Author Topic: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch  (Read 6768 times)  

Offline Evenstar

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #50 on: May 10, 2017, 05:19:02 AM »
I watch all the videos, but I like the threads too  :)
This market changes really fast, different things work one month that won't next and so on. That's why it's always useful to follow an author who has their finger on the pulse.

My question would be, that I totally get the benefit of a big advertising push at launch, but will you continue to promote beyond that or will you allow it to become organic once the ball is tumbling down that hill all by itself?

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #51 on: May 10, 2017, 05:24:51 AM »
Chris, thank you once again for another helpful, insightful, inspirational post. Sometimes I get a little worried when juggernauts like yourself are MIA on kboards for a while--though I know you have a life and lots of work to do!--because the insights you provide are one of the biggest values on this forum.

And FWIW, I think you've earned a little self-promotion, if that's how you feel about it. No one here is going to complain about the visibility you get from your platform when your platform is so stinking helpful. I love your videos, love your threads, and I'm looking forward to reading the new trilogy.

Carry on, sir!


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Offline edwardgtalbot

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #52 on: May 10, 2017, 05:53:13 AM »
To follow up on a question someone else asked, how do you get AMS ads to scale on such short timeframe? Normally Product Display ads take several days or even weeks to start delivering. Sponsored Product ads do in fact tend to start right away except they are very difficult to get to scale. I do have a theory that both forms of ads work much better for books already in the top 10,000, but not sure how that impacts how quickly they scale and or start delivering impressions and clicks.

Could you share more about what sorts of AMS ads you used and in particular how quickly you started getting enough clicks to move the needle? If it's in the videos, let me know and I can check those out. I've read your books on writing but videos are not really my preferred form of consumption (they take MUCH longer to get the same info, though I understand not necessarily much longer for the video creator to create) so I tend not to do those unless I'm looking for something really specific.
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Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #53 on: May 10, 2017, 07:15:52 AM »
Hi Chris! I'm curious to know, what ads are you using when you say '$400 of ad spend' beside the days. Are these AMS/BB/FB ads?

Three or four people asked for more specifics on advertising, so here's the breakdown. In general, I have the best luck with AMS ads. I test 10-15 different version of ad copy to see which performs better, and cut all the ones that aren't doing well. Along the way, I add thousands of keywords for pretty much every book that has ever existed in my genre. Every few days, I prune the keywords that aren't working. I focus heavily on my first in series, and over time have developed several ads for each book that consistently perform. It takes a LOT of work to maintain. I tried outsourcing that work, but it proved a very costly mistake.

I have less experience with Facebook and BB ads. For FB I used a lookalike audience created from my most engaged mailing list. Those ads seem to be doing really well, at least as far as clicks and cost. For BookBub ads, this was my first real attempt. I targeted my authors carefully, and burned through a ton of cash daily. However, I also received a lot of clicks in a very short time frame.

I won't continue expensive advertising past Friday, and have already started ramping it down. This type of advertising is designed to capture position, not to make a profit. Going forward the opposite will be true. I will only keep profitable ads. If it isn't profitable, it will get cut.


To follow up on a question someone else asked, how do you get AMS ads to scale on such short timeframe? Normally Product Display ads take several days or even weeks to start delivering. Sponsored Product ads do in fact tend to start right away except they are very difficult to get to scale. I do have a theory that both forms of ads work much better for books already in the top 10,000, but not sure how that impacts how quickly they scale and or start delivering impressions and clicks.

Could you share more about what sorts of AMS ads you used and in particular how quickly you started getting enough clicks to move the needle? If it's in the videos, let me know and I can check those out. I've read your books on writing but videos are not really my preferred form of consumption (they take MUCH longer to get the same info, though I understand not necessarily much longer for the video creator to create) so I tend not to do those unless I'm looking for something really specific.

I throw money at them. If you're bidding $50 a click, you will get a TON of impressions. You will also pay through the nose for every click. For the most expensive keywords I paid as high as $4 a click. During an initial launch push I'm willing to do this, but it feels a bit like flushing your money down a toilet. It's only worth it when you consider sell through for an entire series, and even then may not be worth it.

I earmarked an ad budget just like you would money for the craps table in Vegas. Maybe you'll get some return, and maybe you're just throwing it away =p


Offline Anarchist

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #54 on: May 10, 2017, 07:56:19 AM »
I earmarked an ad budget just like you would money for the craps table in Vegas. Maybe you'll get some return, and maybe you're just throwing it away =p

I do the same. But I try to shave the house's edge as low as possible. I have a lot of AMS data regarding keywords that convert for me (in terms of both clicks and sales). So I bid high on those during launch, and bid "normal" on the rest.

Because as you mentioned...

This type of advertising is designed to capture position, not to make a profit.

To continue the craps analogy, it's kinda like betting the table max on the Pass, taking max odds, and then maxing out the Place 6 and 8 to win. I all but ignore the field bets, hardways, and props. ;)


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Offline edwardgtalbot

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #55 on: May 10, 2017, 08:47:51 AM »
Thanks Chris and Anarchist for the observations! That makes sense now. I'm not completely averse to budgeting a few hundred dollars for AMS ads during a launch and bidding fairly high. I have been running ads for a few months so I have an idea what keywords and ad copy work well.

When you're using this strategy, do you run into the problem a lot of authors run into where having multiple ads for the same book and keywords tends to not give anywhere like the multiplier that multiple ads should? Or do the high bids seem to counteract that problem?
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Offline Anarchist

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #56 on: May 10, 2017, 09:08:35 AM »
When you're using this strategy, do you run into the problem a lot of authors run into where having multiple ads for the same book and keywords tends to not give anywhere like the multiplier that multiple ads should? Or do the high bids seem to counteract that problem?

I can't speak for Chris, but I don't test ad copy during launch. I've been writing PPC copy for many years, going back to the early days of Overture, so I have a pretty good feel for it.

For AMS, I write the best copy I possibly can for select groups of keywords, and let the campaigns run. Each campaign contains a related group of KWs, along with copy that has been written specifically for them. So while I run multiple campaigns for the same book at launch, I don't have multiple campaigns for the same KWs. Nor do I use the same ad copy for the same keywords.

Once the launch is over, I go back through my campaigns and start adjusting bids, pruning ineffective KWs, and testing copy.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline edwardgtalbot

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #57 on: May 10, 2017, 09:14:55 AM »
I can't speak for Chris, but I don't test ad copy during launch. I've been writing PPC copy for many years, going back to the early days of Overture, so I have a pretty good feel for it.

For AMS, I write the best copy I possibly can for select groups of keywords, and let the campaigns run. Each campaign contains a related group of KWs, along with copy that has been written specifically for them. So while I run multiple campaigns for the same book at launch, I don't have multiple campaigns for the same KWs. Nor do I use the same ad copy for the same keywords.

Once the launch is over, I go back through my campaigns and start adjusting bids, pruning ineffective KWs, and testing copy.

Thanks. The no multiple campaigns for the same keywords was my key question. I have a good handle on three different sets ad copy that have done well for the series. I haven't done much narrowing down of copy with specific keywords, though. Like keywords for lee child and his books with copy that says "Like Jack Reacher?" or whatever. Also, I suspect some things that haven't worked at lower bids would start working if I bid $1 or more per click.
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Offline Anarchist

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #58 on: May 10, 2017, 09:39:48 AM »
Also, I suspect some things that haven't worked at lower bids would start working if I bid $1 or more per click.

AMS is seemingly so schizophrenic that it's tough to know what'll work and what won't, even with high bids. I say "seemingly" because I'm sure there's method to the madness. But everything is hidden from us. There's no visible relevancy score. There's no visible quality score. There's no way to gauge ad placement per keyword.

I've bid high on some keywords for one book and seen no action while bidding low on the same keywords for a thematically-related book and been deluged with impressions and clicks.

No ad platform has ever made me mutter "WTF?!" as much as AMS.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline edwardgtalbot

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #59 on: May 10, 2017, 10:05:13 AM »
AMS is seemingly so schizophrenic that it's tough to know what'll work and what won't, even with high bids. I say "seemingly" because I'm sure there's method to the madness. But everything is hidden from us. There's no visible relevancy score. There's no visible quality score. There's no way to gauge ad placement per keyword.

I've bid high on some keywords for one book and seen no action while bidding low on the same keywords for a thematically-related book and been deluged with impressions and clicks.

No ad platform has ever made me mutter "WTF?!" as much as AMS.
Believe me, I feel your pain! And this makes A/B tests. . .very difficult is a generous characterization. I feel confident in my ability to write effective copy for my books, but it sure would be nice to actually test it :)
Edward G. Talbot thrillers: Sometimes, everyone IS out to get you.

Offline writemore

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #60 on: May 10, 2017, 10:11:31 AM »
Great launch!  Did you send out ARCs or are these amazing reviews all organic?!

Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #61 on: May 10, 2017, 10:13:31 AM »
Great launch!  Did you send out ARCs or are these amazing reviews all organic?!

