What did I learn from botching my first novel launch?

August 2, 2017

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Oh, the places we’ll go (in our heads) when we’re launching a first novel. Where did I go? Nowhere nice, friends. But I did learn a few things worth passing on. 

What have I learned? 

First of all, since this is my first novel, it’s hard to know whether my results might have been better if I’d done a better job on the cover or the book description — or on the writing of the novel itself. I had a difficult time nailing down the genre, which means my cover’s design might not appeal to those most likely to enjoy the novel. . 

The closest thing I came up with was “Catholic (or Christian) speculative,” but Amazon doesn’t have a category for that. I’m hoping my cover doesn’t make people think it’s a thriller (which it isn’t) or a horror story (which it definitely isn’t). 

So, while I’m tempted to blame my lackluster launch on my choice of book promotions, I can’t say for certain that they’re even mostly at fault. By the end of Day 1, I was thinking, “Fiverr is dead to me.” But now I’m not so sure I can blame those gigs for my book’s depressing download stats.

That said, these were my take aways on Day 3 (the last of the free days): 

The Lazarus Door book cover mockup

  • It was a mistake to substitute KD ROI and a couple Fiverr gigs for my usual BMT (speedy book submission tool) and the James Mayfield promo. Crow has been eaten (it goes down easier with chips and something with alcohol).
  • If it ain’t broke — and it doesn’t cost an organ and two minor appendages — I should probably keep it.
  • I’m considering changing my name to “Cautionary Tale” — or maybe just changing my blog’s name to “WhatNotToDo.com”
  • If anyone needed any more evidence that I am NOT an expert at book-launching, I have been VERY generous this month!

So, what do I plan to do next?

  • Prepare for the 99 cent days and my second giveaway of The Lazarus Door
  • Learn what it means to relaunch a novel (and yes, I’m already thinking of Chris Fox’s book, Relaunch Your Novel Hello, business expense!) and plan accordingly. 

What am I doing to distract myself from the agony of this launch?

  • Creating a new journal (with ruled and unruled pages) titled Daily Jots Journal and designing at least three cover design options for it (i.e., I went to my happy place and made pretty things).
  • Working on blog posts like this one (and others that might be more useful)
  • Working on my script for a 60-second video (of myself — yikes) and actually recording myself reading said script. 
  • Beta-reading a novel (which I finished this morning because I could NOT put it down!)

Plus, I’ve been journaling — under the (subtle) influence (of wine). So, yeah …. those words will never see the light of day. 

I look forward to filling the first printed proof of one of my new journals with inspired nonsense and other things that have no place in polite conversation. I invite you all to do the same — but with actual printed journals (mine or the journals of your choice).

Until then, have a great rest of your week, and may your book launches not suck as much as my first novel launch did.

All is not lost. I have a cunning plan! Or I will, anyway. 

Blogger’s Note: I very craftily worked in some affiliate links for the books in this post. You’re welcome. 



By Sarah Lentz

Writing and designing book covers are two of Sarah Lentz's favorite things. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their four kids, and two messy but adorable guinea pigs.

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