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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
  • REVIEW – write and publish a review of the book (on Goodreads, or their website, or the website of the shop they purchased the book from etc.)
  • 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, reviews and promotion 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, potentially 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

Awesome?

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.

Fifth, Sixth & Seventh Books Launched - Adverbially Challenged Volume 3, Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2 and Tritely Challenged Volume 1

ACV3, released 17th March 2018, NCV2 and TCV 1, released 28th April 2018 - the launch party for all 3 books was held in June 2018

Adverbially Challenged Volume 3 (ACV3), Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2 (NCV2) and Tritely Challenged Volume 1 (TCV1) each contain 100 stories written by 100 authors. These books were all launched in close succession, so I am presenting their statistics together.

ACV3 was published on Saturday 17th March 2018. NCV2 and TCV1 were both published on Saturday 28th April 2018. The launch party for all 3 books took place on Sunday 10th June 2018, in London.

Below you will find the results of the launch, including current sales statistics. This was written in June, just after the launch party. Over time, the sales figures will increase.

BUY

At the time of writing, we have sold:

  • 80 copies of ACV3:
    • 68 printed books
    • 12 eBooks
  • 106 copies of NCV2:
    • 102 printed books
    • 4 eBooks
  • 109 copies of TCV1:
    • 105 printed books
    • 4 eBooks

There were 100 writers in each book. That means our average sales per author are:

  • ACV3: 80/100 = 0.8
  • NCV2: 106/100 = 1.06
  • TCV1: 109/100 = 1.09

I bought 20 copies of each book, for the launch event and still have quite a few left. Those books are included in the figures above. However, I will continue to sell books at future events, so they will be sold - in the past I've sold them all and have had to get more.

These figures are good - TCV1 is now the second best performing book. Sensorially Challenged Volume 1 remains our best launch result, with 1.38 books sold per author.

Collectively, these 3 books have raised £295 for charity to date, which is fabulous.

REVIEW

There are a lot of reviews on Amazon. You will find different reviews on the various country specific versions of Amazon's website (EG .com, .co.uk, .au. .ca etc.). There have also been some reviews on Goodreads and the books have started to get good overall star ratings. If you're on Goodreads, please rate the books.

As mentioned before, I have stopped actively sharing details about Amazon reviews. Please read the launch statistics for Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 to find out why.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the readers who have written reviews. This helps the books gain exposure and makes them more appealing to other potential customers, which helps generate future sales.

SHARE

There was LOADS of sharing on Facebook and Twitter when the books were released. And those were just the posts I was tagged in or that came up on my feed - I'm sure there were lots more too. I'd like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who participated. Collectively, we've shared the books thousands of times.

Some writers have also written about the books. Here are some links for you to look at:

These are the posts that I'm aware of. If you've written about any of the books, please let me know and I will add links above. HUGE thanks to everyone who has written about the books. You can't get better publicity than that.

AMAZON

We got some good results on launch day. Here is an overview with a few screen shots. Now, I was busy with gigs on the weekends that the books were launched, so I may well have missed some of the peaks. The details below are just what I saw on the day, time allowing.

ACV3:

  • UK print, peaked at 5,505 in 'Books' and 296 in 'Humour'
  • USA print, peaked at 70,742 in 'Books' and 1,535 in 'Humorous'
  • UK Kindle, peaked at 11,820 in 'Kindle Store' and 31 in 'Anthologies'
  • USA Kindle, peaked at 83,152 in 'Kindle Store' and 308 in 'Anthologies'

Amazon book sales results

NCV2:

  • UK print, peaked at 2,626 in 'Books' and 170 in 'Humour'
  • USA print, peaked at 272,668 in 'Books' and 4,451 in 'Humorous'
  • Canada print, peaked at 10,865 in 'Books' and 184 in 'Humorous'
  • Germany print, peaked at 5,554 in 'Books' and 102 in 'Comics'
  • UK Kindle, peaked at 59,381 in 'Kindle Store' and 232 in 'Anthologies'
  • USA Kindle, peaked at 135,540 in 'Kindle Store' and 486 in 'Anthologies'

Amazon Germany book results

TCV1:

  • UK print, peaked at 1,643 in 'Books' and 126 in 'Humour'
  • USA print, peaked at 129,346 in 'Books' and 2,584 in 'Humorous'
  • Canada print, peaked at 10,864 in 'Books' and 183 in 'Humorous'
  • Germany print, peaked at 6,707 in 'Books' and 134 in 'Comics'
  • UK Kindle, peaked at 39,198 in 'Kindle Store' and 140 in 'Anthologies'
  • USA Kindle, peaked at 141,343 in 'Kindle Store' and 542 in 'Anthologies'
  • Australia Kindle, peaked at 19,214 in 'Kindle Store' and 60 in 'Humorous'

Amazon Australia book results

While all these results are good, other books we've launched have done better. I think this is because of the time of year that they were released.

