Launch Strategy for a 99 Cent Book Promotion - The Everett Exorcism

*IMPORTANT Update* - On November 6th Pronoun announced that it was shutting its doors, which meant that I was forced to move my books back out of their system. This change caused serious problems and made continuing with wide distribution unwieldy (lost reviews and ranking that I worked so hard for on three different sites), so I moved the series over to Kindle Unlimited.

Many people are of the impression that this move (rather than some sort of fee structure) was Macmillan's plan to hurt indie authors. I have no clue, but I can definitely say it hurt my book launch a lot. I would have loved to have gotten news about their closure a month earlier before the book launch so I wouldn't have wasted literally all of the promotions listed below to build ranking. I'm sticking with Amazon because at least the reviews stay over there so not everything is lost.

All this really shows is that no matter how bad Amazon treats indie authors, everyone else in the publishing world can't get their act together or offer anything even remotely worthwhile for us. Anyway, the launch plan is listed out below for anyone who is curious. I managed to sell over 1,000 copies in the launch week of my book before the rug was pulled out from under me by Pronoun.



Introduction

I've been working on and meaning to write this post for a while. I'll keep adding to it over the next couple of weeks as I add to my launch strategy, but in the short term this should cover most of what I'm planning to do to generate buzz and launch The Everett Exorcism. The entire series will be released around the same time, with the first two books coming all at once and the final book coming a few months later. I'm not sure if I would do this launch style again.

My strategy is going to be to do a Netflix style release with the first book priced at 99 cents for 5 weeks. The second book will be released at $2.99 for pre-orders and the third book at $3.99 also on pre-order. The first book is out as of October 24th, with the second following released on Halloween!


Pre-Launch

The first piece of my strategy was to submit the book to Kindle Scout. I've been selected with Kindle Scout before, but this plan was more about building up interest in the book itself rather than earning another contract.

Basically, my theory on using this as a launch platform was two-fold:

  1. If the book was picked. 
    1. I would get targeted Amazon promotion, which would make up for the higher price tag (probably $2.99) and still allow me to lead into the second book.
    2. This launch would have been similar to Raven's Peak.
  2. If the book wasn't picked. 
    1. Still  would help build early buzz for the book.
    2. Find early readers who were interested in receiving a copy.
    3.  Help with building marketing copy for the book.
Kindle Scout was the first plan I used to launching The Everett Exorcism

Kindle Scout

Check out my Insider's Guide to promotional resources to run a Kindle Scout Campaign.

I submitted the book in May and ran the thirty day campaign. Suffice to say, I wasn't picked. Not getting picked was perfectly fine with me (they didn't like the religious iconography on the cover and wrote me a very nice note explaining why they weren't going to publish it) because my alternate strategy was actually to release the book wide on all stores (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Tolino, Scribd, Apple iBooks, etc.) and try a new launch method. 

I did, however, manage to put together a comprehensive post about advertising options (free and paid) for running a Kindle Scout campaign which can be found here. This list includes a ton of different options. Most of them cost (some) money but they can be a huge step in getting an edge over the competition.


Check out this 99 cent launch plan by Lincoln Cole!

Check out this 99 cent book Launch Plan by Lincoln Cole!


Review Gathering Plan

A huge part of getting reviews revolvd around asking the Nominators for my Kindle Scout campaign and my email list of 10,000 if they would like a copy.

Here were my pre-launch promotions that would run up to launch day:

Review Build-up

  1. I collected emails into a segment on my mailerlite and instafreebie to offer copies
    1. These are sent now:
      1. Five Hundred ARC Copies.
        1. Three-Hundred plus accepted.
      2. One-Hundred Blogger Copies.
        1. Forty accepted.
      3. Nine Hundred Bram Stoker Copies.
        1. Only thirty accepted.
      4. Thirty LibraryThing Copies Offered
        1. Twelve accepted
      5. Total: Four Hundred copies.
  2. HWA - Horror Writers Association. I submitted my book for Bram Stoker consideration.
    1. I'm not really expecting to win, but it is more readers to offer my book to.

How successful was it? Well, after only a month my book is already closing in on the first one-hundred reviews. In general, the reception was positive. I'm not sure whether I would give this many copies away again, but it was a great way to find early readers for my book and get some feedback. 

