Today, we continue with Part Two a breakdown of my fiction book launch. If you missed it, here’s Part One.

To recap: Desire by Design is the first in a contemporary romance series that will be rolled out over the next 6-12 months. My goal with this one is to establish that there’s a market for the series, grow interest in the second book, see what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing, and, with any luck, make enough money to pay for a splashier launch of Book #2.

Two weeks in, this is where we are so far:

Release date: Friday, July 14
Launch date: Monday, July 17
Sales: 148
KNEP (Kindle Unlimited page reads): 12,337
Reviews: 66
Overall rating: 4.6
Earnings: $103 (approximately)
 

THE GEEKY BREAKDOWN

 
Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell exactly where your sales come from, so figuring out which advertising services are most effective can be a bit of a guessing game if you have more than one type of promotion going at once. But you can tell how many books you sell each day (as well as how many KNEP you get), so you can at last make an educated guess. Here are the promotions I used last week, day by day, and the sales for each day.

Pre-orders: 31 sales

Friday, 7/14–Sunday, 7/16: 7 sales. No ads, just a couple of emails reminding my review list to post reviews on Amazon and to please consider buying a copy of the book as well.

Monday, 7/17: 7 sales. Ad with Price Dropped Books.

Tuesday, 7/18: 10 sales. No ads. Email to my entire list of ~2k. Cross promo’d by an author with a 2k list.

Wednesday, 7/19: 17 sales. Ad with Fussy Librarian.

Thursday, 7/20: 16 sales. Was cross promo’d by an author with a 3k list. Kinda messed up on the ads. I thought I’d scheduled an ad for this day with Choosy Bookworm, but it actually ran the following day (not sure if they changed the date on me or if I just had it down wrong). Late in the day, I sent an email to everyone on my list who had not opened the first launch email, which resulted in a few extra sales.

Friday, 7/21: 21 sales. Ads with Choosy Bookworm and GenrePulseCross promo’d by an author with a 4k list.

Saturday, 7/22: 28 sales. Ad with Free Kindle Books and Tips. Also a last-minute push on my personal Facebook page.

Sunday, 7/23: 2 sales. Rolled out my first Amazon ads. These are a whole ‘nother ballgame from the kinds of ads I’ve been doing so far, and it’s too soon to report on how effective they are. If you’d like to learn more about them, I recommend Brian Meeks’s Mastering Amazon Ads for a solid overview.

Monday, 7/24–Thursday, 7/27: 9 sales. I sent out a regular weekly newsletter to the entire list on Tuesday, letting them know that this was the last day to buy the book before the price went up. This resulted in about 5 sales.

Note: I may use all of these advertising services again in the future, but based on this experience, I’d recommend Fussy LIbrarian and Free Kindle Books & Tips both for sales results and customer service. 
 

LESSONS LEARNED

 

What went right

 
I’m very pleased with the reviews. Sixty-six, included 8 verified, is a pretty respectable number, and the overall reaction has been extremely positive. This gives me confidence that there’s a market for both the book and the series as a whole, and hopefully make the book more attractive to potential buyers. As I said in my last post, I’ll put together a more formal ARC team next time, but I think giving the book away to those 209 reviewers this time was a good investment.

Another good move was including the first chapter of the next book, Acting on Impulse, in Desire by Design as a Sneak Peek. I’ve had 12 pre-orders of the new book already (yikes—better get writing!) despite the fact that it’s $2.99, not 99¢. Since that’s the book where I hope to start seeing a profit, it’s encouraging to know that people will not only buy it, but buy it at a higher price point.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I was a lot more assertive about promoting myself/the book. With my first two novels (with all my books, actually) I was quite shy about letting people know they were on the market, especially to people I knew personally. This time though, I posted about the book several times on Facebook (my social medium of choice) and flat-out asked people to buy it and review it.
 

What could have gone better

 
148 sales is … okay. I had hoped to break 200 by this point. It’s not terrible—it’s enough to validate that there’s a market for the book—and, if you buy the statistic that most self-published books won’t sell more that 250 copies over their lifetime,* then I’m already about halfway to beating the odds.

Still, I’m a little sorry that I didn’t make a bigger push (maybe spent money on more ads or run two or three on the same day) to sell more in a short amount of time in hopes of getting into the Top 100 of a relevant category. I got as close at #319 in Contemporary > Romance, but despite several more sales that evening, it never did any better.

The cross promotions … I don’t know. They definitely sold some books, but they put me in the position of returning the favor by promoting other people’s books to my list—which risks diluting my brand and annoying my own list. I’m not convinced it’s a worthwhile tradeoff at this point in my novelist career. If I do cross promotions again, I may wait until I have a much bigger list (so that I can trade with someone who also has a bigger list) and be super selective about the types of books I promote to be sure they’ll appeal to the same people who like my work.

Finally, my mailing list didn’t deliver quite as well as I’d hoped. A frequently heard complaint is that mailing lists built on giving away a free book tends to be populated with people who won’t actually spend money on books, which may well be the case. I saw a bit of a bump in sales each of the three times I mailed my main list over the course of 9 days, but overall, I estimate that only about 2% of the entire mailing list actually bought the book. And even if ALL my KNEP came from my mailing list (which I doubt) that’s still approximately only another 2%.
 

FOR NEXT TIME

 
I’ll continue to build my mailing list. Given what I just said about it, that may sound counter-intuitive, but as long as it isn’t a huge effort (which it hasn’t been so far) it’s worth it, especially if I can figure out ways to bump up the conversion rate.

Sometime closer to launch of the second book, I probably will make Desire by Design permafree in hopes of pulling people into the series. I’ll may take out some ads and apply what I’ve learned about promoting a paid book to promoting a free one.

That said, I’ll put the real effort into launching the next book in the series. Instead of doing one ad a day, for instance, I’ll look into doing two or even three a day. Hopefully, I’ll have a bigger list by then, which should help. I’ve also got a plan to create a bonus gift for people who pre-order the new book.

I’ll continue to let you know how it all goes. In the meantime, please let me know if you have questions or ideas in the comments below.

* This is a number that’s been tossed about in a handful of articles, such as this one; I’m not sure if there’s an actual basis for it, but I think it’s a reasonable guess.