Friday, August 21, 2015

How 200 People Agreed to Help Me With My Book Launch

I met Andy Peloquin last weekend at a multi-author meet-and-greet signing event at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Of the twenty-one authors at the signing, Andy stood out as the only one whose talk made me turn 180 degrees and become interested in a book I never would have noticed otherwise, because it's not in a genre I normally read. When the talks were over, and we were all milling about and signing books, Andy approached me. 

"What's the number one most important thing for marketing?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered. "Do that."

As it turns out, I was the one who should have been soliciting advice from him. Below is a guest post about how Andy has found two hundred of his closest friends to help launch his new dark fantasy novel, Blade of the Destroyer: The Last Bucelarii: Book 1. Andy got my attention to such a high degree that today, I'm making a rare exception in promoting a book outside of the usual Murder Lab genres... because I'm certain that these marketing tactics stretch across genres. I have every confidence that Murder Lab authors, myself included, can benefit from paying attention to Andy in the upcoming months. And besides, it really does sound like a cool book! Here's to wild success with this well-planned release.

How 200 People Agreed to Help Me With My Book Launch
Blade of the Destroyer: The Last Bucelarii: Book 1
Guest post by Andy Peloquin

When I launched my first novel, In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent in March 2014, I had one goal in mind: get it out there! I finished writing the book and a few weeks later, it was published.

What happened next? Not a whole lot! The book didn't gain a lot of traction despite generally good reviews.

Fast forward eight months to November 2014, when I completed the work on Blade of the Destroyer: The Last Bucelarii: Book 1. Instead of launching the book right away, I decided to hold off until March 2015. In that 4-month time frame, I would:

  • Gather people willing to read/review the book
  • Find authors willing to donate their book to a giveaway
  • Set up a blog tour
  • Promote my book everywhere I could
Skip forward to August 2015, and the book is FINALLY launching! For my book launch, I have:
  • 160+ people reading Advanced Readers Copies and writing reviews, all to be posted before or on August 21st
  • 60 posts going up on blogs and websites between August 18th and September 28th
  • Multiple radio/podcast interviews
  • A book signing event (at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore--the best sci-fi/fantasy bookstore this side of the Rio Grande)
  • Hundreds of people (many outside my immediate network) attending the book launch party (held August 21st to 23rd)
So, how did I get all of these people to help me out? How did a previously unknown author (who sold perhaps 100 copies of my first book) reach such a wide range of people?

I wish it was a simple 1-2-3 step process, but here are the "tricks" that helped me in the setup of the book launch:

Giving away free copies. I have 160 people reading Advanced Readers Copies of my book, but all of those copies were given away free of charge. Do I miss out on sales when it's time for my book to be launched? Perhaps a few, but the number of sales I will make thanks to these free books will more than make up for it.

You see, word of mouth is the best sales tool. If I have 160 people telling their network of friends and family to check out my book, that's A LOT of people I'd never otherwise have reached. My being willing to give away free copies of my book has made a HUGE difference, in both reviews and marketing. When launch day rolls around, my book will have easily 50+ reviews all because I was willing to give away copies to people interested in a review.

Note: Ask any of the people I sent the book to, I didn't ask for a five-star review. I'll take a constructive, well-written 1-star review, as it helps me to know where to improve next time around. Be prepared for bad reviews--they'll make you a MUCH better writer!

Interacting with fellow authors. I've found that authors are some of the nicest, friendliest people around! 99% of them are working their butts off right alongside me, and they know the challenge that I'm dealing with in trying to launch my book. Many (if not all) of them are willing to help in whatever way they can. When I gave them the option of reading the book, helping me spread the word on social media, or being part of the blog tour (or all of the above), 95% of the people I contacted were willing to help out to some extent or another.

Many of these authors are people that are part of my "network", but not my immediate friends or family. I share Facebook  groups with some of these people, others are part of a reviewing circle I'm in, while still others are total strangers who were kind enough to agree to help. Striking up a conversation, making friends, and being friendly is the key to getting people to help you.

Interacting with fellow readers. At heart, most authors today are readers. They love a good book as much as you do, and they spend more time reading than they do writing. If you can find something to appeal to them--such as a great story--you have a much better chance of getting them to help you out.
It's hard to find people who are straight-up readers and not authors, but they are out there. You have to go where they are (Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and everywhere else), and you have to be clever about the way you reel them in. Once again, it's all about giving them something that they'll WANT to read.

Straight out asking for help. As an author, you have to be a little shameless. You don't want to cram your books down people's throats, but you do want to come straight out and say, "Buy my book"--or, in this case, "Read my book".

Most of the time, authors will be thrilled to help you out, but they won't know exactly how. Here's a stock message I've sent out HUNDREDS of times:

"Dear X, would you be interested/willing to help me with the upcoming launch of my dark fantasy book? It's far less work than you'd expect!

1) I send you an ARC and you write a review for Amazon/Goodreads
2) You post the review to your site, or I do a guest post/author interview on your blog
3) You help me blast it on social media around the launch date
4) All of the above

First off, once again a huge thank you for agreeing to read an ARC of Blade of the Destroyer and write a review for me. I am eternally in your debt, and know that I am more than happy to return the favor for your next book."

Over 200 people have seen this message, and all of them have agreed to help in some capacity. By spelling it out and making it VERY clear what I'm asking, it helps them to know how they can help.

Having a good product. In the end, it's all about the quality of the product. Blade of the Destroyer is a dark fantasy book with murder, mayhem, demons, assassins, secret police, violence, action, and, of course, A LOT of emotional turmoil. There's something in there that appeals to everyone.

But more than a great story, it’s a well-written book. Before I shipped it around to a publisher, I paid for a professional editor to go over it. And that's after multiple rounds of editing done by me and my amazing beta readers. At the end of the day, it's a professional product that I can be proud and confident of. The reviews it has gotten (before the book is even launched) speak for themselves!

It's really very simple, once you get down to it!

Be friendly, engage with fellow authors and readers, be unafraid to ask for help, and have a quality product. Most importantly: do it with time!

I had the book ready to publish in November, but I delayed the launch until March. That gave me four months to interact with people, make friends, and set up the launch.

Note: The book was picked up by a publisher, hence the delayed launch.

In the end, all of the time and effort is/will be worth it!

Andy Peloquin
Andy Peloquin--a third culture kid to the core--has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn't looked back since.

Andy's first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings--along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

He can also be found on his social media pages, such as:

Linked In
Google Plus  
Amazon Author Page

Thanks, Andy, for a great post and some sound and actionable advice. I will say that what you've done echoed many other authors I've heard from whose launches catapulted their books into best-selling history--where they remained for quite some time. I wish the same upon you.

Click for more about Andy Peloquin and Blade of the Destroyer: The Last Bucelarii: Part 1, including back cover blurb and more buy links.

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