Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
This article (the third installment) focuses on the strategic decision forego a big launch at a book’s introduction into the market. Traditional book publishing once put a lot of emphasis on the launch. But high-profile launches are most effective when you’re communicating to mass audiences via mass media in mass-market bookstores. None of that applies in a market that relies heavily on Internet sales—and all ebooks rely heavily on Internet sales.
Related: To learn more about marketing strategies, register for “4 Weeks to a Powerful Book Marketing Strategy,” a hands-on course from Digital Book World University.
One of the reasons the launch used to be so important to book sales is because when all books were sold in physical book stores, they competed for shelf space. Shelf space in a physical bookstore is finite. A brick-and-mortar bookseller doesn’t want to clog her shelves with books that don’t move. So publishers would put all their effort into early promotions in order to generate sales and earn the right to stay on the shelf. On the Internet, book sales can afford to be more gradual.
Another reason to forego a big, mass-market launch is that they are very expensive and extremely short-lived. But even if you’ve got a big budget and a tight schedule, a large-scale launch is simply not all that important for an ebook. Why? Mass-market launches are built on the assumption that high sales in the first week dictate a book’s future success—and that simply doesn’t apply in the world of ebook sales. While any book that sells well in its first week typicallys stand a high chance of success, the opposite is not always true. Many best-selling ebooks experience very low sales early in their lifecycle before going on to climb the charts.
First-time author Sheryn MacMunn had this experience she first introduced her book Finding Out. After two months of sales that barely moved the meter, she decided to do a free promotion on Amazon. The free offer succeeded in moving books. Finding Out even went up to No. 1 in her category for a brief time.
But brief is the operative word. “I was at No. 1, which is like a dream, right?” says MacMunn, “but then it was like, how do I sustain it?” Sales floundered for a year or so, then MacMunn chose to work with me on a long-term book promotion strategy.
Her strategy today is simple. Every month, she does a single email promotion (which I discussed in last week’s article), she regularly monitors her customer reviews and author profile and she enters awards contests whenever possible. This steady, consistent plan has grown her sales and keeps them high. Today, Finding Out is a top seller in several Women’s Fiction categories.
MacMunn’s experience is just one example of how low early sales do not indicate a lack of customer interest. All they indicate is a lack of awareness among readers. On the Internet, generating awareness takes time. And luckily, authors have the luxury of time on the Internet because they’re not competing for shelf space there.
So if your goal is to create an ebook best-seller—and what self-published author’s isn’t?—instead of worrying about your launch, create a strategy that includes regular, consistent price promotions, positive reviews by influential bloggers and a long list of customer reviews.
Related: To learn more about marketing strategies, join me for a course I’m teaching at Digital Book World University, “4 Weeks to a Powerful Book Marketing Strategy.” Here’s where you can find more information and details on how to register.