catapultI am incredibly lucky. My editor, Chris, not only offered me his superb editing services for free; he was just starting his indie author support business and he wanted to hone his marketing approach on my book. He offered to make a full-out marketing campaign for me, free of charge.
I jumped at that chance.


The 4th of January, we had our first Skype call when we basically got to know each other better. Chris asked me several questions about my up to date marketing strategy (almost non-existent).

He came back to me 2 days later, with the marketing plan for the book launch. It was detailed, 4-page document with many tactics, including the creation of a pre-launch mailing list, social media, networking with other bloggers, the usage of my blog and more.

On the 8th of January, Chris established a Trello board for our campaign, a crucial project management tool for our launch. The whole launch was broken down to specific tasks. The tasks were divided into time sequence and assigned between two of us.


On the 10th of January I contacted my mentor S.J. Scott and 3 bloggers with whom I had some previous relationships and for whose audiences I thought my book would be helpful. My mentor and Timo Kiander, the owner of Productive Superdad, were aware of my book and had read it in advance, but I didn’t discuss any help from him before.

Anyway, S.J. and Timo agreed to help me, both of them wanted to arrange my guest post on their blogs. The one for S.J. had even been already written.

Lidiya from Let’s Reach Success also agreed to help me out. Another blogger was willing to help, but our schedules didn’t fit very well. All of them gave me helpful advice about my upcoming launch.

There was a confusing period of a few days when I waited for the info from Chris on Trello, which already had been posted. It was then that we decided to further break down our to-do lists into “Chris to-do” and “Michal to-do.”

The 15th of January, I managed to set up a new email list, sign up form and a landing page. I sent a broadcast to my list (48 names, 13% open rate).

On the 16th, I tackled Trello and the communication process between me and Chris. I started to reach out to the bloggers he found.
I also published the first teaser post on my blog.

In the meantime, I formatted the book, got four versions of the cover and posted them on a few FB groups for crowd voting. Judging by the results of my promo and the sales afterwards it’s a very effective tactic.


Then the shit hit the fan at my work. On Friday, January 17th, I worked from 12:30 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. and worked throughout the weekend as well.

I was discouraged as hell. Chris was very supportive. From that moment on, he took the initiative and I just awaited his instructions.
On the 19th, I uploaded “Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day” to Amazon and got the ASIN number. Chris started posting the info to the freebie sites.

I managed to send a couple of emails to bloggers on Monday 20th of January. I also finished my guest post which was scheduled for Wednesday. Chris did some emergency editing of it.

I was also busy making several versions of the landing page for the bloggers who agreed to help me.

January 21st I was visiting blogs and preparing my pitch in advance till 2a.m. On the 22nd, I took a day off from work, sat down and sent 14 personalized emails within 2.5 hours.

The pre-launch period

All our efforts were starting to bear fruit. On the 22nd of January, my guest posts on ProductiveSuperdad and on EarningFreeMoney went live (the second one was composed by Chris and edited by me). Several people subscribed to the launch list.

On the 23rd, Emily from published an enthusiastic review on her blog. The email list grew further.

On the 24th, I published a blog post sharing my sand-grain method from the book’s and I sent an email to my list announcing the post. Both items were prepared by Chris, I need formatted them and made some small, final edits.

The broadcast was sent to 67 subscribers and had a 15% open rate.

On January 25th, Lidiya published a post on her blog, sharing with her audience the news about my book. Very generous of her!

On the 27th of January, I sent an email to David Allen, who invented and perfected the Getting Things Done productivity system. I was super stoked to get his reply the very same day. Here are some excerpts:

Thanks for your lovely e-mail. I’m always delighted to hear when someone takes GTD to heart and actually implements it–it always works! (…)

And thanks for the link to your book. I’m rather stretched in my own time resources to do anything but work on my own next book project (updating GTD); so no promises that I will get to it anytime soon.

Well, not much in terms of help, but a gigantic amount of encouragement. Just in time, as I was approaching the point of total exhaustion.
I published the last post on my blog in the pre-launch sequence.


Compared to the crazy amount of work we put into preparations, the launch itself was a piece of cake.

