I’ve been in touch with Tony James Slater who self-published his book That Bear Ate My Pants (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pants-Adventures-Idiot-Abroad-ebook/dp/B0057P6FNO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345807006&sr=1-1) . Last year, he made a serious effort to launch it and this is what he did, in his own words:
“The very first thing I did, that you probably noticed, was I set up a ‘launch party’. First step in this was to get a couple of close friends and family to give me a couple of nice reviews! Now, it doesn’t work to just bung ’em a copy and ask – even after all this time, the same 3 family members that reviewed it for me on day one are still the only ones who have! So you have to really persuade ’em, explain how important it is.
Right, so you’ve made the book available – without telling anyone! You’ve got the reviews posted. You’ve checked all the blurb for typos, and your author central page is set up on Amazon with a nice smiling pic of you and links to your website etc…
Then make a Facebook Event about the launch. Pick a date (mid week preferably, and a week in advance say) and set the Event for that day. Invite EVERYONE, and in the invitation message plead with them in as fun and jokey a way as possible, to invite all their friends to! Doing this in advance allows enough time for friends of friends to respond and hopefully join the event. Each couple of days post an update on the Event’s Wall, sort of like a countdown – “Getting SO excited folks, only 3 days to go ’till Launch Day! How does my hair look?” type stuff.
Try to be entertaining! That’s what will sell it to people who don’t directly know you, but have joined the event anyway.
Then, on Launch Day, your aim is to sell as many copies in one day as humanly possible! 2 days is good too, so don’t go too mad at those who forget, but this is the time to tell all your friends and family, the ones that promised to support you on your journey to becoming a famous writer, to buy a copy!
Send a message to all participants of the FB Event – even those not attending – giving them the link directly to the Amazon page. That’s the only way they’ll buy it – telling them where it’s available will result in 90% of people saying ‘ah yeah, I’ll check it out at some point…’ and that’s the last time they’ll ever think of it. You have to put the clickable link right in front of them!
It never goes as well as you could imagine. I had 60 people in my ‘I guarantee I will buy your bok on Day x’ group, plus friends and family from all over promising faithfully, all of whom I emailed personally on the day – some several times. I had people giving me shout-outs, I went on Twitter and mentioned it, even though I only had a handful of followers… and I bought 3 copies myself. How many did I sell? 34. 34? Yup… disappointing, but no-one ever admitted to being in the crowd that forgot or didn’t bother to buy it… Ah well!
But those 34 sales, on one day, shot the book up the charts to somewhere sensible like rank 5,000 (from 1.5 million!). I didn’t know it at the time, but it also probably put me on the ‘Hot New Releases’ list and maybe even the ‘Movers and Shakers’ list – two aspects of Amazon I didn’t even know existed at the time! If so, that might have helped, as over the next couple of weeks I actually sold a handful of copies, as opposed to most self published books that sell nothing at all for the first couple of months.
And then… well, after that you’re in at the deep end I’m afraid! Luckily there’s no urgency – my book is getting a bit more successful now, but it’s still not exactly a big hit, and it’s taken me a year of working at it to get this far. I’ve joined Select and run a couple of 2-day free sales, which made the biggest difference and gained me stacks of great reviews… I sent it out to book reviewers and bloggers, I asked every blog I came across if I could write a guest post or get them to interview me… just basically looked around for any ideas I could use!
One good source is a Facebook Group called ‘Indie Writers Unite’ – it’s a melting pot for self pubb’d authors, in theory to share ideas, what’s working, news and tips, and to help each other. In practice it’s half about this and half people bitching about their lack of sales or trying to promote their own books to each other… but most of the tips I’ve used in one way or another came from that group. Deffo recommend it!
And keep your eyes out for new sites all about ebooks, as they often offer a chance to befriend the site owner before they get really big and popular – which most of them do eventually! You can get cheap advertising, which sometimes (not always helps). Basically once you’ve built up a few good reviews and are sure the blurb and cover etc. are as strong as they can possibly be, I’d stick it in Select and plan a free sale. When that time comes, let me know, coz I’ve got a great list of how to run a free sale too!!
Sorry, this got quite long! Hope it helps. It’s just my 2p worth, nothing concrete in here – it’s just me saying what I did, in the hope it works better for you than it did for me.”
So, there you have it. A launch party seems to be a good idea and I didn’t do one. I should have done one. Now, with the CELTA course about to swamp me for the next month, I won’t have time to attend to the second launch of ‘Flight Into Darkness’, so I’ll do it in October. I’m going to follow Tony’s advice, I think. He’s been quite successful with his book.