I’m going to keep this short and sweet because, I know you are probably swamped with holiday preparations and those end of year releases. Congratulations to everyone and their releases this year and the many that will be born next year. The gift of writing is an amazing blessing and one we should never take for granted, but honored to share.
Last year, I took on a huge project, 12 Titles in 12 Months. The reality was, it was thirteen titles. I often forget about one of the books, because it’s not available to the public, because I use it for my lingerie business.
To this day, I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking taking on such a huge project. Trust me it wasn’t for vanity. However, there was a book I really wanted to include in the challenge but it just didn’t happen…DESPERATE DESIRE. Cori, I refer to my books by the heroine’s name. It’s like men with their cars. I think it makes them seem more real.
So, Cori’s story is the third installment in the Generational Curse series. It was my intention to share her story this month, on the anniversary of her sister Kyla’s story, Generational Curse, but life happened. I heard someone say, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan.
Once I got over the disappointment of my plan not coming to fruition, I pushed the release date back a month. The push back was very necessary, because I needed to make a few changes. I write books that have a faith message and/or Christians struggling with their walk. Cori and her husband are Christians, however he’s having an affair and she’s contemplating doing like wise. As if that wasn’t tragic enough, I gave her a few vices, erotica, weed and expensive whiskey. So when I looked at the original cover, it didn’t work.
I got the original cover image for this book a few years ago. No, that’s not a typo. I originally bought the image when I was shopping for images for book one…Generational Curse. I wanted a consistent look with the series and the original was nice. I ran it through a series of changes in Photoshop and it was done. Then something happened, I was working on the website for my other business and found myself with an image I could no longer use. I didn’t want to just cast the image to the side, but thought it would make a nice cover. I did a little tweaking and when I finished, I knew that was the image for Desperate Desire.
Although this book is part of a series, it has the personality of a stand alone. The original cover was similar to it’s predecessor, however, the new one really spoke of the heroine’s personality and her journey to discovering love. Next month I’ll do the cover reveal and share more of Cori’s story.
So as I prepare to celebrate the holidays, I’m also celebrating the third anniversary of my first book, GENERATIONAL CURSE and preparing to release my nineteenth title. Wow…now ain’t that something.
I want to thank Marianne Donley for the cool graphic she put on my last post. I thought it only befitting to use it again this month on part two.
Where do I start? Last month I was in the midst of launching a book with a new campaign strategy. I want to make it perfectly clear, I am not trying to sell you on one of Mark Dawson’s courses. Although, I do like the results I got on my last launch.
So here’s what happened.
In the past when I launched a book, I didn’t really do any kind of pre-promotion. I would book a couple of ads, alert my mailing list, put the book out at full price and hope for the best. This time, I sent the book to my ARGroup, asked for reviews, forgot to book the ads pre-launch and launched it at 99¢.
My ARGroup had 20 people, but one dropped out after she read the book. Yes, I was a lot ticked off. But I went back to her acceptance email and remembered, she wanted me to pay her. I sent her a nice email expressing my sadness in her leaving the group. However, someone else joined. I had a little glitch getting the book out and pushed the date back. I got excited when some of my ARGroup emailed asking when could they post, because they really enjoyed the book. That made me feel good.
Every step up to the release day, I kept the group informed. I sent the new cover, asked them if they would buy a copy to help me in the rankings and graphics for the book to keep them engaged in the launch process. I wanted to make sure I kept the momentum going.
Launch day, I had 7 US reviews and 1 international. That was a first for me. I’ve never released a book with reviews. I was hoping for ten, but this was great.
As for sales. This was the first time, I sold 100 copies in the first week. For some people that’s probably what they do in the first day, but for me that was huge. I missed the top 100 in one of my categories by 24 on launch day. I have had books release with a top 100 category ranking, but none with a sell through like this one.
