Since Amazon only lets you see sales figures on Sunday, I have no way of knowing what the effects of the Indie Blowout are. I went into this thinking of it as a passive experiment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This has opened the door to a much larger Indie community than I knew existed! Think of the $25 entry fee as the convention entry fee. Every day, I get email from someone with similar interests, liking my Amazon page, liking my facebook page, following my blog, or willing to swap reads. It has the same feel as going to a gaming conventions -- storm troopers and elves wandering the halls, odd side room presentations, and seminars.
No one learns or becomes successful in a vacuum. The Indie Book Collective has provided a great opportunity here, regardless of the silly daily book ranking. I've learn more about several aspects of the Amazon experience, including tags and bulletin boards (especially the 99 cent advertisement board). People on the bullentin boards have denigrated review swapping with other authors. However, only 20 out of 250 reviewer blogs downloaded my most popular book and 2 have written reviews for Amazon. How else am I supposed to find out what people like? I'm not going to pay Create Space for a review. In my experience, even people in the crit circle tell you the truth. If it's a bad review (3 or lower), they might just tell you and not post. But I've received far more positive feedback this about what to concentrate on for next book. I've actually had reviewers bump me up in their queues after reading what other writers said.
This is the classroom. Each paper you write is graded by the whole world. Use every tool you can--it's open book.