5 Lessons Learned From a Bad Book Launch

Do you shy away from the uncomfortable and hope bad things never happen? That might simply be an act of preservation, but it isn’t helping you learn. A bad book launch isn’t something you should be so fearful of that you never publish your book—there’s always a lesson to be learned from any bad experience.

Use A Physical and a Digital Planner

I organize my life using a myriad of methods, including Notion.so for pretty much everything time-management related, Google calendar for building out my weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks, and a physical notebook that houses my day-to-day tasks and projects—which are typically already outlined in my digital workflow.

But I know what you’re thinking right now. Why do I use both a physical and digital planner, plus a separate application to manage my projects? Well, writer, the answer is simple.

Google calendar allows me to create tasks and checklists on the fly, so whenever something pops into my head, I’m able to get it down. I have a list in Google Keep that is literally just a brain dump of things I think I need to do.

Now, if you’ve been following me for some time, you’ll know I plan annually, quarterly, and monthly. Annual planning allows me to see the overview of the entire year and everything I want to accomplish, while the quarterly gives me specific objectives for every quarter. This helps me avoid being too bogged down in one quarter while leaving another with almost nothing to do.

Monthly and weekly planning are my way to focus my energy to get everything accomplished. And, usually, I do.

This piece-by-piece approach has allowed me to grow my blog and plan new books over the next few years—stay tuned for details! But the best thing planning should do for you is decrease overwhelm, stress, and help you attain that sense of progress, which is pretty much ever writer’s goal, right? Progress on our work, until we can publish?

Date and Timing Aren’t Everything (But Planning Still Is)

While you should definitely consider when and why you’ve chosen your publication date, the actual date and time matter far less than you might think. In fact, your overall book marketing strategy matters far more than any day or time ever will.

That said, consider your personal schedule when deciding your book launch date. Will family or work obligations take the bulk of your schedule, leaving you with little time to market your book? How will you manage your time to ensure everything gets done when it should?

While we can’t plan for everything, we can make the plan with flexibility for contingencies and alternatives, depending on what life decides to throw our way.

It’s for this reason why most authors plan book launches months in advance and keep a dedicated checklist so they can put a lot of it on autopilot. They know what they need to accomplish for every book launch, so how long it will take or what exactly needs to get done aren’t left a mystery.

Consider making yourself a checklist and putting in flexible dates everything—social media posts, promo videos, themed merch, marketing emails, pre-order launch, book cover design, etc.—need to be done.

Make Sure to Give Yourself Enough Time for Promotion

When I said book launches could take months…I wasn’t kidding. Many authors create their final product six months or more before they actually release it, leaving it up for pre-order and allowing their book marketing time to take hold.

That’s not to say ever author needs to follow this path, but it’s something to consider. What marketing avenues are you hoping to venture down? Are you planning on doing Instagram or Facebook ads, a Booktube Tour, a promotional video, or anything else?

Everything takes time to learn and get a professional, final product you’re confident in sharing with the world. Build that time into your marketing schedule.

Not only will keeping a separate book marketing calendar help you keep everything straight, but it will keep you on top of things with less chance of forgetting tasks along the way.

I have (at least) two calendars—one each for whatever active book launches I’m working on and another for already published books.

The “new book” launch list helps me get everything created and posted, while the “already published” list reminds me to update ads, run promotions, book mentions in emails, and otherwise keep my books’ marketing consistent.

Build Your Team Early and Stay Connected

All authors—especially indie authors—need consistent teams (with backups) to accomplish success. That means having one or two developmental editors, line editors, proofreaders, and cover designers you’re comfortable working with.

While some editors can double as others, you need to build your team wisely to make sure everything is covered on your schedule and/or book time early enough in advance to stake the time slots you want.

Not only do editors and designers need your attention, but you may also want a marketing team—and I’m not talking about dedicated PR people or “team” like big corporations have for their product launches.

I’m talking about lists of marketing platforms, graphic creation, booktubers and bloggers to help get your work out there, and a street team of fans who want to help make your book launch a success.

It’s important to understand you may not have every marketing tidbit locked down on your first book launch. It’s a process that will grow and develop as you publish more books and gain a following of dedicated readers.

But, it’s something to keep in the back of your mind as you’re getting started. Even if you don’t have thousands of fans—yet—do you have a writing partner or group who could help? Could you partner with another writer who’s launching a book around the same time you are?

Know What Your Goals Are

The first step to achieving anything is making a goal to help you get there. If you know where you are right now and where you want to be, the road in between becomes a little clearer.

Likewise, with your book launch. By having a clear set of goals, you can simply continue to check boxes until you get there. Or, if your goal is monetary, generate ideas of how you’re going to attain that goal.

For example, if your goal is to sell 500 copies of your book, how will you do it? Will you reach out to book bloggers for book reviews? Will you create social media and book retailer ads to get your book out there? Or, will you reach out for interviews, create your own following, or participate in something like BookBub or Book Gorilla?

Monetary goals are great, but they aren’t always the best kind of goals. Why? Because they aren’t entirely within your control. You’re relying on someone else stumbling upon and purchasing your book.

What is in your control are the marketing tactics you get to make your book more easily accessible to readers within your target audience.

Remember, things will almost always go array with a book launch. If something hasn’t cropped up yet, you should consider yourself a lucky and well-planned person.

But, because we can’t always control the weather, personal illness, unexpected costs, or other random things, we should dive into our book launched with a planned, but flexible agenda to keep us focused.