Indie Author Weekly

077: Book launch recap, part 1: organic marketing

September 15, 2020 Sagan Morrow Episode 78
Indie Author Weekly
077: Book launch recap, part 1: organic marketing
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Indie Author Weekly
077: Book launch recap, part 1: organic marketing
Sep 15, 2020 Episode 78
Sagan Morrow

This episode of Indie Author Weekly is a book launch recap of how things went with my book launch last month, for my latest romcom, Her Bad Idea. This is a 2-part series because I have a LOT of behind-the-scenes info to share with you! This episode is all about the organic marketing and book community side of things, and next week, I’ll talk about paid promotions and ads.

Quick overview of the book: Her Bad Idea tells the story of Scarlett, a burlesque dancer with a failing business, who has the opportunity to win a huge cash prize by participating in a dance competition. The only catch is that she needs to have a dance partner in order to join the competition… and she’s stuck with her extremely attractive and super annoying nemesis, Pete Fraser.

Her Bad Idea is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romantic comedy. It’s the 7th book in my Polyamorous Passions series, and it can be read as a standalone. It has received rave reviews from readers, and you can grab your copy on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or anywhere else you read books.

Topics for this book launch recap: 

  1. Book community and advance readers (book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and a book launch team) 
  2. Paid advertisements & book publicity and marketing in email lists
  3. Book sales and income earned from this book launch

This episode is all about the book community and organic marketing. TUNE IN to get the inside scoop... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

This episode of Indie Author Weekly is a book launch recap of how things went with my book launch last month, for my latest romcom, Her Bad Idea. This is a 2-part series because I have a LOT of behind-the-scenes info to share with you! This episode is all about the organic marketing and book community side of things, and next week, I’ll talk about paid promotions and ads.

Quick overview of the book: Her Bad Idea tells the story of Scarlett, a burlesque dancer with a failing business, who has the opportunity to win a huge cash prize by participating in a dance competition. The only catch is that she needs to have a dance partner in order to join the competition… and she’s stuck with her extremely attractive and super annoying nemesis, Pete Fraser.

Her Bad Idea is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romantic comedy. It’s the 7th book in my Polyamorous Passions series, and it can be read as a standalone. It has received rave reviews from readers, and you can grab your copy on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or anywhere else you read books.

Topics for this book launch recap: 

  1. Book community and advance readers (book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and a book launch team) 
  2. Paid advertisements & book publicity and marketing in email lists
  3. Book sales and income earned from this book launch

This episode is all about the book community and organic marketing. TUNE IN to get the inside scoop... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello friends! Sagan here. Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives at SaganMorrow.com: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing romantic comedies, and occasionally, business books. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a recap of how things went with my book launch last month, for my seventh romantic comedy, Her Bad Idea. This is going to be a 2-part series because I have a LOT of behind-the-scenes info to share with you! 

This week, I want to share about the organic marketing and book community side of things, and next week, I’ll talk about the paid promotions and ads that I tried out for the book launch. 

First of all, if you don’t know anything about this particular book, Her Bad Idea, then here’s a quick overview: Her Bad Idea tells the story of Scarlett, a burlesque dancer with a failing business, who has the opportunity to win a huge cash prize by participating in a dance competition. The only catch is that she needs to have a dance partner in order to join the competition… and she’s stuck with her extremely attractive and super annoying nemesis, Pete Fraser. 

Her Bad Idea is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romantic comedy. It’s the 7th book in my Polyamorous Passions series, and it can be read as a standalone. It has received rave reviews from readers, and you can grab your copy on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or anywhere else you read books. You can also visit SaganMorrow.com/books to start reading it today—I’ll drop all those links in the show notes. 

Okay! So, the release day for this book was three weeks ago on August 25. The amount of time that I’m tracking the official “book launch” recap for is the first 2 weeks of releasing the book. 

