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Author Topic: A different kind of launch thread  (Read 1255 times)  

Offline aimeeeasterling

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A different kind of launch thread
« on: June 11, 2018, 12:34:25 PM »
In the past, I've done kitchen-sink, 99-cent, KU launches, spending hundreds of dollars with the goal of breaking the top 1,000, getting lots of reads, and staying sticky on Amazon. Those were quite successful!

But this year, I decided to stop windowing in KU and to instead launch wide from the get-go. To cut a long story short, after much soul-searching, I opted for a no-paid-advertising launch at nearly full price, holding price breaks and promos in reserve for the launch of book three.

It's nail-bitingly scary to depend entirely on my newsletter and on Bookbub's new-release emails, knowing that my rank won't be anything impressive. But I'm doing it! Wanna watch? Here goes!

Costs:
Cover: $315
Beta reads: $280
Proofreading: $185
Advertising: $0
Total cost: $780

First step came months ago when I had to decide on cover specs. I used to trawl Amazon's bestseller lists to get an idea what was selling before choosing a new cover. Since I'm launching wide, though, and currently get nearly half of my income from non-Amazon stores, it made sense to look at the other retailers, specifically at Nook (my next biggest earner). I discovered that trad-pub books were dominating the bestseller lists in urban fantasy there, so I tried to emulate a trad-pubbed cover. (See below to decide if I succeeded --- the book is Wolf's Bane on the far left.)

Next, I put the book up for a one-week preorder while sending it to my ARC crew. Price --- $2.99 with a plan to yank the price up to $3.99 one week after launch. ($3.99 was the median price on the various urban-fantasy-related bestseller lists on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook when I did my research in April.) I told nobody that the book was up but did claim it on Author Central.

Preorders:
Amazon: 16

When the book went live on June 10, I emailed my ARC crew. Two of them bought the book, and presumably some other people found it organically.

Sales:
Amazon: 14
Apple: 2 (These might have been preorders. Can't tell through D2D.)

Today is launch day. I added the book to Bookbub, hoping to get a new-release alert tomorrow. (We'll see!) Then I divided up my email subscribers and sent out  alerts from 9 am to 1 pm. I'll update this tomorrow with today's sales!

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Offline NathanBurrows

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 01:37:10 PM »
I'll watch the thread with interest to see what happens, but $280 on beta readers and $185 on proofreading? Wow - that's a fair amount. Did you get an editor as well as betas / proofreading? Just curious.

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 02:58:25 PM »
I'll watch the thread with interest to see what happens, but $280 on beta readers and $185 on proofreading? Wow - that's a fair amount. Did you get an editor as well as betas / proofreading? Just curious.

I've found that paying a solid beta reader (more like a developmental editor who only looks at the big picture) ends up being very much worth it on the first book in a new series from a long-term sales perspective. This time, though, my favorite beta reader was booked, so I tried two new ones...then my favorite became available again and I added her on. So, yeah, I paid more there than usual, but I think the tweaks I made as a result will be worth it.

I'm pretty confident at my own line editing, so I didn't pay one of those. Proofreading was par for the course --- even if she only catches a couple of dozen typos, that's worth it to me. I'm a slow writer with a tortoise mindset, so I try to make each book as perfect as possible, figuring up-front costs more than pay for themselves over the life of a book.

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Offline OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 05:18:40 PM »
I'd love to see your others threads where you did it the more conventional way. Did you post them?
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Online PermaStudent

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 05:23:30 PM »
I'll be watching. Thanks for posting your data, and good luck!  May I ask how long you had your pre-order up? (ETA: nevermind, just reread and saw it was one week. Thanks again!)
  I write urban fantasy.  There are girls in gowns and glowy hands on my covers.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 09:17:28 PM »
You're doing it like I do it, basically. It's always worked for me--but I go in knowing the payoff happens around book 3.


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Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 09:31:42 PM »
Good luck and keep us posted! :)

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 05:17:19 AM »
I'd love to see your others threads where you did it the more conventional way. Did you post them?

Here's the one I posted giving the kitchen-sink, KU approach: http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=233074.0

Everybody else --- thanks for your well wishes! I'll post yesterday's numbers later today once Apple and Google report.

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Online LilyBLily

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2018, 06:13:20 AM »
Good luck!

I also use beta readers instead of editors. I find their reactions very useful in shaping my stories. If you'd be willing to share the names of yours, either here or by sending me a PM, I'd be grateful. (We might already be using the same people, but I'm always looking for more.)

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2018, 10:36:37 AM »
Launch day stats!

During my last first-in-series launch (9/17/17), I split my newsletter across two days, the book in question was in KU, and it was priced at 99 cents. My mailing list was slightly larger (since I've scrubbed non-openers pretty hard since then and Instafreebie has dwindled enough that I haven't completely replaced them) --- 7783 people. Over those two days, I also spent $20.93 on AMS and Facebook ads. Total sales and read-throughs came to 151 over the course of those two days with rank hitting a peak of 1,614. Net income for the day: $50.40

In contrast, this time around, I pushed all of my newsletter blasts into one day, the book was wide, and it was priced at $2.99. Mailing list size: 6,935. Sales:
Amazon: 98 (536 clicks = 18% conversion)
Nook: 6 (<21 clicks = >29% conversion)
Apple: 7 (22 clicks = 32% conversion)
Kobo: 1 (21 clicks = 5% conversion)
Google: 3
Smashwords: 3
Net income for the day: $236
Gross income to date: $300
Net income to date: -$480
Peak Amazon rank: 4,624

Interestingly, I moved almost as many copies as at 99 cents --- clearly, the buyers on my list remain buyers at $2.99. On the other hand, spreading the sales across multiple retailers and not booking ads means I won't get the organic exposure of those kitchen-sink KU launches.

Coming up tomorrow --- the results of Bookbub's new-release listing. I'll bet you can hardly wait!  :)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 10:39:10 AM by aimeeeasterling »

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2018, 10:42:14 AM »
Good luck!

I also use beta readers instead of editors. I find their reactions very useful in shaping my stories. If you'd be willing to share the names of yours, either here or by sending me a PM, I'd be grateful. (We might already be using the same people, but I'm always looking for more.)

Sending you a PM because I'm not sure if my beta readers are seeking new clients or not and I don't want to drown them....

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2018, 10:14:14 AM »
On the second day, I had 95 new clicks on the books2read link in the previous day's emails, so I expect about 18 sales are spillover from that. The rest is likely from the Bookbub new release email (1,352 followers), with a few maybe from my facebook posts (on my page and in a couple of groups I co-manage), my blog post, and my notification via Booksprout (187 followers).

6/12 Sales:
Amazon: 60
Nook: 29
Apple: 12
Kobo: 3
Google: 0
Smashwords: 0
Net income for the day: $208
Gross income to date: $508
Net income to date: -$272
Peak Amazon rank: 3,852

Isn't it interesting to see that my Bookbub followers represent a much wider readership than my email list did? This is likely because I've focused on Amazon only for so long, especially with new releases.

29 sales in one day on Nook is enough to kick my rank up to 166 in their ebook store, #8 in all of fantasy! I'll be watching to see whether this exposure is enough to get me organic sales in the days to come.

On another note, Bookbub's new-release alerts continue to perform at a higher rate than my own newsletter --- 6% sales vs. 2% sales on the first day. Of course, I can't resend to non-openers via Bookbub (my plan for today) or email a week later reminding them that the price is going up or sell my backlist via autoresponders. So I'm still focusing on my newsletter over Bookbub...while appreciating the wonder that is the Bub!

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Offline Devyn Jayse

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2018, 01:11:49 PM »
Thanks for sharing your launch details, Aimee. It's been a very interesting read  :) I'm looking forward to seeing how the Bookbub new-release alert performs for my next release.

I love your cover! It reminds me of the Kate Daniels series. Was that the look you were going for? :D I also shared your book yesterday in the Fantasy and Magic Books newsletter: http://preview.mailerlite.com/g3b6f5 and got a copy myself today because I forgot to do that yesterday.

Congratulations on the new release! Wish you all the best!
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Offline lyndabelle

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2018, 01:38:46 PM »
Have bookmarked to watch how this goes. Need a new way to launch since I don't have huge amount of cash and have a catalog I'm launching wide right now.

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2018, 03:01:07 PM »
Thanks for sharing your launch details, Aimee. It's been a very interesting read  :) I'm looking forward to seeing how the Bookbub new-release alert performs for my next release.

