I recently published Swindle Town, Book 5 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, and here I am again, riding the learning curve and sharing wins, errors, and vulnerabilities with anyone who cares to read about them.
I’ve done the same following publication of Book 2, Book 3, and Book 4, and although I really hope that one day these posts will be a thing of the past, so far the lessons just keep on coming. I feel like an experimental scientist – lots of new things. Here we go.
1. I tried pre-orders – wow!
I set up Swindle Town as a pre-order to coincide with a promotion I ran for Book 2, The Last Fairytale. The pre-order timeframe wasn’t too far in advance, just ten days or so, but I thought the activity around Fairytale might highlight this new book in the series, and it did. Not a huge number, but Swindle accrued 91 orders and came out of the gate with a sales rank of about 10,000. Beats a stick in the eye, eh?
What I like about pre-orders is that reviews can’t be posted. Sounds like a bad thing, but it allowed time to get ARCs out to reviewers for them to read and prepare a review. Formerly, I’d be finishing the mss and holding onto it, waiting for reviewers to read, OR pubbing the book and leaving it there all alone, naked and vulnerable and review-less, while readers gave it a go. I like the pre-order function, and I’ll use it with every book going forward – probably with a longer timeframe next go-round.
2. I got into the swing of promos
My post about BookBub said it all – promotion is EVERYTHING to successful long-term book sales. My plan is to promote one book in my series every month through whatever channel is available to me. So far, though (as I’ve mentioned several times before), I’m a big fan of Book Marketing Tool’s “free” ebook submission tool. It’s become my go-to standard, and the books I’ve used it for have received thousands of downloads at a cost of only $15.00 plus an hour or so of my time. Can’t beat it.
3. I now have a review process that works
Many promo opportunities are limited by the number of reviews a book has – and to speed along the process of accruing reviews, I now have a review/slash/promo process that seems to work for me. Here it is:
- Beg, plead, cajole, gather first ten reviews. (Actually, the goal is to build a list of ten go-to ARC readers/reviewers.) When these are in place …
- Use Book Marketing Tool’s ebook submission tool to set up a preliminary free giveaway of the book. The tool helps you submit to dozens of “smaller” free ebook giveaway vendors, and many of them do not have high review requirements. And, for some reason, free promos seem to garner more reviews than even 99 cent promos do.
- Use smaller promos to build reviews, then begin to submit to “bigger” book promo vendors with higher review count requirements.
4. I got my first 1* review
My first bummer 2* review came last spring, when I had an unfortunate encounter with a book blogger. It hurt, it made me feel badly for a couple of weeks, and it was, frankly, embarrassing. But it also worked to desensitize me – a bit – to the pain and rejection generated by mean feedback. I DO read all my reviews, I just no longer read them first thing in the morning – just in case someone has decided to rain on my parade. 🙂
And trust me, since that first 2* I’ve gotten other reviews that smart, but (to date) although reviewers have noted their disapproval of certain aspects of a plot, characters, dialogue (my 1* said too many sarcastic remarks made them move on to another book) or storyline, not ONE reviewer has left a comment that I’m a crap writer, that my books are filled with typos, or that I need to change editors. I will hold that banner high and be proud. And I will also *knock on wood.*
One thing that’s been fab is all the gratitude for the “no graphic sex, no truly foul language” policy in my books. It makes me feel like I’m on the right track. THANK YOU reviewers!
5. I gained FANS – and I love their emails
It might irritate some authors, but I am absolutely loving the emails from readers. Last summer I went back in and added my email address to the back matter of every book (more on this in another post), and several readers have sent messages noting little typos, (not many, thank goodness!) and plot elements they’ve found that they feel are incorrect. A couple lamented the absence of characters that appeared in Book 1 but didn’t in Book 2, etc. I truly get a kick out of it. I’ve sent almost every one of them a free ebook in the series to say “thank you.” Their interest warms my heart. And it’s helpful … although it may get old in the future? Hahaha.
6. Sadly, I got a little burnt out
Yeah, I’ll admit it, and I told my beta-readers that I felt my mojo slipping as I approached the end of Book 5. My goal was to write and publish three full-length novels in 2014, and I achieved that goal, publishing Book 3, Paint Me Gone, in May; Book 4, A Thousand Tombs, in August, and – a little late in my schedule, but close, Book 5, Swindle Town, February 1. Of course, I didn’t get much else done, but I pulled off the books and I’ll try to write three more this year.
I still love the initial, first draft writing process, but by Book 5, the endless revisions became difficult to get my head around, which is what slowed Swindle Town down. So I took a month off to regenerate, and now I’m diving back in. Book 6, Lock the Cellar Door, is due out some time in April. Wish me luck! (*Note: Cellar was actually published June 1.)
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