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Amazon Bestseller Best Seller Launch Day – WAS IT WORTH IT? Post-game Recap Part 8

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of Numenon

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Numenon, and Stepping Off the Edge, which was the book featured on my Amazon Bestseller Launch.

MY AMAZON LAUNCH WAS A FLOP BY ANY OBJECTIVE MEASURE.

We sold 13 books. These impacted our Amazon rankings, but we made almost nothing on 11 of them, which were purchased through resellers. Afterward, I was exhausted and my kids ran scared whenever they saw me. My husband was supportive, as always, but shook up.

It was a blow. I never really boo-hooed about it, though it probably would have been healthier to do so. I’ve always thought that if I followed a process and did my homework, I’d do OK. That’s why I’ve got 2 Masters’ degrees and a pile of other honors.

This was a case where I followed the process as well as I could, and it didn’t come out OK. [With the exception of this series of blog articles, which push me to the top of any search related to the subject.]

“What could you have done differently, Sandy?” you may ask. “Would you do it again?” Two questions, I’ll answer them separately.

“WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN, SANDY?”

Ask me in a year.

[A year goes by …]

“Would you do it again, Sandy?”

Gimme six more months.

[Six months pass …]

“Would you do another Amazon Best seller Launch Party Day?”

Maybe, but with major caveats.

I’d ONLY do it if I had people who knew what they were doing physically helping me with the 3,457,098 details that have to be handled to get a launch to fly. That means making phone calls, charting the whole thing out, confirming sponsors, etc.

I wouldn’t do it if I was recovering from major surgery. Yes, I had my ankle fused just before the Launch. I did most of the work for the thing lying flat on my back. Not a good choice for my recovery or the Launch. 

I will never again be up at 4 AM doing stuff that the US Constitution should prohibit as cruel & unusual punishment.

I originally thought that, if I did it again, I’d probably do it with a group such as Randy Gilbert & Peggy McColl’s Bestseller Mentoring program. If you Google this program, you’ll find it has a very large number of satisfied customers who attained everything I hoped to attain with my day: vast sales, riches, and attention from the major publishing world. And Gilbert’s program offers a money back guarantee: Your book hits bestseller status or the ride is for free.

HOWEVER––I’ve just been informed that Gilbert’s group doesn’t provide hands-on assistance doing the myriad tasks involved in mounting a launch. You do it yourself. Argh. Never again.

So––I won’t do another Amazon bestseller day until I have a staff to help me. If I do another Amazon day, I’ll do it with ReaderViews again.

Stepping Off the Edge

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. Winner of six national awards, Stepping was featured on my Amazon day. In addition to great tips on things like beating eBay addiction, handling evil, finding yourself and going on retreat, it has a great Christmas tie-in at the end!

POST-GAME ANALYSIS:

First off, I want to let everyone know that I really appreciate the efforts of my sponsors and of Irene Watson and ReaderViews. I don’t blame any person, any organization, or myself for what happened. I worked absolutely flat out on this thing. If it was possible to do more or do it better, I couldn’t do it.

I’m not writing this to beat myself up, blame anyone, or get revenge. I’m hoping that this information will help you decide if a Bestseller Launch is for you. I like my readers to know not just the facts of what happened or what to do to have your own campaign, but HOW IT FELT.

The one generalization I can make about human beings is that we mess up. We flub communication, we misinterpret, and we blow it. I certainly did. Here are a few bloopers:

  • Stuff fell through the cracks. For example, if Irene Watson said all the information for my party was due on December 5th, did she mean at 8 AM or 5 PM? PST or CST or EST? She meant 8 AM CST; I thought 5 PM PST, and that’s when I got my stuff to her. (Not out of spite or laziness: It wasn’t done.) So Irene got up at 5 AM the next day and loaded my event. She really went more than a mile with me to make my event a success.
  • Amazon never got back to us about how many books we could ship to them or fixing my book’s sale page. I don’t blame Amazon for this. We knew about Amazon and how it works; we’ve dealt with Amazon for years. We should have allowed an extra couple months to get it straight with them. (Or used a POD publishing service directly linked to them so the problem of stock didn’t exist.)
  • Some of my major sponsors, the big, big names we all know, promised to participate in the Launch and didn’t. I’m on their mailing lists, as was Irene Watson. If the sponsors sent my party invitations to their gigantic mailing lists, we would have gotten them. We didn’t. They weren’t sent. This wasn’t a blooper so much as a broken promise. Or maybe a lie. The failure of the large sponsors to come through as promised was the single largest contributor to the failure of my campaign. I had no recourse.

A FEW THINGS I LEARNED:

1. Make sure the book has an identifiable audience and is directed at that audience––and that the audience knows about it. The title and cover should capture this. For instance, my book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice, is essentially a series of essays about issues that impact modern, spiritually inclined people. It’s about risk-taking as an essential part of spiritual growth: Stepping Off the Edge. With lessons from horses and Native Americans. That’s pretty hard to communicate in 30 seconds. (Stepping has won 6 national awards; it’s a good book, but hard to market.)

2. Work on your social presence, on and off the web. Start joining clubs, service organizations, interest groups on and off line. Get out there and speak, write articles for the ‘net. Do it now, even if you’re not planning an Amazon day. The best way to sell books is through word of mouth. This applies just as strongly to on-line communities. If you want to “get viral”, people on the blogs must know who you are. Your web presence––the FaceBook, YouTube, gather, MySpace, GoodReads, AuthorsDen, and all the rest––must be up and flaming. I read of one author who had a successful Amazon Day with Randy Gilbert’s organization. She said that it didn’t take her 38 days, it took her 8 months of hard work––doing what I just described. I finished my various “profiles” on all those social sites days before the launch. This CAN’T work.

3. NEGOTIATION COACHES TALK ABOUT “BUILDING IN ACCEPTANCE TIME.” People need time to process ideas and purchase decisions. Build in PLENTY of lead time:

  • Allow plenty of time to do all the work and get the launch day set up on your computer.
  • ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BOOK.
  • PUT THE BOOK IN FRONT OF THEM REPEATEDLY. FOR MONTHS.
  • PUT YOUR SPONSORS’ GIFTS IN FRONT OF THEM REPEATEDLY: The saddest thing about my Amazon Day is the great gifts that went unclaimed. I doubt if anyone realized what prizes my sponsors were giving away. Amazing things: Ghislain Viau of Creative Publishing Book Design offered a 30% discount on the design of a book, no time limits. He did the interior of my book Numenon. That’s an incredible prize. Laren Bright, an award-winning and Emmy-nominated Hollywood screen writer and the best copy writer I know (book flaps, rear covers, about the author, titles, subtitles) offered a free one hour phone consultation. My friend Ilene Dillon, the Emotional Pro, and a psychotherapist for 36 years offered all sorts of things to make anyone’s life better. Irene Watson, Penny Sansevieri, and Jeniffer Thompson offered entire eBooks or parts of books.

Do not think that shooting an email to 500,000 people who’ve never heard of you the night before your party will induce them to buy your book.

4. Get enough help doing the actual work so you don’t get buried. The people I asked to help, my husband for one, knew less than I did about Amazon parties. If I was lost at sea, he was really lost at sea.

5. Make sure that your technical system works. That means your computer and Internet setup. We live out in the country. Everyone wants to live in the country––it’s beautiful, peaceful. Lovely. We haven’t had TV for 15 years. Satellite dishes don’t work in this valley. We get Internet via microwave dish in the backyard. We miss things. This is not good. I missed crucial communications.

6. Make sure that your sponsors come through for you. As noted earlier, I’m certain that several of my largest sponsors did not sent out my party invitation to their email lists as promised. This hurt the campaign and was something I did not (and could not) foresee. How to guard against this? Make friends with them ahead of time or make friends with their best buddies. Have some way of getting leverage. “If something looks too good to be true, it is.” If big names offer to do rather laborious favors for you, an unknown author who’s also unknown to them, don’t believe they’ll do it.

All those factors contributed to the outcome of my Amazon Bestseller Day. Change anything, you’ll get a different experience.

Sandy Nathan & Eddie

Sandy Nathan & Eddie: We do overcome our flops. This photo was taken the first time I rode my horse after having a FULL KNEE REPLACEMENT. Was this ride a success? While it was happening. Afterward, ,my knee blew up like three day old road kill. But I rode again––for many years. A failure is only a failure if you quit.

THING IS, IF YOU DO ALL THE ABOVE, WILL YOU NEED TO DO AN AMAZON BESTSELLER DAY?

A FEW REALLY BIG POINTS TO PONDER:

WE DO NOT CONTROL THE UNIVERSE. In these days of The Secret and the whole schtick of “live the life of your dreams” books, it’s useful to remember that the the mental/spiritual techniques espoused by their authors work to the point where your  powers run into a universe that does not give a … goldurn… about what you want.

That sounds like heresy, doesn’t it? Especially from an author devoted to manifesting the world of spirit here in the real world, where we have stock market crashes and suicide. I’m dedicated to the manifestation of actual spirit, not the deification of desires.

We do not control the universe. Something very large controls the universe. Plea bargaining with this stupendous, all-knowing being doesn’t work. It may or may not dig your attempts to rearrange things according to your Treasure Map. It may give you things you couldn’t have imagined. Insights, for one. Actual goodies, for another. Openings in the fabric of creation that let you go places that were completely outside your image of what success looks like or how it should show up.

 

Even though the Amazon Launch flopped, other stuff materialized. A friend of mine told me, “Hey, I’ll run my email list for you. My email list is, HUGE. Think of an event you want to publicize.” He has a connection to a major world sport. His list is vast and contains links to the top people in this sport, all of whom would love the kind of stuff I write.  I’m on it. I will have something they need to know pronto.

“Where’s the sequel to Numenon, Sandy?” he also said. I’m on it! Don’t worry.

Then I was on my other friend Ilene Dillon’s Full Power Living radio show. Ilene is one of my favorite people. She’s been a therapist for more than 30 years and has more credentials than I can write up. Her radio show has terrific guests dedicated to the world working out, especially in the spiritual/emotional realm. We had a great interview: the link above takes you to my interview.  

“Where’s the sequel to Numenon, Sandy? I’m getting irritated waiting for it,” said Ilene. I’m working on it.

Other things occurred to me, like the idea for this little blog. I launched the blog you’re on,  Your Shelf Life. It’s for writers working on success AND sanity. Writing is a very rewarding, intense, and often crazy-making occupation. Your Shelf Life offers writer’s tips, guest bloggers, stuff from psychology, how to put a book together for self publishers, how to win a book contest, and many more. We’re just getting warmed up. Your Shelf Life has had almost 18,000 requests for pages (the real measure of “hits”) as of today. It’s not even 4 months old. Thank you readers. (It had 187,000 requests in 2010 and has had 276,000 in 2011 so far.)

I’m working flat out on two manuscripts for books and a bunch of ideas for more books and career upgrades. And the sequel to Numenon.

SOME MORE AMAZING AND EXCITING THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY AMAZON BESTSELLER VIRTUAL LAUNCH PARTY:

1. MY BOOK’S SALES RATING ROSE FROM THE 2,000,000th RANGE TO THE 44,000th LEVEL ON SALES OF 13 BOOKS! Isn’t that exciting? Think of what could have happened if I’d sold 30? Thinking bigger, 100? Thrilling beyond belief, and it gives you an idea of how skilled use of Amazon’s internal programming can benefit you.

2. WANT TO KNOW MORE WAYS TO SKILLFULLY USE AMAZON’S INNARDS? Jump over to my friend Todd Fonseca’s TAG MY BOOK ON AMAZON blog. Did you know you can make your Amazon Sales Rating go up with no increase in sales? Check it out.

[I've heard people say, "Trick Amazon into a higher rating. How could you?" Like it's a sin. Hey, they totally ignored us when we wanted them to send a purchase order allowing us to ship extra books to them for the Launch. If my book sales had been over the top, my sales would have been tanked by Amazon: They never gave us permission to ship books to them so they couldn't ship them to buyers. Did I tell you that the listing page for my book for the bestseller day was totally GARBLED? I couldn't fix it from my side of the screen. I repeatedly pleaded with Amazon's customer service to please fix the page because I had a sales event coming up. They didn't, until two months after the Day, when it didn't matter. What goes around comes around.]

3. THE ON-LINE MARKETING BIT IS GETTING OVERUSED. I GET A BAZILLION INVITATIONS TO CYBER PARTIES, LAUNCHES, BLOG FESTS, CONTESTS, AND WATZA-HOOZIES EVERY DAY. I just delete most of the “Exciting opportunities” I get. Who are those people? Why do they think I’d want to buy Attack of the Mutant XXX Zombies: How I Felt after Writing my Breakthrough Novel? We authors and writers need to think of new tools.

4. After working the Amazon Marketing tools I laid out in the first article of this series, I might not need to do an Amazon Bestseller Day. Here are those books and tools again:

  • Buy John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in Five Months. The best marketing strategy for ebooks I’ve seen by one of the top selling authors in history. Highly recommended.
  • Buy Steve Weber’s Plug Your Book: Online Book Marketing for Authors. Immediately go to page 31, which begins the chapter Amazon Bestseller Campaigns. Read this chapter. Okay. Read it again. This is the best book I have seen on Internet book selling. Weber presents hard data on the results of Amazon Bestseller days. A few things he points out: You’ll have to sell 450 books (at $5 profit each) to pay for Randy Gilbert’s program. What’s the probability of doing that? Weber presents data on books plugged with online word of mouth vs. an Amazon bestseller campaign. Conclusion: Books getting their reputation by online word of mouth have steady, long term sales, often over years. Books plugged by bestseller campaigns show erratic sales which can deteriorate after gimmicky sales tactics.
  • Buy Brent Sampson’s Sell Your Book on Amazon. I had books for sale on Amazon for years before reading this book. Wasted years. I didn’t do so many things that I should have. Amazon offers you many ways of selling your book and many tricks about how to use its resources that aren’t explained well. Brent explains them in his book. If you’re planning on doing anything on Amazon, you should read this book before you start.
  • Buy Brent Sampson’s e-book “10 Steps to an Amazon Bestseller.” This e-book tells you what to go to successfully carry off your Amazon Day. You’ll need this kind of clear, detailed guidance.
  • Go to Todd A Fonseca’s blog, Tag My Book on Amazon. Read the whole thing. Sign up and begin tagging. You may discover your book’s Amazon sales ranking increasing amazingly––with no increase in sales. You may not need the Amazon bestseller day.
Santa Ynez Valley Oak Against Sunset
Santa Ynez Valley Oak Against Sunset. It’s not over until it’s over!

OK. That’s the end of the articles about Amazon Bestseller Launch Party Day Campaigns.

WHAT’S NEXT? I’ve launched a new series, Tales from Earth’s End. This is a series showing people literally at earth’s end.

The first book, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy  takes place the day before a nuclear holocaust destroys the earth. It’s a love story, a story of social disintegration, and a great read. Winner of the 2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Award Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction and the 2011 Indie Excellence Award in Visionary fiction. Two sequels are in production now for an early 2012 launch.

 

I wish you all the best,

Sandy Nathan is the winner of seventeen national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Her books are: (Click link for more information. They’re available in a number of formats.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with a late (very late) 2011 publication date, or early 2012. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

SERIES INDEX:
Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game recap


Amazon Bestseller Best Seller Day- THE DAY! HOW DID I DO? Part 7

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Stepping Off the Edge & Numenon.

“Did your sponsors send out their emails? Your book’s sales ranking is going up, but not fast enough! Find out if they sent their invitations.” This was an email from ReaderViews’ Irene Watson that greeted me when I woke up on MY AMAZON BESTSELLER DAY.

I saw Irene’s message about 10 AM, when I dragged myself out of bed. I’d been up to 4 the night before, having hauled and overhauled my email lists and finished a million details I’d forgotten earlier. Including figuring out when a bestseller day begins. Is it 12 AM to 12 PM? Or something that fit human waking standards better? Like 8 AM to whenever? What should I tell l sponsors?

Never trust thinking done after 2 AM. Frustrated with the size of my mailing list, I eventually went down our subdivision’s Homeowners’ Association Handbook and put everyone I thought I’d recognize at the grocery store on my list.

The days before the bestseller launch were not happy times at Chez Nathan. I’d been working harder than I knew I could, and I’m a compulsive worker.

Things came up in those final days that would tank my campaign no matter what I did.

Remember a few posts back when I talked about what happens if you’re a regular publisher with books in a warehouse and your own account with Amazon? (As opposed to someone using a POD service that will take care of this for you.) You can’t just call up Amazon and say, “Hey! I’m having an event, you’d better stock up with books.”

There’s no one to call on Amazon, or there wasn’t back when I did the Bestseller Party. You have to go on line, find the place on their website to contact customer service.

Having found the place to ask for help, you make a request, “Yoo-hoo––we’re having this little sales event and think we’re going to sell a truckload of books. Could you, maybe send us a shipping order for a few? Like 500? Or 20?” They will respond in (their) good time, assign you a case number, and, if you’re lucky, authorize you to ship.

You CAN’T send books to Amazon without their issuing an order.

We delayed asking Amazon to send us a shipping order because we found out that if we didn’t sell them, Amazon would ship the books back to our warehouse at our expense, eating our profit. I asked Irene Watson of ReaderViews how many books her previous “parties” had sold. Quite a range. My husband and I stewed over it. How many books would we sell? We had no idea.

Four days before the party, my husband (Barry) exclaimed, “Oh, shoot! I forgot to ask Amazon for a shipping order.

“What?!” Things were already tense between us.

I’d asked him to make a few calls to potential sponsors for me. I needed  help. I know my husband could sell ice to penguins if he wanted to. But he couldn’t figure out the simple process for approaching and obtaining sponsors that I had outlined for him.

“When do they get their webmasters involved?” he asked. “Is it after sending the glossy head shots?”

We went over the sponsor contact process several times, including me sending him the infamous email I’d sent to sponsors telling them what I needed from them. (This email that caused several potential sponsors to disappear forever.) Despite my coaching, Barry was flummoxed by the whole process and couldn’t explain what to do to anyone.

Fortunately, none of the people I asked him to contact called back, so he was safe.

Now, we were approaching THE DAY and Amazon just had a few books on hand. Barry made a snap decision, estimating how many we’d sell, and contacted Amazon.

“I think you’ll sell … really a lot!” Barry said. I felt very good about the number he selected: It was a positive-thinking, very large number. Showed he had confidence in me. The timing was tight, but our totally-on-the-ball warehouse could ship the minute we got the order from Amazon.

“If the books aren’t in stock, Amazon won’t fill orders,” my girlfriend said, being helpful. “They won’t, really.”

By this time, it was two days before the event. We hadn’t heard from Amazon. Barry sent more emails. I sent one that should have blown out the windows anywhere it was received.

“How many books do we have with Amazon now, Barry?” I asked.

“Thirteen.” We had thirteen books to fuel my Amazon day, the day that had me blubbering at my computer in exhaustion.

The night that this went down, I dragged myself up to bed, knowing that I’d done it. A few more details to polish off, like figuring out how to use  ConstantContact & buffing up my mailing list, writing a few letters, but I’d done it. The gift list looked killer. (Just take a look at that puppy! [22011 It's been taken down now, alas.]) I’d touched bases with every social networking site known, posted and pitched and announced. I had a profile page everywhere.

I looked and felt like death, but knew I would feel better after a shower.

Barry came bounding up the stairs, huge intellect flaming, mental cogs turning. He’d just done a financial analysis. “If we sell all the books we want to ship to Amazon (at the piddly profit we make per book) and pay our expenses (ReaderViews’ fees among them), we’ll make $350.” He glared at me, as though it was my fault.

I snapped. I did more than snap, I roared. Marital tip: Never bring up money issues at night. Before my husband’s careful analysis, I had a general idea that the monetary aspects of my enterprise would not be the reward. But I had no idea …

THEN THE DAY WAS UPON US.

When I saw Irene’s email, I sent out a frantic note to my sponsors, saying, “Hi, this is Sandy Nathan. I wrote you a while ago about my Amazon Bestseller day and then sent you a reminder yesterday. Remember?  Did you send out emails to your list? Uh––if you didn’t, could you maybe do it now? Because …”

“Did you send your notice of my Amazon Day to your email list as you agreed to do?” is a question with a yes or no answer. “Yes I did,” or “No, I didn’t, but I will right now.”

“WOW, SANDY, WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY IS JUST THE START. YOU’VE GOT SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO. THINGS ARE REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN NOW. I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU. CONGRATULATIONS!” is not an acceptable answer to my question. I got several responses like that from my big sponsors, or no response at all.

I had some big names among my sponsors and I don’t know how many of them actually sent the invitations to my party to their humongous mailing lists. Why should they? They didn’t know me from squat. There was was no reason for them to do anything for me, and I had no power to enforce their compliance. I’ll never find out what really happened, either.

My sponsors who were friends responded, “Yes, I mailed my list.” One responded with, “Omigod, I think my email servers’ messed up.” She redid her list, changed servers, and sent her request again. A couple of sponsors did double mailings for me. That was very sweet and felt supportive. I’m very grateful to my friends and I’ll support them, any time.

I was thrilled to see Stepping Off the Edge leap from Amazon’s frozen sub-basement, the 2,000,000th level in sales to the astonishing 44,000th level. This was right around 11 AM, at which time I was frantically trying to find out if my sponsors had done what they said they would.

I watched Stepping‘s sales ranking all day. It peaked at 44,000, then dropped, hovering around the 48,000th level, before heading southward fast. Never came anywhere near being a bestseller or even an OK seller.

Irene Watson of ReaderViews was very sympathetic and suggested that we let the launch run another day. She had another Amazon Day for another author the next day and didn’t want to bombard her mailing list of over 10,000 with too many emails, so she didn’t resend the invitation to my Day to her list. But we left the offer up another day. It might still be there, for all I know. It is! As of this writing, ReaderViews still has my page up!

HOW DID WE DO AT THE END OF THE DAY? No clue. You have to wait for the next day for the Amazon Advantage and Associates stats to appear on line.

For a really long time, it looked like we sold 1 book. ONE BOOK! Was I shocked? No, hysterical, as in laughing out loud. I couldn’t imagine doing that badly. At that point, I was excited having the WORST Amazon Day in history. If I was going to fail, might as well FAIL BIG!

Turned out that we sold TWO (2) books through Amazon.

Not a happy day.

Not a happy day. Though this photo doesn't relate to my Amazon Day. If you look carefully, you will see that I'm reading Elvis Presley's biography. Now that's a sad tale.

And it was a good thing, because AMAZON NEVER RESPONDED TO OUR REQUEST FOR A PURCHASE ORDER ALLOWING US TO SHIP BOOKS TO THEM. If we’d sold more than 13 books, we’d be up a creek.

[When the stats shook out it turned out we also sold 11 books through our Amazon Associate account, from which we get a few pennies per book. The 11 books came from Amazon resellers, not from Amazon.  (You know who the resellers are, yes? They are the people who offer books Amazon is selling for $12.99 for 35 cents. Resellers get their books in many ways, that's a later blog post. The bottom line of sales through resellers for the publisher and the author is: "So sorry, babe. You get nuthin'.")

I had worked full-bore for weeks and made less money than our handyman does shoveling manure for five minutes.

How about the increase in the number of names on my mailing list that is part of the allure of the Amazon Bestseller Day? Uh. I lost four names and got reported as spam once. Turned out some of my neighbors from the subdivision roster that I added to my email list wouldn't recognize me in the grocery story and didn't want to know my news.

A few other oddities: So we sold 13 books. That means we'd expect 13 downloads of each of the prizes. The gift download page was password protected and depended upon folks not only giving their Amazon receipt number, but also signing up for my newsletter.

So how come the e-book of a major on-line book publicist was downloaded 97 times? Another big name's gift was downloaded 47 times?

I was outraged. What kind of people break in and steal something that's FREE? Who rips off writers? We're notoriously the poorest paid people in the world. I railed about the condition of society and human nature, until one of our computer expert friends said, "You can Google those pages and download the stuff. Anyone can get those prizes if they're on the 'net."  Oh.

This was not a happy time.

What do you win at the end of the day?

What do you win at the end of the day? I started this blog with a story about horse shows and winning. I really like to win. When is a loss a win? When you reframe the situation so you WIN. Because of the search engine dominance I've attained by blogging about my Day, this was a big win. I want to thank you, my readers, for taking this walk with me. To date, YourShelfLife.com has had more than 15,000 requests for pages. Not bad for an infant a few months old.

It does have an up side. Please do a Google search. Search for: Amazon Best Seller Day, Amazon Bestseller Day, or even Amazon Bestseller Day Randy Gilbert. As of this writing, my name and these articles dominate those searches. This series of blog articles shows up all over the first search pages, and back, for pages and pages.

This series will have impact long after the top Amazon Bestseller Day ever is forgotten.

In the next article, I’ll answer the question: Would I do it again?

We’ll do a post-mortem and talk about what worked and what didn’t. What did I learn? There are some gems from this.

So long, compadres!

SANDY NATHAN

SERIES INDEX:
Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game recap

2011 UPDATE:

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Winner of seventeen national awards

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

And look here, everyone. This is what I look like now (2011).


I went from the babe up above, to a gray-haired lady. Yes, the Bestseller Day made me go gray! (Along with about 19 years. I’m 47 up above. Do the math for now.

Amazon Bestseller Day Giant Mailing Lists Are All that Matter––It’s a Numbers Game! Part 6

Sandy Nathan, Award winning author of Numenon

Sandy Nathan, Award winning author of Numenon

“Mom, you’re scaring me,” my daughter said as I snapped at her. I was working on my “Amazon Party” round the clock.

Her words moved me, but didn’t slow me down. I was out of control, in hyper drive with no turning back. As the only one in the family who understood everything that had to be done before December 9th, my Amazon Party Day, I was in the hot seat. I WOULD get it all done. I’d DIE before I’d let something I’d committed to be a failure.

I’d finally grasped the truth: The only way for my Bestseller Day to succeed was for me to get the invitation in front of as many people as I could. Most people wouldn’t even look at it; I had to hook the 1% who’d open the emailed invitation into buying. That meant enlisting sponsors with huge mailing lists––40,000 and more––to join me and send out invitations to my Party. I looked around my world frantically, thinking of whom I could enlist.

Something else dawned on me: The easiest new customers are the ones I already had. I needed to tap into my own web presence and make my regular readers know what was happening.

I got into writing for the web in 1998, eons ago in web time. Our first website was for our horse ranch, Rancho Vilasa. We hired a young computer consultant to help us put it up. He taught me the fundamentals of Dreamweaver, that wonderful web page composition tool. I started Spurs Magazine, my ‘zine dedicated to almost everything, and was off. Now I run a family of more than 50 URLs, domains, all hosted from my beloved Dreamhost.

I got just under 29,000 requests for pages (which is the relevant measure of “hits”) in January 2009, and about 251,000 in 2008, from my four blogs and collections of web sites and ‘zines. When I began writing on the web, I had no plan. I wrote about what I was interested in. Apparently others were interested in the same stuff. Here are a few of my ‘zines:

SPURS MAGAZINE: I woke up one morning, looked at the news and said, “This is not OK with me.” Spurs Magazine is my answer. Has it helped? Judge for yourself. Does the world look better?
RANCHO VILASA Our horse ranch. Beautiful horse photos and info.
LITTLE INDIA IN ARTESIA CA Spotlights the second largest ethnic Indian community in the US. This article Googles #1.
YES, GOOD DOG About positive dog training, which we learned about when I adopted three INSANE little dogs when my daughters left home, leaving me with empty nest syndrome.
EQUINES & HEARTSTRINGS A ‘zine devoted to horses and humane horse training. Beautiful pictures and great stories.
AN ODE TO EBAY: Everything you wanted to know about eBay, including how addictive it is. The story of my recovery is in my book, Stepping Off the Edge.
LIVING SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Your life is your spiritual path, it really is.
And the obvious:
SANDY NATHAN’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
MY OFFICIAL BLOG

Each of those has multiple pages, and may attach to other ‘zines. Check ‘em out. I guarantee good reading. Persuasive reading. We once had a man read my stuff about horses on the ‘net and come all the way from Australia to see them. He bought three. He said, “I got started reading your web site and couldn’t stop …”

I had to let my existing readers know what about my Amazon Bestseller Day. That meant updating HUNDREDS of web pages. It was HORRIBLE. I found pages that had offers that had expired years before, fixed pages that looked like a kindergartner had done them, and spent hours putting information about the Amazon Day on each page and then loaded them. And checked them once up. Did the links work?  Arhghhh!!!!!

Thank God for psychopathology. Prayer really helps, but when assisted by the OC of OCD, it’s dynamite.

“Mom, you’re scaring me.” I was scary, I have to admit it.

Time was really short. I spent 14 hours days at my computer, ignoring my swelling ankle. What were my doctor’s orders and my recovery from surgery when I had work to do? Not only did I have to update my web sites, I had to do the social networking thing. Everyone agrees that social networking is where it is. Where was I?

In days, I signed up for all the major social sites, put up profiles, copied my blog, and announced my Amazon Bestseller Day when I could figure out how to do it. Oh, yeah––I tried to establish  relationships on threads of conversations I haven’t found since.

“You need a way to capture your buyers’ email addresses when they download their prizes,” said Irene Watson of ReaderViews. That word “capture” is another one of those marketing buzzwords that tick me off. Are people prey, in addition to objects to be driven? But it had to be done. I’d had ConstantContact for years, too intimidated to try to get it going. I had to now, though it scared me to death.

Not only was my psychopathology flaming at this point, my spirituality was aroused, too. My book Stepping Off the Edge is about spiritual practice––yes, prayer, meditation, worship, giving to good causes, keeping a clean mind and blissful soul.  Stepping Off the Edge is about all the usual types of spiritual practice, in addition to the spiritual trials of today: eBay addiction, infatuation with rock stars, and facing evil as it appears in daily life.

Most of my life has been devoted to finding and cleaning up my soul. When I wrote Stepping, I had spent thirty some years in very active spiritual practice, some of it in ashrams, most at home. I had attended more than sixty meditation retreats, in addition to retreats of other denominations, including The Gathering, the Native American retreat where some of Stepping Off the Edge takes place.

Although I get sidetracked and miss the mark, my life is devoted spirituality and the cultivation of the spirit. I realized, as my family cruised by my permanent seat at the computer looking worried about me, that I was in a danger area. A “red light” area, in Weight Watcher’s parlance.

Compulsive achievement and ambition are my weaknesses. I come from Silicon Valley, what do you expect? I was squarely in the heart of my personal darkness.

I snagged some big names as sponsors. People with really large mailing lists. Famous people in the book and publicity trade. Lookin’ good.

The pages showing the gifts were up and looked gorgeous. And somehow, all the family members who’d seemed to desert me gathered round in the last few days. I got expert help figuring out Constant Contact. My daughter didn’t get my book video done, but she did mount an exquisite slide show of The Gathering, the spiritual retreat that inspired Stepping Off the Edge. Here it is!

The web page invitation was up and gorgeous. I was handling giving out the gifts to people who either didn’t have their own web sites or couldn’t get their web teams going to do the necessary pages. The web work needed to setup downloadable gifts was done.

I sent Irene Watson the information she needed to fill out the ReaderViews pages and invitation. Unfortunately, I got it in at 5PM California time rather than 8 AM her time, as she wanted. (She got up at 5 AM the next day to post my prizes.)

But I’d done it! On the eve of the event, I’d pulled together a miracle.

I wasn’t happy, mostly because I still had to assemble and update my own email list and write a sample email to all my sponsors for them to send with their emailed invitations.

As I worked into the night, something came to me. One of those glimmerings that we get when we’re in real trouble. I was reminded of something that happened years ago.

Back in the 1970s, I found myself a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. At that time, I thought education was the salvation of the world. If everyone just got educated enough, we’d stop killing each other and destroying the planet.

I thought that people with PhDs behind their names were God. Not like God, God. Being in a PhD program, I got up close and personal with a lot of PhDs. I saw many things that opened my eyes, pretty horrific mangling of other human beings by my educated idols. I learned that smart people, educated people, people with PhDs are just people. Some are beatific and wonderful; some are as toxic as the poisons we pour into our rivers and ourselves.

In those days, I viewed people as collections of achievements. It was like people were pieces of paper walking around, resumes. Collections of awards and trophies. I was scared stiff of them, seeing only lists of accomplishments.

I didn’t see my fellow human beings in all their depth and complexity, I saw lists. I walked away from that world and found one much more valuable. The world of flesh and blood, spirit and value. Love and family. I learned and got better.

How I Felt on the Eve of my Amazon Bestseller Day

How I Felt on the Eve of my Amazon Bestseller Day

As I prepared for my Amazon night, I realized that I’d reverted to that earlier Sandy. I saw people now, not as collections of academic and professional achievements, but as possessors of mailing lists.

I’d made a bad trade. I had settled for a cheaper goal.

That’s it,

Sandy

Next time, we’ll look at what happened. How many books did I sell? How much did I make? How high did Stepping Off the Edge climb? How long did it stay there?

Would I do it again?

The photo above is the winner of an “It’s not my Job!” contest in Arizona. I felt like that opossum must have felt. And I had done my job.

SERIES INDEX:
Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game Recap

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