It’s now seven weeks since the launch of The Magic Mines of Asharim, the fourth Brightmoon story. Time for a report on how things went.
The two previous launches were very successful, so I followed much the same pattern: put the book on pre-order first, to allow me to book ads, run several days of promotion to boost the book in the rankings, then run some promotion on the other books. I chose to run a discount on The Fire Mages plus a free day for The Plains of Kallanash, towards the end of the 30-day high-visibility cycle for the new book, to try to keep things going.
So how did it work? Like the curate’s egg, it was good in parts.
The good points:
- The new book had 236 pre-orders (compared with 12, 19 and 34 on the previous books). This was the first long (3 month) pre-order period, and it kept the book visible on the Hot New Releases list the whole time.
- The new book had 201 sales during the initial launch promo period, with a peak of 78 on the day the ENT ad ran.
- The new book averaged 4K page reads per day right from the start.
- There was a small but noticeable bump in sales for the other three books during the promo period.
- The secondary promotion period produced 136 sales of The Fire Mages, 636 downloads of The Plains of Kallanash and a bump of 19 paid sales afterwards.
- An email about the new book from Amazon to anyone who’d signed up as a ‘Follower’ resulted in a burst of 80 sales over several days. Who’d have thought I had so many followers?
The bad points:
- No tail. As soon as a promotion ended, sales dropped away within a day or two. This is very different from the previous two launches, where sales burbled along nicely afterwards, and tapered off gently.
- No bump in pages read, either (something which was particularly noticeable for the previous book, after its launch promo ended).
- As a result, the rank of the new book crashed early on, dropping into 5 figures in less than two weeks, and barely managing to stay within the top 30K in its first month. For comparison, The Fire Mages stayed better than 30K for 3 months, and better than 50K for 6 months. The Mages of Bennamore lasted at better than 30K for 2 months. Interestingly, both of them crashed into telephone number rankings at the same time – mid-July, so maybe something changed at that time.
- The promotions were expensive – $615 for the various ads for three different books over the month. Although I made more than that from sales and pages read over the promotion period and afterwards, it’s hard to say how much I might have made without any promotion at all.
On balance, sales and pages read are better now than they were before the fourth book launched. The week before the launch, there were 8 sales and 22K pages read. Last week there were 33 sales and 30K pages. For just the three older books, there were 20 sales and 22K pages, so sales are more than double.
On the whole, I’m reasonably happy with the way things went. But I don’t have a good explanation for why this particular launch was less successful than the previous two, despite following almost exactly the same plan. Some possibilities (very speculative):
1) More promo sites springing up. That’s bound to dilute the pot just a little.
2) Readers now have ‘full Kindles’, so to speak. Those long tbr piles mean people don’t have to go bargain hunting quite as often. There are still more people switching to ebooks all the time, but the market is more mature than it was.
3) KU. If you’re paying a monthly subscription for your reading, it increases your resistance to paying for a book (I know it does for me). Even 99c is a lot when so many books are effectively free. And again, KU readers just won’t be looking for bargains quite as often.
4) The long pre-order time. This produced a bumper crop of pre-orders, but is bound to have reduced initial sales.
5) Promo saturation. I’ve promoted all my books quite extensively, and although I’m careful not to reuse any site for the same book too quickly, it’s possible that they’ve been over-exposed.
I have no idea which, if any, of these have any credibility. All I know is that for my next launch, in January, I’ll be trying something different.