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Book Launch Blueprint: Step-by-Step to a Best-selling Launch

A book launch strategy will protect your Amazon rankings and turn your book into a best-seller

I bet you thought writing a great book was all it took to be a successful author. If that were only the case.

There are so many books available online and in print that it takes much more to consistently sell books. It takes a best-selling book launch strategy.

A book launch strategy for each book I self-publish is how I consistently rank as one of the top authors in the Business & Money category on Amazon. It may not seem like much, ranking 285th among authors in the category or around 9,800th overall but that’s among more than a million authors.

It also means I consistently sell over 600 copies and earn just under $2,000 each month.

how to bestselling book launch on amazon

A book launch strategy is one of the most important pieces of the self-publishing puzzle but also one of the most often neglected. It takes months to write, edit and format a book. By the time you have a final copy ready, you’ll be so eager to publish that you’ll be tempted to rush through the launch.

But a good launch will make all the difference in how well your book does after the first few weeks.

The majority of books on Amazon make money for just a couple of weeks when first published, as the author’s friends and family buy copies. After that, rankings plunge and nobody ever sees it again while browsing.

It is very difficult to get a book’s rankings back up after it has fallen below #300,000 or so on the best-sellers’ list. You’ll have wasted whatever momentum you had in the first couple of weeks and will have to start from scratch with a new launch.

Do yourself a favor. Use this book launch blueprint to jumpstart your Amazon book ranking and cement your book’s position.

Why is a Book Launch So Important?

A good book launch will make your self-published books nearly completely passive as an income source. I spend about $20 per book each month on Amazon ads, which are completely automated, and get some sales from blog readers but almost all my sales are from Amazon.

The hundreds of sales I get from Amazon are because each book is launched to jumpstart the ranking process.

You see, if you can jumpstart Amazon’s ranking program for your books then the world’s largest shopping site will take over and sell your books for you.

The problem with most book launches is that they fizzle out after a few days. The way Amazon ranks books and products is on one-month sales so having a few days of high sales may boost your book to #1 but it won’t keep it there.

A successful launch sells your book over a couple of weeks to really cement your rankings. After a couple of weeks of strong sales, even a few days of lower sales won’t ruin your book’s ranking. From there, people are going to consistently see your book in search and in the ‘best of’ pages for the categories and you’ll get enough sales to keep your rankings.

Your launch is also important to create social proof through reviews. Amazon says reviews don’t directly affect how it ranks your book, but they certainly affect rankings indirectly.

One of the first things a reader will see, whether it’s browsing through Amazon search results or a category page, is the number of reviews and average stars rating. These are hard to miss, contrasting with the rest of the page in bright yellow.

Social proof is the idea that people trust the ‘wisdom of the crowd’. If you see that lots of other people are doing or buying something, it’s something you’re more likely to do or buy.

It’s almost instinctual, right? There’s safety in numbers.

Of the 2.1 million books available on Kindle, 78% are rated four-stars or higher. Another 16% are rated three-stars and the remaining 6% have just one- or two-star ratings.

Any book with less than a four-star average is going to stand out when readers are browsing.

There also seems to be a big difference in getting over that double-digit number for reviews. A book with nine or fewer reviews looks like few people have read it. Increase the reviews by just one more to 10 and you see a significant increase in sales.

A focus of your book launch is going to be to get at least ten reviews in the first few days so that random visitors to your Amazon page will get that social proof they need to buy the book. Since the people you ask reviews from are more likely to leave five-star reviews, it’s also a good way to build your average star-rating up so you can withstand a few bad reviews when they come in.

Getting Ready for Your Book Launch

Your book launch doesn’t just come together a few days before you publish. Getting ready for your launch will take weeks, at minimum, and must be managed if you’re going to have a successful launch.

First is planning your launch date. Don’t plan on launching your book over a long holiday weekend. You want people to be at their computers, which means during a weekday. Yeah, I know that many people use their phones or tablets to buy books even when they aren’t at work, but traffic numbers don’t lie. Amazon gets more traffic Monday through Thursday than Friday through Sunday.

Besides not being at their computer, people have better things to do on the weekend than browse Amazon for books.

The exception to this would be Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I’ve seen authors successfully launch during this time but it’s a risky strategy. Your launch team and contacts will have more on their mind than helping support your book.

I would recommend launching on Monday or Tuesday.

Next in your pre-launch planning is lining up sales and reviews.

  • Don’t think that a simple Facebook post is going to be enough. People have to be asked personally through an email or message. Even after that, you’ll still have to remind people on launch day and to leave a review.
  • Launch for $0.99 and ask people if they will buy your book during one of the first five days of launch. At that price, it’s not about the money but about getting on Amazon’s paid ranking chart.
  • Ask people to buy the book, wait at least a day or two and then leave a review. You can help them a little by writing out a couple of ideas for what to say in the review but don’t write the same thing for everyone.

Your first step in getting book sales and reviews is to contact all the people you know through social media. You can post a message saying you are looking for people to buy the book and leave a review, but you also need to individually message each person.

Don’t be shy. It takes less than a minute for someone to buy your book and less than a couple of minutes to leave a review. Let people know how much their support means to you and that you appreciate their time.

book launch steps for amazon self publishingThey don’t have to do anything right now. Once the launch starts, you’ll be contacting everyone again with a link click through and buy the book.

You also want to reach out to bloggers in the topic.

  • Make a list of all the blogs in your book’s topic by doing a few Google searches. ‘Best [topic] Blogs’ is a good start because you’ll get lists of blogs in that niche.
  • Go to each blog and copy down the blogger’s name and email.
  • Start following the blogger in social media a few months before your book launch. Comment on their posts, share and like on Facebook and retweet their Twitter feed.
  • At least a month before the book launch, reach out to each blogger by email. Tell them about your launch and ask if you can write a guest post. Your guest post should be around a related topic to your book, giving readers a real solution and not just being a commercial for your book. You can add a brief paragraph on the book and how the information in it has transformed your life, along with a link to the Amazon page.
  • Even if you can’t get a guest post, ask each blogger if they will share your launch-day post on Facebook and retweet on Twitter.