Promotion wise, I forgot to book ads for the launch. I was upset at first, and then I remembered, I wanted my list to have first dibs at the special price. I waited about ten days before putting the price up. I hoped for the best and was treated to a continued stream of sales.
It wasn’t until after the soft launch that I ran two facebook ads. I mentioned earlier that I had already made some facebook ads. When I tested the ads, the feedback wasn’t great. However, I used those for my social media and mailing list reminders. And used the ads below for FB instead.
In the beginning the male ad was doing very well. Then the female ad clicked and took off. At the end of the month, the female add had out done the male. Let me back up, when I noticed the way the ads were going, I was very tempted to shut down the male ad, but I didn’t because something happened. I did something else I had never done…I used an affiliate link. I put an affiliate link on my book on my website and used that as the link in the ad. I started getting sales which I knew were from the FB ads. However, I wasn’t sure which ad was producing the sales. That’s why I never shut the weaker ad down.
I think this was the first time in a while all my titles had steady sell-thru at the same time. It’s exciting to see a sales report with numbers not zeroes next to all the titles. Again for some of you this is your normal, but for me, it wasn’t. YEAH!!!
I was very pleased with the results and believe if I had done everything according to Mark’s suggested plan, I would have done even better.
Let’s see what happens with my next release. Happy Thanksgiving.
Unexpected….there are a lot of things that happen in life that are “unexpected.” My latest release, UNEXPECTED LOVE, was completely unexpected. I’ve talked about this book in a previous post [UNEXPECTED NOVEL, JULY 2017].
Since then, I did a cover change and set out to try a new launch plan. First step in my new launch plan, setting up an ARGroup [HOW I SET UP MY FIRST ARGROUP, SEPTEMBER 2017]. I didn’t realize how valuable an ARGroup could be.
On October 3rd, I released my 17th title. Let me step back and do a happy dance and a HUGE PRAISE GOD! Okay, now on to my post. I have been taking the Mark Dawson courses on Self-Publishing and one of the sessions described a new release launch sequence. I figured I’d try it. I’ve release a few books and thought I was doing a decent job, however, I didn’t realize I could have done better.
A little more than thirty days ago, I asked my mailing list for ARGroup members. I got a few volunteers, which I am very grateful for.
According to Mark’s Launch Sequence, 30 days out, I needed to send my book to my ARGroup. I missed that by a couple of weeks because of a few tweaks. Once I sent the email out, I made it very clear what I wanted. Mark said he found it a little difficult to ask for reviews. Me too. It almost felt like I was begging, but there’s a scripture that says, “…you have not, because you ask not…James 4:2” This was very true. It never really occurred to me to ask for reviews without some sort of compensation [i.e., giveaway, treat, etc.]. As I wrote the email detailing what I needed, I really did feel uneasy, but that was because it was foreign to me.
In the past when I released a book, I never did it with ANY reviews. Nor did I release at a special price. My previous launch plan was, a cover reveal about a week before release day. Then an email to my mailing list, post it on all my social media, book a couple of ads, possibly a guest post and a lot of prayer.
Here’s how I made Mark’s plan work for me.
Send manuscript to ARGroup via Book Funnel.
Cover Reveal Email to Mailing List [see revised cover.]
Make any changes based on comments. [There were a few things changed. I had two characters with the same name. One was a first name and the other was a second name.]
Final proof read
Book launch promotion [I decided to wait until I had reviews before placing ads. I did post to my social media. Elena Dillion helped me design some graphics I could use on my social media and eventually as Facebook Ads. See below.]
Email mailing list with an excerpt
Tease about a launch contest [I opted to do a Goodreads Giveaway which I set up to run during the hard launch phase. Three signed copies. In the past, I’ve had pretty good results with the giveaways.]
Upload to all relevant platforms [I’ve opted to go wide, so my book is on
Send and email to list announcing new release…build a little drama with one of my graphics.
