Author Topic: Tormented on launch decisions for first book (ever) and first book in a series  (Read 781 times)  

Offline vstewart

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I know there is value to waiting until I have the first three books in my series done, but I think I'll go mad if I wait.

I have a baby newsletter of 60 people, a blog with a decent readership and established Twitter, FB, and Instagram accounts. However, LOADS of those people who follow me for me, aren't going to be interested in my book, so I'm really only counting on my teeny newsletter. I have put up a book preview on Instafreebie which got me a couple of new subscribers today, and I've joined some group giveaways that will start later this month... but still with such a small starting place, I feel like I'm working with nothing.

10 beta readers are currently reading the book, and then I hope to make the final edits and launch the thing wide at the end of this month.

My question is: since it's unlikely to do well before I have the other books out, do I put it up as a permafree situation on Amazon et all, blast out any and all resources I may have, keep it on Instafreebie and try to build my mailing list while I work on the second book (hopefully out at the end of March)? 

OR, do I chuck it on Amazon, Apple, etc. at $2.99 or something but offer it free to folks who join my newsletter until I get the second and third books up?  Third book will be out by June. 

I am not planning on doing KU, but it is maybe noteworthy that my book is 490 pages or thereabouts, so maybe it's worth giving KU a shot if I'm not going to worry too much about other marketing until June when the second and third books are out?

I'm dying here. I can't even sleep. I am a seasoned entrepreneur and running a business and marketing is like, my bag, but this feels so overwhelming I think I might have an actual panic attack. Wait, if I'm breathing into a paper bag, I've already crossed that to-do off my list, right?

HALP.

Offline LilyBLily

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Nothing you do will be the wrong thing.

You'll get lots of conflicting advice. The market is changing so swiftly that the wisdom of today might seem like the folly of tomorrow.

Many people have the stamina to wait until they've completely perfected several books and release them all at once. I'd never get them finished if I tried that. It's up to you, but if your next book isn't on the immediate horizon, what's the point of waiting?

Mailing lists. Sure, fine.

Free book with nothing else to tout? Why? Others will disagree with me, but if you want to give your book away, put it on Wattpad. If you want to sell it, give it a price. You can always change your mind down the road.

Breathe. You stand a very good chance of publishing your book to the sound of crickets. Make it the best book you can, but do not hyperventilate over it. It's a book.

Good luck.

Offline Abderian

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If you make your book free and blast it out to all and sundry with nothing else for readers to buy, it isn't the best use of your efforts (or money if you were thinking of paid advertising). Only a percentage of those who read the book will sign up to your newsletter. Readers are becoming overwhelmed with newsletters. On the other hand, if you save your efforts and money until you have book two at least on pre-order, then you're maximising your potential results. Either way, unless you've hit reader expectations exactly, your book won't make a big splash either free or paid. Don't forget that nothing's set in stone. You're free to change your mind after hitting publish. :)

J.J. Green | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Offline TromboneAl

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What I did when I was in your situation:

1. Offered another author's book as an incentive to sign up for my mailing list.
2. Quickly wrote a 15K word book (The Antiterrorist) and used that for the incentive.

Al Macy | Web Site | Facebook | Twitter

Offline dpwoolliscroft

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Hi vstewart.

I understand where you are coming from. I'm in a similar boat. Novel just about finished, addressing some line edits right now and feedback from eight beta readers. Will get it off to be proof read in a week and then it's ready! I've written the best book i can, have an awesome cover and good blurb. And I've figured out what my plan is based on reading so much good advice here. and I'm sure it's not perfect but i am pretty happy with it. Btw, my genre is fantasy.

