Two book launches, one month apart. Both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene. Oh, enough Shakespeare. Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of two different launches I had this fall.
Book launches don’t just come in one size. That’s something I’ve found in my own experience. AND in listening to other authors and watching launches. I’m always testing, always trying, and never think launches should go JUST one way.
The takeaway from this post should NOT be: follow my launch plan that worked better. But I DO want to lay out the differences between these two launches a month apart and break down some things for you to consider when making your launch plan.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 196 – A TALE OF TWO LAUNCHES
Links Mentioned in the Show:
- Ads Extravaganza (my new course on ads strategy)
- The Free Facebook Group
- The Quick Fix– My Weekly Email
Are you ready to dive into a tale of two launches? Let’s do this!
First up, let’s take a look at our contenders.
A TALE OF TWO BOOK LAUNCHES
Book #1 – Secrets Whispered from the Sea
Genre – Women’s Fiction
Length – 85k
Series – #1 in Sandover Beach Books (a spinoff series from another four-book series)
Retailers – WIDE (see my post on wide vs exclusive to Amazon if you want more on that)
Price – full price at $4.99
Preorder – yes (sold 42 at $4.99)
Date launched – September 18
Book #2 – Falling for Your Best Friend’s Twin
Genre – Romcom
Length – 65k
Series – #1 in Love Cliches
Retailers – EXCLUSIVE to Amazon in Kindle Unlimited
Price – on sale at 99 cent
Preorder – no
HOW IT WENT DOWN: THE NUMBERS
Secrets Whispered from the Sea total earned from Sept 18 – Dec 3: about $1,500
Falling for Your Best Friend’s Twin earned from October 11 – Dec 3: about $12,000
Um, HELLO. That’s … quite the difference.
On paper, you might think that this data means that a 99-cent launch in KU is the best. BUT THAT’S NOT THE WHOLE STORY. Let’s break it down a bit more and I’ll give you some things to consider as you plan your launch.
BREAKING DOWN THE TWO LAUNCHES
Launch #1 – A Disheartening Bust
For Secrets Whispered from the Sea, I planned to piggy-back off my popular Sandover Beach series and go in the women’s fiction direction. I kept a strong romance subplot and used characters from that original series as well. Paired with a strong trend in women’s fiction, this book SHOULD have done well. I had Bookbub Featured Deals on my other Sandover series recently, and thought that might help this one launch strong.
My other Sandover series has been wide since the beginning of the year, so I decided to try a wide launch at full price, which was my highest price point at $4.99. (The book is around 85k, a bit longer than my romance books.) I planned to run Facebook and Amazon ads from day one and when book two came out in this series, apply for a BookBub Featured deal on Secrets Whispered from the Sea.
From the start, my launch just lacked juice. My own audience (which is pretty strong) didn’t really show up. Which makes sense… as I’ve built up an audience used to reading in Kindle Unlimited. AND this wasn’t a 99-cent sale. It was $4.99.
My ads also underperformed. By A LOT. The cost per click was low, as I’ve learned how to run ads effectively and built up some audiences on FB who like my other beach books and buy wide books. The cover was right, but the blurb wasn’t, so I rewrote it. Twice.
After a few weeks, I jumped the wide ship and put the book in KU. My reasoning? I didn’t plan out what I needed to for a wide launch. My current readership probably WOULD read the book, but hadn’t done so because of the cost. That helped a little, and my ads started performing better, but still not stellar.
You know what else? I didn’t enjoy writing the book.
While women’s fiction is a great genre, during this year of hard things, writing about more emotional things WAS NOT FUN. We were also dealing with virtual school (which was a nightmare for us and our five kids).
Launch #2 – A Delightful Surprise
For Falling fro Your Best Friend’s Twin, I actually had NOT planned to launch. I started writing this series (I’ve worked a little on multiple books and another romcom in a related series) in October 2019. I’d been saving it.
When I finish a book, I usually hit a creative depression where I feel low. Starting another one helps. So, I pulled out the 5k I’d written on this book, and finished the 65k book in two weeks.
On the heels of such a poor launch, I figured I might as well push this one out with no preorder, no warning, and no launch plan. I had it proofed, had my ARC team read it, got another romcom author to critique it, and then took a deep breath and hit publish.
While I had no launch plan, I HAD been planning to launch romcoms, just in a slower, more coordinated way. I had studied the market and was able to design covers and hire illustrators for the people (check out Melody Jeffries Designs for the first two series covers and I have Simply Dylan Designs doing two more). I bought a font from Creative Market, created a template for the five books in the series, and there we go.
I decided that I would do what has worked well for me in the past: launch into KU (which I’d planned to do with this series anyway) at 99 cents. Then I could take a three-pronged ad strategy: start with email newsletter promos (find out more about those HERE), set up and test Amazon ads, and set up and test FB ads, ramping both of those up as the email promos ended. That’s what I did. I don’t crunch numbers often, but I’ve spent about $3500 total in ads, starting small and going bigger.
While women’s fiction HAS been doing well (and still is) and a lot of clean romance is trending to look and be more women’s fiction-y, romcom is also having a moment. And I think CLEAN romcom is a pretty underserved market. Add to that a year in which we ALL want to laugh, and my book struck a chord.
I will also say that even though I wrote the book in a short time, it’s some of my best work. It IS funny, not just witty, as evidenced by the reviews. (It now has more reviews than any of my other books.) I think overall, the cover hit all the right notes, the writing is strong, and the timing is right. Add in ads that work and BOOM. The book has been in the top 500 in the whole Amazon store for over a month.
