When I wrote this post, I got overwhelmed. You might too! Fair warning. But in the moment, this was FUN. Not overwhelming. I’m going to share what I did with my co-author and then will have follow up posts that are more geared toward a practical-for-YOU way to launch. There will still be takeaways here for you in the details. Just pinky swear you won’t read and then get overwhelmed and stop writing? Please? Okay. Great. Let’s go!
*This post contains affiliate links for products I use and love. This is at no extra cost to you!
Over the past 18 months, I’ve written more books than I ever thought I could write in a year. I had no idea I was capable. Truly. Here’s an image I made for my Facebook cover of my books (and two short stories) I wrote in the last 18 months:
So, let’s just start with this fact: I write fast. Maybe or maybe not fast than you. But fast. I’ll be sharing the timeline here for my most recent book, but that does NOT mean you need to ever attempt my timeline.
Just focus on the launch and the action steps. You can even move them around! You do you, friends.
You’ll get some good nuggets on how to launch a book, EVEN if you know in your heart of hearts you’ll never launch that fast. You don’t need to! It’s not a race! I just like to go super speed. That’s me.
Whatever your speed, you’ll find the steps you need to launch a book here! Future posts will go into more detail in a more accessible way.
Prepare to be overwhelmed! But remember, this was 100% fun for me! I promise.
Listen to Episode 170 – How to Write and Launch a Book in (almost) a Month
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!
HOW TO LAUNCH A BOOK IN A MONTH – OUR TIMELINE
DAY 1 – June 29
- Wake up with an idea for a genre I’ve been following that’s hot (YA paranormal academy)
- Email a friend that I think would do great on this project with me — she agrees
- Write out a not-very-legal contract in Google Docs (I would recommend a real one, but I’m okay with my choice in this circumstance)
- Start a planning Google Doc + a manuscript Google Doc (usually I write in Word, but this worked for co-writing)
- Start writing and finish the first few chapters
- Come up with cover concept
- Find stock photos on Depositphotos
- Create mock-up cover & send to my designer
- Write a rough outline/summary of all three books in the trilogy (we’re both pantsers)
- Create a chapter list and an ideas section in our planning doc
- Talk a LOT on FB messenger
DAY 2 – June 30
- More writing on the novel
- Start a short story prequel to use as a reader magnet
DAY 3 – July 1
- Keep writing on the main book
- Many, many FB messages with co-author
- Finish reader magnet
- Research keywords + comp books
DAY 4 – July 2
- Order cover for reader magnet
- Edit reader magnet
- Research keywords and comps
- Write description for reader magnet
DAY 5 – July 3
- Format reader magnet and upload to Bookfunnel
- Send reader magnet to betas
- Write description for book one
- Set up preorder for the first book
- Claimed the book with my pen name through Author Central (more on that here)
- Continue writing
DAY 6 – July 4
- Start sharing preorder with my list for this pen name & on FB
- Continue writing
DAYS 7 – 16 – July 5 – 14
- Keep writing on the main book
- Continue trading ideas with my co-author
- Join a bunch of YA reader groups, esp ones around paranormal + academy
- Join a few author groups for YA urban fantasy (the broader genre for paranormal academy)
- Start setting up swaps in the YA swap groups
- Created graphics for promotion with the book covers & source files using Canva
- Form a FB group with my co-author
- Post engaging things in the FB group
- Create welcome sequence for reader magnet to promote the preorder of book 1
- Send paid ads to reader magnet
- Post in share threads in paranormal academy/YA groups about reader magnet
- Sign up for author takeover in YA academy group
- Start FB ads to the reader magnet
- Email list about the new series
DAY 17 – July 15
- Order cover for the second book in the trilogy
- Write description for book two (super brief & bad, updated later)
- Set up preorder for the second book in the trilogy
DAY 19 – July 17
- Finish writing the book
- Start editing (I let my phone feature read it to me while I followed along to check for errors)
DAY 20 – July 18
- Format edited book, format, send to betas
- Send out the first betas (I talk about the difference between ARCs and Betas in THIS post)
- Bite my nails while waiting for feedback
DAY 25 – July 23
- Finish edits
- Format for ARCs
- Upload to Bookfunnel
- Email to ARCs
- Send to paid proofreader
- Order cover for the third book in the series
DAY 26 – July 24
- Start writing book two
The goal is to publish as soon as we’ve gotten the paid proof back as well as some feedback from the ARC readers. If we need to make any last minute tweaks, we will. The launch date on the preorder was August 20, but we hope to release early. The goal would be to launch each book in the trilogy within 2-3 weeks of each other, making use of that Amazon algorithm that favors new releases.
