How to Launch a Self-Published Book: 10+ Real Strategies and Results

How to Launch a Self-Published Book 10+ Real Strategies and Results

I’m in the process of studying strategies for an indie book launch, more specifically, online book launch strategies for a self-published novel. I’ve gone through the following books all (listed here in no particular order), of which have been important in helping me understand different methodologies.

Susan Kaye Quinn’s 10 Step Self-Publishing BOOT CAMP: The Survival Guide For Launching Your First Novel

Chris Fox’s Six Figure Author

Tim Grahl’s Your First 1000 Copies

These books were good to help me establish a baseline of techniques and understand some of the different methods one could use. My take away is that there isn’t just one best way to launch a book. There are lots of ingredients and lots of ways to combine them. As someone once said (I’m sure), there’s more than one way to make a cookie.

But how do these ideas work in practice? I’ve also been doing some research on how other authors have launched their books. The market is changing so rapidly that I believe that authors who recently launched books are the best experts to learn from.

Here is a roundup of 10 real life book launches within the last two years to learn from, ranked by the most recent ones first. I’ve included debut and midlist authors trying to break into the top hundreds, as well as authors like Joanna Penn who already have a relatively huge platform and fanbase. As a result, theirs is a very large range in terms of goals and results. Different techniques will work differently depending on the point you’re starting out at.
With each interview, I’ve also included the cover to each book (or series) that each post/podcast discusses that links back to Amazon so you can see for yourself how their books are currently doing now.

To me, it’s clear that not only are there many ways to bake a cookie, there are many different types of cookies to be made ☺

1. How I made over $1,000 the First Month of my Book Re-launch by Brandon Ellis (May 2017)

“I spent $313 for the promotion and I made just over $1,000 in 30 days. KU (Kindle Unlimited) had a great deal to do with the amount of money I made and I suspect that a lot of people who saw my promotion on the promotion sites, and on the promotion newsletters, grabbed my book from KU.”

(Note that this is for the relaunch of a trilogy, not a new single title book. Still there are definitely insights to be gained!)

2. Fantasy Writer Joynell Schultz’s Book Launch Results (April 2017)

“It was the best launch I’ve ever had! (Okay, okay. It’s only my second one.) I hit #17 on one amazon best seller’s list and #3053 in the overall Kindle store.”

3. Results from the Book Launch with Zero Budget from Urban Fantasy author Holly Evans (February 2017)

“Total number of pre-orders: 164
Number of sales on launch day: 24
Number of page reads on launch day: 1,850
Highest rank on launch day: #4,800
Needless to say I’m absolutely over the moon with these results. I’m completely overwhelmed and grinning like a Cheshire cat.”

4. Self Publishing Formula SPF-053 The Book Launch Process – with by thriller author Mark Dawson (February 2017)


Note that this is a podcast, but if you go to the website and scroll down, there is a transcript available.

“I put it up. I then emailed the advance team and said, “The book is live, ready for reviews”, and I’ve mentioned how I go through that process before. Within 24 hours, it had 100 reviews so the team really came through. A lot of them also bought the book, even though they got it for free because I put it up at 99 cents to start with. So they get the “verified” tag which means those reviews are less like to be stripped out by Amazon, and I was ready to go. I then emailed the list and then we started to see the actual real sales at the full price because I pushed the price up to sales price.”

Also well worth listening to / reading is their podcast episode How to Launch a Book from May 2016, which talks about another one of Mark’s book launches.

5. Thriller author Martha Carr’s 6 book Launch Over 91 days (November 2016 – February 2017)

This is a mini-roundup of the podcasts from the Author Biz that cover Martha Carr’s launch of 6 books over 91 days. The first podcast is from November 2016, and the most recent podcast, the 5th one is from February 2017. I’m assuming that there will be a 6th episode later down the line to discuss how sticky her books were as a result of this super rapid-fire release. Note that there are no transcripts for these podcasts.

