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Soft Launching A Book With Dan Parsons And Melissa Addey: Beginners Self-Publishing Podcast

Soft Launching a Book With Dan Parsons and Melissa Addey: Beginners Self-Publishing Podcast

In today's Beginners Self-Publishing Podcast: soft launching a book. Thanks to movies and a narrative perpetuated by trade publishers, debut authors fixate on big book launches, characterized by perfection and fanfare. The reality, however, is that many experienced authors stagger book launches, choosing not to fire all cylinders at once for a variety of reasons. In this episode, ALLi’s Product Marketing Manager Dan Parsons and Campaigns Manager Melissa Addey discuss such practices, explaining what a soft launch is, the nuances of launching to a smaller audience before hitting the masses, and how to engineer a soft launch for more long-term success.

Find more author advice, tips, and tools at our self-publishing advice center, https://selfpublishingadvice.org. And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

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About the Hosts

Dan Parsons writes the Creative Business series for authors, bestselling fantasy and horror novels (under Daniel Parsons), and a weekly blog for The Self-Publishing Formula. In the past, he has worked for three trad publishers, managed two bookstores and listened to an unhealthy number of podcasts. Now he's ALLi's product marketing manager.

Melissa Addey has a PhD in creative writing and writes historical fiction set in first-century Rome, eleventh-century Morocco and eighteenth-century China. She runs writing workshops covering both craft and entrepreneurship, most frequently for the British Library. She's also ALLi's campaigns manager, a role in which she loves observing and supporting the vast diversity of self-published authors. Visit her at her website and pick up a free novella.

Read the Transcripts: Soft Launching a Book

Dan Parsons: Hello everyone and welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors Beginner Self-Publishing Advice and Inspirations podcast, I think the name is getting longer. I am Dan Parsons, the Product Marketing Manager for the Alliance, and with me today is Melissa Addey, our campaigns manager. Hello, Melissa.

Melissa Addey: Hello. I can see I have foolishly left my old name on, it just says author, which I am as well, but I'm also ALLi's campaigns manager.

Dan Parsons: Oh, I've done exactly the same.

Right. Today we are actually going to be recording this and then putting it out on a different date due to some technical issues that stopped us from going live. Never fear, we will trudge on.

So yeah, today we are going to be talking about an issue that I think a lot of authors that are just starting out possibly don't even know exist.

So, there's a concept called a soft launch, which sort of flies in the face of the original idea that when you launch a book it should be this big affair with fanfare, and all this kind of stuff.

Realistically, if you talk to many successful indie authors, there's this idea of a soft launch, which we're going to be talking about, what it is, why you should possibly consider a soft launch, and then how it would work for long-term success.

So, Melissa maybe you want to start us off with a little explanation about what a soft launch is.

Melissa Addey: Okay. So, a soft launch, so, bear in mind I used to work for a supermarket, back in the olden days, you don't put a product out onto the market with a big fanfare. You put it out on the market really quietly and see if it's going to work a little bit, make sure it's all ironed out, and there's been no terrible errors, and then you make a big fuss about it.

So, I think what will happen for a lot of new authors who will have been reading all about how to self-publish, they will come across the concept of book launches and they'll get very excited, and they'll be reading what a very experienced author will be doing, where they've got hundreds of people lined up to do instant reviews and they're going to do this and they're going to do that.

Also, they will have in mind the sort of traditional thing of, oh, there should be book signings and it should all happen at a fabulous bookshop, and there should be drinks, and it should all be like this massive fanfare. And all of that is great, and very experienced authors have some fantastic ways of launching books, all of which are great to learn later.

But I cannot stress this enough, if it's your first book, give yourself a break because you are on such a steep learning curve already. You've got so much stuff you're trying to juggle and learn and get used to.

I was talking someone the other day who's just about to launch their first book, and she was like, I've opened accounts with 20 different organizations because the cover, the interior, Kindlepreneur, ALLI, the thing, the something, there's all these different things going on. And on top of that, to feel that the book must come out perfectly and with trumpets sounding is a bit much.

So, soft launch is where you are almost launching the book secretly so that you can check everything is working. There are a number of practical things to put in place and little issues to iron out. So, it really does help to be able to do these things without having the stress, really.

Dan Parsons: I like to think of it a little bit like, if you are getting on a train, there's the platform which is before your launch, where you're planning, and then when you're on the train, you've launched, and the book is going. But when they say, ‘mind the gap', the gap is the soft launch where you are just thinking about what you're doing in between.

So, you might pop the book out, nobody will know about it for a little bit, and then the launch happens later. But it just gives you that little window of time where you mind what you're doing up until the launch, where you're going to be doing a few little things to smooth it out a bit, so that you're not launching with too many eyes on you, and then something goes wrong because you're not prepared.

Melissa Addey: Indeed, and my first book, I remember launching it and then, well, not launching, just putting it out there because I was testing the process. And of course, it didn't sell at all because I wasn't marketing it, and it was quite nice that nobody knew it was there, nobody was going to buy it and see that there was a typo on page three or whatever. I was free to check everything, to make sure everything was okay, and then start making a fuss about it.

It really was quite a nice feeling to not have that additional stress on.

So, there's various practical things that we can do. You will read about advanced authors potentially sharing that soft launch with their ARC team, so their advanced reader copy team. This is a very common thing for them to do, because that's how they're trying to get reviews ready really quickly, and whilst that is a lovely thing to do, again, I really wouldn't get involved in that in your first book. I really wouldn't. I would just put it out there and experience all the bits that have to still be put in place.

Next time, set up an ARC team and do that.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, what I think you'll find is that lots of, I can't remember what the law is called now, but there's a law that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. You'll find typos in the books. Things won't link together properly. If you've got, like some authors will set up these big pre-order campaigns, and if you send out, if you somehow miraculously manage to get a thousand pre-orders, which does sometimes happen, it's very rare, but it sometimes happens, you don't want to send out a thousand wrong copies, because that's the first thing those readers have heard about from you, and then you instantly have a bad repetition.

Melissa Addey: Exactly, and I had an author, a brand-new author, and he put the book out, found three typos in it, as you do, and then he was like, I spent all night worrying about it, and I was like, right, you shouldn't have planned the launch. You should have just, no one would've known, you don't need to spend all night worrying about it.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, the good thing about being an indie author is that, because you control the publishing process, when you put something out, if you notice a mistake, you can fix it at any time in the process, whether the book has been out five minutes or five years.

So, if the book has been out five minutes and you immediately spot something that's wrong, you haven't told anyone to go and buy it yet so you can fix that before it goes.

So, yeah, we should say that we discourage pre-orders for new authors who want to do a soft launch, because the difference between a new author and a really experienced author who does a soft launch, as we said, some experienced authors will launch softly to their ARC team first to get reviews, and then once there are reviews and social proof in place then they'll do a hard launch to everybody else, and then it'll do very well. Or they'll soft launch it direct through their website so that people will buy it and they'll make more money per book sale, and then they'll do a hard launch when it's on retailers, or something like that.

But with newer authors, you don't need to worry about that so much. You just need to worry about doing a soft launch to check it for quality and to make sure everything connects, and what you plan to happen actually happens.

Melissa Addey: Indeed. Absolutely.

So, let's just go through a few of the things that you might want to be fixing as that first book comes out.

First of all, when you say publish, there's a button and you press publish, you don't have much control over when that happens. So, it says 72 hours, or 24 hours, or 48 hours, or whatever it says, or a week, it's not precise like that.

So, if you had a day that it had to hit, you're just going to spend your time stressing about that on the one week of the year, it would be your week, where the whole system goes funny, and it takes a week to upload them, rather than the promised 72 hours. So, the first thing is, you don't know exactly when that's going to go live. That's one.

The second thing is, once it does go live, for example on Amazon, it does a very weird thing where the eBook will appear on one URL and the paperback will appear on a different URL, and you are sat there thinking, aren't they all supposed to be on one page? They will be on one page, but again, that takes a little while and you don't know when that is. You don't want to share either the eBook or the paperback, you want to share the combined page, and you don't know when that's going to show up. So, wait until that shows up, first of all. That will then give you a URL that you can start using, or indeed turn into what's called a universal link, which means it'll take you to the appropriate platform for you.

