How do you launch a new author into the top 3k on the Amazon store and into the top 100 of a competitive category like Space Opera (#15 of Hot New Releases)? (My son’s book did this yesterday.)
You might say “be SKQ’s son” but that’s really not the answer. I’ve helped launch other authors with new pennames or new series, even doing it myself with my Penname multiple times. Success depends far more on having a great product with great packaging, and an upfront investment of $500-$1000 in the product, than any given newsletter or social media boosting.
Here are some steps I recommend:
1 – Write a great book and make covers that target the closest genre. If your book can’t sit comfortably next to the top 10 books in your category (you know your category, right?), then you have to keep working that cover until it does. Use a professional designer, full stop. But even the best designer can’t guarantee you’re targeting your genre – study the covers of the bestselling indie authors in your genre (not tradpub). Make sure you nail the look. Then study how those bestsellers price, what length their books typically are, how often they publish. If you can’t answer those questions, you need to do more research. Plan to write a trilogy, or have it already written. Make sure your craft is ready for show time.
2 – Write a short piece in the universe of your story and upload it to instaFreebie a couple months ahead to gather subscribers. At the same time, set up a goodreads giveaway of a paperback version of the book that will end about a week before release. Put a link to your newsletter in the goodreads description so that people can subscribe to find out when it releases.
3 – Send out review copies to whoever you can get to take them, preferably people who are proven reviewers. This is where it helps to have friends in the genre – offer your book to their reviewer lists. If you don’t, get creative about finding reviewers, but don’t bug your mother or your author friends. You only need 5-10 reviews to start, not hundreds. Incentivize reviews by offering the second book to anyone who reviews the first. Upload the paperback to createspace so reviewers can review well ahead of release on Amazon (send them links to both GR and Amazon). By the time you upload the ebook to Amazon (5 days prior to release, no pre-order), you want to have 5-10 reviews on the paperback – more is great, but that’s all you need to buy ads.
4 – Launch in KU at a 99cent price point for anywhere between 1 week to the first full month (time on the Hot New Releases list), then raise to full price ($2.99 or $3.99).
5 – As soon as you have a live ASIN on the ebook on Amazon, start buying ads. Many ads can be had for no reviews and are available about a week out. Get as many ads in the first week after the official release as you can, spread out over the first 5-7 days. Buy all the ads you can get. Some ads book up and you can’t get them until later. Take them anyway, then drop the price of the book for a day or two just for the ad later on – this will goose your sales later.
6 – Create a nice ad on Facebook for people to share. You don’t have to run the ad for very long, just have it available for people to share. Make a nice FB-sized graphic that’s conducive to sharing. Direct people on your newsletter to these sharable resources. Incentivize them with a free paperback for sharing. Big prizes aren’t necessary – you can do them, but you’ll get people more interested in the cash or kindle than in your book. This isn’t necessarily bad – some will convert to readers – but don’t think you have to offer a big prize to interest people in sharing.
7 – Launch. Track. Learn. Rinse. Repeat. Publish Book2 and Book3. Build your career. Build a fanbase. Love your readers. Treat them well. Earn their love with your words.
8 – Be awesome.
ETA 9 – Always be experimenting.