Launching a book is an odd experience. You work so hard for so long, editing, checking, proofing, working with your team on the cover design as well. When the moment finally came to press ‘publish’ I did so with fingers crossed, hoping that everything was covered, but also with relief that it was finally over.
Of course it isn’t over, it’s only just the beginning. Is there a point to having a book published, if no-one knows it, reads it or buys it?
The trouble with being an independent author, is that you think of yourself as an author. That seems to be the smallest part of the job. Getting the book ready for publication (eBook or paperback) is a real struggle, requiring discipline and an eye for detail (and submersion of your possessive streak). After publication you have to let people know it’s there. Unless you take off with lots of sales, lots of reviews and lots of likes, then Amazon and other stores are not going to take any notice of you. All the publicity comes from your own efforts, and those of kind people who take up the message and send it on.
That means social networking. We are so lucky to live in the digital age. Without it I would still be sending Princelings of the East to agents and publishers and getting rejection slips saying (if I’m lucky) “difficult to place in today’s commercial world”. I know that my books aren’t fashionable. But I believe that they are enjoyable reads and that there are people out there who enjoy them (probably you). So I continue to use the social networking opportunities, to adopt/adapt other people’s ideas for promotion, and to use tips and advice from what I consider to be good sources. I may get the ideas wrong, but it’s all a learning process. And at the back of it all I have to remind myself “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
So how did the launch of the Trilogy go? I did it differently from the eBooks because it is a different product. A physical book. It is not a Kindle book so will not benefit from the push that the free days on Amazon give them. It has a different life. A Giveaway sounded right. It was my first attempt at this, and I’ve only taken part in three, so I was learning every step of the way. We didn’t have too many entries, but we had people who I hadn’t ‘met’ before and some who hadn’t read the Princelings at all. Although our entries were low, they weren’t a significant number lower than a much bigger giveaway with multiple authors in more popular genres that was running at the same time. So I take heart from that.
The timing was probably the big problem. Just before Hallowe’en (I don’t do Hallowe’en, especially not days and weeks before the night) was probably not ideal. It was also school holidays in some places and there seemed to be fewer people online. (It’s school holidays here this week). So maybe although I was right to get the Trilogy out now in order to be there for Christmas but not in the Christmas rush, the timing wasn’t perfect.
What about the Launch Party? Well, this was a wacky idea and it was something to blog about, but it didn’t really work! I’d like to thank my friends for turning up, and you know who you are. Again, timing, and particularly not doing it on a weekday if I pick hours when US people are working or commuting. I’d like to thank Dawn for the toast to the book’s success (and naming all our favourite guinea pigs) and Lauren for the cupcakes!
But thank you all for tweeting it and leaving messages on Facebook to support the launch and giveaway. It was interesting that nobody commented or Liked these blog posts though. I did get a lot of visitors on the official site that hadn’t been before, so it did help to promote the book. And that is what it was all about.
One of the questions that remains, and will always remain, is why write? Do I write to be published, sell loads of books, earn lots of money and be hugely famous? Or do I write because I want to tell stories about my characters. The latter of course. But I would like readers to enjoy them. Otherwise it’s a bit too self-indulgent!