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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Chris Fox on May 09, 2017, 07:20:50 AM

Title: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: BWFoster78 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: RosalieLario 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Jerry S. on May 09, 2017, 07:47:05 AM
Following your progress intently on Youtube, Chris. And now here. Keep it up!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: mwiings 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: MKK on May 09, 2017, 08:01:09 AM
I enjoy the updates and insights on strategy.

Thank you.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Saul Tanpepper on May 09, 2017, 08:19:05 AM
Best of luck, bro.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: elizabethbarone 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: sela 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: PaulineMRoss 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Becca Mills on May 09, 2017, 08:53:24 AM
Following. Eagerly!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Clare W 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Jim Johnson 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Rachel E. Rice 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.   
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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 =)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Mari Oliver 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! :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: PiscaPress 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Augusta Blythe 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?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: C.P-Bukowski 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. :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Rickie Blair on May 09, 2017, 09:58:24 AM
Bookmarked!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: wingsandwords 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
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Craig Andrews 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: B. Magnarella 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!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: MikeRyan on May 09, 2017, 11:07:22 AM


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


I have not considered Reddit for promotions. What exactly did that consist of?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Augusta Blythe on May 09, 2017, 11:39:12 AM

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 =)


You, too! And NINC is only about 145 days away (not that I'm counting). I think it's worth pointing out your NL sandwich because, for authors who don't have a healthy genre-specific list yet, they may want to avoid the wider promo sites until later and focus on more targeted advertising. Thanks for the great info, as always.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Sally Clements on May 09, 2017, 12:07:26 PM
Great post, Chris, I'm really interested in reading it, so definitely not coming under the umbrella of self promotion. How big are your lists now?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Daniel Roy Greenfeld on May 09, 2017, 12:43:55 PM
Thanks so much for this post. I learned a lot that's very current.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Salvador Mercer on May 09, 2017, 04:01:11 PM
Awesome launch!  Thanks for sharing, I too open any post with your name on it.  You'll have to share those Bookbub ads I've seen in my inbox, if they're doing well or not for this launch.  Best of luck with book two. :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on May 09, 2017, 04:09:07 PM
Thank you so much for posting this. I'm in the midst of my first 'real' launch. Normally I just launch to my mailing list, set the first book free after a few months, then focus on promoting. Not a good approach, I know.  This time I've pre-written several books and have been using FB ads to generate pre-orders, so I look forward to implementing some of your strategies as well. Btw, love your YouTube videos and non-fiction books. You have been so generous with your knowledge. Please don't stop sharing!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: John Van Stry on May 09, 2017, 04:13:03 PM
I launched a book under a pen name last month (around the 20th). First book ever for that author.
I have not spent a single penny advertising it anywhere.
I made zero posts about the book.

It's currently alternating between 700 - 800 over all on Amazon. Yeah, it took two weeks to get there, but it's still moving up through the ranks steadily.

If you have a name and a large following, sure, that helps. But advertising online? Sorry, I think it's worthless. The only advertising that works is the stuff Amazon does automatically, putting your book in front of people who they think will like it. Over 90 percent of my fans all tell me that they found my book on Amazon, when Amazon recommended it to them. I have yet to find any other advertising online that works.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Seshenet on May 09, 2017, 04:20:06 PM
Thanks for the post, Chris. I never consider these self-promotion. But I do find them very informative. I am writing a series and don't plan to publish them until the first 3 are done, so it's nice to see what others already there are doing.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on May 09, 2017, 04:23:29 PM
I'm a Chris Fox fanboy!!!

But that new book really sells itself! The cover is just amazeballs and the story sounds gripping to any scifi fan.  Haven't had the chance to read yet, too busy!!! But I did borrow it through KU.

My random thoughts:
- Good Cover
- Great Blurb
- Unique SciFi Niche

I think those factors are probably driving that book more than ads.. but what do I know!! I'm not a bestselling author. :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: RobCornell on May 09, 2017, 05:03:01 PM
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.

Am I correct in assuming, based on this, that the new series will go longer than a trilogy? Do you still have an endpoint in mind, or are you going to keep writing them as long as they keep selling well?

Thanks. Good to see you back on Kboards!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox on May 09, 2017, 05:54:37 PM
Great post, Chris, I'm really interested in reading it, so definitely not coming under the umbrella of self promotion. How big are your lists now?

I have about 7,500 engaged people. I used a little under 5,000 for this launch. The rest are non-fiction related =)


If you have a name and a large following, sure, that helps. But advertising online? Sorry, I think it's worthless. The only advertising that works is the stuff Amazon does automatically, putting your book in front of people who they think will like it. Over 90 percent of my fans all tell me that they found my book on Amazon, when Amazon recommended it to them. I have yet to find any other advertising online that works.

