Author Topic: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch  (Read 6978 times)  

Online Chris Fox

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Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« on: May 09, 2017, 07:20:50 AM »
Morning, Kboards! Once upon a time I used to post launch threads showing what tactics I was using, and why. I did this for the very first time in November of 2014, and continued the tradition all the way through Destroyer in 2016. I've stopped since, because most of my efforts have gone into my YouTube channel (see my sig if you're curious).

Last week I launched Behind The Lines, the first book in my new Ganog Wars series. This time around I had several benefits I was lacking last year. I have a larger list. I have more connections among authors in my genre. Most importantly though? I am a much better writer. Those of you who've watched my 12 Weeks To A Trilogy video series watched this all come together, and this is the pay off.

Thus far BTL's peak rank has been #220, as compared to Destroyer's peak of #202. However, I've sold over twice as many books in the same five day launch window. BTL is by far my best, and most profitable, launch ever. It's currently hovering in the high #300s, but as you'll see from my launch plan I may be able to push that back into the #200s.

So what did I do, and why? First, I started working on the launch well over a month in advance. I targeted sites, asked authors in my genre for newsletter swaps, and most importantly...I wrote the 2nd book before launching the first. Hold The Line will go live Thursday, and is averaging 45-50 preorders a day at $3.99 a pop. Book three will come out four weeks later, at the same price.


The Strategy

I launched Behind The Lines at 99 cents for the first seven days. That's painful, because it means 33 cents a sale instead of $2.09. However, the gains outweigh the cost. The 99 cent price point means there is no barrier to picking up the book. Either you get it extremely cheap, or free in KU. I'm after as much visibility as possible, and I'm willing to pay a premium to get that. Note that this only applies to the first book in series, definitely not to the sequels.

I chose to release book 2 just a week after the 1st for two reasons. First, because I've watched people like Isaac Hooke and Lindsay Buroker do it. I've seen the results. Second, because I understand how I personally like to read books. We're a Netflix culture now. We binge. When I read the Dresden Files, the very second I finished a book I was looking for the next. When readers finish my first book, I want them to be able to immediately purchase the next.

That second book is extremely important. A reader who likes a first in series, but who cannot get the second book, will often forget about that series. A reader who's bought 2, or even three books is far more likely to stick with that series. KU readers binge, and I'm giving them as much content as quickly as I can for that reason. This should raise my sell through, which is even more important than I'd originally assumed.

The more I see Amazon work, the more I become convinced that they are measuring things like sell through. If your book kicks butt, and your sequels kick even more butt, you are more likely to draw Amazon's attention. This can mean participating in programs like Prime, which was very lucrative in and of itself. It also sold a lot of extra books.


The Breakdown

Below, you can see the promotion I ran each day. Note why I structured this the way I did. Instead of packing promotion into the first couple of days, which would have propelled me into the top 100, I instead chose to create an oscillating pattern. Day one was good, day two awesome, day three good, day four awesome...and so on. I'm doing this to mimic organic sales growth, in the hope of triggering Zonbot to go peddle my book.

Yes, I am spending a [crap]-ton on advertising. Yes I know that not everyone can do this. No, I'm not recommending you do it. I have the money to spend, and know how and where to spend it to maximum effect. If you feel you can do the same, yay! If not, don't feel like you need to drop several grand on advertising. You can have a successful launch without it. Ads just increase your odds and your peak rank. Even a few hundred well spent dollars can make a huge difference.

Day 1- Rank #865: Discover SF announcement, email to main SF mailing list, $140 ad spend (FB, BB, and AMS ads)
Day 2- Rank #320: SF Bridge announcement, MLS (Mailing List Swap) #1, MLS #2, social media push, FreeBooksy, $400 ad spend
Day 3- Rank #314: Fiction mailing list, ENT, Planetstrider list (smaller but highly engaged), $400 ad spend
Day 4- Rank #220: Deathless List, MSW#4, $500 ad spend
Day 5- Rank #248: Reddit promotions, $500 ad spend
Day 6- Rank #382: MLS# 5, #500 ad spend
Day 7- MLS #6, all mailing lists, all social media, $500 ad spend


The Results

My goal here is clear. Keep Behind the Lines in the top #500 until book 2 launches. By then I've had seven straight days of great sales. My book will have percolated into the also bought of every major book in my categories, and remains in the top 3 of each. This means that when book 2 launches, I have several thousand eager readers instantly clicking buy or borrow.

Based on previous launches, this can result in a string of four figure days. My goal is to prolong that string for as long as possible, and to get books out fast enough that it never stops until the series is complete. Destroyer stayed in the top 20 of it's genre for just over two months, and in that time I only released one sequel. In that same sixty days I want to release four books, with a fifth about to launch.

Anyway, I'll check back in here occasionally to update this thread and to answer questions. I hope you guys find this useful. If so, please let me know! I always worry these will be perceived as self-promotion.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 03:09:14 PM by Chris Fox »

Offline BWFoster78

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 07:27:34 AM »
Quote
I hope you guys find this useful. If so, please let me know! I always worry these will be perceived as self-promotion.

I love these kinds of threads and definitely don't perceive them as self promotion.

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Offline RosalieLario

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 07:43:58 AM »
I find this thread very useful Chris. I watch your Youtube videos but it's always great to see the launch plan in writing. Please continue to update us!

