As I’m pretty sure you’ve heard, I’m launching my urban fantasy series Infernal Hunt this summer. This isn’t the first series I’ve launched, but it is the one that I’ve put the most into. I thought it may help some of you if I share the process I go through when launching a new series.
From this point on I’ll assume that you have professional book covers that hit all the genre notes, and you’ve had the manuscript/s professionally edited.
Here’s my little check list of steps.
- How many books being released close together?
- Price at release?
- Promotional plan?
- Next books.
Decide how many books you’ll be launching and over what period.
I have decided to go with the multiple books in a short space, method. This is quite often referred to as the Liliana Nirvana technique. I believe she recommends having five books ready to go, but I feel as though three is a good number. That means I have enough to do price promotions and can see reader response without sinking the time and money into five books.
What you decide here partially depends on your overall writing speed, and partially on what you want and expect from the series.
If you write quickly, and you can follow up book one with book two in no more than three months, then you can release one book. If you choose this method it’s recommended that you make sure said book one can work as a standalone. That way if readers’ reception is lukewarm you’re not committed to throwing time, energy, and money into writing books that may not do very well.
That being said, releasing a number of books in quick succession builds your backlog quicker and helps to hook readers. They can see that the series will be continued and they can dive straight into book two which helps you build a name quicker.
Having more books out also opens up your promotional opportunities which allows you to reach more readers sooner.
I will be releasing Infernal Bonds (book 2) one week after Infernal Ties, then Witch Infernal (book 3) will be released either 21 days or 30 days after Infernal Bonds. That means that readers will be given a chance to read the books before the next one is released, but they’ll still be fresh in their minds.
Step Two: Pre-orders?
All three of mine will be available for preorder. That gives me my ASIN (Amazon ID) as soon as possible so that I can have the links to the next book in my back-matter. It will also get me the series page pretty quickly so readers can see that there are more books. That, and it gives me a longer period to make people aware of their existence and build a buzz around them.
Some people say that you shouldn’t do preorders as it dilutes the rank of your books. Personally, I’m not selling enough books to go worrying about that.
Step Three: What price are you launching these books at?
There are a few factors involved in this. If you’ve only got one book ready to go, then I’d recommend putting the book at full price, unless you have a pre-order for the next book up. There isn’t really much benefit in dropping the price of a book or making it free unless you have other books for readers to then purchase.
If you have multiple books ready to go close together, then you can consider releasing book one at a lower price. Some authors set the preorder up at 99c and then put the price up 24 hours after it goes live. That allows them to build up a lot of preorders and get a high rank from the outset. It puts pressure on readers to purchase the book quickly rather than holding off. It’s also a good bargain which encourages people who may not have considered your book to give it a go, it’s only 99c after all!
I’ll be releasing Infernal Ties at 99c and it’ll remain at that price for a few days.
Step Four: The promotional plan.
So you have your book/s, what are you going to do to actually, you know, promote them?
I actually decide this before I go about the next step, which is reviews and ARCs. It might seem backwards to you, but here we are 😉
Once you have three books out you can start playing with the price and using paid promotion. It really isn’t worth the money to do so until you have those two sequels for readers to jump on. This is where having three (or more) books coming out quickly is useful. I’ll be making the most of a number of paid promotional services over the course of this release.
This is where having preorders up is handy, it means that you can book the ads further out as you have the ASIN. Before you book them, do your research, some places do better with some genres rather than others.
There are a few ways to go about paid promotion.
If you’re launching book one at 99c then there are places that will accept new releases with no reviews. Now you have two options here.
Either, book multiple places for release day to bring in as many sales as possible. Or. Book a number of sites over the course of a number of days.
If you go for option A you may be able to achieve a higher rank and thus get more organic sales from more people seeing you. That being said, Amazon likes sustained sales so you risk having a big spike and then quickly falling off again with option A. I’ll personally be using option B and using a number of different sites over the course of a few days.
You may decide to let book one do its thing and save your money for when the other books come out. In that case, then you will have more options available to you once you have reviews on your book. 10 reviews is where things start opening up, 25 will be needed for some of the larger sites though.
If you decide to leave book one at full price until book three is available then you can either drop book one to 99c or free when book three is released. That gives the entire series a nice boost and you should have enough reviews to be able to book the larger sites. Personally, I recommend going free as you’ll reach more people. I’ve had series take off because I made book one free for a 48 hour period, they went from selling one book a week to many more, thanks to those free days.
This brings us to:
Step Five: ARCs.
ARCs are advanced reviewer copies. You send a copy of your book/s to people in return for them posting an honest review on retail sites and maybe Goodreads. Usually they are expected to post said review within seven days of the book going live.
I send my ARCs out two weeks before the book goes live that gives people plenty of time to read the book and hopefully tell their friends about how good it is. Sending out ARCs means you can get those reviews on your book a bit quicker which opens up the bigger promotion sites.
Step Six: The next book/s.
Now that you have your series started you have to decide what you’re going to do with it! They say that writing the next book is the best promotion you can do. There’s of course some truth in that, but you should approach this as a business.
When you have two or more books out look at your sell-through rate. That is how many people go on to read the following books. If it’s below 70% then you may want to give serious consideration to either revamping the series, or wrapping it up and trying a new series. A lot of people recommend that you write the series so that it can be wrapped up as a trilogy if it isn’t as well received as it could be, while still having potential to carry on if people love it.
Don’t be scared to wrap up a series and try something different. It takes time, patience, and luck to figure this all out. The idea may have been amazing but the timing could have been off. Keep looking at the market and try again.
This is why I haven’t written Infernal Alliances book 4 of Infernal Hunt yet. I’m waiting to see how readers feel about the three books I have. I have two outlines ready to go, one to wrap the series up with book 4, and one to carry it on for at least three more books. We’ll see how you guys feel about it!
There’s a lot to look at and consider when writing and launching a series, but I hope this helped you out at least a little bit.