I thought since I hadn’t posted in a while (I’ve been concentrating on researching and writing the next Leine Basso book) I’d give an update on how things are going after the launch of The Body Market. The book’s been selling well and a couple of authors have contacted me privately to ask what I did differently, and whether I think those strategies worked. Since I love to analyze (not in any real scientific way, mind you) I sorted through all the things I did differently and those I didn’t and came to the same conclusion:
I have no effing idea which strategy worked the best.
Now, before you give me a ration of crap in the comments, let me clarify: if someone tells you that yes, this one thing they did caused Amazon’s bots to get behind their book, I’d have to call bullshit. Only Amazon knows how their site works, no matter what someone says. We can all try to guess what works until the moon explodes, but NO ONE REALLY KNOWS (and if anyone reading this does, in fact, know please leave a comment 🙂 )
Personally, I think it boils down to a combination of things: pre-launch hype, backlist, cover, genre, description (including using SEO keywords, and tags.), early reviews, press releases, advertising, social media posts, et al. You’ll notice I didn’t list pre-order, per se. That’s because while I expected Amazon’s pre-order option to work similarly to traditional pre-orders, e.g., all pre-order purchases rank on release day and give the book a bump of some kind hopefully onto a list or two, this did not happen with The Body Market. In fact, after all the work I did pushing pre-orders, the day after launch book sales on the ‘Zon dropped 70%.
Blech. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I’d never had that happen on a launch before and I was pissed.
And I didn’t know who or what to be pissed at, except myself. Somehow, somewhere, I’d messed up, but I didn’t have a clue what I’d done wrong. I dropped the price of Serial Date, the first book in the series, to 99 cents and advertised the hell out of it the week of the launch (AwesomeGang, EreaderNewsToday, FB, etc.). The Body Market’s pre-order price was 99 cents, which I also advertised with both free and paid options, although not too expensively (in other words, no BookBub ads).
There was one bright, shiny moment on launch day: when a handful of advance readers who had agreed to read and review the book posted their reviews. They were all fantastic and I’m so incredibly grateful for their support. If not for them, I think I would have crawled into a corner, assumed the fetal position, and sobbed uncontrollably into a glass of wine.
I had one more ad coming out the Saturday after launch, a new release post with Free Kindle Books and Tips. I usually see a good rate of downloads whenever I run an ad with this site (not NYT bestseller numbers by any means, but enough to push the book onto some lists). This time, though, something was wrong. I clicked over to the page where the book was listed and realized I’d toggled the wrong genre. Instead of thriller/suspense, I’d somehow chosen history. I sent a message to the owner of the site, but by this time the email had gone out to subscribers and that first flush of purchasers, if they didn’t read the description and figure out the book wasn’t even remotely history-related, had more than likely skimmed past the book.
Okay, so at that point Mark pretty much had to talk me off the ledge (which, in retrospect, wasn’t hard to do since we live in a one-story house). I decided then and there that whatever happened to the book was just meant to be and that I had done everything I could short of dancing naked in the middle of Pike Place Market holding up a cardboard cutout of the book cover and offering free booze to passersby.
Hmmm…maybe…um, nah. Seattle’s too damn cold.
Then, a miracle happened. Somewhere, somehow, something clicked and downloads started to do a kind of a crazy zig-zag on the report page. One day, sales tripled, the next day they sank back to post launch. The next day sales tripled again, but then the weekend hit and sales tanked. By this time, I was feeling all zen about the launch and I figured, hey, sales were sales and I should concentrate on the next book, forget about it all, immerse myself in the world of Leine once again, do what makes me happy. Basically, I adopted a fuck it attitude and let it go (cue song from Frozen)
The following Monday sales increased seven-fold and have been growing ever since. As I write this, the whole series is selling well. I rooted around to see if The Body Market somehow made it onto any big lists on the ‘Zon, but I couldn’t find it anywhere other than the usual suspects like Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Crime and Thrillers>Assassinations, so I’m stymied. Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe the rate of downloads will last, but I’m supremely happy knowing the series is reaching more readers than ever and can’t wait to see how far the 4th book in the series will go. I wish I could point to one thing I did right, or even a few things, but hell if I know. I’ll probably do a lot of the same stuff for the next launch, but don’t expect it to follow the same patterns. The timing will be different, for one thing, so who knows what’ll happen?
I think that whole unknown is what intrigues me about this business. Predictable, it’s not.
So how about you guys? What are your launch strategies? Are you doing anything different? If so, what’s working and what isn’t?
Reblogged this on Laurie Boris, Freelance Writer and commented:
For independent authors, launching a new book is hardly a precise science. Especially when things go a little sideways. Here’s DV Berkom’s blog about what happened when she released The Body Market. (Which is a kick-ass thriller, by the way, and the third in the Leine Basso series.) The launch story does end well, however.