My plan right now is to set up some Amazon ads for the preorder as we continue to work on the second book in the trilogy. As of now (day 27 – July 25) we are 15k words into book two. Book one ended up being just over 60k words.
TOOLS WE USED TO LAUNCH OUR BOOK
- Google Docs for writing/planning (free)
- FB messenger to chat (free)
- Canva to create graphics (free)
- Depositphotos for pics (I always buy the deal with AppSumo so already paid)
- Fiverr for covers (~$50 each)
- Vellum for formatting ($250, one -time fee – I used for all books, so already paid)
- Bookfunnel for the reader magnet and the beta/ARC copies ($150 annually I’m on midlist paid plan + upgrade to email list)
- Publisher’s Rocket to search keywords ($99 one-time and I’ve owned for a while)
- Mailerlite to email list (I think with my two pen names, I’m paying a total of $20/month)
- Book Doggy + Insta books to send paid traffic to the reader magnet (~$30)
- FB ads to promote the reader magnet ($175 at 14 cents per click, slowed down now to $5/day)
- AuthorsXP to build list ($55)
- Proofreader ($75)
Would I recommend you invest in all these things to launch a book? NO. If you look up there, other than tools like Vellum I use for all my books (so the cost for this ONE book isn’t $250), the bulk of our cost went into ads to grow the email list. The FB ads build the list. BookDoggy and Instabooks build the list. AuthorsXP builds the list. If you’ve been around for a while, you know I believe the money is in the list.
WHAT I’D RECOMMEND SPENDING IF YOU HAVE A SMALLER BUDGET
- Mailerlite for email (starts free or $9)
- Bookfunnel to deliver your reader magnet (starts at $20)
- BookDoggy and Instabooks (Fiverr) to send traffic to your reader magnet ($12-18)
- Covers ($25-50 for a premade cover or on Fiverr)
- Proofing ($75-1000 – this varies WIDELY depending on what you need and what the editor charges)
The biggest investment would be email list. I’m all about getting email subscribers. Create a freebie related to your book or give away the first three chapters. Build a group of fans you can contact directly to tell them about your book. If you just put up a reader magnet, you’ll struggle to get a big list going. (If you don’t get eyeballs, aka traffic, to your freebie, you can’t hope to grow it.)
If you don’t want to pay to send traffic to your reader magnet, join a multi-author promo at Bookfunnel or Book Cave or through Story Origin. You need traffic to get subscribers.
I would NOT recommend FB or Amazon Services ads if you haven’t used them. My FB ads were fantastic at conversions. 14 cents per click was fantastic. We grew our list to over 600 with these methods. I haven’t gotten the emails from AuthorsXP, but I often get 700-1000 with a promo. I already had over 1000 on this pen name list (growing it with a different reader magnet using these same strategies over months), so when we launch, we’ll likely be at over 2000 emails.
WHAT WE ALREADY HAD GOING FOR US
I knew this market well, so we didn’t do market research. I hadn’t planned to write in this market, but I’d spent so much time looking at books there (because I was interested) that it inspired an idea. As soon as I had the idea, I knew which books were comps, which weren’t, and what the cover needed to look like.
I also had a list already for this pen name, a designer I love, and editor I’m trying out, and a knowledge of where the readers and authors are hanging out on Facebook. I’ve launched so many books this year that it’s really old hat to put it up on Amazon and do this process.
The more you write, the more you publish, the less overwhelming and more easy this will be for you. Don’t get overwhelmed if you’re a first time author and are looking at this list.
A NOTE CO-AUTHORING AND SPEED
I am not going to cover writing with a partner (yet) but may have my co-author on to talk about this. When I first asked her, my thought was that having two of us would help with speed. Honestly, I think I could have done it alone at the same speed, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it alone. This project really shined with BOTH of us bringing things to the table. I love the characters she created and continues to create as we go. A storyline she brought into book two is amazing me right now!