On the day of the launch, my guest post on my mentor’s blog went live and it was the first guest post ever on Develop Good Habits. I swelled with pride 😉

What’s more, S.J. sent a broadcast to his list, which is considerably larger than mine. At the end of the day he informed me that over 220 people had clicked over to my book.

I also sent the broadcast to my list (72 people). It had a 27% ctr.

I posted daily on freebie FB groups using my list. I tried to keep my announcements always present in the current feed. Almost 48 hours after the launch I sent a follow up to those from launch email list who didn’t open the first message. This one had an even better 39% ctr.

Chris did everything in his power to sustain the momentum. He sent an email to his list. He also secured a guest post on FreeBookDude in my name. It went live on the 30th and I think it drove great results in the last day of the promo.

Chris is a very resourceful guy, this post had been rejected by another blogger and he managed to utilize it!

To boost the downloads in the last day Chris came up with the idea of the review contest, but my list’s response was very weak, only 3% ctr. I think they were tired of this email bombardment 😉
I posted one last time on FB groups urging readers to download before the promo expired and I went to bed anticipating the results.
On the 1st of February, I woke up early. It was still a few hours before midnight in the USA. I checked the stats and I was blown away! My book was #84 on the free Kindle list!!

My greedy side said to extend the promo for another day, but I decided that my word is worth more than a few thousand additional downloads. Practicing integrity was painful at that particular time, but I believe it is rewarding in the end.

I checked the numbers once again, after the midnight in the USA. The last day was great, well over 1.5k downloads.


The downloads grew on as follows:
Day 1: about 580
Day 2: up to 1250
Day 3: up to 1940
Day 4: up to 3531
Totals from other markets were: 411 98 28 42
and about 40 on other markets.

The book got 13 reviews, most of them 5 stars.

My list grew from 47 before the launch idea (at the beginning of January) to over 125 at the time of writing this post (13th of February). Well over 100%. I’ll take that!


Free sites

Chris submitted the promo to 24 freebie sites. I submitted it only to Only 6 sites actually published my promo (Chris checked all the sites on 31st of January).
Those were: – I cooperated with them with my past promos. I highly recommend their service, especially because the listing stays on their site and can be a source traffic to your book in the future. – Chris also submitted this guest post in my name. The listing is permanent. – It wasn’t a very big source of traffic. I know because it was one of the couple of sites out of those which published, that allowed shortlinks. I got a few dozen downloads through them, but their efficiency (they published!) and the ability to track their results with shortlinks is valuable in itself. – Their listing is also permanent and they allow shortlinks too. – Permanent listing and they send readers directly to the UK store. About 10% of my overall downloads were in the UK.

There is a big lesson here for indie authors. We should definitely track the quality of service of these freebie sites. Only 25% of them actually published the info for my book! Every indie author knows how much time it could take to submit your entry.

On the other hand, the impact of free sites can be significant. I was able to track back only about 14% of my downloads via shortlinks and info provided by S.J. A whopping 86% were the results of word of mouth, Amazon marketing at work and untraceable freebie sites.

Facebook freebie groups

These are all featured in my blog post:

Other social media

Chris posted reviews to two groups on Reddit using one of our shortlinks. This turned out to be a great source of traffic, we’ll see the numbers for that in a bit. The info about my book was tweeted a couple of times by various authors and people ‘in the business’ (Greetings Jay!).


It’s awkward to include it in the resource section, but where else? These people helped me with my launch. Here is who and how:

S.J. Scott from published my guest post with the link to my book on Amazon at the end. He also sent a broadcast to his list, which is about 1,800 members strong.

Timo Kiander from published my guest post with an invitation to join my pre-launch list. He also sent a teaser mail to his list about this guest post.

Lidiya from Let’ extensively quoted excerpts from my book in her post about productivity and invited her readers to join my pre-launch list.

Louida from published my guest post with an invitation to join my pre-launch list.

Emily from wrote an enthusiastic review of my book and told her readers how to join my pre-launch list.

Six other bloggers answered my appeal for help, but our schedules didn’t fit very well or they were just those polite enough to send me an email refusing their involvement.

At the beginning of the launch, my pre-launch list included 22 email addresses.


I used for the links posted on FB groups. They were clicked about 230 times (I don’t know when exactly, because reporting is in my timezone) during the promo. About 30% came on the 1st day, 30% on the 2nd, 22.5% on the 3rd and the remaining 17.5% on the last day.