In the summer, many people are out enjoying the fine weather at the weekend. This means that book purchases were more spread out over the first couple of weeks. So the launch day spikes were lower, even though the number of books sold wasn't that different.

TRIPLE BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

The book launch party for the 3 anthologies took place on Sunday the 10th of June in the upstairs function room at The Colonel Fawcett, 1 Randolph Street, Camden, London, NW1 0SS, UK.

The Colonel Fawcett, Camden, London

Mel Ciavucco, outside The Colonel Fawcett

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Paul (the manager) and the rest of the staff for being so accommodating and easy to deal with.

Flash Fiction Anthologies

Lots of lovely writing challenge anthologies

I'd also like to thank all the writers who performed their stories at the event. They were:

Allen Ashley, Ally Howie, Beena Nadeem, Chris Fielden, David Fielden (who read a story by Scarlett Fielden), Jeanne James, John Keogh, Jude Higgins, Lillia Hammond, Louis Cennamo, Lynn-Marie Harper, Malcolm Richardson, Mangal Patel, Margaret Edwards, Mark Fielden, Marion Turner, Mary Fielden (who read a story by Michael Rumsey), Mel Ciavucco, Mike Scott Thomson and Sandra Unerman.

Authors

Back row, left to right: Mike Scott Thomson, Ally Howie, Allen Ashley, Malcolm Richardson

Middle row, left to right: Louis Cennamo, Jeanne James, Jude Higgins, Margaret Edwards, John Keogh

Front row, left to right: Mel Ciavucco, Mangal Patel, Marion Turner, Scarlett Fielden, Mark Fielden, Sandra Unerman, Chris Fielden, Mary Fielden, David Fielden

The event was hosted by Allen Ashley, Jude Higgins, Mike Scott Thomson and Chris Fielden. Mike hosted the adverb readings, Jude hosted the cliché readings, I hosted the nonsense readings (sadly, Lesley was unable to join us as she lives in France) and Allen hosted the sensory and other writing challenge readings.

Reading event hosts

Mike Scott Thomson, Chris Fielden, Jude Higgins and Allen Ashley

Big thanks to Allen, Jude and Mike too.

As usual, Darth Vader was on hand to collect extra money for all the charities we support. At the end of the event, he had persuaded people to part with an extra £32.94. Big thanks to everyone who fed him their shrapnel.

Donate to Darth Vader

Donate to Darth

The adverb challenge supports First Story, the nonsense challenged supports The Daisy Garland and the cliché challenge supports Book Aid International. The Daisy Garland kindly gave us lots of charity goodies to give away at the event.

Daisy Garland charity goodies

Pens, notepads, keyrings and other goodies, supplied by The Daisy Garland

Here are a few more pictures of readers, performing their stories at the event. The first is of our youngest reader, Lillia, doing a brilliant performance of her sensory story, 'Blackened Heart'.

Lillia Hammond

Lillia Hammond, reading her sensory story

Here's a picture of Lynn-Marie Harper. Unfortunately, Lynn-Marie got a bit lost, so missed the first half and group author picture. Thankfully, she found us in time to read in the second part of the event.

Lynn-Marie Harper

Some of the writers travelled a long way to be at the event. Big shout outs to Ally Howie, who flew in from jersey, Jeanne James, who travelled from Brighton, The Fielden's, who came from Portishead, Malcolm Richardson, who came from Leamington Spa, and Margaret Edwards, who travelled from Chichester.

The Colonel Fawcett Function Room

The function room, slowly filling up, ready for readings

You can find loads more pictures on Facebook. I think I managed to get pictures of everyone reading, so please check them out.

That's it. I'll add more to this page after we've launched our next book(s). Until then, here is a picture of me looking overly smug, waving copies of the 3 anthologies at everyone.

Christopher Fielden

Chris Fielden pic, taken by Jude Higgins

Fourth Book Launched – Sensorially Challenged Volume 1

Released in December 2017, launch party took place in January 2018

Sensorially Challenged Volume 1 contains 100 stories written by 100 authors. The book was released on Saturday 2nd December 2017. The launch party took place on Sunday 14th January 2018, in London.

Below you will find the results of the launch, written 7 weeks after the book was first published. I'm pleased to say, they are some of the best results to date.

BUY

At the time of writing, we have sold 138 sensory books:

  • 114 printed books
  • 24 eBooks for Kindle

At the launch party, we also sold a few copies of Adverbially Challenged Volumes 1 & 2 and Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1. I know, I say it every time, but I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has purchased copies of the book. Your support helps the challenges continue to grow.

There were 100 writers in the book. That means our average sales per author are:

  • 138/100 = 1.38 books per author

I bought 21 of the 138 copies, to give to friends and family and sell at events. In the past, I have deducted my copies from this equation. However, most of the books I bought were purchased at the launch party. I've also sold most of my 'stock' copies of all the other writing challenge books. So, I will no longer deduct my purchases from this calculation, as they do sell over time.

1.38 copies per author is a great result and a huge improvement on our previous best, which was 0.94 when we launched Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1. I'm hoping that as the challenges gain more exposure and we all learn how to promote the books more successfully, this figure will continue to rise. That will mean more exposure for each author featured in the books and more money for charity. Win, win.

REVIEW

There have been quite a few reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other websites. It's very hard to collate figures, as I can't track everything. Big thanks to anyone who has taken the time to write a review.

I've stopped sharing Amazon review figures - you can learn why by reading the details about the Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 book launch further down the page. Long story short, I got properly told off by Amazon, so had to stop doing it.

SHARE

There were oodles of shares on Facebook and Twitter when the book was launched. I saw hundreds via posts I was tagged in. I'm sure there were more that I'm not aware of, so there were probably thousands of shares in total. AMAZING job, guys and gals - totally awesome.

Again, some of the writers featured in the book have written about the book on their blogs. Here are links to the posts I'm aware of:

If you have written about the book, please send me a link and I'll add it to this list. Big thanks to everyone who has publicised the book - it's muchos appreciated.

AMAZON

We sold quite a lot of the copies of the book on launch day. This lead to some good results in the Amazon sales charts.

Amazon UK printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 4,944 in 'Books' and number 155 in 'Humour'.

Amazon Rank UK Print

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 (NCV1) performed better, peaking at 1,306 in 'Books' and number 121 in 'Humour'. Still, this is the second best result we've seen.

Now, we sold more copies of Sensorially Challenged Volume 1 (SCV1) on launch day, so you would think it would have outperformed NCV1. However, NCV1 was launched in the summer. SCV1 was launched in the winter, on the run up to Christmas.

In November and December, most of the planet are buying Christmas gifts. This makes the bestsellers lists far more competitive, as there are a lot more purchases going on. So that will be why the rankings are lower, even though we sold more books.

I should also add that the Amazon figures change every hour or so. I do my best to monitor the results on launch day, but may have missed the peak.

Amazon USA printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 155,910 in 'Books' and number 2,468 in 'Humorous'.

Amazon Rank USA Print

Again, Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 performed better, peaking at number 68,773 in 'Books' and number 1,512 in 'Humorous'. Again, this will be due to seasonality and people buying Christmas presents.

Amazon UK Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 4,482 in 'Books' and number 12 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank UK Kindle

This is a huge improvement on all the previous books, and we almost got into the top 10, which is AWESOME. Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 peaked at number 15,554 in 'Books' and number 46 in 'Anthologies', so that illustrates how well the eBook did.

Amazon USA Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 44,622 in 'Books' and number 174 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank USA Kindle

Our previous best was when we published Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 which peaked at 45,702 in 'Books'. So that's a new high too. Again, AWESOME.

Amazon France Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 6 in 'Genre Fiction Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank France Kindle

Top 10, people - this is a screenshot every writer featured in the book may want to save.

Now, we didn't sell many eBooks in Europe, so it shows that European versions of the Amazon website are less competitive. This simply means they generate fewer sales. So, if we have any European contributors featured in future books, I will definitely ask them to purchase copies on launch day, as that will give us an excellent chance of claiming the top spot and being able to call the book an Amazon bestseller. You live and learn...

Amazon Australia Kindle eBook:

The Kindle version of the book did quite well in Australia too. On launch day, the book peaked at number 17,737 in 'Books' and number 65 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon Rank Australia Kindle

This is probably because we had more Australian contributors featured in the book this time. So, great work from the Oz contingent - AWESOMENESS.

SENSORY LAUNCH PARTY

The launch party took place at Alexandra Park Library, Alexandra Park Road, London, N22 7JU, UK on Sunday 14th January 2018. Big thanks to the library staff for allowing us to put on the event there.

Alexandra Park Library

Alexandra Park Library

Big thanks to all the amazing writers who read their stories at the event. They were:

Alan Pattison, Allen Ashley, Carolyn Calahane, Chris Fielden, Donna-Louise Bishop, Ejder Raif, Emilie Lauren Jones, Frances Hay, John Wilks, Louis Cennamo, Lynn-Marie Harper, Mike Scott Thomson, Nicole McIntosh, Sandra Unerman, Sandy Phillips, Sara Roberts, Tina Smith and Yvonne Mallett.

Sensory Writing Challenge Authors

Picture by Sarah Doyle

Back row left to right: Nicole McIntosh, Allen Ashley, Mike Scott Thomson, Donna-Louise Bishop, John Wilks, Carolyn Calahane, Ejder Raif and Chris Rogers

Front row: Yvonne Mallett, Sandy Phillips, Sara Roberts, Tina Smith, Frances Hay, Emilie Lauren Jones, Lynn-Marie Harper, Sandra Unerman, Chris Fielden, Louis Cennamo and Marion Turner

We also had readings of stories by writers who were unable to attend in person – they were Clair Selkirk and Namita Mukherjee.

Allen Ashley

Allen Ashley, being the host with the most

Allen and I would like to thank everyone who attended the event and read their stories. It was a great day and hearing the authors read their work was fabulous.

Allen Ashley, Christopher Fielden and Mike Scott Thomson

Writing Challenge instigators, Allen Ashley, Christopher Fielden and Mike Scott Thomson

It was also amazing to be able to meet people from the virtual world of the internet in the flesh, and be able to put names to faces.

Audience

The audience, preparing to hear some sensorially overloaded prose

The launch party was split into two halves. During the first half, authors read stories from Sensorially Challenged Volume 1.

John Wilks

John Wilks, reading from Sensorially Challenged Volume 1

In the second half, authors read from some of the other writing challenge anthologies. We also enjoyed readings from some of the challenges which haven't resulted in any published books as yet.

Ejder S Raif

Ejder S Raif, reading his adverbially overloaded story

At the event, you could also donate some hard cash to Darth - this helped us raise some extra pennies for The National Literacy Trust.

Donate to Darth

Darth Vader, collecting for charity

I took way too many photos. A couple of examples for you...

Authors at Book Launch Party

Lots of lovely authors

Emilie Lauren Jones

Emilie Lauren Jones, reading her story

Anthologies

Lots of lovely writing challenge anthologies

You can see loads more pictures in a post on my Facebook page. I think I managed to get a picture of every reader performing their work, so there are a LOT of photos...

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Third Book Launched – Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1

Released in June 2017

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 contains 100 stories by 100 authors. The book was officially launched on Saturday 3rd June 2017, but was available for pre-order on Kindle for around a month prior to the launch date. It was also available in print for two days before the launch.

Below are the results generated by the BUY / REVIEW / SHARE launch strategy, 6 weeks after the book's release.

BUY

At the time of writing, we'd sold 105 books:

  • 87 were printed books
  • 18 were Kindle eBooks

We also sold another 3 copies of the Adverbially Challenged anthologies when we launched Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1. As always, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has purchased the book – your support is very much appreciated.

There were 100 writers in the book. I bought 11 copies. That means our average sales per author featured in the book are:

  • 105 - 11 = 94
  • 94/100 = 0.94 books per author

This is a small improvement on the average figure from the previous launch (0.929, so up 0.011), which is great. However, as before, I know a lot of writers featured in the book purchased more than 1 copy, or encouraged their friends and family to buy copies. This means that a lot of writers featured in the anthology didn't purchase a copy of the book, or promote it.

REVIEW

I won't be sharing details of Amazon reviews anymore. This is because, shortly after the book was launched, I received the following email from Amazon:

Hello,

We understand that you may have manipulated product reviews. Authors on Amazon.co.uk are not allowed to manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews.

Violations of our policies may also violate applicable laws. Amazon tries to maintain customer trust and provide the best possible shopping experience. For this reason, Amazon investigates if it learns that sellers, vendors, or others have attempted to manipulate reviews. It also investigates if it learns that third parties have offered reviews in exchange for compensation.

If this problem continues, we may not allow you to publish on Amazon.co.uk.

To learn more about this policy, see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines).

Sincerely,

Seller Performance Team

Amazon Services

After the inevitable brown-trouser moment, I replied to Amazon as follows:

Hi. Thank you for making me aware of this issue.

Does this message refer to the writing challenge anthologies I publish?

The anthologies are released in support of charity. They are also run to help writers in the anthologies become actively involved in book launches and learn about the process. If I'm breaking your guidelines by encouraging my audience to promote the book, and submitting reviews myself as examples, then I apologise. I would be happy to delete any reviews I've written for these products if this is a problem.

Please can you advise how I can go about this in a way that does not infringe on your policies?

I encourage my audience to buy the books. I'm assuming that's OK... And I say that any reviews are gratefully received. I never offer benefits in return for reviews. And I never ask for 5 star reviews. I just mention that reviews are helpful.

I'm trying to raise money for charitable causes, so mean no harm. I'm working with no budget either, so am just trying to help these causes as best I can. Any advice on this matter would be much appreciated. I certainly don't want to get banned from using Amazon, so am happy to do anything necessary to resolve the situation.

Many thanks, Chris Fielden

They then responded to me (which is good of them, I think. They didn't have to...):

Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us in response to the policy warning.

Our investigations have shown that your account is related to the accounts of customers who have reviewed your book.  Our policies state that family members or close friends of authors on Amazon may not write reviews for that author’s book.

We want to call your attention to this policy because violations may result in the removal of your Amazon.co.uk KDP selling privileges.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Guidelines Page for Authors (https://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-review-guidelines-faqs-from-authors).

We cannot share any further information about this warning and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

I then replied:

Hi. Thank you for your reply and sending me further information.

I have reviewed the link about reviews - thanks for sharing that. I see I am in breach of the guidelines. I have requested reviews I have written to be deleted from the 2 adverbially challenged books.

I think my father may have written reviews for one or two of my books - he (and I) had no idea that was a breach of your guidelines. He is just very supportive of my work, so will buy my books, read them and review them. Still, if this is a problem I will ask him not to purchase them in future or write reviews. I will also ask him to delete any reviews he may have written for my books when he returns from holiday at the weekend.

I hope this resolves the situation, but if any further action is required by me, please do let me know.

Thank you, Chris Fielden

So… I have had to change my approach to getting reviews in the book launch process.

I have deleted the reviews I’ve written for the writing challenge books. My family have done the same.

While this is a shame, as some of the reviews were amusing and helped illustrate the importance of reviews to other writers, I understand and respect where Amazon are coming from. So, I’ve complied with their guidelines. The last thing I want to do is get banned – that would scupper all the hard work everyone has already put in to supporting the challenges and the various charities.

So, moving forwards, I won't actively encourage other writers featured in the books to write Amazon reviews. The REVIEW section of this page has been reworded so it no longer focusses on Amazon reviews.

However, I won't discourage writers from writing Amazon reviews either. If an author buys a book and wants to review it on Amazon, that's entirely up to them. They won't be doing anything wrong by doing so. I just won't be encouraging them to do so.

Instead, I will be spurring authors to write about the books they are featured in on their websites, on Goodreads and anywhere else they wish to do so – the more sharing that happens, the better. It gives the books more exposure, helps generate more sales, gains more readers for every writer featured in the book and makes more money for charity. Win, win, win, ad infinitum.

If you have reviewed the books anywhere (other than Amazon) please send me a link and I will include the details here.

As a final note on reviews, I received this email from Amazon just after our email exchange. I know, it's auto generated by their sales system, but the irony did bring a smile to my face.

Amazon Review Invitation

Given its timing, this seemed highly fitting for inclusion in a write up about a nonsense anthology :-)

SHARE

As I've mentioned before, sharing is hard to track. Lots of people shared the book on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter when it was released. When I was tagged, I saw the posts. Many people will have shared it without tagging me, so it's safe to say there was a whole lotta sharing going on.

So, big thanks to everyone who got involved. Your efforts will have got the book in front of 1,000's of people. That's great for marketing, awareness, sales and promotion.

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 and are not mentioned above, please send me a link and I'll add it to the list.

Making everyone aware of the posts written by authors with stories in the anthologies, is a great way to encourage other writers to review and share the books they feature in. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has written about Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1.

AMAZON

We sold a lot of the books on launch day. This resulted in Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 doing quite well in the Amazon charts. I tracked the progress as best I could on launch day. Below are screen shots of the positions the books got to in the charts.

Amazon UK printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 1,306 in 'Books' and number 121 in 'Humour'.

Amazon UK Chart Ranking Print

This is a great improvement on the previous book launch, where Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 peaked at 1,701 in 'Books'.

Amazon USA printed book:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 68,773 in 'Books' and number 1,512 in 'Humorous'.

Amazon USA Chart Ranking Print

This is a MASSIVE improvement on the previous book launch, where Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 peaked at 207,862 in 'Books'. That's an increase of well over 100K.

Amazon UK Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 15,554 in 'Books' and number 46 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon UK Chart Ranking Kindle

This is a dip compared to the launch of Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 which peaked at 10,174 in 'Books'. This might be because some of the Kindle books were purchased on pre-order, which could mean they are not attributed to the stats on launch day – they might be attributed on the day the book was pre-ordered instead.

Amazon USA Kindle eBook:

On launch day, the book peaked at number 100,051 in 'Books' and number 330 in 'Anthologies'.

Amazon USA Chart Ranking Kindle

This is a dip compared to the launch of Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 which peaked at 45,702 in 'Books'. It could be for the same reasons as mentioned above.

I was also busy on the Saturday night when the book was launched, so couldn't check the stats every hour. This means I may have missed the peaks on the US site for Kindle and print.

NONSENSE PARTY

To date, I haven't undertaken book launch events for the writing challenge anthologies. This is simply due to time constraints and logistics:

  • it takes a lot of time to organise events like this
  • authors featured in the books are located all over the planet, so getting them together would be problematic

The lack of launch events is likely to change in the future thanks to Martin and Jo Strike.

Jo and Martin Strike

Martin and Jo, pictured on their wedding day at the Donnington Grove

Not long after the nonsense anthology was launched, Martin Strike, who is a regular writing challenge contributor and has a story featured in Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1, got in touch with me. He was having a party and wanted to celebrate the release of the book at the event. The party was for his birthday and was being held at the Donnington Grove in Newbury, where Martin and his wife, Jo, were married some years before.

Donnington Grove Newbury

The Donnington Grove, Newbury

I thought it was a lovely idea. The event was invite only due to limited space at the venue, so couldn't be conducted like a typical book launch where hundreds of people are invited. However, we thought a party celebrating nonsense and raising awareness of the Daisy Garland (the charity the nonsense challenge supports) would be fabulous.

Martin and Jo did loads of work putting the event together, for which I'm incredibly grateful.

Cup Cakes

Cupcakes, made by Jo, emblazoned with Daisy Garland logos and the Nonsensically Challenged book cover - they tasted even better than they look (may cake envy commence)...

We did a few readings from the book at the event. Lesley Truchet, who suggested the idea for a nonsense writing challenge, joined us via Skype and read her story. She lives in France, so couldn't attend in person, but technology allowed her to be there via the interweb.

Lesley Truchet on Skype

Lesley Truchet, reading via Skype

This proves that any writer living anywhere on the planet can read at a writing challenge book launch, so we'll probably employ the use of similar technology at future events. I hadn't considered that we might need an IT department before...

Lesley is close friends with Daisy's aunty, which is why she suggested that the challenge supports the Daisy Garland charity. Lesley said:

Please pass on a huge thank you from me to Martin and Jo on your site. They dun us proud!

Martin Strike Reading Nonsense

Martin Strike, reading some nonsense

Newbury's town crier, Brian Sylvester, acted as toast master and introduced all the readings at the event. Brian is a legend in vocal delivery and a delight to listen to.

Newbury Town Crier Brian Sylvester

Newbury's town crier, Brian Sylvester, undertaking toast master duty

There was also a reading from Captain Beany, the legendary superhero who penned a story for the book.

