– day 8 –
Launch Day (or how to drive over 10,000 downloads day one)
Welcome back to “Launch Your Book to Bestseller.”
Congrats – you’ve made it all the way to Day 8 – LAUNCH DAY….
You know what that means, right?
No, it’s not time to break open the bottomless sangria just yet.
Today is the day you hit the Amazon bestseller list.
But it doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing…
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Everything up to this point has been preparing you for a successful launch day, but you still need to execute on some crucial activities to make the bestseller list.
This is your make or break moment.
So let’s make it a “make” moment, shall we?
Get your quad-shot espresso and whiskey ready and let’s get to it…
The Bestselling Book Launch Sequence
The bolded items are the ones we’ll cover today.
Step 1: Create a Book Launch Sequence Working Document
Step 2: Identify Key Players
Step 3: Set Your Launch Date
Step 4: Clarify Your Goal
Step 5: Centralize all Materials for Your Book
Step 6: Create an Early Notification List
Step 7: Create an Ambassador Group
Step 8: Develop Your Influencers Circle
Step 9: Identify Alternative Marketing Channels
Step 10: Build Your High-Converting Book Sales Page
Step 11: Get Your Book Ready for Distribution
Step 12: Notify Ambassadors and Influencers
Step 13: Final Prep and Pre-Launch Marketing
Step 14: Launch
Step 14: LAUNCH
Before I get into the details of launch day, it’s worth clarifying a couple things.
The objective of launch day is exposure (lots of eyeballs on your book), with the goal being whatever you decided on before you started this process (see step 4 in The Bestseller Book Launch Sequence above…the goal does not have to be “hit bestseller,” but because that’s a popular topic, I decided to focus this training on that goal…).
A successful launch, then, is one that gets widespread exposure…
But the MOST successful launches get widespread exposure to their target audience (refer back to lesson 2 on the Book Marketing Canvas for more information on target audience and early adopters).
Do you see the difference?
If we focus merely on exposure, we’ll spend hours (or weeks or months) plastering ads for our books on sidewalks, and restaurant walls, and [place name of irrelevant marketing channel here]….when all along we should have connected with coworking spaces (because we’re writing a book for startups), or organic grocery stores (because we’re writing a book about healthy living), or Game of Thrones fan sites and forums (because you’re writing an epic fantasy fiction novel..).
If there’s one lesson I hope I’ve imparted in you, it’s this:
The amateur thinks in binary – 1 or 0; black or white; exposure (any type) or none.
The professional (and you ought to consider yourself a professional if you’re reading this right now) thinks in open-loop systems – a impacts b, impacts c,d,e,f, and vice versa…
The professional thinks in color – red, blue, green, and a thousand shades in between…
The professional thinks in degrees – the right exposure is more important than any exposure (and much better than no exposure).
When we approach launch day (and book publishing in general), we need to discard the misguided beliefs of the amateur…
Instead, we should think like a pro and focus on the strategic vision – what we’ve already established with our Book Marketing Canvas, and that we’ve clarified as we’ve worked through The Bestseller Book Launch Sequence…
For launch day, that means focusing on execution and pushing the lever to full-throttle (which I’ll show you how to do in today’s lesson).
Myth Busting – How the Bestseller Ranks Work
Finally, I need to clarify several bits of common misinformation regarding how the bestseller rankings work in Amazon.
Myth #1. Reviews affect rank
No, they don’t. Not directly at least. It doesn’t matter if you have 200 5-star reviews, your book won’t rank any higher or lower.
That said, reviews impact the readers buying decision, so they do indirectly impact rank, but not directly (an important distinction).
Myth #2. Total sales determine rank
Sales do affect rank, but total sales are generally irrelevant. You could sell 10,000 copies of your book and never hit bestseller…if those sales are over the course of 10 years and there are other books that sell more than you in a given period of time…
The Bestseller Rank Formula
It’s impossible to know the actual algorithm Amazon employs – it’s private and subject to change at any time – but here’s what I’ve discovered through multiple book launches and bestsellers.
Hitting the bestseller list is a function of sales over time in relation to other books in the Amazon book store (and within each category and subcategory as we start competing for those spots).
Ranking is like acceleration for a car (velocity over time); bestseller ranking is the same but also in relation to other cars…
In other words – bestseller ranking is like crossing the finish line in The Fast and the Furious – “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning’s winning.” ;D
Here’s generally how it works:
Rank = (Total sales / period of time)
Bestseller = (Total sales / period of time) – (top competitor total sales / same period of time)
If your number is positive in relation to another book, you’ll rank above them. If you top all books in your category, you will be a #1 bestseller. Obviously, the more general the category, the more competitive it becomes because you compete against more books.
Hitting the top 10 in Amazon, then, is more difficult than hitting #1 in a category like Crime, Mystery and Thriller, and MUCH more difficult than hitting #1 in the sub category of FBI thrillers.
