Moonburner has been out for a little over a month now, and I thought it was time to do a round-up post summarizing a few of my book launch efforts. Over the last month, a lot of friends have asked me: “How do you get people to read your book?” That question makes me chuckle. Because you see, there’s the rub. It’s not easy!
There are a LOT of books out there. A lot of crappy ones, but a lot of great ones, too. People are busy. They may only have time to read one book in a month (many people don’t even have that much time). So how do you get your book to stand out from the crowd?
Well, I don’t have any magic answers, but I’ve done a lot of research, and it seems that a combination approach works best.
I based my launch off of the program Launch a Bestseller, by Tim Grahl, and the Book Launch Toolkit, by Joel Friedlander and Kimberly Grabas. Both of these were super helpful in giving me the lay of the land in what types of efforts I should even be making to launch my book!
Here’s what I focused on:
- Influencer outreach
Tim’s Launch a Bestseller course talked a lot about influencer outreach. Influencers are people within the publishing industry or blog-o-sphere who have an audience you want to reach. Tim recommended classifying these people into three tiers, which helps you allocate your time. Tier 1s individuals are the folks with the mailing list you would KILL for. While you might spend 10 hours on a guest course for a Tier 1 person, you might only be willing to write a 1 hour guest post for a Tier 2. For a Tier 3, all you’ll do is send them the book to review. Since your time is finite, this helps you spend your time on those influencers who have the best chance of selling a lot of books for you.
For me, I spent a lot of time identifying BookTubers, bloggers, and individuals with some minor celebrity that I know. I reached out especially to a LOT of book bloggers. And for the most part, because these were essentially cold calls, I didn’t hear much back.
My Number 1 goal for my next launch is to spend the interim time developing some relationship with well-respected book bloggers. Following them, commenting, being more engaged and supportive of their efforts. This is in the hope that when I approach them next time, they will recognize me and be more inclined to give my book a chance.
2. Reviewer outreach
I also did some direct reviewer outreach, based on a webinar that Tim Grahl did a few years back (Tim’s my go-to book launch guy, obviously)! The gist of it was: Reach out to 75 people to ask them if they’ll review your book and put up a review on the day it launches. 50 will say yes, and 25 will actually put up the review. This way, you can leap out of the gate with a respectable number of reviews. This was a great exercise and got some more friends and family invested in my launch. It didn’t all go to plan, because Amazon mysteriously decided to release my book 5 days before the launch date, screwing up the timing of things, but it was still effective in getting a good number of reviews up there early on.
My publisher also put my book up on Netgalley, which I would totally recommend. Netgalley is a site where book reviewers can download a free copy in exchange for a review. It was ridiculously easy to get almost 100 people to download it (rather than my time-consuming individual emails). If you have the money to spend on it, I would say Netgalley is 100% worth it.
3. Blog tour
I am doing a 20 stop blog tour through Chapter by Chapter, which starts July 18 and runs for two weeks. I will be doing a giveaway as part of the blog tour, as well as author interviews, guest posts, and reviews. This is another way to get in front of new audiences, and while I can’t speak to the results yet, I am optimistic that it will be very helpful. Again, I spent hours and hours trying to get bloggers to review my book with no success, and by paying $50 to a well-respected tour organizer, I ended up with 20 stops with no more trouble than signing up on their website. Again, my take-away from this (like Netgalley) is that some well-placed investments will save you a SIGNIFICANT amount of time and energy.
4. Email Campaign
This is another approach from the Launch a Bestseller course, and due to time constraints, I didn’t do much here. The idea is that you create a pre-order incentive, like some free chapters, or a free resource to accompany your book. You tell your email list that if they pre-order the book, they get the freebie. This way, people are incentivized to actually buy your book, instead of just putting it on the To Read shelf on Goodreads. And, your book will have a nice spike on its first day, and hopefully show up on some of the Amazon ranking lists and such.
I had been busy writing a prequel novella to give to my email list as an opt-in incentive, and my email list is still fairly new, so I wanted to build some loyalty before I started selling too hard to them. I ended up just giving away the novella for free to those on the list on the day of the launch. For my next book, I will create some deleted chapters or perhaps a map of the world to give away for free if you buy the book.
Anyway, I think this is a great approach, I just didn’t quite have my act together to take advantage of it this time around!
5. Social media
This is one of the more obvious launch strategies. Share, share, share on your social media sites! Build some buzz. And ask your followers and friends to share with their friends, too. Tim suggests in his course that you make it easy for people by creating up some preset Tweets, images that can be pinned, etc., so all your followers have to do to share is click a button.
These are the main approaches I took for my launch. There are some other things I did, like hosting a book launch party (so fun), paying for a professional Kirkus Review, and doing a lot of guest posting and interviews on other blogs. My publisher also set up a press release and sent out ARCs for me to reviewers I identified. These are just a few of many types of efforts to take to launch your book.
So what will I do differently next time?
First, I will give myself a longer lead time. I gave myself two months for the launch, but it really wasn’t enough time. The ARC copies of Moonburner ended up going out only three weeks before launch, which wasn’t enough time for the reviewers who had said yes to read and post around the launch date.
Second, I will focus on building up my email list, and run a pre-order campaign with a pre-order incentive.
Third, I will focus this year on connecting with some popular book bloggers and other authors whose work is similar to mine. One thing Tim mentioned in one of the interviews I listened to illustrated why connecting with influencers, rather than individual readers, is so beneficial (of course, you still want to connect with readers!) You could spend the time it takes to connect with 100 readers, or you could connect with one influencer who could influence 100 of their followers to read your book. Clearly, the second option is vastly more efficient, and for a busy author, time is at a premium.
Finally, I’ll spend some well-placed dollars to save myself some time and effort, allowing me to spend those hours on more fruitful efforts (like writing my next book!)
Overall, I’m pleased with how the launch went, as a total newbie author with no experience launching a book. Becoming a published author is a learning process every step of the way, and the launch was no exception!
Featured photo by e.c. johnson, CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
It has been a whirlwind of a week since Moonburner launched last Tuesday and I have been seriously overwhelmed and touched by the support of my friends, family, and colleagues!
Writing has been a largely solitary endeavor for me. For the first year or so only my close friends and family knew that I was even trying to write a novel. Since then, I have connected with a few other writers online, and I worked with an editor through my publisher, but for the most part, it’s just been me. On the one hand, I feel proud of having manhandled a novel into being through sheer force of my own will. On the other hand, it can be a tad lonely.
So, it felt a little new and strange last week to be talking to everyone and their mom about Moonburner! I had a launch party at work on Thursday (uh, yeah, I work at a seriously awesome law firm with seriously awesome co-workers that threw me a book launch party), and then a party with friends and family on Saturday. I was blown away by how supportive everyone was, by people lined up to buy the book and get it signed, by how genuinely curious everyone was about the book and the process. The launch has been so much more rewarding than I ever imagined it would be. *Tear.* Seriously. I love you guys.
Here are a few pics from the party, special thanks to my girl Tara at Tara Brown Photography for bringing her camera along with her!
Me and the #1 fan hubby
Me and my sister
Grinning like a fool (still not used to signing autographs yet!)
Today’s the day! My debut novel Moonburner is officially live! I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement over the last two years. This is a big milestone, but it’s also the start of what I hope will be a lifetime of writing fiction.
If you’re interested in buying a print or ebook copy of Moonburner, you can do so at Soul Fire Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
But wait, there’s more! If you subscribe to my e-mail list to receive news and updates, I will send you a copy of my latest e-novella, Burning Fate, absolutely FREE!
Burning Fate is a prequel to Moonburner, set twenty years before Moonburner begins. It takes place in the same magical world, and features some of the same characters! I hope you enjoy it!
Featured image by Matthew Peoples, cc license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
Time flies, folks! In just two short weeks, my first novel, Moonburner, officially launches. I thought two and a half months would be plenty of time to ready a book to launch, but now I’m finding myself wishing I had more time! C’est la vie.
In the next few weeks, I’ll write a post summarizing all that I’ve done to ready Moonburner to launch, but suffice it to say that a big part of my launch strategy was getting Moonburner into the hands of advanced readers. I’m thrilled to say that the reviews have started to come in, and so far so good!
Here are a few snippets of the reviews that are rolling in:
“I was first struck by the brilliant weaving of Japanese folklore into the very fabric of this story. The characters are strong, independent, and intensely likable. The storyline was engaging and action-packed; it whisks the reader away to another time and place, one full of magic and danger. I found myself unwilling to put this down. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. Take my advice, don’t miss out on this beautiful tale of survival, courage, and love.” -Mags
“I’m used to the “special-character” formula in books. I tire of it usually, but Luana makes the heroine different. She is just trying to get by, forging friendships and admiring the beauty of nature. Kai is endearing without being a “Mary Sue” type personality, as some of my fellow reviewers like to say. She is tough but tender, brave but bullheaded. And though I believed this novel was going to be a stand-alone, I was presented with a cliffhanger for a sequel that is too good to pass up when it comes out. I’m a big fan of Luana and her first novel.” -Stephanie
“As for Kai, she is a brave, kind and just stubborn enough to be interesting. I rooted for her and loved her gumption every second of the way. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next I was surprised, which was frankly somewhat hard to achieve after a few dozen fantasy books in a row. . . .
