Admittedly this post is for my benefit as I’m about to release a novel, but I hope it can help fellow writers!
You see, I’m on the verge of the first release for my new dark fantasy series Friends of my Enemy. And the last time I released a novel, Spirit of Life, back in late May of 2014… well, I completely screwed it up.
Last spring was my first time using the pre-order service with Smashwords, which worked great and I did have some pre-orders. I also had begun a mailing list, and sent out an announcement. But there were so many things I forgot to do! And they were things I had done when I released my previous book Rule of Fire!
So back then I wrote down everything I should have done, and this weekend I cracked open that list. Because I don’t want to screw up again! So for your benefit and mine, a handy-dandy list of things to do BEFORE you release a book.
Both Amazon and Smashwords offer pre-order status now. Use it. The nifty thing about Smashwords, if you use them as a distributer, is that they will send the pre-order availability to Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo! Not only will you be able to generate sales there, but on the day of release you story will already be available there. No long wait for new work to trickle out to other markets! AND you get a page on each site to send readers to. Right off the bat any advertising sends people to where they can purchase the book. Efficiency – embrace it!
The technicalities are you need to schedule the release at least two weeks out so that you can 1. generate some interest and sales, potentially launching your book with a quick jump in rankings and 2. reach all of those markets. Ideally, you should have your final manuscript and cover art ready. So you just schedule, upload, and start telling everyone. But you have the option to upload a final version, however you need at least a week for that to trickle out to all the sub-venues. So keep your timing in mind.
Last year I uploaded my final version later than expected, because it came back from my editor later than expected. I was pretty much panicked. No wonder I forgot just about everything else on this list! Don’t do what I did. Have it ready to go. There are enough other things to do during those final 2+ weeks that you don’t want to tangle with edits and formatting!
There are boatloads of sites that will help you annoucement your pending release to the world. Some of them even do it for free. IF you give them a head’s up in enough lead time. That can be as little as a week, some like two, some even more.
Go for two for one advertising by announcing you are dropping your other books (especially if it is a series) to a discounted amount to celebrate the release. Use one announcement to generate as much interest in all of your work as possible. Give readers a real reason to be VERY excited!
So where can you list your book? Oh my… here is a list from 2014 and if that isn’t enough try this list of 15 free sites. I’ve used, and had success, with many of those on the list of 15 free sites. Pixel of Ink, Frugal Reader, and Free ebooks Daily are all great places to start. Expect some to turn you down, but some will help you out. Be nice, be early, and don’t spam.
Buy an Ad?
To me this option works great if you have multiple books, and are having a sale across the board to celebrate your new release. If you only have one book… well, it might not be the best use of your money, but it could also help get you launched. The certainty of if it will payoff is a lot less when you have fewer things to offer. Not to mention that the best advertisers, the one where people really take a gander at the offerings, often require a certain number of reviews. Which means you already have to be established.
Read Indies has been having a series of great posts about if, and which, pay services are useful. I’m going to try for a BookBub ad later this year, but not for the first release of my new series. Maybe book 2 or 3?
One last word on paid adverts. These can be expensive. Don’t buy one hoping the sales will make back the cost. If you don’t have the money to lose, don’t do it. Things happen in work and life. You may just pick the worst date for book sales in history. Don’t overextend yourself for a dream, because they taste pretty bitter when it is all you have to eat. But if you can afford it no matter what happens, I say go for the ride!
Create an Event
Goodreads and Facebook are perfect for creating book launch events. If you are really into parties, you can schedule cover reveals, and more. For FB you can go BIG and have prizes and speakers and chats and goodness knows what else because I utterly fail at FB. So don’t ask me. But I’m trying to learn. really. Well I’m watching what people do and trying to figure out what I feel comfortable with, but that is me and another story. Use Rafflecopter or some other tool to give out books or gift cards. Get everyone involved, and have fun.
For Goodreads, you can also give away free books (especially if you’re ahead of the game and have it ready to go in printed form) or you can just announce your book will soon exist and invite everyone. Hey its free if you aren’t giving away anything, and it can be fun too!
Every ebook store, Google+ community, FB group, and Indie book website has a forum. Some even let you post announcements of your new release. Just make sure you are in the right spot and following the rules! And if you make a snafu, apologize and remove your post. These should go up as close to, or the day of, the release as possible. But you can locate places and work on post wording and links ahead of time. Be ready – it will cause you less stress. Again, don’t spam with teasers. Getting interest and attention for your books should have started six months ago. This is to let the world know it is available.
Blog Tours and Posts
Friends are invaluable. Use them wisely. But this is the time to see if they’ll give you a spot for a blog post. Have some guest posts, new release announcements, excerpts if you like, ready to go. Make it easy, the posts engaging, and thank your host! Heck, offer them a free book or at least reciprocate when they launch their next book.
There are also blog tour services. These you often have to pay for, but it might give you a niche outside your normal sphere. Check them out well beforehand, get references, and only use them if it looks like it will pay off.
Send an Announcement to your Mailing List
You have a mailing list, right? Some way for fans of your writing to stay in touch, learn of special offers, and just talk to you? If not, start one now. Mine is small, but I’m hoping to get it growing again now that I’ve figured out how to use them. If well kept, they can be amazingly powerful. This is the core of your fan base and you want to keep them happy and in the loop.
And keeping fans happy is the key here. Don’t spam them. Offer them bonuses or specials. Don’t add names without permission. Just because someone left a comment on your blog doesn’t give you permission to hunt them down. Be nice and be thankful!
So that is my list of pre-release prep. And it makes me realize I have a lot more work ahead of me than edits, formatting, and covers! Eep!
What do you do to get ready for a book launch? What else can you add to the list?!