Robbie’s Book Launch — The Juicy Details
The goal of this post is to give you a transparent look into what it takes to launch a self-published book on Amazon, including the results from my recent launch.
I’ll be as genuine and transparent as possible. I’ll be more than happy to answer questions in the comments. No questions are off-limits.
Let’s start with the juicy details since I know that most of you want to know the numbers.
THE JUICY DETAILS
I launched the book “How to Build Relationships and Get Job Offers Using LinkedIn” on June 24th, 2017. This post was written on July 12th, 2017.
I launched a 5 day kindle promotional sale. Which basically means, it was free for 5 days on the launch date.
I “sold” ~2500 copies which I’m pleased with.
Here is the graph over that 5-day free period.
I made it up to #112 on the Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Free Kindle. (I only managed to get a screenshot of #131).
My goal was to break #50, but I was kind of far from it. I probably needed double the sales to break #50.
After the 5 day Kindle sale was up, I moved it to paid at $3.99.
I sold 59 copies and 2 asked for refunds over the course of 11 days.
I’m averaging ~5 copies a day at $3 profit for each $3.99 Kindle I sell. We’ll see how long that goes for.
WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
It all started with this post.
The truth is I didn’t have a single word written. I just knew that I’m done with embarking on a huge project if no one wants to read it/buy it/ download it.
This post was to test the waters.
Well, as you can tell from the above post. People wanted it. I made a promise, and I’m a man of my word, so I buckled down and wrote it.
So, the title of this section could easily be “PRE-MARKETING VALIDATION.”
I only wrote it because people said they wanted it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have touched it.
It ended up with 250,000 views and over 2,000 people filled out the form.
I wrote 10,000 words in 2 weeks. Yes, I wrote this book in 2 weeks.
Here is my process:
Writing process: Wake up. Coffee. Write. Walk around the neighborhood. Write. Coffee. Sleep. Repeat.
(Unfortunately, Grammarly doesn’t work within Scrivener, so it was a bit of a hassle. GRAMMARLY MEET SCRIVENER. SCRIVENER MEET GRAMMARLY. MAKE BABIES PLEASE).
(Update: Damn’t. Grammarly doesn’t work on Medium.com either. When did this happen?)
I knew the subject very well, so I didn’t need to do much research. My mentality has always been “If it can work for me, it can work for you.”
Whether you agree with that statement is up to you, but I’ve built my readership based on that statement. I write what I know.
I created the cover myself. I usually use 99designs.com, but I was on a tight deadline, so I said YOLO and decided to do it by myself.
I realized quickly that Amazon’s free cover creator wasn’t going to work. If I was going to create a 1980’s romance novel, then it would have been perfect. But, it’s not 1980, and I’m not a romance expert, so I had to go a different route.
I used Canva.com and this tool was everything I could ask for. I created my book cover for $0. You can’t beat that! And I did it all myself
(Amazon: Buy Canva.com please. If you can buy Whole Foods. You can buy Canva.com. Your cover creator is unbelievably bad. I love you. I really do. But, just take a peak at them.)
Here is my first version and final version.
I went to Facebook for feedback and I’m still scarred from the initial feedback.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’m OK with the results for how much time and money ($0) I put into it.
I think this section would be better of as an FAQ:
Q: Why launch the book for free? Aren’t you leaving money on the table?
A: I probably left a lot of money on the table. I did a 5 day kindle sale for for multiple reasons:
Social Proof. I can now say my book was #113 on all of Amazon Kindle (Free). I was going for #50. When it went to paid, it had the “Best Seller” Tag.
Reviews. I assumed the more people downloaded it, the more reviews I would get. The more positive reviews I get, the more people would download it in the future. (I’m not sure if I validated this. I’m on the fence)
Passive Income. Everyone’s dream is passive income right? I figured best seller tag + reviews = more people buy it in the future. As stated above, I’m averaging ~5 a day which comes out to about $7,000 / year in passive income, assuming this number doesn’t drop.
Testing. I never planned on this book being my “flagship” book, so I was OK with letting it ride.
Q: Why didn’t you do a pre-order?
A: This book was never meant to be a best-selling book. Hell, it was supposed to be a PDF originally until too many people said they wanted it.
It’s a niche topic. Also, I promised over 1,000 people I would give it to them within a period, so I wanted to live up to it.
The next book I write, I will 100% do a pre-launch.
How did you market the launch?
I don’t think anyone has hustled harder than me to launch a free book. As stated above, it wasn’t about making money on the launch. It’s about long term passive income and testing how the Amazon system works.
