The book launch. How important is it for success?
In some circles of writers, there is a lot of talk about book launches. Certainly in the traditionally published world, book launches can be a vehicle for promotion. A book’s launch period is the time where it sits in a prominent position on the bookshelf before the industry decides whether it’s going to sink or swim. The book launch itself is a swanky party usually in a bookshop where the author invites their friends and the publisher invites industry people.
But how about when you self publish a book?
Is the book launch going to influence how well it sells down the track?
We all know that e-books are forever, and when you self publish, the bulk of your sales are likely to be in e-book.
I don’t know any buyer who looks at the year of publication when they purchase a book. So in theory, a book can sell just as well regardless of when it was published.
It is true however that Amazon favours recently published books, so there is some merit in trying to use that tendency.
But it is also entirely possible to keep the book afloat by constant low-level promotion.
It is even possible to renew interest in a book by promoting a book that is already a couple of years old. Most retail sites determine the likelihood of recommending a book to readers by how much it has sold in the previous month, so it is highly possible to spike your own sales by running a promotion that places it in a better position. You can do this at launch, but there is nothing that says that you can’t do it when the book is already a couple of years old.
So how much effort should you spend for your book launch?
I have to admit that I am of the opinion that whatever I do for the book launch should not take me away from writing the next book.
Other than that, I will usually spend a bit more effort if the book is the first book in the series, because I am trying to get interest in the series and I may be trying to get people to pre-order the next book after they have read the first one.
If the book is a second or sad or later book in a series, I concentrate my main efforts of marketing on the first book of the series, and then market the new book to the people who have shown interest in the first book. For those later books, my mailing list is the main advertising vehicle.
There are people who go all out on the book launches with Facebook parties and launch promotions. This can definitely get you some sales, but in the end, you have to weigh up the amount of time and money spent to judge whether or not it is worth it.
A good launch can make your book sell for longer, but it is entirely possible to revive and old book or keep a book selling at a lower level with ads that don’t require terribly much maintenance.
The book launch is not so important for self published writers as it is for traditionally published writers. A book in a bookshop gets six weeks to three months before the bookseller decides whether or not it has been successful and re-orders the book or returns and sold copies to the publisher and never orders it again. The publisher will also not promote older books.
As self-published writers, we don’t have the expectations of the first three months to deal with. Our books are on virtual shelves and always available. We can sit back at launch, run some ads, but otherwise concentrate on the next book.
This is a major advantage that we have over traditionally published authors.
The comments on this blog are closed, but this post is syndicated to my Facebook page, where you can comment and ask further questions. Find more information about the Three-year plan self-publishing books here.