Last time I interviewed Jean Oram, I wanted to know how she’d managed to get her debut novel, Champagne and Lemon Drops, onto the first page of search results for her genre on Amazon. You can see that interview here: http://wp.me/p2Q1VA-7e
A few weeks ago, Jean released book two of the Blueberry Springs series, Whiskey and Gumdrops, and again she managed to get it straight in at number 1 on Amazon in the genre! Jean has joined me today, so that I can once again benefit from her experience, this time with regards to launching book two!
Jean, thanks for joining me again! Firstly, congratulations on the success of Whiskey and Gumdrops! I was at your Facebook launch party when it was zooming up the charts, and I was so happy for you! Can you tell me what you did prior to the launch of book two, differently to book one, to make it smash the top so fast? Or, is it more a matter of building an author platform with book one, and then letting those readers know about the new one?
Thank you! I used book one, Champagne and Lemon Drops, to build a newsletter subscriber list of fans. I also used Facebook to build a following as well. When I was ready to launch book two, Whiskey and Gumdrops, I planned a Facebook event—a cyber book launch party—and notified the readers I had friended on Facebook as well as my subscriber list.
The first sales of my new release came directly out of my Facebook launch party. I could actually count them! So between my launch party and my newsletter—I sent one out the weekend of the book’s release—that helped launch the book into an Amazon top 100 paid category list which helped visibility for the book. Amazon’s algorithms pay attention to how fast a book sells in its first days of release so this helped give me a punch in the arm out of the book release gates. Now the trick is to maintain a steady balance of sales to keep the book visible.
However, I didn’t create a buzz around the prelaunch of book 2. Preorder on iTunes didn’t even work properly as the book somehow got set to ‘invisible’ for three weeks and nobody at iTunes could figure it out for ages! I didn’t do blog tours. But I did put out a BookBub ad for my free book, Champagne and Lemon Drops, the weekend of Whiskey and Gumdrops’s release which helped. One reader joined the launch party because she’d found the first book on BookBub, then looked me up, saw the party and joined. Did she buy book 2? Not sure.
As I mentioned (because I’m such a name-dropper) I was honoured to be invited to your Facebook launch party. Could you tell me how you managed to get so many people to come along, and where they all came from?! How did they all know about it?
Yes, thank you for attending, Julie! You were a wonderful and fun addition! For the launch party invites, I did a few things to get just under 200 attendees for the Facebook event. Unlike many authors, I didn’t give away prizes for people sharing the event as I was happy with a number I felt I could manage. It was my first book launch, first online event, and I think the number of partiers was perfect as I was able to stay on top of the comments and interact—and to me, that was most important.
For guest authors, I had 18 authors sponsor a giveaway of their choosing over the two day event. Basically, I approached authors I knew and asked if they wanted to come and either offer a giveaway prize or come and host their own.
For attendees, I had some very wonderful readers see me create the event on Facebook and immediately shared invites with their friends! I was completely blown away by their support. They are wonderful, wonderful women. I also sent out an email newsletter to my subscribers once the book was released and the actual party was about to start. (I created the party/event about two weeks ahead of time and the newsletter I just mentioned is the same one I mentioned above.) I also shared the event on my Facebook page and profile as well as Twitter. Also, I was also a featured author on a Facebook page for readers the week leading up to the launch and the launch party link was shared there. I also sent invites to my Facebook friends through Facebook.
Other than ‘Don’t move house that weekend’ is there anything else you would’ve done differently before, during, or after your launch party?
Yes, I would spread out the launch party giveaways a bit more. It got pretty crazy with one an hour for awhile there. I would also hold a (new release) book giveaway early in the party. I found readers had entered a giveaway elsewhere for the book and were holding off buying the book during the launch. By the time the winners were announced for the external giveaway, the impetus to buy the book may have waned.
I would do so many things the same though. Lots of wonderful authors, giveaways, interaction, and humour. I had so much fun. It was exhausting—two 14 hour days! But it was rewarding and I feel as though readers know me better now. I’ve since seen an uptick in interaction on my Facebook page.
What advice would you give for a novice author (such as me!) who’s currently writing her next book, and is planning to launch in the next few months? What are the best techniques that I can use to try to follow in your chart-topping footsteps? (Other than write a brilliant book, of course!)
Don’t go overboard. Things get out of hand easily and quickly. Things take WAY more time than you think they will. Double or triple the work you estimate it will be. It gets exhausting and there always feels like there is more you can do. Simplify. Be yourself. If you don’t have time to finish a conversation, etc., tell people you will circle back in a day or two. Keep lots and lots of lists to stay organized. It is so easy to forget or confuse or…
As well, there is no need to spend a lot. It was stressful wondering what the postage would be on the items I was mailing out as prizes. Wondering if I would be able to cover the costs…I was, but it was stressful. You want your launch to be able to pay for itself. Giving away iPads, etc., might draw party goers, but are they there for the prizes, or because they genuinely like your books?
You’re already writing book three, will your launch party for that one be different? Do you have a whole new strategy based on your experience of launching the last two books?
Good question. I think there will be a launch for book 3. I think I will try to hold a BookBub ad around launch like I did with Whiskey and Gumdrops if possible. I may also do a blog blast through a company I’ve heard about through an author friend. It’s hard to say. The release for Rum and Raindrops is a few months off (I’m aiming for February 2014—no pressure!) and this indie world is changing so quickly, what works now may not work then.
But things I will do—get my new street team lined up to help. Advertise. Send the notice out to my newsletter. Ensure the book is live EVERYwhere. (God, that was such a disaster! Don’t launch a book when you don’t have Internet!!) I will also hold a launch party. I may also try to have the print version ready at the same time and hold a Goodreads giveaway to increase visibility at launch.
Finally, are you still enjoying being an indie author? Will there be a book four in the series, or will you try something slightly different? What’s your ten year plan of world domination? ;o)
I’m still enjoying it! LOVING it, actually. The past month has been amazing. There is a book four planned for Blueberry Springs. But…I’m not sure about the timing of Amber’s story. So, I may jump over to a new vacation series I have planned. I’m really excited about it and I think readers will enjoy it. A bit of celebrity. A bit of hot vacation spots. A bit of romance. Hello!
My ten year plan…wow. I’m just thinking about how much writing time I’ll have when my youngest hits school in three years. Ten years…hmmm. I do have a five year business plan. It involves upping my book publishing to 3-4 books a year. Adding audio books at some stage as well as book trailers. And of course, hitting some bestseller lists! I’m thinking the book I plan to release this summer with the new vacation series might be the ticket to heading in that direction. Maybe. You never know what this indie journey will bring.
Thank you for having me on your blog and being a friend through the journey, Julie!
Thank you, Jean, for all the inspiration! Wishing you the very best with your books!