I did several things:
- Announced it on my email list
- Announced it on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Here is an idea of what the process was from start to finish.
This is how I felt when waiting for reviews of the book.
Q: IS THAT IT. YOU JUST POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND WISHED FOR THE BEST?
Ok, ok. I’ll give you some more details on tactics.
The hardest part about this is measuring effectiveness. Amazon doesn’t give me the ability to track conversions. So, I quite literally do not know which mediums converted. But, here’s what I did.
- Facebook groups which promote free Kindle books. There are a TON of Closed FB Groups that allow you to promote your free Kindle books. Pro-tip: Give yourself at least a 2 WEEK head start in researching and asking to join these groups. It takes the admins some time to approve you to post. (Effectiveness: Honestly, I’m not sure. I didn’t track links clicked which was a mistake I made.)
- reddit.com/r/FreeEBOOKS/ — This was my post. 39 upvotes. (Effectiveness: Not sure. Amazon or Reddit doesn’t provide any analytics so I can’t tell
- Slickdeals — This one was ugly because like a NOOB I created a new account and immediately posted my book. I was banned like five different times. :)
Pro-tip: Ask someone who actually posts on Slickdeals to post for you.
(Effectiveness: I think it can be effective if you don’t manage to get banned!)
4. Post updates on LinkedIn & FB that kept people updated on the launch
I did this for two reasons. 1) Thank the people who helped me. 2) Remind everyone to get their shit together t0 download and review my book :)
(Effectiveness: I did see an uptick in reviews from friends reviewing. So, I would do this again in the future)
5) Referral contest via my email list
Whoever referred the most people to download my free book via email, would get a chance to get 6 months career coaching with me. They just needed to BCC me and a script I provided them to enter. The more people they sent it to, the more entries they got.
One person sent 40 individual emails. She was on a mission to win.
(Effectiveness: The only issue was that I ran this 3 days into the 5 day kindle sale. So by the time people read their emails, etc. the promotion was already over. I’ll probably do something like this in the future for the pre-book launch. It was also a good way to see who my super fans are)
POST LAUNCH MARKETING
One thing I learned in marketing is that social proof matters a lot. So, I spent a lot of time optimizing for that.
Goodreads — I was never active on Goodreads until I wrote this book and realized ratings and reviews show up publicly. So, I updated my profile and books. The good news is that I can tell who actually purchased/downloaded my book on Amazon. Here is a link to the book on Goodreads. 31 ratings, 4.6 average rating. Not bad.
LinkedIn — I mean, it’s a book about LinkedIn. So, 90% of my marketing time is going to be on LinkedIn. I write every day and sometimes at the bottom of the post, I will put a link to the book. The best marketing strategy is consistency.
I’m done with “BUY MY BOOK FOR F*** SAKE, WILL YOU” strategy. I do use bit.ly now for these links, so I’m able to track clicks, but not conversions.
The good news is that I average between 10,000 and 50,000 page views for every post.
OVERALL, HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED
- You have to believe what you wrote is the best thing ever.
If you don’t believe in it, no one else would.
I felt uncomfortable posting frequently about the book launch. But, I believed in it and I was willing to put my name on the line.
So, I went all in. I think this book can help you build relationships and get offers using LinkedIn. I truly believe in it. So, I was OK with going a little H.A.M with the promotion.
Do you think Kevin Hart and DJ Khaled tell their fans “Hey, guys — When you get around to it can you look at what I created? No worries if you can’t. Only when you have time, I don’t want to bother you.”
They go HARRDDDDD.
2) VALIDATE. VALIDATE. VALIDATE.
Before you write a single word for your book, validate what you are writing about is something others want to read.
Writing is therapy for me. I write articles for me.I write books for other people.
I tested the copy on LinkedIn, and the results were great, so I went ahead with it.
3) You CAN make money selling books. Just not that much.
If I stay on track of ~5 downloads a day for 365 days, then I’m making around $6k / year.
I’ve contemplated writing 20 eBooks. 20 * 6k. That’s 120k / year.
This is me dreaming.
4) Know your Audience. Forget everyone else.
Don’t write for the people you admire or people you respect in your community. This book is most likely not for them.
I always get asked, “Your audience has no money. Why do you write for them?”
Because I believe what I write can help them. I was once in their situation.
If it can work for me, it can work for them.
Forget about annoying these people during book promotions.
Thank you for listening!
(Click the heart below to recommend it!)