Yesterday I had a long Facebook conversation with an author who had previously done a strong physical book launch (hard book copies to influencers at events). After the launch, the sales dried up, because:
1. You can’t count on humans to do things
2. Physical book launches at events are expensive
3. No long-term, ONLINE platform for organic visibility
4. Basics in the book/product page that could be tweaked
She was wondering if my marketing course would work for her, and so I laid out a strategy she can use to get the momentum back after her failed book launch. There’s a lot of juicy information in here, so I’m turning the conversation into a Q/A and sharing it with you.
To protect the author, I’ve rewritten the “questions” but kept my answers.
This was a nonfiction book, but almost all the strategies work for fiction.
PS. This author is savvy, wrote a good book, but fell prey to a big publishing company that made big promises to justify the high price. The point of Guerrilla Publishing is to learn how to launch a book yourself on the cheap to make sure it’s sustainable/profitable without ending up in the hole.
So I say things like “break even” or “make $100” – which isn’t exciting, but it’s a great first step. Once you learn the right skills, you can just keep improving and duplicating the process. The MAIN problem with this particular book was lack of reviews; this is why I focus a lot on platform and list building activities before you launch.
Q: I launched. It failed. Now what?
A: So with your book, I’d do this: The blurb needs revision and some formatting (I can do that) – then it needs more reviews.
1. give out 100arc copies asap (the pdf version or ebook is fine).
2. once you have more reviews, do a 99cent deal on the ebook and list it with all the promo sites (or… keep the price high and keep applying for bookbubs until you get one)
3. Start running Facebook and AMS ads – especially AMS at the beginning, to populate your also boughts by targeting the 10/20 bestsellers in your genre you want your book to be compared to.
4. You can spend this up by hosting a giveaway and offering those 10 books, along with yours, targeting the audience of those authors and those topics. Build a list, gift copies to the winner, email everyone else a blog post with a big list of your favorite books about (topic). Put that in your autoresponder/welcome series.
5. since it’s nonfiction, I’d pull out a bunch of 500 word excerpts to use as blog posts. Your blog would feature “read the first chapter for free” >> email list >> education series, with a link to buy the book (and get a bonus like a free video course).
6. You can turn the BEST soundbites into graphic images for pinterest/social, and also turn the book into a nicely designed powerpoint summary to add to slideshare (with links to the book inside) That will give you a strong foundation. Long term, you need your basic funnel to convert well enough to keep investing in ads and seeing a profit (though, since this is more specific nonfiction, it’ll also be easier to rank for main keywords organically – Amazon will keep promoting books that convert well, so if you boost your conversion with better blurb + more reviews, and then send some traffic (the right kind of readers) and they convert well, Amazon learns that those kind of people like books like yours.
7. Also, I’d look for any relevant sites, communities, organizations or marketplaces that share your audience and take advertising or guest posts; or if you can mention them in a resources link and get them to share your book for free.
Q: When you say ARC copies…
I circulated many PRINT copies of the book. Someone famous ASKED for one and then never did anything with it – as with MOST of my best selling author friends. I get it – they are all super busy. But that sucks and was costly. So who would you have those go to? My list isn’t huge – most of the influencers on it already have the book. I reached out to goodreads and bookbub and they would not take my book at launch! What am I doing wrong?
A: I’d focus on any random reader rather than influencers. It’s nice to get those kind of reviews but they don’t move the needle that much; having any reviews from anybody is the main thing (bookbub won’t select it without a lot of reviews).
I might casually name drop in the book or in my emails, photos of you with the influencers, that’s as good/better than a blurb. You could also, depending on your relationship, just write the blurb you want and ask if they’re OK with it. Otherwise I’d ask for a guest post or shoutout on their blog/list (works better if you talk about them in the book).
Q: I have blurbs from some great people – but that was pre-release. They never put it in as a review on Amazon. I could go to those folks and see if they would be willing to put a review up.
