Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?
I have my new novel, Blood & Holy Water, set to launch this week. I’ve done a pile of reading, listened to as many podcasts and webinars as I could find, and spoke with other indie authors on successful techniques.
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, just hitting the “publish” button does not bring in sales for a novel. It takes some work (and, perhaps, some magic.)
I know I don’t have the secret formula here, but here’s how I lined up my release.
- Built up my email list / mailing list. I began my push in January, with a real focus in February. Now, I’m up to nearly 1500 subscribers. (You can see how I did this in my 1000 “True” Fans Blog Series.) I’ll email this list during my launch and cross my fingers for some interest in Blood & Holy Water.
- Kindle Scout program. This was a way to extend my reach / distribution list in a different way. I had 1400 people view my campaign page and Amazon will send those that voted for my book a notification that it’s available at launch. I’ve already had eight people sign up for my mailing list due to the campaign. We’ll see if it helps launch day. If not, I may be done with this program.
- I hosted a few Amazon Giveaways of my last novel. To qualify for the giveaway, you needed to follow my author page. Amazon then sends notification out to my followers when I publish new books. (You can check out how this looks HERE.) (Of note, I think they already sent out notification of the pre-order which returned 3 or 4 sales.) Here’s a post on how to set this up.
- I started distributing Advanced Reader Copies 6 weeks ago so I’d have some reviews on launch day (social proof). This is working as I have 9 fantastic reviews up on Amazon so far.
- Published the paperback so I can collect these reviews from my Advanced Readers. (You can’t leave a review on a pre-order.)
- Since I have a paperback version, I created a Goodreads Giveaway building up Blood & Holy Water’s “to read” list. After publishing Love, Lies & Clones, I said I wouldn’t do this again…but I did with only one copy this time. (HERE‘s that giveaway, if you’d like to see how that looks.)
- Coordinated my launch schedule — see below — booking places to advertise and coordinating cross-promotion. I understand, the way Amazon’s algorithm works, you want a few days of steady sales for Amazon to notice you. I chose to spread the heart of my my launch over five days.
- Put my book up on pre-order so I can make sure the blurb, categories, etc are okay. I am not advertising this pre-order because they don’t help you out on Amazon (actually, they can hurt you if they pull away sales from launch day. I did this wrong last time.)
- Got an Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) ad ready for the new book. It takes time to put in the 1000 keywords.
This is what I have planned this week for my launch. I don’t know if it’ll work…I’m pricing the book at 99 cents for most (perhaps all) of April, since I’m a no-name author and am trying to build up ranking. I tried $2.99 with my other book, Love, Lies & Clones for a few days and sales suffered. I know I may be throwing money away doing this, but I’m afraid to go at $2.99. If the novel does well, I might try to vary the pricing on the days I don’t have promos. Not on this list is I’m also running a discount on my other novel, with hopes that maybe there’ll be some cross-promotion between the two.
- Tuesday 4/4: Launch day! I’m not pushing the book yet. I want to make sure everything looks good before I go that route. I will notify Kindle Scout of the release so they can send out their email to those that nominated me. This is more of an experiment, as I want to see if the Kindle Scout Program brings book sales. (Free, so far.)
- Wednesday 4/5: Notify my Facebook followers. Get a post ready to boost later this week. Ask for shares to extend my reach. Also, a review forum I belong to, http://www.critters.org, will send out a notification to the other members late this night. Will also use twitter, instagram, and tumblr, mostly to prepare posts for use of co-promote later this week. Alert Reader’s Gazette of Bargain. (Note, all of this is free.)
- Thursday 4/6: Headtalker campaign (free) and Booksends / eReader IQ ($35). What (Shameless plug: You can support my HeadTalker campaign HERE, if you’d like.)
- Friday 4/7: Bargain Booksy $40 & People Reads $9 and my newsletter goes out (1500 subscribers) and an email from a critique forum I belong to (critters.org) that critiqued the novel. Also, will start using copromote to extend my reach.
- Saturday 4/8: Free Kindle Books & Tips $25. I will also boost a Facebook post to people that like my page, their friends, and upload my newsletter email list. http://www.critters.org will also resend my info to the group.
- Sunday 4/9: Resend my newsletter to non-openers as a “Thank-you for your support” email. Awesomegang $10 & SweetFreeBooks $7
- Monday 4/10: BK Knights $11. I’m participating in a cross-promotion for Science Fiction & Fantasy Books priced at 99 cents. 4/10 through 4/16.
I may add to this list as opportunities arise. I want to keep the momentum going (if possible.)
Second week post-launch:
- Tuesday 4/11: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo
- Wednesday 4/12: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo and resend my newsletter to non-openers through a different mail program (Mailerlite instead of Mailchimp) trying to get as many opens as possible.
- Thursday 4/13 through Sunday 4/16: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo
Third week post-launch:
- Wednesday 4/19: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents
- Thursday 4/20: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents and a newsletter swap with another indie author
Fourth week post-launch:
- Saturday 4/29: Fussy Librarian $22
I had heard that spending about $100 on a launch is helpful for the Amazon algorithms to kick in. (Even though that means I need to sell an impossible 432 books just to break even with this.) For my last book (Love, Lies & Clones) I spent virtually nothing on the launch and wanted to try something different with this novel. This whole thing is an experiment anyway. Maybe I’ll get it right when I release my next novel, The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.
As always, I’ll make sure to update you with results. I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect launch, and what works for some won’t work for others, but, hey, it’s fun to try. 🙂