A Tale of Two Book Launches: How I Bungled My Second Book Launch after a Blockbuster First One

Today’s guest post is a follow-up article from our friend, Victor Prince, a consultant and speaker who teaches strategy and leadership skills to clients around the world, sharing the very different experience he had when launching his second book from his first.

I published my first book last summer. The launch went better than I dreamed, entirely due to the help of my publisher, my co-author, and wonderful websites like this one that were willing to help. (Thanks again for your kindness in letting me submit a guest blog, Tara.)

Victor Prince headshot

Victor Prince, author of
Executive Farm: A Leadership Fable

I was recently inspired to write a leadership fable as a short story. I self-published it as a 22-page novella on Amazon. It’s about a team of corporate executives who think they are headed to a golf resort for their annual retreat but are going to work a dairy farm instead as a team building exercise. It was my first stab at both fiction and self-publishing. I was excited and confident.

Then I self-published it and realized how different that experience was versus working with a publisher and co-author. I did my homework, so I didn’t make obvious mistakes, like not hiring an editor to review my manuscript.

I was very happy with my book content. I was not happy with what happened with my launch.

Here are the 5 mistakes (or misfortunes) I made in my first attempt at launching a self-published book.

  1. Publishing on LinkedIn – I published my original story as a five-part series over a week’s worth of posts on LinkedIn. I’ve had a lot of luck publishing blogs and building a reader base on LinkedIn, so it was a comfortable choice. I knew it was a non-traditional format for that channel, but I thought that it might give the book more chance of going viral, with each day being an opportunity to catch readers’ attention for all the other days. Unfortunately, the story got little traction after I published it. Worse, because I had published it, I could no longer submit it to other channels as original content.
  2. Timing – After I did research on the self-publishing route and cleared it with my literary agent, I decided to go with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. I got caught up in formatting and reformatting different versions of the PDF as I loaded it into the system. I was excited when I finally got it exactly as I wanted and I hit the button. I didn’t realize that as soon as I did that I also put it on sale on Amazon. Unlike my first book, I didn’t give myself an advance release date to do guest blogging and other things to promote the book’s launch. I suppose I could have taken it down and started over, but I just left it up and decided to do a crash course promotion over the next days. I mapped out a plan and decided to make the best of it. Wednesday, April 20th, wasn’t the publication day I would have picked on purpose, but it was the day I had.
  3. Tragically Bad Luck – I have several websites that are important parts of the platform I use to promote my work. Ever since I built those, I’d gotten a small but steady flow of traffic of people looking, not for information about me, but for a celebrity with whom I share a name. It took me a while to figure out the inbound traffic to my sites from searches for “the sacrifice of victor prince” wasn’t from people seeking to do me harm, but from people looking for a specific song by a great artist. I was about to start promoting my web page with links to the book on my social networks when I heard the tragic news of Prince’s death on the radio. After I got past the shock, I realized that my book launch plans were also a tiny collateral victim of that tragic loss. What had been a constant trickle of traffic to my site looking for information about Prince became a tidal wave. Because I didn’t want to look like I was trying to benefit from the tragedy, I canceled my plans to promote my book via my websites.
  4. The Chicken vs. Egg Limbo – I was inspired to write the book as an homage to my uncles who let me spend my summers as a kid “helping” them on their dairy farms. I wanted the book to have success and good reviews before I presented it to them. But without a launch, I had few initial readers. And with few initial readers, I didn’t want to present them a book that looked like a dud. More importantly, since the book’s characters were inspired by them, I didn’t want them to think it was a statement about them. I was in limbo.
  5. Printed Copies – If my uncles downloaded the ebook on Amazon, they would see the lack of reviews. I figured out an alternative plan – I would get some printed copies that I could send to them. I chose the on-demand printed publishing format Amazon has and was excited until I found out that my book was 3 pages below the minimum to produce printed copies. So much for Plan B.

