Thoughts on a Book Launch.

As requested, I’m posting my thoughts/strategies on the launch of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. This is the longest post I’ve ever done and it’s picture free. Don’t feel obligated to sit and read it all at once. Skim away and pick what you want, or bookmark it for later reference.

So we are clear: this is by no means a post to say DO IT THIS WAY. This is simply me telling you what I did and my assessment of whether I’d do it again or not. I firmly believe that every book launch needs to be tailored to the genre, book, and audience.

Feel free to share.

Take what you will:

1. Wrote a good book. At least, in my opinion it’s a good book.

2. I made it about the readers. At the heart of things, they are most important. Since readers are the reason I have a job, everything is about them. Except for the writing. That’s all about me.

Okay, it’s all about Bianca.

26. The Power of the Book Bloggers.

Don’t underestimate it. 

I started following several book blogs last summer with the goal to keep up with current book trends, make some internet buddies, and figure out how the online writing/reading community worked.

SO GLAD I DID THAT SMART THING.

I found some book bloggers that I liked, who kept things interesting (I’ve dropped my subscription to a few), and made sure to comment every now and then or support them in whatever way I could.

Turns out, when you’ve got friends that blog about books, and then you release a book, they’ve got your back. Some of them weren’t able to help me, and some didn’t respond to my emails, but they still run awesome blogs and may help me in the future.

The book blogs that I regularly follow:

Allie at LittleBirdieBooks

Books Keep Me Sane

Sharon at Sharon’s Book Nook

Maria at Books j’adore

Elina at Book Bunny

Lizzy at My Little Book Blog

Manda at I Solemnly Swear

Reflections of a Book Addict

Pinkindle

Cathy at The Crazy Bookworm

Then there’s Candace, but I’ll get into her and my absolute girl crush on her more in the next item.

There’s more, I’m sure of it. If I’ve forgotten you, PUHLEEZ message me and I’ll throw you up!

25I did a blog blast type thing, but I didn’t do a blog blast type thing.

I’m not really sure what you call it. A launch party or book blast or something like that. Basically, I constructed a post (see next item) with Candace at Candace’s Book Blog, and she sent it out to her small army of book bloggers, who then posted it release weekend.

My thoughts on this approach:

1. This definitely got me exposure on release day. I had referrals coming in all day from these book blogs on MissMabels.com. DID IT INCREASE SALES? There’s no way to tell, really. But I believe it did.

2. The real reason I believe this approach worked is because I went to each and every blog, left a comment to thank the blog host, then clicked the little box that says notify me. All launch weekend long I tracked comments people made on each book blog. Some of those comments I followed up with. If they were another book blog, I’d offer them a review copy.

3. Will I do it for the next book? Possibly. But now that MMSFG is out garnering, hopefully, her own following, it may or may not be necessary. I think this wouldn’t be as easy with the second book in a series unless I offered the first book for a discounted price when the second book launches. Which, who knows?

MAYBE I’LL GO CRAY-CRAY.

94. DO WHAT WORKS.

In regards to the post that Candace and I sent out, I was adamant that I would not do character interviews. I never read them. See my rant/post about it here. You know what does work?

Pretty, pretty pictures work.

I spent almost an entire Saturday with my MIL getting giveaway swag ready and then taking the most professional photos we could. I also scoured the internet for awesome images that look like something you’d find in my world and emailed the owners for permission to reuse them.

We are visual people. We like pretty things. So I showed my readers pretty things.

Candace and I did a visual tour of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls and it worked beautifully. Lots of comments on changing it up, and even more people said they were intrigued because of what they saw.

54. Return the love.

I had tons of bloggers and book reviewers help me out by reading, reviewing, and posting a review on launch day. So, as a result, I promoted the brains out of them on my social media, especially on the Facebook page.

I also publicly thanked everyone who helped, which was probably all of you reading this.

4. RAFFLECOPTER IS THE WORST!

For real. I’ve done it in the past and will never do it again. Why?

Because it’s constructed to mostly benefit the person running the giveaway by garnering twitter followers, Facebook likes, and blog posts. It’s not really geared towards normal readers.

I’d say maybe 2% of my readers have a twitter account. 50% have Facebook. And the rest of them, like my grandma (who is, I’ll have you know, one of my biggest flans), don’t want to leave a comment on the blog.