You can't do that until it's all live and it's all linked up together, and that may take some time and you don't know when that is. That's first thing.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, it's a paradox, isn't it, because when you put a book out there, a lot of people will talk about things like back matter, I think we've already spoken about back matter several times on the podcast in the past, where at the end of your book you can give a link where people can click the link and go to the book sales page to leave a review once they've read it. The problem is, the sales page doesn't exist to put the link in the book so that they can buy the book with the book link in the back. So, it's a bit of a paradox.

You've got to publish it without the link, and then you can see the sales page, take the link and then pop it in the interior file, and then put it back on and re-upload it. So, it's a little bit of an involved process, but this is not something that more advanced authors are able to do magically, and they can get the link before it's ready. They also have to do a very similar process where it's just not there until it's there.

Similarly with some website stuff. So, if you're managing your own website, then great, but there are certain things like, if you haven't created the URL, you can't put it in. It's a similar process.

Then there are similar things with the author pages as well on retailers aren't there. So, you've got to link the book to your author page. So, if you are selling through Amazon, there's not just a book sales page through KDP, you'd also log into Author Central and you've got to claim the book, and there's all that sort of involved process.

Melissa Addey: Yeah, and that can take some time to show up. You want to be updating your own website, you want to have your sales button with the correct URL inside it, but you can't have that until you've got the URL. So, that's got to be updated. I just find it gobsmacking, and this sounds so patronizing, but I say it because the number of authors who've come to me and gone, yeah, the sales are not good, and then I go on their website and I'm like, where's the button to buy it? Are you serious, this button doesn't work, or there isn't a button, or the URL doesn't, I mean. So, that's really important that your website has to be up to date.

Like you say, the author page on Amazon or any other platform needs to be ready and looking nice. You want to check, it's got better, but there used to be a thing where you'd put the blurb in the description, and no matter what you did, it would just come out as this big block of text with just nothing, no gaps, no nothing. I mean, now it's a bit better and you can go, no, the top should be metallic italic, then that should be a heading, and then there should be a gap there, and it's a paragraph and another gap. So, it looks better nowadays, but I mean, occasionally it just goes funny, and you just get a big block of text.

You've got to go in and fix that and then wait while the whole system updates again. So, these things are really important that you are having to go in and fix and tweak and update.

If, for example, those two pages of the paperback in the eBook don't link, Amazon asks you to wait a week before you go in and say, it hasn't linked, can you link them together? So, that's kind of important.

Dan Parsons: Yeah. So, there are several things that you should be doing, and obviously there's going to be some quality control checks that you'll put in place naturally. Hopefully, if you're diligent, you'll put these quality controls in place in advance, but yes, there will always be things that leak through, things that you don't actually realize are not really the case.

One thing that we will talk about later a little bit is print proofs, there's a little bit of a workaround, there's some delays and stuff that Amazon can cause, but you can get around it by doing a soft launch and that'll speed up your process, particularly if you have unfortunately told people that the book will be out by a certain date, and you're being held to it, then this is one way to help you hit that deadline without too much stress.

Then obviously, we'll talk more about this in a future episode, but you can use the soft launch if you've become a little bit more advanced with say, book two, to mobilize your ARC team once you have one, and then you can launch a book with reviews, which is something that's going to be coming up in the future.

So, are we going to talk a little bit about the principles and the difference between the formats then? So, obviously not all formats will process onto a page on retailer websites as quickly as others.

Melissa Addey: Yeah, so eBooks are usually the fastest. Print books a little bit slower, and then if you are waiting for ones to feed in, for example, to Amazon from Ingram Spark, I mention these because these are usually the two first platforms that people go onto, it can take a while for the Ingram ones to come through onto Amazon.

Then there's a little bit of a thing where, because they're not technically partners as such, they don't love each other as much as they should love each other, Amazon will sometimes, let's say, deliberately undermine, a little bit, just as I'm sure, yeah, I'm not sure they're that fond of each other.

But anyway, what they'll do is they'll say, this book may be available in a month, which isn't really true because it's a print on demand book, the minute you put in the order it can be printed, but they'll delay the setting up, if you like, of that book. So, it'll sat there saying, it'll be ready in a month, and that's really off putting to a reader.

So, that tends to happen with picture books, I'll just mention, because often people want those done on Ingram Spark for the prints, because they can print on very thin spines, they can print on a spine that's less than a hundred pages.

So, what will happen there is, if you were planning on launching, you'll have a page that says the book isn't ready for a month. It is ready, but it takes a while for that to update on the system.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, so the eBooks generally are pretty quick. So, obviously there are lots and lots of different eBook channels, and if you want to launch an eBook then you can soft launch it to lots of different channels very quickly. You can upload to Kobo, and Amazon, and Google, and Barns & Noble, and all the rest of it, Apple was the one I was missing, I knew there was another big one. So, yeah, you can launch the eBook very easily.

Sometimes if you're going through aggregators, like Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, StreetLib, anywhere like that, because you have to process it through them, and then they send it on to retailers, there's an extra step involved. So, they can take a little bit longer, but generally it's a few hours to a few days for eBooks.

Print is a little bit longer, just because there's a production process involved. So, factories have to be notified of things and stuff like that.

Audiobook, I'm not sure we should entirely go into that for soft launching because they are extremely unpredictable for when they're going to turn up on websites. So, I know during the pandemic there was a little bit of an issue where people were launching audiobook formats of their books and then waiting six months while they were locked in limbo, but nobody knows when it's about to appear.

Melissa Addey: Also, I think it's rare for a beginner, first book, to go out with an audio as well. Most people, eBook, paperback, that's your first-time book.

Dan Parsons: So, that's why we're going to focus on those two formats, and when we say paperback, obviously, this is very similar for things like hardback, if you wanted to do that as well, because on Amazon and Ingram, it's a similar process, you just give different cover files.

But yeah, print encapsulates all of those formats.

Melissa Addey: One of the easiest things to do if you've got a soft launch, and especially this works beautifully on your first book because nobody knows you are there, is rather than order an author copy to check the print, which tends to take a little bit of a while, you can just use your prime subscription and get it in a couple of days.

Dan Parsons: It's odd, isn't it? I think if you order an author copy, it takes something like, it's behind the scenes, so that's the one advantage to it is it's completely behind the scenes. You can order a proof copy, it will turn up saying proof copy on the cover, and you can, oh, this is lovely and go through it or, oh my God, there are lots of horrific mistakes, I need to fix these.

Then you can fix them all and then re-upload another version, and it will fix it before you put it live. Now, the difference with soft launching it is you are launching it live. So, people can see it, but you haven't told anyone that it's there.

The advantage though is that, because it's on the website, you can order it as a customer through Prime, which is weird that a customer can get it faster than the author, but that's just how it works. I don't know why they don't do Prime services for authors ordering their own books.

Melissa Addey: You'd think that would be possible, but it is a good way of doing that, that's what I did with my first couple of books. Not possible as you go on, because as soon as you put it out, A, Amazon may very well go, yay, the author you follow has brought out a new book, and you're going, shh, don't say that. So, they spoil it for you and then BookBub go, yay, the author you follow, and you're like, shhh. But yeah, you can't really do it later on, but you can do it at the beginning. So, it's worth doing it.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, if you've got thousands of readers looking at your book page every day, then they're going to spot that something's out, and you don't have a few days to get through it.

Melissa Addey: Make the most of it this first time. Make the most of it. It's a good thing to have, and really obvious things can slip through. So, first of all, when Amazon shows you a print previewer, what you see on that page is true because I saw one of mine and the title page had really pixelated print, for some reason, we'd used like a really special font and I thought, nah, the PDF looks fine, it's not going to do that when it prints, and it turned up and it was all pixelated. So, we had to fix that. So, things like that.

Even more obvious things, if your cover designer puts the barcode on for you, you are supposed to tick a box to go, I've already put a barcode, don't print a barcode, and I ticked the wrong box once, ordered a copy and it had two barcodes, one on top of the other, like that.

