Author Topic: I still don't have my head around book launches...  (Read 2409 times)

LSMay

I still don't have my head around book launches...
« on: February 11, 2019, 05:24:14 AM »
I'm not particularly good at or confident in marketing. I confuse myself every time it comes to releasing a book.

If it's the first in series, I don't want to market it too heavily because there are no later books yet, and therefore even the small paid measures (e.g. BKnights) that I try for the book end up losing money (selling at 99c/35c royalty with no sell-through.)

If it's a later book in the series, then I don't want to promote it to anyone who hasn't read the first... but because the launch of the first didn't go so well, that's not a lot of people. I often promote the first again, but because it has already tanked I'm not confident enough to throw much more money at it.

I know one or both of these is obviously hurting me, but I can't figure out which is the best time (book 1 or later books) to throw money at it, or where to throw the money so it actually helps. Anyone have some book launch strategies to share?

L S May | Website | Twitter | Goodreads
 

123mlh

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 05:37:32 AM »
I always spend the majority of my money promoting book one in a series unless the titles can standalone. And, honestly, I'm not sure starting with the cheap promo sites is really a good way to go. When I first dipped a toe into advertising I was using BKnights to do it. I haven't used them in years because I finally realized that for me and my books I was better off paying for a Freebooksy/Bargainbooksy, ENT, Book Barbarian, Bookbub, etc when it came to discounted promos and AMS when it came to full-price promos.

As for when to advertise...This is just one person's opinion, but if you're not going to advertise a book one until you have three books out, then I wouldn't even publish that book one until you have all three done. Because all that publishing that book one and not advertising it will do (these days, in my opinion, etc. etc.) is burn through your new release window and show Amazon that the book should rank poorly. Climbing out of that hole later is hard to do. Most authors these days who launch a new series are not going to see high organic sales without some sort of advertising that gets your books in front of readers so publishing and praying for a wild hit is just not a good strategy. (IMO)

I don't have the self-restraint to wait to publish three books at once myself, so I advertise a book one in a series even though there's nowhere for anyone to go yet knowing that I may not keep some of those readers when book two comes out. I do it with AMS ads so I'm doing so at full-price. On my latest release that's let me keep a ranking of 20K to 80K for the last three-plus months while I write book two and hopefully a certain percentage of those 500+ readers will be there to buy book two and it will do that little bit better than book one did and I can continue to build from there with each subsequent release.
 
The following users thanked this post: LSMay

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 3850
  • Thanked: 1384 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 05:45:53 AM »
Disclaimer: I'm a prawn.

That said, you bring up a valid dilemma. Advertising on the first book when it's released gets no sell-through. Advertising on a later book only works for people who read the first book--but if you don't advertise the first book initially, who exactly is it that would have read that first book? Also, a lot of promoters won't feature anything except the first book.

Perhaps the ideal if one had the patience would be to wait until the first three books were ready and then release all three more or less at the same time. I'm not sure if this is still true, but it used to be that the new release period was the easiest time to raise rankings (and hence the best time to advertise because advertising produced more impact than at any other time). Anyway, with three books out at once, you can get the benefit of early advertising on book 1 and have sell-through.

Failing that--and I'd never had the patience--a slow build is probably best. That means doing some advertising on book 1 when it comes out. You may lose money, as you point out, but these days sales without advertising are going to be few and far between. When subsequent books come out, no one will have read the first one. Also, you don't have any way in that scenario of building tools like a mailing list, which many people say is highly desirable for building sales in the future. Of course, you can mitigate that effect to some extent by running promos on the first book each time you release a new one. You get sales on book 1 and some sell-through. Also, some promoters might run more than one book in the same month. Not so long ago, I released a book 2 and promoted both 1 and 2. Almost every promoter was willing to take book 2 if they were also promoting book 1 within the same month or so.

Slow builds are just that--slow. However, over time people who started out as social media followers or mailing list subscribers can turn into genuine fans who might actually buy something. That does mean having a flow of new content coming to satisfy your audience.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | Facebook author page |
 

Tom Wood

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 06:07:14 AM »
When I joined here, I was in the throes of finishing a first-in-series book that I intended to publish in a short while - like, months ago! Then I did the research that pointed to a multi-book series launch, for all the reasons listed above. So now I'm in that process - finishing the first three in their entirety and having the fourth well enough along that I feel confident that I can put it on 90-day pre-order once the first three are published in one batch.

