In the last few posts, we’ve talked about Amazon ranking. We looked at what Amazon ranking is, exactly, we’ve discussed the concept of bank, not rank, and we analyzed whether releasing at 99c makes sense from a bank point of view. In this post, we’ll look at sales strategies aimed at making bank.
When it comes to making bank, series are king. Every time I release a new book in one of my series, I get a bump in the sales and page reads of the previous books. Just looks at this graph for the first book in one of my series. It was released in the spring of 2019, but this year, I released two more books in the series, and as you can see, that first book got a massive bump.
That’s double tapping, as I call it. You not only tap into the money and earning potential of a new book you’e releasing, but you’re also tapping into the power of your series back list. Simply put: if I had released a stand alone, I would’ve only made money on that new book. Because it was part of the series, I got a boost on all previous books, not just the first one. Same amount of effort, twice as much money.
My mpreg series is a good example. My new releases don’t make anywhere near as much as my contemporary ones, but…my mpreg series is nine books strong now with a fantastic read through. I don’t make my money off my rank for the new release. I make my money on my bank with the previous books, because that ripple effect will last me a while.
Below is the graph for book 1, which came out in April 2018. You can see the bumps every time a new book released (red circles). Now let’s say this bump represents $500 give or take. That’s $50o for just book 1 in a month. Now multiply that by 8 and that’s how big a bump I had when book 9 came out last month. See what I mean?
Even though my new release didn’t rank all that great (I hit #3 in gay romance but dropped out of the top 10 fast), it’ll still bring in good money.
There is an important caveat with this strategy, and it’s something someone posted about in the #IWroteThis FB group earlier this week: this effect becomes less when you have:
- multiple series running at the same time
- long pauses between new books in a series
- a book in the series with a low read through/sell through rate
Readers love series, but at the same time, they’re wary of unfinished series. Some won’t even start reading if it looks like a series may be longer than, say, three books, and will wait till all books are out. Others will stop reading if it takes too long and move on to a new series. Or they’ll simply forget about the series and lose interest.
So it’s important to not have to many open series at the same time and to release new books regularly in the series. That way, readers will be invested.
Another big issue is if you have a book in your series that makes readers stop reading the series. If your series has a weak book somewhere along the way (and this is something you can check when you use ReaderLinks by looking at your series read through and sell through), this can weaken the impact of a new release on the back list…and the success of the new book in the series itself.
If you see your read through numbers falling, it may be time to wrap up that series and move on.
New Release Promo: Spread it Out
As you’ve seen in the previous posts, Amazon favors a steady sales graph over a peak followed by a fast drop. That means that your release promo should support this.
I know it’s tempting to go all out in release day: start running ads, send your your newsletter, maybe do some newsletter swaps, do some takeover release parties, etc. But that will create a peak, which is fine if you know you can maintain it, but if not, it’ll be counter effective.
Instead, spread out your promo and thus your sales. Do a preorder of two weeks, for example, and promote that on social media. Don’t send out your newsletter until day four or so after release.
Start running Amazon ads two days before release day so they can warm up and get serious once the book is out. Keep the amounts low until you can see they’re working and then increase your spend.
Set up newsletter swaps for the weekend after your release and then another one for the week after or the week after that. Book paid newsletters in a two week period as well rather than all at once. If you do a blog tour, set that up for a full week after release day.
Consider running a short BookBub ad in week two. They’re hit and miss for me, especially with new releases, but it may get some new eyes on your book, especially if you’re in KU.
In short: spread out that promo so you will hold rank, even if it’s at a lower rank, because ultimately, that will make you far more money than a high initial peak followed by a sharp drop.
A Deliberate KU Strategy
Something else to keep in mind is the role KU plays in ranking…and in bank. If you’re in KU (Kindle Unlimited), that should affect your sales strategies. Let’s say your KU income is 75% compared to your sales. That means that for every book you sell, three people will read it through KU. What does this mean for bank?
Write to Optimize KU Income
Well, sales make you more money than KU reads, providing you’re not releasing at 99c. A $4.99 book, for example, nets me about $3.44. How much does it make me in KU? Well, that depends on how long it is.
A 200 page book (and by “page”, I’m referring to the KENP page count) nets me $0.86 at a pay out rate of $0.0043. That’s not much. A 300 page book gets me $1.29. Still not as much, but better. A 400 page book will make me $1.72.
Why am I mentioning this? Because the longer your book is, the more money KU will make you. Making your books longer, therefore, can make you a LOT more money per release.
Now, you can argue that rather than spending extra time on writing a longer book, you could write a new book. True. You could. But your profit per book would be down, because a new book means a new cover, new promo, new ads, etc. If you calculate your costs per 100 words, so to speak, you’re spending much more than when you write longer books.
Plus, because your profit per book goes up with a longer book, your ads will be much more profitable.
Of course, when your sales to KU rate is different, this whole calculation changes. Sales make much more than KU reads per book, so if your sales ratio is, say, 75% and your KU ratio is only 25%, it wouldn’t make sense to focus on longer books. Crank those babies out and make a profit!
Another strategy is to run occasional sales (though never too soon after release and never in a predictable pattern). Why is this profitable? Because if you run a countdown sale, your royalty rate will still be 70%, so even at 99c, you’re still making $0.60, give or take a few. And a lot of those sales will be from readers who have already read the book through KU, so now you’re making money off them twice.
Box sets are also a strategy that work really well with a high KU ratio. Bundle three or so books in a box set and add some bonus materials that readers will want. Then offer it for a discounted price for a week or two and after that, raise the price.
The readers who already bought the individual books will read the bonus stuff through KU. Readers who already read the series through KU may buy the box set if the price is appealing enough, which means you once again make money off them twice.
And new readers may read the box set rather than the individual books. This has two major advantages: you’ll get more page reads because of the bonus materials, thus extra money, But more importantly: the chances of them stopping after book 1 are far smaller. Box sets are really good for your read through, so you’ll make more money off KU reads for that reason as well.
These are just a few approaches that will help you focus on making money rather than getting the highest rank. If you can do both at the same time, fantastic, but for most of us, choices will have to be made. Don’t let that shiny rank blind you and conceal what matters most: bank.