Most of them are organic, but they're from people who read The Void Wraith trilogy. They're a little biased =D

Offline coolpixel

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #62 on: May 10, 2017, 10:16:05 AM »
Chris,

very informative.

do you pay for MLS? also how many authors did you swap with? and during non-launch periods, how often do you blast your mailing list?



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- Reddit promotions, $500 ad spend
Day 6- MLS# 5, #500 ad spend
Day 7- MLS #6, all mailing lists, all social media, $500 ad spend


Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #63 on: May 10, 2017, 10:20:58 AM »
Chris,

very informative.

do you pay for MLS? also how many authors did you swap with? and during non-launch periods, how often do you blast your mailing list?

Nope, I'd never pay for a MLS. I typically only email my fiction list when I have a new release, but I release pretty frequently. My non-fiction I email every week, but that's because I'm providing relevant content (videos).

Offline coolpixel

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #64 on: May 10, 2017, 10:47:01 AM »
thanks, and how many authors did you engage with on for the MLS?

Offline Salome Golding

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #65 on: May 10, 2017, 11:15:46 AM »
There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, especially if other people benefit. So I don't think the disclaimer is necessary...

...
I have less experience with Facebook and BB ads. For FB I used a lookalike audience created from my most engaged mailing list. Those ads seem to be doing really well, at least as far as clicks and cost. For BookBub ads, this was my first real attempt. I targeted my authors carefully, and burned through a ton of cash daily.
...

Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by "targeting your authors" in the quote above?


Offline Craig Andrews

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #66 on: May 10, 2017, 01:09:08 PM »
Those are all organic, either from front/back matter, or from website signups. I've steered clear of most giveaways so far, though I have started dipping my toe in recently. I think those promos can work if you have a good way of sifting engaged members from the giveaway list onto your main list.

You had said in one of your early 12 Weeks to a Trilogy videos that you were going to make your reader magnet available on Instafreebie. Did you follow through with that? And if so, did you net any signups that way?

Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #67 on: May 10, 2017, 01:39:56 PM »
There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, especially if other people benefit. So I don't think the disclaimer is necessary...

Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by "targeting your authors" in the quote above?

Self-promotion plagues a lot of author communities, since we're all trying to hawk books. I just like to be careful not to stray over that line.

The concept of targeting authors in my genre is covered in Write To Market. In a nutshell, if you have 10 other authors writing in the same genre and they're making a killing doing it, showing your book to that same audience should result in the same results. Obviously there's a lot more to it, but that's the quick answer.


You had said in one of your early 12 Weeks to a Trilogy videos that you were going to make your reader magnet available on Instafreebie. Did you follow through with that? And if so, did you net any signups that way?

I did upload the book to Instafreebie, and have gotten some sign ups. I haven't participated in a big giveaway though, and this is one of the areas I could have done better with. I ended up with just a few hundred signups prior to launch, when I was hoping for a thousand.

I'll definitely keep working with Instafreebie. I'd love to try a larger giveaway and see how it does.

Offline Nicholas Erik

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #68 on: May 10, 2017, 02:13:37 PM »
Appreciate the detailed launch breakdown, Chris.

What does your click to sale ratio look like on AMS? E.g. 10 clicks per 1 sale, 50 clicks per 1 sale? How has that changed advertising a new book at $0.99, versus the more established ads for your $2.99 series starters/$6.99 box sets?

Also, when you bid $4 (or absurdly high), how often does AMS actually charge you anywhere close to that amount? I've ran campaigns at $0.90/click, but most of the clicks up being around $0.45 - $0.60. It seems the bidding system does curtail spending based on other bids (and, presumably, other unknown factors). Of course, AMS happily charged me $0.45 for keywords that I previously got impressions/clicks for @ $0.05 or even $0.02.

Nick

Offline Yayoi

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #69 on: May 10, 2017, 11:55:09 PM »
Hi Chris,

What advice would you give to those (like me) who are just starting out in the self publishing game with no list, no contacts, no connections or whatsoever? What strategies would you suggest if they'd like to make sales figures like you?

When you started out new with your first book, what did you to attain success?

Thanks for the help.

Offline Salome Golding

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #70 on: May 11, 2017, 03:23:43 AM »
The concept of targeting authors in my genre is covered in Write To Market. In a nutshell, if you have 10 other authors writing in the same genre and they're making a killing doing it, showing your book to that same audience should result in the same results. Obviously there's a lot more to it, but that's the quick answer.

Thank you very much for your reply. I will check out Write To Market or some other source to find out how to show my books to the same audience as successful writers in my genre.

Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #71 on: May 11, 2017, 05:44:04 AM »
Thank you very much for your reply. I will check out Write To Market or some other source to find out how to show my books to the same audience as successful writers in my genre.

Write to Market is in KU if you have that. If not, I've got some videos on my YouTube channel. The How to Train Amazon one might be helpful.


What advice would you give to those (like me) who are just starting out in the self publishing game with no list, no contacts, no connections or whatsoever? What strategies would you suggest if they'd like to make sales figures like you?

When you started out new with your first book, what did you to attain success?

Thanks for the help.

I showed up on Kboards in September of 2015, one month before releasing my book. People like Annie Jacoby and Wayne Stinnett made detailed launch plans and shared those in threads like this one. They freely taught exactly how they were selling books, and I paid attention. Other people, like Amanda, showed that it was possible to crank out novels in less than a month. At the time I'd have told you that was impossible.

I resolved to learn to be a better writer. I resolved to be a faster writer. Finally, I resolved to learn marketing. The only way to do this was to release a bunch of books. My first book did well, but I didn't understand why. My attempts to duplicate the success of No Such Thing As Werewolves failed. Hero Born barely sold. So I took a step back and tried to figure out why. Then I released another book. And another.

It's possible your first book will be a success, but it's more likely it won't sell many copies. As long as you continue to learn, and continue to publish, you will continue to get closer to the kind of money you'd like to make. It isn't just about massive work, though that's a big part of it. It's about constantly assessing yourself and your writing, and always working to improve.

Most people want a simple actionable answer. Almost every one star on my writing books touches on that point. They want a recipe for success involving three steps or less. It just doesn't work like that. If you know more than you did yesterday, and are closer to publishing, then you're doing this right. Keep doing that, every day.


Appreciate the detailed launch breakdown, Chris.

What does your click to sale ratio look like on AMS? E.g. 10 clicks per 1 sale, 50 clicks per 1 sale? How has that changed advertising a new book at $0.99, versus the more established ads for your $2.99 series starters/$6.99 box sets?

Also, when you bid $4 (or absurdly high), how often does AMS actually charge you anywhere close to that amount? I've ran campaigns at $0.90/click, but most of the clicks up being around $0.45 - $0.60. It seems the bidding system does curtail spending based on other bids (and, presumably, other unknown factors). Of course, AMS happily charged me $0.45 for keywords that I previously got impressions/clicks for @ $0.05 or even $0.02.

Nick

Hey, Nick! My click ration varies by ad, and the better the copy the better the ratio. It ranges between 7-10 clicks a sale, with my exceptional ads being 4-5 clicks. When I bid absurdly high the bid is something crazy like $50 a click. The highest I've ever ended up paying is $4. Most of the time it's $1 or less. That can eat through an entire daily ad budget really quickly, which is why most of my ads have more sustainable bids. I only pull out all the stops at launch.

Offline bwritenow

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #72 on: May 15, 2017, 11:21:54 AM »
That's an extremely generous share--bookmarked.

I've been working as a content & occasional ad writer for online marketers for years. It sounds like the numbers here can be pretty good for someone who has a good book, and will spend the time learning how to make ads work.

I initial was attracted to Kindle publishing because, "Wow, you mean genre authors can make decent money again?" It's like the return of the midlist--but better. The business end also also looking pretty attractive these days.

Maybe I'll see you on the other side someday...and thanks again for the generous share.

Turd Master
Less than one
sale per day

Offline ebbrown

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #73 on: May 16, 2017, 08:07:43 AM »
Chris, do you think the $0.99 price point is integral to launch success? I'm really on the fence with my next release, as I usually price at $3.99 along with the theory that the hungry fans will snatch it up quick as a new release no matter what price. I've been saving the $0.99 price point for sales & when I can get a BB. Very interested in seeing it work how you structured it, though, so thanks for sharing.

Offline Chris Fox

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Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #74 on: May 16, 2017, 08:16:42 AM »
Chris, do you think the $0.99 price point is integral to launch success? I'm really on the fence with my next release, as I usually price at $3.99 along with the theory that the hungry fans will snatch it up quick as a new release no matter what price. I've been saving the $0.99 price point for sales & when I can get a BB. Very interested in seeing it work how you structured it, though, so thanks for sharing.

No, I don't think it's integral. I used it because it's been almost nine months since my last release in this genre. My list was cold, and I wanted to give them a reason to re-invest. If you already have a following of people who love your work, try launching at full price. I know Glynn Stewart does that, and it seems to be working really well for him.