So, there's silly little errors like that, that get through, but you don't want them. So, being able to check that print proof is a really good thing.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, that's absolutely true. I've got an author friend recently who published his first book, didn't ask me about it, just went about doing it without getting any advice, and he ordered a proof copy, and it was very small. He actually ordered the print proof copy, and it turned up, and the print inside was tiny, and he thought, oh, obviously they do it smaller to save money on a proof copy, so I'll just approve it, and all of his text was tiny inside the book.

Melissa Addey: No.

Yeah. So proof copy, what you get, that is what it's going to be like.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, if they give you the digital version or the print version, that is actually what you're going to get. Apart from maybe a strip around the cover saying this is a proof copy, because that wouldn't turn up on the real one. So yeah, it is a difficult thing to contend with.

What we will say is, we've mentioned that there's a difference between KDP and Ingram when launching print books, mainly because there's slightly different specifications that I think Ingram can do that KDP can't. So, if you are launching something like a poetry book or a children's picture book, you can print on a smaller spine with Ingram.

So, what we at ALLi actually recommend is that, if you're going to be distributing through both of them, you can do the same launch your work sessions. So, you can upload them both to them at the same time, but you will want to uncheck the expanded distribution link for Amazon, because what that does, it'll stop them from selling to libraries and people like that, because then you can push the same ISBN for the print book through Ingram, and then that will get you everywhere else.

I think if you don't do that step, if you actually keep the expanded distribution on for Amazon, then Ingram won't let you upload it there because it'll be like uploaded twice with the same ISBN to the same network of bookshops and things.

Melissa Addey: Yeah, it's a funny glitch of theirs. They should allow it, but they're funny about it. So, start with them, upload to Ingram first and then over to Amazon, and don't have expanded distribution on Amazon.

Yeah, it's those thinner books. So, Amazon will print on your spine if you've got more than a hundred pages. If you've got fewer than a hundred pages, they won't print on the spine, and it looks really weird if you don't print on a spine. It looks very amateur. So, it's not something that you want to do, really. It's not a good idea.

Dan Parsons: Now, if you do have a particularly stringent quality control system. Say, this is your first launch with this book, but you've had a little play around in the past with a different pen name or something, then you may consider ARCs.

Now, ARCs are your advanced reader team. What we do recommend is that you give them some time to actually read your book, because what some people will do is they'll send the book to their advanced reader team the day before the launch, which they've technically launched it to their reviewers, and then they go in, can you review it by tomorrow, this 700-page door stop?

Whereas, ideally, you'd give it to them even before the soft launch. So, you may not have published it on retailers yet, but say 14 days, anywhere between three days and 30 days, depending on how long you want to give them, depending on the size of the book.

Then, yeah, if they can get that, it'll give them, say, two-ish weeks to read the book. I know a lot of authors do that as the window.

Then you can soft launch, send out an email or social media, or whatever you want to do to ask them to review it first, and then the idea is, when you hard launch later, which is to the rest of your mailing list, if you've got one, and on social media to everyone you know, then at least you'll have what's called social proof, which is just a few star ratings and reviews to tell readers that are not going to be in your review team, the people that are like your core readers that you really want to like the book, they are going to see that and be more inclined to buy it because your super fans have already given it a good rate of approval.

Melissa Addey: Yeah, a good sort of start, a good kick start.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, because if somebody's on the fence and they're thinking about buying your book and they've seen it's come out two days ago, you're an unknown author and it's got no reviews, they may go, oh, I'm not sure about that. But if it came out two days ago and you've got five reviews and they're a mixture of four and five star then they're more likely to buy it.

The soft launch helps you do that, because if you tell everyone that the book is there when you do your hard launch, then you may not actually get as many sales as you think, because there isn't this social proof from the soft launch to help you catapult it onto the next level.

Melissa Addey: Yeah, the other thing that you need to do, once a week has passed on Amazon, is to request which categories you'd like it to sit into, because when you are uploading, they will only let you pick two, and they'll only let you pick from a very restrictive range. So, they have not got all their categories there when you choose them.

