Author Topic: The debut novelists NL-swap based book launch:#3500 with no ads or paid promos!  (Read 3171 times)  

Offline karalockharte

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I lurk a lot here on Kboards and have learned a quite a bit from the posts here (in no particular order):

Nicholas Eriks guide https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=236763.0
Jasmine Walt https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=232351.0
Felicia Beasley https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=249011.0
JA Cipriano  https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,230741.0.html
Domino Finn https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,228614.0.html

So here's my thread about launching my debut paranormal romance novel (about 50k) at .99 into KU. I chose KU because honestly, I dont have the bandwidth to figure out other retailers right now and I figure I can go wide in 3 months. I chose .99 because that would give me room to move the price to free later if necessary.

As an experiment, Ive decided to forgo most paid promos. My launch is going to rely almost exclusively on NL swaps for the first 29 days. That way, I can establish a *kind of* barebones baseline (in terms of expenses) for launch so that when I launch book 2 in November, I have a better idea of how to calculate ROI when I start doing paid ads (like Amazon) and paid promos.

How am I doing this?

I'm not exactly a debut author because I released one short story back (10k) in 2015, basically to teach myself the ropes at self-publishing and make the mistakes a newbie makes on a relatively short lengthed story. I meant to release a related novel immediately after that, but life got in the way. I participated in a few author organized cross promos in 2016, which netted me about 3k subscribers. Of course, I didn't do anything with them at all until the middle of this year (2017)  when I started learning more about best practices regarding mailing lists. Over the last few months I've been researching best practices re: maintaining mailing lists, engaging subscribers and readers, and culling my list down, and using instafreebie to gain new subscribers and running them through a DRIP campaign. 

In terms of NL content, I would include swaps with other authors books in my subgenre. I put their books in my NL in exchange for a promise to include my release in their NL in late 2017 (like, now).  Did I vet them by covers/blurbs? Yes. Did I vet them in terms of actual story? No because I have a hard time reading in my genre when Im writing and I write SLOW. I always added something like Deals I just added to my TBR pile! or What Im looking forward to reading: And its on sale! (which is the truth!)

As of now, I have roughly 1k subscribers with an average of about a 50% open rate for each campaign.

The Pre-order Strategy (so far):

I set up a long pre order (despite the general consensus of long preorders not being that great for rank) starting August 23. My reasoning was that Im a relatively newbie author with no real audience and that it would give me more time to test out when types of social media posts or other activities would lead to spikes in sales. I also decided to launch Book 1 at .99 and follow up with book 2 in November at 2.99. The link for book 1 is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075275PY8

With my 1k made from instafreebie and other author organized promos, one NL about the preorder on 8/23 gained me 40 sales in the time from 8/23-8/25.

In that NL, AND the next 2 subsequent NL, I also offered everyone on my list a free BETA pre-edits version of my book via instafreebie. It is the complete story, but missing the epilogue and 10 additional pages of scenes from the final version. Throughout the book, I have little messages like tired of typos? Get the preorder now for .99 for a limited time.

I also promoted this Beta version of the book on various instafreebie giveaways, and whatever free author cross promos I could.

Ive had about 4 NL swaps so far, most of which led to only 1-2 sale bumps but there was one that netted me about 20 sales.

All of the next few things I did were free, but I dont know how much it contributed to sales.

I made the one short story I had published, free on Amazon. (It was a pre-equal in this series, but not really designed for conversions.) It was in an author-organized freebie blast in early September that put it #1 in Paranormal Romance/Werewolves & Shifters Free store, and has since hovered around #5-#38 in the Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 90 minutes (44-64 pages) > in the free store for the last month.

I opened an instagram account (where there are lots of book bloggers) and started posting inspirational writing quotes and occasional snippets and teasers from my book.

I also posted my book for review in some of the reader forums in Goodreads and also set up a goodreads giveaway.

Right now, 9 days away from the release, Ive somehow managed to amass 181 preorders for Book 1. And to my surprise, I also have 37 preorders (at 2.99) for Book 2. There are also links to the preorder for Book 2 in the back of the Beta version. I think having the two books linked together on Amazon helped as well.

