The End is only The Beginning

Last week I finished another novel. I sit here and look at that sentence and I’m thinking ‘how casual’ like I wasn’t so excited at getting it done I was practically dancing around the house. This book has been hanging over my head for a long time, now. I’d bypassed it, having gotten very stuck on it, to finish Possum Creek Massacre and Tanager’s Fledglings, both. So I have been writing on this thing for over two years. And now, it’s done. Whoohooo!

And that’s over. Time to get into the real work on it. Just writing ‘then it all went happily ever after.’ does not finish up the work on a novel. Now, I have a whole list of Stuff that Must Be Done in order to prepare this book for a successful launch. In rough order:

  • Cooling-off period (at least a week)
  • Re-read and revise
  • Beta Readers
  • Editing – hire out
  • Formatting
  • Covers (both ebook and print, possibly audiobook format for ACX)
  • re-read and revise
  • Typo Hunting (in which the author prints out the ms on paper and takes up a red pen)
  • write a blurb (or hire it out)
  • discover the keywords and subgenre
  • Send out review copies
  • proof the print copy (more typo hunting)
  • promotion pushes on my blog
  • guest posts/promo pieces on other blogs
  • Paid ads (may come after the below process)
  • Press Publish
  • Find more typos

Timeline for all of that, and the little details I’m overlooking at the moment? I don’t know. The bottlenecks are beta responses – Beta Readers are doing me a huge favor, so I try not to push for quick responses. People have lives. As I have a life, I’m entirely sympathetic, if somewhat nervous about what they are going to say about my book. The other big bottleneck is editing. Depending on who is doing this, how many of them, and other variables also out of my control, this can take a lot of time. Which means..

I can’t start the promotion machine rolling until the manuscript is back in my hands from editors. Not really. I don’t know that I’ll do a pre-order with this book (it’s novel #9 and I haven’t done that with any of the others) but if I do, I cannot set that time period up when I am relying on the editors to fit into my deadlines. I know better. That’s poking Murphy with a stick, and nothankyou. Not going to invoke that one. I can, however, be doing other things during this lag time. I can be working on covers, blurbs, keywords, possibly reaching out and asking a fellow pro for a cover quote.

Once I have the completed, polished ms ready to fly, I am probably going to hire someone to do the formatting for print. I know Vellum is the gold standard, and although I have Affinity Publisher which will do what InDesign does, what I do not have is the time. It’s worth it to me to hire someone else for this. Just like I hire editors, as I cannot edit my own stuff effectively (no one can).

Then, and only then, can I say ‘this is the publication date’ and start working toward a concrete deadline. At this point I start talking to friends and finding those in my network willing to help with cross-promotion. This is a mutual thing, I do it for them, and hopefully they will return the favor. This is something that builds on years of relationships, it’s not something you can just appear on the scene and rely on. Networking, in publishing as in any other business, is a huge factor in success. Like it or not…

I’m also looking into using paid ads, Amazon or other places, for a change. I haven’t done this a lot in the past – other than buying ad slots in discount book emails similar to Bookbub – but I’d like to give it a try. The East Witch is a standalone. However, it is in the same world as my Pixie Noir series, so I can try to drive sales to the new novel by putting Pixie on sale. Similarly, in the future I may be able to drive sales of the trilogy by putting the standalone on sale. Since they come chronologically before this book, that may not be as effective.

One of the things I have to take a risk on is sending out review copies fairly soon. These can have a lead time of months, so I need to have my book in their hands long before it’s ready for release. Or I delay the release to accommodate that. I’d like to have this book out before the Christmas sales. I think I can do that. Hopefully. If things go smoothly.

25 comments

  1. On pre-orders, remember that the rules have changed. You can now set a title up for pre-order and then delay the date (up to 30 days, iirc) once as long as you do so before that pesky 72 hour (again iirc) slot before the original publication date.

    And yes, pre-orders are both good and bad. Good, because you actually have a product page link you can use on social media, on your blog, etc. Good, because you can set up promotions on Book Bub and similar sites to coincide with your release date. But they are bad because Murphy does like to come play with us and not in a nice way. Remember too, that pre-orders can be set up to a year in advance. It’s no longer the 90 days it used to be. That additional time helps as well.

      1. Check the ToS to be sure. But I know that’s what it’s been the last few books I put up. Also, they’ve expanded the number of titles you can have up for preorder at any one time.

          1. True, but remember they can drive sales for the other work you have out, especially if it is part of a series or related to one.

  2. One of my series has done well with Amazon Ads. I’m still looking for the right keywords for the newer series. Sometimes it’s hard to get Amazon to spend your money.

    Facebook ads will spend it lickety split, but it’s hard to track conversion.

    1. I’ve been warned off Facebook ads. I know I, personally, don’t interact much with them, which adds to my prejudice against them.

      Amazon ads are something else, because those people are already looking for something to read. But yes, it’s a lot of work to craft the words and look at alsobots to target your niche.

  3. Congrats on the new title! And yes, alas, there are a lot of steps between “whee, I’m done” and “Whee, I’m getting paid!”

  4. Where does one go to find an editor? Particularly when you are not established and don’t have the Scrooge money vault to swim in after work…

    1. Well, I have done barter for editing in the past, since I do covers, and I know some editor/authors. Right now I have an editor I’m working with who isn’t ready to go commercial right now – but she’s taught English for years so I rely on her. The fact that she’s my mother only makes her harder on me! I know that probably doesn’t help, but I can say that if you’re on Facebook, Sarah’s Diner (Sarah Hoyt’s group) has a thread to help put people together with editing, covers, etc.

      1. Dang. I guess I can’t call your mom then. Too bad. I took your advice about the group: I hope they let me in.

        1. Well, you could call Mom. She is planning on doing it professionally! She’s just still learning the ropes. I’m her guinea pig (still. Always… Love you Mom).

          1. Well I did my best… I don’t know another author that has the initials RAH and i don’t have any idea about the thing with the diner… So maybe my secret decoder ring needs an update? I’m sorry that I suck at guessing things…

  5. Um… You left one step out… Collect typos from readers, cuss, fix manuscript and republish… sigh… And congrats on getting another one finished!

  6. Interesting bit of marketing you may not have noticed. Yen Press seems to have changed their MO.

    Yen Press translates Japanese light novels into English and sells them in America. The light novel format has illustrations, and is often marketed to those in their late teens.

    There are titles with many volumes out in Japanese, and of proven potential market from a combination of unlicensed translations, and licensed streaming of anime adaptations. Plus, by this point, there is data on sales of titles like Sword Art Online, from which more niche titles can be extrapolated.

    Anyhow, with Covid or a change of relationship with Hachette or predating that, Yen Press is making fairly systemic use of preorders. Whenever one preorder in a series fulfills, they have the next one show up scheduled for a few months later.

    They have dozens of series that they are marketing, or starting to market. I only have notes on a dozen and a half or so, but feel pretty safe in inferring more than that.

    Forex, I Refuse to be Your Enemy Vol. 2 just became available, and Vol. 3 can now be preordered to show up Sept. 18 or so. I have no idea if Yen Press was doing this last year.

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