If you’re running an Amazon bestseller campaign (or any other bestseller campaign in fact) timing is everything. What happens if things don’t go according to plan?
Spending money on advertising is wasted and marketing activities are put in limbo, and if you’ve been preparing anticipation ahead of time it’s possible to lose some of the excitement that you generated. In the end, you may not be able to achieve your target of becoming an instant bestseller.
The Best New York Publishers, we ran our first campaign for bestsellers in June, when my book Blueprint was published through Morgan James publishing. We planned the sale and booked it in our advertising and shared the book via social media and in our newsletter The book was on the bestseller lists in the categories it was in within a single day.
I thought to myself, “Why not provide this service as a product Why not provide this service as a product?
We’ve conducted bestseller campaigns for several of our publishing clients currently including books that cover many different topics. We always follow the same procedure – plan the price to drop, then request the client to solicit reviews, and schedule advertising during the time the book is in sale.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been somewhat self-confident. What’s wrong with me in awe of the way it has always been?
It was until it wasn’t.
Here’s my story from the final 48 hours – as well as the book-selling campaign which didn’t go as planned.
Background: How bestseller campaigns function
Before we begin the machinations, it’s crucial to know the way rankings and bestseller lists actually function. The Bestseller list is the listing of books that been the best-selling within a specific time. Lists such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists are regularly updated ( some also require an editorial review) The Amazon Bestseller lists are constantly updated daily.
If your book is able to sell the highest number of copies in your niche in just an hour then you’ll be on the charts.
Do you make it to the list?
In order to make it onto the Amazon bestseller list, you must consider two aspects:
- 1Driving people to the sales page of your book
- 2Optimizing conversions to make sure more people are able to purchase once they reach the store
The way to drive traffic is sharing your book via social media, or sending out an email, or even sending out a message to anyone you know to purchase it and you could also consider launching an advertising campaign. This is something we can coordinate for customers who sign up to the Book Publishing and Marketing bundle.
Optimizing conversions means lowering your book’s cost for a short period of time (remember that timing is everything, you need to create the impression of urgency) and also generating favorable reviews (I’m going to assume that your book’s cover as well as the content on the cover are current).
Simple, right? Is there anything that could be wrong?
A story about the Amazon Bestseller campaign, which almost did not take place.
The authors of two books (Tanya Williams, writer of A Childfree Happily Ever After and Wayne Pales, the author of The Digital Utility) were creating bestseller campaigns for this week. Tanya had us manage the campaign, and Wayne requested that we schedule the discount for the book but was planning to run him self’s marketing.
Both went live and I solicited reviews. I planned a price reduction to 0.99 beginning on March 4 4. To promote Tanya’s novel, I also planned advertising starting on the 5 day through the 9 of the month of March. It was an advertising that would put her discounted eBook to millions of readers by letting them know the book was available for a brief time.
Everything was running smoothly up until 4 4 came around, which was the day I went to Amazon to check whether the price increase had been implemented.
Both books were priced at around $9 in Australia and $7 for the US.
I wasn’t worried about it, however, even though this was actually the fourth 4th in Australia but it was the 3 3rd across the US. We’d also checked the previous month with Ingram Spark, our distributor who’d confirmed that the price change was scheduled to take effect by midnight on the 4th day, which meant that there was no activity scheduled until the following day. There was time to make the be updated.
And then the 5 5 came around, and neither of the book were priced differently.
Change in the price of operations
The time was right to take action to remedy the situation, since both of us had planned a marketing program to begin the next day.
Step 1: Check our backend
It was the first thing to do is to determine the source of the issue? Was it Ingram Spark, our supplier Ingram Spark, or did something go wrong at Amazon’s side?
I went to our dashboard and noticed that Wayne’s book was listed as costing 0.99 (which means that it’s issue with Amazon issue) Tanya’s book had not changed in price. When I clicked on the book’s information it was still showing the price increase scheduled for 4 day however, it stated that it was not yet in effect.
Wow, how odd.
Step 2: Get your price updated when we get to our end.
I contacted Ingram Spark Australia and explained the issue – we had scheduled the price increase a few weeks ago, but it did not appear to have taken place.
The person I was talking to glanced at her car and said, “It looks like management in the US did not like the price increase.”
Then I was slurring and asked “What?”
She said that any price changes must be accepted from the US office. She added there were times when there was a major difference between an existing price and a price that was new they could reject the price change.
I was very angry. There was no announcement about this If I had believed that the change was in process, we would be waiting for days without any news. I breathed deeply and asked her if she could be able to clear it.
“Unfortunately I’m not able to do that send it directly to the US office. I’m able to make a request, however I will not hear from them until the next day.”
We ended the call , and I took matters to my own. We were a day into the campaign, and we had little time to leave our mark. I had lost money from the campaign which had already begun and Tanya was forced to review the entire strategy.
Step 2, second attempt 2. Get the price updated at the end of our time
I searched for the contact information to Ingram Spark US and, after finding out that they operate on Sundays (thank you! ) I rang the office a call.
The person I first talked to didn’t know of what I meant when she stated that she could not see any indications of the price change that was being rescinded. The price was adjusted, and she was unable to be able to grasp the reason I was getting an ‘not currently in force’ warning on my end.
In the end, the supervisor transferred me, who also said the same thing, she was unaware of it being denied and said that it seemed to be correct. However, she could conduct an update and submit an IT request to see whether it changed things on my end.
It appeared that I’d done all I could to make the price change in my account, which is why I inquired what I could try to do to make the new price to show on Amazon faster (as previously, for previous campaigns, it was always up and running first thing Monday mornings, and the dawn was slowly slipping way from my desk).
She claimed that they’d updated their feeds to retailers however that was all she had to do at this moment. When I asked if they had a phone number for Amazon she replied, “I guess I could Google it,” …”, and then I told her I could conduct my own Google-ing, and proceeded to do so. I have no number to call.
Step 3. Find the latest price on Amazon
I’m not sure if anyone has ever attempted to reach Amazon to become a publisher however, the process is difficult. I would not suggest it if you are able to steer clear of it.
Here’s my experience:
- 1A call was requested to an Australian Retail line. (The result was that she did not have any contact information of anyone from the publishing department. Therefore, she I was not able to forward me.)
- 2Making a call to at the US office. (The result is that the person I talked to was unable to help.)
- 3Go to go to the Kindle Direct Publishing help pages and making the request. (The resultwas an email after 18 hours informing me that since I had not published directly with KDP and instead employed an intermediary the company, they could help me.)
- 4I signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing so I could write on the forums on the subject. (The result was: Contact Amazon via the above form.)
- 5Twittering them. (The result was: no response.)
- 6Sending them messages on Facebook. (The result was no response.)
- 7Contacting to the US office yet.
When I contacted the US office I had better luck (or at least that’s what I believed). The lady I spoke to was excellent – she was able to understand the issue and directed my call to the Kindle department who she believed would assist. However, they weren’t able to help.
When I spoke with the Kindle rep, he told me that, since I had not uploaded my book on Amazon by myself Author Central wouldn’t be capable of processing the update for me. They’d have to ask the distribution company (Ingram Spark) or the authors (Tanya and Wayne) to reach out to them directly.
It was now after working hours So I made Tanya as well as Wayne every one of them an email describing what they’d need to inform Amazon to have the price adjusted. After 20 minutes, Tanya emailed back to clarify that they didn’t know who she was, and had not ever done anything.
This isn’t a good plan.
Step 4: Rest
It was late and there was nothing I could do following having emailed Ingram Spark’s Australian and US Ingram Spark’s offices. Ingram Spark.
Step 5: Call Ingram Spark to contact Amazon
The next day, early in the morning I rang Ingram Spark’s US Ingram Spark office again (following my previous experience I had decided to give up on Ingram Spark’s Australian Office).
After waiting for more than 10 minutes, I finally spoke to a person who I explained my situation. My question was straightforward I asked: as the system online does not seem to work could you please contact them by phone?
The answer? No.
We can’t come up with a new solution I’m not going to contact my supervisor’, and no “I’ll do it and check how it goes. There’s no way to do it.
The dispute resolution process states that they aren’t able to make contact with Amazon in the event of an important error in how the book is advertised, or when a price change is deemed to be significantly late. What was the length of time’significantly overdue to be overdue? Three weeks.
What, three weeks? !
My authors ran the same one-week campaign. In 3 weeks, the price would have been all the way back!
Then I told them that we had been running campaigns and three weeks was too long. I said that I’d attempted to call myself, and that they’d advised me that somebody at Ingram Spark would need to contact them. I said that I’d attempt to make the phone call myself, if could, and that I would resolve the issue myself if I could , but I’d already tried everything I could.
What transpired following? Did the ice block around his heart begin to melt and crack?
The answer was no.
So I askedif there was there something else we could try?
One of the tangents to the phone conversation was the fact that he told me that price adjustments are only made available at retailers only on the 1st of each month. This means I’d missed the deadline to have the change processed in this month. This information was absurd, considering our previous experiences – we’ve never based our sales dates around the date of the first day of the month. It also permits you to make a price change at any time on a Sunday that you’d like. However, if he was correct… it would be waiting until April to see the change to take effect.
Step 6: Search for alternative options
At this point I began pulling out my hair. Timing is everything and we were in the midst of running out of time.
Then I began looking into possible alternatives. Did you know of any other ways we could conduct these types of campaigns?
Here’s what I thought of:
Choice 1: Increase discount using Ingram Spark
The price change hasn’t launched yet was it possible to schedule the price change for an additional week? In this way, even if the price took a few more days to increase the price (fingers hoping that we won’t need the wait till April! ) In the meantime, we’d have about a week to announce the sale.
- We could promote the current listings (which each had positive reviews)
- I’m able to schedule an advertisement at the last minute if the change was made
- I was unsure what time the change would take place and this makes planning difficult
- We don’t know the exact date it will occur so I was unable to plan the same amount of advertising I was planning during this time, and that could mean less traffic
2: Create a new listing by contacting Amazon
I could make the eBooks available using Kindle Direct Publishing. Then , I can set their price at 0.99 starting from the beginning and then we could begin marketing the new hyperlinks.
- It could have been more efficient than the first option (assuming that the book didn’t get caught in the review phase)
- If it were to be published this morning, I could send an email to the advertisers I had lined up over the next few days using the updated book link, which means we would still get the current advertisements
- The eBook will appear published on Amazon twice
- The new listing won’t include the current reviews.
The option to the company and was waiting to hear from them When…
Step 7: Enjoy the moment when all the mess has was resolved!
As I waited to hear on the status of the writers, I checked into the email account of my assistant (this corresponds to where Ingram Spark US emails had been). The person I had spoken yesterday had responded to my message about making a call to Amazon to inform me of the latest changes to the prices on my dashboard.
After a moment of sigh, I sent an email back with a note that I was aware the information was updated on my end but the prices on Amazon was not updated. Did she have the ability to contact them or email them?
Within half an hour , she responded saying Amazon had received the update.
My breath was caught in my throat. My fingers moved across the keyboard while I opened each book in an entirely new tab. Could this be the cause? Did the issue get solved?
A Child-Free Happy Forever as well as the digital Utility opened with the hope of lowering the prices of both had dropped!
A day and an hour later than we had planned and we were able to start the Amazon best-selling campaigns!
What lessons did I pick up?
Best New York Publishers works because we depend on other people who are my editors, my design team, printer, and our distributor. Without an efficient team that we have, we wouldn’t be able to create the kind of books we publish. Sometimes, things go wrong. Systems fail even despite our best efforts. This is also the first time that this is happening which is why I’m inclined believe that it’s an anomaly, instead of the norm.
However, there are some advantages in having the margin of security with a little wiggle room to be prepared in the event that you’re required to. In our instance setting up a price change on a Sunday, when the campaign launches on a Monday would have been sufficient… up until the point that it didn’t. Therefore, we’ll schedule those changes later in the future, and possibly looking for an alternative distributor (or publishing directly to Amazon directly) in the event that we’re certain we’ll launch a bestseller campaign.