You can learn all about my original plans for this book launch in Episode 70 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast. For this episode and the next one, I’m going to give you a COMPLETE recap on what worked, what didn’t, and how effective everything was for book sales and revenue… 

There are 3 things in particular that I want to go over: 

  1. Book community and advance readers (book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and a book launch team) 
  2. Paid advertisements & book publicity and marketing in email lists
  3. Book sales and income earned from this book launch

Now, this is a lot of stuff to cover, and I really want to give you a thorough report on all of it… so that’s why we’re going to do this as a two-part series! This part of the series is all about the book community and advance readers; the organic marketing and reviews received.

My ultimate goal with this book launch was to get on the Amazon Bestseller list for Romantic Comedy. 

Here’s what I initially planned in order to get there, from an organic marketing and book review standpoint: 

150 people helping me promote the book, including 50 members on my book launch team and 100 book bloggers. For the sake of convenience, when I talk about book bloggers, I’m including bookstagrammers in that. 

I ended up having 60 people in total who agreed to help me to promote the book, including 10 people on my book launch team, 42 book bloggers who agreed to read and review it, and 8 book bloggers who didn’t have time to read the book but offered to feature it on social media. 

At the time of recording this podcast episode, 3 of the book launch team members reviewed the book, 16 book bloggers reviewed the book, and 10 book bloggers featured it on social media. 

Honestly, a 50% rate of return on the amount of people who originally agreed to help me is fantastic. A few more book bloggers told me upfront that they likely wouldn’t get a chance to read and review my book until later in September or October, so there might be more reviews and features coming, too. 

As far as how I got these people to agree to help me with this book launch, here’s what I did: 

For the book launch team, I mostly invited people to join it through my Instagram account, and I had a sign-up page set up. 

I emailed the people who signed up to be on the book launch team about once a week for the month leading up to the book launch day, providing them with graphics and links and book review prompts and social media post ideas. 

I was hoping to get a lot more people involved in the book launch team, and it was a lot of work to do all those emails—but the results from a few people on that book launch team was amazing! I think that this kind of book launch team would be better suited to a non-fiction book, so I won’t do the same thing again for my next romcom launch. I’m also not sure if some of the book launch team members didn’t get my emails, since I contacted them through my email marketing platform… so maybe it would have been better to email them directly, the way I did with the book bloggers, rather than sending mass emails to my book launch team? I’m not sure. Also, I think this kind of thing would be better suited to working directly with influencers in a relevant community, rather than inviting anyone to join. 

For the book bloggers, I emailed each of them up to three times if I didn’t hear a response from them. I had a list of almost 200 book bloggers in total who I contacted, and about 20 of them declined, with 60 of them agreeing to help me, so that’s not bad—again, about 50% of the people I contacted agreed to participate, and about 50% of those people followed through on the reviews and features. I’ll be using those numbers as an expectation in future book launches, which means that if I want to get 100 reviews during the launch period, I’m going to need to contact about 400 book bloggers in order to get there. 

Okay, so for the book bloggers who agreed to help me, I sent them an advance copy of the book, plus a Quick Facts PDF and a few promo graphics. I also sent a reminder email a few days in advance of the book launch to all of the book bloggers who had already agreed to promote it, with a couple more graphics they could use. I felt like that extra email a few days leading up to the launch was an important reminder to send, just in case they forgot to add the release day in the calendar or something. 

Now, it’s interesting because the last time I did a book launch, with Book 6 back in December, I had just 22 book bloggers who agreed to review it or feature it. That’s a huge difference compared to the 60 people who agreed to review and/or feature Book 7! 

I think there are 4 key things that made this book, Book 7, much more appealing for book bloggers: 

First, I didn’t include any attachments in my initial email. In the past, I always included a Quick Facts PDF and the book cover in my first email to book bloggers, but this time I didn’t do that. I waited until the book blogger confirmed their interest before sending any kind of attachments. So that might have helped prevent my email from going to spam.