There is also something predictive in the nature of Amazon bestseller rankings. What I mean is – it’s not only total sales over a period of time that dictates rank, but the trend in sales over time.
In other words, if you can generate 500 sales in an hour, and then 1,000 sales the next hour, and then 2,000 sales the next hour (for a total of 3,500 sales), Amazon will most likely predict a great amount of sales in the next hour, which could drive you ahead of current bestsellers without actually selling more books (but if you don’t end up selling more, the rank will slip away quickly).
Conversely, if you sold 2,000, 1,000, then 500 books over the course of three hours, Amazon would predict fewer sales in the next hour (which could set you behind another book selling equivalent copies steadily or with a growth chart that trends upward).
How Many Books do I Need to Sell to Be a Bestseller?
That’s the question, isn’t it?
Here’s the deal – there are multiple ways to be a bestseller.
#1. NYT and other “big” bestseller lists
There are bestsellers lists like Publishers Weekly and the New York Times that base their rankings on books sold through traditional distribution channels (and ultimately are subjective, at least according to the NYT themselves).
You can’t really tap into that without a traditional publisher, which is why I generally ignore these rankings (because they have nothing to do with the quality of the book, nor how many copies you can get into the hands of readers, nor how much money you make from your launch…).
#2. Amazon bestseller lists
Then there are Amazon’s bestseller lists (which we talked about above).
This one is based entirely on total books sold, which means it’s a metric that is easy to measure and objective (or as close to it as you can get, it seems).
When I talk about launching to bestseller, this is the list I want to hit (and the list I want you to hit…if you go the Amazon route).
But even within Amazon, there are levels to bestseller.
First and foremost, there are two bestseller lists – paid and free.
It’s pretty easy to hit bestseller with a free book (almost anyone will download a free book). It’s much more difficult to hit bestseller with a paid book.
In each of these lists, there are also multiple categories.
At the top is the Amazon top 100. To break into this list you need to sell several thousand copies of your book (physical print…and even more for digital). With Jeff Goins’ “The Art of Work” we managed to hit #7 overall in the Amazon store (paid), but that was from selling thousands of copies launch week (with a massive marketing push behind his book). These aren’t average results by any means.
Another, more attainable (while still very powerful) bestseller ranking is being a category bestseller.
Take a look at the image below. Notice the little orange bar that says “#1 Best Seller” next to the words “in Public Speaking”?
This is an example of hitting bestseller in a category.
Here’s how you figure out what you need to sell to hit bestseller in one of these categories:
- Go to the category you’re intending to compete in (Small Business, for example, or Startups, or Pubic Speaking, or FBI Thriller, etc.)
- Click on the top book in the category
- Look at this books rank in all of Amazon.com
- Divide 100,000 by this number (Total Sales are *about* = 100,000/(book sales rank in Amazon store)
There’s no way to know for sure how many books another author is selling, but this will give you an indication of how many you need to sell in a 24 hour period to hit Amazon bestseller in a particular category.
Note: just to iterate again – this is just a best guess calculation and seems about right based on my experience…if you have a better way to calculate this, please share in the comments below.
Digital vs. Physical
Finally, in each of these categories, there are rankings for digital vs. physical books.
Meaning if you’re doing a hard push for the kindle version of your book, it won’t directly affect your physical book rankings (indirectly, yes, because exposure from ranking high leads to more sales, digital and physical).
There is more to Amazon ranking than what I’ve described here (and even what I’ve described is a best guess based on a half dozen bestsellers in the past year), but this gives you at least a general idea of how to think about it. This will allow us to focus on what’s important – driving sales rapidly.
Here’s how we do it…
Step 1: Notify Ambassadors
First thing you want to do is notify your ambassadors – the people who have volunteered to read, review, and share your book – to let them know the book is live and you need two things:
1. Leave a review on Amazon (if that’s the route you’re going)
2. Share on social media (provide ClicktoTweets and social media copy to make it easy for them to do this)
You can contact your ambassadors via your email list (if you’ve collected ambassador emails, which would be wise) as well as on the ambassador Facebook page you created for your book launch.
Here’s an example of how Dan catalyzed his ambassador list (first hitting up the FB group with explicit instructions, and then letting them know an email would be coming shortly):
The Stacking the Deck Strategy (or why you need to connect with ambassadors first)
So why should you connect with ambassadors first before anyone else?
The answer may seem obvious, but there are some not so obvious reasons that can decide the fate of a book early on…
#1. Ambassadors will be the most vocal and most energetic. This will drive early word-of-mouth virality and encourage people in their networks to check out your book. This will drive new sales, which will push your book up the charts, which will lead to more sales, and more chart movement. The results are cyclical (in a good way)
#2. Because you want to get as many positive reviews on your book in Amazon day one as possible. Ambassadors will provide the most compelling, positive reviews. This will drive more sales, indirectly raising book rank (adding to the cycle).
