At the Mercy of the Algorithm [16JUN2020]

“The Algorithm” is a wonderful catchall for anytime I don’t know how things work on the internet. It’s sort of a meme at this point to blame it for anything that goes wrong online, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure it’s the entire reason I’ve found any level of success with my writing. When Volume 1 first went live on Amazon, I was surprised that I sold even a single copy to someone I didn’t know; watching it sell a copy or two every day while I struggled to get the paperback formatting finished was pretty exciting! Once the physical edition was live, I purchased some ads through Amazon to try and promote it, and unsurprisingly, more people started to find my writing after that! The ad campaign didn’t end up making money in the end (if I’m reading the graphs right, I think it cost me more to run it than I made in sales), but I think it planted the seeds within the Amazon algorithm.

Fast forward one month: it’s Easter Sunday, and my ad campaign is about to end. Three days before the budget runs out, I sell two and a half times more eBooks than I ever had before. The day after that, it spikes to 3x sales. The day after that, my ad campaign ends, and the sales continue to hold steady at double what I had been selling before. I did absolutely nothing to force it, but the algorithm had seen fit to bless me. As those sales continued, the pages read through Kindle Unlimited increased in turn, and I had a great month and a half streak (at least, I think I did. I don’t have any numbers to compare it to, but they seem crazy to me). At my peak, Volume 1 was #19 on the best selling “Fantasy Adventure eBooks”, beating the likes of Game of Thrones and the Witcher (I still find this hard to believe, but it’s what Amazon says, and the internet has never been wrong). I’ve since returned to a ‘respectable’ average, higher than where I had been before the spike, but not nearly as hot.

The algorithm saw fit to grace me with its presence a second time, much more recently. To anybody who follows me on Royal Road, you may have noticed that I recently had a severe uptick in views on the project; this influx of readers came three chapters before the finale of Volume 1, seemingly out of nowhere. I had been gaining 4-5 followers whenever a chapter dropped up until that point, and was sitting somewhere around 75-80 when chapter 17 came out. Suddenly, I was gaining 10 followers a day, even when new chapters weren’t going up. This spike in traffic pushed the book to the front page “Trending” tab, which increased visibility even more. As of now, I’ve gained 400 followers since that spike. I think the flood is slowing again, but it’s been a wild ride.

Those new eyes brought plenty of reviews, many of which were quite angry by the time Volume 1 wrapped up (again: I get it). Whereas I usually got two or three comments per chapter from familiar usernames, I was suddenly buried in comments, ranging from “thanks for the chapter!” to “I hope your main character kills himself so he stops torturing us, your readers”. Certainly two unique trains of thought there! The reviews have averaged out to about where my ratings are on every other website (3.75-4.00 out of 5), so I can’t complain too hard. It makes sense if you look at it like the unique system it is: my book exists among tens of thousands of others on Royal Road, all available for free. The people reading it based on the tags and description most likely read a lot of fiction in that vein, and as such already know what they’re looking for and what tropes they’ll encounter. It follows that they’ll probably have some strong opinions on the matter.

All of this rambling has a purpose, and it’s these two points. 1: To anybody who’s reading this that found me from Royal Road, I really appreciate your support! I had originally been in the comments responding to the familiar users, but I can’t do that anymore (both for my mental health and for the vast number of people commenting). I hope nobody feels ignored, but I feel like this is how I have to proceed. The last of the three preview chapters for Volume 2 comes out tomorrow, and I hope you all enjoy it! 2: I feel as though I’ve been extremely lucky with the success I’ve found with my book so far, and it’s been a constant invigorating force in continuing my work on the project. I’m not sure if I was blessed by the machine learning Gods, or if small factors I can’t notice all added up to the surges in popularity, but whatever the case, I certainly appreciate it!

Now, update time! Volume 3 is moving along much faster than I would have expected! This is mostly due to a combination of having more free time to write lately, and the fact that I’ve been planning this particular section for a while and am excited to get it written down. As of today I have crossed the 7,000 word mark, which puts me pretty close to 1,000 words a day. I think that’s about double what my usual pace works out to be (I aim for 250 per night, but get a lot of extra writing done on Friday and Saturday nights that bumps me up to around 500/day). I certainly don’t have any plans to slow down, so expect more progress soon.

This ended up being a much longer post than I had planned, but that’s usually how it works. One final bit of news, and then I’ll leave you: I won a raffle on Twitter recently from one of the many artists that I follow, and will soon have another art piece of the lovely Amaya. Whenever it’s done, I’ll make sure to post it on my Twitter, as well as the artwork page on here. Until then, stay safe out there, and as always, thanks for reading!

~Adam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: