Cupid’s Way – The Launch Report!

It’s been almost two weeks since the launch of Cupid’s Way but it feels like a LOT longer! The dust has settled, I’ve had chance to gather a bit of data and reflect on what went well – and what didn’t go so well - and I’ve laid it all out here for you to take a look at. I’ve come to some pretty pivotal conclusions, and made some radical decisions based on what you’ll read here, so let’s get the fun stuff out of the way first!

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The Launch – What Went Well

The support I had on launch day was awesome. You were amazing. Readers and bloggers, friends and family, reviewers and contacts – everyone came through for me and shared, posted, commented and generally got involved to get the word out. My plan, or goal, was to get as many people as possible to download the book over the weekend in order to propel Cupid’s Way up the charts and hopefully gain some visibility beyond my own reach of contacts. In order to do this, I did the following:

  • Offered my book for review to book bloggers with a request that they post the review around the launch date
  • Pre-warmed my mailing list with  a special competition and then sent out an email with the buy links on launch day
  • Posted about the book on my blog and reader website
  • Hosted a Facebook launch event with lots of great prizes and opportunities to interact
  • Contacted practically everyone I know with any kind of platform and asked them to post something about it on the day of launch.
  • Set up a Facebook Advert, targeted to my ideal reader, for the three days that the book was at the special launch price of 99p.

On Friday June 27th, launch day, Cupid’s Way had 54 downloads. There had been an additional 24 prior to the ‘official’ launch date – I had to upload the book to Amazon to check it was all working okay and I’m guessing readers of my other books happened across it, or friends downloaded ahead of launch day. Over the following days it achieved the following figures: Saturday 36 downloads; Sunday 69, Monday 21.

On Tuesday it reverted to its ‘normal’ price of £1.99 and downloads dropped to 10, and have stayed roughly at this number daily since.

So, how did it do in terms of chart position? By Monday morning, Cupid’s Way peaked at number #710 overall in the Kindle charts. (I didn’t manage to grab that image as I wasn’t at my computer.)

CW Mon 30 June

At one point, all three of my romantic comedies were in the top 10 Family Humour, which was really lovely :)

3 in top 10 humour

 

The launch event on Facebook was, in my humble opinion, one of the most engaged-with I’ve seen, and everyone who got involved seemed to have a great time. All in all, the launch went pretty much as planned. Except …

What Didn’t Go So Well

I made a few errors, which definitely had an effect on the sales and chart position of Cupid’s Way, and another basic error which seriously impacted on the bottom line! I’ll share them with you so you can learn from my mistakes, and of course all this data will help me do a better job next time! ;) (Make sure you read to the end to find out exactly how different this will be next time.)

Timing and exposure. I left it far too late to contact book bloggers. This was simply because I had too much to do getting Cupid’s Way finished and ready, and in hindsight, putting off the launch until later in the year might have been sensible to give me time to get a proper blog tour set up. Take for example Sue Watson’s brilliant new book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake. This launched on the same day as Cupid’s Way, and although they are very different books they are roughly the same genre. Cupid’s Way actually achieved a higher chart position immediately after launch, but then dropped down to the 5,000s, where it has stayed. LLaLC has, over the past couple of weeks, continued to climb, currently at #224 in the charts. Sue’s book launch was properly planned months in advance by the team at Bookouture, and the word-of-mouth exposure from book reviewers is building momentum.

Of course, Sue also has great contacts in the media, and is a wonderfully warm and positive promoter – and it’s a fantastic book! But the exposure, helped along by magazine reviews and radio appearances, have certainly assisted in the rise up the charts. LLaLC will, quite rightly, chart in the top #100 soon, and this just seems out of reach for me at the moment, no matter how good a book I might write. I just don’t have the resources to gain that kind of exposure. BUT – I could have been more organised and given Cupid’s Way a chance by getting started on it all a lot sooner!

Pricing. My plan was to price Cupid’s Way at 99p to encourage new readers to give it a try, banking on fairly robust exposure immediately following launch day to make the book visible. The problem is, I think most of the people who downloaded the book were existing readers, and I think I’m right in saying that most of my lovely existing readers wouldn’t have minded paying an extra one pound for the book. I needed to sell 4 times as many at 99p to make the same royalty as at £1.99, because of Amazon’s 35%/70% structure. So, basically I lost money. Cupid’s Way will take a lot longer to break even – unless I gamble on a free promotion at some point, which I’m loath to do for various reasons.

Next time I’ll launch at £1.59, which allows a 70% royalty, but is still an attractive price-point for romance readers – who are, research has shown, very price sensitive.

