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Top Ten Tips for Preparing a Successful Book Launch


After a small publisher offered me a contract for my novel, Stay Tuned, in the summer of 2011, I sent the paperwork to an attorney-friend for review. His reaction was swift and sure:  Run. Run in the other direction. The publisher offered no advance, no marketing plan, and royalties that wouldn’t keep a hamster in straw bedding for a week.

I was torn. Who wouldn’t want the prestige of a publishing contract? But, how could I ignore the advice of a professional that I trusted? Then, a friend recommended that I check out a small, up-and-coming publicity and design company. The a la carte services offered were reasonable and fit my budget, so I purchased the following:  a book cover design, e-book formatting, website design, a book trailer, and a blog tour. I also did what every aspiring author should do—bought a paperback copy of Catherine Ryan Howard's Self-Printed to use as a guide and reference along the way.

Despite a steep learning curve for me, Stay Tuned ready for prime time in about two months. I was involved in every aspect—and spent what felt like one hundred hours emailing, editing, preparing a bio, back cover copy, reaching out to bloggers, and deciding on a website host. I bought ISBNs, prepared copyright information, and applied for approval from the Library of Congress. I established my own publishing company, Monterey Press. I set up profiles on Create Space, KDP, BN.com, and Smashwords. Author profiles were then needed for Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing, and Facebook.

My Stay Tuned ebook went live November 1, 2011. The paperback followed two weeks later. My first blog tour ran the last week of November, along with a contest, and I am indebted to the bloggers who read and promoted my novel. Stay Tuned began to gain a little traction, but sales shot up in mid-December after my first sponsorship on Kindle Nation Daily, when I lowered the price of my ebook to 99 cents.

At the same time, I ran giveaways on Goodreads (paperback only) and LibraryThing (ebook only) and scheduled another blog tour for January, 2012. The first reviews trickled in. I learned quickly that while most reviewers are careful to use constructive criticism, not everyone will love your novel. A few reviewers may make you cry (best handled with a long run or a stiff drink).

In late December, Stay Tuned joined the Amazon KDP Select ranks and I took advantage of two “free” promotional days. In all, a large number of ebooks were downloaded in the US, UK, and France. For a month, Stay Tuned remained in Amazon’s top 10 under the Kindle category of ebooks/Fiction/Drama.

Overall, what I’ve learned:

  1. Find a great book cover designer (NO compromise here)
  2. Hire a good proofreader (and even after you publish, it’s likely someone will find a typo, so be prepared)
  3. If formatting a paperback or ebook makes you want to pull your hair out, buy Self-Printed and/or hire a professional formatter
  4. If you have a bit of cash, buy a few hours with a reputable publicist. Brainstorm, focus, and execute! Two heads are better than one.
  5. Be active, polite, and genuine on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads
  6. Connect with other authors on Facebook and Twitter. Be helpful, learn as you go, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
  7. Thank readers for reviews and bloggers. Thank them again!
  8. If you decide to do a blog tour, make sure to match the genre with your blogger's audience. Believe me that paranormal or thriller junkies are not going to turn cartwheels for chick lit set in the Deep South.
  9. Negative review? Read it, digest any useful information, and then forget it. Do not respond, especially if you are emotional.
  10. Apply for contests. There are free/inexpensive ones out there. It’s worth a shot and an award looks great on a book cover!


In my estimation, the second time around should be much smoother—and to prove that, I released my second novel, Dancing Naked in Dixie, in May of 2012.

Lauren Clark
Guest post by Lauren Clark
  
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. She is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie (May 21, 2012 release date, Amazon).

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com. You can also find Lauren on GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook.


Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments. So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/04/virtual-book-tour-dancing-naked-in.html


14 comments:

  1. Hi Jo! Thanks for allowing me to guest post on Writers & Authors! I am thrilled to be here and glad to have a chance to chat about my experiences with Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie!

    Lauren

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    Replies
    1. It's a pleasure to have you here Lauren. Great tips! All the best with your book.

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  2. It sounds like you really worked hard to get your book published. What dedication. What great ideas for other writers. In addition, I LOVE the story line in this book.

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    1. I think Indie Publishing & Authoring is all about helping each other ... I like sharing the love :)

      Bringing a book to market is totally a labor of love--and can be all-consuming--I often have to remind myself to step back and take a breather (and read someone else's book!!)

      xx, Lauren

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  3. I am an aspiring author who is just starting to grapple with the problems of turning a finished book into a published one. Your post chocked full of extremely helpful advice which I will review carefully in the coming months. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RB Davidson~ Thanks for stopping by! I highly recommend Catherine Ryan Howard's Self-Printed book. She is a great resource and I have found her advice to be spot-on!

      Feel free to email with any questions - laurenclarkbooks@gmail.com.

      :) Lauren

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  4. A lot of work goes into getting the final product before the public, but advertising is a big part of success. Of all of the methods of self-promotion you have used, what seems to be the most effective for you? If you've ever visited The Season for Romance blog, the owner-writer, Beverley Kendall just did a post about the results she discovered over the past year about self-promo methods she has used. It was quite enlightening.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Karen! I am going to hop on over there right now!!! Yay ... love reading posts like that :)

      Most effective? I think Blog Tours are great fun and I love connecting with everyone ... Goddess Fish has done a bang up job (I heart Marianne) ... I also think that well-timed sponsorships like Kindle Nation Daily can help boost sales.

      I also have a strong belief in saying THANK YOU to readers and anyone who takes time to post something nice about my novels. And thank you to people who take time to post on goodreads, BN.com, or Amazon. Everyone is so BUSY ... I am just overwhelmed with gratitude whenever anyone goes that extra step.

      xx, Lauren

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  5. Great post! The amount of promotion writers have to do these days has really been eye-opening...

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you so much! I was worried about it being a bit boring for readers who have no interest in writing ... but I glad it provided some eye-opening information! NOW ... if I could just clone myself!!! LOL Lauren

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    2. Ah being able to clone oneself... now that would make life easier ;)

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  6. It's fascinating for this non-writer to see the work that goes into publishing & promoting a book. It sounds like you got it all together well - unlike my grammar.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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