I (Trevor) recently launched a new eBook that helps teach people how to use MySQL as a complete beginner. My goal from the get-go was to leverage an existing platform to drive sales. The best platform available for eBooks at the moment is Amazon, so that’s where I planned my launch strategy.
Amazon’s Kindle Select
You see, Amazon provides something called “Kindle Select” (read more about it here) that allows you to take advantage of 5 special days of powerhouse marketing. What you do is choose any 5 days you like (inside of a 90 day period) to put your book on sale for free.
For FREE?! What?!
I know, I’ll address that in a second. But there’s one more rule that you’ll need to abide by when you participate in the Kindle select program.
You need to give Amazon exclusive rights to sell your book for 90 days. That means you’re not allowed to publish your book for sale on ANY other websites (including your own).
So, all that hard work to write a book and you’re just going to give it away for free and sign away exclusivity rights for 90 days? Well… yes!
There’s plenty of data to suggest that the exposure you get from using these 5 free days is somewhat of a spring board for your book’s success. Plus while you’re in that 90 day window, people can also borrow your book as part of Kindle’s lending library program, and anytime someone borrows your book, you get a cut of the membership fees that Amazon collects for this lending program.
So to sum up, you’ll give Amazon exclusive rights to sell your book for 90 days and in return they’ll give you 5 days where you can put your book up for free and have it marketed like mad.
For us programmers, free marketing is always a good thing, especially when it’s Amazon doing the work for us. I remember when I put my book up for free, I was seeing ads for my own book via Google’s adsense network as well as Facebook. Now that’s likely just retargeted ads because I “looked” at my book on Amazon, but still… free marketing.
The eBook Launch Strategy that Works
Let me share some of the tactics I used when I launched my most recent book. Now, I’ll preface this by saying that I do have an email list of over 5,000 people, so I obviously leveraged that list of people. But I’ll give you some tips if you’re starting from zero.
First thing’s first, if you have no email list (or even if you DO have one) I’d recommend getting the word out about your book LONG before it’s done. You want to build relationships with the leaders in your industry. This means you should reach out to people who lead groups and communities related to your book’s topic.
For me, I reached out to the leaders of LinkedIn groups of programmers and SQL lovers. I reached out to leaders of communities on Facebook and Google +. Remember, the trick here is to just introduce yourself and let them know who you are and what you stand for. You’ll often receive the best results by offering something to them that is of value to them.
Another way to get “in” with the leaders is to just become an active member in their community and provide value by helping other users out in some way shape or form. Remember that this work is all for “long-term” benefits. Relationships can go a long way in business.
Once you are on the radar of these leaders and as the launch date of the book draws near (maybe 2-3 weeks away) you can message them directly and let them know that you’ve got a book coming out that will be of use to their audience/community.
Since I’d recommend you launch the book for free when it first goes live, I’d suggest that you offer the leaders’ audience copies of the book for free as well. This will really impress the leaders of the groups, especially if you’ve already built a bit of a relationship with them.
Alright, so you may be wondering… what’s the point of all this? Why are we giving away copies of our precious book? Well, there’s a secret I haven’t let you in on just yet.
Remember way back in our first lesson when I talked about how important it is to build an email list? Well, you’re going to have an email “grab” inside your new eBook.
As often as it makes sense within your book, you should direct the readers to a website where you’ll ask for their email address in exchange for something of value.
For example, I wrote a book on MySQL, so my giveaway was 4 MySQL assignments that will help cement the knowledge that they’ve gained from the book – as well as a handful of free bonus videos that teach extra concepts.
The landing page I created currently gets a 78% conversion rate!
For those of you who aren’t aware, that’s insane! That means 78% of the people who SEE that page, actually type in their email address and submit the form. But that makes perfect sense, because my offer is extremely targeted.
Alright, so you’re collecting email addresses, why is that so helpful?
These are email addresses of the people who are extremely interested in the topic of your eBook. Now’s the time to create another ancillary product that compliments the topic of your eBook. Whether it’s consulting, a video course, a tele-seminar, or whatever! Now is the time to up-sell your customers.
Getting a book sale is great, but if you follow Amazon’s pricing “suggestions”, then you’ll only be making a maximum of $7 on a sale of your eBook. So you need to find ways to maximize the lifetime value of that customer.
Once you get their email address, you can follow the suggestions we’ve already given on this blog/podcast and send them some valuable information (again, related to the eBook’s topic) to get them saying “Wow, this is awesome!” And finally, after you feel you’ve delivered great value, you pitch them the up-sell.
For me, I up-sell with my video tutorial course on MySQL as well as my video tutorial course on Java. Because who knows, they may also be interested in learning new programming languages (if they don’t already know Java).
Another topic that’s important to discuss is customer reviews for your eBook on Amazon.
Customer reviews can make or break your product. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. Sales for my first eBook were wonderful and I was super excited… until some bad reviews started coming in. Then my sales dropped by about 75%.
One way to combat this and help skew things in your favor is to ask for reviews when you’re launching your eBook for free.
Like I mentioned before, I’d recommend you take advantage of the 5 free days of eBook marketing right out of the gate on the day you launch your eBook. If you have an email list, then email them to let them know that the eBook is free, but that the price will go up after 5 days. Let your audience know that all you’d like in return for the free copy of your eBook is a rating and review.
If you’ve produced a good quality book, then you won’t have to worry about receiving negative reviews. If you’re a little worried about getting negative reviews, then you can ask them to send you an email directly if they feel like the eBook doesn’t deserve 4+ stars. This way you can hopefully fix any problems that you may not have realized exist within your eBook.
Remember, it’s better to fix any issues RIGHT AWAY to avoid those bad reviews.
My launch went extremely well, as I was shooting to receive 30 5-star reviews and I ended up getting exactly that amount!
It seems like you get what you ask for, as I’m sure it wasn’t a fluke that I hit my exact goal. 30 reviews for me was a “lofty” goal and I was ecstatic when I hit it, so I’d suggest doing the same thing and setting a lofty goal for yourself too.
And there you have it. That’s more or less the strategy I followed when I launched my eBook, but there’s certainly more things you can do. For example, I didn’t make much use of social media, as that’s one of my weak spots that I plan on improving in 2015.
But I’m sure if you follow what I’ve outlined here, you’ll do a great job on launching your eBook!
What’s Carter Up To?
Alright, let’s switch over to the things that Carter’s been up to in his business activities.
With some help from yours truly, Carter was able to set up a very successful Facebook ads campaign (we’ll talk about FB ads in a later episode). It was so successful that he actually had to shut it down! He was getting so many leads that he couldn’t keep up with them.
This revealed a fault in his system. He realized that he needed to add much more automation if he truly wanted to be able to scale his business.
So, Carter hit the drawing board and mapped out the entire path a customer would take when they first saw his ads. This helped him understand all the holes in his current system.
He also mapped out what questions to ask the new customers so he knew how to categorize them. How much attention will the customers need based on their answers? Who should he direct them to, based on their answers?
Carter also realized, in keeping with the “scaling your business” theme that he needed to spend more time on training. Although a task may take you 5 minutes to complete, but take you an hour or two to teach, it’s always better to spend the time to teach someone that skill. Usually once you teach someone how to complete a task, you’ll never have to do that task again! How wonderful would that be?
There’s a great book that I’m reading right now that talks about business and addresses the issue of training and scaling. It’s called The E-Myth Revisited and it’s already opening my eyes to some of the common reasons why companies fail when they hit their “adolescent” stage.
I wish Carter luck with his journey to scaling his business and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I’m sure he’ll talk about the things he’s learned along the way on his blog, so check it out!