Also right now my book has about 19 reviews (using the trick of making a print book available for a few hours and then uploading a new file for review and not approving it).
I got ARC readers from my mailing list, posting in goodreads groups, and using the AuthorsXP $35 Elite Reviewer service. I also asked 2 other authors if I could give my book to their ARC team. I probably got 1 review from feeding other authors ARC teams.

My paid promos are relatively minimal:

1 - Bookbot Bob blast $10 (I figured why the heck not, sounded interesting)
2 - a group sale/giveaway with another group of SFR authors at $27
3 - another author organized sale that cost $3

Otherwise I will rely mostly on NL swaps with other authors in my genre. So far Ive got 29 authors lined up to swap with me in October with list sizes ranging from 1k to 30k. Obviously, this is risky because I have no idea about their list engagement and someone could just decide not to include my book NL, and I have no recourse to do anything about it.

I will probably also do a paperback + random goody giveaway or two, but focused to my mailing list, and facebook page (which practically has no engagement whatsoever, so any advice for giveaways would be appreciated!).

SO, groupmind: Any suggestions? Comments, suggestions, critiques? Feel free to tell me what Im doing wrong and how I should fix things! Ive got 9 more days to launch (October 18)!

Otherwise Ill come back and post later about how things are going :)

(Also if you are a paranormal romance author who writes hot stuff with manchest covers OR has an audience that is open to that stuff and would like to include me in your NL in the next 2 months, please let me know because I will be happy to reciprocate later!)
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 04:01:23 pm by karalockharte »
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    Offline antcurious

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    Re: The debut novelists NL-swap based book launch: 180+ preorders so far!
    « Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 02:24:16 am »
    I have a man chest, but unfortunately can't help you with swaps, we're different genres  8)

    I did want to say that as a new author myself, I'm really impressed with your logic and methodology, I've learnt a few things from your post and hope you have a good tail after release!

    JA HUSS has a really good series on Youtube that talks among other things about giveaways. I assume you've checked it out already ( a similar genre to you) but thought it worth mentioning.

    Good luck!

    JK Neve | Goodreads

    Offline writerc

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    Re: The debut novelists NL-swap based book launch: 180+ preorders so far!
    « Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 06:47:17 am »
    Oh, thanks for all the detail, giving me lots of food for thought for launching in December :)

    I write man chest sci fi romance but I have no subscribers, zip, so I'm not much use to you sorry!

    Bookmarked to find out how well it goes, wishing you lots of happy readers!

    Offline ibizwiz

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    Re: The debut novelists NL-swap based book launch: 180+ preorders so far!
    « Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 07:48:26 am »
    Kudos for your willingness to experiment and innovative thinking. Even more for your work ethic. Your effort comes just as I'm doing the detail planning for a prequel + trilogy launch in December. I'll be using pre-orders and giveaways too, so your post comes as a timely aid.

    I'm not in any category that is related to yours, so can't help in the swaps front. Best of luck with your rollout!

    Offline karalockharte

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    Re: The debut novelists NL-swap based book launch: 292 preorders (EDITED!)
    « Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 01:36:58 pm »
    Ok it's Launch Day and it's gone WAAAY BEYOND any expectations I had.  ;D :o ;D :o

    The book is here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075275PY8

     #3,560 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #45 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Women's Adventure
    #53 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Genetic Engineering
    #63 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Romance

    The ONLY paid thing that I added was that today, Facebook offered me a $10 credit for boosting a post, so I was like why the hell not. So I boosted a post.

    HOWEVER I am in the following:

    -an author organized romance new October release signed-paperback group giveaway (cost - mailing one paperback)

    - a genre-specific sale (SFR) AND giveaway organized by someone who runs a genre-specific reader and author promo group on facebook with a large following (cost - $27) <-----I think this is the one responsible for most of the boost! The sale/giveaway went live yesterday and I got 50+ preorders to have a total of 292 preorders by launch day!

