Anyone can be a published author. Anyone can be an Amazon bestseller. You can do it! I’ve been self-publishing for three years and I’m still blown away by how easy it is! Find out how to guarantee a bestseller with the following Kindle launch schedule.
Self-publishing is essential to modern business. Self-publishing gives you instant authority and access to a potentially huge audience. Most of my books have been bestsellers on the Amazon Kindle platform.
I recently published by eighth book –The New Freedom. The book’s been a bestseller in many categories and in the top six of the main Small Business & Entrepreneurship category of Amazon Kindle. I’ve been out-selling books by Dan Norris, Derek Sivers, Peter Thiel, Eric Ries, and Donald Trump. 🙂
Too long; didn’t read
If you don’t want to plough through nearly 3000 words in this article (and, who would blame you?), here’s the TL;DR: Email marketing and the “street team” are the king and queen of the Kindle Launch Strategy. I made efforts on social media, manual email outreach, and spent money on promo sites – maybe too much. The promo sites are an extra bump. Maybe 20-30 sales each. Much better to concentrate on the email list and the “street team”.
Why this launch was the best ever
This launch was the best ever because I sold more books – nearly a thousand in less than two weeks. I also gained bestseller rank in many good categories and my book was in the top two thousand of all the books in the Kindle Store.
I’ve had other launches with more downloads (5,000), but these launches made use of KDP’s free promos. Where, because your book is free, it’s downloaded by loads of people who may never read it. With this $1 launch, at least I was making a bit of money ($0.35 per Kindle sold) and, hopefully, most people will actually read the book (which is usually not the case with freebie seekers). And when the price goes up to $3.99, I make $2.67 per Kindle sold.
What’s the difference between a “Free Launch” and a “$1 Launch”?
There’s no such thing as a free launch. (We’ll pretend I did write that last sentence!) If you don’t have much of an audience you are better off doing the “Free Launch” (having your Kindle for free on the Kindle store for a few days). But you should do a “$1 Launch” when you’ve got a reasonable email list (let’s say over 4,000).
Here’s how to do the free promo launch: How To Make Sure Your Next Kindle Is An Amazon Bestseller. However, this is the paid launch schedule for books that are launched at a reduced price, $0.99 for example, for a few weeks only.
You could do both. After you’ve completed the free promo part of the “Free Launch” strategy follow this “$1 Launch” strategy.
As usual, the launch schedule doesn’t start on the day you publish. It starts on the day you start writing. You should be communicating constantly with your audience during every stage of the writing process. Ask them: “what do you think of this idea?” and listen to the feedback.
What do I mean by “the street team”?
The street team is a collection of “fans” or “followers” who are given free access to the first draft of the book before it is published. The street team were vital to my book’s success. Honestly, it wouldn’t be half as good if it wasn’t for a dozen or so amazing people from the street team who made comments, amendments, and improvements on the first draft.
Here is the first email I send to my street team to get them reading and engaged:
Hello [first name],
Thank you so much for your interest in my new book, “The New Freedom”. Here it is! Please give me some feedback in the next few days. You know, there’s no time like the present.
PS. The Mobi and PDF files of the new book are attached. I find the best way to read is the download the free Send to Kindle app and then send the Mobi to your Kindle device. (And if you don’t have a Kindle you know you can get the free Kindle app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer).
PPS. Please don’t share this with anyone!
PPPS. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, I apologise! But it will be professionally edited before publication.
But there’s more: the street team are likely to evangelize about your work, they are likely to give you a review on Amazon, and they are extra pairs of eyes to give the text the once over. This is huge.
My street team were about 50-60 people strong – I will try to get over 100 next time. I can not over-emphasize the importance of the street team.
You have to get pretty creative with this. Lots of people will tell you they’ll leave a review but will forget.
I even created a video, above,
begging asking people for reviews. It’s not easy. Oh, and by the way, if you’ve read the book and liked it, please leave me a review.
Here’s what I did before I got to launch day.
- Write the damn book (4 weeks). This is definitely the most enjoyable part of the whole process. I really wish I could just write and publish a book and not bother with marketing – but life ain’t like that. I wrote for an hour or so (700 words or so) everyday for a month. Constantly re-reading, re-writing, and re-ordering the text while writing (which is something “gurus” tell you not to do).
- Street team editing (2 weeks). As previously mentioned, I gave the first draft to 50+ people who came back with priceless suggestions, advice and comments. I incorporated 90% of it. Some of it was quite cutting: this book is too vague, lacks purpose, needs more work, etc. Some of the comments were hard to take, but this stage improved the book immeasurably.
- Final edit (3 days). After all the street team amendments and re-orderings were in place, I could finally submit the manuscript to a professional editor.
- Create Kindle and Createspace formats (1 day). You need properly formatted Mobi or ePub files for the Kindle version and PDFs for the paperback’s cover and inside pages.
- Sort out cover, keywords, blurb, title (takes ages, do it during the book’s gestation process). The book’s cover and title are absolutely essential to the book’s success. I spent a lot of time on this.
- Category choice (20 minutes). Very quick job but absolutely essential (see below).
Warning: if you’re like me – not a perfectionist and like to get stuff done – the days before the launch are so frustrating. Try to be patient before the launch because it really does make for a better product.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, err.. Soft Launch!
So this is the launch … kinda. It’s actually a “soft launch” – not a lot happens in the first few days. The real magic happens when the mail outs and promos kick in.
For now, it’s a case of working tirelessly behind the scenes trying to get reviews (you need a certain number of good reviews to be allowed on some of the book promos, for example, BuckBooks). Most of the marketing during the soft launch period is done through social media and manual email outreach (as distinct from emailing my list – that comes later). Here’s a bit of social media fun and games:
I probably spent a little too much time messing around on social media poking fun at the President-elect of the United States of America. Really? You’d think I’d have better things to do!
More importantly, now that the book is published I can book the promo sites (BuckBooks, BargainBooksy, BooksButterfly, etc.) so I can drum up extra sales during the “Lift Off” period of the launch when I email my list.
Also, I’m waiting for Amazon to amalgamate the Kindle and paperback versions onto the same page which takes a couple of days.
Now the book is launched it’s time to email the street team again. (Although I also did an extra reminder email a week after I sent the first one):
Dear [first name],
Thank you for your interest and help with The New Freedom. The launch is going well. I’ve been bestseller of many categories. I know you’re busy so I hope you don’t mind me asking you a few favors:
If you liked the book, please consider reviewing it on Amazon – http://myBook.to/TheNewFreedom – that would be great. A “Verified Purchase Review” on Amazon would be even better (but you’d have to buy it at the special launch price of $0.99 to do that!) 😉 And/or, if you wanted to promote it (you could do that as well):
Anyway, I really appreciate you, [first name], and thank you again for your help with the book.
You can see some important points on emailing the street team:
- Don’t annoy them too much! If you are a member of my street team and you’re reading this, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how much I emailed you, and whether you thought it was appropriate. As you can see, there’s a lot of, “I know you’re busy, but …” sort of thing going on!
- Don’t get them to check for spelling mistakes. Correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc., is boring and it’s not what the street team is for (even though some of them will do this). The spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc., is the domain of the profession editor. The street team’s job is make comments about the book’s contents. This is where the street team can be so amazing. (My street team did an awesome job on my latest book).
- Get them to read the text. This is the most important point, after all. So make it as easy as possible. Send them a PDF and a Mobi with direction on how they can easily read it.
- Ask for a review. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! I also hint that I would like it if they also bought the book, even though there’s very little reason for them to do so, other than it being a massive favor to me. Unbelievably, or perhaps believably, many street teamers actually buy the book so we get that Verified Purchase review.
- Ask them to share it. As you can see in the above email, I use the ClickToTweet service as well as the HrefShare to help them to share on Twitter and Facebook respectively.
So that’s the street team. Remember, I’m doing social media work as well as “manual email outreach” at this time.
Manual email outreach
I email people with free copies of the book to ask for their opinions. I’ve had mixed results with this in the past and it’s hard to get an ROI on this.
What do I email? The email I send them is very similar to the first email to the street team. It contains a Mobi and a PDF plus instructions on the best way to read it as well as an invitation to give their feedback.
Who do I email? There are three main groups of people :
- People who I think would like the book
- People who I’ve done favors for
There are definite pros and cons with the last group of people – the “Influencers”.
I’ve had some success doing this. For example, I emailed influencers like Derek Sivers, Natalie Sisson, Justin Cooke, Dan Andrews, and Shayna Oliveira who all responded with useful suggestions, encouragement, Tweets and Facebook shares. However, I also got an angry email from an “influencer” (less famous than the above mentioned) who felt he was too important to receive emails from me.
So, I’m going to re-think this strategy of emailing “influencers” out of the blue. One person’s “influencer” could be another person’s “guru” who has a bad name, so do I really want to be emailing them? I’m not hating on “influencers” per se, and I’m grateful to the guys who got back to me but do I really want to do this? And I’m not a huge fan of email outreach period.
