Whether you’re a new author, or a veteran, publishing a book can be one of the most stressful experiences imaginable. Writing a book is tough, but trying to get it in front of as many people as possible and actually get them to read your work? Easily just as hard if not even more so.

Right off the bat, one of the biggest struggles authors face, is setting up their launch campaign. Which is basically an orchestrated event chain by the author (or publishing company or marketer), where the goal is to get the book as much publicity as humanly possible right after release, to “launch” the book high into the store rankings. And that’s important because popularity drives more popularity. Like a snowball rolling down the hill, a book that gains enough traction to start the roll will continue to gain more and more popularity and is more likely to ultimately be successful. While a book that never gets rolling will likely remain unsuccessful until the day something or someone gives them that nudge down that hill.

With this in mind, If you’re ever going to invest into marketing your book, it’s the launch campaign that should get the majority of your budget. A book that’s been sitting on the shelves for months or even years, will struggle to replicate the potential success of a book that just appeared. This is even more true for online stores such as Amazon. Because whenever a book (or any product really) gains a lot of popularity in a short time span, Amazon algorithms will take note and will start to further assist it with marketing. Because a popular product is likely to be a profitable product, and because Amazon takes a cut of all sales, it is every bit in their interest to help promote such products. Which is why you REALLY want your book launch to be a success.

So how do you set up the perfect ebook launch on Amazon?

Well, there’s no way around hard work and spending a fair bit of money. It’s a sad reality for many authors who usually don’t have much of a budget to work with, but if you don’t invest into marketing, your book – no matter how good it is – will probably never become even remotely successful. The saying that if you write something good enough the people will read it, is outdated. There are millions and millions of books on Amazon. No matter how incredibly amazing your book is, it won’t matter when nobody will ever see it and thus have no opportunity to actually read it.

You NEED to invest money into getting the book some serious visibility. There are free methods to get some publicity but ultimately, money gets more results. And because time = money, even the free methods aren’t really free, are they? As an author you don’t want to spend all your free time marketing the book, you want to be writing your next book, or revising the one you just wrote. And that means outsourcing the marketing efforts.

So let’s get down to it. First off, let me paint you an outline of what a book launch should roughly look like, and then we can start filling in the details:

   1. Write a great book.

   2. Have a great cover made.

   3. Write a great blurb.

   4. Send advance copies to reviewers or people you know are willing to review it. Make sure they have the time to read it before you publish. Let them know of your publishing date and ask them to leave the review at that time.

   5. Upload book, make sure it looks perfect in every way. Enroll in KDP Select. Set the price to about double of your eventual price. Publish.

   6. Have the people who got the free copy write their reviews as soon as possible. You want most of the reviews to be written in the first few days, 1 week tops.

   7. Use the KDP dashboard to set up a Free Promotion that lasts 3 days.  Set the start date about 1 week after you published.

   8. Start setting up promo campaigns for that 3 day free promo campaign. Set up all the promotions you can find/afford for days 1 and 2. With more on day 2. No promotions for day 3.

   9. Start setting up promo campaigns for the follow up period. You should price your book at $0.99 for 3-7 days after your free promotion days. Depending on how big your budget is, go for minimum or maximum number of days you keep it at $0.99. Use the same escalating curve. More promotions on day 2 than on day 1. Even more promotions on day 3, even more on day 4 etc.

   10. Wait. Do your best to self promote through whatever means you can during those first 2 days of the free promotion you set up.

   11. On the evening of day 2 of the free promotion go into KDP dashboard and set the price of your book to 0.99. This will not cancel the free promotion, but will make for a smooth transition in price on day 3. Now, on Day 3, wait until Noon PST and then manually end the Free promotion.

   12. Wait until all the 0.99 promotions have ended and set the price to your original intended price.

And that’s it. That’s the gist of the best book launch you could achieve with no prior books or author brand.


 




 

Now let’s break each step down and why doing promotions this way is effective:

 

1. Write a great book.

Can you match GoT?

Goes without saying but the fact is, a crappy book no matter how well you market it, will never reach as high highs nor sustain its peak as well as a legitimately good book would. Don’t rush finishing and publishing your book. You can’t undo it. You commit to your launch and what happens, happens. Don’t find yourself in financial debt and losing your mind over an underperforming, poorly written book.

