I think most people have this vision of an author releasing a book and going, AGH that was nice, my work here is done. Enjoy world, enjoy!
That is so not the case when it comes to indie publishing.
I mean, we do have champagne, but its mostly so we can calm ourselves down, not so we can celebrate. And we do rock in the corner biting our nails, but that’s because we are so petrified that the world is going to reject our book baby. (It happens.) But you develop a tough skin, and you move on.
I thought it might be fun to write down a step by step guide of what my release day/week typically looks like. You may even discover some good ideas on how you can switch up your release week!
1. Cover reveal.
I don’t do these unless I have the pre-order links ready. What good is sharing a cover if you can’t lead the reader somewhere to purchase? Yeah, the cover is pretty but… So I typically share my cover within my reader group (and threaten them with my mafia so they know not to share it). Then closer to the actual release date, around 4 weeks out (before you send out your ARCs), share the cover with the pre-order links, the Goodreads link to add to your TBR (To Be Read) list, along with (possibly) early reviews about WHY readers need to get this book asap! I don’t do this with every book, but thought I would at least include it 😉
2. Blog Tour/Review Tour/Blitz.
I work with Social Butterfly PR, and every single release I have includes a press release from them to readers, bloggers, industry professionals, etc. We usually give the ARC (Advance Review Copy) to these people two weeks to a month before the book releases. They are always picked at random because I limit my ARCs (not because I don’t love everyone but because I’ve had a whoops moment where Netgalley gave out over 800). So I limit it, even though I’m so so thankful to all of the readers/bloggers who still purchase on release day — you guys are rockstars (and no you don’t have to do that, I just want to say thank you to those who do).
I also have an ARC team that can opt-out of certain books if they want or DNF (Did Not Finish) books (we don’t care as long as they try). If you have something like this, remember you cannot dictate how they star your books if you do, that’s not an honest review. I’ve had several people in my group go, “nope, not for me” and DNF or rate it only two stars — whatever they say, that’s THEIR right in reading your book. We accept all stars with high fives in my group. There’s nothing wrong with some positive criticism to make you a better author.
Okay okay, so I haven’t done these in a while mainly because I got super stressed out, but a lot of authors pop-in to author’s reader groups, blogger groups, and Facebook groups in general and give away signed paperbacks, gift cards, swag, etc. and do fun little takeovers. You can also do something on your Facebook page or even something from your Instagram!
4. The day of release, I always do a swipe up on my Instagram story…
…with the buy links (if you don’t have this feature yet, ask an author friend who does and bake them a giant cake if they say yes). I also put a graphic post on every social media I have, and with many of my releases I even do graphic countdowns the week of release to get people ready!
5. The day of release…
…I give out signed paperbacks, do contests, and try to go live on social media to talk about the book.
6. The day of release and sometimes leading up to it…
…we start our Facebook ads targeting readers who may want to pre-order the book. We switch up the ads the day of release and do two separate ones (some target Amazon and some target IOS readers, ie Apple Books). We only put money toward ads that have a good ROI (Return on Investment), so if your ad isn’t performing, change it up, and see if that helps.
7. Bookbub ads and AMS ads.
You can put as little or as much (money) as you want to in these ads. I always do them the WEEK of release so that I have the best chances to get a higher ranking with click through.
8. If your book is part of a series, price drop the first one…
…or set it up for free. Make sure all your metadata in the back of that book leads readers to the next book and the one following so you have good click-through.
9. Make sure that your book represents your brand…
…and that the synopsis and cover matches the rest of the series. Also, include that same verbiage in the ads you are doing, wherever they may be.
10. Make sure your website is updated…
…to reflect the newest release so that when people search for you, that’s the first thing they see. If you need a good website builder check out lastworddesigns.com if you aren’t internet savvy (raises hand). They do automatic updates every month for you, so you don’t have to, and they work really fast.
11. On release days I know I’m going to be stressed…
…so I always make sure I have something I can pop in the oven really quick. And whatever you do, don’t stalk your sales rank — looking at it doesn’t make it drop even though it feels like it should.
12. Keep yourself informed.
I’m a very controlling person and I want my hands in everything, and I want to make sure that the book performs well. The biggest thing you can do is check after a few days. Is the book still doing okay? Has it dropped? What’s the feedback? I go into Goodreads and like each and every review, good and bad. I read them all just to make sure that I’m still staying true to my craft. I do the same on the other storefronts. If I see a common theme, like the blurb was confusing, or the price was too high, I logically take a step back and go, “okay are they right? Should I change the blurb? Is the cover confusing?” Listen to your readers, they are your audience.
13. And finally, lucky number 13…
…be like Elsa (in Frozen) and let it go. You can’t control the world. Guess what? You did it! You released a book. Now cut the apron strings and let it fly!
Until next time!
Rachel Van Dyken is The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!
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