Second, I focused on the tropes of this book when I was sending them emails. This was the first book I wrote with actual tropes in mind! In my previous books, I’d write the story, and then tried to figure out what tropes I’d included after the fact. Being able to pinpoint very specific tropes right from the start made this book more tempting for potential readers. Many book bloggers responded to say “Enemies to lovers is my favourite trope!” or “I love dance competition romances, I’ll totally feature this book!” So I think that specifying the tropes was helpful.

Third, this book blurb is far and away the best one I’ve ever written. It makes me want to go back and redo all of my past book blurbs! So that was very likely an enticing factor.

Fourth, although this book mentions polyamory and open relationships, the story really isn’t about polyamory. It’s much more about making your own rules and living your own life and coming into your own, which to me is so much what polyamory can be about. As such, I only mentioned polyamory ONCE in that initial email to book bloggers, when I mentioned the series title. I suspect that a lot of book bloggers didn’t even notice it, to be honest! In the past, bloggers have specifically declined to read my books because of the open relationships angle, so this was an interesting spin to take on it. 

Okay, so that’s a little background as to what I think made this book more appealing to book bloggers. 

So that’s what I did for my organic marketing—it took a long time to identify and email all those people and follow up with them, but I actually really liked doing it. It was nice to get deeper into the book blogging community! 

The response from advance readers with this book was awesome. It was an absolute delight to see the positive feedback and rave reviews that Her Bad Idea received. Whenever I offer a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, I don’t really know what the result will be. I never ask readers to give my books a certain number of stars or anything like that. I want them to be honest in their reviews—that’s really important! And I was blown away and just so, so touched by how much these readers loved this book. 

By the way, some of these advance readers went far out of their way to support me and this book. Maria from the Citrus Rose blog did an author interview on video with me, which was super cool—I’d love to do more of those. And Amber, whose handle on Instagram is winterreader40, posted about Her Bad Idea so many times in the lead-up to the book launch, which was absolutely fantastic. Both Maria and Amber were on my book launch team—and they’re fellow burlesque dancers!—and I didn’t really know what to expect from the book launch team, but the amount that they supported me was incredible. 

It was also so, so sweet and touching, the way that some other book bloggers, who have reviewed previous books in my Polyamorous Passions series, were so supportive of me. I don’t want to be presumptuous when I’m reconnecting with bloggers who have reviewed my previous books—so, while I always hope that they’ll want to keep reading and reviewing my books, I don’t like to count on it. Especially because I know how busy they are! And so I really appreciate how excited some of them were to read this book! Rae from Rae’s Reading Lounge, Anie from Diary of a Wannabe Writer, Mari from Mari Loves Books, and Amy from Book Addict Reviews really made my day with their enthusiasm. And I got to meet some awesome new book bloggers through this book launch, as well, who are absolutely lovely and were so supportive of Her Bad Idea. I’m so glad I get to stay in touch with them via Instagram! 

Okay, I know this is turning into a bit of an ode to book bloggers, but honestly, nowadays, I don’t know if it would really be possible for indie authors to be successful without book bloggers. The book community is absolutely incredible. The amount of time and energy that they are willing to invest is just mind blowing. 

I mean, think about it: it takes at least a few hours to read a short novel. If it’s a full-length novel, it could take upwards of 5 hours to read, depending on how fast a person reads. Then, that blogger takes the time to write a thoughtful review and post it on multiple platforms. They often also take photos to go with it, which takes even more time. Plus, I cannot stress enough how much work goes into maintaining any kind of platform. I started blogging 12 years ago and it requires a HUGE investment of time and energy. It’s a labour of love to be part of those communities and grow your platform and engage with followers and all of that. 

For the most part, when book bloggers responded to my emails to say they weren’t able to read my book, I was kind of shocked by how much they were apologizing profusely because they couldn’t fit my book into their schedule, or because it didn’t sound like something that would be the right book for them—they were so apologetic about it, but the thing is, it’s something they’re doing for free! They don’t owe authors anything. Book bloggers are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. It was endearing how apologetic they were about not being able to read my book, and I was also a little concerned because I got the sense that sometimes, authors don’t treat them very well. Which is awful.

