It’s been an exhilarating and exhausting two weeks since I launched my first novel, The Girl from Oto. For the first 90 days it will be for sale exclusively on Amazon, both in the Kindle store and a paperback version printed by CreateSpace (a subsidiary of Amazon). This is how it’s gone down so far:
- Six weeks before launch I reached out to about 50 people asking if I could give them advance review copies in exchange for an honest review on my launch date. About half those people agreed to take e-versions of the book. Half wanted print. My print version got stuck in a couple of last minute proofing glitches so I wasn’t able to send it before launch, but the e-version peeps dove right into the book and I had 8 reviews up on Amazon on launch day. Lesson learned: It takes a long time to go through each round of proofs on CreateSpace. Give yourself plenty of time to account for unforeseen problems.
- I created a Facebook author page and shared it with my Facebook friends, along with the news that my book was soon launching. I opted to do pre-orders on the Kindle site 10 days before launch and then let my Facebook friends know. Some of them shared the post with other friends and soon I had 14 preorders. Lesson learned: opting for preorders is free and if you publicize it, you might even get some!
- On launch day, I again shared the news via Facebook that my book was now live on Amazon, and asked people to share the post. It’s funny, this was the first time I’ve asked people to share a post and I was surprised how few did! But the silver lining is the people who did share it had tons of FB friends and wrote kind, encouraging words about my book. A couple of people who had read and reviewed it posted separately, praising my book and encouraging people to read it. Lesson learned: people don’t like to be asked to share self-promotional posts, but if they know you and your work they not only will share it but will evangelize on your behalf.
- Some dear friends helped me plan a fantastic launch party which took place this weekend. At the party, about 75 people sipped wine, nibbled snacks, bought books, and watched a short multimedia presentation I did about the inspirations behind the book. I asked a friend to do a reading from the book, and it was a treat to hear the words I had written and rewritten so many times come alive in his voice. Several people told me they planned to have their book clubs read the book and I offered to come do Q & A time with their groups. I signed about 30 copies of the book and we finished off the night with an impromptu dance party. It was magical. Lesson learned: take time to celebrate!
- Tally so far: I’ve sold 65 paperbacks on Amazon and 20 Kindle versions, and I sold about 30 copies of the book at the party. It’s a great start.
- Next steps: I’ll probably do a Kindle countdown deal, which is a benefit you get by selling exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. I’m continuing to send copies to reviewers and will investigate getting the book into libraries. I’m also going to research awards to enter. I’m setting up a Goodreads page and may do a giveaway there, although I’m a little wary of giveaways because other authors have told me that often people sign up for free books just to get a freebie, and then leave a bad review because—shocker—they don’t like your genre! Mostly I’ll keep networking and spreading the word about my book. I believe word of mouth is the golden ticket for a person in my situation with just one book and no traditional publisher behind me to do any marketing on my behalf. And I’m also sure that success will come, but not quickly. It will take years for me to build up a name and reputation as a fiction writer, and the most important thing I can do is keep writing my sequel.