A new writer – Planning (or not) for a book launch

horsell commonWhen I started my first novel it was with the intention of seeing if I could do it, could I actually write a book.  I’d talked about it, I had the story and due to changes in my working life I had the time.  Therefore, on top of everything else I had, I now had no excuses.  So over about six months I wrote the first draft of that book.  I also read as much as I could on writing and one of the things that I read many times (not that it wasn’t obvious) was the need for revision after revision after revision.  And that’s what I did until I got to the stage where I felt I was going round in circles.  I then paid for professional advice, which was very helpful and I embarked on a new round of editing and revising until I had something I thought just might be good enough.

So what now?  My dream (I guess like many authors) was traditional publication and an advance on that next book etc. etc.  Well I sent it off to as many agents as I could find who might be interested in science fiction, the result, some ‘thanks, but no thanks’, if I was lucky.

I put the book aside, perhaps it wasn’t good enough? And concentrated on my second book and went round pretty much the same process with the same result.  I did get a few more replies from agents along the lines of ‘a difficult market’, ‘not looking for new authors at this time, good luck’ which was a little better than with the first book, wasn’t it?  So what now?  Well this was towards the end of 2012 when I guess the self-publishing world was starting to gain some respect.  I had given copies of both books to people to read and they all came back and said they had enjoyed them, the stories flowed and that I should put them out there.  So then it was more revising, professional proof reading, swot up on how you actually get a book ready for self-publishing and then, well publish, great!

This is where my naivety kicked in.  I had a product but with no real idea how to market it.  I had concentrated on publishing the book without knowing how I was going to generate sales.  I was on some social media (everything I read said that was essential).  I did sign up for some free (and one or two low cost) book promotion sites, but it didn’t take a genius to see my books would just be lost in the thousands of others.  I thought perhaps if a few people bought the books, they would recommend them to others and then it would just snowball.  It didn’t and when I think about it why would it?

michael lakes1For 2015 I have set myself the task of doing better.  I will be launching another book, ‘Bleak’ in a few months and perhaps two more by the end of the year/early 2016.  So, I need a plan.  Great, that’s it I need a plan, but what plan?  I have a sci-fi related give-away on my site with the aim of collecting e-mail addresses (much of what I’ve read suggests this is an essential), but that could be going better.  I’ve started doing some guest blogs, which bring their own rewards.  One has been picked up by an iTunes publication, so I’m doing something right.  I have a volume of short stories nearly ready to go in which I will include the first two chapters of my book.  I’m working on a prequel novella to ‘Bleak’ which I intend to give away.  I think these are all good things to do, but it’s not a plan.  I am aware this time round that I need to spend some money (I don’t have a huge budget) but the question then becomes getting the best coverage/outcome for that money.  It seems to me that it would be easy to fritter what budget I have with little return.

I’ll keep you all posted as I learn and no doubt make a few mistakes along the way.  The follow up to this blog is ‘New book launch – learning from past mistakes’.  All and any ideas welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

7 thoughts on “A new writer – Planning (or not) for a book launch”

  1. I went much the same route as you, although I did get signed by an agent (in the US), and my epic fantasy duly did the rounds of the, then, Big Six. Same answer – well written but not what we’re looking for at this time.
    I tried to find a UK agent for my second, which is set in Inverness (urban fantasy) but despite initial enthusiasm from a couple of agents, they eventually said no.
    So that’s when I self-published.
    I spent a year first, learning the ropes, and getting my ‘platform’ established, and that paid off, with a launch that took me into the Top 100 New Releases and kept my first in the bestseller lists for several months.
    My second, despite all the preparations, didn’t do so well. Admittedly the genre is different, so a different audience, but I did the same things, and one book flew, while the other just trickles along.
    I have done some successful promotions, at minimal cost, and there are several links and downloadable PDFs at the bottom of this page: http://deborahjayauthor.com/writers-resources/ on my blog, about effective promotion sites, both paid and free.
    I’m also just about to launch a SFF anthology, so see you out there, and good luck to both of us!

    1. Thanks – sometimes it’s good to here it can be done. I’ve just done a review swap for one of my current books and the person reviewing said they’d really enjoyed it, which reassures me that I have something that is worth reading. Thanks also for the link, I’m happy to take all the advice I can get this time round. Good luck with your anthology – I’ll look out for it.

  2. I’d be very happy to swap reviews with you if you’re interested? I’m currently getting some reviews sorted prior to the anthology launch – it’s a multi-author collection of SF & F, many of the stories previously published in magazines such as Interzone. Our headliner is Tanith Lee, and there is one of mine in there, about gene tech.
    Free copies available to anyone you might know who’d like to review too. Ebook ARCs are ready now.
    No problem if you don’t have time, but the offer’s there.

    1. I’d be happy to review your anthology. As you’ll have read I’m still planning launch for my new book, but I’m also trying to get come reviews for ‘Project Noah’. I’m happy to do a purchase swap but I can also send a free copy as either a pdf or kindle format. Don’t mind which, let me know. Regards, Ian

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