Costs. I spent too much. You’re shocked, right? This is me, after all – the one who always goes on about how you can cut costs and do everything yourself and that you should keep your bottom  line low so you can break even quickly? Well, quite. The thing is, I wanted to throw everything at Cupid’s Way. I wanted to give it a chance at maximum visibility, and I thought – wrongly – that you could achieve that by spending money.

Actually, you can achieve that by spending money – but you need to spend A LOT of money! I paid for a Facebook Ad and got in the region of 60 downloads from this ad. 60 x 32p royalty? £19.20 – which is lovely. Until you hear that the advert cost me £24. Not good maths. I ordered 100 copies of the paperback, thinking I’d do loads of book signings and sell stacks of copies and create a buzz locally, but the problem is I’m too tired to organise all this now and I really need to get on with my next book. Yes, the paperbacks will sell – eventually – but this was an up-front cost I didn’t need.

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I spent a lot (£70) on promotional stuff – notebooks, mugs, fridge magnets. Giving them away on launch day was lovely, and everyone who won a prize was really happy. But did I really need to do that? Did it sell more books? Did it reach out to new readers? I’m not sure it did to the tune of £70, to be honest.

After-launch momentum. It’s been said before – notably after the launch of The Family Trap – but I do tend to be in the habit of launching a book and then disappearing for a week or two! If I don’t go on holiday, I hole up in my house and ‘go dark’ for a while. Why is this? I should be plugging away, still contacting book bloggers, posting new reviews on Facebook, Tweeting, getting the buzz to reach fever pitch … Ah, you know why. As an indie author, getting a new book out – to the standards of a traditional publisher – is exhausting. By the time launch day is over I’m usually completely knackered, often coming down with a cold, often feeling really flat and depressed that I still haven’t been picked up by a lovely publisher who would, at the very least, do some of the bloody work.

Anyway, you can probably ascertain from this list what I will do differently next time:

  • Get started on planning the launch sooner, to allow for maximum exposure
  • Price my book at a reasonable level where I won’t lose money
  • Don’t spend too much on advertising or promotional stuff
  • Don’t order too many books – 10 for friends and family is plenty
  • Take it easy and pace myself so I have something left to give after launch day.

I’d add to this, don’t have too high expectations. I had totted up my personal reach – those on my mailing list, blog followers, FB likers, friends and contacts – and I figured I could get 250 downloads on launch day if everyone who was likely to want to read the book bought it. How wrong I was! Only 19 people on my mailing list clicked on the link to Cupid’s Way in the launch day email. That’s only 19 people out of a list who have voluntarily signed up for news of my next book! Don’t get me wrong – I am massively grateful that there are even that many people who want to read it – so far Cupid’s Way has had almost 300 downloads, and that is, for a little indie author like me doing everything on her own, astonishing. But, what it does illustrate is that this stuff is hard. Getting people to download your book, even for 99p, even when they have enjoyed your other books, is hard. And finding new readers is exceptionally hard. As more and more books are published, it’s getting harder and harder to make an impact. Just bear that in mind when you come to launch your next book – I know I will!

Indie Publishing and Launches – An Idea Gone Wrong?

All this brings me to reflect on something Dan Holloway said a while back (I’m paraphrasing him now as I can’t find the exact reference but it had an impact on me): ‘Indie authors shouldn’t be imitating traditional publishing, we should be carving out our own path, doing things our own way.’ Many of the problems I ran into, outlined above, occurred because I was trying to emulate a model I have absolutely no realistic chance of emulating with any success. This is a form of vanity, when you think about it. I write a book. I publish a book. I want my book to be considered on the same terms as all other books, however they are published. I knock myself out trying to make my book appear and feel and behave the same as other books. In some ways I succeed, out of sheer will and determination, but in some ways I fail miserably because it was never actually possible – because I am demonstrably NOT a publishing house. I am a person ;)

And where is the writing in all of this? Where is the time to craft and grow and create something original. Why should indie authors aim to replicate what traditional publishers do – isn’t the whole point to be indie? To be original and independent of the restrictive processes that don’t necessarily serve readers too well anyway?

Authors like Terry Tyler clearly figured this out a long time ago, and in the manner of a child who had to learn for herself the hard way, I now take off my hat to Terry who writes a great book, gets it ready for publication – in ebook format only, at the moment – publishes it, promotes it a bit to her social network, then moves on to write the next book. And, tellingly, she actually has the energy and enthusiasm to move on to her next book because she hasn’t spent the last three months exhausting herself trying to replicate a process that in a publishing house has about 50 different people working on various tasks.

This has been a wake-up call for me, and a bit of turning point. It’s taken me two years, four novels, and a rollercoaster ride to realise that self-publishing doesn’t mean I have to be a writer and a publisher all rolled into one. I can just be a writer who reaches out to readers. And I think I’m going to enjoy that!

 

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59 Comments

Filed under Cupid's Way, Self-publishing

59 responses to “Cupid’s Way – The Launch Report!

  1. Thanks for this post, Joanne. It’s great to hear your honesty again. I think it’s becoming harder to have an impact and I totally agree that we should be doing things our own way. The guys at the self-publishing podcast (Jonny B Truant et al) are knocking their print books on the head too. Concentrating on producing more books, developing, winning fans and engaging with your audience. These are the places we need to spend our time. A launch is over-rated, as you say, it’s a hangover from trying to be traditional. They have to big up the launch because the book only gets a finite time to prove itself. As Louis Armstrong would say, ‘we’ve got all the time in the world.’

    Keep it up. As ever, I enjoy your blog.

    • Thanks Michael. It was lovely having print books, and I know many readers love them – I love them! – but I can understand why Jonny B et al are giving them up. The time it takes to properly produce a paperback, typesetting and getting the cover sorted, listing with Nielsen, proofs etc – it does make you wonder whether it’s worth it. And you still have to do all this even if you only ever sell 5 copies of the paperback! There are a few bookshops that stock my books, and local libraries also order them via Bertrams, but is it really worth keeping this going just for those few sales? I’m not sure.

  2. Terry Tyler

    First of all, thanks so much for the mention – but honestly, I don’t do it the way I do it because of what you’ve said; like everything else I do, it’s just accident. it’s just that I suppose I’ve figured out that money spent on big launches doesn’t pay off or create any more of a buzz than just publishing it, because I’ve observed what other people do; there is so much competition now, and the launch of a new self-published book is nothing special to anyone apart from the author and the already existing faithful readers.

    This is such a good post, Jo – I applaud your honesty and willingness to share your mistakes with others so that they don’t make them (something I try to do as well!!). You do so much better than me partly because you DO do stuff like create a buzz locally, which I have never done. Honestly, I have been going to the same hairdresser for 4 years, and I’ve only mentioned that I write books, once! I rely solely on the readers I reach through social media.

    I have to admit that publishing a book costs me very little as I don’t do paperbacks (ought to), don’t pay for advertising (don’t know if good or not), but mostly because I have a proofreading sister and other family members who do other bits for me, so I never think about the ‘breaking even’ bit. I suppose I have a less professional attitude to it, actually – I just want people to like my books! Anyway – I’ve written enough! btw – I’ve sent you an email, I’m sorry, I know you’re tired! I only want a brief paragraph, and I will find all the pics and links, you don’t have to send them….. but okay if you really don’t have time!! Thanks again xx

  3. Terry Tyler

    ….ps, I start the next one almost the minute I send a book to Julia for proofreading. This means that by the time one is published, I am already several chapters in to the next. I don’t have big launches to do, so I can do this. Having said this, I sell less books than you, so don’t take any notice!!!!!

    • Hi Terry,
      I think it’s great you’re on to your next book so soon – I’m on to it in my head, and usually making notes obsessively, but there’s always too much to do. Wish I had a Julia to do my proofreading ;) I think you instinctively figured out that which a lot of the indie community are only just coming to realise, so all kudos to you.
      Jo x
      PS The buzz locally is not so successful as I hope for. Even my friends don’t bother coming to the book signings!!! I did have some press coverage for the Flora Lively book, because it was set locally, and that really helped sales. But signing events don’t do much at all. No more from me!!! (Except the one I have planned for the library tomorrow) ;)

  4. Jo, you are a powerhouse! All that work in the run-up to your launch and you still make time to so generously share the results and such helpful feedback with your friends – thank you.

    One of the biggest advantages – perhaps the single biggest one – of being indie is that the impact of the launch event and the immediate sales figures really matter that much, other than psychologically, because, unlike a trade-published book, yours isn’t a ticking time-bomb that will stop being promoted – or even produced – a year down the line. Your books need never go out of print, they’ll never end up in a remaindered bookshop. You just need to keep the faith and believe in your book and the sales will come in the longer-term.

    One other important point to remember is that in these days of 24/7 availability of books and print-on-demand from online stores (though we’d all rather the print copies were bought through fab local bricks-and-mortar bookshops, of course), there’s no “now or never” feel about it for the reader. It’s not like picking up a bargain in a “when it’s gone, it’s gone” offer or snatching up a limited-edition print before they all run out. So do not be downhearted that your loyal mailing list didn’t immediately snap up a copy each. I’m sure you’ll see a long trickle of sales from that source as they catch up with their emails and plan their holiday reading. (Plus of course July is a notoriously slow season for book sales.)

    Like Terry Tyler and Linda Gillard and other great indies that we both admire, you will find your books will continue to be bought and read by those who, having enjoyed your earlier work, will now read anything you care to put out there, simply because “Ooh, look, there’s a new Joanne Phillips!” :) You’ve become a brand!

