How to “Launch” a New Website with a Free Kindle Book

Welcome to another update of the Authority Internet Business case study.

So far, we’ve talked about how to lay the foundation for a successful website.  In today’s post, we’ll shift gears and take that first step towards monetizing this brand new business.

Whereas most Internet experts recommend spending months preparing for a formal “website launch,” I like to start promoting as soon as possible.

Specifically, I recommend Kindle publishing as the perfect mechanism for getting that initial burst of traffic and income.

To illustrate this point, I’ll detail the specific strategies I used to launch my first book on Amazon.  Plus, I’ll provide exact numbers and an important lesson I learned during this process.

Let’s get to it.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Why Kindle Publishing?[/title]

Building an authority business is a very lengthy process where you’re spending money without seeing an immediate return on this investment.  The one thing I’ve learned is it’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t get any feedback from your target audience.

One solution to this problem is to publish a new Kindle book every 4 to 6 weeks while you’re building up an authority presence.

There are three reasons why I recommend using Kindle books to launch a new business:

#1: You can get a  surge of new readers if you use the five free days that Amazon provides through their KDP Select program.

#2: You can generate immediate income because Amazon readers can buy a lot of books.

#3: You get honest feedback on what reader’s want.  (i.e.; If your book sells well, then you know it’s information that people actually like.)

There is no perfect time to launch a new business.  I know some blogging experts say you need “XX number of posts” before you start promoting a site.  However, I think it’s smart to post a book on Amazon and use their platform to start connecting with an audience.

To show you what I mean, here is the strategy I followed to launch my first Kindle book for the (DGH) authority site.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]How to (Successfully) Launch a Free Kindle Book [/title]

While I’ve published 30 books in the past, I’ve never taken the time to do a formal launch for a new book.  Usually my “strategy” is to write a blog post, send an email to my list and post an update on a few social media sites.

However, I knew I couldn’t follow this strategy with my “70 Healthy Habits” book because I had NO existing platform to leverage.  Instead, I had to focus on getting as many free downloads as possible in the five days that Amazon provides.

Here are a few things I did to maximize this promotion:

#1: Included links in the book to specific blog posts on the DGH website.

#2: Offered a free report to start building an email list from the readers and buyers.

#3: Added a blurb in the “back matter,” that asks for a review on Amazon

#4: Emailed the 100+ DGH subscribers to download and review the book

#5: Used the list of free promotion sites that Tom Corson-Knowles has on his blog.

#6: Purchased ten Fiverr gigs that offer to promote a free ebook.  This gig, this gig and this gig were the only ones that generated over 200 unique clicks.  The rest were a waste of money.

#7: Posted an update on Pat Flynn’s Facebook Group on the lessons I learned during the launch.  (Specifically I mentioned the three Fiverr gigs that actually worked for me.)

To be honest, this was a lengthy process that took five hours of my personal time.  But I think the effort was worth it because it generated that initial rush of downloads.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]The Results of the Free Book Launch…[/title]

Okay, let’s talk numbers.  Here is what happened during the free book launch and some preliminary results after the promotion ended:

  • Book Title: “70 Healthy Habits – How to Eat Better, Feel Great and Get More Energy”
  • Date of publication: May 23rd, 2013
  • Dates of free KDP Select promotion: June 4th to June 8th
  • Total free downloads: 4,627
  • Highest ranking on the free charts: #149 overall
  • Total net sales (after refunds, in all countries and up to 6/20/2013): 121
  • Total borrows (all countries and up to 6/20/2013): 21
  • Average sales and borrows per day: 12.9
  • Revenue Generated: $284
  • Current Email Subscriber Count: 185
  • Total unique visitors since book launch: 337
  • Reviews on Amazon: 8

I’ll be honest – I was extremely disappointed with the number of free downloads.  While 4,627 downloads exceeds anything I’ve done before, I was kind of hoping for a number in the tens of thousands.

With that said, I still think it’s a good start for the first title in the dozens of habit-related Kindle books that I plan to write.  Moreover, I didn’t expect the book to sell more than a handful of copies a day, but this book is surpassing my expectations.  Finally, I’m happy to see that Amazon readers are turning into email subscribers.  Another good sign!

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Bird by Bird: The Secret to Building a Long-Term Authority Business[/title]

Recently I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  In this book, she described a story from her childhood:

[quote type=”medium” align=”left”] Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.[/quote]

I think the “bird-by-bird strategy” is the perfect advice for anyone building an authority site.  Contrary to what you’ve been told, you won’t achieve instant riches from an online business.  Instead, you have to take it day-by-day and look for “small wins” when you reach a specific milestone.

As of today, I have $284 in my pocket from one Kindle book.  While this doesn’t come close to the money I’ve invested in DGH (more on this in a future post), it’s a great start because it shows that I picked a niche where people are willing to spend money for information.  That’s an encouraging thought as I move into other monetization efforts like Amazon Associate products, mobile apps and information marketing.

Basically I’m building an authority business, bird by bird.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Your Lesson for Today…[/title]

Let’s wrap up with a quick lesson for your budding authority business…

Nobody is going to come along and tell you when it’s time to start promoting your website.  Instead, it’s up to you to take action.

Sure, it’s important to network, write great  content and build backlinks to your site.  But the real test of a niche idea is to put a paid product into the market and see what happens.  Fortunately, we live in age where there is a small “barrier to entry” to making money with a new website.

All you have to do is follow this strategy:

#1: Identify a “hot topic” in your niche market on Amazon.  (You can look at existing titles to see ones under the #20,000 sales ranking)

#2: Find a unique hook or angle, which provides better information than what’s currently published.

#3: Write a 13,000 to 18,000 word, step-by-step solution to this problem

#4: Include links to quality blog posts within the book content

#5: Add a free book offer to start building an email list

#6: Sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select program and give away this book for five days

#7: Promote the heck out of this free offer, beginning with the excellent list that Tom Corson-Knowles provides.

#8: Rinse and repeat as you build an online presence from Amazon readers.

Nowadays, it’s possible to make your own success with a new authority business.  You don’t even have to wait around for Google to “notice” your website.  With Kindle publishing and other user-generated content platforms, you can build a brand simply by publishing great information and leveraging these websites to get attention.

All you need to do is work hard and build on those small wins.

Take Action. Get Results.

59 thoughts on “How to “Launch” a New Website with a Free Kindle Book”

  1. Thank you, thank you Steve!

    I’m dying to get started on Kindle.

    I love to write and quite frankly think I’m pretty darn good at it.

    Amazon is a KILLER opportunity!

    So why don’t I do it? I am scheduling this in. NOW. I will be back to this page when I’ve completed.

    ~ darlene 🙂

    • I hear you on the scheduling issue, sometimes it’s hard to get everything done in a day. Have you tried writing in the morning for one hour? I know it’s advice that’s commonly said, but it really works for me. A lot of my Kindle stuff is written in the first hour of every day.

  2. Hey Steve, spot on information as always man.

    I already wrote some detailed short reports that I give away drip fed in my blog (from 5 to 23 pages in lenght for a total of 8 different reports) and I was thinking of maybe combining all of them into one book and use that for my first release…

    They are supposed to be read in a sequential order so it’s not like I would be just combining 8 completely unrelated reports into one book although I’m not sure it would be the best approach.

    I think I’m just going to do it and give it away to a few people just to see if they do get the book “feeling” and if it’s a go, then I’ll just use that.

    Thanks for keeping me on the loop about Kindle books man, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be interested at all in writing something for the Kindle marketplace.


    PS. I have saved the fiverr gigs you used just in case I need them for my own release, thanks!

    • Definitely use those Fiverr gigs, they’re pretty good.

      The one thing I’d recommend is to make sure to rewrite the content or do a heavy edit. If you use Amazon’s KDP Select program for those five free days, they require unique content. You can have 10% elsewhere, but they’ll reject your book if they can find a lot of the content on your site.

      With that said, rewriting isn’t that hard to do. Some of the elements of my books have been taken from old articles, I just make sure to change the words and make it specific towards the goal of the book.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I understand you expected more than 4,627 downloads, but I have to say, that seems to be a great figure for nonfiction books these days.
    I’ve launched many books for Kindle in the last 12 months and some of them have reached more than 10,000 downloads (best one had almost 12K downloads in only one day). But that was in 2012.

    From February/March this year, the number of free downloads is way lower than it used to be (in general). Only one of my books reached 7,867 in May (two day promo) which is not bad considering it’s a one year old book and I didn’t promote the freebie at all. I consider it an exception.

    • Wow Cristina, that’s excellent numbers. Did you do anything special to promote these free launches?

      I’m actually happy with # of downloads. I’ve never had huge numbers on my free days, and I still manage to do well with the Kindle market. Plus, I’m starting to see that $.99 launches might be more profitable long-term.

    • Thank! Glad you like the cover.

      To be honest, I’m trying hard to keep this a 100% pure case study. If I start linking to my site, blog posts or Kindle books, then I’m *cheating* by using this existing platform to get downloads and purchases. Then later on, I couldn’t say I completely built an authority business from scratch. It’s tempting to link to my stuff, but I want my readers here to get a real-world idea of what it’s like to start something new.

      • Ahhh.. OK, makes sense and I do remember you saying that now.

        Thanks for the tip to my earlier comment..and I funny thing, just took Derek H. procrastination challenge so I’m scheduling in writing time. 🙂

        ~ darlene

  4. Thanks Steve for quick tips on building traffic using Amazon KDP select. I have published a quickbook on KDP Select “How to acquire New skills in 21 days”, mantra to acquire any skill in 21 days. Thrive during recession by applying new skills to create multiple opportunities to build good health, wealth, hobbies & relationship.

  5. I have only failed in situations which I had no good reason to be involved in.

    Same thing on becoming an authority person through a job, position or web site.

    My analogy is getting a cute little puppy on the spur of the moment, without thinking through to the fact that the dog will be a 24/7 10+ year obligation.

    For some people taking care of the dog will be a pleasure that would not even be considered “work,” but a sense of enjoyment.

    Yet for others the dog represents “work” and a level of commitment they resent.

    Like the “bird-by-bird” example, if the person thoroughly loves birds, writing about them is a snap and he or she craves to do more than expected.

    But if the project is perceived to be “as not being fun,” then it becomes overwhelming and nothing is accomplished.

    A person will fail if they seek to become an authority, yet they will become authorities when their thirst for knowledge in their niche cannot be quenched.

  6. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the info update.
    I put in my name to a couple of your free offers only to be told that I am already subscribed.
    So how do I get access to the this free book and your first free book?
    Thanks so much.

  7. Amazing results Steve, thank you.

    One question, how did you come up with these two numbers (12.9 average per sale) and (284 revenue)? You mention 121 total net sales.

    121 x 2.08 (net for books that sell at 2.99) = 251.68 profit (you have 284)
    121/27 days (may 23-June 20)= 4.48 average sale per day (you have 12.9)

    It is clearly I’m missing something, but this is how I calculate it. Sorry math is not my forte…

    • Sorry, didn’t do a good job clarifying. The sales started after the promotion ended, so June 9th to June 19th (yesterday) = 11 days.

      121 at $2 per net sale + 21 borrows (which is usually $2 or so) = 142 sales, which is $282. Divide 142 sales/borrows by 11 = 12.9.

      Hope this explains things a little better.

  8. I think your downloads were pretty good, Steve. I think the days of 10K + are largely gone. We haven’t broken 1,000 yet and have two #1 best sellers.

    Do you think 5 days is the optimum time? I tend to think a 3 and a 2 are better, but I have only two experiences for comparison.

    Thanks for more good content, Steve.

    • You might be right — The 10K promos are not common anymore. I’m like you, were I don’t have huge free days, but the books still sell pretty well.

      I do agree that 2 or 3 days works well with established brands. But I don’t have an audience in the habits market, so I don’t mind blowing all 5 days in the hopes that it gets me a few long-term subscribers. Down the road, I’ll have 10+ books, so I can do a whole lot more with the free days and really get a lot of attention in Amazon’s marketplace.

  9. Hi Steve,
    a quick question on writing for the Kindle platform.
    How many words on average fit on one Kindle page (using default font size).
    I don’t have a Kindle but use a Smartphone for reading, so formatting may differ.
    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    PS: you should make the link to the “Bird by Bird” book an affiliate link.

    • Yeah, I was too lazy to login to Associates to grab my link.

      To be honest, I don’t really have a good answer for book page length. Really I worry about word count for the total book, with a goal of trying to hit 15,000 words. The current book I’m writing on outsourcing is 52 pages long with 16,307 total words. So that’s about 314 words on Microsoft Word. Not sure if this really answers your question?

      • Thanks Steve for this explanation – most helpful.
        Btw, jsut bought your ‘How to write a nonfiction ebook in 21 days’ and the ‘Best-selling Nonfiction ebook ideas’ books. Very good and informative material – wish you lots of sales for these.

  10. Awesome information Steve.

    I have published two books on Kindle, but I didn’t add any “extra” information inside the books. That’s because both books are fiction, and not related to what I do online or how I earn money. But, I realize now that I should have built a platform around my publishing.

  11. Steve,

    I have to say that I was a bit late in discovering you. I had read a number of books on Kindle about how to publish successfully with Amazon, but your books stand above the rest. You are very straightforward and honest, and I never feel like you’re “pulling punches” and leaving out information intentionally just so I’ll buy another book. Many of these kinds of books are all smoke and mirrors, and you give concrete, proven methods that aren’t sugarcoated. I like your style, brother, and I’ll continue to buy your books and take your advice. I just purchased 2 more this week, including “My Blog Traffic Sucks!” I’m a high school English teacher at a large (3000 students) Chicago suburban school. I am scheduled to retire in 6 years, and at that time, I’d like to be making a decent income on Kindle books to supplement my retirement. Thanks to you, I just may get there. Thanks a ton, Steve. You’ve made me a loyal fan. Take care.

    Jim Rodgers
    Batavia, IL

    • Hey Jim — Thanks for stopping by and appreciate the kind words. I’m glad to see you’re taking a six year approach. It’s refreshing because many people approach Kindle publishing/building an online business with the attitude that they need to be successful overnight. Sadly, that’s really not possible.

      For the Kindle stuff, are you just doing fiction or are you looking to do nonfiction?

  12. Steve, This is great info. I’m a big fan of yours and have bought some of your books and am on your list. I have bookmarked this post and will come back to it for reference. I love the numbers you give us too. Blessings, Amy

    • Thanks Amy — glad you find the numbers to be useful. I try to show what it’s “really” like to put a book into the marketplace. In the future, I’ll have more of these types of posts.

  13. The content and the title of this post is definitely YES! Following this partern will increase a blog authority in blogosphere but how would this be so much easy for an existing blog?

    • I’d say it would help expand the reach of your audience and grow your existing fanbase. That’s what I did for SteveScottSite when I first started publishing Kindle books. While I had an existing audience, publishing Kindle books helped grow it just a little bit more.

  14. Sir, you are amazing! Your disappointments are my life goals right now lol. Thanks a mill for sharing the tip about your Fiverr gigs. I know how that can go.

  15. Awesome tips here. I’m assuming to know how many clicks came from your Fiverr gigs, did you just use a unique tracking link instead of your direct Amazon book link?

  16. I just want to thank you for all the great work and great info you share with us…now I gotta find ways to execute them! 🙂

  17. Hey Steve, great tips especially for a new blogger like me. It well hep me a lot in making good strategy for my new blog. Thanks for sharing this.

  18. Scott,
    Thanks for your great info. Published an ebook all wrong last year. I found you this year and have bought a few of your books- that I’m currently re-reading. Finished my next ebook tonight and getting ready to publish as well as start writing the next one. I love your method of publishing several books in a short period of time, writing what people want to read about, promoting like crazy and continuing on. It makes sense- now to execute. Thanks again.

  19. Hey Scott, I’m a fellow New Jersian as well. I just read your kindle book, Your First $1000…I wanted to see if I could pick up some extra pointers and I thought it was good. Kindle publishing is really interesting and I think using it to launch a new site is a great idea.

  20. Hello Steve, I head found your book much effective over many on the same topic, your idea is pretty impressive o launch a new site and defiantly it will come out with good results but how can this help me to boost my existing blogs and websites.

  21. Hey Steve,

    I’ve been immersed on your 2 sites for 2 days as I prepare to launch a new website geared at the Kindle market. What is your rec for getting blog content up before the first Kindle ebook vs a simultaneous approach? Just curious as about your DGH content prior to the 70 Habits launch. Your insights and info are invaluable to those of us figuring out what strategies to follow. Thanks.

    • Rik — I prefer a simultaneous approach. To be honest, when I launched 70 Habits, I only had a few (like 5 or 6?) posts on my blog. Writing books and blog posts at the same time, helps me figure out what readers really want. So that would be my recommended strategy.

  22. Steve I found you via kindle, so I guess your strategy is working. I am thinking of replicating it soon. Thanks much for all the information.

  23. Hi Steve,

    My general topic is stress management. This definitely is a hot topic as there are several books that rank under 20,000 for this topic. My more specific target market is PTSD. I only found a couple of books under 20,000 for this specific target. When I narrow my target even more to military PTSD I don’t find any books under 20k. Military PTSD is a huge problem. However, am I risking focusing on a target market that may not actually buy my products even though there is a huge need? Should I stick with the general topic of stress management or should I go for the niche market of military vets with PTSD? Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Drew — That’s a hard one to answer. Perhaps you can come up with an overarching framework (i.e. “how to overcome PTSD”) as one book. Then tailor this framework to certain professions and traumatic events. Military, car accidents, etc. Think of how Rich Dad/ Poor Dad is structured. Robert K took his general framework of ideas and has published books that cover different aspects of it.

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