5 Things I’m Not Doing to Launch My Book—Plus What I’m Doing Instead

stop doing

Today’s guest post is by author Deanna Cabinian (@DeannaCabinian).


The gist of all marketing advice for authors essentially boils down to: try everything and see what works. I’ve tried a lot of tactics over the last year toone lov market my debut YA novel One Night and now that I’m launching One Love, my second novel, there are some efforts I’m not going to spend any time on.

1. I’m not cold emailing bloggers.

I wasted so much time on this when I launched One Night. I emailed countless bloggers and received very little response. We’re talking like two responses out of 100 emails sent. Talk about time not well spent.

With One Love I am only contacting bloggers who I’ve developed a relationship with over the last year via social media or who I found via Book Razor, a company that combs through blogger and reviewer profiles to create a list of readers who will probably enjoy your book. I tried Book Razor’s cheapest package to see if I could get more people to read and review One Night. I received responses the same day from several bloggers. By using the list I’ve built over the last year, it is a much more effective use of my time.

2. I’m not paying for trade reviews.

With One Night I purchased sponsored reviews from Portland Book Review and Midwest Book Review. Because it was my first book I felt I needed some industry blurb to help me market my book. Here’s the thing, though: I can’t prove that either of these reviews led to a purchase. And as a consumer, I can say that a trade review has never been a huge factor for me when it comes to deciding what books to read. They might pique my interest, but there are plenty of books that review publications like that I don’t and vice versa. For my second novel I’ll be using blurbs from the blog contacts mentioned above.

3. I’m not accepting any and all event opportunities.

As an independent author it’s tempting to accept every publicity option available because few venues are willing to have us. But after doing several events I’ve learned that single author book signings are generally a waste of time. If you analyze the number of books sold versus the time and effort you put into it, the ratio is not a good one. Instead I am only doing multi-author events, events with guaranteed foot traffic (such as festivals and farmers markets), or speaking opportunities that have a built-in audience (for example, school visits).

4. I won’t be spending much time on Facebook.

I know this works for some authors, but for me it has been a bust. I received a handful of likes from an ad campaign I ran (the intended goal was email signups). I find it frustrating that few people see my posts and I get little engagement. I much prefer Instagram where my posts have a 5-6% engagement rate. That might sound low, but when I compare it to other channels, it blows them away. Plus, readers have shared photos of One Night on Instagram, something that has never happened on other networks.

5. I’m not focusing on library outreach.

With my first book a goal of mine was seeing it in libraries. I made calls to local libraries, but most went unanswered. I knew the odds of libraries ordering my book were low, so the next thing I tried was visiting every library within a 15-mile radius. I introduced myself to teen librarians and offered to donate a copy of my book. Some accepted it, others said they had to read it first to make sure it met their standards, and some insisted that there was a glut of donations and they simply could not accept another free book. While I made one or two good connections and my novel is available in a few libraries, I considered this to be a time waster. For my next book I am focusing on online efforts as much as possible.

What book launch strategies have you found success with? What did you do differently with your second book? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion.

Deanna Cabinian

Deanna Cabinian is the author of One Night and One Love. When she isn’t working or writing she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and their Havanese dog, Cuba. Connect with her online at www.deannacabinian.com.

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48 Comments on "5 Things I’m Not Doing to Launch My Book—Plus What I’m Doing Instead"

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Ann Griffin

Jane, this is a perfectly timed post, since I will be launching my first book sometime early in the new year. Thanks!

E. J. Wenstrom

Deanna, I completely feel you on this! As I experience my own book launches, I’m learning some similar lessons. The big question to me is, if these things don’t have a big impact, what does? Iteration, iteration iteration … one of my goals is to build a few targeted relationships for stronger promo next time around. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Paula Cappa

I agree that there are tactics out there that just don’t turn up good results, even though lots of marketing people say they produce.

