Indie Author Weekly

163: Book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos (part 1 — marketing strategies, mistakes made, and what I'd do differently next time)

September 05, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 164
Indie Author Weekly
163: Book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos (part 1 — marketing strategies, mistakes made, and what I'd do differently next time)
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast, we are doing PART ONE of the book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos: a modern marriage of convenience!

We discuss: 

  • 5 marketing strategies I used for the book launch.
  • 6 mistakes I made with this book launch.
  • 7 things I'd do differently with a future book launch.

Stay tuned for PART TWO of the Small Town Stilettos book launch recap on next week's episode of Indie Author Weekly — we'll be diving into the numbers (book expenses, book sales, and dollars earned), as well as the mindset stuff that came up throughout this book launch, plus 3 big experiments I want to try for general book marketing.

Resources & links mentioned in this episode: 

Let’s chat about this episode:

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where I take you on the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. Today we're doing a full and very transparent launch recap for my recent publication, small town stilettos a modern marriage of convenience. I'm your host Sagan Morrow and I'm an eighth time polyamorous romcom. Author at plus, I've also written several business books for solopreneurs. Now let's dive into this episode. The small town stilettos launch recap. When I recorded this episode, I was initially going to do the entire launch recap in this particular episode, but once I got going, I realized that it was way too long. So this is simply part one where we are discussing the marketing side of things and the mistakes made and what I would do differently in a future book launch and in the upcoming episode next week, we will continue with our book launch week recap to get into the sales and the mindset and all of that side of things. Thank you for bearing with me in this last episode, and I know that you are going to love getting all of the intricate details about this. So I published this novel back in the last week of July. So now that a full month has gone by I figured that would be the perfect timing to do a recap. So I want to share with you about the different things that I did with marketing and the mistakes that I made and how much it cost and how well the book sales did how much money I made from these books. And what I would do differently in the future, the mindset issues that I had around this, all of that good stuff we're going to dive into for this episode. And if you want to learn more about small town stilettos a modern marriage of convenience this is a really fun romantic comedy novel, and it is currently available as an ebook on Amazon and as a paperback at Barnes and Noble. You can visit Sagan to access those links or just search small town stilettos on those bookstores and you'll be able to find it from there. And I will also mention that if you are watching this episode, or if you're listening to this episode in the future the ebook might be available on other platforms as well. It is currently only available on Amazon on Kindle Unlimited, but when the next one once the 90 day period is over for you know being forced to to be in Kindle Unlimited and not be able to sell the book anywhere else. Once that 90 day period is over. It will be available on Kobo and all of the different book platforms. So just a heads up about that. And then those links will be updated as well as Sagan So regardless, that is a good link to visit for accessing your copy of smalltime stilettos. Okay, so to begin with our for our launch recap. Here is what I did with the Marketing for Small Town stilettos. So the first thing was the book cover design. I got that done by a book designer, who was fantastic. I've mentioned them in the previous episodes. Of this in your weekly podcast. Let me just check which episode did I mention that? Oh, I think I think it was an Episode Episode 150 and episode 151. I gave an update about the book cover and I also did the cover reveal and I think that is when I share it all about my book cover designer as well. So that has been really great. I definitely have gotten a ton of very positive feedback about the book cover design. And I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with that designer for basically all of my future books at this point. I think I just want to be sticking with them. So another thing that I did was the fussy librarian promo, fussy librarian is a really great website. I've mentioned them on the podcast before you can, you know, do promotions with them and they distribute information about your book and the links to your book, you know across to their email list. I really like fussy librarian as a promo because it's much more affordable than some of the other book promotion websites that I've used in the past and I've gotten better results with the librarian than other book options. So with the fussy librarian promo I did that as a pre order basically as soon as the book cover design was ready. I listed the book on fussy librarian for a couple of days. I think it was available for 99 cents.
You know, for those brief couple of days. I did not have many book reviews at all. I think I might have had one or two book reviews were up, but that was it. And I made six sales of those pre orders via the fussy librarian promo so that would go to $2.77 because it was available for 99 cents and the book royalties that you make are you know highly minimal from those types of things. I originally made seven pre sales from the coffee librarian promo, but a couple of weeks before launch day, one of those people canceled. They canceled it. So it went down to six pre sales and you know, it was unfortunate, right, like when I saw that because I was like okay, you know, seven pre sales not amazing, but it's not bad, right? It's still something and it was a little bit disappointing. But you know, it was literally 99 cents. Someone hadn't even gotten the book yet. It was before launch day and they decided to cancel it if they haven't gotten a chance to read the book or anything. And they decided that they wanted their 99 cents back and so that that was disappointing.