2. Have a great cover made.

A solid custom cover will cost about $100

No matter how many times people are told not to judge a book by its cover, they still do it. And they will continue to do it. Make sure the cover to your book is nothing short of amazing. Work with designers and artists and invest a decent amount of money into it. A good cover designer will ask for a hefty sum, but that almost always includes unlimited revisions. They won’t stop until you’re happy. So invest that dollar.

Those $5 Fiverr covers might be good for those on an extreme budget, but realistically they won’t hold a candle to a proper cover. Not only are cheap covers often just poorly done, but you may very well find countless other books with near identical looks. That’s not what you want. You want your book to stand out, not get lost in a sea of similar titles.

3. Write a great blurb.

A good cover is what may draw people to click on your book and see what it’s about, but a good blurb is what seals the deal. With millions and millions of books on Amazon, you can’t just expect people to take one glance at your book, read a hastily written and vague description and go heads over heels for it. Ain’t gonna happen. A bad blurb, from writing to formatting is the most common issue with most of the books I promote. It’s so common I don’t even have the energy to advise people about it because it would become a full time job. Famous books or books by famous authors can get away with mediocre blurbs and poor formatting, but new authors don’t. Unless you have an insane marketing force behind you, a poor blurb is likely to crush sales before they even really get going.

“Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.”
Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

A good blurb will make you want to read the book right then and there.

4. Send advance copies to reviewers or people you know are willing to review it. Make sure they have the time to read it before you publish. Let them know of your publishing date and ask them to leave the review at that time.

You can’t leverage good reviews of your book to promote sales if you wait until the last minute when sending copies out. People have busy lives, they’re not going to drop everything on a dime to read and review your book. You need to send out advance review copies weeks or even a month ahead of publishing. Not only does it give people time to read the book at their leisure, it also gives you valuable last minute feedback that you still have time to include in the final copy you publish. At the very least your readers are sure to find a few embarrassing typo’s that your proofreader missed.

For illustrative purposes only. I am a very poor wordsmith for such e-mails.

5. Upload book, make sure it looks perfect in every way. Enroll in KDP Select. Set the price to about double of your eventual price. Publish.

KDP select is what allows you to use Amazon Free promotions as well as discount promotions later on. You can choose to ignore it, but in that case, the rest of this article won’t hold much value to you because you won’t be able to set the price to $0 and Amazon algorithms will not be as favourable in helping you promote the book. The reason why you want to set the price higher than your eventual desired price is because you want to drive up the perceived value of the book. A $9.99 book going on sale will look a lot more appetizing to people than a $2.99 book going on sale.

Well worth it for new authors

6. Have the people who got the free copy write their reviews as soon as possible. You want most of the reviews to be written in the first few days, 1 week tops.

Reviews are important, and not just for getting downloads/sales. Many promotional sites also require your book to have a certain number of reviews and a certain review score before they’ll consider promoting your book. Getting those early reviews from the people you sent advance copies to is very valuable for allowing you to schedule the maximum number of promotional services for your launch campaign.

7. Use the KDP dashboard to set up a Free Promotion that lasts 3 days.  Set the start date about 1 week after you published.

Free promotions are the best way to get your book in front of as many people as possible as a fresh author. With KDP Select you get 5 free days for every 3 month period. However it’s usually ill advised to use all 5 days at once, or to use only 1 day in launch campaigns. The reasoning is simple. A single day promotion is likely to be inefficient because there isn’t enough time for the book to circulate and get high on the rankings. And 5 days is too drawn out for a promotion to be suitable for a launch. You could achieve comparable peak rank with 2-3 days and save another 2-3 days for a potential future promotion.

Setting it up is easy peasy

You usually want to wait no longer than one week after publishing to promote your book. That’s because freshly released books are noted in extra Categories on Amazon as “new releases”. That means more potential readers you can reach, and new release books that are performing well are much more likely to be helped by Amazon algorithms, simply because there’s not yet been any sign that the book/product might fail. In comparison a book that’s been out for a year, and simply sat on the shelves barely getting any reads, won’t impress Amazon by suddenly ranking high after a promo campaign. Amazon algorithms would already be aware that the book is unsuccessful and thus unprofitable, and short term spikes in popularity are unlikely to change their mind.

