So 3 months ago I launched my latest ebook, The Pride of the Hills: A Vollie’s Memoir on the Amazon Kindle platform through Kindle Direct Publishing. The book is enrolled in the KDP Select Program that allows Amazon Prime Members to borrow the book for free and gives me 5 days during which time I can offer the book for free. In this post I want to provide an outline on how I launched the book, why I did what I did, and what the results have been for those of you who may be either considering self-publishing or have decided on self-publishing and are looking at how you want to do it.
My launch plan for The Pride of the Hills differs from my previous launch of 25 Things They Should Have Taught You In Medic School… But Didn’t in that I was NOT going to offer the book for free for the first week. Instead, the launch would be at $.99 cents.
The finished ebook was uploaded to Kindle Publishing on November 15, 2013. This was done intentionally based on Amazon‘s new Countdown Deals for KDP Select Program titles, allowing you to offer the book at a reduced rate at intervals that rise to culminate back at full price. I wanted to do a Countdown Deal for Christmas Week, so in order to be eligible the book couldn’t have any price change within the previous 30 days. So by launching the title the week of November 17th was imperative in order for the price change to the full price of the title at least 30 days before Christmas.
Here are the major components I set up for the launch:
- Scheduled posts both here at DavidKonig.com and TheSocialMedic.net announcing the launch
- Submitted to Bookbub for an ad
- Scheduled tweets using Hootsuite
- Promoted photo posts on both my personal Facebook Page and the EMSBlogs.com Network Facebook Page
- Promoted a tweet announcement using Twitterads
In launching this book I had a goal. I wanted to be within the Amazon Top 20 Bestsellers in Medical Biographies & Memoirs. I know my book is not necessarily in a popular genre, so there is both less interest as well as less competition, but I figured that being in the Top 20 (which means your on the front page of the category on Amazon) was a good and achievable goal.
Sure enough, on the morning of November 22nd (the last day of the launch) I was ranked right up there with none other than former Vice-President Dick Cheney‘s collaborative work Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. We were, for all intense purposes, now literal homies. Of course, later that day it pretty much went out the window when this happened:
Undoubtedly when I passed him in the rankings, Dick Cheney probably called the NSA and demanded my digital head. To say I was pleased is an understatement, because it was a moment of downright giddiness for me.
Here were my book rankings for the week of the launch:
- 11/17 – #41,306 – Initial Announcement on DavidKonig.com
- 11/18 – #17,767 – Initial Announcement on TheSocialMedic.net
- 11/19 – #16,523 – The Green Bag Excerpt
- 11/20 – #17,446 – Facebook and Twitter ads started ($100 Twitter/$120 across 3 Facebook accounts)
- 11/21 – #11,153 – Grim’s Embrace Excerpt
- 11/22 – #9,305 – Last day of launch promo and ads set to stop running
- 11/23 – #12,201 – Switched to full price of $4.99 ending launch
- 11/24 – #32,005 – Planned Christmas Week Promo
It’s probably important to note that the rankings are end of day according to Amazon, and the actions were done day of. Because inevitably there is some lag, the increase/decrease in rankings on a given day is something that I attribute to the actions of the day before. A cascading effect is relatively apparent.
Looking back on the book launch, I would define it as a success for a few reasons. First, I was able to get a #1 Ranking in Emergency Medical Services. This is a category I have two other titles in as well, and that helps me in reaching that audience’s category which also happens to be the target audience for the majority of my work.
Secondly it gave me some insight into advertising and its value. While I would have loved to have gotten an ad onto Bookbub, that just wasn’t going to happen this time. From my experience, there is definite value in spending a bit on advertising for the book on Facebook, but not so much on Twitter. Here’s a quick glance as to why:
As you’ll note above, a $30 spend on Facebook gave me reach of 5,124 with an engagement of 54 at a cost of $.56 per engagement. Now let’s look at how a $100 spend on Twitter does:
As you can see, a $100 spend on Twitter gave me a reach of 6,646, with an engagement of 141 at a cost of $.71 per engagement. This means that Facebook, statistically, is a better ad value. But how about conversions? Let’s take a look at my Amazon data:
Admittedly, there was an additional $70 spent on Facebook ads that were funneled through these tracking IDs, but I think the results are obvious. Facebook drove nearly twice as many click-thrus as Twitter AND they actually bought nearly 500% more product than what the Twitter clickers did. So yeah, there is some value in Facebook but not so much for Twitter… at least when it came to my book.
Finally, I can say that I have had a literally work that not only was in the same category as Dick Cheney, but that it beat him. At least for a day….
What? No “Free” Offering?
I was asked via private message and e-mail when I would be offering Pride of the Hills for FREE, as I have done for my past works.
The truth is, I won’t be offering it for free. Ever.
I do believe in rewarding those who read my work, subscribe to my e-mail list, and support me in a myriad of ways. Offering it for $.99 cents was that reward for those people and the early adopters. I did $.99 cents again during the holidays (which I’ll actually talk about in a different post), but this will never be a free offering. There are a couple of reasons for this, so allow me to list them:
- This is a 60,000+ word book – my other works are of a shorter nature, so they don’t necessarily hold as much value in word count as this one does. There’s also a time investment in this that matters, and the time invested in this work is way higher than the others.
- Free does nothing for rankings – the truth is there have been changes to the way Amazon ranks books, and so when you offer them for FREE it takes it out of the regular rankings and compares it to other FREE books. It’s more of an apple to apple comparison and I understand why that may be fairer, but it also no longer provides any benefit when you turn the apple back into an orange and it gets dropped into the bottom crate with the other oranges.
- This is the highest costing work to date – the budget for this book was WAY higher than the others, clocking in at around $2,500, and all of it was spent. So now I need to get that back, and offering it for FREE to anyone doesn’t do that. Yes, it may take a year (or most likely more along the lines of two years) to see my initial investment returned, but this was a conscious decision I made in order to turn out a high quality work
- Giving it away does not mean it will get read – I’ve learned that just because someone downloads your book for free, it doesn’t mean that they’ll read it. If you’re not willing to pay for it, not even the token offering of $.99 cents, then maybe I don’t want you to read it in the first place.
I think there is still some value to being able to offer your work for free, but I just don’t see the value for me in offering this one.
So, does this make sense? Have you had similar experiences? What would you do different? Feel free to sound off in the comments…
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