I’ve shared a lot about my publishing experiences over the last year, and just in case I’ve made it sound like a walk in the park, today I’m sharing book launch disasters. Though I’m sharing things I’ve experienced, I think many of these are common, so hope that they will help you when you face book launch disasters of your own!
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Book Launch Disaster: Amazon Glitches
The biggest part of this post deals with Amazon. MOST of these have happened to me. USUALLY the answer is going to be: contact Amazon. And the result of that will be: SOMETIMES they might do something. (But as I say in the podcast episode, “Most of the time, they’re too busy making money to care.”) Here are some things that might go wrong on Amazon–or another publishing channel.
Not publishing the book at the right time – I did have a delay with one book of over three days when my book got flagged by Amazon (more on that in a sec). A big-time author this week tried to release the sequel to a series and people freaked out when it wasn’t on time. The author was scurrying around Facebook groups sharing that Amazon hadn’t published the book yet, but it should have been out.
- If this happens: contact Amazon. It may or may not help.
Making you prove you wrote the book – I had a delay on my third Emma St. Clair billionaire book, The Billionaire Benefactor. Amazon says it may take up to 72 hours to publish, but usually it’s hours. After a day, I contacted them. After three days, they emailed me asking me to prove that I had the rights to publish the book. I had to send an email from my domain name email address. It took a few days and messed up my launch timeline. I had swaps and ads set up, so had to email people and the companies I’d paid to try and switch dates.
- If this happens: Contact Amazon. Contact any people you have newsletter swaps with, any companies you’ve paid for promos, and let your fans know if you’ve said the book will be out on a certain date.
Publishing the wrong version of your book – Amazon recently switched up preorders and how they are set up. This resulted in a TON of books being published with the draft version, not the final. Typos everywhere! Angry reviews! It was a mess.
- If this happens: Contact amazon. You can ask them to replace the file, but often they’ll want documentation. It’s a really stinky situation for them and for you. Double-check the files before you send because things have changed.
Not changing the price – With my Billionaire Surprise Box Set, Amazon didn’t change the price in the US until three days AFTER I changed it. For whatever reason, it dropped in Canada and outside the US, but my main promos I had scheduled were IN the US. So I lost money on the promos where they cancelled my book since it wasn’t marked down as it was supposed to. One promo site rescheduled (thanks, Book Cave!). The others? I just lost money. Argh.
- If this happens: Contact Amazon. Usually you’ll just have to wait it out. If you need to, contact any people you’re swapping newsletters with or any paid promos.
Disconnecting your series page – Masquerade Ball. When you have a series, Amazon will make a series page for them and show the others in the series at the bottom of the description. I had this set up and when I published the fifth book, they removed it. (Also had trouble getting them to add book #3 to the page when it published.) I don’t know why they did this, but I simply had to call or email and get them to fix it.
- If this happens: Contact Amazon. They gave me a hard time once, but normally, they are fine and restore it quickly.
Taking away your reviews – this is just something that happens. Usually there’s nothing you can do other than get organic reviews from people. Make sure your reviews are legit, but otherwise, email Amazon if they ALL go. If it’s a few, probably nothing you can do.
- If this happens: Unless it’s ALL your reviews, there’s nothing you can do. If ALL your reviews disappear, it’s probably a glitch and will restore itself. Make sure you’re not reviewing your own books, asking family to do this, and that your ARC readers aren’t using phrases like “in exchange for” that make it sound like they got a free book in EXCHANGE for review. Those are no-nos.
Links on reviews-
Removing your book – There was a glitch this weekend where al ton of books were removed from Amazon. It was just a glitch, but that doesn’t help you feel better when you lose ranking because of your book being GONE. A few friends had this happen and it tanked their climb in the ranks.
If this happens: It’s probably a glitch. If Amazon contacts you and it’s related to the content in your book, you can do your best to comply. I’ve seen that, but RARELY.
