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Tracking Results of 1st Launch

I promised to tell all — even when my Weird Indy Publishing Project failed. Notice I did not say “I failed.” That’s because this is new turf to me and I do not expect to be perfect the first time I step into a game. Nor should you.

This post is about the relationship between kinds of promotions and results on Amazon. Ranking is where the book stands. What does that mean in terms of #of books sold (whether free or for money)?

The meaning of RANK*

 There are tiers on Amazon re’ sales. From lowest to highest:

VI      100,000-999,999:  don’t sell a book/day, but moving some each month
 V         10,000-99.999: generally sell a book/day; closer to 10K mark, probably selling closer to 10 copies/day
IV          1,000-9,999: where $ starts to happen. At 9,999, selling double digits daily.
III             100-999: 1,000+ books sold/day
II                 10-99: high as most indies will ever see and generally only when we’ve launched a Book Bub or some other massively discounted sale.
I                       1-9: earn 6 figures/month from just that book.

Now that “RANK” has meaning, I’ll show you mine.

Keep in mind that in this Weird Indy Publishing Project

  • I chose the most difficult of all book to sell: memoir. In the words of such esteemed authors as Steven Pressfield and Johnny B. Truant, “Nobody wants to read your sh*t!” Didn’t matter to me because it’s a passion piece, chosen for personal reasons. And, it’s the device I’m using for learning more about marketing.
  • I am an unknown. I do not have tens of thousands reading my blog or following me on Twitter; I am not in the news; worse, I am an old hippie who doesn’t give a fig about all that. (Do the math; I’m 70!)
  • I do not write in popular genres — romance, thrillers, or sci-fi.
  • I do not write the new non-fiction designed to improve your life — 15-25K words, 50-100 pages if double spaced, but these have tons of white space.
  • I will probably be the sole voice of “what is.”

OKAY?  Here goes.

My 1st ever Launch

My first launch lasted 9 days.  Of those, the first 3 were FREE book days, December 6-8. There was a two-day screw-up on my part where no promo happened, December 9-10. Reduced-price ($.99) promos went for 4 days, December 11-14. here’s the numbers for Book 1, Burnout to Bliss series: BURNOUT — How a Desert Lizard Restored My Faith

3 FREE days: December 6-8

Day 1:  Dec. 6 — Rank: 1,167 FREE in the Kindle Store. 

I didn’t know how to copy & paste that at the time, but I can send you the screen print if you want to see it.  James Mayfield was the only FREE book promotion that day. The book was #1 in both categories that day and there were 488 FREE books downloaded. (Which is nothing compared to a romance book I read and reviewed. That book had thousands of free downloads.)

Day 2: December 7 — no promotion, still FREE.

Oops! Even so, the rank from Day 1 continued for two more days — i.e., while it was still free.

Day 3: December 8 — 3 promotions, still FREE

There were promos with Book Marketing Tool, BKnights, and free999books.com. Rank continued unchanged.

No Promotions for 2 days, Rank dives

Day 4: December 9 — no promotions (oops): 

Friday, rank plummeted with price change from FREE to $.99 , despite KDP addition of new category.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,517 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store. Notice, too, that category ranks took a serious dive with the change in price, despite getting a 3rd category which research had suggested would be good for sales.

Day 5: December 10 — no promotions (oops):

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,341 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Day 6: Dec. 11 — 1st day of promos for $.99 price

There were two promotions: JustKindlebooks and Reading Deals. Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,393 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store). Notice the upsurge in rank and in ranks by category with a paid promotion.

Day 7: Dec. 12 — 2nd day promos @ $.99 price

Promos included Kindleboards and Awesome Gang.  Results were about the same as the day before. 40 units sold 12/11-12/12. Rank is UP by 1,000, but category ranks are still about the same.  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,303 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Day 8: Dec. 13 — 3rd day promo @ $.99 price

Promo with only 1 vendor: Buck Books. Rank: up by 20,000!  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,360 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Day 9: Dec. 14: 4th day promo @ $.99 price

Promo with only 1 vendor: Awesome Gang, but this was their $65 promotion, not the previously used $10 one. Notice the drop in rank by 10K — from 10,360 to 20,187! Fortunately, the categories changed only slightly.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,187 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Well, there you have it! It was the first time. I already wrote about the learning process in scheduling a launch in the previous post. I’ll recap here, below.

