How Amazon Killed My Book Launch
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Perhaps you are reading this because you are already a fan of my work (sweet!), or perhaps you are reading this because you stumbled upon the article while researching book launches. If you are the latter, and you are looking for strategies for creating a successful book launch, then this post may or may not help you, but it may at least give you a few laughs at my expense.
It was the summer of sixty-nine, oh, yeah!... oh, wait that was Bryan Adams.
Actually it was the summer of 2018, and I was working my tail off to finish up my 3rd book, The Halls of the Fallen King. It was a book I'd been working on for over three years and I was really excited be closing in on the finish line. The release of this book was something I was really, really excited for. Of course every writer is excited of each release, but this one was a little extra special to me for a few reasons.
First, it was my third release, but it was my second full length novel. Writing novellas and short stories had come fairly easy to me, but novels are a much bigger undertaking, and at a paperback page count of 630, The Halls of the Fallen King was no exception. Furthermore, being the second book in the series, I wanted to make sure that the book wasn't just good, but I wanted it to be better than it's predecessor, Dragon's Fire. I also wanted to make sure that I showed my growth as a writer, so I worked diligently on improving the few areas that readers critiqued me on in the past.
And the truth is, initially it wasn't. Now of course that was in the earliest stages when I had an Alpha version. Yeah that's right, I was so eager and concerned about the story, that I sent out super premature pre-beta copies to a select few individuals. The book wasn't even finished or edited enough to be beta worthy, but I really needed to get some early feedback. The feedback was okay, and definitely not critical enough. I had a story with good bones, but there really wasn't enough meat to sink your teeth into. So I spent months doing a massive revision. The overall story stayed the same, but I had to really dive deeper in some areas.
Once the revision was finished I went through the regular processes of beta, editing, final revisions, etc. In the end, what I was left with was a book that I was actually really proud of. I had successfully translated my ideas into a fun, mysterious, and exciting next chapter in the series. My emails and IMs were blowing up with Beta readers and ARC readers alike raving about how much they loved the new book, and how they couldn't believe it was even better than the first. The feedback told me that I'd created another book that people loved AND I'd grown as a writer. Yes!
For me, the excitement for the release of this book had really hit a fever pitch. It made me even happier knowing that I'd spent months prepping for a killer book launch. I'd studied what friends and other successful indie authors had done. I'd watched podcasts from Mark Dawson, Derek Murphy, and Joanna Penn.
I'd networked well, establishing myself in several promotion groups, joined a podcast, and planned a fun online release party with a host of other fantastic authors. For the release party I had a sexy grand prize of 12 books; 6 paperback, 3 of which were signed, and 6 ebooks donated by fellow authors. I setup a rafflecopter giveaway that was really easy to participate in.
I had my Newsletter setup to go out to my highly curated, very active following. I'd gotten a good number of fellow authors with established reader bases to agree to do Newsletter swaps during release week. I had setup a Kindle giveaway on one of my books and ran a Kindle Countdown for Dragon's Fire, and they were set to run right through my release day. I had setup some paid BookBub ads to run before, during, and after the release day, or multiple books. I'd studied how to effectively build AMS ad campaigns with the help of KDP Rocket. The ads were prepped and ready to launch! I had all my social media posts prepped for automated release for before, during, and after the release day.
It was going to be EPIC!
And then it wasn't.
So what the hell happened?
Well, in the simplest terms, Amazon just didn't release my ebook. Despite being in constant communication with them in the weeks leading up to my launch and coordinating every effort, my book never went live on release day. My online release party, my ads, my social media posts, and all the newsletter blasts that I'd worked for months to setup all came and went—but there was no book. Yes, the printed version of my book was successfully released by CreateSpace, but KDP never released the ebook.
All my efforts and months of planning effectively helped me promote an ebook that simply didn't exist.yet.
In full blown panic mode I did my best to stay in constant communication with Amazon for 1,2,3... 13 days. To make an already long story, less-longer, my book, the one I spent over 3 years crafting and refining, got flagged for a Copyright alert. Despite the fact that CreateSpace (An Amazon owned company) already published my book in print, my ebook got flagged and subsequently thrown into KDPs review purgatory.
I responded to the high-quality automated emails that the KDP Copyright Content Review Department sent me, but never got an actual response. I called and emailed multiple times and begged to actually speak to a human being with the capability to release my book from the limbo status it was stuck in. Over and over again they told me, sorry we can't do that, they don't provide phone support. Per my request, I spoke to multiple different managers. They each agreed that this needed to be fixed, and they "escalated" my ticket, all to no avail.
On day 13 I spoke to an individual on the phone who actually admitted that Amazon had recently had some major issues with their copyright system, and that it created a pretty huge mess and that they had to fix their broken system. It sounded like a software patch on their end. I reminded him that I was still being screwed by their mess. He was friendly, but wasn't able to actually do anything to fix it. He told me his supervisor was already aware of my ticket, and it would be escalated, and that I would hear back in 48 hours.
I was incredibly excited when I got a response back in under 30 minutes, until I read it.
Unfortunately, this issue is one that will require input from another team, so I can't answer it directly. I've forwarded your concerns to the team that handles this issue, and they will consider your input.
Hundreds of dollars and months of planning a killer book launch were completely wasted. It was supposed one of the best days of my life.... but as Bryan Adams said, I should've known we'd never get far...
The Halls of the Fallen King was finally released on August 28th, 2018, 14 days after the initial release date. Despite everything that happened, the highly anticipated follow-up to Dragon's Fire, still debuted as an #1 New Release in the Classics category on Amazon, and is being met with praise from readers.