BOOK LAUNCH DISASTERS: NOT SELLING ENOUGH
Sometimes you launch and it just feels like your book isn’t selling the way it SHOULD. Don’t mistake that for the way you WANT. Chances are, you’ll always WANT it to sell more. But if you check the ranking of your book compared to other similar books in the genre you’re aiming for and things like that, you’ll get a more realistic idea. (I also use the tool KDSPY to check on fun details within categories. You can check that out HERE.)
If your book is not selling like it SHOULD, here are some things that might be going on. (Again, make sure your expectations are realistic. Mine sometimes aren’t.)
Your cover doesn’t fit the genre – With my book, The Billionaire Love Match, I had a handsome, grumpy guy, perfect for billionaires, I thought. I didn’t realize (duh) that EVERY billionaire is in a suit. (Almost.) My cover was okay, but he didn’t look rich and it was dark. I’ve now gone through a few transformations. It mattered! Whether or not you think covers matter, they DO. Make sure yours is genre specific. Don’t get emotionally attached or go with what you love. It matters more if your READERS will love it.
Your blurb doesn’t hook the readers – I have been testing Facebook ads with The Billionaire’s Secret Heir and found that my ads were getting people to the page, but it wasn’t selling like it should. The cover is fine and genre-appropriate and I asked around to get feedback. It all centered around my blurb. I wrote four revisions, bought a book, and wrote another one. I think it’s much better and the ads converted better. You need to hook those readers who get to your page! Study other blurbs in your genre as they vary from genre to genre. Then study copywriting. I did and it helped!
- Related book: Mastering Amazon Descriptions by Brian D. Meeks
Your ads aren’t working – If this is the case, first check your cover and blurb. If that’s not the issue, you may have a targeting issue with your audience or you may not understand how to run ads. This is a BIG reason I recommend email promo sites to start with, not Facebook, Bookbub, or Amazon ads. They have a learning curve.
Sometimes your book just doesn’t sell the way you want OR the way it should. Sometimes it’s because of #1 or #2, but sometimes it’s not something you can pinpoint. Until you grow your own fan base of people hungry for your book, which takes TIME, this can be slow going. Try to identify any problems and then just do your best.
- If this happens: Ask for help in a critique group. Check the other similar books in your genre and authors at your level (as in, don’t compare your first book to an author with fifty). Be ready to respond to that feedback in a non-emotional way. 🙂
BOOK LAUNCH DISASTERS: YOUR EXPECTATIONS
I saved this one for last because I think it’s the hardest. It’s not external; it’s your mind. I am HARD on myself. I set big goals and I want to accomplish them.
I shouldn’t be disappointed in what happened this past year. I’ve reached my goals and then some. But I’m never NOT thinking about the next step. I always want to write better, sell better, and make more money. That’s the goal– not to get stagnant, but to get better. that means, though, that I can be super hard on myself.
I also suffer from book envy. I see other authors doing what I’m doing, writing what I’m writing, and it’s SO hard not to think, “Why isn’t that me?” That is so unhelpful. Unless you are studying what they are doing to see how it might benefit you, that comparison is only going to leave you sad.
Sometimes people want to read bland, vanilla, boring books. I’ve seen some selling really well in my genre. Sometimes you don’t know why someone else’s book with a bad cover is outselling yours with a to-genre cover. You can’t compare. It’s not healthy.
Any book launch disasters? Share in the comments or in the Facebook community!
So far, no one in my reader newsletter cares at all when I launch a book! I’m running a campaign right now, and even with incentives, I haven’t received a response. But my work also doesn’t tend to sell, given my numbers over the last 4 years.
Kirsten Oliphant says
I’m sorry to hear that! Since you already have readers, I wonder if you could run a reader survey (if you haven’t) asking what they want to read? Or it may be something simple like a cover that doesn’t fit the book (like this one of mine) or you might just not be writing in a popular genre. That’s so frustrating, though!! Don’t give up, but maybe see if you can get some feedback about where the breakdown is.