I suppose it's self-restraint, but it also seems like a good strategy given the competitive landscape. So for anyone who's wondered, "Why is that Tom guy such a loudmouth when he's not even published?" In my defense, I would have been published by now if it weren't for those pesky gurus who said wait!

 
The following users thanked this post: Matt Godbey

LilyBLily

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 07:15:54 AM »
Allow me to be a naysayer. I've tried many of the tactics others have found to work for them. For my particular books, the tactics mostly have not resulted in success. I consider myself a prawn even though there are plenty of people who live on incomes lower than my Amazon earnings last year. That's the poverty level, though. :HB
 

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 3850
  • Thanked: 1384 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 08:23:19 AM »
Allow me to be a naysayer. I've tried many of the tactics others have found to work for them. For my particular books, the tactics mostly have not resulted in success. I consider myself a prawn even though there are plenty of people who live on incomes lower than my Amazon earnings last year. That's the poverty level, though. :HB
I've had the same kind of experience in that I've tried some much-praised methods that haven't worked. However, if you're making that much money on Amazon, you probably can't call yourself a prawn any longer.  :banana-riding-llama-smiley-em Clearly, something must have worked for you, though it doesn't necessarily have to do with book launches.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | Facebook author page |
 

notthatamanda

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 09:05:24 AM »
One other factor to consider is you can go back and tweak books one and two as needed if you wait until the third one is done.  That makes it worthwhile to me to wait.  I can see the story as a whole.  Disclaimer - also a prawn.
 
The following users thanked this post: Cathleen

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 3850
  • Thanked: 1384 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2019, 02:09:24 AM »
Here's a related question I'm not sure how to answer. I can see the writing-the-first-three-books scenario working well for an author's first series, but how would that work with subsequent series. It seems as if readers already hooked on an author would then have to wait a long time for a new release.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | Facebook author page |
 

Tom Wood

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 02:32:26 AM »
Here's a related question I'm not sure how to answer. I can see the writing-the-first-three-books scenario working well for an author's first series, but how would that work with subsequent series. It seems as if readers already hooked on an author would then have to wait a long time for a new release.

 

123mlh

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 02:38:30 AM »
I'd actually say that the first series ever for an author is the most dangerous time to launch all at once because if you missed the market, you've missed the market with that many books. So for a brand, brand new author it might be better to get some work out there and see how it's hitting so you can adjust or not waste the time it takes to write that many books. For someone who has done well in one genre and is moving to another, I have seen the three-at-once strategy be really effective. But I've also seen it fail or not perform as well as an author hoped.

I know of at least one author who has continued to drop entire trilogies at a time or over a short period of time. (Arches) Maybe he'll chime in here.

Readers love to binge read so if you can drop three books at once every six months, they'll take that. If it's every two years, they'll probably forget you. And if you miss the market with a series you drop, it's that long before you can see a nice bump again.

There are no easy answers in this business. And often no way to know in advance which strategy will be the best for that particular author and series.
 

Tom Wood

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 02:48:00 AM »
It's a gamble either way, but since we are in a pay-to-play market, the cost of advertising just flat doesn't work with a single release according to the gurus.
 

DrewMcGunn

Re: I still don't have my head around book launches...
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2019, 03:39:17 AM »
It's a gamble either way, but since we are in a pay-to-play market, the cost of advertising just flat doesn't work with a single release according to the gurus.

I'm on the newer side of things, but I found that a somewhat rapid release worked well enough for me.
When I released book 1, book 2 was with the editor and book 3 was 1/2 finished.
I dabbled in the AMS pool with a couple of dollars a day as I tested the waters.

Over the course of the last 45 days in 2017 I sold 360 copies of my first in series (in KU, and counting full reads as "sales").
Some of that was organic, as I had a small but interested following on a genre specific forum, but some of that came from advertising.
With the changes in how AMS displays data, I can now see how successful my advertising was from those first 45 days. according to AMS 59 people bought the book during that time. My expense was around 20% of income. Most of that happened before book 2 was released. I didn't do a pre-release.

Of course, everyone's experience will be different. I'm sure there are folks who've done exactly what I did and lost money, so YMMV.


Drew McGunn