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Metadata Minute (Issue #4)

How Flywheel Increased Projected Sales by 8% for Pilot Participants

The Metadata Minute is your monthly guide to boosting book sales and visibility by mastering metadata elements! Whether you’re an author, publisher, marketer, or industry enthusiast, “Metadata Minute” has something to offer everyone.

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  • Tips and techniques to perfect your metadata for backlist & frontlist titles
  • The latest industry trends in metadata practices, ensuring you’re always one step ahead
  • Case studies proving the power of metadata transformations

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Flywheel is the new backlist sales and marketing service, powered by Firebrand Technologies, that harnesses the power of AI-supported technology and proprietary data analysis algorithms to identify hidden opportunities in your backlist and maximize their sales potential and discoverability. 

In order to test our new service and ensure its success, we partnered with publishers over the course of the last two years to gather data that proves we can do what we say we can—which is choosing the right titles at the right time to optimize their overall potential. These publishers submitted a grand total of 943 titles that were given to our Flywheel team to improve upon and monitor throughout the course of twelve weeks. Each of the titles submitted were backlist titles older than two years, some as far back as 30 or 40 years. 

The Goal

Before initiating the full Flywheel effect, our staff sat down with each publisher and discussed what their sales forecast typically would be for the upcoming twelve weeks. 

Flywheel then analyzed four key categories to measure which titles had the highest potential for sales impact: overall sales history, metadata opportunities (what needs enhancement), statistical predictions, and current events. Our Flywheel team measured different types of books, genres, and formats, tested those against control groups and market data, and began to understand what really works and what doesn’t. 

The idea behind Flywheel is to time product information enhancements at the most opportune moments utilizing the aforementioned categories (sales history, metadata, statistical predictions, and events) to impact the exposure and conversion rate of each title, thus altering its overall sales trajectory, specifically on Amazon. When Amazon algorithms see that the product information / metadata on a title has changed, they will recalculate to focus on which titles have the highest chance of producing a sale. 

After a title has passed the algorithmic testing, the right metadata changes will ideally generate more glance views for your titles. More glance views typically result in more conversions, which means your sales rank increases. Once all three of those metrics are achieved, that creates even MORE data for our algorithm to utilize and perfect, which results in even more glance views, increased conversions, better sales ranks, and so on and so forth. We call this the Flywheel Effect. 

For the pilot clients, Flywheel initially projected a total of 91,183 unit sales in varying 12 week periods throughout the last two years. We were pleased to find that the end results exceeded even our initial expectations, resulting in even MORE sales for our pilot clients. 

Pilot Client A (2022): Sales Trajectory Improved 7%

Client A’s sales history over the previous years revealed their approximate trajectory of their selected backlist titles would have been a sales drop of 13% from 2019 to 2021. With Flywheel’s extensive enhancements in 2022, a new improved sales drop of 6.6% was observed, meaning Flywheel initiated a change in trajectory and helped heal the aging process of their backlist! 

After that twelve week trial period, we found that Client A sold over 6,000 units ABOVE Flywheel’s initial projections. So what does this mean?!

It means Flywheel not only helps you sell your backlist titles, but it can also help alter the course of your sales forecasts in the long run – extending the long tail of backlist sales. This altered course maintained into the following year resulting in a 17% increase above the previous trajectory. With Flywheel, backlist titles have more of a chance to retain momentum and lengthen the sales window, rather than fading away into the background. 

Pilot Client B (2023): 49% met or BEAT sales predictions

For Client B, we tested 251 hardcover and paperback titles from their backlist that had ZERO keywords—gasp! These titles needed some serious metadata attention. Here’s what our team added for them: 

  • 10,000 Keywords
  • 750 BISAC Subject Codes
  • 1,000 HTML tags to Descriptions and Author Bios
  • 192 Secondary Images

The results were incredibly successful! Nearly 50% of the titles we enhanced either met or BEAT our initial sales predictions. Not only that, over 70 titles ranked in the Top 25 of Amazon’s sales categories and, in less than 10 days, one of their titles went from a sales rank in its main subcategory of 70 to number 4! For some titles, Flywheel was even able to increase their unit sales by over 500%. 

Overall Results

If you remember from the beginning of this article, with the combined 943 titles from our pilot publishers, Flywheel initially projected 91,183 total unit sales. In order to meet these estimates, we calculated sales projections, monitored current events, analyzed sales history, and incorporated the below metadata into each of these 943 titles. 

  • 19,314 Keywords
  • 1,253 BISAC Subject Codes
  • 520 Secondary Images
  • And more!

Our final unit sales came to 99,347!!! That’s over 8,000 units above forecast for 12 weeks, increasing the total sales over the projected normal decline by 8%. But Flywheel is more than just positive numbers and results.

The overall goal of Flywheel is to increase the value of your largest asset base, your backlist titles, and keep them as active revenue contributors for much longer! Flywheel also provides an easy way for us to measure and track the impact of your product changes, and allows us to figure out what’s working and what’s not. 

One of the key findings we discovered was the vast importance of timing when pushing these product changes out to market. Any changes made to your titles with Flywheel are not random; these are targeted, intentional changes with special attention given to when they’re released, because some titles just sell better at certain times. 

Metadata enhancements are obviously important. Every publisher knows that; however, when you have hundreds or thousands of backlist titles, it can be hard to find the time to go through your data and analyze it effectively to give your backlist a fighting chance. Flywheel helps you create energized velocity and momentum for your backlist book sales at just the right time—for maximum sales impact. 

The results are in! Flywheel brings out the best of your backlist! 

Get a FREE demo of Flywheel today! 

Set Flywheel in motion with your backlist! We’ve launched our beta version of this service and are actively looking for publishers with a goal of growing backlist sales. We’re confident in our ability to increase revenue for your backlist titles and will only get paid if we do.

Ready for client onboarding starting January 2024! Contact Joshua Tallent (joshua@firebrandtech.com) or schedule a free 45 minute demo to get started today.

“Flywheel will revolutionize the way we help publishers optimize backlist sales by helping us enhance the right titles at the right time through a unique combination of data science and publishing acumen.” – Kevin Franco, Flywheel’s Product Manager

Learn more about Flywheel on our website or at www.unlockyourbacklist.com