I have yet to figure out the best path forward from this bungled book launch. Three random readers that have found the book have taken the initiative to email me with great feedback, so I am confident in the story. I am just sad about my failure to launch it.  I’m sure many stories better than mine have died quiet deaths, and I fear this one might as well.

 

 

About the Author: Victor Prince is a consultant and speaker who teaches strategy and leadership skills to clients around the world. Victor’s book, Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results, has been named a Top 20 semi-finalist for 2016 Leadership Book of the Year. See Victor’s other posts on his LinkedIn blog, such as “Lessons Dairy Farming Gave me before my MBA” and “5 Project Management Lessons From my Camino Across Spain.” Victor’s latest book, Executive Farm: A Leadership Fable, is available on Amazon.

 

A quick review of LucidPress, FlipSnack and Publitas

Last week, I mentioned a short assessment I did for a friend that looked at LucidPress, FlipSnack and Publitas. (You can see the start of this story in “Putting an End to Overwhelm.”)

I promised those who were interested in the actual assessment that I’d share it this week.

Just to give a little context, a friend had posted on Facebook asking for someone to recommend a magazine designer.

I know a fantastic graphic designer who has the skills necessary to design a magazine, but depending on my friend’s requirements, he might or might not be a good fit.

Evaluating LucidPress, FlipSnack and PublitasSo… I asked some leading questions, trying to determine whether to recommend my designer, figuring at least if I couldn’t recommend someone, others reading the post thread would have more information to jog their thinking with.

These are just a few of the questions I asked:

  • Did she want her magazine to be online, in print or both?
  • Did she want to design her magazine online or upload a PDF that was displayed in an online reader?
  • Did she want flexibility in her design (for enhanced creativity) or did she want a template she could work from (for ease of use)?
  • Did she want just text and images in her magazine or other types of content like video, MP3 and ecommerce options?

The important thing to note here is that the tools I reviewed aren’t just for magazines. They can be used to create any kind of online book. For example, a brochure or catalogue.

Or, if you have a PDF that you want to make available to read online on your website, it provides an attractive reader for it instead of just simply opening the PDF itself. This could potentially allow you to grow your mailing list by granting access to the content, without actually giving them a PDF that could be freely shared with others.

One of the tools in particular also enables you to integrate a shopping experience into the PDF itself, meaning that someon could click on an item they’re interested in, get more product information and see the price, then add it to a shopping cart and purchase it.

As a publisher, I can see many possible uses for that, including a sleek edition of my catalogue that would be embeddable on my Facebook page and website as well as shareable in social media. Nice!

A quick review

Anyway, what follows is my unedited review of the platforms she was curious about, and my reasons for making the final recommendation I did.

LucidPress

Lucidpress is going to have a little less flexibility in terms of design, since it has you create your publication using its templates. You work online and then drag-and-drop content in from social media, DropBox, Google Drive and elsewhere. It makes it easy to use, but limited in its capabilites if you want to “get fancy.”

From there, you can export what you create into a PDF for printing else where. You can also save it as a JPG or PNG (not too certain of the value of that for something that’s multiple pages!), share it on social media and embed it on your site.

It does allow real-time collaborations, so you could have more than one person on your team working on it at a time. But I don’t know how relevant that is to you.

It also offers a revision history of the magazine (possibly not of interest to you) and analytics (which should always be of interest). 

Since it encourages “saving on printing costs” by sharing your publication, I am curious as to how well it handles PDF creation, but that’s one of those things I’d have to test out to know for certain.

I will say that as soon as people start telling me there are templates, it says that they’re targeting a DIY audience.

That’s not a bad thing, but the problem with templates is that it limits your ability to be creative.

For that reason, LucidPress would not be my top choice. (Plus, looking at the magazine templates, I didn’t see anything inspired or inspiring…)

FlipSnack and Publitas

So, next to look at FlipSnack and a competitor that I found this morning, Publitas. Both take a PDF you’ve designed and convert it to an online publication for you. You can then embed that publication on your website and Facebook page. Social sharing is enabled and analytics are available (although depending on your pricing plan, it my only be available for the past few months).