    -a genre-specific sale (SFR) organized by a group of box set authors in my genre to promo their box set (and their box set hit #1 in 3 competitive categories yesterday I believe) (cost - including their book in my NL and promo to social media)
    -an average about a 1-2 author NL swaps per day leading up to release day (cost - including their book in my NL previously)

    Going forward:
    - an average of 1-2 author NL swaps per day until the end of the month.
    - another genre-specific sale (SFR) organized by another author in my genre (cost - including it in my NL and promo to social media)

    I also have a couple of giveaways to my mailing list but my open and click rates don't really explain the jump. 

    Other than that $10 credit for a facebook boost, I haven't spent anything on ads or other paid promos (Instafreebie and mailerlite subscriptions are another story).
    Shifters and Spaceship Romance!
    Kara Lockharte | web | facebook | twitter | instagram | newsletter

    Offline Anita Chance

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    Wow - that is inspiring. Thanks for sharing. It has given me a lot to think about. I have finally created a mailchimp account but haven't had time to do anything with it yet.

    I saw your post on FB and followed the link here.

    Thanks again. Looking forward to following this thread and seeing what happens with your books.


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    Offline antcurious

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    Very very cool  :D

    How many sales are you getting from your list?

    JK Neve | Goodreads

    Offline karalockharte

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    A very rough estimate would be about 30-40 preorders based on sales jumps after I sent out NL for the last month since the preorder was up?

    But I've been told that many of them were just waiting for the book to come out because 1) they hate preorders and 2) they were waiting for it in KU.

    Also, the caveat that I added to facebook and and I want to add here is that this is in NO way any sort of overnight success story. I decided to start writing in 2004 (Yes, 2004) and have been writing, participating in crit groups, going to workshops, and reading every craft book I could get my hands one. I spent many years trying to write SF short stories (I was going to be the next Margaret Atwood/Neil Gaiman/Ted Chiang dontchaknow) and have so many rejection letters. And then in 2014 I started really looking at the market and what my strengths were and decided to start a whole new pen name in a new subgenre, and well, this is it

    In 2005 I was told that you have to write 10 bad novels to get to your first good one. This book is novel #5, so I think I'm doing pretty well for myself :)
    Shifters and Spaceship Romance!
    Kara Lockharte | web | facebook | twitter | instagram | newsletter

    Offline antcurious

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    A very rough estimate would be about 30-40 preorders based on sales jumps after I sent out NL for the last month since the preorder was up?

    But I've been told that many of them were just waiting for the book to come out because 1) they hate preorders and 2) they were waiting for it in KU.

    Also, the caveat that I added to facebook and and I want to add here is that this is in NO way any sort of overnight success story. I decided to start writing in 2004 (Yes, 2004) and have been writing, participating in crit groups, going to workshops, and reading every craft book I could get my hands one. I spent many years trying to write SF short stories (I was going to be the next Margaret Atwood/Neil Gaiman/Ted Chiang dontchaknow) and have so many rejection letters. And then in 2014 I started really looking at the market and what my strengths were and decided to start a whole new pen name in a new subgenre, and well, this is it

    In 2005 I was told that you have to write 10 bad novels to get to your first good one. This book is novel #5, so I think I'm doing pretty well for myself :)

    Cool thanks for the info, it's all fascinating and well-deserved by the sounds of it!

    JK Neve | Goodreads

    Offline karalockharte

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    It occurs to me that I should post the author group promo that I'm in so you all can take a look at it and see if it gives you any ideas

    Scifi Romance Giveaway / Sale <----I think this is the one that is the most responsible for the sales bump. The authors of this site have spent years building their audience and platform together.
    http://wolfpackauthors.com/wolf-pack-shifter-sci-fi-romance-run/

    Box-Set Organized Scifi Sale
    http://www.otherworldscollection.com/other-worlds-99-cent-mega-sale/

    Scifi Romance Sale organized by another SFR author
    http://www.rinellegrey.com/among-the-stars/
    Shifters and Spaceship Romance!
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