#3. Because you want your BEST reviews to be predominately displayed on Amazon. What do I mean by this? Amazon *ranks* reviews based on reader feedback of said reviews. For every review of a product in Amazon, a reader can click a button to say if it’s helpful or not. Those with the most helpful clicks rise to the top. Your goal is to get the most compelling review to get as many “Yes’s” as possible.
As an example, here’s the top review for Dan Norris’ The 7 Day Startup:
Notice two things:
- At the top of the review it says “26 of 27 people found the following review helpful”
- At the bottom is the following question “Was this review helpful to you?” with the opportunity to click “Yes” or “No
On launch day, you want to encourage Ambassadors to not only REVIEW, but say YES to other reviews that are positive and helpful.
This is what we call the “Stacking the Deck” strategy, and savvy writers and publishers know that making sure helpful, positive reviews take up the first spot (or three) in the Amazon reviews section is one of the best ways to market and sell your book.
Step 2: Email Your Influencer Circle
Before you shoot off this email, remember : important people are busy.
If you contact influencers to get support for your book launch, make sure you keep it (1) painless and (2) fast.
How? Include a ClicktoTweet that has all your info pre-filled and formatted. This takes about 17 seconds to do on the part of the influencer, and only a few minutes on your end to properly set it up.
For more on how to create a compelling ClicktoTweet, check out the prior lesson: “Launch Prep”
Step 3: Promote On Every Platform
To drive as much initial momentum as possible within the first 24 hours, you need to make a concerted effort to post on as many platforms and mediums as possible:
- Niche Facebook Pages (offering the book free makes it an easy share)
- Niche forums (for example, if yours is a business book, Fizzle.co, or Trailblazer, or Growthhacker.tv are all incredibly powerful platforms…and if you’re concerned about spamming, make sure to share the experience of marketing the book makes this a education-first post that the forum will find helpful)
- Share on listing sites and communities (like Producthunt.com, Reddit.com, etc.)
- Share on any site you can think of: Digg / Stumbleupon / Medium (really, anywhere you can share your book, the better)
Case Study: Listing Sites and Community Outreach
For The 7 Day Startup, one unexpected surprise for us was the traction we got from listing sites and communities.
Dan posted a book launch thread in a forum where he is an active member, and we also posted the book on Bootstrapper.io. However, the real traction came after podcast host Jacques Van Heerden posted it on Product Hunt after he recorded a podcast interview with Dan on the day of the launch. The post got immediate traction on Product Hunt and shot to the front page where it stayed in the top 10 all day.
This was a huge surprise and generated the majority of traffic to Dan’s sales page during the first 2 days of the book being live on Amazon.com:
The bounce rate was pretty high, meaning many people came to look and subsequently left.
However, these were new audience members, meaning this exposure didn’t just give attention to the book, but to Dan’s business at WPCurve.com.
Because we weren’t converting people on the site (i.e. we were sending them to Amazon) it’s hard to tell how many books were actually sold from this traffic, but I suspect quite a few. The fact that the book resonated on ProductHunt.com (142 votes) tells me it was very interesting to that audience.
For your book there may be other sites like this that can help push thousands of new eyeballs your way. You just have to be creative and keep an eye out for where your target audience hangs out!
On Marketing, Promotion, and Leveraging Other Peoples Platforms
As a quick note about listing sites and various community-oriented sites where your book could get major traction: be conscious with the rules and don’t oversell on someone else’s platform. Always try to lead with something helpful before you pitch anything. It’s just never cool to spam or overdo self-promotion on other people’s platforms…
On your OWN platform, don’t be afraid to blow your horn a LOT.
Many authors feel uncomfortable posting on social media multiple times in a week, let alone multiple times in a single day…but that’s exactly what you need to do for a book launch.
During the launch day and week is the time to post TOO much about your book.
Trust me from experience – you can share the same or similar message 10 times in a row over the course of a few days and that final message will be the bump someone needs to buy, review, and share. They would not have done so without that nudge.
Personally, I often feel like I’m promoting too much when I’m launching a new book…and then I’ll hear from readers thanking me for the 20th reminder, and that they just bought the book, reviewed, and shared it.
I would have missed those people if I had kept my launch promotion to a minimum…
Here’s the thing – there is only one time it’s ever really appropriate to toot your own horn, and that is during a product launch. Now is not the time to be humble or conservative, but to promote the heck out of your book so everyone and their mother know about it.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Case Study: The 7 Day Startup
Here are the results from The 7 Day Startup during the first couple hours of release.
Note: remember that Dan’s goal was reach. Because of that, we decided that an Amazon exclusive launch leveraging their KDP Select free book promotion would be the best way to go.
