The Non-Promo Launch by Mark Chisnell

It was back in April that I wrote a blog post for Author’s Electric on the process of promotion that I undertook ahead of the publication of my new thriller Powder Burn. By September I had a new short story on the blocks and ready to go; called The Sniper, it’s a prequel about the antagonist in my Janac’s Games thrillers. I had a cover, blurb, and an edited and formatted manuscript. What I did not have was time to do any promotion. Since I could not see how things were going to improve any time soon, I was left with a choice of holding back the book indefinitely, or going ahead and publishing with essentially no promotion or marketing.

I chose the latter for three reasons:
1. I’m impatient.
2. I thought it would be interesting to see what happens when you just push a book out on the major ebook websites without any marketing support.
3. My eventual plan for the book is to drop the price to zero and run it as a loss-leader for the Janac’s Games series, and so I knew I would have a second chance at the marketing when the price goes to zero.

So by way of an experiment, I hit publish on the 25th September, sent out a few tweets announcing the book’s arrival, posted links to the various sales pages on Facebook and that was about it. I sat back and waited to see what happened. And now I can report the results of the experiment. 

Nada. Nothing. Zippo. Zero and Zilch. 

I think I have sold about ten copies in total across Amazon, and I doubt it's done much better at B&N, iBooks and all the rest, although I won't know for a while as their sales reporting is much slower. And this is for a series book whose other members have been downloaded or sold in the hundreds of thousands. It appears from this one example that I either play the promotion game, or remain unread. So I will be working much harder at the marketing when the price goes to zero in a few weeks time... 

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JO said…
Brave man, Mark, trying this. And a lesson for all of us - does anyone actually enjoy marketing?
Jan Needle said…
important post for me, this, mark, as i'm about to do exactly the same thing. mmm. time for a ponder. thanks.
Mark Chisnell said…
I just put the book to free, and I'm now waiting for the price to filter out to all the sellers before running a promo - watch for the results in a couple of months time!
Dennis Hamley said…
Oh dear, how salutary. It looks like I'll have to get my finger out after all.
Bill Kirton said…
Depressing stuff, Mark, but it needed to be confirmed. Thanks for being the guinea pig.
Lydia Bennet said…
good one Mark, interesting. I've had a few writer FB friends claim good sales with no publicity, but they either had a high profile already, or were possibly fibbing in that way we all remember, people doing well in exams and claiming to have done no revision!
julia jones said…
Well I just been and done and 'bought' it. Would have PAID if you'd only said ...
I'm also thinking (on my own account) that this is a really difficult time to bring out anything that isn't mainstream and mega. People have been lovely about the Lion but essentially it's struggling in the wake of Super Thursday etc etc. I just didn't plan ahead sufficiently and you can't play catch up at this time of year -- not in the print market anyway. Am sure you'll cope Mark, you're so savvy and you've got a back-up plan. Good luck
Mark Chisnell said…
Thanks everyone... it's just arrived free at, so just the US to go and I can start promoting it.

Meanwhile, the situation at the UK iBookstore is also interesting where both the other series books are in the overall Thriller Top 200 (both short and long term at the time of writing) but this still doesn't appear to have helped me even GIVE AWAY The Sniper. Go figure. Or maybe I'm just being impatient again. :-)

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