…must inevitably at some point come down.

And while THRONE has not yet crashed back down through the ranks to the hundred thousand mark where it once languished, I realized last night that it had stopped selling as breathlessly as it had been doing these past few days. Yesterday I moved only a third of the books that I had sold on each of the previous two days. I slipped from #244 to #492, and it looks like I will soon slip into the 500’s. Curious, I began to investigate. What had happened?

I think I now understand, and it’s tied to what propelled THRONE on its meteoric rise to begin with. See, people don’t come to Amazon for THRONE, intent on buying it from the get-go. I don’t have a plethora of good reviews from popular blogs driving traffic, nor am I a famous author. Instead, people discover me while browsing other books they like. I realized this when I first emerged from the 5 day free promotion bliss, blinking and dazed, and saw that THRONE’s ‘Others Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ recommendations included other incredibly popular sellers, most of which were in the top #100 paid Kindle list.

What had happened? My book had been downloaded 27,000, and during that time those same people had also bought a number of the top selling novels on Amazon. As such, my book had become associated with them, and after the promotion ended remained so linked. People then came to Amazon to buy a J.A. Konrath novel, and saw THRONE linked to on his book page. The result? I shot right up into the top ranks too.

So there I was last night, frowning and staring at the screen. I checked my ‘Others Who Bought…’ list, and saw that the same gang of books that I had become linked to were still there. Amazon’s associative algorithm had replaced the spy thrillers and lawyer novels with similar books of wonder and the supernatural, and over the past few days I had been cross-pollinating with a group of similar novels. Books that had all been in the top hundred sellers along with my own.

Digging a little deeper, I checked their book pages, and realized that THRONE was not being linked back to. It had disappeared from all their ‘Others Who Bought…’ lists. Gone. I sat back. What the hell? Then it dawned on me. All the guys who had been sending traffic my way had just put their books up for free. They were no doubt now enjoying massive amounts of downloads–but were now being associated with other free books that those same customers were downloading in bulk.

Links to my novel had been sending people to my book page in the hundreds, but these new downloads were taking place in the thousands, and THRONE had simply been overwhelmed. I was off the radar and consequently my sales had plummeted. Everybody had put their books up for free, and it was only the small handful that hadn’t that were still sending traffic my way.

So what have I learned? That the chances of becoming a best seller on Amazon are dependent on the same factors that govern your chances of becoming an astronaut. A best friend of mine had once seriously considered trying to become one, and had told me that to become an astronaut you need three things: world class skills and talents, political connections, and luck. Two out of three aren’t enough. Same goes for best selling novels on Amazon: you need a well written novel, associative links on other best selling book pages, and luck.

So what can I do now? Not much, really, but wait. These free promotions will end soon. The massive downloading for free books will come to a stop. People will go back to that old fashioned practice of buying their novels. At which point I can only hope that those cross-pollinating links will emerge once more, and bring traffic flooding back to my book page.

And in the meantime? Enjoy the fact that THRONE is still in the top #500, which, to be blunt, is absolutely bloody amazing.