For the last year, I’ve been able to get any book #1 in its category on launch. So I started adding some book marketing services along with my cover designs. No problems.
Then we started offering book launches and marketing. It’s a struggle sometimes, especially in popular genres like paranormal romance – where the #1 slot might be selling thousands of books a day.
We do it with a combination of free press and targeted facebook ads.
But otherwise our strategy is no big secret:
We run a KDP free campaign and then leave it at 99cents for a week.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been picking the brains of cutting edge Kindle book launch specialists – guys who are charging at the very least hundreds of dollars, at most thousands, to help authors with their book launch.
They use the same strategy, because it works. It’s not all we do.
If you just set your book for free or at 99cents, very little would happen.
The reason we do it is to get you thousands of new readers, and as many reviews as possible, and then put you at #1 in the ‘paid’ section of your category. The free and 99 cent strategy allows us book marketers to do a lot of other things to put your book in front of more people.
Many authors are adverse to giving their books away for free, and/or adverse to using KDP select, so there’s a lot of opinionated rants out there about why you shouldn’t do it, which makes new authors squeamish.
So they’re looking for something else.
A different strategy that works just as well – but guess what, there isn’t any.
And this isn’t an opinion; this is the collected wisdom of every book marketer I know who is working with authors who have no platform and need to reach new readers quickly.
If you don’t sign up with KDP or have free books, you won’t be making more money, because you’ll be spending money trying to reach the same readers you could have reached for free.
In other words, instead of giving your book away (costing you nothing) and gaining new fans, you’ll be paying for advertising and promotion to get your book in front of the same people – but you’ll be less effective at a higher price point.
If you give your book away for free, you might get 5,000 downloads.
If you sell it for 99cents, you might sell 200 copies if you spend a hundred bucks on promotion. But at 3.99 (if you don’t already have your own loyal fans or list), you’ll be lucky to get 50 sales and might spend several hundred.
And it’s not about the money: 1000 new fans is worth much more than $1000.
You need to be earning loyalty from fans by getting them to read and enjoy your books, so that they’ll want to read more.
Just now I saw a friend complain on Facebook about a certain book launch video course because they just used this “Same Strategy” and it wasn’t anything new. Everybody is looking for a silver bullet. A cheat. A hack. But they’re also refusing the strategy that works. Why?
What book marketing IS – and isn’t
A book marketer focuses on growth over income – reaching new readers. If you already have a list, or fans, and are trying to activate that loyalty and sell more books. That isn’t really marketing. You’re cashing in on all the previous work you’ve done to build a following.
But you probably don’t need much help with that.
If you want to make money, you may spend $500 advertising books to make $1000 in book sales.
That’s good business; but it’s also not marketing.
Book marketing is reaching new readers and then creating desire to buy.
If you can create a strong enough desire, you don’t need to drop prices so much.
For example, if you get 10 brilliant reviews from famous authors and use them on your sales page, cover and in the front of the book, you may not need to start off with a free campaign.
Or if you have 10,000 fans on Facebook (and plan to pay to reach them all, it won’t be cheap) – you may not need to start with a free campaign.
If you have an incredible book cover, and write guest posts that put it in front of thousands of people, you might not need a free campaign.
If you want to sweeten the deal by offering a prize – a free HD Kindle (something we are doing soon with an established author who doesn’t want to give her books away or sell at a discounted price) – you may not need the free campaign.
But for 95% of new authors, they don’t have any of that stuff. They aren’t offering anything but their book. They don’t have any reviews – let alone from famous people. Their covers are probably not amazing. Their websites are in worse shape. Nobody knows who they are and they are competing with thousands of other books.
Even if they succeed in getting their offer in front of readers… why should they buy?
“New book at regular price by unknown author with no reviews?” Who would take a risk on that?
Even with a great cover, and even if you’re paying for advertising or marketing to get your offer in front of them, only a tiny fraction will act on an offer like that.
Anybody who knows anything about marketing can tell you why:
You need to create desire to buy. It has to look like a great deal. It has to look in demand; with sales or download numbers or reviews. And the packaging should be professional and eye-catching.
And even then, if you get all that right, the price will be a factor.
If you present the right book to the right readers and they actually see it and spend a second considering it, does the offer move them to take action? Probably not. But add scarcity and a big discount – “Usually $7.99, but get it today only for 99cents!” you may trigger a reaction. But not a huge reaction. Because even 99cents is too much for most people to take a risk on a new book with no reviews.
Doing a free giveaway works because it makes up for everything else that you’re doing wrong.
It helps you compensate. You don’t do it to make money. You do it to remove resistance and allow readers to access your writing quickly, with no barriers, so that you can build a strong author platform quickly that will make money down the road.
If you already have a funnel that brings traffic or other books that are selling well, or other things that are working, and you don’t want to focus on attracting new readers but only want to start earning money, then you don’t need to do a free campaign or even discount your books. Just set a price. You won’t reach as many readers, but that’s a choice you’ve made.
However for you established authors who are in the lucky position to make such a choice, please stop telling newbie authors with no platform that they should do the same thing – it’s unfair to mislead them with such terrible advice.