Book bloggers and bookstagrammers do it for the love of books. They genuinely love reading so, so much. When they are willing to put their faith in us as authors, to spend that time and energy reading and reviewing and helping to promote our books… wow. 

So I just want to say, thank you so so so much to the blogging community, and really, to all book readers! And I want you to know that any time you spend reading my books, I don’t take that lightly. It means the world that you want to spend a few hours of your time and energy reading the words I’ve written, and that you enjoy my stories. It’s a real honour. So—thank you. 

Okay, back to the Her Bad Idea book launch recap—I’ll try to stop gushing over the awesomeness that is book bloggers and readers!

So! A lot of the advance readers posted their reviews or featured my book on Instagram, and many of them also posted reviews on other platforms. And other readers, who weren’t part of my book launch team or who didn’t receive a free copy, also very kindly posted reviews! At the time of this recording, Her Bad Idea has received 12 reviews on GoodReads and 17 ratings in total, for an average star rating of 4.53. The book also received 9 ratings & reviews on Amazon and 6 ratings & reviews on BookBub, all of them 4 or 5 stars. 

That is absolutely fantastic. In order to gain really strong traction on any of these platforms, it’s my understanding that I’ll need to get closer to 50 reviews within the first couple months of a book launch, so that’s something I do need to work on with future launches. 

As far as the sales rank on Amazon.com goes, the best ranking we got during this book launch was #4,633 on the Romantic Comedy list. So… nowhere close to the top 100! On the other hand, we got up to #897 on the Romantic Comedy list for Amazon.ca, and I briefly hit #36 on the New Adult Romance list on Kobo.ca. So, that’s pretty cool!

Did I meet my original goal of getting 150 advance readers to promote the book, or of getting on the top 100 Amazon bestseller list for Romantic Comedy? Nope. But do readers love this book? Yes. And did I have a ton of fun with this book launch? Yes. And was it a wonderful experience, connecting with awesome book bloggers? Absolutely. 

Let’s be honest: I want my books to be read as widely as possible, because they are really important—they are relatable, and fun, and easy to read, and an escape from the challenges of the real world, and they include a ton of really important messages. 

And I also want to make decent money from my books. I want sales of my romance novels to be able to pay my bills every month. I am not close to that right now. But the first step is to write books people love. Books that make a difference for readers. And that is happening! 

So, while I didn’t achieve my goals, I still see this book launch as a success. And I’m going to keep writing more books and keep trying new marketing strategies so that I can get on those bestseller lists and make real money from these books and ensure that more people across the globe can find them. 

You can help me do that, too! Grab your copy of Her Bad Idea at SaganMorrow.com/books, or buy it directly on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc — links are in the show notes.

Okay, that wraps up our topic for today! 

In next week’s episode of Indie Author Weekly, I’ll share with you all about the money side of things with this book launch: which paid promotions were worth it, and which weren’t, plus how many book sales I actually made, and how much money I made from my romcoms during the two-week book launch period for Her Bad Idea

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram, @Saganlives, to chat about it! And you can send me a message on either of those platforms if you have requests for future episode topics, too. The more you tell me what you’d like to see more of on this podcast, the better that I can accommodate that. You can also submit your questions or topic ideas anonymously at SaganMorrow.com/question

If you enjoyed this episode, please take 2 minutes to share this podcast on social media and subscribe and rate it on Apple Podcasts—any time you share it or leave a rating or review, it helps more listeners find the Indie Author Weekly podcast, so every bit counts! I really appreciate your support.

By the way, you can access complete word-for-word transcripts of this episode and all past episodes, plus sample chapters of my romantic comedies and a few other bonuses and goodies, on the “secret” version of this podcast. Get access to all of that at SaganMorrow.com/secretpodcast.

Thanks so much for tuning in to the Indie Author Weekly podcast, and I will see you in the next episode.