Category choice is an essential part of getting the bestseller status. It’s quite simple, really. You spend five or ten minutes looking at the categories you think your book fits in and check out the bestseller rank of the bestselling book of a category. The bestseller rank of the bestselling book of a category tells you how much you’ve got to sell in order to top that category.
I show you how to pick the categories on the Amazon Kindle store to ensure a bestseller in the above video.
I use the Kindlepreneur KDP Sale Rank Calculator to work out how many books I have to sell each day to be a bestseller in certain categories.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,760; Books sold per day: 10
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Business Travel
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,697 Books sold per day: 12
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Budget Travel
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,338 Books sold per day: 47
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Marketing & Sales > Marketing > Web Marketing
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,636 Books sold per day: 59
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Solo Travel
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350 Books sold per day: 104
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Entrepreneurship & Small Business > Home-Based
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748 Books sold per day: 120
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Entrepreneurship & Small Business > Small Business
I topped all the above categories during the launch.
The Kindlepreneur KDP Sale Rank Calculator can only estimate daily sales. Amazon doesn’t actually rank books according to their sales on a given day. Their ranking changes every two hours and is based on an algorithm that takes into account not only sales at that moment but sales over longer periods as well. The Kindlepreneur calculator doesn’t track the sales of books over time but gives an estimate based on current values.
Although you can only choose two categories at once, you are free to change categories at any time. Also, the categories in the Kindle Store are different from the categories you can choose from when you upload your book at KDP. If you need to change categories and can’t always a good idea to contact KDP and ask them to make the changes. Sometimes they mess up and leave you in three or more categories at the same time!
It’s always good to change categories from easy ones to more difficult ones when you book is doing well; and from difficult categories to easier ones when your book is losing popularity. It’s all about getting the book to the top of those categories and keyword listings.
Back to the launch…
Lift off! ****’s getting real!
Undoubtedly, the most potent weapon in my launch arsenal is my email list. It’s necessary to “keep the powder dry” when launching a book and fire off the email blast at the most opportune moment.
The launch strategy is preparing the ground for the email to my 10,000+ subscribers because I know that this will be the biggest sales day. So, as you can see from “The $1 Kindle Launch Sequence” graphic below, I also booked three promos on the same day that I emailed my list.
Here’s what I did for the launch sequence:
- Day 1: Soft launch; Scheduled a James H Mayfield promo; Did social media promotions; manual email outreach to street team and “influencers”, etc.; Waited for the Kindle and Createspace paperback to hook up on Amazon.
- Days 4 & 5: A couple of paid for promos.
- Day 6: Lift off! Scheduled three paid for promos and emailed my list. Nearly 200 sales in one day!
- Days 7,8,9: More paid for promos.
- Day 11: Emailed list again.
The object of the launch is to ensure consistent sales over a number of days.
I must stress that the promo sites are not important. Please don’t fixate on whether Bargainbooksy is better than Booksbutterfly. You will get better sales and reviews from an email list and a street team than you will get from the promo sites.
What has happened since the launch?
Good question. The moment I moved the price from $0.99 to $3.99, the fun kinda ended. I was riding high in three good categories (Home Business, Small Business, Starting a Business) and fairly high in the overall Small Business & Entrepreneurship category. However, it was a little sad to see it drop after the price rise.
Total Kindle sales after three weeks: 908
Total revenue from Kindle and Createspace after three weeks: $640
It’s still New & Noteworthy in the Entrepreneurship & Small Business category and the three other categories but, fairly soon, I’ll expect the sales to dwindle. But I’m looking forward to using Amazon’s Marketing Services (the fairly new PPC service for Kindles) and Bookbub ads (if I ever get accepted) to keeping the title alive.
Props and other great articles
Side Hustler in chief, Nick Loper, wrote Everything I Did To Launch a Bestselling Book (and How Much It’s Made So Far) a month or so after launching Buys Buttons. This was my yardstick during the process. Unfortunately, Nick had more reviews and has sold more than me at this stage! 🙁
Day 1: publish; Days 1-5: get as many reviews as possible; Day 2: contact all the book promo sites and schedule promotions; Days 6-10: stack reviews on each day including email your list; Days 11 or 12: raise the book’s price.
And, basically, that’s what I did!
You can do it!
You can write and publish an Amazon bestselling book. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Getting a bestseller is just a matter of category choice and ensuring high sales days.