Books are like the stock market, sales rise and fall over your title’s shelf life. At the mercy of fickle readership, your publication in many ways is no longer art, but a commodity, a product for sale. The trick is to bring your buyers to the stall and at least look it over. For my novel, A Kind of Drowning, I planned for the year, with one eye on the summer market and the end view of Christmas sales
I marked out a calendar into three blocks – Jan to May, June to August, and September to End of Year. The first block was aiming to launch the novel in May. The priority thereafter: I had to get a cover. Once I had that, I began to build a social media ‘wave’ using it. I booked in two book bloggers, one Irish and one USA, and I commissioned a promo video. I selected three platforms – Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram as my ‘launch pad’. I began posting advance notices utilising the video, and using this, I approached Liam Coburn at Dublin Q102 radio station who kindly agreed to interview me on air. This cycled back into the social media platforms and the promo posts were beginning to get some traction with likes and retweets. On LinkedIn, I almost immediately secured two preorders for the novel.
Through February and March my wife, Fiona took on the Herculean task of re-reading the manuscript and after every week of edits and suggestions, I ran the whole manuscript through the Hemmingway app. https://hemingwayapp.com/ which I cannot recommend enough. Its free to use and you can load the entire manuscript and it grades the piece on readability; highlighting areas that need reviewing or rewriting. A useful second set of eyes.
On the last week of April, I loaded the novel up onto Amazon and Kobo and set their countdown timers up for just 7 days. I needed the best possible exposure and began ramping up the fact on social media posts using the emoji of an hourglass. I then changed all the banner heads on my FB, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, tying the same image across. I pinned the video onto my Twitter page and loaded it onto Pinterest. Then on May 4th, A Kind of Drowning was launched.
The first two weeks of May I posted three times a day – 5am, 1pm and 5pm – early morning meant midnight in the USA and teatime in Australia and New Zealand, early afternoon, and evening for Europe.
Block one done – Block two next.
Never underestimate the power of the email mail shot. Ever. I created a newsletter with the links and added a press release. In the text I made sure my website (iterated to the novel) was in the signature field and the cover of the book below it. Now it was social media every Tuesday and Thursday and with a bit of trial and error, found Sunday’s better in responses than Friday or Saturday. By May 10th and for the month of May, A Kind of Drowning remained in the top 20 on Amazon ‘Hot New Releases’ Irish Crime.
I posted this on my feeds too.
The next stage was to keep an ‘awareness’ of the book active amid the thousands of books uploaded every day. Now, I turned to my personal blog – you can find it at ABCTales, it’s a free platform with a wonderful community of writers. I had finished Peter Swanson’s ‘Rules for Perfect Murders’ and was drawn to the eight novels that set the plot up. It gave me an idea – through July and August, I created on my blog – ‘The nine novels that inspired me to write’ https://www.abctales.com/blog/robert-craven/nine-books-made-me-want-write
I added backinks into each post on the blog back to my Amazon page. I invited people to comment and discuss and the blog over 5 weeks drew close to a 1000 reads.
Block two done – Block three next.
It is now early October, and I’m at block three of my calendar. On KOBO, I made two of my older novels free for the month of September and reduced A Kind of Drowning to £0.99 on Kindle. I came across Voracious Readers https://voraciousreadersonly.com/ who put your book (epub or mobi) up on the platform and readers ‘opt in’ to read and review it. I put these campaigns together and got 30 requests on VR to read it. These reviews are now appearing on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57941624-a-kind-of-drowning
My plan now is to aim for the midterm break and then begin pushing the paperback and hard cover links for someone’s Christmas stocking getting filled.
A Kind of Drowning is my most commercially and critically successful book to date. The hardest part of the process was divorcing myself from the creative and turning my social media platforms into a market stall, flogging it. Looking back at the calendar, the year was literally peaks and troughs; sales at their highest was May to early June, dipping to a standstill late July and the month of August and now starting to pick up again, like pulses on an ECG. Thankfully the book at least hadn’t flatlined.
With end of year just three months away, my plan for 2022 is to keep the Kindle cheap and FB / Twitter the paperback links every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sundays. Three times a day.
And watch the sales rise and fall.
(c) Robert Craven
About A Kind of Drowning:
The man standing at the funeral in bubble-gum pink hair is P.J. Crowe. His career as a detective is in tatters – he’s facing dismissal, vilified by the press and his wife’s about to leave. Lying low in a small seaside town he spots a ‘Help Wanted’ ad in the kitchen of a local café. It offers him an escape from the public and his spiralling mental health – and it’s where Thea Farrell worked – until she was found dead at sea.
And herein lies the problem: Thea was an Olympic medallist, silver for swimming and Crowe’s burned-out synapses are starting to join the dots – it wasn’t his case, but his cop’s senses tell him that Thea wasn’t the drowning kind.
And the suspect may well be in the congregation.
Order your copy online here.