Each morning, author Al Boudreau asks a question about the writing life and publishing on Facebook. This morning, he asked which we preferred: A big launch of our books or a soft launch? Other people have their own answers. Here’s mine, as I wrote it this morning:
My short answer is: Hint and be clever about promotion rather than try to spend our way to success.
Sorry about my long answer, but it could have been even longer: I used to work in trad pub, so I kept all details secret. Now I hint and promote a bit for upcoming books (especially those in a series because, knowing it’s a series, that appeals to readers more.) The hints comprise things like the odd progress report, tweeting love and my Six Words or Less Contest in which the witty and pithy winner will have his or her name in the next book in the series. That’s really selling the foundation novel as it promotes the next one.
[Wanna play? Scroll down the page for the SIX WORDS OR LESS CONTEST. Entry deadline, July 31.>
With respect, I think there's still a bit of inertia from old to new model with thinking in terms of a big launch. Except for ARCs to media and long lead times on seasonal books, Trad publishing is much about keeping it under wraps and then blasting PR and promotion for a short period of time (in part because they have so many other books to move on to and because the obsession is short tail vending and beating quick return deadlines in bookstores.) We're kind of like classical music. We don't get rock star tours and roadies, but we can sell lots in the long term because our books are available until we evolve past the Internet and start reading each other's minds. (Or heat death and an ugly extinction, whichever comes first.)
With long tail marketing, though we don't have the resources for a huge launch with cap displays and buying bookstore space, all our energy isn't spent in a tiny retail window, either. Publishers have largely abandoned big launches anyway. Most midlisters never get that dreamed of release party and all their publicity is really up to authors who thought they'd get more logistical support.
Our books can go up faster with low overhead and they are on sale forever.No returns. Rather than blast potential
readers, I hint because I wouldn’t want to tire anybody out. “Oh, there’s Chazz talking about Self-help for Stoners and Kevin Smith again,” wears me out, too (hence more books are critical.) That’s okay, though, because we’re better at social media than trad publishing has been. Social media is personality based. Who cares what Random House’s twitter is on about? I want to hear from individual authors, not faceless corporate entities. Corporations are not people, my friend.
Big launches feel like putting all the chips on one roll of the dice, which is an awful way to start your trip to Vegas. I just hint and hope the dribble never becomes an embarrassing orgiastic fit or a drone. Just my opinion as the author of the hilarious crime novel Bigger Than Jesus. (See what I did there? Um…yeah. See, there’s such a fine line between fun promotion and self-loathing.)
- Bigger Than Jesus: RUN! (allthatchazz.com)
- UBC #27: Use Google Search Stories to tell your stories (chazzwrites.com)
- UBC #15: What’s missing from this thriller’s back matter? (chazzwrites.com)
- UBC #23: Loves & hates & the Fab Blog Award (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 Things I know I don’t know (yet) (chazzwrites.com)
- UBC TOP TEN: Everything we know is wrong. Stop That! (chazzwrites.com)
- Maxwell Cynn: Review: Self-Help for Stoners by Chazz Chute (chazzwrites.com)