A: If you have them you can just put them under ‘editorial reviews’ yourself or in your blurb. I might actually use the best one trimmed down as the hook on top of the description. Need a hook on top of the description still, either a trimmed blurb or probably pain point. The Amazon page is more like sales copy than the back cover, so it needs keywords and benefits, and hit emotion buttons.
Q: Why in the HELL is the Vagina Bible coming up as a book frequently purchased with mine?!
A: If you aren’t selling well, or to a target audience, it’s easy for your also boughts to get really random. You can fix it quickly with a targeted ad campaign.
It’s hard to stay profitable with print on demand hardcover. I’d focus on ebooks especially, then paperbacks, where there is more margin.
Q: I was told that $6.99 is the sweet spot for the ebook. That over $9.99 sales drop by about half.
A: That sounds right. I’d even try at 2.99 until you have more reviews. In the beginning the lower price will help; with more reviews the higher price might make it seem credible – but I’d rather have more readers at low price than less readers at high price…
Q: I had this book at .99 for almost four months – it didn’t impact sales at all. People keep telling me the book is really cheap. I think I just need to press hard for those reviews. But I respect your input and will definitely consider this! I had water bottles made and have some extras. I may send out an email to the people dragging heels and promise a water bottle for a review or something.
A: Yeah, the price won’t matter without the reviews, so it won’t sell even at 99cents until you have more. Then, 99cents during a specific promotion with advertising can cause a surge of sales, to boost the rank and make it visible, and also fix all your also-boughts. After that it’s easier to sustain a higher price.
I don’t like asking for reviews so I’d rather build a big email list and send them a free copy (also I want real readers, who the book really helps, rather than someone it’s not really meant for).
Q: How many reviews do I need?
A: I like to have 10+ before I do advertising. I think an improved blurb will already help conversion. Once you have those two, I think ads will work. You can join the course if you want and I’ll rewrite your blurb.
Q: I need to do follow up with folks that I sent hardcovers to and guilt them into leaving a review. LOL
A: It’s a little better if it’s verified review, which only happens if they download it for free (if you do a free promotion) or buy it. I’d probably post on facebook/email “hey I’m discounting this book to 99cents, only to get more reviews, so if you haven’t read it yet here’s your chance” – that will guilt people without calling them out. It IS more effective to followup with reviewers directly, but it’s a lot of work and uncomfortable, I’d rather just do a promo or offer ARC copies to someone else’s (similar) audience.
Q: I knew about the verified reviews. But because I gave away hard and soft covers (and that was not cheap – over 50) I do think it’s appropriate to follow up. I have a review coming soon from a friend. I have others I can engage. I don’t know how to gift the Kindle book on Amazon to friends.
A: Yeah that’s easier – on your book page click this and enter their email.
You have to do it one by one, and add a message. You could just gift them one and say “in case you haven’t had time to read the hardback yet, just gifting you a kindle version to make it more convenient.” Kind of passive aggressive.
Q: How can I boost earnings from this book?
A: I like to pair a book with a cheap course or tripwire offer. An online self-assessment is a great idea, you can turn it into a quiz. There are cheap wordpress quiz apps, I think I have one from thrive themes but don’t use it. Then I’d have a high price personal service/consulting.
But mainly: the book (reviews+blurb), some traffic (ads), an upsell offer or service so you can spend a lot promoting the book and still be profitable. You just need a simple course or landing page, you can even presell a course while you’re building it.
This is an older video but I’m leaving it here – the #1 thing most authors get wrong – skip through it a bit.
If you need help with this stuff, and are ready for feedback, you can join my program and get some awesome bonuses.
PS. I love geeking out on the business side of things: If you write nonfiction, or if you’re interesting in online business/funnels/sales… I made two videos that might interest you. The first is a quick intro about some of the things I’m excited about; the second is a big list of things I wanted to do this year (but didn’t…) they’ll still work later, but I need to develop the write books and content first.
Ps. You can also look for some book marketing courses, just make sure they’ve got good reviews.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.