Thoughts on a Sales Spike

Apples by msr from FlickrOn October 7th a new ad went live for one week for Probability Angels. I would link to the blog where the ad went live, but I can’t find it. It seems to have been taken down. I’ve emailed the owner and am trying to figure that out.

At any rate, on Sunday the 7th the ad went live and when I checked sales on that Monday there was an impressive spike in my numbers. I should add here that this ad was solely for the Kindle version and the resulting sales have only shown up for that version so far.

So that’s my first bit of information. An ad directly caused a sales spike. I have yet to have this happen in any meaningful way, especially for an ad that was comparatively inexpensive. This is a pretty large bit of information considering the number of different ads I’ve attempted with flat sales as a result. It’s proof of concept for what, up till now, has only been a theoretical idea. An ad saying (basically) “Here is Probability Angels, here are some review quotes, click here to buy it,” resulted in just that.

The ad was a banner ad and I was charged for a week. I was not charged per click or for impression, as is done by many ad campaigns. No matter how many views or clicks I got, the ad stayed up and my original fee was all I paid. So that’s too, was, different.

Now it gets…annoying. Since the sales spike my numbers have flattened out again. This is to be expected. The question is, what are they flattening out into?

As I mentioned, the spike was pretty large. I was one of the Kindle’s top 250 authors in Horror that week. A somewhat hyper-specific title, but for someone who has existed in the ether for awhile as far as titles go, a very welcome one.

But was this spike large enough to impact sales after the ad was taken down?

I don’t know yet. Which, as I said, is annoying. But initial numbers make me want to say, yes. I have had almost as many sales since the spike flattened as I did during the spike itself. In other words, sales have flattened off, but not to their pre-spike levels. They’ve flattened off at a higher level. Instead of X number of sales a day, I have Y number of sales a day, and Y is decently larger than X.

This concept is oddly missing from so many blogs and marketing articles I read. It’s there in some, but not to the degree I’d expect.

This concept being: the spike isn’t what’s important; it’s where you return to post-spike.

Odds are, and certainly for the kind of campaign I am running for my work as a whole, I won’t have a constant stream of ads being shown. I have to pick and choose and so far, for paid ads, I have seen zero results.

Now, though, there’s this spike. Great. But if, after the spike, after the ad comes down, my sales return to exactly where they used to be, did I really accomplish anything?

I would argue no. Granted, with only a week or so having passed, I can’t really make that call. It takes people time to read a book and then, possibly, tell a friend or review it or pass it on or do any of the things that would foster a real growth in audience.

But let’s say a month passes and my sales are exactly what they were pre-spike. I’d say that wasn’t a spike, it was a fluke. And that does nothing for me.

And yet I see so many people chasing spikes instead of studying the baseline numbers. Spikes are nice and they’re important to chase but…

Apple fruit by Doug88888 from FlickrI mean, pretend you’re lost in the wilderness and you’re looking for apples. I don’t know why you need apples, not important, you just really have to get some apples. That’s your goal. So, naturally, you start looking for apple trees. I mean they’re easier to see, obviously, and they’re a great sign that apples might be around. And then you spot some apple trees. And you rejoice. And then you do nothing else.

The apple trees are spikes but the apples are really what’s important. You can’t swap out your goals like that, but a lot of people start to mix the two up. You have to then verify that they are indeed apple trees. You have to see if they’re poisoned…or something. And that they’re fruiting or…look I’m not a freaking apple farmer. The point is that the search for apple trees, the search for spikes, is only a temporary goal. You still have to find those apples. And a spike doesn’t mean you’ve widened your audience.


So that’s where my head’s been. Ludicrously high after the numbers came in during the ad campaign, and then every day after has been a sea of anxiety and overthinking things and queasily awaiting the next day’s numbers so I can try to verify if I have apples, or if I only found a dead apple tree.

It’s kind of annoying.

Sometimes I don’t think I really have the personality for this marketing thing…

Now, is anyone else have a weird craving for apples?