Setting Your Expectations For A Book Launch: An Indie Author Primer
We all dream of the wildly successful book launch as an indie author. We’ve put in the time for research, planning, contacts, beta-readers, street teams, prepped ads, you name it. We’ve done the work. Everything we’ve ever been told that can be done, we’ve done. Then the launch day comes, we’re watching. The KDP sales charts, the Amazon book charts, we’re writing our acceptance speech for hitting #1 the first day, and . . .nothing. Zip. Nadda. We’ve sold three e-books and zero paperbacks. But wait, we say. I’ve got seven friends who said they bought the book already . . .hmmm.
Okay, it’s still not even nine o’clock in the morning on launch day. Relax. We are not John Grisham or Steve Berry. We are nobodies. That's okay, all of the A-list guys started out as nobody’s too. The key thing is, don’t set your expectations too high. The higher you set them, the higher you’re gonna fall. Perhaps it’s better to look at the situation for what it really is. We are blessed to have the opportunity to self-publish. Twenty years ago, none of this was possible. So we find ourselves in a truly unique situation.
So, what about those expectations? We want to have the number one book, right? Who doesn’t? And we should want that. But we shouldn’t expect it. What should we expect? In my humble opinion, we should expect to get our book out there in front of people. We should expect people to see it, and hopefully, remember it to buy one day.
It is very disheartening when we see the project we’ve spent years on, get passed by and overlooked. But it’s like I told some of my friends, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t confuse your friends and families good intentions with your concept of success. What I mean by that is, just because they are helping you to promote your book, don’t be surprised if they actually don’t buy one, at least right away. The fact they are out promoting your book is worth it's weight in gold. So, prepare yourself for an outcome that may be different than you want. This is important to keep your confidence as an author. You’ve written a book. That is no easy task. Don’t away from that by setting unrealistic expectations.
The main goal of an indie book launch, I think, is to establish name recognition. Set up your book launch to accomplish that and the sales will come. Note that I said, “goal”. Goals are something that should be achievable; expectations that have a realistic chance of being fulfilled. The dream is something different, something we ultimately want. But we’ve got to set the goals to get there. When I started to organize my book launch for Veil of Deception, my goal was to get the book out to as many different outlets, on as many different platforms, as possible. I recruited a ‘Street Team’ of over sixty folks who helped saturate social media. This approach has helped reach ten times the number of people I’ve previously reached. The sales are coming…slower than I’d like, but they’re coming. And the thing is, a lot more people have heard of it.
So don’t be discouraged on ‘launch’ day with low sales online or the few people who show up to your book signing. These events shouldn't be used to measure your success. They are simply tools, another arrow in your quiver. Use them effectively to achieve your goals and your dream will eventually become a reality.
Michael Byars Lewis, is a former AC-130U ‘Spooky’ Gunship Evaluator Pilot with 18 years in Air Force Special Operations Command. A 25-year Air Force pilot, he has flown special operations combat missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His first novel, SURLY BONDS, won three awards—2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Silver Medal Finalist 1st Novel (Over 80,000 words), 2013 Readers’ Favorites: Bronze Medal (Fiction-Intrigue), and the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Awards: Winner (Military Fiction). Michael has an extensive social media footprint on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest. Michael is currently a pilot for a major U.S. airline.