Amazon Book Launch Strategies: Children’s Author D.C. Grant

Dawn's photoDC is a clued-up indie writer here in New Zealand. She’s been traditionally published in the past, and I appreciate her unique insight. Recently, she released her Jason Shaw Mystery Series. The first book, Speed, is free until tomorrow so grab it now – just click here.

I often say that writing the book is the easy part. Once the first draft has been done, the real work begins (and I’m not just talking about the rewriting, the revision, the copy edit, the rewrite after the copy etc…). Eventually you get to the point that you are sick of looking at it and there is nothing else that can be done. Everything else after this point is tinkering.

Speed cover_finalI had begun a mystery series and had books one to three all written and ready to go, so I decided to self-publish and attempt to gain traction primarily with eBooks. I began looking at the best way to market these books in an on-line environment. It’s not like I hadn’t done this before but my previous books were all set in New Zealand and this was the first set of books set overseas, America to be precise, so I needed a different approach.

In this respect, I knew I was now publishing alongside the ‘big boys’ in a much bigger pond so I had to construct strategies that would result in the books appearing in book rankings and thereby discoverability. Easier said than done.

Velocity cover_finalMy first conscious decision was to launch all three books at the same time. I had planned a staggered launch with the first book coming out followed a month or so later and the third shortly after that. However at a meet-up with a Joanna Penn who advised me to launch all three at once, I changed that plan. Accordingly, Speed, Velocity and Maneuvers came out over the Easter weekend.

The next decision was to enroll the books into KDP Select. For those that don’t know what this is, enrolling in KDP Select means that the digital book is only available on Kindle in the Amazon store. The book is also automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, the subscriber division of Kindle.  Books are enrolled for 90 days and, if the book gain momentum, I would consider re-enrolling in KDP Select. If not, then books can be un-enrolled and I’m free to publish elsewhere while still keeping the books on Amazon.

There have been arguments for and against KDP Select but as an unknown author launching a new series it offered the best chance of being noticed. Discoverbility being the author’s biggest challenge.

Maneuvers cover_finalNow that the decision was made to be exclusive to Amazon for the first three months at least, I researched how best to maximize my exposure on that platform so I investigated Amazon categories and keywords. To this end I downloaded Nick Stephenson’s book “How to Supercharge your Kindle Sales” (A recommendation from Joanna Penn). This book is an excellent resource and I cannot possibly summarize all the information in the book but I will touch on some of the strategies I put in place as a result:

  • Downloaded Kindle Spy to ascertain the words used most often in my chosen category
  • Placed the tagline “A Jason Shaw Mystery” on each of the covers
  • Choose category “Mystery and Detectives” under junior fiction
  • Ensured that the blurb had the words mystery, series, adventure, clues, detective in it
  • Used the corresponding keywords in the keyword field on the Amazon book metadata page

I think you can see a pattern emerging here with the word “mystery’ appearing most often in my word choices. The theory is that the more often a keyword occurs in the books metadata, title and keywords, the more likely the book will appear when a reader searches for books using that keyword, in this case, the word “mystery”.

All of this had to be done before the book was even loaded to ensure that the cover, tagline, keywords  and blurb were all aligned. It emphasizes how important it is to do your research and the bulk of the work before the book is published. Trying to change this after the book is launched means you could lose momentum especially as the book will be unavailable for a period of time while Amazon goes through its review process. Admittedly this doesn’t take long but when your book is down for any length of time, you are losing sales.

If you do this right from the get-go, you can upload the book and let it the Amazon bots do the rest (as far as the Amazon page is concerned at least) and concentrate on other marketing strategies.

Or even, start writing the next book!

D C Grant writes for children and young adults in the mystery/thriller and historical fiction genres.  She lives in Auckland, New Zealand and is known to drink lots of coffee to power her through the late night writing sessions.

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Guest Post: The story behind ‘Going Home’ – Harry Potter, Spy School & Dystopia

GoingHomeThe lovely Emma Lindhagen is one of my favourite writer friends. In this post, Emma talks about her inspiration from the Harry Potter series, and how her ideas morphed (again and again and again) over time to become her debut book, Going Home.

I very vividly recall when the first seed of what was to become Going Home, my debut novella, begun growing in my mind. It was in 2001 and I was visiting my grandmother over Easter. I’d arrived a few days before the rest of my family and spent a good part of that time on gran’s sofa reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which had just been released in Swedish. My mind wandered and I decided that I, too, would write a book about an amazing school. Unlike Hogwarts, my school would be a school for spies, where they would learn things like scaling walls and hand-to-hand combat, foreign languages and cracking codes.

I never actually wrote anything from this version of the story, not a single scene, but I drew pixel dolls in black catsuits on my computer and made time-tables and floor plans for the school.

Over the years, the idea morphed and morphed again. The spy school became, like its inspiration, a school for magic. It moved from some high-tech building to an underground city, and then to a manor in the country side (with an underground city attached in some versions). It was around this time that Orryn, Thea and Kella, Going Home’s protagonist and most central secondary characters, came into being.

Originally it was Kella, tall, powerful and confident; her physical appearance inspired by Tia Carrere in the TV show Relic Hunters, who was the main character.  She was to be the principal of the school, and her lover’s estranged and messed-up older sister Orryn was just a side character. From that point on, I really can’t say which order things happened in. Characters came, went, changed.

A dystopian society, based on the ideal that homogeneity is the ideal and heterogeneity is dangerous, sprawled out around the school, its details and peculiarities popping up here and there in my head, its bloody birth coming to me in a flash of inspiration one afternoon. Magic shrunk from being a central part of the story to being just one of the many deviations that could warrant persecution in this world.

Gradually, and I’m still not quite sure how, Orryn came to be the central character of the story. With every change I made in her backstory, and I made a lot of them, she called to me more and more until, somehow, the story was hers.

Even with my main character firmly established, I struggled for years with what the first book in this world would actually be about. Many different ideas were sketched up, maybe sampled in a scene or two and then scrapped. Dragon fossils, vanished uncles and lawless prison island all got tossed out the window.

Then one afternoon in early 2013 I was sitting in my kitchen complaining to a friend over a cup of tea about how badly I wanted to write Orryn’s story during the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo but how I just couldn’t think of a good main plot for the book. Exasperated, I found myself saying “I wish I could skip all the action and just talk about these characters!” In the next breath, I realized I could. And the rest, as they say, is history.

You can get your copy of Going Home from Amazon, and you can follow Emma on Twitter @emmalindhagen. To learn more about Emma and her writing, go to her website, emmalindhagen.com.