- I'm going to focus on amazon and will submit for Kindle scout. If i'm selected then that will be a big help from a marketing perspective. If i'm not selected then I will hopefully have had thousands of people look at the book and be interested in it. I'll run some promotion efforts directly related to this campaign to get more eyeballs on it.
- I am trying to build out my newsletter through some swaps on facebook. We'll see how they work out.
- I have written two other stories that are related to the novel. One is a novellette (15k words) and the other is a short story (7k words). I'll be giving the short story away for sign up to the newsletter and put the novellette up for sale at 99c on amazon.
- A big to do is to get people involved in ARCs. I'll probably pay for a service but also I am trying to build some connections to readers through good reads and reddit. i don't know if you have heard of Michael j Sullivan, he is a fantasy author who started off as indie as is now hybrid. Anyway, he offers great advice here https://www.reddit.com/r/Write2Publish/comments/1aqjxy/authors_guide_to_self_promotion/
- I will also do print on demand. If i don't get picked for amazon scout then i'll have the paperback ready while the kindle is on pre order so ARCs can publish reviews.
- This is the first book in a planned series but stands very well on its own. I'm also not going to have the next book ready until much later in the year, the current book is 600 pages. So I am not including any reference to this being a series.

Anyway, good luck. DM me if you'd be interested in buddying up through this process.


Offline Nicholas Erik

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What's the genre? How many books do you have planned in the series? What's your launch budget?

All that's important information to give you pertinent advice. Even without that info, though, I can say one thing: permafree out of the gate is the wrong move. Definitely wouldn't do that. And, as for the "hold until three books" thing, 99.999% of people don't do that. If you have a hit series, then it would amplify the effects of the launch, but if you don't...then you just release three duds at once. Launching one book at a time is not going to work against you.

Nick

Offline Guy Riessen

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- This is the first book in a planned series but stands very well on its own. I'm also not going to have the next book ready until much later in the year, the current book is 600 pages. So I am not including any reference to this being a series.

I too am in a similar position to the OP--I released my first full-length novel on December 15th.

Like dpwolliscroft, I also did not mention anywhere that the book is the first in a series--primarily because I didn't want people to hold off buying the book, waiting for the full series. The story is complete on its own but the epilogue makes it clear there will be more to follow. So far I have not had any complaints--although I'm sure there may be some.

I plan to release the next book in March, and the third in the summer.

I did spend time building my mailing list before the release last month, using a previously magazine-published short story--it was at about 1700 at launch. I also have a website, but no blog yet. Setting up the blog portion of the website is my next side-project (the main being finishing book 2) My facebook and twitter presence was basically nil at launch, but they're both growing on their own now that the novel is released.

Guy Riessen | website

Offline vstewart

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What's the genre? How many books do you have planned in the series? What's your launch budget?

All that's important information to give you pertinent advice. Even without that info, though, I can say one thing: permafree out of the gate is the wrong move. Definitely wouldn't do that. And, as for the "hold until three books" thing, 99.999% of people don't do that. If you have a hit series, then it would amplify the effects of the launch, but if you don't...then you just release three duds at once. Launching one book at a time is not going to work against you.

Nick

Hi Nick,

It's a tough age/genre (so I've heard) to market indie. It's an upper MG / early YA fantasy. The protagonist is 14, his little sister is 12. 130K pages. My 11-15 y/o betas who are fans of Fablehaven and that ilk are thrilled with it, though I still worry a lot about marketability.

I have a big budget, which is both a blessing and a curse because I could easily waste money by 'trying stuff'. I've paid an artist to create the cover and a different artist to create the chapter header illustrations which my target age range seem to love. I wasn't planning on advertising a lone book though, I've heard it just isn't worth it when there's nothing else to funnel readers to. I figured I'd start advertising on AWS and FB after the second book was out, if I go ahead and launch this one by itself.

Offline vstewart

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Nothing you do will be the wrong thing.

You'll get lots of conflicting advice. The market is changing so swiftly that the wisdom of today might seem like the folly of tomorrow.

Many people have the stamina to wait until they've completely perfected several books and release them all at once. I'd never get them finished if I tried that. It's up to you, but if your next book isn't on the immediate horizon, what's the point of waiting?

Mailing lists. Sure, fine.

Free book with nothing else to tout? Why? Others will disagree with me, but if you want to give your book away, put it on Wattpad. If you want to sell it, give it a price. You can always change your mind down the road.

