My First Fan Letter + Amazon Ranking Roller Coaster


It wasn’t just Emerson sweating things last week. I was riding a ranking roller coaster. Moving from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands over the course of two days on Amazon.

I had no concept of what was good or bad, but watching my ranking drop into the 300K arena sucked all the air out of my lungs. This had to be bad. Something that shouldn’t be happening.

So I reached out to my published buddies. I needed a benchmark. I needed affirmation of what was happening and then possibly consolation. They assured me that for a debut indie author I was doing pretty well. But it still stung. No one wants their book to be unpopular.

I wasn’t expecting to break into the top 1000 any time soon. I was kinda hoping for that slow build. ย So when my ranking plummeted, it hurt.

But then the the best surprise in the world arrived…

My first fan letter!

From my aunt in Arizona.

We hadn’t seen each other in years, but we reconnected on FB. And she devoured my book. Loved it.

So much that she took the time to hand write me a thank you note, where she actually thanked me for writing Six Train. Wow. I never expected to receive anything like that.


She also made me an adorable handmade writer doll that looked like me and gave me a lovely handkerchief.


I was so touched by the gifts and the card. By the time and care my aunt put into them just to let me know that my book mattered.

It made me realize rankings are interesting, but they don’t count how many hearts you’ve touched. And for me, knowing I moved one person with my words is the best feeling in the world.

It makes all the work, all the self doubt, all the uncertainty worth it.

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45 Responses to My First Fan Letter + Amazon Ranking Roller Coaster

  1. kford2007 says:

    More writers need to hear these sort of success stories. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Gwen says:

    Awww…chin up Kourtney! It has to be hard to look at these things without the red pen mentality. But think of everything you’ve accomplished and ride the wave! Easier said than done, I know. The gifts are darling. Items you will cherish in years to come. Happy Monday xo.

    • Thanks Gwen. I guess I thought all the press would boost sales more. If I hadn’t gotten any press, I’d be quite thrilled with my sales. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Managing expectations is tough when you are in a new frontier. You don’t know what you should be doing. But I’m going to stick to the marketing plan and hopefully sales will grow over time. ๐Ÿ™‚ And the fan letter and gift really made my week. Just knowing my book moved someone that much–it was a wonderful feeling and made the Amazon ranking feel way less important. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. That must be pretty horrid to watch. But the reassuring thing is that it will happen to nearly everyone.

    Beyond good writing a lot of people maange to publicise like crazy – I think now more than ever it’s tougher to break into writing.

    Don’t give up though that’s for sure. You’ve written a book – how many people can say that?

    • It’s certainly a new world going from unpublished to published.:) I wanted to document the ups and downs of this part of the journey too. No plans to give up or stop trying. ๐Ÿ™‚ Writing the book doesn’t feel like the hard part anymore. Polishing and revising was definitely much more difficult. Publishing and promotion is an entirely new undertaking so I’m finding my way still. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Pingback: Thank You!!! | Writing Pieces of Me

  5. You definitely won the prize – personalized and time consumingly handmade.
    Writing and selling are two different things. (one is your soul flying…the other can rip a tender soul). Just remember selling is business – not personal – and that even one reader will find that window and send your soul back to you.
    Hang in there. You’ve every reason to smile

    • Thanks Karen. ๐Ÿ™‚ I felt the same way when I received the doll. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Very true. Selling is tough. You never know what’s working and what isn’t. I am sticking to my plan and hoping to see results down the road. I’m so grateful to the readers who have taken the time to write reviews or email or tweet my about the book. That’s been the best part of selling the book–connecting with people who truly enjoyed my writing.

      Thanks! I’m feeling pretty okay about it all. It’s only been a couple weeks. And I promise I am smiling. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Just keep doing what you’re doing, Kourtney. Look what you’ve accomplished! The next book will help sell this one. And there aren’t that many authors who can claim they have their own action figure! Bless your auntie! And you too!

    • Thanks Naomi! I plan to stick with it. The next book is a YA written under a pen name, so it’s probably won’t help this book. But I hope to write another adult novel under my name and that may boost sales.

      LOL. Very true–a writer action figure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aw thanks! I’m so glad I have her and you in my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Cat Forsley says:

    Happiness is home made huh xxxxx love and you sooooooooooo r rockin it xxx

    • Indeed it is. ๐Ÿ™‚ So much wisdom in those words. Love you too! Thanks for cheering me on over every hurdle. Couldn’t keep at it without ya! ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxoxo

      • Cat Forsley says:

        no hurdles K heart xx none – look at all the hard work you have put into EVERYTHING ๐Ÿ™‚ persistence ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ that’s strength and belief in yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰ that’s beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚
        enjoy each nanosecond ๐Ÿ˜‰ xxxxxxx and ps- if there were hurdles – you would of flown over them ๐Ÿ˜‰
        ……………….love xo ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

        • LOL. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying out for track and field. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Aw thanks. I just really believe in this book. Looking forward to the FB party! Should be fun. LOL. You know when I was in middle school I was so awkward, I was deathly afraid of hurdles. Thinking I’d get tangled up in them. LOL. So I love the image of flying over them! XOXOXOX
          Love Ya,

          • Cat Forsley says:

            HEY – we had an earthquake a few days ago – i did not feel a thing – it was in the 5’s ……..????????? was i flying ? xx maybe ๐Ÿ˜‰ xo Love u tooooooo xo