Timothy M. Tays
Deanna, thank you for your frankness. I’ve written and marketed three publish-on-demand books, have tried all the marketing techniques you’ve mentioned (except for Book Razor, which I’ll try today), and found them mostly ineffective as well. When my first book was finally noticed, it was because fortuitously an online book reviewer noticed my book on Amazon, reviewed it favorably, and my sales shot up. I did nothing to precipitate this lucky event other than have readers review my book on Amazon. I’ve heard it before—and I’m beginning to believe—that the best book marketing is simply getting lucky. I’m researching how… Read more »
Barbara

The owner of our local indie bookstore says at least half of her customers come in looking for a book they heard about on Facebook or Goodreads.

Bob Powers
Deanna, you’ve hit most of the nails on the head. I myself have never emailed a blogger, but I can imagine how that goes. How many new books are there every year? Six figures, right? And trade reviews – really, what good are they? I’ve shoveled out money for reviews in Midwest Book Review and US Book Review for a couple of my phrasebooks and did they bring home any bacon? Maybe one out of five had any appreciable impact. It’s hard to gauge if you’re doing other things. As for events, if by those you include book fairs, I… Read more »
Desertphile

Several writers noted at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ conference that the best way to spend one’s time promoting ones’ books is to write more books.

Lynne Spreen
Deanna, I so agree with you on this. On a personal level and as the founder of a writers’ guild (with our first book fair under our belt) it’s critical to look at things through the eyes of a marketer. One thing I really avoid now: participating in book fairs at libraries, where visitors are only there to read for free (smacks forehead). Also, re #4, FB is really good for me because 1. I’m on it a lot and genuinely interact such that I have actual friends there, and 2., my target market (women over 50) live there. It’s… Read more »
Jeanne

Thanks for this post, Deanna. I’m planning to release a trilogy next fall and this appears to be very solid, practical advice. Saving the link to review as my date draws nearer.

Florence Bennett

Excellent article! I couldn’t have said anything you said better. You were right on the money when you mentioned your experiences with trade reviews, library appearances, etc. Foot traffic is so important! I am also working on my second novel, a workplace comedy based on actual events. I plan to take your advice seriously. No more wasting time!

Kristen Tsetsi
One benefit of a single-author reading is that if you have one scheduled, you have something to announce – an event, a real “thing” – for a local newspaper or TV station to stick to a story beyond “local author releases book.” One fairly large newspaper in my area declined a press release for an earlier book because it was simply about the book. “Write again when you have an event attached to it,” they said. And although securing a newspaper feature or a short TV spot also doesn’t guarantee sales, it does introduce your title to a new –… Read more »
Barbara Birenbaum
Deanna, my 15th book for children was recently launched with similar challenges and after being in the Indie Publishing world for 35 years. Here goes: Major book chain- No books purchased unless national buy (even though this book includes locales from Alaska to Florida); All book reviews by newspapers rely on those coming from NYTimes unless a regional contact wants to put it under “Features” or some other category; Advised by national Small Book Buyer that books awards play no role in purchasing books (This was recipient of Pres. Choice-Best Juvenile Nonfiction, 2017); Library purchases are down since most public… Read more »
Charm Baker
This is my third novel but the first one I’ve ever been passionate enough about to even think of “out of the box” marketing strategies. For “Lights Out at the Moulin Rouge,” I’m starting off with pre-orders from December to January 1, 2018 – the official release date. Until then, I’m focusing on reaching out to influencers since my book is historical fiction, based on true events surrounding the 1955 Las Vegas Moulin Rouge (1st racially integrated casino in Nevada). My content speaks to several groups and niches that I’m sure have readers in their midst. It takes as much… Read more »
Kaye Newton

Deanna, thank you for sharing this information! (And Jane, thanks for inviting Deanna to post.) For my second nonfiction book, which is coming out in January, I plan to focus on finding where my readers hang out online. Like you, I’m not paying for editorial reviews or calling on libraries. One thing I will do again is to use the smaller book promotions sites like Robin Reads. (BookBub is beyond my current marketing budget, but if I could get one, I’d beg and borrow to make it happen.)

Kirk Raeber

Great article with information that is very useful. I think you hit the nail on the head with your experiences. I have tried all five of your topics and have come to the same conclusion you did. Thank you.

jon

Have you considered enlisting a publicist?

Barbara Studham

Thank you for your honesty. So many authors promote less than useful tips and boast of huge sales results, leaving me wondering why their advice did not work for me. From experience, I agree with your suggestions of what not to do, especially contacting bloggers, bothering with libraries, and attending all events. It is important to discover what works for new and little known authors.

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Timothy M. Tays

Please tell me more about hiring a publicist. What do they generally cost, and is it worth it?

L.L. Barkat

Love the framing of this (“Things I’m Not Doing…”) 🙂

I’m interested in the lack of success with libraries, which our authors definitely find success through. Not bestseller kind of success, but at least the kind that propels them regionally. Maybe because it’s YA? Or, is it self-published?

I’m thinking Jane won’t mind if I share the kind of library success strategies I mean. Here’s what one of our authors suggests:

https://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2016/03/31/including-libraries-book-marketing-plan/

jon
Perhaps the strategy of hiring a publicist is better suited to the non-fiction genre. About six months ago I interviewed Jonathan White, author of “Tides, The Science and Spirit of the Ocean”. Mr. White hired a publicist and ultimately was interviewed and reviewed by newspapers, magazines, numerous NPR and PRI stations and included The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Blogcritics, among others. You can access the list at Jonathanwhitewriter.com. His publicist also scheduled a years’ worth of speaking events from Maine to San Diego to Alaska at venues including bookstores, libraries, maritime academies, colleges and universities, public… Read more »
Allyson Machate
In my experience, you’re right, a publicist is often able to do a lot more with a nonfiction book. In fact, I’m seeing more and more independent PR/marketing groups saying they will only work with nonfiction. That’s because the authors often have expert status in some area and that can be more easily leveraged with outlets that need an expert to support whatever topic they’re exploring that episode/issue. Or they can more easily connect the content to their readership’s needs. I don’t need to know who an expert is to be interested in his solution for, say, chronic insomnia, when… Read more »
Marianne Petersen

Perfect time I found all this. My Self Pub. book is all ready to go and I can’t help but wonder what’s worth pursuing. I’m still investigating them all but man, thank you SO much. Glad I found ya.

Jules

Loved this post! I agree wholeheartedly.

Allyson Machate
This is a great post! Thank you, Deanna, for sharing your experiences. I think hearing the what and why from other authors is so valuable. It troubles me that some commenters are interpreting your advice as “it all comes down to luck” though, a sentiment I hear too often when I speak at writers’ conferences. Sure, a lucky break can be a game-changer, but to take hold even luck requires fertile soil tilled by hard work–for example, making sure your book is as good as it can be, getting a great cover and cover description, being as discoverable online as… Read more »
Sharon Love Cook
Deanna: This post really made me feel good, and that’s because I can say “ditto” to everything you’ve done. In fact, I wish I’d read it 5 days ago when I was asked to appear at a local bookstore on a Friday night. The invitation was pretty vague; I was going to read from my latest novel, Phantom Baby, and stay for 2 hours, entertaining the shopping crowd. That night I stood in my nicest—and most uncomfortable—shoes and read while the “crowd” of four shopped. After more than one dirty look I stopped. I realized, too late, that I don’t… Read more »
adrienne morris

I’m interested. How do your books do at Farmers Markets? I’ve toyed with the idea but wondered if it was a waste of time.

David Wogahn

I heard Newberry Award Winner Kwame Alexander say that he sold $1000 worth of books at his first Farmers Market and decided to spend the next 18 months attending them up and down the East Coast. He is as scrappy as it comes with book marketing. You might want to read this Publisher’s Weekly interview:
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/69251-kwame-alexander-the-say-yes-guy-at-winter-institute-11.html

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