Monday, July 3, 2017

What if everything I know about self-publishing is wrong?

Here’s the tough part.

What if everything I have written in this blog is a bunch of bullshit and none of it is going to do you any good?

Does it piss you off that I saved this until now?

I know it would get my goat. And, believe me, I’m feeling it right now. I discovered a book that could change the way I approach book marketing. Because, maybe, free isn't the best solution. And, perhaps ad-stacking 99 cent deals isn’t going to grow my readership the way I expect.

What would you say if I told you a free-giveaway messes with Amazon's algorithms? Yes, your book takes off at first, but after the initial burst in sales - it sputters out. 

What do you do then?

Chris Fox thinks he has the answer. You can read more about it in his Six-Figure Author: Using Data to Sell Books.

What it comes down to is that you don't need a massive launch. You need to get the right people to download your book when you first release it. 

Here's the deal. 

Amazon algorithms are data driven. They look for connections between your book and other books in your genre.

A free launch skews the data because its real audience doesn't download your book. Instead, it gets picked up by freebie seekers. If you don't believe me, look at Amazon's recommendations after a free run. My books are about history. The books Amazon displays are about gardening, dieting, and cozy mysteries.


None of the people Amazon is recommending my book to are going to buy it. It’s not the type of book they read. Any idiot can see that. As a long-term marketing solution, a free promo is a dud. It doesn’t drive sales over the long haul.

And, that comes back to what Jonathan Green says in 20K A Day. Amazon wants to see a steady increase in sales. They don’t want to see a quick burst of downloads, and then a just as quick trickle downward.

If you run a promo—KDP Free Days, Countdown Deal, or a 99-cent promotion you need to engineer a slow build up in sales.

If you run a three-day KDP Free promo, don’t lead off with your big guns. Start with a smaller promotion on bknights or James H. Mayfield. That should net you 200 to 400 downloads.

Step it up the next day with a promo on Choosy Bookworm. Then come out blasting with your big guns on day three. Shoot for a Robin Reads or FreeBooksy slot.

If you are running a 99-cent promo or Countdown deal, advertise it with bknights on your first day. On day two, blast out an add with Buck Books or BargainBooksy. Save your heavy-hitter for day three. Give it your best shot on Robin Reads or BookBub.

With either promo, announce it to you email list on the last day. This sequence ensures a steady buildup in your sales. It makes Amazon see that your sales are growing.

If you lead off with your strongest promo, Amazon is going to think your ship has already sailed. Instead of a steady stream of sales, Amazon may assume your book fell off the cliff.

The real trick is to get away from free promos as quick as you can. Spend your first year or two building your backlist. Create an email list. Don't try to sign everyone up. One hundred true fans are better than ten thousand luke warm names. What you want to shoot for is a list of readers you can count on to download your book the first day you release it. This is going to do two things for you. It's going to raise your sales rank and visibility. That's money in your pocket. 

Money is good. 

Those first few purchases are going to prime the pump. They are going to teach Amazon who your real readers are. Once Amazon discovers this information, its marketing engine kicks in. It's going to promote your book to its true audience, not some mixed bag of free book seekers.

It's a lot to take in.

It's the exact opposite of what everyone says you should do. But, it makes sense. Amazon’s sales engine is data driven. If you’ve bought enough stuff from them, they are excellent at suggesting what comes next.

I get email suggestions every day. I don’t buy every one of them, but I do purchase my fair share.


Excerpt from my newest book, Writeable: Self-Publishing Simplified.


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