Christopher Fielden and Captain Beany

Chris, overjoyed to meet someone more insane than he is; the legend that is Captain Beany

At the event, due to the generosity of all those that attended, we raised a whopping £335 in hard cash for the Daisy Garland.

Charity Donation Station

The Daisy Garland charity donation station

Martin also managed to get on the local BBC radio station, raising awareness of the writing challenges, the book and the charity. He's written about it on his blog.

Martin Strike, Captain Beany and Christopher Fielden

Martin Strike, Captain Beany and Christopher Fielden

The local press turned up on the day too. A few days later, details of the party were featured in the Newbury Weekly News. Here's a copy of the article – hopefully the quality is good enough to read if you zoom in a bit:

Nonsensically Challenged Newbury Weekly News

Article featured in the Newbury Weekly News

I'd like to say a big thank you to Martin and Jo for arranging the event. Their generosity in helping raise so much money for charity and gaining exposure for the writing challenges is hugely appreciated.

It's inspired me to get my finger out and organise book launches in the future. Being able to meet all the different people that attend the event is great fun and adds to the community spirit of the writing challenges. And it generates extra money for charity – more than book sales do. So I'll definitely undertake book launches, when possible, in the future and invite all the authors published in the book and everyone on my email list.

Writing Challenge Anthologies

Writing challenge anthologies, alongside a gaggle of Captain Beany dolls

MORE CASH FOR CHARITY

Not long after the launch, my nieces, Elspeth and Scarlett Fielden, sold their dolls house on eBay.

Pink Dolls House

The dolls house / charity cash generator

They decided to add the profits from the sale (after postage, eBay and PayPal fees, £20.05) to the money we raised at the launch party. So the grand total raised has now increased to £355.05.

Scarlett & Chris Fielden

Scarlett and Christopher Fielden

SUMMARY

A lot has happened around the launch of Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1.

The review part of the launch strategy has changed. Multiple book launch events are likely in the future. We've seen an increase in sales and awareness for the challenges, the writers featured in the book and the charities we support.

Without everyone that donates their words, their creativity, their time, their effort and their cash, none of this would be possible. I'd like to say a humongous thank you to every writer, every reader and everyone who has played any part in this adventure.

The first sensory anthology is almost full, so I'm sure another book launch write-up will be happening in the near future.

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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.

BUY

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

REVIEW

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

  • UK 16 reviews – read .co.uk 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 despise 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.

SHARE

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.

AMAZON

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.

SUMMARY

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 :-)

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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:

BUY

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.

REVIEW

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

  • UK 5 reviews – read .co.uk 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

SHARE

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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Conclusion

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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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 :-)

Martin S
Chris. When Writer's Village came to a sad end, I suggested, started and maintained a small writer's circle (polygon?) with 4 other members.

We keep in touch regularly and review each other's work and have built real friendships.

One has kindly donated £10 direct to Daisy Garland, and another today has paid US$50. I am very touched. I have asked them to send me receipts so that I can add this to our total when it comes to doubling up.

What lovely people writing folk are.

Chris Fielden
Hi Martin. That’s excellent news – thanks for letting me know. What a lovely lot us writers are.

Joking aside, the community does seem to be filled with generous souls, which is one of the many reasons it’s such a lovely niche to work in.

Thanks again for all your help with this – you’ve turned into a fund raising goddess. Or demon lord – that sounds a bit more manly…

Margaret E
Hi Chris. Re the Triple Book Launch Party:

Goodness I had to scroll along way down this page to leave a response to your report and photos.

But this is a measure of your success and the popularity of the Challenges. And why not? We hopeful authors get in print and learn a bit more about the publishing/selling process and then above all there's the charity angle. Who could fail to support it? As a bonus, at the launch party we can get to meet other keen authors. Wonderful indeed. You do a brilliant job, Chris, for all of us who sit alone chewing our pens (or more awkwardly our keyboards). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

By the way, I came up to the Colonel Fawcett from Chichester, despite Southern Railway. Maybe not as far as some, but requires optimism!

Thanks again for organising the Challenges and the Party.

Chris Fielden
Hi Margaret. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. It's really nice to hear that the challenges help people in this way.

Sorry, I didn't realise how far you'd travelled to be at the event! I have updated the page and mentioned you, alongside the other writers who had travelled from all over the place.

Hope to see you at another event soon.