Starting any project affords you the chance to learn new things. It is often through mistakes or failures that we will often gain the most knowledge. Here's my list of things I've learned to launching as a published writer.
Every time you think you’ve got your ducks in a row, one moves.
I wasn’t going to announce my book had launched until it went free. I told a friend that was leaving on vacation about it. It never dawned on me to tell her not to share it yet.
She posted it on her Facebook page. Ack!
I then had to scramble to do other things I hadn’t meant to do at that point to get ready for the launch.
So first thing is--don’t tell anyone you if you don’t want to share it yet. Or make sure that you tell them not to share on social media.
On the upside, lots of your friends want to help you be successful! Thank them when they do share!
I had planned on having my book on free promotion for Friday and Saturday. There was miscommunication with the person handling the promotions so it changed to Saturday and Sunday and then finally to Sunday and Monday. Each time I had to go back on social media, saying, oops, it's free tomorrow. Not a smooth promotion.
Time your reviews properly.
It’s important to let people know to wait two to three days to write their review after they download your book. If they do it too quickly, Amazon may consider them scam reviews and pull them. You work hard asking for those reviews so don't let them be pulled.
Get Reviews the Best Way.
People are funny. Even though they may enjoy your book, they want to know others have read it and like it before they decide to take a chance on it.
You can contact your friends and family but those aren't the best places to get reviews. In most cases, they fall into one of two primary categories. They will give you five stars because they like you. They're critical of it because they know you. In many cases, their review has nothing to do with the book but with you.
Go ahead and contact your friends and family. But don't expect them to be the main source for your book's reviews.
Look into contacting reviewers through Amazon. Contact those who’ve ready similar books to yours and are in your target niche. If you don't have time to go through the extensive database and you want to find top Amazon reviewers, I highly recommend BookRazor. (Tell'em Vikki sent you).
Now here's the thing. These reviewers give out honest reviews. This is what you want. Don't spend your money on places that add reviews that are essentially worthless. You want real people to give your readers--and you--feedback on your book. These reviews will help with updates, blog posts, additions and new book opportunities.
Determine the Best Dates for your Launch.
Don’t plan your book launch around your daughter’s 18th birthday with a bunch of girls sleeping over at your house. Or at least not so you can’t get to your computer. Nuff said on that one.
Enjoy the Journey.
I was lucky enough to get awesome feedback right after I launched:
I was feeling depressed; I needed your book. I needed to see that I’m on the right track. I wrote you because I truly believe a higher power works miracles and I was feeling down, I needed your book. I need to hear I am doing the right thing. I read a little bit today and was inspired to make a paper quilt and put all I do in each square. I was surprised to see three squares empty. It was an eye opener.
Encouraging someone at just the right moment’ inspiring them to do something with what you’ve wrote—you can’t ask for any better compliment as a writer.
Why is this important?
Because at some point I’ll (and you) will get the “your book/writing sucks.” You can’t please everyone. You’re not meant to. You’re meant to please the people who will enjoy and receive benefit from your work.
Develop a thick skin if you don’t already have one. There has not been one artist who has not been criticized for some flaw in their work. Admit any mistakes but move on from it. Don't dwell on criticism.
Go with your Gut.
Don’t be afraid to go with your gut. I put my title out on some social media groups for feedback. I was told that everyone is going to think the book is about quilting.
It’s taking the metaphor of fabric quilting and using it to show how to craft your work and piece together passive income streams.
I debated it and finally stuck with my instincts. My first sale was due to the title catching someone's eye in my target audience.
Seth Godin speaks to this very principle in Purple Cow. “The way to break through to the mainstream is to target your niche instead of a huge market.”
My primary niche is women. Women are familiar with quilts and quilting even if they don’t quilt. My niche gets it.
If it feels wrong, change it.
I had approved a photo for my cover. I liked it.
Yet when the interior colors were matched to the colors of the exterior picture, I knew it the cover had veered off in the wrong direction for me and my niche. So I had it changed.
It’s better to change something before it goes public than after the fact.
Get an Editor.
You will miss things.
They will catch them.
They will tell you where something isn’t clear or where you need to add in more description.
Don't Rely Totally on Editors.
You still need to edit. You still need to review.
Editors are people. They make mistakes too.
Even though it is their job to fix or point out the things you've missed, it still is your book. Therefore, check it. Re-check it. Wait some time. Check it again.
Additionally, review each type of format specifically. I had a pdf copy which shows the correct wording. On the e-book format, two chapters had typos. Take the time to review one last time before launching.
Editing Tips: Start from the back not the front. Read from the bottom up. Read aloud. Check the Table of Contents.
Write what you know.
Write what you’re passionate about. It will come across in your work.
For fiction, do your research. Readers are savvy. They will find out mistakes.
For nonfiction: In order to be the authority, you need to have the authority to build upon. Everyone is an expert in something.
It's been said if you read about a subject for five years, you will become an expert. I consider expertise more an outgrowth of experience--both successes and failures. Write from that place.
Seek and Procure Help.
Can you do it yourself?
But you may spend more time, effort and money making mistakes then if you hired some help.
I hired someone to help with editing, creating a cover, formatting, publishing, etc.
Going it alone can be done. But you’ll still be sane—okay, half-way sane—when you understand your limitations and how much is involved. Trust me, it's a lot more than you think!
Writing your book is only one piece of a major undertaking. So get all the help and encouragement you can. Then outsource as much as you’re able so you can go on and create more!
This is the most important thing you will do to move forward in any endeavor.
Join groups that encourage and inspire each other.
Find others that have the same outlook as you.
Connect with other authors. They are not your competition. They will be some of your best champions!
Learning never stops. We learn from our work and we learn from others. The next time something happens that isn't what you want, turn it around and say "Well, that's a great learning experience!"
What are some things that you've learned in the writing, publishing or marketing of your book?