As you’re very likely aware, I’m launching a new series on Friday. Well, book one goes live on Friday. So I’m here today to walk you through the process of launching a new series, because I’m lovely like that 😛
This isn’t the first series I’ve launched but it’s definitely the most I’ve put into a launch. It’s also the one I’m most excited (and terrified about). I made mistakes with my previous launches (and probably have with this one too), but I’m saving you from making those same mistakes by sharing here 😁
First things first.
Get your ducks in order with regards to your actual series. Make sure that you can release the books at regular intervals. Ideally you want to release a book at least once every three months, if you’re writing something with truly prolific readers like romance, then once a month is fantastic.
Make sure that your cover art matches up and links so that the books are all clearly in the same series. You can see the first three covers for my Infernal Hunt series here:
This means that you need to have at least a rough plan of the series down before you start giving serious thought to the launch. Infernal Hunt was originally going to be seven books, but having looked at it more closely it will be a quadrilogy. Another series will take place some fifteen to twenty years after the end of Infernal Alliances (book 4). I informed my cover artist and editor of that fact when I spoke to them about working on book one. That meant my cover artist could make sure to find a model for Evie that has enough good pictures to go on four covers. It also meant that my editor can look at the series plot arc with an eye for pacing across the span of four books.
Now that your series is prepped, let’s get to the actual launch!
The first decision you have to make is how many books you’re going to launch at the same, or close to the same time. Personally I’m trying something near the Lilliana Hart approach. This is where you launch the first few books in a series very close together. The idea is that you can then get to promoting the series much sooner and you can pull people in quicker.
It also means that there’s a bigger financial commitment in the beginning, and you have to be more patient as you have to hold onto books for longer. I’m releasing Infernal Ties (book 1) on Friday, Infernal Bonds (book 2) goes live on July 8th – one week later. Then Witch Infernal (book 3) was supposed to go live 30 days later. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mishap so Witch Infernal will go live on August 30th.
So there will be three out of four books in the Infernal Hunt series live within eight weeks time. That will allow me to promote and push the series relatively quickly and also give readers the security that they won’t have to wait months and months or even years for the next book. They commit safe in the knowledge that the wait won’t be too great.
As I said, this does take a bigger financial commitment because you have to pay your editor to edit three or more books over a short space of time, same for your cover artist, and formatter (if you use one). So you have to weigh up those risks and potential rewards.
If you go for the more traditional single book release then don’t forget to push hard to get the following books out as quickly as possible, that really is important if you want to have the best chance of financial success.
Now you know how many books you’re releasing, what now?
Now you decide whether you’re going to do pre-orders or not.
Personally I opted to do pre-orders because it gives me links to share with people and to put in the back of my books and let people know that there are more books available in the series. Pre-orders allow you to build more buzz around the book because it’s right there on Amazon. That’s a big step, that takes it from something shiny and nice that you talk about on your blog, to a book that is available in a virtual shop. That’s a psychological shift in your readers.
That being said, pre-orders do dilute your potential launch day sales. People will pick up your book over the course of the pre-order rather than in one larger lump over first couple of days it’s live. (Thank you everyone who’s pre-ordered my books!).
This can mean that you don’t reach as high a sales rank as you could have done. I stand by my decision to use the pre-orders because I am a
no small name author and those pre-orders give potential readers that Amazon page to look at it. It makes it more real, as I mentioned, it’s that psychological shift. If you have a large base of support, a big following, then I can definitely see the value in forgoing pre-orders to have the big day one leap in sales.
Once you have release dates pinned down, which you should have a minimum of three months ahead of time, start thinking about your promotional plan.
This depends on how many books you’re releasing at once. As I said above releasing multiple books close together gives you more promotional opportunities sooner.
You really need to sit down and decide on your promotional budget before you go further. There are free options available to you but don’t expect them to get the same results as paid ones.
If you’re releasing a number of books close together, then consider making book one 99c. Infernal Ties has been 99c throughout the duration of the pre-order and will continue to be so for 48 hours after release. That encourages people to try out a new author and a brand new series. 99c is very little risk, it helps me get more exposure.
The reason I say to do this when you’re releasing a number of books close together is because you really need to have the sequels available for people to buy either at the same time or soon after. That is the value and purpose of making a book 99c or free. You don’t make money on that individual book, you make it from the exposure that sale gains you and the subsequent sell-through.
During the first two months of the three months long run up you want to focus on building buzz. Share your excitement for the project. Do cover reveals. This is also when you start booking in guest posts and author interviews, give people plenty of notice so that you can pull it all together around the actual launch date.
During the last month around the actual launch you should be focusing on paid promotional opportunities and ARCs (Advanced Reviewer Copies).
It’s hard to find paid promotional places that take new releases because they have no reviews, but they are out there. I’ll leave you to do that research 😉
When it comes to paid promotion you have two choices. Either, you can make a big push on the launch day and hope to get your rank high enough that it gains enough momentum to carry on by itself. Or, you can spread out the promotion over a few days to keep that momentum up and hopefully get a longer tail (a longer period of sustained sales).
Choosing what promotions to do when.
Personally, I strongly recommend not doing any paid promotion until you have three books available – be that one for sale and two for pre-order, or all three for sale. I will be doing some small ($10 budget) promotion with Infernal Ties to help get things moving, but the proper promotion won’t go ahead until Witch Infernal is a week away from release.
As I said above the reason for this is because you make the money back on sell-through. If there aren’t sequels available to purchase, then you’ve wasted an opportunity.
You can’t really do much in the way of promotion until you have ten reviews, a lot of promotional places won’t look at a book unless it has ten. That’s where your advanced readers come in, they help you get those reviews quickly. Once you have those reviews you have two options for paid promotion.
Make a book free or make a book 99c.
A lot of people hate the idea of making a book free, but it works. I launched the paranormal romance series with a free day on book one. That was what made that series take off and led to it paying my bills within a few weeks. They do work.
Your promotional push should focus around about the time that book three goes live. You can either choose to do it during the week leading up to the release of book three, or on the week around the launch of book three.
If you do it during the week leading up to it, then you give people time to read the books they bought for a bargain. They’ll be eager to continue their journey and ready to jump on book three. If you do it during the launch of book three then that could help make the launch bigger, particularly if you’ve chosen not to use a pre-order for it.
This post has gone on for much longer than I expected, so I’ll wrap it up quickly.
- Plan your series ahead of time. Know how many books you’re writing and when you’re going to release them.
- Start building buzz some three months before the release of the first book.
- Decide whether you’re doing pre-orders or not.
- Begin looking into ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and reviewers two or three weeks before the release of each book.
- Plan out your paid promotions three weeks to a month before the release of book three.
- Dance around and throw a party on the launch days.
If you’re an Urban Fantasy fan you can check out book one in my Infernal Hunt series for only 99c until July 2nd!