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

2 Mar

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.
  • 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.



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.


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.

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

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. YOUR SHELF LIFE » Amazon Bestseller Day Best Seller or Bust? Part 1 - September 17, 2011

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  2. YOUR SHELF LIFE » Amazon Bestseller Day Getting Best Selling Sponsors Part 3 - September 17, 2011

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  3. Sandy Nathan's YOUR SHELF LIFE » Can I Achieve Fame and Glory by Giving Away an Angel? Or––Does Amazon’s KDP Giveaway Program Work? - July 17, 2012

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