December 14, 2015

7 Tips for Authors Gearing Up for a Book's Release

The release of the second edition of Mending Heartstrings (coming February 9th!) is my third book launch, which is kind of a crazy thought. So I've decided to share some tips for gearing up for a release! Some of which, I should listen to myself (especially #2).
  1. Set up your Amazon author page & author central account.
    • Author central allows you to keep track of your books, your rankings, both as an author and for each individual book (see point 2!), and the details of your author page.
    • Setting up your author page means that when people click on your name, right under your book title, they can see a page dedicated to and controlled by you—you can include a photo and your bio, of course, but also your Twitter feed and even a blog feed if you'd like. This also consolidates all your Amazon books in one place for readers. And it adds your photo & bio to the "more about the author" section of your book page, which will help engage readers.
  2. Don't obsess over your Amazon rankings.
    • Incredibly tempting as it is, regularly checking your rankings could make you think you're bipolar, and Amazon doesn't help this by updating ranks every hour. Yes, it is thrilling to see your rank jump up with a sale, but depression can easily set in as your rank steadily drops each hour a new sale isn't made. This is especially problematic when your book is available for preorder—it isn't even out yet, and yet those numbers slipping down and occasionally jumping up will drive you insane.
    • It may help to understand how the Amazon ranking system works, and while the algorithm is kept secret, there are some basics we do know: 
      • Rankings depend on a combination of when the last purchase was made and how many copies have been purchased overall.
      • If you're ranked pretty high (let's say top 100,000), a single sale will not make a huge difference in the number, but it will keep your ranking higher for more hours. 
      • If you're ranked pretty low (let's say 800,000+), a single sale can rocket your ranking by hundreds of thousands. This is because there are millions of kindle books, hundreds of thousands of which are not being bought at any given point in time. This also means that your ranking can be around 500,000 one hour, and in the top 100,000 the next, based on a single sale. In other words, the ranking yo-yoing actually means very little in terms of number of sales.
    • Perhaps most importantly, author central keeps track of your best rank in any given 24-hour period (for both your books & your general author rank). So, rather than watching the rank move up and down every hour, you can check once a day for increased peace of mind.
  3. Don't stress out about things which aren't under your control.
    • So much about a book release is out of the author's hands, especially if you're traditionally published. How many people sign up for your tour (Have I mentioned you can still sign up for the Mending Heartstrings blog tour?), what kinds of posts they sign up for, how many preorders you get, and more—it's nice to believe that we can control this, but we can't. Best we can do is focus on spreading the word and engaging with readers.
    • If you're traditionally published, what publicity efforts are being implemented when, when your digital (or print) file is finished, and more is also out of your hands, and stressing about that fact will not change it.
    • On the plus side, there are plenty of things authors on either track can and should be doing in preparation for release day. There are more than enough to keep you busy, and focusing on those instead will actually be productive!
  4. Plan your giveaway goodies, but don't go overboard.
    • Find out which giveaways you'll be doing and then decide how many prizes you need for each one. Remember, each giveaway cost actually includes not only the price for the item, but also the shipping materials & fees for each winner.
      • For traditionally published authors: Is your publisher handling prizes for your blog tour? Do you want to contribute additional prizes, or run a separate giveaway of your own?
    • Make sure you order giveaway items far enough in advance that you're not worried whether they'll arrive by the release date.  This also gives you the opportunity to order extras of anything you absolutely love or if you realize you need more of an item. Take photos so you can share & get people excited!
    • Keep your eye out for discount deals for potential swag for giveaways. These will help keep your costs manageable while possibly also giving you new ideas.
  5. Plan your release party!
    • Whether virtual or live, release parties take a lot of planning, and they can be extremely stressful—especially if you're trying to do everything last minute. Take your time to research ideas online, to plan your giveaways and activities, and to work up a schedule. Even though things likely won't go exactly as planned (no event ever does), having everything be decided, including back-up ideas, will help you enjoy the event rather than wanting to curl up in the corner and cry.
  6. Take advantage of the resources available to you.
    • This is really a life tip more than an author tip. Between your personal network and the wealth of information online, you have access to more resources than you'd think, and possibly more than you need. Think critically about any advice, but otherwise, take advantage of other people's experiences, talents, and free online tools!
    • Specifically for authors: 
      • Do you have artsy friends? Ask them to help you design your giveaway items! Someone who's crafty? Ask them to create some unique, custom items for you. Even if you pay for the materials and, for instance, dinner for your friend, the items will probably be both more unique and less expensive than from commercial retailers.  Giveaway items can also be books donated by your publisher or by other authors—be polite, but don't be afraid to ask!
      • Ask for tips from more experienced fellow authors. You can do this through social media, or by reaching out to other authors who work with your publisher and/or agent if you have those.
  7. Don't try to replicate another author's plan.
    • This may seem contradictory to point 6, but you need to do what works for you, and for your books. Do grab ideas from other authors' experience, but make sure you tailor everything to match the theme and style of your book, and your own personality. Otherwise, you could be adding to your stress by forcing yourself to mimic someone else, and worse, your plans may feel flat and recycled to readers.

  • Bonus tip! Take some time to relax and maybe even pamper yourself with a spa day, trip to the theater, or something else you usually wouldn't do. You've done an awesome thing by creating this new story, and before the craziness of release week strikes, take some time to acknowledge and celebrate that!

Do you have any tips for authors getting ready for their book release? Share them in the comments!

1 comment

  1. Great tips for authors and future authors. Have a super day, Aria!
    sherry @ fundinmental