Ever had an image of the future that turned out to be everything you didn’t dream of?
That was my book launch last summer, something of the sort (it seems) no one in the writing community really wants to talk about.
One of my writer connections admitted to me she was amazed how many authors who appear to be doing well as far as the social media portrays, secretly admit sales are slow and communication and engagement with readers or any sign of a growing following is random and weak.
One must be very thick-skinned and strategic as a writer.
You may have been on the journey with me, I committed to an intensive nine month lead up, preparing for the boat cruise book tour and grand finale of my on board canal boat screened livestream hosted with my able MC and joined remotely by a global audience last June.
Was it a wonderful experience and learning curve? Absolutely.
Did I have the belief and support of my friends and family? Totally.
Was it the breakthrough I wanted for this deeply important life message?
Well, no – and I can point to numerous things I might do differently.
With the benefit of hindsight these are five lessons I took from the launch of my second book, which despite being thoroughly planned and executed fell foul of a few things. Excuse the fishy analogies – it was a canal pilgrimage after all.
1.Start as a Big Fish in a Small Pond
In your excitement to create and get your hands on your first print proof copy, do not rush the critical exercise of categorising your book. This will determine whether your book becomes a small fish in a big pond or vice versa, with all the inevitable risks of being swamped during your all-important publication ‘splash’.
2.Gather your Shoal
Keep connected with the publishing community throughout the creative journey, even paying for the privilege because systems and processes change, and the latest industry tips and hacks might have escaped your notice. Here’s my community.
For instance, Facebook’s decision to penalise posting of links that take their user away from Facebook and the failure of Author Page postings appearing in my friend’s feed.
Today, you need to gather your fans and followers in Facebook community groups where notifications are directed and immediate rather than selectively revealed by an algorithm.
3. Don’t Give it up for Adoption
Do not put all your eggs in one basket, namely Amazon’s control of your ratings on release day. Which I did. It’s like handing your new-born baby over to a modelling agency and expecting them to nurture and commit to its healthy development. And when this internet superpower inexplicably failed to reveal my book release for weeks and barred almost every review from being written to this day, my core sales strategy fell apart.
4. Never stop Nurturing
Check and double-check, follow up and scrutinise all your instructions and pending actions. Just because you have paid for something does not mean it has been actioned. For instance, this summer my Audible version of ‘As If’ took three months rather than one. That was an understandable pandemic impact, however, the automatic release of Audible’s version to iTunes just never happened. The metadata was not released and it was up to me to realise. The new release timeframe was missed by any iTunes readers. No explanation. I had to notice and complain. So stay on it.
5. Be like the Cardinal Fish
He is a mouthbrooder, the males carry all the eggs in their mouth for weeks, unable even to eat until they have hatched. Stay intimately involved with your leads, your opportunities. Keep on, even when the hoped-for ‘buzz’ never happens. Some of us are late developers, some ideas are slow to catch on.
Your book and my book may yet have its day.
Any of these lessons are broader lessons for doing life in a responsible and effective way if you think about it.
Be willing to start small.
Give as well as take (about ten times more give than take)
Stay ‘on it’ if it matters to you.
Or ask to join my Tribe, the Indelible Tribe and give me a reason why you think we might be a good fit.