So that was one of the things that I did was the fastest librarian promo. Another thing that I did was connecting with book reviewers. I always love connecting with book bloggers, Instagramers all that type of thing. And so I personally connected with I feel like it was only like maybe four or five book reviewers. Maybe it was a few more than that. There were specifically people who I have connected with in the past and I have you know a relationship with them. So I connected with them. And then I also listed the novel on book sirens and booksprout. Those are two book reviewer platforms. And by the time that book launch day came around 23 People had rated and reviewed small town stilettos on Goodreads. And at this point small town stilettos has received 34 ratings and 30 reviews on Goodreads. A handful of those people have also posted reviews on Amazon. This is fantastic. This is more reviews than any of my other books have gotten on Goodreads. So I am I'm so so happy with it. I did notice that some of the book reviewers from books, islands of books borrowed some of the book reviews. I was like, Oh, this is a very generic sort of review. Like you could tell that they were just wanting to get a free book out of it and they would write like a single sentence that wasn't it's not like helpful for readers. So that was unfortunate but there were some really thoughtful reviews from other people so that was that was delightful to see. And you know like you know all all reviews are wonderful. Reviews are for readers. They're not for authors, like any distress that every single time. But you know when I sort of saw a couple of the reviews even if they were, you know, four or five stars, that's great, but the actual review itself was so generic and you could tell that this person is probably just using that exact same sentence for every single book that they you know, quote unquote review based on getting a free book from these book review platforms. So I'm just you know, that's that's just kind of unfortunate to see. But again, some of the other reviews were very, very thoughtful and I am so appreciative anytime people are reading and reviewing books is really, really wonderful.
Another thing that I did for marketing small town stilettos was a Goodreads giveaway. I ended up having 2251 entries, which was amazing. It completely blew up the water that was so so beautiful.
And 1735 of those people shelved the book as want to read so they put it on their watch read list. And then there were 100 winners for the book. And I think you know some of those Goodreads reviews that I've received, you know, it's had 34 ratings and 30 reviews. A handful of those would have been from the Goodreads giveaway winners. I also listed the novel on Kindle Unlimited. I wanted to test that out. Normally every other book that I've published, I always publish it wide, which means that it's available on every ebook platform you could possibly imagine. But with Kindle Unlimited, there is you know, regulations around that restrictions where you can only provide it on that platform. It's unavailable anywhere else for the first 90 days. And I wanted to test it out to see if it would work. So that's one of the things that I did.
And then you know, general social media posts was really the the last sort of piece here. I primarily used Twitter and Instagram stories and tick tock for promoting the book. The total number of social media promos are the number of days when I posted about small town stilettos starting from July 6 to August 31. I'm not going beyond you know earlier than July 6 Simply because I didn't track that but I did. I certainly did. You know a few posts here in there before July 6, absolutely. But for basically you know, most of the month of July and the entire month of August. Here is what I posted on social media. I did four posts on my Instagram feed before the launch and then two posts on my Instagram feed after the launch. I mostly use my Instagram feed to promote my coaching business and my online courses for solopreneurs. So that's why there weren't more than that on my feed, but I certainly could have done more on Instagram stories I posted about it about small town stilettos 17 times before the launch and 13 times afterward. Twitter 17 times before the launch 11 times afterward. Tick tock five before and five after the lunch here on this podcast. I think I've mentioned small town stilettos on you know about 11 episodes this summer. Basically every episode I've mentioned it mentioned a link and the link is always included in the show notes. And then when it comes to emails, there are about 130 people on my author email list that's entirely different from my regular newsletter. List for my coaching and E commerce business have about 3000 people on that list. But I send a weekly email to my author email list to let them know about new episodes on this podcast. And I think I only included the links to purchase molten stilettos a couple of times in those emails. So that wasn't really that wasn't that many. I also I also want to note here that quite a few people on that author email list have come from an ultimate bundles that I participated in a while back and so they are not necessarily interested in my books. They were more interested in book writing tips and author tips and that kind of thing. So I think that's an important sort of distinction to make that they're not necessarily on my email list to hear anything about my books. So I kind of I need to clean up that list because I you know, they don't really need to be on the email list. But looking at those numbers overall, they're pretty minimal for the amount of promotions that I really did. I definitely could have done more than that. And you know, like when I say you know, for example, Instagram stories that I posted about it 17 times before the launch, that's like 17 days that I posted it. So it would have been like probably about the 17 days leading up to the launch and then 13 days after over the course of an entire month. I only mentioned it 13 days over the course of you know, five weeks. So there's definitely areas of improvement there. I did not post about it. As much as I believe I could have and especially with Tiktok only five before the launch and five after that's that's not a lot.