When I pick it, I just have to go general fiction and historical fiction. That's not the categories I want to be in. I want to be in something much more specific than that. So, at the end of that first week, you want to drop them a line and go, these are the categories I wish to be in. It used to be 10, which was fabulous, but now I think it's restricted to three, but still, you want to make sure you are in three proper specific categories.

I've had people say, oh yeah, no, my book's out now, and I look at it and I go, it's horror and it's in a comedy section. That's just terrible for it, it's in completely the wrong place. So, having that week where you can go in and go, I want these categories and they're usually really good about doing it for me, and they've always done it in a couple of days, but you have to put in that request and that takes a bit of time.

Dan Parsons: There's a little bit of strategy involved in that as well, because when you actually hard launch it to everybody else, if you do a little bit of marketing later on, if you are in these more specific categories, A it will teach Amazon that if you get any sales when it's in those specific categories, then to promote it to more of the readers that like that stuff.

And B, it will make it easier to get, if you've ever seen the orange bestseller tags on Amazon. So, you only get those if you hit number one in a meaningful category on Amazon, and by picking these more specific categories, which you can contact Amazon to be entered into, you can actually get fewer sales, and then get that number one bestseller tag.

Whereas a friend of mine recently launched a poetry book and was using the extremely broad category of love poetry, and then ended up lower down the list than he should have been. When, if he'd done, I think I found that he could have done like, British young adult poetry, or something, and the number of sales that he got would've got him a number one bestseller tag, and he just missed out on it because he waited and just stayed in that longer, bigger category.

Melissa Addey: But this is exactly the thing, people think, oh, I should be in historical fiction, because it's a nice, big category, but it's like, no, historical fiction is huge, you're going to disappear. So, you need to be where people are looking for you. Also, I love historical fiction, but I don't read all of it. I read the ones that I'm interested in.

So, I want to be in historical fiction Asia/China, that's where I need to be, that's my proper categories. No point being over there with the Vikings lot, because someone's going to go, I wanted Vikings, what's all this about China, not interested. You have to be in the right places for it. It's like being browsed in a bookshop, so you have to be on the right shelf.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, there are some authors and publishers in the past who have tried to game this system and put their books into less relevant categories, but extremely niche ones in order to get that bestseller badge, which is another form of social proof.

The issue with that is, while you might initially get a bestseller badge and maybe even a few more sales off the back of it, your book is then in the wrong category and Amazon is going to learn that readers of that category, like your book instead of your actual category that you should be placed in. So, it could actually hurt your long-term sales as a result.

So yeah, it'd be great to say, oh, I've got a bestseller badge on my book, but it's not going to last long if you're in the wrong category.

Melissa Addey: No, and I would rather be in a category where I can consistently hold a top 50 place over time, than rattle to the top of something that doesn't fit, because it looks silly if you go, I got a bestseller badge, and then you screenshot the bestseller badge and it's for cat bowls and you are writing, I don't know, crime novels.

You're like, right, I don't know what you're doing in that category, it's got nothing to do with your book. It looks silly, I've seen a couple of people do it and really the category was literally nothing to do with them.

Dan Parsons: No, I've seen historical fiction novels that are very clearly, like you've mentioned, Viking stuff, very clearly Viking fiction, and they've been at the top of a poetry category, because it is like, there may be a poem in the book, and they've also been in like historical criticism, which is academic books, and they're number one, but it's because they're writing a Viking novel, which is much more commercial.

Melissa Addey: It just doesn't work. No, and it's tempting when there are categories that you think you are like, yes, I wrote Moroccan historical fiction, if I put it in the Moroccan cooking category, people will probably like the culture and the thing, but that is the wrong category, put it in the right place. It's really quite important, as you say, it's not just about that initial push, you need to be in the right place so that Amazon will know to send you to the right people. It's got good algorithms, but if you try and game them, they turn against you.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, I mean, teach the algorithms correctly and your sales will actually expand over time, even if your marketing reduces, because Amazon will push it on its own without you being involved. And using a soft launch to correctly position yourself is a really good way to do that.