Offline Jerry S.

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 07:47:05 AM »
Following your progress intently on Youtube, Chris. And now here. Keep it up!

Offline mwiings

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2017, 07:48:16 AM »
Looking forward to your results.

These posts can be quite helpful because they provide practical points of reference.

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2017, 08:01:09 AM »
I enjoy the updates and insights on strategy.

Thank you.

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Offline Saul Tanpepper

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2017, 08:19:05 AM »
Best of luck, bro.
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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2017, 08:21:06 AM »
Not self-promotional at all. I find threads like this very helpful! Congratulations on your new release!

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Offline sela

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2017, 08:31:19 AM »
Fantastic results, Chris! Congrats!

As usual, I'm studying your methods and planning to implement then when my own trilogy percolates to the top of my WIP list. You are a font of wisdom for the indie space so thanks a million!

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2017, 08:46:30 AM »
I love launch threads, whether they're big or small. This one is way out of my league, but even so, I'm taking notes. I have a new series launching this autumn and I'm already starting to think about launch strategies, and that's a direct result of Chris sharing his ideas via books, YouTube or threads here.

So congrats on a great launch, and thanks so much for sharing.
   

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2017, 08:49:25 AM »
I always worry these will be perceived as self-promotion.

Kboards can always use more Chris Fox and less drama llama.

I'm in.
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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2017, 08:53:24 AM »
Following. Eagerly!




Offline Clare W

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2017, 09:23:15 AM »
Chris - when I see a new thread that you've started, I always open it. Really appreciate you sharing your strategies and results!
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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2017, 09:28:34 AM »
Good luck, Chris! Eager to see your results.

Related question--are you making anything with the paperbacks priced at $8.99? I'm guessing that's not much of a profit on your end, in extended distro or otherwise.

Offline Rachel E. Rice

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2017, 09:34:38 AM »
I try to read all of Chris Fox's posts, and read his books. I'm on his mailing list so I watch his videos as well. Keep them coming.   


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Online Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2017, 09:36:07 AM »
Good luck, Chris! Eager to see your results.

Related question--are you making anything with the paperbacks priced at $8.99? I'm guessing that's not much of a profit on your end, in extended distro or otherwise.

I make a little over a dollar, I think. It isn't much, but I don't sell a ton of paperbacks. I've had just over 2,000 ebook sales, and 11 paperbacks =)

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2017, 09:43:23 AM »
Nice! Not sure if I'm correct about this but it seems that, compared to your previous threads of this nature, you are focusing more on mailing lists and using less ads/promo sites. Is this the case? If so, I'm assuming it's because you've built strong lists. Just an observation and nice work! :)

Offline PiscaPress

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2017, 09:43:38 AM »
Great, thank you! I sometimes feel that BookBub has become the only viable way out of the cellar, so it is nice to see strategic plans like this that are built on other concepts.

I enjoy the videos as well.
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Offline Augusta Blythe

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2017, 09:44:10 AM »
Hey Chris,
I noticed you used Freeboosky and ENT for this launch. You weren't concerned they would muddy the ABs and confuse the algos?

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2017, 09:47:13 AM »
Excellent stuff Chris, thanks for being so generous with your time and sharing your strategies and experiences. It is always appreciated, at least from this gal. :)

Online Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2017, 09:54:38 AM »
Nice! Not sure if I'm correct about this but it seems that, compared to your previous threads of this nature, you are focusing more on mailing lists and using less ads/promo sites. Is this the case? If so, I'm assuming it's because you've built strong lists. Just an observation and nice work! :)

Yep, that's it exactly. I want to control the audience that sees my book, and promo sites don't allow me to do that.


Hey Chris,
I noticed you used Freeboosky and ENT for this launch. You weren't concerned they would muddy the ABs and confuse the algos?

Hey, Augusta! It was awesome finally meeting in person. FB and ENT are small enough that I didn't worry about them muddying up the algos. I made sure to sandwich each between much larger pure SF lists, and that seems to have worked pretty well =)

Great, thank you! I sometimes feel that BookBub has become the only viable way out of the cellar, so it is nice to see strategic plans like this that are built on other concepts.

I enjoy the videos as well.

I've never had a BB, and I'm doing just fine. That said, I'd love to get one. I had drinks with the BB people at the Smarter Artist Summit, and they convinced me to start resubmitting. I haven't in over a year.

Offline Rickie Blair

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2017, 09:58:24 AM »
Bookmarked!

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Offline wingsandwords

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2017, 10:09:55 AM »
I love, love, LOVE your threads!

I really need to work on more forward thought with my launches.

You really make me want to write a full trilogy before I launch the first book...I have some planning I need to do. Thank you for being such an inspiration. <3

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2017, 10:40:19 AM »
I want to be Chris Fox when I grow up. :-) As always, thanks for the great thread and information, Chris. It's amazing to see how far you've come over the last year, and continue to be an inspiration to many of us. Keep it up!

Offline B. Magnarella

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2017, 10:50:40 AM »
Great info, Chris. I love the clear, concise way you lay out your strategy and rationale. I'll be following with interest.

Just curious if you've found a reliable way to scale up your AMS ads (i.e. gotten Amazon to actually spend the increased budget.)

Congrats on your launch thus far!