So let's get into some mistakes that I made with this whole thing. I want to get into, you know the actual numbers of sales and everything in a little bit but first I kind of want to explore here what was kind of not working what I didn't do what I kind of messed up a little bit throughout this launch. So the first thing the first mistake is that I did not set up a Bookstagram or wide launch extravaganza. So I did not send book reviewers you know the the bookstore links like the Amazon link, I did not send them images, like promo images. I didn't send them social media captions that they could use. I didn't I didn't send them any of that type of thing that they could then post on book release day. So why did I not do that? There was literally no reason why it was it was completely due to my own mindset issues and author insecurities and things like that. There was no reason for why I shouldn't have done it. I have done it in the past and gotten really, really lovely results from it. And in this particular instance, I simply didn't do it and as a result, I think, I think one book review or there might have been two posted about it on book launch day, which means so much to me like one person doing that is is so so wonderful and truly means so so much. But I could have done way more to ensure that people were actually talking about the book on book launch day and leading up to it to another mistake I made is that I was in the midst of doing a relaunch for my signature ecourse productivity powerhouse during this time. I do.
I do launches basically every month with productivity powerhouse. We have a new monthly bonus training that's available that month and you can only access the training if you enroll in productivity powerhouse by that month. So I basically am doing a new launch of productivity powerhouse every month. And what what kind of happened here is that I found this kind of diluted the messaging a little bit on social media, but most importantly, it diluted my attention. And so my attention was split between the small town stilettos launch and the product of the powerhouse relaunch another mistake I made is that I stopped doing tic tock videos. I got annoyed with it. I felt like I felt like I wasn't providing anything of value. I felt like my videos weren't great. And I felt like they weren't really getting any traction. And I just got annoyed with the whole platform. So I just stopped doing it. Rather than rather than like digging into how can I improve this? How can I have fun with all of those types of pieces? I just stopped doing it. So that was definitely a big mistake. Another big mistake I made is that I stopped looking at my book marketing plan that I had created several weeks before the launch several weeks before the launch. I stopped looking at it. I had created the book marketing plan, you know several months in advance and I had finessed it over time. And then I just stopped looking at it. I think that this is partly because I was experimenting with so many different things and new things with this particular book launch, that it almost didn't feel necessary to look at my plan. But because of that I definitely missed out on some important opportunities and I was not paying attention to two things like you know, connecting with book bloggers about the book launch day and things like that. So I definitely had some really big missed opportunities by not looking at my book marketing plan. And if you if you follow me on other platforms, you will know that you know in my in my work outside of being an author I am a success coach and an anti hustle productivity strategist and a life coach. I work with a lot of solopreneurs I am really big on strategy, you know, actionable strategies and making strategies that we will use and refer back to on an ongoing basis and all of that type of things. So these types of things do happen to like even even when we aren't experts. In creating plans and following through on plans. Sometimes these things come up and so it just really reinforces the importance of having all of the pieces in place. And I'm going to talk more about mindset in a little bit on this episode. But you know, having all of those pieces in place and really making sure that you are using your Strategic Action Plan and if you find yourself getting away from your Strategic Action Plan, digging into what's going on here, how can I fix this, all of that kind of stuff. So so important.
Another mistake that I made is that I assumed that the book, that smart hustle that was being available on Kindle Unlimited, we see an automatic increase in sales compared to going wide with book distribution. So I put zero effort into learning about best practices for Kindle Unlimited. I kind of just assumed that because it was available in Kindle Unlimited that people would just automatically sign up for it. And that you know, that's on me. Absolutely. And I did intend to do research into best practices. I was one of the things on my book marketing plan, my action plan and I didn't do it. So that's a you know, that was definitely a personal issue. I also do feel I do feel like this is also a problem in that. A lot of the times when I'm when I'm doing my research on these things when I'm looking into best practices.