Rafflecopter is no longer a part of my life because of how isolating it can be.

Slams door on Rafflecopters face.

12. I made the giveaway work in my favor while benefitting the readers.

My goal for the giveaway was to make it so anyone could win and Miss Mabel’s would get out there. Not only would that help me meet more people, but it would also increase the likelihood that Miss Mabel’s would bust out on all kinds social media.

Things I did that I’d do again for my giveaway:

– Had a central meeting point for it not associated with social media. (Because not everyone has Facebook or twitter, remember?) Mine was www.missmabels.com 

– Had a list of straightforward instructions on how to earn entries that’s visible and easy to find.

-Made earning entries easy.

– Made myself accessible so they could communicate questions to me at any time: IE- I plastered an email address everywhere.

– Made sure the swag is extra awesome and applicable to the story. It was pretty unique and people seemed to really like that

– I didn’t give away copies of the book in the giveaway because people may not buy it in the hopes to win.

– I made sure the pictures of the swag were as professional as I could manage. I did it with an old kodak, actually. This is important because: the prettier the pictures, the more likely people will share. IT’S WHY PINTEREST WORKS SO WELL!

17. Leaned on my author buddies.

My writing friends from Obey the Muse were amazing at my launch. They promoted their brainz out. Really. All of you guys who hosted me on your blog, or bought my book, or read it? Awesome. Seriously. Without all the people who I reached out to, or reached out to me, this post would not be happening.

And my kids wouldn’t get braces.

OH RIGHT. I DON’T HAVE KIDS.

I plan on doing all that and more for ALL OF YOU! Promoting, not braces. Get your own braces.

7. I gave away free advance copies as if they were chocolate chip cookies from the local bakery that melt in my hand AND in my mouth.

There are differing opinions on why we shouldn’t give our books away for free. I see the argument for and against. But I decided to @#$^*@# with that and gave away like it was the apocalypse.

I’ll do this again (to some degree) for the launch of the second book because:

1. I feel it garnered a lot of loyalty and excitement.

2. I sent the PDF to people I didn’t know but someone else said, hey, they love to read! Send it to them! That way I knew I could trust the feedback to not be family-tainted. (Wuv you guys, but you’re my biggest flans and can’t be trusted for unbiasedness.)

3. MMSFG garnered a lot of reviews (we hit almost 40 the first two weeks) not just because posting a review earned you slips for the giveaway, but also because of the advance copies that went out. I told people that I sent it to, ‘Send it to one or two friends that you absolutely trust and tell them I’ll give them the advance copy if they agree to read it and review it for launch weekend.’

Most people were more than happy to do that. I got plenty of reviews the first week from people I didn’t know in Alaska, Arizona, and other places. I also made it very clear that I never interact with people regarding their review, and I wanted them to post an honest response.

#theawesomenessofnetworking

DOWNSIDES:

1. Not everyone posted a review as promised, which is fine. It’s not something I can, nor want, to control. I don’t really care enough to try. 

2. A needed sense of organization, which I don’t, so I had many headaches.

3. I plan to give away advanced copies again, but NOT to the extent I did for the first book. Now that the first book is out, I’ll use the super-stars that popped up with this launch to help me with the next one, and will likely be more selective.

98. Goodreads

As a general rule, I’m wary of Goodreads. Love it. Use it to some extent. But as an author I’m vewy, vewy, wary. However, it’s an engine with a lot of power for a book release.

What I’ll do again:

1. Post a giveaway that ends the day before the launch. Then send the books on launch day. Two of the readers that won the Goodreads copy of Miss Mabel’s posted reviews. It also got it out on the TBR lists so that when it was available it was already “out there” and people have at least seen the cover.

2. Give away several copies: I gave away 5 and had almost 1200 people requesting on the first giveaway. I’m a week into another month long giveaway on Goodreads and already 350 people are requesting it.

I’ve also found that Goodreads tends to act “as it’s own entity” with people that I don’t know on any other social media, so I’ve let Goodreads do it’s own work and that has worked well so far.

5. I did other stuff.

The post on the progression of my book cover went over really well with readers because they had no idea what goes into the behind-the-scences stuff, so I blasted that a day before the giveaway started to garner more interest and anticipation. It’s one of the highest visited posts I’ve ever had.

