The book launch for my debut novel on Amazon was two weeks ago, when I uploaded my book and excitedly hit ‘publish’. I’ve been promoting Deadly Sins for the last couple of weeks now and I’ve experienced highs and lows, and learnt a LOT about Amazon and marketing books in the process.
Timing is everything – and Amazon is slow!
I edited and proofread like crazy the week before my book went live. I decided to just upload an ebook and see what would happen (I need to finish formatting the paperback and then I’ll publish that too). For some reason, I’d become impatient and hadn’t set out a concrete marketing plan for my book launch, because I just wanted it published! One of my main goals in 2016 was to publish my first book, and I’d missed my deadline, so I wanted to meet my goal as quickly as possible.
I’d already purchased Vellum (software to create ebooks), which I’d used to create my instaFreebie preview (see my previous post), so I formatted my book in record time. I added all the various metadata into Amazon (book title, author name, keywords, categories, book description, price, etc). Then, very late at night, I uploaded my final ebook and cover, and simply pressed ‘publish’.
And then I waited. And waited. Nothing happened.
I wondered whether I’d done anything wrong. Amazon says it can take 72 hours for a book to be reviewed, but I’d heard it was far quicker: two or three hours (nope!). I hadn’t created a pre-order period, which would have helped me to work out when my book would go live. It was incredibly disappointing when I had to go to sleep wondering whether my book would even go live the next day.
Finally, my book launch!
I waited all morning for something to happen and finally my book went live around 3pm (15 hours later). That afternoon I learnt that any little change I wanted to make to an ebook via Amazon’s (archaic and non-mobile-friendly) KDP dashboard potentially would take yet another 72 hours to review. I wanted to change my book’s price from full price (e.g. $2.99 in the US store) to a special launch price (e.g. $0.99). I’d stupidly not realised when I filled out all of my metadata (including the book’s price, which I’d entered as the full price) that it would take hours to change anything.
So again, I waited and waited, realising no one would buy my book that day if Amazon didn’t change the price. I’d told my 1,000+ subscribers that I’d let them know when my book launched at a special promotional price, so I couldn’t email them yet to say the book was live. It was so frustrating!
Finally, hours later, my book was reviewed (again), the updates went from ‘publishing’ to ‘live’, and I could actually promote my book at the .99 price. Also I edited my description and sent that off to be reviewed again by Amazon (now I knew how long it would take). And we went out to celebrate Deadly Sins being published.
I got quite a few sales in the first week, mainly from my list and readers on Facebook and Twitter. Amazon added extra categories to my book page and that helped with my ranking. I didn’t have reviews on Amazon.com though because I hadn’t lined up reviewers (although I had a great review on the Australian store). Without reviews, my sales dried up, and I wondered how I could get any more.
Free promo days
I used some free promo days on Amazon last week, for more people to download the book (and to get more reviews). Also I realised that because the readers on my list mainly subscribed via instaFreebie, a site that gives away free books, they wanted a free copy of my book and not a .99 deal.
I spent days researching reliable paid promo sites that would advertise my book to their lists/followers on the free promo days, who didn’t mind that my book didn’t have reviews. I filled out countless forms with various descriptions of my book, and every single form was different. It was mind-numbing and I wondered whether it’d be worth it.
It was! On 12 April my book entered the free Kindle Store and by the end of the day it was in the Top 100 bestselling free books on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In the US it reached #1 in Organized Crime and #1 in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (Literary Fiction). I had 2,769 downloads in one day! I think my success was down to the biggest of the paid promo sites I used: FreeBooksy.
On the second day I’d booked a few paid promos (including an eBook Betty promo), but not as many as the first day, so my book didn’t have as many sales. Sadly it slipped down the rankings and by the time Amazon switched my book’s price from free to .99 again, it wasn’t in the free Top 100 any more and didn’t get much traction in the paid store afterwards.
Learning from my mistakes
I wish I’d only used one free promo day, which I’ll know for next time, but getting so many sales (now over 3,400, including paid and free sales) has really boosted my confidence. I know roughly which paid promo sites worked and which didn’t, and again this is helpful to note down for the future.
Overall, my book launch and free promo days worked out quite well, considering this is the first book I’ve published and my first book launch. Now I have two 5-star reviews on Amazon.com, which I’m really happy about.
This week I’ve started marketing my book in the paid Kindle Store, as well as working on book two and book covers for other authors. I’m continuing to get sign-ups via instaFreebie promotions as well. In two months 2,000 readers have signed up to my list, and I’m helping to market other authors’ books and giveaways. It’s really nice to connect with other authors and learn from them.
Deadly Sins is available on Amazon now! You can grab a copy by clicking here.