TAB098: Walking a Series Launch Tightrope, with Martha Carr

Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study – Episode 1 of 6

CS02: Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 2 of 6

CS03: Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 3 of 6

CS04: Adjustment Time – Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 4 of 6

TAB108: The Audiobook Production Process with Martha Carr and Jill Smith

(Excerpt below is from the show notes of the most recent podcast episode)

“Released The Butterfly Effect, the 6th book of Wallis Jones series on 2/22
Released six books in 91 days (rapid launch process)
Launched using the process of Michael Anderle’s breakout series
Makes an average of $17/day from this book alone
Hit the $45/day mark
Books #5 and #6 of Wallis Jones are in the top 100 of Financial Thriller New Releases”

6. How To Hit The USA Today Bestseller List As A Single Author With Ad Stacking by Thriller author Joanna Penn (August 2016)

Note that this is a podcast, but if you go to the website and scroll down, there is a transcript available.

“Results
Total number of books sold @ 99c (reduced from $6.99 for the week)
Total books sold: 6231
Total income from box-set sold: $2524
Total extra income in the week from other books – comparing previous weeks income so can be extrapolated as related to the promotion: $1654
Total income: $4178″

7. How I launched My New Release and sold 20k Copies by Fantasy author Daniel Arenson   (August 10, 2016)

“As a result of these efforts, during its first month Earth Alone sold 10,000 copies, received millions of Kindle Unlimited page reads, and hit the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list. In the following month, it went on to sell an additional 10,000 copies, still riding the high visibility from its successful launch.”

8. Rocking Self-Publishing Episode # 157 – Successful Launch Strategies with John L. Monk (July 2016)

“As of 7/21/16, Hell’s Children is currently ranked #1050 in the Kindle Store, and #6, #22, and #22 in its subcategories. His sales commissions cracked the $300 mark in daily sales towards the third and fourth week of his launch. In the fourth week, he saw sales of 50-70 a day. As of the interview, he’s had 600k-700k page reads through KU.”

9. Why Preorders Killed My Book Launch and Other Lessons I Learned Marketing My First Fiction by YA author Derek Murphy (January 2016)

“So technically, not a bad launch, for a first book by an unknown author. But I’m exhausted, and it was expensive, and it didn’t earn much money back (yet). If this was my only book, I would still count it as a failure. But because it’s part one of the first book in a potential series, and since I’m trying to finish 10 more like it this year, it’s only the very beginning.”

Check out also, the second post related to the above launch. Note, he talks about using some gray hat methods to get his book higher up in the rankings, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

Fiction book launch strategies continued (Shearwater part 2)

10.  Zero to $10k Per Month in 90 Days, with Michael Anderle (January 2016)

“Here’s the short version: Michael published his first book, DEATH BECOMES HER on November 2nd, 2015 and earned $6.00. He wrote and published two more books in November and generated Amazon royalties of $427 for the month.

In December wrote and published one more book (bringing his total to 4) and ran his first Facebook ad on December 18th. His total Amazon royalties for December was $3,700.

On January 11th, he published his fifth book. For the period of January 1st, through January 24th, he’s generated Amazon royalties of over $10,000.”

Also WELL worth examining is the additional PDF Michael Anderle typed up for the Author Biz audience of things he DIDN’T get to talk about. It’s linked in the show notes of the podcast.

Bonus Book Launch Stories – Nicholas Eric’s Mini Guide to Launch Promo Services

As a bonus to the 10 stories I linked to above, I’m also including the Kboards thread where SF writer Nicholas Erik collected 13 book launch threads posted on Kboards by various authors.  Nicholas’s Mini Guide To Launch Promo Services is also well worth a read.

What’s the line where Amazon starts magically pushing your book? This question can’t really be answered, but it seems that you need to sell 250+ copies in a week for the algorithms to pick up and notice (note: this was originally estimated as 100 copies; I now believe it’s much higher for most genres). There are obvious exceptions to this rough rule – and KU borrows skew this – but that’s a solid benchmark to aim for. I sold 110 of a space opera and 150 of an urban fantasy book and didn’t get sticky, so the “sticky threshold” is dependent on the competitiveness of your sub-genre – I’d say aim for the Top 20 of your sub-genre, preferably Top 10.