However, I’m leaning more toward Publitas than FlipSnack.

It emphasizes making its product light, meaning that it loads fast and that their focus is on maximizing your page’s display, without adding a heavy frame or navigation to it. If you take a look at their examples, you’ll see what I mean. (I just like the look and feel of the Publitas version more).

Publitas also allows you to include things in your publication that FlipSnack doesn’t seem to offer, like integrating video content into it and adding ecommerce. (You can click on an item for more info and get a pop-up with the product description and price.)

Since this publication is intended to be part of your business model, understanding how you’re going to monetize it is important, and Publitas makes that the easiest to do. You can sell tickets to your next event or course, include affiliate or JV partner resources, etc. directly within the publication.

So, that would be my recommendation. I like its look and feel, ease of use, flexibility, and capabilities.

However, since both FlipSnack and Publitas take a PDF as its source, you could always test them out from the same source and see which one appeals to you more from that standpoint.

I know there’s a lot here, but hopefully, it helps you to make your decision. For what it’s worth, it’s also highly rated on Alternative.to, when you look for alternatives to Issuu. 

So let’s dream a little

With all of the features that are available using tools like these, how might you integrate something like this into your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

How many times have you had an idea that doesn’t move forward because you’re caught in the bottleneck of a decision? Feel free to pick my brain and I can help you in the exact same way.

New to All the Book Marketing Stuff?

I came across a post in a book marketing group recently. It read:White teddy bear reading a book

Hello, fellow authors. I have a question. I just published my 1st children’s book using CreateSpace. I was wondering how do you market your book? What helps you get your book out there? New to all the marketing stuff. Thank you for your help and advice.

The members of this particular group are extremely helpful. They advised her to have a website, start a mailing list, create a Facebook page, sign up for a monthly newsletter that offers free marketing tips each month, etc.

It’s human nature to dive right into the “doing.” So much so that we tend to avoid the planning.

The problem is, strategic planning is what minimizes the amount of “doing” we have to do. Consider it the lazy person’s way out of out working too hard.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend a few minutes planning so that I can reduce my workload in that one area, and apply the time and effort to another project. What about you?

First things first

I believe the first piece of advice anyone new to marketing needs to hear is this:

The first step is to figure out two things. Who would be buying your book? And who would be reading your book?

For children’s books, that may be two completely separate people. As the reader gets older, it’s often the same person.

Once you know those two things, start figuring out what they typically do online. (You can often find that information through Google searches.) Which sites do they frequent? What social media platform do they use most? Which apps are they using?

Then start strategizing your approach from there.

Plan your marketing efforts accordingly

Yes, you’ll need a website and a mailing list. Those are givens, in my book. However, don’t waste your time on a Facebook page if your buyers and readers aren’t on Facebook!

(Given Facebook’s TOS, I’m sure the readers of this person’s illustrated children’s book aren’t. However, you may find many of those readers watching YouTube videos. So, how about strategically placing a short ad at the beginning of content they’re likely to watch?)

Instead, spend your time and effort wisely by focusing your marketing efforts where your readers already are. Don’t pull readers away from one place so that they can come where you are. Go to where they already are and introduce yourself to them there.

That means providing content on sites that are already popular with your readers and buyers. You’ll need to experiment with whether a guest blog post, a strategically place ad, or a joint venture makes the most sense. But as you build out these relationships, that decision-making process will become an easier one to navigate. You’ll start recognizing those things that work for you, and those that don’t, much more quickly once you get going.

Every book is unique

So each book’s marketing plan has to be unique to them. But that’s what makes them so fun to create!

Taking the time to learn about the entertainment and buying habits of your readers gives you greater insight into them, sparking further creative ideas for later books you can write or products you can make.

So if you’re just starting out and you don’t even know what options to consider or how to get started, you may find my DIY guide on creating your book marketing plan useful to you as you figure things out. 

 

A Blab with Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com for the BiztoBook Conference

Lain Ehmann launched her online BiztoBook conference last week, and there have been some stand-out speakers thus far.

(Frankly, I have to admit, I don’t like the format of the conference. There is as much as 3 hours of content a day, and you have 48 hours to listen to it before it expires, even while new content is rolling out each day of the conference, including over the weekend. I’ve already missed more than half the speakers, which is disappointing. But there is an option to purchase all of the recordings at a discounted rate that ends today.)

Anyway, my personal favorite of the topics I’ve been able to catch thus far was Lain’s Blab with Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com and PatFlynn.com.

He’s someone I’ve been following for years now, so it was nice to listen in as he shared some of his recent success in the publishing world.

Pat recently wrote Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money. This was his first self-published book. (He had an earlier book, Let Go, that was published using a little-known platform called Snippet.)

In this Blab, Pat Flynn shares how he wrote and published his new book, and discussed his astonishment when it reached #1 in the Amazon rankings for various categories, as well as hitting the Wall Street Journal’s Bestseller list.

Listen in to hear what he had to share.

Get Greater Distribution for Your eBook Using Smashwords

For many of us who write, Amazon is the default “go to place.” And that’s for good reason! Statistics show that the majority of sales of digital content comes from there.

However, if you talk with any content creator, they’ll always tell you that you need to find as many ways as possible to extend the life (and expand the reach) of your content. That means finding multiple outlets and various formats that the same information can be disseminated in.

I’ve been hearing about Smashwords for years, but have never taken the time to study or appreciate its unique properties.

Smashwords Udemy course coverRecently, I was spending some time on Udemy, looking at the latest course offerings there and looking for those that might be suitable for my readers, when I came across one called “Self-Publishing with Smashwords.”

I decided to scan the content and listen to the promo video, and by the time I was done with that, I knew I needed to take a closer look.

I introduced myself to the instructor, Jason Matthews, who proved to be a very knowledgeable man when it came to self-publishing with Smashwords.

I took the course and, when all was said and done, here’s the review I left for it.

Udemy Smashwords course review

In 26 lessons, Jason walks you through things like:

  • What makes Smashwords special.
  • Formatting your content for Smashwords.
  • How to handle your Table of Contents so that Smashwords likes it.
  • Special considerations when it comes to cover design.
  • How to choose the right file format for uploading your content to Smashwords.
  • The next steps to take after submitting your content to Smashwords.
  • Publishing extras that will make your work stand out from the others.

In all, there’s about 90 minutes of content to the course.

As is my nature, I listened to most of it at 2x speed, so was done in under an hour, including taking notes. But the great thing about Udemy course content is that the platform makes it very easy to speed up, slow down, pause and take notes, rewind to repeat, and anything else you need to do in order to grasp the content you’re consuming.

So, if you’ve been wondering how to go about expanding the distribution of your self-published content, and you want to see your book on sites like Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Library Direct and many more, this course may be just the thing you need in order to break through the barrier that’s been holding you back.

I know distributing The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books is definitely on my end-of-year plan to put on Smashwords!

 

The Science of Pricing Your Books Correctly

I’m often asked by authors how to choose the right price for a book, and there are a number of factors to consider.

The infographic from blog-growth.com (below) shares some of the science behind pricing items (whether big ticket or small). But how does that translate to books? [Scroll to the bottom to find out.]

So, how does that translate to books?

Well, let’s start with the formats you want to offer your book in. I often recommend making it available in at least 3 formats. It’s up to you whether it’s eBook, paperback and audiobook or eBook, paperback and hardcover, but give the prospective reader 3 choices.

As with bracketing, you’ll notice that people will tend toward the moderately priced item.

When you reduce the formats offered to only two, as shown in the decoy pricing segment, people gravitate toward the lower cost option (typically your eBook).

While that’s not a bad thing if you can make up the difference in price by an increase in volume, it’s still something to be aware of. (Amazon offers a Kindle pricing suggestion tool that analyzes the best price point for your book based on the volume of sales for similar titles at various price points.)

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed that The Magic of 9 only tested 4 and 9. I’ve seen some great activity around 7 as well, especially when it comes to courses, and would have liked to have seen that included in the equation. You’ll have to decide if you want to test that out yourself or not.

As far as Deleting the Free Plan goes, that has bearing on the age-old discussion around whether KDP Free Days are a good idea or not. By itself, I tend to think not. However, there are some great strategies that can be used to leverage the visibility of a free book in order to lead new readers into other purchasing decisions. So, done right, the free offers do have a place in your marketing strategy. I just wouldn’t recommend keeping your offer free for extended periods of time unless there’s some other monetization strategy behind the free content.

What are your thoughts? What jumped out at you about this infographic? Is it in line with what you’ve experienced yourself, or have you seen differing results?

An Interview with Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

This month’s Featured Author in our continuing interview series is Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) from TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. If you haven’t spent any time on his site, I highly recommend checking it out. But I will warn you… Set a timer! Otherwise, you’ll find you’ve spent hours reading all of his great material and advice, without even knowing it.

Joel Friedlander - The Book DesignerSo, let me tell you a little bit about Joel. While I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, it’s clear that he knows his stuff! He is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish and the recently published The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide.

Joel has been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994. He is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap and provides pre-designed book templates and other tools for authors at BookDesignTemplates.

With all of that experience, you’re in for a real treat as he shares his knowledge and insights into the publishing (and marketing) world. [Read more…]

An Interview with Larry Williams, Originator of the B-Sides Methodology

Larry Williams, author of Develop Your B-SidesThis month’s Featured Author is Larry Williams, a respected veteran journalist and professional speaker who shares a passion for offering cutting-edge ideas in business and personal growth that challenge conventional thinking. I especially enjoy how Larry blends his love of the music industry with his passion for helping people uncover the untapped talent they have within them.

Although Larry and I have never met in person (not even on Skype yet!), I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Larry a bit on Facebook. We met through the National Speakers Association Facebook group, and connected as friends there as well. So, when Larry started sharing about the release of his third book, Develop Your B-Sides, I definitely wanted to hear more.

Here’s what Larry had to say… [Read more…]

11 Reasons Why Writing a Book is Good for Business

Emerald Lake Books logoHave you ever wondered how to make a bigger impact than you already have?

For many business professionals, time is the rate-limiting factor. You can only connect with so many people in a given number of hours. So how do you take things to the next level?

Well, there are a number of different ways.

Speaking is one of them, and something I do a lot of and enjoy, but it’s not for everyone.

Creating videos is another. Video content is easy to share, simple to create, and has the potential to make a viral impact, but it requires some technical ability.

Blogging is another means of connecting with more people with less effort, yet it requires steady website traffic.

So there’s no one magic bullet. You’re better off if you try to implement a mixture of all of these.

But there’s one more thing I’d recommend, assuming you have it in you. There’s writing a book.

Not everyone is cut out to be an author. It’s time-consuming, hard work and can take months or even years to pay for itself.

However, for those who do take up the challenge, writing a book can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Here are some of my top reasons why I think becoming an author is good for business. [Read more…]

An Interview with S. Chris Edmonds, Multi-Talented Executive Consultant

Chris Edmonds - The Culture EngineI had the pleasure of getting to know this month’s Featured Author through social media these past few years although we still haven’t met in person or even spoken on the phone. (We’ll have to remedy that, Chris!)

We met through mutual contacts and interest in the Lead Change Group, which is the organization that published one of the books I co-authored, The Character-Based Leader.

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. [Read more…]