Advertising is hard, no doubt about it. Most people, like you, give up and conclude that it's worthless. That's cool. The fewer authors advertising, the more profitable it is for me. And I assure you, it is indeed profitable. Nor am I the only author on these boards making using of it. As I said in my post, advertise or don't. I'm just sharing what works for me, and trust that advertising is a big part of it. I track ROI meticulously. It really comes down to math, and diligent tinkering.


Am I correct in assuming, based on this, that the new series will go longer than a trilogy? Do you still have an endpoint in mind, or are you going to keep writing them as long as they keep selling well?

Thanks. Good to see you back on Kboards!

You are correct! The series will be five, or possibly six books. No longer than that, and I would prefer to wrap it up in five. I have a very definite ending.

To everyone else, thanks for all the support. I see so many familiar faces =D
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: wingsandwords on May 09, 2017, 06:12:28 PM
I have about 7,500 engaged people. I used a little under 5,000 for this launch. The rest are non-fiction related =)

Those 5,000 fiction related--are they all back of book subscribers, or do you participate in NL building cross promos, like with IF?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Silly Writer on May 09, 2017, 06:17:49 PM
Self promotion???

Pfft.

Love these threads from you! Thanks!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox on May 09, 2017, 06:25:57 PM
Those 5,000 fiction related--are they all back of book subscribers, or do you participate in NL building cross promos, like with IF?

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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Dolphin on May 09, 2017, 06:27:27 PM
Thanks for sharing, Chris. Always a delight, and I've been enjoying your videos as well!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: anniejocoby on May 09, 2017, 06:33:36 PM
As usual, you are one of the most generous authors on this board.

Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Jeff Tanyard on May 09, 2017, 07:54:51 PM
Kboards can always use more Chris Fox and less drama llama.


(http://media.giphy.com/media/gpmARWm3Pwypq/giphy.gif)


 8)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox on May 09, 2017, 08:09:51 PM
I'm a Chris Fox fanboy!!!

But that new book really sells itself! The cover is just amazeballs and the story sounds gripping to any scifi fan.  Haven't had the chance to read yet, too busy!!! But I did borrow it through KU.

My random thoughts:
- Good Cover
- Great Blurb
- Unique SciFi Niche

I think those factors are probably driving that book more than ads.. but what do I know!! I'm not a bestselling author. :)

I agree completely that you need the great cover, great blurb, good niche. Those are non-negotiable. The ads are designed to capitalize on that. They are highly targeted at the authors whose books I think are most like mine. This solidified my also bought early, allowing all those new eyeballs to see the cover I worked so hard on =D
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Daniel Roy Greenfeld on May 09, 2017, 08:42:27 PM
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

I'm curious, which advertising channels achieved the most results?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Doglover on May 10, 2017, 12:24:08 AM
Not self promotion or bragging. What you are doing is telling people how you went about achieving your results, which is useful to everyone. This is not the same thing at all as the many, many who come here and to other forums with their 'look at me; aren't I clever?' and go on to tell everyone how much money they are making without any useful information for others.

You have the reputation for helping others and that's just what the thread does. Well done.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Steven McKinnon on May 10, 2017, 01:29:15 AM
Following with great interest. Cheers Chris, your threads are always worth bookmarking!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Aaronhodges on May 10, 2017, 01:43:54 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?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: itslaura on May 10, 2017, 03:15:35 AM
Congrats on your launch and thanks for sharing the info. Great post.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: JonathanC on May 10, 2017, 03:50:21 AM
Devour everything this man says! 

Thanks for sharing this. :D
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: DanaG on May 10, 2017, 04:30:01 AM
I launched a book under a pen name last month (around the 20th). First book ever for that author.
I have not spent a single penny advertising it anywhere.
I made zero posts about the book.

It's currently alternating between 700 - 800 over all on Amazon. Yeah, it took two weeks to get there, but it's still moving up through the ranks steadily.

If you have a name and a large following, sure, that helps. But advertising online? Sorry, I think it's worthless. The only advertising that works is the stuff Amazon does automatically, putting your book in front of people who they think will like it. Over 90 percent of my fans all tell me that they found my book on Amazon, when Amazon recommended it to them. I have yet to find any other advertising online that works.

John, I had the same experience when I launched a new book in 2013, and that book took off and eventually cracked the top 100 with no newsletter list and no advertising.  Overall, my belief is what is most likely to make a book a bestseller is writing a book in a popular genre with an existing hungry audience, making sure that the title, cover and blurb are typical of the genre and look professional, and oh yeah, telling a great, irresistible story.

BUT - I think that if you have done all that, using some advertising on Facebook and AMS and possibly newsletters can help an unknown author get discovered FASTER.  If the book doesn't connect with the audience, all the advertising in the world won't help it, but if it DOES connect with the audience, I think advertising can be helpful and it certainly can't hurt.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Evenstar 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?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Benjamin Douglas 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!

Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: edwardgtalbot 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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

Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist 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. ;)


Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: edwardgtalbot 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?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist 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.

Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: edwardgtalbot 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: edwardgtalbot 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 :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: writemore on May 10, 2017, 10:11:31 AM
Great launch!  Did you send out ARCs or are these amazing reviews all organic?!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: coolpixel 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

Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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).
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: coolpixel on May 10, 2017, 10:47:01 AM
thanks, and how many authors did you engage with on for the MLS?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Salome Golding 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?

Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Craig Andrews 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?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Nicholas Erik 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
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Yayoi 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Salome Golding 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: bwritenow 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: usedtocare 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox 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.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: juliatheswede on May 16, 2017, 09:13:33 AM
Hey, Chris, thanks for sharing and writing such a detailed post about your launch! I always read with interest.

Questions: Do you use the same amount of advertising for books 2 and 3's launches? I guess you wouldn't for book 2 since it's a preorder,  but what about book 3? Are the books standalones or do they end with a cliffhanger, btw? Last, would you ever launch a book using only your mailing list or would you consider that a waste of time? In other words, do you recommend always using ads when launching books 1, 2 and 3 (and more books in the series) for people with small mailing lists?
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: BeachB on May 16, 2017, 10:18:14 AM
As always Chris - You Rock!  Thank you for always sharing with us what works and what doesn't.  I always look forward to your postings!!!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Chris Fox on May 16, 2017, 10:45:30 AM
Questions: Do you use the same amount of advertising for books 2 and 3's launches? I guess you wouldn't for book 2 since it's a preorder,  but what about book 3? Are the books standalones or do they end with a cliffhanger, btw? Last, would you ever launch a book using only your mailing list or would you consider that a waste of time? In other words, do you recommend always using ads when launching books 1, 2 and 3 (and more books in the series) for people with small mailing lists?

I did one mailing list announcement, and one boosted Facebook ad to announce book 2. I will do more for book 3-4, and will time a KKD for the release of book 3.

I recommend using ads if you have the capital, but you can absolutely launch a book just using your list and any mailing list swaps you might have. For many authors that's by far the best strategy.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Glynn Stewart on May 22, 2017, 05:20:34 PM
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.

Heard my name taken in vain, figured I'd wade in!

I have tried the 99 cent launch before and I found that I lost a bit too much in terms of sales dollars the first few days.  Instead, I do one week at about a 40% discount ($2.99 instead of $4.99) to give the mailing list readers a bennie, and use a boosted FB post to promote it.

Gets me to the top 300 for what I'm sadly accepting is my least popular series, so I'd say it works well for me, yes :)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: John Ellsworth on May 22, 2017, 06:42:45 PM
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.

I'm right there cursing with you. Most of the time the dearth of information is a show-stopper, yet I do have ads running even though they are negative ROI's. Trouble is, when I turn them off my rank slips. Go figure.

Chris: another amazing post. Keep it up, brother.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: RobCornell on May 23, 2017, 05:53:42 AM
Gets me to the top 300 for what I'm sadly accepting is my least popular series, so I'd say it works well for me, yes :)

I hope you're not talking about the Starship's Mage series. I just started in on the series, and it's freakin' awesome. Should be SUPER popular. (Of course, #300 suggests I'm not the only one who thinks so.)
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Glynn Stewart on May 23, 2017, 06:53:12 AM
I hope you're not talking about the Starship's Mage series. I just started in on the series, and it's freakin' awesome. Should be SUPER popular. (Of course, #300 suggests I'm not the only one who thinks so.)

Ha!  No. Starship's Mage is definitively my most popular series still :D Only one of mine that hits the top 100 so far.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist on May 23, 2017, 07:06:28 AM
I'm right there cursing with you. Most of the time the dearth of information is a show-stopper, yet I do have ads running even though they are negative ROI's. Trouble is, when I turn them off my rank slips. Go figure.

I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.
 
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Evenstar on May 23, 2017, 07:15:53 AM
I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.

I agree with this. I spend about $200 a month on Amazon ads which all run at a loss, but that is money that I was previously putting into a scatter gun approach on various promo sites. This way I maintain constant visibility and can keep tweaking as necessary to make them continuously better targeted.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Glynn Stewart on May 23, 2017, 07:25:11 AM
I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.

I'm honestly running my ads at between 190 and 250% ACOS.

Why?

Because each of my ads is for book one in a series and the only thing ACOS is telling me is sales for book one.
It can't tell me follow-through sales - but I know those ratios.
It can't tell me kindle unlimited reads - but, again, I know those ratios.

