Pre-launches are a confusing issue for indies, many mistake pre-selling as pre-launching however a pre-launch is the issuing of a book for industry purposes and not necessarily for public consumption. Actually, a pre-launch is a powerful tool and can get the ball rolling when it comes to sales and reviews. In fact, a pre-launch is a business plan for your book. Simply clicking publish is not a pre-launch. Many authors think that uploading their book to Amazon is the sum total of indie publishing when in fact, it’s only the beginning of the journey. Today, I’ll lay out the basics in a pre-launch, and give a bucket list of things you should consider after you publish.
Elements of a Successful Pre-Launch
If this is your first book, it may take some experimentation and research to figure out where to put your time and money when it comes to promoting your book. That means rolling up your sleeves and figuring out where your readers are. But there’s no need to despair, if you make a pre-launch list things shouldn’t get that overwhelming. Here was the one I came up with:
• Query magazines, bloggers or podcasters about interviews
• Connect with Social Media Influencers
• Reach out to reviewers
• Schedule posts for your social media accounts and your blog
• Schedule advertising for major newsletters/ book sites
• Build up your email list.
Tip: The first thing you want to attack on your itinerary list is querying reviewers because you’ll need to give them plenty of time to read your book and write an intelligent review. That could take a few months especially, if we’re talking about a popular blogger.
Bonus Tip: The second thing you’ll need to do is to schedule a date for an ad before all the good dates are taken like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
If you’re thinking, geez this is a lot of work, you’d be right. A pre-launch is nothing to laugh at, it’s as time consuming and emotionally draining as writing a book. During your pre-launch you will essentially become a project manager and will have to make sure things are done on time and on budget. After all, you don’t wanna disappoint the boss (your readers) by delivering a sloppy product. If things become too overwhelming you may want to consider hiring some help to help ease the burden.
You’re Allowed to get it Wrong: Launching and Relaunching
The cool thing about indie books is that they can be launch and relaunch sometimes, years later. This is something the traditionally published author can’t brag about. Yes, some trade books are rereleased but only if they’re bestsellers. However sadly, most books in the trade pub world are treated like fruit that will rot on store shelves. Indie authors don’t have this concern. If our books aren’t selling, we can take our work down, and change our manuscript, get a new cover or even change the title then, relaunch. Now how many Big 5 authors can brag about that?
In fact, many self-published authors have given readers second and third editions of their books with multiple covers. And from what I’ve been told, yes, people will buy the same book with a different cover. Weird huh?
Well there you go, more info to digest before you launch your book. Don’t forget to hang around because next week, I’ll discuss the elements of successful blog tours and social media events.
It’s the second largest book retailer after Amazon depending on who you ask. There’s no doubt the past few years has been rough for Barnes and Noble with plummeting Nook sales, store closings, as well as many layoffs. But in spite of all that, B&N has begun to gain some steady footing by reorganizing their company and hiring a new CEO. So despite the rumors of Barnes & Noble’s demise, they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Why not go Exclusive with Amazon?
Not long ago, I had a friend ask about my print book and when I told her it was available on Amazon, she ordered it through B&N which, I thought was a bit extreme. You see, there are many people who believe Amazon is the evil empire (generally those within the publishing community) and are actively boycotting the site. However, with the recent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the death of two employees and multiple worker complaints, even I can’t ignore Amazon’s declining reputation. If they insist on going the Walmart route, many of us will have to question whether to bother publishing with them at all.
Also there is the fact that once Amazon becomes a monopoly, (and it seems like that’s inevitable) they’ll change their royalties so instead of 70%, that could be lowered to 50% or even 20%. Sorry, but that’s what usually happens in a monopoly.
The Difference between Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Barnes and Noble was a company founded in 1886 and began as a simple book shop in New York. To this day, it’s said that B&N still sells more print books than Amazon.com. However, Amazon dominates the digital market (eBooks). Amazon also sells a plethora of products on its site such as air conditioners and clothing, while B&N just sells books and entertainment items on theirs. The only real advantage they have over Amazon, are their brick and mortar book stores. B&N is offline as well as online and can offer things to authors like book signings and even bookfairs in their stores. All one has to do is call up one of their many book stores using their store locator and speak with one of their managers directly.
