Monday, 18 March 2019

What a Difference a Second Book Makes...

I appreciate my online presence has been a bit one-note recently. I'm almost boring myself, these days. Look, the thing is, I wrote another book. I still love that fact, but I'm well aware that regular followers of my Twitter feed, Facebook page, and this blog, will be more than au fait with my publishing news. I've talked about nothing else for months. 

So it's with some trepidation that I press on with a similar theme today. There's a slight twist though. I'm doing one of those blogs where I give insight and advice to anyone wanting to follow my lead. I will not let the door close behind me. Not on my watch. I've done the research so you don't have to. In the space between Book One and Book Two, I've learnt a bunch of things I didn't know before. My usual disclaimer remains in tact - this is a UK-centric perspective, and my insights are based on random blogs, websites, and tweets I've ingested. I check things out when I need to, and go with the flow at other times. It's always best to get a second opinion, but I can start you off in a general thought direction. You cool with that? Marvellous. On we trot.

So whilst I urge you to order your copies of Leeza McAuliffe Has Something To Say with immediate effect, I give you in return, my list of Things I Have Learnt About the Writing and Indie-Publishing Process Whilst Going Through It a Second Time. Catchy, isn't it.

Allow Enough Time
My first planned deadline came and went, unbothered by my writing output. The second stab at a publication day was the winner. Because of the extra time, I had longer to promote it. Six months is the advised time, and I had exactly that. I blitzed the social medias, as well as targeting schools, websites, and book reviewers. Anything you can do before the release date is really important because...

Pre-Order Sales Count as Release Week Sales
This means that any pre-orders in the six months prior to publication hang around on the Internet chilling out, until the book is released. Then they get included in the first week's sales. That's the optimum time for making an impact. For big hitters, that's when a book hits the charts. For little old me, it might be when Amazon's algorithms notice that something exciting is happening and make my book more amenable to a search engine or be linked in the  'Customers also bought...' section below other books. Either way, release week is key.

Make a One-Sheet
I'd never heard the term 'One-Sheet' before. Either that's because it was made up by a random blogger, or I've lived a sheltered life. Either way, it was one of the more useful things I did. The one-sheet was an A4 side of paper that contained all the book's info. The title, author name, front cover, author photo, author bio, blurb, ISBN, formats, cost, where it's available, and author/publisher contact details. It was useful to send out to schools and libraries, and it was handy when anyone wanted to pass on the info to someone else. I could just reach into my bag (yes, of course I carried them around with me) and pass them a sheet. 

Somewhere along the way, I read that most books are released on a Thursday. This wasn't the most convenient day for me, but I stuck with convention. It meant I had a fuzzy head on the Friday morning when work was happening, but who am I to argue with established wisdom?

Now, here's a thing I didn't know. Every time someone takes a book out of the library, the author gets some money. It's only a few pence, but if it's a popular book that is constantly on loan in multiple libraries, then it all adds up. To receive payment, the book needs to be in a library - I'm working on that one - and then registered with the Public Lending Right people. I didn't know or do this with Book One, but I'm on it with Book Two. Don't you worry about that.

Last time, I was chuffed to bits that reader reviews started coming in, a few days after it was on sale. These were mostly on Amazon, although not exclusively. It was the loveliest of ego boosts to read that people had enjoyed my outpourings. This time I know a bit more. Like pre-orders, reviews help boost the amount of notice that Amazon gives to the book's URL (I think I know what I'm taking about but not really). Reviews are important but, here's the thing. Amazon get shirty if you ask people to review your book. So I am definitely not doing that here. No way, not for a second. I'm only talking generally. Also, they took down two of my reviews last time because they clocked they were from relatives. Even though those relatives had genuinely enjoyed my book. (I'm not sure about anyone else but my relatives wouldn't do me the courtesy of a fake review. They're hard as nails and every drop of approval is earned.) So it's a tricky line to balance. Reviews are essential. Everyone should review books they've enjoyed because it means so much to the author (in terms of nice feelings as well as upping sales potential) but authors are impeded by being unable to specifically ask for them. This is all the trickier when you're a small little outfit like my good self. 

So between the need for pre-orders and reviews, the sweet library dollar, and the one-sheet creations, the second publishing experience has been another steep learning curve. As with everything in life, I'm winging it most of the time. But if my words of wisdom can help anyone with anything, then hurrah to that. Here's to Book Three!

Have a lovely week, folks.

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