I also did interviews that really had not much to do with anything but were far more interesting than ‘what’s your writing process?’

73. Had a goal to always be associated with good things

No matter what, I want people to see my name, my brand, my book, my story, my whatever, and think good things.

Bottom line. Period.

64. I made everything easy to find.

The ‘buy’ links are front and center at MissMabels.com. It’s also simple, easy to navigate, and gorgeous!

It took me about three months and 15 different attempts to get MissMabels.com just how I wanted it and I’m so glad I did.

49. I made the subscription option a priority in the giveaway.

What I didn’t tell most people is that my main motivation behind doing a giveaway was to get subscribers to MissMabel’s.com. I made it so that subscribing to the website would earn them as many entries as buying the book.

HOW EASY IS IT TO SUBSCRIBE? Too easy. That’s what.

Those subscribers will be the backbone of my future book releases. And I’ll give them free stuff, like the novella coming out in June.

What is that? YOU want to subscribe and get a free novella in June? Okay. Go here.

Are your minds slush yet?

Mine is. I need a chai.

BACK TO BOOK TWO!

Comments

  1. says

    Hey Katie, you worked your butt off, girl. I love your Pinterest idea. I read about it from something you posted on Google+ awhile back. I was inspired to start my own. You have great networking skills. I am still sharpening mine. I am decently tech savvy, but not as savvy as I would like to be. I still can’t figure out how to add a Facebook like button to my blogger! When I promoting my first book, I sent it out to several book bloggers, but most of them had a book list already too long to add mine, but wished me luck. I hope to have better luck with it’s follow up book.

    • says

      Crystal, I’m glad you stopped by and commented!

      The Pinterest thing came about on it’s own. I just loved searching that site for inspiration, so I decided to put up a whole profile for just the book so readers could get a better idea. It really took off, and I’ve gotten so much feedback about the Pinterest idea that Im glad I did it. I’m also glad that you tried it out and liked it!

      As far as networking- it’ll come. Just be friendly and be yourself. Really. Because then you’ll already have a unique voice. Also, i wish I could help you with blogger, but I am so not a fan of blogger :)

      • Crystal Parney says

        The idea of using pictures is brilliant. Did you have to get permission to use the pictures while marketing? I just started Blogger, its food for me because its free, lol. But I think it could use some help.

        • says

          Yes, I did get permission from the actual people who owned the pictures, but most of them were my pictures so it wasn’t a problem. I don’t know much about Blogger, sorry! It frightens me a little, actually ;)

  2. says

    While skimming (because I need a lot more time than I currently have to read it all. But I will!) I didn’t notice your numbering until about half way through. Haha, you always crack me up, Katie. I shall return to give this post the attention it deserves! Until then, thanks for the giggle! :)

  3. says

    Man, you were CRAZY busy. I’m so glad it paid off though (and it did. It really did). I keep stalking the Miss Mabel’s GR page every now and again and you are rocking the five star reviews. I’m so endlessly pleased for you and proud of everything you’ve achieved. (I also plan to be writing one of those reviews when I finish the book!)

    I really want to publish a novel someday and you’re genuinely an inspiration girl!

  4. says

    Awesome post, Katie! This is one that I need to save to Evernote for future reference :) I really liked the giveaway you sponsored (and love my bookmark with the KEY!!) I’ve never tried Rafflecopter because it seems too complicated. My life is complicated. I want everything else to be simple ;)

  5. says

    First of all, you did AMAZING with your release week. I like that we went visual instead of bringing in the characters. I think every author is different and some just wouldn’t do so well with the pictures. Plus I’m always wary because of the rights of the pictures. I can’t send it to my bloggers if we don’t have full approval. So since we were able to do that, it was wonderful! I notice that with my cover reveals that I’ve been doing with the artist sharing the process with lots of visuals, it goes really well as well. The whole picture idea- total WIN!
    You did so good with getting reviews! That’s AMAZING! I have a hard time getting that many when I work for an author and try to get them. I think you did good because you developed a relationship with bloggers, so they liked you before hand and were excited about the book (like me) and you did it without pushing the book. I know I was excited about your book but I never felt like you talked about it all the time and you never pushed me to read and review it. I may have even said I would before hand, I don’t remember. And I like that you are open to anyone and everyone reading the book and aren’t about it just going to the biggest and best blogs. Or even just blogs, but just readers in general that might like your book.
    I think the giveaway was good, but I was never able to get the page with the giveaway directions to open. I could see the prizes (lovely photos!) but couldn’t get the directions page to do anything. I personally would have put them on the same page. But it sounds like it worked fine, so it was probably just my computer.
    I also like that you visited the blogs and responded to comments. Both the posts for Miss Mabel’s got good views on my blog and I’ve been seeing people who read my blog with the book or saying they grabbed it, and that made me happy.
    I think you had a VERY successful release, and honestly, it’s one of the very best I’ve seen with all the authors I’ve worked with. So GOOD JOB!

