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Launching The Pacifist
Before we get into details about launching Mehreen Ahmed’s book, The Pacifist, I should introduce myself.
My name is Dylan Callens. I’m an author and I also run a small publishing company, Cosmic Teapot Publishing. It’s a fledgling operation that is only a few months old. To date, I have published eight books with three more coming soon.
When I launched my first book a year and a half ago, I was not surprised to hear the whisper of crickets following my big day. I certainly hoped for more, but alas, silence ensued. Since then, I have given considerable thought about how to best launch a book.
The first few books that I published, I tried different things. These produced varying results but nothing that I would consider fantastic. Following, I did quite a bit of reading and poking around, to see how others launched their work. This book launch is a result of that. I took the most common elements that came from the myriad of suggestions to cobble this plan together.
Mehreen and I talked a great deal about what this launch should look like. Her book is one that the right audience will enjoy, so I wanted to make sure that it has the best possible chance for success. The first thing that we did was decide on the duration of a pre-order period and the price point.
We decided on a six week pre-order period and a price point of $0.99 during that time. During the first two weeks, the book will remain at $0.99, then $2.99 for the following two weeks, then a regular price of $4.99 after the first month. We want to make sure that we get those impulsive buys during the pre-order and launch week, as well as qualify for a number of promotional sites.
We also set an advertising / promotional budget. Not all money will be spent on advertising, so anything considered “promotion” was lumped into this amount. It includes the giveaway items, paperback copies to reviewers (upon request) and advertising. Because I’m Canadian, this hurts. Setting a budget of $700 US is closer to $1000 Canadian. To some it’s a lot of money, but in marketing, it doesn’t even make up a drop. For me, it’s a good chunk of change.
Other things that we did during this time was evaluate potential keywords and create a blurb that utilized the keywords. I’m not sure if we managed the keyword optimization well, but I sure hope so.
For an independent author, a six week pre-order period probably seems kind of long. Anything more than a four week period, to gather a few extra sales, probably seems silly. Up until we planned out the need for reviews on launch day, I probably would have agreed.
The reason for the two extra weeks has nothing to do with sales. I want reviews. If it was reasonable for me to do so, I would have run the pre-sale period for two months, just to get more people reading with the hopes of gaining more early reviews. I think we’ve done a good job with getting reviews. While they cannot post their reviews on Amazon until the book is officially launched, our hope is that these reviews will go up within the first couple of days, strengthening our position on Amazon’s ever-elusive algorithm.
Which is the reason for a pre-order period in the first place, right? The Amazon algorithm. If you are an indie author putting a book on pre-order, chances are that you’ve heard it creates a spike for your first day sales on Amazon, which is a huge benefit for visibility.
Add to that, any reviews that you can get beforehand, and there is hope. Although, I have heard from two authors that have listed new releases on Amazon over the last month say that it didn’t create that spike for them. These are deeply troubling comments, since they would make the pre-order moot, in my opinion. I’m not sure if their pre-order sales were too low to make a big difference, or if Amazon has simply changed their policy, but we’re going to find out soon.
In short, we are utilizing the pre-order period to get more reviews and sales before launch day.
Contacting bloggers is an important part of our strategy. What we asked from bloggers was to either give us a review, a guest post, an interview, or a spotlight. My inquiry went out to five hundred bloggers. From that, I had a 10% positive response. That is to say, nearly fifty bloggers were willing to review, post, etc. I feel that was a pretty good response. Most of these posts will be put up during the month leading up to the launch with a few going up during the first week.
While I was happy that there were so many willing participants, there is a caveat: working with this many bloggers at once is a lot of work and keeping all the information straight is difficult. Be ready for a lot of work!
One of the problems with pre-ordering a book is the wait. Who really wants to wait a month to read something, especially when there are millions of other choices out there? I had to create urgency. Urgency in a pre-order can be created by giving stuff away that won’t be there after the book is available. What we have done, is create a tiered giveaway. Everyone gets something, but others can win bigger prizes.
So, here is what our giveaway looks like: Pre-order a copy of The Pacifist, submit your proof of purchase, and get a free digital copy of Mehreen’s Snapshots. Plus, you’ll be entered to win Amazon gift cards, Cosmic Teapot sling backpacks, and Cosmic Teapot Bookmarks. Here is what the giveaway page looks like, if you want to see it: http://www.cosmicteapot.net/mehreen-ahmed/the-pacifist-contest-details.
To help promote the giveaway, we’ll mention it anywhere that we can think of and run a few Facebook ads. Word of mouth will be important, if this is going to be successful.
The total cost for running this promo will end up being about $175.
I would also like to bump up the number of Amazon followers that Mehreen has during the launch period. In order to do that, I will use the Amazon giveaway tool with the stipulation that entrants must follower her. I’ll most likely do three giveaways and hope that this will result in about 1500 Amazon followers. This should translate into 1500 direct emails to potential customers from Amazon during launch week. At least in theory. The Amazon giveaway tool seems to be very helpful, if utilized properly.
During launch week, we’re hoping for a few things. The first, and most obvious, is that we rank relatively high during that week. We are in historical fiction categories, which are fiercely competitive. Still, it would be nice to come in somewhere in the top 20 of one major category, for the sake of visibility. If we are able to market the pre-sale well, I believe it is possible.
Second, we have stacked several promotional newsletters on top of each other, starting on launch day. Currently we have about twenty of these promotions stacked over a seven day period. I want to get ten more before the week begins. This should give us a good shot at ranking high.
Aside from the promotional newsletters, I will set up four or five different Amazon ads, the book will go through my newsletter, and we will use social media to bump more traffic in our direction.
To be clear, at $0.99, I do not expect to turn a profit during the first week. This week is an attempt to drive sales high enough to get Amazon’s attention, so that they recommend the book, put it on any of their “hot” lists and to hopefully have a lasting impact on their algorithm. I do believe that this is possible.
The Pacifist is a quality product and that is more important than anything that can be done promotion-wise. Still, good books go unnoticed all the time. My job here is to make sure that it has a shot in getting recognized amongst the other one million titles that will be publisher this year. And if we’re successful, moving forward with a solid plan in place will be much easier.
The Pacifist Blurb
Blurb: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.
During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit; however, he fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?
Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.
The Pacifist is Available at: