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How To Sell Books

The Process Used To Launch The Writing Challenge Anthologies & The Results

What You Can Do To Help On Book Launch Day: BUY/REVIEW/SHARE

book launch process - why promotion is SO important - launch results - write a review

To be a successful writer, you have to sell your stories and actively promote/market the books they're published in. One of the aims of the writing challenges run on this website is to expose authors to this process, so they can learn how to successfully launch their own books and generate sales.

Book Launch

How to Launch a Book - Photoshop MAY have been involved in the creation of this image...

By participating in the marketing campaign surrounding the launch of the books you're featured in, you'll help generate money for charity and gain more readers and exposure for your stories.

The Process Used To Launch The Writing Challenge Anthologies: Buy/Review/Share

On launch day, I will ask every writer featured in the book to:

  • BUY – purchase at least 1 copy of the book in either print or eBook format from Amazon
  • REVIEW – write and submit a review of the book on Amazon
  • SHARE – share and actively promote details of the book with everyone they know and encourage them to buy it via:
    • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon or any other platform they use)
    • Their own websites (write a post about the writing challenges and the book on your blog)
    • Email (email friends and family - tell them about the book you're in)
    • Word of mouth (same as above)
    • Through groups and organisations they belong to (yep, you guessed it, same again)
    • Any other way they can think of (I'm ALWAYS open to new ideas - please share them)

I use Amazon and CreateSpace to publish and distribute all the books I produce.

A spike in sales AND reviews on launch day will mean the book is much more likely to be picked up by Amazon's algorithm. The book will then be featured more prominently by Amazon in their search results, generating more sales.

Money Symbols Euro Pound and Dollar

If 100's of books are sold on launch day, a book could get to the top of the bestsellers list in some of Amazon's subcategories, like 'Fiction - Anthologies' for example.

If 1,000's of books are sold on launch day, a book could get into the Amazon overall bestsellers list.

If we did that:

  • We'd raise LOADS of money for charity
  • Every author in the book would be able to add 'published in Amazon bestselling book' to their writing CV


Yes. Very awesome indeed.

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Why Promoting & Marketing Books Is So Important

Lots of authors think their work is done when they finish writing a story.

Quite a few think their work is done when they've had their story proofread/critiqued, considered feedback and edited it, to make it as good as possible.

Some authors think their work is done when their story has been accepted for publication.

A few authors think their work is done when they've done everything they can to market the books, anthologies and magazines they're published in.

A small handful of authors realise that when their work is published, the marketing and promotion of their book should never end.

That's right. It should never end. You should always be actively promoting your books.

For example, I released my book How to Write a Short Story, Get Published and Make Money in July 2015. This page was created in March 2017.

Book Advert

One of the book advert images I use on Facebook

I still actively promote my book. I use paid advertising on Facebook and Amazon. I have adverts for the book on every page of my website. I give away a free sample of the book, to gain new readers that might go on to buy the entire book. I go out and do talks/presentations for literary festivals, schools and writing groups. I promote my book at these events. I share details of special offers on the book with my email list. I mention it, when relevant, in posts I write, like this one. Etc.

Because I undertake this marketing work, I sell some books every day. If I didn't actively promote my book, I wouldn't sell many (if any) books.

Successful writers spend as much time marketing and selling their stories as they do writing them. By participating in these challenges, you will learn more about that aspect of being a writer. You can watch sales figures increase over time and become part of a generous writing community that share their stories and do everything they can to generate sales and support charity.

If I can generate sales of my book on my own, imagine what 100 authors could do if they all worked together and actively promoted a book...

I'm not sure bold and italics were completely necessary there, but hey, they do add much needed emphasis...

To Further Illustrate The Point, A Bit Of Maths

Because everyone loves maths. Especially writers...

Mathematical Mistake

A writer, doing good maths

Future anthologies will all contain stories by 100 writers.

If every author featured in a writing challenge anthology bought 1 copy, we'd sell 100 books.

If every author in the book bought 5 copies and gave them to their family and friends as gifts, we'd sell 500 books.

If every author in the book generated 10 sales, we'd sell another 1,000 books.

I could go on. I won't. I'm kind like that... But you see my point, yes?

If every author undertook a little marketing, the book would sell a lot.

What Happens In Real Life

In reality, it's very difficult to generate book sales. When we launched Adverbially Challenged Volume 1, the first anthology published through the writing challenges, we sold 101 books on the lead up to Christmas. I bought 10 of them. Another author featured in the book bought 15 for their family and friends.

91 authors were featured in the book. 101 copies less the 25 copies mentioned above = 76.

That means the other 89 authors featured in the book generated, on average, 0.854 sales each.

I know that some of the other authors purchased more than 1 copy too. That means that a lot of the writers published in the book didn't buy a copy.

Now, I'm NOT complaining. Everyone featured in the anthology gives their time and stories for free. They're all highly supportive, which I appreciate greatly. I'm simply using this example to illustrate what happens in reality compared to what could be achieved if 100 authors worked as a team. Together we could (and probably would) generate 1,000's of sales.

To put this into a bit more context...

When we launched the first book, this page didn't exist. I didn't know how popular the writing challenges were going to become. Recently, it's transpired that the challenges appeal to a wide range of authors located all over the planet. So, I decided to develop this marketing and promotion strategy to encourage writers featured in the book to get involved and experience what it's like to be part of a marketing campaign that makes a book successful.

We can all learn from it.

We can all gain new readers from it.

Who knows how this could develop in the future.

Marketing & Promoting Future Writing Challenge Anthologies

I will be sharing this page with the writers featured in all of the writing challenge anthologies prior to their release.

I will update the results section of this page after each new book is launched. I will share all the sales figures, reviews and any other promotional activity, so we can all see how this process performs and learn from it. The key is for everyone to get involved. The more writers that participate in promoting the books, the better.

As we release more books, I intend to develop this process so it becomes refined and maximises potential sales and exposure for all the writers involved in the project.

More Information

Do you want more advice? Here's what Amazon advise you to do, as an author. It works (I've tried it). It's well worth a read.

Here's a guest post written for my website by Amazon bestselling author, Simone Elise. Simone talks about the process she used with her publisher, Inkitt, to become an Amazon bestseller.

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Book Launch Results

I will use this section of the page to share the results from the book launches run through the writing challenges.

Results Graph

The details will be presented in reverse-chronological order – the most recent book launched will appear at the top, the oldest at the bottom.

I'm hoping that sharing these statistics will make every writer aware of how vital their help is in actively promoting these books.

Second Book Launched – Adverbially Challenged Volume 2

Released in March 2017

This 'How to Launch a Book' page was written in preparation for the release of Adverbially Challenged Volume 2. I wanted to start trying to do more marketing around the anthology launches and test strategies to see what generated sales and exposure for all the authors featured in the book.

Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 contains 100 stories by 72 authors. The book was officially launched on Thursday 30th March 2017, but was available for pre-order on Kindle and available to buy in print for about a week before the launch date.

Below are the results generated by the BUY / REVIEW / SHARE launch strategy, 2 weeks after the book’s release.


At the time of writing, we had sold a total of 77 books:

  • 61 were printed books
  • 16 were Kindle eBooks

We also sold another 10 copies of Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 around the time of the launch, due to the exposure the books were getting from the writers that actively participated in the launch. Thank you all VERY much for your support.

There were 72 writers in the book. I bought 11 copies. That means our average sales per author featured in the book are:

  • 77 - 11 = 66
  • 66/71 = 0.929 books per author


Here are the number of reviews the book has received on the different Amazon websites:

  • UK 16 reviews – read reviews here
  • USA 2 reviews – read the .com reviews here
  • Canada 1 reviews – read the .ca reviews here
  • Australia 0 reviews
  • European sites 0 reviews

Now, some people had problems leaving reviews for the book. For example, Mike Scott Thomson – the legend who conceived the adverb challenge – couldn’t review the book because Amazon associated him as an author in the book and disallowed the review.

So, Mike used his review on Goodreads instead.

In contrast, I was able to review both the adverb anthologies even though I'm the publisher and my Amazon KDP account is tied to my buyers account. Now I've written this, I guess my reviews could be deleted… but hey – sharing info like this is important so everyone can learn.

Mel Ciavucco, who is a member of Stokes Croft Writers and helps me judge the To Hull & Back competition, had her review rejected because it contained too many exclamation marks. It seems I’m not the only one who dislikes them. Amazon dispise them too... :-)

So, while it didn’t work for everyone, I think the results here were awesome. From 77 sales, we received 19 reviews. That means that 24.7% of the sales generated a review. In my experience, the average is around 1% (1 review for every 100 books sold) so this is a fantastic result.

Again, thank you to all the authors who participated and wrote reviews.


This is harder to track. I saw lots of sharing on Facebook and Twitter because I was tagged in many of the posts, but it's pretty much impossible to track the shares on all the different platforms and give results.

So, I’ll just say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who promoted the book. Collectively, that sharing would have got the book in front of 1,000's of people. Maybe 10's of 1,000's.

Some of the writers featured in the book wrote about it on their blogs. Here are some examples (listed alphabetically):

These are the posts I'm aware of. If you've written about the book, please send me a link and I'll add it above.

It's great to show writers featured in the book, and new writers in future anthologies, what's being done. It might inspire them to share the posts you've written. Or encourage them to write a post on their own website.

HUGE thanks to everyone that has blogged about the book.


We sold most of the 66 books mentioned above on launch day. This resulted in Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 doing quite well in the Amazon charts. I tracked the progress all day and took screen shots of the peaks.

Here are the details.

Amazon UK printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 1,701 in 'Books' and number 114 in 'Fiction/Humour'.

Amazon Rank UK Print

To put this into context, at the time of writing (2 weeks after the launch), Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 was at number 186,231 in 'Books' and number 2,594 in 'Fiction/Humour'.

This shows the impact that selling a relatively small amount of books in one day can have. Imagine what would happen if we doubled the number? Or tripled it? Becoming an Amazon best seller is possible.

Amazon USA printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 207,862 in 'Books' and number 2,976 in 'Humorous'.

Amazon Rank USA Print

For context, at the time of writing (2 weeks after the launch), Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 was at number 988,047 in 'Books' and number 9,713 in 'Fiction/Humour'.

Amazon UK Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 10,175 in 'Books' and number 33 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank UK Kindle

For context, at the time of writing (2 weeks after the launch), Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 was at number 228,930 in 'Books' and number 929 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon USA Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 45,702 in 'Books' and number 165 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank USA Kindle

For context, at the time of writing (2 weeks after the launch), Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 was at number 738,301 in 'Books' and number 2,658 in 'Anthologies'.

All of the above figures show how much difference a spike in sales make. If we were to generate 100's or 1,000's of sales on launch day, we would all enjoy a lot of exposure for our stories.


First of all, I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who got involved in the launch of Adverbially Challenged Volume 2. Without your help with buying, reviewing and sharing the anthology, we wouldn’t have achieved the positions we did on Amazon. And we'd have sold less books.

However, as you will have deduced from the sales figures, not all of the authors got involved. Quite a few writers featured in the book have not purchased it. If someone featured in the book doesn't buy a copy, why would anyone else? This simply highlights how difficult it can be to market and sell books.

That said, 0.929 books sold per author is still an improvement on the average of 0.854 books per author when we launched Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 (see details below to compare stats).

Volume 1 featured 91 authors compared to 72 in Volume 2. So, even though the sales figures aren't very high, we have seen an improvement from fewer authors. This is a really positive sign. This process can work. It will work.

This is the first time we’ve used this launch strategy. As we all learn more about it, I think we’re likely to see improvements for the next launch.

The next book being released is Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1. It contains stories by 100 authors. So there will be more writers involved in the launch process. This is likely to generate better results. And the more we do this, the more we'll discover ways to persuade, coerce and, if necessary, force family members, friends and everyone we know to purchase the book.

Again, thanks to everyone who has supported the first run of the launch process. Your support is HUGELY appreciated. Watch this space for future results. I hope they'll improve every time we launch a book.

The sales statistics I've shared here will improve over time as more people become aware of the writing challenges and get involved.

If you haven’t bought the book, reviewed it or shared it yet, please do – it’s never too late and any exposure helps :-)


First Book Launched – Adverbially Challenged Volume 1

Released in November 2016

When Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 was launched, the writing challenges were still at a very early stage of development. On release day, I shared Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 on social media and sent an email out to my email list, letting them know the book was available for purchase. I also created a page for the anthology in the Books section of my website. Mike did the same.

Aside from that, there was no launch strategy.

I talk about the sales statistics for this book in the Why Promoting & Marketing Books Is So Important section of the page above. Please read that for full details.

The basic statistics are as follows:


At the end of December 2016, we’d sold a total of 101 books:

  • 88 were printed books
  • 11 were Kindle eBooks
  • 2 were PDFs

There were 91 writers in the book. I bought 10 of the copies in the figures above. Another author bought 15. So that means the average sales per author were:

  • 101 - 25 = 76
  • 76/91 =0.854 books

After releasing this book, I decided to discontinue PDF versions for future anthologies. The amount of time / effort involved in formatting the document is not worth it given the amount of sales.


Here are the number of reviews the book has received on the different Amazon websites:

  • UK 5 reviews – read reviews here
  • Canada 2 reviews – read the .ca reviews here
  • USA 1 reviews – read the .com reviews here
  • Australia 0 reviews
  • European sites 0 reviews


Lots of the writers featured in the book shared details of the release on social media. As mentioned before, there was no launch process in place so this was not monitored.

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How To Write A Good Book Review

Have you purchased a writing challenge anthology?

It's never too late to leave a review. Please take the time to write a review on Amazon. It helps the book gain exposure and means we're likely to sell more copies.

Simply log in to your Amazon account, look through your order history and click on 'Write a product review'.

If you didn't buy your copy of the book from Amazon, simply go to the product page on Amazon and click 'Write a customer review'.

Be as informative and honest as possible, to help other potential customers make a decision about buying the book. Simples.

For further information, please see Amazon's product review guidelines.

Thanking you all muchly.

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On launch day, whether you're a writer featured in the book, or a reader of fabulous flash fiction, please BUY a copy of the book, REVIEW it on Amazon and SHARE it with everyone you know.

If you miss launch day, buy/review/share whenever you can. Every sale helps.

Your participation in these coordinated attacks on Amazon's algorithm could go down in book launch history. I foresee documentaries aplenty in the future. Thank you in advance for taking part. You're all awesome.

Together, we can all be featured in books that are Amazon bestsellers.

You can find details of how to buy all the anthologies published through the writing challenges in the Books section of my website.

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Leave your comments

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Your comments:

Paul P
Hi Chris, fascinating to read the ups and downs of the Adverbially Challenged Vol 2 launch.

As well as buying and reviewing (and getting the missus to do the same) I wrote a blog post, although with my site and blog being stumbling new-borns the chances of anyone having seen it are slim to say the least.

Really pleased to have been a part of this (exclamation mark removed).

Chris Fielden
Thanks Paul.

And massive thanks for writing about the book on your blog. Every bit of exposure, no matter how big or small, helps the cause :-)

I've added a link to your post in the Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 launch write up.

Sarah W
Hi Chris, good to see how your book did on launch, nice to see it making some pennies for First Story. I did a blog about it. It was good to see the other blogs people wrote.

I have also pinned it on Pinterest. No idea if it will get any click through but blog links I put on Pinterest do.

Chris Fielden
Awesome stuff, thanks Sarah. I've added a link to your blog post to the Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 launch write up.

And thanks for sharing on Pinterest too. ANY sharing helps. I'll keep an eye out for referral visits to the site from the link :-)