I did a book launch. Yes, Blue Moose Press is my publisher, but it's essentially an author co-op. They provided fantastic resources and experience in getting a book from editing phase into layout, graphics, and the like. Basically, without their help, Fiends: Vol1 would never have happened.
Now, I was absolutely certain I was going to screw this up big time, and I did. Just not in the way I thought. So here's some lessons if you're going to self-publish.
1. Have an on-going work to keep your fans interested.
One of the biggest problems with this book launch has been getting the word out. Since I've had no new fiction out there on the podiobook circuit, much of my listening public has taken a vacation from my podcast feed. That vacation from the feed has really been detrimental to building interest and excitement for the book.
Without a new title streaming through the internet, folks have little reason to even pay attention. Although I've been fairly good about providing infocasts, essays, interviews, and even some guest content, it's simply not enough to keep listeners involved, except, of course, for the die hards (and I LOVE you folks).
So if you're a podcast author and you have a book release coming up, make sure you TIME it with the release of another novel or story collection. I feel this is key to keeping things going.
2. Coordinate with your social media buddies. COORDINATE DAMMIT!
I have been a guest on many many podcasts over the past year. However, I didn't time this properly with the book release. Instead of being on a massive PR run on the circuit, as well as getting folks tuned in to the promo, I sought those resources at the last moment. In fact, I didn't go out of my way to ask the big folk for help. That's assistance they were willing to give, I was just too bashful to ask. This too put a nail in the coffin for good results.
3. Pre-sales are tough…and when you're niche player, they're even tougher
As a writer of psychological horror, my audience is quite a bit smaller than say a Scott Sigler or a Phil Rossi. And that's fine. I don't have a problem with that. But that also means that with that many less listeners, there are that many less buyers out there for a $35 hardcover. I believe I greatly over-estimated the demand for the book. Also, I have had a lot of my die-hard fans tell me they just couldn't afford a $35 book. I completely understand that and I'm not disappointed, per se. This was a learning experience dammit.
If you're a niche player like myself, it might make more sense to learn to crawl before you go to a full run. If I was smart I would have known this and only done maybe a 100 copy run for the hardcover. They'll selll out eventually, but I had convinced myself they would sell out more quickly. Mea culpa.
I priced the book according to the fact it's a limited edition and that it also comes with the free e-book. I thought that was a pretty good deal. Next time? I'll make it more affordable and print fewer of 'em.
4. Have the ebook ready to go…
If I had really done this right, I would have had the ebook ready to ship immediately. In other words, you buy the book on pre-sale, and you get the ebook via email same day. This would have given people the feeling of instant gratification. I had talked myself out of doing the ebook formatting myself (although I know how) and I believe that hurt me. Again. If you are going to use a service like Ebook Architects or similar, check well ahead of time to see how long it will take them to format and make your book available. If you don't you're going to have problems.
5. Have an actual damned store
We used the paypal store for this run. We shant be doing that again. Calculating shipping (expecially for intl) is a mess. The paypal system is slow, clunky, and a bitch and a half to use. I can't tell you how many hours I spent trying to get the damned thing working properly. If you're using it for digital items, it's perfect. But anything that has to be shipped? Well, if you have plenty of time on your hands, it'll work. If not, it's a serious pain in the ass.
Those are the big lessons I've learned. I have a long way to go in selling the hardcovers. The con circuit is coming up, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to move a few of those as well as the trade paperbacks at impromptu and formal book signings. Also, I have another revenue method up my sleeve, but we'll talk about that when it's ready.
The idea for this was not to make a whole lot of money. If I manage to break even on everything, I'll be damned happy. We have a ways to go before that happens, but we'll get there. I made all this happen because my fans wanted books. And I wanted to give 'em to you. On that, we were successful.
Once Garaaga's Children starts up, hopefully more listeners will travel to my site and take a chance on purchasing the book. If so, then we'll clear things out in a hurry and all will be well. If not? Well, there's going to be some serious bundling opportunities in the future.
Pay attention, oh fellow authors. These are the lessons I learned. Please make sure you heed them so you're more successful than I and suffer a LOT less stress.