Authors, other authors who are successful in these areas. They're not really sharing about specifically what they're doing. So it's kind of my understanding of it. The way that I have been hearing about Kindle Unlimited from other indie authors is that it's really easy to make a lot of book sales on Kindle Unlimited.
And this isn't to this isn't to you know, put any blame on them or anything like that. But it just you know, really highlights the importance of transparency and all these types of things like I don't know what they are doing on Kindle Unlimited. Maybe this is this was a purely a me thing as to why it wasn't working out. Maybe other authors are simply putting their books on Kindle Unlimited and they are truly just making a ton of sales by just doing that. But I'm going to assume that they must be doing something else in order to make it work. And I don't see a lot of them talking about specifically what they're doing. So that was kind of an interesting thing to kind of see.
The biggest mistake that I made most importantly is that I put essentially put all my eggs in one basket. I assumed that because so many people had signed up for the Goodreads giveaway that it would lead to at least a good chunk of those people purchasing. Right over 2000 people signed up for the Goodreads giveaway. Over 1700 of them had added smalltime stilettos to their want to read list. I figured that it would be really easy to make a good you know 20 sales like it'd be like a complete no brainer. But of course I'm making at least 20 sales from those people. But it didn't. It did not lead to that. So I really banked on the people who had entered the Goodreads giveaway to then buy copies of small town stilettos. I really banked on the Goodreads giveaway to be my main marketing tool. And that was a huge mistake because it did not work out. And that was another reason why I kind of stopped putting effort into tick tock and I didn't really put the effort into Kindle Unlimited because I didn't think that it would really be necessary in order to meet my sales goals which you know, again, huge, huge mistake. So those were the mistakes that I made. And all of them I want to point out here, all of these were completely fixable. These were all on me, right? Like these were all things that I could have done differently. And I chose not to. So I think that that's very, very important. You know, again, with that whole Kindle Unlimited thing and how indie authors aren't really talking about what they're actually doing. I would love to see indie authors talking about the reality of the situation and what they are or are not doing. But that's that's also their choice. They get to decide whether or not they want to do that. And this was all this was all on me as to me not doing certain things that I should have been doing. So here's what I will do next time differently as a result of what I've learned from this book launch.
Back in episode 159 of this indie author weekly podcast I shared some good book club prompts for small town stilettos. And next time I would actually love to include the book club prompts at the end of the novel itself. And then use that as a promotional tool in the lead up to the book. So episode 50 Episode 159 happened after the book launch of small town stilettos. And in the future I would do the book club prompts, pre launch that will be part of the promotional piece.
Another thing that I would do differently next time is when readers publish positive reviews of the novel I would reach out to them directly immediately and ask them if they would eighth promote the book on release day and be at their review to Amazon. A lot of the reviews are solely on Goodreads. There's only a handful of them are on Amazon and and I would I think that it would be really really good to reach out to them. And just invite them to add their review to Amazon as well. Something else I would do differently.
Ideally, ideally in the future I would not have any other front facing marketing plans for an entire you know, six week period for my next book release. So that would be kind of like one month leading up to it and about two weeks afterward. Ideally I would not have something like the product review powerhouse relaunch or you know launching any of my coaching services or anything like that. Honestly, this might be really really tricky for me to commit to actually doing. I definitely could see myself having a lot of resistance to this and and wanting to talk about other things. But I want to see if something like that could work so so that's something that I do want to explore further to really reduce and ideally eliminate any other front facing marketing entirely during the next book launch period.
Something else I would do differently is to pre record those sort of like talking head videos for Instagram stories to celebrate the launch day and potentially, you know, create a little video again ahead of time, but I can post on Twitter and all of that sort of stuff and pre plan pre schedule tic tock videos in celebration of a launch day beforehand so that I wouldn't necessarily have to do it on the day itself. Again, we're going to get into that some mindset stuff shortly but that would really help a lot that if any mindset stuff came up on book launch day, I wouldn't have to worry about it because those videos would already be created. Something else I would do differently is to take off the full day on book launch day, take off the full day from work, and instead focus that full day on doing really fun things that are representative of the novel. So I have this whole concept in mind that I absolutely love of basically spending the day ideally like with the paperback taking the paperback with me around town and just doing a bunch of things with the character would do or doing a bunch of things that happen in the book. So maybe you know going to a coffee shop similar to one in the book and ordering a particular drink that my character drinks or you know if my characters go kayaking and gone kayaking during the day and you know, all of those different types of things.
