Unexpected….there are a lot of things that happen in life that are “unexpected.” My latest release, UNEXPECTED LOVE, was completely unexpected. I’ve talked about this book in a previous post [UNEXPECTED NOVEL, JULY 2017].
Since then, I did a cover change and set out to try a new launch plan. First step in my new launch plan, setting up an ARGroup [HOW I SET UP MY FIRST ARGROUP, SEPTEMBER 2017]. I didn’t realize how valuable an ARGroup could be.
On October 3rd, I released my 17th title. Let me step back and do a happy dance and a HUGE PRAISE GOD! Okay, now on to my post. I have been taking the Mark Dawson courses on Self-Publishing and one of the sessions described a new release launch sequence. I figured I’d try it. I’ve release a few books and thought I was doing a decent job, however, I didn’t realize I could have done better.
A little more than thirty days ago, I asked my mailing list for ARGroup members. I got a few volunteers, which I am very grateful for.
According to Mark’s Launch Sequence, 30 days out, I needed to send my book to my ARGroup. I missed that by a couple of weeks because of a few tweaks. Once I sent the email out, I made it very clear what I wanted. Mark said he found it a little difficult to ask for reviews. Me too. It almost felt like I was begging, but there’s a scripture that says, “…you have not, because you ask not…James 4:2” This was very true. It never really occurred to me to ask for reviews without some sort of compensation [i.e., giveaway, treat, etc.]. As I wrote the email detailing what I needed, I really did feel uneasy, but that was because it was foreign to me.
In the past when I released a book, I never did it with ANY reviews. Nor did I release at a special price. My previous launch plan was, a cover reveal about a week before release day. Then an email to my mailing list, post it on all my social media, book a couple of ads, possibly a guest post and a lot of prayer.
Here’s how I made Mark’s plan work for me.
Send manuscript to ARGroup via Book Funnel.
Cover Reveal Email to Mailing List [see revised cover.]
Make any changes based on comments. [There were a few things changed. I had two characters with the same name. One was a first name and the other was a second name.]
Final proof read
Book launch promotion [I decided to wait until I had reviews before placing ads. I did post to my social media. Elena Dillion helped me design some graphics I could use on my social media and eventually as Facebook Ads. See below.]
Email mailing list with an excerpt
Tease about a launch contest [I opted to do a Goodreads Giveaway which I set up to run during the hard launch phase. Three signed copies. In the past, I’ve had pretty good results with the giveaways.]
Upload to all relevant platforms [I’ve opted to go wide, so my book is on
Send and email to list announcing new release…build a little drama with one of my graphics.
Email Advance Group that book is live and ask for reviews [This has been very exciting. During my soft launch phase, my ARGroup is responding very well. As of this posting, my team has posted 6 reviews, 5 Amazon US and 1 Amazon CA. I have never released a book with reviews. This was the most difficult part, because I really wanted to by a couple of ads. But now that I have a few reviews, I’m in a better position for promotional ads.]
Ask for 99c sales – State why the sales would be helpful
[This is where I am as of writing this. In one of my Amazon categories with my ARGroup’s reviews, I started the day in the 120s in one of my categories. YEAH!]
Keep track on sales and traction. or once you’ve reached your review goal. If it’s great, switch price to regular price.
“Hard Launch” [My plan is to start my AMS Ads at this point. I’ve been doing very well with AMS Ads. I like the results. AMS Ads are a little tricky. I’m currently running three. One is costing me money. However, it’s getting me sales I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise. The other two are making money. I’m curious to see how this new ad will work.]
Email your list the book is live
“Mop Up” email to people who haven’t opened the first email. Thank them for the great launch.
“Second Mop Up” Email
If you’re moving the price up, let them know in this email [I’m moving my price up earlier in the process.]
Close Launch contest [this signifies the end of a launch]
I’ll let you know how this worked for me. See you next month. Happy Fall.
When you write with a partner you have a common goal of telling a story and getting it down so it can be edited. Our process is a bit odd to some because after the brainstorming, research, outlining, and first draft are completed we take turns adding scenes, embellishing the dialog, and massaging or decorating the scenes. We turn the manuscript over to the other and go through the same process. This back and forth helps us to see the way the other partner is thinking. During that time, the one not editing can do more in depth research to find some interesting things that will help bring the story to life.
One of the most important aspects of writing as a team is reading the completed chapters aloud to one another. This allows us to listen to the flow of the story and (since there are two of us) the consistency of voice. During the readings we sometimes get “AHA!” moments and find the story making a dramatic shift or turn as a result. At this stage we sometimes eliminate a character who is getting in the way or bring one back whom we hadn’t heard from since chapter three. We’ll have to admit there have also been times when a character’s name needed to be changed, because we found their name was too hard to pronounce during the reading. We also tried to keep vocabulary simple enough that the reader doesn’t have to get out the dictionary to figure out what our characters are saying.
As writing partners, we also learn that inspiration and great ideas can occur at any moment. Recently, we were on a cruise and through a conversation with some of the other passengers, Janet came up with a terrific scene that she couldn’t wait to type in. We didn’t have access to a printer but when she read it to me, I knew it was perfect for the story.
We may not always agree on changes, but sharing the tasks of editing gives each partner a chance to take a break from the red pen.
Laura Drake is a New York published author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She also published a four-book small town romance series with Harlequin’s Superomance line. Her latest women’s fiction released January 2016, and she has just accepted an offer to write three more western romances for Grand Central.
Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
Jann: Today I’m chatting with Author Laura Drake, who writes about ‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’. Welcome Laura to A Slice of Orange.
I know you had a long road to publication. However, when you did sell your first book The Sweet Spot you won the 2014 Romance Writers of America Rita for Best First Book. What was that like?
Laura: I’m still pinching myself – it was the highlight of my life (but don’t tell my husband – he thinks he is 😉 After writing three books, and living through 417 rejections, I’d only hoped to be published. A RITA was beyond my wildest dreams! I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve watched the video of that . . . it’s like a well-worn touchstone I use to prove to myself I can do it, when I’m struggling with the writing.
Jann: You also have a love for Women’s Fiction and self-published Days of Glass. Where did the idea for this book originate and share a bit of your experience self-publishing the book?
Laura: I fully intended on Glass being NY published. When I finished it, and my agent submitted it to Publishers, they all loved it, but didn’t think the market for Western Women’s Fiction was large enough to acquire it.
I didn’t care – this was the book I wrote in memory of the sister I lost to cancer, twenty-five years ago. None of the events are biographical, but the relationship between the sisters in the book is ours.
Self-publishing – The control, the technology and the learning curve – I loved every part of it!
Jann: You have a new book deal for a Western Romance Series. The first book is scheduled to release July, 2018. How exciting. What’s it about?
Laura: I’m very excited (when I’m not nauseous, thinking about the deadlines). It’s tentatively titled, Hand Me Down Dreams, and it’s the story of the perfect country girl-next-door, and what happens when her boyfriend won’t come off the rodeo road to marry her. Sounds fun, and it is, but if you’ve read any of my books, you know there’s some heavy stuff in there!
Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?
Laura: I’m a tortoise, a workhorse, a slogger. I take my deadline, and figure out how many words I need to write a day to make it. I add a 10% ‘stuff happens’ factor, and that’s it. I write every single day. For me (and everyone’s different), it helps me stay immersed in the story. Since I’m a pantser, that’s critical.
Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Laura: It was from our very own Char Lobb (who the Charlotte is named after, for anyone who doesn’t know). She told me after the first time she met me that I’d be one who ‘made’ it. At first, I thought she said that to everyone, because really, how could she know? I asked her about it when I knew her better, and she explained that she could see that I would keep at it, until I did. She was right. So miss that beautiful soul.
Jann: What’s the worst?
Laura: Whenever someone tells you they have THE answer. The method, the outline, the character sketch, the anything. There are as many ways to write a book as there are writers. You have to discover what works for YOU. I have a theory, that our brains already know how to do this, but they’re not talking – we all have to learn through trial and error. Try everything – but don’t listen when someone tells you what will work for you.
Jann: What sound or noise do you love?
Laura: My husband saying my name.
Jann: What sound or noise do you hate?
Laura: Voices raised in anger.
Jann: What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Laura: Photographer! But I cut people’s heads off in photos, so…
Jann: What profession would you hate to do?
For more information about Laura, here are her Links:
Jann: Thank you Laura Drake for chatting with us today. We’ll be sure to talk again next year when your new Western Romance is released. If you have any questions or comments for Laura, you may use the comment box below.
Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.
Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.
Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.
She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring (available along with the rest of her novels below). She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!
Visit her at: