The Kindle Storyteller Award 2019 is a literary prize recognising outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing between 1st May and 31 August 2019. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts.

Perhaps if I was aware of this contest last year, I would have finished editing the three novels I have sitting in my drawer.

Fortunately, I’m 65% through the first major edit of my YA novel and should have it done within the next week.

Unfortunately, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the 3rd edit of my crime novel, and it requires annihilating 30,000 words.

I’ve got a third manuscript sitting at the bottom of the drawer and it’s been calling to me in recent days. I thought it wouldn’t see the light of day for years to come, but maybe I was wrong. It’s the first novel I wrote and I wrote it for myself. I don’t think it’s most people’s cup of tea, seeing as it’s more like a bad acid trip than a plot-driven novel. It’s a little fucked-up.

At least for the first two, rather than shop around my YA novel and re-shop my P.I. caper, maybe I’ll send them to the Storyteller instead.

That’s right, The Masq short story is three for three days on Amazon. The campaign runs from Sunday to Tuesday.

Specifically: Sunday, April 21, 2019, 12:00 AM PDT to Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 11:59 PM PDT.

It’s three-month stint in Kindle Unlimited will have run its course in May and I will not be re-enrolling it the program.

Instead, I will be putting the story up on other platforms, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, etc. (I’m still on the fence regarding Smashwords).

However, I’m not abandoning the Kindle Unlimited, and my upcoming novella The Humid will be available through Kindle Unlimited. It releases April 14 and is available for pre-order on Amazon. (The ebook can be pre-ordered, the paperback version cannot.)

With the publication of my first story, The Masq, my meteoric rise to the top has been nothing if not educational. Well, maybe that’s all it’s been.

Bestseller lists have received their fair share of criticism, and I’ve now seen firsthand how these Amazon Best Seller lists are ripe for abuse. They open the door for clickbait titles (like the one for this post), misleading book descriptions, and disingenuous author bios.

I’m not a bestseller. Maybe technically, but not really.

There are a number of variables at play, and they all impact Amazon’s bestseller lists.

Time

Whereas something like The New York Times bestseller lists aggregate weekly sales data from thousands of brick and mortar and online stores, Amazon updates their rankings hourly—from a single sales channel. This allows for “snapshot best sellers”, like when I sat at #1 for a couple hours. This was during the second day of my sale. It simply means for a very brief time (not enough to watch a single installment of The Lord of the Rings), more people bought my story than any other in the category.

Categories: Paid vs. Free

Amazon divides best seller lists into two main categories: Paid and Free. Obviously, as I was doing a two-day promotion giving the story away, it was in the Free column. But it was still listed as a bestseller. Seriously though, should it really be considered a best seller if you’re giving it away?

(The answer is no.)

More Categories: Genre

It’s common practice for bestseller lists to focus on genres. In their print edition, The New York Times has eight bestseller lists according to genre and format (hardcover, paperback, etc.). It has another six lists online. Amazon has 24 genre lists. When combined with Paid vs. Free, that makes 48 lists. That’s 48 potential new bestsellers every hour of the day, seven days a week.

Bestseller lists have always been an area of contention and criticism. Depending on the source, the can be more about marketing than actual sales.

Even that holiest of grails, The New York Times (which is not without its own controversies), has admitted it is not only possible, but rather common practice, for authors and publishers to game their system.

Strategic bulk or other purchases made by an author or an entity working on behalf of an author with the intention of skewing the lists happen with frequency.

It’s not only disingenuous, but patently absurd, for me to claim to have had a bestseller. Even though, Amazon would tend to disagree.

 

As I work on slicing and dicing 30,000 words from one novel, edit the first draft another novel, consider changing tense in my very first novel, and continue writing and submitting short stories to an ever-expanding list of periodicals, I figured why not dip my toe in the Amazon?

After all, it might be a nice change from the sea of rejections.

Using a complex calculus of variables, expressions, and operators,* I have devised a system in which to work Amazon into my submission process.

I plan to put up a few short stories and one novella over the next couple months.

Using short stories is also a good way to put pseudonym conundrum to the test.

First up is a 7,400 word speculative fiction story called The Masq.

 

* math terms I quickly looked up