authors have to beware of fan burnout.

As a consumer who primarily listens to audiobooks, the product that I want has already been delivered to me for free. Now I’m exceptionally appreciative of that fact, which has led me to buy many of these book (which I have no intention of reading in print form) to support the authors. In the perfect world I’d be able to buy the audiobook versions, but so far that’s only been possible for Scott Sigler’s Infected3 .

But really I bought the books for selfish reasons. I want to see these authors succeed because I want them to keep producing content4 . I want to know what happens to Perry Dawsey and Keepsie Branson next. So while I can support these authors by spreading the word, writing reviews, or even just giving them money, I want to support their careers as writers, so they’ll keep writing. While I’m sure the love and adoration of their readers keep some of these folks going, I’m not sure it’s sustainable in the long term.

I have more to say about this, but I never intended to go on this long, so I’m going to let my thoughts roll around a bit more.

  1. Didn’t I just say he was everywhere? And note that his post was spawned by a comment from Kris Johnson. I’ve seen this before. These two may be working together in some capacity []
  2. “Amazon Rush” refers to a concerted effort by an author with an established fan-base to get into the Amazon charts by mobilizing said fan-base into purchasing their latest book all on the same day. []
  3. which is finally available from audible.com, although I was impatient and bought the CD version and converted it. []
  4. And being brutally honest there’s an even more selfish (and perhaps self-delusional) reason: If they can make it, maybe I can too. []

10 Comments

  1. [...] End of the Amazon Rush? at Jason Penney’s All the Billion Other Moments [...]

  2. Chris Miller says:

    I agree, Jason…I buy the books whenever possible for the same reason. I believe we need to support these authors. I have a hard copy of every podiobook that’s available in print right now, because I believe we need to support these folks. I strongly recommend others do the same.

    I would have bought them, with or without the Rush, but I may be in the minority about that. I’m glad that the Rush has served everyone well so far.

  3. Indiana Jim says:

    We have to stop seeing the rush as a “tactic,” and realize it is so far the best method for small press authors to not only sell their books, but also get their books in front of the eyes of new readers. This is the one thing that has the most power for our friends and podcasters, these small press authors, to fulfill their dream! How can we not support it?

    What’s the alternative? To NOT sell their books?

  4. [...] the dangers of the “Amazon rush”, I may have inadvertenly done more harm than good, for even now the tubes fill with comments from authors and statements issued by pundits. The demise of the [...]

  5. Jason Penney says:

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    @Chris Miller – I’m glad it’s worked out as well as it has too, and also that books from previous rushes seem to be getting bumps from the subsequent rushes (which I imagine can partly be attributed to the rushes “seeding” Amazon’s suggestions).

    @Indiana Jim – I tried to avoid the whole “tactic” part of the discussion. I never bought into the “let’s send XXX a message” idea, but if it helped the folks who tried that sell books, which means they’ll be able to publish more books that I’d want to read, then I’m not going to complain.

    But maybe these rushes do have a message to send to people asking if giving it away for free devalues a property.

  6. Kris Johnson says:

    This whole “Amazon Rush is dead/alive/undead” business has certainly generated some interesting conversation. The original question, which I asked of Matthew Wayne Selznick, has been answered many times over: Amazon rushes result in sales and rankings. It’s not a revolution; it’s not a “David and Goliath” situation, it’s just about bringing in revenue and increasing visibility.

    There’s nothing wrong with an author wanting either of those things and to suggest otherwise would betray a detachment from practicality, if not reality.

    As an author, it is in your best interest to do whatever you can to get your book in front of as many people as possible. Staging “Event Days” is certainly one way to do so, and it has proven effective for a number of people in the last year or so.

    As a fan, I’m burned out on it. Pure and simple. I can’t help but wonder why, if these rushes are not (as many have said) “not for the Twitterati”, my Twitter page turns into sixteen hours of “buy my/his/her book” frenzy every Event Day. If your target audience isn’t on Twitter, why is Twitter where the majority of the hype occurs?

    Whatever the answer to that question, it’s not going to change how authors (and their fans) use Twitter. It’s cheap (free, if you don’t count your time investment) marketing and it seems to be working. So the solution for me is pretty simple: buy my copy of the book on Event Day and then step away from the social network for the next twelve hours or so. Once the rush is over, I can come out of my cave and resume an actual conversation or two.

    This may seem like sour grapes to some, but I’d ask this question: is there anything wrong with wanting to fast-forward through commercials for products you’ve already purchased? I hope not.

  7. Any good marketing idea never ends…it merely evolves.

  8. Originally Posted By Chris MillerI agree, Jason…I buy the books whenever possible for the same reason. I believe we need to support these authors. I have a hard copy of every podiobook that’s available in print right now, because I believe we need to support these folks. I strongly recommend others do the same.

