I was privileged to join Joanna May Chee's book launch for her premier book, Forever Loved: Eve's Story a few weeks back. I love book launches because it gives authors, bloggers, and everyone else involved in the journey, a lovely chance to connect and get to know one another on a more personal level. Getting to preview an incredible book is also a nice side perk! (You can read my review here).
From day one, I was incredibly impressed with how well Joanna organized and executed her book launch. From fun launch team contests to incorporating the team's feedback, and providing interviews and graphics for everyone, Joanna was on her A game and her book launch prep-work reflected beautifully in her sales! Forever Loved reached number one in multiple categories during its first week!
I knew I needed to start taking some book launch lessons from Joanna so I interviewed her to learn more about the behind the scenes process!
Q: When did you start planning your launch? Are there any resources that you'd recommend for writers to check out while authors are in the finishing stage?
A: I don’t think there was a definite point when I started planning the launch. I did a lot of research into self-publishing during the three years I was writing the book, so I picked up a lot of ideas, had notes all over on scrappy bits of paper, and knew that it was important to launch a book, rather than just put it out there and hope for the best!
I created a launch team page and put out invites in the two weeks leading up to my book publication. It was rather last minute. As a first-time, self-publishing author, I had so much to learn and do. I was so busy that the launch just happened as it happened without much forward planning. Thankfully, one of the gifts God’s given me is creative ideas, so I thought up most of my launch ideas on the go. Obviously if you have the time, then it is definitely good to plan as much in advance as you can!
It’s probably too late to check out resources in the finishing stages of your book’s publication. I recommend you google ‘how to launch a book’, read as widely as you can, and subscribe to self-publishing/book launch webinars and courses, as early as you can, at least at the same time as writing your book. Author entrepreneurs that I highly recommend, and who often offer free courses if you sign up to their sites, are Mark Dawson of SelfPublishingFormula.com, Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur.com and Tim Grahl of BookLaunch.com. I highly respect these authors, and have learnt a lot from them, without having to pay for expensive courses.
Q: You had such a lovely launch team! How many people would you recommend inviting on to a team?
Yes! My launch team is wonderful!! It is incredible to have a group of ladies who are willing to actively share my book, really at very little benefit to them. I am so grateful to them.
I don’t think you can have too many people on a launch team! The more people you have actively sharing your book, the better! I had almost 60 sign up to join the team, but I’d say only about half got actively involved in the end. That’s fine. Those 30 did a great job!
Q: Do you have any thoughts on "finding your tribe" of people to join you?
Networking is key. I had built relationship with other bloggers and authors in the months and years before publishing. This is something I love to do anyway, so it wasn’t just for launching the book. I love to connect with others online by commenting on their posts, sharing their content, writing guest posts for them, participating in blog parties etc. I’ve made some lovely friends this way. It’s wonderful to be able to learn from and help each other. When it came time to launch my book, I reached out to these bloggers/authors personally, and many of them joined the team.
I also posted launch team invites in as many related Christian Facebook groups that I knew of eg women’s book clubs and Christian blogger/author groups. Again, these were groups I’d (mostly) been active in previously. I asked permission of admin before I posted invites, and several women from these groups joined the team – women I didn’t know before. It’s been lovely to get to know them. I also had several personal friends and relatives join the team.
Once I had my team, I felt it really important to cultivate community and friendship. I mean, here’s a group of people sacrificing their time to promote my book. That’s incredible! I wanted to give them as much as possible in return, and let them know how much I valued and appreciated them. I did this in several ways. I engaged with every comment and post in my Facebook launch group. I invited team members to share their own blogs, books and things about themselves. I offered incentives and rewards for sharing the book. I shared regular tips and ideas for sharing the book to make it as easy as possible. I also sent out daily emails, so those not on Facebook were equally included. I think we built a lovely community. We’ve made new friends, and there’s excitement already about working together on future projects, whether mine or theirs. It’s a wonderful feeling to have that kind of community to go forward with!
Q: Did you use any paid marketing (Facebook, ad words, Amazon promotions) that you would recommend?
I didn’t use any paid marketing! All my sales so far have been through my email subscribers, my own network of friends and family, and the networks of my launch team. I want to go wider now and sustain/increase sales, so I’m planning to run Facebook ads, and probably later Amazon ads too. Advertising is new to me, so it’s another learning adventure! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Q: What do you feel was most beneficial to spreading the word about the book?
Several things. One was the build up to publication. My friends, family and email subscribers knew the book was coming for a very long time. I talked about it over a period of several years! I asked for their input on titles, the blurb and cover. A lot of people felt very involved. There were many delays to the book’s publication. I had to push back the publication date several times. Frustrating as this was, it actually helped build people’s desire for the book! I had people going into shops and trying to order it before it was even out there!
I also offered a free Eve devotional on my site that included extracts from ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’. This was very popular and raised interest in the book (as well as growing my email list). I ran a book giveaway just before the book launch which gave me a huge swell in email subscribers. I don’t know how that translated into book sales, but I can continue to build relationship and market to those people now over the coming months. Other than that, the efforts of my launch team have been incredible, sharing the book through email, social media and their blogs.
Q: If you could do it again (or next time), what would you change?
There will be a next time! I’ll be more prepared for sure. I’ll be able to recycle much of what I’ve used this time – my launch team emails (with some changes, of course), and many of my promotional ideas. One thing I would change, is leaving more time to prepare! The two weeks pre-launch, and one week of launch, was absolutely exhausting! I have never worked so intensely. I’m looking forward to next time!
With that lovely interview, we are concluding our three part look at self-publishing, I hope gained a few glimmers of knowledge and feel more prepared for the publishing journey! If you missed the other two parts of the series, check them out below!
I have a way of picking notoriously difficult career fields. I started with acting and landed in writing. For many, that means making pennies and periods of no income at all. Romantic, right? But thespians and writers agree- they don’t do it for the money. If they did, they’d quit long before they reached an inkling of success!
I’ve shared before about the business of self-publishing and am thrilled to be developing a series to help guide writers through self-publishing [and making a profit]. Next week, we have an interview with Joanna May Chee, a debut author whose self-published book hit number one in her first week! She’s going to share some tips and advice about hosting a successful book launch.
This week, we’re going to look at the costs of self-publishing and examine where to spend money and where to save! Many people have the notion that authors make a ton of money on books, but that’s rarely the case. Traditionally published authors may make a dollar or two per book sold (with the addition to any upfront money they received). On the other hand, self-published authors have much higher profit margins but the average book only sells around 200 copies in its lifetime.
In order to maximize profits, authors need to invest in the right areas. Here’s my breakdown of where to spend and where to save:
There are grammar Nazis everywhere. And they leave reviews on Amazon. Enough said.
But, really, find an editor who suites your style and budget. Start with software like Grammarly to keep you on task as you write and pick up those typos and then let an editor professionally polish your book!
But don’t skimp. Having custom covers, rather than templates, can really set your book apart. Adobe Illustrator is a great way to make unique covers, but subscriptions can be pricey. I personally LOVE Canva (I use it for everything)! With a little practice, you can make professional, custom graphics for your book/brand for free. You can also set custom dimensions for a cover size that you need and get to work!
Interior Files: SAVE
This can be a headache, I know. But I’ve seen interior formatting services charging upwards of $450 for their services. Use a template, customize your fonts, and follow the IBPA Guidelines and you’ll do wonderfully!
This is normally the trickiest part for authors. We do the writing part well, but selling, not so much. Know your audience, have a plan to reach them and set realistic goals along the way. Having a book it a lot like having a child. You can’t give it birth and then leave it in infancy for the next project, [which is advice coming from someone who has just adjusted their 2018 release schedule]. If your budget allows for it, hire a professional that can assist with media exposure. As “authentic” and “newsworthy” as that interview you watched on television was, know that someone shelled out some serious money for it.
Thanks for stopping in, have a great week!
Dear Brave Mom Letter Contest
I've loved the letter's we've been receiving in the "Dear Brave Mom" contest, they are so sweet! I know that this finished book will be a huge blessing to Shannon and her family and the additional families that will use it to fund raise for medical bills in the future through Esther's House Publishing.
In case you haven't submitted letters- the deadline is the 15th!
In case you're looking for a fun and heartfelt gift for mom on Valentine's Day, we created this template to download and print out! Don't forget to send us a copy of the letter or tag us in a post!
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with God's love!
This post is sponsored by User IQ Customer Success Software.
I have a funny story to share, just promise not to laugh too much. The first time I self- published a book, I thought I would hit submit and then sit back and watch the royalties roll in. After all, I spent the last three years toiling over every sentence so logically I had reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
The crux of the self-publishing industry is that writers like to write, but they also like what they write to be read. That involves having a business plan to help you achieve your goals. While I’m still learning by trial & error and/or fire, I’ll share some tips that can help shape your personal plan.
First, understand your customer. Knowing who will buy your work is crucial! With Re:Birth, knowing that bit of information felt easy at first. My target audience was pregnant moms. Considering the numbers of women expecting babies worldwide, that’s a huge marketplace. But, Re:Birth has content that is geared towards faith and spirituality. That narrows my market while providing direction on where to find your target customer.
Next, you need to know how to find your customer. Once you know who your customer is, it’s important to develop a strategy to acquire them. Social Media gives authors a huge hand as you can promote posts, messages, and ads to target audiences. Likewise, Amazon and Google offer pay per click programs to help you increase your visibility. Maybe your reader would read a specific magazine or shop through a certain website? Consider strategic paid advertising to help get your product and message to customers who will enjoy it!
While understanding your customer, and finding them are huge victories. You’ll also want to put together a long-term plan with weekly or monthly goals. It’s common to become frustrated and burned out in this industry, but setting goals like writing a guest blog post, having an article published, and reaching a certain number on social media can help you stay motivated and on track. It also helps you to celebrate small victories. It’s easy to harp on failures, but far more valuable to celebrate even the smallest successes.
Composing a written plan is always the hardest part for me. I find it particularly challenging because the ‘big picture’ is not my thing, my mind is in the details. I managed to swing that into an excuse for quite some time until I realized I was truly holding myself back and becoming the root of my discouragement. I had become so focused on what I hadn't achieved that I missed all that I had accomplished.
While your working on your business plan, make sure you glance up from your book and peer around at other authors to see what they’re doing successful (or not successfully). There is plenty to be learned just through observing!
My final tip is, don’t be shy! You may find yourself having to ask for reviews and calling in favors from friends near and far. It never hurts to knock on doors. The worst that can happen is the door doesn’t open and then you head to the next one! But, you’ll never know if you don’t try!
Do you have any self-publishing tips to share? What's worked for you or hasn't worked?
Again, we'd like to thank User IQ Customer Success Software, sponsored posts keep us up and running!
Have a great week!
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.