Getting to C- Part 1.

What does it take to sell a product on today’s internet? I’ve decided to find out.

October 24, 2017:

The clock on the top right hand corner of my screen read, “Mon 22:10” when I hit command+V and then Send on a Skype call on October 23.

“So, what do you think?”, I was expecting all manner of praise, if I’m going to be brutally honest and, I’ve decided I’m going to be all kinds of brutally honest here, if it kills me. Well, metaphorically speaking, just so I’m clear.

I definitely don’t want anything to kill me, not now anyway; because you see, I’m on a mission! I intend to figure out what it takes to sell a product on today’s Internet. Last night’s call with an award-winning whiteboard animator left me with the depressing realization that the Facebook page I crafted, with an enthusiasm worthy of a puppy dog, didn’t quite cut it. There was better, FAR better and he proved it to me in about 5.5 seconds.

I went to bed at 1 am, my mind still roiling. I’m a technologist, I’ve managed the building of much product, I’ve sized markets and sold for my employers and clients, heck, I’ve done plenty of direct B-C sales in the past. How hard can this be, right? But, I’ve never sold anything over the Internet.

So, what’s it going to take? The gentleman I spoke with last night seems to think his animation is part of the solution. Is it?

Status- 19 units sold and counting…

Oct 26, 2017:

The bane of my book’s/my existence (the separation process between the two, if any, has not happened yet) can be seen in the lower right hand corner of this image:

The challenges of classification: how is Amazon calculating “similars”?

I’m like, really? Why is there a picture of a “Virgin” book showing up right next to the journey of a technologist I have literally poured my last brain cell into crafting and writing? One part of my brain rationalizes that hey, people like reading about sex, so maybe this is not a bad thing while the bigger part of my brain protests, “No! I want to know how this similars algorithm works, so I can do what needs to be done to really be stood next to my similars! My book is not about virgins, although I’ve got nothing personally against them.” There we go again, with fuzzy boundaries between creator and createe. Wait, is that a word? A book is not a person, hence it would be a creation.

Argh. I’m on it though and I’ll work on keyword descriptors next. Unless, one could argue that being next to sex fiction is a helpful thing for readers…and, there we go again!

Status: 21 units sold and counting…22, even as this story got saved!

Oct 27:

I have wrangled with Amazon tech for a few days now over little and big technical issues to which the book has been subjecting readers. I’ll set the context for what I’m about to say- this book is following a tech product innovation model. My minimum viable product encompasses what I believe is a great story I wish to tell; in a digital only release; on a single platform (Amazon Kindle Direct). A handful of readers are giving me feedback on the entire process of accessing, buying, reading and enjoying the book. In parallel, I continuously move the needle forward on addressing technical glitches with platform, errors from the creation process and the strategic thinking around marketing the book. Amazon Kindle Direct online is my test platform, prior to a full product launch on all channels. In other words, it’s critical that Amazon online work seamlessly and smoothly. It also means that there will be multiple updates to the book during the MVP phase.

Issues:

  1. Updates to the book are not getting pushed out to the stores. I get a confirmation of LIVE on my publish platform after uploading a new version and yet, the stores are continuing to sell the old version.

2. Amazon tech manually pushed the update to my own Kindle app. Can’t do this each time and with each user…so, what do I offer as a solution to existing readers?

3. After Amazon tech did whatever they did, the marketplaces updated and we tested with friends who haven’t bought the book yet (they were even thanked for their tardiness!) and they see the correct version. So, new buyers = Correct version.

4. Then, we tested with 5 existing readers. Four see the updates, one does not. Ok, so Amazon, what do I tell her?

I’m happier than I was after two nights of sleepless debugging, but I’m not convinced that this is the last of the tech issues and we have one reader who is still without a solution. I can still handle this with MVP volumes of sales…but, it won’t work at scale yet, obviously.

P.S. The virgin in the corner seems to be here to stay. I should seriously run the numbers on sex fiction sales and calculate the ROI for online proximity!

Still virgin!

Oct 29

I have finally resolved all my outstanding questions around book-sales. Two days back, sales started disappearing from the reports I was downloading from the Amazon Kindle Direct sales dashboard- nothing added up in the reports and I was about to report the issue when I found the solution:

I didn’t notice that the date parameters were set manually. I was expecting to see year to date data, but my settings were for one calendar month. *Blush*

Mea Culpa on this one. Amazon has done a good job with the sales dashboard report and now that I know how to read them, I have tracked back to 90 day data and have tally-ed up my sales and I can breathe a sigh of relief on this front.

The issue with readers not seeing the latest book update remains at around 80% resolved by Amazon, they are however on top of keeping me posted.

Nov 8

Resolved. I’m pleased to report that after a few days of back and forth, I understand the system. The sales entries showed correctly once I put in the correct time range. Oops. As for the updates, they roll out right away as a push notification to new buyers; the book sample gets eventually updated and existing readers unfortunately, need a pull notification to update their copies; again not always needed. It seems that the content update is not meant to be used on a regular basis.

In short: I’ve got online digital sales on one platform working! Edition 2 is well on its way and soon, I will make it available as a paperback and then turn on Amazon’s full power for promotions. It’s coming together!