Kind of like living the book for the book launch day and kind of documenting that experience I think would be such a fun thing to do on social media and a good way for me to get away from the computer so that I'm not you know, constantly refreshing looking at if there's been any more sales, and they're not just twiddling my thumbs and wondering what I should do with myself then I would have a whole plan set aside. Another thing that I might do is have a cocktails and tap as lunch party in the evening. I did that for book six in my polyamorous passion series and it was so much fun. I had friends friends came out and supported me and it was that was one of the best events i My heart was so happy I was my cup was so full, it was so beautiful and so just absolutely amazing. Having my friends kind of support me and doing that type of thing. So that was back. You know when I published book six and my plan was passion series that was like a pre pandemic. That was a very long time ago. But I was I think I'd like to do something like that. Again. It was really fun. And again, it sort of gave a celebratory aspect to the book launch.
What I found from doing all of this, by the way is that you know from doing this launch, I really found that when it comes to a book launch, I find it energizing and motivating to prep things in advance such as submitting my book to book review sites, all that type of thing. But the day of the book release really does make me feel at a loss. I don't really know what to do with myself. I feel like I'm just sort of sitting around waiting for something to happen. So I do think that this would be such a good way you know if I spent the day doing something, doing a bunch of things, activities that are related to the book and then having a book launch celebration that evening. I think that that would just be such a great way to get myself out of the house, be active, document the experience and fully celebrate it all.
Something else that I would do differently in the future is to do a fussy librarian promo for the first book in the series or the previous book in the series to then build up hype for this book itself. Or I would do the fussy librarian promo after the book already had quite a few reviews because again, there weren't really that many reviews that had already been done by the time that I did the fussy librarian promo because I did it in I think that was like one of the first weeks of July but I did that. So I think that that would make a big difference. If there was already some reviews. I think that that would increase sales. And I do want to retry a fussy librarian promo with small town stilettos. Now that there's a few more reviews on Amazon. I want to try doing that again. Maybe I'll do that after the Kindle Unlimited period is over. Maybe once the book is available in Kobo and everything like that, because that might also increase book sales.
And then the last thing I want to mention here about what I would do differently for future book launches is if I did Kindle Unlimited again, I would definitely do more research into best practices for it and I might we'll see how the next couple of months go I would like to do that before this Kindle Unlimited period is over. I already have so many other things that I want to be doing right now in my business, so I'm not sure if I'm gonna get into that. But ideally, I would like to definitely do more research into best practices for it. I kind of doubt that I'll do Kindle Unlimited again, you know, I would like to test it out because I feel like there's probably something there but I really don't like giving Amazon authority over my book. I it doesn't feel like I'm being true to myself by limiting my book distribution to Amazon. Just I don't like it so yeah, I've just I feel so much better when I distribute widely and allow as many people as possible to access the book. I feel so much better doing that. So yeah, I don't know. I'm not sure what I'll do about Kindle Unlimited.
So there you have it. Those are the mistakes that I made with this book with this book launch. Those were the marketing things that I had already planned out. That is what I wanted to share with you today, the mistakes I made and what I would do differently in a future book launch.
Stay tuned here on the indie author relief podcast because next week, I'm going to get into the investment in this book launch recaps. I'm going to be breaking down the numbers for you. We're also going to be talking about you know here on the indie author weekly podcast we're going to be talking about the different mindset things that came up with for me with this book launch, and what my plans are for future book marketing in general. So in this episode I already shared about what I would do differently to fix some of those mistakes that I made. And I have a couple of you know, larger broader things that I would also do for book marketing in general. So definitely stay tuned for all of that. So there you go. That is part one of our book launch recap for small town stilettos. If you would like to learn more about small town stilettos and grab your copy of it, you can do that at Sagan That is where you will find the link for both the ebook version and the paperback version. Happy reading. If you have any additional questions about this topic or any other topic that you'd like me to address here and Andy will author weekly I would love to hear it. Please submit your topic ideas at Sagan And again, stay tuned because next week we will be back to continue this book launch recap that my friend has a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources at Sagan And share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at Sagan lives. Please take two minutes to rate and review into your weekly on Apple podcasts. Thank you so much for tuning in. And I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly