Indie Author Weekly

078: Book launch recap, part 2: paid ads & book sales results

September 22, 2020 Sagan Morrow Episode 79
Indie Author Weekly
078: Book launch recap, part 2: paid ads & book sales results
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Indie Author Weekly
078: Book launch recap, part 2: paid ads & book sales results
Sep 22, 2020 Episode 79
Sagan Morrow

Today on Indie Author Weekly, I want to continue with our book launch recap of Her Bad Idea. Last week, I shared with you about the organic book marketing that I did for the book launch, and my experience with the book blogging community and the advance readers who helped me promote this book. You can tune into Episode 77 to get the inside scoop on all of that. 

Okay! So today, we’re on to Part 2 of the book launch recap for Her Bad Idea. The release day was August 25, so I consider the book launch to be a two-week period. In this episode, I want to share with you 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.

I wanted to experiment with different combinations of promos… I figured that doing a blitz of multiple different promotional methods would give that extra boost and that punch you need to hit the bestseller list. It’s a multipronged approach! So that was my mindset behind buying a bunch of promos.

If you want to learn more about strategically planning ahead, then check out my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse, to get my best tips for doing just that. Visit SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse

TUNE IN to this episode of Indie Author Weekly to learn all about paid advertisements for book marketing and my book launch results... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

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

Show Notes Transcript

Today on Indie Author Weekly, I want to continue with our book launch recap of Her Bad Idea. Last week, I shared with you about the organic book marketing that I did for the book launch, and my experience with the book blogging community and the advance readers who helped me promote this book. You can tune into Episode 77 to get the inside scoop on all of that. 

Okay! So today, we’re on to Part 2 of the book launch recap for Her Bad Idea. The release day was August 25, so I consider the book launch to be a two-week period. In this episode, I want to share with you 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.

I wanted to experiment with different combinations of promos… I figured that doing a blitz of multiple different promotional methods would give that extra boost and that punch you need to hit the bestseller list. It’s a multipronged approach! So that was my mindset behind buying a bunch of promos.

If you want to learn more about strategically planning ahead, then check out my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse, to get my best tips for doing just that. Visit SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse

TUNE IN to this episode of Indie Author Weekly to learn all about paid advertisements for book marketing and my book launch results... 

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 continue with our book launch recap of Her Bad Idea. Last week, I shared with you about the organic book marketing that I did for the book launch, and my experience with the book blogging community and the advance readers who helped me promote this book. You can tune into Episode 77 to get the inside scoop on all of that.

Okay! So today, we’re on to Part 2 of the book launch recap for Her Bad Idea. The release day was August 25, so I consider the book launch to be a two-week period. In this episode, I want to share with you 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

But 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. 

All right. Let’s begin today’s episode by going over everything I purchased to promote the book. 

I wanted to experiment with different combinations of promos… I figured that doing a blitz of multiple different promotional methods would give that extra boost and that punch you need to hit the bestseller list. It’s a multipronged approach! So that was my mindset behind buying a bunch of promos. 

Also! Sidebar: Part of the reason why I took so long to write Her Bad Idea is so that I could focus on other areas of my business which have historically been more financially lucrative. As a result, I was able to build up a bit of a financial buffer, so that I had the money available to me to then invest in these ads and paid promotions. I intentionally spent quite a bit of money on this book launch to experiment with book marketing. 

If you want to learn more about strategically planning ahead, then check out my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse, to get my best tips for doing just that. Visit SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse

Okay! Here is a breakdown of everything I paid for with this book launch: 

  1. Publisher Rocket
  2. Written Word Media Red Feather Romance promo for the prequel to Her Bad Idea
  3. Written Word Media New In Books promo for Her Bad Idea
  4. Awesome Gang book ad on their website and newsletter
  5. BookBub ads for my free book, two other books in the series, and Her Bad Idea
  6. Bknights book ad on their website and newsletter for my free book
  7. Books Butterfly “Pure Gold” promo for my free book
  8. Fussy Librarian newsletter promo for my free book

You’ll notice that I paid for multiple different promotions of my free book, She Wants More, which is Book 4 in the Polyamorous Passions series. I considered the idea of spreading out those promotions so I could see which one was the most effective, but then I realized: for this book, it didn’t matter. I didn’t really care that much about which specific thing was the most effective. What I cared about was doing such a massive promotional blitz that my books would skyrocket to the bestseller list. THAT is what really matters. 

Sidebar: You can grab a copy of She Wants More for free on your favourite e-bookstore platform, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books. Enjoy!