In the Beginning there was the eBook…
When eBooks first hit the market, readers had two choices, Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and believe it or not, many book lovers preferred the Nook over the Kindle for a short time. That alone is why it’s a good idea for indie authors to get their books uploaded to the Nook. Also, B&N is launching a new device in May of 2015 and who knows, it could rival the Kindle once again. Don’t snicker, it could happen!
The Site Formally Known as Pubit
For those of you who don’t know, Nook Press (formally known as Pubit) is the only way indie authors can upload their ebooks to the Barnes & Noble site directly. For those of you on a shoestring budget, it would be wise to upload your ebooks directly to as many sites as possible so you can cut out the middle men like Smashwords or BookBaby. You really don’t need to give 20% of every book sale to an aggregator when there’s software like Calibre and OnlineConvert.com that’ll convert your MS Word docs for free.
Wait a Minute, You’re not Done Yet!
Like Goodreads, Barnes & Noble has a newsletter called B&N Review where they interview authors and review books. It would be wise if you sent them a proof or review copy of your print book to their address:
The Barnes & Noble Review
Barnes & Noble.com
76 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
I like Barnes and Noble but I spend most of my money online at Amazon because they have so
much more to offer and let’s face it, it’s convenient. Also there’s the issue with the Barnes and Noble search engine, it’s nowhere near as good as Amazon’s.
However, Barnes & Noble has a physical store that offers people experiences like author signings and workshops. Some stores even have a cafe with cupcakes to die for!
But needless to say, if B&N doesn’t change their operating model soon and rely less on entertainment products like DVDs and CDs they will go into extinction like their competitor Borders.
So there you go another promotional hack for your book launch. Next week, I’ll be discussing the art of the pre-launch so stick around.
It’s an area most indie authors ignore when promoting their work, and it’s a shame because many readers love to connect with authors. Whether it’s on social media, podcasts or live and in person, readers want to know more about the people behind the books they enjoy. Made popular by the suburban housewife, book clubs are everywhere and not only that, there book clubs in schools, libraries and even prisons.
There are two routes you can go, approach an online book club or make an arrangement to meet with them live and in the flesh. It’s really up to you but I would recommend starting online and as you become more comfortable then, meet up with a group in your area.
Finding Book Clubs Online
It’s easy finding book clubs online because they’re pretty much everywhere but not all are author friendly. So here are a few places I found that offer to facilitate a phone or online get together with readers.
P.S. don’t forget to check out Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing as they have many groups that would love to hear from an author. Again, just make sure the group is author friendly before approaching.
- Readers Circle (International) make sure to click list your book
- BookBundlz has both free and paid services but I would just use the free one since their website doesn’t seem to get much traffic.
- Skype has a program called Skype in the Classroom which offers free skyping to schools with an author.
Finding Book Clubs Offline
Many authors start off by meeting book clubs at their local libraries, I know the main branch where I live host lots of writer and reader events. It’s worth checking to see if your local library has an author program or book club.
Here are a few library databases as well as a few book club directories.
Libraries in the U.S.:
Libraries In the U.K.
Canadian Library Database
Offline Book Clubs
- The Loft Literary Center: Here you can post a community bulletin asking groups if they’ll host you like this author did here.
- Book Clubs on MeetUp.com
- Authors who are willing to travel can add their name to this database. Hat tip to Galley Cat on MediaBistro.
Remember when approaching a book club be polite and explain why your book would be a good fit for their club. Just suggest your book and let them know you’re available to do a personal appearance. It would be helpful if you could compare your book to something they’ve heard of, if that’s possible.
Also, keep in mind these are readers so no hard selling, it’s annoying and it may bite you in the butt down the road when they decide to give you bad reviews just based on the way you behaved.
So there you have it another book promotional hack you can actually use. Stay tuned for next week’s post when I talk about researching promotional sites.