    • says

      Candace, you’re right. Not every author, or book, really, would do well with pictures. I figured since MMSFG was a historical type of fantasy then giving them a medieval grip on the culture would help them have something to sink their teeth into.

      I FIRMLY believe that every single book will need a different strategy for their launch.

      So you and I will have to work extra hard with book 2 ;)

  6. says

    Katie, you’re a trail blazer for me, and many others I’m sure. Great post – yes, I did skim it, but have also bookmarked it for study when my dates for publication are a bit firmer in my mind.
    Putting the reader at the heart of everything is key, and yes, you are good at networking, but you’ve also a distinctive voice, work hard, & shown you’ve what it takes to get your books out there.
    And yep, trotting over to Miss Mabel’s site (shortly if not immediately) and wish you loads and loads of sales and success! :))

  7. says

    Ooh thanks for all this info!

    Right now I’m a bit ADD to read it all, but I definitely will, because I got my book rights back and am planning to self-publish. :-D

  8. Isabel says

    Katie,

    I love these tips. They’re going to come in handy for me real soon. Thanks for taking the time to write them. I’d love to hear more about your self-pub experience. It is a self-pub book, right? Thanks.

    From, Isabel B., another ragged blue monkey

  9. says

    Stellar post, Katie! This was so helpful. I didn’t realize the extent you could use Goodreads. I’ll have to look into that. You were busy, gurl! Whew.

  10. says

    Katie, Katie, Katie. I must say, that is quite a bit with the first one being the most important: write a good book. That is subjective of course but you have to be happy with it and then let that thing fly.

    The second one…well…I think I’m selfish because when I write, I write for me. I write the story I’ve been given and I write the story that I like. If it catches on, fantastic. If not, at least it’s out of my head so I can make room for another. I’ve got plenty.

    Some good advice in this post. There’s a million ways and us authors have to work it to see what works. No magic formula. Just a lot of hard work.

    However, I think I’m going in the opposite direction than you on Goodreads. I think that is a great place to go for readers, obviously. Yes, a lot of them are writers but we were and still are readers first. But what do I know. I still have yet to write my first novel.

    Your work is commendable. Do your thang girl. God bless.

    • says

      Easton- please report back on your experience with Goodreads! (Or do a guest post for me ;). If it works out for you, I just might try and be a bit more proactive on there. Beyond just posting reviews, what I’m currently reading, etc.

      Can’t wait to see!

  11. says

    Oh this is such cleverness, I’m in awe!! I am USELESS with all this stuff, so will be saving this post and shamelessly copying everything you do in the future ;-) Which reminds me, I owe you my Miss Mabel review – it is on my list, I promise!!

    • says

      I started following a lot of YA bloggers months before I was ready to publish, and helped build up a relationship with them beforehand. There were some that I cold-called in a sense, just emailed with the hope of getting help, but that’s tough. I only hear back from about 1 of every 10 in that regard.

      Also, Candace at candacesbookblog lined up most of the websites through the semi-book blast that I did. Does that answer your question?

      • C.M. Boers says

        Yes thank you! I’d love to have my current book out reviewed to help get the hype of book two that I hope to launch next year, are there any that you would specifically recommend? My book is YA Sci-fi/romance.

Trackbacks

  1. […] While publishing just about anything makes me very happy, this novella was more of a release day experiment than anything else. I looked forward to seeing what releasing The Isadora Interviews would do for my sales/ranking of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls and I tested out a ‘soft release’ instead of the intensity I had with MMSFG. […]

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