In my last article, How To Turn Your Life Experience Into A Business, I looked at opportunities to create a business from life experience with Mark “Hammer” Dixon and his book, Bash for Cash, as the example.
Once you have a book, you need to have a successful launch to get the word out there. Creating an author platform provides those opportunities.
I thought I would share those of author Joanna Penn, who has recently launched online her first thriller, “Pentecost”, to an international audience.
Here is our interview:
Tell us about your first book launch and how it went.
I wrote my first book “How to Enjoy Your Job” in 2008 and made all the mistakes in the world! I had a book I believed in and had spent a year working on. It was available on Amazon.com but no one was buying it. It was humiliating and depressing; plus I had outlaid my own money for the self-publishing aspect and the book just wasn’t going anywhere.
So I decided I needed to learn about marketing. I started with the traditional angle, learning about press releases, radio and TV pitching. I made it onto TV with “A Current Affair”, national newspapers and radio, but despite all that I didn’t sell any more books.
I knew I needed to find another angle, I needed that global audience so I needed to go online.
In early 2008, I did Yaro’s Blog Mastermind course and after a couple of false starts on blogs that went nowhere, I settled into www.TheCreativePenn.com: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing.
I was determined to help other authors avoid the mistakes I made and save people time, money and heartache along the way. I also knew that I could build the blog into the basis of a platform for marketing myself and my books.
One of the most important things with blogging is to be persistent over time, and it helps if you are passionate about your topic. I never run out of things to say about my niche – it’s a new adventure every day with the changing world of publishing. As ebooks have taken off over the last two years, I have also found myself part of the cutting edge journey of authors using new technologies to write, publish and promote online. The tech world is finally catching up!
The effort has paid off as in December 2010, The Creative Penn was voted as one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers and is also in the Top 5 writers’ blogs in Australia.
The blog has enabled me to start a speaking career, both locally and internationally, and in October 2010, I led a writer’s retreat in Bali. It has opened up opportunities I could never have anticipated when I first started.
What is your latest book and how did it come about?
After writing a couple more non-fiction books, I decided to finally take the plunge and write a novel in late 2009. With my knowledge of publishing technologies I knew I would self-publish, but this time I was determined to make the book launch a success by combining everything I’ve learned along the way about marketing. I love fast-paced action movies and thriller novels, plus I have a Masters degree in Theology, so the book is a religious thriller – Dan Brown meets Lara Croft!
What would you suggest authors do to launch their book?
Here are the main aspects of the launch process:
- A strong base of supporters – The core audience on TheCreativePenn.com built up over 2 years of blogging, and [the site now] includes 85+ free podcasts, videos, workbooks and other free resources for writers and authors. I also involved them [the audience] in the process blogging the journey as I learned.
My audience voted on the book cover, had input into the back blurb and heard about Pentecost for the whole year before launch so they were ready to buy. I offered review copies to people if they liked the genre and asked for Amazon reviews which are critical for good sales.
- Twitter – I love Twitter! It’s my primary social network (@thecreativepenn) and I tweet useful links about writing, publishing and book marketing. It’s taken two years of consistent tweeting to get a good audience and I used twitter before and during the launch to drive sales.
- Facebook – I have a Creative Penn page which I used to interact with people during the novel writing process and then set up a Pentecost novel page.
- Video – I did a book trailer which was embedded on a number of blogs, and I have a YouTube channel, which I built up for authors in the last year. I also do sporadic videos for the blog that are getting better reception as the non-tech market acclimatise to video.
- Guest posting – I have built relationships for the last two years, especially through podcast interviews, which meant I could ask a lot of blogs for guest posts on launch day. I did video, audio and text interviews as well as useful posts on other blogs [all listed here]: www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/02/07/pentecost-launch/
All the above costs time but not money. It was based on a consistent blogging and social networking approach for the last two years. Although it started out as a marketing exercise, I now define myself as a blogger. It is intrinsically rewarding and I love the blog network I am in.
In terms of budget, it was very small. I did run a competition for people to win prizes as well as one day of Facebook advertising on launch day. The book trailer did cost some money as I used high quality resources, and I also used Kindle Nation sponsorship, which was fantastic for driving Kindle users to the book.
So how did it go? Amazon change their rankings every hour and I did sleep during launch week, but Pentecost by Joanna Penn made the Amazon bestseller lists – these were the best rankings:
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #370 Paid in Kindle Store
- #4 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction
- #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Religious Fiction
- #62 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
- #1 in Movers and Shakers on February 12th
- #93 in Amazon.co.uk – Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Thrillers
This adds to around 600 books in the first week, which is a great start. I’m pretty happy with the result and most independent authors see book sales grow as they add more to their backlist. I am starting the sequel “Prophecy” in the next month. So this time, I am not sitting at home lamenting the lack of sales, I’m celebrating!
Interview by Kerry McDuling