WHICH BLOWS MY MIND.
WHAT DO I TAKE AWAY FROM THESE TWO LAUNCHES?
The easy answer might look like a 99-cent Kindle Unlimited launch. But I do NOT think it’s that simple. Let’s talk about some of the factors!
I feel like sometimes there is this sense that if you have “arrived” as an author, you have full-price launches. At least, I get that impression. Here’s the thing: I try not to be precious about things. I want to make money. I want to find new readers. I don’t need to care about what my launch price is. Whatever makes the money, that’s where I’m at.
Which is why my romcom is STILL at 99 cents. Because I’m in KU and so many people are reading in KU, I’m making wayyyyy more than I could if I were only selling ebooks at 99 cents. If I were launching wide, a 99-cent price point wouldn’t be making the money it’s making. (Though other platforms allow you to make more money on a 99-cent book, while Amazon makes the royalty rate 30% rather than 70%.)
Which brings us to the next thing to consider.
WIDE VS KU
Wide and Kindle Unlimited are both choices you can make. I’m not going to weigh in on one being BETTER and people have many reasons for making these choices. (Read more on these decisions in THIS POST.)
But if you ARE going into Kindle Unlimited, those readers might be more willing to try a newer author or a genre that you’re new to writing in. Some genres also are very KU-heavy. It’s often an easier start.
If you’re wanting to go wide, you need a strategy and you need to consider the long game. It can be a lucrative strategy and keeps you from being beholden to Amazon. It also means that you need to be a bit more intentional and realize that it might take a bit more time to gain momentum.
For these launches, I had NOT intentionally built up the audience I needed to in order to support a full-price, wide launch.
YOUR CURRENT AUDIENCE
Do you have an audience yet? A 99-cent KU launch might make the most sense if you’re new. It gives buyers AND Kindle Unlimited an easy way to give you a chance. But how you start also sets expectations. There’s something to be said for staring the way you want to finish. If you know you want to go wide, it might make sense to play the long-game and start wide, growing a wide audience and collaborating with other wide readers.
My audience has a large number of older women on fixed incomes. If they don’t read in KU… they don’t really read. I understand that. I also read in KU, and so it felt like a smart decision to move my book into KU– at least for now. I do plan to move it back to wide in the future.
Women’s fiction is currently doing well, and as I said, a lot of clean romance is starting to shift that way. The covers look more like women’s fiction. Lines are getting a little blurry. I already had a beach series that was popular, but was clean romance. I thought I could piggy-back off that series, follow the trend without breaking from my norm too much, and find success.
It just didn’t work out that way. Maybe there were already too many other beach series to compete with. Maybe I didn’t position it as well as I needed to. Whatever the case, it just didn’t make the splash I thought it should.
While romcom is not a quick trend but more of an overall genre, it’s for sure doing well right now in the steamy world. And there are not as many authors who are writing clean books (without sex, without cussing) who are writing romcom. There’s breathing room. And, clearly, a hungry audience.
I also intended for my book to stand up with the steamy romcoms… but without the steam. I’m targeting a lot of those authors and wanted to see both clean and steamy readers enjoying. Because there are not TONS of romcoms, I think my book stood out.
There’s a wide range when it comes to comedy–from witty banter and lighthearted books to slapstick, laugh-out-loud books. I aimed for the second, and I don’t think as many books attempt or hit that mark. Many of the clean romcoms tend to fall a bit more on the other side of the spectrum with the humor being more quirky characters and witty banter.
In Facebook groups and other places, I sometimes see authors sharing success stories a lot without explaining that they happened to write in a genre that was HOT. Maybe they didn’t realize that was some of the reason for the success, or they just didn’t want to share about the genre. But you can’t take a hot trend out of the factors when it comes to book sales.
I believe that my book succeeded for more reasons than that, but I think the reason it’s done SO well is the hot genre, solid writing and positioning, and the ads strategy I’ve used to support it.
TO SUM UP: IS THERE A “RIGHT” WAY TO LAUNCH A BOOK?
What did I learn from this? A few things.
There are many ways to launch a book. And the launch isn’t the only important thing. My other beach series has sold more copies this year (while moving wide) than it did in the two years prior. They were older books. The newest one is one year old, yet they’ve sold more copies THIS YEAR.
Books are digital assets. If your launch totally bombs, you still have a book that you can sell for years to come. Maybe you can get a new cover later and it will work better. Maybe it will find itself in an emerging hot genre and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Write a good book and you’ll have a digital asset you can lean on for years, no matter what it does in launch.
For me right now, I’m confident in my 99-cent, Kindle Unlimited strategy. Do I care that 99-cents is sometimes seen as a “starter author” price. NO. Because I’m making money. This is working, and I’m going to lean into that. I might price my books up. I might launch at full price when I continue to build my romcom reputation. I’ll probably continue to test.
But I’m also not going to try and fix what’s not broken. It’s working. I invested heavily in ads, then kept upping the budgets and building.
If you want to know exactly what I did, I have a detailed case study inside my Ads Extravaganza course (check that out HERE).
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR LAUNCH
- Here are some questions to consider as you plan out your launches:
- Should you go wide or exclusive to KU?
- Should you go full-price or on sale?
- What’s trending and how close is your book to a hot niche?
- How big is your existing audience?
- How much money do you have to invest in ads?
OTHER LAUNCH RESOURCES: