Part 6

The sixth part of a series I'm using to share how I took my manuscript from a regular Word document to a fully-fledged, pretty book available on Amazon KDP + my online shop.

Welcome to part 6 of this Word document to book series. In November 2021, I became an author for the first time when I released The Indie Author into the world. In this post, I’m going to share with you the five things I did for my first book launch.

If you’ve been following the series thus far, you’ll know that I made the intentional decision to release The Indie Author as an e-book to start with, and I’m personally very glad that I did so.

I’m hoping to release the paperback also release the paperback in the not-too-distant future, but this post pertains to my book launch in terms of my e-book launch. If you’re wanting to self-publish a physical book, I do feel this post will still be relevant – and hopefully helpful – to you.

And so let’s begin…

#1: Inviting contributing authors to promote the book

If you don’t know already, The Indie Author is a book of 50 self-published authors sharing their writing and self-publishing journeys.

Many of these authors were folks who I’d connected with over twitter, several of them I’d connected with over a video call for a summit I ran a couple of years ago, and some of them I interviewed for the podcast I was running at the time.

A few weeks before the book’s launch, I reached out to those authors I’d not yet had the opportunity to connect with over a call, and invited them to do so. A handful of authors took me up on that offer and we connected, and others replied to let me know that they appreciated the offer but unfortunately it wouldn’t be possible (due to work/family life/timezones, etcetera).

Either way, I wanted thank the contributing authors to this book and make the time to connect because, ultimately, they are the centre-piece of this book.

This is why I sent each of them a free copy of the book, along with a couple of personalised Canva graphics that they could use to share and promote the book on social media or on their newsletters. (Each graphic was a different size, one for twitter and a slightly smaller one for Instagram – which could be used on either of those platforms or wherever they wanted to share them.

Canva is pretty neat you can easily design specific graphics for specific platforms, and their templates make it easy to create pretty-looking graphics, even if – like me – your visual design talents aren’t the most polished. I chose Twitter and Instagram templates because they seem to be amongst the most commonly used social media platforms for authors, aside from perhaps Facebook. Like I mentioned, these graphics could be used anywhere – not only on Twitter and Instagram but also others like Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so forth.

This was my way of making it easy for the 50 contributing authors to promote the book, if they so wished.

#2: Podcast launch sequence

I ran a sequence of 5 episodes, where I talked about why I put The Indie Author together, how I put it together, and shared 3 fireside conversations each with 2 of the indie authors who contributed to the book.

🎙️ The Indie Author – podcast recordings

The 5 podcast episodes themselves were great, but the “sequence” itself didn’t happen as smoothly as I wanted it to. This is because, I had expected the book to be ready by the time I finished publishing the sequence.

However, I ended up running into formatting issues, as I explained in Part 3 of this series.

I had to accept what had happened, keeping open communication with the contributing authors and my email subscribers, and just hoped that – when it came to the launch – those same people who had been following the journey with this book would understand and still be supportive despite the delay.

I suppose there’s no way of knowing whether this affected book sales or not but I don’t think it did and, given the small size of my audience, it wouldn’t be the end of the world in any case.

#3: Researching Amazon keywords and categories using Publisher Rocket

I talked much more about this in Part 5 of the series.

I was aware that, when you’re listing your book on Amazon, it’s important to think about:

1) what keywords you use in your book’s title and description, and also

2) which categories you place your book in

This is in order to maximise your book’s being seen and clicked on.

Dave Chesson’s Kindlepreneur blog is full of articles and video courses, and Dave and his team created a piece of software called Publisher Rocket which makes keywords and categories research much easier and less time-consuming.

A friend of mine had purchased it and recommended it, I’d seen other authors talk about it, and for me it was a no-brainer for its one-off price ($97 + VAT at time of writing). This is especially as it is my intention to publish books in the future; I felt that, for this first book alone, the right keywords and categories could sell enough copies whereby Publisher Rocket would pay for itself.

My understanding also is that, not only does Publisher Rocket save lots of time when it comes to keywords and categories research (so I can spend more time writing and marketing and focusing on other activities), but it also lets you access certain information that wouldn’t otherwise be available in the ‘public domain’.

#4: Social media: Twitter + LinkedIn

At the time I released my e-book, I was most active on Twitter when it came to social media. I had been there for a while, on-and—off, and accrued a following of ~2,000 people on my old account; however, to be honest, social media isn’t something I currently rely on nor do I want to rely on when it comes to selling my books.

Sharing things on twitter

To be honest, I’m continuing to experiment and learn when it comes to twitter, and I continue to use it intentionally. I’m conscious about the value of anywhere I’m spending my time, whether it’s value I’m getting in terms of enjoyment I’m having or friendships made, or value in terms of people consuming what I’m putting out there and subscribing to my blog, or purchasing my book.

One thing I have been enjoying lately is dipping into sharing more of what I’ve been up to day-to-day as a writer and creator, and that’s included what’s happening with the book and the book launch.

For a short time I used a separate Twitter account for The Indie Author book and used that a little. I tweeted some quotes from the book, I’ve re-tweeted tweets about the book from my main Twitter account (at the time); aside from that, I didn’t do too much.

Posting to LinkedIn

The other social media account I’ve dabbled with since leaving the corporate world in 2015 is LinkedIn. I don’t really use LinkedIn day-to-day, and the platform feels quite noisy and overwhelming to me, but given that I did have folks I was connected with on there who knew me, I told myself I couldn’t do any harm by sharing a couple of posts on there.

So that’s exactly what I did…

I shared a couple of posts about my book, linking to those episodes I mentioned earlier (#2), alongside a link to the book’s website.

Note: since publishing The Indie Author, I’ve since deleted my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and made new ones.

#5: The last thing I did (& perhaps the most important thing)…

So far I’ve described four things I did to prepare for my book’s launch.

Though this is my first book, and I have a very small “following” (email list and social media), I wanted to do justice to the book I’d spent two years putting together and the authors who had taken part, which is why I wanted to give it the launch it deserved.

However, there’s a flip-side that I feel it’s important to mention here.

Whilst preparation is a good idea, and you want to give your book the launch it deserves (like I did) to honour the work you’ve put in and the value it contains… you can only do what you can to give it it’s best possible lift-off.

As I released this book I was imagining it was this message in a bottle.

You can prepare the bottle best you can, you make it all clean and shiny, you can try to choose a nice clear day where the sea isn’t too choppy, but where you’ve still got some waves, so you can gently push it out to sea and be carried along as it slowly disappears from your sight… and then eventually over the horizon.

There were times during this launch – many times – where I thought hmm, let me do some more content. Or let me do some more research. Or, let me choose some different categories for Amazon.

But you know what, I’d done as much research and work on this launch as I needed to. I put a lot of time and effort and research into it, probably if anything a little too much. Hey, it was my first book, I was excited, so I don’t mind that I did that.

But perhaps the most important thing I did – or I’m doing – as I’ve released this book out into the world is to trust the process. I’m trusting that this book will find the right people, in its own time.

I’m trusting that folks will read it, and then discover me and my work… both in terms of my The Indie Writer blog as well as other books I later release under my Indie Writer Press imprint.

With this book I’m not just focusing on the impact it has in the near future, in the coming days and weeks, but I’m taking a longer-term view and thinking of the months and years ahead.

So I keep reminding myself of that, every time I go to check my sales on Amazon KDP, or see a notification of a sale on my online store.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get very excited when I see these sales – each representing an actual human buying my product (#mindblowing) – but I also remind myself:

“Jas, celebrate these little wins you’re seeing but don’t get too carried away, and now that the launch is done… you just have to let the book do its thing, keep yourself grounded in the present, and focus on what’s next for your writing and for your business.”

So my message to myself – and to you – is to take pride in your book launch, start from where you are, whether you have an email list or not. Start from where you are, chose 1-3 things you’re going to do for your book’s launch and then… just relax, let your bottle just do its thing and float out to sea. 🌊

It’ll find its own way in the world, and it will have exactly the journey it’s supposed to have.

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What’s next?

So that concludes this part 6 of this series…

And with that, congratulations, you now know exactly how I’ve taken my modest Microsoft Word manuscript all the way through to an actual book selling on Amazon KDP and my little online Payhip shop.

At time of writing this (March 2022), I’m currently in the process of putting together my paperback version of the book, so I’m planning to add my ‘journey to physical book’ to this little series, too. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter if you’d like to receive my latest posts as I publish them.

And as always feel free to leave any questions or comments you might have about the book launch, or about anything you’ve read in this series so far. It’s always fun – and valuable – to get a conversation going. If there’s something on your mind, or you’ve got something to share, chances are someone else will benefit in some way from your comment, so I would invite you to leave on in the box below :)

Some final words

Putting together a book has been one of the most meaningful things I’ve done so far. I’m certainly planning to write more books. I would encourage you to start writing, or continue to work on, that book of yours. There’s something very special about putting your first book out into the world. You’ve got this. You really have. I hope sharing my process in this little series has helped you realise what’s possible, and break down the steps you need to take.

Once you break it down into steps, it becomes more manageable and less overwhelming.

I’ve also been told that publishing your first book is the biggest hurdle to overcome. After that, your second, and fifth, and tenth book don’t feel quite as much like walking through treacle. I have a feeling that’ll be my experience. We shall see.

But these are the steps that anyone can take – to simply write some words down, on a Word document, and format them a little to share them with the world.

It’s been a joy to put this series together, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Sending good vibes your way, whoever you are, and wherever you are on your writing journey.

I hope that this year might be the year that you, too, choose to step into your writing and start putting together that book that’s been on your mind or in your heart.

It might be one of the most worthwhile things that you choose to do. You’ve got this.

I believe in you.

Jas

Hey, I'm Jas :) I’m a writer and writing coach. I run a self-publishing studio @ Indie Writer Press, and I run a blog for writers with ADHD @ The Indie Writer.