    I would have bought them, with or without the Rush, but I may be in the minority about that. I’m glad that the Rush has served everyone well so far.

    *cough* I hope you meant to say you have a hard copy of every podiobook you’ve listened to that’s in print, or every podiobook that did the Rush, or … I don’t know, but you haven’t bought MY books, two of which are on Podiobooks, and all of which I hope to have on Podiobooks just as quickly as I can record them and get them out there.

    Marketing, along with getting into the “in crowd” and noticed by the “Twitteratti”, has not been my strong suit. Not to mention that my books were in print before I came to Podiobooks.com, so the “release day rush” wouldn’t have been an option anyway. But I see myself as in this for the long haul, and I know I’m at the beginning of the build-an-audience curve, so I’m trying to approach the situation from a big-picture perspective. How an author can continue to sell books for months, years, even decades after they first hit is going to be a central question of the print-on-demand means nothing goes out of print future, and I think that was a big part of what the original post was trying to address. I think central to the answer is working hard at it for a long time: both on continuing to put out new work and on getting the word out in any way you think will work so you can build and retain a loyal audience.

    Not just one book on one day (although that’s clearly something that helps in a lot of ways), but whatever you put out there for the rest of your career.

  9. Jason Penney says:

    Wow,

    This is certainly the most comments a post of mine has generated in some time. Thanks to everyone for keeping this going. Beside the posts referenced here, and the trackbacks, Indiana Jim has a number of posts with great discussions (the latest is here).

    @Kris Johnson – Thanks for illustrating my point as far as fan burnout goes.

    Also, big thanks for sharing your perspective on the twitter aspect. There are a lot of things (although thankfully less now) that seem to “clutter” up twitter, but I’ve never seen the book launch updates that way. It’s obvious that they are just noise to a lot of folks, but for some reason I enjoy them (it may be who I’m following). I’ll admit that one of the rush books ended up in my amazon cart when I got caught up in the excitement from twitter, so it seems to be a tough balance (not alienating those who already bought the book and are sick of hearing about it while still reaching as many people as possible).

    Was the Brave Men Run launch any better about this for having it’s own chat room? I seem to remember @mwsmedia only posting occasional twitter updates.

    @Teel McClanahan III – I can’t speak for Chris, but I haven’t yet bought or listened to any of your books (but they are on my radar).

    You definitely are coming at this from a different perspective. I think possibly a lot of the “rush” in the Amazon Rush is from folks who were first exposed to these stories in such a way that they could not get the whole thing, and had to wait. Perhaps buying a copy with the whole thing in one shot is some sort of payoff. I also think there’s a (potentially fictional) scarcity in these cases that drives people to get it now, before it’s too late. Is that something you negate by mentioning that your titles will be available forever? I don’t know.

  10. @Jason Penney – I certainly can’t disagree that I’m coming at this from a different perspective. To a certain extent, this is intentional, but in other ways it’s just because I’m relatively new to the podcast audiobooks scene. In the realm of GMTA, I had decided more than a year before I discovered Podiobooks.com that I wanted to record audio versions of all my books (past and future) and offer them both on CDs and as podcasts – it’s something that makes a lot of sense, I think. I actually discovered that other people were already doing it while researching what I would need to know to do it myself – and then I had to adjust my plans and thinking a bit.

    Which takes us off the topic of the Amazon Rush. Which, in the original context has meant -I think- the particular tactics (a lot of twitter, in part) with the particular audience (there is a lot of overlap in the audiences of the podcast-to-print authors whose pushes were this summer) to push sales on a particular site (amazon) … but this isn’t a new idea and it isn’t one that’s going anywhere and it isn’t the end-all, be-all of a book’s sales. Outside of this narrow context, it’s just the idea of getting people excited about and aware of a book’s release date. It works for huge authors like J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and Stephen King, and it also makes an impact all the way down the line to *us little guys* — if we do it right. Yes, it is about scarcity – before release the p-book is not available – and that’s a big part of why the release-date-push works. There’s something -an unreleased book- that people can’t have, and as we all know, people want what they can’t have, just because they can’t, so when release date comes they have this pre-created desire for a previously unattainable thing that now, on this day, is available, and they order it! (And yes, apparently a lot of these people, having already “read” the story as a podcast, don’t ever crack the book – that, I think, is a problem of consumerist society, the buying things we don’t need and won’t use.) And the being a part of something big (which they’re encouraged to brag about, ie: spread the word) and the being able to overcome a previously insurmountable obstacle (scarcity) and maybe even a little bit of wanting to support the creator (?) is what they really want from the transaction, more than a book they’ve already effectively read. All of which seems fine by me.

    I think you really got to the heart of it in your post, though, that it’s about doing what you can as a reader to support the authors’ career; whether that means buying the book on release day, on some later day, or donating via Podiobooks/equivalent, and then doing what you can to spread the word and grow the audience.