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Lessons Learned From My 1st Book Launch

The time from “book sent for Kindle formatting” and now — one day after my first book launch was a blur… Here, “book launch” means the several day period on Amazon when the book is free.

What caused the BLUR?

The edited book didn’t find someone to format the eBook until a week before the scheduled launch. And when it did, he replied with, “You really should have a landing page instead of a gmail address in here.”

I had planned to do that! but I couldn’t figure out the application process on the email collector, much less how to build a page so I replied, “Okay. Will you set it aside for this afternoon and let me see if I can find someone in this rural, isolated, mountain town to do it for me?”

Apparently, guys like that don’t advertise in the phone book. I found one in an ad posted in the local “alternative” newspaper at the laundromat, phoned him, and he got right on it. That same afternoon he emailed a link to replace the gmail address in my book.  Whew!

Back on schedule, but a week behind because I took off while the book was being edited to meet in 3D the person who had so motivated me, (hint: a beta reader), that she kept me on track to finish the book!

Good to meet her, bad for my schedule.

More blur: in my writer’s group, only 3 people signed up to read A.R.C.s (Advanced Review Copies). No one signed up on this blog. No family or friends did. Desperate, I emailed the list of authors whose books i had reviewed the past five months. of those, 12 people responded. Whew!

There are many more events that caused “the blur” but you get the idea. Suffice it to say, I was working 10-12 hours/day, getting up at 2 am and working until 2 pm because the guy downstairs in this old house is learning guitar…

Lessons learned: 1st book launch

Adjust the calendar of Draft to Launch.  Add what I missed and modify the times I estimated each event would take based on how it really went. I know that the first time I do anything it’s a learning experience. We get better when we use the feedback from experiences to do it differently the next time! That includes noting the answers to questions like, “How long does it take KDP (Kindle Publishing) to post a changed book description? categories? revised content (the book)? Having that information beforehand could help me be more efficient in whatever changes I need to make with Book 2.

Actually write out your entire plan from draft to launch, including every single step as a check list. As a “special student” in public school, I learned to rewrite things that are important — in my preferred language, in my handwriting. It helps me process the information more accessible to me — who would have thought a writer needs to write things to understand them? It’s also a learning technique for remembering. While it’s true that my self-publishing school had such a checklist, and that I sort of followed it, it wasn’t written in the very direct language I prefer. I messed up by not making my own list. Won’t happen again! I’m making my list today!

Plan should include the targeted schedule with instructions for “how to do it” because if I’ve only done it once, I’ll need to be reminded. This is related to the lesson above re’ “How long does IT take…?” and the lesson re’ scheduling promotions.

Create a tribe — people to be on my team for producing the book — like editors, book formatters, book cover designers, etc. I discovered that one name in each category wasn’t enough because, duh, they have schedules, too!

Create a tribe — people who will support you, people who like your stuff and want to read more. Learn what efforts were worth it, which ones were not. Use the 80/20 rule and only do what gives you the most return for your effort and resources — do only what works!

I don’t have the data yet, but here’s what I did to launch my book:

  • contacted friends and family by phone (1 response)
  • asked for help in blog post (0 replies)
  • contacted friends and family by email (1 response so far)
  • posted a call for help re’ book launch on a Facebook group (3 replies)
  • asked for help re’ book launch on my Facebook profile (0 replies)
  • contacted authors whose books I had reviewed (15 replies)

Lesson learned: do it differently next time! I must build a readership through marketing techniques in my book, beginning with — oddly coincidental — Book 2 of the Burnout to Bliss series:  SURRENDER!

Scheduling “FREE book” and other promotions. Before I do this again, I’ll have at my fingertips a typed list of 3rd party book promoters with how much notice they require to schedule. Generally, for some it’s a week. And here’s where you’ll go crazy — juggling these facts about book launch scheduling:

  • when you click “publish” Amazon gives your book 5 days to be eligible for “Hot New Deals” based on paid sales)
  • but no one knows your book exists unless you have a FREE promotion for several days; those downloads don’t count as sales.
  • some promoters require that you have at least 5 reviews with an average 4.0 rating.  You can’t schedule with them until you meet that requirement.
  • they ask for the period that the book is FREE but if you give them the range instead of a specific date, you could end up with all your book promos on the same day!

Track your promos! You paid for them; don’t you want to see if they happened? The book promoters I hired included a subscription to their email program where books are promoted. So “track” means having a list of my promoters on a piece of paper when I check my email so I can note the actual date posted and — yikes! whether or not it was!

Set up a filing system to collect stuff in the process — from draft to launch. You wouldn’t believe how much paper is under my table at this moment! Lists, information, notes, research re’ categories and keywords and book descriptions — all things  I needed, but that became inaccessible to me (!) the more papers I generated until I got a pile of folders and started using them. “Categories”, “keywords”, etc. You just never know when you must have that info at your fingertips!

Create a personal encouragement meme; post it where you’ll see it. I  made one on a 3×5 index card with eyeballs and the message, “FOCUS:  1st launch!” I posted it on a mirror hanging on the wall I had to pass to get anywhere else in my apartment. It was my constant reminder to relax and be a student again — that I cannot expect perfection on my first attempt. It also reminded me to stay in the present moment and simply enjoy the process without attachment to outcome!

Till next time,

Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~ Tzaddi

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