I’d read whatever book Claire Luana comes out with next, if this is her first book, I can only imagine how amazing the next one’s will become.” -Micah
Throughout this process, my goal was to write a book that I would love to read. It is a singular pleasure to settle into a good book in your favorite genre: it is different and new but also comfortable and familiar. It sounds like my efforts paid off, and I’m thrilled that readers and lovers of YA Fantasy are enjoying Moonburner!
Pre-Order Moonburner in Print or eBook on Amazon or through my publisher, Soul Fire Press!
Featured Photo by Daniel Go, CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
It’s getting real, guys! Two huge things happened over the last week or so.
First, Moonburner has a launch date! That’s right. On June 14, 2016, you can get your hot little hands on a copy of Moonburner. That’s less than two months away!
The even more exciting news is that I got the cover design for Moonburner! Here it is!
The cover was designed by Michael Canales, of MJCimageworks.
Here is the whole thing laid out:
Sorry for my over-use of exclamation points, but I am just so excited!
I was nervous to get the cover design. I filled out a questionnaire for the cover designer with information on the book and my likes and dislikes for covers generally, but I really didn’t know what I would get back. I figured they would work with me a bit, but likely not be willing to totally scrap a design and start anew if I hated it.
But, all was well in the end, because I really like the overall concept the cover designer came up with. The cover reflects some of the key elements of the book, from the white walls of the citadel, to the circle with two crescent moons (the moonburner symbol), to Kai’s silver hair, to the deep blues of the moonburner uniform. The cover is eye-catching without feeling cheesy. Success!
Moonburner’s page is up on my publisher’s website, though the pre-order link isn’t quite live yet for the print book. The print book will be $16.95, and the eBook will be $5.99.
Now, to attend to the 63 items on my “Book Launch to do” list. An author’s job never ends (but I wouldn’t have it any other way)!
I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing my first book, Moonburner, with Christopher Matthews Publishing! More specifically, CMP’s young adult imprint, Soul Fire Press. If all goes well, Moonburner should be in print in 2016!
Now full disclosure, CMP and Soul Fire Press are a hybrid publisher. The company’s tag-line is “Author-Run, Author-Friendly.” Hybrid publishers differ from a traditional publisher in that the author makes an up-front monetary investment in the book. But, hybrid publishers also differ from vanity presses or self-publishing companies in that they do not accept every book submitted to them. They curate their material and only publish what they think is worthwhile.
Now I was initially nervous about working with a hybrid publisher rather than a traditional publisher or self-publishing. You hear author horror stories about being taken advantage of, and I didn’t want to fall victim to any of those traps. But, I also recognized that this model was exactly what I was looking for. I know I don’t have the prior book buzz, MFA credentials, or editor connections I would likely need to get into a traditional publishing house, but the prospect of going it all by my lonesome and self-publishing was incredibly daunting as well. I needed someone who knew the biz, but would also give me a chance. I’m very excited, because I truly think I’ve found that.
That being said, I did some due diligence before deciding where to query and ultimately to publish with CMP and Soul Fire Press. I thought I’d share some of the areas I researched in the hopes that it might help any of you who are in a similar position.
This is a critical factor—for some it may be the most important. How much of an up-front investment does the company require? What is included in the fee? Is that the only cost, or are the other follow-up costs?
Do you need to buy a certain number of books? (Though with print on demand, this is less likely these days). How much will it cost you to buy your own book from the publisher?
Do you control the pricing for your book?
Do you have the final say in major changes/edits and/or the cover?
How long will it take to produce the book? Is there a set publication date?
Ask if the publisher is selective about the books they publish. What is the screening process?
Ask if cover designs are done with a template or if the company will create a custom cover for you. Readers will be able to tell the difference.
Go check out one of the publisher’s books at a bookstore or on Amazon. Take a look at the covers. Do they look professional? Are there errors inside the book?
You can look up publishing companies on a number of websites like Preditors & Editors, or Writer Beware, to see if the company you are targeting has any complaints or negative reviews. While one complaint might just be a fluke or personality clash, if you see multiple reports of problems or abusive practices, you should steer clear.
These were just a few of the things I thought about when selecting who I wanted to publish with. Every new business partnership requires a leap of faith to some degree, but at least you can take that leap with as much information as possible.
There are some other key items to consider before signing that publishing contract, which I’ll explore next week!
Photo credit: Susan Dussaman, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/