Shocker! Not what you expected to hear. Ana Elisa Miranda asked me this question, about how I launch my books. I thought about telling you that I strap them to a seat like Laikas and hurl them into space on board of various Sputniks. I also thought about the idea of chucking them into bushes out the window or, an amusement of a more gregarious variety, tossing them on people's heads from a high balcony and see what they say.
That was me not being serious. This is me attempting to be serious.
I don't launch my books. I really don't. I swear.
I know you came here for special secrets, and I have to disappoint you by telling you that I have none. Nothing is hiding in my sock drawer except socks. Well, I lied. There is one tiny secret. It's not a very secret secret, actually. You'll gawk as you read it, and I have told you this before.
BE YOUR EXCITED SELF.
That is what I do. Easy, right?
I don't mean "excitedly" sending out emails to everyone you have ever encountered in your entire life about your new book coming out. Or, worse, tweeting to death about it with the help of an automated bot. Or Facebooking. Or whatever. I mean, just be excited about the whole thing, starting from the birth of the idea. Hey, you asked me how I do it, so I don't want to see your sour mean. Here are my steps.
1. I GET AN IDEA.
Woohoo! I start talking about it, because, well, I'm excited. Usually, it's an image, the opening scene of the novel, and with it to me comes a title. Only once so far I had to change it (Corners to The Badlings).
2. I MAKE A PAGE FOR IT ON MY WEBSITE.
Here. Here they all are, all my books. I quickly throw a temporary cover together with the title, write up some kind of a blurb and throw it up for a pre-order. People usually pre-order about 25-30 copies before the book becomes available. Once the page is up, I talk about it everywhere, because I'm excited. Naturally, those places are Twitter, lately Ello, and your usual Facebook and whatnot.
3. I POST DAILY UPDATES ON MY WRITING PROGRESS.
See, I don't launch a book, I seed it. I evilly plant the idea of it in people's minds so it grows, and suspension builds, and their interest ripens. By the time I actually finish the book, our collective excitement spills, and we all get giddy everywhere together. I told you it's about being excited, didn't I?
4. I POST DRAFTS ON MY WEBSITE.
As I complete them, I throw them up for a download and wait for feedback from people who beta read. This builds anticipation, but that's not why I do it. I do it to share my writing process and to get myself excited about it. You know, it's like you telling people you ran a marathon and them getting excited about it and wanting to try it too. I have heard people tell me that by reading and comparing my early drafts to the finished product they got the courage to carry on with their own books. Again, excitement, that's all there is.
5. I POST PICTURES AS I WRITE.
Throughout this whole process I share pictures, pictures that look like they're out of my story. I have book boards on Pinterest, but I think I'll abandon it soon. Too many social media places to put stuff on, too draining. Still. Because I post pictures, my readers send me their pictures of how they see my story. So together we build a sort of a virtual movie in our minds. The story grows.
6. WHEN THE BOOK IS PUBLISHED, I DO GIVEAWAYS.
This again is coming from being excited. I want to give everyone my brand new book, and I'm dying to hear what people thought of it. Because I can't physically give it to everyone who'd love it, I do giveaways. I did a few on Goodreads, on Twitter (retweet this and get a new brilliant genius amazing novel by Ksenia Anske, or she will kill you!!!), on Facebook, and so on. Oh, I also blog about it, naturally. Oh! And I send out a newsletter, which I do through MailChimp. Oh, oh! And I post it on places like Wattpad for people to read. Just look at the links at the bottom of any of my book pages to see where I upload my books.
7. I START WRITING THE NEXT BOOK.
That's it! The fanfares die down, and it's time to get into the next story. I'm an indie writer. This means I have to build a large portfolio of books to survive.
RANDOM THINGS THAT HAPPEN.
There are other things that help my books gather readership. I started getting invited to bookstore readings. There I would read books and people would buy them, and it would feel like a mini-launch again. Or a surge. Same thing happens at book fairs or at conventions or at any other places where I go. I often carry a copy of one of my books with me, and if a conversation steers in the direction of my writing, I simply give my book to the person I just met (instead of a business card).
MY READERS DO THE MAJORITY OF LAUNCHING.
Excitement, again. I hope you're not sick of this word. But, seriously. If you're genuinely excited about something, it's infectious. People want to be a part of it. Since I used to do marketing and, in particular, social media marketing, I know how marketers preach "engaging messages." What exactly is engaging? Stuff that makes you want to share things. I have done this for clients, trying to be excited about things I wasn't excited about. I was paid to do it, but it didn't make me more excited. Actually, it made me feel like a liar. The bad kind. (All writers are liars, only the good kind.) I felt like I was cheating. I was acting "excited" and, of course, the results were sometimes great, sometimes not. This is why advertising is dead. Or paid-for marketing. Or any similar beast.
People will sense that you're fake. Yes, it's harder to perceive it online, but they will still sense it. And that will be the ruin of you. They will turn you off and go elsewhere.
But if you simply share yourself, jumping up and down, bursting with news, people will want to share it for you. Little by little, build your readership and share, share, share. Soon you will create a community of readers who will talk to their friends on your behalf when you "launch" a new book. That is, you publish it and tell them about it. And while they share, you start writing your next book. And the next. And the next.
And one day a big bag of money will drop on your head and kill you, so, sadly, you won't enjoy your millions. See, this is me being done being serious.
P.S.: Here is Chuck Wendig's blog post about his new book, so you can see an example of a "launch" blog post. Here is an example of mine (I post the whole first chapter as an excerpt). Okay, now it's really ONWARD.