Almost everything works differently--even the mindset with a new release.
In traditional publishing, when a new book comes out, it is an "event." If there is any marketing or publicity done by the publisher, it is all done before the book is published. Pre-order numbers are watched carefully, and a book's success or failure is decided in the first week of publication. Of course . . . most are considered failures and thus abandoned.
With a self-published novel, the writer puts the first book of a series up, does a little marketing, and gets started immediately on the second book . . . and then the third. We don't expect to be making much money or to gauge how the series is doing until book four--or even five--goes up. That's also when serious marketing begins. That's when a writer tries for an ad at BookBub. With BookBub, the writer has to apply and show that the series has some potential, and a BookBub ad is expensive, but if you manage to arrange for one, you can really get your series "seen" by thousands of readers. A self-published writer is looking to "grow" a series readership, and this is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Traditional publishers have begun taking advantage of BookBub, but again . . . mainly with the first book of a new series that is being "launched." Again, the success or failure of the book is decided in the first week of publication. After that, if it's not a huge success coming out of the gate, the book is considered "done."
This is apparently changing somewhat, and I am both surprised and very happy.
I received a message from my publisher, Ace/Roc (Penguin Random House) letting me know that they are going to drop the price of the e-book edition of The Mist-Torn Witches (book one) to $1.99 from October 16th - 30th and pay for a BookBub ad on the 21st. They are beginning to realize there might be potential in an existing series. I am astonished, but I'm happy.
But life hit us in the face a bit over the summer, and I haven't blogged as much as anticipated.
For those of you considering self-publishing, the main school of thought for success is to follow these steps:
1) Choose a genre like romance, urban fantasy, SF suspense, etc, and create a very entertaining/commercial series.
2) Have professional-looking covers (with continuity in the series) that look like a typical best-selling novels in that same genre.
3) Hire a professional copy-editor/proofreader
4) Put out a new book in the series (even if they are only 50,000 words in length) at least every three months. This last one is critical.
One of my writer friends recently said, "#4 is where the rubber hits the road."
This is true--and it's tough. But you cannot expect success with one or two books in a series. You need to keep writing. I'm about halfway through the first draft for book two, Alone with a Thief, and we should have it up by November 1st. J.C. is working on cover art now.
However . . . I'm also trying to promote book one in the series. I do think we need to promote from "Day One"--to a point.
In addition to promoting in the usual places like Facebook and Twitter, I also ran a BookSends ad. If you want to try this, here a link to their page:
The ad cost me $60 for a romance novel (other genres are less expensive). Since I've published the book with Kindle Unlimited, I can use what's called the "Kindle Countdown" option and drop the price of the book below $2.99 for one week at a time and still keep 70% of the profits.
So, I dropped the price of the e-book to .99 cents for a week, and at the beginning of this week, BookSends ran the add. I sold about 400 copies of the book that week, so I more than paid for my ad, and hopefully gained new readers.
I also signed up an author on BookBub. Here's the page to do that:
Running an actual "ad" with BookBub is more complicated (and expensive), but you can sign up for free and get "followers" and BookBub will announce a new release for free, that will be shown to your followers.
This is a new world for me, but I think it's good to share ideas for what works and what doesn't.