Anya Cosgrove’s debut novel is a true page-turner. I know because I couldn’t stop reading!! So I was VERY thrilled when her book did well right from the start. That’s a big deal for any author, but especially for an independently published one. Hence, my invite to Anya to tell us about what she did.
Hi everyone! Andi asked me to talk about how I launched my debut novel, Shadow Walker. I’m not expert by any means, but I spent hours and hours researching this stuff, so hopefully my tips can spare you time.
My goals were to have at least 1000 people in my newsletter and get at least 20 reviews on launch day. I ended up sending my release email to 2000 people and I had about 30 reviews that day. As the week progressed, it quickly climbed to 50, and now I’m almost at a hundred. I write paranormal romance/urban fantasy, so your goals might differ according to your genre, but the principles are the same.
Now, all these numbers sound overwhelming at first, but it’s about chopping off the work in manageable bits.
Prepare to Launch
I prepared for about 6 months while I wrote the next book. (But I think it could be done in 2-3.) It sounded like the worst hassle in the world, believe me. I thought I’d hate marketing, but most of it became part of my routine and wasn’t as bad as I first thought.
I started in July by reaching out to blogs one by one. You can use https://blog.reedsy.com/book-review-blogs/ to find blogs that are interested in your genre. Then, you follow their review policy. It’s quite time consuming but free. I got 5-6 takers out of maybe 30-50 emails.
Build a Website and a Newsletter List
My husband helped me build my website. Don’t have a website? You can still have a newsletter.
I built my following from zero. I blogged a bit, but it wasn’t working for me. I struggled with keywords and SEO and had almost 0 traffic. Instead, I did two things that worked.
- First, I organized giveaways with King Sumo every month (3 copies of an eBook in my genre from another author). I got the author to promote and share in their Facebook groups. This option requires you to be a bit tech-savvy, but I’m okay with computers, nothing more. I had to learn everything from scratch. Cost: KingSumo app ($99) and the prizes.
- The best thing I did was write a short story related to my novel and put it for free on Book Funnel. I joined free promotions and got 80% of my subscribers there. The story was only about 6,000 words, but the marketing power of a free “book” is insane! Cost: Bookfunnel midlist annual plan ($99). Professional cover for my free story ($50).
To capitalize on those email addresses, I set up a welcome email sequence. I used MailChimp, but there’s plenty of other services that do the same thing. In that first email, I talked about me and offered my book for free in exchange for an honest review. I got about 50 opt-ins and about half of them downloaded and reviewed the book when the time came. Cost: MailChimp is free until you reach 2000 subscribers.
Then, I used Voracious Readers Only (it’s a free service!) and got another 20 readers. I tried their evergreen offer and had maybe another 50 sign-ups before I had to cancel because my book is in Kindle Unlimited. Cost: FREE! I’m not sure how many reviewed, but those who did were vocal about their love for the book.
I used the free Booksprout option to get 20 more people. About half reviewed. Cost: If you pay $10, you can get up to 50 sign-ups.
And, finally, I booked a spot with Hidden Gems reviews. They are pricey, and I’m not sure they were worth the price and hassle, to be honest. I got reviews for sure, but the numbers just don’t add up. I feel that Voracious Readers Only and Booksprout were way better and free!
I decided on top of those pieces to do a book tour with a PR company. They got me 15-20 blogs reviews, but most of them didn’t post on Amazon. It was pricey, but those were long, detailed reviews. I used Xpresso Book Tours, but there are a ton of tour companies out there. Keep in mind they are mainly for visibility and brand building, not immediate return on investment. I booked a cover reveal 3 months prior to release and put my book on pre-order. I should have done it closer to release date, 2-4 weeks prior. Cost: $40
I also used Canva (FREE!) to make about 10-20 review snippets, teasers, etc. It’s super easy to use.
Most importantly, I think all marketing hinges on the cover and description. My cover screams “Paranormal Romance.” Maybe I should have aimed at urban fantasy instead because of the feedback I got, but it’s professional and eye catching.
All in all, I gave an advance reading copy to 225ish people. It makes sense for my genre and the fact that my book is the first in a series.
If you write fiction, I highly recommend Alessandra Torre’s marketing course. It’s well-detailed and perfect for newbies like me. It addresses issues like pricing, Kindle Unlimited, etc. Cost: $99 Plus, there is plenty to do for free if you have a tight budget! The Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast was a great source of info and Dave Chesson’s Kindlepreneur website/podcast/YouTube channel were a must!
Thank you, Andi, for inviting me. If you guys have any questions or tips I don’t know about, you can reach me via my newsletter http://bit.ly/anyaslair, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnyaJCosgrove
Just to recap, Anya spent $397 and ended up with 2,000 people on her list and 30 reviews on launch day. Since most people cite 25 reviews as the golden number to get good attention from Amazon, her launch was a BIG success.
Anya J Cosgrove lives in Québec with her husband, her beautiful son, and two mischievous cats. She works as a veterinarian by day. She’s a travel and Disney junkie and is passionate about her favorite paranormal series.
What would Buffy do? Kick ass! Read Anya’s short story first! http://bit.ly/anyaslair