Step Five: Promote and Advertise Up To and Through Launch
In order to have a shot at making the list, you’re going to need more than 10,000 sales that count within a short reporting window (one week or less), and assume no site will count towards bestseller list purposes if it has less than 500 sales. That means GET TO 500 on Apple, Nook, and, possibly, Kobo before you put your Amazon pre-order up. We had over 500 on Apple and Nook and didn’t make it on Kobo, and we had, I believe, 12,000 sales over all for our reporting period (and got gypped out of 1200 sales by Amazon, but had no recourse).
Come see me!
LIVE WIRE reading, A Celebration of Women’s Words, Black Lab. Pub, Houston, TX, March 3, 4 pm
Writing and Reading Mysteries and Thrillers, Comicpalooza, Houston, TX, May 12, 3:00 pm
Pre-orders will count on the day or release, so that means, realistically speaking, your window starts with launch day and ends with whatever the counting cycle or period currently is for USA Today. We launched on Nov. 13, a Tuesday, because the week started on Monday, and because many retail sites actually will publish you the evening BEFORE you tell them to, and you don’t want those sales to accidentally count on LAST day of the preceding period, because it’s not a rolling-week for counting purposes.
BookBub ads worked well for us because of our 99 cent price point and the “warm lead” nature of the typical BookBub user (they’re out looking to acquire more books). We did not find Facebook or Amazon ads very useful, but you may want to try them anyway. We used Bookbub ads off and on for 3 months preceding our launch.
Apply for a Featured New Release Deal on Bookbub. Be sure every single author works to get 1000 follows (the magic number for eligibility for new release free alerts), and also claims the book on their BookBub accounts so that that free new release alert will go out automatically for their followers. Sign up for pre-order alerts, but not until you have the pre-order up everywhere (amazon is 90 days out, so I’m saying don’t do it before it goes up on Amazon).
Many people don’t like to pre-order and wait until launch or right before launch to purchase. So you don’t want to spend all your advertising money months before launch. You’ll need to spend some of it for a slow and steady advertising campaign, but you’ll spend most of it the week before and especially in the first few days of the launch. Save your big guns—the most effective promo outfits—for then. For a list of the bets ones, hop over to Nicholas Erik’s website. He maintains a good one.
1. INDIE PUBLISHING SUCCESS INTENSIVE (April, TX)
2. Enter to win! READER APPRECIATION WEEK (CONTEST), Free for WINNERS (June, WY)
3. JUMPSTART THAT NOVEL (July, WY)
4. CRIME FICTION INTENSIVE (October, TX)
At the eleventh hour, if you’re still falling short but not by much, you always run giveaways where you “gift” paid books through Amazon to readers. It’s a labor intensive process, but if you’re going to miss by 50 books, it’s worth it.
And then…you pray.
And if you’ve done everything right AND you’re lucky, you make it.
So, now that it is over, was it worth it?
Financially, it’s too early to say. But I can say that on my next BookBub Featured Deal, the one where I had USA Today bestseller on all my covers and in my descriptions and on the text they send in the emails to their subscribers, my novel went to #1 in the first hour of the promo, and that’s never happened before. Usually I peek at 3 am, and shoot a bleary-eyed screen shot. And Apple NZ/AU contacted me to feature my first novel as their free book of the week, leading to a 850% increase in my overall paid sales in the region (and a huge increase overall, across all regions). I have gotten a lot of social media and PR mileage from it. I know it matters to people. I have a book launch coming in March, and I’m interested (to put it mildly) to see how it impacts sales.
But it sure as hell hasn’t hurt.
And given that I split the $25k with 21 other people (that doesn’t count the time and cost of producing my story BUCKLE BUNNY and its individual cover, by the way, just the promo money), I’d say, yeah, this was a good investment for me.
That’s all I’ve got.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins, USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion award for
Best Mystery, writes hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and mystery trilogies in her What Doesn’t Kill You world. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it on the SkipJack Publishing blog.
Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes and trail rides with her hunky husband, giant horses, and pack of rescue dogs, donkeys, and goats. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).