What Exactly is an Amazon Rush?

I’ve talked about Amazon Rushes a few times, both on this blog and with various people. Quite often the first response I get is a blank stare. People know what Amazon is and they know what a rush is but put those two words together and you get confusion.

So what is an Amazon Rush anyway?

In its simplest terms, an Amazon Rush is an event held by an author where readers are encouraged to buy a copy or copies of a specific book on a specific day at a specific time (or during a period of time). It should also be mentioned that an Amazon Rush is a social media tool.

From that brief description several questions arise. The first and probably most obvious one is “Why?”.

In order to answer that question I should begin with some background. It goes something like this: writers who wish to have success as published authors need to sell books because if their sales are good enough they will get the opportunity to publish another book. In order to sell books an audience is needed. In the traditional publishing world this was accomplished through marketing and advertising efforts by the publisher and the author. Unfortunately, in today’s marketplace most books get little to no advertising or marketing budgets for traditional efforts.

That all being said, how does an author get the word out to get readers to purchase his or her book?

That’s where the social media element comes in. Authors need to spend time building an audience. This can be done through many (social media) efforts and some traditional ones. They can blog, they can post stories and they can podcast. Naturally, they can also meet people on the street, on the bus and at conventions too.

To continue, let’s talk about a typical (in this case, imaginary) author. For the sake of this exercise we’ll assume that our imaginary author has gained a respectable audience (say a few hundred people) and has been successful in signing a publishing deal. Their book has a release date but the publisher doesn’t have great distribution and doesn’t have much money to market the book.

That’s fine because the author has an audience already and the audience has shown a willingness to support the author. Chances are good that the author will sell a few hundred copies of the book over the course of several weeks or months.

The problem with that is steady but small sales don’t get anyone’s attention. At least they don’t get the attention of the big NY publishers or agents. Keep in mind that the general rule is: the bigger the publisher, the bigger the potential audience and the better the earning potential of a book.

So what should our imaginary author do to overcome this? How about an Amazon Rush? If all the author’s audience purchase a copy of the book on the same day at the same time it should (theoretically) shoot up the Amazon charts and then it WILL (again theoretically) be noticed by NY publishers and agents.

It also has the added advantage that books in the top of their respective categories will sometimes be picked up by those readers who pick up “trendy” books. If it is number 1 in Amazon Movers and Shakers, it must be worth buying, right?

So it’s all about making more money then, isn’t it?

Not really. In most of the rushes I’ve seen the author hasn’t sold enough books to pay back their entire royalty advance. It helps, certainly, but it doesn’t quite exceed it. The publisher also doesn’t stand to earn back their entire investment either. Amazon pays bottom dollar (something like 35% of cover) so the publisher is making back their investment and a little more. The money is often made in a book that sells well over a period of time.

So what is the point? A little recognition? What does that do?

Well, there have been some definite examples where authors have gone on to sign with bigger publishing houses because of their Amazon Rush success. I have also heard that agents and publishers are starting to sit up and notice Amazon Rush results.

Is it a guaranteed win? Not by a long shot, but you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket (as the saying goes). What’s the worst that can happen? You get bragging rights about how high your book actually got.

There is one factor that must be considered with Amazon Rushes. Do you have an existing audience? If you don’t, who will you ask to buy? It’s great if you can get your parents and siblings to each buy a copy and maybe include a few friends too, but will that really affect your numbers enough?

That’s where the time investment comes in to work and generate a following ahead of time.

Personal Update

Not much to report except for the completion of edits on my fantasy novel. Yup, 80,000 words worth of editing done over the holiday. Yay!


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