On Releases and Finding Your Audience

I don’t do big releases, as you may have noticed by hanging around here for a bit.

I essentially write a book, get it ready to go, and then when all the links are live do a blog post, send out a message to the newsletter, sometimes remember to post about it on Facebook, and update my website to list the book. Oh, and usually throw an AMS ad or two at it.

(By the way, not only did I release the four books I told you about two days ago, but I also released the six books in the Easy Excel 365 Essentials series, too, yesterday. That would be Excel 365 Formatting, Conditional Formatting, Charts, Pivot Tables, The IF Functions, and LOOKUP Functions. Usually I wait to do that for a bit after the main release since these books are derived from the core series but I had a few days to wait until 2023 so got them ready then and also wanted the LOOKUP Functions book out there ASAP for anyone who knows Excel but doesn’t know XLOOKUP. Anyway. More books. Yay. Now you know. Go learn XLOOKUP if you love VLOOKUP.)

By releasing the way I do, it usually means that I don’t have a lot of work that I have to do leading up to a release, but that I then get to panic that the release was a complete failure for the next week or two after the release date.

Sometimes longer than that.

Since nobody knows the books are coming, most readers aren’t ready to drop money on the day of a release. And it takes time to get ads up and running and in front of the right audience. And for a book to get any visibility from ranking well.

Which means generally for me I don’t see what a book has the potential to be for a month or two.

And sometimes a book doesn’t get launched into the right place or in the right format so it takes even longer than that.

For example. I had that new pen name book I randomly wrote and published last year. I felt like writing something that didn’t fit under any of my existing names so I took a week or two, put it together, put it in audio, got it out there and…

Nothing. It died.

I put it in KU and ran a few AMS ads on it, which got clicks but no reads to speak of and no purchases.

In audio all I can see in real-time (ish) is what’s happening on ACX, which also was ugly. It’s a shorter title so not one that would attract subscription listeners.

I basically wrote it off as a dud. Until I checked my wide audio numbers for November which only came out yesterday.

Lo and behold, it turns out that maybe the market for that particular book is libraries. Because when I saw month-end library listens for the audiobook, that was a promising number. Not huge, but a high enough number to make me think month two could be good if it keeps going.

It took six weeks to know that, though.

Another book I released many, many years ago didn’t get any sort of traction until it was in audio two years later.

Which is all to say that unless you’re savvy as hell about who buys your books and exactly how to position them in front of that audience and also write the types of books that people need day one (so a hot series on the fiction side or a buzz-worthy non-fiction title that everyone wants to be able to talk about), don’t judge your books by their early performance. Things will sort themselves out over the long haul.

It’s also not over until you’ve published in every possible format you can think of, which probably means it’s never truly over…

Anyway. Today’s release-related thoughts. Off to update the website with some book links I guess. Or to have dinner maybe…(The admin side of launching ten books in a week is downright painful.)

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is a former securities regulator, registered stockbroker (although only briefly), and consultant on regulatory and risk-related matters for large financial institutions with expertise in the areas of anti-money laundering regulation, mutual funds, and credit rating agencies. Since 2013 M.L. has also been a published author under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres. You can contact M.L. at mlhumphreywriter [at] gmail.com.

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