Hey my wonderful author friends! If you have followed me for the past couple of years, you have probably seen a lot of ups and downs in my personal author journey. Well here is some good news – the first book in my debut series is finally launching in just a few months. And because I’ve always been about being 100% transparent, sharing my personal lessons and knowledge with other authors, and helping you guys as much as possible – I thought I’d muster up the courage to do share the behind the scenes happenings of launching a debut series! I’m talking ALL of the nitty gritty details.
Fair warning – this blog post is likely to become a sprawling beast. I’m planning on sharing every step I take to launch my book – my wins, my losses, the results. If you are easily overwhelmed – maybe skip this post and head on over to the semi-condensed version I’m calling The Indie Author’s Guide To Writing & Self-Publishing A Novel.
But if that’s not the case and you are ready for a peak into my book writing and launch strategy, then buckle up because here we go.
IMPORTANT: This blog post is a work in progress. I am literally currently in launch mode and updating this post live, as I go. So if you and reading this now and wondering why it’s not complete – it’s because I’m still expanding on it! Just so you can keep track, I’ll add the date the post was last updated below.
This post was last updated: August 08, 2020
Launching A Debut Series
Phase 1: Prewriting
Phase one of launching a debut series has, no doubt, taken the longest amount of time. I’m calling it pre-writing because it’s all of those things you should do to prepare your book and yourself for the upcoming launch.
Step 1 – Plan
For me, as a type-A personality, the first step was to sit down with a notebook and have a huge planning session. This included looking at my goals for the launch – what do I want out of it and why? Pinning down the details of my book – what am I writing and why? And, giving myself a rough time-frame – when is everything happening and why?
My goals in a nutshell:
- Launch my first series and make a name for myself inside the fantasy genre.
- Establish a solid signature series – one in which works well for my brand and sets my writing genre-wise. I call this a seed series.
- Don’t go broke in the process – okay so my strategy is definitely not free. I am of the mind that it costs money to launch well. Do I expect to launch a best seller? No, as a first-time fiction publisher in a highly competitive market, that’s unrealistic. But would I like to come out on the other side with a good amount of book sales and no be extremely in the hole? Of course.
My book’s basic details:
Then, I got clear on what exactly I’m writing. I’ve written a large amount of books in varying genres and varying degrees of quality (hey, everyone starts somewhere, right?). After carefully considering my goals for my debut launch under my name and my long-term author goals, I knew that my debut would be:
- Fantasy for adults. Namely women who enjoyed new adult fantasy with a romantic sub-plot.
- A series. In this case, I chose a 4 book series. If all goes well, I plan on having this series also lead into a collection of other intertwined series in the same fictional universe. Think Marvel-type set up.
- The novels themselves would not be huge epic fantasy books, but instead easily consumable and even easier to release the series in a timely manner.
The basic timeline:
Now that I had those details worked out, it was time to create a timeline. The first thing was to look at year and analyze, realistically, how much time I can dedicate to writing and marketing this book. This gave me an idea of when the launch of book one could be. After careful consideration, I set a release schedule that looks like this:
Book 1 release date: Early 2021
Book 2 release date: Spring 2021
Book 3 release date: Summer 2021
Book 4 release date: Fall 2021
This schedule gives me plenty of space to write, edit, develop a marketing campaign, and also have a breather between each release. But that also means that most of the books will be completed way before their scheduled release date. My plan is to develop a backlist of books in which are ready to be published at their designated time so that I’m always ahead of the game. No missing deadlines. No rushing to edit the books at the last minute. No stressful launches where I’m constantly feeling behind. Looking ahead, if I get all books written and edited before, say… June, then I can already be writing the next series that will release in 2022.
Step 2 – Schedule
Now that all of those basic details were decided on, I whipped out my planner and began plugging in dates. If book 1 was supposed to release in January – when should my draft be completed? When should editing be done? When is my formatting deadline?
I filled out a publishing timeline sheet for each book and penned them into the calendar pages.
And the finally plugged it into my project management system (Asana) to create a timeline (again, I'm super type-A). When I finished, it looked like this.
P.S. – If you are looking for a planner designed specifically for indie authors, click here to check out the Thriving Scribes Planner.
Step 3 – Research
I’ve been studying successful indies and their strategies for years and so I have a good idea of what needs to happen and when but this section really boiled down to market research.
What trends are currently popular in my genre? What tropes are loved, hated, or expected?
Will those trends still be popular when I release? In a year? 5 years? Or am I writing to a current niche fad?
I used a few different tools for market research:
- Facebook Reader Groups
- KDP Rocket
When I compiled the data, it was time to decide what elements I wanted to include in my series. Did I strictly want to write to market? Did I want to be comletely unique and off the wall?
I decided to do a mix of what I love to write with a mix of what was popular/on-market in my genre. After I made my decision, it was time to plot this series.
Step 4 – Plot
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