Only 8.7% were clicks to non-US markets, but the downloads in foreign markets were about 17% of the overall number of downloads. This tells me that foreign customers hang out more on freebie sites than on FB.

It could be very profitable to precisely target such freebie sites. I suppose has a lot to do with my good results in the UK and, in one of my previous promos, one of the pages had good exposure in Japan (I got 17% of overall downloads in Japan). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to track down which one.

Chris used shortlinks to track his efforts. He got 114 clicks.

It looks like Reddit turned out to be a much bigger traffic source than we expected, it accounted for 40.5% of “his” traffic. Facebook was the next biggest.
Out of the freebie sites, it looks like was the best traffic generator. Remember, those are only conclusions from a partial data set (14%).


I couldn’t resist the temptation of checking my book’s rank and sales. I did it at 3 p.m. I sold 7 copies of “Master Your Time…” and a few copies of my other books. Cool, the launch strategy seemed to be working! It was the first time I priced my book above $1. The sales have been already higher than my average daily sales from past month and the revenue was a few dozen times higher. AND my 3 p.m. was still an early morning in the USA.

I was excited, but it was nothing compared to what I found the next day checking the sales stats.

In the first 24 hours after the promo ended, I sold 68 copies on the US market and about a dozen on different foreign markets (6 in UK)!
One day, and the profits were bigger than my last 2 months of royalties put together.

After the launch, the book climbed to #2 in following categories:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Investing > Business Life > Time Management

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Self-Help > Creativity

It peaked at #2579 on Kindle.

Within 3 days I sold 96 copies in USA, 25 copies in UK and about a dozen on other markets.

Within 11 days I sold about 350 copies and my book was borrowed more than 40 times.

My other books’ sales jumped from 4.48 copies a day to 7.27 copies a day.

The free promo is not dead yet, but its advantages rise exponentially after you break a certain level of downloads.
Where exactly is this ‘certain level’? I don’t know. I know it is above 1k threshold, because my promos in the past had reached this point and the sales afterwards weren’t so impressive. It is probably well above 1k downloads.


Although the results were amazing, not everything we planned worked out smoothly.
But most of the shortcomings were due to fact that both Chris and I were doing a coordinated book launch campaign for the first time. Our communication was imperfect.

The Trello board was an excellent idea and helped us a lot, but I had to get familiar with it. Sometimes I waited for Chris’ input, only to find it had already been added. Sometimes, our communication or efforts were redundant; for example, at one point, Chris and I were searching independently for the contact information on the blogs we were going to contact.

We planned to run quite a campaign on Facebook, but we got a list of FB pages rather than FB groups. These need to be approached as blogs, via their owners. We realized it too late and had no time to look for other places to connect to the audience.

Chris planned to send a series of tweets to Twitter users who specialize in tweeting about free books, but he realized that it would have spammed my Twitter followers. You need a dedicated account for such an action.

Lessons for other authors

Your assets

If you are an indie author you HAVE TO have your platform and mailing list. Those are the prerequisites. Most of self-publishing authors do realize that, but this launch has taught me that you never should assume something in advance.
So, step zero is: setup your website and a mailing list infrastructure. I use Aweber (affiliate link) for managing my mailing list and this blog as my platform.


If you don’t have the time and/or ideas for your book promotion, connect with someone who has a marketing background to join your team.
In hindsight, the steps we undertook are quite obvious, but I alone lacked the imagination (and confidence) to come up with them.
Chris saw the potential in my book, and approached the launch from a whole new direction (for me). And his input was enormous: his research, writing and editing my guest posts, emails and teaser posts on my blog – it was just too much to do for me alone.

Prepare in advance

It’s very important. But it’s not urgent and we tend to focus on urgent things and ignore the important ones. Not a wise time management tactic (with which I deal in “Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day” 😉 ).
It’s not a bad idea to learn before you do. I learned on the fly: how to set up a landing page on my blog and how to manage sending emails to a few mailing lists at once.
I also searched for the keywords and appropriate categories on Amazon in January. This job could be done much earlier.
All these tasks meant I had less time for strictly launch-related tasks.