Okay, let’s do a breakdown of each of these paid products & promos…

1) Publisher Rocket: $97 USD

This is an interesting tool that is supposed to help you identify the best keywords for your books. I thought it’d be great for suddenly boosting my books, but honestly, it turned out that my keywords weren’t too bad to begin with. It didn’t have any effect on moving my books up on Amazon or anything like that. 

I tried using it for creating Amazon ads, which certainly made that process easier, but Amazon ads didn’t work for most of my books because apparently the covers are too raunchy. I was able to make an ad for the first book in my series, but it got 2 clicks over the space of a month, and the preview of the ad showed up blank—I’m not sure if Amazon ads are glitchy on my end or what. I’m guessing that Publisher Rocket would be helpful if you do a lot of Amazon ads and if that platform actually works for you.

Anyway, I don’t really know yet whether Publisher Rocket was a good investment… but it IS a one-time payment, so at least I have lifetime access to it. I spent time researching best practices for using it effectively and even then, I didn’t find that this was super magical, the way that so many people rave about. But maybe I’m completely missing something? If you use it and love it, then I’d really like to hear from you—message me on Instagram or Twitter, @Saganlives, and we can chat.

2) Written Word Media Red Feather Romance promo for the prequel to Her Bad Idea: $110 USD

The prequel to Her Bad Idea is called Out Of Control. It’s Book 6 in the Polyamorous Passions series, and it’s normally $2.99. I made it $0.99 for about a week, and I didn’t really promote the $0.99 price point anywhere else besides this one Red Feather Romance newsletter through Written Word Media. I thought it’d be great to do this promo the day before the launch of Her Bad Idea, so that people would buy the prequel and then want to read the next book in the series.

During the week-long promo, I had 34 sales on Amazon, 2 sales on Kobo, and 1 sale from Barnes & Noble for this $0.99 book.

Because I only get 30% royalties for 99 cent books, this means that I earned $12.82 USD combined. So, basically I’m out about $100. It also didn’t seem to have much of an affect on more sales of other books, so that plan was a bit of a flop. 

On the other hand, I did go from about #2,000 to #261 on the Amazon Friendship Fiction list for this book, Out of Control, so there’s that? This would have been more impressive if I’d gotten into the top 100 on the Friendship Fiction category list, because then it would get more eyes on the book. 

3) Written Word Media New In Books promo for Her Bad Idea: $499 USD

I tried using the New In Books promo for the launch of the fourth book in Polyamorous Passions, about a year and a half ago. I was disappointed in the results at the time, and the people at Written Word Media told me it was probably because I didn’t have any reviews of my book. Looking back, the blurb and the cover weren’t great, either—I’ve improved both since then for that book. 

So, this time around, I did the New In Books promo for Her Bad Idea a week after the book launch, so that there would already be reviews on Amazon. The cover and blurb for it are both way better than any of my other books. So I was expecting to make at least a couple dozen sales, on the absolute low end. 

But nope. I made 12 or 14 sales of Her Bad Idea from the New In Books promo. That’s it.

I was also disappointed with the New In Books customer service, to be honest… I went out of my way to provide them with a short description and to give them a bunch of promos, and then I had to follow up with them repeatedly because they didn’t update things accordingly… it kind of felt like a big scam. It didn’t feel like they cared about my book launch; I felt like I was just one of many authors and that they were happy to take my money and then just do the bare minimum. 

When you’re paying $499 USD, you expect something better. This was definitely not worth it, and now that I’ve tried using the New In Books service twice with barely any results, I will not be using it again. 

4) Awesome Gang book ad on website and newsletter: $10 USD

I liked that this was cheap in comparison to so many other options, I’m just not really sure if it actually translated to sales. I might try it again as a one-off, not in conjunction with any other promos, to experiment and see if I get sales as a direct result from this promo option.

5) BookBub ads for my free book, two other books in the series, and Her Bad Idea: $90 CDN

I only paid for actual clicks of my ads, and I don’t think they really translated into sales, so that was disappointing. Also, the percentage of clicks based on the impressions those ads got was super low, even though I did my research to figure out best practices for BookBub-specific ads. Felt like a bit of a waste, but I was glad to only pay for the clicks.

6) Bknights book ad on website and in newsletter for my free book: $16.64 CD

I really loved their customer service. They put the effort in, especially when there was a complication with my free book—they had no problem switching the day of the promo last minute. I got a couple hundred downloads of my free book, which seemed to be in conjunction with the next item on this list, that happened to be the same day of the promo...

7) Books Butterfly “Pure Gold” for my free book: $99 USD

Again, I got a couple hundred downloads, but it’s pricey. I don’t know that I’d necessarily use it again, and it didn’t correlate to the expectation that they set.