    As to me, I’m looking forward to reading “Cupid’s Way” soon, and posting my review on Amazon etc – where I see you already have 10 x 5* reviews less than three weeks after the launch – congratulations!

    (By the way, if you can bear to put together an Opinion piece c. 600 words for the ALLi blog about your experience and your conclusions, which I’d link back to this post, that would be fabulous – but if not, and you prefer just to get on and write the next book, that’s fine too. Just keep writing, whatever else you do!)

    • Hi Debbie,
      Thank you :) I think for me I have to justify the upfront costs – or cut them massively – otherwise I think I’ll just get depressed and worried about launching the next book. I don’t think I could bring out a new book if I hadn’t covered the cost of the last one – business-wise it would feel wrong ;) But you are totally right about the long-tail, and interestingly – something I didn’t mention above – The Family Trap is selling better right now than it ever has before, and it’s been out well over a year.
      Jo x
      PS I guess I should pass on the ALLi blog because my To Do list is already groaning under the strain and I must write … my … next … book ;) xxxx

  5. Great post, Jo, and I can say that because it largely mirrors my own experience. :) Although I haven’t put anywhere as much effort into a ‘launch’ as you did, with my last book I tried to be more considered about placing online adverts and using Facebook and Twitter to promote it on the day of publication. I’ve also found the big online promoters to be useful – I haven’t taken up BookBub yet, but I did use Kindle Nation Daily and got 50+ sales on the day of promotion, with a few ticking over afterwards … just about paid for itself, I guess.

    But overall I’m beginning to come around to Russell Blake and Noah Lukeman’s perspective, that getting books out quickly and building a brand is what’s important for selling ebooks. As a reader, it was the habit I formed with my buying – I’d find a new writer (Lee Child, Michael Connelly, etc) and then immediately hit the charity shops to buy the back-catalogue as quickly as I could. Why should it be any different for online readers? So you have to publish quickly and publish often, I’m thinking, to build your success. Once you have the long tail started you can take time out and write the books from the heart (I did that too soon with one of mine instead of adding to my ‘series’: mistake). This sounds a bit cold and mercenary, but if you’re a writer/publisher and *need* to earn money, you have to think like this occasionally!

    So thanks for your generosity in sharing this experience – much appreciated!

    • Hi Keith, it doesn’t sound cold and mercenary at all, it sounds like a plan! :) I’m definitely going to focus on my writing now and not on the other business stuff that goes on around it. That said, every time I launch I learn something new and refine my processes so in theory at least it should get easier and quicker each time.

  6. Thanks for sharing the details of your experience, Jo. You are a model for us all. I made the mistake of buy too many paperback copies of my first book thinking I would do signings and readings, as well. That didn’t happen and I was stuck with a book of books. Going forward, I will order a handful to give/sell but no more than that. Better to pay the postage on another 5-10 more books than be stuck with piles.

    • You’re welcome, Elizabeth :) I totally agree about the paperback copies. In fact, reading all these brilliant comments, and reflecting even more, I’ve decided I’m going to go back to the model I used when I launched my very first book – I launched the ebook first, then when it had earned me enough money to produce the paperback, have a second release of the paperback. This has the added benefit of giving you a second chance at launch. Sorted! I was more switched on than I realised 2 years ago ;)

  7. Terry Tyler

    pps – I so agree with what Debbie and Keith said, re no urgency and the multiple titles being of most importance – I do exactly the same as Keith, ie, discover an author and buy the lot! I also wanted to say that I know what you mean re the regular readers who would’ve bought it anyway buying it at 99p – when I brought out my short story collection, Nine Lives, last November, I put it out free on publication. It worked in that it found me new readers, and it MASSIVELY worked for subsequent sales of What It Takes, as I’d put the first chapter in the back, but it meant that all the existing regular readers downloaded it free instead of buying it. It’s not that I wanted their 23ps (it’s only 77p!), but I DID want the sales for the Amazon algorithms. I won’t do it again, though; the new novella (out this month, cross fingers) will be 99p on publication, and there it will stay!

    Now, I must get back to my sequel to Kings and Queens!! xx

    • Well, that’s the thing about on-the-day downloads – they’re not to make money so much as gain visibility through downloads. It was a gamble for you to do Nine Lives free on publication, and it’s all good stuff to gain data for next time. Like you said, having the first chapter of What It Takes (my favourite book of yours), was a stroke of genius. Get back to work! x

      • Terry Tyler

        pssst – am glad you like What It Takes best – it’s hardly selling at the moment so I’ve just used ‘bestselling author Jo Phillips says it’s her favourite of my books’ in a tweet, ha ha!!!

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve made all the same ‘mistakes’ which I prefer to call learning opportunities with my book launches. I’ve found that offering a book free for a day has brought me some new readers, but I think that offers sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I’ve also learned not to order loads of paperbacks as most of my readers have Kindles. And I totally agree that you need to have as many books available for when a new reader finds you. So I’d better get on! Back to Single All the Way, the third and final book in my Singles Trilogy.

  9. Very interesting conclusions and very educational also to read the comments of Terry, Keith, Debbie and others. It seems to me that the biggest difference is that you can continue to promote your earlier books, emphasise or de-emphasise them as you please, which so few publishers do nowadays, so a large-scale fanfare and launch or blog tour won’t make that much of a difference. I have to admit that when the blog tour is too lengthy and complicated, I simply cannot follow more than 1-2 stops maximum, even if the author is one I truly like and admire (and a very good friend). Besides, they’re preaching to the converted there – I’ll buy the book anyway. But I suppose there are new audiences who can be reached via blog tours – as long as the blogs are different enough from each other.

    • You’re right, Marina, blog tours are impossible to follow, and I think they only work if they expose you to a network of readers you couldn’t access yourself. I think the exposure of a review in a national magazine is very valuable, as are mentions on mainstream radio. But you need all the right connections for that to happen ;) x

  10. A brilliant post, Joanne. Thank you! You are so good to a) take the time to do the post and b) be wonderfully candid about your experiences. I’m soon to be publishing my second Indie novel. My first was the paperback version of a novel published a few years ago in hardback by Hale and so all my enthusiastic friends and family had already got a copy. So this next one is, in essence, my first ‘real’ indie novel so to read your report (including those philosophical thoughts on being Indie and thus being “different” – and thanks to Debbie’s comments too!) was very timely and much appreciated. :-)

    P.S. If you don’t mind my asking, how late was “too late” to contact book bloggers?

    • Hi Wendy,
      Well, I only sourced my list (of mainly UK bloggers) about 3-4 weeks before the launch date I’d set, and I started emailing them with about 3 weeks to go, but because it is quite labour-intensive to send out personal emails there were a few a probably didn’t contact until there were only 2 weeks to go. Interestingly, out of a spreadsheet of 45 book bloggers contacted, 19 responded and offered to review and 1 said they were too busy. Out of the 19, 7 committed to doing the review by the launch day, bless them!
      What I should have done – and would do if I ever decided to try and organise a proper blog-tour, or review blast – is to contact them all 2-3 months in advance, and then attempt to plan in days when I could offer a guest post or when they would be posting their review. And building a relationship with bloggers is important, as is having the right approach. Some books come out and every single review is like ‘Oh, wow, 5 stars, this is awesome’, and maybe it is, but often the book has only been sent out to reviewers who are pre-warmed up to love the book.
      Jo x

  11. Jo, it’s really good of you to share your experiences (both good and bad) so that other authors can learn from them. There are some useful comments here from other experienced authors too, such as Terry and Debbie. A quick and easy way of shifting your print stock could be through libraries. They love anything with a local slant. You don’t need to spend time visiting the branches. It literally takes just one email to the central branch, which might represent as many as 50 sub-branches depending on the region. I’ve sold up to 30 copies at a time just by sending one email to the central branch. If you (or any of your followers) are interested I’ve got a spreadsheet with all the central branch email addresses for the UK, which I can send to you. I can even let you have a copy of my email that I sent to them just to give you an idea of how to pitch it (although obviously a novel would be worded a bit differently to a N/F book). If you’re too shattered and prefer to sell them as you go along, no worries. :)

    • Diane, I would love to get that email address list from you, if you are still offering. I need to access ways to reach readers in the UK as I’m Canadian. Here’s my addy: diannelk@gmail.com

    • Hi Diane,
      Yes please! I’d love to have your spreadsheet and copy of email wording, thank you so much! Do you think the libraries will want to order the books via Bertrams, though? I don’t mind if they do – any sale is a good sale – but how can I encourage them to let me supply direct? My local central library prefers to order copies via their own supplier (Bertrams).
      Jo x

      • Hi Jo, sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve been out and about since last night. I’ll send full details once I’m back at my desk, probably Monday. Libraries do insist on using their own wholesalers but I’ve managed to negotiate a good rate with all the major ones. I’ll explain it all in my email. :)

  12. rasanaatreya

    What a refreshingly positive and honest post! I have longish short story (for lack of a better word) coming out. I’ll try and use that to promote my novel (I have only one out at this time). I want to see what low-key (and low-cost) marketing gets me.

    • Thank you :) I have a longish short story out too, and I came across the term ‘novelette’ which seems to describe it quite well. Good luck with your launch, come back and let me know how it goes, won’t you?

  13. Joanne, thank you so much for sharing your results. You are an invaluable source of promo information, and I’m in awe of how energetic you are, not only to set up your promos, but to post about it as you have done here, in such an organized fashion. I know you love to write, but if you ever need a breather, you would be an awesome promotional manager for hire!

    • Hi Dianne,
      Thank you for your lovely vote of confidence, I love to share everything I learn because it always makes me feel that nothing is wasted then. I would indeed make an awesome promotional manager ;) I just wouldn’t be able to take money off people for something they could so easily do themselves ;)
      Love Jo x

  14. Joanne, thanks for an amazing and eye opening critique of your launch. Your authenticity in sharing both sides of the picture creates trust in your readers and you provide a base for the rest of us to operate from. Thanks so much. Will reblog right now!

  15. Reblogged this on Sherrey Meyer, Writer and commented:
    Joanne Phillips shares the bare bones results of her recent launch of her new book, Cupid’s Way. Contained are the highs, lows, and some mistakes Joanne sees in her launch. I believe this post is a good, basic overview of what a writer needs to know when publishing and launching. Thank you, Joanne, for sharing your experience.

  16. woodbeez48

    Jo,
    I just wanted to thank you for being so honest about how it all went for this launch. It is so helpful for those of us still polishing the first book to see behind the scenes, so to speak. I think the amount of effort you put in is incredible and frightening at the same time! I admire you and Terry for your sheer guts and determination, as well as for encouraging the rest of us to keep going. Thank you again. PS – I just finished reading ‘The Silence of Juliet Mann’ and what a lovely story that was ;)

  17. Brilliant post, Jo, and so very honest and to the point.

  18. robinbot

    Thank you so much for this view into book launching. I’m not up to that yet but am curious. It seems the life of a writer is one big roller coaster ride after another. Thanks for alerting us to some of the pitfalls. I’m saving this as a guide for when my book’s time comes. Cheers!

  19. Woah,

    I am so blessed and graced to be learning so much from ‘seasoned indies’ like you.

    Thanks to Madeleine Sharples, l got to also read Joyce Meyer. Then l stumbled on Sherrey Meyer and she reblogged your post. Hence l land here.

    My next book will have all these lessons into consideration. My first book isn’t hitting any where yet other than scrambling for a bottom hole, but l am happy just to have published it and get whatever am getting from it.

    Loads of love and luck, Marie author of My Unconventional Loves…

    • Hi Marie,
      Thanks for your lovely comment – Sherrey is wonderful and I’m always honoured when she links to my blog :) Good luck with your book, I’m going to pop over to Amazon and have a look x

  20. I really appreciated this post, Joanne. Your candid and objective look at what worked and what didn’t is refreshing in a social media world where bragging about number of ebook sold, money made or words written in a day seems to be the norm. So true – we indie writers cannot compete with authors who have a publishing house behind them. I like how you conclude this post – write and reach out to readers. Isn’t that why we wanted to write in the first place? Thanks.

    • Hi Francis,
      I’m getting a bit sick of all that too – especially the daily word counts! Arghhh – pressure. ;) x

      • Terry Tyler

        I’ve never understood that – who gives a monkeys’ how many words someone has written in a day, and why put yourself under the stress of a daily word count anyway? Ridiculous. Some days it pours out and you write 4K, other days it doesn’t, and it’s only 1K. It’s still 1K more than it was the day before, anyway. On 1K days I do a bit more tweeting, or write a blog post – happily, none of the writers I am friendly with online talk about such things. Francis, get some new writer chums!!!

      • Hi Terry and Joanne … I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian here about word counts! Though like you I’m not interested in other people’s counts (if you want to depress yourself, read Russell Blake talking about 12-14000 words a day … ) but I do find that having a target has helped me – and lots of other folks we’ve heard of: Steinbeck, Hemingway et al. I use Scrivener, which allows you to set a project and a session target, so I set my project at 80K words and my session at 1000. Then I aim to at least do that per day, but actually aim to do as many more as I can. My highest so far is 3K in a single day. It also has a little bar that moves along and changes colour as you approach and then reach your target! This is actually very motivating! My two cents …

      • Terry Tyler

        Glad to see you keep coming back to this post too, Keith – I feel like a mad stalker, but keep seeing replies in my email, and…! That WAS interesting, so there!!! I know about Russell Blake – I daresay I could do twice as many if I was a man, too, but we birds have to do all that washing and cooking and shopping crap, too!!!! All I can say is, whatever works for you. I have other targets that people would think much sillier – like trying to beat the iPad 15-0 at backgammon at least once a week…..