Other factors affecting results

BOOK description:  I changed my book description frequently. Just couldn’t seem to get the formatting right, and I responded to people’s opinions about the content and rewrote it several times.

Lousy planning: I did not actually spend enough time planning my launch, despite the hours of writing and rewriting the steps in my own words. Sure, I wrote down dates and penciled in ideal situations (promoters I wanted on certain days), but never having been through this before, I didn’t know exactly HOW to do it and made a mess of things. It’s important to understand turnaround times when changes are made to your book on KDP; they’re different for each item — price can be 48- 72 hours, book description could be 24.  And yes, you have to click through each time just as you did when you set the book up for publishing. Essentially, you must be able to juggle raw, opened eggs.

I allowed myself to be swept by the tide.  In my natural state, I do not allow others to determine my pace — even if we’re playing tennis; I prefer medium-to-fast. However, I was participating in a group situation, trying to learn social rules within this group, and I allowed myself to feel pressured to match their assembly-line deadlines announced by constant emails screaming, “What are you afraid of? Just do it!” kind of thing.  I am not afraid. This is not my first book-e-o. It won’t happen again. I have withdrawn from the group and will be seeking one soon with a better fit for my purposes.

Lessons learned for my 2nd launch

  1. Plan the whole thing out from upload to publish and don’t hit publish until you have every promotion lined up and scheduled. (LOL).
  2. You can’t schedule a promotion until the price for the promotion shows on your Amazon product page. (FREE? then price must show as FREE before you contact them!)
  3. Your reduced price will not show up below the regular price with a slash through the regular price (no matter what Sarah of Book Zio says) unless you also have a print version published OR are doing a count-down deal in which case you must not have done another deal in 30 days.
  4. Some promoters will not tell you specifically when they intend to do your promotion if you’ve given them a range. No worries: give them only a specific day.
  5. Notice which ones make a difference and which ones do not. I did.
  6. Don’t depend on using paid promotions unless you have lots of cash. My budget for this was $250. Altogether, my 10-day launch sold 40 books. Uhm, 35% OF < $40 = __.
  7. Amazon algorithms favor incremental growth.

I’ll consider doing a similar launch for Book 2 in the series, (shooting for March 2017) but only if I have a launch team — 15-20 people who will not only read the A.R.C. ( free advanced review copy), but who also will post their honest review after “buying the free book” on Amazon when told to do so.  My rate with my tiny launch crew was 70% follow-through.  (My friend who had an army launching her book said 70% was good.)

Why so few?  No one likes me, apparently. Or maybe it’s just like my senior year in high school when all the boys thought I already had a date for homecoming. I did not.

I asked family & friends, Facebook “friends”, Tweeted for “followers” to join me, and wrote a post on this blog asking for help. I got no replies from any of those pleas. No one replied. Not…one…person.

I’ll look for a different way to do it. My heroes (Sean Platt & Johnny B Truant and Chris Fox) are all making 6-figures writing sci fi. Maybe I’ll learn from them.”The Sterling Brothers” used the Reader Magnets approach by Nick Stephenson to blast their INVASION series to 6 figures. Chris Fox recommended writing to market — doing market research to find the niche to determine what to write about next.

Maybe I should have written about the sci-fi thriller I started in Camp NaNoWriMo instead of BURNOUT. Maybe I will do that instead of following through on this series.

I found the launch to be a very stressful way to spend my time. I’m still learning and … who knows? Maybe by March I’ll have learned a different way to promote my books. Or maybe I’ll meet some guy, fall in love, move somewhere else, do something altogether different, and just forgetaboutit.

*I learned the meaning of rank, relationship to number of books sold, from the book by Chris Fox, Launch to Market. Check out his very cool, new web page: chrisfoxwrites.com.

Till next time, please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi

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2 responses to “Tracking Results of 1st Launch

  1. Hello Pam,
    have not heard about the launch but read the post you sent out. Did you promote your book and are you still doing that? what is napping now?
    Have not heard from you since way before the launch 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Hi, Annamarie. I have been blogging the entire experience on this blog — “My Weird Indy Publishing Project.” I thought you were part of the launch team. That you received an advanced review copy (ARC) and several emails. One announced that the book was free so you could download it.You were asked to post your review. And you did! Thank you! Please read about the launch here, on this blog, SkatingThru2012.com. There are at least ten posts about the project, and several blog posts about the launch. I will continue writing about the publishing experience here for some time because my project includes 4 books. Happy holidays!
    Pam

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