I have previously written about my self-publishing journey: why I opted for this pathway and how I pursued it. Heritage Lost was my first full-length novel release, and as such, there was an immense learning curve that my short story releases couldn’t prepare me for. There are numerous things that I will do differently (as long as I don’t self-sabotage myself) with my next release.
Here are the top four elements of my release that I would do differently, especially now as I reflect about six months later.
No. 1: Better Time Management
I gravely miscalculated the amount of time that I would need to finish up the final polishing revisions, which pushed back the formatting of Heritage Lost and, in turn, the finished paperback cover as an official page count was needed to determine the spine’s dimensions. Yes, there were circumstances beyond my control–a death in the family–that greatly impacted my original plan of having everything wrapped up by the end of my vacation from the day job. However, if I’m being honest with myself, I should have had a larger dent done in the revisions even before my vacation.
This is not the only area where I’m kicking myself for wasting time. More time in advance should have been devoted to marketing. I could have been creating marketing images or scheduling posts on social media, better building anticipation. In some cases, I give myself a pass as I had to deal with another death of someone in my life the month before the release, but it is still an area of my author life I want to improve on.
No. 2: Stick To The Plan
I had a rather detailed marketing plan that included checklists of what I would do prior to release, during release, and then post-release. This plan was largely shot to oblivion because of my poor time management, life upheavals, and a decent case of self-sabotage. I knew if I didn’t meet certain goals or garner the responses I desired, I would cave in on myself, but I didn’t undertake any actions to prevent this inevitability (see No. 3). I can dream big and lay out action plans, but they do no good if they aren’t followed through.
For the next release, I will aim to have promotional materials done well in advance and hopefully have most of my posts on social media scheduled, so I’m not having to fret as the release approaches. I will stick to the plan, no matter what disappoints I receive.
No. 3: Gather More Support
I really needed a street team behind me for the release to get the word out. For most of the time, I felt like I was shouting into a void and hitting walls. I did have a lot of support from people who already knew me and from former high school classmates (a pleasant surprise!). But from the online corners of my life, there was a lot of silence. I should have been more vocal about needing a street team. Also having at least one person to kick me out of my funks would have been great to have.
No. 4: More ARCS
I only gave out five or six advance reader copies, utilizing different online groups. I tried really hard to get more copies out there, but I hit a brick wall. Of those ARCs, only one person came through with a review. With ARCs, or even beta readers, there is always going to be an often high percentage of readers who do not finish or simply disappear. For this reason, I would really love to get even more ARCs out for future releases. It helps get the word out.
I will probably find more things to do better, but for now, these are the four areas that I really want to work on. Each new release will bring new lessons to embrace. I can only hope I do so with grace.