The HoneyMoon Effect: Does Amazon Give Preferential Treatment to New Books?

For years, authors have speculated as to whether or not Amazon gives preferential treatment to new books.

Some authors, after seeing their sales plummet weeks or months after launch, point to this as a sign that they hit an unseen Amazon cliff.

graph of declining book sales over time

While others claim that this is merely a post book launch strategy effect where after you’re done employing your strongest book strategies, it’s only natural for sales to drop.

So, this leaves us with the question: Do new books get preferential treatment from Amazon, and if so, what does this look like and what can we do to counter it.

Luckily, I devised an experiment using data-collecting software to finally answer this question definitively and have a method to benefit from the results.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. How Amazon treats new books over older books
  2. Steps to counter this drop
  3. Ways to use this information for even stronger book launches

In the next section, I will explain the experiment used to collect this information. However, if you’d just like to jump to the useful tactics from this information, then click here.

The Experiment Explained

A while ago, my team and I devised a software crawler and scraper system that would track what keywords a book shows up for, and its ranking for those keywords. We used it extensively, for this experiment here, that finally proved the best way to fill in your 7 Kindle keyword blocks on KDP and also, this experiment on the Amazon popularity effect.

Now, before you jump up and ask where you can find this software, sadly, it’s ridiculously expensive to run and the information it would provide for individual authors would not be worth the price tag. Believe it or not, but collecting mass data from Amazon is really hard.

Well, we brought it back out, and with the help of Publisher Rocket’s data collection, we devised the following experiment:

Following 74 books on their recent launch (both published and self published, and fiction and non-fiction), we tracked their sales over time, and the number of keywords they ranked for.

As we learned in the Popularity Effect experiment (which if you haven’t read, I highly recommend you do!), when you show Amazon increased consistent sales and relevant popularity, Amazon starts to put you in more keywords and thus shows your book more often.

Well, we took this a step further and analyzed whether or not the age of a book affects this. Do new books get better traction within Amazon, or is it just a product of a marketing push and that’s it?

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Limitations to the Experiment:

Like every experiment with limited resources, there are some factors that should be noted. Sometimes I feel as though these were overcome, and in others, I’ll leave it to you to decide what you think:

  1. We Only followed 74 books: Statistically speaking, this is not a significant enough number. However, that being said, there was enough of a separation between older and newer books that I feel confident enough in an answer.
  2. We didn’t split up different genres: We only made a conscious effort to identify a healthy number of published and self published, as well as fiction and nonfiction. We did not look at any differences between genres. However, I don’t think we needed to. I can’t imagine Amazon treating genres differently.
  3. We don’t know the launch strategy of the different books: This is a really good point. For those 74 books, I did not coordinate with all of the authors or publishing companies. We only tracked their overall sales since launch and how Amazon responded in their rankings, as compared to books with similar daily sales and their rankings. Perhaps there is another factor at play?

There are a couple more, but these are the 3 major limitations to the experiment. If the process by which to collect this information becomes cheaper to perform or more efficient, I could definitely revisit this and check to ensure the above.

The Results of the Experiment: How Does Amazon Treat New Books

graph of the effect of a book launch vs. keyword indexing

Without going into discussions on betas, standard deviation, and other advanced statics lingo, here is general overview of the findings:

  1. New books do get a noticeable bump in Amazon’s attention or ‘popularity’ and do show up more often for more keywords and better rankings over older books with similar sales. I am calling this bump in sales for newer books the Honeymoon Factor.
  2. The level of significance in the Honeymoon Factor varied greatly between different books, so I can’t say there is a generic number like a ‘20%’ boost for all new books.
  3. Those books that appeared to have a solid launch plan and brought in lots of traffic/sales received an even stronger non linear response by Amazon in increasing it’s popularity throughout the website, thus a larger Honeymoon factor was at play. This in turn caused more sales and on and on it continued until a point was reached.
  4. In most cases, there was a noticeable drop at some point in the number of keywords a book ranked for, even though the sales didn’t decrease as much or as proportionately. This looks like when the Honeymoon Factor was removed considering that there was no noticeable reason for it. After the drop though sales followed the number – which could be because the lower amount of times the book showed up on Amazon after the removal of the Honeymoon factor.
  5. Books that showed consistent strong sales during their launch received a longer period of the Honeymoon Factor (which is basically a longer honeymoon period…oh lala) than books that didn’t.