8. Start setting up promo campaigns for that 3 day free promo campaign. Set up all the promotions you can find/afford for days 1 and 2. With more on day 2. No promotions for day 3.

Simply setting your book free won’t do a whole lot on its own. You must invest money and effort into signing up for various promo services who will then promote your book on those days. And you’ll probably want to set up several services if not more. The key thing to note here is that you want to schedule promotions only on day 1 and day 2, with most being on day 2, and I’ll tell you why.

Becoming a bestseller in a popular category is a guarantee for success

Simply put, the whole point of the free promotion is to get your book to rank as highly as possible on the Amazon store rankings. The higher your book, the more visibility it has in the store which means even more downloads, an even higher rank and so on. High ranked books are also more likely to be put into Amazon newsletters and picked up by various third party websites that circulate ebook links. And why you want your book to be as high rank as possible is that when you switch your book from free to paid, there will be a short period where the book will remain as a top ranking free ebook, while already costing money. And that means you’ll be able to get a bunch of actual sales right off the back of the free promotion. And that’s important, because again – the more sales you get, the higher your rank, and the higher the rank, the more sales you’ll get. It’s a snowball effect.

And the reason why you don’t schedule any promotions for day 3 is because the plan is to stop the free promotion in the middle of day 3. And a lot of promo services simply aren’t willing to work with partial day promotions, so it’s simply better to avoid it altogether. If you set days 1 and 2 up properly, the momentum from those days will be enough to propel your book through day 3 without issue.

The reason why you want to cut the promotion off in the middle of day 3, is as I mentioned before – when you switch from free to paid, the book will have a short transition time where it’ll appear in both Free and Paid categories. This is a unique opportunity to get actual sales off the momentum generated by the free downloads. This is something that does not happen if you let the book switch the price naturally as your free promotion expires on its own. You HAVE to end the promo manually in the middle of the day.

And the reason why you want to set up more promotion services for day 2 than day 1, is because you want as big of a momentum, as high of a rank as possible for day 3 for when you make that switch to paid. And to do that, you want most promotions to be on day 2, so that they can carry over to day 3. You still want some on day 1 to get the book rolling, but most on day 2. This is also the reason why you don’t go for all 5 days, because it’s very hard to keep that upswing momentum through-out all 5 days. Odds are your budget simply wouldn’t allow it and it would be less efficient to boot. Because the promotions that are done on day 1 may still produce some effect on day 3, but probably not a whole lot on day 4 and definitely not on day 5. So among Kindle promoters, the 2-3 day approach is most favoured.

If you’re looking for promo services, this site has a big list with all the details from prices to eligibility concerns. Not every promo site is likely to be active any more, but it should give you a lot of options to browse through: https://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites

9. Start setting up promo campaigns for the follow up period. You should price your book at $0.99 for 3-7 days after your free promotion days. Depending on how big your budget is, go for minimum or maximum number of days you keep it at $0.99. Use the same escalating curve. More promotions on day 2 than on day 1. Even more promotions on day 3, even more on day 4 etc.

Before you experience this rollercoaster that is the promo period, you first need to finish your preparations. So right after setting up all those free promotions for your free period, you should start looking for promo services that will promote your book on the days to follow. Because even though the approach described previously will get the snowball rolling with early sales, it usually won’t sustain the momentum on its own. Again, you want to schedule more and more promotions on each following day if you can afford it.

You want that snowball to get bigger and bigger and bigger and roll ever faster. The reason why you don’t want to stack every promotion in the universe on a single day is that while the book would get a lot of exposure, it wouldn’t go wide enough. It’s like making a snowball so big that it simply won’t roll not matter how hard you push. Putting all promotions on a single day can get your book ranked really high, but odds are the rank will drop like a stone over the next few days and will soon be forgotten because the sale will be over before a lot of potential readers even hear of it or have time to react to it. But with a gradual increase it will spend more and more time circulating the web, allowing people to maybe even finish reading it and spread news of the sale through word of mouth and such.

