A week and a half ago, I launched my first Kindle book, Content That Sells Without Selling: How to Create a White Paper. What a ride! I learned so much and I’m so happy with the results, I thought it was only fair that I share some of my key takeaways with my blog readers.
Though there were many lessons along the way, there were three really, really BIG ones…
1. Writing a book isn’t the hard part
It’s true. Writing the book wasn’t the hardest part of the whole process. You may be saying to yourself, “But she’s a professional writer! Of course writing the book isn’t the hard part.”
I’ve been a copywriter for nearly 15 years, now. I’m practiced at writing concisely and fitting the most powerful words into the tiniest spaces. Writing a book-length manuscript is a unique challenge, even to me.
But it was still the easy part.
There were two parts of my Kindle launch process that were much harder than the writing:
- Soliciting feedback
- Marketing the book
I could have sent Content That Sells Without Selling out to my friends and family and asked them what they thought, but this wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere, because:
- My friends and family aren’t my target readers
- My friends and family are going to be nice
The best way to make sure my book was going to hit the mark with my target market was to have people who are in my target market read the book before I launched it. So I took the time to hunt down people that would be my ideal readers, who were willing to do me a favor (read: they knew who I was) and who would give me honest feedback. I called these people my “beta readers.”
I lucked out with my beta readers. They gave me fantastic feedback. Keith Casey of CaseySoftware told me I was being too light-handed and theoretical. He said, “You’re the expert! Tell me step-by-step what I need to do.” That advice made the final draft of my book something infinitely more useful to readers.
Once I had the final draft written and I had launched it in the Kindle store (setting up the book in the Kindle store is enough of a challenge to warrant an entire blog post of its own!), then I had to get the word out.
Again I was very lucky. My friend and best-selling Kindle author Susan Campbell patiently answered all of my questions about the best way to market the book. So I had my marketing plan in place before the book ever went up in the Kindle store.
- I created a media page with book excerpts and social media blurbs.
- I had emails written and ready to go out to my friends, family, business partners and other “marketing insiders.”
- I wrote an update and scheduled it in Mailchimp to go out to my mailing list.
- I put together a list of websites, Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups to reach out to once the book was live.
I launched the book at $0.99 to start gathering reviews while the book was on the “paid” list. Then I made it free for a few days to further encourage downloads. Finally, I ended the promotion and put it back to the regular price of $2.99.
That is a really high-level view of a lot of very time-sensitive moving pieces – all of which I was trying to handle while working a full-time job!
Yeah, the writing was definitely the easy part.
2. Get help!
If Lesson #1 didn’t drive this home enough, getting help was crucial to my first Kindle launch.
Besides the help I got from my beta readers and the advice given to me by other successful Kindle authors, I also had a virtual assistant help me with some of the promotion.
I hired my VA a few months ago to help me with my blog promotion, and she was invaluable with my Kindle book promotion as well. She reached out to many of the free-book websites on my behalf and kept track of the metrics on each.
Going above and beyond the call of duty, she kept me informed of activity and acted as my sounding board throughout the whole process of publishing Content That Sells.
I took the often-repeated advice to “hire before I am ready,” and I’m so glad I did. By the time I was ready to publish my first Kindle book, my assistant was ready to step in to help without much in the way of formal training. She really took the reins and eased my burden.
3. Keep an eye on metrics and take screenshots
Lesson #3 took me by surprise. Kindle book data goes by in a flash. Not only did I have to keep my eye on the daily number of downloads, but I also had to keep an eye on the book’s rank.
Kindle book rank fluctuates throughout the day, and the ranking is different between the paid list and the “free” list. When my book was not in the promotional “free” period – that is, when there was a cost to download it – this was the true rank. “Paid” rank is what matters to Amazon, and what will matter to readers.
I took screenshots every time the book’s rank increased. So I had to check the book page many times a day to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In the first few days after the initial launch, when the book was at $0.99, it was #17 in the Business Writing category in the Amazon Kindle Store. That is incredible. I mean, to be in the top 100 is a feat – but #17!!! I was over the moon!
The book may very well have had an even better ranking at some point, but I can’t keep my eyes glued to the page all day long – so #17 was the highest I saw.
When I made Content That Sells free for a few days to encourage more downloads, the ranking spiked quickly. It became #1 in the Business Writing category AND the Marketing category. The unfortunate thing is that this really doesn’t affect my Amazon author rank at all. It’s really cool… but it doesn’t count toward “best-seller” status because the book was on the free list and not the paid list.
Still. The book was #1 in two categories, and that’s something to be proud of! I took screenshots, don’t worry…
The book is now available at the regular price of $2.99, and it’s still ranking really well in the Business Writing and Marketing categories in the Kindle Store. The subject of creating white papers obviously hit a chord with readers, and I”m thrilled about that.
Launching my first Kindle book was a terrifying, complex, wonderful and gratifying experience. Thank you to all those who have downloaded Content That Sells Without Selling: How to Create a White Paper, and thank you to my incredible support team. This launch wouldn’t have been a success without you!
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