Book Promotion, Marketing

The Art Of The Pre-Launch: Putting It All Together

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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?  Welcome to the publishing world!

 

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Business, Publishing

Regrets of a Self-Published Author

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This past summer has been a roller coaster ride with many pleasant surprises and a few disappointments.  I don’t dwell too much on the disappointments, because I consider it all learning experience.  (Not like I got choice right?)  It’s either get better or bitter and I didn’t choose the latter.  So today, I’m sharing a few of the things that tripped me up and ultimately made me better.

Even Self-Published Authors Need Advanced Reader Copies or (ARC’s).

Print Copies

Many reviewers want their own special copy of your book.  Wouldn’t you know it!?!  There are still plenty of reviewers that only review print books.  So you need to plan for this in your budget.  Ordering 10 to 20 print books is wise, but make sure you send them to people who have actually agreed to review the book.  Never blindly send a book to a reviewer, it will save you money and aggravation in the end.

eBooks

I love reviewers who accept digital submissions but it does present a minor problem.  Most reviewers use either Kindle or Nook and I like most authors, write in MS Word.  Never fear, this is doable but it does takes special software to create something that’s readable by a smart phone or eReader.

To create your own eBook try Scrivner, MobiPocket or Calibre software that can convert Word documents into .mobi and .epub files for free. Here are a few more ideas from a CreateSpace community thread.

*Tip* When you create these ARC’s make sure you add links at the end of your book directing them to where they can review your book.  Make sure to send them to your book’s page on; Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, LibraryThing etc.

Do a Quiet Launch

On the day my book went live, I found an error and was really upset.  An author on Facebook shared some golden advice with me, he said I should wait at least few weeks after the book goes live before telling anyone.  This way you find errors and even have a chance to reevaluate your marketing strategy.  It also gives reviewers a chance to post their reviews which you kindly asked for in those ARC’s you created.

Get Ready for Spammers, Trolls & Con Artists

Not too long ago, I got my first 3 star review from a spammer.  This person directed their “review” directly at me and explained how much I would benefit from their services.  They were so nice, they even left their web address in the actual review!  Can you say trolling?  P.S. They never actually bothered reviewing my book, which is against the Amazon review policy.

My response: I flagged the comment as spam and it was immediately removed by Amazon.

I’ve also been contacted by people claiming they can turn my novel into a bestseller.  For a small fee of $3,000 they can put me in their silver program and for $6,000 I can be in their platinum group. *_* Rolling eyes!  I’ve researched several of these businesses and ALL of them are on the Ripoff Report or listed in Editors & Predators.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Social Media

I wished I would have just put ALL my social media on auto-pilot because it’s not really worth the time.  I should have carefully planned my Tweets with the proper hashtags relevant to my book’s genre, ditto for Facebook.  Also, I should have shared deals or giveaways by scheduling them in Hootsuite or Buffer and been done with it.

Reaching Out

It’s important to establish interviews, and guest posts with people who have blogs, and podcasts.  This is something I’m still struggling with.  Honestly I’m an introvert and don’t want to interact with people.  And I really don’t want to pimp products, even ones I’ve created!

Tip: If you’re going to do a guest posts, use Alexa or Google Analytics to peek on their web traffic to see if it’s actually worth your while.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe your book ought to be reviewed anywhere and everywhere but doing guest posts are a different story.  If you’re going to write or talk off topic, make sure you’re getting traffic or exposure out of it.

Write, Write, Write isn’t Just a Cliché, it’s Business Sense! 

I spent so much time researching book reviewers, advertising and social media techniques that I lost a lot of precious time.  Time I might add, could have been better spent working on the next novel.  Writers need to come out with the next product, not worry about social media popularity or even book sales.  The first book is about establishing yourself as a professional.  Consider it a business card and those books that follow, your portfolio.

Lessons all learned!
If you got any regrets or confessions about self-publishing please share them in the comments section.

Business, Marketing, Publishing, Writing Business

Getting Sponsorship for Your Self-Published Book Part 2

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Last week, I explained the concept of using a sponsor to help you launch a book so if you missed it, here it is.  Today, I’ll explain the details of how to get a sponsor.

Things You’ll Need to Get Started

A proposal letter is essential, because companies need to know the who, and why of your pitch.  Most authors are already familiar with query and pitch letters so this shouldn’t be too difficult.  You need to convince them that your project is a worthy cause and how they’ll benefit from helping you out.  Keep in mind, they NEED to benefit, or no deal!

How to Target a Sponsor

Depending on what kind of book you have, you will want to choose your sponsor carefully.  For example, you don’t want a beer company sponsoring you if your book is about alcoholism.  Nobody will take you seriously.  Make a long list and I do mean long, because you’ll get a lot of No’s before you get one yes.

Following The Money

The internet is an awesome resource for information, back in the day, you would have to shoot a proposal letter through the mail and wait weeks, if not months, for a response.  But today, most major corporations have websites with a sponsor’s tab, here’s AT&T’s:

If they don’t have a sponsor’s or advertiser’s page then, check out their media kit, or their contact us link.  When contacting them, mention the event or project that you would like them to sponsor, but don’t do a hard sell yet.  This proposal is just an introduction, for example:

Dear Major Corp,

The month of May is national literacy month and the literacy rate in our city is 88% which is outrageous for an industrialized nation.  On May 2nd, I and several other authors plan to start the first Adult Literacy Book Festival at Louis Patton Mall.

We plan on giving out 500 books to those less fortunate and we also have several short story contests planned for the inner city youth of our area.  The winner will win $200 and will be featured on our website.

In attendance will be Sue Jones from Channel 3 six o’clock news and John Doe from the John Doe morning radio show on 106.5 F.M.

If your business would like to participate, and sponsor our authors please check out our website here: OurFakeBookFestivaldotcom

Sincerely,

Struggling Author

Ask them to check out your blog, or website where you’ll conveniently have a page mentioning the details of your proposal.

But don’t limit your research to the internet, check your local paper and magazines then go the business and employment sections to see which companies are being featured.  These companies are doing well and need coverage, that’s why they’re in the paper.  You’ll likely get the names of business owners, CEO’s and people in the marketing department.  Good, if you want to personalize that proposal letter.

A Word of Advice to Newbies:

If you’re a newbie, try a local event and a local business that is doing well.  Trust me, unless you have media training, you will make mistakes.  It’s wise to make those mistakes small, in the local realm, rather than a national stage.  I’ve done plenty of podcasts where authors are sorely unprepared, and nervous.  Sometimes, they don’t have blurbs for their book and stammer their way through the interview even though, we give them a copy of the questions before hand!  There are shows where time is running short, or another guest drops out.  So it’s nice to have a brief blurb as well as an extended version just in case.  You’ll learn this in the little leagues.

This is important, because if this one sponsorship is a success, then you can guarantee you’ll have others in the future with bigger and better sponsors.

Business, Publishing, Writing Business

Getting Sponsorship for Your Self-Published Book

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This article was written in 2012, if you want the updated version please go to:  Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider and  Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors to get more info on how to get money for publishing.

Getting a Sponsor Your Book Part 1

When thinking of sponsorships we immediately think of charities, athletes, or musicians, but authors can also use sponsors to launch their books.  Several months ago, I talked about how you could get others to pay for your self-publishing expenses through crowd funding and today, I would like to expound a little further.  Launching a book is expensive and most publishing companies won’t lift a finger to help with the expenses.  That’s where a sponsor can save the day or your career!

What You Need

Start with a business plan that is realistic for the launching of your book.  What are your goals both short and long term?  If you’re self-published, how much money did you spend on editing, marketing, printing etc?  How much will you need to sell in order to break even?  Now, how much can you sell realistically?

You can’t skip this step, because your sponsor will want to know what you’ll do to make this a success.  Nobody will put money in a sinking ship!  Besides, if you don’t know the details about your own business, why would they trust you with theirs?

What Can a Sponsor Do for You?

Many authors have used sponsors to get into book festivals, fundraisers, and even start book tours they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.  In cases like this, an author puts information about a company’s product, or service on their signing tables, or by even putting company logos on their book.  In exchange, the author gets free travel and accommodations which isn’t a bad deal.  So, if you always wanted a booth at that giant book fair in New York, this might be your ticket there.

What Can You Really Offer?

Most companies want visibility, they want media coverage, and buzz from this arrangement.  You’ll have to provide eyes and ears for their product or marketing campaign.  Can you realistically do this?

In most cases, a sponsor is using you to do a grass roots campaign in a town or community.  Usually, somewhere they haven’t reached.  They don’t expect you to sell zillions of their products, but they do want a serious effort.  That possibly means blogging about them, or doing interviews where you just happen to mention them.  If you can’t provide that, then sponsorship isn’t for you!

The Artistic Hustle

The trick with a sponsorship, is remembering to promote your book while, promoting a product that you may, or may not be passionate about.  Celebrities do it all the time, just ask Snookie, or Lady Gaga.

Even with all her success, Lady Gaga’s record company is not going to pitch in a dime for her concert tours which is how she makes her money.  Why?  Because the record company won’t get a big enough cut to validate the risk.  People get sick, bad weather happens, controversy arises and they can easily get left in the cold.  The record AND publishing industry make their money selling books and music, not by promoting their artists!

This isn’t unusual, in the 17th and 18th centuries, painters often were sponsored by wealthy families and in return, they would paint their portraits for free.  Sound familiar?  Your struggles aren’t unusual, and are actually quite normal.  That starving artist image had to come from somewhere right?

In part 2, I’ll explain how to approach a sponsor.