I regret that I didn’t start the preparations earlier. We had just 25 days for the launch and half of this time we spent on planning. It meant we needed to compress a lot of tasks into the week before launch. It helped to gain some momentum, but it also meant we did everything in a hurry and the amount of work almost overwhelmed me (I have no idea how Chris coped with his, more extensive part).
Note from Chris:

I just kept watching the “Done” list in Trello grow and that was so energizing and inspiring. Also, (not a plug for the book, though it may seem so) the concepts in Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day were a huge help. Two specifically made a huge difference: Tackling the biggest task first, and using the Sand-Grains Method.

Due to the short time between the moment of contact and the launch, some bloggers couldn’t give me a hand and some freebie sites were not able to publish my listing on time. I got an email with apologies from because of that. BTW, I’m impressed by their level of customer service, no other site that failed to post my promo has apologized. We even have worked out some compensation!


Part of being prepared in advance is having relationships already developed. Timo and S.J. Scott helped me without a moment of hesitation, because they knew me. They also knew about my upcoming book, because I shared this info with them.
I exchanged a few emails with Lidiya before reaching out for help.

A lot of bloggers are willing to help. I reached out to 24 people who have never heard of me before. About half of them replied and a few of them agreed to help.
I had a 100% success rate among the people with whom I already had existing relationships. It’s an ample subject (and I plan a whole post about it), but I’ll give you one piece of advice which helped me most in connecting: visit and comment on others’ blogs.

Everything else

Get a few drafts of your cover and put them in FB groups for crowd-voting. It works.

Facebook doesn’t seem to be a big source of traffic. As far I could track, only about 5% of downloads were coming directly from the freebie groups. But I got most of the reviews from there. AND it’s so easy to post your ads on FB, that’s it’s a sin not to post. AND I got over 20 clicks after the promo, which means additional sales.

Facebook is a place for American audiences, freebie sites are the source of international traffic.

Most Facebook clicks happened during the first 2 days of the promo.

Track your traffic sources using shortlinks. We were able to track only about 14% of the traffic, but even partial knowledge is better than none.

The more you do for your book, the more Amazon will leverage your efforts. When I did a weak 1-day promo in December I was able to track back 41% of my traffic.

Amazon works for you

I’ll show you it in the bare numbers:
I generated 75 downloads myself during that 1-day promo, through posts on FB freebie groups and a broadcast to my small list. I couldn’t pinpoint 105 downloads, which were generated from other sources – 1 freebie site and Amazon organic traffic.

During the recent launch, I pinpointed about 664 downloads generated by our efforts – S.J.’s and my broadcasts to mailing lists, FB, Reddit and a couple of freebie sites which allowed a shortlink.
I wasn’t able to track down over 3400 downloads – they came from 4 other freebie sites, Twitter and Amazon organic traffic.

Thank you

Chris, for your amazing support. I owe you man.
Hynek, for the cover. Superb job!
S.J., Timo, Lidiya, Louida and Emily for your help.
My TC friends, for their relentless encouragement.
My subscribers, for their patience 😉
My readers. I write for you.

Now it’s your turn

Please share in the comments how you drive readers to your books, and let other indie authors learn from your experience!

Don’t know how to start on Kindle? Here is how I started with my 1st book with no clue whatsoever.

Book Launch Autopsy

25 thoughts on “Book Launch Autopsy

  • February 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for putting this post together. It is very detailed and helpful. I am looking into publishing a book (or two) in Kindle in the next few months and found this post informational. Congrats on your successful book launch!

    • February 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      You’re welcome Janet. I’m very pleased you found it informational. That was my goal.
      I wish you the success with your books.

  • February 16, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Thanks so much for your detailed report. I’ll try to incorporate some of your strategies to help me with my first Kindle book.

  • February 16, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Great rapport / documentation, Michal! I am always fascinated by this stuff. I will probably return to this post later when I publish a book on my own. Which is likely to happen in the coming months.

    “If you are an indie author you HAVE TO have your platform and mailing list. Those are the prerequisites”

    — This is so true.

    • February 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Those are prerequisities to any online activity in my humble opinion. It’s just that authors focus so much on their writing that they tend to ignore the business side of things.

