Welcome to the final episode of steps in the writing process, this one involving the most exciting step: The Release! There are multiple ways you can go about the release, though, and don’t think for a second that if you’re indie that you need to do this for your debut novel or even first few novels.
But, there will come a time during your indie author journey where you notice a few things:
1) People are reading your backlist and leaving reviews.
2) You have a mailing list in the four-figures at the very least – which means far more potential buyers.
This Article Applies to Debut Authors
Now, you can still choose to take the time and build up your mailing list prior to the big release of your debut novel, but as I stated in a previous post – most readers these days will likely pass if you have fewer than three novels out.
Because of the binge society we live in – so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate sales from your first few books – unless you’ve taken the time to build a large platform while you wrote a six-book series and either released all six books simultaneously, or you decided to release each book on a set schedule – such as every six weeks.
And within one year, you’d have six books in the same series.
But, if you’re a relative unknown with little to no audience and just one book on the horizon, don’t be discouraged by lack of sales as that will almost always be the case.
You will also change this by being proactive and being proactive often.
But, you will also be able to launch your work for real to a large audience prior to releasing say, the sixth book in a series you’ve been working on over the last three years while releasing two books every year – one in the fall, one in the spring. Again, this is hypothetical.
Preparing the Launch
This is where things get fun, and it’s what I’m actually doing, myself. And the cool takeaway here is that you can do a lot of this for little to no cost and see fantastic results.
The first thing you should do is to build alliances with other authors who write in your genre. These people hang out at a variety of places – StoryOrigin, Prolific Works, Book Funnel, just to name a few. You can also pay a small fee to join Nick Stephenson’s Dream Team Network, which is what I did but there are free options as well.
I will caution that by taking the free route you will be investing far more time. For example, I’ve tried asking for cross-promos on Twitter and I’ve yet to get a serious response. The same goes for most cases in the platforms I’ve listed above. Sure, they’ll cross-promote with you – to all twenty of their email subscribers, half of whom are family members.
So, monetary investment in all of these preparations will curtail the time investment – remember that.
So, cross-promote, preferably with a paid network but free will work if you’re willing to invest the time – I’m not one of those people and never will be.
You should also engage in a giveaway, as these are fantastic ways to build your mailing list sometimes into the five-figures. I’m actually working on building my first giveaway at the moment which I’m hoping to launch in either June or July 2020 in preparation for the release of Book V in Lord of Columbia plus the release of The Renegades – Episodes I through at least III.
As you can see, I’m simply building my already growing mailing list for the huge launch of two different works – in which Lord of Columbia will contain five books and The Renegades will already have three on launch day.
The takeaway from this section?
BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE!
And again with paid methods you can do this quite rapidly and I will be sharing my giveaway results with you later this year.
Talk to Your Audience
As I’ve stated in the past, you need to talk to your audience about your work. Talk about the genre in which you write, talk about the themes, what motivated you to write, and where they can get a free series starter or starters – perhaps make a boxed set for series starters of different series.
And talk to them often – don’t just send out a newsletter the week before the launch stating that you have a book coming, so be sure to buy! Also, don’t send a newsletter out on launch week that states the same thing – especially if your audience hasn’t heard from you in six months.
Instead, create buzz around your work. Use a blog to blog about your upcoming work or works, that way when launch week arrives, your audience knows you’re trying to sell them something. But months beforehand, offer the free series starter or starters – especially new people who just joined your mailing list.
And as stated above, you can always relaunch your work during the process. You can say something like, “I hope you enjoyed my free reader magnet, The Skyehawk Chronicles. Oh, by the way, have you checked out my free series starter, Northern Knights? You can get it for free at the Amazon store by clicking this link.”
Or, since most of my readers join my mailing list through Northern Knights – the only ones who don’t are visitors who stumble upon my site either through a search engine or via web referral – “I hope you enjoyed Northern Knights. Have you read my second book, Swords of Destiny? Get it today at the Amazon Store for just 99 cents.”
But, build trust with your mailing list first. Cross-promote works of other authors, run joint-promos where you offer books from other authors, participate in a giveaway or a joint giveaway, and share blog articles pertaining to your upcoming work. Stay engaged with your mailing list and get on good enough terms with them so they will buy from you.
I mean, let me ask you this: Have you ever bought from anyone you didn’t trust?
Of course, not.
So why would you expect thousands of people who never met you in person to?
Launch Day: Let Your Books Skyrocket in the Rankings
This is where it pays to have a few relative unknowns written. You wrote the books just to say you have products out when people do join your mailing list. These products are well-formatted, error-free or close to, they have professional covers, and they’re compelling reads – you just don’t yet have the audience in place to market them.
Fast-forward two or three years – now you do have that market. You can market the five books you wrote to a vast number of people because while you churned out work that may’ve sold a few copies over that timespan. But, your audience went from 80 when you published your first book to over 5,000 from your latest giveaway.
Big difference, right?
Plus, you’ve written one hell of a backlist – an entire series!
I’m actually working on my second Lord of Columbia trilogy – the first being Raven’s Flock which I released earlier in 2020 and finally, you’ll see Book V out either late in 2020 or early 2021, depending on interest of time.
But, how do you make your books skyrocket in the rankings on launch day?
You set them at massive discounts and let everyone know about it.
I recommend doing this, which is my plan when the time is right at the launch of either Book V or Book VI in Lord of Columbia, as well as the first three books of The Renegades:
1. Set your previous works to 99 cents – every one of them on all the major platforms, with your free series starter.
2. Set your incoming work to 99 cents. So, if I do this with Book V in Lord of Columbia, it and all my previous works (except the Perma Free Northern Knights) will be set at 99 cents.
3. Email your audience early in the week, telling them that for the first seven days of the new book’s launch, it and the entire backlist will be available at 99 cents apiece – which entices a sense of urgency – and let them take note of the fact they can get a series of five e-books for $3.96.
4. Email them on the day before the launch, reinforcing this deal. Perhaps give them a sneak peek of the work – something that would be no longer than the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon. As a free gift for those who haven’t done so, offer the series starter as a free download.
5. Email them again on the day of the launch, informing them the work is now live and is set at its special price, but the clock is ticking on. Remind them that they only have until midnight the following week to take advantage. It would also be a great time to ask for reviews, too.
6. Email them the day before the deal ends to hurry and grab the work before it’s reset to its normal price at $4.99, in which the rest of the series will return to its normal price. This would only leave Swords of Destiny, Book II in the series at 99 cents. Missing in Columbia returns to $2.99 and Raven’s Flock bumps back to $3.99.
7. Before launch week – I know it’s out of order – look for paid book promotion from outlets like Bargain Booksy, Book Doggy, Robin Reads, and others that are known to deliver fantastic results. I’ve personally tried the above outlets and they’ve delivered about 2,500 downloads combined.
But, stack these promotions along with promoting to your mailing list. You will reach far more readers simultaneously when paying for promotion PLUS promoting to your own audience.
Why the deep discounts?
It will allow your work to skyrocket in the rankings on Amazon and other e-book outlets. Readers from all over will see the deep discounts and flock to them before prices return to normal. The best strategy is to stack book promotions, preferably over the course of two weeks – use at least four book promo services, one per day.
In the front matter of your work, link to the other books where they can be bought at 99 cents apiece as well – starting with the perma free book one before working your way down the list.
The goal is to get between 5,000 and 10,000 views, and hopefully a good chunk will click through and download, sending each of your books near the top of the rankings.
I know this is a lot of information – about 2,000 words of it. But, the launch will dictate not just how high your book soars on Amazon, but when done properly, it can get into the ‘Hot New Releases’ category. It will take time to build the audience to do this, but as I stated – launching a book that has a solid series backlist can and will generate a lot of sales.
Why is this better than launching the first book?
Readers have nothing more to turn to but the one book. And even if they enjoyed it, are they willing to spend time coming back to your work when Authors B, C, and D have six or more books in a series they just launched?
Probably not. And it’s very possible you’ll have to repeat this process prior to each launch. Of course, there are exceptions. An author could’ve built a brand in a related niche and is just now launching their first fiction book – meaning they’ll have buyers for Books II, III, and IV when they come out.
But these people have also been around the publishing scene for a while. They have a name, their own brand, and they have an audience. Most of us won’t have this when starting off or if we do, have we been around long enough for readers to know our names? Have we been well-known in the publishing community?
So, write a few books, get them on Amazon and the other retailers and let your budding audience know the work is there. Once you’ve built the audience and have a new book lined up along with a solid backlist, make the move. And trust me, biding your time like this will allow your opportunistic approach in the matter to shine.
Thanks for reading this series and if you missed them, below are Parts I through IV.