Book Launch Evolution

July 26, 2017

book launch evolution
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[*UPDATE: As of Tuesday, August 1st — Day 1 of the free launch for The Lazarus Door — so far, I’m less than thrilled with the results of the promos I set up this time. So, maybe the title should be “Book Launch Devolution” or “Book Launch Follies.” Live and learn. I’ll post an update on the results.]

The book launch for my first novel, The Lazarus Door, will go a bit differently from previous launches. As I sketched out a launch plan, I looked at what has worked with my nonfiction book launches, what hasn’t worked, and what I haven’t tried yet. And I came up with a plan.

For one, I’m not using Book Marketing Tools speedy promotional tool this time. I’ve had good results with this promo with some of my books. But with my most recent launch — for my fourth nonfiction book — I was disappointed in the results. It wasn’t a total flop, but after the previous launch, I was hoping for more downloads.

Maybe I should have known what to expect, though, since several of the promo sites emailed me with “We can’t guarantee your book will be featured, unless you pay us something” (I’m paraphrasing).

Writer OverwhelmedStill, the disappointing turn-out could be due mostly to the fact that Writer Overwhelmed! had a  smaller target market than the book before it, Writer on a Budget, which had the highest number of free downloads yet.

This time around, I think I paid $29 for a handful of promo sites and emails that just happened to have room for Writer Overwhelmed! on its launch day. I can get the same results with KD ROI, which I’ve already paid for, and which doesn’t charge me every time I want to run a free or 99 cent promotion.

What I’m doing instead

So, I set up my free promo on KD ROI this time. I’ve also booked a $10 promotion with MelRock on, and I’ll book another promotion with Marknpablo (another Fiverr gig, mainly for Facebook promotion) on August 1st, since it’ll cost me a whole lot more to book it in advance.

I’m not sure if I’ll pay $13 for the James Mayfield promo this time, though I’ve used it for the past couple launches, and as far as I know, it helped. I have no complaints and don’t regret using this promotion for previous book launches. In fact, I’ll probably use this promotion for the next book, because I loved getting screenshots of all that was done to promote my book. 

Since I think I’ll have the social media bases covered with the two Fiverr gigs, though, I’d rather put the money toward what I’ll be doing next. I’ve bought MelRock’s promotion gig before (for my first book) and was impressed by the customer service — just as I’ve always been with the James Mayfield book promo, and I’d recommend it to anyone.  

[*Related to update (at the top of this post): Hindsight can be such a jerk! Think 24 hours of I-told-you-so-in-that-nagging-place-at-the-back-of-your-mind-s. (Should there be an apostrophe at the end of that?)]

After the free days…

As for the 99 cent days I’m planning to run an Amazon giveaway (thank you, Derek Murphy, for the idea), though on a small scale — just to see how it goes. I can set it up so those who enter the giveaway have to follow me on Amazon or Twitter (though they can easily unfollow me after they’ve won or lost).

I’m planning to give away between 10 and 50 books — one for every 5th entrant. That’s between 50 and 250 people signing up for the chance to get a free copy of The Lazarus Door. And maybe not all of them will unfollow me soon afterward. So, this could be helpful.

It would be better if they could sign up to my mailing list, but that’s not an option (yet) with Amazon giveaways.

What it would do is give my book’s ranking a nice boost while the giveaway was running, since Amazon counts each gift as a sale (since I would actually pay for those copies).

Image from thebeautyclosetblog.comAnd I’ll get some of that money back in royalties. And even though that’s only 35 cents per 99 cent book, that adds up to between $3.50 and $17.50 right back in my pocket. The rest of the expense counts as marketing/advertising — one of the (tax-deductible) costs of doing business.

And a better ranking means my book will be more visible and (hopefully) more appealing to book browsers.

Time will tell whether those who receive a free copy of the book through a giveaway are more likely to actually read the book and even to leave reviews than those who simply click on a link in one of those “free e-book” emails they can sign up for — and then on the “Buy it now (for free)” button on Amazon (as I’ve done many, many times).

Maybe the time taken to enter the giveaway makes it seem like more of an investment. Because there’s a chance you won’t win (so far, I’ve lost every single giveaway for that BlueTooth headset I’ve been stalking, lately), and when we win something, we’re less likely to take it for granted than we are with freebies.

I can hope.

Before launch

Before launch day, I’ll mainly be interested in getting as many reviews posted as possible. I’m shooting for 5 minimum reviews by next Tuesday, since I have ten people on my list of beta-readers.

I went through that list and reached out to each of them after posting a general notice (with an Amazon affiliate link) on my personal FB page and my Hypothyroid Writer FB page.

Lists of FREE PROMO sites:

  1. Awesome Gang’s list (I signed up for their free promotion)
  2. Kindlepreneur / Dave Chesson’s list post
  3. Galley Cat’s “15 Places to Promote Your Book for Free”
  4. “An Interactive List of 100+ Book Promotion Sites & Free Submission Tool” on Readers in the Know.
  5. “Book Promo Sites” on Indies Unlimited.

How I plan to get more reviews

To get more reviews, you need more readers, so it makes sense to write a book that readers are already interested in buying (according to Amazon and Google search stats, which KDP Rocket can quickly and easily fetch for you). If your target market is too small, it’s going to take longer to sell copies of your book and to collect reviews from your readers.

In any case, I’m planning to do the following to improve my book’s ranking and (hopefully) get more reviews:

  1. Amazon Giveaways — (Giveaways boost Amazon ranking – count as sales — and those who win a copy might be more inclined to read and even review the book than if it were only a freebie from a book promo email).
  2. And maybe I’ll even try a King Sumo Giveaway — which would add to my email list and (hopefully) result in more reviews — from the email subscribers who won or bought a copy of my book. The plugin costs $198 for lifetime use and an unlimited number of giveaways for one WordPress site, and while it might pay for itself eventually (if I make the most of it), that price tag is a bit hard to look at right now. So, I’ll start with Amazon giveaways, and I’ll share what I learn from them. 
  3. Gifting books to interested readers and asking them to leave reviews if they enjoyed the book (Gifting boosts Amazon ranking – counts as a sale & I get some back as royalty)
  4. Finish reading Book Review Banzai by Jason B. Ladd and apply what I can.
  5. Fine-tune my Amazon ads (focusing right now on my Interest-based Product Display (PDI) ads and my Sponsored Product Keyword (SPK) ads, using what I’ve learned from the following:
    • Derek Doepker’s KD Sales Machine course (which I signed up for in December, 2016, and which has made a HUGE difference in book sales).
    • Brian Cohen’s recent Amazon ads webinar (which persuaded me to give Product Ads another chance — and to focus on the Interest-based option, which is the only one that shows up on Kindle e-readers.
    • Brian D. Meeks’ new book, Mastering Amazon Ads and what I learn from his FB Group by the same name. A fellow author highly recommended this book, so, of course, I bought a copy. I’ve read other books by this author and enjoy his writing.
    • Mark Dawson’s Learn Amazon Ads (which is free).
    • Dave Chesson’s FREE online video course on Sell More Books on Amazon

So, there you have it. As my approach to book launching evolves — from one book to the next — I learn what works and what doesn’t, and I love to share the stuff that works.

And, in case you were wondering, the only affiliate links in this post are the ones for books on Amazon. I don’t see the point in using affiliate links for things I can’t afford or wouldn’t buy, so if I’m using an affiliate link, be assured that it’s for something I consider worth the money (or free) — or that I wrote myself.

Have a great rest of your week!


By Sarah Lentz

Writing and designing book covers are two of Sarah Lentz's favorite things. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their four kids, and two messy but adorable guinea pigs.

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