Right now, my career goal is to build an audience and some brand recognition. Down the line I'm hoping the have enough readers to launch each book with a built in expected purchase count. After all, I plan to keep writing, so right now I just want to find readers!


Distribution Plan

Old

I am loading my books on these stores for pre-order and purchase. *This was a part of my original plan, and I have since moved the book back to Amazon exclusively after Pronoun closed. The closure of this company was a huge black eye to the publishing industry, though the company (and Amazon) has tried to do right by us in certain ways.*

  1. Pronoun
    1. Amazon
    2. Barnes & Noble
    3. Google Play
    4. Apple
    5. Overdrive
    6. Biblio techa
  2. Kobo Direct
  3. Draft2Digital
    1. Tolino
    2. Scribd
    3. Inkterra
    4. 24Symbols
    5. Playster
  4. Smashwords
    1. Direct
    2. Libraries

That was my old distribution plan, and the one which lasted all of one week before I was forced to pull the plug. As I mentioned above, I managed to sell over a thousand copies during that opening week, which means it does work. There are other options for distributing books out there that make going wide worthwhile (as long as you have some budget for it).

New

My new distribution plan that happened around November 6th was to put the entire series back on Amazon. I enrolled it in KDP, because when this was happening I was forced to scramble to move almost ALL of my books back over to Amazon. Along with writing new books it was too much workload to attempt to re-launch the series wide.

The other reason for this quick transition was to attempt to salvage sales and direct my focus on one platform. I ran a couple of quick giveaways during black friday and cyber monday and managed to salvage my rank a little bit, and having kindle unlimited helped quite a bit.

I didn't really want to bail on keeping the book series wide, but desperate times called for desperate measures, especially during the holiday season. Eventually I might start moving my books wide once again, though slower and with fewer books the next time. There were some great benefits, like having my own ISBN, that I've still managed to keep.


Launch Plan

Here is the original launch plan for my book. The goal of my launch was to build-up and peak right around Halloween, which I succeeded at quite well. I also learned more about various promotional companies. Some performed better than expected, and others performed significantly worse.

As you can see, most of my promotional efforts will actually be the day before Halloween, so the sale will hopefully peak right on the 30th.

  1. I set up a giveaway.
    1. The benefit of this was two-fold:
      1. I also increased my social and webiste audience.
      2. I was able to promote the launch.
  2. I set up an Instafreebie Group Giveaway.
  3. I set up various Facebook events.
    1. Book Launch on the 24th
    2. Party for the launch on the 29th.

The facebook events didn't really get much traction, though my book launch party had over fifty people coming to visit. That was a lot of fun (doubled as a Halloween party) and we made some cool treats and whatnot.

I think facebook events can be great for someone much more savvy than myself, but I wasn't really able to make them work.


Selling Books without marketing is practically impossible!

Selling books without marketing is practically impossible!


Pre-Launch

Here were the promotions I used leading up the launch. Some of them are free and some cost money. It is impossible to give a breakdown of how successful the launch was, however, because I was forced to abandon it after two weeks.

I went from selling around twenty copies a day (or more) to less than two copies a day when I made the transition back to Amazon so there's no telling how quickly or slowly I would have broken even without Pronoun's closure. 

  • 10/19/17
    • The Horror Show Podcast
  • 10/20/17
    • (Raven's Peak BookBarbarian)
  • 10/21/17
    • GenreCrave Cover Contest
  • 10/22/17
  • 10/23/17
    • JJGo JumboTron
    • Ryan Zee BookSweep List Building
    • (Raven's Peak Double Mega Book Boost)
    • A Page to Turn Pre-Order Post

All of the above promotions ran during the pre-order period. The mega book boost was a complete waste, and I no longer recommend OTOH books at all. Their results have plummeted in recent months and I got nothing out of it.

The jumbotron was an interesting experience, but not one I think I would repeat. The list building was probably the most beneficial thing I did and something I intend to do in the future (after a cooling off period).


Launch Week

This was the week I was really aiming for, and I staked everyone on this week. I wish now I had utilized the same promotions going exclusive on Amazon because I would have gotten a ton more downloads and sales through the Kindle Unlimited program, but oh well. Live and learn I guess. 

During this week I sold over 1,000 copies wide. Most of them were on Amazon, but I managed to move a lot of copies on kobo and other platforms as well. Of course, this also happened right when Barnes and Noble announced it was kicking Nook to the curb, so I'm sure that didn't help with consumer confidence in the platform.

