A reflection on launching my books [for writers]

I’ve independently published 3 books now, and each book had a significantly different launch strategy (or lack thereof) and different outcomes. Each launch is summarised below, and then I’ll go into what I think worked and didn’t work, which will hopefully help you with your own launches – and it also helps me reflect on what I want to do next.

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Book One: What Stars Are Made Of, a wordless picture book (open age target)

  • No launch party
  • No blog tour
  • Posted progress photos on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook from the start (approx. one month)
  • Priced slightly below market price (it is now at market price)
  • One review request sent out

Book Two: The Caretaker of Imagination, a children’s chapter book (7 years+)

  • Launch party at Pt Chev Bookshop (local indie bookshop)
  • Giveaways on website
  • Work in progress for 2 years – talked about regularly during that time.
  • Blog tour (approx. 15 sites, self-organised)
  • Priced at low end of market price
  • Approx. 20 review copies sent

Book Three: Lucy’s Story: The End of the World, a children’s chapter book (8 years+)

  • No blog tour (yet)
  • Launch party at community hall, hosted by Pt Chev Bookshop
  • Not many progress updates posted
  • Priced at low-ish end of market price
  • No review copies sent (yet)

Blog Tours

Reflection: I only did a blog tour for The Caretaker of Imagination, but it has easily been the best selling book in terms of digital sales – especially in week one. I believe the blog tour I did, which I organised myself and was a mix of articles and interviews on my friends’ blogs, made an impact on these sales. I made an effort to tailor the content to each site, and asked for interview questions, which allow the host to tailor the content through the questions.

Next Steps: I am going to organise a blog tour for Lucy’s Story, even though it’s already been released (in fact, this might be a better option, because the book is already available to buy). This will consist of interviews and articles.

Review Requests

Reflection: I sent out about 20 review requests for The Caretaker of Imagination, just one for What Stars Are Made Of, and I haven’t done any yet for Lucy’s Story. I’ve received less than 10 reviews from those requested, and have received reviews from some of my readers. A few people emailed me and told me they loved my work, and I asked if they could put a review up on Amazon or Goodreads. Most bloggers who reviewed my book put the review on their website, which gave me external links, and I shared them on my social media networks. It also gave me completely objective reviews to use in my media kit & marketing.

Next Steps: I will be contacting the reviewers who enjoyed The Caretaker of Imagination and request a review for Lucy’s Story. When i get positive feedback for Lucy’s Story, I’ll request a review on Goodreads or Amazon (nicely, of course, and only if I feel it is appropriate and that they will leave an honest review). Last time, I did make an effort to find people who reviewed books similar to mine, but I would like to be even more specific this time.

Social Media

Reflection: What Stars Are Made Of gained the most interaction on social media because it was a visual book – I could post paintings and sketches on Instagram (which I linked to Facebook) and Twitter, which is more interesting than seeing a word count update. It helped viewers become a part of the book’s journey, which led them to want to purchase. Lucy’s Story has done the worst on social media because I didn’t post much about it – by the time I was planning the release, the book had actually been finished – all that was left was the proofreading, formatting and printing.

Next Steps: For my next books, Beyond the End of the World and The Train To Nowhere, I will post progress updates more regularly and earlier on in the process. I will blog about these as I go, and talk about it when people ask about my work.

Physical Launch Party

Reflection: I had a launch party for both The Caretaker of Imagination and Lucy’s Story. Both were successes in their own ways, and each launch relied heavily on voluntary support and sponsorship. I loved meeting people as an author, and connecting with new people (or connecting with friends in a new way). On the day of the second book launch, it was raining and that affected the numbers. It was difficult at both launches to plan an event not knowing whether I’d have 50 people, or 150.

Next Steps: I have planned to launch my next book at the NZ Independent Book Festival in October, so I don’t have any event planning. After that, I am only going to plan launches to fall around the summer months – preferably in Term One of the school year (February – April), as many people are away during the summer holidays.

21 Responses to “A reflection on launching my books [for writers]

  • I think you did well to get ten reviews from twenty. That’s quite a reasonable average!

  • This is very interesting. I’d love to do a blog tour for my novella, but the thought intimidates me. I guess because I only know a handful of bloggers well enough to be comfortable asking something like that of them, and most of those don’t do things like book tours on their sites sooooo, it would not make sense to ask them anyway. :p

    • i didn’t know any book bloggers either, but I asked on Google+ if there were any people interested in reviewing the book or doing an interview, and got some responses. But I offered to do the same for them, and I think that makes a difference.

      • Z.R. Southcombe
        2 years ago

        Yep, I’ve done some guest posts in return, or book reviews, or spotlights… so there’s always something we can do in return. Definitely makes a difference – thanks for pointing that out, Mike.

      • I would definitely extend the same to others who gave me that chance… I need more cool stuff for my blog, anyway! Why not showcase some awesome books! 🙂

        • Z.R. Southcombe
          2 years ago

          Oh on that note… I’m putting together a blog tour for next month. My email is zeesouthcombe@gmail.com – shoot me an email and we can sort details for a guest post swap 🙂

          • Funny you should mention that, I was about to reply to your post on Writer’s Coffeehouse! 😉 Will do!

    • Z.R. Southcombe
      2 years ago

      I thought you might like this post, JR 🙂

      I did an open call on Twitter and in my writing groups, and many people said yes. I don’t think any of them regularly did blog tours, but it’s a win-win situation – we get to share each other’s audience.

      What I found intimidating was writing all the posts myself lol. This time, I’m going to pre-write some, maybe do some vlogs, and request interviews as much as possible lol.

      • The thing about interviews is that the people need to have read your book. That might be a bit of an ask for some. However, three or four did do it for me, which was generous.

        • Z.R. Southcombe
          2 years ago

          I think one of them had actually read my book. The other interviews were based on what they knew about me already, and the book blurb.

          • Okay. Interesting. Now that you mention it I did do an interview with someone who knew nothing about me NOR anything about the book! He asked a bunch of questions related to writing and such, and I answered them. Gave me quite a lot of leeway. Here’s the link. I don’t know how he came to contact me, but you could probably drop him a note and see if he’s interested in added you to his ever-expanding list of interviews. He’s a Bulgarian sports writer! LOL

      • Hrmm. I will try an open call and see where that gets me! Even just a couple would be cool! 🙂

  • It’s interesting to see the differences in your book launches so far. I’m glad they have all gone fairly ok 🙂

    • Z.R. Southcombe
      2 years ago

      I’ve been really happy with how they’ve each gone, especially considering that I am learning on the fly…!

      • Learning on the fly is my favourite way to learn, haha! I’m glad to hear you’re happy with how they’ve all gone 🙂

        • Z.R. Southcombe
          2 years ago

          I think it’s the only way I know how to learn… I have a terrible habit of jumping in the deep end. Glad I’m in good company!

  • Hi, I enjoyed reading your article, I was wondering about review requests. Do you recommend emailing a potential reviewer and asking if they would like a copy to review, or do you just identify the ones you want to target and then send them a copy? Thanks in advace 🙂

    • Z.R. Southcombe
      2 years ago

      Hi Sarina. I identify reviewers who may like my book based on previous reviews and their review / submission policy. After that, I send a polite request outlining the genre, length and target group, often making reference to their stated requirements. I attach cover art and a media page including other review extracts, page count, ISBN etc 🙂

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