For every dollar my ACOS thinks I make, it's closer to $5 to $7, and that's before baking in the three day delay in sales reporting in AMS.

I watch my total AMS spend and compare it to my total earnings. If that ratio ever goes too far out of whack, I might adjust, but for now I just update the ads with new keywords every month or two and mostly let them run.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: ############# on May 23, 2017, 07:31:17 AM
Valuable thread, Chris. Thank you to everyone in the conversation. Good stuff!
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: Anarchist on May 23, 2017, 07:44:04 AM
I'm honestly running my ads at between 190 and 250% ACOS.

Why?

Because each of my ads is for book one in a series and the only thing ACOS is telling me is sales for book one.
It can't tell me follow-through sales - but I know those ratios.
It can't tell me kindle unlimited reads - but, again, I know those ratios.

For every dollar my ACOS thinks I make, it's closer to $5 to $7, and that's before baking in the three day delay in sales reporting in AMS.

I watch my total AMS spend and compare it to my total earnings. If that ratio ever goes too far out of whack, I might adjust, but for now I just update the ads with new keywords every month or two and mostly let them run.

Those are great points.

I don't write in series, but I see something similar once I've gotten people to join my lists. A lot of my subs tell me they buy everything I write. My job is to get them to opt in. I use AMS (and FB for that matter) with that in mind.

My reaction when I get a sale...

(https://media.giphy.com/media/XuBJvrKHutnkQ/giphy.gif)


My reaction when I get a new subscriber...

(http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Daniel-Bryan-Yes-Cheer.gif)


My monthly AMS spend is well into the four figures. But my earnings make that spend a slam-dunk decision.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: edwardgtalbot on May 23, 2017, 07:57:07 AM
I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.
I think the reasons for this are a combination of two things which are likely driven by different "departments" from AMS.

First, Amazon wants to make sure that it is showing books in the ads which are relevant and likely to generate sales. Basically the ads are like "also boughts" except you pay for consideration of inclusion. This isn't massively different than what google or even facebook does with their ads, except it is clear to me perusing various book pages in my genre that Amazon is making more of an effort to restrict things than FB or google does. As part of this, they very purposefully want to obscure what it takes to have your book appear on page 1 of the product page or search page. Like with also boughts and popularity lists but even more so. Bid amount is probably the largest factor in whether an ad gets shown but it is far from the only factor. All of this means that advertisers have essentially no ability to do split testing and have very little ability to ensure that their ads get shown other than bids which are too high to be profitable. Doesn't mean some people aren't having great success, but I remain convinced that any apparent "repeatability" in terms of tweaking bids and keywords and text is either luck or a case of having enough prior success that the book now ranks high on some of those factors other than bid amount. Most people who are successful seem to be achieving it via "throw a bunch of stuff at it and see what sticks" as opposed to something which another person could specifically replicate.

Second, Amazon's tech systems have given AMS reporting an extremely low priority. It's clear from studying Amazon over the years that one of the side effects of how they handle their massively distributed infrastructure is varying priorities. Even in normal circumstances, KDP reporting and sales ranks have a lower priority than product pages and payment processing. When problems arise or load gets too big, these get even shorter shrift. We've all seen this, those times where ranks freeze or KDP gets behind. AMS reporting numbers are clearly prioritized even lower than sales ranks and KDP. And the "Sales" numbers in AMS suffer from bigger delays since they are derived from things which are already not high priorities.

Neither of the above are really driven by the department in charge of AMS. One could picture a theoretical management meeting with the AMS leader making the accurate point that Anarchist makes - this is a potential cash cow. The leader explains how less opacity and more predictability and better/more timely reporting are required to take advantage. The customer experience leader points out that a lot of things could be cash cows but they would take away from the customer experience. The infrastructure/data prioritization leader gives an estimate for what it would take to move reporting up the priority list and the sum is not small. Etc, etc. The AMS leader is reminded that AMS income is increasing massively already because authors and publishers are using it even with all its warts.

I still thing that more reporting detail and options should be a no-brainer. But most of the stuff we're complaining about has likely been analyzed thoroughly and determined to be sufficient not to take urgent action to change. I'm sure they have some improvements on the way, but I'm not at all sure we're going to get close to the level of predictability and repeatability you can get from google or FB.
Title: Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
Post by: baldricko on June 24, 2017, 08:21:47 PM
I agree completely that you need the great cover, great blurb, good niche. Those are non-negotiable. The ads are designed to capitalize on that. They are highly targeted at the authors whose books I think are most like mine. This solidified my also bought early, allowing all those new eyeballs to see the cover I worked so hard on =D
Hi Chris.

Did you really create your own cover? The Ganog Wars covers are great! I love the idea of a kind of storyboard effect when you set them up together. Although not sure they tells the story in sequence, they would look great lined up on a shelf.