When Your Book Shows ‘Currently Unavailable’ on Day 1 of Release

Captured from amazon.in by Anu Anniah

On June 20th, 2021, everything was in place and I was holding my breath while my young publisher uploaded the paperback version of my first book on Amazon.in. The paperback version is available only in India. I was just short of bursting with excitement.

We started the process by 11 am India time and it was done pretty soon. Just like that. Ta-da! The Kindle version is a whole different story. I will dedicate a post to that.

Photo of cute pink book by Anu Anniah

Fret not 🙂
The book is available now.

The Kindle version of my book is up on amazon.com and amazon.in
The paperback is available on flipkart.com in India.

Unavailable — but all good

I had messages typed and ready to send to all my loyal friends who had promised to buy the book. I even had an MS-Excel sheet with a list of friends, in case I forgot a few in my excitement. And boy, did that list help!

I started sending out messages to various WhatsApp groups and individuals. But I was not fast enough! Before I could send them all, messages of congratulations started pouring in. I got so distracted.

And the biggest wonder! People were actually buying my book! Yes! They were on amazon.in buying my first book! I mean — how cool is that? Lots of people wish us well and say things in spirit. They may fully intend to do what they say as well, but sometimes life gets in the way. I really didn’t expect that everyone who said they’d buy the book would indeed do so — on day 1!

But here was a bunch of friends who were apparently poised, phone in hand, with the sole intent of ordering my book! Nuts! Who does that? But they did! My friends! So many of them!

At around 4:30–5 pm, I got a panic call from a friend. The book was showing as unavailable. What? I checked quickly and almost fainted. It was true! A few hours after publishing, my book was sold out! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Should I use this as a marketing ploy to say that my book was sold out on day 1?

I gathered my wits that had scattered all over the floor and called my publisher. Turns out she had underestimated my friends, as had I. Who expects so many sales for an unknown writer on day 1 of availability? My publisher clearly didn’t! And honestly, nor did I!

Luckily, she was able to decrease the ‘sold out’ threshold or something like that on Amazon, and she quickly stocked more copies. The buy-ability status was restored, and my publisher, my heartbroken friends, and I heaved a collective sigh of relief.

We released the book on June 20th and within 3 days, we had sold over 75 copies. This may not sound like a huge number to the Neil Gaimans or JK Rowlings of the world, but for an unknown writer, this was book sale heaven.

Unavailable — and bad news

While I was still riding high on the euphoria of so much traction, a new bomb dropped on me by the 4th or 5th day. Eye Am In Denial was again unavailable on Amazon. I called my publisher assuming it was a small fix like the last time. Hah!

My publisher spent the next few hours on the phone, email, and God knows what else with Amazon. Turns out that her account was down! Other books she had published had also disappeared.

I was devastated. The first week is the best for a newbie author. On day 1, I briefly occupied #11 in Humor on the Amazon Best Seller Rank. But it wouldn’t matter if the book was no longer buyable. I watched as the #11 ranking dropped slowly initially, and at rapid speed later. My ‘golden period’ was slipping away.

My young publisher continued to struggle with Amazon support. I really don’t know what was happening there. As a small-time seller, I am not sure how much ‘support’ she was getting.

Finally, she decided to list on Flipkart.com. That took another agonizing 3–4 days.

So what do I have now?

The Kindle version of my book is up on amazon.com and amazon.in
The paperback is available on flipkart.com in India.

The advantage of listing all formats on Amazon, improving the ABSR, and gathering reviews is now gone in one fell swoop!

Messy? Yup.

Am I unhappy? Yes.

But were there some great moments in this journey? You bet!

Will I ever do this again? Of course! 😄

I have to admit that I felt very helpless and frustrated for a few days. But I gathered myself and moved on. The purpose of publishing my first book was to test the waters and to understand the process to some extent.

I realize now that there is so much to learn and understand. Even if I publish a hundred books, I will discover something new when I publish the hundredth one.

Overall though, it has been a fun ride and continues to be. I am now focusing on a virtual book launch, because, hey — one must celebrate every little milestone!

And — I have now officially promoted myself from writer to Author!

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