I love your cover! It reminds me of the Kate Daniels series. Was that the look you were going for? :D I also shared your book yesterday in the Fantasy and Magic Books newsletter: http://preview.mailerlite.com/g3b6f5 and got a copy myself today because I forgot to do that yesterday.

Congratulations on the new release! Wish you all the best!

Thanks so much for your support! I really appreciate it!

To answer your question --- Kate Daniels *was* one of the comp covers I was looking at. I like the overtness of lion/woman/sword on some of her covers. I have a tendency to get too fancy with the packaging, but when it comes right down to it most of my readers just want to know that there's a strong heroine and a werewolf inside the book.

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2018, 03:03:10 PM »
Have bookmarked to watch how this goes. Need a new way to launch since I don't have huge amount of cash and have a catalog I'm launching wide right now.

I'll go more into the long game tomorrow. But, for now, I'll just say that this kind of launch is best, I think, if you don't need an immediate big bump in income. I suspect that once the dust settles from these first few emails, my rank will sink until I do some promotion during book two and/or three's launch.

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Offline OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2018, 05:19:30 PM »
I will echo everyone else and saying thanks for sharing the data. Not just that but reading your posts is illuminating on many levels. Thank you. Oh and I appreciated the link to your other thread. It was exactly what I was looking for.
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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2018, 08:16:10 PM »
I was surprised by what seemed to me to be the low conversion rate from the clicks from your mailing list. Ive always been all in with KU, so borrows have made it impossible for me to calculate this stat for my own launches, but I guess I always assumed it would be higher since its a very targeted group and they know exactly what theyre clicking through to. Why would they click and then not buy? Do you think its because its a new series, a more expensive launch, a lot of Instafreebie subscribers who may not be converts yet, or just that thats about normal for mailing list subscribers? (I realise you dont have any other wide launches to compare with!)

Maybe some other wide authors could chime in with their own experiences?

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Offline kcmorgan

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2018, 09:28:06 PM »
I was surprised by what seemed to me to be the low conversion rate from the clicks from your mailing list. Ive always been all in with KU, so borrows have made it impossible for me to calculate this stat for my own launches, but I guess I always assumed it would be higher since its a very targeted group and they know exactly what theyre clicking through to. Why would they click and then not buy? Do you think its because its a new series, a more expensive launch, a lot of Instafreebie subscribers who may not be converts yet, or just that thats about normal for mailing list subscribers? (I realise you dont have any other wide launches to compare with!)

Maybe some other wide authors could chime in with their own experiences?
If this was her first wide launch, some could have clicked expecting it to be in KU. Personally, I add books to my wish list until I'm ready to read them, so I might actually buy them/borrow them months or years after I first decided to read them.

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2018, 03:12:25 AM »
I was surprised by what seemed to me to be the low conversion rate from the clicks from your mailing list. Ive always been all in with KU, so borrows have made it impossible for me to calculate this stat for my own launches, but I guess I always assumed it would be higher since its a very targeted group and they know exactly what theyre clicking through to. Why would they click and then not buy? Do you think its because its a new series, a more expensive launch, a lot of Instafreebie subscribers who may not be converts yet, or just that thats about normal for mailing list subscribers? (I realise you dont have any other wide launches to compare with!)

Maybe some other wide authors could chime in with their own experiences?

Actually, I consider 18% on Amazon a pretty good conversion rate. (Maybe I just have low standards?) When I launched at 99 cents in KU, 1 click in 3 turned into a sale. So 1 click in 5.5 turning into a sale was better than expected given the three times higher price.

It is likely that people with entirely organic lists will see higher conversion rates. But, for me, it's a numbers game. If the overall sales and net profits are both higher when folding in instafreebie subscribers, it doesn't hurt my feelings that 98% of my newsletter subscribers don't buy on day 1. I figure many of them are like me --- moderately interested, maybe putting a new release on my TBR list, planning to buy it on a rainy day or if they see a price reduction down the road. I actually have no authors I autobuy on day 1 even though I read like crazy, so I figure lots of voracious readers are a lot like me.

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2018, 05:08:21 AM »
Actually, I consider 18% on Amazon a pretty good conversion rate. (Maybe I just have low standards?) When I launched at 99 cents in KU, 1 click in 3 turned into a sale. So 1 click in 5.5 turning into a sale was better than expected given the three times higher price.

It is likely that people with entirely organic lists will see higher conversion rates. But, for me, it's a numbers game. If the overall sales and net profits are both higher when folding in instafreebie subscribers, it doesn't hurt my feelings that 98% of my newsletter subscribers don't buy on day 1. I figure many of them are like me --- moderately interested, maybe putting a new release on my TBR list, planning to buy it on a rainy day or if they see a price reduction down the road. I actually have no authors I autobuy on day 1 even though I read like crazy, so I figure lots of voracious readers are a lot like me.

That approach re Instafreebie totally makes sense, and i definitely didnt mean my comment as any sort of criticism. Ive never even bothered to crunch the number for myself since the unknown number of borrows throws things off so much, so it just took me by surprise. (And just to clarify, subscribers not buying, especially on day one, doesnt surprise me. Ive certainly been that subscriber before. I just wouldnt click on the new release link unless I intended to buy--and even then sometimes Id opt to just look it up myself on Amazon rather than going through the link. So I guess I assumed those who clicked had a reasonably strong intention to buy. It looks like this is one of those instances where the general behavior pattern of readers doesnt line up with my individual approach.)

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2018, 08:55:09 AM »
That approach re Instafreebie totally makes sense, and i definitely didnt mean my comment as any sort of criticism. Ive never even bothered to crunch the number for myself since the unknown number of borrows throws things off so much, so it just took me by surprise. (And just to clarify, subscribers not buying, especially on day one, doesnt surprise me. Ive certainly been that subscriber before. I just wouldnt click on the new release link unless I intended to buy--and even then sometimes Id opt to just look it up myself on Amazon rather than going through the link. So I guess I assumed those who clicked had a reasonably strong intention to buy. It looks like this is one of those instances where the general behavior pattern of readers doesnt line up with my individual approach.)

I didn't take that as criticism at all --- I hope I didn't come across sounding defensive! I never see people calculating or including their conversion rates from their newsletters, but I think it's interesting data to have. Proves the importance of a great cover and blurb even with your true fans!

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2018, 01:27:08 PM »
6/13 Sales:
Amazon: 62
Nook: 28
Apple: 7
Kobo: 0
Google: 1
Smashwords: 0
Net income for the day: $196
Gross income to date: $704
Net income to date: -$76
Peak Amazon rank:

Yesterday was the last day of the official release, fueled by a re-send to non-openers on my list. My message was plain text and focused on thanking them for their help, and I had another 137 clicks on my books2read link (which likely led to about 26 sales).

I'm sure there were also some people opening their Bookbub new-release emails a day late as well, but I was actually surprised at how many sales came in. Perhaps the book is catching some organic traction after all? The also-boughts *did* appear yesterday after all.

And...that's the end of my official launch, with no more nudges to readers until this weekend when I get ready to raise the price. So how do I feel about it?

My original hope was that I could move enough copies to break even this week, and it looks like I'll handily hit that quota by the end of today. More readers than I'd expected were willing to dive into a new series at $2.99, for which I'm very grateful.

The long-term question will be --- does moving only a fraction of the possible books during a first-in-series launch create a bottleneck that ruins the oomph of book two? And will I regret not using this launch to boost my backlist when the book doesn't stick as well on Amazon as a heavily promoted launch?

On the former point --- I'm going to play it by ear and perhaps run a 99-cent deal on Wolf's Bane when book two launches. Or I might just be patient and do a free run during the launch of book three.

On the income front --- I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Bookbub continues to list my sales every two months the way they have for the last couple of seasons, the real reason I'm able to let this book launch organically without biting my nails and tightening my belt. It's amazing how a working backlist makes me far less desperate about maximizing the launch of each new book.

(Which is not to say I refrained from refreshing various pages every five minutes for the last three days. Some habits, I suspect, will never die.)

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2018, 04:58:34 PM »
I didn't take that as criticism at all --- I hope I didn't come across sounding defensive! I never see people calculating or including their conversion rates from their newsletters, but I think it's interesting data to have. Proves the importance of a great cover and blurb even with your true fans!

I just try to be extra careful online where theres no tone to go off :)

I would certainly be interested to see that stat reported more often. I find with mailing lists in general it can be hard to know how yours is performing on the range of what is possible (and therefore whether you should be adjusting your approach, or doubling down, etc.)

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Offline Jenny Schwartz

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Re: A different kind of launch thread
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2018, 05:18:48 PM »
So interesting! Thanks for sharing the details, Aimee. And that cover is AWESOME!

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