Releasing Inquisitor (Yes, that is a buy link you're seeing) has been quite the adventure. My original plans involved a stealthy soft-launch release of the novel, going undercover to get buy links for the bloggers participating in the official release day extravaganza.
That all changed when I had an idea. I'm still new to promotion. The idea of selling myself (and my work) is still hard for me to accept at times. I like to experiment, however.
It's an interesting blend of character traits, and it usually manages to get me into some form of trouble or another.
What sparked the idea was the fact that Inquisitor sold a copy before I knew it had launched on Amazon. This startled me quite a bit! I figured people were finding the book somehow anyway, so I would make the most of it.
I decided for the soft launch of the novel, I would turn to my normal roost, the Google+ community. Google+ has been a huge support for me as I've been working on this novel. There were a lot of people wanting to read the book and help with its release there.
I decided to go for gold and posted to the community that the novel was in the first stage of release.
Doing this made me realize something: It is a smart business move on my part.
I'm going to talk about how I've been handling the organization of my release day extravaganza. If you think this will work for you, by all means, steal my ideas! Make them yours–make them better, too.
Your mileage may vary.
There will be two different step-by-step instructional guides in this post. The first group of steps is the basic workflow of planning a launch extravaganza, as experienced by me.
The second group of steps is how to keep track of everything you're doing in the first set of steps.
This is less of a review of services and more of a making the most of the services you're going to be using.
We, as authors, can be our worst enemies, especially when it comes to promotion. I feel that in order to make the most of a service, you need to have a solid approach to using them. A review of a service's strength isn't enough, in my opinion.
Your soft release will happen several weeks before your official release date, but your soft release date is when you are ready versus the official's you must be ready.
I picked May 16. Why? That's my birthday. Happy birthday to me! 🙂
Why: A hard, official deadline ensures that you are ready for your book release. When you hire a tour group to promote your novel, you need to be ready when you say you will be ready. There will be a lot of people depending on you. In my case, there are over one hundred different bloggers who are relying on me to have ARCs and a buy link ready for them.
Setting this hard, cannot-be-missed deadline is important.
This lets you know how much you can afford to spend. The addition of $50 will let you cover those little but unexpected opportunities. I overshot my budget by below $50 because I stumbled on a sale from a group I had worked with before. It hadn't been anticipated, but I took the opportunity because it was there.
Why: The idea of promoting your novel is to establish your brand, your name, and sell your books. Budgets help you stay financially stable. Most of us don't have a huge budget to spend.
There is no guarantee you will make back your investment. Throwing money away is a very real risk. There are a lot of reasons someone might not buy your book. Promotion gets your name out there. It makes readers aware of your novel.
It does not guarantee a single sale.
It's hard to tell how a book tour group will work for you and your novel. It involves a lot of luck, picking a good team, and knowing if the tour group has bloggers who will like your style of novel.
Research each and every tour group. Ask questions. Here is a short list of things I look for when researching a book tour group:
After you are satisfied that the group is a good fit for you, hire them. Don't enter an agreement with any company you don't feel 100% comfortable with.
Why: Because you and your book are worth the extra effort–your comfort levels with the groups (and how you spend your money) is really important. If you aren't confident in the group, you likely won't be happy with the results.
P.S.: Read all material from the tour groups. If they say engage with the bloggers, do that! It helps. Watch the comments of the posts, and be ready to say ‘thank you!' when necessary.
Most independent authors work on their book right up to their release date. It's one of the freedoms of being an independent. We can turn our books into selling products when we reach that moment we believe the book is done.
This date becomes your soft release date. When it's ready, let it go.
Why: Your book is ready for sale. Why not start making money? You also get access to your buy link on Amazon at the same time. When your book is available for sale, readers can also leave early reviews.
These individuals are outside of your book tour groups. Find people who are willing to leave reviews of your book on amazon.
Why: Reviews help sell books. If you have buy links, reviewers can post their reviews of your title. When you have your official release extravaganza, you will have an advantage: Potential readers will be able to see reviews right away.
Tip: Ask your fans and readers to leave reviews of your book. And remember–don't be one of those writers who flips if you don't get the perfect review. If you're criticized, learn from it or not. That's your choice. But if you flip on a reader or fan, you'll be doing yourself a lot more harm than good.
I find saying ‘Thank you' is sufficient. If there is an opportunity to talk to a reviewer about a really positive review, with an emphasis on connecting over a common trait, do so! Just avoid falling into the trap of arguing with a review. It doesn't end well.
This means making sure you have all of your interview questions turned over to the tour group, that you've written all of your guest posts, and so on. Try to have these as quickly as possible, as this makes the job of the tour organizer that much easier.
Why: Tour groups can't do anything to help you with your novel release if you don't give them all of the resources they need. That means you'll have to invest work and effort into your book. Guest posts and interviews can be stressful, but the sooner you sit down and finish it, the happier you–and your tour group operator–will be.
Waiting, I think, is the worst part of the whole thing. Patience is a virtue.
Personally, it's a virtue wasted on me, but I'm going to do it anyway. Ignore the gnaw marks on my desk.
Why: Because it's hard to change scheduling for tens to over a hundred different people. Strict deadline must be strict.
When working with multiple blog groups, independent reviewers, and other individuals who want to help you make your launch a success, you need to be organized. Forgetting even one person can be a PR nightmare for you. You don't want to piss off your readers, your fans, your friends, and people who are trying to help you succeed at your writing career.
If you're only working with one or two groups and a very limited number of book reviewers, you might be able to remember everything without a spreadsheet.
At the time of this post, I'm working with over 125 different bloggers. This includes a list of 19 individual reviewers and book bloggers.
I can't remember all of this, not without a lot of help. So, in order to stay organized, I created a spreadsheet. It is really simple.
On sheet 1, I have the following columns:
Tour Group / Individual :: Buy Link Sent :: ARC Sent :: Cost :: Giveaway :: Giveaway Cost :: Total Cost :: Number of Bloggers :: Type of Stop (Review, Tour, Blitz, etc) :: Link to Group / Individual's Website
On Sheet 2, which is dedicated to individuals, I have the following columns:
Name :: Post Type(s) :: Count (number of expected posts) :: ARC Sent :: Buy Link Sent
Your mileage may vary, and you may want different columns for your spreadsheet, including contact information, email addresses, and so on.
Each tour group and blogger will have different requirements for when they need materials from you. Setting up a calendar to remind you to send over the material is a great way to ensure you don't miss anything.
Don't wait. Don't push it off. Make sure you keep your spreadsheet, calendar, or organizational tool of choice up to date. It really sucks if you have to dig through all of your emails in order to make sure you didn't miss anyone because you got lazy one day.
I may have had to do this twice already. Take it from me, it sucks. Especially if you're working with the volume I'm working with for this release.
Consider reviewing all of the services you used and posting it to your blog. It can help other writers in the future, and it's really difficult to find good references and reviews of author services.
Just try to be objective. Did the service work for you because you were active and engaged with the organizers? Is it possible the service failed to work for you because you didn't fit the bloggers using that tour?
Look at all of the possibilities. These type of services are highly dependent on your book. If you don't have a book that appeals to the audience you're selling to, you won't see much movement in terms of sales. This is why matching your book with the tour group is so important.
It isn't always better to cast a wider net.
Good luck with your novels, writers.