Now that I've officially survived the first month's book launch of my debut novel, Highland Blessings, I've gained some insight that I'll be sharing with you over the next few months. There are a few things I plan to change during the release of my next novel, Highland Sanctuary in October 2011.
While I had been planning for this moment my whole adult life (it seems), nothing could have prepared me for the stress. I don't know why I was so stressed out. It's in my nature to worry about things--and believe me--God has worked with me on it. I HAVE improved, but after May 2010, I think I have some more room to improve in this area.
In the coming weeks I'll discuss some specific details in relation to setting up book tours, doing blog interviews, creating an influencer list, and setting up events and booksignings in bookstores, but today I want to concentrate on the spiritual aspect. It's easy to have a gracious and kind spirit when things are going well, it's another matter when things go wrong. And believe me, things will go wrong.
Some spiritual and ethical things to consider during a book launch:
1) Not worry so much. By the time a novel is released, all the preparation is done and the foundation is laid. Worrying won't change a 3-star review into a 5-star, or a 1-star into a 3-star. It is what it is. Don't post counter reviews, blog about it or post comments all over Facebook and Twitter. It will make you look unprofessional and petty.
2) Be gractious no matter what. Even if a person forgets to post a review or an interview that they have committed to do or looses the answers to an interview, be understanding and gracious no matter what. Things happen and when people mess up intentionally or unintentionally, we need to be merciful because there will come a time when we will mess up and we will want mercy.
3) Resist confronting people. If someone asked to be an influencer and requested a copy of a book, but never bothered to post a review or promote it in any manner, resist the urge to send them an email to confront them. It could be that the reviewer didn't like your book and would rather not say anything at all if they can't say anything good. Be grateful for this kindness. It could be that they had every good intention, but their schedule never permitted them time to read your book or things might have gone crazy in their life, such as an illness. Make note of it and put them on your alternate list for your next book, but not on your first-choice list.
4) Be persistent. If a bookstore is giving you the run-around in setting up a book signing. Don't give up. Be persistent. Sometimes people don't like their schedules altered or they think an unknown, new author isn't going to bring them tons of new sales. That may be true, but even if you can't bring in tons of people like John Grisham or Nora Roberts, you CAN gain a couple of readers from their foot-traffic, and as an unknown author, that's your goal anyway. Plus, it forces them to buy copies of your book that they otherwise wouldn't buy. Even if you don't sell all of them, you can sign a few of them and then they can't send them back. You are guaranteed a couple of copies on their shelves, thereby, giving your books time to sell--a chance. It's much better than having them sit in a warehouse somewhere with no chance to sell.
5) Be a gracious visitor. Some bookstores don't do a lot of events and they aren't familiar at being a great host. Some people are better at hospitality than others. Even if you're treated like royalty at one bookstore and a janitor at another, be a gracious visitor as if you were being treated like royalty. The impression you leave with them and their customers is much better than the alternative--especially since you are trying to build your name, reputation and awareness.
6) Resist checking your sales ranking every hour. This was the hardest for me. The sales rankings on Amazon are confusing and questionable. It will fluctuate no matter what. It helps to know if you are selling at all, but beyond that, it doesn't give you a clear indication of how many books you've sold anywhere else.
7) Don't beg people to buy your book. It is unprofessional and turns people off. Simply post updates on new things that are happening such as a new blog interview, review or an article that might highlight you or your book, but leave it at that. Once your book is out there, do your part to build awareness and promote your book, but leave the rest in God's hands. Your job is to plant the seeds, let God do the watering and the increase in a time frame that He sees fit.
8) Don't whine in your comments, posts and email loops. If your book doesn't seem to be selling, don't complain to others. Pray about it. Take your petitions to God. He's the only one who can help you and open doors that you haven't thought of before. Let God be God in your life.
9) Don't compare yourself to others. There will always be someone out there selling more than you or less than you. Comparisons only plant seeds of envy, greed, pride, and jealousy. A humble and grateful spirit will keep you happy, thankful, and your sights where they should be--on self-improvement.
10) Learn from your mistakes and heed good advice. There are a few published authors who gave me some great advice. Without their guidance I would have been floundering. I heeded their wisdom and thanked them for being such wonderful friends. Surround yourself with people like this.