I name this book… let’s launch indie style (Part 1 – The Pre-launch)

There won’t be any billboard campaigns, bookstore displays, mainstream media interviews or big name reviews for your average indie book launch, we indies haven’t got the clout or the funds for that sort of malarky. But what we have got (in droves) are lively imaginations and a deeply personal investment in our ‘product’.

It’s three weeks today since A Bed of Brambles published in paperback and ebook. AVAILABLE AT AMAZON, IBOOKS, NOOK, KOBO AND MY LOCAL BOOKSTORE. (If my book is going to sell, I do need people to know that) so I thought I’d share my pre-launch preparations with you here.

Building buzz

You know all that time you spent blogging and tweeting, building up a following and an email list? Well, now is the time to make good use of those platforms – AND your imagination. As an indie, you’ve got the personal touch, so think hard about your options. Give updates, mention the book and the launch date but don’t be overdo it to the point of turning people off. Interaction is the key word here. Consider your (potential) readers and other interests you might have in common with them. Share topical stuff that links to your story, and pass on posts/tweets/blogs of others that catch your eye (you’re going to need these lovely people to return the favour and extend the reach of your own posts).

My golden rules are:

  • Keep it personal and interesting
  • 70% topical/witty : 30% MY BOOK is a decent ratio to follow at this point
  • Post at different times of the day to connect with more readers and time zones
  • INTERACT

Pre-Sales

This option didn’t exist on Kindle Direct Publishing/Amazon when I launched my first novel, but it does now. Also on Draft2Digital, where I publish the ebook to iBooks, Kobo, Nook etc. It’s a useful tool because it gives you a mini pre-launch, pre-launch to tempt readers in (ie, it’s something new to shout about) and will (hopefully) give a boost to first day sales. Best of all, it gets a major job out of the way ahead of the launch panic. Your ebook is there, uploaded and waiting for buyers, avoiding the stress of wondering if you’ll get your timing right. (Horror of horrors – shouting about a launch date for weeks in advance to find the book isn’t ‘live’ when the date arrives.)

It’s not so easy with the paperback, in fact, it’s nigh on impossible (without a lot of complicated contortion which I, personally, don’t think is worth it). Not only are pre-sales difficult, CreateSpace and Amazon can’t specify an exact date when the paperback will be live. Three to five days is the best you’ll get, which is something of a dilemma because, in my experience, the book is often live on day two. With a launch you just can’t risk it (see horror of horrors above), so press ‘Publish to Amazon’ five days ahead (and keep schtum if your book, like mine, is live ahead of the launch date!)

Is this book part of a series, or have you written other books of similar genre?

Crank up the buzz and redouble your marketing efforts on the other book(s). I ran a Kindle giveaway on A Bed of Barley Straw, sought fresh reviews and signed up to Bublish so I could post excerpts from both books to social media (see my earlier post: Are you using Bublish yet?) Sales of the first book went up and I hope those readers will be itching to buy the sequel!

Physical copies of paperbacks for marketing and review

You may not have published a paperback, it’s very much a personal choice, but, if you have, now is the time to stock up on those lovely, physical books. They’re a great tool for marketing. You can do your own photo shoot, run giveaways and offer them to reviewers who prefer a paperback copy (at this point we’ll do anything for reviews, right!)

The paperbacks will feature more in Part 2 – The Launch, but if, like me, you publish through CreateSpace and don’t live in America (I live in the UK) you’ll want to get ahead of the game on ordering paperback copies to avoid the exorbitant postage. Print on demand (POD) copies for the author are printed in the USA  (unlike UK customer orders, which are printed in Europe) so it costs to rush delivery and the cheaper options can take UP TO 6 WEEKS to arrive. (Please can you do something about this CreateSpace?)

Make sure you haven’t enabled any sales channels when you approve the final proof of your book, and CreateSpace will give you the option to order copies.


I’ll leave you with a pic from my photo shoot (retweeted on twitter as “the cutest book promo shot of the year” – but it does require a puppy, which I accept you may not have.)

DSC_0786 (1)

I’d love to hear how other self-published authors set about preparing for launch day, and what you do when the big day arrives. Do comment below, and tune in next week for Part 2 – The Launch

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