Questions Left Unanswered:

As with many experiments, upon finding the data, this usually brings up more questions left unanswered.

For instance:

Question: If I update a book’s file, and mark it as an update, does this give me a new Honeymoon Factor?

Question: If I remove a book from my account, and republish it, does this give me a new Honeymoon Factor?

I don’t have the answers for these, however, if you have done either of these, and have good information on their results, and would like to share with other authors, please send me a message here, and I’ll update this section with answers from users on what they’ve seen.

My Subjective Opinion Based On the Data

The above were observations made on the data. But the below is what I think we, as authors and book marketers can take away from it. (I really like to separate the two and be clear when I an inferring from the data):

In the end, it does appear as though Amazon does favor newer books over older books. It’s as if they give the newer books a stronger chance to prove themselves in the market, and in so doing, show them for more keyword phrases on Amazon.

However, during this period, I think Amazon is judging to see whether or not the book deserves the extra attention because of the added “Honeymoon factor.” Amazon has millions of data points, where they know how well a book ‘should’ perform for those rankings and keywords, and if they see that you underperform as opposed to previous similar books, then they know that that book isn’t the best bet. Whereas if they see you beat other books in those spots, then you’ll be ramped up even more in the number of keywords, until finally it hits a certain spot.

All in all, this makes sense. Amazon wants to make the most money. So, they give new books a chance to prove themselves, and then they compare that new book off of previous historical data to see if it is better or worse than previous books.

Therefore, we can denote that if a book shows that it is legit, and customers take to it, two things seem to happen:

  1. The Honeymoon period lasts longer
  2. The book stands a better chance to not have as large of a drop off after the Honeymoon effect is removed.

This last part is very important.

Basically, if you can capitalize off of a strong launch, and show Amazon you made the most of the honeymoon period, this is where long term sustainable sales happen.

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So, What To Do Now?

This only highlights the importance of your book’s initial keywords and your book launch strategy. If you select the correct keywords, as I show in my Keywords and Category Course, you will no doubedly give your book a strong foothold for the Amazon Honeymoon Factor to kick in and stay longer.

Here are the things you should take into account so as to get the most out of the Honeymoon Factor and improve your sales:

  1. Initial Keywords: Selecting the best 7 kindle keyword phrases is extremely important. Because of this, you will have a better initial stance for Amazon to grow from. Choose poorly or guess, and you may cause Amazon to not add keywords, or the wrong ones irregardless of launches success. Therefore, use either my steps for nonfiction keywords, or my steps for fiction keywords. Then use these steps for choosing what goes into your 7 kindle keyword blocks.
  2. Launch Plan: As was shown in the Amazon popularity experiment, a long series of consistent sales is way better than a spike of sales. Therefore, in order to benefit from the Popularity Effect, as well as the Honeymoon Factor, it is best to setup a plan with multiple tactics that runs over a couple of weeks. If you haven’t downloaded my Launch Plan schedule, be sure to do that – it is one of my favorite creations – click here.
  3. Schedule Book Promotions in Series: As you’ll see in the launch plan, scheduling book promotions is a large part of a successful launch plan. Be sure to use this list of book promotion sites, and schedule them as per the instructions in this video – I know the video looks a bit old and I cringe a bit, but it is still very relevant.
  4. Create Amazon Advertisements: One of the best ways to drip out sales, and constant signs of popularity is developing Amazon Ads. This send direct signals to Amazon of your book’s relevance (even if it does come from paid methods), and helps keep momentum going even after all your launch plans are complete. I have a full free video course on Amazon ads, which you can take here.
  5. Include Other Drip Type Sales Methods: Just like with advertisements, there are other methods to drip out sales over time like setting up an email in your autoresponder system, if you have one. If you haven’t selected one, MailerLite gets my nod of approval of 95% of authors. Also, I have a full free video course on how to set up your MailerLite email system. Also, putting links in your email signature, or adding in your social media posts pinned to the top, or other things that bring in a stream of traffic everyday will help keep sales momentum going.

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There are other methods too, but these are some of the strongest an author can employ in order to benefit from their launch, and get the most out of Amazon’s Honeymoon Factor.

Cheers,

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