      • Ha! Touche! (Though if you talked to my other half she’d tell you I do most of the cooking around here … )

  21. Hi Joanne, Thanks for this insight as someone new to self-pub this year this is valuable info. I’m finding all the research for it and trying to plan the best course of action and then actually doing it a huge time-suck – and hideously boring! I’d sort of come to the conclusion that the best thing to do was just to keep writing (of which there’s been very little for months) and your post reinforces this. There’s so much that’s great about self-pub – choosing my own editor and designers have been the biggest plus for me – but as for the rest unless you have bottomless funds, excel at networking and marketing and are let it prepared to eat into your time it’s not a long-term strategy. It’s a bit depressing in a way to spend years learning a craft only to find that just when you thought you’d reached the end of the rainbow it shifts again and requires you to learn a whole new set of skills. I’m hugely pleased I’m finally published but feel like I’ve wasted so much time and energy too. It’s time to get back to writing.

    • Terry Tyler

      Sorry, Joanne and Jane, can I just leap in here? (I have this post on my ‘follow-up comments’ email, I’m not stalking you, Jo!!!!). I just wanted to say, Jane, that I’ve never spent a penny on advertising or marketing, and marketing can be something you learn as you go along – you don’t necessarily have to have big strategies in place, although reading blogs like Jo’s is always worth it! As far as networking goes, it’s just about being interested in other people, open to suggestion, and willing to do things for others, too. Unfortunately, unless you are one of those one in five thousand whose book just happens to ‘hit’, marketing HAS to eat into your time, or it will sink without trace (to be more specific, sell about twice a month and hardly get read). Virtually all mine is done via Twitter, which has meant that my blogs are now read widely and I’ve built up a good readership & relationships with book bloggers and other writers. I’d never used Twitter until I self-published, but now I love it. You can just do half an hour a day or five days a week at first, which will be enough to get your presence felt! I’d recommend ‘Twitter for Writers’ by Rayne Hall, it’s a terrific book. Hope that helps, and huge luck with the book – now I’ll go and look you up on Twitter!

      • Hi Terry,
        Thanks for chipping in:) It’s good to hear that you’ve had success without investing a huge amount of time and finances. That’s very encouraging. I’ll look up that book Raine Hall and see what tips she can offer. I am quite quite selective about relationships with other writers now (having been on net a long time and had my fingers burnt a few times) but I suppose I just need to stop finding excuses and get on with this marketing stuff. I don’t think there’s anything worse than thinking that no one will read my work – I think that’s worse than the prospect of a few one stars:D

        Good luck with your book too, Joanne. Costs aside, it was still a very successful launch.

    • Hi Jane,
      Everything Terry says, and also this: ;) I only managed, last month, to finally get around to writing a proper ‘marketing plan’ – for what it’s worth! My advice is to try and do one promo/marketing thingy once a month, and to track what you do and notice and log the results. Part of your job now is to not allow it to become a time-suck (she says! I so need to follow my own advice!) – and to keep on writing no matter what else is going on. Good luck with it all, keep in touch to let me know how you’re getting on. x

  22. (Trying again to get this comment to stick…)
    As always, so much good stuff here, I’ll be bookmarking this for future reference.
    There were things I did for my first book launch that I wouldn’t do again, but, especially for the first time, it felt like a celebration of achievement as much as a sales effort. I might not have a live party next time and I’m not sure I’d kill myself with an online party either – mainly because I don’t have the following that you do.
    Personally, I did sell all the paperbacks I ordered (50) and had to re-order: I found people who know me really wanted the printed book, whereas on Amazon, ebook sales are totally dominant. (Except in December, where there was a definite uptick and I’m assuming they were gifts).
    I recall when I did my blog tour that review copies for the bloggers had to reach them about 2 months ahead of time. That can really lengthen the timescale before launch, as (for me at any rate) I wanted those reviewers to get a nicely formatted, fully proof-read copy as it was the only representation of my work they would see. But that basically means the book needs to be ‘ready’ at minus 2 months. Still, for me, I’m sure reviews have been the biggest driver of sales, so maybe it’s worth it.
    Nonetheless, I think there’s an underlying theme in your post about how much we indies can flog ourselves to be writing and marketing at the same time. I feel like I can do one or the other well, but not both. And I’m not sure I believe a ‘real’ publisher would do much marketing for us; I guess I feel we’d give up almost all the control (and ability to do special promotions) with few rewards. But it’s a huge headache. My sense is, Jo, you’ve worked so hard, and the download numbers you’re quoting are actually really strong, that you might be able to reap the rewards of your marketing efforts if you take your foot off the gas a little now.
    As for being picked up by a publisher, that’s probably an offline topic. If that’s truly what you want, maybe it’s time to start querying? My understanding is that your indie sales figures are enough to get their attention.

    • Woo-hoo! Sorry to be so long-winded, but I thought this was one of your most informative, most honest posts ever, Jo.

