Needles, Daily Deals and Stephen King

I began today with a needle in my arm.

I really, really don't like needles. And rest assured that the one in my arm this morning was not there for any kind of pleasure, but to steal some blood from my body, which likes its blood very much. The needle was supposed to be there last Thursday... but I put it off until Friday, at which point I procrastinated and – oh, okay, I chickened out, which gave me the entire weekend to mentally prepare for this morning, when the fearsome needle went into my arm, made off with some blood, and went on about its business without wasting much of my time at all. 

I don't know about you, but a) imagining the needle really, really sucks, and b) the needle itself actually really, really sucks, and hurts quite a bit more than I'd like, and c) afterward you just sit there and think about how a needle just stabbed you, so the entire experience just echoes around in your brain for awhile. 

It's been 16 hours since the needle and I'm still thinking about the needle. 

My daughter may have inherited this from me, too. She handles needles like a champ when she's at the doctor, and they give her a cute little Band-Aid to wear, but later when she sees the Band-Aid it's the equivalent of a flashback trigger, and she seems to feel the needle all over again, and she cries. 

Which has pretty much been my day.

This is going to be a long blog post. I really didn't even plan on talking about needles. 

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or you subscribe to my newsletter, then chances are you noticed that something pretty big happened last week. On Thursday the 13th, Greatfall was selected as one of Amazon's Kindle Daily Deals. The Daily Deal is a great thing for readers – for 24 hours, a product is discounted steeply, and sometimes more than one is. With ebooks, there are several every day, and sometimes they're really cheap. Sometimes they're free. 

For an author, a Kindle Daily Deal means that your book is about to be seen by thousands and thousands of people who otherwise might never have stumbled upon it. That's what happened with Greatfall. Amazon ranks books according to popularity and sales, and last Wednesday, Greatfall was something like the 19,000th most popular book on Amazon.com. That might not seem all that great, but that's pretty good, considering that there are millions of books out there. At midnight, however, Amazon announced the Daily Deals for Thursday, and things started to change. 

I didn't know the Daily Deal was happening until a reader mentioned it on Twitter. The next 36 hours – the day of the Daily Deal, and the twelve-hour come-down afterward – was exciting and wonderful to watch. Greatfall did exceptionally well, at least judging by the bestseller ranks. Remember that 19,000-or-so number? 

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That's a snapshot of Greatfall's bestseller rank not too long before it peaked. It eventually went as high as #59 in the entire Amazon bookstore. It was the #2 book in the entire Science Fiction category, the #1 book in the Dystopian category, and the #1 book in Kindle Worlds. 

Along with the book's climb into the top 100 lists, my own author rank began to rise. Now, I don't really understand Amazon's author ranking system, but essentially it's there to tell you who the most popular authors are on Amazon at that exact moment in time. Prior to the Kindle Daily Deal, I was only moderately popular – I was maybe the 85th-most-popular science fiction author, or something like that. But during the Daily Deal hubbub, I went a lot higher:

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That just looks like a lot of numbers, though, without context. See the first one? #7 in the Science Fiction subcategory? Here's what that list looks like when you squint:

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That's me, snarking it up at #7. You can see Hugh Howey and A.G. Riddle up there at #4 and #3, respectively. The first two positions, which you can't see in this image, belong to Orson Scott Card (#1) and George R.R. Martin (#2). 

But the author rank I most got a kick out of seeing – the one that made my day in an instant – was the #17 ranking in Science Fiction & Fantasy. Here's what that looks like:

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Can you believe that? That's me, looking entirely unserious and altogether fraudulent, hanging out on a popular authors list just below Stephen Edwin King, the man most responsible for my wanting to, you know, write books. 

So naturally I completely lost my cool when I saw this a little while later:

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For a brief moment in the history of the universe and Amazon.com, my little horror novel made me a more popular author than Stephen King.

Of course, that's not a lasting or even remotely true thing, but it was a really fun thing to see anyway. Sort of like posing for a photo next to a cardboard cutout of President Obama, then telling all of your friends that it's the real deal. 

All in all, watching Greatfall stage a micro-assault on the top 100 lists was really amazing. Even more amazing was the flood of congratulations and pats on the back from readers, some of whom helped document the climb with screenshots and emails. 

Now, because Greatfall is part of Kindle Worlds, and Kindle Worlds only reports its sales numbers at the end of the following month, I won't actually know how well the book performed until the end of March, when the February numbers are released. But that's okay – I can wait. It really doesn't matter how many copies it sold. What matters more to me is that readers really got behind it, and that word spread in a big way. I couldn't be happier.

As of now, Greatfall is full-price again, but it's descending in the ranks a little slower than I had expected. Remember that 19,000-and-change number? Here's where Greatfall is right now:

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Which is some 16,000 ranks higher than it was last week. Which means people are still buying more copies, and hopefully enjoying them.

And as for me – well, I got to rub digital elbows with Stephen King, but I'm not crying that it's over. I'm hanging out with a certain Mr. Brooks now, just enjoying being a part of the show:

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Thanks to everybody who picked up a copy of the book during its fabulous run, and to everyone else who wrote excited emails and tweets and cheered Greatfall on. You're all the best!