8) Fussy Librarian newsletter promo for my free book: $37.60 USD 

I’m pretty sure this is the main reason why I was able to get almost 1,200 downloads of She Wants More, my free book, on that single day when Fussy Librarian did the newsletter promo. 1,200 downloads in one day! That’s amazing! Plus, it’s way more reasonably priced than other promotional tools. I would totally go with this option again. 

I actually got up to #19 on the Amazon Romantic Comedy bestseller list for free books with She Wants More—and I stayed in the top 100 for almost a week. Pretty cool! Especially since the day before this promo, I was at #9,770. To jump from that to the top 100 is incredible. It looks as though Fussy Librarian has promotional opportunities for books that aren’t free, too, so I’m definitely going to try that out so I can make some money in book sales, rather than just promoting the free book. Because, as we’ll get to in a moment, thus far, having that one free book unfortunately didn’t really correlate to a bunch of sales of my other books in the series.

So, that’s a recap of all of the paid promotions that I used to spread the word about Her Bad Idea. How did all of that translate into sales? 

I sold 33 copies of Her Bad Idea across Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. That means I earned about $66 in royalties. 

Yikes. Honestly, I don’t know why selling books can be like pulling teeth. It was really discouraging to look at those numbers—to realize how much money I invested in marketing my books during this 2-week period, only to get such a small amount of monetary results. That’s a hard pill to swallow… especially given that my books have extremely positive, sincere, and in-depth reviews from readers, they only cost $2.99 each, and they’re in a great niche of ethical non-monogamy. And the cover and the back-of-book blurb for Her Bad Idea are pretty good! It’s also frustrating with this launch, given how many people downloaded the free book, Book 4, that same week, but they didn’t buy Her Bad Idea or my other books…  

Frankly, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. But I do know that I will not be purchasing nearly as many promos for my next book launch. These paid promotions did not get me anywhere close to the results that I wanted

For my next book, I’m going to try purchasing a GoodReads giveaway, and spend more time using GoodReads as a platform. We’ll see how that goes. There are always more strategies to try! It’s frustrating that I’m still struggling with this so much after writing and publishing so many books, but you’ve just got to keep at it.

As demoralizing and frustrating as these things can be, I don’t want your takeaway from this episode to be that it’s not worth it to be an author. As always, this is one person’s experience. Who knows—maybe tons of other authors have had great experiences with the above marketing strategies. There are plenty of authors out there earning hundreds or thousands of dollars every month from their indie author career. Personally, I’m just not remotely close to that point yet. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t all turn around next month or with my next book or with a different strategy. Sometimes it just takes one thing to be the turning point.

When we try something and it doesn’t pay off, that doesn’t mean we should give up. By any means! Especially when people are really enjoying our content. My books consistently get great reviews from readers, and I’ve had readers tell me that they’ve realized they identify as polyamorous and had the courage to come out to their spouses and everything as a result of reading my Polyamorous Passions series. That’s amazing! So even though I’m not selling many books, I’m definitely not giving up.

I’ve actually experienced this kind of thing many times over the years, where strategies that I think will be awesome just don’t work the way I hope. I started my business as a blogger and freelance writer over a decade ago, and I began teaching other freelancers about five or six years ago... and every single time that I’ve pivoted my business, I’ve experienced obstacles. I don’t think I’ve ever been an overnight success, in the sense of financial success. If overnight successes actually exist, then that is awesome! But these things don’t come easily to me, personally. I often find that I have to keep trying multiple strategies before the stars align and something clicks. 

The trick is this: if you really care that much about the work, if you really love it and truly believe in the work you’re doing, then keep going. Give yourself that time to feel sorry for yourself; allow yourself to feel frustrated and dejected if you don’t hit anywhere close to your goals. But don’t dwell on it! Instead, pick yourself back up. Assess what worked and what didn’t work. Identify key areas that you’re proud of. Explore what you might do differently next time. And know that if you love what you do that much, then you will find a way to make it work. You need to believe in yourself and trust in yourself, and follow through with continued strategic action.

Is it easy? Hell no! But you’ve got this. It might take a while. If you’re anything like me, it apparently might take more than two years and seven novels and hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars before it starts paying off from a sales standpoint, but that is not the only indicator of success. 

If you’ve read Her Bad Idea, then you’ll know that the entire plot revolves around Scarlett’s financial difficulties: she’s a great dancer, but she’s reeling in debt. It’s really hard when we put in so much work and the income isn’t there, but as much as possible, if we can take it as a learning opportunity and keep trying, then we will get there. As Scarlett starts to learn in the book, it’s all a journey and an adventure. 

Speaking of which... you can 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. 

All right, that wraps up this episode of Indie Author Weekly. I hope you’ve enjoyed this very candid behind-the-scenes look at my book launch! 

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.