Have you launched a book within the last two years? Do these stories match your own experience? Contact me if you’d like to share your story here with a guest post (either with your name or anonymously!)

5 Essential Podcasts for Authors

Everyone at this point has heard of podcasts, but really, have you really heard of podcasts? I used to be like, whatever, I can read faster than I listen. Who has time to listen to podcasts? But then I discovered they’re like radio shows hyper focused on whatever particular topic you want to find out about. You can listen to them anytime you want to. As a busy mom, I listen to them while I do other things, such as wash dishes, pack lunches, do the laundry, etc. (and if you have Alexa, it’s supposed to be even easier.)

There’s pretty much a podcast for any interest you can think of.

Here are 5 awesome podcasts to get a real education in what is going on publishing (mostly self-publishing). Seriously if you listen to all of their shows or even half of the shows listed for a month, you will get a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing (and if you listen to for more than a month and apply what you learn, then you’ll be way ahead of many others).

Even if you are not an indie author, many of the podcasts here have episodes that traditionally published authors can take lessons from.

1 Writing Excuses

Their tagline is “15 minutes long because you’re in a hurry… And we are not that smart.” Started by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, webcomic creator Howard Taylor, SF writer Dan Wells, and fantasy writer Mary Robinette Kowal, they’ve since added SF writer Wesley Chu, romantic suspense writer Piper J. Drake, and fiction professor Mary Anne Mohanraj to the line up. I’m starting with this one because it’s very short and the roundtable discussions are usually very focused. Granted they don’t really talk too much about business or marketing and the authors are all traditionally published, but there is always something to be taken away from their craft discussions, whether you are a newbie author just starting out or you are someone who has been published and writing for years.

 

Sell More Books Show

2 Sell More Books Show

Hosted by Brian Cohen and Jim Kukral , this podcast is more like a weekly publishing news roundup. It’s a great way to keep up to date on trends and news in the industry. They pull out pertinent pieces of information from articles or blog posts recently published and talk about them on the show with a focus on consequences for authors. Recent shows have pulled from the news that Amazon is expanding their physical bookstores, a blog post from David Gaughran (Let’s Get Visible) about fake books, and a survey of six-figure authors.

3 Smarty Pants Book Marketing

This is a book marketing focused podcast by  Chris Syme, head of a strategic book marketing and communications agency, and her daughter, Rebecca Syme a USA Today Bestselling author. I really like their approach to marketing, which is all about marketing smartly and paying attention to the right things for you (which may be different than someone else). Listening to their podcast is also a good way to decide Chris Syme’s books on marketing are right for you. Although the podcast covers a lot of things some more advanced indie authors might already know, it’s still a valuable podcast to check up on.

If I haven’t convinced you of the awesomeness of podcasts yet, here are two podcasts that offer transcripts.

4 The Self-Publishing Formula

This is a podcast by indie best-selling author Mark Dawson paired with newbie writer James Blatch. This interview-based podcast is like eavesdropping on a super informative conversation guys at a bar during a con, only you’re not eavesdropping.I found the show about Mark Dawson’s use of his mailing list to launch his book to be one of those master class podcasts, that is so valuable he should be charging for it. One thing that is nice about their podcasts is that if you go to their website and give them your email address they can send you a PDF with transcripts for all of their past podcasts.

5 Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn Podcast 

So I confess, before I started listening to podcasts, I would still go to Joanne Penn’s website to read transcripts of her podcasts. Her interviews are always very fascinating and informative. Her story and interview style is very inspirational and friendly, like having a chat with a girlfriend over coffee. Each individual podcast has its own page with a transcript that you can just read without giving up your email address.

Are there any other podcasts you enjoy listening to that you think should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know!