An example of a launch campaign I did for my book a couple of years ago can be found here: https://imgur.com/SAu9BOt

The book reached rank #42 in the Amazon Store.

10. Wait. Do your best to self promote through whatever means you can during those first 2 days of the free promotion you set up.

Alright. You’re all set up. Now you wait for the free promotion to start. When it does, do your part in promoting the book as best you can. Tell everyone you know, post on every social media account you have. Try to spread the news on forums you visit and so on. Every little bit helps.

11. On the evening of day 2 of the free promotion go into KDP dashboard and set the price of your book to 0.99. This will not cancel the free promotion, but will make for a smooth transition in price on day 3. Now, on Day 3, wait until Noon PST and then manually end the Free promotion.

Now, this I covered a few points earlier. You want to end the promotion manually in the middle of day 3. But before you get there, you want to change the price of the book to 0.99. Why this is important is that the price change takes time. Everything tends to take time with Amazon. So if you manually end your promotion and didn’t change the price in advance, what happens is that people will see the book still listed as free on Amazon but then get the cold shower by seeing the full price once they click on it and will likely pass. But if that price says $0.99? Well, that’s a bargain. Free or $0.99, not much of a difference for most folks, which is exactly why this approach works. But a full price book wouldn’t produce those results. Kindle readers are very price sensitive.

So you do that late on day 2. It can take up to 12 hours to change in extreme cases, so you don’t want to wait too long. But you also don’t want to change it too early, because you are likely to get some more downloads if people see a full price book discounted to $0, compared to a $0.99 book discounted to $0. So ideally, you’d switch the price after the rush hour of day 2 has mostly ended.

Now, on day 3, you wait until Noon PST and you end the promotion manually. Make sure to check on the store page that the price change you made earlier went through on time as planned, and you’re all good to go. End the promotion and cross your fingers for some early sales.

12. Promote the book as best you can during it’s $0.99 run. Wait until all the 0.99 promotions have ended and set the price to your original intended price.

Again, not much to do but wait now that the $0.99 promotions you set up earlier will do their work. You can and should still promote as best you can, but beyond that not much to do. Once the $0.99 promotions have all ended, you should switch the price of the book back to its original full price and hope the momentum for all the promotions will continue on getting you sales, now at full price. Earning you a nice profit.





And that’s how you do the perfect launch campaign as a fresh Kindle author. Ideally, your book climbed high enough in the ranks and got so many downloads and sales that it can sustain its own popularity through word of mouth, Amazon algorithms and third party websites promoting your book. Everyone wants a piece of the latest hot pie. Make sure your book is as hot as they come.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can simply rest on your laurels and the book will sell like crazy till the end of time. Oh no. The work is just starting. But it all begins with the launch, and it’s important to get it right, or it’s so much harder to go forward.

It’s also important to note that this approach is meant primarily for new authors launching their first book. Those who already have established brands with multiple titles may find more success skipping the free promotion and instead looking to divert all effort towards actual sales using the $0.99 price point instead. This can be done by utilizing the existing reader following the author has through mailing lists or social media accounts, or by running repeat free promotions on earlier titles and hoping their popularity will carry over to the fresh release. With a large enough of a marketing budget, enough promo services can also be bought to rank any release very highly.

Also important to note is that many authors “go wide”, meaning they publish their books on numerous platforms and not just Amazon. However doing that makes one ineligible for Amazon special promotions program – KDP Select, so the author would have to rely completely on their own means for promoting the titles across all the other platforms in a world where Amazon is undoubtedly the king. Jury is still out on whether or not it’s a good idea. Works for some, not for others. You’ll have to make up your own mind on that, though it’s clear that without a doubt it would be a more expensive approach, requiring the book to not only be formatted in multiple formats from Kindle to epub and such, but having to rely even more on paid promotion services to promote the book, as Amazon algorithms are less inclined to help a book that’s also available on competing platforms.

 

I hope this article has been helpful!

– James

Please follow and like us:
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
Facebook
Google+
http://www.jameshmayfield.com/how-to-set-up-the-perfect-kindle-ebook-launch-campaign-using-kdp-select">