Breathe. You stand a very good chance of publishing your book to the sound of crickets. Make it the best book you can, but do not hyperventilate over it. It's a book.

Good luck.

Thanks! I've thought a lot about Wattpad but have heard such conflicting things. It doesn't seem to translate into fans that actually follow you? And it's difficult (impossible?) to monetize?  But I like the idea of getting it out in front of eyeballs while I work on the next book.

Offline vstewart

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If you make your book free and blast it out to all and sundry with nothing else for readers to buy, it isn't the best use of your efforts (or money if you were thinking of paid advertising). Only a percentage of those who read the book will sign up to your newsletter. Readers are becoming overwhelmed with newsletters. On the other hand, if you save your efforts and money until you have book two at least on pre-order, then you're maximising your potential results. Either way, unless you've hit reader expectations exactly, your book won't make a big splash either free or paid. Don't forget that nothing's set in stone. You're free to change your mind after hitting publish. :)

Thank you for the input! Wasn't going to spend anything on the first, lone book. It's totally going to launch to crickets either way.  :P

Offline vstewart

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Hi vstewart.

I understand where you are coming from. I'm in a similar boat. Novel just about finished, addressing some line edits right now and feedback from eight beta readers. Will get it off to be proof read in a week and then it's ready! I've written the best book i can, have an awesome cover and good blurb. And I've figured out what my plan is based on reading so much good advice here. and I'm sure it's not perfect but i am pretty happy with it. Btw, my genre is fantasy.

- I'm going to focus on amazon and will submit for Kindle scout. If i'm selected then that will be a big help from a marketing perspective. If i'm not selected then I will hopefully have had thousands of people look at the book and be interested in it. I'll run some promotion efforts directly related to this campaign to get more eyeballs on it.
- I am trying to build out my newsletter through some swaps on facebook. We'll see how they work out.
- I have written two other stories that are related to the novel. One is a novellette (15k words) and the other is a short story (7k words). I'll be giving the short story away for sign up to the newsletter and put the novellette up for sale at 99c on amazon.
- A big to do is to get people involved in ARCs. I'll probably pay for a service but also I am trying to build some connections to readers through good reads and reddit. i don't know if you have heard of Michael j Sullivan, he is a fantasy author who started off as indie as is now hybrid. Anyway, he offers great advice here https://www.reddit.com/r/Write2Publish/comments/1aqjxy/authors_guide_to_self_promotion/
- I will also do print on demand. If i don't get picked for amazon scout then i'll have the paperback ready while the kindle is on pre order so ARCs can publish reviews.
- This is the first book in a planned series but stands very well on its own. I'm also not going to have the next book ready until much later in the year, the current book is 600 pages. So I am not including any reference to this being a series.

Anyway, good luck. DM me if you'd be interested in buddying up through this process.

Thank you! I'm definitely interested to hear how your launch goes! I've probably shot myself in the foot a little here, by writing for upper MG / early YA. I think it's going to be extra hard to market. Blargh!

I'm so torn on not announcing series. It drives me crazy when I can't tell what number a book is in a series! But your reasoning makes sense.

Offline vstewart

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I too am in a similar position to the OP--I released my first full-length novel on December 15th.

Like dpwolliscroft, I also did not mention anywhere that the book is the first in a series--primarily because I didn't want people to hold off buying the book, waiting for the full series. The story is complete on its own but the epilogue makes it clear there will be more to follow. So far I have not had any complaints--although I'm sure there may be some.

I plan to release the next book in March, and the third in the summer.

I did spend time building my mailing list before the release last month, using a previously magazine-published short story--it was at about 1700 at launch. I also have a website, but no blog yet. Setting up the blog portion of the website is my next side-project (the main being finishing book 2) My facebook and twitter presence was basically nil at launch, but they're both growing on their own now that the novel is released.

Oh that's good to know about your social media accounts growing naturally after launch. I have a good sized following already on all social media accounts, but they're people who aren't necessarily interested in my books.

Offline dpwoolliscroft

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Once the second book comes out you can go back and edit the cover and the amazon page apparently. There is no downside to doing that (at least I hope).

And I am very interested to see how this launch goes too. I am prepared for the sound of crickets also.

Offline Rod Little

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Launch it at your regular price (2.99/3.99/4.99) whatever you plan for it. Sales will be slow, but they will come. When the 2nd and 3rd books are released, you can increase sales... and increase advertising.

I released book 1 and still sold 590 books at 3.99 before the second book was released. That gave me an instant audience for the 2nd book, and pushed it to the top 20 in its SF : alien invasion category on opening week.  The 3rd book is yet to be released, but it will have a larger audience when it comes.

Sales have slowed to 3 or 4 books a day, as I've stopped advertising until the 3rd book in March. But i'm happy with the level of activity. I'll ramp up in March.

Don't stress too much about your first launch. Everything pans out in the end.  :D

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Offline Guy Riessen

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Once the second book comes out you can go back and edit the cover and the amazon page apparently. There is no downside to doing that (at least I hope).

And I am very interested to see how this launch goes too. I am prepared for the sound of crickets also.

Yep, the plan is to go back and adjust the cover and Amazon page.

Guy Riessen | website

Offline Nicholas Erik

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Yeah, MG/YA is a tough sell as an indie. No doubt about that. Can't give you many tips, since I've never published one myself. I'd study what Bella Forrest is doing; she kills it with her YA books, so obviously it can be done. There are probably others like her that you can find by sifting through her also-boughts. I see her stuff advertised via AMS fairly heavily; I believe I've seen her ads on BookBub (at the bottom of the email - the PPC ones, not the Featured Deals); I'd assume that she's probably using FB PPC quite a bit, but I don't know that for sure. Someone more into YA might be able to tell you more about that.

I'd say do a little advertising for the first book when it comes out. Low cost AMS/FB ads to get a feel for the interface, what audiences respond to your work, that sort of thing. If you just drop it on Amazon, it's super unlikely to gain any traction by itself. I know people love to highlight the books that took off by themselves, but after releasing 50+ that has simply never happened for me. It's rare without a jumpstart (from either your platform or ads/other marketing), particularly in the 2018 market. If your book is super in the genre pocket with the cover/blurb, then it can happen, but it's still hard to pull off. Amazon is set up in such a way to support new releases with visibility during the first 90 days - the first 30 in particular - so I see no reason to wait on marketing until Book 2 later in the year. Not saying you need to be super aggressive or go heavy with the launch; you can probably advertise a 130k+ book in AMS/FB at full price and make a profit, particularly if it's in KU and is right in the wheelhouse of something popular (you mentioned it's gone over well with Fablehaven fans - start with that for your ad targeting).

If it's going to be a series, I'd state that right off the bat. If you're not sure you're going to write Book 2, then hold off. But if it's a series, you'll get the early readers on board with your newsletter/following you on Amazon or social media/anticipating the next release. That will give you a bigger platform from which to launch Book 2. If they don't expect a new release in the series, then it's easier to fall out of mind, and then Book 2 might be released to crickets, since no one will have expected it.

Nick

Offline Guy Riessen

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If it's going to be a series, I'd state that right off the bat. If you're not sure you're going to write Book 2, then hold off. But if it's a series, you'll get the early readers on board with your newsletter/following you on Amazon or social media/anticipating the next release. That will give you a bigger platform from which to launch Book 2. If they don't expect a new release in the series, then it's easier to fall out of mind, and then Book 2 might be released to crickets, since no one will have expected it.

Nick

I took the middle ground here, Nick--The amazon book page does not mentioned that it is a series. The epilogue in the book makes it clear that it is, my 1800 NL readers know it is, and it's clearly stated in both the front and back matter of the book that it is book one of three. I didn't put it on the cover nor in the blurb because I didn't want to scare off people who might want to wait...and then forget what they were waiting for. The next book is coming out at the end of March/early April so about 3 months after the first book. I'm hoping that will be close enough to still connect with the readers.

Guy Riessen | website