      • Terry Tyler

        It’s the stalker again!!! To be honest, Pauline, I think the first book buzz and launch is all very well, but it doesn’t work over and over again. When I published my first book, everyone I knew was over the moon for me, everyone bought it, read it straight away and reviewed it to get me started, etc. By the third book, all those people had dwindled away to the ones who have since become regular readers, and it was no big deal to anyone but me and them. I think with book bloggers the main thing is to develop a relationship with them – I have a few who will always feature me, always want a review copy and will review within the first week, not only because they like what I write but also because I help promote their blogs on Twitter, read their posts, etc.

        I agree with Pauline completely re the publisher thing, Jo. You might like to read this: http://ukartsdirectory.com/terry-tylers-literary-blog-9/

      • Terry, don’t worry, you’re not the only one subscribed to comments on this post. Yes, that makes perfect sense that friends & family won’t be dancing an excited jig for subsequent books. And I enjoyed your piece on publishers, too. There are many aspects which trouble me about a traditional deal and I think I’d rather paddle my own canoe for a while.

  23. Will keep this to re-read thoroughly and digest but thank you so much for the sharing of this post. Such valuable information.

  24. Just curious which publishers you use for your print versions, I am hoping to have one book out before October and and another towards the beginning of next year, and although I had intended to publish them on Amazon via createspace I am also looking into other print methods with the idea of possibly looking to book a table at one of the conventions so am tentatively looking into different options.

    • Hi Paula, I use CreateSpace (I’m based in the US). So far all has been good: 4 books from a larger batch were printed on the wrong paper and were a little wonky; I complained – outside the time limit – and CS replaced them, no questions asked. Their proof copies (again US delivery) seem to arrive much faster than promised; regular orders are more in line with the turnaround I pay for.

  25. I read this article the other day and I’ve been meaning to respond to it because I found it so helpful! It’s so interesting to read about your experience of publishing this time around and how it compares with what your experience has been like before.

    I found it quite gratifying to find that I’m not the only one who struggles with how to best approach the whole challenge of launching a book! And your thoughts on promoting books as an indie author – that maybe it’s best to do it a different way from how the traditional publishers do it – is really helpful and reassuring.

    Thank you, Jo, for another great, informative post. x

  26. Hi Joanne, just stumbled upon your blog and saw my book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake mentioned, thank you! I read your launch analysis with interest. This is my third book and though I haven’t self published, my first two books were with a new, very small (part-time) publisher. Quite honestly (apart from the very low royalties I received) my experience was very similar to that of being an indie author on many levels. Therefore I can relate to much of what you say, particularly re competing with the big publishers’ marketing machines.
    However, I think you may have read my bio and assumed as I am a former BBC TV producer and journalist that I have great contacts in the media. Sadly I don’t. I wish! I worked for national newspapers and BBC Factual and Documentaries and have no contacts with regards to romantic comedy book publicity. The good news is that in achieving Amazon kindle 100 placing I haven’t had or done anything an indie author couldn’t do or wouldn’t have access to.
    Since the launch of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake on 27th June I’ve given just 2 radio interviews (both regional) something which any indie author has access to as radio stations are very author friendly. Only one magazine (Now magazine) reviewed the book, and despite it being a great review it hasn’t in my view pushed my book up the charts. My publisher Bookouture, is a small (and brilliant) publishers who know their stuff and have a great reputation. As a small publisher they naturally work with a small budget and spend that budget in different ways for different books’ needs. LLLC didn’t have an online FB event launch, nor did it have any merchandise prizes to give away nor a blog tour. As you rightly guess in your post the publicity manager Kim Nash sent out requests early to bloggers, which is vital, but again something any indie author does. In fact Kim’s excellent services are available to indie authors for a small fee and I can strongly recommend her.
    As with Cupid’s Way there were also couple of FB ads but apart from a 2 book giveaway on Good Reads (again indie authors can do this) it was a pretty low key launch.
    I agree with you Joanne it doesn’t make sense for indie authors and those of us with small publishers to follow the big publishing model. But indie authors mustn’t be disheartened and assume a book’s success is about great media contacts or special interviews or reviews – I am proof that you can get a book in the top 100 without those things.
    In my experience for what’s it’s worth, no author can underestimate the importance of bloggers and other supportive and generous authors online. These people have all been amazing and so kind to me over the past 3 years and I put a lot of my little successes and any momentum I’ve built down to them.
    I sincerely hope any indie author out there reading my response will be heartened by the fact that anything is possible. An author doesn’t need a big budget or any special contacts to achieve success. My best advice is to spend money on a good cover, a good editor, a bloggers’ list and then send it out into the world (well, Amazon) for the world to decide.

    Sue

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