The Relaxed Release

Woman in hammock overlooking a wooded, mountainous scene with the post title, "The Relaxed Release" superimposed on the top

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I remember how stressed I was whenever I had a book launch for Penguin Random House.

For one thing, the launches were happening pretty regularly, since I was writing two series for them.

But mostly, I was stressed because their expectations were high.  Any marketing related emails or calls were more centered on what were my plans for the release and less on what they were doing to promote it. (Let this be a heads-up for anyone thinking of pursuing traditional publishing for marketing support.)

Oh, the publisher’s publicity person did usually do one thing: set me up on a book blogger tour.  But who was doing all the work? I was–I was writing the posts, sending them over to the bloggers, and answering comments.

Sometimes they’d send me ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to distribute. Again, the pressure was on me…to figure out whom to send the copies to, mail them (at some cost…these were printed ARCs), and follow up later.

Once I went on a book tour in NC with a group of other cozy authors. We had someone help us set up events: signings, panels, etc.  I think that was a pretty successful effort, but I did find it very stressful.

But this was traditional publishing. The publisher’s focus was on the first month of the book’s release. They wanted to see strong pre-orders and sales.  That’s because, if the book hung out on the bookseller’s shelves for too long, the bookseller sent the books back as returns…a costly process for them. And a problematic one for me.

The stress is likely the reason why I’ve skipped any fanfare over my releases as a self-published author.  Well that, plus the fact that I have releases often enough to feel announcements over them would be obnoxious.

Instead, I’m looking at each book as part of a whole. As part of a series, instead of a single book that I’ve got to invest my time in.  Instead, I invest my time into starting on the next book.

No blog tour. No signings or launch parties. Very little stress.

That being said, there are a lot of things that I’m doing behind-the-scenes.  Some of those are updated social media (Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, my website), running a sale on one of the previous books in the series, and releasing a newsletter announcing the release to my subscribers. You can find my full book release checklist here. 

What’s your process for a book launch?  Do you have any release stress?

Photo via Visual hunt

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14 thoughts on “The Relaxed Release

  1. I know what you mean about the stress of a release, Elizabeth. I think it’s much better to be low-key about it, especially for someone like yourself, with a strong base of readers. All the details of launching can definitely get hectic!

  2. I think all of my releases have been soft releases. Well, except maybe my first book. I was all over the internet pimping that book. Spent a lot of money, saw some success, but it was tiring. And expensive. My last release was so soft it was like warm butter. My next release, I’m pushing a little harder – trying to get the release in front of people ahead of time. We’ll see how it works out.

  3. How many releases do you typically have per year Elizabeth? I know you write two series but does that mean two books a year, or four?

    1. I was averaging 3.5 for several years (with pressure from publishers), but I’ve slowed it down to 2.5 each year (sometimes 2, sometimes 3, depending on whether I started the year with a half-finished book).

  4. I really resonated to this post. Never having been traditionally published, I only witnessed the pressure felt by my friends who were, but every time I publish independently, I am so happy I’m not dependent on a hard, fast launch. For example, I jut published a book this week–in the middle of the second week of a visit by my daughter and 2 young grandsons–which meant that my time has been spent going to Lego Land, the pool, assembling lego kits, cleaning up lego bricks, going back to the store to get the milk and hot dogs, and hot dog buns that seemed to have disappeared every time I turned around. Needless to say, all those things on my own launch check list are going to get rolled out very slowly as I recuperate from 2 months of house guests and 2 weeks of being a grandmother rather than an a writer!

    1. Oh, gosh, yes! You want to be able to enjoy those grandsons, find those hot dog buns, and have fun catching up with your daughter!

      I had one release right on top of Christmas (not, obviously, my idea). It was such a mess and my kids were still pretty young at the time. I didn’t give the release justice, but it has done all right in the long-tail.

      Congratulations on your release!!

  5. I’ve always been indie-published, but my first two books I followed the basic advice everyone gave about launches: blog tour (OMG, soooo time-consuming!), announcements, discount pricing, promo countdowns, giveaways, yada yada. Kudos to everyone who is able to make that work effectively for them and generate buzz, but by book #3 I figured out that it really put me far behind on my writing schedule and wasn’t making a big impact. Plus I felt a bit spammy and uncomfortable with all the “announcing.”

    It has really been the books themselves that give it all traction, and the more of them you have, the better things get. So I now simply update all my info, send out a newsletter and mention it on my social media venues. Whew. So much less stressful.

    But discoverability is still the name of the game, so I’m always on the lookout – whether I have a new book just released or not – for ways to find new readers and develop fun ways to interact. For me, the most successful so far has been the Henery Press group giveaways that are clustered around a theme (dog lovers, amateur sleuths, etc). They seem to target readers with a genuine interest in whatever type of book you write.

    I think I’ve bookmarked your launch checklist before, but I’m going to again…just in case. *wink* Thanks for looking out for us, Elizabeth, and good luck with your next launch! So glad it isn’t nerve-wracking anymore.

    1. I remember those blog tours you did! Those were very extensive! Good for you for realizing they were too much of a time suck for you.

      Henery is a *great* group and you’re so right about the way the tailor the themes together.

      And thanks! I think I’ll have one sometime in early September, so it’s all on my mind. :)

  6. Hi Elizabeth – makes so much sense … rather like a runner pushing to go faster, tensing up and perhaps not failing, but not able to achieve as much as they can. Being as you are – relaxed, happy, easy going – then relates across to readers and new ones … they want to join you and read your books – cheers Hilary

  7. I find this really helpful as I’m currently making the transition from traditionally published to indie.

    I’m still trying to figure out the order of certain things like when to send to beta readers vs. sending ARCs vs sending copies for blurbs (to print on the cover and Amazon description page). And do I send it to beta readers before or after I get the final proofread from my freelance editor?

    I’m so confused. If you have a post already that addresses these questions, please point me to it. Thanks!

    1. Good luck with your transition!

      I’d say it depends on the beta reader. I have a few that are my most avid readers (the few that I would actually call *fans* and not regular readers of mine) and I don’t feel bad about sending them imperfect copy because they’re just so focused on the *story*. That way, if they feel something doesn’t ring true about the story, I still have time to make changes before the editor gets the text. At this point, I’ve got 2 readers like that.

      But there are some beta readers that are more like ARC readers/reviewers. They might ding me for imperfections in a review. For those folks, I’d send them the edited copy before the release.

      Hope this makes sense…feel free to ask me anything. I have a feeling that I haven’t posted on this topic before.

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