My First Time

Hi there guys, for this week I have the honor of introducing the talented Allie Potts onto the blog. Her newest novel, The Fair & Foul, was released earlier this weekIt is a science-fiction story set in the near future where the lines between humanity and technology are beginning to blur.

FairandFoulFullwebHQ_02Juliane Faris, an ambitious programmer, shortcuts the next step in her career by undergoing an experimental surgery fusing her brain with a supercomputer. The procedure grants her unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over her body, but threatens everything she holds dear including her sanity. When others undergo the same modifications it becomes apparent that not everyone can afford the price that this technology demands. After reading her guest post, don’t hesitate to click on the cover and support an amazing author.

My First Time

Get your mind out of the gutter. This is a blog about writing, so of course I mean the first time I launched a book. Back then I was still a bright-eyed, optimistic newbie, still unaware of exactly how little I knew about the publishing experience. I had written a book. It was even a good book. You should check it out (my second one is pretty good too) The hard part, at least in my mind, was over.

In the words of commercials aimed at my children, “Silly Rabbit.”

Misconception #1: Your friends and family have been anticipating your book’s release as much as you.

Reality: While they are likely highly supportive, I bet if you spied into their personal calendars, most would not have your book’s launch day circled five times in permanent ink. No one is going to be as excited as you are to hit that final publish button unless you have already achieved a cult-like following for your writing. In which case, why are you reading this piece?

Misconception #2: At a minimum, you can count on your friends and family to buy a copy.

Reality: According to the polls roughly one in four adults hasn’t read a book this year. While this is a baffling statistic to a person who enjoys reading so much that she decided to dabble in writing, it is an unfortunate reality. To make selling your book even more difficult, some friends won’t read it right away because they have a stack of unread books on their shelves, some won’t because they are afraid they won’t like it and don’t want to risk awkward conversations, and some won’t read it at all because it just isn’t their genre. You need to accept that reading preferences are highly personal and should never be forced.

It took me launching a book the wrong way to realize these truths. Lucky for you, I am willing to share my story, so that you don’t have to learn the same way.

My manuscript was nearly complete. I had a great cover, positive feedback from the handful of people I had let see early drafts, and I determined to make it available in time for the holiday shopping season. I knew that I was most interested in targeting ebook sales, so decided I would launch around the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US, figuring I could take advantage of Cyber Monday shoppers. I hit the publish button, posted a quick status update with the link to my friends and family on Facebook, and started doing my own holiday shopping. A few of my closest friends and fans noticed (if you are reading – thank you, thank you, thank you), but for the most part, I couldn’t have timed it worse. It took weeks of promotion including paid ads to gain the visibility I was originally hoping to originally achieve.

Reality: People shopping online during Cyber Monday are shopping for electronics. Not books.

Don’t get lost in the noise. Pick a day for your book’s release and promote the heck out of it. In advance. Preferably, weeks in advance. Build up some drama or at least some anticipation. Make it a day all about you. This time, while I didn’t want to announce a firm date on the chance that there might be a last-minute edit, I made a point to start advising readers of my books upcoming release a month or so ago on both the blog as well as my Facebook page. I did my homework and read that Tuesday is supposedly the best day of the week to launch a book, so that is what I targeted. The coming days will determine whether or not there is any truth to my research’s suggested day.

Last time, I had a blog and was supportive of other indie authors. I still am now. However last time, I made the mistake of not asking for help. I assumed other author bloggers would see my news and hit the reblog button just because they remembered being in the same place.

Reality: The indie author community is amazingly supportive and helpful (I do love you guys), but for the most part, they are a community of introverts. They are shy. At least as shy as you can be when you are putting your writing out there for the world to see. Don’t expect them to offer help unless you take the initiative to ask first. Ask and ask often. Contact information is listed on websites for a reason.

There are 100s more ways to spend money on a book’s launch than there are ways to make money. You can hire someone to arrange an organized blog tour, host virtual launch party, organize an author event, gift swag or other giveaways, pay for press releases, or hire publicist. This is why it is very, very important to set aside a marketing budget ahead of time and then work within that budget. You are unlikely to make back what you spend on your first book. Don’t break the bank.

Keep writing. There is also no sure-fire formula for guaranteeing a successful launch. Learn what worked for you, and apply it to your next launch. This time, my launch consists of guest posts, an author-signing, and book giveaways, but I may not do everything the same when it is time for the sequel. I, just like you, are learning more about the publishing process every day and look forward to hearing your launch stories one day.

More writing by Allie Potts can be found at www.alliepottswrites.com. You can also follow her at http://www.facebook.com/alliepottswrites on Google+ or on Twitter @alliepottswrite.

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