We launched the book for free for 5 days, then set the price around $3.99.
Here’s what happened:
And some stats from Amazon’s KDP site that show us how many downloads after a few hours of release:
By the end of the first day we ended up with:
- 1,297 downloads
- 35 reviews (34 5 star reviews, 1 4 star review)
- Hundreds of sales page hits
- Dozens of tweets and shares
Not bad, but day one is just the start.
After launch, Dan continued to activate and catalyze his ambassador group, his email newsletter (from wpcurve.com), and his Influencer Circle.
The 7 Day Startup Book Launch Results: Week 1
- 10,000+ downloads
- 74 reviews (72 5 star reviews, 2 4 star review)
- 6,021 visits to the main landing page
- 312 tweets linking to the landing page or the Amazon page
- 463 Facebook shares linking to the landing pare or the Amazon page
- #49 in ALL of Amazon (got as high as #30)
The 7 Day Startup Book Launch Results: First 6 Months
- 20,000+ downloads
- 200+ reviews (averaging 4.5 / 5 stars)
- continues to sell 40 – 60 copies a day with minimal to no marketing or promotion
- still hovering in the top 5 of the Small Business and Startup category
By the way, if anyone tells you launching book for free doesn’t work financially, they’re wrong.
But What About After Launch Week??
I hear you.
A big launch is important but it’s not everything.
The key is to maintain momentum by leveraging your early success into new and better promotion. For example:
- Leverage early success to get more podcast interviews
- Leverage bestseller status to get mainstream press
- Leverage early traction (thousands of downloads) to spread the word about your book through word-of-mouth marketing channels (as an example: ask everyone who read your book to leave a review on their PERSONAL blog, and then link to those articles when they go live from YOUR site)
Honestly, this is the only way to really get a book out there. There’s no magic button you can hit to have your book promoted for you…that’s on you (and your publisher, if you have a good one).
You need to continue to leverage ways to share your book with your own audience (as it is no doubt growing due to the success of your launch and there are certainly people who haven’t pulled the trigger and bought your book just yet), new podcasts, new blogs, new websites, and alternative marketing channels.
Automating Your Sales Funnel
One of the most effective ways I’ve seen (and experienced) to continue to generate new sales is to automate your sales process with an autoresponder sequence.
Here’s access to a free guide courtesy of Publishers’ Empire (where we have many, many more just like it…with more being created every day):
What if My Launch Falls Flat?
Well, I hope after going through this course that doesn’t happen.
But let’s say your outreach didn’t work. Influencers didn’t respond. Podcasts and bloggers ignored you…
There are still options for you (although I would seriously reevaluate how you are approaching these platforms and people if you had such a terrible reception….)
The Discount Book Relaunch Strategy
Sales die off after a few months? No problem – just use The Discount Relaunch Strategy.
The most effective way to do this is through Amazon’s KDP Select program, because it will reach a new audience (and if sales are slumping, that’s what you need).
Give yourself a few day window to discount your book to $1, then leverage the multitude of book discount sites online to get even more reach.
Other Launch Strategies
The launch strategy we used for “The 7 Day Startup” is just one type of launch strategy. There are many more.
In Publishers Empire, I teach 7 of these strategies through a series of video training, templates, swipe files, book marketing and sales copy, checklists, cheatsheets, and more (with more strategies being added all the time).
Advanced Book Launch Strategies Inside Publishers’ Empire
The Gift-Launch (aka “The 7 Day Startup” Launch)
The Discount Re-Launch
The List-Builder Launch (aka “The Danny Iny” Launch)
The Book Bonus Blowout Launch (aka “The Jeff Goins” Launch)
The Crowdfunded Launch (aka “The Tom Morkes” Launch”
The Blitzkrieg Launch (aka “The 4-Hour Workweek” Launch)
The Upsell Launch (aka “The Jeff Walker” Launch)
If you’re interested in being a part of Publishers Empire, I’m opening up enrollment here soon and will let you know about it. Just make sure you are subscribed to this list to hear about it.
Wrapping Up (plus more training)
So that wraps up “Launch Your Book to Bestseller.”
The good news is – there is more training to come.
All you need to do is stay subscribed to the list (sign up here if you didn’t come here from an email from Tom Morkes!).
In the near future, I’ll be holding a live training event where I’ll pull back the curtains on the most recent launch I was a part of – “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins. We ended up with over 14,000 sales on launch day….
But more importantly, I’ll outline the biggest takeaways for self-publishers and bootstrappers (how to launch on a budget and still generate thousands in sales, downloads, or revenue).
As part of the live training, I’ll also host a Q and A…
Which is why today’s homework is simple – what QUESTIONS do you have about book publishing, book launches, generating an income from writing or publishing, etc.?
Thanks in advance for your questions and thanks for being a part of this course! Hope you got some value out of it (and like I said – more to follow!!!).
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