Start with a kick-ass book, which you did…
Awww, thanks, Laurie 😀
I’m not planning to launch anything major until the fall, but I’m always trying to learn how to do things better. I thought the pre-order might help, since I was publishing a sequel. In retrospect, I would have done more advertising, gotten my ARCs out a little earlier, and offered a pre-order discount. I don’t know that I would do it again. Depends on the type of book. Oh, I feel your pain about getting put in history. My first book was listed in “horror” instead of “humor” on Amazon. That wasn’t funny. 😉
OMG horror? Oof. That sucks. I think I’ll probably do the pre-order thing again just because it forced me to get all my ducks in a row. But I will definitely set my expectations LOW.
Congrats, DV, Glad to hear the book is doing well. This post is a timely reminder to me that I should be doing a lot more to get ready for the launch of my next book in the spring!
Yeah, Mel, it’s a lot of work, but at the end of the day, at least you know you did your best. Good luck!
Polly Iyer says
I agree about the pre-orders and wrote Amazon that letting them all sell on release day would be a really good thing. My last book had a LOT of pre-orders, but they dribbled in and didn’t do anything but keep me in the top rank at that time of Psychics and a few days in Suspense, Paranormal, Psychics. All 3 books in the series remain in the top 100 of Psychics. I don’t know if I’ll do another pre-order for that reason.
The reason your book is doing so well is it is a fun book, well-written, with a great kickass heroine. I loved it. Hope they all keep selling like crazy.
Thanks, Polly 🙂 I appreciate it and am so glad you enjoyed reading it. Especially since you like many of the same authors as I do.
Wow, what a rollercoaster ride. I’m glad you’re still so sane, and I’m especially glad the books are finally doing well because I’m half way through The Body Market and I’m loving it. I knew I would but still. 🙂 How in hell did you learn to write kickarse action so well????
Anyway, if you ever get a light bulb moment about the market/promotion please share. We’re all mystified too.
LOL yes, it’s been a ride. Serial Date did well when it came out and Bad Traffick did too, for a time–then dropped off substantially despite great reviews (subject matter?). I think a lot of readers don’t want to start a series with only 2 volumes. 3 seems to be the magic number, at least for me.
Glad you’re liking TBM, AC. Writing kickarse scenes is my favorite thing, so there’s that 🙂
Yes, I think 3 is the magic number as well. Let’s hope things start popping now.
Fantastic! Congratulations no matter how it happened. Obviously readers are liking what you’re producing. Now I’ll have go and check the series out too, lol.
Thanks, Dale 🙂
Trudy Brandenburg says
I write “The Emma Haines Kayak Mystery Series” because I enjoy it. And other folks do too. My goal for writing was mainly to have fun with it & meet new people. And that’s what’s happened. Because of my series, I teach fun writing classes through an adult program & get speaking gigs. My best sales have been signings at local events in September & December. Prelaunch is my telling folks, Facebook, & a few emails. Post is the same. It’ a hobby for me that gives me pride, self confidence, and keeps my brain from turning to total mush. So many people want to write a book, but few have the discipline. I tell folks it’s the hardest fun thing I’ve ever done. I nearly had a breakdown pre- and post- over my first book. Never again. It’s all about enjoying the process & if the sales come – so be it! Now go have a glass of wine & get crackin’ on the next book. Your readers are waiting, Dv.
That’s really cool, Trudy. Doing it for the love of it is what it’s all about. I started out that way, but when I realized I could actually make this a career I decided to work it like my other businesses–although it’s a tad more difficult to really succeed than what I’ve done before 🙂
sherry fundin says
Congrats DV on the success. I am not surprised. As to how Amazon does anything…who knows. I loved your post and couldn’t help but laugh. Great videos to emphasize your feelings. 🙂
Thanks, Sherry! Glad you enjoyed the post 😀
Thanks for that great share of your launch experience.
Sometimes I feel like my books are saddled up on the Ground Hog Day Roller Coaster express. One thing for certain, however: Each new book released, every promo, interview, blog, Facebook schmooze, and other countess hours spent marketing our work, DOES result in a steady rise in sales.
Short of tying my foot to my anchor and jumping overboard, I spent a day analyzing the past three years since I jumped on the KDP Select wagon, and proved it to myself. I feel much better now:-).
Congratulations on the new book and successful launch.
Thanks, Jinx! You certainly have the wind at your back these days 🙂 Here’s to continued success!
Rebecca aka RP Dahlke says
Hey DV, Ah, someone else who beats themselves up and cries into the wine glass! I keep telling myself, “It’s a journey, not a race!” Then laugh. I’m with Jinx and Polly–Don’t jump, please don’t jump!
LOL Rebecca! Even if I did, it wouldn’t accomplish much 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.