My self-publishing marketing plan

Writing a great story is easy. The hard part is selling it. With this in mind I have decided to soft launch “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell.” The difference between a soft launch and a hard launch is simple. A soft launch takes place over a period of 1-2 months and ramps up slowly. It is especially common in the tech industry, where there are often bugs to be worked out in early product releases. A hard launch, by contrast, does everything in one shot and is more common in traditional publishing. There are advantages to the hard launch approach for indie authors, too. Mostly that if you can crack a bestseller list early you will gain massive visibility.

To execute a hard launch properly, however, you need a substantial following. Or at least a substantial professional network. I have neither. Thus, my self-publishing marketing plan hinges on ramping up activity slowly over time, building a network (and hopefully a following) for future projects.

My plan consists of two broad phases:

The Review Phase (Month 1)

The goal of the review phase is simple: get reviews. You could also call this the “quality assurance” phase. I don’t because I hate the phrase “quality assurance.” Makes it sound like I’m manufacturing Tylenol bottles or something. My plan is to work outward from my network:

  • Friends and family
  • Then writers I know
  • Then amateur reviewers
  • Then professional reviewers

My goal is to have five reviews by the end of month one.

The Awareness Phase (Month 2)

Here the goal is to push awareness of the reviewed ebook out to readers through various channels. I am not budgeting any ad spend for this project, so I will be focusing on blogs, websites and social media. While I have a couple ideas I still need to do some more research in this area. An update will follow.

Again, my goals:

  • Secure five reviews by April 10
  • Sell 216 units by June 30

Kindle Singles update

Back in January I submitted my novella, “The Bazaar,” to Kindle Singles. It’s been a little over six weeks. The Kindle Singles program advertises a six week response time. Since I haven’t heard anything yet I dashed off a quick email yesterday to check status. While I understand they are dealing with a large number of submissions I don’t feel the need to make an open-ended commitment to a billion dollar company. I received a prompt response assuring me the usual response time is six weeks but in this case it was taking a bit longer and I could expect a decision in two business days.

I appreciate the quick reply and specific time frame, but I suspect it means I’m due for a form rejection. As such I’m starting to plan my next move.

To be clear, this was always intended to be an indie project. The Kindle Singles submission was a long shot. It was always going to be a long shot. So I fully intend to pursue this as an indie project. I dabbled briefly in self-publishing about a year ago but didn’t properly invest in production. As a result the results (both product & sales) were decidedly less than impressive. I promised myself I would try again with the benefit of having learned some hard lessons. Now that time has come.

From experience I know I the areas I need to invest in are:

  • Cover art
  • Copy editing
  • Formatting

I will definitely have to pay someone to copy edit. I haven’t made up my mind about cover and formatting. On one hand I’m tempted to go with a full-service, fee-based company like Telemachus Press. But then I look at the $1,500 price tag and start to wonder how far I could get on my own. I plan to look at a few tutorials in the coming weeks and will report back on my progress. In the meantime any words of wisdom from anyone who has been down this road would be much appreciated.