Lessons Learned from a Debut Book Launch

On June 21st, 2017, I launched my first book, the dark epic fantasy novel In the Shadow of the Rook. And while I’ve been ecstatic these past few weeks about it, there have been a few hitches.

Well, more than a few, you might say.

Many of these are from the plethora of uncertain factors surrounding a book launch. How will your audience react? WHO is your audience? How are you finding them? How CAN you find them?

And there are other, more technical details beyond concerns about your readers. To mention a few:

  • Is your book formatted correctly?
  • Do you have all the front matter and back matter materials formatted, proofread, and exactly as you want them?
  • If doing print as well as ebook, do you have both of them ready by launch?
  • Do you have your launch week promotions and social media announcements scheduled?
  • Do you have a good, genre-appropriate book cover?
  • Is your blurb written according to best copywriting practices, and does it connect with your audience?

And these even preclude the idea that you’ve done some heavy lifting beforehand, like having a social media presence (largely Facebook for me at the moment, but whatever works for you) and know reliable sites for book promotion.

So let’s say you have these details all planned out and down. Do you have a way to measure the effectiveness of all your actions? In evaluating my book’s launch, this is one serious hitch. I had Amazon ads, Facebook posts, Facebook ads, and a Bargain Booksy campaign all thrown in together without the proper structure or metrics for measuring how they did. There are some built-in of course. For example, Facebook ads include details like demographic engagement, a breakdown of interactions with your ad (link clicks, likes, shares, etc.). But since I was often lumping marketing actions on the same day, when it came to who bought and from whence they came, I only have a vague idea.

All this to say, there are some lessons to be learned. Here is specifically what I’m doing to do a better launch next time around:

  • Investing in Learning: I’ve already breezed through Chris Fox’s Launch to Market, which includes great action plans, mindset advice, and some resources for better launching your book. I also am reading Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book: 3rd Edition—more to come on that when I finish.
  • Metrics: I’m looking to add various services to better understand the effectiveness of different 
    • BookReport for Amazon metrics
    • Google Analytics for website
    • Facebook pixel (and potentially other pixels)
  • Launch week planned out, segmented by days, posts written and ready to be posted or promotions already scheduled
  • Releasing regular content: This is a big one. I want to give readers value between book launches, to keep them engaged and bring joy to their lives, as well as building a bigger following. For this plan, I’ve sketched out a couple dozen short story ideas (probably short shorts—1000 words or less is the goal) that I plan to write and release every week on all social media platforms to entertain people and give them a taste of my fantasy (and burgeoning sci-fi!) worlds.
  • Advanced Reader Copy group—I did send out 40 or more copies for people to reveal prior to release of In the Shadow, but not nearly early enough to make the launch. As of this writing, I’m still sitting at 5 reviews, so it’s definitely a goal to get those up prior to the release of the next book, as well as have a better system for Book II’s release.

Have some lessons learned from your book launch? Tell me your story in the comments below!