My latest book, Havana Lost, goes live on Amazon this Friday. And I can’t help comparing what it used to be like launching a book with my traditional publishing head on to what it’s like releasing a self-published novel.
The traditional publishing book launch experience
As a traditionally published author, it’d go something like this: wait for PW (Publishers Weekly), Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal reviews to come in, which my publisher would forward on to me. If they remembered. Bite nails.
Hope that the publisher had paid for some coop advertising, which would give my book a front-of-the-store ‘real estate’ display, and that the book stores would stock the book attractively. Bite nails.
Put the finishing touches on the launch party plans. Bite nails. Finalize the book tour schedule. Bite nails more. Make sure my banners, book marks, and any other paraphernalia I’d paid for were ready. Send out postcards to everyone in the known and unknown universe about the book and my tour schedule. Bite nails.
The self-published book launch experience
Now, as a self-published author, I wait for Amazon, Goodreads, and bloggers’ reviews. Bite nails. Hope that a load of popular book websites will feature it. Bite nails. Put the finishing touches on the launch party and book the tour schedule (I didn’t plan on touring this time around but the bookstores said sure, come on up or down… so I am). Send emails to key people in the cities I’ll be visiting on tour. Bite nails more.
Make sure the websites I’m running paid promotions on have everything they need. Bite nails. Find lists of librarians and compose an email to them. And somehow strike a tone of quiet optimism amidst all the rampant feelings of panic.
Happy to be a Type A control freak!
They don’t sound so different, do they? Either way, my nails get bitten down to the quick days before the actual launch date. And a lot of the marketing and promotional activities are similar. But there is a fundamental difference – it’s all about control.
When I decided to self-publish HAVANA LOST I took full control of my books’ promotion. And the money I’ve invested is my own, not part of a traditional publishing deal. It’s my green, which I earned, and I need to make it work as hard as I can. This time, it’s personal.
OK, as an individual I don’t have the same personal marketing punch as a big name publisher. But on the positive side, I can do things my way. I don’t have to rely on a third party, who may or may not be up to speed on my work, or allows something crucial to slip through the cracks.
On balance, despite the less-than-attractive manicure, the peace of mind I get is priceless. Yes, I’m still panicked. My fingertips are still chewed ragged. I still can’t sleep nights during launch week. But at least I’m in control of my own sleepless, raggedy-nailed destiny.
What about you?
Do you like to hold onto full control or are you happy handing over your entire launch to a traditional publisher? Which do you prefer, and why?
PS The fine folks at The Word Nerds did a lovely interview with me about Havana Lost and more. You can find it here.