Wayne Stinnett, Author

Wayne Stinnett, Author

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Launch

The launch of Fallen Angel went really well. But, it could and should have gone a whole lot better. Let me explain what I wanted to happen first and why.

The goal of launching a new book is to try to get it in front of new readers. I approach this the same way I do advertising. If you do a lot of big ads, like BookBub, you know that Amazon dampers the affect of the big spike on ranking. How or why is a mystery, but it happens. Fallen Angel sold nearly 1000 copies in the first 24 hours, yet it only reached #96. That wasn't supposed to happen.

My launch strategy was to try to line up what I have control over, with what I could intelligently predict would happen beyond my control. The two major things there being BookBub's and Amazon's notification to followers. I know I have a lot of Amazon followers, I could tell from my last release. I know on my BookBub dashboard, that I have 680 followers there. I also have over 2300 subscribers to my twice monthly newsletter. The beuty about this launch plan is that it will work for any number of followers and subscribers, just on a lower or higher scale.

From my last three launches, I know that Amazon has emailed me almost precisely 72 hours after clicking Publish on KDP, asking if I want them to inform my followers. Also, I know from past experience that those emails don't go to all followers at one time. It's spaced out over several days, beginning the day after I reply that yes, I'd like Amazon to let my followers know. Amazon knows about their own spike dampener.

So, to build a launch like a promotion, I wanted to slowly ramp sales up before the big push, Amazon informing my followers. This way, the Amazon spike wouldn't be as pronounced. To do this, I had to try to guess when BookBub would inform my followers there, then split my subscriber base into ever increasing numbers and email them in increments.

BookBub's deal is pretty new, they just started it after my last release, so I had to look beyond my own data to determine when this might happen. For most writers I talked to who had recent releases and good sized BookBub followers, it was three days after entering the new book on their BookBub dashboard.

So, knowing that the third day after publishing, BookBub would tell my 680 followers and the fourth day after publishing, Amazon would begin the heavy lifting, I needed to set up a ramp of sales from the moment of publishing to the morning of the third day after publishing. I decided to break my mailing list up into several parts.

Here's step-by-step what I planned to do:
1) Click Publish around noon Eastern time. Once it goes live, I'd have control..
2) Do nothing for quite a few hours, knowing that some people are gonna find it anyway. I did in fact get several sales early on, without mentioning it to a soul.
3) Very early on Day Two, and I'm talking paper-route way-before-the-sun early, send the newsletter about the release to the top 20 subscribers with the highest and earliest click rates. This takes some work in figuring out and needs to be done well ahead of time.
4) Send the same newsletter to the next 50 highest subscribers at noon on Day Two and post the link on my Facebook author page.
5) Send the same newsletter to the next 50 subscribers at 6pm and post the link on my personal Facebook page. My highest sales hours and page reads occur between 6pm and midnight.
6) Send the same newsletter to the next 200 subscribers about midnight on Day Two. There are some insomniacs in my group and sales would be good through the night.
7) Send the same newsletter to the next 500 subscribers at 6am on Day Three. By now, I've used up 820 of my 2300 subscribers, but all of them are 5 star subscribers with high open and click rates. These 500 are a bit less of the click-within-minutes subscribers like the earlier ones. Many of these buy, but usually hours after the email is sent.
8) Send the same newsletter to the next 700 subscribers at 6pm on Day Three. Now, I'm getting into the 4 star subscribers.
9) Send the same newsletter to the remaining 800+ subscribers at 9pm on Day Three. Many of these are new and untested, so there will be a good many quick buyers among the ones that buy more infrequently, or just plain don't use the links I provide.
10) BookBub takes over on the morning of Day Four.
11) Amazon takes over on the morning of Day Five.

My goal was to get a trickle of sales during the overnight hours after publishing and I did indeed get 12 sales before telling anyone. The top subscribers, the ones who click within minutes of getting the email regardless of time of day, get their email on their phones. So the newsletters sent out at four different times on Day Two, will be bought up within minutes. The emails on Day Three will become more sporadic, as I get down into the 3 and 2 star subscribers.This approach, in my mind, would produce steadily climbing sales numbers throughout the period before BookBub and Amazon start making spikes.

A well thought out plan? I thought so. But, just like a battle plan, which begins to devolve and fall apart upon first friction with the enemy. my launch plan was doomed from the start. First off, I usually launch at $.99 for my subscribers, then raise it to full price after a day. I messed up and clicked Publish with the price set at full price. Being in review, I couldn't do anything until morning. So, those 12 overnight sales were at full price.

Come morning on Day Two, I lowered the price and waited anxiously. Usually a price change takes a while to update on Amazon, so I panicked and merged the many groups, thinking I wouldn't be able to tell my subscribers until later in the day. However, the price change took affect within an hour. Then I screwed up again and sent the email to the whole 2300 subscribers.

The result was six sales on Day One, another six at full price overnight into Day Two, then a huge spike of nearly 1000 sales by the end of Day Two. I left the price at $.99 until noon on Day Three, but only garnered another 82 sales, some at the reduced price and some at full price. Big spike and deep trough. Just what I wanted to avoid. Still, I sold 992 copies in 24 hours,  with a 71% open rate and 53% click rate. My subscribers are engaged.

So, back to writing and sharpening up this launch plan for the next time. That'll be with the launch of Ruthless Charity, sometime in June or July.


  1. Ouch! Oh man! That was a fantastic plan, though. Maybe the slower announcements will keep traffic going?

    1. More to achieve a higher rank. Sudden high sales, like with a BookBub ad, are suppressed in how they reflect in ranking. A thousand sales in a single day would result in a lower rank than 100, 200, 300, and 400 sales, spread out over five days, though the total is the same.

  2. Great information on ramping up sales. Thank you!

  3. 1000 copies is still not too freaking shabby, Wayne. I could only hope to flub up so brilliantly.


  4. Wayne, why do you release to your subscribers at .99? Do you make more from the visibility at such a low cost that you make it up once you go full price?

  5. Will there be more Fallen books? I hope so.

  6. Will there be more Fallen books? I hope so.

    1. Yes, Ernest. I've just started on #10, Fallen Hero. I don't have any plans to end the series any time soon.

  7. Get your books out to the fleet. Jarheads and Squids would be a great following. Enjoy your writing even though it is far fetched. Thanks and Old Snipe