If you have a blog (and you should because we’ve already talked about strategically planning your book on the blog) then you will want to start collecting emails of people interested in the book.

  • Get a 300×250 and a 728×90 banner designed on Fiverr to promote your upcoming book. You can put these banners in your sidebar and on pages, promoting the special discounted price and great information in the book.
  • Create a landing page or a post that talks about the book and has an email sign-up form for people interested in getting the book on the launch day. You’ll link the banner ads to this page and can also link it in your posts.
  • Start collecting these emails a month ahead of the launch and you’ll have dozens of people waiting anxiously for your book.

There are also third-party promotion services you might want to check out. These are websites with lists of avid readers and daily traffic that can help boost your book. Not all of them are worth paying for and some require 10+ reviews on a book before they’ll accept your request.

I’ve copied down the 14 best book promotion services I’ve found through my own books. Most of these will work for non-fiction books while a few are geared more towards fiction novels. The top rows have produced the best results in my experience.

best book promotion sites for kindle

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars promoting your book. Try the first five or six in the list; especially BookBub, Buck Books and Books Butterfly. You’ll need your Amazon page URL so this is something you’ll need to set up after your book has launched but you’ll want to plan for it in the pre-launch.

These book promotion services aren’t necessarily to get that first push of sales but to keep generating sales after your personal network has come through. If you can schedule sales and reviews from your personal network through the first week, then get sales through promotion services in the second week of launch, you’ll build much more stability in your rankings.

A few days before your launch, start getting your email subscribers and other people excited about the launch with emails and social media posts. These can be simple posts or emails with a quote from the book or an interesting statistic, how the book has transformed someone’s life or a pre-publication review.

How to Do a Book Launch for Amazon Self-Publishing

The strategy for Amazon launches used to be to start as a free book and then slowly increase the price. You could get thousands of downloads which turned into a dozen reviews and helped ranking once the price was higher.

Then Amazon changed how it ranks books. It now has two separate rankings, one for free books and one for paid books. You can rank #1 as a free book but once you raise the price, it counts for nothing. All those free downloads no longer help your book ranking in the paid categories.

There are a lot of people that still recommend launching for free, mostly because they read old blog posts with the old strategy. It’s really just a waste of your launch efforts.

The new strategy is to start at $0.99 for your book launch. This will put you on the paid-ranking scale immediately and you won’t lose your momentum as you increase the price.

When you do finally get to your launch, I know it seems like forever, you want to do a soft launch for a few days to get your reviews.

A soft launch is where you publish your book but don’t promote it out to the public yet. Instead, you reach out to your personal network to let them know the book is live. Through the soft launch, you are hoping to get those initial sales and reviews that will act as social proof when you promote the book out publicly.

  1. It will take Amazon up to 24 hours but usually less than 12 hours to make your book live on the site after you click publish. You might consider doing this on Thursday or Friday, so you can start the soft launch on Saturday.
  2. Email and message all your friends and family that agreed to buy the book. Give them a link to the page and ask them to buy the book over the weekend. Ask them to wait a day or two and then go back and leave a review.
  3. Email and message your list again on Monday to ask them to leave a review. Let them know that it’s important before you can start your official launch and send them a link for the page again. Make sure you give them step-by-step instructions on how to leave a review.

Once you’ve got your 10+ reviews, you can start your official launch out to the general public.

  • Email your subscribers to let them know the book is launched. You might consider offering a special handout or bonus chapter to anyone that buys within the first few days. You won’t get contact info of people buying the book on Amazon so ask everyone to email you after purchasing for their bonus material.
  • Email your blogger list to let them know the book is launched and thank them for their help so far. Copy a simple Tweet and a Facebook post they can use to spread the word.
  • Retweet, Like and Comment on any Facebook posts or tweets mentioning your book to show your appreciation and spread the word.
  • Send two tweets a day over the first five days of your public launch using interesting quotes, memes and info from the book
  • Post once a day to Facebook about the launch, brag about #1 rankings achieved and include a countdown to the end of the launch to create some urgency

Search Twitter and Facebook for “Kindle Books” to find groups and handles that promote discounted books. Many of these will be targeted to free Kindle books but you can also promote your $0.99 launch.

A simple tweet like “[Title] is just $0.99 today for the special launch price. Get it now or miss out.” and include the link to your page. You can try adding in a quote or short review in Facebook posts. Post in as many groups as you can over a three-day period and you’ll keep your sales going strong even as the rest of your launch efforts start fading.

I spend $200 a month on ads through Amazon Marketing Services for all ten of my books. From these ads, I produce about $700 in sales which is enough when combined with sales from the blogs to keep the books ranked within the first 10 or 20 in their categories.

I’ll share my strategy for using AMS ads in the next article on marketing your self-published book, but you’ll want to start your ads during that first week of launch. As long as you get those 10+ reviews, you’ll have enough social proof to use ads effectively.

Increase your book’s price to $2.99 on the tenth day or after you’ve had time to get a few book promotions done at $0.99 from third-party websites. You should start seeing some consistent ranking by now on prior sales. After a few more days, increase the price to $3.99 or to the final price.

Launching a book on Amazon is a much longer process than most authors realize but it’s critical to building stable rankings. If you don’t spread consistent sales over at least a week or two, you run the risk of losing your rankings faster. Keeping a strong ranking in at least one category is how you get consistent sales every month and the only way to do that is to jumpstart your book with a strong launch.

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