How I used giveaways to run the greatest book launch of all time (1000+ reviews, 100K downloads, starting from zero platform).

Full disclosure: I wrote the title of this post in 2015, before I’d actually published any fiction, so 1000 reviews and 100K downloads was my intended outcome, the biggest goal I could dream off.

That said, a year and a half later, I’ve gotten far more than 100K downloads (194179, to be exact) and do have over 1000 reviews – but they’re split among several books, a few hundred reviews on each.

So on the one hand, I wasn’t quite as successful as I intended to be. That said, in the last year and a half I’ve made about $40,000 from Kindle and $34K of that was in the last 5 months.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t as easy as I estimated. But also, I’m not actually promoting very hard. I had a book launch last month. This month, even though I’ve see my income steadily drop every single day, with almost no promotion I still brought in about 7K, and my permafree books and funnels are bringing new readers to my list all the time.

 I won’t be able to keep that up though, so I am writing, and do intend to publish 5 or 6 more books this year, which should keep me above 10K a month – enough to continue writing full time. My first goal is 10 trilogies (30 novels) but I plan to spend the next ten years publishing 100 novels and getting up to 100K a month in earnings.

It’s an audacious goal, and I can’t predict changes in the market, but that’s the new beacon that steers my actions. So what is the “greatest book launch of all time”?

I’m still discovering it, but let me say three things.

#1) There’s no such thing, because by the time I discover it, things will have changed, and thousands of authors will be using these methods and they’ll become less effective. You need to always be testing and discover what’s working NOW. Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing, whining about how you used to make money but don’t anymore. If it’s not working now, you’re doing something wrong.

#2) A “book launch” isn’t actually that important. You don’t want to shoot to the top and sell a ton of books, and then disappears. I don’t actually launch my books hard anymore. I try to keep them in the top 10,000 and grow to 100+ reviews at 99cents, then see if they’ll stick at $2.99. I don’t focus on one launch or one promotion. I focus on steady, long term sales by keeping visibility and conversion high.

#3) What most people think of as a “book launch” is mostly

  • paid advertising
  • email list or social media blasts
  • getting other people to share your book for you

That can probably get you to #1 so you can call yourself a “bestselling author.” Great – if you have alternate income sources where claiming that title helps you sell other stuff. But if you’re trying to be a full-time writer, those titles don’t mean anything (unless they help make the sale, which they almost never do! They can be helpful as a last indicator of quality, but readers won’t buy unless they were already sold by the cover and by the description.

#4) Yes, book giveaways still work; I did them well and built a list of 35K fans. I don’t sell to my fans, but they make it easier for me to get reviews and downloads, which leads to a better rank. I plan to continue using giveaways to build my list up even higher (I’d love to have 100K engaged fans – but then you’re paying for a big list; I don’t have enough books yet to earn enough to justify a list that big, but I WILL.)

What to do instead

Instead of “flash in the pan” promotion that doesn’t generate long-term, stable income, I focus on building up organic traffic with reader-focused content. I’m going to repeat that because it’s important.

“Build organic traffic with reader-focused content”

I made a video of how to actually do that, and another video on what I consider to be a “better” book launch formula – it’s pretty similar to my simple 10-step book launch plan but I’ve cut out a few steps. It’s part of my Guerrilla Publishing course, but I’m going to share it for free here, because it’s so damn important and I think it will help.

I’ll post both videos down below. The first one is actually a presentation for the Indie Fringe Fest, you can view the full list of speakers here.

 

Advanced Listbuilding and Content Marketing for Authors

 

In this video I talk about my own giveaway app “Bookfetti” – which you can get with a course on email list building on sale here. You can also sign up to win free access with this sample giveaway.

 

Advanced book launching techniques

 

If you think these are useful, be sure to follow me on YouTube or sign up to my email list so you don’t miss new content.

*Featured image by Justas Galaburda

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me
  • Cory Reynolds

    Well, in 1.5 years you went from no fiction books or platform, to a fair sized platform and several books that are making you a living. And the best thing is that you didn’t just get lucky. While most writers can’t even break even, now there’s an indie 100k month barrier to break. Worthy Challenge!

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