          • Wow that’s scary. I lived in San Diego for 2 years and never felt a quake. LOL. Perhaps you were asleep healing and missed the whole thing! Hugs! xoxox

            All my best,

          • Cat Forsley says:

            i was walking down the street k heart ……………..
            How about that for weird huh >
            i came home to read the news ๐Ÿ˜‰ lol
            …… where was i ? ๐Ÿ˜‰
            all my best toooo xxx

          • Hmm. Maybe you were dizzy from being sick and thought it was you and not the ground? ๐Ÿ™‚ Or maybe you were in your own head working on a song. I never notice anything when I’m in writer mode. The whole house could collapse around me and I wouldn’t notice. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  8. Kourtney, you are absolutely right. Forget the rankings … the best reward is a letter, email, whatever way words are shared, that tell you how much a reader loved your work. That’s the BIG PRIZE! The rest will come.

    • Thanks Patricia! ๐Ÿ™‚ Ranking shift hourly. It’s something I just have to get used to and not check constantly. LOL. You are so right–the letter, email, FB comment, or review that tells me someone loved what I did and that my book mattered–those are the things I need to treasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I love that doll! How sweet and thoughtful. That really is special–a special kind of happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Isn’t she so adorable? Knowing my aunt spent hours working on her for me, it really touched me. She read my book so fast and truly enjoyed it. It’s hard to know who your target audience is until you hit the mark. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m so so happy to have my writer doll to remind me that my book moved someone enough to make me a thank you present. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. EllaDee says:

    Just chant “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” whenever those numbers get to you. That your book meant so much to your aunt brought tears to my eyes… that’s the sort of love and praise you deserve ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LOL. I may try that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Aw thank you. EllaDee your review made my week. When I’m having a bad day, I go and re-read it and think thank goodness EllaDee got it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Aw, I felt the same way when I read her note. It was a wow moment. I put her card in my glass cabinet where I keep all my treasured mementos. The doll sits on my fireplace with all my favorite things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. That doll is ace! Now you’ve got a mascot. I would stay away from Amazon for a bit. Go on Pinterest instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. That’s so lovely to have had that from her, every author stresses about reviews and rankings but having a personal thank you like the should make it all worthwhile!

    • It definitely does. ๐Ÿ™‚ It helped me ease off on the ranking and review stress. I can do my best but there is a limit to what I can control. Sales and reviews are outside my abilities. I mean I am doing as much promotion as I can, but I can’t make that translate into sales. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I’ll just keep my head down and keep moving along.

  13. 4amWriter says:

    That’s so so so awesome. You know, this bit about your aunt goes along with stats on our blogs. I pay little to no attention to overall views and stats, but I sure do pay attention when I don’t see a regular blogging buddy stop by to comment on a post. I don’t have a huge following, but the ones who consistently pay me a visit are the ones I care about because I know that I am reaching them in some way.

    Your aunt is like a regular blogging buddy in my world. Someone who matters and reminds you why you’re really doing this.

  14. How nice to get the fan letter – you deserve it!

  15. What a lovely first fan letter and one you’ll be able to keep forever – its value will never go down unlike rankings.

  16. Wonderful gifts to be treasured these show just what love has gone into their creation… What a Fan you have in your aunt.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. jmmcdowell says:

    Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge really said it wellโ€”writing and selling are two different things. And the selling is so foreign to most of us. But to have a family reconnection is truly priceless.

    I finished The Six Train last night, and when I get home, I’ll put up a review on Amazon. And it will be a very positive one because the book is that good. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As the reviews build, I think you’ll find new readers coming in to take a chance on a debut novel. Real success is a marathon, not a sprint, for 99.999% of us in any part of life. You’ll get there. That snowball is gathering momentum and will make its way down the mountain!

    • They really are. And no matter how ready you think you are–it still takes you by surprise. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very true. I’ve been blessed with some amazingly supportive blog buddies and unexpectedly supportive people–like my hair salon. And my aunt really amazed me. We lost touch for a long time and yet she puts so much time and effort into supporting me. I’m truly in awe of the amazing people in my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Aw thank you so much! The reviews really help with the Amazon rankings. I am so so happy to hear you enjoyed the book. I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but when someone connects with it, it’s 4th of July for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I hope so. Part of the reason I did the ebook was to encourage new readers to take a chance on me. Those are words to live by–“Real success is a marathon, not a sprint, for 99.999% of us in any part of life”. I’m going to print them out and tape them over my desk. And just keep trying. I’ve been incredibly lucky, when doubts creep in someone says or does something that reinvigorates my spirit. Thanks JM for being one of people who constantly reinvigorates me!

  18. Pete Denton says:

    Great you’ve reconnected after all these years. I know when the time arrives I will be a slave to the rankings. I will try not to think about it, but I know at first I will be checking. And, re-checking. Your sales are a great start and the rankings are sure to fluctuate over the coming weeks and months, but the sales and connections will be worth more in the long run.

    • It was a definite bonus to my social media building to find her again. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was awful Pete. I couldn’t stop myself. I was checking 5-10 times a day. And getting terribly upset everytime it dropped. Then I realized numbers are not all coming in real time. That helped a bit. To realize more sales were potentially happening and I didn’t know about them. Then I got perspective from Carrie on the rankings. I’m feeling a little better now. And only checking like 2-3 times a day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Upside, the sales numbers made me want to do more to promote the book. I entered it in a few contests. ๐Ÿ™‚

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?