by Niall Doherty

Exactly a week ago I published my new book, The Cargo Ship Diaries. It’s available for purchase both here on my website, and on Amazon.

I’m aiming for 100 sales of the book before April 14th (i.e. within the first two weeks of launch). We’re halfway there now, and these are the results so far:

Sales via my website

  • Pre-sales (ebook): 18
  • Pre-sales (ebook + audio): 9
  • Total sales to date: 42
  • Total revenue: $450.25
  • Average revenue per sale: $10.72

Sales via Amazon

  • Total sales to date: 13
  • Total revenue: $80.08
  • Average revenue per sale: $6.16

Totals

  • Sales to date: 55
  • Revenue: $530.33
  • Average revenue per sale: $9.64

Reviews

A five-star review of The Cargo Ship Diaries on Amazon

The reviews of The Cargo Ship Diaries have been mostly positive so far. From ten total reviews on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, the book has received seven 5-star reviews, two 4-star reviews, and one 1-star review. (You can check out my response to the latter here. I think I handled it pretty well.)

If you’ve read the book but haven’t yet left a review, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take five minutes to do so. It helps a lot.

What I did wrong

There are a few things I wish I’d done differently these past couple of weeks, which I’m sure would have led to more sales. Here’s how I messed up…

1. I left it too late to send out review copies

I sent out a few dozen complimentary copies of the book to friends and bloggers, but I didn’t start doing this until two days before launch. I should have done it at least a week in advance so they had time to read it, give feedback, and leave reviews.

2. I didn’t have guest posts or interviews lined up to accompany the launch

It helps to have online influencers spreading the word about your book and driving traffic to your sales page. I could have achieved that by writing a guest post or two for well-known travel blogs, or lining up interviews with popular podcasts. I can still do such things of course (and I still plan to), but it would have been best to have all publicity coincide with the launch.

3. I rushed everything

It’s good to give yourself a deadline, and I was determined to get the book published by March 31st so I could move on and focus on other projects. In hindsight, I believe that rush hurt more than it helped. Another week would have given me time to organize some guest posts and send out those review copies nice and early.

4. I never built a launch list

I figured there was no need to set up a new mailing list for people interested in buying the book. I had 800+ people on my travel list and directed most of my marketing efforts at them. However, I now believe a dedicated list for those who expressed interest in the book would have been a better idea, adding an air of exclusivity to the launch.

What I did right

While I messed up quite a lot, I also managed to get a few things right. Such as…

1. I wrote a pretty good book

Ultimately what matters is that people enjoy reading the book. Given the feedback so far, it seems most readers got a kick out of it, and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside 🙂

2. I offered an audio version

Via my website people can buy just the ebook for $10, or the ebook plus audio book for $15. So far, giving people the option of buying the audio book has resulted in an extra $65 revenue. That doesn’t reward me much for the time invested to create the audio version (approximately seven hours), but in the long run it should.

3. I didn’t just sell the book on Amazon

When you sell a book on Amazon, you only receive 30-65% commission for each sale. Selling the book directly via my website not only allowed me to offer a money-back guarantee and an audio version, but I was also able to collect a much higher cut of each sale. If I had sold all 55 copies of the book through Amazon, I’d have lost out on almost $200 so far.

4. I released a fun promotional video to coincide with the launch

The only downside there is that the video can’t be viewed in some countries due to copyright restrictions on the music I used 🙁

What would you do?

My efforts to promote the book continue. I’m sure there are many other things I could be doing to spread the word and drive more sales. I’d love to hear your ideas for doing so. If this was your book, how would you market it?

Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. If you haven’t yet read The Cargo Ship Diaries, you can grab a copy right here.

JULY ONLINE INCOME: $3,743

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