Co-authors CAN help with speed if you are both writing around the same pace and figure out a split. But working with a partner can also slow you down. That didn’t happen for us. We’re both pretty fast.
Why do I keep talking about speed? Why publish a book in a month?
As I flexed my writing muscles this last year, I learned JUST what I could do. I didn’t ever ever EVER think I’d write a book in a month, much less two weeks. But last summer, I penned my fourth novel in two weeks, mostly on an elliptical machine in the gym, typing on my phone. I still love that book and it has over 100 reviews!
I’m not speed obsessed. I don’t think you should try to be faster (unless you want to). I love speed. I have a million ideas and want to get them out there. This is just me personally–what I like and how I work.
Also? We are trying to hit a hot genre. Paranormal Academy is super hot right now. We are writing to market (as in, writing a book that readers are already hungry for) and the faster we can get it out, the more we can take advantage of that market. If you want to write to market, especially hitting a hot trend, you need to be faster.
In the next post, I’ll talk more in detail about aspects of the launch. Not sure which ones yet! You should join the FB group and tell me what you want to know more about! JOIN NOW!
Lila Diller says
Wow! Did you even sleep during that first week?? That’s totally amazing! And thank you for giving us permission to NOT be that fast. 😉
I did sleep! I mean, as much as I normally do, which isn’t that much. 😉
My question is how much time per day are you spending on these things on your timeline? I wrote book 3 in 16 days, but I’ve had so much going on, I haven’t done much else since then. I always think if I didn’t have so many interruptions I could maybe get a book out in about 2-3 months.
So, I’ll never be one to track my time. It makes me feel…ikcy and stifled. But here’s my general schedule. My hubby and I both work from home and split days – he gets a full workday, then I do the next day. So, three 8-hour-ish work days, then I usually work a few hours also on the off days. I’d say that puts me at around 30-35 hours a week.
Amazing. And thanks for continuing to be an inspiration!
Wow! Congrats because this is an impressive output! But also thanks because this post was super helpful and inspiring. Made me feel like this was doable (though I don’t know if I want to do it in a month). What I’m curious about is how you started building up this new pen name and email list a year ago when you didn’t have the book or even the genre if I understand correctly. I’d love to know more about that.
So….I’ve been working on this other YA series I wanted to rapid release. I decided to do something risky and give away the full first novel. I paid for some promos (as listed here) to give it away. Grew a list of like 1000 people and got some great feedback. (Mostly, people wanting book #2!) So, I had a leg up. But even in these last few weeks, by creating the short story prequel and doing what I said, we have over 700 (as of today) subscribers who just signed up for that. That came from the methods above: sending some paid traffic to the freebie. I’m always about the long game, so now I have almost 2000 subscribers before launch. Does it mean they’ll all buy? NO. I know they won’t. But now I have readers and can work on building superfans. 🙂
Thank you so much for breaking down how you did your launch, etc. It’s super helpful. I have a couple of questions (well, more since I posted one up above too! (sorry – I always ask a ton of questions). So, from what I can see, your site is basically a landing page with your free offer. Will you be putting together a more in-depth site or will you keep it to a basic landing page idea and just switch up your free offers?
My second question is about revision. What is your process for that? That seems to be where I get bogged down the most as far as publishing quickly. By the time I revise at the story level, then send out to betas, and then come through for copy edits/errors and then send to my proofer, I can’t see how I can get that under two months.
My third question is that I plan on doing a YA steampunk series. I am thinking that I will do the first three books plus some kind of novella/prequel to offer free so I can build my list while I work on the first three books. Would you always recommend writing several books beforehand for rapid release when doing a YA series? If I don’t do it that way, I think the fastest I can get books out is every 3 months or so.
Thanks so much!!! 🙂
Lizzie Comrie says
It’s incredible productivity. You motivate me to try harder. I’m a person who has been writing a novel for eight months and can’t seem to finish it. So your launch sounds like a feat to me.
Amber Parham says
I’m revisiting this per your last email. Thanks for the reminder and shot of inspiration.
Sorry to curse but holy shit, this post is awesome. I feel like I’ve been totally stuck on how to break down testing in each/figuring out if I could make money from writing in a particular genre, and this is GENIUS. I found it immensely valuable and I’m probably going to… Print it off… 🙂
Kirsten S Oliphant says
Glad it was helpful!! Best of luck with figuring out your genres!