Email Advance Group that book is live and ask for reviews [This has been very exciting. During my soft launch phase, my ARGroup is responding very well. As of this posting, my team has posted 6 reviews, 5 Amazon US and 1 Amazon CA. I have never released a book with reviews. This was the most difficult part, because I really wanted to by a couple of ads. But now that I have a few reviews, I’m in a better position for promotional ads.]
Ask for 99c sales – State why the sales would be helpful
[This is where I am as of writing this. In one of my Amazon categories with my ARGroup’s reviews, I started the day in the 120s in one of my categories. YEAH!]
Keep track on sales and traction. or once you’ve reached your review goal. If it’s great, switch price to regular price.
“Hard Launch” [My plan is to start my AMS Ads at this point. I’ve been doing very well with AMS Ads. I like the results. AMS Ads are a little tricky. I’m currently running three. One is costing me money. However, it’s getting me sales I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise. The other two are making money. I’m curious to see how this new ad will work.]
Email your list the book is live
“Mop Up” email to people who haven’t opened the first email. Thank them for the great launch.
“Second Mop Up” Email
If you’re moving the price up, let them know in this email [I’m moving my price up earlier in the process.]
Close Launch contest [this signifies the end of a launch]
I’ll let you know how this worked for me. See you next month. Happy Fall.
I am finally doing something I should have done a while ago…set up an Advance Reader Group.
I made a poor first attempt at this about a year ago. I say poor, because only one person responded. I’m not sure why the response was so poor, but it was.
This time, I’m attacking ARGroup recruitment a lot differently. Instead of a small mention in my newsletter, I did a mass mailing to my entire mailing list. I reviewed ARGroup requests from other authors and came up with one that worked for my brand. [See below]
Advance Reader Group Request
Do you love my books and want more?
You can join my advance team and read them FREE. ARC reviewers play a huge role in the success of an author’s books and I hope you’ll be part of that success by joining the team.
What is an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) and why is it so important to authors?
Prior to publication, select readers will receive an early copy of my work — Advance Reading Copy (ARC) — before it is available for mass distribution. These ARCs are sent out for free in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Publishers and authors know that reviews are the best way to spread the word about a book. After all, you tend to trust the opinions of fellow book lovers.
When reviews are posted to Amazon in the first week of a book’s release, it’s an amazing thing for an author. It’ s like finding that perfect pair of black pumps.
What does it mean to join my Advance Review Group?
It means you get to read my books for FREE before I release them to the world.
Sounds good. How do I join?
There’s just two steps to join my Advance Reader Team.
1. To qualify, if you haven’t already done so, you must read one of my books and post the review on Amazon.com and Goodreads. (I can’t give out unlimited ARCs, so I need to know I can count on you to give thoughtful, honest reviews).
2. Send me a message [email@example.com] to let me know you want to join my Advance Review Team and include the links to your reviews on Amazon.com (Do this by clicking on your name under the star rating of your review. This will take you to all your Amazon reviews. Click on the review of my book and send me that specific link). I’ll follow up with you from there.
Here’s a little incentive. If you respond by August 31st, you can read my upcoming release “Unexpected Love” before everyone else.
Hope to hear from you,
I sent this email out twice. I’d like to say everyone signed up, but they didn’t. Instead, 33 people unsubscribed from my list. I got twenty recruits to my ARGroup. YEAH! I’m so excited. Another great thing that happened, reviews. I picked up a few reviews. Another reason to cheer.
Once I received the initial sign ups, I sent out a Thank you email. I wanted my readers to know how much I appreciate them and their participation. [See below] As you can see, I gave them an option to bow out.
I’m so excited to have you on this ride with me. Thank you for posting your reviews. I really appreciate your honesty. Which leads me to a little review about the group rules.
Please confirm your acceptance to the group with an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This step is just in case you’ve changed your mind about joining the group and don’t want to participate. If I don’t get a confirmation email, I’ll assume you’ve changed your mind about joining the group.
See you next month.