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
- 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.