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.
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 ☺
“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)
“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.
(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.
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.
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.
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!)