  • 10/24/17
  • 10/25/17
  • 10/26/17
    • Bargain Booksy
    • Bookrunes
    • BookRebel <- Site Review
    • The Horror Show Podcast
    • My Newsletter (13k)
    • Jazzy Book Reviews
    • BKnights
    • Author Newsletter Swap (15k)
    • Writer Deb Blog <- Feature
    • TweetYourBook
  • 10/27/17
    • My Book Place
    • My Book Cave
    • Book Raid
    • AC Squared Book Blog
    • Mellow and June
    • Book Pebble <- Site Review
    • N.N. Light <- Book Review
    • eBookBargainsToday
  • 10/28/17
    • eReaderCafe
    • ManyBooks
    • eBookDiscovery
    • Books & Plenty
    • Sylv.net
    • GenrePulse
    • BookSends
    • eReaderIQ
    • TweetYourBook
  • 10/29/17
    • Robin Reads
    • A Mama's Corner of the World
    • For Love of Books
    • eBookHounds
    • BookLemur
    • Book Bot Bill
    • FKBT
    • ItsWriteNow
    • Kboards Banner
    • Reading Deals
    • Price Dropped Books
    • Rebecca Hamilton Giveaway
    • HotZippy
  • 10/30/17 - BIGGEST DAY
    • Just Kindle Books
    • Three Partners in Shopping
    • Book Banger's Blog
    • Ctrl-Alt-Books
    • Bibliophile Ramblings
    • Kindle Book Review
    • Riffle Books
    • Fantasy Book Deals
    • Kindle Nation Daily
    • BookGorilla Crossover
    • GenreCrave Mega Book Boost
    • Discount Book Man
    • Bookzio
    • TweetYourBook
    • Fussy Librarian
    • OHFB
    • Readper
    • Booklover's Heaven
    • ChoosyBookWorm
    • AwesomeGang
    • BooksGoSocial Mega Email
  • 10/31/17 - Halloween!
    • Book Basset Author Feature
    • Fantasy Book Deals
    • BookDoggy
    • BooksGoSocial (GEM Email)
    • TweetYourBook

These promotions were intended to, and did, peak right around Halloween. The day before, in fact, I sold well over a hundred copies. It was a lot of fun running the promotions, and apart from the dropping of Pronoun it was my strongest self-published launch ever. It went better than my Kindle Scout launch, in fact, during those first few weeks (though, Kindle Scout doesn't launch for 99 cents which makes a large difference).


Post Launch

I still had some promotions running during the weeks following the book launch, and those ended right around December. I was able to capitalize on these with my transition back to Amazon and used them to help salvage my launch. They didn't perform as well as I would have liked overall, but they were somewhat useful in rebuilding everything I lost because of Pronoun.

  • 11/7/17
    • ChoosyBookWorm
  • 11/16/17
    • Buck Books
  • 11/20/17
    • BooksBarbarian
  • 11/21/17
    • ChoosyBookWorm
  • 11/23/17
    • BooksGoSocial (GEM Email)
  • 11/30/17
    • BookLemur

I also used Facebook Ads, BookBub Ads, Twitter Ads, Google Adwords, and Amazon Ad Services. In general, those platforms performed relatively well, though it is incredible expensive to get any traction out of them.


Lessons Learned

I had a lot of fun with the launch, and when it was right in the middle of its peak I was thrilled with how well it was going. The closure of Pronoun cut the legs out from under it, and I learned a valuable lesson about putting my trust in a company that sounds too good to be true. They were done trying to help indie authors, and they chose the worst time of the year to pull the rug out from under us.

I don't really mind, though: I learned a lot, got some more experience, and I'll keep on writing. I do this because I have fun with it, not because I want to quit my dayjob. I just want to keep telling my silly stories and work on another book series. Maybe next time I'll try something completely different and see how that works.

All in all, a 99 cent book launch can be incredibly powerful. There are fewer ways for Indie Authors to find an audience than there were a year ago, and every day there are more predatory companies seeking to make money off of us. I'm glad to have the series out, and it's selling a steady stream of copies. Now it's on to the next project and the next thing.

Lincoln Cole

Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

He has won multiple literary awards for his novels. He has also been a bestseller in multiple different categories.