New book launch – learning from past mistakes

ski signsLast week I wrote of my rather haphazard view of book launching for my first two novels: ‘The tale of a new writer – Planning (or not) for a book launch’.  I have to admit it was less a launch plan and more ‘launch and hope’, not a good strategy.  So here’s what I’m doing this time around that I hope will make a difference for my latest novel ‘Bleak’:

1)  Load up onto Amazon at least a month prior to the official launch day with the aim of getting some reviews before it goes public, a) from early readers and b) review swaps from facebook writers groups I’m a member of.

2)  Pay more attention to the book blurb that appears on Amazon, after all this is my shop window.  I need to give it impact both in terms of how it looks and sounds.  Which for me means understanding enough HTML to create the look I want.  I need to include a few of enticing reviews (hopefully gained from 1).  I also need to do my keyword research, pick the most appropriate ones for my book and make sure these crop up in my blurb.

3)  I have waiting to go a collection of short stories which I aim to release for a modest fee ($99 or equivalent), which I had intended to use to promote one of my other books, by including the first two chapters at the end of the collection.  I will now change that to my new book.  I am also working on a prequel novella to ‘Bleak’ which will be free.  There are still things I need to work out around these two ideas:

  • Timing – If I release these before ‘Bleak’ is available is that building expectation or will that just be frustrating for potential readers and even put them off?   But if I have a pre-launch phase in which the book is available, just not being actively marketed, does that ‘muddy’ the launch?
  • Should I give the short stories away for free as well?  I admit I’m reluctant to give too much of my hard work away for no return, but if it helps sales of my novels then perhaps it’s worth it?  But then I know myself I am not attracted to a publication that’s free, just because it’s free.  It has to be something I want to read.
  • Can I put the novella (and perhaps the short stories) on Amazon for free from day 1?  How does this work?

4)  I will be using the group ‘BooksGoSocial’ of which I am a member and paying for a social media campaign as they have a reach in the hundreds of thousands.  What I have yet to work out is how to make the most of that exposure/integrate it with my other activities.

5)  I need to target my main potential audience i.e. science fiction readers. I am aware that in the past I have taken a ‘blunderbuss’ approach more in the hope that I hit those potential readers, than actually targeting them.  Even in this blog I focus on writers and writing as much (maybe more) as on science and science fiction.   Perhaps I need to change that balance?  Although I do think both are important.

6)  In 1) I mention getting some reviews, and there I was talking about on Amazon, Goodreads etc.  I think my biggest challenge will be trying to get some reviews in the sorts of places science fiction readers look.  And I must admit I’m not sure how to do that, or where to look.  My own hunting for new science fiction is a bit haphazard.  I obviously look at authors I know; I’ll trawl Amazon for something that takes my eye; Friends will recommend books; More recently I have joined a couple of groups on facebook where there are recommendations (again BooksGoSocial for one).  Perhaps I should look for some sci-fi oriented groups.

ThinkingSo as you can see, I am making more of an effort with the up and coming launch.  And I need to, despite getting good feedback on my books, the sales have hardly been overwhelming.  So, whatever I do it has to be an improvement.  But also as you can see I still have things to work out.  I’ll keep you posted.

As always, ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

4 thoughts on “New book launch – learning from past mistakes”

  1. Yes, you can do free from day TWO – I did it with my short story collection, with the first chapter of one of my novels in the back, and it sent the novel as high as #900 in the Amazon ratings. It’s a great idea. You publish at the lowest price without telling anyone, so that no-one buys it, then put it on free (for 5 days) on day two. You can’t get reviews in the first week by doing that silly pre-order thing (I can’t see the point of it!!!) as people still can’t read it until publication day. You get them by sending ARCs to book bloggers, or if you have beta readers, or test readers amongst your friends, getting them to review.

    Re the Facebook groups – hope it’s not one of those where you all review each others’ books and give them 5* without reading them??? I recently found out that such things exist, and am appalled (perhaps a bit naively!). Try sending the books to book bloggers – the reviews will have more credibility and will be featured on their blogs, too.

    1. Terry, thanks for the info – that’s really helpful. As for the facebook group, no its not like that. Its ‘BooksGoSocial’ and it’s just one of the recent discussion items and the reviews are genuine. I’ve read three books, one was excellent and I was happy to give it good crit. The other two I got 20% in and had to reply that I couldn’t review them in their current state. There were a number of issues with both of them which I tried to explain. I would rather do this than give a bad review.

      1. Good for you for being honest about those ones you couldn’t review!!! And for being brave enough to say why (diplomacy, diplomacy!). Here’s a post that might be of use to you, re book blogs: – I’d suggest Ebookwyrm and Rosie’s review team for your sort of book, or network with other SciFi writers to see who they’ve submitted to, or do as I said in the blog and look on the ones mentioned for links to suitable ones

        1. Thanks again for your pointers – I’ll follow up on them and search out some book bloggers, starting with the ones you mention. I do try to be tactful with the feedback (I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert), be positive, give what advice I can and encourage them to keep working at it, i.e. what I hope someone would do for me.

If you have a view on this, let me know: