I regularly turn to my writing critique group to share my WIP and gain valuable feedback from fellow writers.
But I also find much value in my monthly book group—and not just because I love to read and then discuss what I’ve read. I marvel at how divergent opinions can be about a book. I’ve wondered at times: Are we talking about the same novel?
Sometimes—actually, rarely—the group coalesces in full delight about a book. More often, some love it, some find it so-so, and some are outright sorry they read beyond the first chapter.
Of course, sites like Goodreads offer ratings and reviews on books for people who don’t have or don’t want to be in a book discussion group. But sitting together with a glass of wine and a plate of snacks is my preferred way of finding out what others think about that new novel or latest work of nonfiction. (My group reads both.)
As a writer, I also see how my take on a book is often at least somewhat different from a nonwriter. I can get caught up in the craft—how do the sentences flow, why did the author use that story structure—and forget that most readers just want a good story. The structural elements are important; they are the solid framework upon which the good story is built. But many readers are willing to give a pass on less-than-perfect structure if they are compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen.
It’s often a reminder to me that as writers we can’t predict what will appeal or connect with readers. One example is Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins. While I thoroughly enjoyed the novel—the crisp narrative, the layered characters, the grim depiction of war—I was disappointed in the ending, which I thought was a cheap shot, the equivalent of a story in which the main character wakes up to realize it’s all been a dream. But one member of my group gave an alternative explanation. For her, the ending with its surprise reveal represented the awful price the soldiers paid: that they forfeited their future, of what might have been. I had to agree.
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.
Not new in the world of publishing, but new for me. The last few years have been crazy in my personal life, so even though I’ve learned a lot about how to move my writing career to the next level, I haven’t been able to implement any of the changes.
I’m excited that I’m about to release a new book! And for the first time, I’m not publishing it as soon as it is ready. I emailed my newsletter list and included the first chapter and the cover so they could start getting excited about the new story/series. Immediately, a few of my readers wrote back saying they loved it, best book yet!
Thanks to a gentle push from a friend, I decided to put my book on pre-order for the first time. I set up the pre-order with the practically-final version of the book on KDP, iBooks, and Kobo. (Barnes & Noble didn’t have a pre-order option at the time I did this, so I prepped the book to be ready to hit the Publish button the day before I want it to go live.)
I emailed my list a second time, left Chapter One at the bottom in case readers missed it the first time, and gave them the links to the pre-order on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K., Amazon Australia (my newsletter service lets me see where subscribers are from), iBooks, and Kobo. Within a day, I had my first seven pre-orders – yay!
Another first that I’ve wanted to do for a year or two is to create a beta readers group. I finally got that up and running on Facebook a few weeks ago. I have nineteen beta readers who are reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book that I put up on BookFunnel.
They’ve pointed out typos, offered a few suggestions, and they’ve given me enormously satisfying positive feedback about the book. They’ll be posting reviews on the first day of release so that new readers will immediately see that others liked the book.
I also finally created a Facebook group for all the rest of my readers! I’ve been frustrated with my Facebook author page and the fact that if a reader posts on my page, it’s almost hidden along the side. It’s ridiculously difficult to have a conversation that way. So I created a group that is attached to the author page. For the first time, I can easily chat with my readers and engage with them in a way that will help them to know, like, and trust me. You can see – and join! – my readers’ Facebook group here.
The other thing I learned is that although readers can’t post reviews to Amazon until the book goes on sale, they can post them to Goodreads as soon as I added the book to the site. I created a listing for the ebook, sent a link to my beta readers, and the first four people who had finished the ARC posted their reviews!
Then I created a paperback listing on Goodreads and set up two Giveaways, one for five books to be given away in the United States only, and one for two books to be given away everywhere. I would’ve gotten these up earlier if I could have, but they’ll go live a week before the book’s release.
I’m also going to try to get the paperback edition up on CreateSpace before the official release day. Once the book is live in any form (i.e., the paperback even though the ebook has its own release date), readers can leave reviews. So if I can get the paperback live and available for sale before the official release day (for the ebook), I can tell my beta readers to please leave their reviews immediately. Then it will look like the book releases with reviews. Awesome!
The last thing I’m doing for the first time is something I hope to never do again. The book’s release date is the day after I move! Yup, movers come pick up our stuff, then we clean the house and turn in the keys, and the next day my book goes live. While I’m staying for a few days at a friend’s house, before an international flight. Limited time, limited Internet access, limited everything. Well…we’ll see how it goes!
Meanwhile, I’m putting together Amazon ads for the book (not a first, I’m already running them for two other books), and getting the last newsletter ready that will go out on release day. This is the most amount of work I’ve ever done to have a true book launch. I’m excited!
I don’t expect to sell hundreds of copies the first day; instead my hope is to learn how to do everything, how long it all takes, and create a streamlined process for the future. Then I’ll create a book launch calendar for myself for the next launch.
Exciting times! I’ll let you know what happens! 😀
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!
First, thereâ€™ll be a drawing for me to provide a critique of someoneâ€™s first chapter. I always enjoy doing things like that–contributing a little bit, I hope, to encouraging someone to keep on writing.
And then thereâ€™s our program. Our all-day speaker is Patrick Brown, the Author Program Manager for Goodreads, and he will be talking about how to promote your wok on Goodreads. I need that! Iâ€™ve been a member of Goodreads for a while but havenâ€™t adequately utilized it. I did give one book away on Goodreads once, and I receive emails on updates about people whoâ€™ve friended me on Goodreads, but I know that there are a lot of aspects of the site that Iâ€™ve never used, or have used incorrectly.
Yes, Iâ€™m one of those people who use social media, but only a few things like a page on Facebook–the â€œfriendâ€ kind, not the â€œlikeâ€ kind. I blog a lot, weekly on Killer Hobbies and monthly here at A Slice of Orange. This month, Iâ€™m also starting to blog on the 18th of each month at Killer Characters–or at least my characters are. Plus, Iâ€™m currently doing a lot of guest blogs to help promote my two new releases. And I post now and then on a wonderful blog thatâ€™s run by some delightful and talented OCC members: Writers In The Storm.
But I donâ€™t tweet, since Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d spend too much time on Twitter. Goodreads, if I knew how to use it better, might be another good resource, though, so Iâ€™m really looking forward to learning more.
How about you? Do you participate in Goodreads? Will you be at this monthâ€™s meeting?
By the way, there wonâ€™t be a PAW meeting this month, and I usually look forward to them a lot, too. But thereâ€™s always March…
His guilt tore them apart
Can the truth set them free?
To save millions of lives, she may have to sacrifice the ones she loves…More info →