As I mentioned last week when I listed a brainstormed master plan on how to launch a book, this week I’ll let you know strategies I actually tried when I released Spark of Defiance at the end of March.
As much as it is nice to do everything I mentioned last week, time always gets the better of us. And some things I only considered (or learned about) right at the last minute. The end of March was a loose knot of timelines and plans, and I was constantly tweaking ideas as I went. I’ve finally learned to view everything as an experiment. Try new things, take notes, figure out what worked, and then repeat the good things while adding in new strategies.
One launch is not the end (and certainly no longer the beginning) of my writing career.
So go have fun, be excited, but it is just one day, week, or month in your life. Don’t get too crazy (or disappointed). There will be moments of both.
The first thing that I did and thought was successful for my book launch is that I began promoting Born of Water, my permafree book 1 set in the same world as the new release, in February. Early February to mid-March through various means from a few free advertisements, to cheap (BKnights at Fiverr), to big (Freebooksy). I even exchanged permafrees with another great author as a book swap to our mailing lists.
The idea began as a part of my regular marketing, but I quickly realized promoting book 1 a month before the new book’s release was perfectly timed. New readers could pick up the series and join the excitement of the launch!
I mentioned last week that I did set up a launch team (and I still think they are all so awesome!), so I won’t recap that here. Beyond the launch team, the second method I used was to set up a pre-order and got my paperback loaded into CreateSpace two weeks before launch. I actually did this before I sent out the ARC to my launch team. Not that I didn’t trust anyone, but it did run through my mind that it would be much harder to swipe a book and claim it when I had it already set up on pre-order. Just in case.
With a live pre-0rder, I realized I could schedule marketing! So that was number three. FKBT, Bargain Booksy, BKnights, and Book Goodies will all allow in new books. I did decide to release Spark of Defiance at 99 cents so that I could also use a sale to place the advertising (regular price is $3.99). I also decided to drop the price of the first trilogy to 99 cents (book 1 is permafree), which opened up other advertising options. I was excited about this release – my first epic fantasy book out in 2 years! – and I wanted to go as big as possible.
I also decided to run a launch giveaway. I put the link in the uploaded pre-order and set up a page on my website using Rafflecopter to capture entrants. First prize was a set of four paperback books (the first trilogy and the new book, which begins a new trilogy), four second place prices of a poster of the book, and four third place prizes of small posters of the world map. I tried to let people know, but it ended up being a small turn out with many of my entrants being from the launch team. So it was a great way to reward 9 people in my launch team! If I do it again is up in the air. I will say I used VistaPrint for the posters and they came out awesome. Which has me thinking about setting up a sales page for the map!
Back to the release though, I also included a link to a mailing list to learn about book 2 in the new release instead of doing a new pre-order. I just don’t feel ready due to some big life events going on to put a pre-order date together and upload some sort of file. So setting up a quick MailChimp list was easy. I can’t say it is a hot list, but it was free to do and a great idea that I plan on continuing to use (if not doing the pre-order!).
The actual launch week was my least busy week of the month. Seriously. It seemed from the end of Feburary to the the next to last week in March, I was editing, formating, creating the cover, advertisements (HUGE shoutout to Mark over at Covervault for being an amazing resource of PSD templates for 3D books and more!) or webpages, emailing people, scheduling advertising, creating and ordering posters, scheduling tweets and facebook posts. When launch week came, I pretty much just hit go.
I released Spark of Defiance on Monday when the scheduled date was Wednesday. I let the launch team know the book was live and gave them links. By Tuesday I had enough reviews that I scheduled a few more advertisements, trying to catch Robin Reads and eReader News Today (I’d tried BookBub earlier. Some day they will let me in …) with a last minute advert.
I wish I’d spent more time on social media, live time on social media, that week. It would have been more fun! Everyone loves a big event and I didn’t really do anything (because I had night meetings and lots going on that week at work). So I hope to actually be around for my next book release. It would be fun to have an event and be able to attend! I also didn’t do a blog tour. Mostly for the same reason and because I’ve done them in the past. You need to have some posts and advertising ready to go. And I didn’t. And I want to reach out to new blogs and folks. So I have getting a little media kit ready to go for next time on my to-do list as well.
How did it go?
It was my best release to date! Wahoo! With around 40 reviews across all platforms, Spark of Defiance, my newest book, is also my second most review book. I also had my two biggest sales day to date during release week as people scooped up not only the new book, but hit up the first series pretty hard too.
But with all the books at 99 cents, I lost money compared to the advertising and the prizes for the Giveaway (which as I mentioned did not have a big turnout, especially compared to a standalone paperback giveaway I ran in February). So I may nix the giveaway for the next release, though maybe I will giveaway something for the last book in a series? Or maybe I’ll just run a giveaway like the February one? And I will mention to carefully consider rules, especially countries allowed to enter, in my next giveaway. Shipping even of posters gets expensive to send overseas. However in the US, cost was close to $8 to have the poster printed and then mail it via media. Pretty easy to do.
The quick list is:
- Promote earlier/first book in the series at least a month before.
- Create a launch team and have them ready
- Pre-order and release paperback at least 2 weeks before launch
- Schedule marketing to new release advertisers
- Run a book launch giveaway and/or sale
- Do you have a way to capture reader interest in the next book?
- Release the book, tell the launch team, tell the world, sit back with wine
The sale of the first trilogy during release week was great as it moved some books, but they were moving fairly well prior to the sale. A lot of people from the advertising of book 1 got to pick up the whole series for under $2. With that flush of sales though, book sales have been lower since the discount as the people who might have bought later at a higher price already have the books. It is making me rethink the whole series sale idea for the next release. Maybe one other book down to 99 cents, but the whole series … that will be reserved for something mega-big!