Melissa Addey: And if you write in a series, bear in mind that if Amazon knows the category you belong in, and you've done fairly well in it, you don't have to be like a blockbuster in it, when you bring out a next book in that, it will put you in as a hot new release, and I mean, it's one of the best marketing things I've ever seen. You can pay more on Amazon ads and not get a slot as good as that, where you are right there, and it says hot new release and it's got your cover on. You literally cannot buy that spot, you buy it by being a good seller, not even stratospheric, in the right category.

Dan Parsons: Yeah. Now, do all of these things and you should have a smooth soft launch, which will enable you to have a more successful hard launch.

Now, the point of a soft launch, we're not saying that you shouldn't do a hard launch at all, what we are saying is that you should have the gap in between you actually releasing the book and then you are promoting it, which is this soft launch period.

Yeah, and if you just follow these methods, then you're going to make it much easier for yourself. Where if you do it the other way around and you try to do a big hard launch, it can go well in some cases, but you can also make a load of mistakes and potentially feel embarrassed, or whatever goes through people's minds. Or stay up all night worrying. There's no need, because people are not really watching, but as an author myself, I feel it.

Melissa Addey: Oh yeah, definitely, and we talk about, oh, an experienced author will certainly be doing pre-orders and stuff, I still don't do them very much. I do them occasionally, if I've got a specific reason for it, but I don't want the stress. I don't want to go, it's got to be that day, so if anybody's late with anything, or I find a mistake at the wrong thing, or the kid gets sick, I don't want that stress.

The other day I was like, oh look, here's the book cover, the book's coming out soon, and one of my readers went, oh, brilliant, tell us when the pre-order goes live, and I was like, honey, I love you so much for being enthusiastic, but there's going to be no pre-order because, or if there is, it'll be three days before the launch, because I've figured out when it was going to be.

Dan Parsons: Yeah, and when I say soon, my version of soon and your version soon are very different.

Right, anyway, follow all of this stuff and you should have a smooth launch.

Are there any other resources that we should hand out? I think there probably are.

Melissa Addey: There are, and so I refer to my piece of paper, because I like to get these things right.

So, the original and best, the book that we keep coming back to, is always Creative Self-Publishing by Orna A. Ross, and that is on selfpublishingadvice.org/creativeselfpublishing. and that is our core book that takes you through all the stages of self-publishing, so always the one to come back to.

If you're doing a children's book, we have Self-Publishing a Children's Book, which is by ALLi with Karen Inglis. She's a very experienced children's book author, and that is selfpublishingadvice.org/selfpublishingchildrensbook.

We are going to talk far more next time about book reviews, but to get you started, and because we've already started talking a little bit about how an ARC team works and that kind of thing, Your First 50 Book Reviews by ALLi, that's selfpublishingadvice.org/first50reviews.

Then there's a post we did in January this year on, can I use Ingram Spark and KDP together, and those are, as we just mentioned, the most common two that we kick people off with on their first book, and it will explain the pros and cons of that, and the ins and outs, and the little tips and tricks, as it were.

So, those are the key ones, and next time we are going to be launching with the reviews and we get started on our proper marketing.

Dan Parsons: I think that's the attractive one that everyone likes to tune in for. There's how to market books to make money, and how to get lots of reviews on your books.

So yeah, next time we will be talking about review strategies, different services that you can use to help you along, how to get reviewers, how to find them, all that sort of stuff. So that you can launch with a handful of reviews or if it goes very well, maybe a hundred reviews, you never know.

So, tune in for that in the first week of next month, I think it's the first Tuesday, I don't know the exact date, but it is the first Tuesday, and Melissa and I will see you then.

So, have a nice month, happy publishing, and we'll see you again next time.

Melissa Addey: All right, take care. Bye.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


This Post Has One Comment
  1. Thanks, Dan and Melissa, for this very informative podcast.

    I will be putting out my first book this year, so I get what you’re saying about the soft launch for debut authors: just focus on getting your systems in place and make sure that they’re working.

    But what about best hard launch practices for debut authors? I’ve got my platform set up but my mailing list is still small. I will absolutely use my newsletter and social media to build momentum and for release day announcements. As a CTA, I’ll ask people to leave reviews. I’m thinking of using a combination of free and paid book promo sites for wider advertising.

    Is there anything else you’d recommend at this stage?

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