  • February 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Excellent article, one of the things I really liked about it is that you don’t have a large mailing list. You are like most of us, our lists are small. All the big names have huge lists and you did this with tiny list. Gives us all encouragement that small is ok too, just get going.
    You also show how if you do some leg work and set up the relationships and start building the elements, maybe six months before you need them, it can really pay off and not be a crazy launch. Lots to think about here.

    • February 17, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Hey Bruce, you summerized it pretty well. I’m surprised myself how great the results are!

  • February 18, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    What a fascinating look at your launch! This is absolutely fantastic.

    I published a book a while ago, but it was totally free, so it was way easier to get out there (I didn’t ask folks to register for a mailing list or anything like that). When I launch my next one I’ll definitely be using your post as reference. Thanks for assembling this!

  • February 20, 2014 at 3:02 pm


    Great results from your book. It is great to see that hustle and marketing can work wonders! I think this should be really encouraging for people getting started. Simply publishing a book is not enough, you have to get out there and make that launch. A lot of behind the scenes stuff!

    Keep up the good work!

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  • April 27, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Cheers for putting all this together, Michal. It helped me a lot as I’m trying to create some kind of a marketing strategy like that for my first book. And I can rarely find all importat things summarized like that.

    Best wishes 🙂

    • April 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

      I’m very glad you found it helpful. That’s exactly why I put it together.

  • July 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Hi Michal

    Thank you for sharing your ebook journey

    I wanted to suggest also posting kindle books that are on free promo days to a site called

    And second…I see that your book does not have a paper back copy

    I just put one of my books as a paperback (in addiction to kindle) and I have already earned $55 in less than 2 weeks, from 15 copies)

    I used

    Good luck

    • August 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks for the tips Kayvee.
      Yes, I intend to produce paperbacks. I just can’t find time for this.

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  • October 15, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Hi Michal! I stumbled upon your site through Steve Scott’s. Your story shared is awesome! I am inspired! I am working on my ebook and is based in Singapore. So I’m interested in learning from you as someone outside the US/UK Market (or are you in UK?). Most ebooks in Amazon is not available here so I have to use my US account whenever I purchase. Now I am curious what happens if I publish a book and whether there is any repercussion – coming from a non-US location.

    • October 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I live in Poland, Europe.
      There are no restrictions for purchases on for me.

      You may have troubles with configuring EFT payments, but you can check it in your KDP account even before publishing.

      I’m not aware of any other repercussions.

  • January 28, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Hi Michal,
    First of all – thank you for your detailed post – very impressive and very helpful.

    However, I’m not sure I understand the mindset or the concept of having an initial few days as a free download. Yes, people will download the book…. it’s free, so why not !
    But, once the free days are over, what incentive does the buyer have ?

    Haven’t they seen an email or clicked a link that suggests the book is free, only to arrive at Amazon and find it is no longer free ?

    Wouldn’t they think, “hey, they said it was free but it’s not. I’m not buying that !”
    Or, does the buyer think, “oh well, I’m here now so I might as well just buy it” ?

    I am a little confused…. wouldn’t the momentum suddenly and violently stop after the free days finish ?

    Sorry if I’ve missed the point totally !

  • January 28, 2015 at 7:59 am

    The sense of initial free days is in the Amazon’s marketing machine.
    You announce that your book is free and drive traffic to it for some days.
    If you succeed, if many people download your book, Amazon notices this and promote your book inside their store. It appears in Hot New Release section, in “others who bought this item bought also…” section and in the multitude of places we have no idea about.
    So, when your book switches to paid it is seen by many people, it gets exposure.
    When a book is exposed to thousands people it’s now the job of your cover, title and book description to convince them to buy.
    If you don’t start from free days, you start from scratch. Your book is invisible on Amazon.

    And BTW I never try to trick readers to think that the book is free and drive them to the paid book. I know some authors do this, but I consider it VERY short term strategy. I focus on building trust with my readers.

    • January 28, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      Thank you so much for your explanation Michal.
      I did not realize that the marketing machine within Amazons system was the reason and goal for the initial free days. I will need to rethink my strategy 🙂
      I also agree completely about long term trust and relationship building as opposed to short term trickery.
      Thanks again for your explanation and also for your other articles – especially the goal setting posts. I have enjoyed and relate to them. I too am striving for many of the goals you mention. Keep going – they are within reach.

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